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Back to School: Six Thoughts on Getting Started at Woodworking School

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 3:00am

Across the world, students are heading back to school – and some of them are on their way to woodworking schools, like The Krenov School (my alma mater), North Bennet Street School, Center for Furniture Craftsmanship and many more. It was only a few years ago that I was gearing up for the same journey – and I have a little list of learning moments (i.e. screwups/mistakes/regrets) that I want […]

The post Back to School: Six Thoughts on Getting Started at Woodworking School appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Bahco Files

Journeyman's Journal - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 9:18pm

I just purchased a Bahco file set from workshopheaven.  I chose this set because it was cheaper to buy as a set than individually plus you get a tool roll with it with an additional two pockets to fit my other two files.

I usually avoid sets of any type as you don’t get what you want, but I was very lucky that they offered exactly what I wanted.

The set comprises:

  • 150mm Smooth Cut.  A high quality double-cut smooth hand file, made from alloyed high-carbon tool steel. 6″ (150mm) from shoulder to tip, 15.7mm wide, 4.0mm thick, with parallel sides, one safe edge and one single cut edge.
  • 150mm Engineering Second Cut Round.  A true rat tail file, straight for 1/3 of the toothed surface at 6mm diameter, and then gently tapered for the remaining two thirds, down to about 4mm diameter at the tip. Second cut toothing provides rapid material removal and, with care, a surface that requires little or no further finishing.
  • 150mm Engineering Second Cut Half Round. Possibly the most versatile file you will ever own, for flats, hollows and sneaking into corners, the perfect combination of efficient cutting and a clean finish.
  • 150mm Smooth Cut Feather Edge File.   Strictly speaking the Bahco ‘wasa’ feather edged file is designed for sharpening saws, but it is one of those tools for which you soon find a multitude of other uses. The combination of shallow profile and very fine teeth create a superb finish in places that other files cannot reach.


Each file is fitted with a wonderfully comfortable Holtzapffel pattern Walnut handle with solid brass ferule.

Free 6 pocket Canvas Tool Roll to keep your files clean and tidy, with room for a couple more.

What interested me was the feather edge file aka “wasa” what ever that means. The seller claims it’s designed to sharpen saws. What type of saws? It got my eye when I browsed through his website and am lucky it appeared in the set.  It looks interesting and I’m looking forward in seeing first hand as to how it performs.  It has very fine teeth and they claim it gives and unbelievably smooth finish.  I wonder?   The only file I forgot to add to the list was a square cut.  Oh well next time I suppose.

Files are really one of the most useful tools in the shop and not just for metal work.


It cost me with shipping around AU$85 (British pounds 52). I noticed PayPal currency converter isn’t correct or they choose to charge you more.  I took a gamble and used my card’s currency converter as they didn’t state how much it would be. Ironic isn’t it?  It paid off as I saved $5.

It’s a shame I cannot locate individual Bahco files in Australia.  Bahco files are as good as the old Nicholson’s once were.  Nicholson today produces rubbish.  I bought some over a year ago and not only didn’t they perform well, but blunted very quickly.  After Paul Sellers recommended Bahco I never looked backed since.

The sad state of many tool shops and probably this is a worldwide epidemic of the uneducated clueless salespeople, is that they don’t know the quality of the tools that their selling.  If they did, they wouldn’t stock Nicholson and therefore it would force Nicholson to improve their standards.  Clueless salespeople mislead clueless people and if a clued on person challenges them, then they’re ignored and brushed off to the side.

I could of kept my money within Australia but instead I was forced to go overseas. Financially it’s a loss for both, materialistically I got the best.  I will always buy the highest quality tool I can afford, and if I can’t afford it now then I will patiently save up for it and buy it when I can.  I will never settle for second best, those I leave for everyone else.

Categories: Hand Tools

New M&T Shop Building: Granite Foundation

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 7:49pm

Now that Issue Three is at the printer and my edits to the Fisher book are complete, Mike and I have begun getting things ready for the new M&T shop frame to arrive on the 18th. We started the morning staring at a pile of granite foundation blocks. We gathered small log rounds, pry bars, and all other manner of tools to muscle the 100 linear feet of granite into place on the gravel pad. After we got a few pieces in place, a stone mason friend of mine, Ken stopped over on a lead from a neighbor. He showed up to generously share his experience and knowledge of the finer points of moving large stone. With his help, we made pretty quick work of it.

We squared up the corners and began fine tuning the straight lines by the end of the day. At that point, we began shooting ideas around for the best way to determine level on these blocks. As the words were still in our mouths, another good friend of mine, Adam drove up and shouted, “Hey! What are you guys doing?” “Building a new shop. Come over and help!”

After parking his truck, Adam joined in our planning session and announced that he has an antique transit that we could use. “Do you want me to go get it?” he asked. Are you kidding me? Of course!


Adam drove up the road to his house to retrieve the transit and immediately set it up on site. I’ve never seen one of these things at work. Pretty cool. Within 15 minutes, we had level measured on all four corners. Tomorrow (in the rain, probably) Mike and I will level the blocks and put the few remaining in place. Once the blocks are leveled, we will build a conventionally-framed deck that the shop will sit on. We’ve got to hustle because the 18th is not that far away!


As we work on this part of the project, Luke Larson and his crew at Green Mountain Timber Frames have been restoring the frame. The 24’ x 26’ beech and chestnut hand-hewn frame was built in Pawlet, Vermont around the year 1800. In the 1980s, it was given to a local Grange to use as their meeting hall. There was a lot of gutting work done at that time but no one messed with the frame.


About a year ago, Luke purchased the house (read his blog entry about it here) and he and his crew carefully disassembled it for restoration. The frame was in great shape with the exception of the rafters and ridge beam, which suffered fire and leak damage. When I found out about this frame and discussed it with Luke, he asked what I'd like to replace the rafters with. I told him I wanted old material, as close to the original roof system as possible. He did some digging and came up with a five-sided pine ridge beam almost the exact same size as well as round cedar rafters from a barn in Addison, Vt. virtually identical to the original. He and his crew have replicated the original roof system using these reclaimed materials. They’ve taken great care to leave the original surfaces unmarred. They’ve also de-nailed and washed all the 1-1/4”-thick sheathing. As Luke put it, “There is nothing like the patina of old boards.” Totally agree.


The old stock roof sheathing was then laid out for optimum placement and labeled. This will make reattaching this sheathing after the frame is raised a breeze. They’ve also added collar ties to the gable ends and braces on the first floor to strengthen the frame even more.

Mike and I are beside ourselves excited about this frame. We plan to leave the interior unfinished with roughsawn old boards and the frame completely exposed. All the insulation will be built on the outside of the frame and then exterior sheathing attached to that. From the inside, it will look like an 18th-century workshop in all its rough-hewn glory. I’ve also purchased a pile of antique window sashes (with wavy glass) that we will be using.

Besides a quick trip down to do a presentation at the Yale Furniture Study this Friday, this is the rest of our year. We will be working on this over the winter, hoping to be completely moved in by spring. We’ll see.


This is to be the new M&T headquarters. In this shop, our magazine will be created, our videos will be filmed, and our workshops will take place. As goofy as it sounds, this is a dream come true. This frame exceeds all my hopes for a little shop of my own on my property.


We will be documenting this project extensively, so if antique timber frame restoration is something you’re interested in, follow along here and on our Instagram page. It promises to be a fun ride.


Categories: Hand Tools

All Hail the Versatile Doe’s Foot

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 2:56pm

The doe’s foot – a block of wood with a “V” cut into it – is one of the most versatile and cheap appliances for your workbench. I have an article about this little gizmo coming up in the next issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine (look for it in the November 2017 issue, or perhaps subscribe). I work with a lot of odd-shaped parts, especially when I build chairs. These […]

The post All Hail the Versatile Doe’s Foot appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Oregon is on fire

Oregon Woodworker - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 11:37am
As I write this, hundreds of thousands of acres in Oregon are on fire and some of them are minimally contained after months of effort.  The one that saddens me beyond words is the fire at Eagle Creek in the Columbia Gorge.  This fire is near Multinomah Falls and many other falls along the beautiful Columbia River Historic Highway. Two teenage boys were tossing fireworks over a cliff along a trail.  Nearly 5,000 acres have been consumed so far, a number of communities have been evacuated and Oregon's only east/west interstate has been closed.  The fire is within a few feet of the historic Multinomah Falls Lodge and right next to the falls.  I go there to hike often.  It is a very special place to me, a place that calls me back again and again.  These were huge old trees, trees like the one that gave me my slab table and it will take a century for the forest to come back fully.  I will never see it as it was again.  Our house is about fifty miles away and we woke up to ash everywhere, the remnants of what used to be.

What can be done?  Here, nothing other than replanting.  There will always be a few teenage boys who do things like this.  I think the Forest Service can be faulted for not closing the area but this would have been hugely controversial.  It's hindsight.  Many of the other fires were caused by lightning strikes.

There is a bigger and more fundamental issue and the solution is beyond dispute.  Forest fire is a healthy and natural part of forest life here.  Experts study old growth forests and they see that there were several natural, low intensity forest fires every decade.  It can literally be seen in the trees and we can see the positive impact thereafter.  These fires remove brush and the "ladder fuels" that allow the fire to climb to the tops of the biggest trees and they thin the forest.  A century of putting out forest fires and not removing the overstocked trees and brush mechanically has created a situation in which the fires are so hot and intense that everything is destroyed.  You go to ponderosa pine forests in eastern Oregon where the brush has been removed and then "controlled burns" have been conducted at optimum times in late spring and just marvel at the health of the forest.  Contrary to what many environmentalists believe, this is what a natural forest looks like, not the overgrown tangle you see in many pictures.  I have seen old pictures of untouched forests in Oregon and they don't look anything like the ones we admire today.

I owned 40 acres of second-growth douglas-fir in southern Oregon that was tangled and choked.  The trees were way overstocked so they couldn't grow well and were susceptible to disease.  A forest fire would have moved through at unbelievable speed.  I did a lot myself and hired fire crews on standby to do the rest.  You just wouldn't believe what happened.  The remaining trees were "released" and they starting growing vigorously.  Forest health improved dramatically.

The people at the Forest Service understand this and they do as much of it as their budget allows, but it is a pittance compared to what is necessary.  We are willing to pay thousands of workers to fight forest fires but not to clear brush and remove ladder fuels in our national forests so fires can be beneficial.  This is what our Congress has done.  Tragic.  I so wish we would take care of our national forests.

Update:  Read this to be utterly disgusted.  Two fires have merged and the total is now 31,000 acres.
Categories: Hand Tools

Want to Pick Up Your Deluxe Book on Saturday? Here’s How

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:44am

lap-roubo-pressmark-1For those customers who pre-ordered a copy of deluxe “Roubo on Furniture Making” and want to pick up their copy at our Covington, Ky., storefront on Saturday, here’s how.

  1. Send an email to help@lostartpress.com with the subject line of “Deluxe Pickup.” Let us know your name and address and any other identifying birthmarks (just kidding about that part).
  2. Come to the storefront on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Let us know your name and we’ll hand over your deluxe copy, plus a special treat because you saved us some shipping costs. (No, it’s not a hug.)

IMPORTANT: We need to know by 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 8, if you are going to pick up your copy at our storefront. We’re going to transfer stock from our Indiana warehouse to Kentucky and will need an exact count.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the deluxe Roubo on Saturday, please let us know your intentions and we’ll transfer a copy for you.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

For Sale: Benchcrafted Classic Workbench

Benchcrafted - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:09am

We have for sale a freshly-built-to-spec example of our Classic Workbench. Made entirely of hard rock maple, it's outfitted with our Classic Leg Vise w/Crisscross, Planing Stop and one Hand-forged Holdfast, For full specs and photos, see our Classic Workbench Plans page.

The bench is in the white, that is, we didn't apply any finish to any of the surfaces. You can either leave it that way or apply a finish of your choice (we hope you leave the top unfinished, or at most one coat of oil.) The bench is completely assembled and ready to use. 

The Benchcrafted Classic Workbench is constructed entirely with in-compression-for-eternity drawbored mortise and tenon. It's as solid as humans can make it, short of growing a tree in the shape of a bench. The bench is built to the highest standards of traditional German craftsmanship in the utopian village of Amana Iowa. Our collaboration with the craftsmen in Amana, along with our experience in traditional workholding has yielded a workbench that is truly heirloom quality, but offered at what we think is a very reasonable price. There are other bench makers out there who are offering stunning museum-quality, marquetry-encrusted benches with our hardware and designs (Frank Strazza and Mark Hicks among others.) We consider our flagship Split-Top Roubo as nearing the pinnacle of bench design (if there is such a thing) but we wanted to offer an essential bench built to high standards--an approachable but bulletproof tool for passionate enthusiasts that are perhaps just getting into the craft. Our principle bench maker has been building furniture at the Amana Furniture Shop for nearly 50 years. Needless to say, 150 years of woodworking tradition in Amana directly back to 19th century Germany speaks for itself. Many of the Amana craftsmen are multi-generational woodworkers.

The bench is available for pickup in eastern Iowa (contact us for details) or white glove delivery, in which the bench is wrapped in moving blankets, transported in a moving van used for furniture delivery only, then unloaded at your address and brought inside by the delivery techs. It costs a bit more to ship this way, but less than you might imagine.

Price is $2600. Delivery fees extra. 

If you're opening a school, community shop, woodworking club or refitting an existing facility with worn out or poor quality benches, please contact us, we can supply you. 

To purchase this bench, send us an email with your contact info to: info@benchcrafted.com
Categories: Hand Tools

Great Table Design

David Barron Furniture - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 9:14am

Joe sent me these pictures of his latest project made for the 100% design show on 20th - 23rd September.

The tables are made from ash with a stained ash top with glass and are very versatile.

A short while ago I did a post showing Joes ash chest of drawers and here it is finished.

He used one of my 1:6 dovetail guides for the many dovetails and has done a great job.

Categories: Hand Tools

How to Create a Striking Continuous Grain Veneered Cabinet Edge

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 8:47am

In response to a recent post about edge banding panels, a reader asked how I’d made the grain on a panel’s door run continuously around the corner and through to the cabinet’s side. (Above) The grain in question is striking, which makes this treatment so effective. The technique is ridiculously simple – so simple that some readers would come up with the idea themselves, then think “that can’t possibly be […]

The post How to Create a Striking Continuous Grain Veneered Cabinet Edge appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Shrinking and Stretch—Working Out the Subtle Wrinkles and Kinks

Paul Sellers - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 8:42am

In applying a film finish to a finished piece of woodwork, shrink and stretch are two sides to the same coin. I wanted to show Hannah how a finish shrinks and stretches itself to a surface when you see only brush marks or an unevenness after spraying. Below you see three images but this was …

Read the full post Shrinking and Stretch—Working Out the Subtle Wrinkles and Kinks on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Poll: How do you handle PVA glue squeezeout cleanup?

Highland Woodworking - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 7:00am

When Matt VanDerList of Matt’s Basement Workshop was on the Wood Talk Podcast, he used to get a lot of grief about his use of exotic woods. What constituted “exotic” for Matt? Oak. Pine. Poplar.

That was about as radical as Matt would get.

And, every time he would say something about using those wood species because he was happy with those species, I would give him a virtual fist pump!

I’m an oak kind of guy, too. Red oak is my thing, although I’ve published reports on cedar and redwood projects before.

One of the challenges with oak, and other open-grained woods, is that PVA glue allowed to remain on the surface or, worse yet, soak in, will interfere with the appearance of most finishes. Everyone has his/her favorite technique for removing the glue, and we’d like to know which ones are Highland Woodworkers’ favorites.

Me? I usually go with wet rag wiping. Why? Because in the heat and humidity of deep South Mississippi, glue curing is unpredictable. While I like peeling skinned PVA, I find it difficult to get the timing right. Some days 15 minutes might be just right. Other days, come back in 30 minutes, lift the ribbon of uncured glue and a puddle ensues, spreading the mess even further (at which point I reach for the wet rag). As often as not, I forget to come back and check at 15 or 30 or 45 minutes, and then there’s a massive amount of glue to remove. For me, it’s easier to just clean it right away and be done with it.

Of course, there are those times when wet-cleaning pushes glue into the grain, and you’re still dealing with finish interference. That’s when I pull out the toothbrush.

While this is pine, and not oak, it’s an excellent example of PVA glue interfering with the look of polyurethane finish.

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Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

The post Poll: How do you handle PVA glue squeezeout cleanup? appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking


The Barn on White Run - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 4:26am

One of my interests for some time has been “Every Day Carry” practices and even forums on-line discussing the stuff we have on us every day, with a special emphasis on emergency situations.  I find the ingenious creativity in manifesting the ideas to be captivating sometimes, and over-the-top zombie apocalypse silly at other times.   The current issue of Backwoods Home magazine, one of the two or three periodicals I take these days, had a feature article on the subject that prompted me to reflect on my E.D.C. in the shop.  Since pretty much everything I need is within reach or a few steps at most, the inventory is much, much smaller than when I worked in Mordor and my tactical vest was packed to the gills.


This is what I carry virtually every day, all day long when in the shop.

First off is my Victorinox Spirit multi-tool, which I carry any time I have pants on, whether in the shop or not.  Over the years I have owned and used a couple dozen multi-tools and this one is the best I’ve owned, hands down.  Certainly pricier than the $10 knock-offs at the Dollar General, but I use mine hard every day with nary a complaint from me or it.

Next is my DelVe square from Woodpeckers, invented by my friend Tom Delvechio.  Simply the perfect layout tool for the hip pocket.  I bought an extra one just in case this one gets lost or stolen.

An antique folding two-foot boxwood rule is my newest addition to the ensemble, and I just love its utility and compactness.  I picked it up for not much money at a tailgating session at MJD Tools one summer and it has been part of the kit ever since.

A 6″ Starrett machinist’s rule has been in my carry tool kit for as long as I can remember.  They never go bad nor out of fashion.

Finally, the only thing I did not have in the picture was an LED flashlight, probably because I just forgot to pull it out of my pocket.  My favorite value in this tool category is the Ozark Trail pocket flashlight that I buy in the camping section of Wally World.  I have several, and they perform admirably and seem almost indestructible.  I make use of a small flashlight usually several times a day.

That’s it.  Even in my own workshop, I have tools in my pockets all the time.

Stanley #71 box......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 3:40am
It seems that boxes and more boxes, has captured my limited attention span. I just made a plow plane box and  one for a Stanley #71. This one is for my grandson and I have to start him out on the right foot. I didn't stop there with the box making but made one more. This is one of two that I started a few weeks ago and set aside. The second box is missing a side that I'm still searching for.

determining where the dadoes are going
I will have to make stopped dadoes on this box. If I try to bury them in a pin/tail the bottom will be too high up and the 71 won't fit. I have a router with a 1/4" iron that will hopefully match up with the 1/4" Lee Valley grooving iron.

missed it on the long sides
I started out ok but as the grooving progressed I noticed I was hitting the tail on both ends. On the entry end I didn't have a lot of  room to drop the iron down in the space at the bottom of the tail.  The deeper I got with the groove, the tighter the drop in became. The exit was due to 'aw shit' I missed stopping in time.

very tight fit
The iron just fit the groove, barely. The iron is also skewed to the base which makes it difficult to use if you are not used to it. Every once in a while I forget and square the base to the board and the iron is skewed to the left and I find the error of my ways right away.  I find it easier to keep it tracking in the groove by looking only at the iron and not the base.

two stopped grooves
These were relatively easy to whack out because I was able to plow a shallow groove from end to end with the plow plane first(look back two pics). I then used a chisel and the router to complete the groove.

bottom sawn to length and width
I ran one gauge line 3/8" in from the edge and another for the depth. Even with a pencil highlighting the depth, it was hard to see against the layers of the plywood.

snug fit on the ends
ends done, long edges next
With the ends done I have a visual and an actual depth to plane to.

bottom fitted
inside look
I am liking using 3/8" plywood for box bottoms a lot. They are a lot stiffer and stronger than 1/4" plywood (that is never a 1/4"). I don't have the problems of a loose fit because I can rabbet the 3/8 plywood to fit whatever iron I use to make a groove with. Of course that holds true only for iron widths less then the thickness of the 3/8" plywood.

The front and rear ends are cupped. The corners at the bottom (on one side) have slightly pulled away. If I clamp the box on all four corners and close them up, I can't square the box. I opted for a square box and gaps on the half pins. I glued it up and set it aside to cook.

piece of 1/4" MDF
it's for french fitting the 71
99.9% done
I had a fun adventure sawing this out with the Knew Concept coping saw. I felt like I had no thumbs trying to put the blade back in the saw. I would get one end in and it would fall out while I was doing the opposite one. Then I didn't get the right tension on it and I bowed the blade sawing this out. And my sawing was not very close to line neither. It's a good good thing that this rasp will hog off a lot of material. Rasping this to the line didn't take more than 5-6 minutes.

I had to rasp a couple of tight spots before the 71 dropped into place.

made it a strong 16th shorter both ways
spray painting it black
This will cover all the pencil marks plus it will look pretty good against the shiny metal of the 72.

dry fit of one of the orphan boxes
I don't remember why I made these two boxes. I think it was to practice doing hinges but it is getting a plywood bottom and no lid or cover. That is subject to change.

sneak preview
I have a few more coats to put on but I couldn't wait to see how it looks.

the lid
I do not like making lids out of two boards. This however, is an exception to that rule. A book matched lid is a suitable alternative to a solid one board lid. I glued this with hide glue and set it aside until tomorrow.

glue set up - cleaned up the box
one of the cupped gaps
I thought I only had two of these to fill but I ended up finding 3 more.

can you see them?
I plugged four through groove holes on this end. I am looking at it now and I can't see them. I used a pine scrap from the same board as the box for the plugs.

I need some doo-dads for the 71
I got a few ideas for the depth rod/shoe and the fence that are pretty much set in stone. The spear point iron is still simmering on the back burner. I found a proper screw and washer for the fence from NH plane parts. I should have it by friday. Finding a doo-dad for that will take some head scratching.

last coat of shellac
Missed my monday completion date with the plow plane box. Tomorrow I will look at this and see if it will get one last coat of shellac or not.

Had a short day in the shop even though it was a day off for me. I went out to lunch with my friend Billy who retired in Dec. It was good to see him again and to chew the fat. When we worked together we went to lunch every friday for over four years. Nine months later, I still miss him on fridays.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
This federal building took only 16 months to complete and opened in 1943. Which building is it?
answer - the Pentagon

Blemished Books & Tools: Why We Don’t Sell Them on the Website

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 6:14pm

We have been flooded with requests for us to sell our blemished tools and books on our website. There are many reasons we don’t do this – and don’t plan to. Here is a short explanation.

With these products, we have already lost money on the sale. We had to pay to have it shipped back to us, then we had to pay for the replacement item and ship it to the customer. Add to that all the other charges for picking, packing and the boxes and tape. Oh, and paying our customer service people to handle the problem.

These problems happen. And we are happy to fix them and try to make the customer happy.

So when dealing with the damaged goods left in our hands, we have to be careful. We don’t like pulping books or recycling tools. But if they are damaged beyond the point where they are useful, we will do that. So those items are a total loss for us.

For those items that have cosmetic damage, we want to recover our losses as much as possible. And we don’t want a damaged product to disappoint a customer. So we sell them in cash and in person only. Why cash? So we don’t lose 3-4 percent on credit card fees. Why in person? So the individual can inspect the damage and decide if they can live with it.

Why not sell these items on the website? We’d lose even more money. We’d have to spend time describing and photographing every item so the customer would know what he or she was getting. We don’t have the time do it ourselves, and we don’t want to pay someone to list them (we’d lose even more money).

I know that commenters will have a million suggestions for how we could do this differently (drones! Robots! AI! Crowdsourcing!). Chances are we’ve thought of it. And this is how we’ve decided to deal with damaged goods.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

A Walk in the Woods in July

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 4:18pm

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.


The three of you who pay close attention to my ramblings may recall that a couple of months ago, I wrote about the origin of the name sycamore, applied to both a kind of maple in Europe, and a kind of planetree in North America. The name supposedly refers to the shape of the leaves, and traces back to the sycomore fig (Ficus sycomorus). However, as far as I could determine, the sycomore fig’s leaves look nothing like those of either kind of sycamore. So what gives? I was determined to find out, so I booked a flight to South Africa [Truth-O-Meter: True] so that I could settle the question once and for all [Truth-O-Meter: Pants on Fire].

As it happened, I found a sycomore tree fairly quickly. This is the only one I saw that had fruit:


[Apologies for the poor image quality, but I only had my cell phone at the time, and the lighting was terrible.]

And, as various online sources suggest, the leaves look nothing like those of a sycamore (of either kind):


So, I have to go with my earlier hypothesis that somebody got a different kind of fig confused with the sycomore (possibly F. carica), and it’s really that other kind after which the sycamore (either kind) was named.

Having more or less resolved that issue, I decided to spend the next couple of weeks walking through the woods of South Africa [Truth-O-Meter: Mostly False]. In doing so, I faced some challenges: I know very little about the trees of South Africa, so I usually had no idea what I was looking at. And, it being winter, almost nothing was flowering. Add to that the fact that in most of South Africa, winter is also the dry season, which meant that many of the trees had lost their leaves. And did I mention that South Africa is mostly grassland? There just aren’t many trees to begin with.

Nevertheless, I soldiered on (all for you, dear reader). Fortunately, I did a lot of my woods-walking in national and regional parks, and many of the trees in these parks share a key characteristic that simplifies identification:


These signs were pretty neat, and something I hadn’t seen before: If you scan the QR code with your smartphone, it takes you to a web page with more information about the plant. (And yes, as you can guess from the scientific name, plants in this genus are the original source of the neurotoxin strychnine.)

But, like any product of modern technology, this one, too, has bugs:


The QR code on this sign does take you to a web page, but it’s the wrong one, for a different tree. Here’s what the tree itself (the right one, not the wrong) looks like:


Jackal-berries are in the genus Diospyros, which is the genus of both ebony and persimmon. Most Disopyros species are fairly small and therefore not commercially valuable, but nearly all of them have very hard wood, with the heartwood usually dark brown or black. The wood of these smaller trees is used for ornamental turnings and the like. The fruit looks a lot like a small persimmon:


(This one is a common jackal-berry, D. mespiliformis.)

Let’s officially begin our walk near the west coast, in the Northern Cape in an area known as Namaqualand (or, sometimes, the “succulent Karoo,” which is a pretty evocative name, if you ask me). Namaqualand is arid, not quite desert but close. There is very little rainfall, but some moisture does arrive from the Atlantic Ocean. There are virtually no trees, but like the deserts of the southwestern U.S. that are dominated by tree-like cacti, Namaqualand is also dominated by large succulents, only these are aloes, rather than cacti:


This one is the quiver tree, Aloe dichotoma. Although it appears substantial, the “trunk” is hollow and fibrous, resembling more a giant loofah than a log. The barren Namaqua landscape is punctuated by the desiccated skeletons of long-dead quiver trees:


As we travel eastward and inland, we move away from the ocean influence, and enter the Great Karoo:


There are still no trees (except along water courses), and the terrain and vegetation are strongly reminiscent of the Great Basin in North America. The few large trees that do exist are heavily (and I do mean heavily) utilized by Sociable Weavers (Philetairus socius):


The tree is an acacia of some kind, possibly sweet thorn (Vachellia karroo), but I’m not sure.

Even further east, we enter the Kalahari grasslands:


The Kalahari Desert itself is found mostly in Namibia and Botswana, extending just barely into South Africa, but the surrounding Kalahari Basin extends as far south as the city of Kimberley. This is still predominantly grassland, but you do begin to see small trees here and there. After spring rains, the area greens up quite a bit (this photo is from 2012, in December):


That meerkat (Suricata suricatta) was giving me a “Who are you and what are you doing in my front yard?” look.

Like other plants of arid regions around the world, nearly all of the shrubs and trees in the Kalahari are covered with thorns or spines:


This one is a common spike-thorn (Gymnosporia heterophylla). Its closest North American relatives are American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) and eastern burningbush or wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus), both vines.

Around the edges of the basin, you start to see “real” trees. This camelthorn acacia (Vachellia erioloba) was at Sandveld Nature Reserve, in Free State:


Like most other legumes, the wood is very hard and difficult to work. The “camel” in the name refers to giraffes, which use their long prehensile tongues to delicately pluck off the leaves from between the thorns of this and other acacias. In response to the browsing, the trees quickly begin to produce bitter tannin in the foliage, inducing the giraffe to move on to another plant. (Other trees, such as some oaks, respond similarly, but the acacia’s response is remarkably fast, on the order of five to ten minutes.)

As a rule, the many species of acacia have very similar foliage, so it’s difficult to tell one from another by looking at the leaves. But the flowers and especially the fruit are often very distinctive. The seed pods of the camelthorn are large and robust:


Moving south to the southern Indian Ocean coast, we find true forest, here at Tsitsikamma National Park, in Eastern Cape:


The dominant trees (by size, at least) in these coastal montane forests are Outeniqua yellowwood (Afrocarpus falcatus), and “true” yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius). Both are botanically softwoods, in the family Podocarpaceae, distantly related to pines. The wood of true yellowwood is reasonably hard and has good workability, and so is prized for furniture and architectural millwork. Outeniqua yellowwood is softer and more likely to be found in utilitarian applications. The true yellowwood is also the national tree of South Africa.

These yellowwood logs (I don’t know which species) were in the process of being harvested after having been downed during a strong winter storm in 2008:


It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the logs are quite large, close to three feet in diameter.

As we continue up the coast to the east, the terrain becomes less mountainous. In isolated valleys, we find scarp forest, such as here at the Dlinza Forest Reserve in Eshowe:


This view is from an observation tower overlooking the forest. From the tower, we were able to get a treetop look at the fruit of a fig (F. thonningii) that is common in this forest:


If you look closely at the forest photo above, you can see what looks like a pom-pom on a stick on the horizon. This is a Natal cabbage-tree (Cussonia sphaerocephala). The scientific name means “spherical head.” Here’s another cabbage-tree, this one with multiple heads (the hydra of the cabbage-tree realm, it would seem):


The interior of the scarp forest looks not all that different from a temperate forest in North America, although the trees here grow more slowly and therefore tend to be more twisted and bent:


As is generally the case in areas colonized by Europeans, many of the plants and animals are named after familiar species that they resemble, even if in reality they are not closely related. Thus, we have this wild-poplar or false-poplar (Macaranga capensis):


With enough squinting, you can imagine that the leaves on this tree somewhat resemble those of an aspen or poplar. But the tree is actually in the spurge family Euphorbiaceae. Most spurges are shrubs or forbs, with a few species occurring in the southwestern U.S. The one species that most people are familiar with is the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), native to Mexico. The wood of the false-poplar is said to be used for furniture, but I would personally be hesitant to work with it, as most spurges contain compounds that range from mildly irritating to, in the case of the castor bean, deadly poisonous.

The largest trees at Dlinza are the wild-plums (Harpephyllum caffrum):


For scale, the vine that hangs down in front of the tree is about twelve feet off the ground. As with the false-poplar, wild-plums are unrelated to what we call plums, and are in the sumac family Anacardiaceae, relatives of cashews, mangoes, and pistachios. Likewise, most members of this family contain toxic compounds. With sumacs, the toxin is urushiol, the active ingredient in poison oak/poison ivy. The wood is used for general-purpose construction, but is otherwise not notable.

The eastern corner of South Africa is home to lowland coastal forest:


One of the more common trees here is waterberry (Syzigium cordatum), a kind of myrtle:


I couldn’t find any information on the use of the wood, but the trees are fairly small and gnarly, so I suspect it has no widespread use. The berries (not present in winter) are apparently tasty.

The lowland forest in St. Lucia is also where we had an unexpectedly close encounter with a hippopotamus one evening. That’s a story for another time, but suffice to say that it was a Very Good Thing that we were standing in the adjacent parking lot, rather than walking in the woods, at the time.

Nearby, at Cape Vidal in iSimangaliso (“miracle and wonder”) Wetland Park, I found the only blooming woodland wildflower of the trip:


I have not the slightest idea what it is. It seems to have characteristics of both orchids and irises, which means that it might be a member of the order Asparagales. There are only about 36,000 species in that order….

Heading back northwards, we cross onto the Great Escarpment and the southern end of the Drakensberg (“mountain of dragons”). This is the beginning of the highveld (“high field”). The habitat is once again mostly grassland, but with pockets of woodland along the riparian corridors, such as here in Golden Gate Highlands National Park (in summer):


Near Johannesburg, the climate is drier, and the forest more sparse:


(Those odd-looking dark cylinders are another kind of aloe, A. marlothii.) Here, at Suikerbosrand (“sugarbush ridge”) Reserve, the trees once again become small and gnarly. The karee (Searsia lancea), another member of the sumac family, has hard wood that resembles yew and is likewise used for archery bows:


The buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) is in the buckthorn family Rhamnaceae:


The closest North American relative that I know of is Carolina buckthorn (Rhamnus caroliniana). My main reason for including this tree, however, is the Afrikaans name:


How can you not love a tree called “Blinkblaar-wag-’n-bietjie”? The name translates to “shiny-leafed wait-a-minute.” Other shrubs with recurved thorns, such as the catclaw acacia of Arizona (Senegalia greggii) also go by the name “wait-a-minute” or “wait-a-bit,” which comes from what people invariably say after getting tangled up by accidentally walking into one.

Finishing up in the northeastern corner of South Africa, we drop back off the Great Escarpment and enter the lowveld in Kruger National Park, extending from the province of Limpopo at the north end to Mpumalanga in the south. This is the southern limit of what we think of when we visualize the vast savannahs of eastern Africa. It is a mixed woodland/grassland habitat, with shrubs and small to medium-sized trees scattered throughout. In the far north we can find huge baobabs (Adansonia digitata), which are fairly uncommon in South Africa (they are much more common in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Tanzania, to the north and east):


This region is also the home of the only wood from the area that is commercially exported: African blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon). In South Africa, the climate is a little too dry, and blackwood (known locally by the Swahili name mpingo) grows as small, multi-trunked trees that are little more than large shrubs (much like eastern redbuds in the U.S.). You have to go further east into Mozambique and Tanzania before you find trees that are large enough for harvest. Much of the wood goes to the manufacture of clarinets, oboes, and other woodwind instruments.

A view from the Mlondozi picnic area near the Lower Sabie camp in Kruger gives an overall impression of the lowveld:


(For what it’s worth, according to Google Translate, the Zulu word “mlondozi” means “skin.”) The larger trees of the lowveld are nearly always located near water.

One common lowveld tree that anyone can remember is fever tree (Vachellia xanthophloea):


Its Grinch-colored bark is instantly recognizable. The fever tree was named by early European settlers, who noticed that the likelihood of contracting malaria was greater in the vicinity of the trees (which tend to grow in swampy areas harboring mosquitoes).

Traveling around Kruger, the most common large tree that I saw was Natal mahogany (Trichilia emetica):


Like African mahogany (Khaya), as well as sapele and sipo (Entandrophragma), Trichilia really is related to mahogany. The wood looks similar to those other species. While researching this species online I discovered that it is sometimes grown in a container as a houseplant.

Another common tree (also in the mahogany family Meliaceae) is cape-ash (Ekebergia capensis). The leaves do look a bit like those of ash:


The bark is different, though:


The bushwillows (Combretum sp.) are readily recognized by their four-winged samaras. This one is russet bushwillow (C. hereroense):


The only tree I found in full bloom was knob-thorn (Senegalia nigrescens):


The profusion of cream-colored flowers made these large trees easy to recognize from a distance. Other related legumes, identified once again by their seed pods, are the sicklebush (Dichrostachys cinerea):


and bullhorn acacia (Vachellia cornigera):


This lone seed pod in a leafless pod-mahogany tree (Afzelia quanzensis, not a true mahogany) illustrates the challenges I sometimes faced with identification:


I did eventually find one that still had a few leaves:


Afzelia is a genus of trees that wasn’t very well known to North American woodworkers until the publication of James Krenov’s Cabinetmaker’s Notebook trilogy. Relatives of this species from more tropical regions of Africa are the source of one of his favorite woods, doussie.

I found this Sansevieria (mother-in-law’s tongue) growing in the shade under some small trees. I believe that it is S. hyacinthoides (the common house plant is S. trifasciata).


That ends our whirlwind tour of the flora of South Africa (I skipped some parts). As always, I encourage you to find time to take a walk in your own woods. Keep your eyes and ears open; you never know what you might find:


I believe this is a marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea). To be honest, though, I wasn’t really focused on the tree at the time.

–Steve Schafer

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

The Backs of Things

Northwest Woodworking - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 9:35am

I have a cabinet I’m finishing up. It has some nice inlay on the front of it. This is visually appealing and the inlay is raised up so it’s tactile as well. The cabinet itself has tapered lines to it so it has some interest. On this version of the cabinet, I wanted the back to be important too.

I took the time to carry my tapering motif around to the back boards. Spending a little extra time here does not pay off immediately. It takes longer. I fuss more with the fit of the back. But in the long run, every time I see the back, I say to myself, Worth it.

Some jobs are not done for the client. They’re done for me and my satisfaction.


Tapered back slats

Categories: Hand Tools

Dehumidifier Draining Solution – Tips from Sticks in the Mud – September 2017 – Tip #2

Highland Woodworking - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 7:00am

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.

In the August 2017 issue of Wood News Online, Steven Johnson talked about needing his dehumidifier most of the summer thanks to heavy Wisconsin rainfall. In previous years, his average summer humidity was 38%; this summer he’s had 56% on average, with a high of 70%.

It’s not just Wisconsin. The Sun Herald, our regional newspaper, published a story in early July saying the first six months of 2017 have been the second-hottest and the second-wettest on record.

Steve, we feel your pain.

Except that my shop rarely drops to 50% humidity, even in the winter. It hovers around 85% most of the year and can reach 90% during a winter rain.

Not long after we built our home, 22 years ago, I had a little rust problem on an old Craftsman contractor saw, so I decided to invest in a Kenmore dehumidifier.

This 70-quart unit is the great-great-great grandchild of the first dehumidifier we bought 20+ years ago.

My wife, Brenda, was along for that shopping trip, and, when the salesperson offered a service contract, my knee-jerk reaction was, “No.” Brenda asked me to consider the harsh conditions the unit would be operating under, and the included annual cleaning that would remove what would surely be mountains of aspirated sawdust. Her argument convinced me to go from “No” to “Yes, give me the 5-year contract.”

What a money-saver that investment has been!

I have scheduled annual maintenance every August, because that tends to be our driest summer month. I would have sent it in winter, but Sears repair has no means to simulate hot, wet conditions in their Nashville, TN, facility, so the performance evaluation would have been worthless. Instead, almost every year, I got a call, saying, “Hi, this is Sears, we evaluated your dehumidifier, found it beyond repair, and need you to come to the store to pick up a replacement at no charge.”

I haven’t kept track of how many “free” dehumidifiers I’ve gotten, but it’s a lot.

Like Steve, I started out emptying the built-in bucket, but three emptyings every 24 hours times 22 years … that’s a lot. To say nothing of the fact that I’m lucky to get part of one day a week in the shop.

My solution was to utilize the built-in drain connection on the dehumidifier.

When our house was new, and we were trying to get grass and ground cover to grow (now we’re trying to get it to stop!), I purchased ten cheap, half-inch garden hoses and covered the entire yard with sprinklers. Once the yard was established, I stored the hoses under the house. Protected from ultraviolet light, they have aged well.

I placed the dehumidifier as close to the center of the shop as I could, while also compromising on a position that’s out of the workflow and reasonably near the cast iron tools that need the most protection.

The nearest floor drain is 30 feet away, so I elected to go through the wall. I know, drilling a hole through one’s home isn’t ideal, but I couldn’t come up with a better solution. (A replacement model I received one year had a built-in pump that utilized a little 1/4″ hose, but that feature wasn’t offered on future models.) Step One was to drill the hole, high enough to miss the wall’s floor plate, but low enough for gravity to do its part, with a little bit of an angle, too.

A short length of PVC hose guides the garden hose through the wall …

… and outside, to go under the house.

That went well, and the back half of our house is on pilings, so it was easy to direct the hose under the house to drain into the wetlands.

Because all of this area is adjacent to wetlands, the environment doesn’t even notice the added water from the dehumidifier.

Granted, I had to buy the first dehumidifier, and I’ve had to renew the maintenance contract every five years, but Sears has provided all of the subsequent units. That’s an expense even a cheapskate can love!

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

The post Dehumidifier Draining Solution – Tips from Sticks in the Mud – September 2017 – Tip #2 appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Update on Shipping Deluxe ‘Roubo on Furniture Making’

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 6:33am


We’re eager to ship out copies of the deluxe “Roubo on Furniture Making,” but are still waiting for the custom boxes to be delivered to our warehouse.

Note: When I write “custom boxes” I am referring to cardboard shipping containers, not hand-dovetailed wooden boxes (as one customer thought and then complained about).

Why didn’t we have the boxes made beforehand? We didn’t know the exact size and weight of the book. The boxes are designed to cradle this book so it cannot move in shipment. Even with modern manufacturing methods, we didn’t dare have the boxes made until we had the actual book in our hands.

As soon as the boxes arrive and they start packing them up, I’ll post an update here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
Categories: Hand Tools

The Cusp of Autumn

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 6:11am

With the walnuts raining down and the their leaves yellowing, and the sound of chain saws off in the distance, we are definitely moving from the cusp of autumn to the reality of it.  Last week my dear friend Bob came over to bring down several dozen tons of trees for me to prepare, mostly for next winter and perhaps the one after that.  We already have more than half of what we need for this coming winter but I really want to get way ahead of future demands.  The local tradition is to enter every winter with two years’ worth of firewood in hand, and that is my goal as well.  Our objective for this cut was to select several trees that were either damaged or in the wrong place (I am trying to establish a cleared path to the southwest of the barn so I will no longer lose winter sun at 3PM), get them on the ground for me to work with, and emerged unscathed ourselves.  In two hours we accomplished all of the above.

Working with Bob is a great learning experience as he has been felling large timbers ever since he was a boy.  I am fine with cutting it up once it hits the ground, but I’ve heard there is unending paperwork if you drop a twenty ton tree on yourself so I defer to him in this enterprise.  He stands at the base of the tree looking at its trunk and crown, judging both the direction it would like to fall and the degree to which that trajectory can be altered.  Then he sets to work, back notching then felling the tree.  In every instance of the two dozen trees we (and by “we” I mean “he”) dropped it came down exactly where he wanted it to come down.

Now it is up to me to cut them into short bolts, process them with the hydraulic splitter, and stack them to season.  Starting next week I will begin filling the firewood crib and the front porch with a mountain of BTUs.

The most beautiful sound in the depths of winter is when Mrs. Barn remarks, “Hmm, kinda warm in here, isn’t it?”


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