Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway! Enjoy!
This morning Chris Schwarz emailed me the complete set of page proofs from VIRTUOSO: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley for my review. I am nearly lightheaded with delight.
Forgive me while I crawl into my easy chair and spend the evening ogling the book with a red pen in hand.
I don’t give names to my pieces of furniture. I have nothing against people who do, but it’s just not my thing. But sometimes a piece of furniture reminds me of someone as I’m building it. When I look at this backstool I can think only of Joe Kent Wagg.
For three years I attended a Lutheran school that was populated by a volatile mix of smart kids, token charity cases and trouble-makers. In fourth grade, our resident bully was Joe, who was older, bigger and had questionable dental hygiene.
I was the kid with a bowl haircut, glasses and a smart mouth, so naturally Joe had it in for me on the playground. Thanks to Joe I learned a lot about scuffling, chewing dirt and hiding in the bushes – all valuable skills in the corporate world.
While Joe ruled recess, he struggled in school. He would get out of his seat several times a day and sprint around the classroom. Eventually the teacher brought a roll of duct tape to class and adhered him to his chair by wrapping his midsection to the chair’s back.
This did not stop him. Partially mummified, he would tip backward in his chair all day, a clear violation of school rules.
So the teacher taped him to a chair that with casters on the feet. When Joe tipped back, he would fall on the floor like a crippled turtle unable to get upright.
We were commanded to ignore him, and Joe was left on the floor for what seemed like hours.
I think it was that day that I started to have a problem with authority.
So Joe, this three-legged backstool is for you.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
Here’s your chance to buy a completely finished and fitted Anarchist’s Tool Chest that is chock full of premium hand tools (more than $8,300 worth) – and help a great woodworking school in the process.
Here’s the story: Last summer I taught my first class in England for the New English Workshop, which was held at the shops at Warwickshire College. As a way to give back to the next generation of woodworkers, Paul Mayon and Derek Jones of New English Workshop completed and finished the tool chest I built (very nicely, I might add). Then a bunch of generous toolmakers donated a load of premium hand tools to put in the chest.
On March 28, 2015, the chest and its contents will be auctioned off by David Stanley Auctions and all proceeds will be donated to Warwickshire College, which offers an excellent furniture program. You do not need to be in England to bid on the chest – David Stanley accepts internet bids and can ship the chest if need be. Check the David Stanley auction site for details.
The chest is finished exactly like the one in the book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” including the sliding trays and black-over-red paint job. The chest is signed by me and all the students who participated in the class.
The list of tools is nothing short of amazing. Here’s a list of the tools, who donated then and the value in English dollars. Check it:
Ashley Isles MKII bevel edge cabinetmakers chisels x 6, donated by Workshop Heaven, £133
Aurio Rasps x 3, donated by Classic Hand Tools, £252
Bad Axe Sash Saw 14” 12ppi Hybrid, donated by Bad Axe Tool Works, £186
Blum Tool Company #5 ½ Mesquite Jack Plane, donated by Blum Tool Company, £210
David Barron 9-1/2” lignum vitae smoothing plane, donated by David Barron, £175
Classic Bow saw 400mm Turbo Cut, donated by anonymous, £56
Chris Pye carving chisels set of 11, donated by Classic Hand Tools, £290
Clifton #4-1/2 Heavy Smoothing Plane, Donated by Clico, £310
Czeck Edge Kerf Kadet II Marking Knife, donated by Czeck Edge, £35
Karl Holtey #10 Mitre Plane, donated by Karl Holtey, £2,000
Jeff Hamilton 5” Lignum Vitae marking gauge, donated by Jeff Hamilton, £65
Veritas 10” Sliding Bevel, donated by Lee Valley Tools, £39
Lee Valley 12” Dividers, donated by Lee Valley, £18
Veritas Medium Shoulder Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £200
Lee Valley set 5 parallel tip screwdrivers, donated by Lee Valley, £30
Veritas Small Plough Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £200
Veritas Router Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £170
Veritas Low Angle jack Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £295
Pax 1776 10” Dovetail Saw 20tpi with pear handle, donated by Peter Sefton, £120
Philly Planes Coffin Smoother, English Box, Donated by Philly Planes, £215
Sterling Tool Works Saddle Tail, donated by Sterling Tool Works LLC, £70
Rob Stoakley Japanese panel gauge, donated by Rob Stoakley, £150
Texas Heritage Waxed Canvas Chisel Roll, donated by Texas Heritage Woodworks, £69
Workshop Heaven Ultimate Hand Brace, donated by Workshop Heaven, £64
Workshop Heaven Maple & Apple mallet, donated by Workshop Heaven, £45
So sell a hock a couple kidneys and perhaps a spleen. It’s all to support the next generation of aspiring young woodworkers.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: The Anarchist's Tool Chest, Woodworking Classes
Jeff Murray, a reader of the blog from Greenwood, Indiana got in touch about John Moseley moulding planes. Moseley planes are also a favourite of mine. They are very well-made 19thc planes with sharp boxing and a nice wedges. Jeff talked about using the Moseley design when he made his own half-set. The pic below shows Jeff’s plane (top) with one of his vintage Moseley’s below.
I’ve read quite a bit about the techiniques involved in making your own hollows and rounds, but Jeff makes it sound very easy. I’m sure it’s not quite easy as he makes it sound, but here are some notes he sent to me. Jeff reckons on around $8 apiece for making a moulding plane and about 5 hours to make them himself, instead of $200+ to buy them new.
I started out to make maybe 3 sets of hollows and rounds, but ended up making a half set minus the #4 hollow of John Moseley and 2 snipes bill boxed with osage orange. I don’t recommend anyone use osage for boxing because it is really gnarly, but it did succumb to sandpaper. I am planning on making a few side beads and a set of side rounds. I have a number of irons that I got off of eBay, but I’m not reluctant to make my own irons, which I did during the construction of the half set of moulding planes.
It isn’t as difficult as one might imagine to make a moulding plane. I bought a DVD by Tod Herrli on making moulding planes, however he does a few things that require extra work. For instance, he marks all of his layout lines on the beech blank and cuts half of them off only to redraw them. There are a few other things that he does that are a bit unusual also. I got a few pointers from his DVDS, but ended up with using my own methods when they made more sense.
The moulding planes were really neat to make especially since I made 11 of the irons from scratch using an angle grinder. Believe me, my angle grinding skills greatly improvided by doing this. I cut out the blanks and tapered them with the angle grinder and then used files to finish them. The total cost of materials was $144 to make 17 moulding planes and 2 snipes bills. The hardest thing to make on the moulding plane is the tapered mortise and that isn’t all that difficult. In fact that is probably 75% of the work. The “blacksmithing” isn’t that difficult either because you are working with relatively small parts. My blacksmithing consists of a propane torch, a metal container of motor oil to harden the irons and finally a toaster oven or regular oven to temper.
(The pics below show the progress of a pair of side snipes.)
You might notice that the boxing is protruding out both ends of the plane. This feature allows me to do a final trimming to make the plane a “perfect length”. The boxing that I used was Osage Orange, native to North America, a very hard, bright orange wood and capable of receiving a fine polish and with a speciic gravity of 773,6 kg/m3. I used this because I just happened some and thought that it would make a good boxing material. However, I don’t recommend it because the grain twisted and turns and is hard to machine. It does however behave when sanded. The final edge was 0.015 inches (0.38 mm) and using 1000 grit sandpaper, wrapped around a dowel, I was able to produce a mirror like surface.
In the video by Todd Herrli, he advocates using laminated stock for the body of the planes and if you do some research, you will find that this isn’t recommended. The theory is that the wood won’t properly breathe because the glue layer impedes the moisture and this can cause cracking or splitting. So I stayed with the quarter sawn solid beech that has been the tried and true method for a couple of centuries or so. As I said before, he also marks his layout lines on his stock and then planes half of them off just to then redo them, which seems like a waste of time in my opinion. Todd’s video does have some good information about making the irons, from shaping to the hardening and tempering process.
I thought that might like to see the picture is my high precision jig for tapering the iron. You can see that this scrap piece of lumber was previously used as a backer board for drilling through holes and probably a couple of other things. This is one of the irons that I cut out of a piece of tool steel with a cut off wheel on my angle grinder and then changed to a grinding wheel to taper the tang. I used water to occasionally cool the steel when it started to discolor. “Bluing” of the iron is of no consequence at this point in the process, that can all be taken out when it is hand filed to the final shape.
I’m a little curious about the screw heads and how they played a role in construction. I didn’t notice them when I picked them up at the sandblasters, can’t play with them now that the paint is on. The inscription is W&P M14. The curves of the second set capture my eye and even include grease nipples, although I’m sure they will need to be replaced after being blasted and painted.
Spock: science officer, first officer and subsequently commander of the Enterprise, Federation ambassador, and builder of giant pole lathes.
|woodpecker miter clamps|
|four mating pieces are dead nuts also|
|so while the hide glue warmed up....|
|cut a couple small pieces to miter and shoot on the shooting board|
|roughly 1/2 as wide as frame #3|
|dry clamped is looking pretty good|
|clamped tight and it's still closed up and not open at the toe or heel|
|frame#3 dry fitted and it's tight|
|dead nuts 90 according to Mr Starrett|
|a bit loose|
|waxed the frame and panel before glue up|
|the PITA glue up|
|finally clamped up|
Then it went by the furnace to cook until tomorrow. I'll have to wait until then to see how well the hide glue is holding the miters together. If that is ok I can cut and add the splines and those will help to beef up the miters.
|the bridle joint lid is too small|
|almost a 1/16 on the opposite side|
|slight skew in the lid with the back flush|
|the box is square on all 4 corners|
|the lid is slightly out of square|
|add a filler to the back?|
In the United States a Red Cap is a baggage porter and a Redcap in England is?
answer - a Military Policeman
We live about and hour away from the self-proclaimed Furniture Capital of the World, High Point, NC. This claim is based partially on being what was the major furniture manufacturing center of North Carolina and partially on the twice-yearly furniture market (open to the trade), one of the largest around. Furniture making has moved away (some of it very far away) and Las Vegas is gunning for the furniture market. Yet they soldier on.
In the nearby town of Jamestown (metro High Point?) is the self-proclaimed largest furniture store. (Lots of self-proclamations in North Carolina.) At 1.3 million square feet, who am I to argue? My wife and I tend to view it as 1.3 million square feet of ugly furniture.
Ugly is a bit of a strong word. Not meeting our sense of aesthetics might be a more appropriate way to phrase it. There is some Shaker-esque furniture we almost like. What we have found is that for the money one can buy antiques or have something built by one of the area custom furniture makers. Let’s keep the money local.
There is one piece of furniture there that has continued to impress me (favorably) over the years. But like many things that impress, I have no desire to own it. I’m not sure where I’d put it.
At 85′, it needs just the right room.
That’s the second largest claw and ball foot I’ve ever seen (with apologies to Buck Henry and Mel Brooks (extra credit if you get the reference)):
Can you imagine Mary May (or Chuck Bender) out there with a chainsaw carving this one.
Of course, the drawers are all dovetailed. I would love to show you but their JLG lift was unavailable.
You can read an article about it HERE.
Somewhere in High Point is the 42′, world’s largest (freestanding) dresser. When I find it, I’ll let you know.
This week we have made a lot of changes to how we make and ship the things we sell.
First: All books now ship via FedEx’s SmartPost service. SmartPost uses FedEx to move our books across the country, and a local USPS carrier to take it the last leg to your door. The service is reliable, the packages are tracked and you can expect delivery in 5-7 days from when your order ships. We switched to SmartPost because USPS’s Media Mail service collapsed last fall during the holiday shipping season.
Second: We now offer international shipping to many countries on books and apparel. To be honest, shipping books internationally is crazy-expensive. You will be better off buying our books from one of our international retailers. However, sending apparel across the globe is actually quite reasonable. And that’s because….
Third: We have changed how we make T-shirts and hats. Until now we made T-shirts and hats in large batches that sat in John’s office until you ordered one. We had to print about 100 to 200 shirts at a time, and we usually lost our own shirts on the deal.
We now use a fulfillment service in California to print and ship our U.S.-made shirts and U.S.-made hats worldwide. The shirts are the same (American Apparel), as are the hats (Bayside). The print quality is better than we were getting in Indiana. They are in a wider range of sizes – XS to 3XL. And the packaging is fantastic.
So now when you order a shirt or hat from a store, our fulfillment service prints the shirt or embroiders the hat and sends it to you, anywhere in the world.
We will soon be able to offer many of our old T-shirt designs (and additional new ones) very easily with this service. So you should soon be able to get the shirt you always wanted.
Incidentally, we make these shirts and hats for fun, not for profit. We make almost nothing on apparel. So on that note, I’m headed back to editing some books.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Products We Sell
The Tormek BGM-100 kit is worth the money, it has everything you need except the ply:
Green woodworking. It's a term that's batted around quite a bit nowadays. Trouble is, what does it really mean?
Yes, in general the term refers to working wood while its still "green" or wet. But what I never had a clear idea on was the exact reason to work it wet. Maybe I'm thick. Or maybe the literature out there didn't give a clear reason why.
Back when I was cutting my teeth on serious woodworking, I'd read up on every aspect of the craft. Langsner, Alexander, Dunbar, among others. But none of it stuck with me, so I ventured down the road paved with kiln-dried planks and started building stuff. But what about chairs? They were a sort of mystery in my early days. Sure, I could use my skills to build them with kiln dried woods and furniture joints, but as I got more interested in making them, I discovered Galbert and couldn't get images of his work out of my head. Can't make those with planks of wood from the lumberyard. Or could I? When I bought two stick chairs from Chris Schwarz and asked how he got the stock, his answer sort of shocked me. "It's just regular lumber." I knew he'd studied with professional chair makers, so his answer carried some weight.
I decided it was time to take decisive action, decidedly. A week-long, intensive class with Galbert cemented the principles in my mind, and it's affected my woodworking much like the first instrument I built. My woodwork will never be the same.
Here's why you work green wood. It's easy. That's it. There's nothing more to it than that. There's no magic in the moisture. There's no mojo in the medullary. If there's a single reason to build stuff out of green wood is that you can, with a tiny, cheap tool kit, get furniture parts from a tree. And not rustic furniture parts either, but the best furniture parts. You are your own sawmill.
And if you think you have to split green wood because it gets you strong parts, well, that's mostly true, but it's also not entirely accurate. One thing I learned from luthiery is how soundboards are produced. Chair parts need to be strong. But you know what else needs to be incredibly strong? The soundboard on an oud or lute. See, on a typical oud (or again, most any lute) the soundboard is made of spruce that is only about 1/16"-3/32" thick. This isn't oak mind you, its a soft wood. To the soundboard is glued the bridge, to which is tied 11 strings, which when brought to pitch exert over 100 pounds of constant, unrelenting, levering tension through the bridge and the glue-only joint (no pins, tenons, or joinery of any sort) to the soundboard. And if that soundboard has any grain runout, if the grain lines don't flow virtually uninterrupted from the bottom of the sound box to the neck, it will fail. The bridge will find the exiting tubes of lignin and rip a hole in the face in a violent, explosive instant. Bam! And the crowd goes wild. So how are soundboards produced? By sawing. The spruce logs are first split, then each soundboard is sawn from the split face to keep runout to an absolute minimum. The same principle can apply to harvesting chair parts from straight, sawn boards.
Here's the other thing I learned about chair joints from Galbert that took away all of my past frustration. There is no such thing as a dry piece going into a wet piece. This always threw me for a loop. How do you stage parts? How do you keep them "wet?" Do you have to make a chair in a certain amount of time? Do you have to build a whole dining room full of chairs in a week before the legs dry out? The answer is no, because no matter what you do in your shop, a nearly finished chair part can sit in storage for years and still become part of a perfect chair joint. And that's because you're joining a dry part to a super-dry part. And the beauty of all this is, you control when the super-dry part becomes super-dry. It's all in your control. I think of my drying kiln as a shrinking machine. It makes stuff smaller, then it gets bigger when I remove it from the kiln (but not immediately.) That lets me make tenons that can't, under any circumstances, shrink and become loose, unless I put the entire finished chair back in the kiln. I shape the tenon when its in its shrunken state. After it hits glue and lives in the non-kiln environment, it gets bigger. Forever. For me, this was the key that unlocked the understanding of how green woodworking relates to how chairs are joined. Theoretically, you could process enough chair parts for the rest of your life while they are green (again for ease of work) then store them in your shop and build chairs with them at your leisure. When I figured this out, I realized that one could use dry wood, even well-sawn straight-grain lumber and extract chair parts successfully from the planks. Remember Schwarz: "it's just regular lumber." Of course there is a bit more to it than that, but at its core, this is it.
This info was transmitted to me by Pete during our class. But you don't have to take a class with Pete (although I highly recommend it) to get access to his savant-like knowledge of this craft. His new work, Chairmaker's Notebook published by Lost Art Press is now available. I've been reading the PDF for a couple weeks now, and have come to a conclusion. This book isn't about chair making. It's woodworking Kung Fu.
Even if you don't plan to make a chair, this is the #1 book on how a tree is put together, and how best to take it apart.
I am earnestly trying to wrap up some frayed threads in the blog posts, and this one and two more will complete the tutorial on simple parquetry, which I will combine, edit, and post as a downloadable document.
Once the parquetry composition has been assembled such that the area completed is larger than the field of the composition as it will be presented on the panel, the time has come to trim it to the exact size you want. But before that, you have to decide exactly how large you want the central field of the parquetry panel. I tend to work my way in from the edges of the panel as determined by the sizes and proportions of the furniture on which it will reside, then subtract a symmetrical border and a symmetrical banding.
Once I have done that, I simply re-establish the center lines of the parquetry assemblage and precisely mark out its perimeter, and saw it with any of the veneer saws mentioned earlier. The desired end result is a rectangular and symmetrical composition. Once I have the field trimmed to the proper size, I re-mount the unit on a second, larger sheet of kraft paper using hot glue. It need be adhered only at the perimeter.
I tend to make my own banding, frequently making a simple stack of veneer faces with slightly thicker centers, assembled and glued between two cauls until they are set. Then I just rip of as many pieces of banding as the assembled block can yield.
Once the banding is available, I cut them then trim the ends with a plane and miter shooting jig. Once the first piece is ready to apply, I place the entire composition on a large board with a corked surface. Then just like Roubo, I glue the banding down on top of this second piece of kraft paper, tight against the cut edge of the field, and “clamp” it in place with push pins, similar to those illustrated by Roubo. By the time I get all the way around the perimeter of the field, cutting then trimming each of the banding pieces, the piece is ready to set aside for a bit.
For the outer border, I tend to use a simple approach, often employing some of the original veneer stock in either the long-grain or cross grain orientation.
Once the banding is set I remove the pins then hammer veneer the borders in place, and the assembling of the parquetry panel is complete.
Up next – Gluing Down the Parquetry
Most of you know that I am not a big fan of honing back bevels on plane irons. I believe that many inexperienced plane users allow themselves to be mislead, thinking that a back angle (bevel) is going to be some type of magic pill. But after a crafts person is sufficiently confident in their ability to sharpen and maintain appropriate cutting geometry, the use of a back bevel can be very beneficial.
Several days ago I was working in my friend, Les’, shop. He asked me if I’d take a look at his L-N #4 that he had set up with a York pitch (50°) frog. He wasn’t very happy with the surface he was getting on a piece of cherry stock. The stock was not particularly gnarly, but there was a grain direction change, right in the middle. The iron was the same that had been removed from the Common pitch (45°) frog. Les, who is always meticulous about the condition of edge tools, said that he believed the iron was sharp. But I, “doubting Thomas” that I am, suggested that we test the edge. Sure enough, the iron sliced a piece of unsupported paper easily. Next, it trimmed a neat bare patch on the back of my forearm. But upon closer inspection under a loop, it was clear that there were some tiny edge fractures present.
Cogitation began. Increasing the pitch angle of a bench plane (bevel down), supposedly increases the tool’s ability to work in very dense and/or highly figured stock. Obviously, either condition is a challenge to shearing tools. And an increase in pitch causes an increase in the amount of effort required to push the shearing edge through the material. Neither of us had ever experienced a similar problem when using an iron that was back beveled to effectively create a higher pitch. Could back beveling be better than increasing pitch? Turns out, yes. Maybe.
Take a look at the following diagrams (Please note that, for the purpose of illustrating the problem, I’ve used Common Pitch (45°) and Middle Pitch (55°) for the examples.)
When a back bevel in employed, the increased included angle strengthens the tip of the iron. The clearance (relief) angle is kept to a minimum, thereby providing the greatest possible amount of support to the iron.
When a conventionally prepared iron (25° primary bevel, 30° secondary bevel) is secured to a higher pitch bed (frog), the clearance angle significantly increases and the amount of unsupported surface significantly decreases. I believe that the tip section would be effectively weakened by these two factors.
It may be appropriate to increase both primary and secondary bevel angles in order to increase tip section strength and reduce clearance thereby increasing the amount of support surface. It is common for adjustable scraper planes (Stanley 12, 112, 212) to be ground at 45°. But these tools are rarely used at attack angles under 90°. We need to do some physical testing, as there seems to be very little, if any, information available on the matter. If anyone has any thoughts and/or experiences on this question, please share them with us.
As February winds down, it’s still possible to see the occasional remnant of the holidays hanging around. A porch here and there still lit up by a strand of lights, a wreath on a door or fence (OK, maybe that’s just my house) and a woodworking magazine’s lagging announcement of a winner of a contest launched in December. In December, I announced a contest seeking contributions to our “End Grain” column – short articles that […]
Now the box is 9-3/4" deep X 22-3/4" tall and 24-3/4" wide. It's a similar dimension to a box that I used for years, just a bit taller.
The hardest part so far is not actually cutting dovetails for the first time in 15 years. It's the two North Bennet Street toolboxes in the shop mocking me while I cut my joints.
Still awfully cold here in NW Ohio. But the sun is shining. It’s a good day to sit around and think.
For some reason I started thinking about Henry Ford. Farm boy with Irish roots. Pioneer industrialist. Builder of some of the largest manufacturing complexes ever conceived. Inventor, philanthropist, the list goes on and on.
But the thing I remember most about Henry Ford is that he paid his workers more than his competitors paid theirs, more than just “a living wage”. Henry Ford was, above all else, a “long term” thinker. He realized that well paid workers could be a huge, hitherto untapped, customer base. Get a job at Ford Motor Company. Buy a Model T. A new middle class was born and America was “off to the races.”
Sometimes I wonder if anyone in American business or government still thinks that way?
We have a quick announcement today. We’ve been working on this new idea for a while but didn’t want to mention too much on the blog before now as we’ve had an unpredictable last year which has made us conscious of false promises. We know now that things are ready to go, we have the first video all filmed along with the second and the third so we thought it time to give you a heads up. I’m calling these YouTube videos but of course they’ll also be posted on here, we’re considering them more as a video blog rather than project videos and each will delve in to a kind of pub rant on woodworking, hand tools or a technique; whatever’s on the mind at the time. We anticipate a gradual evolution of the format so will be very welcome of your feedback and ideas.
We will touch on the odd small project from time to time along with demonstrations, but for the most part these are chats. Blog posts which are spoken rather than written. After a long time off from creating any YouTube uploads we’ve had time to reflect and figure out what we should do next. Our previous project videos were time consuming to make and so unrealistic to bring them out consistently so we’ve planned for this new content to become possible as a weekly event.
The idea behind the video blogs is expression. Don’t be expecting the Queen’s English, but a conversation can come with far more clarity when sharing an opinion. The written word can be detailed and specific, but if read in the wrong tone the interpretation can be off.
There’s going to be a large focus on discussion and comments. We get a great input on our blog posts in this regard and always enjoy reading every one of them. We don’t like to interrupt the discussion with many ‘thanks for your comment’ comments, and more often we have so much to say in response it seems we would be writing something longer than the post itself. We find these videos to be a great solution to responding to comments in an in depth discussion which will more often than not go off an a tangent and inspire further thoughts.
The first video will be uploaded next week. Please let us know your thoughts and suggestions. One that we’re hoping to incorporate down the line is weekly diary, with footage from our working week. In depth project videos are also being produced which will become available for sale, but that’s a different matter which will be detailed further down the line. And as a final note… we are planning to finish Part Three of The Wall Cupboard.