Hand Tool Headlines

The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator


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


Journeyman's Journal

Subscribe to Journeyman's Journal feed Journeyman's Journal
This is a journal of the art of woodworking by hand
Updated: 59 min 50 sec ago

Moulding Planes Plans

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 6:13am

Today was supposed to be the day when I was going to start on the moulding plane build and I ran into a brick wall again.  I realised with each plane’s different width, the wedge’s thickness will also be different.  Well it was back to the drawing board and instead of just sketching it on a piece of paper, I needed something that a little more accurate and permanent.  With that I mean something I can refer to every time I make a new plane, and I will be making a lot of them.

So I turned to autocad and started drawing away, but before I could draw anything, I needed good reference photos of what 18th century moulding planes look like, and tweak them to suit my build.   So I turned to http://msbickford.com/ and clicked on his hollows and rounds.  IMG_2958_clipped_rev_1These photos served as a base reference point, there’s no measurements I could work from but judging by eye, I know that the smallest 1/8″ plane’s wedge must be about 1/4″ thick and the thickest to be about 3/8″ and I have a plane that has a 1/2″ thick wedge.   The plane I’m currently working on is a no.15 which means it has a radius of 1 1/8″, just what is supposed to be the thickness of that wedge, I don’t have the faintest.  I know just by judging the photo the walls thickness between the chamfers are 1/32″ and if I’m right, which I’m sure I am, that will make the wedge thickness to be 15/32″.  But I don’t have the balls to make the walls that thin, instead I’m going to make it 1/8″ thick which will make the wedge’s thickness to be 9/32″, which is the same width as the tang.  This is only one plane, I still the rest to draw and I wonder if the top half goes down in increments of 1/4″ or less. Without having the planes in my hand to reference from it’s going to be a scratch your head up hill battle.

I don’t know if I should ask him, is it impolite to do so, will he get offended????  Do any of you know how to work out what the wedge’s thickness should be for each plane and what the top half  of the body of the plane’s thickness should be for each plane.  As you can see I’ve only worked out for one, but how do you work it out for each plane?  They go down in increments, but by how much?

Anyway, here are my drawings for the no.15, they are in A3 and in inches.

15 hollow A3 Imperial

15 round A3 Imperial


Categories: Hand Tools

Glue Application Chart

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 2:08pm

Here is a glue application chart I obtained from woodsmith for your convenience to download.  I can’t deny it’s accuracy, it’s pretty much spot on.  You can also download my own chart I have compiled in my previous post.


I don’t claim I have all the answers and I don’t claim to be a teacher of any sort, my aim is only to pass on information I know and learn along the way.  If it is of any benefit to you, then I have achieved my objective, but ultimately what you do with it is up to you.

Categories: Hand Tools

All about fish glue and hide glue

Sat, 05/20/2017 - 3:42am

Brief History

Fish glue apparently was ordinarily available in the third century, since Hippolytus notes its use by magicians and diviners on the streets of Rome, in about 220 C.E. According to Hippolytus, fish glue had asbestos like properties, since the trickster “anoints his feet with fish glue” so that he can walk over hot coals without being burned.
A translation of Dioscorides of Anazarbus from an ancient Greek text of what fish glue is made from.
“Ichthyokolla is the stomach of a whale sized fish. The best kind is made in Pontus, and it is white, rather thick, and not scaly, and melts with a low heat (very rapidly). It is useful in making plasters for the head (skull fractures) and has properties appropriate for the treatment of Leprosies and in the manufacture of lotions that erase wrinkles from the face.”
Ladies, before you go out and slap fish glue over your faces note the translation reads “used in the manufacture of lotions” so obviously, there must be other agents mixed with it.
A Caspian fisherman who is presumed to be an eye witness, accounts in the making of fish glue and it’s workings:
“they take out the guts and boil them, and make from this a glue that is very useful, since it holds all things together quite firmly, and sticks to whatever it has been attached, and dries very shiny. And it binds everything that it holds and unites, so tightly that even if it is soaked in water for up to ten days, it will not dissolve or come apart. Moreover, Ivory carvers use it and produce very beautiful pieces.”
Fish glue usually is soluble, to render it insoluble it will need to be in contact with metal ions that also applies to hide glue.

Fish glue is a transparent, colourless, water soluble glue. There are various types of fish glues. The higher quality Isinglass to the lower quality, made from the skins of non oily types of fish as well as their bones and cartilage which are sold in liquid format. The agglutinating agents are removed by extraction with hot water, then cooled and dried to produce gelatin or glue. Varied production techniques can produce poor quality fish glues.

The highest quality fish glue is Isinglass which is made from the swim air bladders of Sturgeons. Isinglass was originally made from air bladders of the great Russian Beluga Sturgeon, found in the fresh waters of the Caspian and Black seas. The Beluga is a monstrous sized fish than can live up to 113 years.


Unfortunately, due to its overfishing the Beluga has been placed on the endangered species list which has prompted many governments worldwide to place restrictions on its trade.
In 1939, restrictions were placed on Russian exports, it’s unclear to me whether these export restrictions were solely placed on the export of this fish or on all Russian exports. However due to this, other fish air bladders were used from various fish and Isinglass became a generic term used. North American Isinglass is made from Cod or Hake.
To prepare Isinglass, the air bladders are removed from the fish, cleaned and air dried. The dried bladder is then cut into thin translucent strips, these strips which are nearly 80% collagen are dissolved in hot water then diluted and cooled into flat disks. Collagen is a protein found in cartilages, tendons, bones etc. This is a very strong and soluble adhesive that can be used in low concentrations. Sturgeon glue is rarely available outside of Russia.
Genuine Isinglass fish glue costs around 578 euros/kg or 57.80 per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) Here is the link to where you can purchase genuine Isinglass fish glue https://www.dictum.com/en/surfaces/glue-accessories/natural-glues/450142/isinglass-glue-granulate


Another link but more expensive:

The purity of Isinglass can vary due to the diverse manufacturing processes, unfortunately there is no way to verify any of the processes. Germany is usually a good source for trusted companies, Milligan and Higgins in the US is definitely a trusted company for hide glue, but I don’t know if they have Isinglass as they have not yet responded to my email. Behlen, I also don’t know what type of hide glue they sell as there is a variety of low to high grade which I will go into detail later. I haven’t also located any of their products that indicate that they sell Isinglass. Lee Valley sells liquid fish glue which is of a lower grade and the one I have, I have tested it despite it being over 5 years old and has worked remarkably well. I have tried with full force to break the pieces apart and cannot do so and remember this is with a lower grade fish glue.
Fish glue is often sensitive to changes in humidity and temperature and can shrink while drying.   It doesn’t gel which means you have a long open time; some reports claim 30 mins while others claim 1.5 -2 hrs.   It also means you can work in cooler conditions without the need to warm the work prior to gluing. You also apply the glue in its cold state so there’s no heating involved like hot hide glue or liquid hide glue.
Fish glue cleans up with water well whilst still wet, but difficult to clean once its dry. You can also refrigerate it and it will last for many years, the cold prevents the bacteria from forming but also increases the viscosity, so prior to use let it sit at room temperature for about an hour for it to return to its normal viscosity.  If frozen you will render the glue useless, once in every few months shake the bottle to prolong its life.

Technical detail simplified – Bloom Strength

Bloom strength means gel strength and is measured in grams or another term is bloom grams, they could have easily picked one word. Manufacturers commonly distinguish between grades of glue by their bloom strength, which usually covers a wide range starting as low as 30g for weak bone glue, to rigorously extracted hide glues up to 500g being a very strong glue.
Gelatins extracted from cold water fish do not have specified gel strengths as they are liquid at room temperature.

Open time, tack and drying

The setting time of animal glues depends primarily on gelling temperature which is known as T gel and gel strength. The lower the T gel and gel strength, the longer the open time of the solution, another words the longer it takes for the glue to gel. High Bloom hot hide glues tend to gel rapidly as gelation occurs at comparatively high temperatures. Gelatinous glues derived from fish have a low T gel due to their chemical structure, and cold set liquid hide glues, are convenient to use when long open times are required. Commercial fish glues usually contain preservatives and, sometimes, small amounts of other additives such as colour brightener, deodorising agents or fragrance. Liquid
hide glues generally have further additives to inhibit gelation at room temperature. These are typically salts, like urea, thiourea or phenols that extend the setting time by inhibiting renaturation of the gelatinous matrix. Some manufacturers claim that their liquid hide glues does not contain gelling inhibitors in which case the gelatinous matrix must be considerably affected by molecular cleavage, and it’s not the hollow between a woman’s breast.   Molecular cleavage means molecular separation to achieve the comparatively low molecular weight that is necessary for the glue to be in a liquid state.
In general, glues of higher bloom strength develop tack faster than lower bloom glues.
The tack strength of glues can be tested between the two finger tips.


Isinglass solutions may appear to be less tacky than equivalent concentrations of hide glue, as they take longer to set at room temperature since their lower gelation temperature delays the development of tack.
Drying times depends upon the ambient temperature and relative humidity. Glues dry by evaporation of water however; the drying times can be increased raising the room temperature. It is recommended that these adhesives be allowed to dry as slowly as possible to maximise the elasticity and strength or should I say toughness of the glue film.
Isinglass naturally develops highly stable and elastic films if dried at room temperature, being slightly above its temperature gel. It’s interesting to note if I may back track a little, that heating these glues at high temperatures say 80c or 90c would result in only small amount of loss of strength if only done for a few minutes, anymore would render the glue useless.
Viscosity meaning thickness is an important factor in the choice of adhesive for bonding or consolidation, as it will affect the degree of penetration into a substrate. If the viscosity is too low the glue may penetrate too far into the wood, leaving the joint starved of adhesive. For consolidation of porous materials, high viscosity may prevent adequate penetration and cause stress to develop at the interface between consolidated and unconsolidated areas.
Isinglass has a much higher viscosity than hide glue, in order to obtain glue solutions of low viscosity it is not always advisable to over dilute high bloom glues excessively, hide glue is a high bloom glue. If you did so, you would weaken its strength, leeching, swelling and staining the wood may result if it is water sensitive. In this case, a lower gel strength glue would be preferable. Slow gelation and lower viscosity promote uniform film formation as glue is able to spread evenly, providing adequate wetting of the surface, then again using a larger natural bristle brush will achieve the same result.
Hide glues generally have greater cohesive strength than bone glues which display a lower tensile strength and are much more brittle.
The tensile strength of hide glues is typically around 39 megapascals (MPa) (5700 psi) A tensile strength is the maximum strength that can be applied to it before it breaks, that’s pretty darn strong in my books. Cold water fish gelatins show a comparatively low tensile strength of around 22MPa (3200 psi) which again is very bloody strong. A high tensile strength similar to that of hide glue has been reported for mildly prepared Isinglass from Sturgeon, making it a useful adhesive for bonding wooden joints. Literature confirms that Isinglass has often been used for structural woodwork in the far east, to me that’s impressive.
Although Rabbit skin glue has a high gel strength, it has been stated as having a lower cohesion and bonding strength than other hide glues. This is thought to be due to its high fat content. So stay away from McDonalds.

Creep and Elasticity

Isinglass has more elasticity than hide glue. Glue recipes often contain additives such as sugar alcohols (glycerine, sorbitol) and polysaccharides (dextrins) to improve elasticity and toughness. One traditional method for achieving elastic and resilient glue films is in the addition of honey. Sugars are hygroscopic, by adding water you induce gel strength and viscosity. These additives are known as plasticisers even though they don’t actually plasticise the glue. High proportion of fat also improves the elasticity but at the cost of reducing final bond and gel strength. A high water content or an excess of hygroscopic additives like sugar, can promote an unwanted tendency to creep.

Resolubility (Reversibility)

Animal glues are well known for their resolubility or better known as reversibility, but it can be rendered insoluble if it comes in contact with metal ions e.g. Metal foils, tools, pigments), or with certain organic pigments and tannins, either before, during or even after their application. A pigment is a colourant but so is a dye, the difference between the two is that a pigment is insoluble, while a dye isn’t because it’s a liquid. Cold liquid hide and fish glues, the ingredients of which are unknown to the supplier and end user, may already contain additives that promote cross linking and, therefore, increase insolubility. I have read many reports of users claiming they had extreme difficulties pulling instruments apart for repairs. This is why I cannot stress this point enough, to always buy from a trusted source like Milligan and Higgins. I’ve never used hide glue from anyone else and therefore I cannot vouch for them but I would never buy the cheap ones offered on eBay as you just don’t know who manufactured them. There has been a lot of rave about Behlen hide glue, I don’t know because I’ve never bothered to investigate. It’s a German company and Germany is well known for quality products.

Hide Glue Preparation

Liquid Hide OBG – Heat in bottle up to 140°F (60°c)

Hot Hide Glue – Measure weight by volume of water, take how much you’re going to need and place it in a plastic or glass container NOT METAL then fill with cold water just to cover the granules and leave uncovered for half hour or best 24 hours. Heat gluepot to 140°F and cook your glue. Stir occasionally, to thin it add hot water equalling the temperature of the glue. Do not over thin it and don’t let it be too thick, if it’s thick it will gel quicker resulting in a poor bond. Clamping time minimum 12hrs best 24hrs Reactivate with heat and water.

Liquid Fish Glue – Use in a cold state (no heating required) Clamp for minimum 12 hours, best 24hrs. Cleans up with water best when glue is still wet. Reactivate with water

Isinglass (Highest Quality Fish Glue)
This is an extract from Alba Art Conservation


Part of the routine activities of conservators is to make our own tools and solutions for use in conservation treatment. Many traditional materials can be found on specialty websites and in stores, but some we just prefer to mix ourselves. Isinglass is a natural and refined glue made from gelatin from cooked down sturgeon bladders. It’s optical properties, such as reversibility, aging characteristics, and strength, make it a very good choice of glue to be used in many conservation treatment applications. It is used mainly in consolidation (stabilization of flaking media), though also has applications in tear repair, facing, and as a general adhesive. I hope this blog post illustrates the care and time conservators put into selecting (and making) their materials, as well as the actual treatment of art.

First, the swim bladders of the sturgeon are purchased dried and unprocessed. They should be free of blood clots and other large inclusions.  For this project, I used 50 grams of dried Salianski bladders purchased from L. Cornelissen & Son.


The swim bladders should be soaked overnight in water using approximately a 1:10 glue-to-water ratio.  I eye-balled the ratio in a large glass beaker to a final volume of about 800 ml. To help them absorb water, the bladders can be cut into smaller pieces. I found this time-consuming and difficult, so I ended up soaking them whole. After a period of 24 hours, the bladders should be spongy to the touch and able to be easily pulled apart.

Once the bladders are sufficiently spongy, they should be kneaded into a homogeneous blob. The texture was kind of doughy at this point, and obtaining the blob was easier than I thought. Any hard bits should be worked into the dough. If there are a few remaining, they will be filtered out at a later stage. download (1)

The glue and water were placed in a makeshift double boiler using the glass beaker, a wooden block, and a large cooking pot.  The mixture should be cooked in hot water, never exceeding 140 degrees F (60 degrees C). I allowed the glass beaker to come to temperature in the water and kept a digital thermometer in the cooking water to monitor the water temperature. To double check, I also kept a meat thermometer inserted in the water and had a glass of cold water on hand to cool the water, if necessary. As the water began to reach temperature, the mixture became cloudy as the dough began to dissolve.  The solution was stirred with regularity and after about 45 minutes, the glue was mostly in solution. I found that I had to get the outside water temperature very close to 140 for the majority of the mixture to dissolve. The water eventually became more clear as the dough melted. To see that all was well, I checked the tack of the glue as it neared completion, and the results were satisfactory.

After cooking, the solution was filtered into a large glass jar through a nylon stocking. The material remaining in the stocking should be squeezed through to help dissolve any remaining bits. This solution was then re-filtered using the same stocking.  Bits remaining after the second filtration can be discarded with the stocking. At this point, the solution should be yellowish and clear of bits.  I poured it onto a sheet of non-stick Mylar that had been previously prepared over a large table.  Incidentally, I also had to prepare an additional sheet of Mylar to accommodate the large amount of glue produced. The glue should be left undisturbed to dry. To make more homogeneous and complete sheets, I attempted to spread the glue mid-drying with a piece of stiff Mylar with some success. I did end up getting areas of pooling that took longer to dry than others.

Once the sheet is sufficiently dried, they can be easily separated from the Mylar and cut up into smaller pieces to be stored for later use.

The cut up pieces can be stored in jars and re-dissolved in water as they are needed.  Though lengthy, the preparation of the glue yielded enough dried glue to last for a few years.  The product is very refined and sure to contain no additional additives, bulking agents, or colorants.

For the instruction on the preparation of isinglass, I would like to give credit to my graduate painting conservation professor James Hamm at Buffalo State College and to Jill Whitten and Rob Proctor.

download (2)

Qualitatively ranked comparative overview of each protein glue

I have included a table you can download. It a comparative overview of each glue

protein glue table

I think I have covered many useful topics and you should now have a solid understanding of the various types of animal protein glue without the unnecessary glossy scientific details which I have omitted, as it does not benefit us the woodworker in knowing it.  As for the contradictory data for Isinglass from sturgeon, one test from Pryzybylo indicated that the glue was resoluble in water after both tests of natural and artificial ageing was conducted. However, another report from Michel et al. indicated that their artificially aged sturgeon isinglass was insoluble in water. As you can see these are contradictory results which may be due to different preparation procedures, light source, exposure time, temperature etc. In reference to the Caspian Sea fisherman on his eye witness accounts of where the object was soaked in water for up to ten days and did not come apart is in line with Michel’s findings, but just what preparation did the ancients use to render this glue insoluble is unknown.
Animal protein glues has many uses in all fields of many trades but there is no one particular glue that you can generalise as a general glue type. Each glue has its pros and cons and each glue will perform different tasks. As an example, you cannot use hide glue for bonding metal to wood but instead you would use Fish glue, but the same glue wouldn’t suffice for gilding, instead you would use rabbit skin glue. So, as you can see they all work differently to each other, so it’s up to you as a craftsman to understand what your glue can or cannot do, and to use the appropriate glue for the job on hand.
I think by now with how much I have written on this subject not only in this article but in all my previous ones that animal protein glues, is my go to glue.


If you are experiencing problems with your glue losing its bond as I have read on many forums from Luthiers, you need to ask yourself what quality of glue are you using. Is it from a reputable source? Very high humidity can also be the cause due to high levels of moisture in the air, dry heat is not the cause. As you know by now that Fish glue is high in viscosity, by thinning the glue you’re basically starving the joint. What little glue is on there holding your piece together will come apart in even slight humid conditions. Another factor at play is people using hair dryers to force the drying times, fish glue works best when its left to dry slowly and naturally. If your workshop is in a damp environment then don’t expect much results with any animal protein glue, if your wife’s dryer is in your workshop, your shop including all your tools and wood will be soaked. Look at your environment before you blame the glue doing what it’s supposed to do.
Your customers also need to be made aware of potential mishaps and how to avoid them. All in all, in all my years of using hide glue and this fish glue is the first for me, nothing has come apart, and conditions in my area in summer are extreme, soggy high humidity. I have also just used fish glue instead of epoxy to fill in a crack in a knot on my recently bought bowsaw, it worked wonderfully and as you know this fish glue is very old and I’m confident it hasn’t gone off. Equally it’s the lower grade one from Lee Valley not the high grade Isinglass. It’s also been several days probably a week since I glued to sample together, still its impossible to break it apart. I will give it a test in the laundry when my wife uses the dryer next, just to see if it will come apart and that will the most extreme conditions.
If you’ve read this far then congratulations are in order, this length of post isn’t the norm for blogs but I do hope I will make a regular habit of it.
Take care

Categories: Hand Tools

Preface to Fish and mammalian glues

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 11:29pm

This article is an in depth study I have researched on animal protein glue, I don’t believe even with the information I’ve compiled is merely enough to scratch the surface. Sourcing information through the net is proving to be increasingly difficult on this subject. There isn’t much information available besides the usual synopsis you can find in any woodworking catalogue.
I must say the internet has developed or leaned more towards marketing of products rather than being a source of information that’s geared towards real learning. This marketing revolution reminds me of the industrial revolution seeds first planted in England in the 18th century, but didn’t see it blossom and the negative effects it had on society till the 19th century.


This poisonous blossoming effect brought about a radical socioeconomic change to the developed world and the demise of human skill through the introduction of machinery in the workplace.
Much like the Camphor Laurel tree which originated in China and exported to other nations because of its beautiful grain, poisoning and eventually killing off other trees in its surrounding, so did the lure of mass production. Once more China through the greed of western corporations and medium sized businesses has killed off many jobs in the western civilised world.


The industrial revolution of the 19th century led to low quality, high yielding profits bringing benefit to only some, but often resulted in mass unemployment, low wages, poor working and living conditions for both the working class and the poor.

While now in the 21st century working conditions in the developed world may have improved but we still see no change in employment opportunities. No wage increase to meet the current cost of living, housing is now unaffordable in major capital cities around Australia, rental increases has exceeded a single person’s income, universities wanting to increase their fees even more, limiting more young people from obtaining an education in the hope of a better life while gearing towards reserving education only for the wealthy as it was in the early part of the 20th century. Zero plans in supporting any additional apprenticeship programs and bringing about further tax cuts for corporations while increasing tax levies on the working class.

The internet which was once a great source of limitless information has developed into a new revolutionary marketing tool which has been cleverly masked by the word “information age.” A word with a hidden motif and motive. This information is not about giving but collecting personal information about you, to help them better market their products to you.
So, rather than help Mr. Googlegoogle-evil-1200x900 further their exploits of this revolutionary and evolutionary degeneration of the human intellect, I aim to put a black spot or stain or even a dent in their plans by placing as much educational material as I humanly can on the subject of woodworking, in the hope that it will inspire many and restore some level of balance to your lives, and get the children and adults off the PlayStations and generally off their mobile phones.


That’s me when I was a young rooster but long gone are the days of my youth, and equally so my generation who’ve forgotten how to live. Isn’t it time we started to remember?
There are a great many more blogs out there and unfortunately some of the better ones are long gone, but together we can build them up again to better serve the community. I urge you all, to create blogs, contribute and support one another and make a stance against this modern degeneration of society. If you think you have nothing to share or your skill level is not worthy of posts, think again.

Everyone has something to offer and gain as learning is a never ending process.

This introductory post has been more a form of release of the mental anguish due to the frustrations I’m currently undergoing of researching, gathering and compiling of information on fish glue, whilst endlessly and tirelessly trying to avoid the constant bombardment of “where I can buy fish glue.”   As this research is far from over and without going into any further discussion of the demise and evolutionary degeneration of the human race, I will in my next post release my findings.

I’ll begin with a very brief look into the historical accounts that’s been documented on fish glue. As I have written some on the historical uses of hide glue in my earlier posts, I don’t believe it would be beneficial to repeat it here. As I cannot possibly cover every aspect of this glue or mammalian glues in general in a single post, I will release further information as I come across it in other subsequent posts.

Before I end this introductory post, I would like to make a brief clarification on Camphor Laurel.  Even though it is considered a weed in Australia due to its poisoning effects it has on other trees, it is a most beautiful and sought after timber by many woodworkers in all fields of the trade.  It gives off a wonderful strong scent and is great for keeping cloth eating insects out of your wardrobes. Its easy to saw but planing is difficult with standard bevel angle planes, no less than a 50° bevel is needed to plane without causing tear out and the grain is drop dead gorgeous.  I used this tree as an example only to clarify a point.

Take care




Categories: Hand Tools

Unplugged shop

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 5:14am

I am fortunate enough to have been listed amongst many great hand tool blogs on the unplugged shop news feeder.  Check it out.

Categories: Hand Tools

Fish Glue

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 6:00am

I hate watching television even though I have two TV’s in my house but thankfully never used, I can’t stand listening to the news because there’s never anything positive to hear but they’re usual over dramatization and fear mongering tactics.  I hate politicians, because they never keep their election promises, constantly lie, they live in the back pockets of corporations, they pretend as if they know what they’re doing and they just can’t seem get along without resorting to some kind of war.  Oh, and they’re radicals because they’re ignorant.  A professor at Griffith University at the school of law once said “Ignorance breeds radicalism.”

So, I turn to books and articles written by prominent highly educated and respected people on various subjects pertaining to my interests.  I was recently doing some research on hide glue and it’s uses and made some amazingly new discoveries which could have helped me during my build of the small router plane.  Prior to the build, I was blinded to this information but a few days after the second build I make this discovery.

Did you know that metal expands and contracts with humidity and temperature fluctuations in opposite direction to the wood?  In fact, so does water.


Did you also know that epoxy is brittle and the metal glued to wood would eventually break off?  Just when this will occur is anyone’s guess, but since I’m all about quality workmanship and having my builds outlive a generation or two at the very least, why take the risk.  I’m sure you feel the same.

Prior to knowing these facts about metal’s movement during these environmental fluctuations I was stumped on understanding why epoxies brittleness would eventually cause bond failure. Well now it all makes sense, this important bit of information I wasn’t made privy to all makes good sense, “movement”.

As woodworkers, we expect for wood to move and we make accommodations for that movement but how many of us knew that metal moves as well and in the opposite direction to wood. So, scientists came up with a solution of gluing metal to wood and that’s Loctite 330 and there are other numbered Loctite’s that will also do the same trick but, wait a minute. Isn’t antique furniture covered in brass ornaments, doesn’t some antique braces have brass plates fixed to them, ok fair enough they’re reinforced with screws but what about antique clocks and their brass fittings.

So, if these metal fixtures were glued to the wood hundred of years ago and are still affixed firmly in place today, what did they use? I’m sure Loctite didn’t exist in that era, well the answer is animal glue and fish glue to be precise.  According to Patrick Edwards fish glue was used in marquetry to glue ivory, bone, horn shell and metal (brass). Which makes perfectly good sense because all animal glues allow a certain amount of movement of these elements.

There are a variety of traditional animal glue applications that continue to be used by modern craftsmen. Rabbit skin glue is necessary for laying gold leaf properly.  Instrument makers and restorers have a wide variety of applications that depend on animal glues. For example, the fact that these glues can be coloured and mixed with many components allows the addition of plaster of Paris to glue for laying ivory keys. Marquetry workers add different colours to the glue to restore Boulle tortoise shell and make mastic. Fish glue has properties which make it perfect for exotic materials, such as tortoise shell, horn, leather, shark skin, cloth and metals. Fish glue is a liquid glue with strong cold tack grip, and its used to glue brass, pewter and copper in Boulle marquetry is further strengthened when the metal is first rubbed with a fresh clove of garlic. Animal bone and hide glues are used individually and mixed together for all types of woodworking. Diluted glues are used for veneer sizing and flattening, as well as for sizing end grain and porous woods before sanding.
Had I known these facts before I would have used fish glue and come to think of it I actually have a bottle I bought a number of years ago, I doubt very much if it’s of any use anymore in fact I just opened it for the first time and took a whiff and it stinks, but I’ll glue some small pieces with it just for fun to see if it will work being so old as it is. Having said that, Fish glue will still be good for a number of years even though it is a protein glue and fish glue is smelly by nature anyway, so the stench of mine is probably normal.
You have to admit the benefits of using animal glues far outweigh the benefits over synthetic glues, yes, it’s true there’s no ease of use.  It’s time consuming to prepare and you have to keep an eye on it constantly so it doesn’t over cook, if you’re working in a fully-fledged business production run workshop your glue must be hot and ready for use throughout the day. But, that’s life and that’s how it’s always been for the last 8000 years with this glue.
Here’s one more tip you also probably didn’t know. Cold water is added to dry glue and hot water equalling the temperature of the hot glue is added to thin it. Cold for cold and hot for hot and yet I see on YouTube cold water added to hot hide glue. If you’re going to use cold water then allow the glue to heat up to 140° F (60°C) before you use it, don’t do what I’ve seen people do and use it straight away and it’s not just on YouTube but in a particular book as well.  If I mention which book then the author/seller will get all snotty with me, funny though I must be the only one that will cop it in the chin when I get it wrong, I learn from it and move on but when it comes to them they hold a grudge and take it with them to their graves.  This is called online woodworking politics and there is a lot of that.

Take care

Categories: Hand Tools


Sat, 05/13/2017 - 4:02am

I’ve spoilt myself rotten, I bought a brand new drawknife from woodjoy tools, the blade is 8″ long he didn’t have his usual one in stock but he said he does have one fresh from the blacksmith so I took it.  I won’t say how much I paid for it but all I can say the conversion rate was a killer.

After 3 weeks wait time it finally arrived and needed sharpening badly, I knew I was in for one hell of a ride.  I started this morning at 9 am sharp and finished at 7pm, yes you read that right 10 hours of solid sharpening.  My finger are sore but I did it, I told you it was blunt real blunt and there was a whole hunk of metal to go through.  If I ever wanted a belt sander this day would of been it.  All I needed was to get to the burr stage and the rest would of been over with quickly but being as blunt as it and working the entire bevel it took all day.  I could of just made a secondary bevel but that secondary bevel would of grown with successive sharpenings so I thought just do it right the first time and be done with it.


It’s sharp and I mean meanly sharp, when I did the thumbnail test it didn’t catch as it usually does but sliced it upon touch.  WOW I couldn’t believe I took it to such a level I honestly never sharpened anything to reach that level of sharpness before, my nail just touched it and sliced a layer off.  Call me insane 10 hours of sharpening talk about torture but just goes to show with dedication you can achieve anything.

I put it through a test drive and it just purred through the wood, now all I need to do is just practise with it to control my cuts.  To use it you skew the blade and take slicing cuts, but being so sharp whether I skewed it or not made no difference to the quality of the cut.  To take a deeper shave you tilt the blade down and up for a light cut, you can also work with it bevel down.

This is a wonderful addition to my array of tools and hopefully will see plenty of use.

Categories: Hand Tools

Small Router plane for Sale

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 5:18am

The materials I used are American Black Walnut and solid brass for the base, I didn’t use epoxy for lamination of the brass to wood as epoxy is brittle and eventually will break away.
Instead I used loctite 330. Other materials used are Beech with brass inserts for the knobs and Camphour Laurel for the blade holder and lastly a knurled thumbscrew to lock the blade.
The iron is O1 tool steel and hardened to RC62, the primary bevel angle is 25°, the back of the blade has been flattened and the blade sharpened. This blade requires no work and is ready to use out of the box.
The sole of the plane has also been flattened.

This tool as all my woodworking is entirely handmade including the shaping of the iron and it’s preparation not even a grinder touched it.

As this is not a tool making business but just a hobby it’s a one off sale, I had surplus material and didn’t want to see it go to waste and liked it so much I thought I’d build another.
All the proceeds of this sale will go towards building myself a decent workbench.

Price is AUD $140 which includes FREE standard shipping Australia wide only.

Payment is to be made by bank transfer, paypal asks way too much in fees and my price hasn’t been adjusted to accommodate paypal’s demands.

A note to international buyers, shoot me an email handmadeuniqueclocks (at) gmail.com with your zip or postal code and I will get a shipping quote for you.

Having built this project twice you’d think it would go faster the second time round but it didn’t.  Building this plane was time consuming but well worth the effort and I’ve come to appreciate tool makers and understand why they charge what they do.  Even if I used all their fancy machinery I don’t believe I could of built it any faster.

Toolmakers charge accordingly because labour cost is the culprit like in any manufacturing business and if I were to include labour plus overheads, then this plane would exceed $300 easily.  If you think I’m making money on this think again,  I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, youtube can be very misleading.  No tool can be made for $10, materials don’t fall from the sky irrespective of which country you live in, the lights in your shop isn’t free, knowledge and skill cannot be downloaded and installed by watching a video.  All of this plus more comes to a hefty price tag, but all of us continue to pay it because we love our craft and will continue to do so because of this love we have for our craft.  So be truthful with yourselves and others and don’t follow the misguided concept of those who mislead others through youtube.  You don’t have to reveal what it cost you , just don’t say it cost you $10 so you can get more subscribers, likes and hits.  By doing so, you are doing a disservice to many businesses out there who are struggling to stay afloat.

Take care everyone.





Categories: Hand Tools

I did it!!!!!!!!!!!

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 8:56pm

Where’s there’s a will there’s a way and these pictures simply proves it.  When you set your mind on a task you can achieve whatever you want.


I hope these pictures bring clarification to my previous post, you can see by removing metal from the top and bottom I was able to bend it without any bulge on the back.  The iron now goes all the way into the body of the plane and when extended almost reaches 2″ without flex.  This length like I said before will be rarely needed in your normal joinery but if you’re going to produce a moulding plane with 2″ wide sole and you’re going to employ this French build method then you will need an iron of this length.

Next Thursday is my day off work again and I will be heat treating this iron, I am making recordings of the build so stay tuned for those.  I think I will replace my own 1/8″ width blade with this one but so far it hasn’t really caused me any concerns and I have dedicated too much time to this build.  I really want to get to building these moulding planes so I can move on to building myself a bench.  Would you believe it I still haven’t decided on the type of vices I’m going to use.  Unbelievable, there is just so many to choose from and I want this bench to be the last bench I’ll ever build so it must do everything I want it to do.


Categories: Hand Tools

I’m all burned out

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 4:30am

Well it’s finally all caught up with me, I’m all burned out.  All those waking hours I’ve spent at the bench and now the same thing in my new job my mind and body has said enough.  Two whole glorious days off and I managed to do only half an hour of work at the bench, I can barely even muster enough energy to write this post.

What I did for half an hour was correct a mistake I didn’t anticipate, a mistake that could of been avoided had I received the correct information.  Going against my own better judgement which is nothing more than pure logic I followed the misgiving of applying incorrect advice.  So what am I talking about, I’m referring to the iron I’m making for the router planer I intend to sell.

The first router plane I made which you all saw I used a 1/8″ round iron which bent fairly easily and made a nice tight corner but that diameter iron was only a one off I had.  The new stock I bought is 5mm in dia. which I think is better than my initial 3mm one as it’s stronger and has zero flex in it.  But trying to bend it to the right angle and have it tucked up inside the plane, well following the advice I was given was just plain and simply wrong.


I knew it wasn’t going to work but hey I’m a woodworker not a metal worker and a metal worker who works metal for a living should know more than me right, well he does but his advice was still wrong and my own gut instinct which has never failed me yet was telling me it was wrong but I still went ahead with it.  So as you can see from the picture above the iron does not simply go all the way into the body of the tool and it just looks darn wrong and stupid.

Veritas, Lie Nielson and others either the screw the blade on or weld it to make the iron a 90° angle.  Bending it like I did either by hand or by hammering it will not upset the angle to 90°.   It took me about 15 mins to figure it out on what to do next.  Take a look at the picture below.


Left is the mistake, the middle was a trial and success, the far right is how I achieved it and it’s pretty darn simple.  I filed an inset on both sides of the iron, by relieving metal, I’m initially thicknessing it and that’s the key answer.  Now I can simply chuck it in the vice and bend it by hand or hammer.  I have a puny chinese crap vice and if I were making tools for a living I would buy a good quality vice like Dawn.  I will end up buying one soon enough as they do come in handy more times than not.  Anyway as you can in the next picture the test iron goes all the way up, well not entirely but a few tweaks would fix these small anomalies.


I’ve been working by hand for so long now that machines have become alien to me and here is the irony.   I tried to use my 6″ grinder to grind a bevel and somewhat flatten the bottom of the iron.  I’m so unaccustomed to machinery that I made a complete mess of it and almost lost my fingers in the process, another words I had no control of the tool.  Many people would cringe at the thought of hacksawing metal or filing it into shape but for me that’s the only way I know how.  I have complete control over the tool,  I enjoy it but I have control and the key to precision work you must have control and confidence in the tools that you use.  I guess if I spent as much time behind a machine as I do with my hand tools I would gain mastery over them, but so far I haven’t seen the need to implement machinery in my life.

I don’t know how long it took me to file the recesses all I know I didn’t break a sweat nor grew tired of it.  The process seemed to end all so quickly without a hint of frustration or the risk of personal injury.  I didn’t need a special jig and definitely not a machine to do it.

I can definitely understand why people do rely on machines and it’s not just speed of work but to avoid frustrations of poor work like I experienced using machines.  They are machinists because that’s what they’ve trained themselves to use and so they’re comfortable using them, while I’m a hand tool user because that’s what I’m trained to use and am comfortable using them.  All I’m trying to say is stick with what you know and what you’re comfortable with and your woodworking experience will continue to give you the thrill and pleasure it always has.

Categories: Hand Tools

Starrett 1895-1948

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 2:28am

starrett 1895

starrett 1938

starrett 1948

starrett no.16 supplement

This is the last of the catalogues I’m going to post unless I find one dated back to the 18th century which I don’t even know if they actually had toolmakers who made tools as a business. Generally woodworkers and blacksmiths made tools for themselves and the latter for woodworkers.  Anyhow, I feel the catalogues I posted is more than enough.

Categories: Hand Tools

Small Router Plane Build

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 6:32pm

I’ve finally settled on a design and finished the build, after much debate within myself and squeezing every ounce of energy out of me it’s finally done.  Working 14 hours a day in my regular job believe me this wasn’t easy, but my passion for the craft is what’s driven to complete it.

I needed to make a new router plane to aid me in completing the moulding planes, the small Veritas router plane I do have doesn’t suffice.  First the blade isn’t long enough to reach a 2 inch depth and the plane isn’t wide enough to comfortably work with it. Lastly the blade is 1/4 inch wide which makes too wide for the mouth opening.  So I decided I needed to make myself one to suit the job at hand.

Initially I started on this one below, I grabbed some scrap Walnut for the base and Rosewood for the handle from a previous clock build I did.  For the blade I used an allen key, bent it the correct angle, flattened the bottom and polished and sharpened the blade.  I also used a screw to lock the blade in it’s position.  Well it worked and to my surprise not only did the allen key sharpen really well but it’s ability to hold to an edge was really surprising.  I researched on what type of metal it is but unfortunately I don’t know because different makers use different metals which are a closely guarded secret.


I couldn’t stop there, I was now hit with the creativity bug, I needed to make a schmick looking one and it had to resemble a period looking one, so I went cracking at it.

I started drawing it up in autocad and built a prototype.  Drawing it up is one thing but actually building it is completely another kettle of fish.  The dimensions I chose didn’t actually work so I went back to cad to come up with new dimensions.  The problem with drawing on the computer is that your screen isn’t 1:1 ratio so you end up zooming in spacing things apart to what looks good to your eye but ends up being all wrong come time to the actual build.  Even though using software for drawing is awesome especially when you want to find dead centres or mirroring object and especially erasing a line is fantastic as there are no smudges on paper but hand drawing I can definitely see the benefits in that when you draw 1:1.  There are renowned woodworkers who will draw an entire piece 1:1 scale on a sheet of plywood, now I see why they would.

Anyway I went backwards and forwards with it trying to come up with a design that aesthetically looked pleasing to the eye and had that period feel to it and functioned well.

Finally I came up with one I thought would work well, I turned some knobs and did some carving on it but they ended being too small and had a clumsy feel to it.  So I went back to cad and started a new design.  After spending much time on it mostly due to work always getting in the way I finally came up with a design that would work well.

I turned  some knobs with brass inserts, I also turned blade holder and added a nice brass knurled screw.  I added a 1.5mm thick brass plate to the bottom to keep the base indefinitely flat and it looks good as well.  I didn’t use epoxy  because you don’t use epoxy for gluing metal to wood as you see it plastered all over youtube instead, I used loctite 330 which costs horrendously, ridiculously and stupidly expensive for a small tube of it.  I would like to thank Terry Gordon from HNT tools for his advice on this and my dear friend in the US, Tony Konovaloff who wrote the book Chisel, Mallet, Plane and Saw for inspiring me to push myself and to never give up.  Love you bro

The plane measures 3 1/8 x 3 9/16 x 29/32 ( 79.3mm x 90.5mm x 23mm) the iron is O1 tool steel 1/8 inch round and reaches a depth of 2 inches, it’s been heat treated to RC 62.  The body of the plane is Black Walnut with a brass plate, the tool holder for a lack of a better word is Camphor Laurel and the knobs are Beech with brass inserts.  The plate has been ground flat.


I have one more brass plate left, I will make one more with a 4mm O1 blade and offer it for sale, the first plane I would like to give away all I ask is that you pay the postage of $25 if it’s more I’ll wear the difference,  you can email me the first person that sends it will be the first to get it.  Send me your full address details and payment through paypal.

To send money through paypal follow the descriptions below.

  1.  Log in to your paypal account if you don’t have one then create one
  2. On the top Tab choose “money” and click on it
  3. In the left hand column you will now see “send or request money” click on that
  4. You will now see 5 boxes choose the first box that reads “send money to family or friends” this one is free if you choose the second one to the right they will charge you a fee.
  5. Enter my email address, you already know it because you sent me an email if I post it here I can get spammed.
  6. That’s it.

Almost forgot this iron in this plane reaches a depth of 1.5 inches.

Building myself a tool was a challenge but the end result was great and even though it cost me more to do it myself the experience and knowledge gained was a worthwhile investment, you could say priceless.


Categories: Hand Tools

Sargent 1911 catalogue

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 2:20am
Categories: Hand Tools

Marples tools for woodwork 1938

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 2:17am
Categories: Hand Tools

Millers Falls catalogue 1925

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 2:05am

There’s two catalogues the first one is clear to what year it is but the last one is unknown to me.

no.39 1925



Categories: Hand Tools

Millers Falls handbook for mechanics

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 1:59am

This handbook is quite interesting, it brief instructions on mixing your own stains, what saw files you should use on different point saws etc.  It’s not many pages involved in  reading but I think you learn quite a bit from it.

Millers Falls handbook for mechanics

Categories: Hand Tools

Stanley catalog no.34 1934

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 4:44pm
Categories: Hand Tools

Planter Box Build Part 9 finale

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 4:54am

I’ve finally gotten around to edit the final video of the build.  In this video I do the tongue and groove, mould a bead with a beading plane, make stopped angled chamfers and finally the glue up.  All of this is several hours work edited down to 3mins the shortest project video I have ever done.  The background music is Australian colonial folk.

Today my only day off to work wood I went ahead and blew my tendons in my leg, even with the enormous pain I’m holding true to my word what I said in my previous post of reaching Kung Fu.  I limped but still worked wood.


Categories: Hand Tools

Secrets to become a master craftsman artisan

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 5:48am

The secrets to become the master is not at all a secret, but one known to us all and reserved only for those who are prepared to undertake a journey I am to reveal or maybe I should say, remind you and myself of something we all already know.

Let’s take a brief journey into the philosophical world of martial arts to better understand ourselves and the journey we are about to embark.

Kung Fu

If we look up the definition of Kung Fu we’ll get many descriptions, but only one nails its true meaning, “to refine the body and its mind.”   Kung Fu is supreme skill that can only be attained from hard work.  You see Kung Fu doesn’t only relate to martial arts but to all that have mastered their trade.  A painter Leonardo Da Vinci can be said to have reached Kung Fu, French woodworker Andre Jacque Roubo can be said to have reached Kung Fu.   A skilled masterful musician who can move the hearts with his music can be said to have reached Kung Fu.  Even a servant who loyally serves his master flawlessly can be said to have reached Kung Fu.  Anyone who has mastered the arts be whatever that may be, whose skills have reached perfection and cannot be perfected any further has reached Kung Fu.

Kung Fu is not about fighting but about mastery of the arts.  It’s about self discipline, self sacrifice, struggle, endurance and determination.  Strong will power.

Let me give you a quote from a master of Kung Fu of what is needed to reach Kung Fu. “Preparation, endless repetition until your mind is weary and your bones ache, until you’re too tired to sweat and too wasted to breathe. That is the way, that is the only way one acquires Kung Fu.”

Would it surprise you if I said even those who have worked wood for 40, 50 or even 60 years have not reached Kung Fu, they are merely black belts who know enough to get them by.  But I personally want more than that, I don’t want just to know enough to get by.

Shaolin monks undergo severe physical training to attain true Kung Fu and it all boils down to that definition to refine the body and its mind.

We are all different in body and mind to each other, many of us are happy and content with their current status, then there are many who want more but are not willing to step forward to get it, but only a few small group want it so bad, that they’re willing to sacrifice themselves to undergo severe training of both body and mind to reach Kung Fu.  They do this not for fame nor fortune but to attain true skill, self elevation in their chosen art.

I, and I speak for myself only want to achieve Kung Fu, I want to reach a level of mastery in my craft and I’m not referring to become the best of the best because I know all too well, that there are no best of the bests in this world, only God can claim that title.  When you believe, you are the best, know that someone somewhere out there is better than you, but to become a true master among many masters is what I want to achieve.

This means going back to basics, re learning simple skills is the key to mastering them, honing with repetition until my mind is weary and my body aches beyond endurance is what I’ll have to do to master each skill in this trade.   When I saw, there can’t be good days and bad days, every day I saw to that line must be perfect in every sense of the word.  When I plane the edge to the line it must be square and perfectly parallel to the opposite edge with no severe time lost.  My tools must be an extension of my arms and all must work together harmoniously.   My knowledge must be pure and extensive with real purpose in mind.  To execute an operation it cannot be clouded with doubt but only with sheer conviction of its purpose and success.

I have built many clocks in my lifetime and many of them struck people with awe, I gained popularity due to my workmanship, honesty, integrity and generosity, so I can never say I wasn’t successful in my career as a clock maker and seller.  But had I remained content with only building clocks I would never have found myself, my true purpose in life, I would never have discovered what I truly want out of my craft.    As you all know there are many aspects of our craft and choosing only one aspect is evidently clear to me now more than ever that that is not enough for me.  So, my journey begins on a different route all over again but this time with clarity and single purpose in mind as an apprentice, and am not ashamed to demote myself in order to reach my final destination.

This blog has gone beyond my wildest expectations, it’s not about self promotion or self marketing but about a woodworker who is unknown in this world, who is of no real importance nor holds any celebrity title.  It’s about a man who has taken upon himself to take a leap of faith into himself, to undertake an enormous journey, a task of determination through self discipline and hard work to achieve his goals and objectives in life in order to better himself until that final destination of Kung Fu is reached.  And you’re all welcome to join me should you so desire.

Categories: Hand Tools