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


General Woodworking

Mark Harrell – Bad Axe Tool Works

She Works Wood - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 7:31am
I’m sure that I’ve blabbed on about Mark and his awesome saws on my blog before, but I’m going to do it again.  All my backsaws are made by Mark except for the old dovetail saw I inherited and he re-plated that one.  He makes amazing saws and provides a truck load of free information […]
Categories: General Woodworking

Which Festool Track Saw is Right for You?

Highland Woodworking - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 7:00am

In Issue #6 of Festool Heaven, Our Sticks In The Mud (SITM) tipster Jim Randolph and our Down To Earth Woodworker (DTEW) Steve Johnson got into a discussion over which is the best Festool Track Saw, the TS-55 or the TS-75. We’re not sure who won the argument, but they both scored some pretty good shots. We just hope they’re still friends after this!

So which Track Saw is better? Click here to see what Jim and Steve had to say about it!


The post Which Festool Track Saw is Right for You? appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Cheap & Easy Steam Box Setup

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 3:00am
steam box

In the recent Don Weber “Build a Welsh Stick Chair” class/video shoot, Don brought some pre-bent arms for us to use, simply to make things move along more quickly (filming a woodworking video is sometimes like filming a cooking show – some parts are prepped ahead of time). But he did bend a couple on camera, using a simple and inexpensive steam box setup, made with items you can easily […]

The post Cheap & Easy Steam Box Setup appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

citrus acid bath results........

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 12:32am
I feel like a lady trying to choose between two pairs of shoes. I like Evaporust but the more I use citrus acid, the more I'm liking it. I think this latest bath has pushed more over into the citrus acid bath camp. I do think that the both of them have a use in my shop. Evaporust for items that are going to be sitting idle for long periods of time is the way to use that. Tools I'm rehabbing to put back into daily use, citrus acid is the first batter.

0330 this morning
I did this one before I went to work this morning. I took it out, rinsed it off well, and sanded it lightly with 220 sandpaper. I raised a bit of shine which I like and then I wiped it down with jojoba oil.

the other side
There are a couple of blemishes/pits at the bottom that looked like deep rust pockets but they aren't. I expended extra calories sanding these two areas and nothing rusty came of it. Both sides are smooth to the touch and I couldn't detect any bumps anywhere. Leaving these in acid always makes me think the citrus acid is going to eat holes in the metal and leave it rough.

what I saw tonight
The water has taken on a slight greenish tint but other this, it looks like I left it yesterday. And the metal didn't seem to have been effected by this 24 hour bath.

ready to finish cleaning
I dumped the citrus acid in the driveway on a oil stain. I rinsed off all the parts well with hot water in the bathroom sink (I need to put a utility sink in the cellar). I also rinsed out the container with hot water and filled it up and put the parts back in it. They shouldn't rust while awaiting their turn to be cleaned.

#8 chipbreaker is the first batter
I sanded all the parts going in the long direction of the them. I only used 220 grit sandpaper. 320 and 400 was too fine and 180/150 left too large of a scratch pattern.

best I could do
The Damascus steel look at the top is what the rust had previously did to the metal. Someone had cleaned this before I got it. It is relatively smooth to the touch with only a few scattered bumps.

this side was completely rusted at one time
This can be still used as it is. All this rust damage won't effect it's ability to be a chipbreaker.

FYI tip
Citrus acid in an open cut burns and hurts like hell. So don't stick it in the citrus acid water.

final clean up
After I sanded the chipbreaker, I washed it with the orange cleaner. The last step was a few squirts of jojoba oil and rub down with the blue rag.

file work
This chipbreaker showed some signs of mushrooming caused by a hammer. I filed it to remove the slight ridges.

this was badly rusted at one point
smooth as a baby's butt
#4 iron before shot

other side before shot
the after shot
the 2nd after blurry shot
Not a good pic but there is no mistaking that this cleaned up rather well.

this bevel edge is chewed up a bit
It will take extra time to remove the chips but they aren't that deep or numerous.

the other #4 iron
Someone had recently sharpened this. From the look of it I would guess that it was done with a honing guide.

will it work on the screw?
It got it cleaner than what I had done with just a wire brush. This stuff works much better on brass though and excels on my stainless steel pots and pans.

This is the chipbreaker for a #4 and it has way too much spring or separation between it and the iron.

it is making shavings
I was able to screw the chipbreaker down to the iron but I don't think that I'll be using it. It is working ok but I don't like the force I had to exert to screw it down.

someone before me did this
Someone did some work on the leading edge of the chipbreaker. There is one chip that is stuck between the chipbreaker and the iron. I can't see any light but this shaving managed to work it's way between the two.

it fits now
Without the two being screwed together, it wouldn't fit in the slot. (It's the 4th one up from the bottom) It is a snug fit screwed together.  Look at the gap that is there compared to the other setups. This chipbreaker is toast.

computer desk stock
I am going to use the old kitchen cabinet doors to get the legs for the desk from. Cleaning up the plane parts ate up all my time in the shop tonight. It doesn't look like I'll have anything to bring to work on saturday but maybe the next one.

We are supposed to get a snow storm tomorrow. 1-3 inches falling from about midnight until dawn. Then a break and 2-4 more inches ending around noontime. Sounds like lots of fun.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What player restriction is in effect in both polo and jai alai?
answer - no left handed players allowed

How Much Lacquer Thinner Should I Use?

Wunder Woods - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 8:30pm

Today, I was having a conversation with one of my customers about spraying a conversion varnish (Krystal, from M.L. Campbell) and the problems he was having with getting it to lay down nicely after it was sprayed. He said that he applied is wet enough to blend together and not be rough, but that he had a lot of orange peel in the finish. After discussing the possible causes of the orange peel it became obvious that he needed to add lacquer thinner to the mix, which he did not do.

This customer is new to spraying conversion varnish, which is a two-part mix that sets up and hardens chemically like epoxy, forming a super durable finish. The information on the can talked about the 10:1 ratio of finish to catalyst, but apparently didn’t mention a thing about thinning with lacquer thinner, so he used none. Even if it was mentioned, I assume that he was worried enough about getting the ratio correct (click here to learn how to easily get the proper mixing ratios) and not messing up the mix that he never imagined he could, or even that he should add lacquer thinner.

In this case, my customer was getting orange peel because the finish was too thick for his two-stage turbine. The kids at the finish distributor led him to believe that he shouldn’t need to add thinner, but they did not ask about the power of his spray equipment, assuming that he probably had a turbine strong enough to finely atomize the finish without thinning.

This Graco 2-quart pressure pot system I currently use is an older 2-stage model, but gives good results with proper thinning.

I continued to discuss the need to add thinner with my customer, and pointed out that a non-thinned finish requires more turbine power than he currently has. If he owned a 4-stage or 5-stage turbine, he could probably use the finish without thinner, but not with just a 2-stage. I speak from experience on this one, because my everyday gun is an older 2-stage model, and it requires at least a bit of thinning on almost everything I spray. I am okay with this apparent shortcoming because I am a proponent of applying multiple thin coats, as compared to fewer thick coats, which I believe are just inviting trouble.

As our conversation continued, he asked the million dollar question, “How much lacquer thinner do you add?” For me, the simple answer is, “Until it sprays good,” which is very ambiguous I know, but true. I have an advantage because I have sprayed more than him and I have an idea where I am headed, but I don’t truly know until I shoot a sample board with it and see how things are flowing (which I do every time before I spray the real thing). I spray a sample piece of wood standing up vertically to make sure that I can get a fully wet and flat surface with no runs or sags and to get a feel for how fast I need to move the gun to make all of that happen. If the sample surface looks good, I move on and spray the real thing. If I have issues, it is usually because the finish is a bit thick, so I add lacquer thinner until the finish sprays smoothly without orange peel and without runs.

A viscosity cup like this Ford 4 style, available from Highland Woodworking is a good starting point.

Another, more technical way to determine the correct amount of thinner is to use a viscosity cup. A viscosity cup is shaped like a funnel and determines how thick a fluid is by the time it takes to empty the cup. A thin fluid will empty in just a couple of seconds, while a thick fluid might take 30 seconds or more. When I started spraying and used a viscosity cup, about 15 seconds was the right amount for my gun, but it will vary from gun to gun. When learning to spray, I recommend using a viscosity cup and to follow the manufacturers recommendations. If nothing else, this will give you a good starting point from which you can make later changes and have a way to achieve consistent results. After you spray for a while, there will be less mystery, and you will know from one test shot what needs to be adjusted, even without the viscosity cup.

When my customer asked about adding lacquer thinner, I know he was worried about possibly adding too much, and after thinking about it, I don’t know that you can add too much. I can follow the logic that adding too much thinner may change the chemistry, but I mix the 10:1 ratio of conversion varnish to catalyst first and then add the thinner, so there should still be the same amount of resin and catalyst, just with more space between them, in the form of lacquer thinner which will quickly evaporate and let the two parts do their thing. Even with other lacquer products, which includes sealers, nitrocellulose lacquers and modified lacquers, I can’t think of any time that I have ever had a problem because I added too much thinner.

I’m sure finish manufacturers would disagree and warn you to not be so cavalier about it, but I sure wouldn’t worry about adding too much thinner. Simply add enough thinner until your spray gun is able to apply a nice, even and wet film that flows out flat and dries without sagging. Even if you do mix it a bit thin, feel confident knowing that you can always compensate by moving more quickly or reducing the amount of fluid coming out of the tip of the gun.

Categories: General Woodworking

we’ll put some bleachers out in the sun and have it on highway 61

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 6:35pm

I only have a few photos for this post – I was too busy to shoot much…

I just got back from teaching two classes at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. http://www.northhouse.org/index.htm   Being thrown into an immersion experience like that at North House reminds me of my beginnings at Country Workshops in the 1980s.

One focus at North House is community, and it is quite palpable. The legendary pizza night, centered around the large wood-fired oven, and finely honed through years of practice is a memorable experience. The classes I was there to teach were part of “Wood Week” which as you can imagine means all the classes offered that week (8 in all) were woodworking. Other disciplines at North House include fiber arts, blacksmithing, food, boatbuilding and more.

All the students in my first class were named Tom. I think. Made it easier…

With three classes at the first session, and five the next, there was no shortage of inspiration, nor of comrades. The evenings were spent in large and small groups exploring spoon and bowl carving, looking at and trying out new tools, techniques, benches and materials. It seems that almost everyone (except me) also plays a musical instrument, so the spoon carving circles were on the periphery of the old-timey music circles. There was much overlap. The best nights ran much later than I could handle.

All the while, Lake Superior was right there, outside the shop windows, and lapping at the courtyard between the buildings. It’s a pretty big lake, I hear. Looked it.

I’m liking these large-group gatherings. Last year I went to three of them, Greenwood Fest in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Spoonfest in Edale, UK and Täljfest at Sätergläntan in Sweden. This one had a smaller crowd, but that lent it an intimacy that was nice. I still missed stuff – I got no photographs of the other classes, and few of my own.

Jarrod trying out Dawson Moore’s Spoon Mule:

Tom Dengler kept distracting me with his woodenware:

one of the oak carvings the students did…

I caught up with some old friends, and made some new. Like the other events, this one is run by many hands, including a group of young interns. Nice to see these young people exploring some type of creative outlet involving natural materials. There were a smattering of young people in the classes too, but no group gets higher marks than Spoonfest for adding youth and women to the woodworking community.

These creatures were more common than squirrels.

I had a day off early on, and took a long walk in a state park about half-an-hour away. If this tree were closer to the school, someone would have nabbed it by now…

North House is celebrating their twentieth year – get on their mailing list so you can be a part of their 2nd-double-decade.

Some of the many people there, apologies for not including everyone – there was a lot happening:

Jarrod Dahl, https://www.instagram.com/jarrod__dahl/

Roger Abrahamson,  https://www.instagram.com/rogerabrahamson/

Fred Livesay,  https://www.instagram.com/hand2mouthcrafts/

Phil Odden & Else Bigton  http://www.norskwoodworks.com/

Harley Refsal  http://www.northhouse.org/courses/courses/instructor.cfm/iid/86

Dawson Moore  https://www.instagram.com/michigansloyd/

Tom & Kitty Latane https://www.facebook.com/thomas.latane

Tom Dengler https://www.instagram.com/twodengler/

Williamsburg Snapshot – Wax Finishing

The Barn on White Run - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 1:30pm

Although I have attended the Colonial Williamsburg Working Wood in the 18th Century conference many times, this year was my first as a speaker.  I was asked to present the topic “Wax Finishes” which I did.  Alas, my time slot was only 45 minutes, which in retrospect pretty much everyone agreed was too short by some logarithmic value.  Still I did my best to rip through the basics at breakneck speed.

As with virtually every finishing talk I give I began by covering my “Six Rules for Perfect Finishing.”


I then blew through the topics of surface prep with a scraper and then a polissoir.  Truly this step has revolutionized my understanding and practice for finishing.

Then came the application of block beeswax as a grain filler and final finish, worked into the surface via vigorous rubbing with the polissoir, followed by scraping to remove any excess, and finally by buffing with a flannel.

I showed, all too quickly, the incorporation of both resin flour and powdered colorants to the beeswax grain fillers to impart either hardness or coloration.

Finally I approached the problem of voluptuous and carved surfaces, employing the boxwood burnishing stick and the polissoir, with impressive results given the few seconds I had in hand.

I got excellent and encouraging feedback, and the CW folks must have liked what they saw because I have been invited to return in the fall for three days of in-house hands-on training for the cabinetmakers, gunsmiths, and housewrights on the topic of historic finishing.


Laguna IQ CNC Review: Part Two

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 11:00am

In Part One, I introduced the Laguna IQ 24″ x 36″ CNC. Below is Part Two of the video review. Conclusions I’ve had a Laguna IQ in the shop for a few weeks and put it to use on a variety of projects from part cutting to 3D carving. Like all the machines in this the class, I expected that the design, choice of components and solid construction would give […]

The post Laguna IQ CNC Review: Part Two appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Can’t you hear me knocking?

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 7:32am

The first woodworking hand tools that I ever purchased new (intended for furniture making..) were from Traditionalwoodworker.com. I ordered a marking gauge, and if I remember correctly, a 1/2 inch chisel and a mallet. I still have those tools and they work as well as the day I first received them. As time passed, I ordered more tools from Traditional Woodworker on occasion and they always seemed to me to be a good company to deal with.

So yesterday evening I went online to order a large auger bit (oddly, not for a woodworking project in the furniture making sense) and one of the places I checked was Traditional Woodworker. Let me correct that, TW was one of the places I attempted to check, because I could not find the web page. I did some more checking and I could not seem to find any indication of the site being changed, or revamped, or simply shut down. Furthermore, I checked some forums and for the time being nobody else seems to have heard anything one way or the other, either.

So I’m writing this brief post just to see if any body has heard any information regarding the whereabouts of the Traditional Woodworker online tool store. My searches have turned up absolutely nothing. I’m hoping that somebody out there who happens to see this post may have heard something and if so, could please let me know what you turned up.


Categories: General Woodworking

Magnetic Two-stage Bit-tip Holder

360 WoodWorking - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 3:48am
Magnetic Two-stage Bit-tip Holder

Last week I was in the shop and a friend had to reach a skosh farther into a cabinet than he anticipated. The screw he was after was just beyond the reach of his drill/driver and its magnetic, bit-tip holder. I had a longer holder, but it was clear across the shop in the cabinet – that was at least 20 feet away. (Sad, huh?)

What I had within reach, however, was a second short, bit-tip holder.

Continue reading Magnetic Two-stage Bit-tip Holder at 360 WoodWorking.

My second commission – part 9

Je ne sai quoi Woodworking - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 12:56am


This post disappeared from my site while it went into hiding. Here it is again for those of you who missed it.

Welcome back to JNSQ woodworking. Here is hoping that we will continue to share woodworking banter and ideas in 2017. This past weekend was my first back in the shop and it was a real joy. Much like 2016, my two main projects to focus on will be this so called “second commission” and the table for the shebeen.


I will now report on the work done since our previous update in October of 2016. As usual just a quick reminder of what we are aiming for. A few shots of the model I built while developing the design.


Something that I omitted to illustrate in the previous post is the techniques that were employed to ensure that the spindles end up with zero splay. The first method makes use of a device that we shall call the Tambotie gauge (as I used a small Tambotie off-cut to create this fantastic piece of equipment).

img_7628The Tamboti gauge consists of an appropriately sized off-cut clamped to a square.

While reaming the mortises for the spindles you might remember how I made use of a stick with an appropriately sized tenon to check the rake angle.


The Tambotie gauge is used to check that there is zero splay by comparing the gap between the Tambotie off-cut and the spindle on both sides, as referenced off the side of the beam with the square. In this case the spindle is leaning ever so slightly towards the right.


Second of the two strategies again involves a highly complex jig that takes hours to build and set up. I clamped a winding stick to the side of the beam to check wether the spindle (positioned in it’s mortise) runs parallel to it, i.e. zero splay.


Once all eight mortises received this treatment it was time to test how the assembly would fit together. As you can see it came together nicely.


It is probably important to report on the stuff-up I made while drilling the pilot holes for the mentioned mortises. You might remember that I drilled one of these holes in the wrong direction and suffered from a Panic Attack subsequently. The solution I came up with was to turn a dowel of the same wood that fitted the hole perfectly and glued it into place. The hole was then drilled in the correct direction and the picture below show the result. There was only a small strip of the plug visible after drilling the new hole.


After reaming out the mortise there was no evidence left of the blunder on the surface that would be exposed to critical eyes once the tenon gets glued into position. In the pictures below you can however see the edge of the plug inside the hole. Eish, that was a close call. Woodwork has a way of keeping you grounded, isn’t it.


As these tenons run all the way through the beams, I decided to also wedge them. Here I am widening the mortise on the exit side to accommodate the wedges. I recommend reading Peter Galbert’s seminal work “Chairmaker’s Notebook” on how to orientate these spindles and wedges.


Next up I had to  camouflage the laminations with a few carefully placed beads before glueing up the leg.


I used my pre-1900 no. 66 Stanley beadingtool, which I restored quite some time ago. It takes elbow grease beading such incredibly hard wood, but it is very satisfying nonetheless.


I think it accomplished what I intended as the beam now looks like a solid piece of timber.


The tenons were then prepared to receive the wedges.


Made some wedges …


… and prepared for glue-up.


I used a combination of mallet blows and clamps to coax the spindles into position.


Once they were seated to my liking the wedges locked them down for ever (I hope).


This is how the Windsor leg spent it’s December holidays, resting on the assembly table.



This past weekend I continued my assault on the so called Windsor leg. I clamped it to the trapezoid leg and used the latter to mark out the final shape of the former. This way they are exact copies of each other in terms of measurements.


My daughter Aoife helped me to make the necessary cuts using my Miller’s Falls Langdon Mitre Box no. 75. It was quite a tricky operation given the awkward shape and size of the leg , but the Langdon made cutting the 9º angles straight forward.


One day the student will become the master.


The next big drama will be the third layer of wood that needs to be added to the trapezoid leg. I selected a good Witpeer (Apodytes dimidiata) board that ran pretty much through the centre of the tree and made a cut lengthwise along the pith. This gave me two quarter-sawn pieces. From these boards I then selected appropriate 800 mm chunks for re-sawing.  The idea with re-sawing is to created a book-matched pattern to the inside of this leg. This layer only needs to be about 8 mm thick to get the total thickness of the leg up to 44 mm, which fits perfectly into my  ratio of 22:44:66:88 mm (thickness) for the various parts of the table.


You will notice the two strips of Kershout (Pterocelastrus tricuspidatus) on top of one of the piles of re-sawn and planed stock. We will use those to create a type of depth confusion for an observer viewing the table from the Windsor leg’s end. This will hopefully enhance the effect of an construction that defies gravity, but you (and unfortunately I) will have to wait until the next post to see how this works or possibly not?? Here’s hoping (that it works, that is)!


plane parts........

Accidental Woodworker - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 12:30am
The chipbreakers and irons that I ordered came in today. When I checked the tracking number at lunchtime it said they were coming on thursday. My haul looked pretty good and I'm sure it'll clean up nicely. I have also made a U turn on the next project. I wanted to start that tonight but the plane parts came first.

what I ordered
I needed two #3 chipbreakers, a #4 chipbreaker, and a #8 chipbreaker. I have the irons for all of these and that gives me complete set ups to swap out. They don't look that bad and only seem to have superficial rust spots here and there.

mating irons waiting for the chipbreakers to be cleaned up
#4 iron
My last iron I got was so badly pitted that it is useless. There is just rust blooms and no evidence of pitting anywhere on this #4 iron. And it has a good deal of life left to it.

bevel on the other side
The bevel is not in good shape. I don't think there anything here that I won't be able to sharpen out.

second iron
The business end of the iron looks much better than the first one did. But the top end of it, on both sides, is very grungy looking. It doesn't appear to be rust but we'll see what the sandpaper does on it. This iron has lots of life left in it too. I doubt that I'll use up this much before I leave this earth.

two #4 irons
Both irons are stamped with numbers, one has 245 and other one 445. The tops have the Stanley logo on it and I've never seen another Stanley iron stamped like this before.  Things like this raise my curiosity level as to why?

40 minutes later

They are all sanded down removing all visible rust. The only one I didn't have to do was the #4 chipbreaker on the far right. This one looks like it has been blued. They are all going into the citrus bath, blued or not.

hot water and 1/4 cup of citrus acid

I microwaved two cups of water for 3 minutes and stirred in the citrus acid in. After the acid had dissolved, I added the plane parts.
they stopped
This was bubbling away and it stopped when I snapped the pic. It wasn't an alka seltzer fizzing, more like a few bubbles here and there.

I forgot one thing and that was the chipbreaker screws. I checked my stash and I only have one and I need two more. I'll have to order them from nh plane.

a for me at work project
This is going to be a prototype to iron out any potential kinks. I want a desk that I can stand at to work on at work. I ordered one over a year ago and still haven't gotten it. The offices next door got theirs 3 days after ordering them. I'm not waiting anymore. The big piece will be the desk and the smaller one will be hung underneath it. That will be used for the keyboard and the mouse. I need to make one more platform for the monitor. I want that one to be adjustable but I haven't thought of a way of doing it yet.

This is as far as I got on this tonight. Cleaning up the plane parts took a long time to do. I would like to get something done so I can take it in on saturday and road test it. I'm sure I'll have to adjust the measurements on some of this.

rearranged the parts
I added more water and citrus acid. I didn't like the parts laying on top of each other. I got what I can laying up against the walls. Only the #8 chipbreaker is laying on the #4 irons.  It has only been about 10 minutes and the shiny #3 chipbreakers have dulled already. I'm going to let this soak in the bath until tomorrow. I'm curious as how these parts will look after that length of time.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who was the first woman to serve as the Grand Marshall of the Tournament of Roses Parade?
answer - Erma Bombeck

Caliper Comparison: Fraction Dial vs. Digital

Highland Woodworking - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 7:00am


In the March 2017 issue of Wood News, Jeff Fleisher changes up his normal review process and does a comparison review of two of our most popular selling calipers, the 6 inch Fractional Dial Caliper and the 6 inch Fractional Digital Caliper.
This will not be a typical review of each tool but rather a listing of the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision when purchasing one, or both, of the calipers.

Click here to read more of Jeff’s article

The post Caliper Comparison: Fraction Dial vs. Digital appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Demise of U.S. Clamp Makers & A Defense of Hardware Hoarding

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 5:00am

The topics of United States clamp manufacturing and hardware hoarding might seem unrelated, and many of you will certainly think that they deserve two separate entries. In this story, however, I will try to show you how they can be “clamped” together quite successfully. Recently I decided we needed to add a few more clamps to the woodworking program at school. I wish we could have bought some domestically made […]

The post Demise of U.S. Clamp Makers & A Defense of Hardware Hoarding appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Mitre Planes and the Finest of Mouths: Why? What Evidence? What to Look for When Shopping for Mitre and Shoulder Planes

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 4:00am

One of the crappy things about using old planes is that a tremendous percentage are worn out. A steel mitre plane (or "infill" to use the modern phrase) unless made by a modern maker will probably be at least 150 years old. Norris, Spiers, and a few other makers continued making mitre planes up until the mid twentieth century but those are rare beasts. The average mitre plane you come across will be pre 1850.

Rotten wood can be replaced, but the most important feature of a mitre or a shoulder plane is a fine mouth. And not just a kind of fine mouth, the finest of mouths, especially if you are using the plane on end grain. The planes in the picture have mouths (with the irons withdrawn) ranging from a fat 1/64" to a fat 1/32". That's very fine.

Let's talk about fine mouths for a second. First of all it is pretty well understood that a super fine mouth on a smoothing plane breaks the shaving and reduces tearout. All well and good. But what about mitre, shoulder, and block planes? All of them are bevel up and used primarily for planing endgrain. Certainly there is no need for a fine mouth if the shaving is endgrain and will disintegrate on its own.

So why do unaltered historical examples of mitre and should planes have such extremely fine mouths?

There are two dimensions that concern us: the open space from the front of the blade to the lip of the throat - the effective mouth. And the absolute mouth opening when the blade is removed. As you can see from the photographs the mouths of these planes - a late 18th century mitre plane and a C. 1920's Norris shoulder plane are ridiculously fine and I would say this is typical of any infill in good condition that I know of. You do get planes that are worn out, planes where someone has widened the mouth, but for any infill plane in basic decent condition a very fine mouth is to be expected.

As we've stated before, planing endgrain doesn't require a plane with a fine mouth, but there are two very important reasons for having a fine mouth, especially when planing with a bevel-up plane.

Blade support:
Extending the iron sole of a plane as far as possible under a bevel up blade gives the blade more support and makes it less likely to chatter. Steel-soled planes can do this easily, but cast planes can't - unless they have a steel sole (like the shoulder plane in the picture). With a bevel down iron, there is a lot of support in the blade to prevent the very tip from bending and chattering. On a bevel up plane, on the other hand, the iron wants to bend and chatter around the edge of the sole. The more support the sole gives the iron, the more strength the iron has at the cutting edge -- and the better the plane will work. Cast mitre planes, by the very nature of a casting, cannot get as close to total support as a steel-soled dovetailed plane, where the steel sole can taper to a knife edge.

Controlling the cut:

If you are planing endgrain, especially if you are holding the plane in one hand and wood in the other, and you hold the plane perfectly against the wood when you start your stroke, you can determine the exact thickness of your cut by setting your plane iron. But if you are even slightly off and the plane is tilted on the wood, your shaving thickness will increase depending on the size of the plane mouth. The second drawing shows an exaggerated example of this. The practical effect of this is that you try to take a fine shaving and your plane jams, skids off the end, and takes an uneven chunk off the edge. Worse, you can damage that nice low angle cutting edge on your iron. A very fine mouth mitigates this and makes the plane easier to use, even if you aren't perfectly sitting on the wood. There is simply less space for the wood to jam into.

Left to right: Christopher Gabriel - late 18th century, Norris 20E shoulder plane in nearly unused condition, I Smith - Mid 19th Century
These points are small and minor. I understand that. But I get frustrated when someone compares the performance of a worn out 200 year old plane to an new modern plane, possibly of a lesser design. If you are in the market for a mitre plane, or a shoulder plane, make sure the overall mouth is minuscule. Also make sure that the iron and wedge match the plane. It's not at all uncommon for an old infill to have a replaced blade and/or wedge. Just normal use can cause this. Mitre planes had tapered irons and the original iron and wedge would have been fitted together so that you get continuous contact on the bridge. When properly fitted, the iron will set properly, hold its setting, and be easily adjusted. An ill fitting wedge just won't work right. If a parallel iron had been used to replace what was supposed to be a tapered iron, you will never get proper action without adjusting the wedge. Depending on circumstances, you will probably have a replacement iron with the original wedge. If you do and they don't fit, just put the original wedge in a safe place for when you resell the plane, and make a new wedge. Most shoulder planes used parallel irons so any replacement should fit it properly. Check before buying.

Many bevel up planes have cosmetic issues that don't matter, including damaged wooden parts (easily replaced) and misaligned wedges (easily adjusted). But - unlike a bevel down plane - bevel up planes with wide mouths can't be fixed with a thicker iron. You might like the feel of the plane but it won't get the action you would have gotten two centuries ago. Flattening a sole of a bevel up plane can easily, accidentally, widen the mouth. The steel sole behind the blade forms a knife edge and can be damaged. Unlike cast planes which can easily warp over time, steel planes stay pretty flat. A few pits and dings aren't worth worrying about. I would stone down any raised dings, but otherwise leave the sole alone. Before you try to flatten anything see how the plane works.

Back with a vengeance

Je ne sai quoi Woodworking - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 2:23am


You might already know that Je Ne Sais Quoi Woodworking almost disappeared into thin air, but alas it was revived albeit still in rehab. One day in mid January my site just vanished and it took days of work by the IT guy who set it up for me and my wife to work out what happened. I really do not want to go into the details of the traumatic event, suffice to say that it was an unsavoury experience.

I would also like to apologise to those who were looking for JNSQW and not being able to find it. A special thanks goes out to my two special blogger friends in Jonathan White (The Bench Blog) and Bob Demers (The Valley Woodworker) who tried to keep my spirits up. They both gave me lots of advice on how to solve the problem and prevent it in future. Thanks gentlemen.

What I have learnt though is that I do not know enough about the technical aspects of websites, wordpress, backups etc etc. I have now made it a mission to first get a better understanding of these vital bits and pieces. At present I am working through a series of videos on how to use wordpress in the best possible way and trying to work out how to optimize my photos before uploading it.

Another thing I realised is how much the blogging has become part of my life and therefore how much I missed it when the site went into hiding. I want to try and hang onto that thought to ensure that I appreciate being able to do it more and hopefully try to improve the quality of my posts and site. One of the tricks I have discovered so far is how to make time-lapse videos and post it on the site. Here is one to wet your appetite.

At least you can now look forward to quite a bit of material that heaped up in the meantime, which I now have to publish to get back on schedule. The two tables I am working on have both evolved significantly since my disappearance. It is wonderful to be back and I look forward to engaging with all of you on woodwork topics yet again.

Viva Je Ne Sais Quoi Woodworking!!!

Lie Neilsen side rabbet planes.......

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 12:42am
You can't go wrong when there is a lot of shiny brass to gaze upon. My side rabbets came in last night too late to make into the blog so I got to play with them tonight. LN gave me a deal on them since I already had the irons. They sold me the planes sans irons and 3 days later I had them. I briefly looked them over last night after dinner and they looked damn good close up.

how I left them last night
I broke the both of them down to parade rest. The fit and finish is top notch where it counts. This gave me a chance to look at all the individual parts, see how the come apart and how they fit going back together.

blade clamps
Most of the clamp is still rough from casting but the part that sits on top of the iron has been cleaned up and flattened a bit.. I don't know how these stack up against the size of the Stanley 98&99, but I do know the LN irons are much bigger - in the thickness, length, and width.

depth stop
The stop has two raised bumps on the back. The vee shaped bump on the right slides in a groove on the main body. The other raised bump keeps the depth stop parallel to the main body. I would have thought that at least the vee shaped one would have been finished rather then being left rough from the casting.

vertical slot
 The vee shaped bump on the depth stop rides in this groove. This keeps the depth stop vertical and the bottom of it parallel to the bottom of the skate. This groove isn't that deep nor wide. Again I expected the mating bump on the depth stop to be finished at the level of the groove.

LN flattening of the backs
This is one area that Lee Valley excels at. Their backs are dead nuts flat and so shiny you can shave out of them. If I remember right, LN only does the backs up to 400 grit. I shined these two up on 1200 and then the 8K japanese stones.

respectable shine
This is after 10 strokes on the 1200 diamond stone. After this I went to the 8K and tried them out.

99 making wispy shavings
98 making not so wispy shavings
I did not touch the bevels at all but tried them right out of the box. The 99 was sharp and 98 needed a touch up. I did the both of them on the 8K stone first.

10 strokes on the 8K
followed by 20 strokes on the strop
what a difference
I'm getting nice thin, see through shavings from end to end. I had to fiddle with getting the right amount of iron projection which took about 4-5 tries. Once I got that sorted out, the plane sailed through the grain with no hesitation or grabbing.

the depth was a bit tricky
I didn't do so good on this at first. I first dropped the plane in the groove and than set the depth stop. Turns out that there is a better way to do this.

left hand dado
I chewed up the bottom of this dado pretty good with both planes. In spite of being this deep, the planes still shaved the walls. I saw this after I went back to the stones to hone the bevels.

did the same on the right dado

Instead of dropping the plane down into the groove, I looked at this time and held it once the tip of the iron was a frog hair above the bottom. Then I set the depth stop to that. I noticed a difference in the planing. It was smoother and with no dragging.

box is too big for them
I'll keep them in original cardboard box for now
These pieces of wood are left over from the spice rack drawers and I can use them to make a box for the side rabbet planes.

sawing off my test moldings
Two of the boards are too thin so I'm going to plane two more boards to thickness. This will be the first one.

I'll save these
I don't know what I can use these on but I'll put them in the scrap box for now.

one down and one to go
This is what is so exciting to me about hand tool woodworking. I don't think there is a safe way to get this same board to thickness using power tools, safely anyways.  With hand planes there are no restrictions on size.

too thin for the box
 I might be able to get the lid out of these but they are too thin for the box sides.

one board is wonky
it's twisted
Both sides are twisted. Or one side is twisted and the other has a hump. Either way if I correct those hiccups, the board will be too thin to use.

I can get another board out of this
The knot isn't in the way because the board above it is too long.

more than long enough for the front piece.
a tale of two mechanical pencils
The blue one is crap. Initially it works well but as the lead gets shorter it goes south. It is prone to breaking the lead if dropped.  It goes south in big hurry if that happens. New lead is supposed to advance but so far it hasn't happened for me. The lead also has an annoying habit of being pushed back into the pencil as I try to mark with it. In spite of this, I still like mechanical pencils over wooden ones.

I switched over to the papermate pencil and I have been pleasantly surprised by it. It is a thinner lead pencil and it seems to be more robust than the crappy Bic. I haven't had any problems with the lead breaking at all. I can advance or retract the lead by turning the bottom of it. So far a much better pencil for not much more money than the Bic.

sawn to rough length
Nothing beats a #4 for paint removal. Cleaning the plane afterwards sucks, but it works great.

had to remove some twist from this one first
scrubbed it close to the gauge lines
Smoothed it down to lines with the 4 1/2.

sawed the knot off first
I didn't want to plane this knot so I sawed it off before I planed it to thickness.

I'll sticker these until tomorrow. I kind of have an idea for the box I want but I'm sure it'll evolve as I make it.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What was the first sport in which women were invited to compete in at the Olympics?
answer - tennis at the 1900 games in Paris

Morris? Morris Who? (Take 2)

The Furniture Record - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 10:07pm

From Wikipedia:

A Morris chair is an early type of reclining chair. The design was adapted by William Morris’s firm, Morris & Company, from a prototype owned by Ephraim Colman in rural Sussex, England. It was first marketed around 1866.

Morris chairs feature a seat with a reclining back and moderately high armrests, which give the chair an old-style appearance. The characteristic feature of a Morris chair is a hinged back, set between two un-upholstered arms.

Morris chair is a fairly flexible term. If you add the word Style, it becomes positively elastic.

Below are two from a recent auction. The first is considered a traditional Morris chair:

Morris Style Reclining Arm Chair


This lot has sold for $160.

Description:  Circa 1900, mahogany and pine, transitional mission style frame, later paisley upholstered cushions.

For some reason the auctioneer listed this under Furniture – English and Continental.

It has a robust back adjust mechanism:


Cut by hand of machine?


The other is more of the “Mission” or the “Craftsman” Morris chair. This one is listed under Furniture – American:

Morris Style Reclining Arm Chair


This lot has sold for $80.

Description:  Circa 1900, later blue upholstery, oak frame, adjustable back with iron support bar, raised on shaped feet.

This back adjustment seems a bit less robust:


Reminds me of a café curtain rod.


The content of this blog feels a bit light. I am obligated to add a few more chairs from the same auction. Third up is this chair just ready for you and your designer to make your own:

Queen Anne Wing Back Chair Frame


This lot has sold for $310.

Description:   18th century frame, oak and other hardwoods, with later front cabriole legs.

One way to get rid of all the vermin in your horsehair stuffing.


This is not a new frame…


They haven’t quite found the right look yet,


but as long as there is wood left, they’ll keep trying.


This patch/support is actually a wood insert. It would be hard to nail into metal.


And one last chair to round things out. Or, in this case, a pair of chairs:

Pair of Transitional Carved Arm Chairs


This lot has sold for $400.

Description:  Early 20th century, mahogany, floral needlepoint over upholstery, bowed arms terminating in eagle head, legs with acanthus carved knee and ball and claw foot.

One of a pair, the other looks just like it.

What really amused me about these chairs are the carved arms:


The auctioneer claims they are eagles.


Who am I to argue?

Router Inlay Class March 26th

Alaska Creative Woodworkers Association - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 9:28am
Join us in a one-day class where you learn how to perform basic inlay techniques using a router and exacto knives.  There will be four designs to choose from including a leaf, an apple, and a few surprises.  Depending on your skill level and time management you will complete one or maybe all four designs.  Plan on bringing a piece of wood (optional) that you can use on a future project, such as box lid, table top, or a case […]

Laguna Tools IQ CNC Review: Part One

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 5:00am

In Part One and Part Two of this series on small shop CNCs, I introduced machines in this group that are designed to perform well in home and small professional shops. What they have in common is the size range and their engineering, design, components, specifications and build. Now, it’s time for a closer look at one of the machines and a review of the Laguna IQ. There’s a lot […]

The post Laguna Tools IQ CNC Review: Part One appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

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