I like straight handled hacksaws better than the modern pistol grips so whenever I find one it seems to follow me home. The Millers Falls #26 seen above came in a boxlot of tools that I bought at a local auction.
I disassembled the saw and examined all the parts. After determining that all the parts were in good condition except for some rust it was time for de-rusting. The small parts went into EvapoRust and the bigger parts went into the electrolysis tank.
After the de-rusting process all the metal parts were cleaned up on a non-woven abrasive wheel. Most of the nickel plating on the frame was long gone. Having it re-plated was not an option because of the expense. If I had a dozen frames then nickel plating would have been cost effective. A high quality metallic silver paint was used instead.
The original handle was poorly designed, too small, and pretty cheap looking. So I turned a new handle from hickory. The pic above shows the new handle in the lathe ready for sanding.
The steel stud was pressed into the new handle and the hacksaw was assembled. As can be seen in the pic above the tool is now ready for another generation of use.
I can’t keep all the tools that I restore, though I would like to, so this hacksaw is for sale if anyone is interested.
As always, thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment.
The other day, my oldest daughter, K, was reading a book that suggested she make a “memory box,” essentially a decorated shoe box in which to store keepsakes. She mentioned the idea at the dinner table, and I asked if she would rather build it out of wood instead. She brightened up at the idea, so after dinner we went down to my lumber stash to find some suitable boards.
I just happened to have some leftover 105 wood siding on hand that made perfect sides. We also found wide boards for a top and bottom. We opted for a “Bible box” design, with the sides joined together with nailed rabbets.
She held the boards while I cut them to length. She helped split out the rabbets. She drilled the pilot holes for the cut nails, and she drove several of the nails in.
The 105 siding has a cove routed into the top, which is supposed to fit into a rabbet on the bottom. We found the rabbet very convenient for nailing in the bottom of the box.
When we were drilling the pilot holes for the nails, she kept trying to spin the eggbeater drill the wrong direction, as she’s a leftie. After a while, she blurted out, “Don’t they make drills for left-handed people?”
I paused, and then said, “Actually, they do.”
I reached into my tool chest and pulled out a little eggbeater drill, a Yankee 1530.
What’s special about this little drill is that it has five different settings:
She found it a little easier to use when I put it on the left-hand setting.
It took us a couple work sessions to get the whole box put together, and she still intends to paint it, but she and I are both happy with the result.
She doesn’t know it, but this will be a memory box in more ways than one.
Tagged: Bible box, cut nails, eggbeater drill, memory box, Yankee 1530
I did this exercise on pine, walnut, African mahogany, cherry, and oak. The African mahogany was the fussiest due to reversing grain (which is different from South American Mahogany, right Shannon?).
No, this isn't the suck-squeeze-bang-blow of a four-stroke engine. This is more like four strokes of a pool cue.
I've run into three schools of thought on how to make tenons (this also applies to lap joints):
- Should fit right off the saw.
- Get it as close as you can with the saw and pare or plane to adjust.
- Deliberately saw it fat by 1/16" and pare to the line with a chisel.
What really made me a believer was actually watching Phil do it during his SAPFM Seymour night stand demonstrations. He was fast and efficient, and his joints fit together beautifully. Yes, his 40 years of experience had something to do with that, but it was a convincing demonstration of the technique.
Most importantly, they are sharpened to a lower cutting angle: somewhere in the range of 20 to 25 degrees, as opposed to the typical 30 degrees for bench chisels. This allows a finer edge, but it's more delicate, so can't take heavy pounding. Naturally, this needs to be razor sharp.
The rings visible in freshly-shot end grain. They're concave with respect to the left face, and convex with respect to the right face, making that the bark side of the tree.
Use a length of pine about 2" wide. I know some people grumble that anyone can look good working pine, but I would say that's not true. Beginners should start with a wood that's not going to fight them so much, then move on to more challenging woods once they have some skills down.
Draw a line down one face of the piece just to mark your starting side. When you flip the piece to repeat with the other side, work on the side without the line. Alternate this way over a few practice sessions until you've used up the whole piece.
The tools and materials required, from top left: square, marking knife, crosscut backsaw, freshly sharpened paring chisel, marking gauge, pencil, bench hooks, and length of pine about 2" wide.
You need a sharp pencil point and sharp marking gauge pin. Marking consists of knifing a shoulder line across the face of the piece, then scribing a line along the sides and across the end grain with the marking gauge. Then darken the scribe line with the pencil so it's clearly visible.
The knife line serves two purposes. First, it cuts the outer layers of wood precisely for a clean, straight shoulder. Second, it creates a recess to set the edge of the chisel into, registering it precisely.
Similarly, the scribe line along each side provides a recess to drop the edge of the chisel into. Along the end grain, it serves as a visual reference for lining up and guiding the chisel.
Scribble two sides of the pencil tip on a scrap to form a chisel point that will fit in the marking gauge line.
Sharpen the marking gauge pin to produce a finer line and reduce dragging. Here I'm using a medium diamond stick.
Scribe a shoulder line across the face of the piece against the square. Use light pressure and repeated strokes to get a clean line about 1/32" deep.
The marking gauge is another one of those tools that people struggle with, because it's just a very unfamiliar implement. To use it, come in from each corner, don't run it off the corner. This ensures better contact of the gauge face to keep it registered properly.
Use firm pressure to press the face against the wood as you move it. Use light pressure on the pin, rolling the gauge so that the pin trails lightly along the wood. Don't try to mark a deep line at once. Use repeated passes to deepen it.
Often the grain will catch the pin and try to pull the gauge off track. The light pin pressure and firm face pressure help to counteract that; you can also tip the gauge the other way and move it in the opposite direction along the grain.
Set the gauge so it will mark a line about 1/16" or so from the face when referenced off the back of the piece. This 1/16" is the thickness of the material that you'll be paring off; it represents the last 1/16" of the tenon cheek to be removed when you're making a real tenon.
On the end grain, scribe up from the lower corner...
...and down from the upper corner. One the side, scribe back from the end corner.
Fit the chisel edge of the pencil in the scribe line and mark the sides and end.
This is the simplest step. Saw a rough shoulder line about 1/16" away from the knifed line in the waste. I say rough because this saw line doesn't need to be precise or fine. Just don't saw any deeper than the gauge line.
Crosscut a line to the depth of the scribed line. Use the tip of your thumb to guide the saw to the right position.
The resulting cut, 1/16" away from the knife line in the waste.
Now we come to the four strokes. Does it have to be exactly four? No, you may find some pieces take 6 or 8 because of the thickness, the grain characteristics, or the hardness of the wood. You may find some pieces are so easy to deal with they just need 2.
But the first two strokes are not precise. They allow you to thin down the paring and observe how the grain is behaving. The final two strokes are where you commit to your most careful work.
This is where the pool cue analogy comes in. You want to line up your shot, then take it, smoothly and with control. Or rather, line up your cut, then take it.
If hand pressure isn't sufficient, bump the end of the chisel handle forward with your palm. This should provide just enough impulse to start cutting, yet not enough to completely blow through the cut out the other side. You may need several successive bumps. None of the woods I tried needed more than this.
First stroke: line it up. Note the edge of the chisel is set about halfway through the total thickness to be removed. Sight down the length of the back of the chisel and line it up with the dark scribe line across the end grain.
First stroke: take it! Lean your body into it slightly as you apply hand pressure forward at the handle. Note how the chisel is gripped against the wood by the thumb, and the finger pinches the back of the wood, safely out of the cutting path. This keeps the chisel flat against the wood and applies braking control so that you can stop roughly halfway across.
Second stroke: line it up again at half the thickness, coming in from the other side.
Second stroke: take it! Ideally it should meet up with the first stroke. Pay attention to what the grain does for these two strokes so you know how to deal with it on the final strokes. Again, note the grip of the fingers and thumb holding the chisel flat against the wood.
This is where it all comes together. These last two strokes are where you need to bring all your skill and control to bear. This is a precision step. You'll set the chisel into the scribe lines on the side to place it at exactly the right position, then watch carefully as it splits the end grain scribe line, correcting the steering minutely as you go.
Third stroke: drop the chisel directly into the scribe line to position it exactly, line it up carefully with the end grain scribe line, then commit and take it! You know what to expect after the previous strokes.
Fourth stroke: drop the chisel into the scribe line, and you know the rest.
The resulting cheek face.
Checking And Correcting The Cheek
While you can do the whole job in four good strokes, things don't always go smoothly. The chisel may dive into the cut, or be deflected out. The wood may fracture and tear. Different woods will behave differently.
But hopefully the four strokes will leave a mostly flat surface, with just a few bumps or divots. There's nothing you can do about cuts that have removed too much, so it's better to err on the side of leaving high spots. They can be pared down flat with the rest.
To check the surface, run you fingers or thumb back and forth over it. They're very sensitive and can detect very small variations. To see where the high or low spots are, lay the flat back of your chisel across the face to see if it rocks or is out of parallel (this is like a winding stick).
With the back of the chisel laid across the surface, I can see a small high spot that acts as a pivot. Small as it is, it may affect the fit and alignment of a real tenon in its mortise.
The evil high spot is revealed! Plus another in the lower right.
Removing these spots is a delicate operation. Any extra material you remove beyond what's necessary will diminish the fit of the tenon.
Should you remove material around low spots to level the whole surface? NO! That's just making the whole tenon thinner and looser in the joint. Just live with the low spots. If you really have to, it is possible to shave the whole thing down, then glue on a new cheek piece and redo it.
To pare off the high spot, angle the chisel so it's taking a skewed cut across the grain, and use your thumb to push it sideways. Meanwhile, thumb and finger pressure keep the chisel firmly registered against the flat of the rest of the surface.
This final step makes the shoulder as precise as the face. Remember that knife line you made in the beginning? This is where you use it.
You'll set the chisel edge in the line and push forward to cut. Because this is end grain, rather than using the full width of the chisel to cut, use just the corner. That concentrates the pressure of the cut on just a small amount of material.
As you progress across the shoulder repeatedly cutting in with the corner, use the remainder of the chisel width to keep it registered flat on the shoulder. Between the dual registration actions of the knife line and the cut portion of the shoulder, you should get a good clean shoulder.
You also know that the very edge of the shoulder is straight and clean, because that was formed by the knife cut. Any deficiencies in your chisel work will be back from this line, hidden in the joint.
Make sure the chisel is cutting straight in, perpendicular to the cheek. If it angles up, the shoulder won't seat all the way in the mortise. Some people like to deliberately undercut the shoulder (chisel angled down just a bit) to avoid this.
If the corner of your chisel starts to dull, use the other corner and work from the other end of the shoulder.
Start paring from one end of the shoulder, using just the corner of the chisel. Set it in the knife line, push in to cut. Repeat this across the entire shoulder.
Pare across the flat surface to cut the last bit of cruft from the shoulder with the chisel corner.
The completed exercise.
Now repeat the exercise on the same face. Set the marking gauge another 1/16" in closer to the back of the piece and scribe around. Darken it with the pencil. Knife a new shoulder line 1/16" down from the existing shoulder. Saw down the existing shoulder to the depth of the scribe line.
Set the marking gauge 1/16" closer to the back of the piece and scribe registering off the back.
The next cycle knifed, scribed, and sawn.
The cheek face is now too large for the chisel to do it all at once, so I sawed another crosscut to divide it into two sections.
Alternative Hand Positions
Depending on how the wood is behaving and how much control you have, these are some other ways to do the work.
Alternate first stroke, without pinching the chisel flat to the wood.
Similarly with the second stroke, where you can rest your hand more on the workbench.
If the shoulder paring is resisting too much, start in with a skewed cut...
...then pivot the corner into the wood.
One Last Time
OK, I have just enough wood to do this one more time. It's useful to see just how far you can go and explore the limits of the material and the method. Once the pine gets this thin, it starts to flex and even cutting straight across the chisel can dive in and completely through.
Knifed, scribed, and sawn for the last cycle.
The paring chisel can take amazingly fine tiny end grain parings to level out the deep shoulder.
Now cut that piece off, flip the workpiece over, and repeat it all from the other side, with the growth rings oriented the other way.
The precisely-worked practice piece.
It doesn't take long to make great improvements in your chisel control this way. I verified that when I inflicted, um, tried it with one of my students. He had never used a chisel before and was having the same difficulties I saw other people have. Using this method he was able to produce a piece like the one in the photo above.
When applied to real joinery, this method (and a slight variation for mortises) produces slip fit joints to rival tenons cut with dado stack and mortises cut with mortising machines. You'll see that soon.
I bought an old saw a some time back and can’t work out what the indent at the end of some older handsaw is for. Can you help answer this?
About once a month or so I am asked this question and I always say that there are some good enough theories but most make no real practical sense for the simple reason that something more practical was around or the suggested use would not be something practiced enough for makers to build the feature into every saw for the few decades they were made. That said, there is no reason for not using what exists for a non intended use of it works well and here is a practical use I find works fine for me.
Measuring in the exact distance you want from the edge of a board or panel places the mark where you want it but the tape may not be rigid enough to hold a pencil against and pull the line like you would with say a square. Remember that this was the pre-tape measure era but straight rods and rulers were the common way.When the distance is more then the length of a square blade you can mark the distance and use the nib on the saw to pull the line as can be seen.
Mark the distance you need from the tape.
Place the indent nib next to the pencil mark and place the pencil in the recess.
Place the indent adjacent to the nib against the pencil.
Pinch the distance on the saw between the thumb and forefinger of the less dominant hand.
Pull the saw and pencil along the panel for a parallel line to saw to.
C. Eric Stoehr, Bonanza Victorian-Architecture and Society in Colorado Mining Towns, 1975
Those of you who follow my blog know that I work 7 months out of the year as a historic preservation carpenter for a government agency.
My latest project is working on a house that was built in the 1860's and it is need of some maintenance. I am replacing the worst pieces of siding, I've removed most of the sashes so that cracked lights can be replaced and re-glazed, and then I and another worker will scrape paint and prep the building so several volunteer groups can doing most of the painting.
This house is not stick built, it is really a log house! The timbers are hewed on 2 sides and joined at the corners with true dovetailed notches. The roof and attic are framed with full dimensioned lumber, the furring strips that hold the siding are also milled lumber. Whoever built this house was a highly skilled carpenter who knew how to use an axe. I haven't found out what the exact date of construction was, I was told 1860, I think it was a little later, because I don't think that there was a sawmill working in the vicinity that early. I'm guessing the construction date is closer to 1863-64.
To continue Mr. Stoehr's quote on the Greek Revival style:
Although no pure examples of the Greek Revival appear in these towns, a frontier adaptation of Greek detailing was present. The pedimental lintel used over the doorways and windows was a simple detail that could be added to the otherwise plain log and vernacular structures.
That statement fits this house to a "T"!
Just a little over a mile to the east of this house, there is a fancier Greek Revival house that has seven gables, it's a show piece of architecture for the little community it is part of.
I am grateful to be the lead carpenter on this sweet little house that others think is ugly, it is a wonderful part of our nation's heritage.
If you were involved in woodworking before 1970, you probably owned a rip saw, a crosscut saw, a small back saw, and a miter box saw. As far as “plate” saws, that was it. Those were the choices. And they were the tools that working carpenters and joiners used to earn a living. Small back saws, used for joinery (especially decorative sash work), were always delivered with a low fleam, meaning that they could be used for cross cut or rip work (dovetails). It may be the case that over the years a small back saw began to look like a “rip filed” saw, but only because it’s a helluva lot easier to file a rip tooth than it is one with fleam. And, sometimes, the path of least resistance is the one chosen by a man who has worked hard all the day and would like to get out of the shop and be off to slake his thirst.
Now there is a huge selection of handsaws available to the enthusiast. There are dovetail and tenon saws to suit every taste. Brass backed, resin spined, exotic wooden handles, it’s simply incredible, the selection that is available to today’s woodworker. I just don’t know how the “old guys” got along. Then I am reminded that I have numerous drivers that have promised me another five to ten yards on the golf course…and I hear Ben Hogan speaking from the past, “it’s never the arrow, it’s always the archer.”
In times past, most carpenters and joiners used rip saws for cutting tenon cheeks. Yes, that’s right! Panel saws, filed rip! The illustration above is from Ellis’ 1902 work, Modern Practical Joinery. The guy’s using a rip saw, a big rip saw to cut furniture tenons. The typical joiners tool chest would contain three or four “plate” saws, a coping and/or turning saw and, perhaps a compass saw. (And, if a carpenter was doing flooring work, he’d have a flooring saw.) That was it. A man depended on his skill and his imagination, not just his tools, to get the job done.
My sawing position is little different than the guy in the above photo. I would guess that I’m a foot taller (the result of enriched milk products) and my choice of panel saws is somewhat different. I’m using an Atkins 70 1/2 “Toolbox” saw, 7pt rip with a 20″ cutting edge. It’s a lovely little saw and it didn’t cost much, $15.00, at the outside. It has a little surface pitting, but that simply serves to reduce drag. It’s probably close to 100 years old and it’s as true as ever.
Atkins produced some very fine saws. In my opinion, every bit as good (if not better) than the Disston line. They touted the ergonomics of their handle, maintaining that the hand position of the sawyer was better placed to use the highest possible amount of available energy. Here we go again with the 5 to 10 yard thing. But it does “hang” remarkably well.
So a logical question to ask would be “can’t you cut closer to the line with a finer back saw”? Eh? Not so much. And remember that when you’re cutting tenons by hand you will be doing some fitting. You’ll be trimming tenons to thickness, usually with a plane, rasp or float. And, when using a backsaw, the “start” is critical as it establishes the line that the saw will track to. A panel saw can be “steered” and will allow for minor changes in direction.
Finally, here’s my point. Choose projects that intimidate you. Force yourself to master the tools you possess. Don’t fall into the trap of avoiding more difficult work until you buy that $10,000 sliding panel saw. Remember that much of the finest furniture ever built was created by men who stored ALL of their tools in one small tool box. Game On!
And yes, that is a Delta tenoning jig on the back bench. Not sure how it got there. But, when you’re in a hurry…
When I was first invited to make the trip to the 2014 Lie-Nielsen Open House, I could not believe my good fortune. I had no idea what to expect, but after talking with several friends about it, knew that I was in for a treat. I was not prepared, however, for just how lucky I was, and how special it would be.
For two days last week, Warren, ME felt like the center of the woodworking universe. That may be a bit of hyperbole, but the attendees, demonstrators, weather, food, and a common and binding interest did all coalesce to create an unforgettable event.
The mood was set when I pulled into the LN headquarters, several red and white buildings amongst the green Maine woods. I set up in their classroom, a delightfully timeless room with vaulted ceilings and large expanses of windows that admitted copious natural (and very dramatic) light, and spent the next two days taking in the highlights. There were so many of these that I could not possibly relate them all. These are but a few.
- Meeting a few of my customers and readers. It’s easy to wonder if anyone reads what I write, and so it never fails to surprise me when someone introduces themself and says “I read your …” Putting faces to names is always good, though I am not sure my readers share that sentiment.
- Meeting Frank Strazza. His work is amazingly precise, and he makes it look easy. If I ever make it to Texas, Heritage School of Woodworking is on my short list of places to visit.
- Watching Deneb Puchalski and Roger Benton (of ReCo Lumber) put on an impromptu dovetail demonstration. There is a video out there of this, and as soon as it is shared I will post it here.
- Using one of my Roubo frame saws to resaw a small piece of wood with Christian Becksvoort.
- Talking to Megan Fitzpatick again (my daughter is insanely jealous, as Megan is one of her heroes), and meeting Matt Kenney for the first time. It is obvious that both of them care deeply about the craft and their respective magazines.
- Meeting and talking with the Lie-Nielsen staff. Simply a great group of people.
- Peter Follansbee’s short presentation at the lobster bake. To call it captivating is an understatement.
In my rush to get on the road, I left my camera at home. I will not try your patience with my cell phone pictures, as there are many good pictures up on LN’s Facebook page, as well as the short video below (from the LN YouTube channel).
Thanks again to everyone who showed up to make this a memorable event, and especially to the Lie-Nielsen staff for all of their hard work in making it happen.
Ya know, saying “it’s all downhill from here” is probably something that a guy should never say. Like saying “traffic is really light today”, it invites a giant pile up and hours of delay. But, there, I already said it.
Cutting the pierced details on the table skirts was stressful. Overall I did a pretty good good job, but it’s amazing how your eye can pick out the tinniest little irregularity. I sawed “right on the line” when cutting these, but that meant that in come places I was just leaving the line and at the other end of the spectrum I was just erasing the line. That is a variance of .010″ to .015″ (about 1/64″), but it’s obvious to my eye. (and even with contacts my vision is still a little dicey).
So I did the best I could, and I’ll clean them up with a file and sandpaper and call it good enough.
First I sawed out the detail to match the first, more complex design.
Then I printed out the other two templates. I used the same approach of laying down blue tape first, then using spray adhesive to affix the the template. This works well, the whole mess peels off easily. I did a sample piece with just the template and spray adhesive and even after washing with acetone and scraping the wood is still gummy. I marked the locations for the end-drill reliefs, drilled the holes and was ready to roll.
I expected these to be easier to saw out — and they were — but straight lines really seem to show off any irregularities much worse than curves. I sawed them and didn’t fret (no pun intended) about undulations. Then I told them to the bench and did some hand work to try to true the cuts. I’ll probably do a little more fine tuning on the sawn reliefs when I go out in the shop this morning and look at them with fresh eyes, but I think these are close to being close enough. Maybe. What do you think?
After I deal with the cloud lift detail along the bottom I’ll sand the faces of the skirts and break the edges of the pierced areas, which will soften things up a bit.
I did a quick dry fit to see how things are looking, I think this is going to be nice when it’s finished.
Next, cloud lift detail on the skirts, water fall detail on the legs, rounding all of the edges and sanding. Once I get the base glued up I can make the table top with the breadboard ends and fit the lower shelf. Hopefully it won’t be too hot today to keep working.
In the above video I show a simple tutorial on how to make a wooden straight edge for traditional woodworking.
A straight edge is an essential measuring tool used when flattening & straightening your boards, and a perfect beginner’s project to hone your traditional hand tool woodworking skills!
WOODEN STRAIGHT EDGE vs. METAL STRAIGHT EDGE
Why would traditional woodworkers want to use a wooden straight edge when they can purchase precision-ground metal straight edges? While metal straight edges are useful, they simply don’t have the same advantages as a wooden straight edge. Why?
1. MORE REPAIRABLE: Wooden straight edges can easily be retrued or flattened if they are ever dropped or if they ever go out of true. Accidentally knocking a metal straight edge off your workbench is a death sentence to that tool.
2. LESS EXPENSIVE: Wooden straight edges are practically free to make (or very inexpensive). All you need is some good stable quartersawn hardwood. Good metal straight edges start off around $50 and shoot way higher than that.
3. LIGHTER: The wooden straight edges are quite lighter than metal straight edges, and don’t weight down your already-hefty tool chest.
4. SOFTER: It’s less likely that you’ll ding your workpiece with a wooden straight edge than with a metal straight edge. Believe me, the sharp corners of a metal straight edge can mess up a project.
5. MORE BEAUTIFUL: A wooden straight edge is much more beautiful to look at than a manufactured piece of metal.
6. MADE BY YOU: A tool made by you is much more special to you and your posterity than something that you purchased.
TOOLS THAT YOU’LL NEED
Even though I have a nice tool buying guide (here) I’m still often asked for links to the tools that I use in my videos, so here they are:
- Lie-Nielsen’s Tenon Rip Saw
- Lie-Nielsen cross cut back saw
- Chris Yonker’s 12″ bow saw on ebay or a simple coping saw like this.
- Lie-Nielsen low-angle Rabbet Block Plane
- Vintage Stanley No. 7 Jointer Plane
- Auriou course 10 grain / 9″ cabinet rasp
- Auriou 13 grain / 7″ modeler’s rasp
- Irwin Quick Grip Clamps
- Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil
1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT WOOD FOR A STRAIGHT EDGE
Stability is the most important factor when choosing wood for a straight edge. I recommend using well-seasoned (dried) 1/2″ or 3/4″ quartersawn hard wood. Quartersawn wood will have vertical grain…see the above photo’s vertical end grain. Notice how it runs straight up & down, and extends mostly straight down the face of the board. Also avoid any lumber that has knots.
Good wood species include beech wood (see above photo), walnut, hard maple, cherry, mahogany, etc.
2. DIMENSION THE WOOD
Use hand saws & hand planes to flatten, square up, & cut your board down to roughly 36″ long, 2-3″ wide, and around 1/2″ thick. Not sure how to square a board? See my tutorial. You can make your straight edge most any size, but the longer the straight edge is, the more accurate it will be.
Take special care to “true” the bottom edge of your straight edge. If it ever goes out of “truth” then use your jointer plane to bring it back.
3. CUT OUT THE PROFILE
You can leave your straight edge rectangular, but it will most likely get mistaken for scrap wood! So I add a nice profile. The profile can be whatever you want. Some people argue that adding an arc helps by exposing more end grain, thereby stabilizing the wood. I’ve heard debates on this subject, but I like the look of an arc so I do it anyway. In my video I show how to setup a simple template to draw a perfect arc on your straight edge:
I love to draw an ovolo on my arc (see below). I borrowed this design from renowned traditional woodworker Bill Anderson:
Cut the profile with a simple bow saw or coping saw. I use a tenon saw and a cross cut saw to make relief cuts prior to using the bow saw.
Then I use a sharp block plane to smooth out the curve. Keep your eyes on the curve that you drew, and make sure to not plane past it much.
A couple years ago, if you would have told me that I’d spend over $100 on a rasp, I’d laugh at you. Now I’ve purchased two at that price, and use them all the time. These Auriou French hand cut rasps make quick work of shaping profiles like this.
4. APPLY A FINISH
You can apply your favorite finish, but I prefer to keep with a more natural look rather than a “plastic” shiny finish (like Polyurethane). I typically use a traditional finish recipe (boiled linseed oil, beeswax, and turpentine) but lately I’ve been trying a surprisingly nice finish made by Minwax called “Antique Oil Finish“. Here is the best price I found.
I had originally thought that mass-produced finishes weren’t very desirable to traditional woodworkers, but was recommended to me by Bill Anderson. Larry Preuss, an expert plane maker from Michigan, recommended it to him.
Don’t worry about applying finish to the bottom “true” edge. You’ll eventually re-true the bottom. That’s it folks!
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Several tools used in shaping the handle: saw, 3/4″ chisel, spokeshave, rasp and file.
Where the fingers grab the handle I used a saw and chisel to remove the bulk of the wood. No photographs of this process, but here is a link to previous post (saw vise curves). For those of you who like using a coping saw that would work just as well.
The remainder of the shaping was a process of removing wood until the shape began to appear and smoothing until it is comfortable in my hand.
This is an experiment. I was recently putting in a materials order and I noticed in the ‘odds and ends’ department they had ¾” threaded maple dowel rod. For a few dollars per lineal foot, I thought it would be worth putting in the cart. When it arrived, I set out to build a double screw.
I grabbed two pieces of cherry I had laying around and drilled holes for the screws. First I drilled a pilot hole where the screws would go. This gave me my alignment between the two jaws. Then the outside jaw was drilled with a ¾” hole so it would free float on the screw. The inside jaw was then drilled about ¾ of the way through with a 1” forstner bit. Before breaking through, I switched to the ¾”bit to exit out the back just big enough for the screw.
The next day I turned a couple simple handles, bore out an oversized hole in the middle, and used epoxy putty to permanently attach the screw into them. (Don’t wax that end of the screw! ) I toothed the jaws of the vise for better grip and the next day I gave it a go. It works wonderfully. For small work, the ¾” screws are fine and because the threads are epoxy they are super strong.
This may all sound convoluted. I know if I were reading this, I would be saying, “Why don’t you just get a tap and die set?” The answer is: this was a quick and fun experiment and it’s a way to use materials laying around the shop to make something that works just as well (hopefully... this is an experiment, you know). I will be getting a tap and die in the near future but this was fun in the meantime. The second answer is that I am curious to see the holding power of epoxy internal threads as I imagine this being useful information for my conservation work.
Wood on wood is light, frictionless woodworking at its best and no metal-cast spokeshave offers anywhere near the senseasesiness to the hands of woodworkers than a wooden bodied spokeshave. There you go, it’s said and done. I was really raised on the Stanley and Record 150’s and 151’s and have used them all through my life.
My first time with the all wooden tang-type spokeshave shown here came at the same time and remains etched in my brain as an ever present physical impression of total harmony. Until this happens for you you can never understand why they were and are so ever popular for certain types of shaping work. Shaping and shaving a mahogany neck for a new guitar, a maple cello neck or carving out the four-foot outspread wings of a soaring eagle seems little more than peeling skin from an apple or a potato. The wooden spokeshave can still be had from secondhand tool dealers and of course eBay fairly easily and inexpensively but there are no guarantees until you have it in your hand and can actually test it out on your own wood.
Above you can see a well-used traditional tanged spokeshave showing the wear that occurs when used on narrow work. This still has many decades of use for my work.
Things can and do go wrong, and several things make this type of spokeshave work or work not, but usually you will be able to tell if they are neglected by the images provided. Two woods make the best spokeshaves and were indeed the most commonly used, beech and boxwood. These two woods resisted wear well and left no marks on the wood being worked.
Several years ago I bought some Veritas kit components (shown above) for making spokeshaves with. I wasn’t sure if the results of these would give me the same feel as the twin tanged ones shown higher but, thankfully, I was satisfied they were close enough to the traditional models for me to recommend anyone to go ahead and make them. Since then I have bought them to teach others how to make and use them in classes on tool making I used to hold in the USA..
Adding the brass wear plate defies the lightness of use by introducing friction. It’s the choice you make determined by what you will use the tool for. I have both. I found it better to use it without and then repair as needed as shown here. The reason for the change of wood to maple was the Padauk I used leaves red marks on light coloured woods.
Here shows the repaired padauk spokeshave
These brass adjusters give very precise setting to the cutting iron in relation to the wood or brass forepart to the sole. The instructions come with the fitments you buy as a kit from Veritas but you should not hesitate to consider other shapes that you might want if customising handles and such. This is an interesting all-day project and everyone interested in owning a good wooden spokeshave should set aside time to make one.
Also, I am looking forward to the time their designers come out with a similar kit for a chair travisher.
There’s more to be said on wooden spokeshaves, much more, but we can save that for another day.
We had a terrific day creating parquetry panels in The Barn today. Joe and Josh were on the spot at 9 AM sharp, and after introductions all around we got to work. I quickly reviewed all the materials, processes, and tools, and within minutes we were underway. First, they glued up sawing jigs. A bit later we layed out and sawed the kerfs for these bench-hook style tools. I will blog about this process on Monday night. Then, we moved on to creating sawn veneer strips with my min-bandsaw, which is pretty much dedicated to sawing veneer for parquetry these days. Joshua opted for some of my vintage and tight grained Bald Cypress, and Joe brought a piece of superb true mahogany. We ran it through the planer quickly to verify planarity, then sawed it up with the bandsaw. The we got to cutting parallelograms for the assembled pattern. And sawed. And sawed. It takes a pile o’ lozenges to create a completed pattern. After lunch I reviewed the working system for assembling the pattern (about which I will be blogging later next week) then fired up the glue pots and we were off to the races. All three of us were creating parquetry panels; Joe and Josh were making small table tops, and I was working on one of four panels for an upcoming tool cabinet. By the end of the day each of us had completed the “field” of the panel we were creating. All in all, a very good day.
In the review, Deutsch writes:
“The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” is not your average beginner’s book, and its author is not your average seasoned woodworker…. Schwarz’s writing style is unlike what you’ll find in any other woodworking reference. He speaks to you in a friendly and frank nature. It’s as if this book is his diary or a long correspondence to a personal friend.
While I don’t always agree with Schwarz’s approach, I feel this book should be standard reading for anyone who hopes to one day to call themselves a woodworker.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: The Anarchist's Tool Chest
I'm just starting to make a small coffee / side table from some lovely English Walnut. After trimming and flattening the board ended up 42" x 16" x 1 1/2" thick. There were knots and cracks on both sides which I filled and stabilised with a fair amount of Epoxy resin.
The shot below shows the first flood coat of oil which shows the beauty of this fine board. It would be nice to continue the hand rubbed oil finish but the epoxy will stand out as a shiny patch. So it will be finished with three coats of matt Osmo Hardwax oil which will build up and harmonise the sheen as well as providing good protection.
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