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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...


More on Making – Design Concepts

Paul Sellers - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 1:41am

I think that sometimes I have been grateful for machines and I realise their real value when woods have difficult grain. I remember one time passing a most beautiful treasure of mesquite burl into my planer for a second pass of 1/64th. Not a heavy cut at all. The first pass had worked fine and I was passing it through oriented the same way as previously. The piece entered fine and then suddenly exploded every bit of it somewhere into the cutterhead. Nothing came out the other side and 16″ by 5” wide of 1/2” mesquite burl that should have made a perfectly book matched lid was obliterated. That’s not so rare an occurrence as it might seem and that’s why many users of thinner stock use planes and scrapers rather then machine planers to thickness their stock down to final sizing. I know that many guitar makers use thickness sanders to gain the thickness to exactness but I also know that Marty Macica resolves his work as I do using hand methods and no sanding. This is because he feels the sanding dust fills the grain pores with dust that deadens sound. Marty is teaching a new guitar-making workshop later this year in New York and you can see him do that here.

Resuming from my blog a couple of days ago here. My mesquite pile had now ceased to lose weight. In summertime Hill Country Texas that means it’s as dry as you will get it and that’s when I like to start putting my final thoughts on paper. The most economical way to use rarer woods is to create veneers from them. Our modern take on that is of course that veneers are somehow cheating us out of the real thing and to some degree that’s quite true. IKEA and others use thin veneers to mask what’s underneath and they might tell us it’s to save the rain forests, which of course is untrue. Most modern goods with surface veneers are usually super thin. So thin in fact you can see through them to the light sub-woods underneath. What mass makers want is something that feels and looks like real wood for its warmth and appearance and at the same time controllability to pass it through machines for tight tolerances. Adding stain to equalize colour and tone gives them and us the illusion of real and we unwittingly buy into a built-in obsolescence product. This is less true of hand crafting artisans who want the control MDF offers, but creative ways of using veneers. Box makers often use this and I recall the most prodigious UK furniture makers SilverLining making doors for the Russian Embassy in London using MDF for some massive doors that were veneered with some very special veneering to the faces. Many top-notch makers use MDF. I chose ot to do this and find ways of veneering with solid wood as a substrate. It can be done but it takes careful consideration every time.

The piece I designed had many features I chose from my early signature details. The rails separating the drawers comprised hidden aspects to the internal joinery but through tenons cross-wedged on the outside. I have always liked this feature because it visibly shows the contained tenon within the mortise and the compression within that creates a lock to the dovetailed tenon.

DSC_0083 DSC_0082
Inside the tenoned area I created a housing 3/32” deep. I wanted to support the rear of the rail. In the scheme of things all joinery necessitates one part to to be reduced in some measure to fit into another. I considered two types of mortise and tenon joints and chose one for different reasons. Here are the two options I thought to consider. The one on the left is a single through tenon. The one to the right is a twin tenon. I rejected this for this particular piece but used it in other work later. I felt that the joint with twin mortices took too much wood way. It made the joint area weaker, but I decided this based on my knowledge of mesquite and knowing it’s brittle nature. using a single tenon meant I could move the tenon further from the front edge of the side panel and increase the strength that way.

DSC_0084 DSC_0085
The cross wedging needs much care too because the wood either side of the wedge needs to retain continuity along the length of the rail. The wedges are not too long and must not be driven into the rail beyond the depth of the saw kerf. I start my wedge the same width as the kerf, that way the the wedge immediately parts the narrow section of the wedge to press it into the widened aspect of the mortise. I forgot to tell you that the outer aspect of the mortise to the top and bottom are widened with a sharp chisel. You can see this in the drawing. It’s always important to consider joinery in terms of its reductive parts. Widening a tenon means less wood surrounding the mortise. Reduce the size of the tenon too much and you have a weaker tendon. Reduce it too much and you destroy the efficacy of the tenon in favour of the mortise. Joinery is about finding balance and seeking harmony between two married parts. Each relies on the other, which is why when I was young the men always referred to “marrying” the various parts. It’s a reductive process you see, but one part cannot be reduced so much as to be weaker at the cost of the other.

The post More on Making – Design Concepts appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

The Time to Prepair Ones Self

The Workbench Diary - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 6:18pm

“Apprenticeship is a very important part of ones life: habits at this time formed generally sticks close to one through life: it is the time to prepair ones self for respectability, usefulness, and happiness through life."

- Matthew Ray, 19th century blacksmith in Blue Hill, ME
Categories: Hand Tools

530 Small turned mallet or “My first turning project!”

Matt's Basement Workshop - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 5:47pm

I knew it was eventually going to happen, the temptation is far too great to avoid.

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about turning to the darkside and taking up knitting (although I wouldn’t mind making my own matching wool scarf and woobie set for winter, especially if it’s as cold as last year.)

Instead, I’m talking about another blackhole of woodworking that I’ve been very vocal about avoiding for years…WOODTURNING!

small turned mallet

Sure I’ve had the lathe for awhile now, and yes I’ve dabbled a little bit with it here and there. But I’ve never taken the plunge and unleashed the full power of the turning tools.

Recently I moved the lathe up and out of the basement workshop and into the garage where I could enjoy the warm summer evenings and not feel like I had to stop every five to ten minutes to vacuum up the accumulating chips and sawdust.

On today’s episode you get to witness the fruits of my dabbling. The result of what happens when a woodworker decides to make more than a dowel and attempts to learn what each woodturning tool does (preferably without hurting himself in the process.)

You’ll see plenty of mistakes in this video and probably laugh at my fumbling with the tools (especially when I attempt to identify which gouge I’m using) but hopefully more than anything else, you’ll enjoy seeing the first of what I imagine to be numerous woodturning projects to come.

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Categories: Hand Tools

Studley Research Whirlwind Trip Part 1

The Barn on White Run - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 5:35pm

Monday just after dawn I hit the road for a longish drive into the Heart of Dixie to see a workbench.  The owner had contacted me through the Lost Art Press web site indicating he had a really fancy Studley-era piano makers work bench.  So of course I had to go see it.


He was right.  It was spectacular.  Other than Studley’s, all the other piano maker’s benches I had seen were at least in part “store bought.”  Not this one, it was all craftsman-made.  By a mighty good craftsman.


With its burled veneers on the drawers, delicate a whisper tight dovetails, superb cast drawer pulls, and the really neat tool rack, it was a work of art.

And yes, it will be featured in the book, in a Gallery of Piano-maker’s Benches.

Treasure Box - Series #2 - Post #12: Sides Marquetry incrustation

Antique Refinishers, Inc. - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 4:39pm

I have been back full time on our boxes for over a week now so I have some progress to report.
I have been selecting veneer out of our veneer cellar for the ebony background.
Treasure Box - Series #2 - Post #12: Sides Marquetry incrustation

From the experience of the previous series I paperbacked the ebony as it is a very brittle wood. Better be safe than sorry
Treasure Box - Series #2 - Post #12: Sides Marquetry incrustation

Then built the packs in 4 layers without forgetting...
Categories: Hand Tools

All things must pass

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 3:39pm

I just received notification from Popular Woodworking Magazine that my subscription will be ending in January and I can renew the subscription for one or two years if I am so inclined. The renewal fee for either time period is inexpensive, but the truth is that I am not sure whether or not I will do it.

A few years ago I very nearly did not renew my subscription, mostly because I really didn’t enjoy the magazine as much as I had in the past. That isn’t the case as of today. The addition of Chuck Bender, the re-addition of Glen Huey, and the ever steady Robert Lang have all done a nice job. More importantly, Megan Fitzpatrick, as far as I can tell, has done a great job as the content editor. To be honest, I’m not really sure exactly what goes into publishing a magazine, but I do know that since she has taken the helm the magazine has been very good and very consistent, and I have to think she deserves quite a bit of credit. for it. PW is currently the only woodworking magazine I read.

So why am I having an inner debate over $25? It’s not the money, not even a little. But if you’ve been reading my blog lately you know that my wife has declared a holy war over my woodworking hobby. So is there any point in my subscribing to a woodworking magazine when I may not be woodworking any more? I don’t subscribe to any music magazines anymore because I stopped being a musician. I don’t subscribe to my former union’s magazine because I am no longer in the union, and that magazine was free, and I actually wrote a few articles for it. So is there any point?

I like the idea of supporting a good magazine. If there weren’t people willing to subscribe then we wouldn’t have anybody willing to write, and good people such as yourselves would only have half-assed attempts at writing such as my own to keep you entertained in the woodworking sense. At the same time, a magazine like Popular Woodworking surely isn’t going to fold up and die because one half-assed blogger like myself decided to end his subscription because his wife is slowly trying to suck the life out of him. 

The thought of reading a woodworking magazine even though I no longer woodwork is really depressing to me. For some reason it’s even more depressing than the thought of an unused box of woodworking tools sitting in my garage. I have the idea that not renewing the subscription is basically admitting defeat. Yet, I also have the idea that I’ve already been defeated, and a woodworking magazine that I no longer have any need for will just be a sad reminder of when my life meant something.

Categories: General Woodworking

Recent New Tool Releases for Fall 2014

Evenfall Studios - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 3:11pm

The 2014-2015 woodworking season is upon us, And we wanted to share a bit about what’s new here with everyone!

We have recently released a Sharpening Station System called the Magstop™. It offers the ability to sharpen quickly and easily, using horse butt and suede leather strops, as well as glass platens for use with sandpaper’s from very coarse to microfine grits. The Magstrop sharpening system is expandable, and we have future plans for that but for now I’ll just say there is more coming soon.

We developed the Magstrop with several desires in mind…

We wanted to be able to remove as many of the barriers and difficulties to sharpening as we could. These sharpening stations offer the ability to utilize a wide variety of abrasives over a wide range of grits.

We wanted the ability to address the sharpening needs of most any type of steel on most woodworking tools, knives, and tools that can be sharpened using stone and strop methods.

We wanted portability and the ability to configure the station for the way we need to address our specific sharpening task, quickly and easily.

We wanted a sharpening station that would be quick and easy to use, with a small footprint that doesn’t take up a lot of space. A dry sharpening system that can provide accurate sharpening with little mess.

Now we can go back and forth. We can plane or chisel a little until we feel our tool beginning to dull, and we can easily turn to a sharpening station, and strop a bit to restore that cutting edge and get right back to the woodwork without a lot of mess.

I feel we accomplished that, whether sharpening station that facilitates keeping edges sharp with very little work. Is a great fit for most any tool in our shops, and does a great job for the knives in our kitchens as well!

Remember, keeping the edge sharp takes very little work.

You can find our Magstrop sharpening stations in the Sharpening Section of our website store, or by going to www.magstrop.com

We have also recently released some new shooting board models. The Ultra Plus, offering eight fixturable fence positions having fully calibratable accuracy. The Wide Board Shooter, offering the capability of shooting boards to the 18 inch wide range. It comes in three different single chute models, and three double chute models. Any of those models can be offered for use with Kanna as well.

You can use our shooting boards with anything from an LA Block plane to a custom Infill Miter plane, and most any bench plane in between. All our shooting board models offer the option of an enclosed chute. Our Chute Board models work with The Lie-Nielsen LN-51 Chute Board Plane, and LN-9 Iron Miter Plane. The Veritas Shooting Plane, and LA Jack plane, and any manufacturers model 62 LA Jack plane.

So if you have been waiting for a Chute Board or Shooting Board Plane, you may now already have one. Our shooting boards now provide the ability to run these bench planes in a chute. The upside to using the LA Jack and Iron Miter planes is that they are ambidextrous. This is very important on twin chute shooting boards when shooting moldings.

Our Long Grain Shooter is also configurable for use with any of our Chute Adapters. So all the aforementioned bench planes work here as well.

Woodworking safety is improved as well. Shooting boards are safe for use on thin stock, short stock, odd shaped stock. Shooting veneer is no problem, and our boards offer the capability of shooting end grain or jointing edge grain to the 24 inch range. We also offer a planing stop that will allow thicknessing in the 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness range.

All our shooting boards currently come predrilled for using chute adapters. If you would like to upgrade a shooting board we made prior to the use of chute adapters, it is completely upgradable and can be retrofitted. You can also purchase a shooting board without chute adapters today, and upgrade to using adapters at a future time. If you have any questions about how this works, Please contact us!

Our Shooting Board Index

Our Bench Hooks continue to be popular. They offer any angle sawing capability with improved ergonomics. They can be used with either Japanese or Western style handsaws. They are commonly much faster and easier to use than a miter box, and also offer replaceable wear surfaces.

To augment their accuracy, We also offer two different sizes of our Handsaw Mag Guides. These have been upgraded to be more low-profile than ever before. We have eliminated the lower nut assembly on the pivot rod, allowing for increased usability.

Many woods are expensive, and grain matching is always unique. Sometimes the cut has to be absolutely right, and there’s only one shot at it. These Mag Guides are not meant to limit you. They can be set accurately to most any required angle, while holding 90 degrees for the cut. They include relief space for aggressive saw tooth set, and are excellent for helping develop your skill as an accurate sawyer.

Our Handsaw Accessories Index

Woodworking season is almost here. Our tools are custom made in a one-man shop, by hand and eye. Many of the tools we offer are designed to help the tools you already own, perform at peak performance and accuracy, while transparently assisting you with your craftsmanship at any skill level. Woodworking is a lot of fun. We want to help you just do it and achieve your goals!

We are always working on helpful tools and have more good stuff in the pipe. We want to help you keep sharp and accurate! It’s all about working to the line and making as perfectly as possible. Please visit our Woodworks Store!

Please remember to subscribe to our Blog, we offer both RSS and email feeds at the top of every blog page!

For much more frequent woodworking thought for your consideration, please follow our Twitter Feed:


We enjoy your questions, comments, ideas and suggestions! Please Contact Us.

Thanks for visiting Evenfall Studios!

© Copyright 2014 by Rob Hanson for evenfallstudios.com All Rights Reserved.

Categories: Hand Tools

The Nicholson Bench With Holdfast Vice

Caleb James Chairmaker Planemaker - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 3:01pm
About six months ago I had a dilemma. I was doing my first Lie Nielsen Hand Tool Event and I needed a bench. Well the thing was I had a bench. I had two benches, in fact. The thing was I needed a bench that one person or well sort of one person could hall around to shows.

I needed a few things from this bench. As I alluded to it needed to be light or a least a lot lighter than my current benches. Second it needed to be something I could take apart. In other words, knockdown designed. Third I really didn't want to drop anymore money on vice hardware considering this would be used only on occasion. 

Nicholson Work Bench

About that time I had seen Mike Siemsen make a no non-sense Nicholson bench from home center materials. It really caught my eye as a simple solution. Now all I needed to do was make the legs removable. I decided to use some barrel nuts or bed bolts. These are cross-locking nut thingamajigs.

Here are some pictures to see the way it assembles/disassembles for transport.

Bottom of knockdown Nicholson bench with four legs on top disassembled

The leg is notched to make it flush with the front of the bench

The leg slides in a dado and the bolt is installed

The legs are dadoed into the front and back boards to stop lateral shifting in heavy use.

Barrel nut

How the bolt functions with out the leg installed just for clarity

Once I had that down I needed to address my last concern. The methods of securing materials to work them. Obviously the faces, edges and ends of boards.

For working the faces a simple holdfast and batten method seemed to be the best option rather than a costly and time consuming instillation of and end vice. This is something Richard over at The English Woodworker resurrected and works incredibly well. I use the sliding lock from my Dutch tool chest as the batten since it travels with me and the bench.

For working the edges of a board I use bench dogs or holdfasts in the holes on the face of the bench to support the board while holding it securely with at least one hold fast. Just that simple.

Since I was on the hold fast kick, up to this, at some point a new fangled face vice contraption just popped into my head. What was the inspiration? Who knows. I have never seen anything like it thought it is so simple I genuinely doubt it could be entirely unique. But I guess it could be. If so I am dubbing it the Jamesfast Vice. Boy thats a little egotistical, don't you think. :) Feel free to call it the Holdfast Vise. That makes more sense anyways.

Jamesfast Vice

Note the supports that hold the holdfasts up when not "clamping"

This is a simple device really. It is just a pair of holdfasts and a board for a vice jaw. Hit them both down to secure. Hit the backs of the fasts to loosen. The key to making it work is to insure that the front jaw has a slot rather than a straight hole for the holdfast to pass through. This allows the holdfast to properly "grab" in the rear jaw while not binding in the front jaw. 

I added a couple of "L" shaped blocks of wood to hold up the ends of the holdfasts while they are not knocked securely in place. 

I will admit this is not a perfect vice. What is, right? Anyway, it works best if the end of the fast lands over some part of the piece that you are holding. If you do, it works just like you would expect. If not then it might not want to really grab, duh!

Heres is one other detail that might help you see how the parts interlock. The top and sides are tongue and grooved. The top is floating and the sides are glued. These are the only "fancy" joints on the bench and I debated doing them. I think the top benefited the most from this.  This is how I did it but I am sure it could be altered without ill effect.

All the cross ribbing was installed with pocket holes and screws but could have been face drilled straight through if one didn't have that gizmo.

Once I was done with the bench I got really excited about what I had just accomplished. I had made a bench for around a hundred bucks (not including holdfasts) that actually worked and worked really well. When I consider how many new woodworkers could have an authentic way to have a serious hand tool woodworking bench without a major chunk of money, that no doubt they have other real world things to spend on, it is pretty cool in my book.

At the event that I first brought this to I was surprising how many people asked me about the bench (rather than my tools). Did I have plans, etc? 

Chris Schwarz was at this event as well and we had a short chat about it. After that I went home and stored it away. I am happy that Chris ran with the knockdown aspect of the bench and applied the deep wealth of knowledge on workbenches and really rocked a new design. Read about it here if you haven't seen it already. Or watch this video he posted on it.

My bench looks pretty lame compared to what he put together. But lame or not it works! So good news is that you can make one too. No, I don't have plans. I would love to but at this moment in time I am jam packed with tasks. Please look at the photos and go buy some lumber. It really is as simple as it looks. 

Categories: Hand Tools

Modern Danish Welsh Stick Chair Build by an American living in Germany, Day 1

Toolerable - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 2:33pm
I made it to Denmark!  Last night after a drive only a little more than twelve hours, I pulled into the Mulesaw compound when the weather and the light were just perfect.

The Mulesaw Family Compound.
What a beautiful place this is.

I actually beat Jonas home.  When he finally got home from work, we went out to the shop and spazzed out over tools and chairs and stuff until early in the morning.

After a few hours sleep, we got up and got the shop ready for our chair build.  Altogether there will be either four or five people building Welsh Stick Chairs here over the next few days.  Unfortunately, not everyone could make it today, so Jonas and I figured we would rough out all the parts so all everyone would have to do Saturday is pick out their parts, and start shaping them.
Jonas' shop.  There should actually be room for a few people to build in here!
We started by roughing out seat blanks.  We took our time laying out seats on all of the different boards we got, avoiding anything bad in the wood like barbed wire (really) and punky wood.
This is what happens to your hair when you are at sea with no one to make an appointment at the barber for you.
Jonas has an amazing set-up here.  About six weeks ago, he cut some 8/4 elm from a log he got just for this purpose.  A chainsaw made easy work of the blanks as soon as we figured out where to make the cuts.
We wound up with seven seat blanks, and a blank for a settee.  Some of the seat blanks have grain going fore and aft , and some of them have the grain going starboard to port (a little sailor lingo there).

Mrs. Mulesaw snapped some candid photos of us, so I figured fair is fair.  She's moving horse manure out of the stables.
One of our distractions today is we decided we wanted to test steam bending.  This decision cost us a lot of productivity, but we got to try a bunch of cool things.  The first thing we thought we would try was to rive an ash log for straight grain steam bending.  There was an ash log nearby, so we figured we'd give it a whack.
This was interesting.  This log is right next to our waste from the seat blanks.
Not doing this often makes you tired fast.  After a few whacks, we traded off until the log was apart.
It turned out that log was so twisted and knotty, there was no way we were going to get anything resembling a stick we could steam out of it.  This reaction wood likely will go in the burn pile.
Ash log #2.  Notice how good a man with sideburns looks with a broadaxe.
The second log was a lot straighter, but straighter doesn't necessarily convert to straight enough.  We needed to go hunting for straight grain in the air-dried pile.
Hell Boy in the rafters.
We found some stuff, and were joined by Olav, a local German Zimmermann who thought it would be cool to build chairs with us.  I'm glad he did, and it is neat to see an educated aproach to this rather than what we've been doing.  It'll be cool to see what he comes up with.
Jonas the Furry with Olav the Great.
Jonas had an interesting idea for a steam box, which included a galvanized pipe standing on end.  In the end we broke two sticks and learned what not to do.  Tomorrow, we learn even more what not to do.
The french-fry steaming contraption.
We finally got all of the legs roughed out, with some focus provided by Olav.  Not only that, we got a metric buttload of sticks roughed out, too.  After all that, I had to do some work on my chair.  I came up with a pattern for my laminated arms, and roughed it out on the band saw before resawing it.
Resawing my arms.  No body parts were harmed in the production of this photo.
Elm is a gorgeous wood.
Book matched arm blanks.
It will be interesting if my thoughts for this arm scheme fulfill the thoughts I have in my mind for it.
Great Danes!
Olav is going to work on a couple of seat blanks that wound up with pith in them at his shop and bring them back later.
Steam failure #1
Did I mention that elm is gorgeous?
An interesting bit I am considering implementing into my piece.
That's about it for today.  More finding out what not to do steaming tomorrow.  Oh!  I almost forgot.  Jonas cut up an entire log for me for a tiny piece that I needed, and I wound up not needing it.  More about that later, with a video or two.

And Saturday, beware of the Wrath of Snakeye!  

And check out Jonas' blog for his version of events.

For the other posts in regarding the Welsh Stick Chair project, click here.
Categories: Hand Tools

Welsh stick chair build day 1

Mulesaw - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 2:02pm
Brian arrived last night, and so did I. After a quick hello and a hug to my wife, we headed to the workshop for looking at the wood and each others tools.
We managed to stay in the shop until 1 o'clock testing out various tools and talking.

Today we started by bringing out the elm slabs and marking out where we could fit a sat blank. We cut those pieces out with a chainsaw. I have decided that I want to try to build a settee, so we made one blank for that too.

Next on the agenda was the procurement of some ash for steam bending. I had some old logs lying that we believed we could use.
We were a bit ahead on the schedule so we decided that we could try split the logs because we agreed that it would make the stock for bending even better.
The first log had some twisted grain, and I managed to break the handle of the sledge hammer..
We moved on to the next log and it looked better. The splitting went surprisingly easy but the grain wasn't straight on this one either.
For my settee I needed a piece of approximately 2.4 m. After some splitting with a froe that Brian brought, we broke his whacking stick.. I made a heavier model that looks like a cricket bat on steroids and we proceeded with the splitting. After spending some more time we decided that it didn't work as easy as it should and that Peter Follansbee probably had some secret trick that made his froe splitting sessions become a success. We sure didn't have that trick!
In order to be able to claim some sort of result by the entire splitting circus, we tried resawing the split piece on the bandsaw while following the grain. After some time even we couldn't pretend that this was the correct way to go and we stopped the show.
Instead we found some old boards of elm in the barn and quickly agreed that everyone knew that elm was the preferred wood for steam bending throughout the World.

In an effort to catch up on some of the lost time we started making leg blanks for everyone.
Soon after starting this another of the participants arrived: Lars Olav who is a carpenter that lives near by. He brought two really nice old workbenches with him so we totalled 3 workbenches in my shop.
We continued the leg blank work and we also made a steamer. This is made out of an old deep fat fryer and an old gutter pipe from our roof.

In the afternoon Brian started making some arm crests for his chair, Olav was considering which chair to build and I was trying to steam bend the back rail for my settee.
The first attempt broke, but we decided that the dimensions were probably too large to start with.
So I found another piece of elm that was even more straight than the first. This was squared up to 3 cm on each side (1.25"). The stick was steamed for an hour and a half. But while bringing it close to the bending form it also broke.
I still have one more piece of elm that I want to try steam bending tomorrow, and if that is not a success, I'll have to find some long piece of ash instead.

Please make sure to visit Brian's blog: toolerable.blogspot.dk where you will also find a description of today's build.

Lars Olav, yours truly, Brian.

Afternoon tea + coffee in the garden.

Jointing some ash on the edge

And jointing some ash on the side.

Removal of some old piece of barbed wire.

Categories: Hand Tools

Winner of our 2014 Lie-Nielsen/Tormek Sweepstakes Revealed!

Highland Woodworking - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 9:37am

LN-tormek-giveawayBetween April-July, 2014, customers were able to enter our Lie-Nielsen/Tormek Sweepstakes for a chance to win a great prize package, which included:

The lucky winner was recently announced and we are happy to congratulate Kevin Meske on his lucky win!

We recently spoke with Kevin on his woodworking background and what kind of woodworking he plans to do with his new tools:

kevinmeske1. Can you give us a history of your own woodworking? What types of woodworking do you do? How did you get started?

I have always had a passion for building things. My mother use to tell me that I would tear apart all my toys as a young boy just to see how they work and then put them back together. I started woodworking at a young age, mainly birdhouses and other small projects. My passion for it really took off when I found Norm Abram and the New Yankee Workshop. Today I am employed as a carpenter and also love watching Tom Silva on This Old House. Although I love carpentry, nothing beats trying to replicate a Norm Abram piece out in the workshop. Furniture building is my favorite kind of woodworking.

2. How did you find out about the contest?

I saw the Tormek Grinder on the New Yankee Workshop. I went to google and did some more research about it. There was a link to the contest on the search page. I added it to my Amazon wish list that same day. Thanks to you, I was able to remove it.

3. Can you describe your reaction on finding out that you won?

I was going through my email deleting spam/junk mail and I ALMOST deleted the email saying I won because I didn’t recognize the name. The only reason I gave it another look was that I saw that it had an attachment with it. I couldn’t believe it that I had won. My wife was sitting next to me and I just told her in a low voice (in shock),” I won.” Then we screamed and celebrated together. 

4. What do you plan on using your new tools for? What will you do first?

I plan on sharpening everything I can get my hands on, which is exactly what I did first. No more dull chisels! I am excited to build a new project to break in my new hand planes.

5. Hand Tools or Machines?

They both have they advantages and disadvantages. I like to use power tools to get me as close as to finished piece as it will take me. I like to fine tune with hand tools. for example fitting a tenon into a mortise.

Any final words?

Just want to say thank you for helping me add more tools to my workshop. I have many more to add as I am a young man and just getting started and buying what I can afford and when I can afford. Thanks to you and this contest I have a couple top of the line goodies that I will cherish forever! (Also, below is one of my Norm Abrams replications that I created)


Keep reading the blog to find out when our next contest will be!

The post Winner of our 2014 Lie-Nielsen/Tormek Sweepstakes Revealed! appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Lingerie chest: half-blind dovetails

Trial and Error - Woodworker - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 8:54am
Gang saw dovetail tails marking pins dresser sawing pins dresser half blind dovetails scraper blade blade for half-blind DTs dresser half-blind DT set

I opted for half-blind dovetails to hold my dresser carcass together. This is my first attempt at half-blinds, so I used some of the online tutorials I have archived on my woodworkblogipedia page on dovetailing.  Those sites explain the process better than I can, so I won’t go into detail here.

Some steps I’d like to make a note of are the following:

  • To begin, a 1/4″ groove for the rear panel was made on all four boards using my shop-made groove plane. Tails then needed to be located over the groove.
  • I ‘gang sawed’ the tails on pairs of boards simultaneously. This was easier than I thought it would be, and it did save some time.
  • I used one of the tips given by Tim Rousseau on his YouTube video about using a sharpened card scraper as a blade to chop the side of the pins that the dovetail saw misses (because the saw-cuts are at a diagonal). It worked well. So well that I can’t imagine ever not using the technique.


Filed under: Drawers & dressers, Projects Tagged: dovetails, half-blind, soft maple
Categories: Hand Tools

Next On-Campus Woodworking Courses Coming Up!

Heritage School of Woodworking Blog - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 8:00am

Well, we’ve got three upcoming on-campus one-day classes next week–The Art of Sharpening, Handplanes – Their History and Use and Hand-Cutting Dovetails. In The Art of Sharpening course, you’ll end any frustration with getting the edge and shavings you want. Putting together time-tested methods and modern techniques, we’ll show you how to get a razor edge every time on chisels, […]

The post Next On-Campus Woodworking Courses Coming Up! appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

No New Pre-Orders On Beading Planes- Thank You! Oh And I Got A Secretary!

Caleb James Chairmaker Planemaker - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 7:23am
Thats a long title. Anyways I am probably not thinking straight after getting Schwarzed, as so many of my recent customers kidded me about. He probably laughs an evil villain laugh as he hits the publish post button. Muahahahahahaha Muuuahahahahahaha. Then drinks a beer with his feet up. OK OK OK, I kid. (...just fanning the flames.)

Anyhow I must put the breaks on the beading plane orders at this time (8/28/14, 9:14 est). I know, who turns away business these days. Well I would love to make beading planes for the next year but I think for the next 4-5 months is good enough to start with. I have a number of other obligations and personal endeavors in the furniture, planemaking and teaching world that I need to allow room for in my schedule. I hope you understand.

Plus, I am not a big fan of making people hurry up and wait so I prefer to stop for a while and then open up orders again just as soon as I can. I sincerely appreciate everyones enthusiasm for moulding planes. I love them too.

I thought it might be an appropriate time to share a recent family photo. I don't talk a lot about myself here because this blog has always been about the ins and outs of my interest in woodworking and sharing those things in a hope others can benefit from it. But now that my readers also support me and my family then I figure you should see who benefits.

From left to right: Tracy, Petra, Claire, Caleb

Oh and this leads me to my next exciting announcement. I have an official secretary to help me manage my correspondence and invoicing. Its my wife! Tracy and I worked together in a similar way for about 7 years in the past so we fit like a glove and it feels kinda nostalgic. So, expect her to reply to some of your emails regarding standard inquiry related things. Like notifying you when something is going to ship, etc. I will still be responding to most things as a general rule as I like to get to know my customers. That is important to me.

One good thing about this secretary is she makes good coffee. (If only my Dr of Chinese medicine would let me drink it like I want to.)

Oh and she knows how to give me that look that says you have been goofing off on Instagram too much, get back to work. I know some of you will appreciate that. :)

Thanks again ya'll!

Categories: Hand Tools

Blacker Table Design

McGlynn On Making - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 6:57am

I want to thank John Vernier for his comments.  John always has valuable input and has shared some great insights on both history and techniques.  Yesterday I mentioned that there were two versions of the table — I was alluding to two different sizes that were produced, but John clarified that there were also two of the smaller version of this table produced for the Blacker house originally:

You are right that there are two versions of the table. There are two identical serving tables, the one in Chicago and the other in the Oakland Museum (you should pop over and take a look). There is also a breakfast table which is larger, and scaled so that it can butt up to the main dining table and act as an extension. I think that one is in private hands but I’ll get back to you if I find out differently.

The two identical smaller tables were both originally in the Blacker dining room. Jim Ipekjian’s copies are there now, against one long wall, opposite the sideboard. I think they have silver tea service displayed on them, and they really are just auxiliary serving tables. The breakfast table was in a separate room which is connected to the main dining room by a set of double-fold french doors, so that the space can be opened up into one large room, and the breakfast table scooted up to the main dining table. The dining table also has extension leaves which mount on each end, so the resulting table would be extremely long, just the thing for 32 person dinners. On the whole it really is the largest and most elaborate dining set the Greenes designed.

When Nellie Blacker died in 1947, the people who bought the house sold off the furniture in basically one big yard sale. One of the neighboring families bought most of it, and kept it for many years. When interest in Greene and Greene began to pick up, they realized the importance of their collection and sold it off slowly over a couple of decades (I don’t know if this is still going on, a lot came to market in the 70s and 80s). Many different museums have bought a piece or two as representative examples of G&G work, so it is dispersed all over the place.

Thanks John!  I would go see the one in the Oakland museum, but it’s not on display.  I wonder if they’d let me see it anyway?  I may actually have an “in” there…I’ll investigate that.

For comparison, here are the two different sizes of the Blacker table.  First off, here is the version that I’m thinking of building.  The chair in the picture puts the scale of the “smaller” table into perspective, it’s still a fairly large table at about 36″ wide by  22 1/8″ deep by 29 7/8″ tall  .  The chair would be an interesting project too, although that scares me.  Chairs in general, but G&G chairs with tapered trapezoidal curved legs and angled mortises and so forth. If you look closely you can see some subtle “stepping” on the lower stretchers of the chair too.  Wow.  Something to file away for another day…

"small" blacker serving table

“small” blacker serving table

The larger version clocks in at 59 9/16″ wide by 51 5/8″ deep by 30 3/8″ tall, with a base that is 23 1/2″ square.  You can see that the style is identical, although the larger version appears to have supports under the table top.

Larger Blacker table

Larger Blacker table

So here is my updated CAD model.  I am not trying to get it to be a complete clone of the original, but I want it to be visually very close.  I spent time making the legs thicker up to 2 3/16″ to try to match the original, then backed them down to 1 7/8″ with the thought that I could make them out of the 8/4 stock I already have.  I think they look large enough visually at this dimension.  I spent a lot of time playing with the details on the bottom of the leg, eventually adding some subtle shaping to taper the leg in the last inch and a half, and then adding the “Blacker leg indent” on the two outer faces.  The indent is not on the original version of this table, but it was on a number of furniture legs in the Blacker house.

Close up of leg ends

Close up of leg ends – the wood texture is getting in my way here…

I changed the height of the skirts and stretchers, making both slightly smaller, and reduced the round over on the edge of these parts too.  I moved the stretcher a little closer to the skirt.  I played with different widths for the start and end of the cloud lift design — this is the most obvious different between mine and the original.  The “lift” on the original is more abrupt, the transition from one horizontal surface to the other is vertical, where on mine it’s angled.  I may change mine to match the original in this aspect.  The hight of the lift on mine is taller than the original too, I’m on the fence about whether to change that.

I added the ebony pegs on the legs, although as I look at them I may want to increase the sizes one step.  I have 1/4″, 5/16″ and 3/8″ — I will probably increase them all a step.

I removed the inlay on the legs, only because it was just a quick mockup and was getting in the way of the other changes I was making to the leg shapes.

Version 2 of my Blacker table design

Version 2 of my Blacker table design

So, I want to experiment a bit more with the skirt and stretcher profiles, and work out the joinery for those parts (I just have a single wide stub tenon right now).  Then model the actual inlay that will be on the legs.  The top needs some attention too — joinery details, ebony plugs and ebony spline and changes to the inlay layout.  Another couple of hours and I’ll have a workable CAD model that I could build.

I measured a space where I think this could go in the house — right under where I want to put the Thorsen cabinet.  It’s narrower but deeper than the sofa table that is there now, which might leave enough room for a pair of chairs to flank it…

Categories: General Woodworking

Hello Kitty is not a cat, plus more reveals before her L.A. tour

Giant Cypress - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 6:28am
Hello Kitty is not a cat, plus more reveals before her L.A. tour:

Hello Kitty turns 40 years old this year, and there’s a retrospective which opens in October at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Carolina Miranda, in the L.A. Times:

Wow. You learn something new every day.

Jennie Alexander’s Bench Hook

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 5:11am


Jennie Alexander requested that I show a photo of her bench hook (aka planing stop) that is made with a bit of saw steel. If you look close you can see the mortise she cut in front of the wooden pillar to prevent someone getting bit by the “toothy critter.”

Earlier this year I visited Jennie in Baltimore to interview her for an upcoming feature article I am writing about her life’s work – green woodworking and chairmaking. We also discussed some upcoming projects between her and Lost Art Press. More on that as it develops.

It is difficult to overstate Jennie’s influence on the craft. “Make a Chair from a Tree” – the first woodworking book published by The Taunton Press – changed the trajectory of many people’s lives, leading them into a lifetime of building things with their hands.


The chair that is the subject of that book is something both ancient and thoroughly modern. It is mixed with equal parts traditional joinery and Jennie’s personal approach to the craft and design. And while I have built many chairs during the last 20 years and sat in hundreds more made by fellow woodworkers, Jennie’s chair is the most perfect and delightful one I have ever encountered.

It is lightweight, strong, incredible comfortable and beautiful to behold.

When you sit in her chair, only one thing flashes in your mind: I must make one of these.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Make a Joint Stool from a Tree, Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

Picture This XXXII

Pegs and 'Tails - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 11:38pm
“Yes…I’ll have a pound of glue please, and one of your finest four-foot long London-pattern in-cannel gouges.” Lot 166 in Christie’s Out of The Ordinary Sale (South Kensington, London, on the 3rd of September, 2014) is this rather large trade … Continue reading
Categories: Hand Tools

Parquetry Tutorial – Laying Out the Pattern

The Barn on White Run - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 5:45pm


Once you have sawn a great pile of equilateral parallelograms with the jigs from the last post, you need to arrange them into the final pattern.  Next post will go through the nuts and bolts of assembling a finished parquetry panel to adhere to a substrate, but for this post I want to diverge for just a few minutes and talk about the pattern layout itself.  I feel justified in doing this because I have yet to teach a workshop where everyone does not make some layout mistake that has to be undone, often with great damage to the glued up pattern or at the very least loss of a lot of time and a raised level of frustration.

The key is to remember that in most instances, this exercise included PARQUETRY IS A REPEATED PATTERN.  In fact, this simplest exercise is really about a dozen patterns superimposed on each other, and you must be mindful of their construction in order to avoid catastrophic mistakes that might deter you from finishing or continuing.

The pattern Roubo illustrates in the plate above, Figures 4 and 5, is simple and to my aesthetic taste, garish.  I prefer to adapt it to my own preferences by using all the same wood for all the lozenges, and establish the shimmering pattern only through the changing grain patterns of the lozenges via laying them out.

parquetry 4

The simplest unit of the design is the cubic die.  It is repeated ad infinitum until the panel is complete.

parquetry 5

All you have to do is make sure you lay out each and every one of them with the grain pattern like this.

parquetry 7

Or perhaps more simply, just remember to make it a whorl like this.  But in truth, this is like George Costanza getting hypnotized by a poster on the wall of the bathroom.  Hopefully you do not proceed only partially robed.

parquetry 6

Such would be the risk when you realized suddenly that the dice overlap each other, and your eyes start to spin around.  Let’s see if there are other approaches that might help.


parquetry 10

Another, second set of patterns is the pinwheel with a center point.

parquetry 13

They are simple to lay out, just make sure that each opposing pair of lozenges is aligned to each other and the overall pattern.   Like this,

parquetry 12

and this,

parquetry 11

and this.

parquetry 9

Unfortunately, the pinwheels also overlap each otherand there is the risk of visual confusion.  Arrrrgh!

There are a third set of simultaneous patterns at work on the panel that are easy to keep in mind, running always in the background like a security system on your computer.  It is the most straightforward pattern set, and this is often where I begin, laying out a horizontal row of lozenges tip-to-tip, each with the same grain orientation.

parquetry 1

But, since we are working with a six-sided form, there are two additional complimentary patterns identical to the first one, each of these two off-set by 60-degrees.

parquetry 3

Like this,

parquetry 2

and this.

So, you can see the advantages of thinking about complex complimentary rows.

If you keep all these things in mind while you are assembling your panel, success is at hand.




What do you do with design failures?

Design Matters - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 4:59pm


I’m a firm believer in re-visiting work after some time has passed. Be it writing or woodworking, a few years allows for a more disinterested judgment. If it holds up, you may be onto something. If not, there may be lessons to learn. About fifteen years ago I began to venture beyond printed plans. I built this little maple table for Barb. Although the joinery was solid, the design – not so much. It’s largely a failure in details that add up to mush to my eye. It began with a nice chunk of bird’s eye maple that I glued up for a top and aprons. I didn’t just do a poor job of joining together pieces for the top (cut from the same board no less), I managed to make them look like they were two different species of maple.


Instead of using a crisp moulding profile for the edge, I settled for a simple round-over that always had a feeling like some rolled out pizza dough. The curved apron patterns were based loosely on some pictures from a book on period furniture but I had no eye for curves and I fell into the mire that plagues so much massed produced “Early American” furniture. It has not the grace of the fine urban originals or the folk of the back country originals. It screams, “ I don’t know Jack about curves!” Finally I topped it of with an oil varnish finish that couldn’t take spilled beverages and hot coffee mugs. Game, set, match.


What is one to do?




Perhaps I can salvage the legs and build Barb another table.

More to come.


George R. Walker


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