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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...

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Oriental Hand Tools

A thought experiment on dovetail strength

Giant Cypress - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 3:18am

The subject of the strength of dovetail joints came up in the Woodnet hand tool forum recently, and I realized that although I had always thought of a dovetail as being a very strong joint, I never had tried to work through why that might be the case.

My assumption had been that a dovetail was strong because of mechanical strength. The dovetail joint does provide some long grain-to-long grain glue surfaces, but I had always thought that this was a relatively minor factor, with the mechanical interlocking nature of the joint being the real hero in this story.

So let’s make a dovetail joint with two 3/4” thick boards. Here’s one of them, seen from the end.


And let’s lay out some dovetails. These are going to be utilitarian dovetails, such as you might do for a crate. No thought is going to be put into trying to emulate fancy London pattern dovetails, with their skinny pins. Just plain old dovetails, laid out fairly evenly.


The darker brown lines are the surfaces that you would paint with glue, and provide the long grain-to-long grain glue bond. Remember that these surfaces are 3/4” deep, since we are dovetailing together two boards, 3/4” thick. Thanks to the miracle of Pixelmator, I can rotate these lines and lay them end-to-end.


This surprised me. As it turns out, the long grain-to-long grain surfaces add up to an area that’s larger than the area of the end of the board itself. Most woodworkers, when they think of strong glue joints, think of a long grain edge-to-edge joint such as you would use to glue up a panel. This shows that a dovetail joint can provide more glue surface than an edge-to-edge joint over the same area.

So what if you happen to be a fan of fancy London pattern dovetail joints? We can redo the layout like this.


And layout the glue surfaces like in the first example.


And we find that the glue surfaces provided by this dovetail joint work out to be just about the same surface area as the end of the board.

Of course, if you have a wide enough board and wide enough tails, you’ll get to a point where the glue surface is going to be significantly smaller than the area covered by the end of the board. After playing around with some layouts, I found that you had to get to a point where the width of the tails were about three times the thickness of the board before this would be a factor. And at that point, the joint itself just starts looking weird to my eyes. I don’t think I’m alone in this. An image search of London pattern dovetails did not turn up many examples of this joint with very wide tails.

Slayer! Audrey and Kate are simultaneously too awesome and too...

Giant Cypress - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 5:48am


Audrey and Kate are simultaneously too awesome and too cute for words.

Hi there, what's the best site to identify Japanese chisel black smiths and the makers ? Hope to hear from you soon. Kind regards.

Giant Cypress - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 7:08am

Japan Tool and Iida Tool have good high quality pictures of a number of chisels.

Daiku Dojo has a gallery of Japanese planes identified by maker. This gallery is for planes, so this probably won’t help you with chisels.

But beyond that, there’s not much in the way of a field guide to Japanese tool stamps. I always keep in mind that back in Japan and historically, there are a lot more blacksmiths than we see here in the U.S., so it wouldn’t be unusual to find a Japanese tool with a stamp that is not immediately recognizable. In addition, sometimes blacksmiths would stamp their tools with their particular mark, but also make a secondary line with a different stamp, and it sometimes wouldn’t be clear that the two lines of tools were made by the same blacksmith.

Cleaning a record with wood glue, with impressive results. Props...

Giant Cypress - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 9:18am

Cleaning a record with wood glue, with impressive results. Props to the maker of this video for using Miles Ahead for this demonstration.

This demo uses Titebond II. Being a fan of hide glue, I wonder if hide glue would work as well. But since hide glue dries harder than PVA glues, I would guess that peeling the glue layer off might be harder with hide glue as opposed to PVA glue.

New options for Japanese plane shooting boards

Giant Cypress - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 8:28am
New options for Japanese plane shooting boards:

Rob Hanson of Evenfall Studios dropped me a line to tell me that he has added three new shooting board layouts for his single chute shooting boards. The Multi is a five fence position board: 15, 22.5, 30, 45 and 90 degrees. The Ultra is a seven position board adding 60 and 75 beyond the Multi. The Ultra Plus is eight positions, adding 67.5 beyond the Ultra.

The shooting board I have and use with my Japanese planes is the same as the multi, plus a 60 degree position. Over four years later, and it’s still a terrific tool. His shooting boards can be configured for western planes as well, of course. Highly recommended.

Rob also mentioned that he recently joined Twitter: @evenfallstudios

(I don’t get any kickback for this. The Christopher Schwarz ethics policy is in effect.)

Kezurou-Kai in Brooklyn, Sept. 6, 2014

Giant Cypress - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 8:48am
Kezurou-Kai in Brooklyn, Sept. 6, 2014:

Yann Giguère is hosting a Kezurou-Kai at his shop, Mokuchi Studio, in Brooklyn on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. You may think of a Kezurou-Kai as simply a planing contest, or a demonstration of freakishly large Japanese planes, but it’s much more than that. It’s an opportunity for woodworkers to get together, talk about woodworking and tools, and to have a great time.

I’ll be giving a talk on Japanese and western planes, sort of a condensed version of my classes at Woodworking in America.

Yann calls this a Kezurou-Kai Mini, but given that it’s an all day affair, I don’t think there’s anything mini about this. Tickets are available through the link above. Hope to see you there.

I had the pleasure of meeting Elaine Stritch thanks to my wife...

Giant Cypress - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 3:08am

I had the pleasure of meeting Elaine Stritch thanks to my wife many years ago. There won’t be another like her. Hope you enjoy yourself in Gay Paree, Elaine.

how can i got seed lac in pakistan

Giant Cypress - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 3:18am

I got my seedlac from shellac.net. On their website, they say that they ship internationally.

This is clearly great value for your hand tool dollar. Used...

Giant Cypress - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 3:38am

This is clearly great value for your hand tool dollar. Used ryoba, found on eBay.

At least the original owner got his money’s worth out of this saw.

Christopher Schwarz, from the Lost Art Press blog: The central...

Giant Cypress - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 9:28am

Christopher Schwarz, from the Lost Art Press blog:

The central idea in my next book, “The Furniture of Necessity,” is that there is a type of furniture that escaped the whims of fashion and has remained unchanged through the centuries because it is useful, simple, sturdy and (in a way) beautiful.

One of those types that Chris mentions is the Windsor-type stool. On my recent trip to Singapore, I kept seeing this type of stool. There is variation on how the stretchers are set up, but one thing all these stools have in common is that the legs are set into the top.

In addition, stools and benches with this sort of construction were ubiquitous when I went to China two years ago. It’s interesting how a furniture form can be truly global.

Woodworking in America 2014 early bird deadline: July 11, 2014

Giant Cypress - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 3:58am
Woodworking in America 2014 early bird deadline: July 11, 2014:

A reminder that today is the last day to save $50 on your Woodworking in America registration. I hope to see you there.


The early bird registration deadline for Woodworking in America 2014 is coming up in just over two weeks. And although there are any number of terrific speakers that you can see at this year’s edition of WIA, including three (!) Cartouche Award winners, here’s one thing you’ll learn if you stop by my talks on Japanese tools: the interesting parallels between traditional methods of making Japanese tools and modern day steel technology.

Follow the link to register. It’s going to be a long time before a speaker lineup like this will be offered at a woodworking meeting.

I've seen you mention your Rikon J/P combo in a couple of forum posts. Do you still have it, and use it? Do you find that you mostly use it as either a Jointer or Planer, or do you change back and forth regularly as needed? I'm an intermediate...

Giant Cypress - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 1:58pm

I initially looked into the Rikon 10” jointer/planer combo mainly because of a lack of space in my shop. I did not think that I would have the room for a separate jointer and planer. I have never regretted my decision.

I still have it and I still use it. I use it both in jointer and planer modes, and it’s easy to switch from one mode to the other. If I’m not using it for a project, the most common reason is that the board that I’m working with is too wide for my jointer/planer combo, in which case I’ll use hand tools.

The current Rikon 10” jointer/planer is a bit nicer than the model that I have. It has three cutters on the cutterhead, and mine has two. It’s also easier to adjust table alignment on the current model, and it looks like the dust collection is more robust. I see on the Rikon website that there is a helical head version of the 10” jointer/planer, which I am very jealous of.

There are a couple of things that I wish were better. The fence is a piece of crap for anything but 90° edge jointing. On the other hand, I hardly ever edge joint at anything besides 90°, and I can accomplish that task by hand. The mobile cart option is also a piece of crap. If you want a mobile cart, get a third party option instead.

Some people will point out that the tables are relatively short on a jointer/planer combo compared to a standard jointer, which is a “limitation”. I find that that issue to be overstated. You should be able to joint a board that is twice the length of the tables of a jointer, and for the 10” jointer/planer, that works out to a board that is 6’ 8” long. There aren’t that many projects that require a board that long, except maybe floor-to-ceiling bookcases, or really long dining room tables.

And if you really need to handle boards that long on a frequent basis, your shop is probably big enough to handle a 12” jointer/planer. You can easily rig up an outfeed stand to help with really long boards, or just get a friend to help. My 10” jointer/planer was able to do the initial milling of the 8’ long 4x4s that I used for my workbench top, and it was no problem feeding the boards with the help of a friend.

In the end, I have no regrets with my Rikon 10” jointer/planer, other than I should have gotten a third party mobile stand. The only thing I would consider replacing it with is a 12” or a 16” jointer/planer, if I had the room for it.

(For those who might be surprised that I’m writing about a woodworking machine on a Japanese hand tool blog, all I can say that if Shannon Rogers can do it, anyone can.)

Building a Roubo workbench rerun - 27

Giant Cypress - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 3:58am

(Originally written Apr. 29, 2010)

My workbench is pretty much done. There are still a few things to do. I still need to make a sliding deadman, but I’ve found that I have other ways to deal with edge planing longer boards for now. I also need to tune up the handle for the vise, put some boards across the bottom stretchers for extra storage, and make a real pin for the leg vise instead of the 3/8” oak dowel that I’m using. I also want to hang an additional fluorescent light fixture above the bench.

But the bench is in position, and I’ve got the key parts of my wall tool storage up and running. As you can see, I decided to go with unfinished pine boards. I might decide to paint the pine boards later on, but that will be easy for me to do if I go that route, since all the tool storage is just screwed onto the pine boards.

So I’m finally declaring victory on this project. And it only took 18 months.

The exposed 2x4’s to the left of the bench is where my sharpening table is. It’s not there now so I can mount pine boards onto the 2x4’s like I did for my workbench. Then I’ll push it back in place.

tetsuichi: Kanefusa tooling,The other Japanese steel.

Giant Cypress - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 3:48am


Kanefusa tooling,

The other Japanese steel.

Asians. Who. Rock. Ladies and Gentlemen, Babymetal!

Giant Cypress - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 3:18am

Asians. Who. Rock. Ladies and Gentlemen, Babymetal!

Unexpected example of lutherie at Narita Airport. I’ve never...

Giant Cypress - Wed, 07/02/2014 - 3:48am

Unexpected example of lutherie at Narita Airport. I’ve never seen this variation of woodworking before.

(I should probably clarify that this was part of a display of contraband confiscated by customs.)

Songs from the Workbench: Guy Clark

Giant Cypress - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 3:18am
Songs from the Workbench: Guy Clark:

Megan Fitzpatrick, from her profile on Guy Clark:

He prefers Japanese pull saws to western push saws, and doesn’t like power tools much.

So he’s a genius in addition to being a fantastic songwriter, musician, and woodworker. In other words, I want to live his life.

Using a Roubo to put together a presentation that I’ll be giving...

Giant Cypress - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 3:08am

Using a Roubo to put together a presentation that I’ll be giving at a conference in Singapore.

(Now I’ll wait for someone to say that a Nicholson workbench would have been the better choice.)

Japanese woodworking content: the paper trimmer that I used to complete this project works better on the pull stroke

Can a broken saw be brazed? If not, any good antidepressant I can buy over the counter?

Giant Cypress - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 8:22am

A broken Japanese saw can be fixed. This has happened to me, and unless you are looking closely, you can’t see the fix, and the saw works great. But this is something I would farm out, even if I knew how to braze or weld, and even it means sending the saw to Japan.

As far as over the counter antidepressants, I would suggest Maker’s Mark. The good thing is after you get your saw fixed, you can celebrate with the same pharmaceutical.

Japanese woodworking has a reputation of being all about...

Giant Cypress - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 3:38am

Japanese woodworking has a reputation of being all about esoteric, unbelievably refined hand tools, wielded by master woodworkers who have dedicated decades of practice to the craft. There’s plenty of regular woodworking to be found in Japan, however.

Here are excepts of Japanese articles on how to build stuff out of 2x material, including a cart for your patio, picnic tables, and a simple nightstand. Hand tools used include a circular saw and a cordless drill, the workbench is a sheet of plywood on sawhorses, and joinery is accomplished by lag bolts.


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