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General Woodworking

clocks and sharpening......

Accidental Woodworker - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 3:18am
Didn't get a lot done in the shop today and I may not get much done tomorrow. I got the clock going and I'll need 24 hours before will make any adjustments to it. The sharpening thing is under going a major rethink. The clock was first and then I did some sharpening.

24 hours and ready to unclamp
it's holding
Both sides are sprung a bit for a lack of a better word. They are laying on the speaker at a slight angle. The hide glue seems to be holding well and I think I'm going to forgo the screws for now. They are something that I can add later if need be.

got 3 packages of AAA
Do I have any AA batteries? I have one and I need two of them for the movement. I had to make a quick pit stop at Wally World.

put the batteries in backwards the first time
The polarity for the left hand battery is partially obscured by the pendulum arm. I went around the dial 3 hour rotations and didn't get any chimes or an hour count. A dark sucker (flashlight) showed me the error of my ways. After that I got chimes and the hour count.

fixing the clock upstairs
There is a Perry Mason marathon on and I have to watch it. It isn't the old TV series that ran from 1957 to 1966 but the made for TV movies. I've seen them all a bazillion times but I really like watching them again.

Can we say that this sucks out loud together? Plastic hands for a clock?  Even from far away you can tell that they are plastic. The metal ones I took off the old movement don't quite fit. They are a frog hair too large and they, especially the  hour hand, need to be a snug fit on the time post. If it slips, the time you read will be toast.

it's working
The hour count is correct after running one hour. The chimes are going off every15 minutes with the full Westminster on the hour. Now it's a waiting game to see how well it's running 24 hours from now. I got the old hands on there now because I can't bring myself to put the plastic crap on.

back to sharpening
 A couple of items I have to address and tic off from column A and move to column B. The first is a shiny bevel. For a quite a long time I have taken a shiny bevel as being sharp. The shinier I got it, the sharper I assumed it was. Learned the hard way that this isn't true.

I can have the shiniest bevel in the universe and still have an iron that wouldn't cut wet paper. A sharp iron is where the toe on the bevel goes to nothing meeting the back of the iron. Therefore, I can have a shiny bevel and a dull iron at the same time.

Now we come to the burr. I've been watching sharpening videos a lot lately and 4 or 5 stand out for one thing. These guys only use two stones to sharpen - a coarse stone to raise a burr and a fine stone to polish the bevel. Two of them that come to mind are Rob Cosman and Richard Maguire using the two stone method. The two stones apart, all of the methods I watched raised a burr first.

I kind of realized that I wasn't doing this a few months ago but I don't sharpen that often. And I was out in La-La land being seduced by that shiny bevel. I also think I was under the influence of Mars being in the House of Jupiter. Or is that the other way around?

The burr raised is much more important then the shiny bevel. The burr comes from the zero meeting of the back of the iron and the toe of the bevel. Once I feel a burr straight across I can then get my shiny bevel.

I only sharpen at two angles 25 or 30
I use these two to set the angle of the tool being sharpened in my LN honing guide.

I set the honing guide on the top and drop iron down
the iron rests on an aluminum angle iron
This drop equals a 25° angle with the iron in the honing guide. I used aluminum as the stop because it'll hold up better than a piece of wood.

current stone setup

Coarse, medium, and fine diamond stones with a 8000 Japanese polishing stone.

stropping is last
After I go through them this is the last thing I do before I install it in the plane and road test it.

problem iron
I have already sharpened this iron several times previously using my step up. I have a burr on this iron except for the spot inbetween the two black lines in the middle. I was not able to raise a burr on the coarse diamond stone after several minutes of back and forth. However, I was getting the bevel shiny.

my coarsest diamond stone
This is what Richard Maguire uses as his first stone to raise the burr. I'll be adding this to my sharpening regimen. The first step in the new way is to raise a  continuous burr first on this.

This raises another thought I had on my sharpening method. I am questioning my repeatability with the honing guide. But since I haven't been a good boy and checking for a continuous burr each time, I may be chasing my tail on this. I should establish getting a burr each and everytime I sharpen before I question the repeatable factor with the honing guide.

a few minutes work and I had my continuous burr
I have noticed on some sharpenings when I road tested them, I got shavings with holes in them. I thought is was the wood I was using was the cause. In retrospect, it was most likely a badly sharpened iron that had a flat spot on it.

you can have a shiny bevel and a burr
off the extra fine stone
I can still feel a continuous burr on the back at my next to last stone. The 8K polishing stone is next.

shiny I do like
I like it better now that I have sharp and shiny. I can't see any reflected light on the edge with a magnifying glass.

the 8K removed the burr and the black lines
the chipbreaker has a chip in it
This is what I have and I'll have to work with it as is. I stoned and stropped what I could on it.

LN A2 iron
This iron came out of my LN 51 plane and it was dull. I was barely able to shave powder but the bevel is so damn shiny and sharp looking. I have two LN A2 irons that I use only in the 51. I have two LN O1 irons that I only use in my LN 4 1/2. I find the O1 irons to be much easier to sharpen.

I still don't buy the thick iron PR

It took me a while, but I finally raised a burr across the back of the iron. I went to work on the coarse diamond stone and the top right corner is low. I was a bit larger than this but after a couple of minutes it started to reduce some. I seemed to be stuck on this small spot just staying the same size. If my thinking on this is right, the scratchy spot is low and the rest of the bevel is high. That means I have to take a lot of A2 metal off to level this out.

cleaned it off
LN recommended that I clean the honing guide after each use because I use diamond stones. This is where I'm calling it quits today. I spritzed it with water, wiped it down, and then gave it a aerosol can air bath.

I still have a burr
This brings up another question. I have a continuous burr across the back but it doesn't feel even. It is heavier at the spot where it is low and lighter on the shinier part of the bevel. I'll see what shakes out tomorrow when I finish sharpening this iron.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
How much silver is in Sterling Silver?
answer - 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper

rear post for a wainscot chair

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 3:22pm

The next couple of weeks will feature some chairmaking here. As I said earlier, I’m revisiting the ladderback chairs I began my woodworking career with…I shaved some posts & rungs and chopped slat mortises – but shot no pictures. But today, I had some wainscot chair work to do; and what a world of difference. I had to fashion one hewn rear post for a wainscot chair like this:

wainscot chair, side view

The “cant” or “rake” to the rear post is hewn, not bent like in Alexander’s ladderback. This post starts out as a split billet 3″ x 4″ x 48″. That’s a lot of oak. I hewed it oversized; a few weeks ago I worked one and it was too close to the finished size. When I was done hewing and planing, it came up “scant” – i.e. too small in cross-section to match the first one. Here, you see the template laying on the riven and hewn piece:

Thinking about the JA chairs – this one billet had enough wood to maybe make 3 or 4 posts for a JA ladderback. This is a rare case where I work primarily on the tangential face first. I want the front face of these posts to be the radial surface (it’s going to be carved, & I like carving that face better than this one). So the cant gets laid out on the growth-ring plane.

Once I hewed and planed that face pretty flat, I scribed the template and began to hew the shape. The front is easy enough to hew, because of the way you’re cutting down the grain. In this photo, I have the front faces planed, and I’m cutting the thickness of the post above the seat. I decided to saw, rather than split this, so I can use the piece that’s coming off – it will become either a stretcher or one of the carved figures that is applied to the side of the chair. I made a relief cut at the seat height, and am sawing down to that cut. In the photo, this saw cut is nearly done. Then the stuff below the seat will get hewn away, there’s nothing worth saving there, so hewing is quicker than sawing. Easier too. You can see relief cuts there too, I stood the piece up on its top end and hewed down to the mid-point. 

Cleaning up these rear surfaces is pretty easy. They don’t have to be dead-flat or true. I shim under the end, and shove the post against my bench hook/planing stop. A holdfast keeps it in place. I’m only planing as far as the plane will fit. It gets close to, but not up to, the angled spot where the post leans back. I skew the plane to get close…

Then switch to a spoke shave. it’s one of the few times I use this tool in joiner’s work. That’ll sneak right up to that junction.

I have to let it dry out a couple of weeks, then I can cut the joinery in it & continue on with the chair. I have another to start in the meantime, so there will be more chair work on the blog soon.

Kerfing Plane III

The Barn on White Run - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 5:24am

With the initial endeavor into making a Tom Fidgen-ish  kerfing plan resulting in a functional tool, I needed one last step to make it worth keeping on the shelf.  Since the body of the plow plan was so short, the tool had a tendency to try to flip forward as I was using it aggressively.  So, I fashioned a handle for it based on tracing one of my favorite hand saw handles.

Like a lot of things I make in my shop, especially when prototyping, the handle was from a scrap piece of wood from the scrap box, cut with a coping saw and in this case simply glued to the body of the plane with yellow glue since I did not want to whip up a new jar of hot hide glue just for this.

I got the orientation of the handle a little high, angle-wise, but it lengthened the profile of the plane so that I could really get to it.  With a new blade in its proper orientation (not pictured) it works like a charm and sits in a handy place right over the planing beam.

It was a great introduction to the tool and I thank Tom Fidgen for introducing it to me.  The plow plane starting point was a good one for me, but the final result was a bit clunky in my hand even thought it preformed exceedingly well.

But I wasn’t done yet.

maintenance shop day......

Accidental Woodworker - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 12:09am
A quick mini rant against Window 10. First let me say I understand the importance of updating my computer. I know how to do it, I know when to do them, and most importantly, I always did them. Not only is Windows 10 trying it's hardest to turn my laptop into a cell phone it has now taken away my ability to install updates when I want to do them.

I have updates set to ask me if it can install an update. It doesn't do that. Instead it installs them without asking me and then tells it is going restart. It happened to me tonight where I got the update installed message and do I want to restart now or later? I picked now to get it over and done with.  37 minutes later it was complete and I could use my computer. This sucks not having this control over my own computer but having to wait and not having use of my computer sucks even more.

a surprise
I had ordered these back in Nov of last year. They were back ordered but I told Lee Valley to ship them when they were available. I got an email wednesday from them saying it had shipped. I had to look up the order because I had forgotten what it was. They came in today.

 I've been told the old nails looked like this
squarish shank with a point
the shank isn't centered on all of the heads
My opinion on nails and furniture changed after I saw a lot of shaker furniture up close and personal at the Shaker village in New Hampshire, the village at Pittsfield Massachusetts, and Pleasant Hills village in Kentucky. I was surprised at how many nails I could easily see in the furniture. There didn't seem to be any attempt to hide them at all. I don't remember them looking like these though.

speaker clamps
They aren't very pretty but they won't be seen and they will secure the speaker in place.

gluing them in place with OBG
my small screw stash
Once the glue has set up I'll add a couple of screws on each side to help hold them down.

my maintenance pile
 I have ten plane irons to sharpen and 5 chipbreakers to fettle. I'll be doing this for a while. The first batter is the chipbreaker for the #8 iron. The iron has been sharpened already and I need to fettle the chipbreaker.

the patent date on this chipbreaker is 1867
I got a flat from side to side and this is ready to road test.

stropped the leading edge
I think getting the leading edge shiny and smooth helps the shavings to easily pass up and over the hump.

nice pile of shavings
no shavings in the space
I wasn't sure if I saw light under the chipbreaker but I made a bucketful of shavings and I don't see any shavings etc in there.

it's a record iron
I have had this iron since I was in the Navy. I don't remember where or how I got it but I finally have a plane to put it in.

which pile is the Stanley and which is the Record?
You can't tell by looking at these which iron made them.

#3 iron
My sharpening education continues. This iron was in the #3 plane and it made good shavings but it felt like it was dulling so I swapped it. I ran it about 10 times on the coarse stone and only felt a small burr on the two corners. Things like this puzzle me. I expected to feel a burr straight across. I'm using a honing guide and I set the projection the way I always do. So why no continuous burr?

bevel is shiny
I'm finding out that this shiny bevel doesn't mean diddly squat. The burr on the back means more than this.

the reason why
The spot where my finger is at has a small flat where the toe of the bevel meets the back. This is also the area where I didn't feel a burr.  Last year I wouldn't have looked nor felt for a burr. I assumed then that I was using a honing guide so I didn't have to. After all, I got a shiny bevel and a shaving coming up from the mouth.

I do have a couple of irons that I get a burr raised on but most I'm finding are like this one. I think I'm going to have to go through each and every iron and re-establish the bevels until I get a continuous burr on all of them.

spokeshave iron
 One side of this iron will make shavings and the other side won't. I have a nice shiny bevel but with a magnifying glass I can flat on the side of the spokeshave that won't make a shaving. I had thought that I wasn't using the right technique with the spokeshave. I thought that was the problem and not the iron not being sharpened properly.

Spokeshave irons I do free hand because they are too small for me to grip with just my fingers. My thanks to Paul Sellers for showing how to make this holder for sharpening these small irons. I still have more to learn about sharpening even though I think I have a lot of knowledge about it.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
How many teeth do turtles have?
answer - none, they have horny beaks similar to birds

Mistakes Were Made…

The Furniture Record - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 10:44pm

There is a fairly common type furniture, many variations with the word setback almost always being in the name. Usually made in two pieces, stacked with the upper section being shallower than the lower. They often look as if they could exist as two pieces of furniture. The base of the upper section is the same as or reflects the base of the lower section as in the following examples:


China on server?


Just a setback cupboard.


The same only primitive.

I ran across this piece in a Raleigh antique/consignment shop. I believe mistakes were made in stacking:


Just don’t look right…

(Although this style is fairly common, I still had to go through 8,000 picture to come up with these the three exemplars. I really need to get an intern.)

A happy customer

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:21am
Some lovely feedback from a recent customer. Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

A Couple of Celtic-influenced Projects

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 10:25am
celtic knotwork

I don’t always post holiday-themed projects, but hey – with my heritage, I can’t pass up the opportunity to share some Celtic knotwork in celebration the Emerald isle. So here are a couple woodworking articles from our archives that feature Celtic carving (though the “Peasant Chair” has a distinctly Moravian flavor to all but the carved back). Both the “Celtic Love Spoon” and the “Peasant Chair” predate our digital files, […]

The post A Couple of Celtic-influenced Projects appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 2: Sandpaper on Glass

Highland Woodworking - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 7:00am

Amy Herschleb attend Jim Dillon’s Hand Tool Sharpening class at Highland and came away with a new appreciation of working with sharp tools. In this series she will go into thoughtful detail on the 3 methods of sharpening Jim Dillon taught. Today she covers Method 1, Sandpaper on Glass.

The first technique we learned was sandpaper on glass, the simplest and cheapest way to get started, though the most expensive method when used over time. The price of sandpaper eventually will exceed the short-term savings of a quick setup. We used wet-dry sandpaper (dry to minimize the mess in the workshop) beginning with 180 grit.

The first directive was to flatten the back of the blade. By drawing the blade at an angle in a single direction, a diagonal hatching is achieved. When the entire back is thus marked, we move on to 220 and change the angle of the blade so that the scratch marks now make a cross-hatching. When the back of the blade is entirely changed to this opposing diagonal, we move up a grade of sandpaper, and so on until we reached 2400 grit.

At 2400 we achieved a mirror-like surface, from which no further refinement was necessary. All that remained was to remove the burr left on the front of the blade by dragging the front of the edge, ever so lightly, against the sandpaper, then gently wiping the back on it. This technique, called “backing off”, prevents the edge from being crushed or otherwise deformed by being pushed against the burr, which is barely detectable.

For the beveled edge we tried two different honing guides: a side clamp honing guide and the Veritas MK II standard honing guide. These guides support the blade at a consistent angle against the sharpening medium and require a simple measurement to set up (side clamp) or have predetermined settings (Veritas). Chris Schwarz recommends sharpening everything to 35° in his blog, Jim Dillon 30°, and both have made a wooden gauge set to their angle of choice.

Check back next Monday to read Amy’s thoughts about the second of the three basic systems of sharpening she learned.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the staff writer at Highland Woodworking. In 2015 she and her dad co-founded Coywolf Woodworks, their hobby shop in North Florida.

The post Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 2: Sandpaper on Glass appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Video: Make a Panel-cutting Sled for Your Table Saw

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 4:00am
panel cutting jig

In this video excerpt from “Table Saw Jigs & Fixtures,” Matthew Teague tells you why you might want this jig for your table saw, how to make it, and how to safely use it. Get instruction from Matthew on making 10 more essential table saw jigs on the video download – or better yet, get 24/7 access to all our videos (more than 400 of them on things woodworking!) on […]

The post Video: Make a Panel-cutting Sled for Your Table Saw appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

retrofitting a clock movement......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 12:13am
I am finally getting around to fixing this clock. It is one of two that I have to replace the movements in.  The two movements that I'm replacing were expensive with the two of them costing over $200.  They are/were total crap.  Both kept time but neither of them bim-bam'ed once. Come the first DST change, both clocks went south and stopped keeping time.

I have been making clocks for over 40 years and the quality of the movements available today I would put a step below junk. My favorite seller told me that quartz movements today are only good for 2 years, maybe. I made 27 clocks in the same way that Paul Sellers did for his first woodworking video. Out of those 27 movements, I have had nine movement failures.  All of the movements were made in China.

I know there were quality, long lasting quartz movements for sale once. I have a kitchen clock I made in 1995 that is still running, keeping perfect time. I had a wall clock I made in 1996 (my wife's brother owns it now) that is still running. That movement is still available but instead of having 3 chime rods, it only comes with 2 now. And the cost of it has doubled.

The movements I am using now are German made and cost about $90. They have bim-bam chimes (my favorite) and Westminster with night silence. They have a 3 year warranty which is way better than the chinese ones. I hope that these work out because I have run out of sources to get decent quartz movements.

fingers crossed on this
This is a first for me. I have never removed and put it in a replacement pendulum movement before.

potential problem area
The set back for the pendulum is the make or break point. The replacement movement will work without a pendulum and still bim-bam. I don't have that much meat to remove at the front of the slot. At the back I don't have that problem. This movement will be smashed flat with a sledge hammer once I take it out.

it fits
The pendulum has about 1/8" clearance but I wish I had a wee bit more. The important thing is that it fits in the original slot. I will look at it later and see if I can get a rasp in there and make some wiggle room.

big, easy to read instructions
I glanced over the time setting instructions and they were crystal clear. Some of these movements have instructions that you need a Shaman to decipher them.

not happening
The wire isn't long enough to have the speaker on the door and open and close it. I could splice some longer wires but I'm reluctant to do that. I still have bad memories of soldering wires back on the two movements I'm replacing. I'll have to find another spot to mount the speaker

brass cap nut
For some reason there were two clock accessory bags with this movement. I dropped one brass nut on the deck and I'm lucky I have another one.

sometimes you get lucky
The deck is littered with plane shavings and I found it after looking for it for just a few seconds.

transferring some lines
The instructions say that a series of 1/4" holes drilled in a 2 3/8" diameter circle can then have the speaker mounted over them. I drew a 2 3/8" circle on the inside bottom and I transferred the outside of that circle onto the bottom. Once I had that I drew another 2 3/8" circle on the bottom within those lines.

right over my brand
the ring that will secure the speaker in place

another hiccup
The real estate I have for the speaker ring is less than it's diameter. I don't want to put this forward and potentially hit the pendulum. I marked the overhang and filed it off.

circle only has 2 1/2 not 2 3/8
laid out a grid and drilled 1/4" holes
filed it - no problems doing it
piss ant sized screws
Three of these are used to hold the speaker retaining ring in place.

two screwed in
I had to take the movement out in order to get the top screw in. I did that and when I tightened it down, the other two screws popped out. I'm going to have to come up with another way to secure the speaker. I can't leave it loose on the bottom of the clock.

what I came up with
I marked the outside of the speaker on the edge of this piece of 1/8" plywood. I then traced a line parallel to that 1/8" over to the right of that line. I had to do that so the 1/2" circle would fit over the lip that is on the speaker. I had to quit here because Mickey's big had was on 12 and his little hand was on five. I'll pick this back up tomorrow.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is the average heart rate of an elephant?
answer - 25-30 beats a minute

Surviving U.S.-made Woodworking Clamps & Clamp Care

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 11:13am

Responding to my post last week on the demise of woodworking clamps made in the U.S., a few readers pointed out that the well has not completely dried out. Yes, we have probably lost the big names in casting, forging and milling of clamps, but a few smaller manufacturers have survived, in addition to new makers who have released some interesting stuff in the last few years. Milwaukee Tool and […]

The post Surviving U.S.-made Woodworking Clamps & Clamp Care appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Kerfing Plane II

The Barn on White Run - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 9:52am

With the encouragement of Tom Fidgen’s presentations at WIA and elsewhere I decided to make an attempt at a kerfing plane.  His enthusiasm and evangelism for this tool has once again revitalized an older form from days of yore and integrates it into our toolboxes now.  Huzzahs, Tom!

This tool from Roubo pretty much validates the utility of the tool.  Being a smart guy like Roubo, Tom re-devised a tool without the knowledge of the master’s work from 2-1/2 centuries ago.  Fidgen & Roubo — creative geniuses separated by 250 years.

Since the iron and especially the skate of the plow plane serves an analogous function as the blade of a kerfing plane, cannibalizing a decrepit one from my junk drawer seemed to be the right place to start.  I’d already added new arms and fittings for the fence at some point the misty past.

I removed the skate and found a near perfect bed to affix a rip saw blade section.

Using a piece from a bow saw blade I bought at Highland Hardware and cut with metal snips and a scrap of brass stock from the scrap drawer I charged forward.  (Actually I mighta charged a little too fast; I fited and drilled the blade and retaining bar with the blade running in the wrong direction.  Sigh.  Still it worked surprisingly well, but in the end I made a new blade and bar.)

The assembly was pretty straightforward, although drilling through the saw blade was a bit of an adventure.



It was time to give this cobbled-together tool a test drive.  Magnifique!

But I was not done yet.

Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 1

Highland Woodworking - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 7:00am

With the constant jokes circulating the woodworking workplace, there ought to be an award for who gets to be “the sharpest tool in the shed.” And as a newcomer to the field, until lately I would rank a non-starter.

I have been catching up on my reading, and being drawn to the attractively-bound volume, recently picked up The Joiner and Cabinet Maker, reissued and expanded by Lost Art Press. It contains not only the original 1839 text, but also an historical analysis of the techniques and tools, and then the process of building the three projects contained in the text by the apprentice cabinet maker “Young Thomas.” In one passage, the young apprentice is tasked with making a packing box, and finds the tools common to the apprentices to be in poor shape, befouled by shavings, edges dulled and dinged by nails, and the hone dry and hollowed. Instead of regrinding all three planes he needs, he is helped by his journeyman friend Robert, who lends him a hone to sharpen one plane and a second plane of his own to complete the commission. The protagonist immediately recognizes the necessity of beginning a task with tools prepared to do their job, rather than risking the outcome with poorly cared for tools.

I am not the person to teach you to sharpen. I am perhaps more an object lesson for the maxim “anyone may learn to sharpen,” just as Katy, age 8, is in Schwarz’s reworking of the Joiner and Cabinet Maker. Katy can sharpen, I can sharpen, you can sharpen.

Unlike Katy, I spend my childhood rigorously sheltered from the shop where straightforward carpentry and house-building occurred, and sharp objects in general. At the age of 13, my grandad gifted me a buck knife, I imagine, to the horror of my parents. But I grew up in the grip of that horror, and never did anything interesting with the knife, or anything else sharp, beyond slicing open my knuckle and never telling anyone (… oh).

And so I have carried on into adulthood. I never attempted nor considered it within the realm of possibility that I could sharpen until recently, when I took Jim Dillon’s sharpening class.

As I was not in the habit of bringing an assortment of tools to work every day, I chose a couple bench chisels from our workshop that needed a little TLC (tender loving care, not the 90s girl group. Though woodworking would definitely benefit from an infusion of feminist R&B).

Jim’s philosophy on sharpening grew out of taking classes with Drew Langsner at Country Workshops (or, we could say, was honed by). Langsner proved to be so particular in his sharpening that he would prepare all the tools himself before the class began, but when asked about the angle of a particular tool would answer, “oh… about 30 degrees.” Jim’s takeaway was that “sharpness is crucial, and the way you get there matters, but the precise angle (within a certain range) isn’t nearly important as the edge formed by two highly polished surfaces intersecting.”

In Jim’s class we covered three basic systems of sharpening, from low-tech to high-tech, on which I’ll elaborate: sandpaper, water stones, and the Tormek grinder. I had the opportunity to both learn about these in the classroom, and later, to try them out in the wild, unsupervised and at my own peril. The good news is everyone survived. The better news is that my forays into woodworking are safer and more effective because of learning this vital skill.

Check back tomorrow to read Amy’s thoughts about the first of the three basic systems of sharpening she learned.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the staff writer at Highland Woodworking. In 2015 she and her dad co-founded Coywolf Woodworks, their hobby shop in North Florida.

The post Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 1 appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Book Giveaway: Simple & Stylish Woodworking

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:00am
Simple & Stylish Woodworking

It’s always fun to see the new books arrive. Popular Woodworking Books’ latest release “Simple & Stylish Woodworking: 20 Projects for Your Home” officially releases in mid-April. It’s a compilation of small projects that make great home accents. Selected from the archives of Popular Woodworking, these projects allow you to learn new skills and get in some practice on smaller scale builds before committing to a larger piece of furniture. The […]

The post Book Giveaway: Simple & Stylish Woodworking appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Akio Tasai Pairing Chisel

Je ne sai quoi Woodworking - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 4:47am

January 2017

In January I became the very proud owner of an 18 mm pairing chisel made by the legendary Master Akio Tasai from Sanjo, Niigata. I have been eager to get my hands on one of these ever since I saw David Charlesworth discussing it on one of his Lie-Nielsen videos. He said something along the lines of: “This is a chisel made by a gentle by the name of Tasai and it gives me tremendous pleasure each time I look at it.” In that regard I cannot agree more with David, it is an absolute joy to use and look at.

Due to their considerable price and an unfavourable exchange rate, I have been confined to dreaming about one rather than buying one for several years. That made it so much more special when I finally got to handle a Tasai. As you can see, it comes in a pretty box decorated with Japanese gibberish (to the bovine amongst us anyway).

I have not come across a better made tool in all of my woodworking journey. As per usual for traditional Japanese chisels, it is made up of two distinct metal components. The back (or so-called mirror side) is composed of extremely hard blue steel that is especially made for Master Tasai. The rest of the chisel is made up of a much softer multi laminated steel. It is this Damascus style laminate steel that creates the aesthetic appeal of these chisels.

Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of the so-called “Ura” on the mirror side, but it is basically a very slight hollow that is meant to decrease the time spent on sharpening the chisel. Given this nifty design element I thought it would be a breeze to sharpen. That turned out to be a fantasy. It actually took a lot more effort to polish the back that anticipated, but I am sure the ura will speed up subsequent sharpening sessions.

As I said, this chisel looks impressive, but it’s true worth comes to the fore when it engages with wood. I made a few test cuts on the shoulders of these huge tenons. The shoulder lines were marked out with a knife so it was simply a case of feeling the cutting edge into these tracks and leaning on the chisel. It literally glided through the wood and left a superior polished surface in the end grain.

I have since used the chisel on African hardwood and it does not seem to shy away from the confrontation. If anything, it performed better in the hard stuff.

That then concludes my review of this work of art that happens to be quite a useful tool at the same time. I would say it is worth a lot more than what you find on the price tag.

Master Tasai, I am not worthy!


opining on sharpening......

Accidental Woodworker - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 12:22am
Before I get into my thoughts on this subject I have to put out a disclaimer. I am not the brightest bulb on the xmas tree when it comes to sharpening. It is something that I have only started to pick up on and understand in the last 4-5 years. I owe a lot to the level of sharpening I am now getting to Chris Schwartz and more recently to Paul Sellers. Between the three of us, I've settled into a routine with my sharpening, that good, bad, or indifferent, I seem to be doing ok with.

I watch a lot of sharpening videos and I read just about every single post I come across to find some nugget that will make me rich. So far it hasn't happened. I am still learning so much about sharpening that my head hurts. I thought that I had it down pat but each time I sharpen something, be it a chisel or plane iron, it is a learning experience for me all over again. I am accumulating a lot of experience and it doesn't look like I will ever be able to say I know enough and I now can do this by rote. In fact when I do it by rote, I usually end up OTL (out to lunch).

Some observations I have gathered in my sharpening education. Firstly, it seems that you have to do your sharpening by hand. No jigs allowed. Sharpening by hand supposedly brings a freedom that you lose once you put a tool to be sharpened in a honing guide. Free hand sharpening is quick and allows you to get your edge and get back to work. It seems you lose all this with a honing guide.

What of the people with arthritis? What do these people do in this situation? I am one of them and free hand sharpening means I don't do any woodworking if I do 2 or more sharpenings. My fingers hurt too much after. However, if I use a honing guide I can sharpen all day long and be relatively pain free when I'm done.

Honing guides are something that have been around for quite a while. I have never seen an old catalog that had page after page of different models for sale. But I have seen singles in old catalogs dated as early as the 1850-60 time frame. So even where free hand sharpening ruled, there was someone trying to reinvent the wheel.

Sharpening isn't a fun thing to do. If you do enjoy it I think your brain cells are oxygen deprived somehow. Sharpening can be monotonous, messy, and royal PITA to do. Sharpening involves a certain amount of time that we would rather devote to working wood. Giving up that time for these dance steps isn't easy.

I think time is the crux of all sharpening methods. With all I've seen and read I haven't seen anything to make one method or one type of sharpening medium stand out from the crowd. What I see and hear is this way is quick, or it is the most efficient, and it takes almost no time to do it. You'll get the sharpest edge you have ever gotten.

What I don't hear is if you use these stones you can shave the peach fuzz off an atom. If you use my patented method your edge will stay sharp until Halley's comet comes around again. No way, no method, no person has said anything about sharpness lasting. No one says that this is the one and only way to get a super duper sharp edge that will last forever.

Instead what I see and read is about the ruler trick and micro bevels. You have to sharpen on this water stone and diamond stones are utter crap. Only ceramic stones will give you a scratch free bevel. And if you use brand XYZ you must be a professional woodworker. Just look at my bevel under an electron microscope. See how the atoms are spinning counter clockwise? You only get that if you use the scary sharp system free hand. If you don't, they don't spin as fast and the edge won't be as sharp. All these tricks, micro bevels etc to me are geared toward saving time and not necessarily for getting sharp.

Putting all this aside I think of what Tage Frid said about woodworking. I'm paraphrasing but  he said I don't care if you used your teeth to make it, it's the finished piece that matters. I think what he said applies to sharpening too. How you sharpen or what you use to sharpen doesn't really matter. Are you able to plane and chisel wood easily and cleanly once you say the edge is sharp?

The old masters didn't have the mind boggling choices for sharpening that we have today. When I look at the furniture that they made then (1700-1800) and what they had to use to keep their tools sharp, I am in awe of what they accomplished.

My take on sharpening is I know it is going to take time. I will have to stop whatever I'm doing and I know that I'll be spending xxx amount of precious time not woodworking. I will do it with the method that has been working for me and giving me results I like.

That is the crux of sharpening for me. Freehand or with a guide doesn't matter. You choice of sharpening medium doesn't matter. 1 micron shavings or thick ones doesn't matter. What matters is the sharpness you get from your efforts and if that works for you.

To me getting a tool sharp is just that. The main focus is getting the edge as sharp as I can and have it last as long as it can. Time is secondary to that. My skill level at sharpening will dictate how long I  need to do it. With each outing I'm gaining experience and the time factor is decreasing. So put on some music and sharpen that pile.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is alloyed with steel to make it stainless?
answer - chromium

Auction of Exploration, Auction of Discovery.

The Furniture Record - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 10:36pm

I go to all these auctions so you don’t have to. As our fearless leader says, “Believe me”. It’s not always enjoyable but it is necessary. I do what must be done.

Take an auction from the fourth quarter of 2016. The weather was miserable and I didn’t want to go. But I knew I must. And how was I rewarded? I walked in and this is the first thing I saw:


I thought things like this were always converted into lamps.

An end view provides you with important construction details should you want to make one of your own:


It looks just as good from this perspective.

I did see one of the nicest gout stools I’ve seen in a while:


Enough to make you want to go out and eat high purine meats and drink excessive amounts of alcohol

I will be saving the examination of this book for a time in the future whenI will compare it to the original 1917 volume as to form and content:


There just isn’t enough written on the romance of cookery and housekeeping.


Studley 2.0 @ Handworks!

The Barn on White Run - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 2:58pm

Jim Moon has informed me that he is bringing his remarkable replica of the H.O. Studley Tool cabinet to Handworks in Amana IA.  The ensemble will probably be exhibited in the Amana Furniture Shop near the booths of SAPFM, Mary May, and Mike Siemsen.  It’s a great location, allowing for much greater access by the attendees and greater safety and security for the collection.

As if you didn’t need any more reasons to attend the best tool event on earth.

chest with drawers; pulls and more

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 2:49pm

First off, nice going to those who pitched in to help that Vermont school teacher with the fundraiser to buy spoon tools. They met their goal quite easily, I think thanks to you blog readers here. These on-screen connections can be alienating sometimes, but at times like this one, it truly is a community feeling. I really do appreciate the feedback I get from this blog, it means a lot.

Tomorrow I’ll deliver this chest with drawers to the Fuller Craft Museum for the exhibition about Plymouth CRAFT. http://fullercraft.org/event/living-traditions-the-handwork-of-plymouth-craft/

I did the bulk of the last-minute junk last week, and a good thing too. Just been knocked out with a flu-ish thing for 5 days. All 4 of us have had it in various forms – so it’s felt like a long time since we’ve had our heads above water.

After watching all the bowl turners at North House a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to come home & turn bowls. But instead, I turned drawer pulls in white oak.

The drove them through the hole I bored in the drawer front, and split the tenon with a chisel.

and drove an oak wedge into the resulting split.

Here is the wedged tenon, just prior to trimming.

These pulls are about 1 1/4″ in diameter.

I made some adjustments to the drawer runners. These things are always fussy…they fit into notches in the stiles, and often I toe-nail through them into the stile. You can see one of those nails out at the rear stile in this shot:

Here you can see one of the drawer runners in the drawer opening above, and the groove in the drawer side below. When all goes well, this is a nice way for a drawer to slide. Especially these heavy oak drawers. There will be a pine panel behind these drawers, but that will have to wait til the exhibit is over. Mid-June I think. After Greenwood Fest…

Kerfing Plane I

The Barn on White Run - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 8:50am

When I first learned about Tom Fidgen’s kerfing plane I stored it away in the memory bank, realizing immediately that it was just the tool to make resawing an easier undertaking.


Since I do a fair bit of hand-resawing with my vintage carpenter’s saws and my pair of c.1800 4-foot frame saws and their little brother I made a few years ago it was a natural fit for my work bench activities.

It took me a couple years to actually get down to making some kerfing planes for myself.  My starting point was this derelict partial plow plane that was probably in a box of tools I picked up somewhere along the line.  I had added some new arms for the fence as I thought about making the plow plane usable, but since I didn’t really need another plow plane I eventually just let the carcass languish in my spare tool bin.

When looking at Tom’s kerfing plane I thought this plow plane body just might be the starting material for a try at cobbling one together myself, just to see if it really was a useful as Tom said it was and I hoped it might be.  If so, I would concentrate on making some good ones to integrate into my work in The Barn.

Stay tuned as I take you down the path of creating a new, useful addition to my tool set from something probably destined for the wood stove.  And, where I went from there.  Thanks to Tom’s insights, creativity, and evangelistic fervor he has transformed part of my work.


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