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This is a collection of all the different blogs I (try to) read.  A whole bunch!  If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to use the CONTACT page to get a hold of me.  Thanks!



This Weekend: Lie-Nielsen Show in Cincinnati

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 4:36am

jkw_standing_behind_IMG_0308Lost Art Press will be at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Popular Woodworking Magazine this weekend (April 17-18), with books, T-shirts and even some furniture to show.

We’ll be bringing the just-released “Chairmaker’s Notebook,” plus all the other titles in our catalog.

In addition, I’m bringing a finished three-legged backstool and trestle table from my forthcoming book “Furniture of Necessity.” So come take a look at these designs and sit in the chair to see if it’s stable or not (drunkards welcome). We’re also happy to sign any books while we’re there – even if we didn’t write them.

This year, we’re planning a meet-up for Friday night at one of the local breweries. We’ll have details at the show on Friday (we haven’t finalized them, yet, or I’d post them here).

As always, the Lie-Nielsen show at Popular Woodworking has a good stable of exhibitors:

Juan Hovey of  Juan Vergara, Planemaker
Mark Hicks of  Plate 11 Bench Co.
Raney Nelson of  DAED Toolworks

And, of course, the staff of the magazine. They usually sell a whole bunch of books and DVDs at great prices at this show, so be sure to check that out.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Woodworking Classes
Categories: Hand Tools

Marking Gauges

goatboy's woodshop - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 2:05am


I have made a couple of marking gauges recently, both out of walnut offcuts. The one on the left is a centre gauge, for marking the centre line down the length of narrow stock of varying widths. One simply twists the gauge until both pins are in contact with the side of the work piece, and then by dragging the tool down the length of the wood, the marking pin scribes a centre line.

20150415_094018The gauge on the right is for marking out very close to the edge of the workpiece, for instance when marking out for hinge recesses. Both gauges are very simple to make and consist of nothing more than what was lying around the shed.

20150412_114943The centre gauge consists of a wooden body, two brass pins, a threaded insert and a marking pin. The marking pin is simply a machine screw, ground to a point by offering it to a grindstone at an angle whilst spinning in the chuck of a cordless drill. The brass pins are superglued into the body, ensuring that they are perpendicular to the wood, and parallel with each other. The marking pin and the insert go right through the body, so that the amount the pin protrudes is adjustable by turning the screw head with a screwdriver. Needless to say, the marking pin must be exactly midway between the two brass pins for the gauge to work correctly.

20150412_114958The circular marking gauge is even simpler. It consists of a circular lump of wood, shaped to fit the hand, and an old wood screw, filed down so that it has sharp edges. The wood is drilled in the centre to take the screw, and the gauge is adjusted by turn the screw with a screwdriver. With the head filed down, the screw acts as kind of cutting wheel.

20150415_094117Both gauges are finished with a coat of boiled linseed oil to seal them, and they just about fit into the box I made for my layout tools.

I’m going to need a bigger box at this rate.


Filed under: Projects, Tools Tagged: boiled linseed oil, brass, gauges, walnut

worked up a sweat.....

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 1:20am
Tonight was more planing like last night. I had worked up a tiny sweat then but tonight I had a wet T-shirt when I got done. It was a nice cardio workout and I worked up a good appetite for dinner.  But shouldn't I be sweating like this a little further on rather then spring time?

major distraction arrived via the USPS
I know I have to concentrate on the table but this is very tempting.  5 hours of everything you wanted to know about planes. I tried to watch it at work at lunchtime and it wouldn't play. I checked the IT no-no's and watching or playing CD/DVD's wasn't on the list. I'll keep this on my desk (at home) and squeeze it in when I can. I bought it specifically for the rehabbing and use portion on wooden planes.

honed and making shavings
I did this by hand again and I can see the appeal for hand sharpening. It is a quick and efficient way to sharpen and get back to work.  I've only done this a few times so I don't have any idea on how well I'm maintaining square. I'll admit I'm a nut job when comes to having square edges on my tools and if available I'll use a guide. On the other side of the coin I am actively looking for a hole to put a sharpening station in.

it's still flat

 As Ken Hatch would say, "It didn't do any stupid wood tricks". I also checked the middle against each end and those were reading flat and twist free too.

planning my planing
The x's in the opposite corners are the high spots. The high spot of the x slopes down to almost nothing to the opposite side. I could use bevels here on the outside edges but they would be tapered and I don't need that spatial nightmare. Instead what I did was plane from the high side down to the low side. I started at one end and went to the other paying strict attention to my gauge lines on both edges.

board #2
There wasn't much to remove on the first twisted board except for the high corners. I spent more time smoothing then I did leveling. Board #2 is a different story. On this one I have to take off almost a 1/4" but this is flat. I did my bevels on the outside edges to the gauge line and started to hog off  wood by going straight across the board. This one took a while and I got my shirt and pants both wet with sweat before I was done with it.

almost flush
I still have a little feather here and I can also see the gauge line still. On the first board I planed until the gauge line was gone. When I did the same with board #2 I got the two of them flush and even.

two pieces from different boards
I cut the two boards up into drawer runners and drawer tilt rails. I took one runner from each board and stacked them up. I can feel almost no difference in them. The more I do this the better my results are getting. It is possible to get multiple boards that are flush and even without using machines.

I'll let it do stupid wood tricks if it has to
The two long pieces are offcuts from ripping the aprons. I'll use one of them to make the rails in the center of the aprons. The other one I'll rip out a couple of 3/4" pieces to use on the drawer guides for the side to side containment.

Day 5 is done with 37 left to complete the table. It's almost 1700 and time to go and fill up the pie hole.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What constellation is the archer Sagittarius aiming his arrow at?
answer - Scorpius  -  to avenge the death of fellow hunter Orion

New Beehive T-shirts Coming Soon

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 6:49pm


For the last couple months, I’ve been working on a new T-shirt design that combines the skep – a traditional beehive – with the tools of the woodworking artisan.

For many years, the skep was the symbol of the industrious joiner or cabinet-maker, and it shows up in woodworking books and on documents throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. (Read more about that here.) After fleshing out the idea with some preliminary sketches, I sent my ideas to Ohio artist Joshua Minnich, who designed our most recent shirt.

Joshua produced the fantastic logo you see above. In the coming weeks, we will offer this logo printed on T-shirts in a full range of sizes (XS to 3XL) and colors (gray, blue, red, black and orange). These will be available worldwide at a very reasonable shipping cost.

We are using American Apparel shirts, which are made in California, and the shirts will be printed in California. These shirts run a little tight, so we strongly recommend you order one size larger than typical. (Doing this does not mean you are fat; it just means you aren’t a skinny hipster.)

We’ll start selling these shirts as soon as we have our final printed samples in hand for photography.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Products We Sell
Categories: Hand Tools

There’s more than one way to be unplugged

goatboy's woodshop - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 1:01pm

Here’s a model one:

And, if you’ve got time, check out this episode of The Woodwright’s Shop, where Roy Underhill goes through all of the machines at a steam powered saw mill.

Filed under: YouTube Tagged: steam power

Cribbage Board Disaster

Toolerable - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 10:47am
I guess not a complete disaster.  More on that later.
There is about one week in the year when the tree in the backyard is in bloom.
I need a quick and dirty gift for someone, so I decided to knock out another cribbage board.  I like making these, as it allows me to be creative without worrying about joinery too much.
I started from a nice piece of 5/4 cherry.
I like to find a piece of wood in my scrap bin (which is getting WAY too big).  Then, I let the wood define the cribbage board.  Most cribbage board tutorials on the internet involve a template which you have to fit to a pre-determined piece of wood.  I think this is fine, but it is not the way I want to build this one.
I had a little trouble with my panel gauge.  It took a bit too much effort to lock the wedges in.  Perhaps this tool needs a bit more work.
The piece of cherry I chose had some sapwood, and a check all along one side.  This part of this board would never be used for anything else, so I thought it would be perfect here.  The end product will have a crack that shows which some might not like (I'm not sure I like it yet), but it is stable, and is a reminder, along with the sapwood, of the unique character of every piece of wood.
That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.
I got lots of opportunities to try out my new French holdfast today.  This thing works very well with my thick bench.  Three light taps with a mallet locks it so that nothing could ever move, and a light whack on the back to release.  In my bench with more than five inches of oak top, it works much better than my Gramercy holdfasts.
Mongo the holdfast in action.
I decided to put a profile all around the board.  I have used this profile a couple times before, and I like it.  You can also do it with only a rabbet plane, but I used three tools today.
This small cross grain rabbet was easy to do with a chisel.
It only took a couple of minutes to do the cross-grain rabbet with a chisel.
The next step was the long grain rabbet.  My tool of choice for this one is the rabbet plane.
I am really getting to like this holdfast.  Have I said that already?
The last step is to use the two arises  to define a perfect chamfer.  I stop a little before the bottom to leave a bit of the rabbet showing.  That's my easy profile.
I used a block plane for the last step of my profile.
The trick for using a random piece of wood for a cribbage board, is laying out the holes with dividers.  I first marked the optional holes that keep track of who won how many games (there is probably a word for those, but I can't think of it).  Next, I define where my starting holes should be, and define where the last holes on the other end of the board should land.  Then, it is just a matter of spacing the groups of holes so they fit evenly along the board.  Last, I mark the individual holes in every group of five.
This picture probably explains better what I am doing than my writing.
Laying out the holes.
Let the long slog begin!  This board is for three handed cribbage, and required a total of 111 holes drilled.  I used a 1/8" drill bit which fits the pegs I bought from Lee Valley.
What can I say.  I'm drilling holes.
I wanted to include a photo of my method for drilling straight holes.  Notice I put my chin right on  the handle of the drill.  In my experience, this is the most accurate way.
Drilling holes...
I like using an eggbeater drill for this.  There are a few holes that aren't perfectly straight in a line, but it helps clearly identify it as something made by hand.

I hope.
I used my Swedish (or English) egg beater drill.
There should be some kind of compartment for storing the pegs.  I forgot I had a 3/4" Chinese made wood threading kit, so I decided to use that.
Not quite square, but it will work.
I finished it by burnishing with a polissoir, and one coat of BLO so far.  It will probably get a few more coats, followed by a good paste wax.  Since it is cherry, I took it out onto the balcony for some sun to darken it up.
I also experimented with a new letter punching set I got.  There was no period in the set, so I used a cribbage peg instead.  A little big, but it works.
The disaster came right after I snapped this photo.  A wind came up and blew the threaded plug off the balcony into a bush in the neighbor's yard, never to be seen again.  I suppose I have to make a new one.
With threaded plug,

Categories: Hand Tools

happiness is...

Sauer and Steiner - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 10:33am

...shaping wood and metal in a way that machines cannot.

It is also designing and making in a way that is not hampered by the limited capabilities of machines or mechanical processes - or ones understanding of them.

Design first, then figure out how to do it.

This was a fundamental idea when I was in school. We were taught how to design first and then educated on the various tools we had at our disposal to see that design come to life. At the time, there were no computers used in design - we did everything ‘by hand‘ (with the exception of the darkroom and other photo-mechanical tools). We made scale drawings, scale mock-ups to test if our ideas on paper would fit with the real world. We would go back to the drawing board and tear pieces off our mock-ups to make changes. It was an incredibly tactile experience - and I think a tremendous amount of exploration and learning happened during that process. There is something about feeling the materials with your hands, the texture, the weight (visual or physical), and the interplay of the various pieces as you tried to coax them to work together. It was pure heaven.

And all that is missing from the computer.

I spent an hour this morning shaping some African Blackwood. I drew some layout lines, grabbed my favourite files and rasps and started shaping. Watching the scratches and shadows told me when my curves were right. Flip the piece around and do the same thing to the other side - then compare the two sides to make sure they are symmetrical. Not mathematically symmetrical - visually symmetrical. Reach for a finer file once the coarse shaping is done and refine it down further - checking the highlights, shadows and negative spaces often. 

It was an hour of pure happiness.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that spring is finally here, the sun is out, the shop door is open for some fresh air, and Schism is turned up to eleven on the stereo.

Life is good.

Categories: Hand Tools

Wall hanging chess set

Trial and Error - Woodworker - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 9:49am

I like the idea of a wall-hanging chess set – it doesn’t take up space on your tables so you can take your time to play a game. It also has the secondary function of wall art/decoration.

There are some commercial examples that make use of regular chess pieces that rest on shelves (like this from Straight Up Chess), but as pieces are taller than they are wide, the squares (and therefore the board) are more rectangular in shape. It isn’t the end of the world but I find it a slight distraction.

So for my take on wall-chess, I’ve opted for a square, shelf-less board. This means the pieces need to be custom made to square proportions. Avoiding shelves means either using magnets or drilling holes in the board that the pieces can peg into. I’ve opted for pegs in this case, but might try magnets in the future.

I made my board the same way as my previous one (see this post for further information) with the additional step of drilling holes in the centre of each square. A simple mitered frame was glued to the back of the board to act as a hook for wall-mounting and to counter warping of the board. Against this effort, the board has still curved slightly over time, so I would make a thicker board in the future.

Another point to note: it is hard to see the pieces because they are the exact same colour as the board’s squares. A wall set is less forgiving than a regular table set in this regard because the pieces are completely enclosed by the squares from a player’s perspective. I think either using different woods for the pieces or using some stain would solve the problem.

The pieces are modeled after the 2D depictions often seen in newspapers and books. I drilled shallow holes in the back of each piece and glued in small lengths of dowel to form pegs. They have a friction fit in the board.

Now this hanging set is complete, I’m already filling pages in my notebook designing my next set of turned chessmen.

wall hanging chess set wall hanging chess pieces chess icon pieces


Filed under: Chess Set, Projects Tagged: chess pieces, design
Categories: Hand Tools

Jiggery / Appliances

The English Woodworker - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 8:46am

I’ve never been a big jigger in my workshop. I’m stumped to find a value for anything more than my simple shooting board/ bench hook combo. And the odd stick.
I think the reason is because I’ve never been precious about my bench top and there’s no problem which can’t be solved with a few nails banged into it.

There are jigs which I know I could benefit from, a sticking board for mouldings is a smashing example. I’ve considered making one many times, but once I’ve pondered the best approach I’ve finished the mouldings and moved on to the next job. Shooting board

If we stumble back in to the past even the small workshop found a place for all manner of jigs, many of which were so individual we can’t be certain what they were for. With a thorough knowledge of woodworking we can apply some practical thinking along with a light garnishing of speculation and may come up with a feasible answer, but whilst intriguing this would likely be of little relevance to our work today. Something we can be sure of is that little woodworking was done as a hobby, and so a good majority of jigs would be borne from a necessity to repeat. But do any of us want to batch hand work now?

When building workbenches I use simple machines mixed with my hand tools, and this is work which I do repeat. I have made the same model many times over and yet I barely have drawings, let alone templates or jigs. The word I might be looking for here is lazy, but I like to think I get my efficiency through technique and a good understanding of my processes. I consider the set up time for a jig and know that I could be on the way to having the job done.

Is a dovetail guide a jig?

Categories: Hand Tools

Studley: The World’s Best-known Tool Cabinet

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 8:40am

I wouldn’t typically give away free on our site an article that hasn’t yet been seen by magazine subscribers. But this is not a typical situation, and time is of the essence. Don Williams, whose latest book, “Virtuouso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley” (with photographs by Narayan Nayar) will shipping in just few weeks from Lost Art Press. But the book will be available for the […]

The post Studley: The World’s Best-known Tool Cabinet appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Bicycle seat shop stool, Pt. II.

Oregon Woodworker - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 6:54am
I enjoyed all the comments on my first post about the stool project, including the humorous ones; I'm really having fun with this.

With the seat made and attached to the seat post--a scrap 1 1/4" dowel 16" long--I had to figure out a base.  Since I wanted the stool to be 34" tall, I obviously had to attach the seatpost to a platform and add legs for this prototype.  I had two ideas for the platform:  a triangle with three legs or a square with four legs.  I tried the triangle first and it worked fairly well.  I splayed the legs slightly and put the middle leg in the back so I wouldn't fall over backward.  There is no need for forward stability when the stool is in use because my feet are flat on the floor in front and I am nearly standing up anyway.  Any force I apply with tools will push me backward.  Dry fit, it was very stable to sit on but it tipped over easily if I bumped it when not in use.  The center of gravity of the seat was too high and too far forward because of where I attached the seatpost to the platform.

The next option I tried was a square with the seatpost in the exact center, four legs and the seat oriented on the diagonal.  My reasoning was that then the platform wouldn't interfere with my legs and it would be very stable when I am on or off the stool.  Here it is:

It was very functional and stable, both when I was on the stool and when I wasn't.  The platform is 1 1/2" thick to allow for strong attachments of the seatpost and legs.  I didn't like the way it looked very much though, to me like a giraffe.  I think the triangle looked better for some reason--maybe because the seat is triangular--and I have a preference for three legs.  Looking back, I wish I had made the platform an equilateral triangle to increase its depth and allow the seatpost to attach further back.  Hmmmm, might have to make another version from scratch.  What to do.

Then a brain shower happened (a brain shower is to a brainstorm as a rain shower is to a rainstorm--a passing event that may or may not amount to anything much).  A problem with my first version was that the height isn't adjustable, which is OK for me because I know the exact height I want, but not OK for most.  A bicycle seat is adjusted by sliding the seatpost up and down inside the downtube and gets locked in place.  I could modify my prototype and still use only scraps by creating a "downtube."  So, I decapitated the giraffe and cut off its legs:

Then I laminated a down column and inserted it between the platform and the seatpost:

I like this much better but I think the way to go for appearance sake is to lower the platform to be just off the floor, shorten the seatpost and have a longer column.  Functionally, this one is fine so I am going to use it awhile before making another version.

The two main ideas in my design that I very strongly urge you to consider if you want to make a shop stool are to make the seat shaped like a bicycle seat and make the stool very high, just low enough to keep a very slight bend in your knees.  I think you will be surprised at how well this works.  It does take some getting used to but you'll quickly get accustomed to it.  Don't be concerned about falling: straighten your legs slightly and you are standing up.  I suppose this is more familiar to a bicycle rider though and this certainly isn't a stool for everyone.  I concede that it doesn't push the upper bound of the woodworking aesthetic.  :(  I have an idea for the next version that I think would look fantastic while retaining the functionality of this one.

It might be nice if I could sit down at my desk, create a well-thought-out design and then go into the shop to execute it.  Can't do it and not really sure I would enjoy it as much as what I can do.  This was fun.

Categories: Hand Tools

Router Rabbets & Unexpected Benefit

360 WoodWorking - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:32am
I’m working on a large Shaker Cupboard in the shop. The sides for this piece are too big to hoist up onto my table saw for a two-step rabbet for the backboards. When that occurs, I turn to my router and a 3/4″ router bit with a top-mount bearing (or pattern bit) – I keep […]

Northwest Timber Seeks Lumber Perfection

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 3:02am

While walking through the ridiculously tidy racks at Northwest Timber in Jefferson, Ore., I realized at that moment something that hadn’t fully occurred to me during the last 20 years. I am buying, transporting and storing a lot of garbage. Not “garbage” in the sense that the wood is of poor quality. But garbage in the sense that a good deal of rough stock goes into the dust collector, scrap […]

The post Northwest Timber Seeks Lumber Perfection appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Building a working collection of bow saws – The hardware

Je ne sai quoi Woodworking - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 2:24am


One of my key projects for 2015 will be to build a working collection of bow saws. I bought the big blades (700mm in length) below from Dieter Schmid in Germany. The plan is to build a Frame saw using the rip blade and a Roubo-esque crosscut bow saw with the crosscut blade.


A few pictures of the crosscut saw I want to replicate loosely.  It can be found in Lost Art Press’  “Book of Plates”. I cannot say enough good thinks about Lost Art and their books. Every book is a seminal work in itself, which makes it impossible to decide on a favourite. Surgeons in my part of the world have a motto: “If in doubt, cut it out”. My motto with Lost Art Press books is: “If in doubt, buy it”.


These little beauties came from Gramercy Tools. I plan to build a smaller (12″) bow saw using their design. I plan to use it mainly from removing waste material between dovetails.


The wood for these saws is the pile on the right hand side. I chose Witpeer (Apodytes dimidiata or White pear in English) and Assegaai (Curtisia dentata).  Both these woods are extremely tough, hard and durable, which made it some of the favourites for Wagon building in the early Cape Colony. My supply comes from the Knysna evergreen forest, where I bought it more than 14 years ago.


I will write separate posts on the construction of each saw, so watch this space.

day three of the countdown.......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 1:28am
 Today was a gorgeous spring day. It's now 1730 and my porch thermometer says it is 74.3F. The sky is blue with hardly a cloud to be seen and it's sunny. After such a horrendous winter and especially so the last couple of months, it's nice to have spring finally here. I think we are in for a summer that may match the winter.

Tom in Florida has posted about the temps there are in the 90's already. Jonathan in Alaska has posted a few times about the temps being unusually high for this time of the year. Poor old Bob up in Canada is still having to deal with snow. Things don't look or feel right yet with the weather and the seasonal changes.

Yesterday I got a lot done but still not as much as I thought I would. I expected to have the base fully done joinery wise, and ready to glue up today. Hit a tiny snag that is keeping me tied up to the pier momentarily. I thought had some clamps that were long enough to do this but they are about 4" shy. I had bought these pipe clamps over 20 years made I made my Douglas Fir bed. I think I figured out a work around for this shortcoming. When I do the glue up, I'll find out for sure when I do the dry clamp first.

got my replacement broom and it was on sale
4 extra mortises to accommodate a change in design
These mortises are in the center of the aprons and they are for cross rails that I'll be putting here at the top and bottom.

cross rail stock
 This table doesn't have any rails at the bottom to keep the legs from bowing in or out. They are 3 1/2" square at the top so they aren't wimpy. I am putting the cross rails in the center to stiffen the aprons and keep them from spreading apart. I don't want them flexing and causing the legs to move. I am hoping that with the buttons and drawer guides this will be enough.

The end apron buttons
I plan on installing these into the mortise almost flush as there isn't any movement across the length of the top.

the long apron buttons need room to move in/out as the top moves - another reason why I put in the middle cross rails
first batter up for removing twist - laying flat on this end
this end isn't laying flat - up on this corner almost a 1/4"
bad pic of the twist
According to the lines on the sticks, this board is out of wind almost a 1/4".

first pass with the #6
I criss crossed the board end to end taking a few extra passes on the far end. A check after that showed I didn't do a lot to remove the twist. What I didn't what to do here is chase my tail. I have done this before where I concentrated on removing the twist by checking just the ends like this. I ended up with the ends being out of wind and a hump in the middle.

2 more criss crosses with the #6
I now have a significant amount of the twist gone but I still have some. Time to change the game plan.

I got a helicopter
The straight edge spins 360 with nothing stopping it that means I have a hump. I continued my flattening by laying the straight edge criss corner and removing the high spots. Once I got it to lay flat across the corners both ways, I checked for twist again. Most of it was gone but I still had one annoying  area that was kicking my butt.
got it
Removing the twist took me a lot longer than I thought it would.  I kept checking the winding sticks and I would get it in the middle and one end would be out and vice versa. I used the #4 to slowly get me square. I'm going to let this sit overnight and hopefully it won't move on me.

It's a little less then 7/8" thick at it's thinnest spot. If it doesn't do any stupid wood tricks I'll have my target thickness of 3/4" with some extra to play with.

the other half of the twisted board
Surprise! This half is dead nuts flat. I can't see any twist in this half of the board.

criss crossed it with the jack
I want to make sure that this doesn't surprise me by moving after I plane it down to thickness. I am planing off a couple of runs of shavings to expose it.

still flat and straight
I'll let this one sit with the other half to keep it company. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this and I'll be thinking happy thoughts about it.

need a sharpening pit stop
I have three  #4's but I like using the one that I pulled the iron out of.  The iron is still sharp but it can use a touch up. I left that one on the bench and I'll hone it tomorrow. The dinner bell is ringing and it's time to leave the shop. Time flies when you are having a good one.

accidental woodworker  39 days left to finish the table

trivia corner
What life saving device did Phillip Drinker and Louis Agassiz Shaw build with two vacuum cleaners in 1927?

answer - the first iron lung

Winding Sticks #2 – Rough work

goatboy's woodshop - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 12:19am



Many moons ago, my wife and I bought the house we live in now, from the estate of my great-aunt. It is a house that I have known all my life, although the old girl probably wouldn’t recognise it now.






Anyway, at the time, I wasn’t a hand tool kind of person, and I had so much else on my plate that I wasn’t even really a woodworking kind of person. Nevertheless, when we ripped out an old fireplace, I decided to save the mantelpiece. I’m not sure why, but I did. Ever since it has been quietly sitting in my shed, my old shed mostly, and now my new one. It’s time to put it to good use.



It must be quite stable by now, having seasoned for over ten years in the shed – just the thing for some winding sticks. I began by ripping the rough dimension from the main board, which can then go away for another day. Then I planed down to a reference face, then a reference edge, then an opposite edge and final thickness.

Finally, I ripped diagonally down the length to get my two sticks. Once I had planed up the sawn faces smooth, I had my blanks, ready to start the inlay.

ws5This design is based heavily on one from Paul Sellers. I cannot link to the design because it is part of his Masterclasses website, and there are strict instructions not to share resources without prior permission. However, the winding sticks project is part of the free section, so all one needs to do is join in order to have access. Just follow the link and fill in your details. There are downloadable plans and instructional videos, as well as lots of other projects. Well worth a look.

The next post for this project will cover the inlay.



Filed under: Projects Tagged: Paul Sellers, winding sticks

Making Chopsticks at Bridge City Toolworks

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 04/13/2015 - 8:58pm


In preparation for a recent trade show in China, John Economaki of Bridge City Toolworks had a nutty idea for a gimmick in his booth: a planing jig for making chopsticks.

As it turned out, people lined up at the show for a chance to make perfectly planed chopsticks at the show.

“I hit on something very deep in the Chinese culture,” John says during a chat in his office. “I have never seen so much joy in my entire life.”

Kids, women and adults of all ages used his little tabletop jigs to make the perfect tapering sticks that end in a petite tapered octagon. Then they used one of the Bridge City Jointmaker Pros to saw a pyramid shape at the top.

What started as a fun idea – almost a bit of a joke – is headed into production. The Chopstick Master is, like all Bridge City tools, a cunning invention from Economaki’s restless mind. And after he told me about the jig over dinner last week, I knew I had to stop at his Portland, Ore., office on my way to the airport to make a pair of chopsticks.


The chopsticks start as a pair of straight, square-section sticks, padauk in this case. Then they are wedged into the jig to bend the wood on a diagonal into a shallow S-shape.


Why? Because of the block plane used in the jig. Thanks to the skewed, slightly bent chopstick you can use the entire width of the iron while planing the chopstick to its initial tapered shape. That reduces sharpening.

Also cool are the plane’s two depth skids that poke out from the side of the plane like a catamaran. The skids capture the plane on a track and control the cutting action. When the plane stops cutting, you are done with that operation.

It is very difficult to mess up the process. Here’s what it’s like:


You number each face of the stick one through four and wedge the stick in the jig with No. 1 facing up. Plane face No. 1 and then plane face No. 2 in the same manner.

Then you turn a knob on the side of the jig to change the pitch of its bed and plane sides No. 3 and 4. You have just created a perfect tapered stick.

Then you drop the stick into the V-shaped notch in the jig, which then shows the four corners of the chopstick to the plane. Then you plane away and create a tiny, perfect octagon on the last four inches or so of the chopstick.

You are done. Time elapsed (with instruction from the maker) about 5 minutes. I then cut a small pyramid shape on the top of each chopstick using the Jointmaker Pro and broke the edges with a small piece of fine sandpaper.

Totally brilliant.

If you are interested in being notified about the development of the Chopstick Master, go to Economaki is working out the details of manufacturing and pricing – but I think you are going to be amazed at the price (including the plane). I’ll get one –to have it at my next dinner party and try to hook a few people into woodworking.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

Stickley Morris Chair Class at Marc Adams

Bob Lang's ReadWatchDo - Mon, 04/13/2015 - 6:22pm
I don’t teach classes very often; a few times a year at most. While I really enjoy teaching, I’m not crazy about travel, hotels or unknown sources of food. I don’t actively solicit teaching jobs, but when somebody calls or … Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

Smacks to the Forehead and A Lump in the Throat

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 04/13/2015 - 6:19pm

Yes, I am “all Studley exhibit, all the time” for the next month, but that tedium (?) was punctuated by a banner week at the Post Office box.


First came the brilliant Chairmaker’s Notebook from Peter Galbert.  It arrived just in time for one of my periodic days at the ophthalmologist’s office (the periodicity depends on which of my eye diseases is acting up, and how severely) during which I had time to read a good part of it carefully and browse all of it to the end.  The book is only partly about making Windsor chairs.  In truth it is really about the way to think about, and the way to do almost anything of real consequence.

I am not a Windsor chairmaker and unlikely to become one other than as an amusement, my chairmaking runs from Point A, Gragg chairs, to Point A’, making slightly different Gragg chairs.  Still, Peter’s eloquence and deep understanding, and the exasperatingly skillful manner of conveying them, made me smack my forehead repeatedly with the silent exclamation,”But of course!” while simultaneously silently muttering, “Man, I wish I had written this.”

printers proofs

I also received the printer’s proofs from Virtuoso, and to tell you the truth, the combination of the sumptuous imagery contained therein combined with the realization that almost five years of work are nearing the end made a sizable lump in my throat.  It has been a project of passions — sometimes love, sometimes hate — as are most such undertakings, but it it noteworthy to celebrate its conclusion.

Finally, my good friend of three decades Dr. Walter Williams just send me a signed copy of his latest book.  A collection of scores of columns, it will make for enticing bite sized bits of common sense wisdom.

All in all, a good week at the post office.


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