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Oriental Hand Tools
This is a clever way to add a locking mechanism to a Japanese-style toolbox. Clay Gossage was kind enough to send these photos of how he incorporated a wedge with a dovetail profile to lock the lids of boxes that he made in preparation moving his tools in place. Clay also mentioned that he could drive a screw through the wedge into the lid for added security.
I am beyond delighted to announce that Charles “Chuck” Bender is Popular Woodworking Magazine’s new senior editor…Chuck joins PWM June 3, and will be working from his Pennsylvania-based shop through the summer as he wraps up classes at his school, Acanthus Workshop, before moving to Cincinnati with his wife, Lorraine, this fall.
Congratulations to Chuck on his new position, and to Popular Woodworking Magazine for the new hire. I’m going to miss having him so close to New Jersey.
I’m also sure one of the things that attracted Chuck to his new gig is that the greater Cincinnati area has two locations of his favorite restaurant.
I read Christopher Schwarz’s write up of his new “A Traditional Tool Chest in Two Days” DVD, aka “The Traitor’s Tool Chest”.
When I go to Woodworking in America, I’m going to go to his talk on building tool chests and workbenches out of home center materials, and I’m going to yell, “Judas!” And he can retort, “I don’t beLIEVE you. You’re a LIAR.”
(Originally written March 22, 2010)
The legs are connected to the top!
After several cycles of adjusting the tenons and/or mortises, test fitting the legs to the top, working the legs out of the top (the hardest part), and adjusting again, I had gotten the legs so that they were fitting to a point that when the leg tenons were inserted into the mortises, the shoulders of the leg tenons were about 3/8” from meeting up with the benchtop. But it seemed that I just needed to to the slightest bit of trimming to get it to fit. But I decided to go with brute force instead.
See the clamps in the pictures? Those are 36” Wetzlers. I placed the clamps across the bottom of the legs and the benchtop, and I used them to force the legs home. The net result is that at least some of those 8 M/T joints are an extremely tight friction fit — so tight that I decided to let gravity and friction to keep these joints in place. This assembly is not coming apart any time soon. If by chance it does, I’ll drawbore and glue the joint.
Next step: making the groove in the bottom of the benchtop for the deadman, and then I can turn this bench over. After begging my neighbors for help, that is.
Can’t wait. The more I look at the schedule of classes, the more it seems to be an embarrassment of riches.
If you still don’t have plans for Memorial Day weekend, consider going to Handworks. It will be an incredible meeting of some of the best toolmakers around. In addition, Don Williams and Christopher Schwarz will be giving a presentation on the Studley tool chest. I’m really regretting not being able to go, even though, to my knowledge, there won’t be a single Japanese tool in sight.
There have been a number of write-ups about this, but I’ll direct you to Raney Nelson’s, since it’s the most entertaining one I’ve seen, with the added benefit of a Sleater-Kinney reference.
Box joints. Difficult
as a dovetail, but far worse
Joel Moskowitz brings tools to Tokyo, Osaka, and Sapporo. Nice.
Greg Knopp had contacted me earlier about fixing up a Japanese plane that he had. From the photos he sent me, it looked like it was in nice shape, except for one thing: the blade protruded a good ways past the mouth.
As it turns out, I have a Japanese plane that does the same thing.
This sometimes happens with Japanese planes. What I think happens is that the body shrinks over time, which effectively lowers the bed as the wood moves away from the position that it originally was in when the blade was fitted to the plane. As the bed lowers, it allows the blade to sink further into the grooves that hold it in place, resulting in the excessive protrusion you see above.
There are three ways to deal with this situation.
1. Make a new body for your plane blade. My guess is that’s more work than you want to do. It certainly is more work than I would want to do to fix this issue.
2. Grind down the blade so that it no longer protrudes out of the mouth like that. That would be a bit waste of a good portion of your blade, and you would have to do a lot of grinding, resharpening, and tapping out the blade. That’s also a lot of work.
3. Raise the bed by gluing a thin shim in place. A thin piece of cardboard has often been used for this. Some people swear by copier paper, business card stock, or index cards. Others would resaw a thin piece of wood. Once you do that, the blade shouldn’t be able to go all the way down. Then start rescraping the bed to allow the blade to drop down again.
I decided to go the thin piece of wood route. I’ve tried paper and cardboard before for this task, and found that when it came to rescraping the bed, the scraping was much less predictable than I liked. I’d often try to remove a small bit of the paper or cardboard, and come away with a bigger chunk than I wanted.
The first step is to get a thin piece of wood. I had a scrap of hard maple available, and resawed it to get a thin piece that was a strong 1/32” thick.
As it turned out, the shim was not quite even all the way across, but that’s not critical. I’m going to be shaving away at it anyway to fit the blade when this process is all done.
Next, I needed to cut it to fit the bed of the plane. The first time I tried this, I did a lot of trimming, then fitting, then trimming again. Eventually I realized that I already had a template for the shape of the bed.
I used the plane blade to trace an outline on the shim, and cut it out slightly oversized. Then I trimmed the edges with a plane until it fit nicely in the bed.
I used a liberal amount of hide glue, and set the shim in place. To apply pressure, I used the plane blade, and tapped it in with a hammer.
The plane blade now sits a good 1/4” short of the mouth, even with vigorous tapping with a hammer. In the above picture, the shim can be seen past the end of the blade.
I checked the shim around the mouth of the plane from the underside just to make sure that the shim was seated on the bed. Once the glue dried, I could pop the blade out, and start rescraping the shim to fit the blade to the plane just as I would if I was setting up the plane for the first time.
College of the Redwoods, indeed.
Photo by Michael Nichols, from National Geographic.
They say that planing end grain is one of the harder things to do with a plane.
(Thanks to Stuart Tierney for the link.)
Hi, do you mind if I put a link to your saw sharpening manual on my site? I sharpened some saws in the past and I think you made a really good instruction manual on how to do it. (^-^)b
Thanks for the kind comment! I really appreciate it.
Link away. Please post more on the saws you’ve sharpened.
During your presentation for the NYCWWC, I forgot to ask, Is there such a thing as a japanese style scrub plane? Thanx M. Stone
Japanese planes can be set up to do most any task a western bench plane can do. Although most woodworkers think of Japanese planes taking ridiculously fine, wide, gossamer shavings, that mainly reflects the setup of the plane: very fine mouth, with a very sharp blade with very little camber that is set to take as fine a shaving as possible.
A Japanese plane can easily be set up to take a much thicker shaving, and this is done by altering the same parameters that you would in a western plane: open up the mouth, put more of a camber on the plane, and advance the blade to take a thicker shaving. Japanese planes put to this use also tended to be narrower, with 50-60mm wide blades.
One of my Japanese planes is set up this way, although in use it’s probably more like a jack plane than a scrub plane. If I wanted a Japanese scrub plane, I’d look for a plane with a narrower blade, and put more camber on the blade than this one.
Of course, I never really need to use a scrub plane. But that’s another topic of discussion.
From Woodcraft’s blog:
Take a walk through the Pagoda, where you will find many of the Japan Woodworker products.
Interesting that Woodcraft would carve out retail space for this display. The variety of Japanese saws that are on display seems to be more than what a typical Woodcraft would carry. If they have Japanese planes back there, I’ll be really impressed.
Paul Discoe and Alef de Ghizé demonstrating fitting a post to a stone at the Noguchi Museum.
The Woodworking in America 2013 site is live. Great list of classes and instructors, as always. I’m especially interested in seeing Peter Galbert’s talks.
One question George and I often get is whether this whole scheme of designing to whole number ratios is limited to the classical (i.e. pre-industrial) “western” world. What about the vast, and just as ancient, built world of the Orient? That’s a big question, and probably the deepest rabbit hole we would ever want to jump into.
Wilbur: It will just take longer with oilstones than waterstones. Finishing on a strop will help a lot as well.
Zach: I may grab one of them-there fancy Japanese chisels. I forget... am I supposed to pare towards myself or away like a Western tool?
Wilbur: The name of the technique by which you pare towards yourself with a Japanese chisel is seppuku.
Safety Day is back with us, and although we often think about damage caused by power tools when thinking about shop safety, hand tools can be dangerous as well. Sharp chisels are great for woodworking, but can do a lot of damage quickly if they come into contact with flesh. There’s one simple rule that will keep your hands safe: when using a chisel, keep both hands on it at all times, as in the picture above, to avoid slicing into your finger or some other part of your body with it. Not only is this safe, but you’ll have more control over the chisel and you’ll have better results.
“But what if I just need to make a quick paring cut?” you may say. Take the time to put your workpiece in a vise, or clamp it in place. It’s not as quick as holding your workpiece in one hand while paring with the other, but it takes a heck of a lot less time than sitting in an emergency room, waiting for a hand surgeon to reattach your tendon.
Now that I think of it, there is one situation where it is acceptable to have just one hand on a chisel: when the other one is holding a hammer.