Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway! Enjoy!
Thank you to everyone who contributed towards Walt Quadrato's battle against cancer! Their fundraising goal was met. Our prayers are with you, Walt!
It wasn’t that men couldn’t talk before. It was that before tools, there wasn’t anything worth talking about.
Hello (^-^)/ I mentioned your name in my last article about a Japanese toolbox that I'm currently building. I hope that is okay for you (^-^;) If it is not I will take it out of this article :) Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge and...
No problem at all. I’m honored to be mentioned, and glad to be of some help.
For everyone else, here’s the post.
- Eddie Huang, producer of the new sitcom Fresh Off the Boat at the ABC TCAs, fielding this unbelievable question from a reporter: “I love the Asian culture. And I was just talking about the chopsticks, and I just love all that. Will I get to see that, or will it be more Americanized?”
In a recent episode of Wood Talk, a question was asked about paring with a Japanese chisel with a single hollow. If you haven’t heard that episode (and if you’re not following the Wood Talk podcast, why aren’t you?), go to the link and fast forward to 27:18. I’ll wait.
The question was whether a wide Japanese chisel with a single hollow would cause problems when paring, since the hollow will interfere with using the back of the chisel as a reference. Here’s a photo with a 30mm Japanese chisel and a narrow strip of wood to illustrate the potential issue.
I thought that Marc, Matt, and Shannon did a fine job of fielding this question, and then this came up:
Matt: This would be a great one for, say, Wilbur. We know you’re listening.
Marc: Yeah. We do.
How could I say no? So I set up an experiment.
The first order of business was to figure out where this issue would come up. Using a Japanese chisel to chop waste from dovetails isn’t a problem, because the chisel will be narrower than the gap being made. Chopping a mortise isn’t an issue, either, since the mortise will be the size of the chisel being used to chop it.
The scenario I came up with was using a wide chisel to trim a relatively narrow tenon. If all you have is a wide chisel, this is what happens.
This board is 9/16” wide, or about 1/2 the width of the chisel. Clearly, if I was to blindly pare away at the tenon, the hollow should theoretically interfere with registering the chisel on the wood.
So I set about laying out one side of a tenon on this board. Here’s the layout.
I then sawed away the waste area. It was harder than I thought it would be to deliberately miss the lines. I assume that was because I was using a Japanese saw, since Japanese saws are so awesome that they will track a line even when you don’t want to AMIRIGHT? Even so, I managed to leave some waste that needed paring away.
I went at it with the 30mm chisel. Again, this chisel is about three times the width of the board. Even with the hollow, I was able to split my pencil lines by paring.
And the other side.
Why was I able to hit the lines even though the hollow should be getting in the way? There are a couple of things to keep in mind. First of all, the hollow on the back of a Japanese chisel is really quite shallow. As best as I can measure, the hollow is at most 1/32” deep, and that’s in the area of the hollow by the handle. The hollow near the cutting edge is only 1/64” deep. I would think that an error on this scale is certainly tolerable. And if it isn’t, there’s always the Shannon Rogers shaving trick to correct the issue.
The second thing is that, again, this issue only seems to come up when paring a narrow piece of wood with a wide chisel, which means that in the context of trimming a tenon, you would be putting the chisel on the endgrain of the tenon and pushing forward along the length of the tenon, like this.
This has got to be the most stupid way of trimming a tenon ever. I had wondered why I never seemed to run into this situation before, and it’s probably because when I normally am trimming a tenon, I’ll pare across the face of the cheek instead. Paring with the grain inherently gives you less control, since there’s always the chance that the chisel will just follow the grain, going off your line at best, and leading to an undercut at worst.
Bottom line: if you’re looking to get a wider Japanese chisel, having a single hollow won’t interfere with paring tasks. If you’re making a decision between single hollow and multiple hollows, go with the one that you think looks the coolest.
If anyone can think of another scenario where the hollow on a wide Japanese chisel might cause issues, let me know. I’ll run another experiment.
Lovely profile of Hisao Havefusa of Miya Shoji, a Japanese furniture firm located in New York. Lots of Japanese tool action here.
Combine an interest in sharpening razors with a scanning electron microscope, and you get some fascinating information on what happens at the edge.
I’m lucky enough to have been given a couple of opportunities to talk about Japanese tools over the next few months. The first talk will be on Sunday, Feb. 1, for CRAFTS of New Jersey, at the Masonic Lodge on Ridge Road & Dennis Ave., in High Bridge, NJ. There will be tool sellers and tailgating starting at 10:00 am, and my talk is scheduled for 1:00 pm. CRAFTS is New Jersey’s premier antique tool collectors club, and is well known among woodworkers in these parts for their annual spring auction, where Frank Klausz is sure to add to his plumb bob collection.
The details of my second talk aren’t completely set yet, but I will be giving another talk on Japanese tools to the Chesapeake Chapter of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers for their spring meeting. We’re looking at an April/May timeframe at this point. I’ll be sure to give you more details as they become available.
These talks should be a lot of fun. Although it may seem like this is a repeat of my sessions at Woodworking in America, the audiences are going to be quite different. Talking with tool collectors is a bit different than talking to woodworkers, and talking to woodworkers who have a particular focus on period furniture will be a new experience for me.
Finally, Andrew Hunter will be presenting on Japanese tools and Chinese furniture at the Northeast Woodworkers Association Showcase on the weekend of March 28-29. These talks should be terrific. I’ll be there.
The older boy decided that Brooklyn Chinese food is way overrated.
To make up for it, the younger one had dim sum in New Jersey the next day, which he says is much better.
Stuart Scott, in an interview from NPR’s On The Media in 2002.
Unbeknownst to me, the boys went on an excursion over the weekend, and managed to make their way to the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Brooklyn, hosted by RE-CO BKLYN. Apparently, they had a great time trying tools from Lie-Nielsen, Tools for Working Wood, and Blackburn Tools, as well as hanging out with Christopher Schwarz and Matt Kenney.
I’m not sure what I should be most upset about: the fact that they spent time using planes and saws that go the wrong way, or that they decided to spend their spare time on the worse side of the Hudson.
Happy New Year from giant Cypress, and if you decided to turn over a new leaf this year, may your efforts be successful.
(Thanks to the Sturdy Butterfly for the picture.)
Starting to really like my new Japanese plane. Used it to clean up the edges on some Redwood. That is a 40” long shaving curled up on top of the plane.
Cutting boards for this year’s Christmas presents. They’re not fancy or sophisticated, but they were quick to make. And this year I really needed “quick to make”.
Cherry and walnut in the top picture, maple and walnut in the bottom. Mineral oil finish in both cases, and, yes, Japanese tools were used, even though these boards were made of hardwoods.
Merry Christmas from giant Cypress.
Billie Jean, played on solo acoustic guitar, by 14 year-old Sungha Jung. This Asian truly rocks. I had to watch twice to be convinced that there were no overdubs.
Good day, I know hundreds of people probably ask you these type of questions, but you are the only one I thrust to give me an honest answer on the matter... So here it goes, I would like to get a few(2) Japanese saw, maybe one for fine joinery(dovetail...
Thanks for your trust, and thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.
I have a write up on picking your first Japanese saw. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth a look. I do go over why a standard 240mm ryoba and a rip cut dozuki may not be the best choice to start with.
If you want saws that are resharpenable, that’s a bit more difficult, mainly because good ones are more expensive. One way to go is to start with a larger saw from eBay, and try to tune it up. That’s a great way of practicing Japanese saw sharpening.
Though the Japanese dialect was spoken almost exclusively by individuals of Japanese origin until the mid-18th century, it is now largely a vernacular utilized by young white men who decorate their apartments with traditional Japanese prints and are devoted fans of manga artist Hayao Miyazaki.
Japanese planes can be used for a variety of tasks.
This video is another example of a blacksmith making chisels by forge-welding a harder piece of steel onto softer wrought iron using a charcoal fire, and who judges the temperature of the metal by observing the color and characteristics of the tool as he goes along. These videos are always have a bit of a freak show element, because everyone knows only Japanese blacksmiths would go to all this trouble and obsess over the changes in color that they see during this process.
Oh, wait. It’s Peter Ross. My bad.
My new favorite Japanese woodworking project.