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Paul Sellers

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A Lifestyle Woodworker
Updated: 2 hours 52 min ago

Import Planes-Part IV

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 12:49pm

I added another plane in the mix or did I?P1160286

Look at the two outer planes here. These two planes are put out by B&Q. Do they look different? Yes, they do! No, they’re not. Not altogether anyway. Now the third plane, centred here in the mix, came from a very different supplier. The two companies supplying these three planes are directly in competition with one another on the high street as it were. This middle one doesn’t have plastic handles but genuine rosewood ones. Does this plane look different to the other two? Yes, it does! No, it’s not. Well not really, altogether.


I bought these first two planes from one supplier thinking I was indeed buying two very different planes made by two different makers. I wanted to run them side by side as two alternative planes for people to consider as low priced options. I think that that makes good sense on my part. Remember that one was a £10 plane and the other a £20 plane. On the one hand I was buying a B&Q plane and on the other I was buying a MACALLISTER, both sold as different planes. Indeed, looking at the packages, the planes side by side, these two planes look like Bailey-pattern #4s and indeed that’s what they are.

P1160161Unpacking the two planes I did think that they represented two styles, one a true copy of the Bailey with its lever cap and then, the same basic plane but this one with a knurled knob to set the pressures in place of the lever cam as on the other plane. Like the Record Irwin type. It was when I got inside the two planes that differences paled. P1160258

Adding the plane by Silverline, a leading UK supplier of economy rated tools, introduced yet another intriguing fact. Now I realise this may not have international significance but then again it might. Look at the three cap irons here and look closely at the stamped in words.

P1160272Look at the second letter ‘O’ and then work along the letters.

Remember that the third plane (centre) was added in from a different company altogether. You can see clearly that the cap irons are all identically made and identically marked and therefore from the same maker wherever they are in the world. Aside from the cap irons and the handle materials and colours, these planes are all identical. They are basically one and the same plane made in the same factory.


Look inside the plane frog areas here too. Different colours but that’s it. Every other feature is the same and all the parts, threads interchange except with the Silverline one which has an added screw to the handle.


So, is the MACALLISTER plane a better plane then the B&Q yellow handled one?


No, it’s not. All of the other internal components are identical. This plane produces exactly the same work. Keep £10 in your pocket and buy the £10 version of the same plane. On the other hand, if you like nice wooden handles the Silverline gives you just that.


I reshaped the tote to fit my hands but the handle was fine enough and of course wooden handles do absorb sound better than plastic. Oh, you may feel the need to avoid the lever cam after my last post stating the need for working the cam, by the way. I don’t want anyone to think working the cam was a lot of trouble as someone said. It took literally no more than 5 minutes total to fix. The other two planes did not have the issue and were already rounded on the cam just fine so perhaps i got the only one with a flawed cam.


The soles to all three planes were really rather flat and the corners to the edges as good as most I have come across.



The Silverline plane was £12.90 so I think the rosewood handles, and they were rosewood, came in at about half the price you can buy them online.


The choice is yours. if you want rosewood handles you culd go that route i suppose

P1160262 P1160282

Oh, yes! How did the planes perform. For brand new planes, and most planes do need a little running in, they all performed just fine. In the long term we will see how well they do. I of course have stated why I introduced these here. I think that we have seen less planes showing up on eBay of late and perhaps the slow down is due to the resurgence we have engendered through our work. The top image shows the shavings straight from the package. The below one is after sharpening. I had almost nothing I needed to do to the Silverline, even though the brand has never been known for high quality.

The post Import Planes-Part IV appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Import planes-Part III

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 8:01am

Lever-cam lockdown out of sync

On the left is the B&Q lever cap showing the square and angular corner to the cam that causes an issues. It should look like the cam on the Stanley shown right, which is indeed rounded and operates smoothly to ensure the depth of the setscrew is the right depth to allow the cam to operate and set everything properly. On the left is the B&Q lever cap showing the square and angular corner to the cam that causes an issues. It should look like the cam on the Stanley shown right, which is indeed rounded and operates smoothly to ensure the depth of the setscrew is the right depth to allow the cam to operate and set everything properly.

This might seem innocuous, or even not apparent at all, but in the context of functionality this little adjustment assister makes a huge difference to the plane and especially so for the setting of the lever cap in relation to the pressure it applies to the cutting iron assembly. I coined the term cutting iron assembly 20 years ago to describe the united cap iron to the cutting iron as it best describes both parts as a unit. So wherever you see me use this term this is what I am referring to. On all of the commonly used bench planes the lever is refined to an elliptical shape so that when the cam-shaped lever is pressed into action from its loosed state the cam lifts the lever cap up from its zero pressure position to apply pressure at two points; one, directly beneath the lever cam near the top or upper end of the cutting iron and then, two, along the full length of the leading edge of the lever cap directly on the top of the hump of the cap iron. This then compresses the cap iron against the cutting iron and subsequently beds the whole onto the frog. The combination of all this effort counters any tendency in the cutting iron to chatter or vibrate under the forward thrust of the plane in the work.

P1160187Locked down, in place, all looks normal enough. See the cam in place against the thin spring plate, but then look at the next image in the same place and you will see that the lift distance is 3mm more because of the hard corner and…







P1160201…that added 2mm is enough to cause a miss-set to the depth of the setscrew. Look at the next image to see how the gap closes by the 2mm. Its this added closure than the leaves the assembly loose against the setscrew and thereby allows sideways movement.


When the lever cam is fully upwards the gap closes markedly.When the lever cam is fully upwards the gap closes markedly. Now we should look at comparable pictures from the Stanley lever cap.


The cam in its lowered position on the Stanley lever cap remains constant when the lever is...The cam in its lowered position on the Stanley lever cap remains constant when the lever is… P1160204…lifted and all the way through the rotation… ...until the fully loosened point that fully releases the cap iron for removal.…until the fully loosened point that fully releases the cap iron for removal.

Back to the flaw in the B&Q lever shown in stages of opening above. The lack of creating an elliptical curve increases the distance from the centre pin to what is nearer a more 90° corner. This means that when you set the centre setscrew to adjust the pressure to the lever cam the distance needed is greater than when it makes the full arc to the lock down. With this hard corner creating high ‘knuckle’ point you cannot lock the lever all the way over without further loosening of the setscrew an extra half turn to allow for the added distance. When the full rotation is complete the cutting iron assembly feels somewhat firm but can be moved from side to side on the frog quite easily with the fingers and thumb either side. This then means that the setscrew must be set with a screwdriver ‘after’ the lockdown is complete and this then negates the function and therefor need at all for the lever cam because the convenience is completely negated.

Unfortunately any new woodworker and even seasoned hand tool users would be less current with the workings of the bench plane and feel that it was either a useless plane or a useless them. Neither of which is the case at all. These things happen in organisations like B&Q where things get so big the buyers and store staff get so distanced from the reality of equipment they have no clue of what they should be able to advise on. This is true in the factories too. I actually did not feel this plane was any different than what was produced in the UK Stanley factories over the last half century–poor metalworking standards, assembly line anonymity, unaccountable staff. Stanley does offer a better quality plane these days but what the long-term in-the-field or at-the-bench tests will show will not be apparent for a decade or two as will be the case with this plane too. Now as has been said in previous articles and blogs, we cannot blame the makers altogether because companies give them a price they will buy at and then the workers are forced to work for a minimum wage. These kinds of irresponsible dictates so malign the art and craft of work and workmanship and demoralise people working too.

The staff making the plane can become equally detached from how the plane should ultimately function when completed because that is not technically their job or their area of expertise but one of two things likely happened here. They are so lowly paid and on production that they simply cut out one step that they thought insignificant or they were never trained to shape it correctly in the first place. Personally, for so low a cost plane, I thought that the plane came out pretty well. I think with all of the fettling and such I would have this plane shaving well inside about 15 to 20 minutes, but I haven’t got through everything yet, so when we make the video we will try to do it continuously unless that just doesn’t work or some work is redundant and extends the length without reason.

Here you can see a pin that holds the lever to the lever cap.Here you can see a pin that holds the lever to the lever cap.

To resolve this particular issue is simple enough. It is irksome that the work needs reconciling but we’ve been doing that to new Stanleys for half a century and more so what’s the difference? Oh, by the by, I have had to fettle brand new high-end planes from time to time too.

P1160210We first remove the pine with a nail set or drift of some type. A nail might work too.


P1160213The hard, angular corner.

Now I take a flat file to it and remove the hard corner and make certain that the corner is removed sufficiently not to over extend the distance as it did previously. I should point out here that I have had this happen on new Stanley planes where the operator forgot to do this aspect of work.P1160214

The metal files readily, by the way. It only took 15 strokes with a flat file.

P1160216How the cam looks when done.

Reinstalling the lever cam is simply a question of insert the lever, locating the pin and tapping it home.P1160217

Once this work was done the lever cap worked as well as any I have used.

The post Import planes-Part III appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Import planes-Part II

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 8:33am

I dismantled the plane after initially rotating it and and tumbling from tote to knob to get my initial feelings and it didn’t feely rattly, loose or anything different than say a new Stanley. In fact it did feel better than a Stanley. Two things stood out visually immediately and perhaps most might not see at first glance. The cutting iron was 3-4mm out of square. Not a big deal but enough to irk me. This then means that the cap iron (chip-breaker USA) couldn’t be set to the 2mm I prefer without shaping that out of square to match. Not a good choice. Issues like this happen with other plane makers and I did have this happen once with a high end plane too.


The sides of the cap iron were slightly out of parallel so whereas one edge to end was square the other was out so I would have to align one edge to the edge of the cutting iron instead of just centring it as I normally do with my fingers either side. Irritating that’s all. Also, it is generally helpful to use the cap iron to confirm squareness to the cutting iron as you unite them. Not a big deal but just my thoughts.


So for me it is worth taking a flat file to the offending side and filing it parallel and straight. A two-second job, that’s all.

The cutting iron is hardened well and takes an edge just fine. To really test it out I must use it for a month or so daily and then throughout the day. It doesn’t take much to make a good plane iron and I am not sure if any plane irons are hammer forged with drop hammers anywhere in the world in general any more. So basically, most of the makers order their steel alloys to a certain recipe and the steel comes in from rolled stock, which they then cut to length, grind, shape and harden. It’s one thing to take an edge and another to hold it keenly. Silly bench tests in magazines are, as with any experiment or test, influenced by some degree by the experimenter and often less accurate than they purport to be as they usually test for hardness alone and rarely distance tested at all.


My first test for hardness is to file the outer edge of the pane iron. Here you can see the change in colour to the edge of the plane iron after I filed it from the cutting edge to the opposite end. The first 1 1/2″ (32mm) barely filed whereas the remainder did file just fine. This shows me that the business end is indeed harder. The iron was just a tad thicker than my Stanley iron from the 60s at 2.06mm whereas the Stanley was 1.86mm.P1160168

The plane weighed in at 3.13oz and the Stanley was 3.08oz, which I found interesting but the nylon handles might be the reason for this as they often weigh heavier than wood. Here you can see that the sole is thicker and this too would contribute markedly to the weight difference. P1160166Poorer refinement to the casting above the sole wouldn’t at all affect performance but it would take so little to take out the flaws had the worker decided too. The paint hides it just a little.


This brass depth adjustment wheel worked just fine and the threads were really quite smooth all told. The split yoke just above worked fine too.

P1160186When it came to the flatness test with straight edge I was quite impressed as this was both along the length and across the width and with no twist, bow or buckle at all. So, so far so good at this stage. i have a gut feeling that this plane could be the answer for those looking to get started without spending masses of money to know if woodworking os for them. P1160185BUT…don’t buy just yet. I have some more to share about it that you may want to really consider first. Give me another couple of days.

The post Import planes-Part II appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Import Planes–Do/Can They Work?

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 7:37am

DSC_0661Of course most of the time we might pass them up, but look what would have happened had I passed up the Aldi chisels six years ago. Seemed to me I should give a couple of inexpensive planes a fair try to see how they did and so I bought two from B&Q. The ask was actually to post a video or two on upgrading lower end/grade mass-made planes to see if qualities were issues that compromised functionality compared to say the old Stanley and Record planes and then generally to see just how well the planes functioned. I bought these two by different manufacturers but made specifically for selling through the same outlet to look over and fettle and see what we could do. These two came from B&Q, a DIY home repair and maintenance chain here in the UK and something of the equivalent of the Home Depot in the USA. Not quite the same and somewhat different because we don’t build stick-frame homes with sheetrock walls for outer walls to homes and commercial buildings as is the general method of the USA and others following those patterns as standard.

P1160164Just to start out I opened the box to see what I had bought. The two planes arrived bubble-packed side by side and cost £10 (yellow handled one) and £20 respectively. If anyone had taken the yellow handled one straight from the box and tried to use it as it arrived it would have gouged the wood and ruined whatever was there. The blade was locked into the body with the centre setscrew cinched way tight, so I suspect set with a screwdriver as no leverage on the lever cam could have got it that tight as it could not be unlocked using the retractive mechanism of the lever cam. So, mixed message here. One, the lever cam is  for a quick set and then the setscrew is for locking in place. This very wrong! P1160170The second wrong signal is that the blade should protrude through the throat 3mm (1/8″) to cut. Very wrong again! The blade would best be withdrawn into the mouth for aspects of safety as well as to prevent damage to the work in hand, but it couldn’t in this case because the cap iron was set 3mm too far from the cutting edge so that adjuster was maxed out and couldn’t withdraw the cutting iron beyond the threads and the angle of the yoke that sets the depth.DSC_0671

To me, these things seem minor elements of training for the assembly staff in Asia. Three twiddles here, a minor tweak there and little eyeballing and the plane could have actually worked out of the bubble pack. I must admit though, this standard was set by Stanley UK back in the 1960s because that’s how their planes arrived from Sheffield.

I didn’t too much care for the heavy dip-coat of oil that by the time you catch it has gone everywhere but there was no sign of rust. The yellow nylonny handles felt comfortable to me and funnily enough I can’t always say that for wooden ones. In this case the mould seam left an exaggerated line that will need removal before use or a blister will come as result.P1160167

We will film the first plane this week and let you know how we go on. M gut feeling is the plane will work. How well I will let you know. I will say this. It definitely feels better than the Harbor Freight #4 I did the same thing to a few years back. U think that they have changed theirs from the rosewood handles to plastic now. They give you a block plane including in the $14 but that doesn’t even make a door stop never mind work.

More on this plane shortly.

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Categories: Hand Tools

You Cares!

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 1:50pm

Of course I knew that you did. It has been an interesting discussion.

I recall working on the Isle of Anglesey 8 or 9 years ago with Joseph and a man looked Joseph in the eye and said, You see this man here.” pointing to me. Joseph said, “Yes.” He said, “This man, your dad, wants nothing but good for you. He will never knowingly do anything to harm you.” I think that parents try to steer their children as best they can based on their own experiences and how they perceive the world of good things. Of course earning enough money not to go into debt is important and we want that for our children but for the majority it does mean that if you want uni or college you will incur debts you may never be able to repay. It is the association of higher education with the good life that I object to mostly. It is the good life associated with high income that for me has proven to be wrong time and time again. Most people survive anticipating that one day they will be making enough money to do things with two days off a week doing what they like. I have worked out that usually I have to spend two days a week doing semi pleasant things like associating with bank duties, answering some, not all, emails and such like, countering the misinformants and of course many other things. For others it the other way. They spend 5-6 days a week doing whats unpleasantly necessary, I know.

I can imagine a hundred jobs I might like to have done with my life and all of them revolve around crafting of some kind. I love blacksmithing and pottery. Painting and decorating and raising vegetables and chickens. I like textures like these, colours if you will. Oh, and I may not be a good writer but I do love to write for some reason. And I like to teach too by the way. One thing I will always be grateful for was the conversation I had with my dad when he asked me what I wanted to be. You see for me, at 14 even, I knew I wasn’t something and I knew that being something was a state of being you could actually own. Being a furniture designer and maker is something I own and no one can take that from me. I design a dozen things a day in my head and I think about tools that have not been invented yet. I own six hitherto uninvented woodworking tools. Most people seem to see advanced education as imperative but that is mostly because companies won’t look at you without a slip saying you passed. It saves them filtering through interviewees to find possible employees. I did get qualifiers when I was young, but no one ever asked to see them. I once went for an interview and the furniture company asked me how much I wanted. They never asked me for a piece of paper but I did do a 4-hour bench test in 1 hour that was, in their words, “flawlessly executed in record time too.” Of course no work is flawless. It doesn’t exist. there is great wisdom in interviewing someone through a bench test. great wisdom.

So the question is answered in your comments. Perspective is everything. Finding the balance, different strokes for different folks. But I think this goes much deeper. What is it in our western culture that does in reality seem to strike a certain fear when parents (and grandparents) hear their child say, “I am not going to university.”? Is it embarrassment, image, fear of some other kind? How is it that we always associate a good degree with a good life. I ask my students in every class, a group of mostly men ranging in age from 21 to 65 usually and which does tend to be more middle class I suppose, how many of them needed the degrees they had to do the job they do and 80% at least said no. I asked them how many are doing jobs they were trained to do and by that I mean went to uni to learn to become something specific like say a doctor for instance. 80% said no. I ask the same group how many of them are doing the job they chose and guess what? About 80% said no. Mostly it was economics that governed their choices and rarely a vocational choice. Most often they did please themselves in that university is a good break between childhood and coming of age.

Thanks so much for the great wisdom given in your thoughts and comments. There really wasn’t too much cynicism at all. I for one was most impressed and it helps me to get direction on how best to help the upcoming generation of woodworkers.

The post You Cares! appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Who cares?

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 8:14am

I was talking to C in the cafe this morning and she told me that her husband was bullied by his parents to take a real course in a real uni that would lead to a real job with real (good) money. She said it was the same for her brother too who really wanted to be a real woodworker but wasted years and money because of his parents who couldn’t understand his wish to waste his education working manually as a cabinet maker. At what point do parents forfeit the rights to so bully their children and use manipulative tactics to ensure that they get their wishes met? You see few parents will support their children later teen years into the early 20s if they don’t choose higher education and never consider higher education training in lowly paid apprenticeships. I mean how many of you parents would have pumped say $20,000 a year into apprenticing fees with someone like me. I mean for, say, 3 years full time? Bare in mind that we have never ever charged an apprentice in any course and they have never in the past 20 years made a thing for me to gain from. I am just interested here. It’s a real question. I know degreed people by the dozen now who have never used their gained degrees, never actually needed anything past ten years in education from 5 years to 16 years and never used their higher education in the work that they do. I ask my students most of whom do have university degrees these questions and they almost all say the same. Few ever actually used or needed their degrees but learned what they need for their jobs actually being in the workplace they ended up working at. Not saying higher degrees are unnecessary, but what support would parents give if their kid said I want to work with Paul?

Anyway, currently, as I am sitting here anonymously, I am listening to an older woman in her early 50’s telling a 12 year old girl sitting in the cafe we’re in that if she gets good results in her exams “it will set you up for the rest of your life.” I mean what does she know about predicting this child’s future? Is it based on her personal knowledge of life? Why so confident? Would she be saying the same if she said she was sitting a pottery exam. Wow! Become a good potter and you will be set up for life. I don’t think so. So all of this is leading me somewhere. What is the basis for a good job, a good life? What is the basis for you to invest in your children’s future? Is it the fine arts degree that will do this? I have known many woodworking teachers who were useless at woodworking and useless teachers too. I knew a useless pottery professor teaching ceramics in a university who couldn’t throw a pot against a brick wall and hit the wall. By what are we qualified? Most magazine editors have degrees in anything but the magazine they just started writing for out of an interest in writing. Within a year they were recognised with titles like expert. I saw this with a leading US magazine where the photographer was soon interested in woodwork because he was taking pics. One minute he was described as a novice and a year later he was “expert”. How do we get back to where things were evident as to a persons abilities?


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Categories: Hand Tools

Improving plane-making standards

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 12:22am


Paul, what are the “higher engineering standards” you speak of relative to plane makers or any hand tool makers?P1110857


There can be no doubt that Stanley UK planes slopped out and have been poorly pumped out since the 1970s by the slipshod standards assembly line work has an innate propensity to engender. Of course all makers of planes use assembly line methods of production with dumbed-down specialisation of some kind to some degree. No one person takes a quantity of metal and fashions the whole plane from scratch unless it costs £5,000. But you’ll find someone with an engineering degree honing cutting edges all day long or watching a machine flatten soles of planes or cutting irons without ever touching them except to lift them on and off the machine doing the work.DSC_0014
The reality is that Stanley Sheffield dropped their standards of production through the decades. A little slip here and another there and then employing people who never knew the higher standards or even what the planes were supposed to actually do leaves them thinking they are the bees knees of engineering. The owners of corporate giants like Stanley have a complete disconnect from manual work and relate only through numbers and targets. Stanley actually introduced a plastic handle in the late 60’s that is extremely comfortable and was in fact unbreakable even in extremes of cold. I own and use a couple of them and with two coats of my magic formula shellac with colouring I defy anyone to actually tell the difference between wood and plastic. Anyway, in recent decades they did what many of their ilk do and found a plastic that did crack with any drop in temperature. DSC_0092Here in the UK we don’t really have low temperature issues compared to the northern states of the US and Canada so that’s not a problem, but in such climes where temperatures drop way below freezing in most states, with some records showing minus 60 Centigrade, those handles don’t stand a chance. That’s one low engineering standard I would like to see changed. I would never expect a Stanley bench plane since the 1960s to be flat unless someone did some retro work and flattened it. I would never expect the plane to arrive with a correct adjustment of any kind. I would always expect to find the plane parts poorly aligned. I would expect to find any threaded components to be loose (or too tight). I would always expect to need to work on the plane for about half an our to do what Stanley should have done three quarters of a century ago but never did.DSC_0097
That said, you can fettle them, rework them and use them as a plane kit and you will end up with a good plane IF you insist on buying new. Best to to buy older ones, even rust and all, and strip it down to bare bones and rebuild its old character and give it back its dignity. Total cost a little sweat-equity and about £20 usually. As for slack and whiplash on the adjustment wheel, well, to be honest, I like it. My plane adjusters spin faster than a plate spinner so take up is one thumb spin away from total take-up or down. I have never had any of the threads strip out even on the castings so no real issues to worry about.
I just think that if there was a new or modern maker prepared to work on producing a top quality Bailey-pattern #4 again, set new standards as all the modern makers we know n love have, we would have a plane to be reckoned with. I am not saying don’t make any changes at all. I mean go back to a nice handle wood and a well shaped handle at that. Take up the slack a tad on some of the threads and threaded adjusters. Add say a nice bronze lever cap. Get rid of squared-off corners everywhere your hands touch including the sole, please! Ease the outer rim of the sole with a shallowly bevelled edge all around as I showed in the YouTube video, that kind of thing. The design work has all been done. Just a question of a little extra finish work, five minutes machining max, that’s all.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Q&A on planes and saws

Sun, 01/24/2016 - 1:18pm


In your article: 29 JUNE 2013 – Which plane–Bevel-up First or Bevel-down? You stated:

“It’s no secret that I do not like heavy bench planes of the #4, 4 1/2, 5 and 5 1/2 sizes. I feel that they are generally excessive and costly and especially is this so for new woodworkers. I believe I speak truthfully on this issue and even after fifty years of working wood I still rely almost solely on the the planes numbered above for my daily work. With these four planes I can do anything I can with other planes.”

I am not sure I follow what you are saying. Are you saying you do not like the Lie-Neilsen “heavy” planes but do like the old Stanley Bailey planes of the #4 to #5 1/2’s? I have never held a Stanley Bailey, are they lighter than the LN’s? I thought the LN’s were patterned on the Bailey’s. Am I missing something?

Another question. I inherited three saws from my uncle that he purchased around 1980 and have hardly been used. Tyzack-Turner – Excalibur No. 1, Nonpareil:
1) Dovetail Saw – 8-inch, 20 teeth/inch
2) Rip Saw – #154 4 ½ teeth/inch
3) Crosscut Saw – #154 12 teeth/inch
What is your opinion of this line of saws? I know of nobody who has an opinion.

I am a beginning woodworker using a mix of power and hand tools but trying to slowly wean myself from most, or all, of the power tools. I am learning a lot from your YouTube videos. Thank you for providing them.

Best regards,



P1110859Whereas Lie Nielsen, WoodRiver, Jumma, Quang Sheng, Clifton and others are all copies patterned from Leonard Bailey’s formidable plane range, these planes have indeed gained weight (physical) over the years too. It is also true that the standards on all of them are pretty high but that they are all very much the same plane. Wouldn’t you think that just one of them could give us something new and innovative. It is pretty boring when you go from one to the other and then another and you say to yourself they are all the same. None of these makers invented anything but copied what was already in existence in the same way many makers copied most of the Stanley planes when the patents ran out. In the case of the heavyweights it just happened that they all plumbed for the Bed Rock pattern but not because it was the best but that no one was making them. Lie Nielsen was the first and then the others wanted a slice of that pie too hence the birth of Clifton planes in the UK, WoodRiver (crummy name) and subsequent to that we saw the Chinese move in because this great North American chain store retail franchiser needed their own model and couldn’t find a maker to supply them. Most of the commonly known plane makers were actually gone or on their way out with the advent of scaled down industrial machines designed for the home user but then people started to investigate hand tools as an alternative to the machines and a niche market opened up whereby so-called high end planes came to be. P1100104

I don’t think that this was in answer to a need so much as a lack of working knowledge of the planes. There was a long period when planes like the Bailey-pattern were considered inferior to what was emerging but the reality was they had no champion to fight Leonard Bailey’s corner. In the hands of inexperienced users the old ones you list seemed to jump around and then someone said that heavy planes with thick irons solved the problems. Of course they didn’t at all, they had the same issues. What was different though was that they arrived sharp and set in the box so at least they would work for a few weeks if taken care of and not reset. Of course this only postponed what has to happen eventually and that is to understand the plane, any plane, the best thing is to take it apart and put it back together time and time again as you would a hand gun or a rifle. Do it in your sleep so that you are always ready for action even in adverse conditions.PICT0173

I say all of that to say that the engineering fraternity have as yet to come up with one that weighs in the same as the Bailey pattern planes. You are right, Leonard Bailey did indeed invent the planes we are speaking of with the only difference between a full-blown pure-bred Leonard Bailey plane being a minor introduction called the Bed Rock pattern frog. Whereas people selling Bed Rocks extol the virtue of the sliding incline where the two chunks of metal slide against one another with an awkward mechanism inside for adjusting the planes mouth, what  no one talks about is that this automatically alters the depth of cut to a miss-set position. The reality is that we woodworkers hardly ever need to adjust the throat opening in the first place. In fact, in my 50 years I have only altered the throat opening half a dozen times and it made little if any difference to the awkward grain I was trying to work on those different occasions. Add to this the fact that such an adjustment ALWAYS alters the depth of cut and you face even more adverse reality than any problem you might be trying to resolve in the first place. The fact is that the Leonard Bailey plane CAN be adjusted without removing the plane cutting iron assembly, if you know how, when everyone tells you it can’t. Another plus for the Bailey is that resetting the frog to change the mouth does not alter the depth of cut; that is no small thing and indeed is another plus.P1140760

Now as to your saws. Truth is that there are really only two saw makers from Britain these days. One of them, Spear and Jackson, don’t really have much of a clue about saws these days. Certainly nothing like the original owners of the company. They are marketing strategists relying as many such companies do on their daddy’s reputation. The old name still counts for something. All of S&J saw are made in Taiwan so they are not a British made saw. Then on the other hand you have Thomas Flinn. No one connected to Thomas Flinn has any connection to the maker Thomas Flinn as in the man Thomas Flinn. Nor do they know Roberts or Lee of Roberts and Lee or Pax or Crown or William Greaves. What the owners of Thomas Flinn did over the years was buy the names of these saw makers when they went out of business and applied them to their saws. Until the internet developed its fully orbed probe to provide its unending supply of information everyone thought these saws were different makers in Sheffield. The reality is they all come from the Flinn stable.

As to your Tyzack Turner saws. I am afraid it is unlikely that these were produced by Tyzack and Turner as such but by some other saw maker putting their names on the saws. That said, there is nothing wrong with the saws. They are good saws and I own some of them too. I am afraid you have look a little deeper beyond the labelling with some, not all, UK makers. Not much is truly made in the UK if you start digging around. There are some that try to keep the standards and I hope we will see more tool makers emerge in the coming years.

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Categories: Hand Tools

After 30 yrs away Paul Sellers returns to England

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 1:28pm

We left our home in readiness to migrate to the USA in spring of 1987. We bought a travel trailer and a good sized sherpa van, sold off all we owned and toured England for 32 weeks. By then our visas came through and we picked up our papers from the US Embassy in London. Then the next day we loaded 13 suitcases onto a train for Heathrow airport; my wife, Liz and three boys and myself. We didn’t have much but the adventure began then and continues now. The bit in between was often wild and exciting. This past weekend I returned to live in my native country for the first time in almost 30 years. We lived and worked in the US for 23 years and then in Wales to date. We have had two more boys since then who were born in the USA. DSC_0612

Moving back to England and preparing myself for this move has been something of an emotional time for me. I never left the UK because I didn’t like it at all. On the contrary, I loved it, but the world has changed me as indeed it is supposed to. The journey home has been a long time coming and my life is all the richer from sharing so many years with so many of you. DSC_0584My new garage measures 12 feet by 20 feet with an 8 foot height. Here I will soon be assembling my home workshop to work in. I am looking forward to this as I am building yet another workbench to work from. I will no doubt keep you posted.

The house is already feeling like home now we have our furniture in place. Joseph and Kat came in and helped unpack the million boxes and Phil and Hannah came over to help too.  This is the new kitchen now fully loaded and ready for working.DSC_0586


Once the kitchen is good to go it seems all else just slides into place. I will feel better when my garage is a shop too. Currently I am in transit to gather some of my tools that I left until the house was set up right. The school and my full studio workshop will come together over the next few weeks starting in two weeks or so. meanwhile I will rest some more, walk along the Thames river and learn about some of the new wildlife here. I am going to miss my time down by the sea and the estuary and of course the woods I came to know like the back of my hand.


It is an exciting time when you see kites in such plenty. Never despise the day of small things my friends. This is indeed a big thing that will be unfolding. DSC_0581


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Categories: Hand Tools

Restoring Bench Planes Video on YouTube

Fri, 01/15/2016 - 5:22am

DSC_0002You’ve asked me for a video on how to set up and even restore hand planes for some time and we put this one together as a starter video. It’s just over an hour long realtime at my bench. I hope it clarifies some of the the nuances for plane initialisation including total restoration work. We take what is basically an unusable plane and, step by step, walk you through the stages so that your plane can take its rightful place back as fully orbed, capital plane capable of creating the most beautiful work you can imagine.

Yes, it is a fact that we have sent the price of eBay #4 plane finds up to double what they were a year or two ago, and, yes, they won’t stop, but even if they went to £50 and over they are always worth every penny. Beyond that, your fettling your own planes this way give them an even greater value in that you truly understand the plane because the restoration work dismantles every part, restores it and and then sets it all back up in the setting up process.


When you look at the ugly and totally rusted plane we start with at the beginning of the video and see where it ends up in all its glory I think you will be totally inspired to give it a go. You’ll love it.

Just to stave off your needing more answers I will tell you here what I have already answered on woodworkingmasterclasses.com, the online broadcast where this video first aired a couple of weeks ago. Here is the YouTube video:

Now for some early Q&A time:


Thanks for the guide, Paul!

Can I just ask, what is this dye that you put in the shellac? Its a rather nice colour, this one.



Brown leather dye from Tandy leather, a teaspoonful per half a cup but add more as needed.

Any of the brown dyes will work but I use the dark and cut it with the solvent also made by the same company.


Paul, thanks for the tip on the Tandy brown leather dye. This leaves the question though on what type of shellac are you using? De-waxed, blond, garnet, etc. ?


Any you want. The colour is strong so whatever you have in stock or want to buy works for this.


Mr Sellers if I may ask what is the dye you used in the shellac? The color is lovely.


Cut the dark brown leather dye by just a teaspoonful of solvent to a half a cup. Add more as needed. Remember that applying successive coats of the mix increases darkness layer by layer. Also remember that successive coats dissolve previous coats so apply fast and do not fuss with the coats after application. My maxim: apply fast, evenly and let well alone.


Thanks for another great video Paul!


I was hoping you’d do a restoration video for a metal bench plane. I still have a specific problem that wasn’t addressed in this video though:

My plane has a frog that doesn’t sit inside the plane straight. It points to the right slightly, and I end up with a mouth opening that is narrower on one side than the other. I have to put the adjustment lever all the way to the left as well to compensate.

The only way I can think of to solve this is to file a bit out of the groove in the bottom of the frog, but this will result in some give sideways. How would you go about fixing this?


Best thing is to take off the ‘U’ shaped yoke for forward and backwards movement of the frog, the bit beneath the depth adjustment wheel at the back of the frog, and reinstall in the sole to see if possibly this is preventing the frog from aligning. It is very rare but it does happen. Once the frog is reinstalled and cinched down tight, minus the yoke part, you can see if there is something in the casting that prevents the frog from aligning. If it still does not align you will be able to check the castings for bumps and humps and twists. If you have another same plane try using the parts in each to see if they do the same thing. if the yoke is twisted or unevenly milled it can offset the frog and so may need correcting.


Just curious,
How would you know it laminated steel? and what would happen?


You can usually see a line and actually, in the video we did, I just happened to have a laminated blade from Stanley who made them that ways for a while but stopped. The steel is ultra hard. When you stop the video and look at the image you can see a line that looks like I have a secondary bevel but it is the contrast between the two steels.P1100099


Paul thanks for the video and I do have a question. I have restored several older planes well enough, at least to my liking. On occasion however, I have had problems with the rear handle. The screw seems to be fine and holds the handle firmly, yet under stress, as when I am planing, the handle will twist side to side a little. I have tried what I can thing of to fix it, but with no success. Do you have any suggestions?
And I do like the idea of using the chisel to scrape the handle! Never would have thought of that! I have used a scraper to clean up the handle; works OK to clean up a saw handle as well.


The magic of silicone shelf liner is amazing if handles refuse to stay in place. This is the cheap stuff in a roll that you buy for shelves and drawers in kitchens as a liner. Place a piece between the metal and the underside of the wooden handle and it will never move again. Trim with a sharp knife and you have it.

Also, I noticed one of the answers someone gave on WWMC who said he used a small tab of double sided tape there and it worked well for him.


Can you use just paste wax as a finish?


You can. Don’t apply too much. Apply a coat and then use the plane for a week and add another coat. Leave it a month and then another and that, combined with your hand sweat and it will be good for a few months. reapply as you feel necessary.

You can also become a free or premium members to woodworkingmasterclasses.com and follow our training videos there.

There are more and I will add them as I find time.

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Categories: Hand Tools

I Love Seeing Where We Came From…

Mon, 01/11/2016 - 12:57pm
P1020875In January 2015 we concluded restoring an 1800s joiner’s tool chest and then we replicated it as a training project to show how simple the piece really is to make.

…But the future is so filled with hope.

Some years ago I began using terms like new-genre woodworker and real woodworking. I even saw the work I was engaged in as more a campaign if you will. Hence the Real Woodworking Campaign came along and it  has really worked in helping people adjust their thinking and reevaluate how they look at the way they want to work wood. Had I not I am sure things would have moved right along along the same vein without me because people were looking for something deeper and skilled work seemed to be calling all the more to them. But the point in it was to draw a distinction that it was more likely that woodworking was more alive today because amateur woodworkers were the ones true to the cause of keeping it alive. It was by their own investigations in a search for how things were accomplished by hand that drove them, not so much the professionals earning their living from it.

DSC_0105I no longer need to use those terms as they are now vibrant in lived lives worldwide. A dozen emails, posts and comments reassure me that progress seems now an unstoppable reality. Two decades or so back, most woodworking I encountered, having just moved to live and work in the USA, was of course biased in one direction. Now I feel we have addressed the imbalance and people feel more, well, freed, competent, confident, balanced, excited, inspired and so much more. DSC_0074Back then I was most bemused by my findings and at the very least troubled. I am no longer troubled. In fact I feel much more relaxed about the future of my craft than ever before. It’s safely secure in the hands of amateurs around the world. Who could have thought that? So much of what was available then was only partly available in the UK and about half the price of the UK too. Timber of all types many times over could be had for half the price of UK prices as well, and there were many more times the suppliers to boot. In the US this seemed often to be taken for granted, but when I left the UK there were no woodworking stores as such; nothing at all like Woodcraft with an outlet in most major cities of each of the states. That is still the case. Back then, too, there was a dozen and more woodworking magazines to whet your appetite whereas in the UK the offering and content was always somewhat lacking. Most of them have suffered and I am sure that now we have the internet exchange of ideas and such that they will eventually cease to be.

DSC_0011I finally found time to finish a king sized bed in Oak to a Craftsman style design I worked up.

Today we seem ever more to be enjoying great success. Whereas 30 years ago hand tool woodworking seemed to me at least to be dying, today many hundreds of thousands are discovering the pure joy of using them, of developing their skills and understanding the essence of real woodworking. That’s why I say that the Real Woodworking Campaign succeeds now in the lived lives of people who have made real woodworking a campaign they can indeed do, and believe in, and give themselves too.

P1030972Of course we went on teaching workshops throughout the year at New Legacy. These are happy times for me and bless me beyond belief.

The period after New Year is always a time of reflection for me. I try to think through what progress we’ve made, drawing on emails and comments from people that show that our has truly changed lives. Serious medical conditions such as heart conditions, diabetes, mental wellbeing have been bettered and in some cases completely reversed. One of the greatest effects has been to see people come out of substance abuse and drug addiction. And then there are those coming in from overseas conflicts that need to reevaluate what life really means who simply started to get their lives together by buying a handful of tools and watching how they can be used with our woodworking masterclasses and YouTube.

P1040865Sam joined us and stayed. He just finished his first year just about and two commissioned pieces with a third yet to be.

It’s hard to imagine depressions being dispatched in the fettling of an old plane and the sharpening of a saw. What more proof did I need to know it was working and the work was so well worthwhile. Love it. Should I tell of the wedding gifts and baby cribs marking special occasions, of children’s toys and children woodworking with dads and mums and grans and granddads, aunties and uncles and friends next door too.  All you need is a vision for a future and a change that makes changes and lives can be transformed by simply working with your hands.

DSC_0077Just one of Sam’s box designs. Total handwork, totally his design and totally craftsmanship.

I am especially thankful for the success our online broadcast has brought to our outreach. This has very much become an apprenticing strategy when politicians talk about empowering people through apprenticeships as though they own the workforce and own the future too. Mostly they put people onto conveyor belts and we take them off. becoming a lifestyle woodworker has become a reality for many of you. Perhaps it has been a little slow going but we’ve been successful in helping people to see that the day job is important to individual economy and that lifestyle is multidimensional and no one size fits all exists for individualised lifestyle.

A few months ago our moving to Oxfordshire seemed quite daunting, impossible, but now we are beyond the point of no return and I feel a heightened excitement for the sustainable culture we are all living in. Who knows what this year holds for us all.

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Categories: Hand Tools

We Are Moving!!!

Sat, 01/09/2016 - 8:26am


That’s right! We’ve planned this for a while and the days have flown by. We’ve been less settled because through our outreach we have kept growing. No complaints but we need a place we feel we can grow into and more help to make it happen. paulsellers.comThe ever-widening audience has led to growing pains for many months; perhaps a couple of years. The question then was where do we want to go to grow. For the first time we could truly pick our spot on the globe. Decision made, we’re moving lock, stock and barrel to what is truly my native country, England; see close to ‘where’ below. 


Mpaulsellers.comore than one reason, but Penrhyn Castle can’t give us the extra space to expand our vision. Ultimately we need  to triple our footprint in different realms; school, studio, workshop and so on. So with that in mind, and the fact that I do want to live back in my home country, I have taken the first phase to start the new year with. Historic castle walls are impossible to extend, push out or change. They cling to their historic past whereas we must reach into a sustainable future.


The new location for New Legacy, Woodworking Masterclasses and our video and online work, apprenticing, research and such, needs expandable space for growth. Oxfordshire is to be the host county, I have already decided that. The need more options for support too has influenced this too. We envisage taking on additional staff we can train and work with. I want to keep on training new apprentices as well, which is far from an easy thing in my type of lifestyle. P1010427With the plan to make Oxford a few short miles away, we can tap into its existing history of multi-faceted provision; that’s catering to tourists, students and so on who now come to us from from around the world. It’s pretty much a straight shot for most living in the UK too, and those traveling from abroad could pick just about any UK airport to fly into according to their flight provider.DSC_0550 (1)

We felt a long time ago that central England would worked much better for the UK, mainland Europe and then the rest of the world too. Our current plans place us 60 miles from the UK capital, London. Birmingham is 1 1/2 hours away and Luton about the same. Manchester is 2 1/2 hours away so we are about as close as it gets to being in Britain’s central hub.DSC_0553

Of course I will miss things in North Wales which has been just a lovely place to live and I have made so many wonderful friends too. My walks will change not having any sea to look over and sand to walk on but there will be new woods and walks along the Thames to discover.


Almost immediately. It’s no small thing moving homes and workshops, but we’re in the throes of packing now. In a few weeks we should be done but I am on an early spring clean as i work through cupboard after cupboard and wood stack after wood stack.  I m hoping that we can work toward everything in-house and under one roof so to speak, to make life simpler.  DSC_0554 (1)Woodworking master classes will continue uninterrupted of course but the school may not begin its main range of foundational courses until mid-year. Dates will be available when deadlines for our new location are finalised. Meanwhile we’ll be considering options for holding one and two-day workshops in different locations shortly. It’s very exciting.

DSC_0171New Legacy keeps growing and students with students from Europe and from the farthest climes now taking 50% of places. Wherever the school ends up our goal is that it will be within a bus or train ride from Heathrow and Gatwick or an easy drive on the right side of the road for those brave enough to try it. Oxfordshire county has a long established reputation for hospitality. DSC_0156


You can simply follow the blog for updates as just about everything that goes on gets mentioned here.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Face vise front alignment question

Fri, 01/08/2016 - 2:05am


Mr Sellers,

I am trying to design and plan my first work bench. I’m liking the Roubou style, but after reading your blogs and watching all the videos I am intrigued with your jointers bench with the apron. My question had to deal with long panels and the front vice. You have answered the question about how the front vice doesn’t necessarily need to be flush with the bench (a big issue with those who promote Roubou’s bench); how do you handle these long boards? I’ve noticed in your videos and now see the behind the scene look at the bench how you have your tenon saws on the front apron – how do they not get in your way?

Thank you for sharing your accumulated knowledge. I always look forward to your new videos and posts.

Very appreciatively,
Jason ZvokelDSC_0168


Actually, I don’t really understand what the issue is if you are using the type of vise that I use. I try to imagine why I would want anything clamped tight to the long edge of a bench top and can, if I really apply myself, think of an occasion every five years where it might possibly be useful. Most tabletops are six foot long for the average family home. King size beds are around 6’3 (1.91m) less the posts, so are similar in length. Generally these two pieces if furniture are the longest in any household. DSC_0005Putting the boards centred in the vise with 1 foot (300mm) of it fully gripped by the vise means I have 30″ overhanging. Usually glued up tabletops are made from 6 to 8″ (150-200mm) wide boards say 1-1 1/2″ (25-38mm) thick and usually hardwoods such as oak or cherry, walnut, maple and such. These woods in those diameters don’t bend easily with that much beam strength. The board will barely flex over so short a distance if being planed to true up. DSC_0018Combine two in the vise as we generally do for edge jointing and we have twice the resistance to flex during edge planing. Now on narrower materials this does change but only marginally and narrower pieces can usually be taken care of on the bench top or still in the vise but moving it along on the vise. This is how I have done it for decades. Okay, most woodworkers downsize their materials for planing to near finished sizes. This is increased economy and ease of work.I tried to think of what I make as a rule here and I can scarcely think of many components being more than the lengths give but with 98% of component pieces being somewhere below 48″ (1.22m). Even then that is more rare than normal and most pieces are under 36″ (.91m). I could go on but then these pieces so readily fit into the standard vise that I’ve happily used throughout my woodworking life.
Now then, I added a tail vise because everyone felt my bench was lacking in some way and I even put dog holes at that end so I could take pictures to show what dog holes were and did. Again, I never use these additional “accessories”. However, what I can do and what I might find useful occasionally is adding a clamp in the tail vise as I do in my main vise from time to time. Now this can be used to support the end of a long piece of wood.DSC_0030
With regards to my hanging my saws where I do. I would be lost without this facility. Far more lost than I am without a flat-front aligned vise jaw. My three saws hang there patiently awaiting my interchange of use between the three. I find three saws can quickly and awkwardly clutter up a benchtop in a heartbeat. DSC_0024My system beats any I have seen to date. They don’t really get in the way especially when you are used to them being there but even then this is rare as the vise with the jaw lining provides and 1 1/4″ (30mm) gap and the saws and hooks protrude only 1″ (25mm). The greatest advantage to the overhanging vise is crystal clear. DSC_0021DSC_0011You can grip your wood and install just about anything in the vise without struggling with a full handed overhand or underhand grip. This is no small thing. For those who might perhaps have made the mistake of installing a flush vise the answer is very simple. Just add a dummy wooden vise jaw to the face of your bench with two screws. That way you can remove it if you don’t like it or remove it when you want to clamp something along your benchtop edge.DSC_0026
Thanks for the question Jason. I hope my answer makes sense of it. I am answering this as a blog entry as it is a common enough question.

Oh, of course, there is always the maxim that you never miss what you never had.

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Categories: Hand Tools

#80 updated info for newbies

Wed, 01/06/2016 - 2:46am

There are many wrong assumptions about scrapers and that’s why so many people abandon them when they arrive brand new. I often hear visitors in my workshop point to scrapers and tell their children or spouses that what’s on the workbench is a spokeshave. Look in the spokeshave section on eBay and and you will always find a #80 cabinet scraper in there described as a spokeshave too. It’s a common mistake.

Without instruction and guidance, and this is why Lee Valley Veritas thrives and the European makers continue to flounder, a new woodworker will have to wade and troll through masses of misinformation to find the right information for progressing use of the tools made. Veritas has a strong reputation for providing continued information with regards to their products. Instructions are packed with the goods sold and of course they have the best customer relations of any supplier and it is all working knowledge based on their engineering background and expertise, knowledge of hand tools and their in-house manufacturing of top notch hand tools. Not many can boast this interrelationship between departments and that’s why I have always enjoyed working with them.

Because the cabinet scraper looks very like an oversized spokeshave it is all too easy to think spokeshave, bevelled cutting edge, bevel down, bevel up, push the wrong way, plane type shaving and much more. You must pretty much dismiss all of this. It’s not bevel up or bevel down. How about that for fooling a new woodworker??? I already discussed burr and scraper as total misnomers too, so that takes some thinking outside the box. Perhaps this drawing will give you more of a close up of what happens with card and cabinet scrapers.

So, when the blade is installed into the body of the scraper you will see that the cutting edge is not presented like a plane edge, a chisel or a spokeshave at all. That is, bevel inclined and pushed, edge first into the wood. Nothing like it. This is what foxes those new to woodworking. Edge tool into the wood makes great sense. A turned edge makes no sense at all, at least at first.

Because we describe the edge as a burr we can be forgiven for thinking this is just some kind of rough edge resulting from filing that is then used scraper fashion to scrape the wood semi smooth. This is definitely not at all the case so don’t think just rough filing an edge is the desired goal because you would do better just using sandpaper and abrading the wood. This tool relies on a highly developed cutting edge that is totally different than just sharpening a bevel as with a plane. The edge or bevel is ground, honed through various grits and consolidated too using a burnisher. This is simple enough to understand and to do. Not too much different than say sharpening a plane blade really. It’s the next stage that changes the dynamic of the tool’s cutting strategy. Once the bevel has been established and honed we do something we call ‘turning the edge’. It’s not hard to do and it is not always easy to do. Turn the edge too much and the edge fractures or fails to reach the wood altogether. Turn it to little and the edge fractures leaving the wood feeling like 80-grit sandpaper. Get it right and the surface will feel as smooth as silk. The tool will level adjacent surfaces to an indiscernible level and very light sanding with with worn 350-grit abrasive paper then makes the surface feel like glass. You’ll love it.

I think the drawings will help you to see just what the strategy is. This is the only tool developed for a cutting edge that cuts wood this way.

The post #80 updated info for newbies appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Why 45 degrees on Cabinet scraper blades?

Tue, 01/05/2016 - 1:12pm

Following the blog I did to redress concerns I had with the Kunz #80 cabinet scrapers, I received some questions because the manufacturers decided to send out the scrapers with square-ground edges instead of with the 45-degree standard bevel required for the scraper to function correctly. The makers may not know this but in my view this would be the equivalent of planemakers or chisel makers sending out their plane edges and edge tools with square edges and no bevels too. I wonder how many people would buy them if they did that. This inappropriate manufacturing then prompted some of you to question why we do indeed use a 45-degree bevel on the cabinet scraper when we use a more standard square edge on card scraper edges? The questions were perfectly legitimate because Kunz is the only maker I know of that doesn’t send instructions with their #80 cabinet scraper so those new to the tool will indeed be left floundering for obvious reasons.


In my new book Essential Woodworking Hand Tools, we’ve gone to great lengths to cover missing and even lost information in both scraper types, the cabinet scraper and the card scraper; for anyone who has no knowledge of what scrapers really are and what their capabilities are. I think we have truly pegged it, but ultimately you will all be the final judges. So hang in there for another few weeks. I’ll let you know when where and how you can get it.

Of course this question is a valid one, primarily because the name scraper for either tool is truly a misnomer and so too is the use of the term burr for what is in essence a highly refined, continuous cutting edge. That said, it is been around for two centuries and I am not prepared to rename what happened most likely by default.  Actually, some people in fact use the scrapers, both types, for exactly that, SCRAPING…ARGHH!

So let me say here and now that scrapers do not scrape but slice-cut in a paring manner. There is no tool like it. It’s totally dynamic and it tames wild grain on the skew like no other cutting edge tool can, believe me.  That is as long as you review your thinking and think ‘slice’ instead of “scrape” and totally ‘refined cutting edge’ instead of “burr.”

Scrapers square and angled

DSC_0542The square edge doesn’t remain square but rounded into a hooked cutting edge. This generally prevents the actual cutting edge from reaching the wood as shown here. DSC_0543With the edge bevelled to around 45-degrees the turned edge reaches the wood easily.

It’s all too easy to say a scraper edge should be turned to this angle in this number of strokes and that only two types of scraper exist. In reality we just need something to shoot for. In reality we probably never hit the same angle twice unless we rely on some kind of special dial-in burnisher (not likely!) that fixes the angle. What a guide gives you is a dead angle and that can and does rob you of flexibility in turning the edge according to task or personal preference. In the early days you will turn the edge to a scraper according to some teaching you’ve followed, but, if you are like me, after a period experiencing the tool in the wood at the bench you will discover nuances you can use to finely develop and tune the edges you want and even keep different ones tuned for different types of cutting work (I avoided the use of the word scraper then).

DSC_0318Scraped inlays like those around guitar sound holes can be scraped to a pristine level.

Sometimes a filed and burnished edge is all you need and on other occasions you will polish out the edge as you might a plane iron and then turn the edge for that truly ultra edge that just defies reality. There have been times when I stunned myself because an edge came to the edge that I had never developed before, enabling me to take shavings I and everyone with me had never seen before. It’s one of those times that just cannot be bottled, canned or otherwise stored except in your memory. Like staring a rattler rattling away square in the face or sensing a mountain lion  and then knowing he was just a few feet from you. Totally magic.


With the question coming up in the recent batch as to why the #80 cutting blade is filed and honed at 45-degrees when the regular card scraper is filed at near to dead 90-degrees. The two tools perform the exact same task in that they do not scrape in any way but slice cut the surfaces of wood to a pristine finish even when taken at the juncture where component parts come in at 90-degree angles or inlays comprising a dozen grain types converge in a sphere of absolute creativity.IMG_7238

DSC_0538The edge is exaggerated to show what’s happening.

Because the body of the #80 scraper fixes the angle of presentation of the blade and hook on the scraper edge at a fixed and exact angle leaning forward at 70-degrees, it totally differs to the card scraper that is offered at much lower angles and is infinitely variable depending on the stroke, the user, the sensing of the cut and way much more. The edge on the card scraper starts out square and becomes round and hooked from its 90-degree start point. Because it is so flexible in the hands of the user is tackles work no other tool can. The cabinets scraper on the other hand must have some minimals built into it. The blade is fixed at the angle and using a turned, squared cutting edge as with the card scraper will generally present the cutting edge at an angle that negates contact between the cutting edge and the wood. In simple terms the roundover of the developed edge rides the wood and prevents the edge from cutting.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Question on Kunz #80 Cabinet Scraper

Sun, 01/03/2016 - 10:05am


HI! Paul, Happy New Year!

DSC_0192Not to beat a dead horse, but I received a Kunz 80 for Christmas. I was pleased to find that the blade had one side beveled to 45 degrees. That was the only good thing I could find. The sole was very roughly ground and does indeed mar the surface. This will require some work. The blade falls through its slot with the clamping bar screwed down tightly. There is a 1/16 inch gap. I understand that I can file the two mating areas under the bar clamp to fix this. I also found that the adjustment screw hits the bar clamp on the bottom edge of the bar. with 1/3 the diameter of the screw. The clamping bar is quite robust and wide, and I was wondering if I filed the bottom edge of the bar, so the screw clears it would allow the scraper to function. I am also wondering how much clearance is necessary? I hope you can shed some light on this.

Thanks for being such a mentor. Best wishes to you and yours.



Well, as often happens, I give a fairly positive report on a tool hoping for the best but being truthful about my thoughts at the same time and then things go wrong.  I wanted to give you a good report on KUNZ and they let me down. Sometimes I get it in the neck but there you go. They have a good product UK makers abandoned that cost them zero in design and product development yet they cannot get the simplest solutions right. DSC_0197One quality control person resolves issues like this with the tweak of thumbscrew. My recommendation is to buy from a reputable maker and as far as I know there is but one in the whole wide world and that is Veritas. I  tried, everybody. Faithful UK repro-models are pretty bad now they never resolved any of the issues I highlighted two years ago.

OK, in answer to this dilemma. Of course you should send it back but that negates the gift giving and takes as long as it does to fettle it. Remove the bar that (should) clamps the blade to the body and where the two half moons are ate each end mark where they meet the indent and add 1/8″ inside the recess. Take a flat file and file down the half moons to form a recess at either end, both to the same side of the bar. You can take it down as much as you like but 1/32″ should do it. Now the bar should clamp solidly.

In the overall of things the final voice says consider carefully before you buy.

Best regards,


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Categories: Hand Tools

Upholstering an Inset Leather Seat

Fri, 01/01/2016 - 9:01am

DSC_0740Many of us have old chairs that need reupholstering for different reasons. Changing the decor, wear and tare or simply new work  like the chairs shown in this blog. I have upholstered many a dozen chairs in a given year using mostly leather but sometimes fabrics too. The closing out of making the dining side chair for woodworkingmasterclasses.com recently was of course completing the upholstery. Craftsman rocker 3 2004The method is used is one method I’ve used for over two decades and it works well whether you use fabric or leather. I like leather for its durability and quality look and it’s also relatively inexpensive at around £10 per chair including foam, plywood and leather. DSC_0404

The chair series was another one of those unique teachings I did from methods I’ve taught at my school and is one of my favourites for that reason alone. I developed this chair just for woodworkingmasterclasses.com, but as with all of the tool and technique aspects of the videos we make we give them for free. Once they have aired on WWMC for a season we post the tool and techniques used to YouTube too, to help the wider audience of woodworkers. I hope that you enjoy this two part series. Here is the video.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Update on My New Book

Wed, 12/30/2015 - 2:53pm

It’s the close of the year and many of you have faithfully asked about my new book Essential Woodworking Hand Tools. In these closing weeks I did what I do in finishing off my furniture pieces just before delivery. I leave the piece to stand a day or a week (depending on the piece) and then make sure that nothing has been missed or a change in the wood didn’t bump something out of sync. Joseph and I have been making the final adjustments and these often have a knock-on effect that then needs tweaking, but finally we have a book we feel proud to bring out.

It will be Smith-sewn, cloth-backed, hard-backed and printed ethically from ethically sourced materials here in the UK. This all meant that we missed our deadline and our place in the print queue and so we anticipate the book will be available sometime in February. The printers are shipping directly to our distributors in the USA so no worries for my woodworking friends there. The UK will handle the rest of the world directly. If you have not left your email address to receive the updates you can do so here to make sure you hear as soon as we have news that the book is available.


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Categories: Hand Tools

Use for round-bottomed planes

Mon, 12/28/2015 - 8:54am



I was hoping you would explain why that (nice) little plane was rounded in both ways. I inherited an ancient plane from my grandparents with the same rounding both ways, but bigger than the one you made. I haven’t been able to figure out what this plane was used for and this is the first time i’ve seen one in action, so I’m hoping you could help me with some insight. I’m thinking if it was made for making coves it would surely be rounded only across the sole of the plane, while it would be flat along the length of the plane?



Others have asked the same question and here is an answer:

Large crown moulding planes were made by the original wooden planemakers, which were of course people like myself. In the pre specialist plane maker era in the 1600- 1700s, joiners mostly made their own planes. DSC_0472Those that were skilled sold them in addition to their joinery work and became known as ‘Joyners and Plain Makers‘. Of course these large profiled planes sell in the hundreds and are rare too. Making a plane is quick and effective. I can make a small plane like this in an hour or so and shape it to whatever profile the cove I have in mind needs, but the advantage this has over straight soled planes may not be obvious in this present age and might, if it were not for your question and my answer, be lost to future generations, so thanks for asking.DSC_0465

Even when made from a single piece of wood the work is simple enough, but making them as we show on our woodworkingmasterclasses for free here. We made this particular plane when we taught stool making and used the plane to shape a seat so any input so far is partially correct. Following that we used the same plane for making the Shaker Deacon’s bench with its shaped seat and long coved back that ran full length of the bench seat. I have used the same plane without alteration on half a dozen other projects and for creating this coving I personally think that it knows no equal.DSC_0050

It might be said that the plane would work better if the sole were straight and round one way only. This seems to make sense in that the profile will automatically be straight because of the sole being straight.DSC_0478 In reality shaping the cove, however, the plane is virtually frictionless and removes wood at a tremendous rate. The profile is extremely accurate too. I cut a cardboard profile and offered it every few inches along a six foot length and found only an occasional spot to be less than half a millimetre out.DSC_0019

One thing about this very inexpensive plane is that the length can be altered so that the plane can be skewed to maximise effectiveness and also the profile.DSC_0470 These are simple things in the task and mean that you can adopt the plane for many straight or scalloped shapes according to need. I even use this plane as a roughing plane as it works better than any scrub plane I ever used too.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Credit cards in business

Mon, 12/28/2015 - 1:20am

Credit cards in small craft businesses can be problematic without good credit.

Trying to answer the question regarding the struggles of starting out and being in business raised some issues surrounding developing a credit record and using credit and credit cards. Some say credit is useful for the unforeseen and that you need a good credit report to borrow. My view was different to others because having lived as a lifestyle woodworker I made different decisions based on a completely different paradigm than say those in regular employment with a fixed minimum income they can rely on. I think these things are what make me think differently. Borrowed money from relatives and friends is not a good thing and can lead to conflict even though it is the borrowers full intention to pay everything owed back. Borrowing from banks can quickly turn sour if you borrow to invest speculatively on the basis of developing stock. Of course many successful businesses have started that way, but then many times those finding success collapse every year.

People borrow to buy machines and equipment to make their goods. They borrow to buy materials and then they borrow to travel to shows and more. There is no end to justifiable reasons for doing all of these things. The arguments too are all quite justifiable. The issue I raise is that theorists have one view and realists another. Realists usually speak from their personal experience, theorists from possibilities and probabilities as yet unproved.

I recall times in my past when I put great effort into going to shows. I put my final hard earned cash into making product for three months for a single show. I had enough cash for the petrol but none for the hotel that night of the weekend. The heavens opened and the rains came down for three days. No one came. Had I borrowed money I would have been in debt with no way of paying back. I learned from this. Had I had a credit card I might have used the card, I don’t know. That’s not really a question of being self controlled. I was young with a young family. On the way home I stopped in at a state park and sold almost all I had at a good price. They gave me a check. This is very different than picking up a pay cheque. This is just a small example of early starting out.

The reason I am raising the question of credit and credit cards is that we are living in a society that is moving increasingly toward a paperless moneyed society. Whether you have a credit card or not, you must have good credit to be able to manoeuvre financially and to be able to take payments for your goods. Most people do indeed expect to buy your goods using a credit or debit card and less and less cash or cheque. So, that said, I wondered how some of you get around these issues in an ever changing world with online banking.

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Categories: Hand Tools