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Hand Tools

Bridge City China Trip and Charlie Manson…

Bridge City Tools - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 3:45pm

Drivel Starved Nation!

After spending three weeks in China, my jet lag back here in Oregon is something else. I must be getting really old…

The day before I departed back to the States, my Chinese business associate Jack and his daughter Jessica accompanied me to Beijing for a special dinner.

It’s not a big secret that I am an Iowa son, born and raised until my graduation from Iowa State when I headed off to my teaching job in Oregon. Wow, that was 45 years ago! Ouch.

While living in Ames, I would occasionally get my hair cut–about once every three years. (I liked being a hippie where I learned that you could accomplish so much more in a day if you skipped bathing.) The place I frequented was called the Head Shop and it was owned by Al Thompson who was my barber. We have remained friends all these years and whenever he FaceTimes me he tells me my hair looks like it was cut with a Weed Eater…

Some things never change.

Al learned how to cut hair from a famed LA hair stylist and his Head Shop quickly became the most popular barber joint in central Iowa. Then he got a crazy idea…

In 1971, when hot pants and mini skirts were at their peak (did I just write that?), Al decided it was a good idea to shave ISU coeds legs for a buck. What do you think happened?

Back then, if a story was picked up on the AP wire, it went viral and yes it did! He has clippings of his exploits from around the world. The 1971 NPR radio story is now enshrined in their archives.

It wasn’t long before Al would make a monthly trip to Des Moines to cut the hair of the Governor. And now, whenever I go to Tennessee, or Al comes to Oregon, my haircuts are free. After each hair cut he proclaims, “Now, you no longer look like an idiot!” How cool is that?

So, what does this have to do with Charlie Manson? Al’s teacher in LA was Jay Sebring who was one of the seven people murdered by the Manson clan. But the crazy part is just beginning…

That Iowa Governor? Mr. Terry Branstad. Turns out he is the longest serving Governor in US history with 22 years of public service. He too stays in touch with Al from his new residence as the Ambassador to China in Beijing. See where this is headed?.

We were supposed to meet for dinner on Nov. 3rd, but got bumped by none other than Bill Gates. However, on Nov. 2rd, Jack, Jessica and your favorite tool Potentate took a cab over to the Ambassador’s residence where we were greeted at the gate by 4 or 5 Chinese army dudes. They asked, “What do you want?”

“We are here for dinner with the Branstads” I said.

“Who are you?”

“John” I replied.

About 5 minutes passed and the gate opened. It is about a 50 meter walk to the entry and awaiting us was Mr. Branstad’s wife Chris. We were there for almost 4 hours and had a great time (not once did politics get discussed). Here was our menu;
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For a Chinese business man and his daughter, this was an amazing life experience. I probably won’t be invited back (it’s a trend I have noticed over the years…) but really had a great time. Mrs. Branstad actually made the ice cream on the menu. How cool is that?

Our perfunctory parting pic is below;
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BUT WAIT–THERE IS MORE! I have even more crazy friends! Michael Hosaluk, one of the most famous woodturners in the world claims that he used to play hockey like me. No, not as bad as me, but hockey…. you get it. This dude won the Canadian equivalent of the the MacArthur Genius Award which means he got free money!

So I begged Michael to make me something special that I could give Mr. Yang the Hong Mu Master, Jack and the Branstads as a gift. He said sure, then in order to bring the price down (even though he got all this free money, he has to charge me because he is flippin’ famous, which is always expensive) I ordered ten sets of these;
Rice Bowls 800

They are ceremonial rice bowls, one with red lacquer, the other with gold leaf. And yes, that is actual rice you see. How cool! We will offer 5 of these limited edition sets in our upcoming holiday email.

The next day I walked over to the American Embassy because I have never been to an American Embassy before and was given a private tour by a docent. Not once did I spot a spy.

And that brings my latest China adventure to a close. It was a great trip… Until I received this email from Chris Branstad;

“John, are those rice bowls dishwasher safe?”

I knew it was a joke so now I have yet another crazy friend!


The post Bridge City China Trip and Charlie Manson… appeared first on John's Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Bridge City Field Trip Report #4: The Hong Mu Arts Museum Tour

Bridge City Tools - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 12:40pm

Drivel Starved Nation,

This is a long post, and it is full of pics. So there DSN, lots of Drivel! (If you have slow internet, you may have to wait a bit for all the pics to download).

Our last day together on the Epic Bridge City China Field Trip was spent at the Hong Mu Arts Museum. This 30,000 square meter facility was built specifically to honor Mr. Yang, the Hong Mu Master. He is China’s most famous woodworker and is a national treasure. The museum was privately funded (just under $40 million USD) by a wealthy real estate mogul who is living the giving chapter of his life. The museum is private and when complete next year, the grounds will include the now finished museum, a tea garden and a brand new private residence for Mr. Yang and his lovely wife. Attendance is by invitation only.

We were all warmly received as you can see here;
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Mr. Yang and I are the same age (old) and share a ready sense of humor. (While at dinner, he commented that when he visited New York city he had no money. I quickly gave him $2 bucks for his next trip which was a good for a long 5 minute laugh.) More important, his passion for his work is unrelenting and his productivity is actually unbelievable. He is one of “those guys” that does not have an enemy in the world, and it is really an honor to call him a friend.

All of his furniture is made out of an Asian dalbergia species (rosewood). All of it. And get this, in his pieces you are going to see below, NONE of them have a finish. That is not a typo, NO FINISH. It is simply the luster of the wood rubbed to a lacquer-like finish. Incredible.

When you first walk into the museum you see a large rosewood log on display and immediately to the left is an area of wood carvings from about 50 different countries. Here are a couple;
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If you turn to the right, there is an entire floor dedicated to student work.The pieces you see below are made from ONE piece of wood (no joinery). This is just a sample of the incredible work. The students spent one year on their projects.
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This is not one piece;
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What follows below are examples from the three floors of Mr. Yang’s work. Many of the pieces are grouped as they might appear in a residence. The “paintings” interspersed in the images below are all silk embroideries. They are all worth fortune! Even more amazing, this furniture was all crammed into his house on my visit last year!

Enjoy the images.

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This is a bookcase;
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This is a our equivalent of a “love seat”. The center section is for tea, and the couple sit cross-legged facing each other. The flexibility needed to sit like this does not exist in my body. Anywhere.
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I love the texture in this piece!
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This is Mr. Yang’s bed and it took him 5 years to make it. Most of the pieces you see here took over a year and the reason is simple, the rosewood was not kiln dried. He would work on a piece, let is sit for a month or two, do more work, repeat.
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The piece below is Mr. Yang’s masterpiece. It is an original variation of a Ming Dynasty chair using bamboo as a theme. It is exquisite.
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This tour-de-force of craftsmanship was unreal. This bird cage is made out of rosewood and it is all mortise and tenon joints;
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The lasting influence of Chinese furniture design is never more evident than Han’s Wagner’s tribute to furniture from the Ming Dynasty in his Wishbone Chair below;
Hans Wagner Wishbone Chair

I don’t know about you, but I feel really insignificant in the shadow of the Hong Mu Master. What an experience.


The post Bridge City Field Trip Report #4: The Hong Mu Arts Museum Tour appeared first on John's Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Bridge City China Field Trip Report #3; Shanghai to Nanjing…

Bridge City Tools - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 10:13am

Drivel Starved Nation;

Nothing quiets prejudice, hatred and biases more efficiently than travel. Only until one sees, smells, hears and learns from different cultures and their people can you intelligently grow as a citizen of planet Earth. Over the past 4 years, my 8-9 trips to China have been filled with wonderment, awe, disgust, dismay and joy. I thought this field trip idea would be an equally fun learning experience for Bridge City customers. And it was.

We all had a great time in Shanghai so it was time to see Nanjing! To get there, we took the bullet train.

The Chinese government is fully committed to connecting all corners of China with bullet train service. These sleek, all electric vehicles with bodies of extruded aluminum, shuttle passengers at an amazing 300 km/hr. (That is a Nascar speed of approx. 186 miles per hour!) The ride is incredibly smooth so of course I had to ask how that was possible.

In order to go that fast, and that smooth, the tracks need to be smooth. How smooth you ask? They are actually surface ground once in place and the tolerance is 1mm every 16 meters. How accurate is that you pesky knowledge seeker? 0.00075 inches per foot! That is crazy. How crazy? That is flatter than our precision straight edge!

I then inquired about heat and cold and expansion joints. I was told the rails are not welded but joined with a special alloy that keeps them “on track” during extreme temperature swings. There is no clickety clack, clickety clack, unlike my experiences on Amtrak here in the States. I would say that on average, the bullet train is smoother than air travel. That’s is simply amazing to me. It is also relatively inexpensive.

The train stations are nothing short of enormous. With the exception of the Boeing assembly building in Everett, WA (do put that on your bucket list of places to see), these train stations are the largest buildings I have ever been in. They are sleek, modern, and so damn big they disguise the fact that at any given moment, there are thousands of people waiting to catch a train. Here’s a pic of the Nanjing station;

Nanjing train station

This pic was taken in the middle of the station, and those windows down yonder are at least three football fields away. It is the same going the other direction. The place is huge, shiney, new and unbelievably impressive. AND, this is just the UPSTAIRS! You take an escalator down to the train terminal to an equally large space to catch one of the many trains, which like German trains, operate to the minute. I was also told that this year, for the first time, bullet train travel was profitable.

Here’s a little video of a train coming into the station;

What 180 mph looks like from a window seat…

Once in Nanjing we had a guided tour of the Harvey Industries facility, and were able to see the new Gyro Air Dust Collector in production as well as the Bridge City Tool Works assembly area. We had a fascinating time culminating that evening with a BCTW hosted dinner, our last dinner together.

The next day was the highlight of the trip…

… To Be Continued.


The post Bridge City China Field Trip Report #3; Shanghai to Nanjing… appeared first on John's Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

How to Sharpen Hand Saws for Woodworking

Wood and Shop - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 9:19am
How to Sharpen Hand Saws for Woodworking By Tom Calisto & Joshua Farnsworth In the above video I filmed hand saw maker Tom Calisto sharing a tutorial on how to sharpen new and antique hand saws for woodworking. Sharpening hand saw teeth is a skill that takes time to develop, but a suitable

Carvers & Compassers: Save This Date

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 8:39am


I am pleased to announce that Mary May and George Walker will be at the Lost Art Press storefront on Dec. 9 to celebrate the release of their new books.

Mary, the author of “Carving the Acanthus Leaf,” and George, one of the authors of “From Truths to Tools,” will each give a short presentation on their work that evening, answer your questions and sign books. Lost Art Press will provide drinks and snacks for this free event.


Only a limited number of people can attend (fire marshal’s orders), so we will offer free tickets to this event starting at Friday at noon Eastern time.

Note that Saturday, Dec. 9, is also the last open day for 2017. So if you need books signed by me (note: I am happy to fake any signature, including: Tommy Mac, Roy Underhill and André Roubo) that’s the day to do it.

We hope you can come!

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Carve the Acanthus with Mary May, From Truths to Tools, Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Slab bench

Oregon Woodworker - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 7:38am
The final piece of the slab is 14" wide and 39" long and I am going to use it for a bench.  Scrounging around, I found enough pieces of cvg douglas-fir for a base.  Two leg assemblies will be joined with a stretcher.  Here is one dry fit:

I don't usually describe my construction techniques because it doesn't seem all that interesting but sometimes I pick up tidbits in the descriptions in other blogs, so here goes.  These tools plus my miter box are what I used:

I chose the angle on these legs by eye and then used a bevel gauge.  Since the most critical cut on these angled tenons is the shoulder, I created knife lines and then cut them on my miter box.  It takes no extra time and ensures precision.  After that I sawed out the tenon at the bench.

As I've written before, I use a hybrid method for making mortises.  I lay them out in pencil but only use a center line because I drill them out on my drill press. 

Then it takes only a couple of minutes to finish them with a wide chisel, using the edges of the holes as guidelines.  Yes, I should be using a mortise chisel, and someday I may, but this method works so darn well it's hard to give up.

I cut the through mortises for the long stretcher the same way:

If you look closely at the mortise on the right, you can see a hint of the original drilled hole in the center.  This is what makes this method so convenient; the guideline ensures a perpendicular mortise that fits snugly with little or no trimming.

I use the drill press mostly out of force of habit but it would be just as easy to bore the hole with my brace and bit.  There are some things in hand tool woodworking that seem almost magic to me and one of them is that you can bore holes at precise angles completely unguided with no more than some sort of reference like a bevel gauge or square.  There is no need to have a drill press. 

I always peg or drawbore my mortises; it's a belt and suspenders thing.  If you think about it, in a drawbored joint the thing that matters most is the shoulders of the tenon.  They need to be dead on for both appearance and strength.  The peg holds the tenon tight.  As long as the peg holds, the snug fit of the tenon doesn't matter; only the shoulders matter.  You lose the mechanical strength and glue strength if the fit is poor.  I know that some woodworkers who drawbore don't even bother gluing their tenons but I do, as I don't see a reason to give up the redundancy.

Categories: Hand Tools

Slow Joy

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 6:20am

After ripping fifty feet of 6/4 Southern yellow pine by hand the other day I sat down to give my arm a rest and I snap a picture for social media. It wasn’t long before a friend commented on my post that there is, in fact, such a thing as electricity these days and I was welcome to use his table saw. Curiously, I had no urge to take him up on it.

I’m the first to admit that my shop is hand-tool centered, but not exclusive. I have a few machines for specific purposes - a powered lathe, drill press and bandsaw. The lathe and drill press I make no apologies for. I love them. I am sometimes tempted to equivocate about owning a bandsaw, but I find it very useful in processing green wood for bowl turning and the occasional resaw. Most everything else is hand work.

At Mortise & Tenon we are unabashedly about exploring the possibilities of hand tools and hand work. We try not to be pretentious. We know we don’t live in the 18th century and freely admit that we wouldn’t be able to publish as we do without modern technology, but at the same time we want to encourage people to discover the joy of pre-industrial woodworking and to understand that these tools and techniques aren’t necessarily as slow as we moderns make them out to be. If anything, pre-industrial woodworking is full of efficiencies we might readily overlook.

The fore plane is a great example of this sort of efficiency, but admittedly, the rip saw is not.

I’m generally not working to anyone’s timetable but my own, and I enjoy the exercise of ripping down boards when I’m not in a rush, but there are still times I look at a pile of lumber and sigh, knowing what’s ahead. Practice equals speed with many hand tool techniques, but this is one place where almost anyone will admit that hand tools earn their reputation as slower than their mechanical counterparts. Sawing is work, and no matter how ripped you are, ripping a pile of long boards, even with the sharpest of hand saws, is not as efficient as running lumber through a bandsaw or table saw. At least, not in the way that we generally think of efficiency.

Standardized tests train you to think in hours per person per units of work, and this kind of equation makes it feel like picking up a hand saw is the equivalent of wasting one of the above variables. This logic may make sense in professional cabinet shops today, and even in pre-industrial shops of centuries past, but if you’re not totaling person/work/hours to write out paychecks or feed your family, what’s an extra day on a project intended to last decades? And honestly, of all the things that slow most of us down (or keep us from finishing projects entirely), ripping stock by hand isn’t very high on the list.

In my workshop I’m rarely on anyone’s payroll, and I welcome the challenge of handling rough stock in this way. I enjoy the test of sawing to the line. I relish the meditative rhythm of the teeth through the wood. I like feeling physically tired at the end of the day, because after hours of other stressful pursuits, it feels good for the soul.

Ripping stock by hand may represent an “inefficiency” in some ways, but once I admitted that to myself and decided that I wasn’t at all bothered by the idea, it was a short path to finding joy in it. In any case, I’ll make up the time with the fore plane and that’s an equation I can live with.

- Jim McConnell, content editor

Categories: Hand Tools

"Some people express their deep appreciation in different ways. But one of the ways that I believe..."

Giant Cypress - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 3:58am
“Some people express their deep appreciation in different ways. But one of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there.”


Steve Jobs

Although this primarily refers to Apple’s products, it could easily be about woodworking. At the very least, it dovetails nicely with his “When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers” quote.

Strykebenken i Hoftun, Suldal

Norsk Skottbenk Union - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 3:34am

Denne benken dukka tilfeldig opp under synfaring av eit vedlikehaldsprosjekt på eit stabbur i Hoftun, Suldal. Den stod stua vekk bak ein del ting på lemmen. Og det var eit heilt lite løft som måtte til, for å få den fram og ut i lyset for dokumentering.

2017-11-13 10.54.56Strykbenken i Hoftun

Benken måler 4500mm i lengda og er 875mm frå gulv til øvre kant langbord. Benken føyer seg rett inn i rekka av andre benker frå Suldal i utforming og funksjon. I dette tilfellet er all materialen skoren på sirkelsag og det er berre innsida og øvre kanten av langborda som er høvla.

2017-11-13 10.56.09Her ser me merkinga for plassering og uttaking til svalehalen.

Studerer me litt på oppmerkinga er det tydeleg nokre punkter som er avgjerande. Til dømes er dette øvre kanten på borda med svalehale som held beina saman. Denne høgda må vera lik på begge sider for at ikkje høgda på det lause langbordet skal endra seg ved forskjellige tjukner på arbedstykket. Dette er avgjerande for om den ferdighøvla kanten er vinkel i forhold til innsida på det faste langbordet. Vinkelen på svalehalen ser ut til å vera utført på frihand, då djupna på hakket ikkje er lik på nokon av dei.

Ser me tilbake på blogginlegget om Samanlikning av strykebenkar frå Suldal og studerer biletet av Nordmarkbenken, har den knektar spikra fast til beina på baksida. Restar av ein slik knekt er der og på eine foten på benken frå Hoftun. På den andre foten er der spor som fortel om at der har vore ein. På same måten som på Nordmarkbenken, ser det ut som om denne ikkje har gått heilt opp slik at den fluktar med øvre kant på beina. Det er fortsatt uklart for meg kva denne har vore nytta til. Det verkar for meg som om den vert for smal til å lagre materialar på (jf. Nordmarkbenken).

Krossbanda ser ut som om dei kan vera tilført ved eit seinare høve. Dette samsvarar med fleire andre benker eg har studert. Men dei er komt til før knektane forsvant, då borda er tilpassa spora etter knektane. Det er berre innfestinga av det faste langbordet som utgjer avstivinga i lengda om ein ikke har skrå- eller krossband. Dette er erfaringsvis nok, då benkane me brukar på museet ikkje har ekstra avstiving i lengda. Dette er Kolbeinstveitbenken som er i stålhallen pga lengda og ein nylaga, kortare variant av same som passar betre på verkstaden.

2017-11-13 10.55.44Hoftunbenken på baksida

Når det gjeld oppmåling av benkane frå Suldal, har eg begynt å tenkje på kor nøye det er med å detaljteikne dei. Eg tolkar at benkane er noko som er laga til på plassen av til dømes ein omreisande snikkar. Han har nok ikkje hatt med seg strykebenken på trøsykkelen. Alle benkane eg har sett på til nå, er av forholdsvis grove og tildels vinne materialar.  Det varierar og om rettsida på langborda vender inn eller ut. Det som er avgjerande for å få til ein strykebenk som fungerer etter intensjonen er:

  • at lengda på langborda må stå i høve til arbeidstykka ein skal høvle.
  • arbeidshøgda på benken må vera lageleg
  • lik høgd i øvre kant, framme og bak, på samhaldet mellom beina
  • at øvre kanten på samhaldet er vinkelrett med innsida på det faste langbordet.
  •  at øvre kanten på langborda er i vinkel til innsida på det faste bordet
  • at langborda er beine etter lengda

Med dette i bakhovudet, og med tanke på samanlikningsgrunnlaget, har eg berre laga ei enkel skisse med nokre hovudmål om ein vil lage ein tilsvarande benk. S-C458-17111412160

Alle foto er tekne av underteikna.

Categories: Hand Tools


Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 1:01am
English translation - finished. The project from hell is done or what I should say is that I am done working on it for now. I may be revisiting this in the future. As for 'fini', it is about the only french I remember. I took it for a few years in high school and I know that word and how to ask how are you. I wanted to learn italain and got put in a french class. I think I can still count up to 49 if I concentrate.

I'll have to remember about the pullout
I didn't do anything to secure the block plane holder to the cubby. If I have to do something I'll secure it with hide glue. For now the weight of it seems to be holding it in place.

epoxy has set up
Turns out that it was a good idea to epoxy the sides as one piece. Certainly made it very easy to flush the sides top to bottom. I only had to do one side as I epoxied this with one side flush.

sawed it apart
Had a difficult time sawing this apart. I should have used the zona saw to do this thin wood.

flushing the proud on the ends
I came in from both sides upwards and then I went across the long way. It worked and I didn't get any blowouts.

Of course it was the last stroke that popped this off. I was leery of this one because I could see a gap on one end. It popped off when I went across the long way. I sanded the two, applied more epoxy, and taped it in place. I set it by the furnace to cure overnight. Looks like I will have to add another day to this.

I'll be able to do lid banding tomorrow
 I plan on wrapping this 360 so that the top will slide over the bottom. That means I will have a cross grain gluing sandwich on the sides. The pieces are thin and a 1 1/4" wide so I don't think that it will be a problem.

hammer is done
4 coats of shellac with the last one rubbed down with 4-0 steel wool. Fini. Stowed in his toolbox.

continuous grain flow
This is the corner where the opposite ends came together. Still got a pretty good match.

the opposite corner
I like this grain flow around the box. This is not my first attempt at this but it is my first time getting it right.

last corner
You can see and follow the grain around the box. This was something that I thought would be difficult to pick out. To my eye, the grain flowing around the corners is readily apparent. I will try this on my future boxes.

This has four coats of shellac and I will put on about 3-5 more before I wax it and call it done. I'll fill this with candy and give it as a xmas present. I will have to make one more for xmas and fill with a different candy.

layout for the square till box
I have about a 1/4" of extra meat on the width. I'll lose that tomorrow.

ready for grooving almost
I planed one edge square to a reference face. I cleaned up that face with a couple of swipes with the 4 1/2. I'll let these sticker again tonight and tomorrow I'll plow the 6mm grooves. I normally wouldn't do this without having the plywood but I'm taking a shot on it being ok. The 3/8" plywood I got from woodcraft is 9mm if I remember right. So I'm counting on the 1/4" being 6mm.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is an Aulos?
answer - an ancient Greek single or double reed wind instrument usually played in pairs

Thonet—Brilliance in Design: Part II

Paul Sellers - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:48pm

Thonet Chair Designs—What They Brought to the Table Michael Thonet chairs have on the one hand remained unchanged for almost two centuries and then enjoyed variations on the theme for decorative accentuation and individualising a design under Thonet’s concept. Working at my workbench I slipped into his entrepreneurial designer shoes as I embraced his commitment […]

Read the full post Thonet—Brilliance in Design: Part II on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Ribs and teeth

Owyhee Mountain Fiddle Shop - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 11:40am
Thinning ribs with a toothed plane, to avoid tear-out in the highly flamed maple.  This side will go inward on the finished instrument.

An old task for me, but in a new context.  For the Hardanger, I'll go as I generally do with violin ribs.  For the viola, about 10% thicker.  So 1 mm and 1.1 mm!  Not much, but a difference.

Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery

So Begins the ‘Lexapro’ Season

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 11:35am


I want y’all to know that you have adoring spouses and family members. Every year in mid-November we get flooded with requests from people who want to give you gifts with a little extra something special.

A few years ago, we got a request from a woodworker’s wife. She had bought one of our books at a used bookstore. She mailed it to us, and her request was something like this:

Please write an essay on the inside cover that will inspire my husband to continue woodworking. In your essay, I would like you to touch upon the following themes from his life:

  • The death of his father at a young age and the lack of authority figures in his life.
  • His two beloved dogs.
  • The difficulty he has at work because of his boss and the need for him to find a hobby.
  • ……
  • ….
  • .
  • !

It was then that John and I designated November and December the “Lexapro” season – when we are regularly pulled into anxiety-provoking family situations.

During the 2015 Lexapro Season (or was it the 2012 season?), a spouse asked if we could include a day of woodworking lessons with the book she wanted to buy for her husband. We replied with, “We charge $700 a day for one-on-one lessons.” And then she became very incensed that we couldn’t do it for free.

I hear those white pills rattling, rat- rat- rattling for me…

If you do have an overachieving spouse, we recommend they stop by our storefront on one of our open days if they want a personal signature – that really is the only way we can fulfill unusual requests. (Our last open day of 2017 is Dec. 9.) Because I’m in Kentucky and our warehouse is two hours away in Indiana, there’s no way to pull certain orders, sign them in blood and repackage them.

I honestly wish we had the staff to honor requests such as these as they are an indication of how much you are loved. And who doesn’t love love? But we are just two guys, and I have bathrooms to clean.

— Christopher Schwarz


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Categories: Hand Tools

Workbench & Staked Stool Classes for 2018

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 6:38am


I will teach two classes in June 2018 at Dictum in Germany – one class on building a Roubo workbench and a second short course on building a staked three-legged stool.

The classes are held at Niederalteich, a gorgeous monastery in Bavaria. Students can stay in the comfortable guest rooms at the monastery or at one of the local bed and breakfasts in the town. The monastery has a really good restaurant and lively beer garden. It is a perfect setting if you want to disconnect from the outside world and focus on the craft.

The staked furniture class is June 9-10. During the class we’ll build a three-legged staked stool. This class is an excellent introduction to the world of chairmaking. We’ll discuss how to design and execute compound-angle joinery without math or trig tables. And we’ll explore the tapered mortise and tenon, the foundation of staked furniture.

For more details or to sign up for the course, visit this page.


The workbench class is an intense five day class from June 11-15. Each student will build a Roubo-style workbench. The class will focus on making the bench and helping you decide what vises or workholding you need in your shop. We will build the bench using traditional mortise-and-tenon construction and the massive sliding dovetail used on early French benches.

For more details or to sign up for the bench course, visit this page.

Note that these classes do not mark my return to a regular teaching schedule. Teaching these classes in Bavaria helps fund my research into early woodworking in Europe. Plus, I owe the people at Dictum a personal favor for which I will ever be grateful.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Finishing Workshop @ CW – Asphalt Glazing

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 6:19am

We are not the first woodworkers who ever wanted to tweak the coloration of our pieces; the ancients routinely augmented their work with the addition of colorants to both unify overall tonality and accentuate details.  Among the most common colorants of the past were asphalt, that useless contaminate that percolated up from the ground, and pitch, which is the residue from the fractional distillation of pine sap into turpentine solvent and colophony resin.

For this workshop I showed and the CW crew used asphalt as a toning glaze.  My source for this was some non-fibered parging tar left over from the barn basement construction.  The three gallons I have left are all I and a thousand friends need for decades.  I thin the asphalt with mineral spirits, and occasionally add a bit of boiled linseed oil.

The asphalt glaze can be applied to the surface and manipulated with bristle brushes to achieve an overall uniform appearance.  For carved surfaces it could be applied the same way with the highest points rubbed with rags to remove the colorant and emphasize the three-dimensionality of the surface.

Asphalt can be overcoated with shellac as soon as it is dry to the touch.

Wood Talk Podcast - Episode 415

Giant Cypress - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 3:08am
Wood Talk Podcast - Episode 415:

I’m behind on my podcast listening, but I’d like to thank Shannon Rogers for giving a shout out to my new video on Japanese tools on the Wood Talk podcast a couple of weeks ago.

the project from hell....

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 1:08am
For something I anticipated taking maybe a couple of days to do and most of that time waiting on glue to dry, this project still isn't done. I thought things were coming together and I would be wrapping this one up and thinking of what was next. Instead of that, today was one hiccup after another to be dealt with. I was able to deal with them but I sure wish this project was done. But it ain't, but it is awfully close now. And I don't see any major hiccups on the horizon blocking me from the winner's tape.

first hiccup
The holder for the 073 is hitting one of the stops. It clears the one on the right but I can't place it so it'll pass between the two of them.

removed a stop
The 073 holder is clear now and I can open and shut the shelf. I don't like the one stop due to the weight of the tools on this. One screw is all that holds the stops in place and if I get ham fisted and slam this open, the weight could pull that stop out of the side. I would not be a happy camper then nor would I have a smiley face on. I went back to both stops and trimmed the 073 holder to fit inbetween them.

nail set box
The epoxy on the sides had set up after spending the night beside the furnace. I trimmed the top and bottom pieces flush with the 102.

what's left to do
I need to epoxy the oak onto the sides and then the lid banding can be glued on with yellow glue. It'll be a least 2 more days before this will be done.

the epoxy comes first
I will epoxy the sides with one piece of oak. I put a scrap piece between the top and bottom to separate them. I'll use that gap to saw out the two parts.

double duty
Using the bench hook to keep things aligned while the epoxy sets up.

back to working the stops
I had to take a break from this and do something else. I got the 073 holder trimmed so it fits between the two stops. There isn't much room to spare, but it opens and closes without hitting them.

After I got this fixed I ran into two more hiccups with the 073 holder. The first was I initially screwed the holder too close to the edge plane holder. I had done that without the edge plane in the holder. Once the plane was in it I saw I was up too close to it with the 073.

So I moved the holder and I hit snag #3. The screws were sticking out of the bottom of the shelf and hitting the front brace. I could open and close it but I could feel the screws dragging on the front cross brace. I left the screws in place and filed the points off with a file.

hiccup #4
The iron adjuster knob is hitting the side here and  I need to make a relief for it.  But wait, the fun with this is just starting.

#5 - making a relief for the handle to clear the side
#6 - the pic says it all
I could open and close the drawer but the knob and the handle were dragging on the side. FYI - chiseling plywood sucks.

3 frog hairs of clearance
no knob or handle
I have a finger grab recess on both sides so I don't need anything else to pull the shelf out with.

took the easy way out
I put up with the noise and dust this spit out and flushed the 3 sides of the cubby.

Houston we are almost in double digit problem land
Problem #8 upcoming. Here I'm checking if the cubby will tilt down with the shelf out and it does. I secured the cubby to the workbench shelf with four screws. Two in each cross brace.

hiccup #8
I can't get the edge plane out with the shelf extended as far as it can open. Even if I cut it down to lower the height of it, I still wouldn't be able to get it out. No problems taking the 073 out or putting it back.

The final hiccup, #9, is I had to take out the stops. With them gone I can pull the drawer out far enough and get access to the edge plane.  The downside is there is nothing to stop the shelf and the tools on it from playing the bounce test with Mr Concrete Floor.  I tried to place the stops closer to the opening but it wasn't helpful at all. If I place the stops as far forward as I can I still don't have access to the edge plane. I will have to live with this as is and try to remember I can't pull it out all the way.

block plane storage idea
This is what I wanted to do yesterday but I had to do the battery dance steps instead. The idea is to put all the planes at an incline to make them easier to grab. Plus I think it looks better than having them horizontal.

road testing Miles's hammer
This is a 9 ounce hammer and mine is the one I use the most. I almost never use my 16 ounce hammer in the shop. This one has an ok balance and hammered these brads with no problems. I don't see Miles not having lots of fun nailing and gluing scraps together with it.

made dividers for the block planes
dry fit looks and felt good
After this is complete I will saw off some of the left side overhang. I want to pull the right side away from the leg as grabbing that blockplane was a bit tight.

last divider dado needed some help
I glued in a piece of veneer to tighten up the last dado.

dividers glued, clamped, and cooking
first coat of  shellac on Miles's hammer
I like the fact that this hammer was once mine and that I was able to fix it and pass it on to him.

plane stop for the violin plane
The radius on both pieces matches the toe on the plane.

I'll glue these two together

then I'll glue it here
This will put the heel of the plane at the top end of this inline with the other four.

the 103 is longer
I assumed that the 102 and the 103 were the same size but I was wrong.

my OCD kicked in here
I can't have the 103 sticking out farther than the other planes. I had to put a filler at the front of the dividers of the 102 and 103 to get them to line up with their bigger siblings on the right. I put a rabbet on the 103 filler.

laid out a rabbet and chiseled it out
doing a small one is just like doing a big one
The heel on the 103 was still sticking out a bit too far. So I chiseled a radius in the middle of the rabbet to match the toe radius of the 103.

the 103 toe is buried a bit
 I glued these in place and I'll flush them tomorrow. That will give me some time to think of a way to secure this to the cubby.

cleaned and squared up
I'll wait for this
The dividers are flush at the front where they are visible but they all aren't flush at the back. The back stop for the planes is only glued to the 1/2" plywood. I want to give this a day in the clamps to fully set up.

3 coats of shellac on the box
This will be dry tomorrow for sure. I'll steel wool it and wipe it off. It will go into Miles's toolbox then and I'll call it done.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is nikhedonia?
answer - the pleasure from anticipating success or a victory (or finally finishing a project from hell)

Doors for Dessert

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 11/12/2017 - 1:36pm


Replacing the main beam of the Horse Garage has been hanging over my head for more than a month now. Every time I go in there I feel like Damocles and wonder if I will become buried in my work.

Last month, Brendan Gaffney, Megan Fitzpatrick and I jacked up the garage’s joists to relieve pressure on the rotted beam. Today was the day to replace the punky thing.

Lucky for me, woodworker Jeremy Hanson was in town, and I hired him to help. Jeremy is a cabinet maker, carpenter, tattoo artist and art teacher from Seattle, Wash., who is traveling around the country with his charming family in a Toyota Tacoma that is outfitted with a camper. They stopped by the open house yesterday, and Jeremy volunteered to lend a hand.


It took us about four hours of dirty work, but at about 2 p.m. we lowered the joists back on the new beam. All the pieces returned to their proper places without complaint.

Now comes the rush to button the place up before winter comes. I have a roofing company prepared to add a membrane roof. And I am starting to build the new doors tomorrow.


The doors will be lightweight pine, joined with mortise-and-tenon joints and painted for protection. After all the wacky repairs we’ve been making to the Horse Garage, doors will be a cakewalk.

Then I will be out of money – again. After I complete a couple furniture commissions I should have enough money to add electricity to the building. (And, if I’m fortunate, enough money for a mini-split as well.)

There is still a long way to go, but the Horse Garage might be in business before the end of 2017.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

It Ain’t Done Until the Antlers are On

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 11/12/2017 - 4:32am


Note: No deer were harmed in the making of this project. These antlers were shed by a buck and retrieved from the woods by a so-called “shed collector.”

Getting the antlers fastened to the chair was straightforward in the end. But I’ve spent many nights pondering the possibilities. Rejected ideas:

  • Bore a hole for the irregular antler and pack epoxy and maple shavings around the antler.
  • Use a staked furniture joint: Use a tapered tenon cutter to shape the antler. Ream a matching hole in the chair.
  • Build a mounting board – like a taxidermist would – that would be fastened to the chair.

In the end, I decided to use hanger bolts. One end is threaded like a machine screw – that goes into the antler side. The other end is a wood screw and goes into the chair.


We also decided to cut a shallow counterbore in the chair to obscure the joint between the antler and the chair. This worked brilliantly.

Because you’ll never see a project such as this in a woodworking (or deerworking) magazine, here are a couple tips.

  • If you don’t own a tap for the machine screw, the hanger bolt is strong enough to form threads in the hole in the antler.
  • A dab of quick-set epoxy on the machine threads is a good idea.
  • Have a spotter (or two) help you drill the holes in the irregular chair and antler. It’s more difficult to do alone and make it look right.

After we installed the antlers, most of our customers that day asked to sit in the chair and have their picture taken with it. So either the project is a success, or I’ve created something so ugly that people want a photo to warn others not to do this.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Thonet—Brilliance in Design: Part I

Paul Sellers - Sun, 11/12/2017 - 3:08am

Yup! My parents owned a set of six Thonet dining chairs and it was indeed Thonet who designed a chair that brought a truly democratised and radical product in chair form to our world of wooden seating. Dining chairs, office chairs and even rocking chairs of many a hundred thousand gradually came into full mass-production […]

Read the full post Thonet—Brilliance in Design: Part I on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools


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