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The Renaissance Woodworker

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So Many Projects, So Little Time...
Updated: 40 min 3 sec ago

Shop Update for 3/24/17: How I Sharpen My Tools

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 5:52am

Sharpen More to Sharpen Less

This week I am hoping to address a whole bunch of sharpening questions all at once by illustrating how I sharpen my tools now that I have settled on diamond stones and strops. I discuss the process of free hand sharpening, how to use a strop, and the spectre of dubbing.

More Sharpening Stuff?

I’ve written/talked about mortising many times over the years and you can find many posts here on my site, but here are some suggestions:

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 3/17/17: Boring a Through Mortise

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 1:18pm

Save This Technique for Large Mortises

I got a lot of questions after I chopped out a through mortise last week about whether boring the mortise is a valid approach. So this week I used my brace and augers to bore out the bulk of the waste and then pare back to the lines. I think you will see that the process is not actually any faster. But when you have really large mortises that exceed the sizes of your chisels, boring out the waste definitely makes sense.

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 3/10/17: Chopping a Through Mortise

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 6:46am

It All Comes Down to Working to Your Lines

This week I have a question about some through mortises so I figured I would just chop one. But to add an wrinkle, this mortise needs to be a bit wider than any of the mortise chisels I have and even a different size any type of chisel I have in my arsenal. So this mortise requires a bit more finesse to get it right.

How About Some More Mortise Stuff?

I’ve written/talked about mortising many times over the years and you can find many posts here on my site, but here are some suggestions:

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update LIVE 3/2/17: Hand Cut Tapers

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 5:00am

Pay Attention to Your Lines, and Plane to Them

The focus of this Live session is cutting tapers in a leg by hand. The original question comes from Chuck who will be making tapered octagonal legs and wants to get the 4 sided taper first. Basically you lay out the taper and plane to your lines. I like pencil lines over knife lines but either method will work. I do all the heavy lifting with the Fore plane and get almost right on my lines, then flatten and refine the taper with my jointer plane. But a Jack plane would work just as well.

Using the Jack Plane as the Only Plane

Then I get into a question from Ed about how to use his Jack plane as the single plane to go from a rough sawn board to a finish ready surface. I did a live session on this very topic for my Hand Tool School Apprentices so I have edited that session a bit and released the video as a stand alone product that can be purchase over on the school site (or by clicking the Jack plane image.

Jack plane lesson

More Stuff from this Live Session

Lots of people showed up in the chat room and asked a lot of questions! Sorry I didn’t get to them all but maybe some of the below links will help:

  • Restore a Fore Plane from a Rusty Piece of Junk
  • The Resaw Frame Saw in Action
  • Making the Center Scribe

There were also some questions about edge jointing and squaring edges but I’m going to focus on that topic for next month’s live Shop Update on April 6th. So add it to your calendar, or join my email list and I’ll be sure to send out a reminder for the event a few days prior.

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 2/24/17: New Shop Floor

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 6:02am

So Much Room for Activities!!!

I’ve wanted a better floor in my shop for years. I put down my ghetto peel and stick vinyl tiles back in 2006 in an attempt to make it feel less like a garage and more like a shop. But they offer nothing in the way of comfort and definitely don’t make it feel like anything but a garage. So when Rubber Flooring Inc had a sale, I made the leap and got my new partially reclaimed tire rubber floor! And now it not only feels like a shop but I can bounce my chisels off the floor and not have to regrind the bevel.

Stuff Related to this Stuff

I brought the Dust Right Collector back into the shop and hung it in a previous update if you want to revisit that.

The Shop Update goes LIVE next Thursday night!

Show up and win NOTHING!!!
Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 2/10/17: Planing an Assembled Case

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 6:55am

Clamps Slip, Use a Stop…and Wax, Lots of Wax

If the secret to a good finish is preparation then the next question becomes, “how do prepare this fully assembled piece of furniture?”. Finish preparation isn’t necessarily saved until the end of a project but rather I prefer to think about it before I permanently glue or join one piece to another. That may not always be the case but the sooner I start thinking about it the better my chances are for getting good results.

Want Some Smoothing Planing Tips?

I’ve written/talked about smooth planing and controlling tear out many times over the years and you can find many posts here on my site, but here are some suggestions:

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update LIVE: 2 Kinds of Tusk Tenons

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 7:40am

Wedge or Tusk or Whatever You Call It

I got an email a while back asking about knockdown joinery and specifically tusk tenons and how to go about making them in 4/4 stock. Using 4/4 stock is no different but you do have to put some thought into how long and thick the tenons are so you have enough wood surrounding the tusk or wedge once the mortise is cut. In this live broadcast I cut 2 types of tusk tenons and compare the merits of each.

Did You Enjoy this Live Show?

I’ll be doing one of these Shop Updates Live each month and hope to answer more questions and do some demonstrations. No talking head stuff, actual woodworking. Sometimes I may do open Q&A others I may have a specific demonstration like this time. Regardless I hope you will join me.

Now if I can just figure out why the live audio sucks so bad!!! AAAAAHHHHRRRGGG Tech Gremlins!!

vertical tusk tenon
horizontal tusk tenon

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 1/27/17: Dado Saw Set Up Tip

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 6:09am

You Have to Experiment to Move Forward

I received a comment on YouTube about using the dado saw and how I might set up the fence to cut the second dado wall more efficiently. The idea of using the shelf board itself to set the spacing for the fence is a good one, but I was a bit skeptical. So this week I tried that suggestion to see if there was merit to it. Unfortunately it didn’t work but in the process I discovered that I was overcomplicating my set up and I came to a better method to allow me to accurately set up and use the dado saw. So what was once an odd tool that took up some space in my tool cabinet, may not be an essential tool for all of my case work in the future.

Next Week I Go Live!

I’ve said that I want to replace one of these Shop Updates each month with a live broadcast for open Q&A, and next week will be the first one. I hope to see you Thursday night, February 2nd at 9PM eastern time

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 1/20/17: Milk Painting a Bookcase

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 5:30am


Love That Two Tone Finish

This bookcase was a lot of fun and I particularly like when I get a chance to do a two tone finish mixing natural wood and paint. I really like that look. I’m using General Finished Cypress Green Milk Paint for the outside of the case and EnduroVar on the natural wood surfaces on the inside of the case. I just cover the Milk Paint application in this update since I’ve shown EnduroVar finishes before.

More Live Coming Soon

Keep an ear open for my next live event as I will be replacing one of these Shop Update videos each month with a live broadcast where I can answer your questions and demonstrate in real time. Its a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it more often. If you haven’t yet, join my email list and you will be notified when these events come up.

Watch an EnduroVar Finish

I used EnduroVar to finish this Dining Table and showed it application in the final video
Categories: Hand Tools

Bookcase from The Anarchist’s Design Book

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 10:59am

Community Pressure Made Me Build This


…And I had A LOT of fun doing it.
I have a lot on my plate these days and my time in the shop is pretty structured around specific things for this site and for The Hand Tool School. This means I don’t have a lot of extra time for unplanned project. However when a few community members in The Hand Tool School started talking about doing a group build on a bookcase and the excitement started to build as more folks started jumping on board to build it; I kinda felt obligated to join in on the fun.

So rather than disrupt my entire calendar I decided to build this bookcase live on YouTube. Christopher Schwarz said in his book, “The Anarchist’s Design Book“, it could be built in about 6 hours, so it seemed like it could be fun to build it this way over the course of 3 live streams.

This is my not so subtle way of saying the above playlist definitely shows you how to build this bookcase by hand, but it is a different style of production than the edited and polished videos you normally see here. There are some technical gremlins where sound cuts out and stoppage in the action as I fix them or basically stand there with a vacant look on my face as I try to figure out how to fix something. But based on feedback from the live viewers there is some good woodworking contained in these videos too.

The great part is that taking a break from my schedule to knock out this bookcase was such a positive experience and really energized me. Its a great design that is very forgiving and an outstanding project for hand tools.

Techniques Related to this Bookcase

I make mention of a video I did on that dado saw several times. Check out my original video review of it from several years ago.
You might also be interested in my series on using a rabbet plane
Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 1/13/17: Gearing Up for a Bookcase

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 6:05am

Streaming Live, A Bookcase!

Several of The Hand Tool School community members have embarked on a group build of a bookcase taken from Christopher Schwarz’s Anarchist’s Design Book. So I figured I had better build along too. But since I hadn’t planned on this project, I figured I would have some fun with it and stream the build live via my YouTube channel. I imagine the whole build will take about 6 hours and I’ll be streaming for 3, 1 hour periods which should cover all the primary stuff and the repetition can go on off camera.

I will be posting the recordings of these live sessions here as well.

Live Build Schedule

  • Saturday, January 14th 11am – 12 pm eastern time: breaking down stock and making panels
  • Sunday, January 15th 11am – 12 pm eastern time: Dado and Groove Joinery
  • Monday, January 16th 12 pm – 1 pm eastern time: Assembly and Finish

Best laid plans right? We’ll see how I stick to this schedule

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 1/6/17: Sawing Plumb

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 7:55am

When Gravity Just Isn’t Enough, Tips to Saw Plumb

Happy New Year everybody. In this week’s update I share a few of the things I turned for Christmas gifts, talk about some vintage tools that were given to me, and show off a wooden square I made for the Apprentice program at The Hand Tool School. I’m pretty proud about that last one. It’s sexy!

Sawing Plumb

Then I address a question from a viewer about how to keep your saw cuts plumb. Here are a few tips covered in the video:

  • Treat the cut as two parts
  • Pay Attention to the reflection
  • Don’t Forget that step back
  • Commit to the cut and use the whole saw plate
  • Start Your Cut on the Push Stroke
Sawing is probably the MOST important hand tool skill you can acquire and improve, so do yourself a favor and spend some time perfecting your technique and making yourself a better woodworker.

If you do nothing else, check out my One Step Sawing Improvement video
Or maybe this video on Ditching the Miter Box.
Or, maybe you want a saw starting exercise?

Did I Miss Anything?

Are you struggling with your saw cuts and keeping them accurate? Let me know how I can help. Better yet, if you have overcome sad sawing disease, I’d love to hear how you did it.

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 12/23/16: Dust Right Dust Filter and Collector

Fri, 12/23/2016 - 6:50am

Little Dust Collector, BIG Green Machine

This week has been a bit slow in the shop as I was finishing up a few gifts on the lathe but my new dust filter and hose showed up. So I installed it on the wall in its new place. I’ve had this dust collector for more than 8 years so there is no question how well it works, but I always felt the dust bag was the weak point and I wanted true 1 micron filtration. The new canister filter fits that bill and I’m really pleased with the space saving nature of this entire system.

I also got a question about how effective the built in mobile base is on my Grizzly planer so showed a quick demonstration of how well it moves the 900lb machine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 12/16/16: Moulding Planes & Sticking Boards

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 7:30am

Take a Walk and Make a Moulding

This week I have been making mouldings for my Blanket Chest and for some picture frames for Christmas gifts. The process of hand cutting mouldings, called sticking, is one of my favorite hand tool tasks. But it is put on a pedestal by many as mystical and difficult. Moreover there is a misconception that a lot of planes are needed to do it. Certainly you can get a lot of different complex moulders and even a lot of hollow and round planes, but I think you will be surprised just how many profiles can be made with just 3 planes.

Hand cut classical profile moulding

Check Out More Moulding Stuff

I have a whole category of stuff dedicated to sticking mouldings and you can read, watch, and listen to more to get your hollow and round fix. And let me know if you have any other questions about making your next moulding by hand.
Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 12/9/16: Sawing without a Saw Bench

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 6:46am


You Don’t Have To Stoop to Saw

This week I answer a question from Bob borne out of my Sawing class at Woodworking in America. Bob isn’t able to bend his knee or lean on it like we would while using a sawbench. He wants to know if there is an alternate method for accurate sawing that doesn’t require the use of his knee. Not only is there an alternative, sometimes the overhand method I show is the best method when working with thin or narrow boards.

I also talk briefly about my new dust collection set up and stiffening the mobile base I’m using for my Barnes lathe.

wia sawing class

Have You Seen the Sawing Class?

The sawing class I gave I Woodworking in America that spawned Bob’s question is available to watch in its entirety. So if you have nothing better to do with your life than watch a 2 hour long class on hand saw types, tooth geometry, and usage…then you might be my kind of person.
Categories: Hand Tools