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General Woodworking

Building Two Saws: Part 4 (Done!)

The Literary Workshop Blog - 3 hours 6 min ago

There is a moment at the end of a long project that woodworkers live for: the last bit of hardware has been installed, the finish is wiped down for the last time, and the piece just sits there on the bench, surrounded by tools and debris.  It is finished.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 17

Take a deep breath: there is nothing more to do but put these away, where they await their first project.

Backtracking a little, one of my favorite parts of this project is that it forced me to get creative in order to solve little problems along the way.  For example, the saw nuts I have are extra-long and need to be sawn off and filed so that they sit flush with the handle or slightly below it.  Marking a screw to be cut short isn’t as easy as marking a piece of wood.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 15

First, with the nut screwed all the way on, I set the assembled bolt on the saw handle with the head flush.  I used a marker to color the screw where it needed to be cut.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 16

I then put the whole thing into a machinist’s vise (protected with some brown paper), and sawed/filed it until the inked section was gone.  Backing the nut off the sawn-off screw evens out any burrs left from the filing, ensuring that the nut will be able to thread back onto the bolt.

I opted to finish the handles with paste wax, and I’m happy with that decision.  I sanded the handles lightly so as to smooth out any burrs left from the drilling.  Sanding also packs the open pores of the pecan wood with sawdust, and when the finish is applied, the dust acts as a grain-filler.  (Note: this works well with oil and wax finishes, but I wouldn’t try it with a film finish.)  Then I rubbed a liberal amount of paste wax onto the handle, working it especially into the exposed end-grain.  Then I heated it up with a hairdryer, which melted the wax into the wood.  The wood absorbed more wax than I expected, so I applied two coats.

Then it was just a matter of straightening out the saw plates, sharpening the teeth, and testing them out.  The dovetail saw, being new, required only a very light touch-up with a file, as well as setting the teeth.  The panel saw, however, needed more work.  The teeth were dull, uneven, and over-set.  I jointed and filed the teeth, and then stoned them to remove some of the excess set.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 20

I did opt to leave some of the patina on the saw plate, more out of laziness than anything else.  The staining doesn’t affect how the saw cuts.  I kind of hope that some saw expert picks up this saw in 100 years and puzzles over it.  A skew-backed panel saw, split nuts, no medallion, and an extra-small tote made from figured hardwood.  It should keep him guessing for a while.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 21

The spalting is visible only on the show side of the handle, unfortunately.  Fortunately, my kids do not care.  I’ll get them to try it out soon.

The dovetail saw’s plate required a little straightening before it would track straight.  Thanks to Isaac’s Smith’s advice on the subject, this operation was simple and relatively stress-free.  Essentially, you find out where the plate is bent and use your hands to bend it in the opposite direction.  Check it carefully each time, and it will eventually be straight.  It worked so well that I immediately got out two older backsaws that didn’t track straight and straightened them out, too.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 19

Now my dovetail saw is done.  I could spend a lot of time pointing out the little aesthetic flaws.  Should I make another backsaw, there are a few things I will take more care over, but on balance I am happy with the results of my work.  It fits my hand perfectly, and it tracks true.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 18

Now to start a project that requires dovetails–lots of dovetails!


Tagged: saw nuts, split nuts, straighten backsaw, straighten saw plate

Roubo Style Workbench

MVFlaim Furnituremaker - 5 hours 41 min ago

Walking around an antique store called Ohio Valley Antique Mall in Cincinnati this weekend, I ran upon this massive beast in one of the aisles. An eight foot long authentic Roubo style workbench. I’ve seen dozens of old workbenches before, but for some reason this guy stuck out to me. The previous owner screwed nickel-plated hooks on the front of it for someone reason. Probably to hold coffee cups or some other nonsense.

 photo 20140831_125018.jpg

What made this bench stick out was the splay of the front leg along with the leg vise. I imagine this was done to prevent the workbench from racking when sawing. The cast iron vise hardware turned smooth and could still tighten with something with a good grip.

 photo 20140831_130955.jpg

It had an old planning stop hole used for planning boards. Oddly the area around the hole was all worn down. When I see wear marks on old pieces like this, it makes me wonder what type of work the craftsman did to make those types of marks. Though it does appear he was sawing on the right side of the planning stop.

Another interesting clue is that it is quite possible that at one point there was another vise installed on top. The three holes around the lighter circular area is possibly where he bolted down a machinist vise onto the bench.

 photo 20140831_130947.jpg

The legs were jointed together with a simple bridle joint however, the legs were not jointed into the bench’s top. More likely the top was just bolted down to the legs somehow. I didn’t feel like moving everything around in the booth to get a better look.

 photo 20140831_131003.jpg

The bench top was a good 12″ wide x 4″ thick piece of pine. It had a tool tray in the back that appeared to be in real good shape given it’s age. Notice how there are no bench dog nor holdfast holes in the top.

 photo 20140831_131011.jpg

Who knows where this bench will end up. Probably in someone’s home as a kitchen island, but for a cool $700 it can be all yours.

 photo 20140831_125018.jpg

jumping once again on the Bowl Lathe bandwagon

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - 12 hours 37 min ago

 I took a break from basket making last week to finally build myself a dedicated lathe for turning bowls. Mine is based on the ones we used when I was a student this spring in Robin Wood’s bowl-turning course at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/bowl-class-tip-of-the-iceberg/

I think I first saw this style of lathe in the book Wood and Woodworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York, by Carole A. Morris (York Archeaological Trust/Council for British Archeaology, 2000), then in the work done by Robin Wood and others…

First off, I jobbed out the long slot cut in the 3″ thick beech plank. I traded Michael Burrey some carving work for his labor – I coulda done it, if I wanted to…

bench slot


Then came boring the hole for the legs. Legs like these angle out in two directions; to the side, and to the end. I mark out two angled lines off a centerline to help me sight one angle for these legs. Then use an adjustable bevel aligned on this line to get the other. This is based on the ideas I learned from Curtis Buchanan and Drew Langsner in making windsor chairs. (Drew is teaching a session at Woodworking in America that covers in detail this notion – setting the geometry to get these angles right. http://www.woodworkinginamerica.com/ehome/woodworkinginamerica.com/WIA2014/?&& )

In a case like a bench, or this lathe – I’m not too concerned about these being “just exactly perfect.” 



This spiral auger is probably a nineteenth century one; it’s about 1 1/4″ or so…some now call it a T-auger, but it’s really just an auger. The ones that fit in braces are auger bits.



A detail showing the bevel to help line things up. 

auger detail


Here’s a bird’s eye view – showing how the auger aligns with the scribed line on the bench. So you sight that, centered on the line, then the bevel takes care of the 2nd angle. 



Here’s the two poppets set into the slot. One taller than the other, these could have been longer still, but I worked with what I had. These are oak cutoffs from timber work. 

big poppet little poppet


Now wedge from below. I just eyeballed the angled mortise, then made wedges to fit. 


wedge detail


The shorter poppet gets a bent pike inserted in the top. Then I slid this over to the taller poppet, to mark where I’ll bore for the straight pike. 

bent pike detail


Jumped ahead a step or two – here’s the tool rest arrangement. The tool rest support is just wedged into a slot cut in the outside face of the taller poppet. The too rest is pivoted into the top of the smaller poppet. Simple. 

tool rest


a 14′ sapling, lashed at its bottom end to a small tree on the bank above me, then resting in the cruck of two 2x4s – Now, the transition from the relatively still craft of basketmaking, to the aerobic craft of bowl turning. I need some practice. 




New Bandsaw (and a free workbench)

McGlynn On Making - 12 hours 42 min ago

You know one of my favorite things about hand tools?  When they arrive they are pretty much ready to work, other than a bit of sharpening.  And of course they don’t take up a lot of space.

But being a card-carrying member of Toolaholics Anonymous (“Hi, my name is Joe and I’m powerless over tools”) I’ve been wanting to get a bandsaw for my wood shop for a while.  Mostly I wanted it to do accurate resawing, both for making thin slices to be used for inlay or veneer and for situations where I can get two pieces out of a board instead of one.  For example, making ship lapped backs on a case, it would be nice if I could re-saw 4/4 accurately enough to get two pieces for the back instead of running it through the planer to get to the ~1/2″ thickness I want.

New Grizzly 19" bandsaw

New Grizzly 19″ bandsaw

So the Fedex freight truck left a pallet in my driveway on Friday, and I managed to drag it inside, stand it up and assemble the saw.  The first order of business was to hook up an outlet — it needs a 220v 20 amp circuit.  So it was the usual drill of feeding a wire through the wall, over the ceiling joists and putting in a new outlet.  And the requisite trips to the hardware store for supplies.

Running a new 220v outlet

Running a new 220v outlet

Nothing magic about that, just work.  It was in the mid 80s here yesterday (temperature wise, no “Pet Shop Boys” or “A Flock of Seagulls” were played to the best of my knowledge), so it was a bit hot to be working for my tastes.  Before next summer I’m going to run one more outlet for a combination AC/Heater to keep things more comfortable in the shop.

As soon as I had the saw assembled and wired I installed the blade that came with it and made some test cuts.  I had the guide bearings a little tight at first, but that was a simple adjustment.  Sawdust went everywhere.  I guess I’d better hook it up to the dust collector.  Connecting the tubing to the saw was simple of course, but I had some head scratching about how best to tie it into the existing ducting I installed last year for the dust collector.

Dust collector hookup

Dust collector hookup

I ended up cutting a standard 6 x 6 x 6 wye fitting to make a saddle, traced the opening onto the overhead pipe and cut it out.  I screwed the saddle onto the surface of the existing pipe, and sealed it up with duct tape.  no leaks, and the pickup on the saw seems pretty efficient.

Hookup to the existing dust collector.  There is a blast gate at the end of the 6-to-4 reducer where I can easily reach it.

Hookup to the existing dust collector. There is a blast gate at the end of the 6-to-4 reducer where I can easily reach it.

I’ve only made a couple of test cuts so far, and only using the stock blade that came with it (a 3/4″ fine tooth blade).  Crosscuts, rips and scrolling in 3/4″ material is simple with this blade, but it doesn’t clear the sawdust effectively enough for resawing.  I did resaw a scrap of Zebrawood and a piece of an Olive tree root that had been drying in my attic for 20 years.  The cut side is pretty rough, but the slices are a consistent thickness and will give me something to play with.

Experimental cuts

Experimental cuts

I also bought a resaw blade from Grizzly, and honestly I’m afraid to put it into the saw.  This a 1.3 TPI x 1.25″ wide resaw blade.  I’m used to the Woodslicer blades I get from Highland Woodworking.  Those have a 3-4 TPI variable bitch blade, this has less than half pot the TPI.  I’ll fit it to the saw today and see how it works.  Right hatter making some serious push blocks, I don’t want my fingers anywhere near this thing.


One scary bandsaw blade

I haven’t used the saw enough to have a solid opinion about it yet, but my gut feel is that it’s a pretty nice tool.  It’s quiet, the blade tensioning, tracking and guide adjustments are all simple enough.  I really like the rack-and-pinion adjustment on the table tilt, and without a lot of fussing around with blade drift it seems to cur very accurately.

Today I need to clean up the shop, including dragging the “worlds worst workbench” out.  I’ve been using it for stained glass stuff, but it’s not really right for that (too narrow).    I probably need to finally design and build a proper workbench for my stained glass stuff too.

So I’ll repeat my previous offer: If you’re a beginning woodworker and want a bench to get started with, you can have this one for free.  Just come pick it up, today if possible.  Otherwise I’m going to do unspeakable things with it.

Free Workbench

Free Workbench


Categories: General Woodworking

Siberian Elm is not Chinese Elm

Wunder Woods - 14 hours 16 min ago

It happens all the time, people call me and tell me about trees that are so big that they can’t get their arms around them and, unrelated but still slightly humorous, they tell me about their Chinese Elms. For the record, I have seen many trees that you can’t get your arms around (which doesn’t make that nutty measuring system any less ambiguous), but the Chinese Elms that I hear about have never, ever, ever, not once, actually been Chinese Elms – they have always been Siberian Elms.

I have gotten used to it now. If someone says they have a Chinese Elm, I just assume that it is a Siberian Elm. It isn’t that big of a deal, except that there really is a Chinese Elm and I often wonder if the next call about a Chinese Elm will, in fact, yield a Chinese Elm. I like both American Elm and Siberian Elm and assume that I would like Chinese Elm as well, and I don’t want to miss my chance to mill one if it ever comes along.

The elm issue moved to the forefront after a recent trip to the Missouri Botanical Gardens when I ran across an actual Chinese Elm conveniently marked with a little official sign. I have never seen one in real life, at least that I know of, and this was a great opportunity for a close-up view of a confirmed Chinese elm tree. I took that opportunity to snap some photos for comparison. Nonetheless, just assume that your Chinese elm is actually a Siberian elm, unless it looks a lot like the photos below.

Chinese elm is more oriental in shape. In this case, the tree has a short trunk with a lot of taper and crooked smaller branches.

Chinese elm is more oriental in shape. In this case, the tree has a short trunk with a lot of taper and crooked smaller branches.

The bark on a Chinese elm looks nothing like other elms and unlike any domestic species. It is flat and scaly with multiple colors from silver gray to rusty orange.

The bark on a Chinese elm looks nothing like other elms and unlike any domestic species. It is flat and scaly with multiple colors from silver gray to rusty orange.

The bark has the same scaly texture throughout the lower portion of the tree.

The bark has the same scaly texture throughout the lower portion of the tree.

Thanks to the Missouri Botanical Gardens for clearly marking this Chinese elm.

Thanks to the Missouri Botanical Gardens for clearly marking this Chinese elm.


Categories: General Woodworking

A Real Frankenplane

The Furniture Record - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 9:25pm

As an accidental/incidental/occidental tool collector, I am always amused to read or hear a serious tool collector trash talking a Frakenplane. Their definition of a Frankenplane is a Type 5 plane with a Type 6 knob, shorter one without the bead. Or a type 16 lever cap on a Type 14 plane. Let me show you a real Frankenplane.

Behold the Frankenplane:

It's alive!

It’s alive!

Another view.

Another view.

Viewing the beast head-on.

Viewing the beast head-on.

I’m not sure what it was or how it became what it is, but it does exist and we must accept that.

We traveled to Baltimore to visit friends for Labor Day. On Sunday, my wife visited one of her best friends in Philadelphia. To give them some time to catch up and bond, I volunteered to go explore my old stomping grounds in and around Adamstown, PA. For those not in the know, this is an area self-billed as Antiques Capital, USA. There you will find about 5 miles of antiques dealers and flea markets (the good kind). Mid level and primitives, not much in the real high end and fancy. Still, a reasonable mix. Always interesting.

I found this plane at a shop that is usually loaded with primitives. And the Frankenplane is interesting in the clinical sense of the word. It is still there for only $30. If anyone really wants it, I will send you the location if you can provide a reasonable explanation for wanting it.

Did I buy anything for myself? Against my better judgement, I picked up the carcass of an early Stanley 45 combination plane. I believe it is a Type 3 or 4, 1888 to 1892. I paid $20. It’s my plane, I think I’ll keep. Until I get a better offer.

It may be old, but it's still pretty.

It may be old, but it’s still pretty.

Building Two Saws: Part 3

The Literary Workshop Blog - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 9:05pm

Although I usually feel like a competent woodworker, any time I am faced with metal work I feel like I’ve gone back to kindergarten.  This project has, however, forced me to get a little more comfortable with metal working.

But first, one important photo I forgot to share last time around:

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 10

Work holding isn’t always easy when working with an irregularly-shaped piece.  That’s where a handscrew held upright in a bench vise gets really, really handy.  I place a spacer block behind one of the jaws so that the bench vise clamps only one jaw, leaving the other free to move.  That way, I can easily reposition the workpiece with a turn of the lower screw.

Once the saw handles were shaped and sanded, it was time for a little metal work.  Both saw plates needed trimming to fit the handles.  The panel saw also had at least two separate sets of handle holes drilled in it, so I opted to cut that whole section off the back, shortening the saw by maybe an inch and a half.  I marked my lines with a black marker, taped the saw plate to a backer board, and cut it off with a hacksaw.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 11

In retrospect, I should have just used the tape itself as the layout line, but oh well.

The dovetail saw plate also needed one corner clipped to fit into the handle slot.  I filed both cuts smooth.  Then I shaped the brass spine with a file and sandpaper.  (Not wanting to get metal filings all over my camera, I opted not to take any pictures of that process.)  The work went quickly, as brass is quite soft and easy to work.  The drawback is that the brass is also easy to mar with an errant stroke of the file.  After sanding the spine, I took it down to my buffing machine and put a nice shine on it.  I went back and forth between the sandpaper and the buffer several times before I was satisfied with the surface finish on the spine.

The next challenge was drilling the holes for the bolts and nuts in the saw handles.  This presents a challenge, as the holes must be lined up perfectly.  It’s easy to drill a hole through one side and then counter-sink it for the head of the bolt.  But how does one counter-sink the other side?  Normally, one would do this with a special drill bit called a piloted countersink.  But since I had only five holes (three of one size and two of another), I didn’t want to buy a special bit.  There is a way to do this with regular drill bits, and while it’s time-consuming, it works just fine.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 12

First, clamp down the workpiece on the drill press table and drill the narrow hole all the way through.  Then, without moving the workpiece, counter-sink the bigger hole to the necessary depth.  My drill press has a decent depth-stop, so getting a consistent depth was pretty easy.  The smaller hole should be perfectly centered in the larger hole.

Now turn the workpiece over, put your smaller bit back into the chuck, and (without turning the drill press on), insert the drill bit into the original hole.  Turn it backwards a few times to be sure the workpiece is in the right place.  Clamp down the workpiece; it is now perfectly centered on that hole.  Back out the small bit, put in the larger bit, and counter-bore it from this side.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 13

It’s a lot of changing bits in and out, but the results are precise enough for my purposes here.

I then drilled holes in the saw plates for the bolts.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 14

For the dovetail saw, I considered squeezing the slot in the spine so as to hold the saw plate by friction alone–which is the traditional way of constructing a backsaw.  In my imagination, it seemed like the right thing to do.  But when I started to try to close the slot, I found that the brass is pretty springy.  The more I thought about it, the more I saw that the likelihood of my ever wanting to remove this saw plate from the spine is about nil.  So, in a moment of weakness, I reached for the super glue.  A dab in each end of the slot, and the saw plate was solidly seated in the spine.  Sometimes chemistry wins out over mechanics.

So, at the end of the evening, I am almost finished.  I will need to trim the screws to final length, apply a finish to the handles, and sharpen the saws.

Tagged: backsaw, counter bore, countersink, dovetail saw, drill press, handscrew, spine

More About Inlay

McGlynn On Making - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 7:33am

I’m reading everything I can find about inlay these days, and thinking about doing a simple piece to get a feel for the process soon.

First, for inspiration, take a look at the detail on this inlaid Koi from a tabletop by Hudson River Inlay:


Spectacular inlaid Koi by Hudson River Inlay

I also found a great “instructibles” tutorial that covers the basic steps for inlaying a design cut from shell: http://www.instructables.com/id/Handcut-inlay/?ALLSTEPS

Guitar head inlaid by "Jimmi"

Guitar head inlaid by “Jimmi”

And I’ve started/finished watching these two Larry Robinson inlay videos.


Basic and Intermediate Inlay Techniques by Larry Robinson

The first video goes through the process of inlaying a butterfly cut from White Pearl, Gold Lip Pearl and Abalone shells from design through completion.  There were some great tips in the video.  These were produced originally as VHS tapes, and the video quality is not quite as nice as more recently produced “how-to” DVDs, but that isn’t really a problem.

Larry goes over the different kinds of inlay materials available, and I was really surprised at the size of the shells that the Pearl and Abalone comes from.  I’d always imagined small shells, like 3″ to 4″ across, but the Pearl shell was easily a foot wide.  I tried to sang some screenshots from the video, but didn’t get anything usable.

The design process involves tracing several times, refinance the layout with each step.  It’s an interesting approach, with the first tracing from a reference book the design looks a little crude, then lines are slightly uneven and the design is unbalanced.  After tracing from that copy onto a new design the effect is greatly improved.  I’ll have to try that.

The biggest challenge in my view is sawing out the parts.  He uses a fret saw with a tiny jewelers blade and saws out these impossibly tiny, delicate parts.  The guitar peg head below is an example, each of those vines, including the thin delicate ones leading up to the flower in the middle, were sawn out by hand and fit into a recess in the wood.

Inlay work by Larry Robinson in Pearl, Abalone, Gold

Inlay work by Larry Robinson in Pearl, Abalone, Gold

I haven’t watched the second DVD yet, but it is supposed to cover more advanced techniques, including engraving the inlaid material.

I’m not particularly interested in doing this sort of elaborate inlay, my goal is to be able to do more traditional furniture inlays as seen on Arts & Crafts furniture, and especially the bolection style used on Greene & Greene furniture.  But any little tidbits of information on technique I’m filing away.  One day soon I’m going to try this myself.

Detail of an inlaid desk done for the Pratt house

Detail of an inlaid desk done for the Pratt house



Categories: General Woodworking

LVL Desk in a Weekend

Woodworker's Edge - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 5:29am

Steve's deskIt’s a holiday weekend. Yeah. I have an extra day in the shop on Monday that I intend to fill building a quick desk with my younger brother. He’s looking for something a bit toward contemporary and I’ve sold him on using LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) for the top with legs that are simple to make; he wants inexpensive and quick. The most time spent – at least I hope it takes longer than other parts – is time building a pencil drawer.

I took two hours to rip, square and assemble the pieces of LVL for the top one night after work. That includes time spent watching glue dry. The process is easy. Here are the steps in case you want to play along (or build something similar down the road).

2M4A2152I began with two LVL beams that were 1-3/4″ x 11-7/8″ x 10′-0″. After chopping the beams in half lengthwise, I set up at the table saw to rip each piece to 2-1/8″. Of course, one edge was ran over the jointer to give me a square edge to start. Using a 50-tooth combination blade, LVL cuts easy. The beams I purchased had a bluish painted surface, as you can see in the photo. That worried me little after making the jointer pass. Then after ripping the pieces and turning them on edge, you begin to see the final surface. To make up the 30″ in width needed to the desk, I ripped all four half beams, which produced 20 strips that were 1-3/4″ x 2-1/8″ x 60″+.

2M4A2153From the table saw, I returned to the jointer to true one of the two yet-painted edges to provide a solid glue surface. A single pass flattened all but two of the pieces. Those two pieces were areas where the lamination overlapped causing a bump in the face. I ran them a second time in order to achieve a flat face. You still see bluish paint in the left-hand photo because only one face has been flattened (all faces run over the jointer knives are downward facing, waiting for the planer.

2M4A2156A ride through the planer was so easy. All I needed was to flatten the second face for glue. The planer I used is setup with a spiral cutterhead. Even though there were no problems with the three-knife arrangement at the jointer, the planer surface was smoother. (This is why, when asked, I suggest that the planer have the spiral cutter, but it’s not that important on your jointer – the jointer is seldom the last surface of your work.) The first pass was great except for, you guessed it, the two pieces that needed the extra pass at the jointer. When those two were feed through the planer, the final surface was untouched in a couple places. A send pass through the planer was required, but only for those two pieces.

To my surprise, the most difficult process in assembling the two planks for the top was the glue-up stage. Spreading glue on the 19 pieces (yep, I had one strip left over after attaining the 30″ width) was a pain. 2M4A2159I decided to lay the strips out as if I were gluing panels for a case side. With the finished face up, I then rotated each piece to a glue face. With the pack tight together, I squeezed glue up and down the face leaving small lines covering the surface. I spread the glue using a thin scrap of wood. Scraping along the length was no good, but across the pieces worked like a charm. With one side gooey, I flipped the strips abd slathered up the second side. I was amazed at how sticky the pieces were as I tried to align the ends – I needed a mallet to move the individual pieces. Than goodness I assembled the 19 pieces in two separate groups. When finished, I added clamps and let the half-tops set. All in all, I used almost 3/4 of a quart of glue.

Out of the clamps in 45 minutes and all that was left was to clean the squeeze-out off and make a pass through the planer to level the two surfaces. When slid together – I still need to assemble the two halves – you get a good idea of how the top looks. My guess is it’s even better when a bit of finish is applied. Next week I’ll walk through the legs. Get it?

Build Something Great!



Categories: General Woodworking

Happiness is a sharp chisel.

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 4:47am

Yesterday afternoon I managed to get in a little more work on my plane while the cat was away. Before I started, something had been bothering me that I decided to look at, and that was the holes I drilled into the cheeks of the plane for the cross-pin dowel. On the previous planes I had made, I started by squaring up the cheek stock to the body stock used for the back half of the plane. I would then mark the spot for the dowel hole, and drill out both pieces simultaneously using a drill press. That plan was the very same plan I had in mind for this plane, but then I did something foolish. I drilled out the first hole, and during the middle of the process noticed that the second cheek had some tear out at the back. Rather than finishing the drill out and then cleaning up the board, I sawed off a bit of the end, and without compensating for the sawed off difference, drilled out the second dowel hole. The result left me dowel holes that were out of line by nearly 1/16 of an inch, which doesn’t sound like a whole lot until you attempt to push a half-inch oak dowel through it. Nevertheless, I managed to get the dowel through, which leaves me a slightly crooked cross-pin. How this will affect the adjusting/wedge, or the overall usefulness of the tool I’m not exactly sure yet, but, live and learn.

Rather than despair, I continued working on the plane. First thing I did was clamp the body down and plane down the sole to get it flat; ironically I used a smooth plane for this. It really only needed a few passes before it was finished. I then used sheets of sandpaper and my tablesaw bed, starting at 60 grit and working up to 150. The plane sole is now nice and flat, though I will still do some more sanding before I call it completely finished. I want to hold off on the final sanding until the wedge is fit; I will then finish it using 220 and 400 grits.

Trueing the sole

Trueing the sole

The marks tell you when it's flat

The marks tell you when it’s flat

After I was happy with the flatness of the sole, I decided to try and attempt some initial shaping of the plane. I don’t own a band saw, so I traced out a shape using some French curves and attempted to use a jigsaw to shape the plane. I quickly found that the jigsaw was not an option, so I turned to spokeshave, rasp, block plane, and chisels. I had only a basic outline in mind at first, so the shaping was really just a trial and error process. After roughly 30 minutes I managed to achieve a fairly decent shape/curve. I don’t want the plane to look overly machined, so I got the front shaped to a look that seems pleasing and left it at that. At that I called it a night.

Saturday, after work, and running some errands, I decided on a little late evening woodworking. For the back section of the plane I was going for a more pronounced curve, so I got out my 1 1/4″ chisel and started pounding out the shape. I progressed from the large chisel to smaller chisels as I needed. I also used the block plane for some of the initial shaping, and then finally the spokeshave to clean it all up. I was attempting to achieve a graceful front to back curve, as well as a more subtle side-to-side arc. In around 45 minutes I had the carving portion finished; I then spent around 15 minutes hand sanding. I like how the plane looks: graceful, yet still made by hand. More impressively, my lovely wife actually spent a few minutes with me while all of this was going on. She was quite impressed that I knew how to carve, and she liked the contrast of the light and dark woods on the plane itself. Today, I hope to finish the wedge and make the first test shavings.

Right side angle

Right side angle

Other side

Other side

Full length

Full length

Carving and shaping tools

Carving and shaping tools

I don’t necessarily know the reasons, but I like making planes. I need to make more, many more, before I can call myself good at it, but I am improving. I have a construction technique down, now I just have to perfect it. But planes are fun to build. The material is generally reasonably priced, and you only need basic hand and power tools to get it done. With a handful of sharp chisels, a spokeshave, a table saw, and a block plane most woodworkers can make a handplane. And, more importantly, if you are a handplane user, I can’t think of a better way of learning how to use a plane than to make one of your own.

Categories: General Woodworking

Studley Research Whirlwind Trip Part 2

The Barn on White Run - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 2:28pm


cIMG_6814Ninety miles from the Studley-era piano maker’s workbench was the finest Studley-inspired tool cabinet I have seen.  No, it wasn’t Studley, nothing else is, and it is not yet finished as there are still many tools destined for it, but I cannot imagine any serious woodworker not wanting this hanging on the wall above their bench.

The  maker is a tremendously skilled fellow whose other projects revealed that like Studley, he enjoyed making intricate and complex things.

Oh, and all the screws are clocked.  He wouldn’t bite on my suggestion that this revealed he was anal-retentive/compulsive, he merely replied that it was attention to detail.  He was a great sport about the whole thing, and I truly enjoyed my time with him and hope he will make it to the exhibit next spring.


Yup, it’ll be in the book too, in far greater detail and length.

Back home now, and finishing the first rough draft of the whole book tomorrow!

Thorsen Cabinet Finish I

McGlynn On Making - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 6:50am

Yesterday I started applying the finish to the Thorsen cabinet.

It seems like ages ago that I started this project, but I have to remember that in the course of building it I started (and completed) the Thorsen side table.  Plus I also designed an Arts & Crafts bookcase that I intended to build next (as soon as I can source the wide quarter sawn oak for it I will start it!) and almost by accident I decided to design a the Blacker House Serving Table, which I might actually build next.  Part of my interest in the Blacker table is, of course, learning about inlay — which is my current fascination.

So it was with equal parts excitement and trepidation that I started layering on the finish yesterday.  I’m excited to be so close to completing this project finally, but I’m worried that I’ve forgotten to do something in the interim.  I think I’ve made al;l the parts — case, back, door, skirt front, glass retaining strips…check.  Everything is sanded to 320, wiped with water to raise the grain, scoff sanded and cleaned to remove dust.

So I mixed the Trans-Tint Reddish-Brown water dye, and assembled my tools.

Dye mixed and ready to go

Dye mixed and ready to go

I set up my finishing stands (I made these folding stands 25+ years ago from electrical conduit to hold car parts I was painting) and did a final clean up pass on the parts.

Door ready for dye

Door ready for dye

Cabinet ready for dye

Cabinet ready for dye

I used a combination of the spray bottle and the brush to get a coat of dye on.  I did one “table” of parts at a time.  First I sprayed the  cabinet and the shelf and glass strips that were on the same stand.  I made sure I had dye everywhere and that it a good five minutes to soak in, then I wiped it down with rags.  Then I moved to the next set of parts.  Once all the parts had been dyed and dried, I left them to air dry for an hour.

Main cabinet after dying

Main cabinet after dying

Door after dying

Door after dying

After I was sure that the water based dye had completely dried I went over the parts with a scotchbrite pad to remove any little fuzzies on the surface, and blew them off to get a clean surface.  Then I slathered on plain Boiled Linseed Oil and let that soak for an hour.  In the sun the parts look very red, back inside the shop they look dark brown, the actual color when finished and in the house is in between these two extremes.

Cabinet with a heavy coat of linseed oil soaking in

Cabinet with a heavy coat of linseed oil soaking in

Door soaking up oil

Door soaking up oil

I kept an eye on the parts while they were coated in oil to make sure they didn’t dry out in spots.  After an hour I wiped them down and removed all traces of oil on the surface.  I used an air nozzle to blow out the joints and corners to make sure there wouldn’t be any drips later.  Then everything went back into the shop to dry.

Door after dye and oil

Door after dye and oil

Shelf and cabinet back after dye and oil

Shelf and cabinet back after dye and oil

Cabinet after dye and oil

Cabinet after dye and oil

You can see how mush darker the finish looks in the shop.  I want to wait at least 24 hours after the oil before spraying the Garnet shellac — and at least 24 hours after that before rubbing the shellac out with colored wax.

Today I’m going to do the stained glass and a couple of errands — I bought a new bandsaw for my wood shop and I need to haul the crate to the recycling center, and I plan to pick up some more Sapele for the Blacker table.  Ideally I’d get the glass done today, but it might get too hot later to work outside and I have to do the errands in the morning while those places are open.  If it’s too hot this afternoon I’ll have to watch the inlay video I got, and that certainly won’t be a hardship!

Categories: General Woodworking

A Different Kind of, um, Woodworking

The Barn on White Run - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 3:35pm

This will be our first full winter in the Virginia Highlands, where it gets “upstate New York cold.”  For the past few weeks the sound of chainsaws and log splitters has been a constant drone in the background of the valley atmosphere, as the locals are getting ready for intense global cooling.  Me too.  In addition to the firewood already stacked in the storage shed next to the cabin, other piles of split wood are growing around the homestead.


Last winter was perhaps the coldest in a century here, and the woolly worms, walnut trees, and Farmer’s Almanac are all projecting an even colder winter this time around.


Walnut trees?  Yep, by mid August they were already turning yellow and the leaves are now falling in a constant wave.   Hence, concerns for an even worse winter.  That would be pretty brutal, as at least on three occasions last winter the dusk to dawn temperature here in the holler was 20 degrees below zero.


Given the cold-nature of my bride the need for firewood and lots of it is riding high at the moment.  Yesterday was one of those times when I hunted and gathered firewood.  In the morning I went to my friend Mike’s farm and he cut down two trees, one maple and one beech and helped me load my truck to the gills.  I’ve never bottomed-out my 4WD s10 before, but it was yesterday.


When I finished splitting that (our altitude lets split wood dry really fast!) I went up the hill to work on a giant maple that fell last winter.  So far it has yielded two truck loads and will probably get another two by the time it is all done.  For scale, the log on the ground is 16″ by about 15 feet long, and the larger of the two trunks still on the root ball is about 24″.  It’s stretching my 14″ Stihl chainsaw to the limit.  It might be time to get another, larger one.  But for now as long as I keep the chain sharp it is doing okay.

How much wood do we need to keep the home fires burning non-stop for five-plus months?  We will find out, but the other night at Bible Study one of the fellows indicated that he had put up 19 cords of wood.  I certainly hope he needs a lot more than we do.  Otherwise I am only about 1/3 of the way there.  Fortunately(?) I want to clear more space on the south side of the barn for more winter light, so a bunch of trees will be coming down next week.

Birds finally (Hey Marie – I swiped some photos)

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 12:51pm

Business first = I spent part of a recent evening blabbing about me & woodworking to Cory Mickelson  http://craftsmansroad.com/ . I understand why it’s a “-cast” but I don’t know what the “pod” part is… I couldn’t get to it from the website; and used Itunes to hear it. Once it started, I shut it off. I can’t listen to me. Cory was very nice – some of you might want to hear it. for some reason. 


But finally – birds.  Daniel & I have been making some early morning trips to try to get shots of the glossy ibis and Little Blue Heron that our friend Marie told us about over in Marshfield. Today we had great views of 2 of the ibises; the Little Blue Heron –  which you will note is white – was not too far, but still far enough that we couldn’t get good photos. The young LB Herons aren’t yet blue/purple like the adults. 

backlit glossy ibis

2 ibises

ibis better light


lbh walkin


To really see these birds; let’s swipe photos from Marie – hers are great…she had a Great Blue Heron one day she was there – Daniel & I saw him there one morning, but not today. then the ibis & the Little Blue Heron. 

Marie's GB Heron head_bill_close-crop

Marie's glossy mouth-open

Marie's LB Heron

Frank Klausz Cuts a Monster Molding with his Molding Plane

Wood and Shop - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 12:42pm


In my above video, Frank Klausz takes us into his new woodworking workshop and shows his amazing, and huge, carpenter’s molding plane that he made at the request of his local tool collector group in New Jersey.


Frank wanted to demonstrate this molding plane when I was filming a video tour of his new woodworking workshop.


Before you email me, please first look at the bottom of this article for a list of all the tools that Frank mentioned in the 3 videos.


Frank Klausz is a master Hungarian woodworker and teacher who has been featured in many woodworking magazine articles and video recordings. You can checkout these classic woodworking DVD videos that feature Frank’s instruction.


Below are a few photos from my visit…visit the other articles to see more photos & stories…





I know that I’m going to get a lot of emails for a list of Frank’s favorite tools that he mentioned, so I’ll save myself some time by listing them here:


Labor Day Laughs

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 8:45am

This post has nothing to do with woodworking – so stop reading now if you’re just going to complain about that. I imagine with the long Labor Day weekend in the U.S., many of us are heading off to end-of-summer picnics. And if you’re looking for dishes to take along, click on the link that follows, then click on the individual recipe cards. This site is – hands down – […]

The post Labor Day Laughs appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Blacker Serving Table Design Completed

McGlynn On Making - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 7:52am

I’ve reached a state of equilibrium with the design for my semi-reproduction of this Greene & Greene serving table from the Blacker house.  Which almost guarantees that I’ll think of three changes I want to make before I finish writing the blog post…

Blacker house serving table - Final Design?

Blacker house serving table – Final Design?

There were some missing details that I needed to fill in, including joinery and embellishments.  I think I have those done now, but I’d appreciate feedback on goth the aesthetics and the functionals.  In terms of the latter, I settled on twin 2″ wide tenons on the skirts with a wide stub tenon across the end of the skirt to prevent cupping.  The longer tenons will hold the base together, the stub tenon probably don’t be glued but is there just to prevent cupping on the wide skirts.  The tenons are offset between the sides so that the deep mortises don’t intersect.  I can think of other ways to do this joint, so I’m curious if anyone sees a problem.

Exploded view of joinery details in the "final" design

Exploded view of joinery details in the “final” design

I added in the joinery details on the table top as well.  A wide stub tenon and four 2 1/2″ wide longer tenons.  I’ll screw through the breadboard end caps into the end of the long tenons.  I added rectangular Ebony caps to indicate these locations on the breadboard ends, although I might want them a tiny bit longer.  Also new in this “final” version are the Ebony applies that join the top and breadboard end.

I had mentioned that the transition in the cloud lifts was more gradual in mine than in the original.  I tweaked it in my design to make it a bit more abrupt like the original, and I like it better.  This is a detail I might play with a little in the future.  I didn’t update the inlay design in the top, but I probably will eventually — ok there are the three changes I predicted that I’d find in talking about my final design.

I added in the inlay design on the legs — I’m pretty happy with this part.  I think it adds a lot to the style of the table.  I feel like I got the “rhythm” of the design right, although it’s not identical to the original

Details of the inlay design for the legs

Details of the inlay design for the legs

Overall I think I’ve captured the scale and feel of the original design, although it’s different in some of the details.  The inlay is a little bit of a concern, but I think if I do a practice piece or two I  can probably figure it out.  I took today off work, so I’ll be starting the finish on the Thorsen cabinet.  Maybe during drying time I’ll run down to Watsonville and pico up a couple of wide boards of Sapele for the skirts and top of this table…




Categories: General Woodworking

Studley Research Whirlwind Trip Part 1

The Barn on White Run - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 5:35pm

Monday just after dawn I hit the road for a longish drive into the Heart of Dixie to see a workbench.  The owner had contacted me through the Lost Art Press web site indicating he had a really fancy Studley-era piano makers work bench.  So of course I had to go see it.


He was right.  It was spectacular.  Other than Studley’s, all the other piano maker’s benches I had seen were at least in part “store bought.”  Not this one, it was all craftsman-made.  By a mighty good craftsman.


With its burled veneers on the drawers, delicate a whisper tight dovetails, superb cast drawer pulls, and the really neat tool rack, it was a work of art.

And yes, it will be featured in the book, in a Gallery of Piano-maker’s Benches.

All things must pass

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 3:39pm

I just received notification from Popular Woodworking Magazine that my subscription will be ending in January and I can renew the subscription for one or two years if I am so inclined. The renewal fee for either time period is inexpensive, but the truth is that I am not sure whether or not I will do it.

A few years ago I very nearly did not renew my subscription, mostly because I really didn’t enjoy the magazine as much as I had in the past. That isn’t the case as of today. The addition of Chuck Bender, the re-addition of Glen Huey, and the ever steady Robert Lang have all done a nice job. More importantly, Megan Fitzpatrick, as far as I can tell, has done a great job as the content editor. To be honest, I’m not really sure exactly what goes into publishing a magazine, but I do know that since she has taken the helm the magazine has been very good and very consistent, and I have to think she deserves quite a bit of credit. for it. PW is currently the only woodworking magazine I read.

So why am I having an inner debate over $25? It’s not the money, not even a little. But if you’ve been reading my blog lately you know that my wife has declared a holy war over my woodworking hobby. So is there any point in my subscribing to a woodworking magazine when I may not be woodworking any more? I don’t subscribe to any music magazines anymore because I stopped being a musician. I don’t subscribe to my former union’s magazine because I am no longer in the union, and that magazine was free, and I actually wrote a few articles for it. So is there any point?

I like the idea of supporting a good magazine. If there weren’t people willing to subscribe then we wouldn’t have anybody willing to write, and good people such as yourselves would only have half-assed attempts at writing such as my own to keep you entertained in the woodworking sense. At the same time, a magazine like Popular Woodworking surely isn’t going to fold up and die because one half-assed blogger like myself decided to end his subscription because his wife is slowly trying to suck the life out of him. 

The thought of reading a woodworking magazine even though I no longer woodwork is really depressing to me. For some reason it’s even more depressing than the thought of an unused box of woodworking tools sitting in my garage. I have the idea that not renewing the subscription is basically admitting defeat. Yet, I also have the idea that I’ve already been defeated, and a woodworking magazine that I no longer have any need for will just be a sad reminder of when my life meant something.

Categories: General Woodworking

Winner of our 2014 Lie-Nielsen/Tormek Sweepstakes Revealed!

Highland Woodworking - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 9:37am

LN-tormek-giveawayBetween April-July, 2014, customers were able to enter our Lie-Nielsen/Tormek Sweepstakes for a chance to win a great prize package, which included:

The lucky winner was recently announced and we are happy to congratulate Kevin Meske on his lucky win!

We recently spoke with Kevin on his woodworking background and what kind of woodworking he plans to do with his new tools:

kevinmeske1. Can you give us a history of your own woodworking? What types of woodworking do you do? How did you get started?

I have always had a passion for building things. My mother use to tell me that I would tear apart all my toys as a young boy just to see how they work and then put them back together. I started woodworking at a young age, mainly birdhouses and other small projects. My passion for it really took off when I found Norm Abram and the New Yankee Workshop. Today I am employed as a carpenter and also love watching Tom Silva on This Old House. Although I love carpentry, nothing beats trying to replicate a Norm Abram piece out in the workshop. Furniture building is my favorite kind of woodworking.

2. How did you find out about the contest?

I saw the Tormek Grinder on the New Yankee Workshop. I went to google and did some more research about it. There was a link to the contest on the search page. I added it to my Amazon wish list that same day. Thanks to you, I was able to remove it.

3. Can you describe your reaction on finding out that you won?

I was going through my email deleting spam/junk mail and I ALMOST deleted the email saying I won because I didn’t recognize the name. The only reason I gave it another look was that I saw that it had an attachment with it. I couldn’t believe it that I had won. My wife was sitting next to me and I just told her in a low voice (in shock),” I won.” Then we screamed and celebrated together. 

4. What do you plan on using your new tools for? What will you do first?

I plan on sharpening everything I can get my hands on, which is exactly what I did first. No more dull chisels! I am excited to build a new project to break in my new hand planes.

5. Hand Tools or Machines?

They both have they advantages and disadvantages. I like to use power tools to get me as close as to finished piece as it will take me. I like to fine tune with hand tools. for example fitting a tenon into a mortise.

Any final words?

Just want to say thank you for helping me add more tools to my workshop. I have many more to add as I am a young man and just getting started and buying what I can afford and when I can afford. Thanks to you and this contest I have a couple top of the line goodies that I will cherish forever! (Also, below is one of my Norm Abrams replications that I created)


Keep reading the blog to find out when our next contest will be!

The post Winner of our 2014 Lie-Nielsen/Tormek Sweepstakes Revealed! appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking


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by Dr. Radut