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James Krenov’s Workbench

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 7:41pm


A few weekends ago, I traveled up the Mendocino Coast in Northern California to see The Krenov School’s midwinter show in Fort Bragg, Calif. I suppose I’ve been vocal enough about my status as an alumnus of the school (when it was the College of the Redwoods), so I’ll just say that I like to get back when I can, visit the wonderful people of the area and check out the work in the show. The midwinter show, not the year-end show, has become the alumni event that brings dozens and dozens of us alumni back to the school.

One person I look forward to seeing when I visit is David Welter. David retired in 2016 from his long-time role as shop steward and jack of all trades at the school. David worked alongside James Krenov for 20 years, and he stayed on another decade and a half past the old master’s retirement from the school. David has shepherded and photographed every student piece that’s passed through the school, and he is a font of knowledge on the craft and community.

When Krenov retired from woodworking and his shop in April of 2009, he called David over to clean the place out. By this time, “Old Jim” (as he took to signing in his later years) had almost completely lost his eyesight and had retired from cabinetmaking to make his signature handplanes (which was as much a way to keep busy in the shop as it was a business venture, it seems). When David cleaned out the shop, he brought home a few of Krenov’s machines, hand tools and his workbench.

IMG_1095 2IMG_1100 2.jpg

David just finished building his own small workshop this past year behind his house, a beautiful small shop split into a machine and bench room, with a small guest apartment. The machine room has all of the features of a good Krenovian shop – a nice band saw or two, a boring machine and stacks of wood too good to pass by. But in the relatively spare bench room, only two features catch the eye. One, David’s collection of egg-beater drills hangs above eye-level and is a joy to behold. The other, resting comfortably below eye-level on the same wall, is “Old Jim’s” bench, now fittingly David’s – and it is a joy to peer over, under and around.


The three brothers who started Målilla Hyvelbänkar. Thanks to Leif Karlsson (son of Yngve and current benchmaker at the company) for the photo and information.

The bench itself was built in the 1950s by Målilla Hyvelbänkar, a small family-run company that still makes traditional Swedish workbenches in Rosenfors, Sweden (a  southern town with a population of 281). Three brothers (pictured above) started the factory, and it was Yngve Karlsson who built Krenov’s bench just after the World War II.


The bench will be familiar to those who have seen other Scandinavian benches from the 20th century – a large wooden tail vise and accompanying square dog holes, a shoulder vise and a shallow tool tray, with a beech benchtop. This style of bench has a particularly novel stance, with a much wider set of trestles on the shoulder vise end, to accommodate the vise’s protrusion. The tail vise is a classic construction, with the large wooden thread tucked into the dovetailed end cap, plus a guide rail that keeps the vise from sagging and racking.


The shoulder vise, however, is a bit peculiar. The sliding chop, which runs in an odd channel, has been beaten up significantly. Krenov preferred this style of vise for its capacity – without a thread in the middle of the vise’s depth, it could hold much larger parts (all the way down to the floor), such as full carcases or long drawers. Ejler Hjorth-Westh owns a much later bench from the same maker. On his, he requested a more standard vise – and encouraged the bench maker to pursue a more standard vise layout, should they want to sell more benches in the States!


Krenov made a number of simple modifications to the bench (and made them when it was relatively new, judging by the cover shot from the 1986 Prentice Hall edition of “The Impractical Cabinetmaker” which shows the bench back in Sweden with all of the modifications). He added two plywood shelves above and below the bench’s rails, inside of which he stored small pieces of lumber. He also added a simple rasp and file rack to the front of the rail.

IMG_1111 2IMG_1115.jpgOn the back of the benchtop, he attached a number of blocks for holding his work light and several small foam knife blocks, into which he often stuck his carving knives. Under the bench is another simple modification – a side-hung drawer. The drawer is tucked under the top a bit, making it hard to reach – but this positioning keeps it away from the bench dogs, which might otherwise be difficult to pop up into service.


The bench is laden with marks from more than a half-century. At the tail vise, a particular angle was sawn so often (roughly 22º) that its kerfs are deeply marked into the top. The small knife blocks bear hundreds of small knife points, which show the variety and small size of the knives Krenov made and used (no slöjd knives here, despite his long residence in Sweden).

Krenov worked for several decades with this bench in his home in Bromma (a suburb of Stockholm), Sweden, and when he moved west to establish the school in Fort Bragg in 1981, he brought it with him. It lived in his corner of the bench room at the school for another two decades, eventually moving to the back room where he escaped from students. Finally, when he left the school in 2002, it followed him home to the shop where David picked it up in 2009.

Visiting this bench, the school and visiting with David and the rest of the teachers always brings about a particular flavor of nostalgia – it isn’t just a yearning for the old, but rather, a desire to get back to work having remembered the monastic time I spent at the school and the philosophy of its founding teacher. There is a quiet energy, not an excitement or enthusiasm, that always comes to me after a visit to Fort Bragg. Maybe, more than anything, it’s just a desire to be at the bench, working with a slow inertia toward fine work.

— Brendan Gaffney


Categories: Hand Tools

WW18thC 2018 – Historic Gilding and Finishing

The Barn on White Run - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 3:47pm

The last session at WW18thC was my presentation of Historic Gilding and Finishing, including a brief sprint through the application of gold leaf.  I described processes of gilding with a particular emphasis on building the surface (wood, gesso, bole) to make it amenable to the laying of gold leaf.  It was only a few minutes, but gilding is a topic that can be introduced in either ten minutes or ten days, nothing in between makes much sense.

As quickly as I could I changed gears to get to transparent finishing, relying as always on my Six Steps To Perfect Finishing, a rubric that has served me flawlessly since I came up with it a couple dozen years ago.  Not every one of the six points got the same emphasis here, that was not practicable given the time constraints, but the conceptual model was followed closely.


As always the starting point was surface preparation, including using toothing planes, scrapers, and pumice blocks that were integral to the finisher’s tool kit 250 years ago.

The final step in surface prep was to burnish the wood with polishing sticks or fiber bundle polissoirs.

I then moved into the no-man’s-land of filling the grain and building the foundation for the finish yet to come, employing the traditional method of using beeswax as the grain filler.  In some circumstances this is the finished surface, in others it is the foundation.

In olden times they would have used a fire-heated iron to melt on the beeswax, I use a similar shaped tool that is electric.  The molten wax is drizzled on to the surface then distributed with the heated iron unto there is excess.  After cooling any excess is scraped off.

When choosing the finish itself, an 18th century palette would have been based on four major families of finishes. From left to right they are shellac, linseed oil, beeswax, and colophony (pine rosin).

In this demo I used padded spirit varnish (shellac) to show the application of the finish over the beeswax grain filling.


And then my time was up and everyone went home.


I’ll be offering my annual Historic Finishing workshop at the barn in late April.  Let me know if you would like to participate.

How to Follow WorkbenchCon 2018 – A Conference for Makers and Influencers

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 1:45pm

WorkbenchCon, A brand new maker conference, kicks off tomorrow and runs through Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia. It represents a departure from the woodworking show model of vendors and manufacturers setting up booths and focuses on influence, branding, and networking. Tickets are $399 and will not be available at the door. They describe the conference on their website: Our mission is to relate to the influencer, DIYer and business person in YOU…HOW? Our […]

The post How to Follow WorkbenchCon 2018 – A Conference for Makers and Influencers appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

In the meantime, tomorrow, there is school.

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 1:43pm

Grandpa's_Workshop1This is an excerpt from “Grandpa’s Workshop” by Maurice Pommier. 

Pépère watched me with a strange expression. He ran his fingers through my hair, and he said, in the softest voice :

— That’s the story…

— But I woke up just afterward! Tell me, nobody ever tried to make a new handle for the hammer?

— Ah, you know little rabbit, I don’t think so. That DAMMED HAMMER has always skulked around in the tool chest of some member of our family. But understand, really, that it is the men who decide how tools are to be used. And always remember, that drunkenness and anger never give birth to good things


— But you, Pépère, how did you know what happened to Abel?

— When I was a little boy, I asked Pépé Clothaire why this hammer’s handle had never been replaced.

— And you, did you also ask Pépé Clothaire how he knew the story?

— Pépé Clothaire told me that the elves in his shop taught him the story. So the hammer stayed in Pépé Clothaire’s tool chest, and after he died, nobody used his tools, except for the American carpenter’s big saw. It was your mother’s brother who used these tools.

— It wasn’t Uncle Gaspard, he has all modern tools in his joinery shop. What was his name , my uncle you never want to talk about?

— Étienne… He was our first boy. We had three children, Gaspard and your mother were his brother and sister. He had a tragic accident. He was a carpenter, and fell from the top of a church while rebuilding the roof beams . He braced his foot on the ANGEL’S HEAD in the chest. The piece broke out from under him, an angel that didn’t do his job . Since the accident, his chest has never been opened. Tools sleep and die if nobody uses them. You have woken them up a little.

Pépère told me that story without looking at me

Tomorrow it is back to school. I am going to see my friends again, but I will not see Pépère as much. I have to hurry. I need to finish my BOAT before vacation ends.

— You are well on the way to becoming a boatbuilder!

— No, Pépère, later, I want to be a joiner, like you, and I will work with your tools!

— Rabbit, I am really happy to hear you tell me that. If you want to become a joiner, I will show you how to use the tools little by little. But you also have to learn to work with the MACHINES like those in your Uncle Gaspard’s shop. You will not work alone, like us, and not in the same way.


In the meantime, tomorrow, there is school, and that is also very important to become a good woodworker.

Meghan Bates

Categories: Hand Tools

How to Tap Wood for a Bolt

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 12:14pm

Recently I needed to install two thumb screws into a makeshift fence that was intended for my petite table saw. By threading a hole in the wooden fence I was able to provide my hardware of choice (thumb screws) sufficient purchase to attach the new fence to the one supplied by the manufacturer. This method also allowed me to loosen and tighten the fence as needed, and even dismantle it […]

The post How to Tap Wood for a Bolt appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

How to Rivet Furniture Parts Together

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 11:22am

I built a folding bookstand (above) for an upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine that uses traditional copper rivets to join the components and allow them to pivot. After posting a few photos of the bookstand, a lot of people were curious about how to use copper rivets. So here is a quick tutorial – full details and measured drawings will be in the June 2018 issue of the magazine. […]

The post How to Rivet Furniture Parts Together appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Comfortable Shooting with Lie Nielsen No 7

David Barron Furniture - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 10:35am

I bought this plane recently mainly to shoot the edges of longer pieces. After only a few strokes it starts to be uncomfortable, so I made my own rough and ready side handle or 'hot dog'. It's just a piece of maple with a tight fitting slot and the edges rounded.

In use it allows me to hold the plane and apply sideways as well as forward pressure in relative comfort. The position of my hand with the palm behind the blade and the fore finger ahead of it allows me to apply pressure at the start of the cut at the front and the finish of the cut to the rear. This helps prevent rounding of the edge.

Categories: Hand Tools

‘Ingenious Mechanicks’ Chapter by Chapter

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 9:38am


Coming up with a title for “Ingenious Mechanicks: Early Workbenches & Workholding” was a challenge. This new book started as an expansion of “Roman Workbenches,” a small letterpress edition we published last year. But the more research that Suzanne Ellison and I did, the more we realized that the “Roman” part wasn’t quite right.

I came up with 10 alternative titles, including such losers as “A Workbench Atlas” (too broad), “Workbenches: The First 1,500 Years” (yawn) and “Slabs, Legs & Wedges” (what *are* you smoking, Schwarz?).

In the end, we settled on “Ingenious Mechanicks” because it hit the right note. Both Suzanne and I were continually floored by the simple workholding solutions used on these benches. We chose to use the antiquated spelling of “Mechanicks” as a tip of the hat to Joseph Moxon, who wrote the first English book on woodworking and used the old word in the title of his book, “Mechanick Exercises.”

So for those of you who are still scratching your head about this book – is it a book on fixing old cars? – here is a brief description of the contents. First: Some of you have asked if “Ingenious Mechanicks” contains all the content from “Roman Workbenches.” The answer is yes. Some of it has been rewritten a tad to match the tone of the remainder of “Ingenious Mechanicks.” But it’s all there.

Chapter 1: Why Early Workbenches?
Even if you have a modern workbench with all the latest hardware, there is a lot to be learned from early workbenches. These benches can solve workholding tasks in surprisingly simple ways. And knowing these tricks can allow you to convert almost any surface (such as a picnic table) into a workbench.


Chapter 2: Workbenches Old & Modern
A brief discussion of the three major phases of workbench design: simple low benches that used stops and holdfasts; “middle” benches that introduced benches with fixed screws and dogs; and modern benches with the full array of vises, dogs and sharks with lasers. Plus, there is a discussion of the ideal dimensions for both tall and low benches and – my favorite part – a poem about workbench building.


Chapter 3: The Pleasures & Problems with Paintings
The core of our research into early benches was sifting through about 10,000 paintings from all over the world and 2,000 years of history to find ones that depicted workbenches in use. We discarded many outliers that ignored gravity and the three-dimensional universe and seized on the patterns we found. This chapter contains dozens of paintings – most of which have never been published before – that show early workbenches in use. And we discuss their surprising diversity of workholding solutions.


Chapter 4: Workbenches: Where, When & Why
Suzanne wrote this interesting chapter, which seeks to explain the benches in the paintings through the lens of history. She shows how the benches we found line up with the Roman road system, the borders of the Roman Empire and the changes in the church’s attitude toward St. Joseph, the father of Jesus Christ.


Chapter 5: Early Workholding Devices
In many ways, this long chapter is the heart of the book. Using the paintings, I built the jigs, fixtures and workholding devices we found and put them to use. While we show dozens of techniques, we include measured drawings for the two more complex devices: A shavehorse you can add to a low workbench and a French shaving setup called the “belly” that can be added to any workbench. Plus we investigate some paintings that we just couldn’t figure out.


Chapter 6: Herculaneum Workbench
Plans and construction information for the eight-legged bench shown in the Herculaneum fresco (circa 79 A.D.). This bench (and the one from Pompeii) is the earliest image we know of that depicts a workbench in use.


Chapter 7: Saalburg Workbench
The oldest surviving workbench (so far) is from a Roman fort in Saalburg, Germany. I visited the fort and was permitted to examine the bench and take measurements. This chapter details how to construct the bench (circa 187 A.D.). This is probably my favorite bench of the bunch (just because of the way it looks; they all function well).


Chapter 8: ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ to Your Dollars
My favorite chapter. It’s about the extreme measures we took to dig up information on the first drawing of a “modern” workbench from a 1505 codex. It was so much work and involved people all over the world. The result: We got a recipe for stew and failed to translate the recipe for a love potion. Oh, and there was a kidnapping and a stabbing.


Chapter 9: Holy Roman Workbench
Using the 1505 codex, I built a copy of the first “modern” workbench we know of – it’s a tall workbench with a twin-screw face vise and a fascinating (and highly effective) tail vise.


Chapter 10: ‘Experto Crede’
The final chapter is personal (feel free to skip it). Why is it important to continue to investigate these old benches? And what you can do to continue the research if you are as bonkers as I.

Most of you know I’m not an academic writer. While I love the research tools (and the resources) of the academic, I decline to write like one. This will upset those of you who are serious about your… everything. Apologies. Instead, my goal was to harness years of research and bench trials and funnel that into something that is fun to read, beautiful to look at and useful in your shop.

Ingenious Mechanicks” is available for $39 in our store.

— Christopher Schwarz

Categories: Hand Tools

The Highland Woodturner: Repairing a Sanding Pad

Highland Woodworking - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 8:00am

In the February issue of The Highland Woodturner, Curtis Turner offers an easy solution for repairing a sanding pad:

I never looked closely at how the head was attached to the handle of my handheld sander. After inspecting, I felt I could repair or at least salvage something from this equipment failure. I could see it was a simple task to remove the sanding head. I didn’t have the ability to remake it in the same fashion, so I decided to convert it into a standard sanding pad for use in power rotary tools.

Click here to read more of Curtis’s column

The post The Highland Woodturner: Repairing a Sanding Pad appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Association of Woodturners Appoints John Kelsey as New Editor of Woodturning FUNdamentals

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 7:11am

(Saint Paul, February 21, 2018)-The American Association of Woodturners (AAW) is pleased to announce that its Board of Directors has rededicated Woodturning FUNdamentals, AAW’s digital publication for new and beginning woodturners, and appointed John Kelsey as its new editor. The online periodical will continue to help newer turners build foundational woodturning expertise and skills, serving as an authoritative, practical, and pertinent guide to learning the art and craft of woodturning. […]

The post Association of Woodturners Appoints John Kelsey as New Editor of Woodturning FUNdamentals appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

tool cabinet - fitting the fronts.........

Accidental Woodworker - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 12:30am
Yesterday and today were in the low 60's F (16°C) and we tied the record for the highest temp set back in 1930. Tomorrow the temps are going to drop about 20 degrees and it'll be more seasonable.  My lilac bushes have started to bud and the daisies are putting up sprouts by the back door. I didn't catch Punxsutawney Phil  predication for spring but it's looking good from where I'm sitting.

started with the bottom pull out front
After I installed this one and started on the second drawer, I realized I should have done this starting with the top drawer and working down. Oh well, I started at the bottom by flushing this piece I glued on this end. This is the side that will be facing in and I want it to lay up tight against the sides of the cabinet.

less than a 32nd overhang on both sides
I used my fingers and evened this up as best I could, side to side. I started with 1/8" plywood as spacers at the bottom but I switched to cardboard. Any expansion of the front will be side to side as the long grain runs top to bottom.Because of that I can put a smaller margin at the bottom.

marked the screws onto the dolly
I don't want to screw into the front and hit a screw so I marked them.

new spacers
I used three of these at each end to give me the margin at the bottom. I drilled and drove two screws to hold it in place as I worked on the other fronts.

I was right
In this orientation, when I opened the drawer it tilted back a lot before it started to open. I tried it with on the sawhorses and it did the same thing but not as bad.

not giving me a warm and fuzzy
It has only two screws holding it in place and with a couple more it should be better.  It isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I think the 45° braces will help out a lot and negate any forces on the bottom,

marking how much this overhangs the drawer

didn't overhang by much
I sawed this plus a 1/8" more for clearance off of the bottom front. This is where I found out I should have started at the top. I had to unscrew this and when I screwed it back on one screw didn't make it back into it's original hole. The hole it made pushed the left side up an 1/8". Made me feel very unhappy.'

In hindsight, if I had started at the top and worked down, I wouldn't have had this problem. I would have fitted each of the two drawers and not have had to remove them. I could have then marked and set the big one and not have had to remove it neither. I started with the bottom one because I thought it would be the most difficult one to do.

proving myself right
These fronts were very easy to do because they are the same width as the drawers and the length goes out to the cabinet sides.

the top drawer
The top of this drawer is barely a frog hair over the opening. I don't have any more stock to make a new front. I'll be epoxying a filler strip to the top to increase the OA width. I'm glad I'm painting this because I have few sins to hide.

I tried to lift it off the saw horses but I lost my grip on the cabinet, it slid forward, and the sawhorse fell along with me and the cabinet. I have a broken foot to fix somehow. And this isn't going to be an easy fix. But the good news is I didn't break anything and the cabinet survived without a scratch.

first look see
Thinking now that maybe I should have gone with inset fronts. They are forward of the front of the tray. I'll have to cook up some kind of a transition point between them.

it'll fit under the workbench
found 3 shiny brass handles
quit here

 Not a deal breaker but I should have put the drawer opening on the other side of the cabinet. One side is 3" less than the other. The drawer openings are on the short side. If I had put it on the long side I wouldn't have the overhang past the end of the workbench.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that King Tut was buried with 145 loincloths?

A New Old Idea: Pocket Screws

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 8:51pm

I just completed a pair of side tables copied from one I measured at Hancock Shaker Village last year. The top of the original table, dating to around 1840, was attached with pocket screws. The first thing that comes to mind when the words pocket screw are thought of is the modern Kreg Jig. Pocket screws are actually quite old; they existed long before Craig Sommerfeld came up with an apparatus to bore them in 1986.


The early pocket screws pockets are chopped out with a gouge instead of bored. The majority of the old ones always look pretty much the same: a gauge mark at the bottom and a coarsely chopped pocket. In most of the vintage ones I have measured, the bottom of the pocket is 3/4″ to 1″ from the top edge of the skirt.

These are quite easy and fast to cut. About the only special tool needed is an incannel gouge. No need to be particularly neat either – the old ones aren’t. They are also nice because there is no other hardware needed besides screws. I can cut the pockets faster (about three minuets per pocket) and less time spent doing laying than using Z clips, figure-8s or buttons.

To lay out the pocket, start by laying a screw the length you will be mounting the top with on the edge of the table skirt. Let the screw overhang the skirt the amount you want it to penetrate the top you will be mounting. In my case here, I had a 5/8″-thick top, so the screw projects past the edge of the skirt 1/2″. When the screw is positioned, mark the location of the screw head. This will be the location of the bottom of the pocket.

IMG_1681 jp

Set a marking gauge to the pencil line and gauge a line at each location you need a screw.


Next, using a gouge, start cutting down to the gauge mark, taking light cuts until the bottom of the pocket is slightly wider and deeper than the diameter of the screw head. The gouge I am using here is about 1/2″ wide. A more narrow or wider gouge will work, too. If the sweep is too wide cut from ether side of the pocket this will make the back of the screw pocket a bit V-shaped, but it works just fine. A more narrow one just requires a few more licks.


Once the pockets are cut bore thru for the screw and then cut the countersink for the screw head.

Last, align the table base on the top and bore the pilot holes thru the pockets into the top. To allow for expansion an contraction of the top, elongate the screw holes a bit where they exit the skirts. Screw on the top.


Give them a try sometime, the work great!

Will Myers

Below are a few photos of vintage tables using pocket screws.

Categories: Hand Tools

period carvings; arches/arcading: what-have-you

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 6:37pm

That carving pattern I worked on the other day https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2018/02/19/carved-arcading/ is very common, except in my work & my photo files! I have rarely used it, but that will change; I’m planning to take a whack at a few versions of it. Here’s what mine was generally based on, a walnut box, made c. 1600-1610. London? This is the drawer front to the box…I’d say maybe 4″ high. Look how much detail is crammed into a small space.


This one was sent to me by a reader of the blog – I know, because I’ve never been to Suffolk. Simple version, cut very well.

Suffolk arcading

A few years back I had 2 workshops in England. Jon Bayes attended one, and this is his version of that carving in progress. https://www.riversjoinery.co.uk/workshop


Jon Bayes’ arcading

Here’s a row of it, over some nice spindles in a church in Great Durnford, Wiltshire.

Great Durnford, Wiltshire

A wainscot chair now in the Merchant’s House in Marlborough, Wiltshire. Even has the pattern upside-down.

wainscot chair Merchant’s House

One for the dish-people. V&A in London:

It’s as old as the hills. But so are all the other patterns I know…here it is from Sebastiano Serlio’s 16th century book on architecture:

Same book, different section. This time a fireplace/hearth:

I’ve seen it on boxes quite often, or the top rail of a chest. Here’s one more from a book called “A Discourse on Boxes of the 16th, 17th & 18th Centuries” by Andrew Coneybeare. Nice detail shots of carving in that book. Published in 1992 by Rosca Publications, Worcestershire. Like the first one, look at all the detail jammed into a tiny space. The other versions seem blank…

I remember learning its name as “nulling” but I see no reference to that anywhere. Harris’ Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture had a definition of nulling with no illustration. Said it was part of a molding. Coneybeare cited just above calls it “fluting.” Makes some sense. I’ve called it “arcading” but my kids thought I was talking about the crazy places with video games and noisy rides. So now I don’t talk about it.

WW18thC 2018 – John’s Ripple Cutter

The Barn on White Run - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 3:55pm

Since our first-ever convening of the International Ripple Molding Association last spring JohnH has been an enthusiastic fellow traveler along this road, and once he got home he started building his own following the instructions of Roubo as closely as practicable.

Inasmuch as he had it finished and working I asked him to bring it with us to Williamsburg, since I had already asked him to be with me on stage when we were demonstrating Winterthur Museum’s ripple cutter made by my longtime friend and colleague Cor van Horne.

While demonstrating we were able only to get the Winterthur machine before we ran out of time, but we arranged for John’s machine to be on display out in the atrium of the museum.

There was a great deal of interest, including mine, and it would not surprise me to learn of several copies being made in the world of historic furniture making. I know that one will begin to take shape in The Barn in the not too distant future.

In addition, as John and I continue to develop our designs and facility in building these elegant little machines, we decided to offer a workshop on building your own ripple molding cutter at The Barn in late July 2019.

Stay tuned.

How to Maintain a Workbench Top – Shawn Graham

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 12:10pm

Check for flatness with winding sticks. Determine areas that need to be planed down. Plane the surface with a jack plane. Use a toothed plane blade to add roughness to the top. Go over the surface with 36 grit sandpaper on a random orbit sander. Shawn Graham of Worth Effort Woodworking, shared a video on YouTube detailing his approach to flattening and preparing a workbench top. I know that many […]

The post How to Maintain a Workbench Top – Shawn Graham appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

5 Tips for Writing Well

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:09am

During each issue’s editorial process, Mike, Jim, Megan, and I go round and round discussing better ways to articulate the ideas in our and our authors’ heads. We love word craft and always feel a sense of accomplishment when we polish each piece to clearly reflect the author’s voice and vision.

Our authors come from many backgrounds and experiences. Many have been professional writers for years while others are just emerging onto the woodworking writer scene. Many of our newer authors develop their skills through blogging (as I did). There are a ton of great woodworking blogs out there (many of which you can find linked on our sidebar) but not everyone is as comfortable putting words onto paper or screen.

The same is true of photography. Most anyone can point a camera at a thing but it is only through deliberate informed practice that grows as an artist.

As an effort to encourage woodworkers to cultivate their wordsmithing and photographic skills, we plan to post some of the advice that has been most helpful to us over the years. First, we’ll tackle writing. Before wading through the ocean of how-to books, do yourself a favor and pick up copies of William Zinsser’s On Writing Well and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. These two books are staples and have been instrumental to my growth as a writer over the years. I’ve still got a long way to go but each time I reread these two books, I absorb new understanding of the craft.


These two books brim with sage advice but here are the five tips that helped me the most on my journey:

  1. Know the Audience. Avoid unnecessary jargon or at least define it when used. As you write, keep in mind your target reader. For M&T, we intentionally write to both professionals in the field and the average Joe. We want people at all levels to be able to engage with the content. Think of your reader as an “intelligent non-specialist”.
  2. Write like you Speak. Don’t worry about trying to impress anyone with your command of the thesaurus because most readers prefer writing that sounds natural. If you do use five-dollar words in your everyday speech then, by all means, go for it. If your writing is not you, it will sound forced.
  3. Stay on Track. Always keep in mind the over-arching narrative (i.e. main point) of your article. Don’t diverge too far off topic. If you’re unsure if you’ve strayed, ask yourself, “How does this section serve to illustrate the main point?” Try creating an outline before you begin composing. This will give you a road map for telling your story.
  4. Read it Aloud. Reading aloud is the easiest way to determine if a sentence or paragraph has engaging flow and cadence. If it doesn’t sound right, it doesn’t read right either. Varying the length of your sentences gives the text movement.
  5. Have Others Critique it. Writing is communication. So, although it can be hard, it’s important to see what others think. No matter how much a writer may enjoy their own work, if the reader doesn’t understand what is meant, the writing must be clarified. We recommend that you have others read your work – but don’t prep them with explanations. Let them read it as the intended audience will read it: fresh off the street. Trust your editors – we believe writing is, in the end, a group effort.

- Joshua 

More to come. Questions about writing? Feel free to comment below.


Categories: Hand Tools

Now in the Store: ‘Ingenious Mechanicks’

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 6:13am

IM_dustjacket2You can now place a pre-publication order for “Ingenious Mechanicks: Early Workbenches & Workholding” in our store. The price is $39, which includes domestic shipping. All customers who place a pre-publication order will receive a free download of the book in pdf format at checkout.

The book is scheduled to ship in early April 2018. We don’t know which retailers will opt to carry the book (we hope all of them will). But we will update you here when we have more information.


What’s it About?
Workbenches with screw-driven vises are a fairly modern invention (likely the 14th century). For many hundreds of years, woodworkers built complex and beautiful pieces of furniture using simpler benches that relied on pegs, wedges and the human body to grip the work. While it’s easy to dismiss these ancient benches as obsolete, they are – at most –  misunderstood.

For the last three years, I’ve been building these ancient workbenches and putting them to work to build all manner of furniture – chairs, casework and carpentry stuff. Absent any surviving ancient instruction manuals for these benches, I looked to historical paintings of these benches for clues as to how they worked. Then I built the devices and tried the techniques shown in the paintings.

FPO_"La Segrada Familia" by Juan del Castillo, 1634-1636

This book is about this journey into the past and takes the reader from Pompeii, which features the oldest image of a Western bench, to a Roman fort in Germany to inspect the oldest surviving workbench and finally to my shop in Kentucky, where I recreated three historical workbenches and dozens of early jigs.

These early benches have many advantages:

  1. They are less expensive to build
  2. They can be built in a couple days
  3. They require less material
  4. You can sit down to use them
  5. They take up less space than a modern bench and can even serve as seating in your house
  6. In some cases they perform better than modern vises or shavehorses.

Even if you have no plans to build an early workbench, “Ingenious Mechanicks” is filled with ideas you can put to work on your modern bench. You can make an incredibly versatile shaving station for your bench using four small pieces of wood. You can create a hard-gripping face vise with a notch in the benchtop and some softwood wedges. You can make the best planing stop ever with a stick of oak and some rusty nails.

Oh, one final note about what this book is not. It’s not a condemnation of modern benches. It is, instead, a way to expand the methods of holding your work. To make some operations simpler. And to allow you to more at your bench without adding complex vises.

And it features a poem I wrote.

“Ingenious Mechanics” is 8-1/2” x 11”, 160 pages and printed in full color on beautiful coated paper. The binding is sewn to last for generations. The pages are surrounded by heavy hardbound boards that are covered in cotton cloth. And the whole book is wrapped in a heavy matte-coated dust jacket. Like all Lost Art Press books, “Ingenious Mechanicks” is produced and printed entirely in the United States.

— Christopher Schwarz

Categories: Hand Tools

Miles's toolbox update, final part.......

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 12:37am
I saved the planes for the final part of the update because I think then are either the #1 or #2  most important tool in the toolbox. The other tool contending for #1, are the chisels. The planes are one group of tools for Miles that I feel pretty good about. I think I got everything he needs and he shouldn't need to get any others. Well maybe a #7 or a #8 once he grows up.

everyone needs a spokeshave or two
Both of these are EC Preston shaves that I rehabbed. The top one is a chamfer spokeshave and the bottom one is a flat sole spokeshave. Preston did have an eye for style.

I like my block planes
I think these are a Stanley 9 1/4 and 60 1/2 - low angle 12° and high angle 20°. The Record 077 is a rabbet plane but I think it is more of a bullnose plane than a rabbet plane. I can't see this being used to make rabbets other than cleaning them up. You can also remove the nose and convert to a chisel plane.

the bench plane herd
From the left going right- #6, #5, #5 1/4, #4, #3, and a #2.

my current #5
I'm rehabbing a jack I bought as a parts plane because I decided I liked it much better than this jack. I will shine this one up, shitcan that high knob, and give it Miles. I don't know if he will outgrow the 5 1/4 but if he does he'll have a big boy jack to play with.

router plane
This plane and the next two I consider to be must have tools. I have a Lee Valley 1/4" iron for this Stanley because it didn't come with one. I'm still looking but finding one in the wild is proving to be elusive. I haven't seen one in any of the router planes I've seen for sale neither. One option I thought of is to buy a complete router set, take the 1/4" iron and then resell it.

Record 044
I got this working finally. I had some problems with the fence and plane body rod holes being drilled off square in plane #1. This is plane #2 and it is working ok. It will make grooves (rabbets too) from 1/8 up to 9/16 by 16ths.

Grandpa's nemesis
I have used this 3 times and 3 times I felt like I didn't have opposable thumbs. I will have to master this because I'll be showing Miles how to use it. I also bought 4 fence rods because I bent the new one I bought to replace the bent one that came with it.

space is tight in the bottom
The #5 is going to involve a wee bit of creative rearranging to get it to fit in here. I bought a 3/8" pigsticker from Jim Bode today and a 4" combo square from Lee Valley. I don't have much more to get other than sharpening stones and .........

the front of the tray was out of square
this is all the meat I have to screw and glue too
the front of the tray is tall
I am screwed on this no matter where I put the handle. Up high, where I want it, will put almost all the open/close force on the bottom where it is attached to sliding tray. Putting the handle down lower will lessen it some but I still think it would be a problem.

one possible solution
This presents a couple of problems. The first is how to attach the 45 braces to the front and the tray. The front isn't too much of a headache but the tray is only a 1/2" thick. My thoughts on it now is to use epoxy instead of yellow or hide glue and screw it too. One from the front into the 45 and one from underneath the tray into the other 45. I think that may offer sufficient rigidity to pulling forces when opening this. The other option I thought of was to use biscuits and yellow glue.

The other problem is this will eat up real estate that I don't really want to give up. Another thing I can do to reinforce the bottom connection (where the tray front meets the drawer) is to use some glue blocks there. I'll have to make a decision on it because I don't want to be sans a 'door' and leave this open to the shop.

sneak preview
After the drawer fronts are installed I will plane a small chamfer on the sides and the top.

squared up the sides to the bottom
I'll do the fitting/sizing of the drawer fronts once I decide on the sliding tray fix up.

I knew I had another one
3 pins hold it together
how do you replace this pin?
I can take this apart but there is nothing but solid wood under the pin. This gauge is a pinned,  sliding bridle joint construction. This pin barely marks wood. Maybe I could pull them but there isn't a lot to grab on either two.

the fixed pin is the same
There is a single pin on the other side so this gauge has dual capability - marking mortises or single gauge lines. At least I know why now that I tossed in on the black hole shelf.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that Chile owns Easter Island even though it is 2300 miles away?

WorkbenchCon, Finishing the #SuperShop and a Visit from the Wood Whisperer

Anne of All Trades - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 4:44pm

After a whirlwind few months, I've got another insanely packed few weeks before Adam and I take a much needed week of vacation at the end of March. This weekend, I'll be at Workbench Conference in Atlanta, GA. If you happen to be in the area, stay tuned on Instagram about the various Maker Meetups and events I'll be attending and please do stop by and say hello. I'm most looking forward to getting some quality time in with my two close friends, April Wilkerson and Ashley Harwood, both incredibly talented female woodworkers who I both look up to and adore. 

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 4.32.33 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 4.33.50 PM.png

Other highlights will be meeting other makers I've admired from afar and recharging my batteries and getting inspired to hit the ground running when I get home. Upon my return to Seattle, I'll be getting my new workshop as finished as possible in preparation for the arrival of Marc Spagnuolo, the Wood Whisperer, who will be spending a few days filming me building a writing desk as a purchase-able online class for his online woodworking school, the Wood Whisperer Guild. 

For those local to Seattle, Marc and I will be hosting a Seattle Meetup on March 10, 2018 at 7pm in the Wood Shop at Pratt Fine Arts Center 1902 S Main St Seattle, WA 98072.

Looking towards spring and summer, I am really, really excited to have my new shop operational and can't wait to share the many fun projects I've got up my sleeves in the coming months. Thanks so much for following along!

February 2018 Meeting

NCW Woodworking Guild - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 4:35pm

Don’t miss your opportunity tomorrow night to leave the meeting with a beautiful piece of 6′ goncalo alves! We’re having a door prize – yep, just walking in the door will afford you a chance to take home this 6′ x 4″ x 15/16″ beauty:

goncalo alves from Jeff Dilks

When:  Wednesday, Feb 21 @ 7 PM

Where:  Steve Voorhies’ shop at 3190 Number 1 Canyon Rd, Wenatchee

This month we’ll finish insetting a premade inlay and learn how to cut mother of pearl.

We look forward to seeing you.


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