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The Madcap Woodwright: Getting Comfy in Your Shop

Highland Woodworking - Tue, 05/09/2017 - 7:35am

One of the first things that drew me to woodworking was the high school shop. Not the fact that I was taking “shop class” really, more the shop space itself. It was a large room with the machines and several “team” work benches. (large, square benches that had a vise on each of the four sides.) It had windows on the east side of the room, high up on the wall, that let the morning sunlight in and warmed the room nicely. It also had a couple of old Sansui speakers up on the high wall and a receiver in Mr. Rauh’s office that he had hooked up to a Walkman tape player. Between the smell of the wood, the natural light, the music, and the warmth of the sun, the place was an absolute oasis for me.

As I progressed in my career, I have worked in small shops with one or two other guys, bad light, and the need for super human physical flexibility in order to get any work done. I have also worked in CNC driven shops that had what seemed to be miles of floor space and many computer driven machines that spit out cabinet parts and MDF or particle board dust.

During my journeymanship, I often dreamed about what my own shop would be like were I able to actually put one together for myself. I knew I wanted to try to recreate the feel I got from my wood shop experience in school, but on a smaller scale. I also knew that it had to be a welcoming and pleasing place to come to.

As woodworkers, much of what we do flows from a culmination of what comes from our mind, our gut, and our hands. At least, that’s how I imagine it. Because of this, I think that we are often times affected, for good or ill, by the environment we choose to work in.

Now, I realize that for the vast majority of woodworkers the shop space is often limited by what basement space or garage space is available. My own circumstances are no exception.

With that caveat though, I submit that as woodworkers we owe it to ourselves to pay close attention to how our space feels when we are in it. In my opinion, the vibe and personality of the shop space is at least as important as what machines or hand tools we collect to put in it. The shop needs to be a comfortable place, lest our ability to work wood fearlessly be hampered.

So then, let’s take a look at some things that contribute to what makes my shop, “The Tiny Shop,” comfortable to me.

Disclaimer: I do not intend to give the impression that I feel that the attributes of The Tiny Shop are the end – all and be – all of a soulful shop. I assure you that I am not so brash as to assume that I have ANY of the answers, let alone ALL of the answers when it comes to cultivating a shop’s personality. I only wish to share my own experience in the hope that it may resonate with someone out there.

The Tiny Shop is actually the latest in a collection of shops that I have been fortunate enough to put together. I have helped others stand their own shops up, helped employers set up, start, and run their business, and had one other shop that was my very own prior to a “parting of the ways” in my previous marriage.

When putting my shop together I had a pretty small canvas to paint on. It is an old, brick, one car garage that came with the house that my wife and I purchased a few years ago. In terms of real estate, it lays out to around 250 sqft. Not a lot of space for a 6ft 3in, 260 pound man to move around in without some contortions and bruised thighs.

The silver lining though, is that it forced me to be realistic about the scale and type of work that I would be able to produce from this shop. There will be no large entertainment centers or banquet tables fashioned here. At least not with the ability to dry fit them and assemble them in their totality. I suppose if push were to come to shove I could build a larger scale item in sections, and trust that my measurements were accurate enough for the thing to be assembled successfully in the field. Thankfully, I have not had to test this theory as I have limited myself to working on free standing chests of drawers, small tables and boxes and other pieces that are of appropriate size for the limitations of The Tiny Shop.

I have found that this coming to terms with my shop’s limitations has proved profoundly important to my level of comfort in, and enjoyment of, my shop.

One of my main goals in putting The Tiny Shop together was to do so with aesthetics and comfort in mind. I wanted to be able to call the shop “my happy place.” I wanted to be sure that the time I spent in it was as enjoyable as possible and I wanted to eliminate as many discomforting distractions as I possibly could. It makes my experience much more enjoyable and rewarding to be able to shut out everything else but the task at hand.

To that end, I chose to leave the walls mostly bare. With so little space in a shop like this, the natural go-to is to mount plywood or OSB to the walls so that shelves or hooks or other means of storing tools is made more easy.

I like the brick. It stays cool in the summer…for the most part…and helps keep a modicum of heat inside during the winter. Plus, it looks cool. Having the brick naked gives me something of a “loft-like” feeling in my shop. It feels a little more soulful, and provides me with a little less sterile feeling than that of OSB or drywall clad walls.

My shop’s limited footprint also dictated the need to be thoughtful about my choice of tooling. With more square footage, I am quite sure I would have found a way to stuff a full sized planer, an 8″ ‘Pot belly’ vintage Delta jointer, a lathe, a shaper and far more powerful dust collection with collection drops at each dust making machine.

In the case of The Tiny Shop though, I only had a couple of things I was unwilling to compromise on. I wanted a full sized cabinet saw. Providence smiled on me and dropped a 1946 Delta Unisaw in my lap at a price that…well…was a downright steal. So a Unisaw was adopted as the first tool in my machine arsenal.

Next, a good jointer, planer, band saw, sliding mitre saw, and some sort of dust collection. All of which were selected for their quality of build, and their compact size. Knowing I would be building a rather large workbench (later adding a second of nearly equal proportions) I needed to buy machines that would provide a high level of accuracy as well as allow for ease of movement in the shop and the ability to stow them when not in use.

Lighting was another priority. Since my woodworking tends to be something of a hybrid of machine and hand tool, I wanted there to be good, bright yet warm lighting in the shop. I know fluorescent lights are normally the standard in a shop setting, both for their lumens per square foot as well as their economy, but I absolutely detest the quality of the light produced by traditional shop lights.

So I compromised a little bit. I picked up 9 or 10 “dish lights” cheap and clipped them to the exposed rafters in my shop. In them, I use those twisty fluorescent light bulbs. For my needs in such a small shop, it seems to fit the bill for the time being, the quality of the light being nearly as friendly as incandescent bulbs.

Since I spend so much time on my feet in the shop, I soon decided that some sort of matting needed to be used to ease the strain of standing on cement all day. I found some inexpensive foam mats, like the kind you can link together in a child’s play area, at one of the local hardware store on sale. Perfect. Now my tired tootsies would get a break, and I could pad about in style and comfort. The added benefit being that the padding provides a bit of protection to wayward Sheffield steel blades rolling off my bench.

For the most part the shop is fully outfitted. Truth be told, there really is no where to add any further freestanding machines even if I wanted to. So all that was left was to develop my flow of work and to begin the ever evolving methods of working wood in my shop. The flow has evolved as a natural outgrowth of my incessant need for a well thought out plan of procedure. (Insert heartfelt nod to my former shop teacher Don Rauh here). Because I plan out each step of my build process for a given piece, I can also manipulate the order of the procedures to be accomplished to best fit the layout of the shop.

By and large, there is very little that I am finding to be all that difficult to build in this space so long as I adhere to my stated limitations. This is especially so when I have good weather and can open the two main doors and also include the great outdoors as part of my square footage.

In taking the time to develop an image of how I wanted my shop to look and feel, in taking the time to imagine how work would flow through it, I feel as though I have been able to build an efficient and comfortable place that allows me to freely explore woodworking as well as to efficiently work through paying projects that come in.

It is adequately powered, has very high quality tooling, and has a personality that encourages as well as provides for fearless woodworking. Until such time as it makes fiscal sense to either add on or build a new shop, this space is comfortable and welcoming.

To other woodworkers out there I submit to you that your work space should be pleasing to the eye as well as to the bottom line. Make the place comfortable, easy to clean, and distinctly your own. Take the time to sit in it and just look around once in awhile. I suspect you will find yourself puttering here, and readjusting there, remembering that bit of maintenance that you wanted to do to the table saw, or that little pile of scrap bits that needed to be gone through and either discarded or squirreled away. All these little “putterings” are a way of making the space your own.

Also, in my case at least, this personalizing of the shop seems to continue beyond initial setup. Sometimes the originally imagined layout needs to be rearranged and tweaked in order to develop sound work flow and to maximise comfort. Never be discouraged from making large, wholesale changes. Just be sure that they add to the comfort and add to the shops personality. You will thank yourself later.

I love comments, feedback and any discussion. These are always welcome. I can be reached at:

And, as always, remember to work wood fearlessly and with joyful abandon.

The post The Madcap Woodwright: Getting Comfy in Your Shop appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

You Never Know Where A Small Job Might Lead!

The Barn on White Run - Tue, 05/09/2017 - 4:45am

Recently I was contacted by JoeM about his newly acquired vintage Studley-era piano maker’s workbench.  His own eloquence suffices to tell the tale, although I edited it a touch for privacy and continuity and to format it since he wrote me multiple long missives on a (non-smart) cell phone.

I have found a piano makers work bench from Boston 1866.  It has the wheel vices, is 33 by 77 inches. The vice was shimmed with the makers committee member cards, from the Boston city council.

I also found a memo from Hallet and Davis 1891 setting the rates of pay for the piano makers.  It has six drawers and three smaller drawers inside, which are covered by a pull down front.  It has all the dogs.  

The end vice has a dog that passes through and slides.  

It also has a hidden pull cord that locks the drawers by a cool mechanism in back.

Anyway, I’m a carpenter who was lucky enough to find this bench in the cellar of a home in Springfield Ma.  I traded the bench for a 400 dollar job at the house.  I quickly called my friend who is an antique tool collector and described the bench.  He offered me 1000 dollars with out seeing it.  He finally told me what it was, and said hes only seen two such benches in 50 years of collecting!  

So the lady I traded for said it was her grandfathers, born in 1859.  She said it had been in a few businesses  around Springfield,one being Hampden Brewery, before it was returned to her, I really don’t want to ask her any more about the history in case this thing is valuable and wants it back.  Right now the bench is in my living room where I study it.  I seem to find something new each day.  

I’m glad I read your article of furniture conservation as I started doing minor repairs.  I glued a few cracks on the back side, but now will wait till further investigation.  I did not know what a science it was.    

One vise was attached to the bench and one was on the floor.  Strangely the one on the floor was fine, the one on the bench was repaired. Some one must have dropped it.  The vice face was snapped off and welded on, and get this BACKWARDS !!   So the big Question is do I get it repaired?   My best friend is the best machinist I’ve ever seen.  He does incredible things with steel.

The two bottom drawers have different pulls than the top five.They don’t look original to me, and they have been painted gold.

Back to the history, the cards shimming the vise (had to take it off to move it) were in remarkable condition.  The name I traced was Jairus A Frost.  He had two different street addresses on two different cards, suggesting the passage of time pointing to him as owner.  Some where in the Boston records I found his occupation listed as piano maker.  A friend of mine found an article in a news paper that said he was in the Boston Benefit Society.  The cards say Committee of Relief, address 38 Porter St and 484 Washington St, Boston.  One card lists him as vice-president January 1866 to 1877.  There must be more info on Jairus, I mean I found this info with my meager computer skills.

Note: I laid my Sabilla level corner to corner and it is dead flat at 162 years old.  

My wife hopes the bench is worth a ton, but I don’t, I want to keep it if I can.  Will send pics as soon as I can get my daughter to do it.

Joe and I spoke on the phone for a good, long time, and it was a delight on many levels.  I gave him some advice on the care and restoration of it, and the last time I heard from him he was going to keep it.

Great story, Joe!

The first ever official skottbenk expedition to USA

Norsk Skottbenk Union - Tue, 05/09/2017 - 4:40am
Norsk Skottbenk Union will have a stand at Handworks in Amana.

This week 6 members of Norsk Skottbenk Union are going to Iowa and Minesota in USA to meet up with American handtool enthusiasts. We are also going to do some research for old workbenches similar to our Scandinavian Skottbenk. We are familiar with an interesting workbench in Amana in Iowa. We are going to make a visit to see this bench for ourselves and also have our own stand at Handworks 2017 to show how the Skottbenk works. At Handworks we will meet workbench enthusiasts from around the world. The maker of the official apron for Norsk Skottbenk Union, Jason Thigpen at Texas Heritage will also be there.

About Norsk Skottbenk Union

Norsk Skottbenk Union are a group of craftsmen with a special interest in traditional workbenches and tools. We are focused on the use of the workbenches and tools and strive to get other craftsmen interested in theese matters. We belive the Norwegian woodworking tradition are important to keep alive. By making traditional workbenches, making new tool in a local tradition and use them in restauration work and other kind of woodworking we belive we can make a difference. Our tools and workbenches are based on extensive research of old tools, workbenches and historical records. We have also done some work with older master craftsmen to get to some of the intangible knowledge in their craft. Some of the results of this work are posted on this blog. We write in Norwegian for our Norwegian readers because we believe it is important that we use the language that is connected to the traditions in our craft. For you English language readers we have a category for English blog posts.

Our trip

We will start our trip 10. May and go to North House Folk School where we will stay to the 13. May. From there we will start our journey to Amana where we plan to come the 17. or 18. May. We might make some stops along our route from North House to Amana so we are glad for suggestions from you. Theese members from Norsk Skottbenk Union will go to USA and are possible to meet at Handworks 2017:

Jon Dahlmo. Blacksmith that have specialized in making woodworking tools for carpenters and joiners. For members he is a great source for plane irons, chisels and all kinds of special tools for woodworking. He run his own company Verktøysmia in Drevja. Photo: Roald Renmælmo Thor-Aage K. Heiberg. Joiner and Organbuilder. Trained in joinery both plugged and unplugged. Early member of Norsk Skottbenk Union. Enjoys the smell, sound and keen hand of traditional pre-industrial joinery and building conservation. Interested in toolmaking, and traditional woodworking handtools. Studied Technical building conservation and restoration work at NTNU and finished my bachelor degree in 2016, subject: The Sash window plane and Miter iron. Rediscovering a traditional 19th century sash window manufacturing process in Melhus and Meldal. Work as a woodworker and head of building conservations at Sverresborg Open-Air museum in Trondheim. Ivar Jørstad. Master Carpenter with a special interest in traditional carpenters tools. He is studying at a bachelor programme in traditional building crafts at NTNU university in Trondheim. He work as a restoring carpenter at Buskerud bygningsvernsenter. Siv K. Holmin. Have been working as a restauration carpenter, restoring traditional buildings for about 20 years. Focused on traditional working methods with traditional handtools. Have also done some intervjus/foto/filming documentation of working methods with elder people to understand and learn the handcraft. Teach woodworking and restoring. Traditional logging, pitsawing, splitting wood and hewing materials, making floorboard and dealboard with handplane in «skottbenk» and thatching traditional grassroofs with birchbark. Peter Brennvik. Have worked many years with ship preservation, boatbuilding. Interested in woodworking tools, planemaking, høvelbenk and skottbenk. Are now working on a bachelor degree in traditional building craft at NTNU.  INSTAGRAM: SlettokseRoald Renmælmo
One of the founders of Norsk Skottbenk Union and active user of skottbenk and traditional handplanes. Have worked many years as a woodworker and restauration carpenter in Norway. My special interests and competencies are joinery, logbuilding, traditional logging, toolmaking and traditional woodworking handtools. Are working on a PhD in historic joinery at NTNU and Göteborg University. Teach as Assistant Professor in traditional building craft at NTNU in Trondheim.
Categories: Hand Tools

partial joy in Mudville........

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 05/09/2017 - 1:05am
I have the proverbial good news, bad news situation. And the good news is good but not super and the bad news isn't all bad neither. The good news is about the Stanley #2 and the not so bad news is about the certificate frame. All in all pretty good all around.

I was a wee bit jittery when I came home tonight because I wasn't sure what to expect with the frame. Whenever I make a mitered frame I always shake the crap out of it. I do every single side and I shake it like I stuck a wet finger in 220 volt outlet. My last frame didn't survive the first leg. I was hoping I would do better this time.

still flat on the bench
The clamp at the right in the middle was to keep the frame from moving as I clamped the corners. When I popped it off the frame was still flat on the bench. Good sign #1. Good sign #2 was the frame still was together after I took off the four miter clamps. Good sign #3 was the frame passing the shake test on sides 1 and 2.  One corner opened up on shake test with side #3.

I do this shaking test to ensure the frame is sound. If it can make it pass me shaking the crap out of it, it will make it to hanging on the wall.

the open corner
As luck would have I used hide glue on this. I warmed some up and put some on both sides of the miter. I clamped it and put it to set up on the tablesaw. Looks like one more day before I get to play some more with this. I have to saw splines for the corners and make a rabbet for the glass and matting to come.

my #2
She is a pretty looking plane in spite of the problems. The rosewood tote and low knob look great. This hasn't dampened my desire to get another #2. The outsides were sanded up to 320 and I stopped there.

the sole looks good which is confusing
I have a hump in this but when I sanded it I didn't get any indications of that. Can't explain that without getting a headache.

Patrick Leach answered my Email to him today and I was very much surprised by it. Instead of reading I had played with it and I owned it, and said he would take it back. Not only did he write and say he would take back the #2, he said I could also return the 10 1/2 that I had bought from him. I think he must have read my blog post on my woes with the #2 because I didn't mention the 10 1/2 in my email to him at all.

I wrote him back saying I would get the #2 back to him sometime this week but I was keeping the 10 1/2. I've been following his monthly for sale lists for years now and I don't believe that he knowingly put the 10 1/2 up for sale knowing it was repaired. He puts repaired tools up for sale all the time and always makes note it.

Him taking the #2 back and then offering to take back the 101/2 makes him a stand up guy in my eyes.  A lot of people I know say that his prices are high but I don't think so. I think that they are in line with other tool mongers I visit. I saw a #2 (type 13), with high knobs for $195 and another #2 that looked like a rusty door stop for $300 (he said it was a pre-lateral #2). I picked this one from Pat for $215 because I have bought so many other good tools from him. Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll have another #2 on June's sale list. Even after this I wouldn't hesitate to buy from him again.

So the saga with the #2 ends here. No more trying to bring this back to user status. I also lost out on the 5 1/2. I got an email today from Jim Bode saying that he can't find the plane so he gave me a refund. He has another 5 1/2 but he says it has damaged stamped on it. I thought about getting it but I don't want to take a chance on it. So the hunt continues for a #2, #5 1/2, and a #10.

still not done
I still can't bring myself to put plastic hands on this. I didn't spend much time in the shop tonight so I thought I would do this. It didn't happen again tonight. I looked at it for a few and said no again.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
How much does the Oscar statuette weigh?
answer - 8 1/2 pounds

Introducing the Crucible Design Curves

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 3:57pm


While a compass and straightedge can design simple pieces of furniture, you also need curves that have a varying radius to draw smooth shapes that connect three or four points – the accelerating curves that give motion and life to furniture.

The tools for these important curves are commonly called French curves or Burmester curves. And they are the starting (and ending) point for any designer who wants to escape rigid rectilinear shapes and simple circles.

While you can buy inexpensive plastic curves at an art supply store, the plastic tools have disadvantages compared to traditional wooden curves.


Most plastic curves have a small rabbets along their edges. While we understand the function of the rabbet, we think it interferes with making a true and smooth line because you can tilt your pencil or pen. Traditional wooden curves have no rabbet, allowing greater accuracy.

Second, plastic curves are difficult to mark notations on, such as where you want a curve to start and stop. You can mark them with a permanent marker, but this is slow, inaccurate (in our experience) and messy. Plus, smooth plastic curves slide too easily on the paper while making your mark, again, spoiling your accuracy.

Traditional wooden curves, which are difficult to come by on the used market, are a joy to use. Warm in the hand, they are precise, they stick to the paper while you are drafting and it’s easy to write (and erase) notations on their surfaces.

The problem with traditional wooden curves is they were not truly dimensionally stable as they were typically made from solid hardwood. They were also fragile.


The Crucible Design Curves
When we set out to design our curves we wanted them to be strong and stable (like plastic curves) but warm, accurate and easy to use (like wooden curves). The solution was a special five-ply bamboo material specially designed for laser-cutting.

We designed our curves using an English set made in 1943 as our foundation and inspiration. The curves are cut and engraved in Covington, Ky., then sanded to #220-grit in our shop in Fort Mitchell, Ky.

Bamboo is the perfect material for this tool. It is more dimensionally stable than any hardwood or softwood that we know of, it doesn’t absorb moisture as readily as wood and the five plies of veneer ensure it will stay the same shape year round.

Like plastic curves, these will bend readily across curved shapes without breaking.

Our first set of curves consists of three of our favorite shapes. The large curve is about 12″ long. The smaller two are about 6″ long. A full set of curves encompassed many individual tools. And while we hope to bring out more curves in the future, we think these three are an excellent starting point.

We are introducing these curves at Handworks 2017 where we will sell a set of three for the introductory price of $37. After Handworks they will be available in our online store. We might have to increase the price slightly for shipping and packaging costs charged by our warehouse.

Please stop by our booth at Handworks and give them a try. We’ll have a huge pile of them to sell in protective boxes suitable for travel.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Somerset Scythe Festival Courses 2017

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 1:32pm
Somerset scythe festival 2017 Details of the masterclass and beginners scythe courses at this years Somerset Scythe Festival The Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

Aldi Drill-driver Under Test

Paul Sellers - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 9:59am

You don’t see me too often extolling the merits of power equipment but one piece of equipment i use enough in the day to day of life is a battery-driven drill-driver. I like them because they are a one hand operation, leaving my free hand to hold the work. It doesn’t mean I  am abandoning …

Read the full post Aldi Drill-driver Under Test on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Joseph Walsh: Genius Furniture Maker and Artist, Now on Display in New York City – Part 1

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 8:35am

I can promise your jaw will drop when you see the poetic works of Joseph Walsh in person. Joseph is an Irish genius who runs a spectacular creative furniture and sculptural studio from his family farm in West Cork, Ireland. Walsh, a self taught woodworker, a designer and a visionary, is one of the most creative makers that I have met. His specialty is building bent wood pieces: Stand alone furniture, wall pieces […]

The post Joseph Walsh: Genius Furniture Maker and Artist, Now on Display in New York City – Part 1 appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Show Us Your Shop Update: Tony Rumball Mens Shed

Highland Woodworking - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 7:00am

Wood News readers may recall from our January 2017  “Show Us Your Shop” that Tony Rumball from Canberra Australia had access to three shops – one of which was his local (community) Mens Shed.

Mens Sheds promote the well being and health of men and play a role in the prevention of social isolation by providing a safe, friendly and welcoming place for men to work on meaningful projects, socialize and contribute to the wider community.

Tony has told us that in his Mens Shed there are a number of “woodies” with interests in woodturning, toy making, furniture repair and generally making wooden ‘stuff’.

For the first time, some of these members recently entered projects in the Craft competition in the annual Canberra Agricultural Show. The entrants had various levels of skill and experience but all wanted to ‘give it a go’  and they submitted these projects:

Geoff – ZZ TOP rolling pin

David – Double decker bus (Highly Commended)

Peter – Motorcycle

Malcolm – Spitfire aircraft ( 2nd Prize and Reserve Champion)

John – Surf Jeep

Keith – Spinning (Reversing) tops ( Highly Commended)

Myron – Genie Pot

Harry – Segmented Jar

All enjoyed the experience and are looking forward to next year’s competition!

The post Show Us Your Shop Update: Tony Rumball Mens Shed appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Meet the ‘Jimmy Possum’ Chair

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 5:47am

I’ve long been fascinated by legends involving old chairmakers. Here in Kentucky we had Chester Cornett, an enigmatic bearded maker of the wildest ladderbacks and rockers I’ve seen. In Indiana we had a chairmaker in the southern part of the state who in the early 20th century made ladderbacks with a woven seat that look incredibly modern. In Australia, they have the “Jimmy Possum” chair. Reader Bradley van Luyt sent […]

The post Meet the ‘Jimmy Possum’ Chair appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

@ Handworks 2017 – Original Roubo Print #261

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 4:48am

Throughout L’art du Menuisier Roubo illustrates some pretty snazzy furniture.  Print 261, “Plans and Elevations of a Closed Desk,” certainly fits that description.  If I recall the accompanying text correctly, this desk is designed for the use of four (or maybe even six) people. All of them sitting side by side in an un-air conditioned Parisian office (it is worth noting that the word “bureaucracy” is a French word) scratching out stacks of paperwork ad nauseam and ad infinitum.  Ahh, cubicle life at its very best.

The print is in excellent condition, and was both drawn and the copper plate engraved by Roubo himself.

If you have ever wanted to own a genuine piece of Rouboiana, this is your chance.   I will be selling this print at Handworks on a first-come basis, with terms being cash, check, or Paypal if you have a smart phone and can do that at the time of the transaction.


Building Boxes at Haystack

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 4:43am

Saturday’s ‘Build a Box’ workshop at Haystack was fun. If you haven’t been there, the campus is gorgeous in its tucked-away water-front location. The story goes that, back in the 60s, they chose this location based on its remoteness and solitude. They wanted to find a place where no highway would ever be built. I would say this little island off the coast of Maine was the perfect choice. Off the beaten path is an understatement.


I had a great variety of students: male and female, young and old. There were 10 students, most of whom had little no experience using hand tools. We started the day off discussing proportional design with dividers and then decided on dimensions for the boxes before breaking down the boards to length in teams. While everyone took turns sawing, I set up the school’s handplanes putting a slight camber on the irons.

 It was great to be able to hand each student a properly set up handplane from the first moment. With only minor instruction, everyone was making beautiful wispy shavings in the first few minutes. It wasn’t long before folks encountered the frustration of reversing grain and tear out. I coached each student through those tricky spots. This kind of experience always makes a big impression on people. To experience first-hand how the iron’s edge and the wood interact is worth more than reading all the books in the world.


After lunch, we moved to cutting the joinery. I demonstrated how to layout the rabbets on the front and back together so that they perfectly match. We gauged the rabbets’ depth, scribed the shoulders with a knife, used a chisel to create a V-groove for the saw to rest in, and sawed the shoulder to the gauge lines. To remove the waste, I taught them how to split it off with the chisel and pare to the line. They were pretty impressed with how easy that was!


By the end of this crash-course day most everyone had their boxes assembled and some had their bottoms installed. Although we didn’t complete the boxes, I accomplished my goal of introducing everyone to hand tools by diving right in. Considering the limited time, I was proud of everyone. It was amazing to see piles of shavings at everyone’s feet.


Categories: Hand Tools

The Hardwood Derby at Fine Woodworking Live (or, Reason #68 why New Jersey is better than New York)

Giant Cypress - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 3:08am

I’m so happy to report that my Japanese plane car won the “Funniest Car” award at Fine Woodworking Live’s Hardwood Derby. Here’s how I made it.


I started with a Pinewood Derby car kit, mainly to get the wheels and axles. I took a piece of Japanese white oak that’s typically used to make a dai, milled it to the size of the pine blank for the body, and then laid out the lines needed to locate the throat and mouth of the dai. If you want to get one of these kits, go to your local Boy Scout/Cub Scout store. You can get these at hobby stores, but it’s not clear to me that the Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts benefit from those sales.


After that, it was some chopping to clear out the mortise and the mouth of the dai.


I went through the whole process of making a Japanese plane body, including sawing out the side grooves that hold the plane blade in place. The rules of the hardwood derby said that you couldn’t use metal, so I made a blade out of a piece of ebony instead.


And here’s the final result. Most Japanese planes have the blade set at a 40º effective cutting angle, but since this was a hardwood derby, I set the plane blade at 45º. That’s also why I numbered the car 45. The blade has the Chinese character for “car” carved into the face of it, just like the calligraphy you see on a Japanese plane blade. To make it clear that this was a Japanese plane car, I applied a Hello Kitty sticker to the front. And the wheels give this car two points of contact on the sole, just like a real Japanese plane.


Matt Kummel had the same idea, but with a western plane. 


Action shot.


And as you most likely have heard by now, Dyami Plotke took first place with his blue-colored Timberstrand car. I feel proud that my carpooling partner and I combined to take two of the trophies.


At an event like this, everyone is gunning to build the fastest car. The third award for Best Craftsmanship could have gone to any of the excellent craftsmen at this event. Providing the most entertainment value, however, would be the hardest thing to pull off at this race. And it was a guy from New Jersey who did that.

Stanley #2 day two........

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 12:27am
Slept in late today which is starting to be a habit for sunday. I still woke up at my regular time but I rolled over and fell asleep again. Got up at 0530 to start my day but I didn't make it to the shop until 0900. I did a bunch errands and some grocery shopping before everything got crowded. I did a lot of thinking about what could be wrong with the plane but I didn't come up with anything concrete that I could prove in a court of law.

right side shaving
I went back to the right side for the frog and I loosened that screw until it was just caught and not applying any real pressure on the frog. I advanced the iron until I got a shaving out of it.

left side
This shaving is half as thick as the right side one. This is an improvement over yesterday. In spite of this I couldn't make it even on both sides. Something else is OTL on this plane with the frog or the bed, or both.

center shaving is finally coming out full width
left side on test run #4

shaving on the right on test #4
The right shaving is still coming out even when I get nothing on the center or the left. The frog or something is titled to the right but what it is, I don't know.

basically one screw holding the frog in place
I also loosened the left screw and had it just tight enough to hold the frog in place. Still did nothing to make my boo-boo all better.

the iron is dead nuts square
Even if the iron wasn't square, I still could (and did) adjust the iron square to the mouth. After this I put this aside for now.

 From the comments I got on this, the majority sentiment says to return it to Patrick. A couple did say that a helicoil would work on fixing the stripped screw hole. I email someone who does plane restorations but he said he doesn't repair frogs or stripped screws in the bed.

Finding a machine shop around here is going to be a problem. I tried to find one to make my dovetail marking gauge and I got no takers. I don't think I will have any luck with someone wanting to do a small thread repair job neither. I'll give it a try nonetheless.

I sent an email to Patrick about this but I haven't gotten a reply back from him. If he will accept my returning it fine. If not I will do my best to get it working.

on a brighter note
I bought a 1/2" gouge that Josh from Hyperkitten that he said was sharp and ready to go. I have been looking for a 1/2" gouge and the handle on this one sold me.

he was right and it was sharp and ready to go
been looking for #49
box if up for grabs
Whoever wants this box and will pay the shipping to them, it's yours. The first email wins the prize. I have no need for the box nor the desire to stow it. I am not a collector and boxes like this hold zero interest for me.

I had to try it out
it works as advertised
The feedback from the stop was not felt readily. I got almost nothing when it had bottomed out. The right one I did first and chewed it up a bit around the hole. The left one I did second and it was better. I still didn't feel it but I was watching it this time. This is a handy gadget to have and setting it for a specific depth was way easier than I thought it would be. At least a couple of old tool acquisitions worked.

took the long screw out
I got the original screw and washer in the blue tape. I have another feeler out for someone who does this type of repair work.

making my wife's certificate frame
This was my first try at making a frame with the molding planes I have in my herd.

rounding over the center square part
I tried first to round it over with the small block plane but I didn't like the look .

tried the beading plane next
The largest bead iron just straddled the center square part. I had a hard time doing this because my fence was riding against bead and it was rolling as I did the round over. All I really got done was making a groove on the right side and never got a round over completed.

profile #2

profile #3
profile #4
profile #5
profile #6
the winner on the bottom
I'm going with this profile. I shortened the width from 1 5/8" to an 1 1/2" to decrease the width on the center square part.

stock prepped
I'm using poplar and once the frame is glued and together I will ebonize it.

sharpening the irons first
I just did this one and only used it once
touched it up on these two stones
Raised a burr before going from the 1200 diamond to the 8K stone.

flattening the back again
dropped back down to the coarsest diamond stone
I got it flat on this and then went back to my coarse diamond stone to finish it.

sharpened and hones up to 1200
Stropping the big flat bevel first.

small round strop for the curved parts
stropped the back
two long sides down
first screw up
Ruined this entire piece which was the two short sides. I made a run down the board and I didn't check to make sure I had the fence properly registered. Because I didn't have that I made a new profile and ruined this one. I did such a good job screwing this up, I did it on a second one too.

lot of respect for the old masters
I had to put a glove on because I could feel a blister coming on. I can't imagine what it was like for them to use molding planes 10 or more hours a day. This little adventure took me about an hour and I had enough of this when I got done.

finally got it rough sawn
shooting board set for 45°
I am not a fan of miters or mitering corners. I don't have a choice with this frame so I'll endure.

plane set for a light cut
beads are a bit off
planing the beads again
I have 45's on both ends so I had no way to clamp this flat and still run the beading plane. I clamped it in the vise in this orientation and ran the beading plane horizontally. The beads didn't line up because I did my usual tapered molding run.

all the corners closed up

using hide glue
I sized the miters and went upstairs and made a cup of coffee. After I got done with that I went back and glue the frame together. My last time gluing a frame with hide glue didn't work. The day after I glued it up when I first picked it up it fell apart. I'm hoping that this time I got good fitting miters and I sized them before I did the glue up. I'll see if there is any joy in Mudville tomorrow.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What were the names of the 7 castaways on Gilligan's Island?
answer - Gilligan the First Mate, Jonas Grumby the Skipper, Roy Hinkley the Professor, Mary Ann Summers, Ginger Grant the movie star, and Thurston Howell III and his wife Lovey

Music I’d Like To Hear #127

Doug Berch - Sun, 05/07/2017 - 6:58pm

Four Ladies - Four Accordions!


Categories: Luthiery

Coming back

orepass: Woodworking to Pass the Time - Sun, 05/07/2017 - 6:43pm

As you already know my posts over the last few months have been no existent. Those of you who follow orepass on instagram already know that I had surgery on my hip at the end of the year. The recovery has gone well. In fact I began running again this week, although one minute at a time. Woodworking has taken longer and the little bit of aggravation created in my hip when sharpening and planing has faded.

The tools have sat long enough and I have been cleaning, sharpening and thinking. After six months a simple project that encompasses several joints will bring me back. Looking through magazines and blogs and finding my saw bench buried under a pile of boxes, bags and family ‘items’ a new saw bench is in order. From all the items piled on and around my bench it appears that others may have been moving into the shop area!
A bench that has caught my eye several times is the split saw bench, several people have blogged with their own version and I’ve had trouble identifying the original designer, although many people point to Billy’s Little Bench. It’s important to give credit where it’s due, but in this case I can only point you to the web. Look up split top saw bench and tell me which ones you prefer.

My original saw bench was built many years ago as a a project from Shannon Rogers’ Hand Tool School. It has served its time well but certainly is showing its age and a couple of repairs have failed to keep it rigid. The split bench should be more rigid and I like the concept of being able to saw boards down the center. Additionally, the dovetails and  mortise and tenon joints will help tune skills that have been resting.

Looking forward to hearing from all of you and thanks for all the support over the last few months.

Categories: Hand Tools

Virtual Community

The Barn on White Run - Sun, 05/07/2017 - 6:32pm

Many years ago, and for many years, I used to host a monthly lunch meeting of like-minded observers of things economic, political, and philosophical, for a no-holds-barred off the record 90 minutes of spirited discussion over scrumptious food.   The crew was heavily weighted towards minarchist thinkers, mostly of the Hayekian economist model.  One of my stalwart participants was MarkM, who for decades was a policy analyst for international brokerage firms, and one of the most insightful men I have ever met.  To this day, and I still receive his weekly newsletter, if he says something I pay very close attention.

At one point (1990?) he was musing about the coming schisms and reorganization of the culture, eventually breaking apart and reforming into what he called “gated communities of interest.”  In his thesis, people would use the internet and other vehicles to find fellow travelers for whatever the interest in question was, and these new virtual communities would in great part supersede our physical neighborhoods.  Notwithstanding this was more than a quarter century ago, as I live in the least populous county east of the Mississippi I find his words to have been prescient.

I’ve been thinking about Mark’s comments recently as I reflect on my circle of correspondence, spanning multiple topics and including many people I have never met in person.  In some cases the interactions do develop a physical manifestation as we “strangers” send items to each other.

Recently one of my correspondents demonstrated a profound understanding of both me and my philosophical heritage when this item arrived in the mail from him.  I cannot say I was truly surprised at one level, as our emails have revealed that he has a better understanding of US history and perspectives than almost any US citizens, despite the fact that this man has never set foot on our soil (although I am encouraging him to emigrate to the Virginia Highlands).  Further, I already knew him to be immensely talented and highly skilled, and this panel of copper punch-work bears that out.

With that, I give you the new and treasured accouterment for my shop, and the honored location for this artwork in The Barn.  Every time I gaze out on the mountains, which is pretty often, my eye is taken to this symbol of my own political inclinations.

And I think of a friend I have never met in person, an esteemed citizen of my own Virtual Community.

Bowling Alley Bench

360 WoodWorking - Sun, 05/07/2017 - 3:57pm
Bowling Alley Bench

Last year sometime, 360 Woodworking purchased a few slabs of bowling alley with the idea to turn them into workbenches. If you’re not familiar with bowling allies, which I was not, you may be in for a couple of surprises.

Surprise #1 is that a bowling alley is not solid, as in one big-ass piece or block. These lanes were like accordions; they bowed in and out depending on where you applied pressure.

Continue reading Bowling Alley Bench at 360 WoodWorking.


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