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Hand Tools

Half-moon Winding Sticks – to Make or Buy

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 8:32am

Two years ago I wrote about some unusual homemade winding sticks I encountered in North Carolina (read the article here). Instead of using inlay to help broadcast a board’s twisted state to your eyes, these used a pair of half-moon cutouts. They worked brilliantly, perhaps better than any other set I’ve used before. This summer I made myself a quick pair while in Germany. These were made with a Forstner […]

The post Half-moon Winding Sticks – to Make or Buy appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Sharpen This, Part 1

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 7:26am


After years of working with professional and amateur woodworkers all over the world I have concluded that people who are hostile to handwork tend to badmouth it for a simple reason: They cannot really and truly sharpen.

They might be able to rub a chisel on a rock so their chisels can chop out wood left behind by a router or saw, but beyond that, they are lost.

Think about it: What if your table saw tried to kill you every time you turned it on? (Oh, wait, that’s what it really does do.) OK, imagine if your table saw’s blade had only two teeth on it. You’d hate that saw. You’d tell your students to avoid it. You’d say it was no way to make furniture.

Fixing this ornery saw takes about five minutes, tops: Remove the old blade and replace it with a sharp one. The same goes for a dull chisel or plane blade. Five minutes on the stones (or strop, if you are so inclined) and you are back to perfect.

But if you are unwilling to take a half-hour lesson and perform a few practice sessions to learn to sharpen, then you are going to be forever left with tools that are frustrating, slow, damaging to the wood and awkward.

And that is – I think – the source of hostility to handwork. It’s not that these naysayers think their machines are so fantastic. It’s that they are unwilling to admit they cannot sharpen at a high level.

This is not a supposition. I’ve concluded this after looking at a lot of people’s edges and comparing it to their work and what they say. (The only outliers to my observation are the few people who really can sharpen, but their public personas are based on bashing handwork – yes, these people exist.)

I say all this because today marks a turning point on this blog. Until today, I avoided writing much about sharpening because it is a sticky wicket. There is more misinformation floating around about sharpening than any other woodworking topic (the topic of finishing is a close second).

I have started a new category on this blog: Sharpen This. Articles in this category will show you how I sharpen every tool in my chest: planes, chisels, scrapers, travishers, scorps, moulding planes, awls, spade bits, screwdrivers and so forth. I’ll also attempt to disarm the consumerist economy that has sprung up to capitalize on our craft’s fear of this simple process.

You don’t need a lot of equipment to sharpen. All the systems work. The trick is to pick one system (what I call “sharpening monogamy”) and practice.

And if you are willing to humble yourself before a teacher, admit you cannot sharpen and take a lesson, you can get fixed up with everything you need to know in less than half an hour. (Pro tip: Attend a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event and they will gladly give you a complete and free lesson.)

But if you won’t do this and you continue bash handwork, then I have only two words (and an obscene gesture) for you: Sharpen this.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Sharpen This, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

lots of painting.....

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 1:43am
I didn't get all the woodworking on the bookcase done today.  I forgot to factor in the painting and I'll have to wait until say I'm done with the woodworking. I'm not saying it will be tomorrow because something else may pop up that I'll have to deal with first again.

saturday night after supper
I went back to the shop after filling the pie hole to filling the gaps in the tails and pins. I filled them up with Dunham's Putty and I sanded it smooth this morning.

I don't have a lot of confidence in the simple dado joint at the back and I wanted to reinforce it somehow. I put two miller dowels in each dado. I used my hand drill to do these which was a first for me with the miller dowel drill bit. Proved another handtool vs power tool thing. The power drill is quicker but the hand drill has a lot more control.

This came loose when I was using the drill and when I tightened it back down, it split in two.  This looks like it is mahogany. I glued it, clamped it together with painters tape, and set it aside to cook.

I have a straight board clamped to the top and the back is even with it along it's length.

unclamped the board
The top has a slight cup to it. I have to secure the back to it with it straight. I clamped the board back on and glue and nailed the back to the top. Once that was done, I clamped it along it's length and set it aside to cure for a few hours.

sealed the knot with shellac
pitch streaks
Across the top there is line of pitch streaks like this. It is heaviest on this side and tapers out going to the left. Paint does not stick to this stuff that well if at all. If it does stick, it telegraphs through the paint that it's there. The shellac will seal this and the paint will stick to the shellac with no problems.

new shelf
Lowes usually has 2x2 pieces of 3/4" birch plywood but not today. 2x4 and 4x4 were the only pickings on the shelf. I bought the flattest 2x4 piece in the stack. The left overs won't go to waste but I did want to minimize how much there was. I still have to rip the front pine piece to width and make a rabbet in it.

cleaned up the rabbit
Even though this is a small rabbet I prefer to use the tenon plane over the bullnose to clean it up. I like the longer registration of the tenon plane and feel it gives a truer action.

almost dead flush
I took one more see through shaving end to end so it would be a frog hair proud. After it had set up for a few hours, I planed it dead nuts flush.

planed the profile
Before I did the molded edge, I took one shaving off the front face to clean it up.

why the woodworking isn't done
This is the bottom of the top and it is getting one coat of paint. I don't expect the top to move much and the bookcase even less but just in case. If there is any movement there won't be any bare, raw wood showing.

before the 2nd coat goes on
The nail holes on the left (the bottom of the top) I don't have to fill as these will be hidden and not seen. The ones on the right will be at the back and seen. These I will fill with joint compound before I put on the 2nd coat.

painted the shelf too
Off camera to the right is the bookcase and I painted the sides and back of that too. I didn't use any primer on the new shelf and it looks way better then the other two did with primer coats. I am crossing my fingers on this and hoping I get out of this with two coats.

The paint for the bookcase is similar to the white of the interior of the bookcase and shelves. But it has a slight grayish tint to it. I was hoping for darker color contrast between the two. This is going on the front porch so it won't get a lot of look sees. The important thing is my wife saw it and approved it.

I plan on painting the base on the bookcase with one more coat after dinner. Right now it's on the saw donkeys taking up way too much real estate in the shop. Once two coats are on the base, tomorrow I'll be able to put it upright and regain some walk around room.

couple of boxes coming
These aren't going to be sliding lid boxes. I am going to put a lid on them with hinges. Doing hinges is something I need to practice and these will be a good opportunity. This is about all I can do with parts being painted on the bench too.

tails sawn
I stopped here and went upstairs to figure out how to use my new TG-5 camera. That was a quick 15 minutes. The manual that came with it sucks. It was a single multi fold piece of paper and not a manual. I had to read it with a magnifying glass and it was just barely about the basics. I wanted to find out how to do the WiFi but there was nothing there on it. I had to download the manual from the web, all 134 pages.

One thing I will not do is read a manual on my computer. I want to hold the pages in my hand and leaf through them. I want to be able to make notes in the margins and go back and forward if I have to. I think Staples will print this out and put in a booklet format. I'll have to check that on line and see if that is truth or rumor.

went back to the shop
I sawed off the half pins and the plan was to stack them up and chop out the center pin waste. That didn't pan out because the painted stuff is resident over my bench hold fast holes. The chopping will have to wait till later.

this layout looks a bit goofy
The tails are thinner than I like at the base. I may end up cutting these off and redoing the layout. I will wait until I get the center pin chopped out and see what that looks like.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What were the code names for the 5 beachheads on D-Day, June 6, 1944?
answer - Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword

Call me anything but boss

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 07/09/2017 - 8:26am
William reading the comics

William reading the comics, 1998

When my former husband and I moved to southern Indiana in 1988, we became friends with a carpenter named Joe who possessed an endearing confidence that everything he thought and said was right. He and his wife were literal about the biblical injunction to go forth and multiply. By the time we met, they were well on their way to having a chief for each of their own twelve tribes. My husband and I, on the other hand, had decided not to reproduce, convinced that our species was already consuming such a disproportionate percentage of the earth’s resources that we had a moral duty not to make things worse.

One day Joe brought up the subject of our not having kids. “People who don’t have children are just selfish,” he began. “Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that you two are bad people. But you think only of yourselves: your work, what you’re going to cook for dinner, where you’d like to go on vacation. Now, none of this stuff is unimportant! But when you have children, you’re forced to think about others. Instead of keeping everything for yourself, you’re forced to share. It makes you a better person.”

Those of us who have a business but no employees occasionally find ourselves faced with a similar kind of judgment. Some people see the mere fact of having a business as evidence that you’re privy to a certain largesse that should be shared. If you don’t have employees, well, shame on you for keeping all that wealth for yourself. You ought to be a job creator, give something back.

You can find out where this opening leads in “Don’t Call Me Boss,” one of the stories in Making Things Work

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Quick & Easy Tapers

360 WoodWorking - Sun, 07/09/2017 - 4:10am
Quick & Easy Tapers

I’m about to wrap up work on an office that’s almost fully paneled with sapele. There is wainscoting, a full wall of bookcases, a paneled fireplace wall with step-back cupboards flanked to both sides and a couple of angled bookcases. Plus, there’s a door to case. Earlier drywall work pushed out from the existing door frame, so I had to build out the frame to make the new casing sit flat. I needed quick and easy tapers.

Continue reading Quick & Easy Tapers at 360 WoodWorking.

almost done........

Accidental Woodworker - Sun, 07/09/2017 - 3:26am
I came awfully close to finishing all the woodworking for the bookcase today. I could have kept on truckin' with it but it was 1600 and the bones were starting to creak. I also heard a few new noises but I don't think anything broke. Another hiccup was having to wait for the glue to set up before I got back to working on it. I know tomorrow I will be done with the woodworking and maybe the first coat of paint will go on.

base on
I did this morning at 0630. I used yellow glue just on the dovetails. No glue was used to fasten the base to the bookcase. I want to be able to remove the base for repairs or replacement. Plus it will help whoever comes behind me on this. I let this cook for 6 hours before I unclamped it.

base support
This is one of the cutouts from the side of the base. I used the both of them here at the front, left and right, for the bookcase to rest on. They are glued to the back of the apron

the bottom back support
I will put this one after the base has set up. I'm not sure if the base is positioned properly right now with all the clamps on it. It is hard to see exactly where it is sitting.

it was flat
I bought this 1x12 at Lowes and in the store it was flat. I didn't see any bow in it at all. 15 minutes after buying it I'm home and this is toast.

also bought two 1x8's
This is from the #3 common stock that Lowes sells. I have bought this crap before and had it do stupid wood tricks like the one above and that is why I bought these two as backups. I can get almost dead clear stock out of this for the top.

the two outside edges have hiccups
Since my overall width for the top is about 12", I can easily get that out of these two boards by cutting the two defects out.

pesky knot
I need a 34" rough length out of this 4' board and there is now way I can work around this knot. This knot is black and dry which means it can shrink and fall out. I'll have to work some epoxy in around it to keep that from happening.

3/4" cove
I checked this against my largest hollow and it is too small. I thought of this on drive home from Lowes - this is a molding I could have made. I have a cove molding plane labeled 3/4 and maybe I'll remember it for the next time.

working on the top
The plan is to rough saw these to length and get them glued up.

the two big off cuts I can use for the plow plane box
this is the winner
The grain run into this point on the board but it is straight coming from both directions. I'll saw this defect out and glue this side to the other board.

the opposite side of the board
The grain is running the same here as the other side but here it's a bit wilder. It isn't as straight and the grain lines are a lot wider here. This will end up at the back of the top. This will also be cut off once the final width of the top is established.

ripped off the first defect for edge gluing
got it glued up without killing anyone
This was only a two board glue up but it kicked my ass. I got a perfect mating between the two boards except for one 4-5 inch stretch on one board. There was a gap there I just couldn't seem to get rid of. I tried all the tricks I learned and what I've Paul Sellers do but no luck. How did I fix it? I got pissed off at it and planed against the grain going from the low spot to the other end. 3 swipes and I had a perfect fit with no gaps.

back thing for the top
This is the bowed board and I did a cross cut to get a rough length. This will give up the board that will be positioned at the back of the top. I have absolutely no idea what this is called. The smaller off cut will be put with the others for the plow plane box.

marked for ripping out
I have to darken the knife lines with a pencil because I have a hard time seeing them in the this light pine.

ripped out and planed the hump on this side
straightening the edge going against the bookcase
The opposite edge is getting a curve so I don't have to straighten it.

outside face has almost no twist
front face has about 1/8" twist end to end
This I had to take out. This face will lay up against the back edge of the top and it can't have any twist in it.

cove molding rough sawn
This will be going underneath the top to conceal any gaps between the top and bookcase on the front and sides. This will probably be the very last woodworking to do on the bookcase.

something new
 One side of the cove molding is ribbed. That makes cutting and putting it in place so much easier because you have a reference side. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've cut the cove miter on the wrong face. I cut all these out correctly the first time because I had the ribs to guide me.

layout for the back thing done
I sawed off the angles on the ends first and then cut out the round.

I sawed the rounded top on the bandsaw
Using a spokeshave to do the chamfers but before I did them I had to smooth and straighten out the round over.

chamfer laid out

stopped chamfer on the ends
The back piece is the same length as the top and I don't want the chamfer to run down behind it and leave a gap. So I am stopping it about 3/4" up from the bottom.

sawed the end cut first with the Zona saw
worked down to the pencil lines with a chisel
repeat for the other side
chamfer done
I did most of the chamfer work with the spokeshave. I followed that up with my block plane to smooth and fair it out.

flushing and cleaning up the dovetails
I tried to do this on the saw donkeys but it was working. I couldn't hold the bookcase and use the plane at the same time. I got a moving blanket on the floor and I'm using the lally column as a planing stop.

I'll mark and saw the over hang off
I inset the back a 1/2"
I didn't want the back flush with the back of the bookcase nor use a rabbet joint here.

screwing the supports to the bookcase
The screws are a wee bit too long so instead of screwing them in straight in, I did them at a slight angle.

screwed the back one in too
There is no glue holding the base to the bookcase. These 3 supports are what is holding the base in place.

chamfered the base
I did the two corners first so I wouldn't get any blowouts.

fuzzy pic
This should be showing that the pencil line is still visible after I sawed off the overhang. I planed down to the line with a block plane next.

going to need another shelf
flattening the top
I didn't go nutso on this. I did the top and bottom by eye. I didn't check for twist with winding sticks but rather did it by eye too. The board didn't wobble at the corners when I was done and it looks ok.

reason #1 I don't like make the back thing first
I have almost no wiggle room on squaring this up. This doesn't even look like I have a 32nd to split on both ends.

big ass shooting board
I don't use this that often but it worked exceedingly well today splitting that 32nd.

tear out heaven
The other side came out blowout free and this side went south on the Nutso express. I knew I should have knifed a line but with one side ok I expected the same here.

cleaned up the shoulder first
Using the molding to deepen the top shoulder was just tearing it out worse. I used the bullnose to do that.

fine set #3 and then the molder again
I made the shoulder deepen so I could use the #3 on this spot. I then ran the molder down the front edge again concentrating on this front corner. I didn't mold the end grain edge again.

came out a bit better
Maybe some joint compound will fill it up a bit more and make it look better.

I don't like this
This reminds of the beaded side frame butting into the bottom frame of the bookcase. I think it needs to be a wee bit higher.

this looks better being up higher
nailed a piece onto the bottom
I used one of the pieces I ripped off as the riser here. Since this is being painted it won't show. If this was to be left natural, I would have made a new back thing. I glued and nailed this because there wasn't any way to get clamps on it.

ripping the top to it's final width
flat, straight, and square
almost there
Attach the back thing to the top. Attach the top to the bookcase (still thinking on how to best do that).  Trim, fit, and install the cove moldings. Paint the bookcase in it's exterior color. Make a new shelf because you didn't want to do when you made the first two and knew you had too.  Then I'll be able to say it's done.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
How many batting titles did Babe Ruth win?
answer - one. in 1924

High chest of drawers

Journeyman's Journal - Sat, 07/08/2017 - 6:10pm
Date: 1730–60
Geography: Made in Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Culture: American
Medium: Maple, birch, white pine
Dimensions: 86 1/2 x 40 x 21 1/2 in. (219.7 x 101.6 x 54.6 cm)

Japanning, the use of paint and gilded gesso to imitate the glossy finish on Asian lacquer work, was a popular method of furniture decoration in colonial Boston. This group of japanned furniture (40.37.1,.2,.4) descended in the Pickman family of Salem, Massachusetts, and is an extraordinary survival. The painted decoration on the high chest, dressing table, and looking glass is all by the same hand.

Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: inscribed in chalk on the back of bottom shelf drawer: W E; [number on various parts]
descended in the Pickman and Loring families, Salem, Massachusetts, until 1918; Lawrence Dwight, by 1918; his fiancee, Harriet Amory (later Mrs. Warwick Potter), New York, until 1940
Timeline of Art History (2000-present)

Categories: Hand Tools

Shaker Stool 128 Mod-Part 1

Hillbilly Daiku - Sat, 07/08/2017 - 4:56pm

In a perfect world I would be using riven stock for building stools and chairs, but my world is far from perfect.  So I make do with sawn stock.  Which means that I have to be creative when milling stock to obtain pieces with straight grain and minimal run out. As a result, I end up with a fair amount of off cuts.  Since I’m too frugal to throw them out I’m constantly trying to find ways of using them up.  Otherwise I would soon be drowning in little bits of wood.  Which brings me to the project at hand.

The two Shaker style stools that I just completed resulted in yet more off cut pieces for the ever growing pile.  So to continue with the theme and to use up some scraps, I sat down and worked up a proportional design for the ubiquitous Shaker footstool.

There probably have been thousands of these little stools built over the years.  I think this attests to its utility and ease of construction, as well as its broad appeal.  Even though I have been on a bit of a stool building spree as of late, I think this one will be a good addition to the stable.

A classic little stool that can be built in the simple Shaker style or jazzed up a bit at the lathe.  A bonus is that I’ll have another chance to practice weaving a fibre rush seat!

Since I anticipate building several of these (they should make great gifts) I first spent a little time making a proper story stick.  I knifed in the lines, rubbed in some instant coffee and gave the stick a coat of oil.

With the story stick in hand, I milled up and cut to length the four legs and the eight rungs needed for this little stool.

I tackled the runs first.  Step one took place at the shaving horse.  Transforming them into rough octagons and then to rough cylinders.  With the roughing done they went onto the lathe.  I also managed to knock out one of the legs before calling it quits this evening.

I’ll finish the other three legs tomorrow and maybe even get this little stool assembled.

Greg Merritt


Categories: Hand Tools

Shaker Stools 240 Mod-Part 5-Complete

Hillbilly Daiku - Sat, 07/08/2017 - 4:44pm

I spent my evenings after work weaving the seat for the second stool.  I was a little more comfortable with the process this time and actually enjoyed applying the rush.


I’m happy to report that I gained a little speed and the weave looked much neater.  So much so that I dismantled several courses on the first stool and re-worked it so that there wasn’t such a marked difference between the two.  Not a dramatic difference, but it would have driven me crazy if I hadn’t fixed it.

Just about everything I have read or watched says that the fibre rush should be sealed with a couple of coats of clear shellac or something similar.  This adds a bit of durability and stain resistance to the seat.  So I dutifully complied with shellac.

The first coat took a good bit of shellac and I was a little worried that the uneven appearance wouldn’t subside once everything was dry.

The first coat did indeed dry to an even, albeit, darker color and the second coat went on quickly.  I also took the time to add one more coat of Tried & True original to the frames of the stools.

With that, I’m calling these stools done.

Either hubris or taking the blame.  Not sure which.

Installed into the kitchen.

Part 4 Greg Merritt

Categories: Hand Tools

The Tool World Loses An Innovative Giant

The Barn on White Run - Sat, 07/08/2017 - 5:41am

I was saddened to learn last week from Brian Meek that Lee “The Saw Guy” Marshall had passed away.  Lee was the creator of the Knew Concepts company that produced the finest jeweler’s saws and coping saws known to man.  My friendship with Lee (and Brian) had grown continually since we first met many years ago at a Woodworking in America event, and ever since we had picked each other’s brain on many occasions.  In some respects our friendship must have been an odd one, and more than once Lee remarked, usually with a chuckle, that he was surprised that a “Santa Cruz lefty” got along so well with someone who thinks that 1964-era Barry Goldwater was a moderate.

Our relationship grew into me being an enthusiastic collaborator with Lee and Brian as they continued to invent and refine new versions of their products.   Our correspondence was frequent and I reviewed countless design drawings that Brian sent me for comment, and I have many Knew Concept prototypes in my shop, and will continue using them until I hang it up.  Lee was always curious about augmenting his own experience with that of others, and for several years we combined Lee’s aerospace machinist mindset with Brian’s background as a bench jeweler with mine as a woodbutcher.  Many was the time I would explain precisely how it is that woodworkers used their tools, and before long I would see some new understanding become manifest in their tools.

In many respects Lee was a model for me to follow.  An octogenarian whose good cheer, unfailing generosity and insights were never diminished by some serious injuries he had suffered many years ago, rendering him officially “disabled,” Lee was simply one of the most inventive and hard working men I have ever met.  His brain never turned off, working diligently until the end, creating and inventing with many projects in development at the time of his death.  Brian assures me that they will be carried to completion.

To his wife and family, and all who knew and loved Lee I extend my sincere condolences and offer heartfelt blessings in the sorrow of his absence from us.  He is greatly missed.

Christopher Vickers, craftsman-designer of furniture and lighting

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sat, 07/08/2017 - 5:16am

English A&C Furniture_Vickers_CFA Voysey Kelmscott Cabinet - Copy

Vickers’ reproduction of the Voysey Kelmscott “Chaucer” cabinet was a commission


Do you really need that 2400-square foot workshop?

I’ve lost track of how many retired friends of friends are currently building themselves shops. Most of these people moved to a rural location so they’d have the space to build. Once you’ve taken the plunge, it seems, the old English saying applies: “In for a penny, in for a Pound.” I mean, why have a shop that will hold a Mini Cooper when you can have one large enough to house a fleet of RVs? Who can’t use the extra space?

As someone who never seems to have enough room to store lumber and salvaged hardware for bona fide jobs, never mind the recycled plant pots, bags of ice-melting salt, antique chamber pots, old dog beds (which, perversely, became “insufferable” [to the dog] after being washed), and surplus hickory floorboards that “just might come in handy, and besides, the wood is so beautiful” (even though the boards in question have been lying there, undisturbed, for a dozen years), I feel your pain. And I am here to share a sobering example of a consummate craftsman who has made a name for himself with a workshop about as big one of those structures we Americans know today as a “tiny home.”


Christopher Vickers was born in Bexleyheath, south-east London, in 1961. His father, a cinema sales rep, had a keen interest in all things DIY but was especially taken with marquetry. That love of fine woodworking spread to Chris, who, at the age of 16, decided he wanted to be a furniture maker. No apprenticeship was forthcoming, however, so he served a seven-year apprenticeship as a joiner at Clark and Son in Islington.

IMG_0473 - Copy

Chris and Jenny Vickers in the conservatory they added onto their house

It was an excellent foundation in woodcraft: He made windows, doors, and staircases according to traditional methods. Still, he longed for finer work. When a friend suggested he apply to the London College of Furniture, he did. Most applicants to the program had taken A-Level exams (roughly equivalent to graduating from a high school in the United States), the usual prerequisite for university admission. But Chris’s significant woodworking experience, combined with his passionate desire to refine his skills, won him admission.

During that two-year furniture training Chris and his classmates visited the Cheltenham Museum (now called The Wilson) in Gloucestershire to see some of Alan Peters’ work. The museum also had extensive holdings of work by many other luminaries of the Arts and Crafts Movement, among them Ashbee, Gimson, Voysey, and the Barnsleys. “When I saw all the exposed joinery of the Cotswolds School, the penny dropped,” he remembers. He knew the direction in which he wanted to take his own work.

Vickers blog

A Vickers reproduction of one of Ernest Gimson’s hayrake tables

After college he spent two years working part-time for a specialist silverware canteen maker, F. Mottram, in London, making pieces for Asprey’s and other top silversmiths. He then set out on his own, producing jewelry, sewing, and writing boxes made from English hardwoods.

In October 1987 Chris and his wife, Jenny, moved to the small town of Frome in Somerset, primarily because it was affordable. They bought a Victorian red brick row house on a narrow lot typical of that architectural form, and Chris set up a woodworking shop measuring 18’ by 8’ (yes, that’s under 150 square feet), which he nicknamed “the bunker,” in the backyard.

IMG_0465 - Copy

Vickers in his workshop with one of his canteens

The ceiling height tapers from 8’ at the high end down to 6’. Chris is 6’ 2-1/2” tall.

With a workbench, hand tools, and basic set of small machines, he turned out beautifully crafted boxes that he sold at craft fairs, supporting himself and Jenny on that income. Small boxes were made with keyed miters, larger ones with handcut dovetails. His interest in specialty hardware for the boxes eventually led him to begin fabricating his own hinges, straps, and latches. He started making furniture for their home, along with small pieces such as side tables and chairs to sell.

His big break came in 1998. The owner of the Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa, wanted to create a room decorated in authentic William Morris style. On a trip to England she visited the Cheltenham Museum, where she met Arts and Crafts expert and curator Mary Greensted. Mary suggested she contact Chris. What began with an invitation to lunch at their home turned into two years of steady work.

“We had never flown before,” Chris remembers, “and the client flew us over business class, which was an adventure in itself.” Chris and Jenny were in Iowa for about two weeks, “wined and dined and shown around.” When the furniture was finished, it was shipped to its destination. “All done with just a handshake!” he adds. The hotel’s website has a section on the Morris Room with photos of Chris’s work.

After the hotel commission Chris was confident of his ability to make larger pieces in his tiny workshop. “The rule of thumb thereafter was, once I had worked out the size of the piece, would it go up the hall [of our house] and out the front door? Assuming the answer was yes, then I just needed to work out how to assemble and finish the main parts in our living room.”

Did you get that? He made the parts in his workshop, then assembled the pieces in their living room.

(OK, OK. Maybe there are advantages to having a shop with more than 150 square feet.)

This concern with size should help explain why he now specializes in lighting, which was originally an offshoot of his work producing his own hardware. In 2014 he added a second workshop to the backyard (this one 12’ long by 6’ wide with slightly higher headroom than “the bunker”), where he crafts replicas of original fixtures designed by W.A.S. Benson, C.F.A. Voysey, and the Birmingham Guild of Handicrafts.

IMG_0469 - Copy

“The bunker” at left. New workshop for lighting and metalwork in the far ground.


One of the many light fixtures Vickers now makes

You can see more of Chris’s work and read more about him at Inspired Illuminations

–Nancy Hiller, author of Making Things Work

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

bookcase base.......

Accidental Woodworker - Sat, 07/08/2017 - 2:22am
I think I'm going to miss my target for getting the bookcase done this weekend. I made good progress on the base and that will be done tomorrow even if I goof off all day long. What is shooting me in the foot is the painting. Based on what it has taken to paint the bookcase so far, I'm looking at 3 days just to do that. I really don't  have a deadline on this but it is holding me up from starting something new.

not the first thing I spaced
I would like to say that I was being clever and sawed all the way across for a reason but I can't think of any that make sense. I thought that I needed to make a full length dado here but I didn't. The base will set down a 1/4" from the bottom shelf. After I had sawed both sides I realized that I should have made a stopped dado. This is recoverable because I'm painting this and I can fill in the saw kerfs with putty.

my second mind fart with the base
I was patting myself on back for catching this mistake before it got worse. The base at the back can't be positioned with a 1/4" reveal because the back top is at the same level as the top of the base. I hadn't caught on to this at this point yet. That light bulb coming on came when I tried to put the base on the bookcase.

This is what I had done thursday night in the shop. I didn't get any pics of it because my battery went dead.  Tonight was first spent correcting these minor detours into La La Land.

got my 1/4" at the front
the problem is at the back
The back has to be down from the top of the base 1/2" so I'll have a 1/4" reveal on the three sides. The light bulb coming on here was laughing at me besides blinding me.

washers and screws for the #2 came in the mail today
These took almost a week to get to me. I guess having the 4th on the second day of the week screwed up a lot of things. Now the #2 will be fully rehabbed and ready to use.

got my 3/16" pigsticker from Jim Bode too
My herd of pigstickers is complete now. I go by 16ths from 1/8" up to 1/2". I don't have a 7/16" one and I don't see the need for it. I chopped a mortise with my new chisel and it is becoming ridiculously easy to do. I have been practicing chopping mortises mostly with the 1/4" and 3/8" pigstickers but I still haven't made tenons for them yet. And that's because I only chop one mortise at a time. I think I'm ready to try to make a frame.

rounded and flat bevels
I have 6 pigstickers with 3 of them having rounded bevels and 3 that have flat, slanted ones. I can't tell a difference between the two.  Both chop and make chips equally well but I do favor the rounded bevel but I couldn't tell you why.

micro bevels
3 pigstickers have a micro bevel and 3 don't. The 5/16" pigsticker has a rounded bevel and a micro bevel too. Both chop mortises as well as the others but here I do favor a non micro bevel on these. And it isn't because of me not liking them. Rather I find it harder to sight where the chisel is when chopping. I'm sure that it is something I could learn to work with so I don't consider it a deal breaker.

back to the base
Ripping the  base to width.

marking the back for length
I have the base clamped up square so I can get an accurate mark for the length of the back.

squaring the back
I sawed this off of the marking knife line at an angle. I used my Lee Valley edge plane to square this down to the knife line.

clamped the bottom back so I can check it on the bookcase
fits and I have a 1/4" reveal on the 3 sides
minor problem
This pin is gappy and it is caused by the base fitting a bit too snug on the bookcase. At the front there is small gap but at the back the base sides are very tight to the sides of the bookcase.

closed up
It took very little clamp pressure to close the top pin up. I like the snug fit of the base and I don't have any plans to change that. This is the next to last step before I glue up the dovetails.

the last step
I sawed the cutouts on the base with the bandsaw and I cleaned them up with spokeshaves and block planes. I used a flat sole spokeshave on the flats and tried to use the round bottom spokeshave on the curves. I had trouble using it on this side and especially up high.

did much better on the other 7
Much easier and better results on the other 7. Not perfect but I'm feeling good that I'm starting to get the hang of using these tools.

I have to fix this
This is a weak spot on the bottom frame. Most of the forces exerting on the base will be downwards but I want to secure this as best I can now.

sawed a bunch of shims with the Zona saw
trimmed them with a chisel
refined the shape with sanding
all four bottomed out and filled the kerfs
5 minute epoxy
This is a tough thing to glue up. The splines are cross grain to the kerfs and the gluing surface in the kerf is basically end grain to the long grain shims. Epoxy is the only adhesive that will work on this.

I'll trim these tomorrow and glue the base up then
accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is the color of blood in a octopus?
answer - blue green

Previously Owned Brese Planes....or is it a Kit Plane?

Brese Plane - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 1:11pm
I've been making planes professionally since 2007. I've made a lot of planes. Some of these tools are now showing up on the second hand market. Various woodworking forums have marketplace locations and of course there is Ebay.

If you run across one of these ads and are considering making a purchase there are some things you need to know.

(1) All the planes sold as completed planes came with a document of provenance. If the seller doesn't offer to include the document then you need to ask more questions as to the origin of the plane. Why? See number (2) below.

(2) In the early years of plane making I also sold kits so that others could enjoy the plane making experience as well. Recently one of these planes was offered on Ebay. The title of the ad did not make reference to it being a plane completed from a kit. One line in the description did in fact reveal this fact. For this reason you could well be buying a plane made by a first time plane maker. Needless to say there will be considerable differences between a plane made by a person that has completed hundreds of planes and one made by a first time plane maker. Fortunately the eventual buyer of this plane asked all the right questions and was fully aware of what they were buying.

(3) Kit planes do not have the"Brese" logo stamped or engraved into the front of the lever cap. If the lever cap lacks this logo it's a kit plane. If the logo is present send me a picture and I'll verify that it is original.

Below is a picture of two 650-55 J planes I completed a couple years ago.

Recently another similar plane has been offered for sale. But not made by me.  Look familiar? I just wanted to make it clear the plane pictured below was not made at Brese Plane or by anyone affiliated with Brese Plane.

I was reminded recently that imitation is a sincere form of flattery.


"Beware the sheep that wants to save you from the Wolf"

Categories: Hand Tools

The Classic Look of Routed Dovetails. Oops, Meant Hand-cut!!!

Paul Sellers - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 9:26am

I recently posted about the advert where a jig maker, Leigh Industries, used a phrase that said, “The Classic Look of Hand-cut Dovetails”, which I thought seemed somewhat deceptive but there again, this is the age of fake news so why expect more of the advertising media? It seems all the more that everyone assents …

Read the full post The Classic Look of Routed Dovetails. Oops, Meant Hand-cut!!! on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Curious Collector Cabinet

WPatrickEdwards - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 8:55am
Beautiful and Functional But Why?

I need your help.

A few weeks ago one of my old clients came in with this curious box.  He hangs out at estate sales and finds things on Craig's list and is always looking for something unusual.  He often discovers amazing things.

After all, isn't that one of the reasons we collect stuff?  Not that we need it.  If we need something essential we go out and get it.  If I need gas I go to the gas station.  Not much excitement there...

On the other hand, when I travel I always take time to explore old used book stores, antique stores, used tool shops and even, in some cases, thrift stores.  It's the lure of the unknown which keeps me searching.

So this client walks in with this box.  It is amazing.  Made of Brazilian rosewood with boxwood trim. Made by a professional, probably British.    It is about 11 x 12 x 22" in size.  I think it' either British or even American since the writing on the drawers is in English.

The locks, keys, hinges and screws all indicate a period before 1850.

Mid 19th Century Script?

The secondary wood is Spanish Cedar.

Lift Top With Two Trays Inside

The front has double glass doors and the top lid lifts up.  There is a lock on the glass doors and a second lock on the lid.  Whoever had it wanted to keep the contents secure.

When you lift up the top there are two trays in a till.  A very shallow tray on top of a deeper tray.  The deeper tray is missing a divide which would go from side to side.

What Are These Trays For?

Inside the double glass doors are 4 fake drawers over 6 functional drawers, each with turned ivory pulls.

The amazing and curious feature is how the drawers are divided into strange and complex compartments.  I have no idea how these compartments could be used.  My only guess is that there was a fad of collecting exotic sea shells in the past.  Perhaps these compartments could be designed for shells.

When I Saw These Drawers I Was Speechless 

However, as the drawers are fairly deep and the compartments rather small, it would be difficult to reach some of the contents.

What Would You Keep In These???

Please help me find out what this is.  If you have any idea just post in the comments.

Understanding the lost mysteries of past cultures is why we explore.
Categories: Hand Tools

RWW Live: Open Q&A Night

The Renaissance Woodworker - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 6:58am

Enter the Lightning Round

OMG thanks so much for everybody who came out and asked questions. That was a lot of fun and as expected there wasn’t nearly enough time to get to all the questions. We talked about a lot of hand tool stuff from sharpening to tongue & groove joinery to smoothing planes and panel saws. I think I probably should do more of these open format sessions because there seem to be many more questions out there.

The Questions You Asked

  • 3:40 A Lumberyard Story
  • 7:08 Square Dovetail Cuts
  • 12:47 Best Bits for Braces
  • 18:30 Using a Combination Plane for T&G joinery
  • 26:44 Where to get Auger Bits & how to sharpen them
  • 33:11 Sharpening narrow chisels without skewing them
  • 44:44 How to cut a T&G joint without a plow plane
  • 49:00 What is the best smoothing plane
  • 51:58 What is a good mallet to use
  • 58:06 Where do you get leather for vises
  • 1:00:00 Whats a good way to get my tools tested and sold
  • 1:02:00 How flat does the sole of your plane need to be
  • 1:04:15 How to sharpen a timber slick
  • 1:06:30 Uses for a Stanley #80
  • 1:09:28 How to know when a saw needs to be sharpened
  • 1:10:30 Panel vs Hand saws
  • 1:15:16 How to correct a saw cutting a curved kerf
  • 1:18:20 How tall is my joinery bench vs my workbench

Categories: Hand Tools

Groopshop 2017 Fun and Fellowship

The Barn on White Run - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 5:07am

The events that are Groopshop are filled with levity and camaraderie, perhaps unlike any I have been party to (admittedly I might not be the best judge of this as I was the guy at high school pool parties who was sitting in the corner reading the encyclopedia).  On the second night of Groophop we  usually have a delightful evening of fun in the guise of “Refinishing Jeopardy” followed by “Mike’s Mostly Honest Auction,” when we raise money for the operation of the organization through selling and buying each others’ shop surplus supplies.

During the former event I was the off-screen judge for the answers, perhaps risking a conflict of interest as one of the categories was titled “Decoding Don.”

Apparently they think I am in love with arcane words and esoteric technical terms, and this was the chance for the contestants to try and figure some of that out.  I may have been a little strict with Freddy Roman during the judging, but I sent him a box of shellac flour as an apology.

Following “Refinisher’s Jeopardy” the auction commenced, and the bidding was spirited and the lots were enticing.  I bought some sheets of veneer, loose abrasive powders, and some more stuff I cannot recall at the moment.  One of the most vigorous episodes was for some lumber AlL brought.  I bought a lovely pair of matched Spanish Cedar boards, but was outbid for a spectacular piece of Swietenia mahoganii by JohnC.  It was a real beauty.

But the real heartwarming surprise came the next day as I was in CVSW setting up for my workshops the following day, and found the John had left me the board as a gift.  I was truly moved by the gesture, and since no good deed goes unpunished I am considering appropriate packages to send him in return.  The board was perfect for turning into sawn veneer for an upcoming project.

That’s the kind of group Groop is.  You should join us, but only if you want to learn, exchange information in a friendly environment, and have fun.

Making a treadle Lathe

Journeyman's Journal - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 2:40am

HANDWORK’s contributing author Joshua Steven aka Mr.Chickadee has uploaded a video on youtube on making a foot powered lathe.  Joshua has built his homestead entirely by hand and now he’s showing you how to build this lathe entirely by hand.  This is what its about, this is what true freedom is.  This is handwork.


Categories: Hand Tools

oh boy, what a surprise......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 1:18am
At lunch time on wednesday I had checked UPS to see if they had delivered my wide iron conversion kit for my new Lee Valley plow plane. They said they had delivered it but when I got home there was no conversion kit waiting for me. You can not file a claim with UPS for a failed delivery until 24 hours have passed. That is what I was going to do battle with tonight.

When I drove up to my house after work I noticed that there was a priority box on the front stoop. I am expecting a pigsticker from Jim Bode but this box was way too big for that. If it wasn't for me, than it was most likely book(s) that my wife had ordered. When I went to collect it I noticed it was for me but I had no clue as to what it was. I didn't look at the return address because right besides the priority box was a Lee Valley box.

It was my conversion kit but I don't know who left it. Was it the man in brown or the person who mistaken had it left at their house? Seeing that I now had my kit, I didn't care anymore about going to battle stations with UPS or anything else.

The priority box was from Ken Hatch who writes the 'I'm a OK guy' blog. I didn't have clue as to what was in the box nor had Ken given me a heads up on it. I had to get the garbage curbside first and then I gave the box my undivided attention.

Of course the battery in my camera decided to go south at this time too. So I wasn't able to snap as many pics I wanted to. I did manage to get one of each of the goodies in the box. Ken, I don't know what to say. Thank you for sure, but what you sent me was incredibly generous. I'm sure that my wife will get sick of me telling her about this but the cats usually walk away when I try to talk to them. Her I can wait until I have her cornered in her sewing room.

first thing I pulled out
Two rice bowls with chopsticks. My wife won't use the chopsticks but I'm sure I can get one of my daughters to use them. I have been using another set off and on and I'm not any good with them. The lady at the chinese place I frequent is very patient with me and answers my questions everytime I go in there. She can pick a sheet of paper with them. I'll have to kick up the effort and practice every time I get chinese now

iron/chipbreaker set with a lever cap
The lever cap has a broken flip thing at at the top but I have seen replacements for this for sale. I can practice on punching out the pin and replacing it. The iron/chipbreaker will fit a #3 and I can give it to my grandson as a spare for his plane.

this wasn't in the Ken Hatch box
I put this on the plane without any problems. I glanced a few pics in the instructions but I didn't read anything. Now that I have this, I can start making a box to stow the plane, the conversion kit, and the box holding the irons in it.

This is over the top
This is an awesome surprise and I was stunned when I saw it in the box. This was just too damn good to be true and I had to slap myself to make sure I was awake and not dreaming. Of course I had to road test it immediately.

realistic road test
I had to flush the base and I started on the top and used this plane to knock down the high spots. The shavings were a wee bit thicker than I liked but the plane was effortlessly making them. No stuttering or chattering, with or against the grain.  I swear the plane was singing as I flushed the top edge of the base. I used the #7 and the 4 1/2 to finish it but I really like the feel and action of the wooden plane a lot.

planing the left side
I could feel a wooden plane sickness starting to creep into my body. It would be very easy to go on binge buying a set of wooden planes. This is about as long as my 4 1/2 but it is lighter and felt a lot more nimble to maneuver.

flipped it over and did the bottom
I flushed the bottom wholly with the new wooden plane. Even the long front edge. This plane went through this pine quicker than a red hot knife going through a tub of cheap oleo.

square on all 3
Planing square now is something I kind of expect. If I am off I am able to quickly get back to 90 within a few strokes. I thought that I wouldn't be able to do that with this wooden plane. I can sense myself planing off square with metal planes now and I found out that I had that same sense with the wooden one.

I am kind of torn between keeping this plane for myself or passing it on to my grandson. I think what I'll do is keep it as a guardian until he is old enough to use and appreciate it.

I plowed the dadoes in the base for the back but I have no pics of that. My canon camera battery was dead and I haven't had a chance to read up on the Olympus camera yet. I charged the battery in it but that is all I've done with it. I'll catch up and post follow up pics tomorrow.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
How many US Presidents were former governors?
answer - 17

In Search of Loveliness

Paul Sellers - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 2:28pm

Wednesday 14 June 2017 Journal Entry I’ve spent over 50 years living with beauty. It’s not the stuff taught in schools by schools but it is learned mostly by seeing it in contrast with the unlovely. Unloveliness is the stuff local authorities and standardisation of things put together by government produces where utilitarianism dominates and …

Read the full post In Search of Loveliness on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools


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