Hand Tool Headlines

The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator


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


Hand Tools

First photos for 2018

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 6:25am

As I write this blog, I sort the photos into folders, sorted first by the year. Yesterday I started the 11th folder – “BLOG 2018” – whew. So here goes year 11 of this collection of stuff about my oak furniture and more.  Remember when I wrote about finding my stuff on the 2nd-hand market?  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/i-got-it-second-hand/

Well, now I’ve made it to the big-time second-hand market!  http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2018/important-americana-n09805/lot.732.html

Bob Trent had me make this cabinet for his friends Constance & Dudley Godfrey; and now some of their collection is being sold at Sotheby’s this month. I didn’t do the color. Ours looks new, like this:

This picture is of course a lie. Ever clean up your house when company is coming? I cleaned mine yesterday to shoot some furniture photos. I used to shoot every piece I made at my old shop; getting out background paper, lights – all that stuff. Now I have no room for that. And I decided to try to shoot the stuff in its normal settings. That means either in the shop or the house. To shoot it in the house means remove all the extraneous junk piled here & there – it’s a small house, we home-school the kids – and we both worked in museums, which means we keep everything, thinking it’s important.

Here’s another lie:

I have one of these boxes-with-a-drawer to make for a customer this year. This one usually has horses and funko-pops on it. And other 12-yr-old girl stuff.

Outdoors is perfectly honest chaos. Down river, nearly high tide.

Up river. flooded marsh. 


Spending these fiercely cold days working at the desk.

Lectures coming up in Colonial Williamsburg, Sotheby’s, Fine Woodworking Live in April, and more. I’ll post my schedule for teaching soon. It will include some slots here for one-on-one classes. Keep warm…except you folks in the southern hemisphere, you keep cool.


Preston chamfer spokeshave rehab.......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 2:48am
I had started this rehab some time back, last year. I hadn't planned on doing it today but the thought of sanding the #6 plane body was as appealing as doing a self appendectomy. Without any pain medication and using a dull, rusted saw mower bl. Considering the peepers are healthy again, I didn't get a lot accomplished today. I'm on vacation until the 8th and I think I'll enjoy a couple of days of doing what I feel like, when I feel like it.

monday night after supper
Two 1 1/2 wide chisels and two plane irons done in about 15 minutes. My time to sharpen is slowly decreasing while the quality of the edge is going up. A nice trend I hope to see continue. The time to sharpen is improving but rolling a burr isn't. 90% of the time I don't get a burr off of my coarse diamond stone.

I use an angle setting jig and I use the same honing guide each time I sharpen. I would assume that since I am doing these dance steps the bandleader would be able to follow me. Most of the time I have to establish my burr on the 80 grit runway and then progress up through my diamond stones. It's working but shouldn't I be able to roll the burr from the coarse diamond stone?

I found three people on line that raise their burr on a 120 grit stone. One goes to a middle stone and the other two go right to their finishing stone. With all said and done, and with all I've seen, in the end is what I'm doing working for me? Yes it is and I'll try upping to 120 grit. But for now it's 80 grit and then coarse, medium, and fine diamond stones finishing with the 8k and then stropping it. The sharp I get does the job for me so until some other super duper sharpening method comes along that makes me say wow, this how I'll do it.

Preston chamfer spokeshave
I put it together to road test it. Made an even chamfer that I widened without any problems. No hesitation and the iron cut the pine ok. It is sharp as it is but I'll hone it my way during the rehabbing.

this is the before pic
I'll post this one again when the rehab is done. I hadn't planned on doing this today here. I was just prepping it for it's place in the queue.

saw and square till boxes
I sanded down the boxes with 320 grit and vacuumed off the dust. I then put on the second and final coat of exterior paint. I got one coat coverage with the first one but I didn't use a primer so I'm putting on two coats. Once the paint has cured a few days I'll put on a couple of coats of Shellac.

needs some touch up
I don't know how I got the horizontal line on the fence but the others I do. Those came from me sanding. I'll paint these and set them by furnace.

this is going to take a while
I took ten strokes on the 80 grit runway and I did see some improvement. The strokes removed a few black lines but not enough to impress me. This is where I decided to put this aside and rehab the chamfer spokeshave.

saw till box
One screw is trying to poke through. I think I hit a void in the plywood with this one because the screw felt mushy driving it. This is the bottom and it's not going to cause any headaches as it is so I'm leaving it.

with shellac it'll be the same color
not many parts to strip
The two chamfer wings, three thumbscrews, and the spokeshave body are it.

spokeshave body
Look at the balance on this tool. It is barely out of dead nuts horizontal.

getting the holidays
There were a few 'white' spots on the corners and a few on the long sides of the saw till box. I used the small artist brush to do them. While I was doing them I noticed the I had missed painting one long side on the saw till lid. No problems painting it with the small brush. I wouldn't have wanted to paint the whole box with it but this one spot was hiccup free.

parts stripped
I brushed all the parts with a wire brush and wiped off the stripper. This is pretty good for just stripper.

after some scraper and sandpaper action
I wasn't anticipating this but it is almost ready to prime. I'm on the fence about priming because the underneath part where the chamfer wings slide is a mixture of painted and bare metal surfaces. I looked at them and it would be difficult to tape off or just spray the primer and then scrape where it doesn't belong.

the cutout on the left is smaller
Another area that will take some thinking on how to proceed. Do I leave it as it is or try to file it to match the right side? I could just leave it as it didn't appear to interfere with the road test. From eyeballing it I think that the opening is clearance for the iron. I advanced the iron fully up and fully down without it catching. And I had done that before I saw this. The cutouts show no evidence of being filed by the previous owner so I think I'll leave it be.

did a little sanding on the lever cap
 I didn't put any stripper on the black inner area. I'll clean this with degreaser and acetone and paint it black again.

cleaning and sanding the inward cone will be a PITA
I found a felt conical shaped brush in my Dremel accessories. What I don't have is the mandrel for it. The hobby shop by my house went belly up a few years ago but maybe Hobby Lobby might have it. I'll try them tomorrow.

all the parts ready for paint and cleanup
The only part(s) that are a problem are the washers for the chamfer wings. One is larger than the other or if your perspective is opposite, one is smaller than the other. I've already tried to find a replacement but haven't had any luck. It is a weird size and of the 23 bazillion ones I have, none fit.

Preston spokeshave
The pic I posted of this in yesterday's blog didn't look like this one. That one didn't show the shine I got on the lever cap.

both have a big knurled adjustment knob
The flats on the top of the knob for the chamfer spokeshave are a bit wider but the cone appears to be the same size.

they are not the same size this way
The screw shaft is the same on both and knobs will fit on each of them. But the slot on the knob that engages the slot on the irons are different. I'll have to try the knobs on each other's irons and see if they fit. From a manufacturing viewpoint I would expect something like this to be standard across the spokeshave line.

it fits
I was taking a measurement of the 78 when I noticed the paint hiccups. I had this box but I don't know when I made because I didn't date it. The plane fits in it with plenty of room for the parts. All I would have to do is make some holders to secure the parts and a lid. I was going to make a sliding lid box but I could make do with this one.

don't see many of these
Other than Paul Sellers, I haven't seen any open tool trays being used by anyone else. Most of the old boxes for tools I see usually have a sliding lid type. Was it because they are easier to make? Finding a decent small hinge for 1/2" stock is just about impossible to buy. Making the lid to fit this isn't a problem, hinges and some kind of a latch might be. It I make a sliding lid box, I won't have to deal with the latter two. Maybe that is why sliding lid boxes are so prevalent.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that the state sport of Alaska is dog mushing?

Shaker Table Class with Will Myers at Our Storefront

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 4:32pm


Build an accurate reproduction of an icon of American furniture with Will Myers during an Oct. 6-7, 2018, class at our Covington, Ky., storefront.

Will has spent years researching Shaker design by measuring the actual pieces in the Shaker communities. His careful work has resulted in measured drawings for this table that result in a true reproduction. (Will was shocked to discover that none of the published plans available were exact reproductions.)

During this intense two-day class, you’ll build a reproduction of this beautiful table and learn:

  • History and details of the three original candle stands of this style that I have examined.
  • Why this table is not as simple as it first appears, and how many small details contribute to look of the table as a whole.
  • Layout and cutting of sliding dovetails on a cylinder, to join the legs to the spindle.
  • Shaping the legs, using spokeshaves and card scrapers.
  • Turning the spindle to final shape.
  • Shaping the top support with planes and spokeshaves.
  • Shaping and smoothing the edges and faces of the round top.
  • Why you need a metal “spider” (and how to make one) to reinforce the leg-to-spindle joinery.

Registration for the class is free. Registrants will be invoiced for the $300 class fee and additional materials fee (which will likely be around $100). Attendees at this class should have some woodworking experience. While no turning experience is required, it will be helpful.


These classes are are limited to six students led by Will (plus me as an assistant). That’s why we can tackle such ambitious projects.

Register for the class here. After you register, you will receive an invoice for the class plus a tool list. Any student looking for a place to stay or eat near our storefront can get full details here.

As I’ve mentioned before, these classes do not benefit me or Lost Art Press. All proceeds go to the instructor. If you’ve ever met Will (or seen any of his videos) then you know he is a skilled woodworker and excellent instructor. We are thrilled to have him teach here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized, Woodworking Classes
Categories: Hand Tools

New Year, New Tool from Bridge City Tool Works…

Bridge City Tools - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 3:13pm

Drivel Starved Nation!

This little journey called Bridge City Tool Works is now in its thirty-fifth year. Some call this amazing. I call it too stupid to quit!

Going out of business 35 years in a row is not easy. However you see it, we thank you and look forward to going out of business again this year– with your help of course.

Before I share our first new tool offering of 2018, I thought you might enjoy this Christmas story…

I was asked to be Santa for a kids party. Why? Probably because I haven’t been to a gym since Eisenhower died. The rented Santa suit included lots of extra padding, as in Sumo Santa padding. The boots were black, the horned rimmed glasses fake, the custodial mop of a beard was odoriferous, and the white gloves 2 sizes too small–.an imaginary jury watched me struggle to put them on. The whole thing was hot as hell.

And, it has been at least three weeks since I last wore makeup.

Since several of these kids knew me (despite rumors you may have heard, I am actually fun after a couple of beers) I had to disguise my voice. It was the same voice I use when faking an illness, only with an over-the-counter dose of joviality.

I sat down in a chair next to a fake silver Christmas tree when the first little boy climbed up on to my lap. I believe he was 5.

LITTLE BOY: “Does Santa ever get boogers?”

ME: “No”


If there is a moral to this story I don’t know what it is.

We have lots of news brewing for 2018 that I will leak here, in this Totally Awesome and Worthless Blog when the urge to leak comes upon me.

In the interim, here is a pic of our newest offering;
Countersink Works 700

These are single flute countersinks and if you have never used one, they are a revelation. Absolutely ZERO chatter. And, we haven’t made these in fifteen or so years. We actually wore out our shop version, and with no replacement in sight, well, we have the need, and hopefully you do too.

Why 5 you ask? Well, you don’t have to buy them all (if you don’t we will probably go out of business again). But there is a reason, flat head screws sold in America typically feature an 82 degree head. Hence the 82 degree countersink.

Metric flat head screws feature a 90 degree countersink. In addition, we really like the 90 degree countersink for creating symmetric chamfers on holes. Hence the 90 degree countersink.

The 60 degree countersink is used when you want to guide a drill into a hole without drift. It can be used on the tail stock on a lathe or in a drill press prior to drilling a larger hole that is supposed to follow a smaller pilot hole – a 60 degree countersink really helps here.

The 82 and 90 degree countersinks come in two sizes. Why you ask? We recommend that you use the smaller ones for deburring and cutting countersinks in metals and for countersinks in small wooden holes. Reserve the larger ones for the larger wood projects like furniture, workbenches and other applications where you are flush setting large flat head screws or need large, clean chamfers. There is nothing worse than a large counter sink where the bottom half is chewed up and the top… not so much.

These are all precision ground, hardened tool steel and you will not find a more reliable and fun tool to use. Full details will be released soon when the pre-order window opens.

Lastly, watch your email box. We are having another hardware clearance sale real soon. (The last one crashed our server, overcharged our customers almost a quarter million dollars, and caused our IT firm to quit on the spot. Fun yes/no?)

I would leak more but right now an uncontrollable urge to blow my nose has come upon me…


The post New Year, New Tool from Bridge City Tool Works… appeared first on John's Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Vintage kitchen splendor

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 11:10am

To start the new year off with a bang, feast your eyes on this gobsmackingly gorgeous kitchen.

Joe Oliver 1

I don’t even remember how Joe Oliver and I became acquainted, but I’m so glad we did. Joe operates Retro Stove & Gas Works based in Chicago and shares my love of old kitchens. Two days ago he sent some snapshots from a recent repair job in a kitchen that’s a treasure trove of original detail. I’m hoping Joe’s customers will allow me to include their kitchen in the book I’m writing for Lost Art Press. In the meantime, here are a few photos provided by the homeowner to whet your appetite.

Joe Oliver 3

Although the range hood, island and microwave are not original, the Sellers cabinets are. Check out that tiled arch over the window. My heart! I am mad for this kitchen. Joe points out that the yellow tiles are not ceramic, but a sheet material such as linoleum.

Joe Oliver 4

Joe identifies this as a pre-World War II Roper. Those control knobs have me swooning.

You can read more about this kitchen and Joe’s approach to repair work at his blog. My favorite quote:

Not all 7 1/2 hour service calls take the same amount of time to prepare for, thank God.  Most take between 30 to 60 minutes.  Occasionally, however, the needs of a vintage stove push your friendly service technicians to extremes.  So when you require help for that 3/4-century old stove which hasn’t required a dime for repairs all the years that you’ve owned it, please grant us some understanding when we charge a service fee to show up at your door.  We have probably earned it.


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

A Great (and Free) Read on Chairmaker Chester Cornett

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 9:05am

One of my long-time obsessions has been with chairmaker Chester Cornett (1913-1981), a traditional Eastern Kentucky chairmaker who moved to Cincinnati later in life and turned to making mind-bending chairs. Trained by his family in green chairmaking, Cornett made hundreds of chairs and other pieces of furniture during a time in the 20th century when the world was turning to manufactured goods. After serving in World War II, Cornett moved […]

The post A Great (and Free) Read on Chairmaker Chester Cornett appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools


Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 2:06am
A new year has begun and the other has faded away. A happy new year to all who read this dribble of mine because those that don't read it, won't know it. My new year desires are the same that I extend to everyone else, I want to learn something new. I want to learn how to do something I've never done before. And before 2018 goes away, I want to learn how to do it well.

Here's to the adventure that awaits me.

accidental woodworker

New Year’s Resolutions for Woodworkers

360 WoodWorking - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 1:34am
New Year’s Resolutions for Woodworkers

1. Get into the shop to build more projects.
(This should be at the top, or at least near the top of every woodworker’s list.)

2. Keep tools, especially chisels, sharp.
(As many of you may know, this is my weakness. This, however, is not saying that you need to stop in the middle of your project to sharpen your chisels. Just touch them up – if need be – before putting them back in your drawer or roll.)


Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions for Woodworkers at 360 WoodWorking.

well, at least the shop got cleaned......

Accidental Woodworker - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 5:27pm
I hope that once I get done telling my tale of woe that I am not alone in the universe with it. I would really hate to be the only person that this has happened to. In my desperation to resolve it, I asked my wife for advice. Which wasn't easy because enlisting her help left  paper trail and a wittness. Oh well, stercus accidit.

before my loneliness set in
Things started off on a good foot for me today. When I sanded a few of the putty spots, I must have  pulled some of it out. The tape is to hold it in place because I don't want to do this puttying twice. Fill one side wait for it to dry and fill in the other side.

had one on the bottom too
That dark spot looks like a gap but it isn't. I'm not sure what it is exactly but it isn't a divot of any sort. The paint will hide it regardless.

more spritzing action
I nailed the water/putty ratio this time. I mixed up just enough to fill what I needed to. Nice to see that the container was empty when I was done. The bonus is that after the putty has dried I can knock it out of the container and reuse it.

another road test
I put all the screws in by hand and no hiccups taking them out with the ratcheting screwdriver. Changed my mind on giving this to Miles. I will look around and get a Stanley for him once I find one. And I may have to buy two because I don't like the plastic handle.

the left hinge is glued
I used rapid fuse glue to adhere the wooden shims I used to decrease the hinge mortise depth. It looks like some got on the hinge. I didn't know that the rapid fuse would glue metal to wood.

This is where the tale of woe starts. I was prepping this and the saw till box for paint. I used the LN 102 to break all the outside surfaces and sandpaper on a stick to do all the internal ones. I missed placed the block plane. I looked everywhere in the shop for it and gave up trying to find it. I went on to other things that I had on my to-do list.

new home
I am going to hang this or a Stanley one between the knobs. I was going to make two wooden hooks to hang it on but I'll wait. There are 3 bits that come with these that I'll need to keep with it along with the Lee Valley square shank adapter. Maybe a mailbox type setup to hold the driver and the bits?

no glue,  just screws
The thickness of this is less than a 1/2" and the smallest screws I have are 5/8". I want to screw this in so I can replace or fix it if it becomes necessary.

adding some thickness
I found two strips of 1/8" plywood and I'll glue them on each end. If I don't go Cro-Magnon driving the screws home I shouldn't break out on the bottom.

time to search for the plane
Not knowing where I put the blockplane down was driving me buggy. I couldn't think of anything else but finding where I hid it. I thought I might have dropped it on the deck so I swept the floor. I sifted through all the shavings to make sure I didn't inadvertently toss it in the shitcan. I didn't find the plane so I went searching upstairs. I didn't find it upstairs and I even looked in the head on the off chance I brought it in there.

I stopped everything I was doing and thought about what I was doing just before I put the plane down. I remember using it to break the edge and putting it on the tablesaw. I retraced all my steps and checked all the horizontal surfaces everywhere I was. No luck as the blockplane was still MIA.

stopped searching and cleaned my 10" blade
This stuff cleans all the crap that sticks in the gullets and the teeth. I like it because you don't have to wait an hour before scrubbing it. I sprayed both sides, waited a couple of minutes, and then scrubbed the blade with a brass brush.

used this in the gullets and for the faces of the teeth
can't hurt
I touched up the teeth with this extra fine diamond stone paddle. All the teeth are intact with a few having some small chips on the tops of them. I laid the paddle flat on the face and took a couple of strokes. I tried to do the same number of strokes on each tooth. Doing all 40 teeth took about 10 minutes and that includes scraping and cleaning the gullets and teeth too.

finishing up the plumb bob stick
I was looking for the blockplane on the sharpening bench where this was and decided to finish it. Couldn't find the blockplane but at least I could finish this. This slot mortise will be used to secure the string.

mortise done
wedge holds the string
I left the wedge long so I could grab it to remove it. It is also inset into the mortise a strong 32nd.. The back of the plumb bob stick has to be able to lay flat against the surface bring checked for plumb. The wedge won't interfere with the plumb in any direction.

Trying to thread the string in the plumb bob was an adventure. The yellow poly line I used is a PITA because it unravels in a heart beat. I heated and melted the threads together and it was too big to fit in the plumb bob. I actually stopped playing with it and looked for the blockplane again.

I went outside in the freezing weather and emptied out the garbage can into another another garbage can. I sifted through all the crap twice searching for the block plane. Once when I emptied the can and then when I put it back into it. I found two screws but no blockplane so I went back to threading the plumb bob.

xmas present from my daughter
I finally got the plumb bob threaded and I resisted the urge to give it and the stick flying lessons. I have the stick in the vise and it is slightly out of plumb R/L.

you can see it isn't plumb R/L
I have to draw in the plumb line on the bottom stand off. That is the center of the stand off R/L.

in/out plumb
No line or indicator for this. If it is plumb in/out, the string will be just touchingon the edge of the standoff. If you are out plumb like it is in the pic (leaning out), the plumb bob will be away from the standoff. If you are leaning in, the string will be resting on the edge and the plumb bob will be closer to the stick.

found it
I had gone upstairs and told my wife again about not being able to find the blockplane. She agreed to come to the shop and help to look for it. As I was explaining the MIA blockplane, I saw what the problem was. I have a empty slot here.The far right plane is the high angle LN blockplane and next to in the empty slot should be the LN 102, low angle blockplane. I was keying on the empty slot where a blockplane should be.

this is the way it should be
The LN 103 and LN 102 live on the left side with the LN #60 1/2  and LN #9 block planes on the /right with the violin plane in the middle. I had been searching for a plane that I had . Because the LN 102 was in the wrong slot, I thought it was MIA. I easily spent 3 hours searching and butt scratching for a plane that was misplaced.

the LN 60 1/2
This plane is on the sharpening bench because the sole is covered with pine pitch. I put tools needing to be sharpened or cleaned on the sharpening bench. It forces me to do what is needed before I use it.

first coat on
 I was going to put the second coat on after dinner but nixed that. The weather is supposed to dip down low tonight. The weather seers are predicting wind chills to be -20°F (-29°C). It was dry to the touch when I checked it then but I'll wait until tomorrow. The shop temp is still hovering around 60°F (15.5°C) in spite of the low outside temps. I'll take as it isn't that bad working in there as long as I am moving and doing.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that the Sears Roebuck catalog was rated as America's second favorite book in 1900? (the bible was #1)

Let the new year begin

Journeyman's Journal - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 3:30pm

It’s 2018 in the Asia Pacific, whilst the new year hasn’t yet arrived to the rest of the world.

I went to bed early and slept in till 8. I put the kettle on and opened up one of my favourite books Roubo on Marquetry. I’ve given up smoking some 3 months ago, the withdrawals are still there some days worse than others. I’ve gained 10kg (22pounds) in the process and because of this my woodworking is a lot harder. My focus will be to lose weight and gain extra muscle. My other focus will be life planning.

  1. What are my goals and passions and what I hope to achieve with them.
  2. What’s steps do I need to take to turn a dream into a reality.
  3. Most important of all, will these goals better the lives of others including my own.

This year will be a year of productivity and enlightenment without extravagance. God willing it will be a good year.

Happy New Year to you all, I hope 2018 brings you better health and brings much prosperity in your lives. I also hope 2018 is the beginning of the end of corporate monopolisation and that small to medium size businesses flourish.

Categories: Hand Tools

My Love-Hate Relationship with Spoon Carving Templates

The Literary Workshop Blog - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 12:47pm

I don’t remember exactly when I began to use templates to lay out my wooden spoons and spatulas, but after I had made my first dozen or so wooden spoons, I hit upon a couple of spoon shapes that just “worked” for me.  There were two of them, and they were comfortable to hold and convenient to use.  So every time I went to make another wooden spoon, I grabbed those spoons from my own kitchen and traced them out onto my workpiece.

Eventually I got tired of running to the kitchen every time I made a spoon, so I endeavored to make some templates out of some scraps of seasoned pine.  Over the course of a couple years, I made templates for two kinds of spoon and two kinds of spatulas.  It took a couple of tries to get each of the templates just right, but once I did, they worked.

And worked.

And worked.

I’ve been using some of these templates for 7 years now.  I’ve made dozens and dozens of utensils from these templates, and they sell reliably at markets.

But a couple months ago, I was making yet another batch of spoons for an upcoming holiday market.  I was in the middle of shaping yet another spoon and thought, “If I have to make one more spoon following these exact same lines, I’m going to scream!”

I didn’t scream. I held it in. But I did start deviating from my lines here and there, and it felt good.

Varying length, width, and depth a little bit here and there as the wood allows has brought some of the spontaneity back into my spoon making, and that’s a healthy thing when I’m cranking out a batch of spoons for an upcoming market.  But if I depart too far from the template, I will end up with a virtually useless utensil.  A handle that’s only one inch too long or short, a bowl that’s just a half-inch too wide or too narrow, or a neck that’s just 1/8″ too thick or too thin is all that separates a great utensil from a mediocre one.

Let me illustrate.  Take a look at these utensils:

Old Spoons New Spoons 2017

The ones on the left were made “freehand.”  I had a piece of wood in about that size, so I made a spoon or spatula out of it.  Each utensil is functional, but there’s something about each one that makes it a little awkward to use.  Maybe the handle is a bit too long or a bit too short, too thin or too thick.  They’re not bad, but they wouldn’t sell at a market. The two on the right, however, were made from templates, and experience tells me they will sell.  They feel right in the hand.

So for me it’s a delicate balance between varying each piece a little bit and staying within a very narrow range of proportions that fit the ordinary human hand.

A lot of spoon carvers avoid templates entirely.  Some sketch the spoon out freehand on the blank before carving it, while others just go at it with a hatchet and knife and see what comes out.  It can be fun to just “follow the grain,” and people who work without templates or layout lines will often say that they “just let the wood tell me what it wants to be.” The problem with that approach, however, is that all the wood really “wants” to be is a stick.  You have to turn it into a spoon.  And while it is important to work within the limits imposed by the material, you can’t let the material control the process and expect good results.

Another problem with the “let the wood decide what it wants to be” mentality is that, in the end, it’s not the wood that will be using the spoon; it’s a human being.  Although there’s always something of a symbiotic relationship between a woodworker and his or her material, ultimately the human has to be the one in charge.

The results of the “free” method can be anywhere on a spectrum between amazing and useless, with most falling somewhere in the middle–often clustering around “bemusing” and “not quite right.”  And I have two drawers full of my earliest spoons to prove it.  If you’re just making stuff to amuse yourself, then there’s no harm in working spontaneously all the time.  But if you aspire to make an excellent object–something that is both useful and pleasing–and further, if you need to make money by selling those objects (as I do), then you had better lay your work out carefully before you start.

Tagged: carve a wooden spoon, make a wooden spoon, spoon carving, spoon making, template, templates, wood spoon, wooden spoon, wooden spoons

New Year’s Eve

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 9:21am

“Fig. 1 An Archer In Action” from “Making a Long-Bow,” The Woodworker magazine, January 1953

“There is always something solemn about the passing of the Old Year. When we were young and the years were very, very long, each New Year’s Eve was an event, the more enthralling for its rarity, and the year ahead still so closely wrapped in the mists of time was full of enticing mystery, something to be explored, one more step forward in the exciting and rather bewildering process of growing up. Breathlessly we listened to the bells, feeling suddenly a little sad as they tolled out the last moments of the dying year, awed into silence in the hush that followed and all the world seemed to wait. Then the lovely, changing peals ushering in the New, and how they rang, those bells of our youth! Is it fancy or have they lost something of their clamorous zest, or is it we who have changed, we who no longer greet them with the old bright-eyed eagerness? Yet there are few men who will not feel a ghost of the old thrill still knocking at their hearts, that here is once more a new beginning, one more opportunity to be seized, as our ever shortening, speeding years are warning us, and turned to account.

“‘Life wastes itself whilst we are preparing to live,’ Emerson once wrote. To live we have to jerk ourselves into action and convert our pleasant pipe dreams into sober realities. The man who has a creative urge to make things, with the vague feeling that he could if once he got down to it, has determinedly to set his hand to a job. So has the man who can make and mend in a plain, competent fashion, but has a hankering for something more, some finer, more ambitious work. If we set ourselves to do the thing, then the power and ability will grow with the doing. If we only keep on vaguely wishing then life will slide away from us and we shall have lost something that might have given us infinite satisfaction. The plain fact which sometimes we are chary of facing is that no atom of good or satisfaction can come to us than by the work we put into this job of making ourselves. Here we are, men with creative instincts, hidden or only dimly realised potentialities, and until we put ourselves to the task of developing them they will remain for ever dormant. No one but ourselves knows what we can do and we ourselves do not know until we have tried. Often, indeed, we scare ourselves off by over timidity. The only way is to start. Tell ourselves we are no worse than the next man: what he can do we can do, and so we can. For steadily and surely those submerged instincts turn into practical ability as we learn by doing.

“It is extraordinary how opportunities come our way for learning once we have started. There seems to be some hidden law governing it, making us aware of new possibilities, new avenues of interest to be explored while we are pegging away at the job of turning ourselves into first-rate craftsmen. It may be only our new awareness, making us see and seize the opportunities, and yet it seems more than that. As if, like the man in the parable, when a man buried his talent he loses even the little he has but, using it, not only is it increased a hundredfold by his own enterprise but more is added unto him, sometimes much more.

“In my time I have made many good resolutions on New Year’s Eve and broken them all. Now, after the passage of the years, there is only one I would make, and that is more a prayer than a resolution. It is for the gift of perseverance. Whatever kind of job of creative living to which we have each put our hands, as good craftsmen, homemakers, as men of integrity and faith and good hopes let us persevere in it, putting our best into it, keeping our interest and enthusiasm alive by the study of good work whenever we can find it and setting our standards by that alone. There are so many things which conspire to turn us aside from the path we want to follow, fascinating things, distracting things, like television, the importunities of our friends, and our own moods and difficulties. We are each of us assailed from this side and that with ever possible temptation to take the easy way and to content ourselves with the minimum necessary effort. But there is not much satisfaction to be got in the long run out of living like that. ‘A man,’ says Emerson, ‘is relieved and gay when has put his heart into his work and done his best: but what he has said or done otherwise shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver.’ Haven’t we all experienced it? The nagging uneasiness which follows an imperfect or hastily finished job, the blemish which will always catch our own eye if others do not notice, on the other hand the glow of satisfaction when we know our work is good. Those are the moments which are worth living for – the moments which pave the way to solid achievement.”

– Charles Hayward, The Woodworker magazine, January, 1953

Filed under: Honest Labour, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Another Early Chair (Without Antlers!)

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 6:46am


With the dugout chair complete and installed in the Lost Art Press Mechanical Library, I can move onto the next item on my long list of things I need to build before I die.

Next up is a Klismos chair, an elegant form of seating that emerged in Greece in the fifth century B.C.E. Its popularity as a form has waxed and waned as Classicism and Gothic have grappled through the centuries.

gilded DP144105

At times it has been interpreted as a study in form. It also has been carved, gilded and padded so as to be almost unrecognizable. The curve of its saber legs have been flattened to add stability. The backrest has been made smaller to make it easier to mass-produce. In fact, the only indignity it hasn’t suffered is to have been injection molded and sold at a Walmart.

My approach will be similar to that of Nicolai Abildgaard (1743-1809), the Danish painter, professor and sculptor who designed the chair shown at the top of this blog entry.

Researcher Suzanne Ellison and I went through a heavy “Klismos and Curule” phase together several years ago. That’s because my early drafts for “The Anarchist’s Design Book” had a large section that explored classical forms such as the Klismos and Curule and wove those forms into the long history of high and low styles. Then I realized I wanted to finish that book before my hair grew all the way down to my hinder. So I nixed that section (which could be a book in itself).

I’m returning to the Klismos because of one simple change in the world: I now have a reliable supply of cold-bend hardwood from Pure Timber. This stuff allows me to make extreme bends with a high level of accuracy and resulting strength.

But first I’ve got to get “Ingenious Mechanicks” to the printer (plus three other books that are almost complete). Oh, and some commission work so as to stave off ramen.

But it will happen in 2018.

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

Filed under: Ingenious Mechanicks, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

two more rehabs done......

Accidental Woodworker - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 3:11am
Had my best day in the shop in over a week(?). I got two rehabs done that I've had at the 70% mark for a while. I also actually got in some my woodworking. I used some planes and a saw. It is like riding a bike where you pick up the tool and just use it.  

This blog post is pic heavy to reflect my return to the shop and spending most of the day in it. I'll try to keep the verbiage down and let the pics talk for me.

painted the frog for my #6
Most of this frog was originally japanned and I took it down to parade rest and painted it again.

not much black on the front
these two will be done together
I was going to work exclusively on the spokeshave but added the 78. I have to use the same sanding belts on both so it made sense to do them at the same time.

a couple of strokes shows I have hollow to deal with
it's not square
the parallel line is want I will start applying pressure to
That parallel line is roughly where it is out of square. This the business corner of the plane. This side has to be square to the sole.

it's square now
Now that I have the sole square to the side, I concentrated on getting the sole flat and straight.

As I sanded away the black lines I checked to make sure I was maintaining square.

sole is almost done
The back and the front are both slightly beveled or rounded. Makes sense that having this would help with rabbeting but not having a catch point fore or aft.

my #6   I wonder who AJP was?
put his initials on the other cheek too
removed the blue tape
Since I had the 80 grit out I wanted to take a few strokes on the sole to see what I'm up against.

big hollow  - 6 strokes
The front 2 inches of the toe and last 2 inches of the heel are high. Everything inbetween is low

black lines for checking progress
5 strokes
It is going to take a lot of calories to flatten this sole. I did a few strokes on each side and those are in sad shape too.  This plane is next on the hit parade for rehab.

hollow around the mouth
I had to hand sand this area. It really started to stick out after I went from 120 to 180.

finishing the sole by hand
I finished the sanding of the 78 by hand. I used up to the 220 grit on the sanding belts and I did the 320,400, and 600 grits by hand. I did these same steps on the spokeshave.

this latch just fits the square till box
There were two in this package and I only plan on using one. This cereal container makes a good parts keeper.

I have a boatload of them
These are proving to be a handy thing to save. I really like them for keeping all the parts in one place of all the tools I've been rehabbing lately.

the before pic
This spokeshave was alright to use as I got it. It didn't look pretty other than the handles, but it worked out of the box.

bow shot
back and bottom shot

78 before shot
I couldn't find a pic of it assembled. This is a pic of it broken down and cleaned up.

before pic of the right side
port side
bow shot
starboard side
stern shot
bottom shot
flushing the lid on the square till box
This wooden plane worked well on flushing and evening up the corners but it isn't long enough to flush the whole lid. I finished this up with the 5 1/2. I'll be painting this tomorrow or monday.

it worked well for flushing the corners
checking my top and bottom isn't twisted
I'll be running this against the tablesaw fence when I saw the lid off. I'll get crap for getting a continuous 360 saw line if it is twisted even a little.

swapped out my 10" blade
I got a 7 1/2" fine cut steel blade that has a smaller kerf than the 10" blade.

sawn almost through and still together  -   all four corners lined up
dovetail saw sawed through the thin web left
 better than what I could do by hand
left about a 16th to trim
trimmed it off with a chisel
disappointed with the depth - I wanted it deeper
coping saw fits and a handsaw too
the lid could have extended down into here without any problems
Moot point and I'll have to live with this as is.

not much meat there
I am not even going to attempt to leave that thin web there. I will make the hinge mortise straight across.

not deep enough
When I put the piano hinge on the square till box I made the mortise too deep. I don't want to repeat that here so I am doing the mortise a little and check the fit. I need to go a bit deeper as the hinge side has the lid tapered. I need to make the hinge mortise a bit deeper. I am also only making the hinge mortise on the box bottom.

good fit on the front, it's within two frog hairs
the sides are offset  - this will plane out easily
I'm getting better at installing hinges
I put 3 screws in both hinge leaves to check the fit. Putting in hinges has always been an intimidating experience for me. Since I've been laying out the mortises with a knife as accurately as I can, my results have greatly improved.

arthritis cure
It hurt putting the six screws in with a hand phillips screwdriver so I decided to try this out.

it's wonderful
I was expecting me to give this flying lessons but I didn't. I was anticipating trying to keep this from dancing all over the place but it didn't happen neither. Instead it impressed the crap out of me. The bit stayed in the head of the screw and not one popped out. The ratcheting action was smooth with no problems driving the screws squarely. It was easy peasy and I drove all the screws in no time at all. I think I spent more time starting the screw holes with an awl than I did driving them home. I was impressed with the ease of use I had doing this.

time for Dunham's putty
I am painting this and Dunham's will hide all of these.

the other end
The tails and pins for the most are still tight. Most of the gaps popped up when flushed the corners with the planes.

these weren't here before I planed this corner

mixing a new way
I don't have a good track record mixing this up. The putty to water ratio isn't 50/50. It's more like 1 part powder and .00001 part water. It takes very little water to make the putty. I always end up with way too much putty because I suck at getting the amount of water to putty even remotely close. Today I'm trying powder in the container first (I was doing water first and then power)and then spritzing it with a little water and mixing it. Spritz and stir until it was ready worked better then I expected it.

gaps and tear outs all filled in
The spritzing to add water worked well. This is the first time I've used Dunham's and didn't end up tossing 90% of what I made. Tomorrow after this is sanded, it'll be ready for paint.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know the Encyclopedia Britannica was first published between 1768 and 1771 in 3 volumes?

Beyond Closed Doors—Oxford

Paul Sellers - Sat, 12/30/2017 - 11:30pm

Doors of Oxford I spent three days ferreting the streets of Oxford over the holidays. Stayed in a nice hotel so I could walk into the City and see it emptied of students and cars, a million bikes with cyclists on and such. I’ve never seen the streets so emptied so “I actually walked down […]

Read the full post Beyond Closed Doors—Oxford on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Yet More About Dovetails…

The Furniture Record - Sat, 12/30/2017 - 9:17pm

We all are (I am) fascinated by the wonder and majesty of thin pins:


Thin pins are in?

We all (I) need to get over it. It’s just joinery. It might take a bit more patience and/or skill but it is not better or stronger than chunkier less graceful pins. They were just showing off.

Take this desk on stand:

New England Queen Anne Tiger Maple Slant Front Desk on Stand

This lot has sold for $400.

Description: Early 19th century, poplar and white pine secondary, dovetailed case, breadboard slant front lid with lipped edge, having loper supports, interior with pigeon-hole and drawered compartments, three graduated lipped drawers and applied molded trim, on a scalloped skirt stand, with later cabriole legs.

Size: 38 x 39 x 19 in.

Condition: Later legs and glue blocks; surface stains and tight shrinkage cracks to case; breakout and patch to lock; later pulls.


The builder was fond of sliding dovetails.

A minimalist gallery:


No prospect or document boxes, just pigeon holes and drawers.

The gallery drawers show a healthy disdain for the fashionable thin pins:


One tail wonders but they have survived for 200 years. Also note the drawer bottom is nailed on.

The main drawers are equally chunky:


I’ve seen prettier drawer sides but, still, it has lasted for 200 years.

Why should the carcass dovetails be any different?


A certain symmetry to them, no?

And no expense was spared in making of the back of this exceptional desk:


The wall never complained about having to view this collection of unloved boards.

Maybe this desk is more to your liking:

Georgian Miniature Slant Front Desk


This lot has sold for $525. Like a real desk only smaller. And more expensive.

Description: Circa 1800, mahogany, oak secondary, hinged lid with divided and drawer interior having loper supports, over four graduated drawers with bracket foot base.

Size: 8.5 x 8 x 4 in.

Condition: No key; later pulls; insect damage.

Highly accurate squares at a nice price

Heartwood: Woodworking by Rob Porcaro - Sat, 12/30/2017 - 8:41pm
Kinex squares
Kinex squares are a fantastic value. Not well known to U.S. woodworkers, Kinex’s website states, “Swiss quality made in the Czech Republic.” Their tools are made to German DIN standards for accuracy. That’s the Deutsches Institut für Normung, which just sounds accurate to my ears. Their all-steel “Precision Universal Squares,” which are designed much like […] 0
Categories: Hand Tools

The Elephants Can Sleep a Little Easier

Pegs and 'Tails - Sat, 12/30/2017 - 7:55pm
Earlier this week one of Australia’s pre-eminent auction houses, Leonard Joel, submitted its policy on the cessation of trade in ivory and rhino horn to the European Commission’s public consultation regarding European trade in these materials. In their 22nd Report, released … Continue reading
Categories: Hand Tools

Happy New Year

Pegs and 'Tails - Sat, 12/30/2017 - 4:00pm
Cheers to everyone who took the time to read my posts over the past year, and a special thank you to those who commented on them. Wishing all my readers happiness and prosperity in 2018. Jack Plane Advertisements Filed under: … Continue reading
Categories: Hand Tools

Curved cork sanding blocks

Heartwood: Woodworking by Rob Porcaro - Sat, 12/30/2017 - 3:34pm
cork block
Customized shaped blocks are a must for properly sanding concave curves. They are a key player on the Tools for Curves team. Cork has the ideal flexibility and resiliency for backing the sandpaper. Lately, I have been making the blocks entirely from cork. These work better and are easier to make than what I formerly […] 0
Categories: Hand Tools


Subscribe to Norse Woodsmith aggregator - Hand Tools