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Hand Tools

making a new iron box.......

Accidental Woodworker - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 12:55am

I should have been working on the bookcase but I took the wrong turn at the fork. I also thought I would have been able to whack this out tonight too. It's sad to say sports fans, but it didn't happen. Changing my mind twice didn't help but it is wednesday. I had to make a pit stop to get a loaf of bread and then put out the garbage when I got home. I guess was delusional thinking I might have got it done.

time to check my miter
Regardless of how this comes out, I am going to dovetail the corners. I will check this to see what this looks like.

off 90°
I had a couple of shims on the bed and now I now why (I took them out). These are both off 45° by a degree or so.

inside is off the same
Now that I am getting more comfortable with miters I'll save these two and see what I can do to get the donkeys ear jig calibrated.

1/8" plywood scraps
I can make the whole box out these pieces. The design I have in made isn't an original idea. This type of storage box I am making I've seen in old Stanley catalogs. Those were made of solid wood and mine is plywood.

doing the layout
I will probably keep one iron in the plane but I am going to make the box to hold all 5 irons. This was idea #1 which turned out to be toast. I was trying to figure out a positive/negative cutout to be the middle sleeve. I got lost trying to visualize it but mostly how to cut it out as one piece.

sawed out the ten parts
This was idea #2 and I kind of liked this. The idea was to glue all the strips to a backer except for the ones that represent the irons.

idea #3
I didn't like the different spacing between the irons so I made new ones all the same size. I need six so I made eight.

sawing the spacers to length
I like this
A strip at the bottom of the irons keeps them from falling out. I'll be placing them with the bevels at the top. If they are the other way the bevels will chew up the bottom strip.

shot all the spacers to the same length
Even though I used a stop to saw the spacers to length, they still came out different lengths. And I could see it. Now they are all the same.

it's basically a sandwich
I will glue the bottom strip and spacers onto one side of the box. Once that has set up I'll glue on the other side. Once the whole has set up, I'll saw off the lid. A couple of pieces of trim and it'll be done.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is nystagmus?
answer - rapid and uncontrollable movement of the eyes

Less Than Fancy Furniture

The Furniture Record - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 10:57pm

I spent last weekend in Winston Salem, NC at the Mid-Year Conference of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers (SAPFM) being held appropriately at the Museum of Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA). I was surrounded by fancy furniture and the people who curate fancy furniture and people who make fancy furniture.

There were two hours with no scheduled events on Friday. I assume this was to allow members to visit some of the other buildings and exhibits at Old Salem. Being a member and frequent visitor, I sought alternate ways to be informed and enlightened. There is an antiques mall just down the road that by design or happenstance is the best place for primitive furniture in the area.

I went.

There was much there that new and wonderous. There was this plantation desk:


A plantation desk, another flexible term with many definitions and no real meaning. Google it.

What makes this one unique is that it has been remodeled. A previous owner decided that the writing surface angle was not to their liking and modified it. They added a wedge of wood to change the angle.


Not elegant but functional.


The interior view isn’t any more satisfying.

I believe there is a chair under there:


I hope it wasn’t unique or one of a kind . We will never know.

There were two step back (stepback?) cupboards that caught my eye. First is this cupboard/pie safe:


An uncommon configuration.

The tins are interesting:


A touching image but I don’t believe the date is accurate.

The other cupboard is this Eastlake’esque unit:


The pediment and wood choices make me think Eastlake.

What makes this one interesting is the shelf support system:


Not saw tooth or dados but rounded shelf supports fitted into matching supports.

The supports are very easy to make. Take two 4″ wide boards and using your favorite hole installing device, drill a series of holes through the stacked boards on the centerline at an appropriate spacing. Then just rip the boards on the centerline and you have your four supports.


See how simple period furniture can be.

The back is rough boards just nailed on:


with an odd hole caused by a rodent or an individual wanting to plug in the mixer.

There was this very serious looking chair:


A chair I would prefer not to sit in.


Was this a commercial product of a user made product?

And a Boston rocker:


Or is it a waterfall rocker.

I have seen similar rockers called either Boston or waterfall and dissimilar chairs identified as Boston or waterfall. I still  think we need some federal regulations leading to a standardized set of furniture terminology and nomenclature. We would all be better for it but I do not believe anything so useful should be expected from the current Congress.

There needs to be some form of workbench at any antiques mall dealing in primitives:


Not much but it meet the requirement.

Here is a primitive settle or the back half of a tiny house:


Thos. Moser does not make one of these.

It’s been a while, but here is a woven gout rocker:


Rolling pin sold separately.




Router mortise jig, part 1

Heartwood: Woodworking by Rob Porcaro - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 10:41pm
router mortise jig
Here is a very direct approach to mortising with a router that works especially well for mortising legs. The system starts with an auxiliary router base plate that rests on top of the squared leg blank and has two adjustable fences that hug the sides of the blank to eliminate side play. I have been […] 0
Categories: Hand Tools

Chicago and the Great Lakes Lumber Trade

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 9:01pm

‘Les Docks des Charpentiers’ August 1885. Musée Franco-Américain de Blérancourt.

In a few days America will be celebrating Independence Day, and I thought a brief history of the Chicago and Great Lakes lumber trade in the 19th century would be in order. The Great Lakes region is one of our treasures, and Chicago is at the great heart of our country.

The opening lines of “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg:

“Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler,
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of Big Shoulders.”

As the great timber stands in the East were exhausted and settlers moved west new sources of pine and other woods were needed.

Source: U.S. Geological Survey

The dense forests and extensive waterways of the Great Lakes, especially Michigan and Wisconsin, became the source for the lumber needed to build the barns, fences, homes and businesses of the settlers. Chicago was perfectly situated on Lake Michigan to receive and distribute lumber by water and railroad links.

Chicago’s commercial lumber business started in 1833. But it was the opening of the Illinois & Michigan Canal in 1848 that transformed Chicago from a supplier for local markets into a national distribution center for lumber. And by the second half of the 19th century, Chicago was the world’s largest lumber trade market.

Map of the Canal (Chicago Historical Society). The canal at Summit, Illinois, in the 1840s (Illinois State Historical Society).

The canal ran from the Chicago River at Bridgeport to the Illinois River at LaSalle and opened a direct link to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. With this North-South water link, and later with railroad networks, Chicago became the world’s largest lumber trade market.

Wisconsin-Michigan map, 1844. Map collection of the University of Alabama.

This 1844 map shows the extensive network of drive-able streams and rivers that could be used to move lumber to mills on the coast of Lake Michigan before transport to Chicago by ship.

Log raft on the Wisconsin River, near the Wisconsin Dells, 1886. Wisconsin Historical Society.

As the forest cuts progressed further inland, and before narrow-track rail lines were introduced, loggers had to find faster means of moving logs to nearby waterways. When rail lines penetrated the forests, hardwood supplies to the Chicago yards were increased.

Winter sledding (Hartwick Pines Logging Museum). Big wheel rig for summer use (Michigan Archives).

In winter, logs were moved on paths with ruts for sled runners. The paths were sprinkled with water to keep the ruts iced. In the sled photo above, the number 7,225 marked on the topmost log is the number of board feet in the load. In 1875, the “big wheel” was invented by Silas Overpack, a carriage builder by trade. The big wheel came in three sizes from 12′ to 18′ high. Logs 12′-15′ long could be carried beneath the axle, and by lifting one end of the log it was easier to move them.


The junction of the Chicago River by Louts Kurzin, 1866 (Lewis Univ.). The location of the T.M. Avery Lumber Company (on the left in the drawing) is marked on the map.

Following are excerpts from “History of Chicago” (1886) by Alfred Theodore Andreas that describe the growth of the lumber trade within the city. He also describes the rise of hardwoods for the furniture trade, which is linked to the expansion of railroads from the Great Lakes states.

“In 1868 a movement was started to transfer the lumber business and yards to what has since been known as the New Lumber District. A series of canals was excavated by the South Branch Dock Company, extending from the River to Twenty-second Street, affording a dock front of twelve thousand five hundred feet, which, together with the river front adjoining, makes a total dock front of nearly three miles. These canals are one hundred feet wide, and were, at first, eleven or twelve feet deep; since then, they have been dredged to the depth of from twelve to fourteen feet.”

New Lumber District with canals between yards.

“The lots owned by the South Branch Dock Company were one hundred by two hundred forty-four feet in size, each having a dock and street front, and being furnished with a switch track connecting with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, thus placing them in direct connection with the entire railway system of the Northwest. These lots were rented to lumber dealers at ten dollars a foot per annum. In 1868, the lumber trade of Chicago reached the enormous proportion of nine hundred and ninety-four million feet, and this immense trade moved southward to the new district as rapidly as it could find accommodations. In the spring of 1869, about forty lumber firms were doing business, besides eight first-class planing mills.”

1876(?) map showing the location of the New Lumber District and canals off the South Branch of the Chicago River (blue) and a major rail head (red). Library of the University of Chicago.

“The increase in the amount of lumber handled in the Chicago yards became so great that a still further extension of facilities was imperative, and, in 1881, another district was added upon the South Branch of the river, extending from Thirty-fifth Street to the city limits at the Stock-Yards…Here, in 1884 occurred the first extensive conflagration originating in a Chicago lumber yard. This fire commenced in the yard of the Chicago Lumber Company, being ignited by a spark from a passing locomotive. It was not checked until twenty million feet of lumber and one hundred million shingles, aggregating in value about $400,000 had been consumed.” (In 2017 dollars the loss was about $9.4 million.)

From Harper’s Weekly, October 1883. The Newberry Library. Gadzooks!

“The use of hardwood lumber gradually increased with the establishment of manufacturing interests particularly that of furniture, and in 1885, the number of yards of this character increased to thirty, handling an average of about three hundred million feet of hardwood lumber annually, and carrying stocks averaging about forty-five million feet, embracing all varieties of native timber with a liberal supply of foreign woods. The volume of trade in this department comprises, at the present [1886], about one-sixth of the sum total of the lumber trade of the city, its supplies being drawn from nearly every one of the Western, Northwestern and Southern States.”


“The lumber yards of Chicago, in 1885,  if consolidated in one, and the lumber piled in a solid body, twenty feet in height, would probably occupy a space fully one mile square; but spread as the business is, through various parts of the city, it occupies a dock and stock frontage of probably twenty miles. In the transportation by lake, not far from five hundred sailing craft are employed, landing eight thousand cargoes a year. In addition, not less than thirty thousand railroad cars, averaging ten thousand feet a car, are employed in supplying the yards.”

When Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” was published in 1916, the city’s lumber trade was well past its peak. The great northern forest were near or at exhaustion point and even with a shift to tapping into southern supplies of yellow pine, made possible by rail transport, the economics of lumber distribution had changed. Rail transport had also made it more economical to ship lumber to nearby mills and specialized manufacturing plants rather than send it to Chicago for storage and further transport.

The Great Lakes lumber trade with Chicago at its center helped fueled immigration needed for the labor force, expansion of the railroads, innovation in the logging business and provided materials needed for our country to grow. Chicago was, and still is, our crossroads.

Currier and Ives map of 1874. The lumber yards and canals are marked with a red dot. Library of the University of Chicago.

If you enjoy reading old lumber business directories with statistics, ads and other sorts of miscellany you can find “Hotchkiss’ Lumbermans Directory of Chicago and the Northwest” of 1886 here. There is an option to download it as a pdf.

The gallery at the bottom  includes  some statistics on the lumber trade, a few more images, a short history of the T. M. Avery Lumber Company (seen in the drawing of the junction of the Chicago River above) and an account of a yard fire.

— Suzanne Ellison


Filed under: Historical Images, Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

Stanley wooden No.4

Journeyman's Journal - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 7:08pm

Dan Coffey made a stanley wooden smoother, it’s a novelty plane it can’t be used but would make a great gift for someone.  Check out these pics.  It’s not the best work but with a little effort you could make this to be an attractive piece.



Categories: Hand Tools

Dividers & Curves Coming on Saturday

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 6:41pm


Everyone involved with Crucible Tool has been working overtime to get the next batch of tools ready for the store on Saturday. Our machinist has been working Sundays. John and Raney have been reaming, sanding and assembling dividers nonstop. My fingers are bleeding a bit on my keyboard tonight from sanding our design curves.

At 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday we will put all these up in the store. We know that many of you have patiently waited to get dividers or curves. We keep hoping that we’ve made so many tools that we don’t sell out immediately.

Thanks for your patience and your support.

We are currently working on how to get curves and dividers to market even faster, plus our next two new products (details to come).

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Growing up

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 11:43am


Passion and competency need to get acquainted with one another before much good can happen.

I met my wife in the press room of our college newspaper, but ours was not a typical love story. I was a section editor and she was a writer. For the first year we knew each other, the only time we would talk on the phone was when I was assigning stories, or calling late into the evening to see where a story was. She probably thought I was being a jerk, but in truth, I had risen to the editorial position quite accidentally and I was struggling to do the job well. My passion for the work was not matched by my competency. At least not at that moment. 

She left to study in Cheltenham for a year, and when she came back we had both grown. I was a better editor, and she no longer wanted to write for me. We barely recognized each other.

It's funny how life sometimes throws you in the deep end of the pool. It's amazing how sometimes that works out. Two years ago, Joshua and I barely knew each other. I had been following along with his work on Jonathan Fisher and when he announced the development of Mortise & Tenon I was excited. I knew the magazine was going to bring something really special to the worlds it would touch and as soon as subscriptions were available I was in. I really wanted this magazine to succeed.

At some point in the middle of all of that, I happened to casually mention to Joshua that I had some experience in editing if he needed any help getting issue one off the ground. I officially expected to hear nothing more, but a few months later I got an email that said something to the effect of: “If you're serious, let's talk.” That was November of 2015 and our first issue shipped somewhere between January and February of 2016. There were a lot of late nights and extra pots of coffee involved.

In October, we hope of have issue three on your doorsteps and let me tell you that this is no small thing. It means that we will be shipping two issues in one year and moving to a spring and fall publishing schedule. We have grown in so many ways over the last two years, but we feel called to this work and passionate about what we do. We’re also thankful for the passion that our readership has shown from the start. Mortise & Tenon is a small team and that means a significant amount of work for each of us, but none of that would be possible without each and every person who has picked up up a copy and found something valuable in it. We are all part of this work. 

We want to be the sort of magazine where passion and competency meet. We want you to learn, but also be inspired. Maybe it's learning that a dovetail doesn't have to be airtight to hold a chest together for 100 years or what not to do when you pick up that antique banister back chair from the flea market. Either way, we want that to inspire passion in you so that you go back to your own work with love and guts. Mortise & Tenon is a place where all of that comes together. We’re learning something everyday and we hope that you are too.

- Jim McConnell


Categories: Hand Tools

Step Ladder Making I Enjoyed

Paul Sellers - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 10:05am

 June 2017 I recently concluded developing a new pair of stepladders, actually I made two pairs in the perfecting of the video series we made. In the mix of everything I used two woods that made me conscious of how much we do indeed take our wood for granted. When I went to the US …

Read the full post Step Ladder Making I Enjoyed on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

question answered......

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 1:21am
I got a comment today about my new plow plane handle and it consumed me. It was all I could think of until I got home. I kept running pictures of the plane through my mind but nothing was helping. I could not conjure up any images of the bottom of the handle. The comment had to do with the handle on the plane being glued in place. That didn't make any sense to me but I have seen stranger things. The handle is set on the plane body with the end grain on the metal of the plane. Not a very secure connection to screw into so an adhesive of some kind made sense to me there.

Before I got home to answer this I wasted a lot time, calories, and gas stopping at 3 different places trying to find a replacement battery for my door bell. Two of the places didn't sell it but Wally World did but it was out of stock.

I checked the voltage on it and it reads 12 volts which it should be but the doorbell won't ring. It can be one of 3 things wrong with the first one being the doorbell transmitter is toast. The second is the chime unit could be toast (I doubt that). The last one is the battery is toast. Just because a battery reads it's stated voltage doesn't mean it is any good. If it can't push any amperage the voltage could twice it's stated rating. The cheapest and quickest fix is to replace the battery. If that doesn't work, I'll toss the whole thing and buy another one.

All this busted adventure did was take up my allotted time in the shop. I wanted to start on the frame for the bookcase but I'll have to wait until tomorrow. I would like to get this done before my wife comes home but that is not going to happen now.

I drew a blank on this
I didn't look at how the handle was connected to the plane yesterday. My thought was there is small post that goes up into the handle along with a threaded insert as the means for securing it.

one small screw
it's not a square drive
It's a t-10 torx screw but I don't know the thread size. I didn't check that and I got the torx size off the shaft of the driver. It took a wee bit of ham fisted action to break this free. I was an eye blink from using heat when it finally broke free.

this is interesting
This is a solid connection and I especially like the 'mortise & tenon' between the handle and the plane. I would be willing to bet a big toe that the metal part extends up into the handle a ways. I can't tell for sure but that would make this a beefy connection. Still haven't heard anything on me getting a replacement cherry handle. My fingers are crossed now after seeing this.

before I make the box I have to know the thickness
the 5/16" and 3/8" are both 1/8" thick
1/8" and 3/16" are 7/64" thick
I forgot to measure the 1/4" iron. It has to be one of these two measurements.

the Record 405
I'm keeping this and not selling it. I may not like using it but I can pass this on to my grandson.

boxes I made to hold the irons
I want to make something similar to hold the Lee Valley irons.

all four of the LV irons fit loosely in here
I'll be able to use the same construction methods to make the LV iron box.

LV on top and Record on the bottom
The notches on the two irons line up almost exactly. The LV iron notch is 2 frog hairs deeper though.

it fits
I still have to familiarize myself with the blade holding and how it works. It is a bit  different than the 405 but it appears intuitive so I don't think it'll be a problem. If these Record irons will fit all I will have to buy is the wide iron skate and that's only $40. That may happen on the next free shipping.

When, where, and how did this happen? The last time I used this the rods and fence were sticking. I had a difficult time moving the fence and I don't remember seeing this then.

I had waxed these rods
The use before the last time I had trouble moving the fence too, so I waxed the rods after I was done using it. It didn't help that much here. I am going to stow this plane broken down to parade rest. I don't anticipate using it much, if at all. I think this is the best way to stow it to avoid future fence/rod stickiness.

plenty of room
All the accessories are getting a chalky looking build up on them. I had noticed this before and I had cleaned all the parts up. I will have to clean them again but I don't remember if I waxed them the last time..

nice touch
That slant going from the main size of the iron to the 1/8" width will make this a bit stronger than if it was dog legged in at a 90°. Lee Valley makes an excellent tool and doesn't skimp when it comes to quality.

eyeballed a 45°
For the base for the bookcase I am thinking of mitering it.  Before I do that I want to check out my donkey's ear miter shooting board. If the miters don't work, I'll dovetail the front corners.

this would be my first attempt at making a 90° corner with this in a very long time
cleaned and smoothed the miters on the jig
this is looking pretty good
glued and cooking
I will let this set up and tomorrow I will see how close to 90° I am.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
How many pairs of legs does a shrimp have?
answer - five

Two Tips for the day

Journeyman's Journal - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 11:22pm

Tom Holloway from old tools outdated blog a real darn shame its ceased like all great blogs and great contributors who have gone with the wind states.

Here is a picture. You -should- laugh at the art, but the
>> illustration should be clear enough. With the vise on the right side,
>> our guy can close in tighter and lean all manner of ways. Left hip,
>> left arm, left knee. With the vise to the left, grasping the cutoff
>> portion is about all he can do and still operate the saw. He’s a
>> ballerina in open space.”


How true is this, I have often found it frustrating sawing on the left side of the bench, I know Bob Rozaieski made the switch from left to right went he built his new bench.  So what’s the answer, you plane from the right to left but sawing is better on your right.  So why not have two vices?  Food for thought.

Shooting board tip

How many times have you shot an edge out of square and was stumped as to why.  I know I have and have gone backwards forwards shimming and adjusting the fence until this morning when the obvious hit me.  This is obvious and apparently nothing new as always, this has been part of woodworking since its invention.  You chop out a dado for your fence to sit in, wow it’s that simple, problem solved for the time being.

My shooting board is made from MDF and hardwood fence, MDF is really soft and I will find out soon enough if the pressure on the wall will give in and throw it out of alignment.  If so then I recommend the only alternative is to use a hardwood solid enough to withstand this working pressure.  Just merely screwing the fence in is not enough and will move from the pressure being applied to it.

Your work is as good as the tools you use, so always check that everything is working as it should be.


Categories: Hand Tools

Eden Makes a Bow and Arrow with Stone Tools

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 2:29pm

My oldest boy, Eden, loves experimental archaeology. After the occasional primitive technology video binge, he heads outside to living it out in our woods. Ever since Mike and I started making videos for M&T, Eden’s been asking to make his own instructional videos. A month or so ago, we had a spur of the moment inspiration and Eden demonstrated how he’s been making his own bow and arrows with stone tools he shaped himself. This video is no joke. I had no part in this at all except filming. I actually didn’t even know he was getting this involved in this stuff. It’s pretty neat to see an eight-year-old come up with this stuff on his own. I also adore this video because his little long-haired-hippie brother tags along the whole time, just like every other of the week. They are a sweet team.

Without further ado, here is Eden Klein teaching us how he makes bow and arrows.

P.s. Please forgive the quiet audio - I wasn’t prepared at all for this shoot. You'll have to turn it up.

- Joshua


Categories: Hand Tools

John Makepeace Visit.

David Barron Furniture - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 10:34am

On Sunday I visited John Makepeace's beautiful house in Beaminster Dorset. This was what he has downsized to!

John himself was on hand all afternoon to generously discuss his pieces on display as well as any other questions.

This is a painted version of his Knot Chair.

A very simple and modern chair which was very comfortable, yes you were allowed to sit on them.

His famous layered chair which revealed the coloured layers as it was carefully shaped.

A pretty one in sycamore and bleached burr elm.

John made many pieces combining wood and metal, I prefer the all wooden ones.

This is a detailed shot of a magnificent burr oak side table, about 7' long and 2' wide made from a single board of solid burr.

The fruit table below is whimsical and beautifully made, as were all the pieces.

A chair with a cast aluminium seat and a lovely blanket chest/ seat in rippled sycamore.

The chair below was my favourite in yew, very organic.

A cosy seat for two.

Some of the pieces on display were for sale and I heard John telling someone this pair of Zebra cabinets were available for £65,000! They didn't seem fazed although they weren't being loaded into their car when they left.

The gardens were equally as impressive as the house.

A great way to spend a couple of hours.

Categories: Hand Tools

"Modern" Upholstery Conservation Methods Destroy Evidence

WPatrickEdwards - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 9:33am

Grecian Sofa with Modern Upholstery
For the past several years (actually, since "alternative upholstery conservation" methods were first introduced early in the 1980's) I have had a serious problem with museum conservators destroying original upholstery and the evidence of its traditional construction.  I am a scientist by training.  I believe in analysis, documentation, evidence gathering and research.  I am shocked constantly by what I see in the most important museums in America as the practice of upholstery "conservation."

Two recent events are now pushing me to blog once again about my concerns.  First, as you know, I just got back from an extensive tour of the East Coast.  From Williamsburg to the Met to the Boston MFA  and the Getty, I saw the same thing over and over:  Important and iconic examples of early upholstered furniture with obviously fake upholstery, evident from across the room.  It doesn't even pass the smell test.

The second event occurred this week as I picked up a copy of the 1997 book "American Furniture" edited by Luke Beckerdite.  I love this series of books, published each year by the Chipstone Foundation.  They are wonderful and full of research.  But, when such a distinquished journal publishes articles which can damage the field of decorative arts they need to be identified as such and the article needs a full discussion among professionals.

Surviving Example of Easy Chair Upholstery

This is what concerns me.  The process of removing original upholstery and replacing it with modern materials has been established by "tradition" for so long that it is no longer questioned as valid.  I feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle to get authentic upholstery methods understood and properly conserved before they all are lost forever.

The article which caught my eye is by Leroy Graves and F. Carey Howlett, titled "Leather Bottoms, Satin Haircloth, and Spanish Beard: Conserving Virginia Upholstered Seating Furniture" (Pages 267-297).  It represents the state of the art of this process of saving the wood frames at the expense of the upholstery, and, if you go to the Wallace Collection at Williamsburg you will find nearly every piece in the collection has been treated this way.

Let me quote from this article and then respond using simple logic and scientific questioning.

"Because so few objects survive...the preservation of the chair in its current state takes precedence over restoration to its original appearance."

This statement indicates the concern that more and more examples which retain original upholstery layers are being lost.  I would therefore conclude that the surviving examples must be protected in their untouched state for future analysis by more competent conservators.

Untouched Upholstery 

"The conservator is faced with two difficult tasks: preserving extremely fragile upholstery materials when they survive and reconstructing the appearance of the original upholstery..."

Of course the visitor to the collection should be presented with an object which reflects, as nearly as possible, its original condition.  My question is: does the replacement of original upholstery with copper, plexiglass, Ethafoam and Velcro effectively present a visually authentic result?  Also, what methods are to be used to conserve the fragile materials which are surviving?  Are they to be placed in a drawer in a research laboratory completely removed from the object to which they belong?

How Does This Preserve Upholstery Methods?

"The conservator's work is typically complicated by the overlapping evidence of numerous upholstery schemes.  Distinguising individual schemes can be time consuming and in some instances virtually impossible.  To produce a credible reconstruction of historic upholstery, one needs to develop a thorough understanding of the techniques, materials, and tastes of the period and place of production."

This single statement reveals the most important flaw in the logic of this process.  Frankly current museum conservators are not seriously researching the upholstery methods, including subsequent upholstery commercial restoration treatments, as much as they are researching the wood frames.  When a conservator uses "time consuming" as an argument, he is neglecting the most essential part of his job description.  He is tasked, by definition, with taking all the time he needs to fully understand every aspect of the historic object under his control.  Upholstery is actually more important than the frame, but the frame gets all his attention.

There are still many old professional upholsterers in most large cities who understand traditional methods of upholstery, and how those methods changed over the centuries.  I am a good example.  You can just search this blog for "upholstery conservation" and see what I have learned over the past 50 years or so.  In particular look at the post from last November (11/29/16) and see what simple conservation methods can produce.

I have learned traditional methods of upholstery by careful deconstruction of original layers, which allows me to understand what was original and what was restored, and when the restoration must have occurred.  I then simply replace any damaged or rotten materials with similar materials as closely as I can to the original.  Jute, burlap, muslin, cord, twine, cotton are used to replace the same. The springs and organic stuffing are cleaned and retained in all cases.  That means treating horsehair, wool, Spanish moss, straw, excelsior, and any other organic material used as stuffing with respect and care.  The final result is as close to the original appearance as possible, and can still provide comfort for many years.

As to the damage the upholstery nails cause to the wood frame, which is the main reason for this new "non invasive" upholstery method, that can be resolved with proper techniques.  Using the smallest upholstery nail which works is one way.  Using a protein glue and a covering of muslin or burlap on the wood is another.  In serious cases it is also possible to remove a portion of the damaged wood (which is under the upholstery) and replace it with similar wood.

In the worst case, where the wood frame no longer supports the upholstery a "chassis" or new wood frame can be built to fit inside the old frame.  This new frame can then be properly upholstered with traditional techniques and that serves to provide understanding of traditional methods for future analysis.

This Is Not Period Upholstery

"The goal of treatment may be to re-create the appearance of one of the early schemes, but this task must be accomplished using unconventional, nonintrusive techniques."

This final statement, which is at the beginning of the article, represents the actual failure in the logic of this approach.

I consider the task of deconstructing upholstery layers similar to that of archeology.  In each profession it is the job of the scientist to carefully analyze and document each layer in succession as it is exposed.  During the 1870's there was a German archeologist and con man, Heinrich Schliemann, who claimed to have discovered Troy.  In fact, he dug without any consideration to the process, throwing all the debris in a trash pile, passing through the historic layer of Troy itself, continuing until he found gold.

Subsequent archeologists now have the difficult task of digging through the trash pile in an effort to understand which object came from which strata.

I see a similar fate for future conservators who struggle to understand historic upholstery methods by looking at a naked frame, covered in nail holes, without any context or relationship to the missing materials.

The next time you wander through a museum looking at the upholstery, take a moment to determine if what you are looking at is authentic or fake.

Categories: Hand Tools

You Don’t Get Many of These

360 WoodWorking - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 8:51am
You Don’t Get Many of These

I’m not sure what it’s like where you live, but I can tell you that today (June 27th, 2017) is probably one of the best days to spray finish I’ve seen in years. You don’t get many of these.

The temperature is in the low 60s. Humidity is even lower. And it may be that timing is everything because I need to apply a few coats of shellac on a Mission desk I’m completing.

Continue reading You Don’t Get Many of These at 360 WoodWorking.

Final Update

Journeyman's Journal - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 5:46am

This is my last post till my next plane build, I have redrawn all the planes to the exact measurements provided by Larry Williams.  After reading through the many articles with different opinions offered on Larry’s old bulletin board service, I believe that for the larger moulding planes there is no need to angle the mortise.  After reading not all but some of the findings of other readers not all moulding planes had the taper.  I have built the No.16 without the taper and did so in ignorance and not intentionally, after all plane making is new to me.  But having done so and after spending a considerable amount of time adjusting the iron, the plane works exceptionally well without a taper.  There is still a 1/8″ wall left on the blind side but I cannot say that a taper wouldn’t be necessary on smaller planes.  None the less I’m not willing to modify anything until I thoroughly learn the trade of building planes and it isn’t as easy as one might think at least not for me.  The only part I struggle with is shaping the iron, you can do everything right but if you don’t get that part right then it won’t work.  In fact, if you screw up the wedge or get a blow out on the mouth you can pretty much throw your plane in the bin.  There is definitely an art in building these plane that require your utmost attention and due care.

With the mouth opening being so large I thought there would be some issue and I reckon there will be when dealing with difficult grain but that can be said even if the iron was skewed and the mouth tightly closed.  But so far the shavings ejected out without getting clogged and I owe this to the acute angle I pared on the wedge.  Keeping the planes body clean during the test fit of the iron is another challenge as well.  Being beech a light coloured wood stains or gets black marks on it very quickly after touching metal.  A light sand will not do the trick so clean your hands regularly or use a clean rag to pick your plane up.

I’ve slapped a coat of minwax antique oil finish, they all swear by it so I might as well do as they do.  I’ll put three coats on over three days.  Lol just where am I going to store all these planes?

That’s all folks, Take care.

Categories: Hand Tools

“warts and all” workshop views

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 5:33am

I had this foolish notion that at some point, my new workshop would be all organized and tidy. Presentable. Then I was going to photograph it and post a tour of the shop here on the blog. But…it keeps gathering junk in piles, only to be cleaned up so I could work – and make another mess. I guess that means my shop is “done” as much as it’s going to get. I did write a short piece in Popular Woodworking about it – but here is a short glimpse of what it looks like these days.

Might as well start at the beginning. here’s the view to the door:

Looking through the door, into the room. The carving over the door is a place-holder. there’s a new one coming.

The main workbench. 8′ long. shelves underneath for large planes, boxes of tools like chalkline, hammers, mallets, bench hook and other bench accessories. Racks in the window for marking gauges, awls, chisels, squares – etc.

Same view, but extended to the left – showing the neglected lathe. More later on that.

Looking back toward the door – showing my version of Chris Schwarz’ tool chest.  I couldn’t bear to paint it a solid color…small shelves wedged between the braces and corner posts. Auger bits, sharpening stuff, other odds n ends.

Here is that corner straight on – spoon knives and scratch stocks in boxes… random junk sitting on ledges til I figure it out. Could be years…

The view into the corner beyond the workbench. Cabinet for hatchets, chopping block below.

Patterns and story sticks. they’re everywhere.

I’ve taken this picture many times – it’s just beyond my workbench, the cabinet that houses the hatchets. Recycled wall paneling for the doors.

Half of a Connecticut River carved panel – couldn’t leave that stored in a box…

Inside the cabinet – hatchets, adze, twca cam in 2 sizes –

Like I said, the lathe has had little attention. The current plan is to make a set of shorter beds for it. Right now I can turn a 48″ chair post, but most of my turnings are under 32″ – so I’ll store these beds, make shorter ones, and save a bit of space. Right now, it is a place to pile stuff out of the way. Well, it’s not really out of the way. It’s just a mess. Books and notes to the left.

The old Ulmia workbench is not much better off than the lathe. There’s a shaving horse stuck behind the bedstead-in-progress. The oak desk box will go out of here soon. The baskets too. this junk-gathering place at least changes a lot, unlike the lathe.

that’s it mostly. A stove just after the Ulmia bench. A 12′ x 16′ building doesn’t require a lengthy tour…there is the loft, but I’m not going up there right now. It’s a rabbit hole…

What woodworking has done to me: I’m walking down a lovely...

Giant Cypress - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 4:38am

What woodworking has done to me: I’m walking down a lovely tree-lined street in Barcelona, notice this tree, and all I can think about is veneer and bowl blanks.

where are the tums......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 12:50am
Whenever I order something that is coming from UPS, I tie myself up knots because I get so anxious waiting for it. UPS doesn't have a good track record with deliveries to my house. However, since the last screw up, they have been on the money. They don't always come at the same time nor it is always the same driver, but they have been good lately. I was concerned because there have been a rash of package deliveries being stolen in my area. It isn't only UPS, but any package delivery service. The worse one I heard was about some scumbag stealing a little girls bike. He was caught doing it on video by a neighbor but I don't know if they arrested him

UPS usually comes anywhere from 1600 to 1730 and the door bell battery is dead. I can't hear anything from upstairs when I am in the shop. I got my exercise tonight trotting my fat ass up and down the stairs every ten minutes or so checking to see if the man in brown had come. It made for a choppy night's work in the shop. Maybe I should just have the packages delivered to my wife's workplace? Just thought of that.

new pigsticker
I got this from Jim Bode and he ships via the USPS priority system. This was waiting for me in the mailbox so I don't really worry about these deliveries.

has a secondary bevel
I am still not convinced that a secondary bevel is beneficial or needed. I have other pigstickers that don't have a secondary bevel and I can't tell a difference in using one with it or one without it.

my herd
From L to R, 1/8", 1/4", 5/16", and two 3/8" pigstickers (I thought I didn't have a 3/8 already). I am looking for a 3/16" and a 1/2" and I'll be done once they join the herd. I made my first of many trips back upstairs to check on the man in brown.

sharpened the block plane iron
Andy, who writes the Oregon Woodworker blog wrote an interesting post on sharpening yesterday. It made me think of how I sharpen my tools. I sharpen each every straight bevel tool the exact same way. I do not have any special procedures for a plane iron or a spokeshave iron. I treat them all the same.

my main stones
Coarse, medium, and fine diamond stones with a Japanese 8K polishing stone (L to R). I always start on the coarse stone and go right.

I start here first to raise a burr
I am absolutely nutso about getting a burr on the back of whatever I am sharpening now. No ifs, ands, or buts. If I can't feel a burr from this stone I drop down to the next one.

this stone is second for raising a burr
This is the coarsest diamond stone I have and it is for flattening water stones. I use it for that purpose and for raising a burr too.

the last stop for raising a burr
This is my 80 grit runway which consists of a 4x48 metal sanding belt and a 36" long marble threshold. This has not failed me in raising a burr yet. Lately, I would say about 90% of my burrs on raised on the first stone. I've had to use the other two on tools I hadn't sharpened properly before this. I think I am finally done with getting all my tools sharpened the correct way now. Subsequent outings should go as fast as sharpening this block plane iron did tonight.

I strop everything I sharpen last
I am good at this routine I use now. I don't try to shave my arm hairs or attempt to trim my nails with tools I sharpen. I used to geek out on a shiny bevel but not anymore. When done sharpening on the stones and before I strop, I check the bevel. If there is no reflected light, I strop it. If I see any reflected light I look at the bevel tip with a magnifying glass to see why. And I fix it. Raising and checking for a burr at the start ensures the fix it part doesn't happen.

poly coat #2 going on
I was getting antsy at this point and I decided that I would put the second coat of poly on the shelves and bookcase and call it a night. I wanted to be upstairs when the man brown came.

he came
Or maybe it was she came. I don't know because this was on the back stoop when I came upstairs to wait.

cheaper to get it with all the blades now
I'm undecided on the metric irons because I don't foresee needing them. Lee Valley offers a wide iron set from 7/16" to 3/4" (six irons total - in 16ths). Again this is something I don't think I would use. I got this plane to make grooves in stiles and rails and I have yet to make one larger than 3/8".

upgrade for the depth stop
This was free so I checked the box to have it sent to me. Turns out I didn't need it.

the new and improved depth stop clamp is already installed
made a stopped grove out of the box
I want to replace this
I just a read a blog entry where he said that he got a replacement handle for his LV small plow. I couldn't find it on my lunch break. The handles on LV planes is the one thing on them I don't like. Although this looks kind of a like a Stanley, I don't like it.

One groove and I am sold. And this was made with the plane right out of the box. I for one believe that I shouldn't have to fettle a tool like this (or any plane). The manufacturer should sell their tools ready to use right out of the box.

the learning curve is going to be very short
still making a tapered groove
It's not the tool but me. I didn't hit the depth stop but I know if I had, I wouldn't have this taper.

Anyways it is almost 1700 and time to shut the lights out. I will have to add a box to the A+ list for this plane to be made. I'll have to reshuffle the batting line up some to fit it in.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is opprobrium?

answer - harsh criticism or censure (came across this word reading the news today)

The Son of Roy Underhill’s Mallet

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 06/26/2017 - 4:49pm


During the last class I taught at The Woodwright’s School, I think Roy got a little bored or restless. And so he asked: “Would you like me to make you a mallet?”

The answer was, of course, “Heck yes, please.”

And so Roy spent an afternoon making a mallet for me out of a chunk of live oak (one of my favorite species) as I taught the 12 students to build a Dutch tool chest. After a few hours of sawing, mortising, rasping, chiseling and finishing, Roy presented the mallet to me.

It is, of course, one of my favorite objects. I have put it to good use and, thanks to a defect in the wood, I broke off a corner of the head. No matter. Tools should be used, and so I use the other face of the mallet’s head to hit things.

In case I destroy this mallet, I took some careful measurements and made a copy in maple. I call it the Son of Roy Underhill’s Mallet. It is identical in every regard except for the species of wood and the amount of use it has seen.

And because I have been too long away from this blog, I present the plans to you for Roy’s mallet. Free of charge.

Here are the sizes for the head and the handle:

Head: 2-3/8” x 3-3/8” x 5-3/8”
Handle: 1” x 1-5/8” x 14”

You can download a pdf drawing of the mallet here:

underhill Mallet

Here are a few details not discussed on the drawing.

  1. The striking faces of the mallet head are the same angle as the tapered mortise, approximately 2.1°.
  2. The chamfers on the handle are 1/4” x 1/4”.
  3. Chamfer the top and bottom of the handle. These chamfers are 1/8” x 1/8”.
  4. The grain of the handle and head should be dead straight throughout. And free of knots and defects.
  5. The mallet is finished with linseed oil.

It’s a mighty fine mallet. Balanced in the hand and to the eye. Making one takes an afternoon of pleasant work. And doing so cements your lineage to Roy.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Personal Favorites, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Premiere - first

Old Ladies - Pedder's blog - Mon, 06/26/2017 - 11:15am
Mein erstes "Möbel" mit richtigen Schwalbenschwänzen. Ein kleines Regal für die Garnrollen meiner Nachbarin. Mit vielen Fehlern. Die Schwalben und Zinken habe ich in Österreich gesägt. Zum Glück immer die Schwalben beider AUßenbretter zusammen. Denn als ich wieder in Kiel die Gratnuten für das Mittelbrett gesägt habe (zu tief, wie man leider auch sieht) habe ich Innen und Außen verwechselt. Aber weil die Schwalben ziemlich identisch sind, konnte ich das tauschen. Die Lücken sind dadurch nicht kleiner geworden und vor allem: die Innenseiten, die schon angeschnitzt waren, liegen jetzt außen. Muss ich noch putzen.

My first piece of "furniture" with dovetails. A small rack for my neighbor. With a hand full of mistakes. I sawed the tails in Austria. Luckily I sawed both boards together. When home in Kiel I sawed the sliding dovetail on the outside of the boards. But I could change that, because I gang sawed the tails. That didn't help with the fitting, but it can't fall apart.

Categories: Hand Tools


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