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The Renaissance Woodworker
A Solid Tool Foundation You Can Build With and On
When you first get started woodworking the tools and acquiring them is a fun and exciting aspect of the experience. But it can also be very daunting as there seems to be so many tools we need just to build the first project. And tools are expensive making the task of acquiring a starting set even more difficult.
This doesn’t have to be true and you will find that a small set of tools can stretch a very long way and get you building quickly. Moreover it will light your path to future tool acquisitions by showing you clearly where a task could be made easier with a more specialized tool. For instance, a chisel can pretty much do anything in woodworking, but using just a chisel for some thing is just plain awful. But the chisel can do it so on that first project you may spend a bit more time with chisel and saw to cut that rabbet and when the next project comes around you invest in a rabbet plane. Slowly you start to build a comprehensive tool kit as the tools are needed.
As you add on specialty tools, you also have built the fundamental skills that will allow you to work without those specialty tools and this will come back to reward you when weird situations comes up that only a chisel can tackle. Or strong understanding of the saw, plane, and chisel will shorten the learning curve on a new tool.
Here’s the Important Bit
Which Tools Do I Reach For the Most
My tool cabinet is the final project for Semester 1 of The Hand Tool School. It combines every bit of knowledge crammed into one project. Its overengineered for sure just so that I could fit every single joint from the semester into it.
It took me a long time to build my cabinet, but it took me even longer to figure out the storage inside. I kept setting up chisel racks and plane cubbies and stuff and then switch them around. I kept searching for the best way to store things in the most efficient and ergonomic way. I built projects while working from the cabinet and started to realize which tools I needed the most and refine how I grouped them and where I stored them. The result is a highly optimized tool cabinet where everything has a place and that place is specifically chosen through building projects.
This makes my cabinet not just a storage option, but as refined and efficient a tool as my workbench.
A Powerful Tool for a More Enlightened Age
This week I show you how to sharpen a vintage pattern maker’s gouge, also known as an incannel gouge. Then I show you 5 examples where I’ve found them to be really useful in my own woodworking adventures. Oh yeah and we have a fun little history lesson on the Pattern Maker thrown in just so you can get your continuing education credits for the week.
More Old Tools Get New LivesHere are some other old and unusual tools I’ve come to love and how I put them back to work, plus more sharpening stuff cause you guys can’t get enough of that:
Lumber Stuffs, Get It Here
First, let me apologize about the static in this audio. I specifically did this same demonstration with the same hardware at the same time last week and I had great sound. All I can figure it the radio on my phone (no wifi) was interfering with the wireless lav mic. If I do it again I’ll get a wired lav mic. Anyway, this session is all about you and the questions you have about lumber, the lumber industry, buying lumber, choosing lumber, etc, etc.
What Did We Cover?A LOT!! Its a really broad topic and I had way more questions than I could keep up with. Thank you for that. We covered a lot of basics from terminology to how to choose your lumber and prepare for a trip to the lumber yard. We even talked about some ways to source lumber when you don’t have a retail or wholesale yard near you. Here are some blog posts to help you with some of the points I talked about.
Seek Out the Deep Dark Corners of Your Moulding
This week I show off my new track lighting and smart bulbs in my shop. For me these lights serve 2 masters: woodshop and film studio. So my set up may be a bit different than a lot of you, but embracing task lighting over banks of fluorescent lights is a major step forward for any hand tool shop.
Then I answer a question about nailing moulding to a case and how to hide the nails so you don’t have to mess with wood putty that usually makes things more obvious.
Chair and Table Legs Made Easier with a Long Tool Rest
Turning flowing curves and long cylinders and tapered legs is much more difficult when you have to stop mid curve and move the tool rest. Inevitably you have to clean up little bumps and hiccups in the curve where you try to pick up the curve again. After seeing “real” turners and chairmakers use long 20-30″ long tool rest to great effect, I decided to stop stalling and make one for my own lathes.
And hey, metalworking! I guess I am a Maker after all!
Get the Edge “Square-ish” Then Feel Your Way Flat
The focus of this Live session is edge planing, specifically getting square edges. 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.
3 Tips to a Square Edge
There is only so much I can cover and still take questions in these live broadcasts, so in an effort to cover some more edge squaring tips, I took a live session on this very topic from my Hand Tool School Apprenticeship and edited it a bit and released the video as a stand alone product that can be purchased over on the school site (or by clicking the image)
Two Methods for Tiny Dados
This week I demonstrate two methods for creating really small dados. More importantly how to create dados that are directly opposite each other in a grid work pattern without significantly weakening the board into which you are housing your parts.
Next Week I'm LIVE
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.
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.
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.
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.
More Stuff from this Live SessionLots 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.
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 StuffI 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!!!
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.