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Hand Tool Headlines

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...

Be sure to visit the Hand Tool Headlines section - scores of my favorite woodworking blogs in one place.  Also, take note of Norse Woodsmith's latest feature, an Online Store, which contains only products I personally recommend.  It is secure and safe, and is powered by Amazon.

Hand Tools

Glen Huey, Bob Lang, and Chuck Bender on what they’re up to with...

Giant Cypress - 5 hours 11 min ago

Glen Huey, Bob Lang, and Chuck Bender on what they’re up to with 360 WoodWorking. This sounds like a fascinating concept, and I’ll be interested to see how this turns out.

Friday: A Tantalizing Peek at the Studley Tool Chest

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 6:40pm


Most of the verbiage I’ve read about the H.O. Studley tool chest has been misleading, candy-coated or just silly. I can say this because I’ve spent the last five years embedded with Don Williams, the author of our forthcoming book “Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of H.O. Studley.”

Thanks to the scholarship of Don and his research assistants, we now have a clear(er) picture of Studley and the history of his chest and workbench.

For the first look at some of the real Studley story, I recommend you check out Matt Vanderlist’s blog at “Matt’s Basement Workbench” this coming Friday. Matt was kind enough to do a Skype interview with Don and Narayan Nayar, the photographer on the project.

They chatted with Matt last week while sitting in front of the chest and discussed some of the questions many woodworkers ask: Who was Studley? Why did he build the chest? And what will become of it?

Matt will publish the full 30-minute interview on his blog for free this Friday. Those who support Matt as a Patreon will also get a (very) cool segment we did on the workbench with Narayan manning the camera.

Go there on Friday!

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Virtuoso: The Toolbox of Henry O. Studley
Categories: Hand Tools

IKEA’s take on The Shining. Appropriate, given the upcoming...

Giant Cypress - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:48pm

IKEA’s take on The Shining. Appropriate, given the upcoming holiday, and because there’s nothing more frightening to woodworkers than a warehouse full of termite barf furniture.

(Note that since this comes from IKEA Singapore, this relates to Asian woodworking, of a sort.)

COMING SOON – Individual Video Lessons Available for Purchase

Mary May, Woodcarver - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:41pm

Mary May - Woodcarver


We will soon be adding a new option in how to watch video lessons on my online school. Individual video lessons will be available for purchase. In November, we will start making each lesson available to purchase and you can download it to your computer. To use this option, you do not have to be a member of the school.

Some reasons you may be interested in this new option:

1. You just don’t have a lot of time to look at all the videos on the site and can’t justify paying for a monthly membership

2. You are only interested in particular lessons – for example, you are building a  Newport desk and only want to learn how to carve the shells, or you are building a Chippendale style chair and are wanting to learn only how to carve the ball and claw feet.

3. You like to focus on one lesson for several months, perfect it, carve it over and over again and then go on to the next one.

4. Just because…

The prices will depend on the overall length of the lesson – starting at $9.99 (cheaper than most DVDs).

Stay tuned…

carved box wth drawer, pt 2 or maybe 3 I forget

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 2:46pm

I finally got back to the carved oak box with drawer that I started.

till is next


I have been thinking about this box for a month, and was thrilled to get back to it. I shot a slew of photos yesterday and today. First, I had to make the till parts and install them, so I could then finish nailing the box together. Once I had the till’s trenches cut in the front & back, I nailed the back to the sides. Then after fitting the till, I nailed the front in place.

Planing thin stuff like the till lid gets scary when you shove it against the toothy-bench hook. I made a board with a very thin stop at one end, to sit the workpiece on, then I shove the board against the bench hook. 

planing till lid

There’s lots going on when you’re fitting the till parts; 3 pieces that can one at a time, or all together hang you up, and keep the box parts from fitting. A bunch of fiddling around gets you there. Best to take a breath when fitting a till. 

fitting till


I make the till lids from oak, often with a molded edge like this one. The till sides and bottom can be various woods in my work; all oak, white pine, or Atlantic white cedar. This one’s cedar. 






Then I worked on carving the drawer front; in this case based on/inspired by the original – but I didn’t copy it note for note. Outline begun. 

drawer front begun

Shaping & beveling. 

carving detail

Relieving the middles. 


I work at my regular joinery bench, often hunched right over the carving. Some carvers work higher, but I find I like to get right above it sometimes. 

low bench


This gives you an idea of the shaping, prior to adding the gouge-cut details. 



I just try to keep from making the same design on 2 consecutive rosettes. 

carving detail 2


I had one panel of oak ready for the bottom of the box. It needs a bevel on its rear end, to fit into a groove in the back board. The front edge fits in a rabbet. To bevel it, I jammed it up against some scrap and the bench hook. Held down with a holdfast. 


bevel bottom board

The inner edge gets a rabbet, so the next board will overlap this one. 



A dis-orienting shot – the box is upside down, This first bottom board slips into the groove, drops into the rabbet, then gets slid/knocked over til it bumps up to the inside end. 

bottom's up


Tap. tap. 


tap it over

Bang. Bang. 



Here’s where I quit for the day. 

first bottom board in


Dresser Drawers Started – 7 Drawer Dresser Project, Continued

Heritage School of Woodworking Blog - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:58pm

Read all about Frank’s dresser project progress.   It’s time to begin building the dresser drawers. I have spent a fair amount of time choosing the wood for the drawer fronts. In fact I was very pleased with the wood for the lower drawers: the grain runs all the way through and the lower 4 drawer […]

The post Dresser Drawers Started – 7 Drawer Dresser Project, Continued appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Are We Obsessing About Sharpening Edge Tools?

Paul Sellers - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:36pm

I have come to the conclusion that we went through a phase of several decades where people were trained to follow a sort of legality leading to almost obsessing over sharpening without fully realising the criteria we should be perhaps aiming for. As a young apprentice my mentoring craftsman would repeatedly say, “Sharpen up, lad!”, throughout any given day. I dutifully sharpened up on two stones to around 600-grit and got back to task after stropping the burr from the edge on the palm of my hand. My plane never faltered, protested or chattered and the work I did became more and more acceptable through the years. Today I sharpen to higher levels of fineness and encourage others to do the same. That said, I don’t think I am obsessive so much as practical and my practical knowledge comes from my work, not what someone told me or wrote about or showed on a film. My sharpening levels developed through fifty years of sharpening 20-30 times in a day. Evolutionary sharpening has left me knowing my work gets done in a practical way and now it is unlikely that I will change.


We live in a woodworking culture of much head knowledge that has less and less of an application to real life and that might mean real woodworking too. We live in a culture where the shaving has become as much if not more the goal and not the levelled surface or the finished adjustment to the wood being planed. This can lead to a strange and artificial culture that has less a link to working wood as a job or to getting the actual job done in a timely order. My thought is that most people may not be aware that this changes the dynamism of woodworking because they don’t actually work wood for a living but more because they love working wood, using the tools and stretching themselves in spheres of productive craft work that gives them results in seeing something made. My thought though is this. This is all acceptable. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying seeing shavings ripple and rise from the throat of a plane. After fifty years of daily doing this I still enjoy these gifts to my work that are indeed priceless. The point in this article and the ones yet to follow are more to address any imbalanced perceptions people have as a result of magazine articles, catalogue companies and online information that often more distort reality than serves it. 


What would you do if I told you that your sharpened edge taken to say 15,000-grit quickly deteriorates in minutes only of use to perhaps the much lower level of under 1,000. The reality is that most woodworkers using hand tools work with chisel and plane edges at this level most of the time. The tools still cut effectively and acceptably for a long time once this level occurs. At this level the edge is strong and degrade speed much diminished. The greatest edge fracture occurs immediately after sharpening when the tool is offered to the wood and the cutting edge is at its thinnest and thereby most fragile.

I have tested new steels and have generally ended up with disappointing results. Someone wrote to me questioning the validity about the Aldi chisels being made from a chrome vanadium steel and said that his chrome vanadium chisels did not take and hold a good edge. DSC_0006 DSC_0004 DSC_0003He then went on to ask if high end chisels really offered a better option, naturally basing his assumption on his personal chisels, non Aldi chisels, deteriorating straight away. Aldi chisels, I can assure anyone, truly hold their sharp edge as well as any high end chisel I ever used and better than any UK maker I have come across to date. This not what people want to hear, I know, but the reality is right here in the everyday of working. This past 10 days we had a classful of students using many chisels each made for Aldi supermarkets and the edges gave perfect service hour by hour. Are they my favourite chisels? No, not really, but I would not choose the tested high-end chisels from my research for their name thus far but firstly for their edge retention and service, balance in the hand, and further functionality. Aldi’s take some beating. Whereas It would be good to expect a higher priced tool to give better results, longevity and so on, more and more the reality is shifting. Many European makers have accepted deterioration in their standards of production and quality of manufacture, in many cases relying on past reputations of founder owners rather than their individual responsibility to hold to standards they set. That being the case, they surely forfeit any rights to unearned loyalty and support. This far I have tested 5 different sets of UK-made chisels made by current makers and none of them match the standards set by their forebears. Edge fracture and crumple has been common to them all within a few minutes of use. Most of the chisels I use from the late 1800s and early 1900s never fail through the same results and so too the Aldi chisels. The proof of the tool is in the use on the bench, the problem is you have to buy the tool to test it out, but you can always send them back if you find what I am saying is indeed true.

More to come on this shortly.

The post Are We Obsessing About Sharpening Edge Tools? appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

360WoodWorking - What They're All About

Toolemera - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 10:41am
Categories: Hand Tools

“A Craftsman’s Legacy” with Eric Gorges

Matt's Basement Workshop - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 9:30am

In the past few years we’ve had some great new content hitting the airwaves, both online and via traditional broadcast television. Some might even refer to it as a glut of information in this age of YouTube and Podcasts, but I say it’s exactly what we’ve been needing for a long time.

There are so many stories to be told, so much inspiration to be discovered, and so many ideas to be shared that the hardest part of getting it in front of an audience is finding the right person to tell the story.

a craftsman's legacy logo

A Craftsman’s Legacy with Eric Gorges

One of the new shows I’ve had my eye on currently is “A Craftsman’s Legacy” with host Eric Gorges.

It’s currently available on PBS, but like many shows that are broadcast through Public Television it may not show up in your market right away. Thankfully at the show’s website they have a search you can do to see when and where it’s on.

Much of the reason I have an interest in A Craftsman’s Legacy is that the host, Eric Gorges, is from the Motor City. While people who never grew up in and around Detroit only have an image of a corrupt, broken down, dangerous inner city, I know personally it’s much more than that.

I grew up in the Northern suburbs, Ferndale and the Troy/Royal Oak area, and Detroit was always the heart of education, museums, nightlife and so much more. It’s where you went to see and be a part of culture. It’s where you went for amazing food and to see inspiring ideas.

But it wasn’t until my last few years in college that I lived downtown and had a chance to see and experience both its gritty side and its beauty. Both of which inspired me in so many different ways.

So in a way I can relate to Eric, and understand what inspires him and why he’s sharing the artists and craftspeople he visits with in each episode.

A Craftsman’s Legacy isn’t a show just about woodworking, and it’s not a how-to show, instead it’s an journey to meet inspiring people who just might inspire you.

Host Eric Gorges, Metal Shaper and renowned Motorcycle Builder

Host Eric Gorges, Metal Shaper and renowned Motorcycle Builder

For more information about Eric, the show, and to see clips of the various craftspeople and artists he’s visiting, head over to the show’s website at www.craftsmanslegacy.com.

Inspiration comes to us from places we never expect. It comes to us from ideas, people and conversations that often have nothing to do with our existing passions. So sit back and enjoy the journey with Eric.

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers

Categories: Hand Tools

Drawers and shrinkage: I think they got it wrong

Oregon Woodworker - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 7:32am
In a previous post, I showed you the drawers I made for the gallery of my son's desk without a lot of description of the construction.  My method of fitting them was not very precise.  Whether by dumb luck or skill, the drawers were a piston fit straight from the saw and chisel.  There was no way I was going to leave them like that though because seasonal expansion could make them bind, so I just planed them until I had slight play, with the idea that I would fine tune them after glue-up if need be.  I felt slightly guilty about doing this so casually, but I am slothful.

I was relaxing a few days ago reading an article in the October issue of Fine Woodworking entitled "Build Perfect Drawers" which had a section called "Wood matters, a lot"  that contained this statement (p. 45):
So if you need a 1/16"-gap at the top of a drawer made with the pine, [for flatsawn white oak] you'd need to leave a gap that's five times as big: a whopping 5/16 in.
I omit their development of this conclusion but I don't think I am taking it out of context or misrepresenting it.  I reacted with incredulity, thinking that, even though my white oak is rift sawn, a gap anywhere close to this would make the drawers look absolutely awful.  How could this be?  White oak would shrink a full quarter of an inch more than pine on a 3" drawer?  I've owned white oak furniture and I never saw anything like this.  After doing some research, I think the article is incorrect and I want to provide an explanation.  The silver lining for me is that I think I understand this subject fairly well now but, if you think I am wrong, please, please comment below.

The best treatment of this subject I could find  is by the National Wood Flooring Association (NOFMA), which you can find here.   It is worth reading, but I'll give you the short version.

Wood reaches an equilibrium moisture content (EMC) based on its environment, not instantaneously but with a lag.  I am discussing indoor furniture so it is the indoor environment that is relevant here.  The indoor environment is influenced by the outdoor environment but it is obviously not the same.  A sufficiently sophisticated HVAC system could maintain constant indoor environmental conditions year round regardless of the local climate and, if it did, the wood would not expand and contract.  In reality indoor conditions do vary with the seasons so the question is how much the EMC of wood indoors changes in reality.  The USDA Forest Products laboratory (FPL) has done empirical studies and produced a map showing ranges for different regions of the country.  As it happens, both my son and I live in an area with extreme variation, the west coast along the Pacific Ocean, where the average range of EMC is 8-13%.  There are the usual problems with averages, but the map is pretty detailed.  So, we would expect the equilibrium moisture content to vary by 5 percentage points during the year in this region.

How much shrinkage and expansion will result from this 5 percentage point variation in EMC?  Once again the FPL has developed coefficients based on wood species.  For white oak, they are .00365 for plainsawn lumber and .00180 for quartersawn lumber.  To use them you multiply the coefficient by the percentage change in EMC and multiply the result by the width of the piece of wood.  I have rift sawn lumber so it is reasonable to choose the midpoint of plain sawn and quarter sawn coefficients, which is .00273, multiply it by 5 (percentage points) and multiply the result by 3" (the height of my drawers) for an expected shrinkage/expansion of .04", a bit more than 1/32"!

If you don't care to do the calculations by hand, Woodweb offers an online shrinkage calculator here.  It provides results consistent with those above.  For example, predicted shrinkage for a 3" flatsawn white oak drawer is .0563" vs. .0548" using the coefficient above.

Maybe my seat of the pants method isn't so bad after all.  There is a rub though.  I really need to know my starting point.  What was the moisture content of my lumber when I built the drawer?  After all, it could be at the high point, the low point, in between or even, conceivably, outside of the range.  Given the time of the year, I guessed that the EMC was at the bottom end of the range so I made the drawer a little loose.  In order to do any better, I will need to buy a moisture meter.  Maybe the gap will be a little too big.  Doesn't really matter.  My son just graduated from law school so he should be used to big gaps by now!  :-)

Categories: Hand Tools

Happy Diwali

The Indian DIY & Woodworker - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 6:02am
Greetings friends, visitors, fellow DIY woodworkers and hobbyists!
Diwali is a special time of the year - a time to get together with friends and near ones, celebrate our good fortune and light up the world with good wishes and offerings of thanks.

With Diwali Presents
This is also the time to give presents to people we come in contact with throughout the year - and also to get presents!

This year we got boxes of cakes, cermaic mugs and steel bowls for our maids, the gardener, the street cleaners, the garbage collectors and postmen. My wife got a few DVDs and I got a load of tools.

The most expensive buy was a Bosch cut off saw for cutting metal - I had this on my list for many months because I plan to cover my first floor terrace with metal roofing on a steel framework. The list price of the saw is more than 13,000 rupees but I got a deal for Rs 7,500.

The other goodies include a Mitutoyo Vernier Caliper, a Stanley smooth cut general purpose saw, a couple of Stanley metal working files, a holesaw and some paint brushes.

As you can see I am mighty pleased with the Diwali goodies.

Write in with details of what you bought this Diwali - and happy tidings to all of you.
Don't fortget to light candles and oil lamps, and keep your door open all evening to let in good fortune.

May the Goddess Lakshmi shower blessings on you!

Indranil Banerjie
22 October 2014

Categories: Hand Tools

Suzanne Ellison’s ‘L’art du corbeau’

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:53am


If we planned to market “L’art du menuisier: The Book of Plates” to a second genus, it would likely be to the Corvus of the world – the crows. Not only do these birds appreciate shiny objects, but they have been observed both using and making tools (unlike some members of online forums).

Suzanne “Saucy Indexer” Ellison has been spending her free time transforming pre-press proofs of “The Book of Plates” into an art project. Here are her latest images.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Personal Favorites, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
Categories: Hand Tools

A Card Catalogue- Part Fifteen

The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:45am
  You can’t have a card catalogue without the drawers! So in this video, we’re finally getting into the drawers- all nine of them. ( yes, it looks like fifteen, but I assure you, it’s only nine… )   ( Tweet that ) This video...
Categories: Hand Tools

Rockville, MD Carving Class

Mary May, Woodcarver - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:06pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

Last week I taught two, 1-day beginning classes and a 2-day intermediate class at The Woodworker’s Club in Rockville, MD. Such a great group of people there – both the people that work at the store and the students. I really had a wonderful time. The students worked through some very challenging projects – and some tough wood (sapele and walnut) and had great success (and fun!).

It took me nearly a week to get caught up when I got back home (thus no blog posts), but I’m back! Going to spend the next few days doing a LOT of carving. Yeah!

Such concentration!
Camellia carving
That good ol' reliable camellia flower - beginning class.
Diligently working!
Oscar working on his linenfold carving
Delicate carving on a rosette.
More rosette carving
Acanthus leaf and rosette

Harvest Days and Nesting

The Workbench Diary - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:48pm
We have been blessed with a decent harvest this year. The past few years our gardening efforts have been combined with Julia’s parents. We try to grow enough for both families’ yearly vegetable needs. Typically her father does the early season tilling and planting and we end up with the harvesting and processing. This year has brought a lighter load than usual due to the pregnancy.


Our meatbirds are processed and resting in peace in the freezer now. I always feel so relieved when slaughter day comes. It’s the last week when I have trouble sleeping. Those last nights are filled with nightmares of coons or weasels breaking into the chicken house and annihilating our investment. Thankfully, we again had no problems with predators. 


On Saturday we dug potatoes. Eden swore he was a pirate digging for treasure. Five year olds seem to need work to be made into a game in order to get anything accomplished. We’ll take what we can get.






Julia's mother helped out too





In other news, Mama is bursting at the seams. Little guy is pretty active in there. (Go figure.) Even though we have until Thanksgiving until she’s due, we are keenly aware of the surprise we felt when Eden came five weeks early. We won’t be blindsided this time. We’re cleaning up the house and reorganizing things to accommodate for the new guy. One of the pressing things on my list is to finish up the co-sleeper cradle I started at Leonard’sMills a couple of weeks ago.


I adapted a number of period cradle designs to suit our purposes here. In the studio, I got the corners dovetailed and cut out the scroll work. My newly completed Gramercy turning saw worked wonderfully for this task. 






After clean up with chisels and a spokeshave, I popped the pieces together and brought it home to see it in place. I want to make sure it works out before I proceed with the bottom and the legs. I think we may have a success here because our cat, Garbanzo, bee lined for the mattress and settled right in. I hope the baby feels as at home in it as he does.

Categories: Hand Tools

The Return of the Lighthearted Woodworker

The Light Hearted Woodworker - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:07pm

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted!  It’s been a pretty intensely busy year filled with lots of adventures. So forgive me if I haven’t taken a breath to blog about them.

So what’s been keeping me so busy? 

- Well for one my wife and I, along with our very close friends, opened a cheese shop on Labor Day. Signed a lease June 1st and I spent the summer being a carpenter and general contractor in order to transfer the space from a clothing store to a cheese shop. More on that in a future post.

-Work– just like the rest of you– I have have a day job, that often turns into a night job


But I have managed to get some woodworking time in:

- I built most everything in our shop: reclaimed wood walls, stud walls, counters, shelving, butcher blocks, doors, etc . etc., etc

-I finished a tool box I had started in a  hand tool class

-a couple of never ending shop projects

-just last week took a field trip to the George Nakashima house with the NYC Woodworkers guild

-finally a good shop cleaning!!

In my travels for the cheese shop……

-I found an awesome old tool chest that I plan to use in our apartment

-found a Stanley #50 1/2 mitre box for $10 that I plan to restore.

- picked up a great old tool box on the streets of Brooklyn that I now use to store all my chainsaw parafanalia down in the yard.

- went dumpster diving in Brooklyn and found some great old Douglas Fir beams.

- scored some beautiful reclaimed barn wood from a friend.

I’ve decided I would like a small bench in Brooklyn, to satisfy my woodworking cravings during the week. So I’ve been designing and started building a joinery bench. So look for more on that.

So life is full, and never dull. 

Look for more here– The Lighthearted Woodworker has returned.

Categories: Hand Tools


Hackney Tools - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:52pm

The jury’s out on this one. A weird Preston plane with a curves like Jane Russell. Rare? Know more?

Categories: Hand Tools

Mere Mortals’ Toy Chest for Woodworkers Fighting Cancer

Matt's Basement Workshop - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:49am

Because having options on any project (especially one designed as a build-along for charity) is a good thing, I wanted to share with you another very similar version of the toy box being built for the Woodworker’s Fighting Cancer campaign going on right now.

charity toy chest

Image courtesy Woodworking for Mere Mortals

Steve Ramsey of Woodworking for Mere Mortals has a version he posted the other day on his YouTube channel. It’s very similar, but as always, Steve puts his own twist on it and presents it as an alternative version to build.

According to Steve “it’s simple: all you need to do is make a toy box. It would make a great holiday gift, or you might consider building one and donating it to a local school or organization. Marc and I are each donating $5 for every box viewers make before November 30th.”

“The only thing we ask is that you make either my box, or use Marc’s design. They each have unique features. Take a picture and submit it to the Woodworker’s Fighting Cancer page.”

In addition, if you really want the actual chest you see Steve building, you can get in on the auction to purchase it. More details about that by visiting his webpage for the toy chest by clicking here.

Regardless of which version you choose to build, the only important thing is that you get involved in one way or another. This year’s goal is to raise $15,000. I have all the confidence in the world that will happen and then some.

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers

Categories: Hand Tools

Tapered Sliding Dovetails – 7 Drawer Dresser Project Continued

Heritage School of Woodworking Blog - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:20am

Read all about Frank’s dresser project progress.   Now that I have the whole dresser glued up, which by the way was a challenge! I glued up most of it with the help of my 9-year-old and then just in time, Jonathan Schwennesen came by the shop and offered me a hand to put some of […]

The post Tapered Sliding Dovetails – 7 Drawer Dresser Project Continued appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Routing the Past Developments

Paul Sellers - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 9:44am

DSC_0092In the process of answering the question on pointed router cutters we continued on to undo any misunderstandings surrounding these essential planes. The plane remains one of the most essential tools for hand tool woodworkers and woodworking. The poor man’s router of course leaves you fully equipped should you need one not costing a fortune and not own one, but adjustability of depth of cut provides an added advantage and of course it’s often here that legalists try to lay down the law with regards to which one everyone should buy. I looked through my routers and counted around 20 before I stopped. The school itself takes up half of those so I don’t feel bad at all. DSC_0063 DSC_0079I have bronze ones and brass ones, Preston and Tyzaks, Records and Stanleys and then wooden home mades and manufactured wooden ones made by planemakers of the past. Some you tweak-pinch with your fingertips and tighten with brass wing nuts and then others have micro-adjusters with screw stems and knurled nuts. Those I don’t own I have used at some point or at least tried. Fact is, I love router planes and can’t imagine life without them.

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Modern makers have for the main part taken the basic shape of the old Stanley #71 and might be forgiven for then distancing themselves from creating an actual copy by changing some small features. The footprints of almost all the cast and engineered models is almost identical in shape and size and thereby are essentially the same as the old Stanley #71 and the Record #071. DSC_0080I have not found tighter tolerances in engineering to be of any great advantage, in fact, oftentimes the ‘stuck’ factor can be a little annoying and this is often due to those diminished margins. It’s a small thing to take a file and  fettle whatever’s needed. DSC_0083One router I like the most is the  Preston router of old, which was also made for a few years by Tyzak. I like the extra size of the platen and the positioning  and overall height of the  knobs, which gives optimal inline thrust directly at beside and at cutting iron level. That’s not too helpful because the prices have gone through the roof on eBay and anyone in bronze casting could make good money if they were to take that plane and replicate it. DSC_0010 DSC_0011 DSC_0008As can be seen here, almost all of the metal cast routers old and new use the Stanley mechanism which is a screw-threaded adjusting screw (C) that stands up from the cutter post (D) that then holds a knurled adjusting screw (C). Depending on the maker, the adjusting screw fits into a recess in the cutter (N) that lifts and lowers the cutting iron to the depth needed. A collar surrounding the whole assembly locks the iron to the cutter post. Dead simple and very effective. Until you get used to all metal routers they can seem a little awkward and especially so when it comes to loading the cutting iron into the collar and locating it into the screw nut adjuster, but you get used to it and so you load it more readily.

DSC_0010The Preston router presents the cutter to the wood from a square shank facing squarely to the work forward and so too both of the Lie Nielsen routers. More clearly, the stem of the cutter is square on and slots into vertical, forward-facing channels in the cutter post. This works fine as long as there is no slop in the engineering and of course Lie Nielsen are known for their tight engineering tolerances in making tools. My Tyzak has a little lateral play in the channel and though when locked it is immoveable, I must be conscious not to allow the cutter to misalign to the sole as this leads to slight steps in recesses I might be cutting as I move the plane across from side to side cuts. For dadoes this would generally be fine, but for inlays and such, where unevenness telegraphs through the thin veneer, it would not be acceptable. This leads me to a development in the Stanley version I think many might not see or understand at first glance. Veritas saw it and adopted it in their design. DSC_0017 DSC_0022 DSC_0086The cutting irons in the Record and Stanley models presents the stem of the cutter at 45-degrees and the advantage of this is the automatic locking of the corner of the cutter into a channel that always ensures a vertical alignment of the stem and thereby guarantees that the underside of the cutting iron, when sharpened accurately, aligns parallel to the sole of the plane. In the same way as fettling a regular plane iron or chisel needs flattening and polishing out only once, so too the cutter for the router. Any subsequent sharpening is usually done on the bevel alone. Working the bevel evenly and carefully presents the cutting iron parallel to the surface and it’s here that I would stress the value of taking care not to tilt the iron on the bevel as this alters the alignment of the very cutting edge in its presentation to the surface of the wood.

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It stands to reason that you cannot present the cutter to the work without a relief on the underside of the cutter. If the underside were level it would ride the surface of the wood. Stanley and Record have quite an angle here. DSC_0071 DSC_0065 2 DSC_0059Others are less.

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Because of the relief, the front cutting edge of the cutter is affected by the top bevel of the cutter, so too much tilt lifts or lowers one side of the actual cutting edge. If we could present the underside of the cutter squarely and parallel to the underside of the plane to the surface of the wood we could skew all we want  and not affect the presentation.

The best way to level the top bevel of the cutter is to start with the underside of the cutter first. Load the cutter into the plane and set the iron as close to level with the sole. We want a fractional protrusion of a thou or so. Though it is not necessary at all, if you are bothered that the surface could be marred, and mine have never been thus affected straight on the abrasive, use masking tape to cover the sole as a barrier if it worries you. Or you could put card stock on the abrasive too.

Here I first offered the plane blade to the wood so that I could check for the alignment of the blade to the sole. You can see that the blade takes a deeper cut on the right.


I now take the plane and place it carefully on the abrasive plate, in this case diamonds, and swivel it lightly on the surface.


The goal is to provide a registration face to the underside of the cutter, just to use the light from abraded steel to act as a guide and not so much to reshape it unless it has been badly shaped before. As soon as the iron traces the abrasive, lift it from the surface and look at the underside of the cutter. A white line should appear on the cutter right by the cutting edge. If the line is narrow and parallel, the cutter is aligned well and presented correctly and all further sharpening and remedial work can be carried out. Notice in the picture above that the white lines of abraded metal reflect out of squareness in two directions. The actual cutting edge and the new minor bevel we created. This means that somewhere between these two lines is the square across point we want to abrade to.


Placing the underside on the abrasive will now flatten the surface dead flat and this can be polished out to say 800-grit.


Now it’s looking square.


Once this is done you must work on the top bevel only and it will not usually be necessary to work on the underside ever again. The top bevel is always awkward but holding the blade sideways and rubbing the bevel along the abrasive plate now refines the bevel and you can sharpen to any level you prefer. DSC_0032Most router work can be finished at 800-grit even for the finest work.


Testing out after this work is simply a question of working it on the surface if the wood.


Adjustment by adjusters and tap tapping

With regards to mechanical adjusters, it is always assumed that improved engineering and mechanical adjusters improved our lot, but more and more my experience has proven this not be true.

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Mechanical threads do ease adjustment but pinched adjustment on some more primitive routers work just fine too.


You can pinch to a thou easily and in actuality I find they are equal to more elaborate routers.

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The router referred to disparagingly as the ‘old woman’s tooth’ or ‘hag’s tooth’ is a router that houses a plough plane iron instead of a purpose made shoe-type cutting iron. Above is the one I first used as an apprentice and through my journeyman years. They work fine but rarely give the type of clean surface we might want for veneer inlay and so on. These are adjusted by the same hammer-tap tapping method used generally on wooden-bodied planes on the iron or plane body. These too are effective and practical in general carpentry and joinery.

The post Routing the Past Developments appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

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by Dr. Radut