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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...


Making wooden ladders

Steve Tomlin Crafts - 3 hours 1 min ago
Wooden builders ladder made by Stanley ClarkThis month I was invited by the Heritage Crafts Association to take part in their efforts to preserve the craft of making wooden ladders. I travelled down to Northampton with fellow greenwood worker and HCA chair Robin Wood to learn to the craft of making ladders from Stanley Clark who made ladders until the trade ceased in the 1960s. Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

“How to Build a Guitar in 3 Easy Steps” Infographic from M&M Tool Parts

Matt's Basement Workshop - 4 hours 3 min ago

I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, but I have ZERO musical talent (ever hear me attempt to “sing” on the show? Not pretty!) The next best thing for me might be making one instead. But where do you start?

Looks like the folks over at M&M Tool Parts have been asked this question before. That might explain this great “How to Build a Guitar in 3 Easy Steps” infographic they posted recently on their blog “Shop Talk”.

Courtesy of: M&M Tools Parts

I don’t know if I’ll ever actually make a musical instrument, but regardless, it’s nice to know there’s resources like this to help me get started when I do.

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers

Categories: Hand Tools

OBG Raises Questions and Provides Answers

Antique Refinishers, Inc. - 4 hours 9 min ago

OBG Raises Questions and Provides Answers
Made Possible by Old Brown Glue

I developed and used Old Brown Glue nearly 10 years before I began selling it to the "public."  That was almost 15 years ago, and I was naturally concerned about how others would be able to use this glue and what questions they may raise.  Since that time this glue has been used for making American Indian...
Categories: Hand Tools

OBG Raises Questions and Provides Answers

WPatrickEdwards - 4 hours 9 min ago

Made Possible by Old Brown Glue

I developed and used Old Brown Glue nearly 10 years before I began selling it to the "public." That was almost 15 years ago, and I was naturally concerned about how others would be able to use this glue and what questions they may raise.  Since that time this glue has been used for making American Indian rocket ships, artificial kidney stones, as a bonding agent for exterior sprayed finishes, applying veneer to 10' tall architectural columns in Florida, Alaskan native drums, "craquelure" finishes, and too many other odd projects for me to remember.

Of course, my intention in making and selling OBG from the start was so that other woodworkers would be able to use it and appreciate its unique features, as I have.  So I was pleased to see the increasing number of furniture makers and luthiers who are using this glue on a regular basis.  And, since my name and phone number is on the label, I am constantly hearing from these people and answering their questions. I am happy to be of assistance, and always ready to respond to emails or phone calls, since I feel somewhat responsible for the success of their projects.

In order to fully understand how glue works, it is instructive to discuss not only the glue but the properties of the wood itself.  How the wood is prepared, what species it is, how it is joined and other factors contribute to the success or failure of the work.  That is why studies of adhesion spend a lot of time discussing the material and how it is prepared.  See the article in Fine Woodworking, "How Strong is Your Glue?"

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) defines an adhesive as a substance capable of holding materials together by surface attachment.  There are a variety of forces at work which make this possible.  The most common is called "mechanical bonding" meaning that the surfaces are held together by an adhesive that has penetrated the porous surface while it is liquid, then anchored itself during solidification.  With some adhesives, there are also other physical forces of attraction, which are referred to as "specific adhesion".  These include intermolecular attraction forces which form bonds between the adhesive polymer and the molecular structure of the wood itself, such as van der Waal's forces and hydrogen bonding.  I believe that covalent bonding is also a factor, which is 11 times stronger than hydrogen bonding, but at this time there is no clear evidence that such bonds constitute an important mechanism in adhesive bonding to wood.

The reason I suspect that these molecular forces are a factor is that water has a strong molecular attraction to wood, primarily through hydrogen bonding with hydroxyl groups of the cellulose which is in the wood.  Since protein glues are carried by hot water, it is obvious to me that they would have excellent penetration into the wood surface and form specific adhesion with the molecules of the wood itself.

Animal glues are derived by the hydrolysis of the protein constituent collagen of animal hides and bones.  They are described as "hydrolyzed collagen', and are actually various amino acids which join in polypeptide linkages to form long chain polymers.  Studies have indicated that most glue molecules consist of single chains terminated at one end by an amino group and at the other end by a carboxyl group.  Cross linkage between protein molecules is possible through hydrogen, ionic and covalent bonds.

These glues are manufactured in a wide range of average molecular weights but are graded for commercial use by a test instrument called a "Bloom Gelometer." In general, woodworkers use glues rated at 192, 222, or 251 average gram strength.  The higher the number, the faster it sets and the more brittle the bond.  The lower the number, the slower it sets and the more flexible the bond.  I have used Milligan and Higgins hide glue, gram strength 192 for the past 45 years, both in the glue pot and it is the basis for the formulation of Old Brown Glue.

The addition of urea to protein glues acts as a gel depressant, simply lowering the gel point.  Franklin and Titebond both manufacture and sell a similar liquid protein glue, and they use other chemicals to achieve the same result, such as ammonium thiocyanate or dicyandiamide.  Because of the large number of hydrogen bonding sites on the protein molecule, an amazingly diverse number of additives can be used to modify animal glues, producing a wide range of results.  My goal was simply to lower the gel point, using the most basic organic chemical, and I chose urea.

The inspiration for this decision was my participation in a research group in France some 20 years ago.
The group was called ADEN, and was a joint collaboration between the Musee des Arts Deco, in Paris and the Ecole nationale Superieure des Technologies et Industries du Bois, in Nancy.  One of the research projects involved testing the use of protein glues, with and without modifiers, in bonding wood to wood and wood to metal.  Long term environmental stress testing was done to anticipate aging.  The results wer published in a paper in a paper by Aurelie Garcet in 1996, titled "Etude des Colles D'Origine Animale Utilisees Pour la Restauration de Marqueteries Anciennes."  The general results of that testing included adding thiourea to the glue but thiourea is a known carcinogen.  The only difference between urea and thiourea is that thiourea contains a sulfur molecule, so I decided to do my own testing with urea after I returned to my workshop.  It took me 37 different formulations to achieve the results I wanted.  Surprisingly, it did not take a lot of urea, but for obvious reasons, I cannot exactly state how I formulate the glue.

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) has a subgroup, the Wooden Artifacts Group (WAG) which I have been a member of in the past.  This group publishes papers in their WAG Postprints, and in 1990 published a paper by Susan Buck, from Winterthur.  The title was "A Study of the Properties of Commercial Liquid Hide Glue and Traditional Hot Hide Glue in Response to Changes in Relative Humidity and Temperature."  Of course, this was before OBG was developed, so she used "a new, unopened bottle of Franklin Liquid Hide Glue with an expiration date of January 1991".  I should mention that Franklin was the first company in America to sell liquid hide glue.

Her conclusion states:

Based purely on strength characteristics this testing indicates that liquid hide glue is the glue of choice for repairing a join which will undergo significant stress, such as the structural join of a chair in regular use.  But, more importantly, that decision must also take into consideration the environmental conditions.  Under normal conditions of 50% RH and room temperature liquid hide glue provides the strongest bond.  However, hot hide glue proved to be the more stable of the two glues under extreme conditions of high heat or high humidity, and thus would be the ore desirable choice if fluctuation environmental conditions are anticipated."  The "extreme" conditions in her testing occurred at 84 % RH and 150 degrees F.  This is not surprising, as protein glues are reversible and those are the exact conditions under which the glue converts from solid to gel to liquid.

In fact, reversibility is one of the most important features to me in deciding to use protein glues in my work.  All furniture needs repair.  If you cannot reverse the finish or bonding agent easily, the furniture cannot be repaired easily.  One of the reasons antique furniture has survived for centuries is that it can be easily repaired.  As soon as modern adhesives or modern catalyzed finishes or epoxy fillers are used, the antique is damaged severely.

The fact that protein glues are "reversible" always raises questions, since modern synthetic adhesives are not, in fact, reversible.  You need to get both humidity (water molecules) and heat to the surface of the glue to liquify it.  That means that, if the wood joint is well made and tight, and there is a protective finish applied to the wood, and perhaps a wax is applied to the finish, and the object is in an environment which is not the surface of Venus, then the glue will hold.  However, if you throw the chair or guitar into the jacuzzi and leave it overnight, it will come apart.  Seriously, luthiers need to repair their instruments, and I understand that they use a range of glues for different reasons.  Liquid hide glues as well as hot hide glues in different molecular weights are commonly used and work perfectly, and there are instruments which are centuries old to serve as a testament to this fact.

All modified liquid protein glues have a shelf life.  Unmodified dry hide glue has an infinite shelf life, but when the protein is in solution the presence of water facilitates a chemical breakdown of the glue.  The pH changes over time.  Normal protein glue is in the 6 to 6.6pH range.  OBG is formulated to start at 5.5pH when fresh and decay to 6.0 after 18 months in the bottle, regardless of storage conditions.  Keeping it in the refrigerator prolongs the shelf life, and it can be frozen and thawed as many times as you wish, further extending the useful shelf life.

What happens to the glue over time in the bottle is that the viscosity changes as the pH changes.  It starts out as a gel in the bottle, which requires heating to use, and eventually becomes quite thin and liquid past the due date.  It also develops a strong ammonia smell, as a result of the chemical breakdown of the urea, and this is an indicator that the glue is no longer good.  I always recommend you buy it and use it fresh, before the due date, and if you are not sure, do a simple overnight test.

You can also heat and cool it for normal use as often as you want and as many times as necessary.  We do this all day long to adjust the viscosity for our work.  Simply take hot water from the tap and place the bottle in the water.  In a few minutes it is ready for use.  One advantage is that you can use the water to clean your hands since the glue gets very sticky and we often use our fingers.  Of course it is not toxic at all.

There are questions about how the urea affects the glue strength over time and why it is softer than hide glue on the surface.  My research seems to prove that OBG cures over time by loss of moisture, which is a factor of the wood and environment.  Thus, when the glue is applied to a joint or other surface and pressed together, the wood absorbs the moisture, allowing the glue to cure fairly rapidly.  However, the glue which squeezes out and rests on the surface retains a high degree of water for a fairly long time.  It might take days or weeks for it to completely dry out, which makes it softer than hot hide glue, which always dries brittle and hard.  I think this is an advantage in my work, since I often work with period finishes and the hot hide glue will damage the finish when I try to remove it.  I find the liquid glue cleans up easily with cold water and a sponge, conserving the original finish.

Thus, inside the joint, after the water has dispersed and the glue has cured, there is no longer any reaction between the protein glue and the urea modifier possible.  The glue is stable over time, and I have tested many projects over my career which gives me the confidence to continue using and promoting this wonderful material.

Further reading can be found in my article, "Why Not Period Glue?", published in the Society of American Period Furniture Makers Journal, November 2001.
Categories: Hand Tools

Woodturning Show this Weekend in Waco: Worth the trip!

If woodturning is of any interest to you than I highly recommend coming down to the Waco Convention Center for the 2nd largest woodturning show in the country, happening this weekend. The South West Association of Turners (otherwise known as SWAT) will be holding their annual woodturning convention this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 22-24, right here […]

The post Woodturning Show this Weekend in Waco: Worth the trip! appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Stick Chair Build - Materials, Tools and Timeline

Toolerable - 5 hours 34 min ago
It's weird how time flies.  only a week or so to go before our Great Welsh Stick Chair Extravaganza in Denmark!  I had intended to drag out a whole series of blogposts intended more than anything to help me organize my thoughts, but as I am not one who normally does so well with organizing and planning things, we'll just cram all those thoughts into this one blog post.
18th Century child's painted 5-legged stick chair made from oak and elm.
Photo courtesy Welsh Vernacular Furniture.


From what I can tell, stick chairs are made from whatever is available.  Most of the old ones have a seat from one plank, which means you need a pretty wide board.  I think this is the main reason so many different woods are used in these chairs.  

From a purely technical standpoint, elm is a perfect wood due to it's resistance to splitting.  Your chair won't break just because your cousin Tony comes and plops in it.

Looking around the antique furniture sites, it appears that just about any wood was used for these chair seats:  elm, oak, ash, even sycamore and yew.  American Windsor chair seats seem to have a preference for white pine.

My guess is the species of wood isn't so critical for normal modern use.

Modern chair makers seem to use woods that look cool with great effect like walnut.  Drew Langsner mentions in his book that an all cherry Windsor is a modern invention, but makes a spectacular chair.

Back to the seat for Welsh stick chairs, I personally think the wood used could be either kiln dried stuff, or mostly green wood.  The advantage with green-ish lumber is that as it dries over time and the wood shrinks, it will also shrink around the leg tenons and make those joints even tighter.  When was the last time you have seen a mass-produced chair tighten itself over time?  Another big advantage is that green wood can be easier to work on processes such as saddling the seat.

For our build, we are lucky enough to have a couple of really big elm logs that Jonas has milled into seat blanks.  Since he milled them only about six weeks previous to our build, it is doubtful they will be bone dry.  I am hoping this will make them a bit easier to saddle.  I have no worries about the wood being too wet, although Jonas expressed to me a concern that he hopes the seats don't check as they dry.

Time will tell.

We chose to use kiln-dried ash from the lumberyard for the legs.  Chair makers seem to stress that leg stock should have as straight of grain as possible.  Riven stock shaved down on a shavehorse when it is green and left to air dry over time is perfect. 

We don't have dry rivings to work with, though, so my thought processes wandered to regular, easy to get from the lumberyard kiln dried stuff.  When I went to look, I figured I'd check out what they had in oak, ash, walnut, or anything else that is ring pourous, or semi-ring pourous with straight grain.  Kiln dried lumber has to be cut on the saw, so the straighter the grain, the less problems with runout.

The first pile of lumber I found was some 8/4 white European ash (Fraxinus exelsior) that was perfectly arrow-straight and no knots.

I bought it and looked no further.  Beautiful stuff.

I cross cut it to leg-like lengths so it will fit in my VW Golf for the 12-15 hour drive to Denmark.  

There should be plenty of ash for about six chairs, using it for both legs and sticks.  If there's not quite enough, elm will work for the sticks, too.


My guess looking at these chairs, is that stick chairs were made using tools that were likely to already be owned by the person who made the chair.  Someone who likely was not a professional chair maker.

That being said, I think that having a few chair making tools might give us an opportunity to make some chairs with a little more refinement  (read: likely to be allowed in the house by SWMBO) than the chairs in my last post.  As much as I would love to see someone make a three-legged chair with an arm rail rived from a curved tree-branch, I know it won't be me.

So, I made a list of a few tools that most of us woodworkers might not have but would come in handy for chairs.  I fell off the anarchist's wagon and succumbed to the temptation of buying many of these tools.  That means I better make a few chairs at least to make  it all worth it.
  • Gutter adze - an adze with a curved blade is used for roughing out the hollow when saddling (shaping the seat blank to be comfortable) the seat.
  • Draw knife - a knife with the handle at each end that you pull to shave wood.
  • Spokeshave - basically a small plane with a handle on either side.  They have soles that are flat, rounded front to back, or side to side.
  • Scorp - mostly called an in-shave, I prefer the term 'scorp.'  It's shorter.  basically it is a rounded draw knife.  This tool is used after  the adze as an intermediate tool for saddling the seat.
  • Travisher - for lack of a better explanation, it is a spokeshave that is rounded front to back, as well as side to side.  Used after the scorp in seat saddling.
  • Tapered reamer - does exactly what it says - makes a round hole tapered.  Tapered holes are great for chairs.  Besides being strong, the angle of the hole can be adjusted a little bit right up to the last turn of the tool.
  • Bending form - more of an appliance than a tool - it is a block of something that is the shape you want your steamed wood to be.  You wrap the steamed wood around it and the form holds it in place until it is cool and dry.  We'll be using one to steam-bend arm rails.
  • Hammer - this really isn't specifically a chair maker's tool, I just wanted to see if you are still reading!
I'm sure there are plenty of other tools we'll need, these are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head that aren't really needed much in the woodworking I usually do.


Here is the part where some of you experienced chair making folks out there could provide some extra-valuable input to let me know if this is realistic or not.  I have given us four full days to build these chairs.  That is because that is the time I was able to take off of work.
  • Day 0:  Travel - it's a long ways for me.  If I can't do it all in one day, I'll stay overnight somewhere and finish the drive early in the morning on day 1.  
  • Day 1:  Make chair parts - as in roughly dimensioned wood.  We will all need a seat blank, leg blanks, stick blanks, arm rail blanks, and a comb (the top bit of wood that is nearest your head when sitting) blank if making a high-back version.  Bring your earplugs.  My plan is to make a laminated arm rail so I can hopefully complete a chair while in Denmark, but I want to steam bend a rail too, to take home and make another chair once the steam bending cures.
  • Day 2:  Shaping and bending - Steam arm rails and combs if you want a steam bent part.  Combs are traditionally carved out of a thick hunk of wood rather than steam bent, but hey, there are no rules to this!  Shaping of parts that we won't steam may include saddling of seats, turning or planing legs, turning or shaving sticks, sawing out and shaping laminated arms and combs.
  • Day 3:  Continue shaping, shaving, scraping, etc.  Also, today we will aim to drill holes for the legs and taper tenons on the legs.  After that it should start looking kind of chair-ish.
  • Day 4:  Get the upper carriage of the chair together.  Lots more drilling holes and fitting tenons, I expect.  Anyone who actually gets finish on their chair this day gets the prize of smelling it the whole way home!
  • Day 5:  More travel.  I'm sure Jonas' family will be ready for some peace and quiet.
There you have it!  No promises that we'll get to stick to the plans.  I think that there will be lots of time adjusting going on, as since this isn't a woodworking school there will not be a standard kit of tools for each of us to use.  I expect that tapering legs will be a good thing to do while I am waiting for the scorp.

If you haven't seen what this is all about, check out my last post to read all about it! (It's OK, really.  That post has more pictures.)
Categories: Hand Tools

The plane maker

Rundell & Rundell - 5 hours 38 min ago
So a day or so after being in Virginia, then Tennessee and North Carolina, we headed South again in to South Carolina and to the home of Caleb James. I'd first heard of Caleb through Pete Galbert's blog. Then again when I found that Caleb was doing the drawings for Curtis Buchanan's Comb Back and Continuous Arm Chair plans. 

One look at the Danish furniture and cord weaving produced by Caleb and it's clear to see why Pete was so impressed with Caleb's ability. 

So when I was talking of my trip further South, Pete suggested a visit to Caleb would be worth the miles.

He wasn't wrong. Jeff and I arrived late morning and were shown down to Caleb's basement workshop by Caleb's wife Tracy. No dark undercroft here though. It's a light filled timber lined long room looking out to the greenery beyond. It's quite an inviting space. 

As with a fair few other American chair makers I've met, it was interesting to see where our paths had crossed, both with Curtis and Pete. But it seems to be a familiar trait in this field with people I've met recently and has been the case as far as I know back to the early 1980's and no doubt prior. Whether that original contact was someone like Drew Langsner, Dave Sawyer or another pioneering worker of wood, it's amazing to see what a definitive effect it has on an individual's life and not just their career. It's a great thing.

What did surprise me in a way was that despite Caleb's obvious natural talent for making chairs, it appears that he is going to focus primarily on making hand planes. Well to be a little more precise, it surprised me until I looked into his tool chest and saw this.

A few moments later after asking if I could try a little coffin shaped smoother, it was clearly obvious why Caleb should concentrate on planes. They're awesome. Comfortable in the hand and beautifully detailed and proportioned. So good in fact that the smoother came home with me. 

Here it is today being used to tidy up the spindle deck of a Windsor chair I'm making

There's evidence of a good deal of forward planning too, as neatly stacked piles of beech abound in the workshop,

Most destined for the sets of moulding planes that Caleb is rapidly becoming well known for.

Caleb also spoke of his thoughts of potentially running classes in his workshop in future, teaching the making of Danish styled furniture and of course planes. A no brainer in my book. To spend a few days learning what Caleb knows would be good value for money in anyones language. We finished our visit with a culinary highlight of the trip, a mexican lunch prepared by Tracy, which was that good I would have taken a picture of that too, if it were not for good manners!

I also learnt that Caleb and Tracy have relatives in Australia. I hope they drop in and visit next time they're in my neck of the woods.

Categories: General Woodworking


The Cornish Workshop - Alf's blog - 5 hours 47 min ago
Categories: Hand Tools

National Moulding Book: Containing The Latest Styles Of Mouldings - 1899

Toolemera - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 8:11pm
Compliments of Eagle Lumber Co... Manufacturs Of Arkansas Yellow Pine, Eagle Mills, Ark. 1899. Title, in full: National Moulding Book; Containing The Latest Styles Of Mouldings; Interior House Finish, Stair and Porch Railings. As Well As Full Size Cuts of Frames In Use In Different Localities. Number Commencing At 5000, Cuts Giving Exact Size Of Each Moulding, With Figures Representing The Ripping Width Of Lumber. Adopted April 15, 1896, By The Wholesale Sash, Door & Blind Manufacturers' Association Of The Northwest and by The Eastern Sash, Door & Blind Manufacturers' Association. Chicago: Published By Rand, McNally & Company, Printers, Engravers,...
Categories: Hand Tools

Back to a Slightly Flawed, Six-pronged Friend

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 8:00pm


I have concluded that the surface-mounted tee-nuts (item 94122A200 from McMaster-Carr) are difficult to break, but they do break at the collar if you tighten their mating bolts too much.

So I removed these 14 tee-nuts from my knockdown Nicholson bench. When it comes to a workbench, nothing should be light- or medium-duty. I replaced them with an old standby for me: the six-prong steel tee-nut for wood, also from McMaster-Carr (90975A163).

These are less expensive – $13.72 for a pack of 50 – and can be tightened with prejudice. You’ll crush the wood before you strip or break these tee-nuts. The downside? They will sometimes fall out when your parts are disassembled.

And here ends the great surface-mounted tee-nut experiment of 2014.

Tomorrow I’ll finish up this workbench – flatten the benchtop and install the crochet. I’ll also shoot a video of how the bench knocks down for travel. I am pleased with the way it goes together.

Then I’ll get back on a pair of Roorkee chair commissions.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Knockdown Bench: Good News and Bad

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 6:39pm
The knockdown bench right before I drilled the holdfast holes in the benchtop.

The knockdown bench right before I drilled the holdfast holes in the benchtop.

Here’s the good news: The bench is assembled and works well. I’ll explain the construction details in the coming days.


And the bad: I destroyed one of the knockdown fasteners tonight. I tightened one of the 3/8” hex-head bolts that fastens the top, and the head of the bolt began to spin freely. Nuts on the tee-nut. The collar of the tee-nut had ripped free from its mounting plate. The broken metal looks porous and weak. I am not happy.

I am going to torture-test a few of these tee-nut fasteners from McMaster-Carr and see if they all break or if that one is an outlier.

Stay tuned.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

The 9 Principles of Hand Tool Storage, Part 2

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 3:36pm

Before we launch into part 2 of this series, allow me to ask a question. Do you enjoy looking for a tool that you cannot find, but you saw just a couple days ago and you have looked for everywhere? If you answered “yes,” then you don’t need to read this article and can return to the eternal game of Where is My Tapered Bung-hole Reamer? For the rest of […]

The post The 9 Principles of Hand Tool Storage, Part 2 appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Do you want to know a secret?

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 3:16pm

There are certain things in life that are exciting just because they are taboo, from tobacco, to alcohol, to women. I never thought that woodworking would make that list, but for me it has. A few months back I had picked up a few Ash and Bubinga boards with the intention of turning them into a smoothing plane over the summer. Of course, my woodworking plans were hijacked by an angry wife waging her own jihad against me and my hobby. But, over the course of an hour or so this past Sunday morning I managed to sneak in a little clandestine woodworking while my wife was out.

Like a member of the French Resistance, I kept up the front of being a fully capitulated citizen of my house, completely accepting the loss of my freedom, and fully okay with the enemy occupation of my dreams. Secretly I raged inside, ready to woodwork at the first given opportunity, and to remind myself that even though I was a prisoner, my heart could not be swayed. So when the opportunity arose I seized it!

Unfortunately there isn’t much else to tell as I did not get much accomplished. The Ash board I am working with is remarkably straight-grained, flat, and square, and there was very little I needed to do in order to prepare the wood. I sawed the “frog” board at 45 degrees, and the ramp board at around 60 degrees using my table saw. Because the wood is in such good condition, the saw cuts came out perfectly, and I needed to do nothing else but lightly sand both ramps using a sheet of 150 grit sand paper on my table saw bed. I then took the Bubinga board which I am using for the cheeks and cut it in half with a backsaw. I decided to end it at that, as I want the newly sawn wood to sit for at least a few more days before I mess with it again.

a future plane

a future plane



It’s surprisingly easy to make a functioning hand plane out of wood. Of course there are levels to how highly functioning that plane will be, and that part lies in the skill of the maker. But just about anybody can make a jack or scrub plane. The most difficult part for me will be making the recess for the cap iron nut. On the last plane I made I did it with a chisel and a router plane, and though it turned out just fine it took quite a while to fine tune the recess to where I wanted it to be. This time I think I will define the rebate with a chisel, remove the bulk of the waste with an electric router, and clean it up once again using a chisel.

I also plan on attempting some fancy curves. The last two planes I made work just fine, but they have a utilitarian look to them. I think this time I would like to try something new. As of now the plane sits at just over a foot long. After all is said and done I’m hoping for a plane 9 inches in length. If all goes well I should have the recess cut out and the plane glued up this coming Sunday. The fancy curves will have to wait until the following week. That is unless the gestapo my wife finds out.

Categories: General Woodworking

EMMA International 2014… Part 1

Bridge City Tools - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 2:47pm

Drivel Starved Nation!

I recently had one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. From July 30th thru August 8th I was invited to attend EMMA International Collaboration 2014.

This event occurs every two years and is held at Ness Creek located at the edge of the boreal forest approximately 2 hours dead north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Artists from all over the world are represented, many of which are preeminent in there field. I think it is safe to say I was the least qualified of the 100 selected and I am in awe of the creativity displayed over the week.

Bohemian is the best word to describe the location, most people camped in tents and the facility was the bare minimum required for working in metal, mixed media, jewelery, painting, and of course wood. Artists show up, and the rest is magic. There is no agenda, no meetings, you can work as late as you want, sleep in if you like (that is next to impossible, not that I tried…). All you do is create day and night for a week. If you are a fan of jazz, this is a jam session for the visual arts.

I am going to share my experience through imagery over the next couple of weeks culminating in the images of the finished pieces which were ALL auctioned off in Saskatoon. I think you will find this all rather interesting if not incredibly fascinating. And no way is this comprehensive! My first tour of the grounds began at the metals area…

A Axe Head w Old FileMany of the pieces made used material found on the site. This is an axe head and forged between the two halves is a piece of high carbon steel that was once a file.

A Axe Head
The craftsman behind this axe is Al Bakke who is in his 80′s – quite an inspirational guy.

A Grinding Axe Head

A The Beginning of a Chair 1Like you, I wondered what this piece was going to be… if you guessed “a chair” YOU WIN!

A Forming with hammerAn old stump, a hammer and a bit of motivation…

A Metal Sculpter in Progress

A Pounding Out a Form

A Forming Copper 1

A Cutting Brass

A Adding Oxygen

A Jewelery Making

Forming Copper

And lastly, the view inside my tent…
A The Tent
I hope you like this little teaser!


Categories: Hand Tools

Can You Smell It?

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 2:18pm

For the last couple days, there’s been an odd and slightly offputting scent lingering in the air wherever I go (and yes, I’ve showered). I’m pretty sure it’s the ripe smell of panic. It just hit me that Woodworking in America is less than three weeks away (Sept. 12-14 in Winston-Salem, N.C.). In my brain, the conference is still months from now. In reality, it is fast upon us. I […]

The post Can You Smell It? appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking


The Barn on White Run - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 12:22pm

Periodically to take a break from sitting and writing, I get out of the recliner and hike up the hill to spend a little time puttering in the barn.  I am getting much faster at writing over time — I penned the thousand-word introductory essay for the new l’Art du Menuisier: The Book of Plates in about two hours, but still it is simltaneously exhilarating and tedious.  Since I know I have to get back to work to stay on track, my times in the barn are short and the activities brief and episodic for several more days.


In addition to periodically loading the solar wax melter to purify more beeswax I grab a scrub plane to continue the flattening of a maple slab I glued up several winters ago.  It is destined in short order to become a Roubo-hybrid bench in my barn studio, perhaps even under the east bank of windows.  The “hybridization” of the bench will be in the form of another Emmert K1 vise, a tool I consider unsurpassed in the bench world.

The 18″-wide maple slab was out-of-flat by more than a quarter inch and I do not own a power planer that large and the darned thing is just too heavy to take to a friend’s shop where a planer that large sits.  A few minutes of scrubbing here and a few minutes of scrubbing there adds up, and now the slab is flat enough to start laying out the legs.


Ten feet away my old Roubo bench I built for my conservation studio at the Smithsonian, where the climate control was perfect all theim time,  developed a 1/2″(!) crown once I moved it to the unregulated environment on the south side of the barn.  I will also will be taking a whack at that as a vigorously physical respite from writing.

Another fortnight or less and the first draft of VIRTUOSO will be done.

On-Campus Workbench Class Day 1 in Progress

Heritage School of Woodworking Blog - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 12:00pm

This Monday we began a workbench class! We started the day by gluing up the tops. I spent over a week pre-milling all the wood to save time during the class. We then marked all the mortises that hold the base together. We began by using the brace and bit, but that only lasted for […]

The post On-Campus Workbench Class Day 1 in Progress appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Lost Art Press Hats, Now in Black

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 11:12am


After many customer requests, we have made a run of our Bayside hats in black with khaki piping and khaki embroidery of our logo.

These hats are unstructured, cotton, made in the United States and adjustable with a steel clasp. They are $17 and are available in our store here.

Dark hats such as these are ideal for hiding sweat stains (eww). Of course, they also absorb heat and make some people sweat a bit more – so they are great for the fall and winter. (Boy, I really know how to sell stuff don’t I?)

Anyway: New hats! I like them!

— Christopher Schwarz

LAP_black_hat_detail_IMG_8885 LAP_black_hat_rear_IMG_8884 LAP_black_hat1_IMG_8881
Filed under: Products We Sell
Categories: Hand Tools

New Responsive Format For The Toolemera Blog

Toolemera - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 10:12am
Thanks to Typepad, responsive themes are now available. I've shelved, in a nicely made wooden box, the old Toolemera theme and installed the new Snap Theme from Typepad. The new theme works on tablets and phones, is friendly to laptops with small screens and in general will be easier for me to manage. I hope you like the change and find it to be more easily readable and enjoyable. Till next, Gary
Categories: Hand Tools


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by Dr. Radut