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Hand Tools

A Sense of Community

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 4:00am
Bill Robertson's miniature toolkit on display at Handworks 2015
As we head off to Handworks 2017, I find myself really looking forward to the feeling I have had at the two previous Handworks show, namely, being part of a community.
In a way, it's not a shock that the marvelous tool show that Jameel, Father John and the whole Handworks team have developed should inspire such a feeling. After all, we assemble together from all parts of the country, diverse in our backgrounds, political views and other interests, but united in our great appreciation and involvement in woodworking and hand tools. For the time we are together, our unity and sense of purpose is evident.
Surprisingly, lately I have been feeling a sense of community from a less obvious (to me, anyway) source: Instagram.
Tools for Working Wood's Instagram account was built up by thirtysomething TFWWers, visual artists who were already on Instagram. Initially Instagram participation seemed like one more item on a Things To Do list, so I wasnt sold. But more recently Ive been surprised how much Ive enjoyed playing - both as a exhibitor and as a viewer.
Look! Theres a beautiful piece of furniture handcrafted in Australia. Look! Flowers and produce from Theres Hepzibah Farms, the Talledega, Alabama farm owned by Charlie, TFWWs very first employee. Look, theres an amazing guitar crafted by our customer. Look, a new Lost Art Press book. A new tool, a new cabinet, a new celebrant of our ancient craft of woodworking.
By giving me a chance to see their work, and by tipping their hats - with likes, comments, and questions - to my news, we establish community.

Over the next couple of days some of us with come full circle, as Instagram friends meet in person for the first time at Handworks -- and real-life admirers become Instagram followers. These actions will add a welcome new dimension to our relationships, but fundamentally we already have something important in place: a shared sense of community.

The picture above is of a miniature toolkit and other items by Bill Robertson who showed off some of his work at Handworks 2015. One of the nation's foremost miniaturists he works to dollhouse scale so that lathe is only a few inches long. Everything Bill makes actually works - which is totally amazing. I am looking forward to seeing him again this week.

Jim McConnell, from his excellent blog The Daily Skep:Last week...

Giant Cypress - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 3:08am

Jim McConnell, from his excellent blog The Daily Skep:

Last week I went to visit someone in the hospital and found that nearly every surface in their room had a wood grain pattern laminated onto it. It wasn’t wood, of course, but it was made to look as wood-like as possible. The intent of the designer was to create an inviting atmosphere conducive to healing, and yet running my hand over the wood-like plastic left me confused and cold. It was a mixed message.

For me, all of this reinforces the belief that there is something deep in our psyche that thrills at the natural and dramatic variation in wood, and connects to the tactile warmth under the fingers. Consequently, there is something that comes un-moored when these touch-points are absent. This connection is so powerful that even fake wood is better than no wood for some people. For the rest of us, this is why we work with wood.

This photo is from my day job. It’s a part of the hallway in the pediatric surgery suite where the kids are rolled in and out of the operating room. Even though the kids won’t be touching the wall, since they’re on a stretcher, and even though the amount of contact time that the kids have with this section of hallway is measured in seconds as they wheel by, I find it significant that we went to the effort of making this small part of the hospital more inviting by putting these panels on the wall, even if we had to settle for fake wood.

The One-Day Storage Cabinet - Part II: Complete

Toolerable - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 2:38am
Mostly complete.

This cabinet was a lot of fun to build. It did wind up going a tiny bit over my budgeted time allowance of one day, but that was expected. Wasn't it?

Monday I started early and was excited to get this quick and dirty project over with. I spent some well-used time laying out everything to decide the dimensions of the cabinet. The board I had for the top, which came from the store at supposedly 800mm x 500mm x 28mm needed to be squared up. Once that was done, I had the width dimension for my cabinet.

After lunch, I wound up taking a quick power nap that wound up lasting about three hours. Ooops! I suppose I shouldn't have lain awake half the night thinking about this project.

Due to this delay, I didn't finish on time. By dinner time, I had cut the dadoes and fit the two shelves.
End of Day 1

The positive part of all that thinking was I decided to screw together the carcass with only enough fasteners to hold it together until it was painted. I could then knock the nails in without doing anything too weird to clean the nail heads off.

Next up was dovetailing a rail in the front and sliding a rail cut into a groove into the back. These two boards seem overly wide for their purpose, but I figured I would save time ripping them to width. I forgot that later on I needed one of these boards for something else, but too late now!

I was careful to lay out where the nails would go at this point. I drilled tapered pilot holes for the nails everywhere they would go, but I only put in a few temporary screws to hold everything together until later.
End of Day 2
Day three was about the back. I spent a bit of time sharpening the blade on a vintage French side-bead molder I've been lugging around. I'm not sure I like it, but it will be fine for this project. I used my home-made plane with a nailed on fence and a chisel for a blade to cut these ship laps. It was then just a matter of drilling pilot holes and nailing them to the shelves. I chose to clench the nails for fastening to the rear rail. I wasn't sure of a better way to do that.
End of Day 3
I finished the carcass and painted it with some commercial chalk paint I found at a store nearby. The color is graphite. After painting over the screws and all, I drove nails into the holes that had no fasteners before backing out the screws and replacing them with nails. The screws I used were only about an inch and a half long, and the nails almost three inches. This seemed to work perfectly.
End of Day 4
The next day I hung the door panels to the carcass. I wasn't sure the best way to fit and adjust everything. With pocket hinges there are all kinds of adjustments you can make to ensure the door hangs right, but with barrel hinges you only get one chance. It dawned on me that since my door panels were a little oversize, I could hang them as is, then trim to size and everything should look perfect. Lucky me, it worked!
End of Day 5
Now I have to attach battens to the doors to ensure they stay flat over time. This was what I needed one of those wider boards for that I used earlier for the front and rear rails! I decided instead to use some air dried sycamore that I have. It required that I cut it to length, then I resaw it for pieces about 7/8" thick. Clenching nails always makes so much noise, I feel sorry for the neighbors. I did one door, then decided to leave the other one for Monday when I could blame the noise on the contractors in another apartment.
End of Day 6
Finally, it is done. Mostly. The doors have battens attached with clenched nails, and the top has a nice chamfer and the decision was made to leave it a natural wood finish rather than painted. This little cabinet really dominates a room since it is so dark in color. The thought was the top would lighten it up a bit. I finished the top with a coat of BLO, then applied some home-made paste wax over the entire cabinet. I really like the look.
End of Day 7
I'm still thinking about knobs for the door handles. Nails wound up in exactly the place that I wanted to put the knobs, and the cabinet is a bit too rustic for the modern knobs we bought. I'm thinking some old-fashioned porcelain knobs would be just the thing to finish it off.

I'm happy with the result, even though it did go past my deadline a bit.
Categories: Hand Tools

just the frame and ..........

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 12:57am
Today we finally had a decent spring day for the month of  May. The temp hit almost 79F/26C on my porch thermometer and tomorrow it is supposed to be in the low 80'sF/27'sC. It was sunny and breezy all day long which was very much welcomed. For the last week or so it has been raining off and on with one cloudy day after another. It was nice to finally go to work this morning without having to wear a jacket. I should be able to do this now till at least october.

it's faded a bit
It is black but it shows a lot of brown in it too. This is only the third application so there is still a ways to go.

the outside rabbet
This part was a light brownish color with a lot of white yesterday. It looks like I did miss it or maybe it just needed a couple applications to darken up.

the inside rabbet
This also darkened up a lot too.  This will be hidden by the matting but I don't want to chance any light reflecting off this if it isn't black.

tannic acid applied
Nice and black again. After the tannic acid I put on the iron followed again by tannic acid. I did this so that the last application will be tannic acid which makes the frame blacker than the iron does.

getting closer
This should be done ebonizing this weekend and then I can apply the finish. The finish will be shellac and then it is off to the frame shop to get the the certificate mounted and matted.

shucks, it is 2 1/4" wide  (5 1/2 iron)
 I learned in twenty years in the Navy to only 'expect what you inspect'. Here I didn't inspect and ass-u-me-d that this was a 2 3/8" wide iron. The inspection tonight showed me that I was OTL on that thought.

I did this
The lever cap from the 4 1/2 and the 5 1/2 match. There is maybe a frog hair difference in the width of the two at the most. From this bit of brilliance, I deduced that the iron was 2 3/8" wide. I checked and inspected the lever caps but didn't repeat with the irons.

the 4 1/2 iron doesn't fit the 5 1/2
This I didn't do. I thought since the chipbreakers were the same, the irons had to be the same. I was wrong and the irons were right.

4 1/2 lever cap in the 5 1/2
the 5 1/2 lever cap in the 4 1/2
It's a good fit of the 4 1/2" lever cap in the 5 1/2". There isn't as much wiggle room with the 4 1/2 lever cap in the 5 1/2 but there is some and it fits.

my japanese 4 1/2 iron
Since this is a metric equivalent of 2 3/8" inches I thought it might fit. It is inbetween 2 5/16 and 2 3/8. Checked the fit but no joy in Mudville.

I'm screwed on having an extra 5 1/2 iron
I read over Patrick Leach's blood and gore on the 5 1/2 and it was not encouraging at all. It seems the width of the iron for the 5 1/2 I have (2 1/4" wide) are as easy to come by as bucket full of hens teeth.

Nothing came in today and nothing was up on the tracking sites for anything neither. It is looking like I'll be getting my toys on friday or saturday. Maybe, I'll know better when the tracking numbers get up on the USPS site.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
How thick is gold leaf for gliding and lettering?
answer - about 1/200,000 of an inch thick.

Welsh Staked Stools-Part 1

Hillbilly Daiku - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 5:00pm

I have been having a lot of fun with then lathe, but it is time to get back on track.  I have two new tables that are in desperate need of some sort of accompanying seating.  To that end my first run at keeping butts off the floor will be four Welsh inspired stools.

I’m lucky in that Chris Schwarz just completed a run of High Staked Stools built in this manner.  So he effectively did all of my prototyping for me (thanks Chris!).  He worked through several seat, leg and stretcher shapes in his process.  His posts about them allowed me to see the forms, eliminate options and firm up my own plans.

My version will draw visual elements from my tables and will be a couple of inches higher than a standard dinning chair.  It has been my experience that stools matching dinning chair height always feel too short in use.  There is a delicate balance between seating height, the sitter’s center of gravity and the back of chair.  Remove the back and everything feels off.  So my stools will be a little higher to try to bring things back into balance (I hope).

To finalize my design I worked up a proportional drawing.

These four stools will have SYP seats, red oak legs and white oak stretchers.  I began by milling the red oak leg stock.

Then laid them out to be tapered octagons.

To shape the legs, I first removed the bulk of the waste with a drawknife at the shaving horse.  Then refined the octagon with a plane.

On all of my previous staked projects I have used the Veritas tapered tenon cutter and reamer.  They work well, but I will be trying out a 1″ diameter round tenon method on these stools.  From what I can find this method was used by John Brown and was recently demonstrated in Don Weber’s video “Build a Welsh Stick Chair”.  Thanks to the new lathe, creating the 1″ tenons is quite easy.

After an afternoon of work, I have all of the legs ready to go.

Next I’ll work on the seats.

Greg Merritt



Categories: Hand Tools

Heading to Iowa

Brese Plane - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 2:17pm
The Handworks event in Amana Iowa is upon us. All shipments have been sent and received, all that's left is for us to travel there on Thursday to make ready our bench for Friday morning.

Being no rookie to major hand tool woodworking shows, I do have a bit of a different situation for this event. In the past I was only in a position to take on commissions in order to make planes for customers. This year however I will actually have two planes available for sale at this event.

The first plane available is a Winter Smoother. As you can see in the pics below this plane features rosewood knob and tote. The brass bits on this tool have a patina'd finish and an oil finish has also been applied to the aged brass bits of this plane.

I've always loved this combination of metal and wood. I've reluctantly shipped several with this combination of materials.

The splash of sapwood on the bottom edge of the tote creates a lovely contrast. This pic depicts a very inviting view of the tote. Nothing looks quite as contrasting as cocobolo.

I had to take all self preserving precautions in order to be able to work this material without adverse effects on my body. This included wearing vinyl gloves, a respirator, a long sleeve shirt and being very anal about proper dust collection during the entire process. One lesson I learned quite a bit ago. If you have the dust on your gloves or your hands don't touch any other parts of your body until you removed the gloves or thoroughly washed your hands.

The next tool that will be available is a Macassar Ebony Jack/Panel plane. As you can see in the pics the body is made from Macassar Ebony with olive wood decorative strike button.

 This tool has a unique, multi-facetted wedge design and I have found that any adjustments that need to be made to the iron can be accomplished by either striking the iron or the flat spot on the top of the wedge. The top of the wedge sets up quite well to the user. One only needs to strike down on the top of the wedge in lieu of having to swing the hammer down the line of the iron. Tap the iron to increase the cutting depth, strike the top of the wedge to decrease the depth of cut and to set the wedge.

The mouth on this tool is set to allow jack plane type shavings thru, yet also tight enough to do panel plane type smoothing as well.

The Macassar Ebony Shooting board plane below is a new idea that I've been pursuing. I'm sure Larry Williams and Don McConnell of Old Street Tools would tell me that this is technically called a Strike Box plane. This plane is already spoken for, however if you're at Handworks stop by my bench and give it a go.

It features an infill type lever cap. With the iron pitched at 38 degrees I decided I would rather depend on a lever cap to hold the adjustment on the iron in lieu of a wedge. The added benefit of the lever cap is less interference with your hand hold and position on the plane. 

The forward area of the mouth has a gentle sigma curve ending in a stopped rabbit at the top of the plane. This ejects the shavings quite efficiently and lends some elegance of detail to this form.

This plane also has the signature knob positioned in just the right location to give you distinct control of the cut. This plane weighs in a 8 lbs. which gives it plenty of mass for shooting task.

Another plane that will be residing on my bench at Handworks will be the Winter Panel Plane that I completed earlier this year for Bo Childs. This plane features a stainless steel body, brass lever cap and knob seat and Macassar ebony wooden bits. Bo was generous to allow me to show his plane at this event.

The only regret I have is that it was not practical to bring my Nicholson bench to the Handworks event. Jameel and I debated this while he was here for a visit recently. Ultimately we decided that shipping my bench to Iowa and back would put too much hard work at risk of being damaged during the shipping process.

Hope to see you at Handworks,


"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

                                                                                          Albert Einstein

Categories: Hand Tools

New eBooks Now Available!

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 1:32pm


At long last, the new eBooks are now available!

Over and over we’ve heard from readers that being able to see the guts of the pieces that are only ever displayed behind velvet ropes has been revolutionary to their shop practice. Seeing what historic hand-tool work looks like is inspiring and empowering because you quickly realize which parts are important to fettle and which aren’t. The feedback we’ve got about the photo essays in each issue of M&T has been encouraging. People said they loved the Federal Boston secretary in Issue One and the New England Queen Anne drop-leaf table in Issue Two.

These new books of photography showcase the hundreds of other photographs we couldn’t fit in print. There is so much more to learn from these pieces and this is our way of bringing it to you. These will never be available in print because they are intended to be a compliment to the print-only magazine.

Our goal with these eBooks is to make them as easy to use and instructive as we can. To that end, we are selling them in a DRM-free PDF format. This makes it easy to download the books onto your tablet, phone, computer, or whatever. You can put them on as many of your own devices as you wish and you can even print it out!

The other benefit to having these offered as eBooks is the ability to enlarge the photographs to see more detail, something you can’t do with print. Without DRM to secure the books, these are theoretically left vulnerable to theft by unscrupulous people. We’re not worried about that. Mike and I pour ourselves into M&T and feed our families with your support. We trust our customers not to steal these books from us.

As we were designing these books, I commented to Mike how I wished I had this kind of thing years ago. It is a shame that the comprehensiveness of this photography is available nowhere else because seeing period work for ourselves is the key to unlocking the efficiencies of hand-tool woodworking. M&T exists to make that kind of knowledge accessible.

The books are $8 each and feature a ton of photographs. You can order yours here.



Categories: Hand Tools

Friendly Handworks Advice

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 1:13pm

If you’re headed to Handworks in Iowa this weekend, please do stop by the Lost Art Press and Crucible booths in the Festhalle to say hello. Your editor, Megan Fitzpatrick, has volunteered to give us a hand when she isn’t off exploring the amazing show. If this is your first Handworks, here are a few tips for making the most of the show. Bring cash. Credit card readers sometimes have […]

The post Friendly Handworks Advice appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Wabi-sabi Hand Tool Woodworking

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 7:05am

Jim over at The Daily Skep has kindly published a blog post I wrote for his "Perfect in 1000 words or less" series. In it, I talk about how the tolerance for perfection is different for each context. Not everyone works for NASA.  

You can read it here: https://thedailyskep.com/2017/05/16/joshua-klein-perfect-in-1000-words-or-less/



Categories: Hand Tools

@ Handworks 2017 – Original Roubo Print 283

The Barn on White Run - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 4:48am

This morning’s offering from L’art du Menuisier is Print 283, “The Ways to Cut Veneers.”  It is a delightfully esoteric visual didactic on the orientation of the lumber and the saw to yield the most interesting veneers for the ebeniste.

Like almost all the prints in my inventory this one was drawn and engraved by Roubo himself.

If you have ever wanted to own a genuine piece of Rouboiana, this is your chance.   I will be selling this print at Handworks on a first-come basis, with terms being cash, check, or Paypal if you have a smart phone and can do that at the time of the transaction.


Just in case Japanese chisels with multiple hollows weren’t...

Giant Cypress - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 3:18am

Just in case Japanese chisels with multiple hollows weren’t fancy enough for you.

(Picture from [究]刃物道.)

More Translated Text from Hulot on the Roman Workbench

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 3:00am


Woodworker, designer, great cook and all-around nice guy Tom Bonamici volunteered to help translate more sections of M. Hulot’s “L’Art du Tourneur Mécanicien” (1775) that deal with the low workbench.

I have devoted lots of brainpower to this bench lately, and I have many ideas and theories I will test when I build the chairmaking and mortising jigs Hulot describes for my own low Roman workbench.

For the time being, I’m going to hold my tongue and just let you enjoy some of the interesting details unearthed by Tom’s translation.

Tom provided two versions. One is a straight translation that embraces Hulot’s flowery cadence. The second is a condensed version that gets right to the point.

— Christopher Schwarz

Description of a Saddle which serves for planing, mortising, and assembling the work.

The Figure 4, Plate 13, represents a type of bench which is named a Saddle for planing and assembling; it’s a piece of oak of 5 feet in length by 12 to 14 inches in width, and very thick, carried on four strong legs below, R, Y, X, Z, which enter through as many round holes drilled in the bottom of the Saddle, A B. The Worker has his face turned towards the head, H B, which is a big piece of softwood, such as alder, and of which the bottom forms a flat tenon which passes through a mortise in the Saddle; the upper part [of the alder head] forms a type of stepped stop, of which the steps are notched in different ways, some perpendicular and shallow, for receiving the end of flat pieces to be planed on their edge [see vertical notch just to the left of the letter B, Fig. 4, Pl. 13]; the flat steps receive pieces to be planed on their face. Other steps are notched horizontally and vertically in the form of a little spoon, for receiving the end of a baton. There are more little vertical notches next to this hollow, which can be seen in the figure [Fig. 4]. Independently of the tenon which fixes the head H, it [the head] is supported by the cross beam K, also named the transom, head, or buttress of the head, & which is supported at the end & across the Saddle, by two strong pegs of strong and binding wood, such as ash or dogwood, which pass perpendicularly across the cross beam and the Saddle.

            If the wood to be planed is big & long, one doesn’t sit on the Saddle, but one stands upright, & one places the end of the wood in the corner H K formed by the cross beam and the side of the head of the Saddle.


Description of the work planing Belly.

The Worker is obliged, in planing a piece of wood, to support its end against his stomach; & so as not to hurt himself, he has in front of him a mass or block of wood that’s named the Belly.


            This Belly is a type of wooden palette of oak, a foot long, 6 inches wide, & about 1/3 of an inch thick, Pl. 13, fig. 10. The top part is cut in a roughly oval shape, F I, f G; the bottom part, F I, f k, is made in a roughly semicircular shape; & as the Turner places this Belly in front of himself, the cord of his apron passes from F to f, and by this method the Belly is held fast. In the middle of the oval, one places a block L, of softwood, round, 3 to 4 inches in diameter, by around 2 to 3 inches in thickness, made of end grain, and in the center of which has been inserted a pin l of hardwood, & which is held by a friction fit in a hole in the center of the Belly’s oval; one cuts the end of this pin flush off at the back so that it doesn’t hurt the Artist. On the face of this block, one makes a very shallow groove in the shape of a cross, which serves to hold the flat pieces to be planed, either on their face or on their edge. See Pl. 31, vignette, fig. 3, where the Turner is occupied in planing. Below figure 10, Pl. 13, we see the block shown in perspective; l, is the tenon or pin which enters in the hole in the middle of this block. The holes I, I, which are at the bottom, in the semicircle of these Bellies, serve to hang them on the wall when not in use.


Another use of the Saddle, which is also called the Assembly Saddle, is to firmly hold the workpiece by the means of three dogs I, D, D, fig 4, Pl 13, making three sorts of poppets of well-binding wood, such as ash, which enter by tenons and mortises into the Saddle. The tenon needs to be flush to the interior face of the poppet, which are named dogs [entaille means notch, literally, but that doesn’t feel quite right in this situation. I’m using ‘dogs’], & that their arris is on the opposite side, and on the exterior of the heads of these same dogs, so that they don’t reverse themselves under the forces of working; it’s between these three dogs that one holds the work that one wishes to mortise, regardless of whether the workpieces are round or square. I suppose that one has to mortise the two back legs of a chair E E F, which are turned, we have the custom of cambering them, so that the back of the chair has recurve, & is consequently more comfortable, which we will discuss later. These two legs are therefore placed between the three blocks D, D, I, one fixes them in this state by the means of a block of wood, square & straight L, & also by a wedge of wood C, which one drives with force with an iron mallet AB, fig. 3; this block L needs to be more or less thick, depending on whether the workpiece is more or less big, & one always places the wedge C, on the side where there’s only one block I, which must by consequence be larger than the others, so that these three points of pressure always maintains parallelism between the pieces which one wishes to mortise. On the head of the block D, which is to the right, one makes a hole flared in the shape of a salt cellar, which one fills with tallow, & in which one plunges the bit of the brace from time to time, which tends to heat up in drilling, which refreshes it [the bit], & eases the friction.

            Ordinarily, one makes this Saddle 16 to 17 inches in height, so that the body of the Artist curves, and presses the brace against his stomach to make it work more quickly, finding thusly more force.

Plain Language Interpretation

Description of a Saddle which serves for planing, mortising, and assembling the work.

            The Figure 4, Plate 13, shows a type of bench which is named a Saddle for planing and assembling. It’s a piece of oak of 5 feet long, 12 to 14 inches wide, and very thick. The slab sits on four strong legs held in four drilled mortises. The worker faces the head of the saddle, HB, which is a stepped piece of softwood such as alder that’s tenoned into the slab. The head has various steps and notches, which can be used to hold flat workpieces on their faces and edges. There’s also a hollow indent, used for holding the ends of round, baton-like pieces.

            The headpiece is also supported by a full-width cross bar that’s firmly pegged across the end of the bench, using two ash or dogwood pegs. Larger work may be worked on standing up, with the end of the work positioned in the corner formed by the cross bar and the stepped headpiece.

Description of the work planing Belly.

            When planing or shaving wood, the free end of the work must be supported by the Worker’s stomach. So that the Worker doesn’t get poked, it’s best to use a Belly.

            This Belly is made of oak, one foot tall, 6 inches wide, and about a third of an inch thick – see Plate 13, figure 10. The top part is oval, and the bottom part is semicircular, forming a notch between the two forms. The worker ties the Belly on at this notch with his apron strings. A replaceable softwood block is pegged on to the center of the Belly with a friction fit, and the peg is flush-cut on the back of the Belly to ensure the worker’s comfort. This block has a shallow cross-shaped groove on its face, allowing wood to be held horizontally or vertically. The Belly’s use is shown in Plate 31, figure 3, and a detail of the block is shown in Plate 13, below figure 10. A hanging hole, I, is the final touch.

            Another use of the Saddle bench is to hold work firmly with three wooden dogs, seen at I, D, D, fig. 4, Pl. 13. The dogs are made out of a sturdy wood, like ash, and are tenoned into the bench with an off-center tenon. The face of the tenon which is flush to the face of the dog is on the side that’s towards the work, providing an arris that helps support the dog during use. The workpiece is fixed between the three dogs using a wedge and a block, L C, which are sized proportionally to the workpiece and driven home with an iron mallet. The wedge is always placed on the side with just one dog, making sure that pressure is applied evenly to the workpiece. On the head of one of the dogs, there’s a hole filled with tallow that’s used to lubricate the bit of the brace when drilling.

            The Saddle is usually 16 to 17 inches high, which allows the Worker to bend over and apply maximum pressure to the brace with his stomach.

Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized

Categories: Hand Tools

frame and lever cap.....

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 12:42am
I came home tonight hoping that I would have a few of my toys to open up. Alas, it wasn't so sports fans. The only thing I got was my lever cap which isn't a bad thing really. It has been raining off an on all day long so maybe it's a good thing I didn't get the #2 and/or the miter box today. Tomorrow is supposed be sunny followed by a couple of cloudy days. Besides, the delivery guys don't always put the boxes in a plastic bag when it rains. And I don't want either of them getting wet.

Got a surprise from Bill Rittner. He said he wasn't accepting new orders until june 10th but I placed one anyways telling him I would pay for it now and he could ship in june. He emailed saying that my order was in the mail today. I bought two barrel nuts and two brass toe screws from him. Getting that email was a nice surprise.

back of the frame after round one
There are two spots on the frame that didn't change color that much. One is the right side inside rabbet. The other one (which I forgot to snap a pic of) is at the top outside. I'm not sure if I forgot to hit these two with either the tannic acid or the iron. I'll be checking these two spots again tomorrow after round two has dried.

I may have dodged the bullet here
Those black spots are the hide glue I couldn't clean up. All of the hide glue spots turned black. With the rest of the frame black, these spots may blend in and disappear.

forgot one step
I didn't raise the grain before I put the tannic acid on yesterday. I sanded the entire frame with 320  tonight and I sanded through to bare wood in a few of spots. I may have to do an extra ebonizing dance step to make up for this boo-boo.

sanded, brushed off, and ready for the next round of ebonizing
I have my happy face on
It's black as in the edge of space black after two applications. There are a few spots here and there that are a bit lighter but I have a few more applications to go. This is only two coats of tannic acid and iron and it is looking good. I'm going to ebonize this one step at a time - put on the tannic acid and let it dry and then put on the iron and let that dry. Wait a day for both to set up and repeat it.

my 1905-1911 5 1/2 lever cap
I don't know where the seller got these dates from but he said it's from a 5 1/2 type 11 and it matches what I have.

it is rust free
This is the first lever cap I have bought that did not have any rust on it anywhere. I can usually raise some rust by sanding and wire brushing, especially on the back side of it. I'll take not having to give this a citrus bath.

the back of the lever cap
This one has 2 1/4 on it which is the width of it. Maybe the 5 1/2 labeled the frogs and the lever caps? I've seen castings marks on the back like the letter B and S but this is the first time I've seen something like this.

which one do you like?
I prefer the plain lever cap. I know it's a Stanley plane and I don't need to see that name on the lever cap. If anything is to be on the lever cap I think it should be my name.

sanding the lever cap
I watched a You Tube video where a jack size transitional plane was rehabbed. The person doing it sanded the lever cap like this on his RO sander. Something I never considered doing. He used the disc and then he put a piece of sheet sanding paper (looked like 400 grit W/D) on the RO and worked the lever cap on that. Other than a lot of noise and vibration, this worked ok. It isn't something that I think I'll do again though. Didn't like the noise and I definitely didn't like the vibration. My hands are still tingling a little 2 hours later.

the dynamic duo
4 1/2 on the left and the 5 1/2 on the right
The 4 1/2 lever cap hasn't been sanded at all. The 5 1/2 has a bit of shine to it and I like that. I'll have to think of another way to sand up a shine on my lever caps.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is a pangram?
answer - a sentence or verse that contains every letter of the alphabet

A Plantation From An Earlier Visit.

The Furniture Record - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 10:22pm

I still have a few plantations left from my most recent family avoiding New Years trip to New Orleans. I will get to them but first I thought I would clear another from my backlog of fascinating places with furniture. I’m still sorting the glass negatives from my visit to the Titanic right before it sailed. Good stuff but I’m still working on the narrative.

I had work in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in July of 2015. To save the company a few hundred in airfare, I offered to fly in and out of New Orleans and drive up in a rental car. I have a condition that requires me stop every so many miles and walk around for a few hours. It’s a burden I bear but such is life.

On the return to New Orleans the timer went off as I was approaching the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, St. James Parish. (Wikipedia article HERE.) Not wanting to risk my health, I stopped and wandered about for a bit. I even paid money and took a tour of the mansion.

First, about the name Oak Alley:


This explains the name.

Not entirely, the oak alley was planted in 1710. The mansion was not built until 1837.


A view from the balcony.

Oak Alley was built from 1837-39  by Jaques Roman on the grounds of his sugar plantation. It was built entirely with enslaved labor. Jacques Roman died in 1848 of tuberculosis and the estate was then managed by family. As seems to happen so often, the family lacked the skill, knowledge and discipline to manage the estate. when the patriarch dies, the family is not prepared to continue running the business. The Civil War and the end of slavery did not help the plantation’s fortunes. in 1866, the plantation was sold at auction.

Oak Alley then passed through a series owners as its condition deteriorated. In 1925 the property was acquired by Andrew Stewart as a gift to his wife, Josephine. She commissioned architect Richard Koch to supervise extensive restoration and modernize the house. When Josephine Stewart died in 1972, the grounds and mansion were left to the Oak Alley Foundation. Oak Alley was then opened to the public.

Based on the history of this mansion, you can feel certain that the furniture within is not original to the estate. The best you can hope is that the owner has assembled an interesting collection of period appropriate furniture and accessories.

Well, they did. Or so I think, but I’m no expert. One of the first things that caught my eye was this overhead fan in the dining room . It’s function was to circulate the air and the resident flies:


It was operated by staff, possibly not paid staff.

In the master bedroom was this rolling pin bed:


A bed with a rolling pin that was practical and ornamental.

The claim was made that the rolling pin was used to smooth out and pack the stuffed mattress. The mattress was stuffed with Spanish moss and other available organic materials. Insects aside, the problem has that this material tended to bunch and not compress uniformly. They used the rolling pin as a daily fix for this problem.

I have seen many similar beds and this is the only bed about which the rolling pin claim is made. It is also the only bed I’ve seen that the rolling pin is not securely attached. I’m not saying that the rolling pin was not removable and used for leveling the mattress. I’m just saying that I’ve not found any independent corroboration.

Not that it really matters.

There was this very attractive office:


I would like this office. And I am will to accept gifts.

On the property, they have built six replica slave cabins. The cabins are furnished with period appropriate vernacular furniture. As troubling as I find the whole notion, I took pictures:


Not the same quality as in the big house.


I find this furniture as interesting as the antiques in the mansion.

To see the entire set of mansion and slave cabin furniture pictures, click HERE.

Brimfield Antique Show

MVFlaim Furnituremaker - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 7:36pm

Last weekend, my wife and I drove to Massachusetts to go to the Brimfield Antique Show. We heard about Brimfield for years, but finally decided to take the plunge and drive out there to see it for ourselves. With 6000 dealers attending, we were excited to see the show.


We drove to Connecticut the night before and woke up Friday morning at 5:00 am to drive up north to the show. We arrived into Brimfield around 7:30 am and the first thing we noticed was that it reminded us of a very large stop on the World’s Longest Yard Sale. Dealer tents were set up on both sides of the street which stretched down for nearly a mile. We came up to a gate where a few people were waiting until 8:00 am for it to open and noticed that there was a $5.00 entry fee to get inside. Given we had a half an hour wait, we walked across the street trying to see if any ther dealers were already open, but only a handful were.

About a half an hour later, we came back to the gate where a large group of people were now waiting. We thought to ourselves that this area must be the place to be, so we handed the attendants $5.00 and waited for the gates to open. As soon as they did, we saw people literally running in like it was a black Friday sale. Anita and I started laughing thinking what in the world could be inside the show area worth running for.

Once we got inside, we looked around to see what all the fuss was all about. There were plenty of dealers selling quality antiques, but they came with dealer prices. After about an hour of buying a few things inside, we went out to see what the other areas had to offer.


The majority of tools that I saw were being sold by collectors, so there was little opportunity to snag a good deal. I was hoping that since I was on the east coast, I would see a lot of good deals on old Stanley planes, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.


I used to think that all the old tools were on the east coast since that is where Stanley plant was located, but I now think tool collectors have all the old tools, not the east coast. It’s just getting harder and harder to find them in the wild for a good price. Most of the planes on this table were $40-85 in price. Even the broken casting block plane was $30.00.


It’s impossible to see the whole show in one day, but after spending seven hours all over Brimfield we saw 80-90% of it. Unfortunately, these are all the tools I came home with. An old razee smooth plane, a Stanley No 4, a Ohio Tool Co No 4, a Wards Master No 7,  a Sargent block plane, an egg beater drill, and a turn screw. Not terrible, but I’ve done better. Anita faired better than me as she ran out of money and had to borrow mine. It was still a lot of fun and is definitely worth it, if it is on your bucket list.



They’re so 20th century…

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 6:44pm

I have been trying my hand at some at 20th-century woodworking. Going back to where I started, making a ladderback chair like the ones I learned from Jennie Alexander and Drew Langsner. I made them quite often back in the 1980s, but by 1992 I probably made my “last” one. The only ones I made since then were two small ones for the kids when they were little, December 2009. Here’s Daniel showing how much they have outgrown them.

This is one of the late-period chairs Alexander made with our friend Nathaniel Krause. Slender, light, but strong. Very deceptive chair.

But for years, I was swept up in the 17th century – and chairs, turned or shaved, were HEAVY. Here’s one of my favorites I made back then, maple, with oak slats. The posts for this are probably almost 2″ square. The rungs are 1″ in diameter (same as JA’s posts!) with mortises bored 3/4″ in diameter.


Some of the turned ones are even heavier, and this is not the biggest. All ash.

So today I shaved the rungs down to size, with 5/8″ tenons. The rungs are not much heavier than that – they don’t need to be. The rungs have been dried after rough-shaving, in the oven until the batch of them stopped losing weight. Then shaved down to size.

I bored a test hole in some dry hardwood, then jam the tenon into that hole to burnish it. then spokeshave down to the burnished marks. I skew the spokeshave a lot, to keep from rounding over the end of the tenon.

Long ago, I learned to bore the mortises at a low bench, leaning over the posts to bore them. Later, Alexander and Langsner started doing the boring horizontally. Use a bit extender to help sight the angle, and a level taped to the extender too. It’s so sophisticated. I’m sure today’s ladderback chairmakers have passed me & my brace by…

it’s a Power Bore bit. Was made by Stanley, I guess out of production now. I have an extra if something happens to this one. 

Then knock the side sections together, check the angles, and bore for the front & rear rungs.

Still needs to go a little to our right..that’s a level in my hand, checking to get the side frame oriented so the boring is level.

Then more of the same.

Then I knocked it together. Yes, I used glue. Probably not necessary, the oven-dry rungs will swell inside the somewhat-moist posts. but the glue doesn’t hurt anything. I never glued the larger chairs pictured above.

I got the frame done. Next time I work on it, I’ll make the slats from riven white oak. I’ll steam them & pop them in place. then weave a seat. Either hickory bark or rush. Bark is best.

Small tool kit – those pictured here, plus riving tools, a mortise chisel. Saws for trimming things to length. Not much else. Oh, a pencil. Yikes.

@ Handworks 2017 – Original Roubo Print 282

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 5:35pm

Print 282, “The Way of Preparing Frames To Receive Veneerwork,” from  L’art du Menuisier is an exquisite introductory tutorial for the ebeniste who needs to know how the selection of veneer application affects the choices he makes in the construction details.

The page is not quite excellent with some minor staining mostly outside the image margins, but is definitely captivating for the concepts it is communicating.  I particularly enjoyed the illustrations of incorporating the thickness of veneers into the manner in which doors are fitted into cabinet frames.

Like almost all the prints in my inventory this one was drawn and engraved by Roubo himself.

If you have ever wanted to own a genuine piece of Rouboiana, this is your chance.   I will be selling this print at Handworks on a first-come basis, with terms being cash, check, or Paypal if you have a smart phone and can do that at the time of the transaction.


High-heeled Slippers

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 5:16pm

When making the pair of workbenches for use at Handworks this weekend, I decided preemptively to make them considerably lower than I would normally.  This is because the bench going to the Library of Congress needed to reflect the stature of the users, which in my observation tended to be considerably less than mine, and I made the second bench more-or-less like the first one.

Going by the old “hanging pinkie knuckle” rubric both benches would be accurate for me at 30 inches.  All that shows is that some words, like “rubric,” are not worth the letters it takes to spell them.  My preferred bench height is in the 36-37 inch range.  So I just do what I recommend you do for yourself; decide hat height is most comfortable and productive for you and make your bench that height.

Back to the benches in question.  Since some of the LoC folks are a fair bit shorter than I am, and others are not that much shorter, I decided to make the bench short but with the option of adjusting them up easily and stably.  Hence the need for a matched set of high-heeled slippers to go under each leg.

I started with a standard 2×6 and ripped it to 5″ wide, the width of the bench legs.  Then I cut the ripped board into the necessary number of sections to make one piece 5″ wide by 4″ long and another 5″ x 8″ for each leg.  I glued these together to make a stepped block, or the high-heeled slipper.

I faced each horizontal surface with medium emery paper (I am guessing about 150 grit) by lightly spraying all the contact surfaces with spray adhesives.

The result is a set of height adjusters that function well and are extremely stable and unobtrusive, allowing the bench to be set-up for working at heights of 30″, 31-1/2″, and 33″.

Moravian Workbench @ The Woodwright’s School

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 2:35pm

We’ve had two late cancellations for the June 16-20, 2017, class on building a Moravian workbench at Roy Underhill’s school in Pittsboro, N.C.. If you are free that week and interested in building one heck of a workbench, you can sign up here.



— Will Myers

Filed under: Uncategorized, Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Mortise & Tenon Magazine at Handworks 2017

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 8:13am


At the end of this week, the biggest hand tool woodworking event in the world is happening in Amana, Iowa. If you don’t know already, Handworks is legendary. Woodworkers and tool makers are traveling from all over the world to convene in a barn (and various outbuildings) at the Amana Colonies in Iowa. These folks are serious, passionate tool nerds.

Every boutique tool maker and their mother is going to be there. When the organizer, Jameel Abraham, emailed us to ask if we wanted to participate, Mike and I were stoked. Yes. Yes. Yes. No matter what hurdles we had to jump over, we would be there. We started making arrangements for the big journey a long time ago.

Then my wife and I started doing some math and realized our third baby is due May 29th, one week after Handworks. Well, crap. That was some unfortunate double-booking. Mike and I spent some time trying to figure out the best way to make sure M&T had a presence there and ultimately decided Mike would manage the booth alone. He is a brave man. From all accounts, Handworks is nuts - a sea of voracious woodworkers desperate to get to the vendors’ booths before items sell out.

So he’s making a family vacation out of the trip. Mike and company began their journey yesterday in order to do some sight-seeing on the way down to the Midwest. He’s got a van full of booth gear and merchandise packed around his dear wife and three children. Whoever has the back seat has an awesome little cave. It’s the kind of hideout every young boy dreams about.

If your wife isn’t delivering a baby, you are crazy not to be there. Mike will be set up in the Millwright shop along with Voigt Planes, Bad Axe Tool Works, Walke Moore Tools, J. Wilding, Planemaker, and Fine Tool Journal. As always, Mike is ready to hand out free stickers to anyone wearing an M&T t-shirt at the event.

I have (obviously) no disappointment about being home for the birth. At the same time, however, I know I will be jealously watching my Instagram feed fill up with photos of my friends playing with hand tools and having a good time. That is, when I’m not busy catching my new little baby. 




Categories: Hand Tools


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