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Election day!

Paul Sellers - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 7:22am

Journal entry Thursday 8th June 2017 Election day Nope! Not political choices, electing to do what you feel called to do with your life. I preach my own words to myself most days, “It’s not what you make but how!” I could write a book on this sentence alone. Perhaps no one would read it. …

Read the full post Election day! on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update 6/30/17 New Saw, New Sharpening Appliance

The Renaissance Woodworker - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 7:19am

A Few Tools I’ll Be Testing

This week I’m really just trying to get my wits about me after being out of town for a week. But I wanted to tease you with a few new tools that have come into my shop that I’ll be testing in the coming months.

Brian over at BearKatWood sent me a tiny dovetail saw that I have really enjoyed playing with on some recent overlay half blind dovetails. I’m looking forward to using it more in the future and will report back on how it stacks up.

Shawn at Wortheffort Woodworking sent me the prototype of his convenient sharpening appliance and I’m really excited about this, well, convenient sharpening set up. It uses 2 fine grits of sandpaper and a leather strop on a dead flat aluminum base. Very cool fit and finish and perfect for me this summer as I’ll be heading backto Maine in August and it will be great to take along such a simple and all inclusive honing tool.
Take a look at Shawn’s introductory video on this appliance

RWW Live is Next Week

Be there next Thursday night, 7/6, at 9 PM EDT where I’ll fire up the live stream and be answering questions. I haven’t done an entirely open format Q&A so who knows what will happen. Maybe we will end up talking about Charles Ives and what a truly visionary composer he was, or perhaps we can discuss the merits of click bait in your B2B marketing campaign, or maybe some woodworking stuff too!
Categories: Hand Tools

Nicholsons Off to a Good Start

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 6:09am


Yesterday was a blast. Mike and I met Robell yesterday morning at the shop and after visiting over coffee, we discussed the chicken scratch and doodles we called “plans” and pawed through the rough lumber we’d set aside for this project. The benches are designed around the material I had stacked and stickered in my yard so it took Mike and I a bit the other day to choose just the right pieces.

Mike and Robell cut the legs to length while I ripped out and planed the stretcher stock. We then planed the best face and two sides of the 4x6 legs and choose the orientation and position of the legs that looked best while avoiding placing mortises on knots. Because the tenons are 1” thick, we bored the waste with auger bits to final depth and then cleaned up the walls with chisels. Most of the mortising went smooth with the exception of a few surprise pin knots and a broken off screw inside one of Mike’s mortises. That’s the downside of using reclaimed lumber. He put a nice chip in his edge and then spent at least 15 minutes digging to pry the screw out out. Not the end of the world but definitely a nuisance.


We had two guys chopping mortises while the other cut the tenons on the stretchers. We all took turns at each task in order to keep it fresh. That is usually a risky idea because it’s easy to mix things up with all that changing around but we made it through without any mistakes.


Before Mike headed home, we were fitting the tenons into the mortises. I got one pair of legs fit before Robell and I called it quits for the day. The first day of a build is always a bit slow because of all the planning that needs to happen. Once things are in motion, though, it’s all smooth sailing. Today we’ll cut bridle joints at the top of the legs and glue and drawbore the leg units. Then we’ll look at fitting the side and top boards. At that point they’ll start to looking like workbenches!


Because they’re going to be built-ins, we aren’t going to do final assembly on these now. This means the pressure is off as we don’t have any specific goal for today. All the final assembly and fitting will happen later when they’re installed in the new shop. These two days with Robell are just about getting a really good head start on the project. After showing up this morning at the shop, everyone is enthusiastic and ready to go. It looks like it’s going to be another awesome day.


- Joshua


Categories: Hand Tools

Book Giveaway: Building Small

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 5:00am
Building Tiny Houses

This week’s book giveaway celebrates the release of a new book on building tiny houses and backyard buildings (from sheds to studios to recreational retreats). “Building Small” is written by David & Jeanie Stiles, who have authored numerous bestselling books on building sheds, cabins, workshops and other small structures. The book is a bit of an outlier for our category, but it’s filled with great fundamental building instructions that cover everything […]

The post Book Giveaway: Building Small appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

plane iron box pt II...........

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 12:49am
Earlier this week I bought a 3/16" and a 1/2" pigsticker, or so I thought. I looked at the order today and I saw that I had bought a 3/8" pigsticker instead of a 3/16" one.  I got the two of them today and I confirmed that I made a boo-boo. I have already emailed Jim and arranged to exchange the 3/8" one for the 3/16" one. Once I get that pigsticker I will done assembling my herd of them. Sharpening and honing is the next fun adventure.

the sandwich sans the glue

This how the box is going together. The only tricky part I foresee, is glue spill over getting where it shouldn't be and hardening.

the last steps
Once everything is glued together and set, I will saw it in two. The bottom part for the irons and the smaller top will the be cap.

the top cap part
The irons have to be proud of the lower part of the box. When I saw this apart The cut will be in the vicinity of the top of the spacers. The cap will have a recess in it to allow the tops of the irons to go into when the cap is put in place.

my reference corner
 The bottom left corner will be my reference corner and where I will do all my layout from.

first two strips laid on the reference corner
setting the spacers
I used a folded piece of paper to set my wiggle room for the irons. I let this set for a few minutes before I started the next one.

small bead down the middle
 I did it this way for the first two strips and got a bit of squeeze out on the edges.  I used the iron going in the space to clean out the squeeze out.

spread out
I got a lot less squeeze out doing it this way. What little I did get, I still cleaned out with the irons.

first part done
Checking to make sure the right side strip is square.

transferring the edge of the strip to the bottom
did the same for the top of the spacers
I will use these marks to saw the box out

something doesn't look right
The two outside strips are too long. They should be the same length as the iron spacers. I went with a long strip so the lid would line up  with the bottom. If I keep them I won't be able to put the lid on the irons. At least that is how I am perceiving this.

my first iron box
I think I am right. The two outside strips won't allow the lid to drop over the tops of the irons.

the trim keeps the lid in place

 I like this system and I want to repeat it on this iron box too.

removed the long ones just before glue fully set
I was able to remove the two long outside strips and glue in two pieces the same length as the iron spacers.

planed a bit off
 These long strips are the same width as the iron spacers. These will be used to make the two outside ends of the top.

why I shaved a wee bit off
I glued these in with the outside edges of the top and bottom strips in line. The top inside edge has been shaved a bit to allow some wiggle room on two outside irons and the top.

measuring for the inside of the lid  X marks the spot with no glue
a bit of gap
I planed the inside edge of the left one tapered. I will be putting a trim piece on this so it will be hidden.

sandwich glued and cooking
Tomorrow I will saw this apart and see if I got this right.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
If you have ameliorated something what have you done?
answer - made it better

Router mortise jig, part 2

Heartwood: Woodworking by Rob Porcaro - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 7:12pm
router mortise jig
Now let’s work through the elements of the jig. The top photo again shows an overall view with a leg blank in place. Basic construction: The jig is built on a piece of plywood about 5″ wide and 39″ long. Screwed down along one edge is a double-width T track with the groove placed up […] 0
Categories: Hand Tools


Oregon Woodworker - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 3:06pm
For some years, my wife and I have wanted a large slab table.  I made a douglas-fir base a long time ago, but I never could find a slab 36" wide at a price that was remotely reasonable.  That changed a few weeks ago when I saw a Craigslist listing by a guy with a small mill near me.  I drove up and was amazed at what he had.  First of all, he had a great dog:

He cuts the slabs on a chainsaw mill on steroids:  23 hp and a 6' cutting width.
 He has trees slabbed and neatly stacked with stickers everywhere you look.  Some of them were amazing, long wide slabs of maple that were almost completely burl, if you can imagine that.  However, I was after douglas-fir and he had lots of it.  I imposed on the guy to show me lots of them:

Finally, I found the one I wanted, 3" thick, 37" wide and 11' long.

Problem was, my pickup bed is only 6' long, just over 7' with the tailgate down and we had to go home on an interstate, but what the heck.  I hadn't really thought through what we would do when we got home with an approximately 300 lb. slab, so here's what we did.  We backed right up to my workbench:

Then we rolled if off on dowels:

I cut off 3' so the tabletop will be 8' long.  Never having tried to flatten anything anywhere near this big, I started with a scrub plane but it was just way too much for me, so I turned to some power tools:

Yup, that's a belt sander and a power planer.  I used them only for initial flattening.  Then I filled cracks and voids with epoxy and turned to planes and a cabinet scraper.  After quite a while, this is what I ended up with:

This picture doesn't convey how massive the slab is, so remember that you are looking at 24 sq. ft.!  It also doesn't reveal all the swirling grain around the knots, which is really beautiful.  I removed 3/8" of material, partly because it took me a while to figure out what I should be doing, so I am thinking that the final table top will end up around 2 3/8" thick.  It's not perfectly flat, but is within 1/32".  This is what I hope is the bottom of the table, but I don't know for sure because the slab is so heavy I can't turn it over to find out.  For that I am going to have to round up the neighbors.  Barely noticeable in the picture is that I sealed the end grain with paraffin by melting it and painting it on, which seems to be working.

This slab had been drying for over a year and feels quite dry, but it has a ways to go.  My plan is to flatten both sides and then let it dry in the garage for the summer months before resuming work on it in the fall.  That probably means I will have to do some more flattening but I have plenty of material.  I just felt like doing some work on it now.

The bark is all there and I have decided to keep it, so it's going to be challenging to figure out a way to finish it.  I put spray polyurethane on the bark of the alder coffee table I made and it is holding up, but the bark on this table will have a lot more contact with people and chairs.  The good news is that this bark is a lot stronger and more stable than the alder bark.  Over the summer I am going to try some experiments on scrap pieces of bark.  One thought I had is to thin epoxy and paint it on.  I've read that you can heat it up or dilute it with alcohol to thin it.
Categories: Hand Tools

The Technique of Woodwork

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 11:49am

FIG. 1. TYPICAL OPERATIONS SHOWING THE ADVANTAGES OF TAKING THE TOOL RIGHT THROUGH: A. Through groove worked with plough and stopped groove. B. Trenching taken right across and stopped trench. C. Use of plane on straight edge and edge with stops. D. Plain chamfer and one with stops

This is an excerpt from “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years: Volume II” published by Lost Art Press. 

The practical working of wood is largely based upon an extraordinarily simple fact; a fact which every man who goes in for woodwork, even in an elementary way, soon comes to discover for himself. This is that it is easier to take a tool right through than to stop it short—at any rate so far as hand tools are concerned. Men in the past found this out at a very early period, and traditional methods of construction have been based on and developed around this simple truth, but it is rediscovered daily by every man who picks up saw, plane, file, and so on.

Consider the number of times you experience this; how much easier it is to work a through groove than a stopped one; how simple it is to take a saw right across a piece of wood, but what a different proposition when it has to be stopped short as when sawing the sides of a stopped groove; how straightforward it is to plane an edge straight, yet what a nuisance it becomes when it is stopped at one (or both) ends and you cannot use the plane except at the middle (haven’t you been tempted to plane the edge straight and plant on the stops afterwards!); how a simple chamfer can be formed with the plane in a few seconds, but takes probably ten times as long when it is stopped; and so the list might be continued. These points are brought out in Fig. 1.

Of course, it does not follow from this that grooves are never stopped or that chamfers always go right through. Sometimes you cannot help yourself; possibly the one may be a constructional necessity, or the other so attractive a feature that it is worth the trouble involved. But there is no point in work for its own sake; it is much better to go about things in a simple way, especially when the involved method carries with it no corresponding advantage.


FIG. 2. DRAWER WITH SUSPENSION RUNNERS: Construction at A is faulty for hand work since plough cannot be taken right through. B and C are better

It is because of this that it is generally easy to tell whether a design is the work of a practical man; or, to take another aspect of the same thing, why a design by an artist invariably requires the cooperation of an experienced woodworker to convert it into terms of practical working. A simple example came to our notice recently. The sides of a drawer had to be grooved to fit suspension runners attached to the cabinet sides. They were shown stopped at the front as at A, Fig. 2. Surely no practical man would ever have given such a detail to be worked by hand when it would have been just as easy to arrange things as at C in which the plough could be taken right through before assembling the drawer. In fact the arrangement at B could have been followed, so enabling the runner to afford support almost to the extreme front.



This running-through business is of particular interest because it is largely peculiar to wood, and it is partly due to wood being a natural material which must be used in the form in which it is found (we are ignoring here made-up materials such as laminboard, plywood, etc.). Some materials (metal, plastics, etc.) can be cast or moulded, and projections and stops present no more difficulty than flat surfaces. With timber you fell the tree, convert the log, and then think in terms of so many straight pieces of material. Another point affecting the thing is that wood is comparatively soft so that you can set a metal cutter in a stock (that is, make a plane) and take off shavings, the device having the advantage of helping to make the work straight and true. But of course you have to be able to take the tool through without hindrance.

Perhaps a better appreciation of this point is to compare it with the method used by the stone mason. You cannot use a plane on stone; you have to chip it away with chisel and hammer. There is therefore no point in running through. If a mason has to work a moulding around, say, a window opening, he does not form the joint right at the mitre. Instead he carves a special corner stone as in Fig. 3, this having the two joining mouldings carved in it. Thus we see how a fundamental difference in methods of working has evolved a technique peculiar to the material, this basically affecting the design.



This brings us to an interesting point. The carver in wood uses tools and methods of working which are similar to those of the sculptor in stone. He uses gouges and chisels as distinct from the planes and ploughs of the joiner or  cabinet maker. Consequently the running-through idea does not apply to him. When therefore a wood carver makes a piece of woodwork he often carves it in the solid rather than joins pieces together, and the mitres of his mouldings are like those of the mason. In fact, the same idea is occasionally carried out in joinery in which a timber framing is used. In Fig. 4, for instance, the joint in the moulding is not on the mitre line, but runs straight across in line with the shoulder of the joint. Clearly the moulding plane could not be used on the uprights, and the corner would have to be cut by the carver. This joint is, in fact, known as the mason’s mitre, and the corresponding joiner’s mitre is given in Fig. 5.

It is an interesting thought that if the technique of woodwork had developed through the wood carver rather than the joiner, the mason’s mitre would probably have become the rule rather than the exception.

Meghan Bates

Filed under: Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker
Categories: Hand Tools

Elliptical Router Jig for Any Size Oval

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 10:30am

I love routers and this elliptical router jig makes me love them even more. I’ve made countless circles with router jigs over the years, but this simple jig for creating a multitude of oval shapes is slick. Ovals are tough because it’s a mathematical equation to get the shape correct. While I love routers, I’m not so fond of math. By creating an elliptical jig you take the math out […]

The post Elliptical Router Jig for Any Size Oval appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Why A Workshop of Our Own is a Necessity (and Needs Your Support)

Giant Cypress - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 8:48am
Why A Workshop of Our Own is a Necessity (and Needs Your Support):

Megan Fitzpatrick:

Right now, A Workshop of Our Own has the opportunity to buy the building in which it’s located – but time is short. The collective needs to raise $100,000 overall and there are five days remaining in the Indiegogo campaign. Not only will you be supporting a good and necessary step toward equality, you can get some cool stuff in return. Check out the rewards, check your checkbook, and see if you can’t find a few dollars to help.

I sent in a contribution a while back. I hope you all can do the same.

HANDWORK Magazine Out Now!

Journeyman's Journal - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 7:59am


It’s finally here a hand tool magazine for hand tool woodworkers.  First I would like to thank our contributing authors Brian Holcombe and Joshua Steven aka Mr. Chickadee for their great articles, I would also like to thank Christopher Schwarz for his suggestion and advice and above all you the readers who’ve said yes to this.  I never thought it was going to be easy but I didn’t think it would be this hard either.  HANDWORK is free just download from the link provided down below.  The link is through megasync, it free with no annoying time delays.

I’ve done the best I could with the limited knowledge I have of compiling a magazine, feel free to leave your comments.  I would really like to know if you’ve enjoyed it.  I know not many people like to leave comments, setting up a gravatar account is a pain.  So I’ve setup a poll just choose YES or NO.

Happy reading there is over 60 pages to read through, enjoy!

Take Our Poll (function(d,c,j){if(!d.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src='https://s1.wp.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/shortcodes/js/polldaddy-shortcode.js';s=d.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);} else if(typeof jQuery !=='undefined')jQuery(d.body).trigger('pd-script-load');}(document,'script','pd-polldaddy-loader'));



Handwork Vol.1 Issue 1

Categories: Hand Tools

Cathryn Peters, weaver of seats and baskets

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 7:34am
Voysey chair seat by Ruef Design

Bulrush seat for a Voysey two heart chair, one of the builds in the book I’m writing about English Arts and Crafts furniture for Popular Woodworking, scheduled for publication in May 2018. Cathryn Peters wove the seat earlier this year, so the rush still has its beautiful fresh colors. Photo by James Davis, Ruef Design http://www.ruef.com

When most people stop at a fast food restaurant, they run in and out without so much as a glance at the surrounding landscape – and that’s if they get out of their car at all; a high percentage place their order in the drive-through and sit there idling until they’re at the head of the line.

Cathryn Peters is different, at least when she visits her local McDonald’s in Cook, Minnesota. Peters doesn’t go there for the burgers. Her treat’s in a marshy spot behind the parking lot: bulrush.

Peters has been weaving seats since the 1970s, when her son was an infant. Thinking that she should have something constructive to do besides caring for the baby, her mother-in-law brought over a seat frame she wanted to have woven, along with rush weaving instructions from a magazine article and a pack of paper fibre rush. (The British spelling is used in the United States to differentiate the artificial paper material from the natural cattails and bulrush).

“My mother-in-law talked me into learning how to weave this seat using the instructions in the magazine article,” Peters says. The payment for the job was a walnut drop-leaf table from her mother-in-law’s home. “I got the better end of that deal for sure,” says Peters, looking back. “The chair seat I did looked horrible! It had a big hole in the center, there were overlapping strands and the gauge of paper rush was too small for the chair frame.”

peters first paper rush seat top

That first chair seat


In the 40-plus years since then, Peters has woven thousands of seats – some for new chairs, some for chairs undergoing repair, and some she bought for resale. She also weaves traditional baskets in a variety of materials and her signature antler baskets.

Although she has taken a few workshops in basketmaking, Peters is primarily self-taught at weaving seats. In the early years, pre-internet, she was able to get some direction from pamphlets provided by material suppliers. But most of her learning came from trial and error or from taking apart seats that were going to be rewoven to figure out the patterns.

In the mid-1980s The Caner’s Handbook by Bruce Miller and Jim Widess, The Craft of Chair Seat Weaving by George Sterns, and a few other books were published – an immense help to seat weavers across the country. Resources in print and online, many of them written by Peters herself, have proliferated since then.


Peters demonstrating her craft

A high point of Peters’s career came in 2006, when she was awarded a fellowship to study in England with basket maker and seat weaver Olivia Elton Barratt. Barratt was the President of the Basketmakers’ Association (BA) and was also installed that October as Prime Warden of Basketmakers in the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, a guild in existence since 1569.

During her ten-day fellowship and stay with Barratt, they traveled across the country meeting members of the Basketmakers’ and Seatweavers’ Association, of which Peters has been a member since the early 1990s. Barratt also taught Peters how to weave a bulrush boater’s hat at her home studio. They drove to see the harvesting of bulrush from the River Ouse with Felicity Irons, watch the weaving process of making willow coffins (if I were going to be buried, I would definitely want one of those — how cool!) and hot-air balloon gondolas at Somerset Willows, visit the Coats basketry museum, and to the Musgrove Willows farm to learn how cultured willow is grown and how buff willow and white willow are processed.

Peters weaves seats using a variety of natural and commercially prepared materials: natural bulrush, cattails, paper fibre, cane webbing, strand cane, Danish cord, rawhide, oak, ash and hickory bark splints.

Natural hand-twisted rush seats are woven with the round stalk, stems or strands of the bulrush plant, and cattails with the flat leaves. Both plants are just right for harvest between late August and September, when they have reached maximum height and the ends of the cattail leaves have turned brown. Peters harvests the natural bulrush and cattails from her rural northern Minnesota farm and the surrounding area.


With so many years of experience, Peters can weave a seat in far less time than it would take a beginner. The 15” seat for the hand-twisted bulrush Voysey chair would typically take her from six to eight hours to complete. After a couple of years, the fresh green and gold tones of the natural rush will fade to a nice, warm honey color.

If you’re interested in learning how to weave hole-to-hole cane and over-the-rail cane seats, Peters will be teaching a class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking on the weekend of Sept. 16 and 17, 2017.

The Wicker Woman®



Bulrush hat

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

‘Woodworker’ & ‘Woman’ are Separate Nouns

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 6:59am

I’ve been trying for weeks to write this editorial; it is difficult to do because my idealist view competes with reality. I have long been ambivalent about woodworking shops and classes specifically for women, because I don’t want them to be necessary. But they are. Also, I don’t want to seem as if I’m trying to be the voice of all woodworkers who happen to be women. No doubt our […]

The post ‘Woodworker’ & ‘Woman’ are Separate Nouns appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Mike Mascelli Talks Upholstery: Furniture & Automobile – 360w360 E.238

360 WoodWorking - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 4:10am
 Furniture & Automobile – 360w360 E.238

In this episode of 360 with 360WoodWorking, professional upholsterer Mike Mascelli talks about similarities and differences between furniture and car upholstery – you may be surprised to learn that timelines for changes do not run parallel. Plus, he pulls back the curtain on upholstery found in today’s furniture. Scary!

Join 360 Woodworking every Thursday for a lively discussion on everything from tools to techniques to wood selection (and more). Glen talks with various guests about all things woodworking and some things that are slightly off topic.

Continue reading Mike Mascelli Talks Upholstery: Furniture & Automobile – 360w360 E.238 at 360 WoodWorking.

12’ Built-in Nicholson Workbenches

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 3:28am


Today and tomorrow we have a guest working with us. Robell from Atlanta, Georgia is spending some time up here in Maine and offered his help with some projects around here.

Even though we’ve been working on the Tables video and a few conservation projects, the rest of this week we’re going take some time to build a few new benches. Yes, more benches. Two 12-foot benches, in fact. These are not destined for this 14’ x 17’ shop, though. They are being built for our new shop that will be raised this September. More on that later but for now just imagine 200-year-old hand-hewn chestnut. Yes. We’re excited. 

Today, we are going to begin building two English joiners’ (Nicholson) benches that will be eventually fastened to the shop walls. Many period shops had their benches built into the walls (Luther Sampson in Duxbury, Mass., Samuel Wing of Sandwich, Mass., et al.) This offers numerous advantages, not the least of which is space saving. These benches will be 12’ long to accommodate two people at each bench. We hope to be able to use these (along with other benches) to offer hand tool workshops in near future. If you picture yourself coming out to Mid Coast Maine for a 5-day hand-tool workshop, let us know what kinds of classes you would be most interested in.

I am heading out to meet the guys at the shop soon. How are three guys going to build two 12’ workbenches in a 230 sq ft room? I don’t know. I’ll report back at the end of the day to let you know how we fared.



Categories: Hand Tools

making a new iron box.......

Accidental Woodworker - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 12:55am

I should have been working on the bookcase but I took the wrong turn at the fork. I also thought I would have been able to whack this out tonight too. It's sad to say sports fans, but it didn't happen. Changing my mind twice didn't help but it is wednesday. I had to make a pit stop to get a loaf of bread and then put out the garbage when I got home. I guess was delusional thinking I might have got it done.

time to check my miter
Regardless of how this comes out, I am going to dovetail the corners. I will check this to see what this looks like.

off 90°
I had a couple of shims on the bed and now I now why (I took them out). These are both off 45° by a degree or so.

inside is off the same
Now that I am getting more comfortable with miters I'll save these two and see what I can do to get the donkeys ear jig calibrated.

1/8" plywood scraps
I can make the whole box out these pieces. The design I have in made isn't an original idea. This type of storage box I am making I've seen in old Stanley catalogs. Those were made of solid wood and mine is plywood.

doing the layout
I will probably keep one iron in the plane but I am going to make the box to hold all 5 irons. This was idea #1 which turned out to be toast. I was trying to figure out a positive/negative cutout to be the middle sleeve. I got lost trying to visualize it but mostly how to cut it out as one piece.

sawed out the ten parts
This was idea #2 and I kind of liked this. The idea was to glue all the strips to a backer except for the ones that represent the irons.

idea #3
I didn't like the different spacing between the irons so I made new ones all the same size. I need six so I made eight.

sawing the spacers to length
I like this
A strip at the bottom of the irons keeps them from falling out. I'll be placing them with the bevels at the top. If they are the other way the bevels will chew up the bottom strip.

shot all the spacers to the same length
Even though I used a stop to saw the spacers to length, they still came out different lengths. And I could see it. Now they are all the same.

it's basically a sandwich
I will glue the bottom strip and spacers onto one side of the box. Once that has set up I'll glue on the other side. Once the whole has set up, I'll saw off the lid. A couple of pieces of trim and it'll be done.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is nystagmus?
answer - rapid and uncontrollable movement of the eyes

Less Than Fancy Furniture

The Furniture Record - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 10:57pm

I spent last weekend in Winston Salem, NC at the Mid-Year Conference of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers (SAPFM) being held appropriately at the Museum of Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA). I was surrounded by fancy furniture and the people who curate fancy furniture and people who make fancy furniture.

There were two hours with no scheduled events on Friday. I assume this was to allow members to visit some of the other buildings and exhibits at Old Salem. Being a member and frequent visitor, I sought alternate ways to be informed and enlightened. There is an antiques mall just down the road that by design or happenstance is the best place for primitive furniture in the area.

I went.

There was much there that new and wonderous. There was this plantation desk:


A plantation desk, another flexible term with many definitions and no real meaning. Google it.

What makes this one unique is that it has been remodeled. A previous owner decided that the writing surface angle was not to their liking and modified it. They added a wedge of wood to change the angle.


Not elegant but functional.


The interior view isn’t any more satisfying.

I believe there is a chair under there:


I hope it wasn’t unique or one of a kind . We will never know.

There were two step back (stepback?) cupboards that caught my eye. First is this cupboard/pie safe:


An uncommon configuration.

The tins are interesting:


A touching image but I don’t believe the date is accurate.

The other cupboard is this Eastlake’esque unit:


The pediment and wood choices make me think Eastlake.

What makes this one interesting is the shelf support system:


Not saw tooth or dados but rounded shelf supports fitted into matching supports.

The supports are very easy to make. Take two 4″ wide boards and using your favorite hole installing device, drill a series of holes through the stacked boards on the centerline at an appropriate spacing. Then just rip the boards on the centerline and you have your four supports.


See how simple period furniture can be.

The back is rough boards just nailed on:


with an odd hole caused by a rodent or an individual wanting to plug in the mixer.

There was this very serious looking chair:


A chair I would prefer not to sit in.


Was this a commercial product of a user made product?

And a Boston rocker:


Or is it a waterfall rocker.

I have seen similar rockers called either Boston or waterfall and dissimilar chairs identified as Boston or waterfall. I still  think we need some federal regulations leading to a standardized set of furniture terminology and nomenclature. We would all be better for it but I do not believe anything so useful should be expected from the current Congress.

There needs to be some form of workbench at any antiques mall dealing in primitives:


Not much but it meet the requirement.

Here is a primitive settle or the back half of a tiny house:


Thos. Moser does not make one of these.

It’s been a while, but here is a woven gout rocker:


Rolling pin sold separately.




Router mortise jig, part 1

Heartwood: Woodworking by Rob Porcaro - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 10:41pm
router mortise jig
Here is a very direct approach to mortising with a router that works especially well for mortising legs. The system starts with an auxiliary router base plate that rests on top of the squared leg blank and has two adjustable fences that hug the sides of the blank to eliminate side play. I have been […] 0
Categories: Hand Tools

Chicago and the Great Lakes Lumber Trade

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 9:01pm

‘Les Docks des Charpentiers’ August 1885. Musée Franco-Américain de Blérancourt.

In a few days America will be celebrating Independence Day, and I thought a brief history of the Chicago and Great Lakes lumber trade in the 19th century would be in order. The Great Lakes region is one of our treasures, and Chicago is at the great heart of our country.

The opening lines of “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg:

“Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler,
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of Big Shoulders.”

As the great timber stands in the East were exhausted and settlers moved west new sources of pine and other woods were needed.

Source: U.S. Geological Survey

The dense forests and extensive waterways of the Great Lakes, especially Michigan and Wisconsin, became the source for the lumber needed to build the barns, fences, homes and businesses of the settlers. Chicago was perfectly situated on Lake Michigan to receive and distribute lumber by water and railroad links.

Chicago’s commercial lumber business started in 1833. But it was the opening of the Illinois & Michigan Canal in 1848 that transformed Chicago from a supplier for local markets into a national distribution center for lumber. And by the second half of the 19th century, Chicago was the world’s largest lumber trade market.

Map of the Canal (Chicago Historical Society). The canal at Summit, Illinois, in the 1840s (Illinois State Historical Society).

The canal ran from the Chicago River at Bridgeport to the Illinois River at LaSalle and opened a direct link to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. With this North-South water link, and later with railroad networks, Chicago became the world’s largest lumber trade market.

Wisconsin-Michigan map, 1844. Map collection of the University of Alabama.

This 1844 map shows the extensive network of drive-able streams and rivers that could be used to move lumber to mills on the coast of Lake Michigan before transport to Chicago by ship.

Log raft on the Wisconsin River, near the Wisconsin Dells, 1886. Wisconsin Historical Society.

As the forest cuts progressed further inland, and before narrow-track rail lines were introduced, loggers had to find faster means of moving logs to nearby waterways. When rail lines penetrated the forests, hardwood supplies to the Chicago yards were increased.

Winter sledding (Hartwick Pines Logging Museum). Big wheel rig for summer use (Michigan Archives).

In winter, logs were moved on paths with ruts for sled runners. The paths were sprinkled with water to keep the ruts iced. In the sled photo above, the number 7,225 marked on the topmost log is the number of board feet in the load. In 1875, the “big wheel” was invented by Silas Overpack, a carriage builder by trade. The big wheel came in three sizes from 12′ to 18′ high. Logs 12′-15′ long could be carried beneath the axle, and by lifting one end of the log it was easier to move them.


The junction of the Chicago River by Louts Kurzin, 1866 (Lewis Univ.). The location of the T.M. Avery Lumber Company (on the left in the drawing) is marked on the map.

Following are excerpts from “History of Chicago” (1886) by Alfred Theodore Andreas that describe the growth of the lumber trade within the city. He also describes the rise of hardwoods for the furniture trade, which is linked to the expansion of railroads from the Great Lakes states.

“In 1868 a movement was started to transfer the lumber business and yards to what has since been known as the New Lumber District. A series of canals was excavated by the South Branch Dock Company, extending from the River to Twenty-second Street, affording a dock front of twelve thousand five hundred feet, which, together with the river front adjoining, makes a total dock front of nearly three miles. These canals are one hundred feet wide, and were, at first, eleven or twelve feet deep; since then, they have been dredged to the depth of from twelve to fourteen feet.”

New Lumber District with canals between yards.

“The lots owned by the South Branch Dock Company were one hundred by two hundred forty-four feet in size, each having a dock and street front, and being furnished with a switch track connecting with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, thus placing them in direct connection with the entire railway system of the Northwest. These lots were rented to lumber dealers at ten dollars a foot per annum. In 1868, the lumber trade of Chicago reached the enormous proportion of nine hundred and ninety-four million feet, and this immense trade moved southward to the new district as rapidly as it could find accommodations. In the spring of 1869, about forty lumber firms were doing business, besides eight first-class planing mills.”

1876(?) map showing the location of the New Lumber District and canals off the South Branch of the Chicago River (blue) and a major rail head (red). Library of the University of Chicago.

“The increase in the amount of lumber handled in the Chicago yards became so great that a still further extension of facilities was imperative, and, in 1881, another district was added upon the South Branch of the river, extending from Thirty-fifth Street to the city limits at the Stock-Yards…Here, in 1884 occurred the first extensive conflagration originating in a Chicago lumber yard. This fire commenced in the yard of the Chicago Lumber Company, being ignited by a spark from a passing locomotive. It was not checked until twenty million feet of lumber and one hundred million shingles, aggregating in value about $400,000 had been consumed.” (In 2017 dollars the loss was about $9.4 million.)

From Harper’s Weekly, October 1883. The Newberry Library. Gadzooks!

“The use of hardwood lumber gradually increased with the establishment of manufacturing interests particularly that of furniture, and in 1885, the number of yards of this character increased to thirty, handling an average of about three hundred million feet of hardwood lumber annually, and carrying stocks averaging about forty-five million feet, embracing all varieties of native timber with a liberal supply of foreign woods. The volume of trade in this department comprises, at the present [1886], about one-sixth of the sum total of the lumber trade of the city, its supplies being drawn from nearly every one of the Western, Northwestern and Southern States.”


“The lumber yards of Chicago, in 1885,  if consolidated in one, and the lumber piled in a solid body, twenty feet in height, would probably occupy a space fully one mile square; but spread as the business is, through various parts of the city, it occupies a dock and stock frontage of probably twenty miles. In the transportation by lake, not far from five hundred sailing craft are employed, landing eight thousand cargoes a year. In addition, not less than thirty thousand railroad cars, averaging ten thousand feet a car, are employed in supplying the yards.”

When Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” was published in 1916, the city’s lumber trade was well past its peak. The great northern forest were near or at exhaustion point and even with a shift to tapping into southern supplies of yellow pine, made possible by rail transport, the economics of lumber distribution had changed. Rail transport had also made it more economical to ship lumber to nearby mills and specialized manufacturing plants rather than send it to Chicago for storage and further transport.

The Great Lakes lumber trade with Chicago at its center helped fueled immigration needed for the labor force, expansion of the railroads, innovation in the logging business and provided materials needed for our country to grow. Chicago was, and still is, our crossroads.

Currier and Ives map of 1874. The lumber yards and canals are marked with a red dot. Library of the University of Chicago.

If you enjoy reading old lumber business directories with statistics, ads and other sorts of miscellany you can find “Hotchkiss’ Lumbermans Directory of Chicago and the Northwest” of 1886 here. There is an option to download it as a pdf.

The gallery at the bottom  includes  some statistics on the lumber trade, a few more images, a short history of the T. M. Avery Lumber Company (seen in the drawing of the junction of the Chicago River above) and an account of a yard fire.

— Suzanne Ellison


Filed under: Historical Images, Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

Stanley wooden No.4

Journeyman's Journal - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 7:08pm

Dan Coffey made a stanley wooden smoother, it’s a novelty plane it can’t be used but would make a great gift for someone.  Check out these pics.  It’s not the best work but with a little effort you could make this to be an attractive piece.



Categories: Hand Tools


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