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Hand Tools

Shrinking and Stretch—Working Out the Subtle Wrinkles and Kinks

Paul Sellers - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 8:42am

In applying a film finish to a finished piece of woodwork, shrink and stretch are two sides to the same coin. I wanted to show Hannah how a finish shrinks and stretches itself to a surface when you see only brush marks or an unevenness after spraying. Below you see three images but this was …

Read the full post Shrinking and Stretch—Working Out the Subtle Wrinkles and Kinks on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools


The Barn on White Run - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 4:26am

One of my interests for some time has been “Every Day Carry” practices and even forums on-line discussing the stuff we have on us every day, with a special emphasis on emergency situations.  I find the ingenious creativity in manifesting the ideas to be captivating sometimes, and over-the-top zombie apocalypse silly at other times.   The current issue of Backwoods Home magazine, one of the two or three periodicals I take these days, had a feature article on the subject that prompted me to reflect on my E.D.C. in the shop.  Since pretty much everything I need is within reach or a few steps at most, the inventory is much, much smaller than when I worked in Mordor and my tactical vest was packed to the gills.


This is what I carry virtually every day, all day long when in the shop.

First off is my Victorinox Spirit multi-tool, which I carry any time I have pants on, whether in the shop or not.  Over the years I have owned and used a couple dozen multi-tools and this one is the best I’ve owned, hands down.  Certainly pricier than the $10 knock-offs at the Dollar General, but I use mine hard every day with nary a complaint from me or it.

Next is my DelVe square from Woodpeckers, invented by my friend Tom Delvechio.  Simply the perfect layout tool for the hip pocket.  I bought an extra one just in case this one gets lost or stolen.

An antique folding two-foot boxwood rule is my newest addition to the ensemble, and I just love its utility and compactness.  I picked it up for not much money at a tailgating session at MJD Tools one summer and it has been part of the kit ever since.

A 6″ Starrett machinist’s rule has been in my carry tool kit for as long as I can remember.  They never go bad nor out of fashion.

Finally, the only thing I did not have in the picture was an LED flashlight, probably because I just forgot to pull it out of my pocket.  My favorite value in this tool category is the Ozark Trail pocket flashlight that I buy in the camping section of Wally World.  I have several, and they perform admirably and seem almost indestructible.  I make use of a small flashlight usually several times a day.

That’s it.  Even in my own workshop, I have tools in my pockets all the time.

Stanley #71 box......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 3:40am
It seems that boxes and more boxes, has captured my limited attention span. I just made a plow plane box and  one for a Stanley #71. This one is for my grandson and I have to start him out on the right foot. I didn't stop there with the box making but made one more. This is one of two that I started a few weeks ago and set aside. The second box is missing a side that I'm still searching for.

determining where the dadoes are going
I will have to make stopped dadoes on this box. If I try to bury them in a pin/tail the bottom will be too high up and the 71 won't fit. I have a router with a 1/4" iron that will hopefully match up with the 1/4" Lee Valley grooving iron.

missed it on the long sides
I started out ok but as the grooving progressed I noticed I was hitting the tail on both ends. On the entry end I didn't have a lot of  room to drop the iron down in the space at the bottom of the tail.  The deeper I got with the groove, the tighter the drop in became. The exit was due to 'aw shit' I missed stopping in time.

very tight fit
The iron just fit the groove, barely. The iron is also skewed to the base which makes it difficult to use if you are not used to it. Every once in a while I forget and square the base to the board and the iron is skewed to the left and I find the error of my ways right away.  I find it easier to keep it tracking in the groove by looking only at the iron and not the base.

two stopped grooves
These were relatively easy to whack out because I was able to plow a shallow groove from end to end with the plow plane first(look back two pics). I then used a chisel and the router to complete the groove.

bottom sawn to length and width
I ran one gauge line 3/8" in from the edge and another for the depth. Even with a pencil highlighting the depth, it was hard to see against the layers of the plywood.

snug fit on the ends
ends done, long edges next
With the ends done I have a visual and an actual depth to plane to.

bottom fitted
inside look
I am liking using 3/8" plywood for box bottoms a lot. They are a lot stiffer and stronger than 1/4" plywood (that is never a 1/4"). I don't have the problems of a loose fit because I can rabbet the 3/8 plywood to fit whatever iron I use to make a groove with. Of course that holds true only for iron widths less then the thickness of the 3/8" plywood.

The front and rear ends are cupped. The corners at the bottom (on one side) have slightly pulled away. If I clamp the box on all four corners and close them up, I can't square the box. I opted for a square box and gaps on the half pins. I glued it up and set it aside to cook.

piece of 1/4" MDF
it's for french fitting the 71
99.9% done
I had a fun adventure sawing this out with the Knew Concept coping saw. I felt like I had no thumbs trying to put the blade back in the saw. I would get one end in and it would fall out while I was doing the opposite one. Then I didn't get the right tension on it and I bowed the blade sawing this out. And my sawing was not very close to line neither. It's a good good thing that this rasp will hog off a lot of material. Rasping this to the line didn't take more than 5-6 minutes.

I had to rasp a couple of tight spots before the 71 dropped into place.

made it a strong 16th shorter both ways
spray painting it black
This will cover all the pencil marks plus it will look pretty good against the shiny metal of the 72.

dry fit of one of the orphan boxes
I don't remember why I made these two boxes. I think it was to practice doing hinges but it is getting a plywood bottom and no lid or cover. That is subject to change.

sneak preview
I have a few more coats to put on but I couldn't wait to see how it looks.

the lid
I do not like making lids out of two boards. This however, is an exception to that rule. A book matched lid is a suitable alternative to a solid one board lid. I glued this with hide glue and set it aside until tomorrow.

glue set up - cleaned up the box
one of the cupped gaps
I thought I only had two of these to fill but I ended up finding 3 more.

can you see them?
I plugged four through groove holes on this end. I am looking at it now and I can't see them. I used a pine scrap from the same board as the box for the plugs.

I need some doo-dads for the 71
I got a few ideas for the depth rod/shoe and the fence that are pretty much set in stone. The spear point iron is still simmering on the back burner. I found a proper screw and washer for the fence from NH plane parts. I should have it by friday. Finding a doo-dad for that will take some head scratching.

last coat of shellac
Missed my monday completion date with the plow plane box. Tomorrow I will look at this and see if it will get one last coat of shellac or not.

Had a short day in the shop even though it was a day off for me. I went out to lunch with my friend Billy who retired in Dec. It was good to see him again and to chew the fat. When we worked together we went to lunch every friday for over four years. Nine months later, I still miss him on fridays.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
This federal building took only 16 months to complete and opened in 1943. Which building is it?
answer - the Pentagon

Blemished Books & Tools: Why We Don’t Sell Them on the Website

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 6:14pm

We have been flooded with requests for us to sell our blemished tools and books on our website. There are many reasons we don’t do this – and don’t plan to. Here is a short explanation.

With these products, we have already lost money on the sale. We had to pay to have it shipped back to us, then we had to pay for the replacement item and ship it to the customer. Add to that all the other charges for picking, packing and the boxes and tape. Oh, and paying our customer service people to handle the problem.

These problems happen. And we are happy to fix them and try to make the customer happy.

So when dealing with the damaged goods left in our hands, we have to be careful. We don’t like pulping books or recycling tools. But if they are damaged beyond the point where they are useful, we will do that. So those items are a total loss for us.

For those items that have cosmetic damage, we want to recover our losses as much as possible. And we don’t want a damaged product to disappoint a customer. So we sell them in cash and in person only. Why cash? So we don’t lose 3-4 percent on credit card fees. Why in person? So the individual can inspect the damage and decide if they can live with it.

Why not sell these items on the website? We’d lose even more money. We’d have to spend time describing and photographing every item so the customer would know what he or she was getting. We don’t have the time do it ourselves, and we don’t want to pay someone to list them (we’d lose even more money).

I know that commenters will have a million suggestions for how we could do this differently (drones! Robots! AI! Crowdsourcing!). Chances are we’ve thought of it. And this is how we’ve decided to deal with damaged goods.

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

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

A Walk in the Woods in July

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 4:18pm

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.


The three of you who pay close attention to my ramblings may recall that a couple of months ago, I wrote about the origin of the name sycamore, applied to both a kind of maple in Europe, and a kind of planetree in North America. The name supposedly refers to the shape of the leaves, and traces back to the sycomore fig (Ficus sycomorus). However, as far as I could determine, the sycomore fig’s leaves look nothing like those of either kind of sycamore. So what gives? I was determined to find out, so I booked a flight to South Africa [Truth-O-Meter: True] so that I could settle the question once and for all [Truth-O-Meter: Pants on Fire].

As it happened, I found a sycomore tree fairly quickly. This is the only one I saw that had fruit:


[Apologies for the poor image quality, but I only had my cell phone at the time, and the lighting was terrible.]

And, as various online sources suggest, the leaves look nothing like those of a sycamore (of either kind):


So, I have to go with my earlier hypothesis that somebody got a different kind of fig confused with the sycomore (possibly F. carica), and it’s really that other kind after which the sycamore (either kind) was named.

Having more or less resolved that issue, I decided to spend the next couple of weeks walking through the woods of South Africa [Truth-O-Meter: Mostly False]. In doing so, I faced some challenges: I know very little about the trees of South Africa, so I usually had no idea what I was looking at. And, it being winter, almost nothing was flowering. Add to that the fact that in most of South Africa, winter is also the dry season, which meant that many of the trees had lost their leaves. And did I mention that South Africa is mostly grassland? There just aren’t many trees to begin with.

Nevertheless, I soldiered on (all for you, dear reader). Fortunately, I did a lot of my woods-walking in national and regional parks, and many of the trees in these parks share a key characteristic that simplifies identification:


These signs were pretty neat, and something I hadn’t seen before: If you scan the QR code with your smartphone, it takes you to a web page with more information about the plant. (And yes, as you can guess from the scientific name, plants in this genus are the original source of the neurotoxin strychnine.)

But, like any product of modern technology, this one, too, has bugs:


The QR code on this sign does take you to a web page, but it’s the wrong one, for a different tree. Here’s what the tree itself (the right one, not the wrong) looks like:


Jackal-berries are in the genus Diospyros, which is the genus of both ebony and persimmon. Most Disopyros species are fairly small and therefore not commercially valuable, but nearly all of them have very hard wood, with the heartwood usually dark brown or black. The wood of these smaller trees is used for ornamental turnings and the like. The fruit looks a lot like a small persimmon:


(This one is a common jackal-berry, D. mespiliformis.)

Let’s officially begin our walk near the west coast, in the Northern Cape in an area known as Namaqualand (or, sometimes, the “succulent Karoo,” which is a pretty evocative name, if you ask me). Namaqualand is arid, not quite desert but close. There is very little rainfall, but some moisture does arrive from the Atlantic Ocean. There are virtually no trees, but like the deserts of the southwestern U.S. that are dominated by tree-like cacti, Namaqualand is also dominated by large succulents, only these are aloes, rather than cacti:


This one is the quiver tree, Aloe dichotoma. Although it appears substantial, the “trunk” is hollow and fibrous, resembling more a giant loofah than a log. The barren Namaqua landscape is punctuated by the desiccated skeletons of long-dead quiver trees:


As we travel eastward and inland, we move away from the ocean influence, and enter the Great Karoo:


There are still no trees (except along water courses), and the terrain and vegetation are strongly reminiscent of the Great Basin in North America. The few large trees that do exist are heavily (and I do mean heavily) utilized by Sociable Weavers (Philetairus socius):


The tree is an acacia of some kind, possibly sweet thorn (Vachellia karroo), but I’m not sure.

Even further east, we enter the Kalahari grasslands:


The Kalahari Desert itself is found mostly in Namibia and Botswana, extending just barely into South Africa, but the surrounding Kalahari Basin extends as far south as the city of Kimberley. This is still predominantly grassland, but you do begin to see small trees here and there. After spring rains, the area greens up quite a bit (this photo is from 2012, in December):


That meerkat (Suricata suricatta) was giving me a “Who are you and what are you doing in my front yard?” look.

Like other plants of arid regions around the world, nearly all of the shrubs and trees in the Kalahari are covered with thorns or spines:


This one is a common spike-thorn (Gymnosporia heterophylla). Its closest North American relatives are American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) and eastern burningbush or wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus), both vines.

Around the edges of the basin, you start to see “real” trees. This camelthorn acacia (Vachellia erioloba) was at Sandveld Nature Reserve, in Free State:


Like most other legumes, the wood is very hard and difficult to work. The “camel” in the name refers to giraffes, which use their long prehensile tongues to delicately pluck off the leaves from between the thorns of this and other acacias. In response to the browsing, the trees quickly begin to produce bitter tannin in the foliage, inducing the giraffe to move on to another plant. (Other trees, such as some oaks, respond similarly, but the acacia’s response is remarkably fast, on the order of five to ten minutes.)

As a rule, the many species of acacia have very similar foliage, so it’s difficult to tell one from another by looking at the leaves. But the flowers and especially the fruit are often very distinctive. The seed pods of the camelthorn are large and robust:


Moving south to the southern Indian Ocean coast, we find true forest, here at Tsitsikamma National Park, in Eastern Cape:


The dominant trees (by size, at least) in these coastal montane forests are Outeniqua yellowwood (Afrocarpus falcatus), and “true” yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius). Both are botanically softwoods, in the family Podocarpaceae, distantly related to pines. The wood of true yellowwood is reasonably hard and has good workability, and so is prized for furniture and architectural millwork. Outeniqua yellowwood is softer and more likely to be found in utilitarian applications. The true yellowwood is also the national tree of South Africa.

These yellowwood logs (I don’t know which species) were in the process of being harvested after having been downed during a strong winter storm in 2008:


It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the logs are quite large, close to three feet in diameter.

As we continue up the coast to the east, the terrain becomes less mountainous. In isolated valleys, we find scarp forest, such as here at the Dlinza Forest Reserve in Eshowe:


This view is from an observation tower overlooking the forest. From the tower, we were able to get a treetop look at the fruit of a fig (F. thonningii) that is common in this forest:


If you look closely at the forest photo above, you can see what looks like a pom-pom on a stick on the horizon. This is a Natal cabbage-tree (Cussonia sphaerocephala). The scientific name means “spherical head.” Here’s another cabbage-tree, this one with multiple heads (the hydra of the cabbage-tree realm, it would seem):


The interior of the scarp forest looks not all that different from a temperate forest in North America, although the trees here grow more slowly and therefore tend to be more twisted and bent:


As is generally the case in areas colonized by Europeans, many of the plants and animals are named after familiar species that they resemble, even if in reality they are not closely related. Thus, we have this wild-poplar or false-poplar (Macaranga capensis):


With enough squinting, you can imagine that the leaves on this tree somewhat resemble those of an aspen or poplar. But the tree is actually in the spurge family Euphorbiaceae. Most spurges are shrubs or forbs, with a few species occurring in the southwestern U.S. The one species that most people are familiar with is the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), native to Mexico. The wood of the false-poplar is said to be used for furniture, but I would personally be hesitant to work with it, as most spurges contain compounds that range from mildly irritating to, in the case of the castor bean, deadly poisonous.

The largest trees at Dlinza are the wild-plums (Harpephyllum caffrum):


For scale, the vine that hangs down in front of the tree is about twelve feet off the ground. As with the false-poplar, wild-plums are unrelated to what we call plums, and are in the sumac family Anacardiaceae, relatives of cashews, mangoes, and pistachios. Likewise, most members of this family contain toxic compounds. With sumacs, the toxin is urushiol, the active ingredient in poison oak/poison ivy. The wood is used for general-purpose construction, but is otherwise not notable.

The eastern corner of South Africa is home to lowland coastal forest:


One of the more common trees here is waterberry (Syzigium cordatum), a kind of myrtle:


I couldn’t find any information on the use of the wood, but the trees are fairly small and gnarly, so I suspect it has no widespread use. The berries (not present in winter) are apparently tasty.

The lowland forest in St. Lucia is also where we had an unexpectedly close encounter with a hippopotamus one evening. That’s a story for another time, but suffice to say that it was a Very Good Thing that we were standing in the adjacent parking lot, rather than walking in the woods, at the time.

Nearby, at Cape Vidal in iSimangaliso (“miracle and wonder”) Wetland Park, I found the only blooming woodland wildflower of the trip:


I have not the slightest idea what it is. It seems to have characteristics of both orchids and irises, which means that it might be a member of the order Asparagales. There are only about 36,000 species in that order….

Heading back northwards, we cross onto the Great Escarpment and the southern end of the Drakensberg (“mountain of dragons”). This is the beginning of the highveld (“high field”). The habitat is once again mostly grassland, but with pockets of woodland along the riparian corridors, such as here in Golden Gate Highlands National Park (in summer):


Near Johannesburg, the climate is drier, and the forest more sparse:


(Those odd-looking dark cylinders are another kind of aloe, A. marlothii.) Here, at Suikerbosrand (“sugarbush ridge”) Reserve, the trees once again become small and gnarly. The karee (Searsia lancea), another member of the sumac family, has hard wood that resembles yew and is likewise used for archery bows:


The buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) is in the buckthorn family Rhamnaceae:


The closest North American relative that I know of is Carolina buckthorn (Rhamnus caroliniana). My main reason for including this tree, however, is the Afrikaans name:


How can you not love a tree called “Blinkblaar-wag-’n-bietjie”? The name translates to “shiny-leafed wait-a-minute.” Other shrubs with recurved thorns, such as the catclaw acacia of Arizona (Senegalia greggii) also go by the name “wait-a-minute” or “wait-a-bit,” which comes from what people invariably say after getting tangled up by accidentally walking into one.

Finishing up in the northeastern corner of South Africa, we drop back off the Great Escarpment and enter the lowveld in Kruger National Park, extending from the province of Limpopo at the north end to Mpumalanga in the south. This is the southern limit of what we think of when we visualize the vast savannahs of eastern Africa. It is a mixed woodland/grassland habitat, with shrubs and small to medium-sized trees scattered throughout. In the far north we can find huge baobabs (Adansonia digitata), which are fairly uncommon in South Africa (they are much more common in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Tanzania, to the north and east):


This region is also the home of the only wood from the area that is commercially exported: African blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon). In South Africa, the climate is a little too dry, and blackwood (known locally by the Swahili name mpingo) grows as small, multi-trunked trees that are little more than large shrubs (much like eastern redbuds in the U.S.). You have to go further east into Mozambique and Tanzania before you find trees that are large enough for harvest. Much of the wood goes to the manufacture of clarinets, oboes, and other woodwind instruments.

A view from the Mlondozi picnic area near the Lower Sabie camp in Kruger gives an overall impression of the lowveld:


(For what it’s worth, according to Google Translate, the Zulu word “mlondozi” means “skin.”) The larger trees of the lowveld are nearly always located near water.

One common lowveld tree that anyone can remember is fever tree (Vachellia xanthophloea):


Its Grinch-colored bark is instantly recognizable. The fever tree was named by early European settlers, who noticed that the likelihood of contracting malaria was greater in the vicinity of the trees (which tend to grow in swampy areas harboring mosquitoes).

Traveling around Kruger, the most common large tree that I saw was Natal mahogany (Trichilia emetica):


Like African mahogany (Khaya), as well as sapele and sipo (Entandrophragma), Trichilia really is related to mahogany. The wood looks similar to those other species. While researching this species online I discovered that it is sometimes grown in a container as a houseplant.

Another common tree (also in the mahogany family Meliaceae) is cape-ash (Ekebergia capensis). The leaves do look a bit like those of ash:


The bark is different, though:


The bushwillows (Combretum sp.) are readily recognized by their four-winged samaras. This one is russet bushwillow (C. hereroense):


The only tree I found in full bloom was knob-thorn (Senegalia nigrescens):


The profusion of cream-colored flowers made these large trees easy to recognize from a distance. Other related legumes, identified once again by their seed pods, are the sicklebush (Dichrostachys cinerea):


and bullhorn acacia (Vachellia cornigera):


This lone seed pod in a leafless pod-mahogany tree (Afzelia quanzensis, not a true mahogany) illustrates the challenges I sometimes faced with identification:


I did eventually find one that still had a few leaves:


Afzelia is a genus of trees that wasn’t very well known to North American woodworkers until the publication of James Krenov’s Cabinetmaker’s Notebook trilogy. Relatives of this species from more tropical regions of Africa are the source of one of his favorite woods, doussie.

I found this Sansevieria (mother-in-law’s tongue) growing in the shade under some small trees. I believe that it is S. hyacinthoides (the common house plant is S. trifasciata).


That ends our whirlwind tour of the flora of South Africa (I skipped some parts). As always, I encourage you to find time to take a walk in your own woods. Keep your eyes and ears open; you never know what you might find:


I believe this is a marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea). To be honest, though, I wasn’t really focused on the tree at the time.

–Steve Schafer

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

The Backs of Things

Northwest Woodworking - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 9:35am

I have a cabinet I’m finishing up. It has some nice inlay on the front of it. This is visually appealing and the inlay is raised up so it’s tactile as well. The cabinet itself has tapered lines to it so it has some interest. On this version of the cabinet, I wanted the back to be important too.

I took the time to carry my tapering motif around to the back boards. Spending a little extra time here does not pay off immediately. It takes longer. I fuss more with the fit of the back. But in the long run, every time I see the back, I say to myself, Worth it.

Some jobs are not done for the client. They’re done for me and my satisfaction.


Tapered back slats

Categories: Hand Tools

Update on Shipping Deluxe ‘Roubo on Furniture Making’

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 6:33am


We’re eager to ship out copies of the deluxe “Roubo on Furniture Making,” but are still waiting for the custom boxes to be delivered to our warehouse.

Note: When I write “custom boxes” I am referring to cardboard shipping containers, not hand-dovetailed wooden boxes (as one customer thought and then complained about).

Why didn’t we have the boxes made beforehand? We didn’t know the exact size and weight of the book. The boxes are designed to cradle this book so it cannot move in shipment. Even with modern manufacturing methods, we didn’t dare have the boxes made until we had the actual book in our hands.

As soon as the boxes arrive and they start packing them up, I’ll post an update here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
Categories: Hand Tools

The Cusp of Autumn

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 6:11am

With the walnuts raining down and the their leaves yellowing, and the sound of chain saws off in the distance, we are definitely moving from the cusp of autumn to the reality of it.  Last week my dear friend Bob came over to bring down several dozen tons of trees for me to prepare, mostly for next winter and perhaps the one after that.  We already have more than half of what we need for this coming winter but I really want to get way ahead of future demands.  The local tradition is to enter every winter with two years’ worth of firewood in hand, and that is my goal as well.  Our objective for this cut was to select several trees that were either damaged or in the wrong place (I am trying to establish a cleared path to the southwest of the barn so I will no longer lose winter sun at 3PM), get them on the ground for me to work with, and emerged unscathed ourselves.  In two hours we accomplished all of the above.

Working with Bob is a great learning experience as he has been felling large timbers ever since he was a boy.  I am fine with cutting it up once it hits the ground, but I’ve heard there is unending paperwork if you drop a twenty ton tree on yourself so I defer to him in this enterprise.  He stands at the base of the tree looking at its trunk and crown, judging both the direction it would like to fall and the degree to which that trajectory can be altered.  Then he sets to work, back notching then felling the tree.  In every instance of the two dozen trees we (and by “we” I mean “he”) dropped it came down exactly where he wanted it to come down.

Now it is up to me to cut them into short bolts, process them with the hydraulic splitter, and stack them to season.  Starting next week I will begin filling the firewood crib and the front porch with a mountain of BTUs.

The most beautiful sound in the depths of winter is when Mrs. Barn remarks, “Hmm, kinda warm in here, isn’t it?”

another photo sunday......

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 1:52am
I got into a good groove today and I humped and pumped like I was a young pup. I got a lot of things done and even I was impressed at quitting time with the items ticked off in column A. For the third time I am doing a picture blog with a minimum of keyboard diarrhea.

quiet time work - road testing Myles's block plane
even shavings from the right and left side
end grain - mostly dust
advanced the iron and better shavings - end grain test ok
this is what I wanted to do yesterday and today - I started these a few weeks ago
lost a side somewhere - I'll saw this one in half
epoxy set up on the doo-dad end caps
everything still fits
good fit and it is secure
flushed the ends and the tops
planed a chamfer on the side facing the interior of the box
about 1/2 way just in case I add a wooden auxiliary fence
enough room to take it out and put it back
pocket for the iron box
this will keep the box in place so it doesn't flop around in the box
a spacer to set the board for wiggle room
Stanley 71 parts out of the Evaporust, rinsed and blown dry
spear point iron
got some pitting where I don't want it
cross hatching
This keeps the iron from shifting while using it. The shaft that this screws onto is slanted so the toe is down and the heel rises up at the back.

Wally World run
I used to save my shop towels and wash them at the laundermart but I can't do that anymore. The 'industrial' machine they had where you could wash anything you wanted, is gone. I won't wash them at home because I don't want the possibility of whatever staining something of my wife's.

I use them and toss them
made glue sticks with the T77 spray adhesive
I made four sanding sticks out of one sheet of sandpaper. This was left and it is enough to do this one edge. I got this tip from watching the Plane Collector on You Tube.

I sawed each one into thirds without ripping or shredding the sandpaper
the 1/2" iron has pitting too
80 grit runway - I tried to sand the pits out
got lucky and I was able to sand out all the pits
tried sanding this as is and it was way to difficult to do -very hard to hold and push at the same time
put it together and this way was much better
I was concerned about doing it this way because the iron is screwed to the shaft. The countersink is large and the screw head is below the iron by about 3 frog hairs. I got lucky with this iron too and was able to sand out the pits.

had the runway set up so I worked on the 71 base
120 grit after a couple of minutes work - dropped down to 80 grit and started over
320 grit
completed with a sanding block with 400 and then 600 grit - raised a good shine
orange cleaner got some of the stains
tried WD-40 next - not sure if it did anything
this seemed to work - most of the stains are gone now
sharpened, honed, and stropped
Stanley 71 is done
test dado - sawed the walls and chiseled out most of the waste
works very well
done - I like the action and feel of this better than my LN router
brush box needs a latch
going to make one out of a brass mending plate
checked this one but it is too wide for 1/2" stock
sawed the notch and filed it smooth
no problems working the latch blind
metric drill caddy box glamour shot
8 out of 10 stayed home
I put this by the drill press
I need a box for Myles's Stanley #71
found a toolbox
I made this about 8 years ago(?) to be just a box. I converted it to a tool box to take to a Lie Nielsen weekend class I took several years ago. I didn't take it because it was too heavy.

french fitted for a lot of tools I don't know what, where, or how they fit now
bottom laid out for planes but no saws
I like that it has a lock
Myles's new toolbox
This toolbox was under the one above. I made this a few years back, stuck in the boneyard, and promptly forgot about it. I had to rap on the lid with a hammer to open it.

I can fit a lot more tools (saws too) in this one
the back - I think this was Chris S inspiration build
bottom has replaceable ship lapped boards nailed on
needs a till or maybe two
some tools for Myles besides the planes
This will work out great for me. I can buy tools for him and have a place to put them.

made the box for Myles's #71
tried to make this one as small as possible
flushing the bottom - knocking this corner down is first
now the plane will turn the corner
bottom has no twist
tear out
Even with planing this at an angle I still got tear out. I turned the box around so the plane did this first with the grain. This is the top which is trickier to do than bottom because the front is open.

top has no twist too
plow plane box (still no finish)
I decided on bevels to match the front of the lid. I got 2 coats of shellac on after this and it'll be done by monday.

3 tries
Finally got the plow set - 1/4" from the edge and 1/4" deep. I'll plow the grooves for Myles's box tomorrow.
accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What was the highest rated TV show of all time?
answer - the final episode of MASH in February of 1983

Fly Rail

360 WoodWorking - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 6:48am
Fly Rail

Last week I wrote about how you could use a simple jig setup to begin the steps to make a knuckle joint for a Pembroke table – same jig used to make box joints and moldings. After you have your knuckle joint constructed, what do you do your the “fly” rail to make it work? The rail should swing out to support your table leaf. And while not at work, it conceals the the fixed apron set behind it.

Continue reading Fly Rail at 360 WoodWorking.

tool rehab day.......

Accidental Woodworker - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 2:52am
Doing a tool rehab for today wasn't on the menu but it is what I decided to do. I bought a Stanley block plane for my grandson's toolbox and a 1/2" skewed wooden rabbet plane for me. I bought them from Hyperkitten tools and I got them late on friday night. I had already written the blog for posting on saturday so they didn't make it into it. The menu had the plow plane box as the entree but the epoxy work sidelined that. So I thought I would quickly whack out a rehab.

Stanley block plane
This is the 20° angle plane which I think is the 60 1/2?. I'm not sure of that but it has an adjustable mouth and it is in great shape. Almost all the japanning is present and it is clean. Most of the Stanley block planes I see look like they served in WWII.

another potential problem area
The lateral lever adjust for the iron is in great shape. I see a lot of these with rounded end tab missing or bent in the wrong direction. This plane looks like it was bought, looked at, and stuck on a shelf after using it once or twice. This will be good block plane for Myles to use.

my 1/2" skew rabbet plane
This plane has an odor that I can't put my finger on. A lot of my wooden planes have an odor to them but they usually aren't as strong as this one is. This one I can still smell on my fingers hours after using it.

owned by someone with an F
escapement side
It looks like this is not the original iron. There is a about 3/8" above the top of the iron going into the plane body. It could be the original iron too and it has been shortened by sharpenings.

no problems making a cross grain rabbet
As you can see I didn't run a knife line first but that didn't stop the plane from doing it's work.

plane iron update
I put an iron from "Tools from Japan(?)" in the 4 1/2 and a Ray Iles in the 5 1/2 at the same time. I used the 5 1/2 more than the 4 1/2 flattening bunch of boards. The iron in the 4 1/2 is dull. It is still cutting but I can feel it isn't as easy. I would have bet the iron from Japan would have outlasted the Ray Iles at a minimum, 2 to 1.

this one still feels like it is sharp
drill caddy bottom closed up
This is almost done. I got the last coat of oil on it today and tomorrow I'll post a glamour shot.

the epoxy has set
I lightly ran the ends over some 100 grit to give it a tooth for the next application of epoxy.

end caps epoxied and taped until tomorrow
my grandson's plane herd
From the top left, a 5 1/4, #4, #3, and a block plane. I think this is a good starting point for Myles. I would like to add a low angle block plane to complete this. I am undecided about whether or not I should add a #6 or a #7. I've time on that as I still haven't made the toolbox.

the next batter
I broke the plane down to parade rest and it is a lot cleaner than I initially thought it was. There is hardly any dirt or dust built up in the nooks and crannies. This should be a quick and easy rehab turn around.

this was a PITA to get off
the brass is nice and shiny
worked the iron next
The back was pretty flat and I finished that and made it shiny too.

had to regrind the angle to 25°
hit a big hiccup here
I thought I was going to be able to remove some scratches and shine up the sole on the granite block starting with 400 grit. That didn't happen sports fans. The 400 grit was barely touching the sole so I dropped down to 220 and that wasn't much better. The clean look of the plane was deceiving.

80 grit
I have a hump on this sole. The front and rear first quarter inches are the low spots. I know now why this looks so good. I didn't try this before I started doing this to confirm it. I'll bet this plane rocked while planing which is why it was set aside.

an hour later
I didn't go at this for an hour straight. It was more of  10 minutes on the runway and 10 minutes resting. I still haven't get it flat end to end but I did close it up some on the toe and heel.

12" precision straight edge
An 1/8" in from the toe and about an 1/8" from the heel, I'm dead nuts flat. I can't see any daylight under the heel but I can see it at the toe.

320 grit
Including breaking for lunch, I had over 3 hours into this rehab at this point. I thought this would have been a 30 minute job tops. Including coffee and head breaks. After 320, I finished up with 400 and 600.  After all this sanding was done I still didn't get the sole down to the low spots. I think that this is the best that I'll be able to do with this without sanding through the sole.

starboard side
stern shot
port side

bow shot
The plane was washed and cleaned with orange cleaner and I applied Autosol to the sides and the sole. I did all this to get it looking pretty but I didn't road test it. I forgot to do it before I put it away with Myles's other planes. I'll do that tomorrow.

my grandson's #71
The depth rod sticks and it was very hard to push through the hole. I checked the rod thinking it was the problem because it had what looked to be a rust bloom on it. It wasn't the problem and the rod cleaned up and feels smooth end to end. When I put the rod in the hole I could feel a burr or something in the hole close to the top.

no more burrs
I first tried 400 grit wrapped on the dowel but it wasn't doing too much. I got rid of whatever was on the inside of the hole with 220 grit. The depth rod slides up and down freely now

Evaporust bath
There are only a few parts that need this bath. Most of the plane and it's parts are nickel plated. The thumb screws have a few spots of nickel lost and rust but those I can sand. It is looking like this one will be an easy tool to rehab and turn around quickly.

had to use heat
I tried WD40, PB Blaster, Liquid Wrench, and penetrating oil over the past week and none of them loosened the screw.  It took heat to finally break the screw free. I tossed this into the Evaporust too.

I meant to go to Pepin Lumber today but I forgot it. They have 1" thick x 12" wide pine, rough one side and smooth on the other, that I want to use for my grandson's toolbox. Maybe next week end I'll get it.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is Hansen's disease?
answer - leprosy


Accidental Woodworker - Sat, 09/02/2017 - 3:00am
Before I started working on the doo-dads for the plow plane box, I checked the lid in the box first. I got a wee bit of surprise with it in that it was hard to push it all the way home. The lid had bowed slightly across it's width and I had to plane the back corners to get it to slide smoothly again. I also noticed that the back wasn't square and tight there neither. I'll play with that before I applied the finish.

This is what I did thursday night after dinner. I drilled the hole on the right on the wrong side of the layout line.

drilled a practice one first
This is what I should have done last night but I thought I could eyeball the layout lines and get away with that. I think that if I had drilled the hole on the correct side of the line, it would have worked.

fits the fence rods
The rods are 5/16" and the holes I drilled are 11/32 which gives me some wiggle room.

clamped it to the doo-dad
I flushed the backs and marked the holes by tapping on the drill. I drilled the holes on the drill press.

everything fits with room to spare
I had to thin the holder for the plane
I had to saw off a little more than 5/8". If I had put the slot on the other face I wouldn't have had to saw it. I put the plane in the thinnest face because I thought it looked better and it also made things not quite as tight.

the doo-dads aren't quite done
I made the slots for the conversion fence and the plane about a 1/4" longer than the parts. The ends are open and won't work well with keeping the two of them contained. I'm going to epoxy caps on the ends to keep them in place.

using the good stuff
sized the ends
I want the end caps to be secure and this is an end grain to long grain connection. I know that this epoxy will not hold if I attach the caps to the ends now. Sizing the ends and then epoxying the caps on will be a very strong joint. I did this same thing on my xmas present stands. As far as I know they are all still together(all 5 of mine are). This will add a couple of more days to the completion but in the interim I can complete the finishing.

metric drill caddy box
 The 3 and 4 mm bits are in holes a lot looser than the others. These two fall out if I turn the box upside down and fall out through this gap. I am going to glue a strip to the box to close this gap off. This is a piece of ash cutoff from the doo-dads that is a perfect fit.

it's almost 1700
I'll let this set up until tomorrow. The last thing I did before I left the shop was to apply a second coat of oil to the drill caddy. Tomorrow I'll put the second and final coat on the box.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What was the only state (colony) not invaded by the British during the Revolutionary War?
answer - New Hampshire

Fish glue it works

Journeyman's Journal - Sat, 09/02/2017 - 2:07am

24 hours has passed since I edge glued a test piece with Lee Valley’s Cod fish glue.

I must admit I was nervous that it would fail because I thinned it.  I tried squeezing it in my vice and I think I may have buggered my vice, it’s now making some clicking sound.  I changed the strategy and placed the panel flat in the vice and got some multi grips.  Finally I managed to break it and it was no where near the glue line as you can see in the picture below. Also notice in the second picture that it’s virtually impossible to spot the glue line.

I think the results speak for itself.  Fish glue is truly as good as any PVA on the market strength wise however, it does take a full 24 hours to fully cure  and I don’t think that in truth is any different to any other PVA on the market.

I am also of the opinion that instrument makers who have not had much success with it either, used an inferior version or didn’t thin it and therefore the glue had lumps. Lumps will not allow a join to completely seat itself and also the glue won’t be absorbed by the timber.


Categories: Hand Tools

birds not woodworking

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 7:19pm

I recently spent a great day with our friend Marie Pelletier up in Newbury, Massachusetts at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, aka Plum Island. She got great shots of many of the birds we saw… maybe this will take you to her shots – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10213122359110858&set=pcb.10213122371511168&type=3&theater 

It was not the best light for me, my camera shoots kinda dark. But here’s some of what I got that day:
Egrets were the bird of the day; both snowy (Egretta thula) and great (Ardea alba)  – here’s one of the great egrets:


a bunch of the snowies:

great again

snowies again

They weren’t the only long-legged waders around though – we saw Great Blue Herons now and then (Ardea herodias)

A juvenile Northern Harrier – (Circus cyaneus )

The swallows were really the most impressive sight. Their numbers were out of this world. They’re “staging” – stopping here to feed and gather in huge flocks for migration. Many (most/all?) of these are tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) – there’s no way this photo or any photo captures the impact of seeing this many birds. they were in constant motion, and the sound of them hitting the water to feed on insects was LOUD. 

Here they are streaming through a gap in some trees, just an amazing sight. 

I never skip a chance to watch cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) this one was very cooperative

A couple of days later, at Pret & Paula’s house, an eastern screech owl (Megascops asio). Too distant for my camera, but such a treat to see it poking out of this dead tree:

Then this morning, the flock of common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) with some other blackbirds mixed in, come streaming up from the marsh just around sunrise:

Hairdryers for Woodworking

Journeyman's Journal - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 5:29pm


For us blokes going bald or are bald a simple towel will suffice, but they’re not just for drying hair.

We use them on wood too. Don’t let your wife or daughter catch you using her’s just buy a cheapy.

So what can they be used for?

If you’re using animal protein glues and you know your glue up is going to take a little longer than usual that ‘s where a hair dryer can be useful.  Heat up the parts that need to be glued.  The open time will be slightly longer and the adhesion will be better.

If you’re using Fish glue, the recommended clamping time is 12 hours. Once 12hrs has passed you sometimes notice the glue line feels a little tacky.  That’s normal with fish glue as the exposed glue line hasn’t fully cured to a hard state.  It’s still structurally sound, bonded and workable. Not much different to some PVA’s  where you only need to clamp for 4 hours before you can begin working on it and the same rule applies to fish glue.   It will still take 24 hrs before the glue has fully cured.  However, to get rid of the tackiness a hair dryer works quickly.  You only need to use it for less than minute to dry it.

I wouldn’t recommend using it to dry your finishes even though some people actually do.

In regards to yesterdays post on thinning fish glue.  This morning I unclamped the test pieces.  12 hrs did pass and the glue line was tacky, so I used the hairdryer to dry it to the touch.  The results are no gaps due to lumpiness, I thinned it to the right consistency, and the bond is super strong.  I will let it sit for another 12 hrs to fully cure and then try to break the edge bond.  I’ll use a clamp or stick it in my vice to break it apart.  If it breaks along the glue line then it failed, but if it breaks anywhere else, then it’s a success.  

This will be my final test with fish glue. I really don’t expect it to fail. 

Categories: Hand Tools

Introducing Hand Tool School Orientation!

The Renaissance Woodworker - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 9:06am

Hand Tool School Orientation is the Perfect Starting Point

The started The Hand Tool School more than 7 years ago. In that time I’ve learned a lot about how woodworkers learn. I’ve learned a lot about the concerns and questions they ask when first getting started with hand tools. And I’ve learned a lot about which tools are good to start with and which only confuse and hold back the skill development.

So about a year ago when I looked at my Semester 1 curriculum I realized I need to go back and create a prequel semester that hit on some fundamentals and did everything to get the woodworker over the analysis paralysis and building stuff. Stuff they really want and need for your new shop.

beginning workbenchLike…a WORKBENCH!!! My god woodworkers just can’t get enough about workbenches so I gave in and built another one. But then I went on to build several more projects for the bench and for the new tool collection. I then developed a series of 101 style lessons to supplement all of this and what I came up with is the perfect entry point to hand tool woodworking. An orientation of sorts to a lifelong journey of plane shavings and chisel scars.

Welcome Hand Tool School Orientation.

Check Out Hand Tool School Orientation
Categories: Hand Tools


Journeyman's Journal - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 7:06am

Here is a jointer plane for sale in Oz, it’s a steel at $100 because it’s in mint condition.  I laughed at his reason for selling it ” because he has too many planes and he doesn’t use a jointer very often.” Really?  Sounds like a machinist and has several smoothers.



Categories: Hand Tools

Chairs at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, by Gerrit...

Giant Cypress - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 5:08am

Chairs at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld and Gerard van de Groenekan, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Hans Wegner, Charles and Ray Eames, George Nakashima, and Samuel Gragg.

Samuel Gragg’s chair was made in 1808. It was in no way the first bentwood chair ever made, but he did use some sort of patented technology to make it.

plow plane box pt V.......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 1:13am
I didn't get to finish the doo-dads for the box. I thought it would have been a done deal but it didn't happen. Sometimes things take way longer than I think they will. Tonight cutting and fitting the plugs for the box took most of my shop time to get done. I'm not a slow worker and I got into a groove doing these and lost all track of time. I'll still get this done before the weekend.

another first for me
I used the 5 1/2 to clean and flush the tails and pins on the box. Using that plane left ridges even though my corners on the plane are rounded off. I smoothed everything with the #3. I need it smooth because I'm going to wax the box instead of shellacing it.

enough walnut for a hundred boxes
I saved these pieces from something else(?) for just this purpose.

back is done
I tried to make sure that the plug end showing was face grain. I want these pop and be an eye catcher and face grain will do that better than end grain.

1645 and I'm finishing up the last plug
conversion fence
I was expecting this to be metric but it is measuring a frog hair under 1/8". I have them squeezed on the fence here to snap the pic.

the plane body measures the same
slot for the fence
I was going to make this groove with my record plow plane but it's maximum depth is only 1/2 of this. I made this one on the tablesaw. The fit of the fence in the slot is perfect. It isn't too tight nor too loose.

the planned spot for the fence
Getting to the conversion fence won't be a problem. This fence will still be needed so it'll come off first regardless and then I can grab the conversion fence. The brass screw will go in a hole inbetween the fence rods.

I measured the rods and they are 5/16" diameter. Again I was expecting metric but I'm happy with the imperial.  Tomorrow I'll make a drilling guide for the rods and make some practice holes before I drill the holes in the box doo-dad.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is the longest running scripted TV show in the US?
answer - The Simpsons at 29 seasons (Gunsmoke and Law & Order both had 20 yrs)

Trial & Error with Fish Glue

Journeyman's Journal - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 11:42pm


This is going to be a very short post, but I want to share a finding with you.  I purchased 1 litre bottle of fish glue from Lee Valley.  The day it arrived was the day I put it to use.  The glue’s consistency is very thick, and I tried it as is on two moulding planes I made.  The results were poor.  It’s not that it’s not doing its job, that part is fine.  It held on strong and still holding strong, but it needs thinning prior to use.  I knew that all along but since I’ve had previous success with it with their tiny bottled version I didn’t think it would make any difference, but I was wrong.  Like any glue it should flow like maple syrup as they say, I’ve never actually seen maple syrup but I know what it should flow like as I use hide glue.

So, today I thinned it by eye, I can’t say exactly how many percentages you should thin it by, but it should flow off your brush or stick or whatever you’re using like maple syrup.  Not too thick and not too thin.The results immediately showed a remarkable improvement.  It flowed and spread easily with no lumps that caused the two pieces not to fully close.  Another words not show any gaps.  By adding water to any glue your taking away it’s strength, but to render it useless would be to add too much water.

Remember you have to add water to hide glue but only enough to take away the lumps. I’ve set the pieces aside to dry and will check it in the morning.  It’s spring here, and it’s slowly warming up so I’ll see if it’s still holding strong in a weeks time.  I don’t have any reason for it not too.

You may wonder why all the fuss with fish glue as I normally use hide glue.  Well, to be honest it’s sheer laziness on my part.  The part about preparing hide glue and heating it up, OK I have liquid hide glue as well and that too is a pain as I need to heat it up and keep it heated to 140° F (60°C).  It’s easier to use liquid hide than regular hide because it’s open time is longer.

With fish glue you use it in it’s cold state just like regular glue and if I’m confident in it’s holding abilities like I am with hide glue, then I’ll make the switch.  So far this glue hasn’t let me down but I need to use it for a while to be certain of all it’s pro’s and con’s.

Final Thoughts

Is all this fuss really necessary? White glue and yellow glue work fine.

I think the fuss is necessary if your building fine items that’s going to end up in some antique roadshow or shop in a hundred years time.  I glue all my clocks with hide glue and furniture I built prior to clocks I used regular glue.  None of it was reproduction antiques except for the hotel I built for.

You have to ask yourself.  Are you building furniture that it recyclable or furniture that is exquisite and made to last?

In this modern age of consumerism, women mostly like to replace their furniture every 24 months and many would like to replace it every six months if they could afford it.  So when you think about it; do you really think it’s going to end up in some antique shop or someone is going to bother themselves to repair it? No, it will end up at the city dump like most items.

Like I said earlier, unless your building something extraordinary like a secretary, highboy, fancy clocks or you do veneer work, all this unnecessary extra expenditure on glue pots and paying the ridiculously high costs of both fish and hide isn’t worth it. Rather invest your money into timber or a new tool or even some video or book where you will learn something that will benefit you in the long run than on these glues.

You know how much I love these glues and I won’t stop using them, but the truth is the truth and there’s no point in deluding yourselves to think otherwise.

Categories: Hand Tools


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