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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway!  Enjoy!

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Giant Cypress

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A monk asked Joshu, “What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming to China?” Joshu said, “The oak tree in the garden.”A monk asked Zhaozhou, “What is the living meaning of Zen?” Zhaozhou said, “The cypress tree in the yard.”
Updated: 2 hours 46 min ago

If you haven’t seen Big Hero 6, go out and rent/stream/watch it...

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 3:18am

If you haven’t seen Big Hero 6, go out and rent/stream/watch it however you can. It’s terrific. The movie is about a boy and a inflatable puffy robot who monitors your health. It takes place in a futuristic version of San Francisco, and the boy, Hiro Hamada, presumably is of Japanese descent.

The screen capture above shows a nice little woodworking Easter egg. Hiro has inadvertently activated Baymax, the robot, and has managed to wedge himself into the gap between his bed and his desk. Check out the joinery detail. Quite appropriate for an Asian kid’s bed, I would say.

(Thanks to Barry Dima for the tip.)

apperceptions: giantcypress: I was away for a few days...

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 3:08am



I was away for a few days chaperoning my son’s middle school camping trip, and came back to find that there was a lot of buzz about a video where people were making chopsticks with a hand plane and some jigs. I assume this was it.

Similar, but no. The ‘buzz’ has been about bridge city toolworks jig demo. See also the Lost Art Press article.

Just in case anyone didn’t get my joke in my original post, thanks to apperceptions for providing the appropriate links.

Flooding the Zone

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 7:38am
Flooding the Zone:

Lockhart Steele, on why geeking out about the minutiae of something is not necessarily a bad thing:

I always try to tell the newest editors at Eater, Don’t be afraid to follow your own obsession. Obsessions are, by nature, really weird. Obsessions are things when you look at a person and you’re like, Why are they into that? Like, What do they see that I don’t see? And what you’re trying to do by covering your obsession is to suck at least one other person down your own personal rabbit hole of being really, really, really into this one thing.
We generally don’t explain obsessions when we start them, and we certainly don’t explain when we end them. Choire Sicha, who’s the old editor of Gawker and who now runs The Awl, had the greatest phrase in Internet history, which was: Never complain, never explain. And that is all you need to know about how to do everything on the Internet.
Never complain—so when people are mad at you or people are throwing stones at you, or people are saying things like, Hey, you must be getting paid, you never respond. You never need to. And you never complain about what’s going on. Your work speaks for itself. If a reader can’t figure out what you’re doing, or it upsets them, or they think that it’s really fundamentally stupid that you’re writing about this thing all of the time, great news—they don’t have to read your publication. It’s a free world and our publication is here for those who are amused by it. So we will never explain why we were obsessed with something; it should be self-evident. If it’s not self-evident to you, there are many other food blogs out there, and perhaps Eater’s not the one for you.

In woodworking discussions, often someone will make a comment about how maybe we should stop obsessing over the details of a process and just get back to woodworking, as if there was a choice to be made between the two. And although I ran across this article just recently, I would have a thought along these lines.

I was away for a few days chaperoning my son’s middle school...

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 10:58am

I was away for a few days chaperoning my son’s middle school camping trip, and came back to find that there was a lot of buzz about a video where people were making chopsticks with a hand plane and some jigs. I assume this was it.

Episode 42 – Saws in the Shop

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 3:28am
Episode 42 – Saws in the Shop:

Here’s an excerpt from Glen Huey and Chuck Bender’s discussion on hand saws on the 360 Woodworking podcast:

Glen: I’ve got a saw that has no back on it that I use for cutting off pegs and crap like that.
Chuck: It’s not one of those Japanese things, is it?

Chuck delivers that last line with a tone of voice that I can only interpret as jealousy.

These kids have been playing together since they were four. Here...

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 3:18am

These kids have been playing together since they were four. Here they are playing “Smooth Criminal”. Check out the “Billie Jean” break.

And it goes without saying that these are four Asians who rock.

"Having a rip blade and crosscut blade on the same saw was a boon; the speed of cut is dramatic and..."

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 3:08am
“Having a rip blade and crosscut blade on the same saw was a boon; the speed of cut is dramatic and the finish “off the saw” is very very clean. Although it’s not a magic wand – and if like me you are used to Western tools it does take a while to get used to – I am enjoying using it.”

- Graham Haydon, on using a Gyokucho 651 240mm ryoba on a Craftsman style low table he’s working on. And before you think he’s just another Japanese tool fanboy, he’s well-steeped in western woodworking traditions, being a joiner from a small town in the southwest part of England and all that.

Andrew Hunter, doing a Japanese saw demonstration at the...

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 2:22pm

Andrew Hunter, doing a Japanese saw demonstration at the Northeast Woodworkers Association show a couple of weeks ago. Besides being a great demonstration of making a rip cut with a Japanese saw, which is the one sawing move that I still struggle with, he has some really insightful comments about being in the moment when working on a woodworking task that any woodworker could benefit from, whether you use western or Japanese tools.

I should mention that although I love woodworking with hand tools, if I’m going to be doing a long rip cut, I figure that’s why God gave us bandsaws.

which brand of waterstones do you recommend for sharpening good quality japanese chisels

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 3:18am

In terms of man-made waterstones, I have a set of Shapton Professionals: 1000, 5000, and 8000 grit, and am really happy with them. If I had to do this over, I think I would get the 15000 grit waterstone instead of the 8000 grit. At the time I bought these waterstones, the 15000 grit was considerably more expensive than the 8000 grit, but for whatever reason, they seem to be priced identically now.

I haven’t done a detailed head to head comparison of different brands of waterstones, and I don’t think I ever will. I have quickly tried different waterstones here and there, and I’m fairly confident in saying that any of the Japanese brands that are readily available in the U.S. will work well: King, Bester, Sigma, Ohishi, Naniwa, and any others I might have forgotten to mention.

One of the oft-repeated tropes about Japanese blacksmiths is...

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 3:28am

One of the oft-repeated tropes about Japanese blacksmiths is that they work in the dark, with the intention of either showing how fanatically dedicated they are to the minutiae of their work, or elevate the mysticism of Japanese tools as a selling point. As it turns out, there’s a perfectly good reason for Japanese blacksmiths to work in the dark: it helps them with identifying changes in color as the steel heats up.

This clip is from a longer video about Shozo Yamazaki, who is the maker of Ichihiro chisels. In this segment, you can see the transition of the steel from red to a bright yellow color as the steel heats up in the charcoal fire, and the corresponding temperature at each color change. If a blacksmith was trying to do this outside in the daylight, or in a brightly lit room, it would be more difficult to accurately track the color changes, and therefore the temperature changes in the steel.

I don’t have a translation of the audio for this video. If an English transcript exists, please let me know. Even if you don’t speak Japanese, the whole video is worth watching, as you can get an appreciation of the work that goes into making a high quality Japanese chisel.

alex-fulcrum:shadowfire125: i’m having an existential...

Mon, 04/06/2015 - 3:58am



i’m having an existential crisis

I am so sorry, but this is actually probably true. Plants co evolved to reward us for cultivating and propagating them. It’s called exorphin theory, and plants are pretty much just using us as their means of reproduction. That’s why humans show nearly every sign of species domestication. Have a good night, friend.

Fellow woodworkers, this is our “Soylent Green is people!” moment.

Hi, Wilbur. Do you mind going into your process for miters with pullsaws? Do you use a bespoke miter box; miter guide; chisels; miter shooting board; or sheer, brute will? I tried sheer, brute will this weekend and it didn't work out. Thanks!

Wed, 04/01/2015 - 3:18am

I usually try to saw to the line. Most times that works, sometimes not. The good news is that there is a method of dealing with this that doesn’t depend so much on good sawing technique as long as your layout is accurate. Here’s how you can do this.

Make sure that your layout for the miter is as accurate as you can make it. Make your saw cut as close to the line as you can without touching the line. The good thing about miters is that since the miter goes diagonally across the grain, it is really easy to plane as long as you plane downhill. Use a plane set to take a very fine shaving to plane down to your line. As long as you’re keeping an eye on your line, you won’t even need a shooting board to do this step. All you will need is a way to secure the board.

George Walker and Andrew Hunter, geniuses.I saw them at the...

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 3:48am

George Walker and Andrew Hunter, geniuses.

I saw them at the Northeastern Woodworker’s Association 2015 Showcase this past weekend. George gave a pair of great talks on design from both a historic and practical standpoint, and Andrew did a terrific demonstration of Japanese tools and an amazing talk on Chinese furniture.

Wilbur, I bought japanese style replaceable blade saws a while back. One of the things that led me to consider such purchase was the unspoken promise of replaceable blades. Finding replacement blades for these particular brands of saws is difficult and...

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 10:48am

Without knowing exactly which brands you’re referring to, I’ve found that if a dealer carries a given brand of disposable blade Japanese saws, they will also carry the replacement blades as well. If you’ve run into a situation where that’s not true, I’d love to hear about it.

As far as shipping costs go, personally I gave up worrying about that a long time ago. If I want to buy a tool, I either have to pay for shipping if I’m ordering it over the internet, or I have to drive to a local store to buy it in person. In the second case, I’m paying for a “shipping cost” in the form of gas, wear and tear on my car, and tolls, if applicable. The closest Woodcraft to me is 75 miles away, or a 150 mile round trip. I’ll spend more on the six gallons of gas that I’ll use for that trip and the tolls I’ll have to pay than I will on shipping charges, even if I only buy a single replacement blade for my saw.

Even if I have to return the tool and pay for return shipping, it’s still cheaper for me to do that than it is to make another round trip. I think that if a retailer doesn’t offer free shipping on returns, they are well within their right to do so. If I have to drive to The Gap to return a pair of khakis, The Gap isn’t going to reimburse me for the gas I used to go back to the mall.

The alternative is to wait until there’s a free shipping event, or a coupon that I can use. Oftentimes, waiting for that to happen means that the completion of my project gets delayed. That may or may not be a factor for you, but I can say from experience that most times, getting the project done is a bigger priority.

Hi Wilbur, I have a set of cheap-ish chisels that I want to replace with probably Japanese chisels but I can't find many reviews about the various makers. Lee Valley sells some from Koyamaichi and I've heard of the Fujihiro but there seems to be tens...

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:38am

Hi Alex,

Since Japanese tools are a bit of a niche market in the woodworking world, reviews are few and far between. If you’re looking for a head-to-head shootout comparison review of Japanese chisels, you’re not going to find one. Personally, I question the utility of such reviews, but that’s another story.

I think the best approach for your situation is to decide on what size chisel to buy. I’d look at your current chisel set and pick the size you seem to use the most. Then talk to the various Japanese tool dealers out there, tell them that you want to buy a 1/2″ (or whatever size) chisel, and ask them which one would they recommend. They will probably ask you some questions about what kind of woodworking you do, your budget, and so on. One of those dealers is going to give you an answer that will resonate with you. Buy a chisel from that dealer, and see if you like it. If you do, buy more.

This approach worked really well for me when I was starting to get into Japanese tools. More importantly, you’ll get something even better than a good chisel out of this. You’ll get a relationship with a tool dealer that you can trust, and that’s going to be really valuable in the long run.

Even if you don’t see what you are looking for on a website, I would encourage you to contact the dealer anyway. One time I needed a hammer, and I contacted Iida Tool. The only hammers they had on their website were real artwork pieces, and out of my price range. I asked them if they had any other options, and long story short, two weeks later I had a hammer from them.

As far as the Fujihiro chisels go, those are the chisels I have, and I think they are terrific. For me, they hit the sweet spot between price and performance. The edges last a good long time, and they are easy to resharpen. That’s pretty much what you want in a chisel, Japanese or western. Looking at the chisels as they come out of the box, it’s clear that attention was paid to the details of making the hollow on the back and the filing of the body of the chisel. The handles are very nice, and the rings are hand forged and have a cool faceted appearance from the hammering. If you’re looking for a review, hope that helps.

This video of an impressive display of Japanese joinery has been...

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 3:28am

This video of an impressive display of Japanese joinery has been all over the interwebs, but folks keep sending me the link, so here you go.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this link.)

Woodworking in America 2015

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 3:08am
Woodworking in America 2015:

Yours truly, on the speakers at Woodworking in America last year:

And although there are any number of terrific speakers that you can see at this year’s edition of WIA, including three (!) Cartouche Award winners, here’s one thing you’ll learn if you stop by my talks on Japanese tools: the interesting parallels between traditional methods of making Japanese tools and modern day steel technology…
It’s going to be a long time before a speaker lineup like this will be offered at a woodworking meeting.

I guess I was right, if by “a long time” I meant one year.

I thought it was an embarrassment of riches to have three Cartouche Award winners in a single speaker line up. This year, WIA has four (!) of them. Plus David Marks. You should register now.

Design Lab: Finished Workbench

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 3:48pm
Design Lab: Finished Workbench:


Some further thoughts on building out a school’s new makerspace, and what I learned about pedagogy from the process. willrichardson may be interested, and giantcypress may have some thoughts.

Here’s what Andrew Watt has to say about grading his students’ projects:

And now I know how to grade design work:
  • look for evidence of materials mastery.
  • look for evidence of tools mastery.
  • look for evidence of geometric and measured precision.
  • look for evidence of aesthetic care.

In my day job, I teach and evaluate medical students as they do their pediatric rotation. It’s really hard to evaluate students as they do activities that are at their core only evaluable in a subjective manner. I think this is a great breakdown of the factors important in evaluating design work, and personally, I’m going to think about this the next time I build something in my shop.

Gimme Danger Chicago

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 3:18am
Gimme Danger Chicago:

Raney Nelson, on why you should go to the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Jeff Miller’s shop this weekend:

Chicago’s the closest thing to the east coast in the midwest. This is a very GOOD THING. There’s amazing food, crazy people doing odd things on the sidewalks, and all sorts of sounds you won’t want to identify happening here, folks. It smells like New York with Kielbasa-powered body odor. I love cities, and Chicago’s as close to a city as you’ll find this far from the ocean.

As a Chicago native, I would say that the East Coast is a nice try at putting the Midwest on the ocean.

In any case, get over there if you’re in the area. Not only are Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events a great place to get hands-on experience with hand tools, but talking with the other exhibitors they have at the events. Raney will be there. Stop by and talk to him, and tell him how much better Chicago deep dish pizza is than the stuff out here on the East Coast.

This came in the mail yesterday. I told my wife, “I finally...

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 5:08am

This came in the mail yesterday. I told my wife, “I finally figured out what my mid-life crisis is going to be.”

She said, “You already had your mid-life crisis.”

I said, “What do you mean?”

She said, “Look at that shop of yours in the basement.”

A mid-life crisis isn’t supposed to be practical. I’m doing this wrong.


by Dr. Radut