Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.  

Hand Tool Headlines

The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator




Time To Clean Out Some Duplicates #2...

The Part-Time Woodworker - Sun, 03/26/2017 - 8:43am
I cannot tell a lie, I do not have a duplicate of this saw, it is completely out of the timeframe I try to stick to for my collection, its purchase was totally an impulsive action, and I’m selling it because it is too big for my usual scale of work so I have rarely used it. It is also a pretty good saw.

I bought this saw from an old guy who was pretty cool for an old fart. He was a retired high school shop teacher and bought it new for his personal collection back in the early 1950s. He said he didn’t use it often, but when he did, it was a joy to use. He didn’t lie either.

This Stanley No. 39-124 Mitre Saw is a beaut, well at least the plate is. It seems to hold its edge very well, it is straight and true, and does not have any rust or pitting that I can see. The 30” plate needs a little touch-up sharpening now as I have never sharpened it over the 12 years that I have owned it, not that it got used that much. I did use it quite a bit when I installed some crown moulding  for a friend. Man, it is a gorgeous piece of kit for a job like that. I don’t think the previous owner sharpened it too often either, as it is exactly 6” high from tooth bottom to back bottom, the same dimension etched into the plate – 30” x 6”.

The handle is a replacement I made from apple wood right after I bought the saw. The original handle taught me how Stanley transitioned from making great tools to making junk. They started with the handle. Man, was it a primitive, cheap looking thing, and not up to par with the plate at all. I actually commented to the original owner about it and he said he always wanted to make a new handle for it but never got the time. It was my first crack at making a saw handle, and while it isn't as nice as my recent two examples, it isn't bad. The stock I used was a tad thicker than the original handle, and the round-overs are actually round, so using the saw with this replacement is considerably more comfortable than if I had left it alone. It has been coated with who knows how many coats of shellac, but I have to admit that I didn't have the patience with finishing 12 years ago that I seem to have now. It is nice, but with a bit more sanding, it could be really nice. I never had any qualms about the user-made handle as this saw will never be considered a true collector's piece. It is and always will be just a nice user quality piece. See the photos to see the quality of the existing handle and you will agree with me that with a little finessing, but not much work, you could make it better.

Please view all the photos of the saw to confirm its quality.

Selling price is $70 (CAN) firm.

I will charge the purchaser exactly what the Post Office charges me for shipping, with no additional charges for shipping materials or my time. If you are in the Greater Toronto Area, it is possible that we can happily deliver it to you personally at no charge. 

I will only accept PayPal for payment.

I added a Coke can to this shot
to give you some perspective
regarding this saw's size.
It has a super clean plate with a clear etching.
The second side is as clean as the first.
This photo is trying to
show how straight
the plate and
back is.
It's a good looking saw...
...from any angle.
It still shows a super-strong etching.

Ok, my lamb is a little mute.
It isn't talking to me from this side either.
This was in the piece of Apple Wood that I made the handle
from. It does not go all the way through the horn. I liked
this, which is why I made sure it was included.

Let me know if you are interested in purchasing this saw at


Billy Mitchell

Categories: Hand Tools

The Maslow $500 CNC – Beta Testing Begins

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Sun, 03/26/2017 - 6:17am

Several weeks back I reported on the Maslow CNC that costs just $500. Here’s Part One and Part Two if you missed it. This is a Kickstarter project, which means that it’s a crowd-funded product still in its development phase. Being a backer means you’re not so much a buyer as an investor enticed by the opportunity to get in early at a lower price before it’s released to the […]

The post The Maslow $500 CNC – Beta Testing Begins appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Easy, Peasy Diamond Inlay

360 WoodWorking - Sun, 03/26/2017 - 3:45am
Easy, Peasy Diamond Inlay

The woodworking world in which I participate is slowing moving toward minute measurements – everything needs to be precise. Users of handplanes brag about shavings in the thousandths of an inch, and calipers in some woodworking shops carry measurements three decimal places or more. We are trying to work in exacting dimensions using a medium that does not support infinitesimal details. Wood moves. The idea in woodworking today – as it was in the previous centuries – should be to make it fit.

Continue reading Easy, Peasy Diamond Inlay at 360 WoodWorking.

a diverse saturday.......

Accidental Woodworker - Sun, 03/26/2017 - 3:38am
I do other things besides stuff in the workshop. I did a couple of other things today and they involved wood too. But neither of them were in the workshop, they just happen to involve wood. The first was my back door. The screws in the top hinge became loose again which causes the door to sag and not close. I finally got tired of tightening the screws and I was going to replace the screws after I drilled out the old screws holes and filled them with golf tees.

That was plan 1, iteration 3b, change 9, upgrade Z21-A, that quickly got flushed down the toilet. The reason why plan #1 didn't work was that I couldn't drill the holes for the new screws because the jamb for the screen door was in the way. And the door was drooping so I couldn't line up the holes in the hinge with the ones in the door.

size of the screw in the hinges
When I was hanging doors, I was taught by a german carpenter that in a 4 hole hinge, you always use at least one (and preferably2) long screw through the jamb and into the king stud. Repeat this same action for the hinges attached to the door. This door only had these piss ant 3/4" screws in all 3 hinges.

The one thing I didn't want to do was take the door down. It is an old, solid wood door and it weighs as much as battleship. I know this because I had to take the door off the hinges. I also blew out the lower hinge on the jamb. So I had to fix those screw holes along with the ones on the top of the door.

From start to finish this adventure took me over 3 hours and I'm still not done. I'll be replacing the door and the jamb later on this summer. Part of the problem with blowing out the bottom hinge was due to rot. The door has been sagging for years, and I've putting band-aids on it for years, and now I have run out of them. The rot at the bottom of the door jamb is only going to get worse and contribute more to the door sagging. The rot is on the lock set side of the jamb but the hinge looked like it had some too.

brought a problem home
This was rocking on me at work so I brought it home thinking I could fix that. Just eyeballing the top of this is making me seasick. It has more waves and dips than a state 5 sea.

I'm two lines off
Each line that I can see represents a 1/8" of twist and this is about a 1/4". It was flat and straight when I glued the poplar bridle jointed base to it. I think the plywood sucked up and glue and buckled like this. This is the cheapest, lightest, plywood I have ever used. I won't be using this crap again.

had to check it to make sure
The plywood definitely twisted and it pulled the base out of square too.  I'll be making another of these but I'll be using solid wood.

monitor stand
The base for this monitor is birch plywood and the not crap from above. I am not going to glue the stand to the base. I am thinking of putting a cross piece that I will glue and screw into the top of the base. I will then screw that cross piece to the monitor base. I will also put a cross brace on the back to stiffen it up. I won't put one on the front so I can access to the space there.

The monitor base will be 13" up from the desk. The monitor will adjust upwards another 6". Between the two of them I can dial in a height where I can look straight into the monitor without bobbing my head.

all the joints are trimmed, dry fitted, and ready to glue up
glued up and cooking
Bridle joinery has a lot of likes to it. They are quick, easy to make, and self squaring. As long as you take your time to make accurate cuts, it will square up.

the main desk
I'll cut this 2x4 piece of 3/4 plywood down to 18" by 38". This will be my stand up to work at desk. I cobbled some boxes together at work to find a height that works for me. I don't want to be hunched over when I work on my paperwork. Working 13" up from my existing desk seemed to be the magic number. I'll use 3/4" stock for the base and that will be enough room to put foot levelers on to raise it up if I have to. I erred on the low side with this because I can raise it but lowering won't be as easy.

I won't be using this
The replacement I'm making is for my cube mate to use. I bought an under mount keyboard from McMaster-Carr. It is a ball bearing slide that locks in the open position. The big reason I bought it was because it is adjustable. It has a 3" up/down range of motion which will let me dial in the right height for the keyboard.

hiding the plies
I am wrapping the plywood edges of the base with some scraps of walnut. Since I don't like using nails or other types of fasteners on something like this, I'm using only glue. I glued on the first piece and after it has set for 15 minutes or so I'll glue another one on.

2nd piece glued on
ran long
Two of the walnut strips are about 1/8" thick and two are about a 1/16" thick. Rather then try and miter this, I put the thicker pieces on the front and rear. The thinner ones will be put on the sides. I ran the front and rear long so I could cover the end grain of the sides. Once everything is glued and cured, I'll saw off the long parts. I will flush them up and round over the corners. Of course I'll have to wait until tomorrow to do that.

new ebonizing method
I was reading up on how to ebonize and I came across one that used citric acid instead of vinegar. The author stated that citric acid is more acidic than white or apple cider vinegars. I'm game to try it out and see if it works. He also said that it eats up the steel wool a lot faster - I'll see what shakes out with that.

distilled water first
I don't know why I was in a hurry to get this going. I should have nuked it first and got it hot because the citric acid would dissolve better in a hot liquid.

about 1/2 of a 1/4 cup
lots of breathing holes
I covered the steel wool pad and I set this aside to do it's magic.

I took a break here and did my second non workshop wood related chore. I found some pruners and filed them sharp and went outside in the rain. I spent the next hour pruning my 3 lilac bushes. I removed all the dead wood and last years blooms that didn't fall off. I'll have to make another trip tomorrow with the big ass pruners to get a few crossed branches that are rubbing against each other.

After I came back in I was going to work on the big desk but that didn't happen. When I looked at it on the bench I saw that it was noticeably bowed. Bowed to the point of being useless to use as the desk. I clamped it down to bench and we'll see tomorrow if there is any joy in Mudville.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is the width of the train tracks in America based on?
answer - the width of ancient Roman cart tracks, 4 feet 8 1/2"

Emir Wooden Smoother for Sale

Journeyman's Journal - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 10:41pm

I’m offering my smoother for sale click on the link for more information and pictures.

From time to time I will post tools for sale, I’ll notify you when I do but it’s also a good idea to check periodically the items for sale page.

Categories: Hand Tools

Oil vs. Water Stones. One Year Later.

Fair Woodworking - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 9:58pm
  Beyond all things in woodworking, sharp is king. If it’s not sharp it doesn’t matter, and anything that can’t make it sharp is not worth your time. If you are new to sharpening, stick with what you have unless it really doesn’t work. I’ve noticed over the past few years, that a number of […]
Categories: Hand Tools

Spring Pole Lathe-Part 2

Hillbilly Daiku - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 7:42pm

Confession time…if you follow me on Instagram, then you know that I started this lathe project a week ago.  I’m little behind on my blogging, but I’ve been running a little time management experiment this week.

It is exactly five minutes between my house and my work.  As a result, I come home for my lunch hour most days.  Usually I eat something, check the news and catch up on reading blogs (another thing I’m behind on).  Anyway, I decided to try getting in twenty minutes of shop time while on my lunch hour.  So every day this week I set a 20min timer on my phone and headed for the shop.  Its been a nice break in my day to get in a little wood working.  More importantly, it has been surprising how much I can get done in that short twenty minutes.

Once I had the mortises in the uprights I turned my attention to the three rails.  Two will be the ways and form the bed of the lathe.  The third rail serves to stabilize the assembly.  Each of these rails will eventually be secured with wedges in a tusk tenon arrangement.  The two bed rails have single-shoulder tenons and work in unison when wedged tight to keep them square to the uprights.  The lower rail tenons have two shoulders that will keep it square.

Once I had the tenons laid out, I sawed the shoulders.  I opted to split off the bulk of the waste.  In hindsight, it would have been quicker to saw it off.  This SYP is stringy and will not split work a darn!  Which will make for a strong assembly, but tedious going for waste removal.

Next I worked on the feet.  I made these feet much taller than Roy’s version.  Which is part of how I’m gaining a little extra height.  The remainder of the extra height is in the uprights themselves.  The connection between the upright and the foot is a thru, spit tenon.  Which ment that I needed to chop a mortise through 180mm (7″) and keep it square and plumb.  Not my best design choice.  This depth is the limit for my chisels, but I managed to pull it off in both feet.


The tenon was formed as I described above for the rails.


I’ll be glueing these feet in place, but also opted to add square drawbore pins.  These aren’t actually necessary, but a little extra structure never hurts.  Plus a little practice never hurts either.  To chop the required square holes I fashioned a plug to fit into the mortise.  The plug adds backing and keeps the inner wall of the mortise from being splintered out.  I should have waited on this step though.  I’ll explain why in a minute.

I’m shaping the feet with a Japanese inspired shape.  My original plan was to have a shallow arch at the bottom center of the foot.  (This is why I should have waited on locating the square pegs). I saw that I had a couple of knots in these pieces, no big deal.  What I hadn’t noticed is that one of them was dead and loose.  I saw that I could eliminate the knots by changing the shallow arc to a deeper shape.  Ideally the drawbore pins would be closer to the shoulder of the tenon than to the end of the tenon.  Changing the shape of the cutout will shift my pins about 12mm(1/2″) closer to the end of the tenon.  Not a big problem, I’ll just have to lessen the offset so as not to over stress the tenon.

At any rate, I laid out my desired shape with a compass and cut it out with my turning saw.  The shape was then refined with a sharp chisel and spokeshave.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Finally, I ended my day in the shop today by fashioning the required pins and wedges.  I made these from white oak.

OK…that brings this blog and you up to date.

Tomorrow I’ll chop the mortices in the rail tenons and fit the wedges.  I also hope to clean up the uprights and feet with a plane and assemble them.

Part 1 Greg Merritt

Categories: Hand Tools

lämmerzunge - lambs togue

Old Ladies - Pedder's blog - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 3:15pm
Klaus was so kind to take over the difficult parts of the work on theses handles. The slot for the back and the slit for the blade.

Klaus war so nett und hat schlitze für Blatt und Rücken in zwei Griffen gemacht.
Schonbacken mit neuem Leder von Brian.

Protectorcheeks with new eather from Brian.

Werkzeuge zum Anfertigen der Lämmerzunge. Auch unsere neue Sehrfeinsäge.

 Tolls for the lambstongue. Including ournew very fine saw.

marking - markieren
Sehrfeinsäge in action
Schnitt 0,2mm - cut 0,2 mm (0.008")
wieder anzeichnen - marking again
grob aussäge - saw coarse
Iwasaki file - Iwasaki Feile
zweite Seite
und wieder markieen
Der Rest ist eher Schnitzen. Dazu kommt als erstes der Schleifstein auf die Bank.

The rest is carving. First step: Honing stone on top of the bench.
Categories: Hand Tools

Customer box from Denmark.

David Barron Furniture - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 10:15am

Jesper from Denmark sent me these pictures of a little oak box he made for his partner.
After making a dovetail alignment board, this was his first attempt at a dovetail project and he looks to have done very well.

The box was used to present a gift certificate as congratulations for passing her PHD in architecture, very touching.

Here is Jespers dovetailing kit of tools, he looks to have everything he needs there.

Categories: Hand Tools

Bookboards II

Giant Cypress - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 3:18am
Bookboards II:

Don Williams, at the Library of Congress rare book conservation lab: 

I let them try any number of re-sawing methods, ranging from my vintage 4tpi carpenter’s rip saw, my own bow saw or their bow saw, a range of Japanese saws they had in-house, my French style frame saws, etc.  I have to say that by nearly unanimous confirmation the Japanese saws came out the favorites.

Completely unsolicited comment, I swear.

bookshelf feet.......

Accidental Woodworker - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 1:07am
I had been thinking about how to do the feet for the bookshelf off and on all day. My first thoughts were centered around the tablesaw. It would have taken only a few minutes to make a taper jig and poof, two matching feet. It was a hard call for me to make but I opted for the hand tool route. If the first ones didn't come out, I had more stock to get at least 4 more tries. This was the first time I had attempted to get two tapered parts identical so I wasn't sure what the outcome would be.

going with the pencil lines
After thinking about it, I decided to use the pencil lines rather than a knife line on both sides.  I would have had to use a ruler to do that and they tend to slip and move as I mark with them. Instead the plan was to plane the first one to the pencil lines and make sure it was square toe to heel. Once the first one was done, I would make the second one match it.

rough bandsaw work done
I tried to saw these by hand but I couldn't come up with a way to secure them that I liked. I used the bandsaw trying to stay as close to the line as I could. That would mean less work planing.

planing it smooth and square
My right side was a bit high and I knocked it down with the block plane.

first foot done
It took a bit of fussing but I finally got it square along the entire length.

I got lucky
For whatever reason, I thought I would be planing against the grain on one of the feet in this configuration. I was a whisper off at the front and dead nuts flush  at the heel. I had a bit of a problem with getting it flush and then planing it slightly out of square at the same time. After a bit of back and forth I was finished.

dead nuts
I got it on the first try so I had my happy face on. I can not feel a difference between the two legs at all. I closed my eyes and zig zagged my fingertips up and down from toe to heel and I couldn't feel any highs or lows.

With the feet done, I can make up the iron part of the ebony solution. That will take a few days to cook and in the interim I can finish up the rest of the bookshelf.

straightedge isn't touching the opposite corners
it's dragging on these two corners

This means that this is twisted. If there was a hump in the middle, which I usually have, the straight edge would clear all four corners.

my sighting table
This is what I was using to put on the workbench and put the stock on it to check it for twist. As you can see it is a horizontal storage surface inbetween uses. And the use becomes less frequent directly proportional to the amount of crap that gets piled on it.

the replacement
The box is lighter and easier to position. It is a bit taller so I don't have to bend down at all to sight over my winding sticks.

it's twisted
caught myself
I almost made a huge boo-boo here. The reference face hasn't had it's twist taken out yet. I have to do on this face first and then mark the thickness and that will remove it from the opposite face.

big difference
I can see the twist based on the gauge lines on the right board. I didn't think that I would have to remove as much wood from the left one. The thickness of these will be a 32nd or so fatter then 13/16.

dealing with a defect
I wanted this to be the front edge but if I sawed this off the shelf would be too narrow. I think it is too deep for a round over or a chamfer to hide. So I'm putting it at the back bottom and keeping my width as wide as I can. The shelf is about a 1/16" thinner than the sides.

#120 spin wheels
Matt left me comment saying that his spin wheel was stripped. I didn't get any indication of at all so I'm checking it out again. It's easy to pick these apart, Matt's is on the right and has bigger circles in the wheel and a larger cutout on the lever cap.

Matt's wheel
The threads at the top are shiny and are a bit worn but I've seen worse than this that still worked.

my threads have better definition and aren't worn
swapped them out
Matt's wheel spun into my lever cap with ease. Mine threaded into his lever cap with some resistance the closer I got to bottoming out. After a few turns in and out it smoothed out a lot.

I tried both wheels in their respective lever caps and I still didn't get any stripping action. Both locked down on the iron without any problems. I swapped them out and got the same results. I couldn't get either one to 'strip' out.

Matt's plane in action
I tried to make a shaving with Matt's plane and I got this. It is on the thick side but it is clean and complete end to end off the test board.

second attempt
Wispy, blow away shavings on my next try. (Still Matt's plane)

getting closer
Thinner but still too thick for my liking.

5 tries and 5 different shavings
I was surprised by the depth range on the adjuster. The last two shavings were the thinnest and what I would use if I was planing with this. There is a fairly large depth range and much more that what I expected from this plane.

finally got it to 'strip'
I tightened down with the wheel as much as I could and close to the end it slipped and wouldn't tighten anymore. I have a lot of block planes and one painful thing I have learned with them is to not over tighten them. I learned slowly that I didn't have to tighten the wheel until I couldn't turn it anymore.  Basically what I do now is when I feel resistance I turn the wheel about a 1/2 turn more and stop. That was what I was doing with these two planes and why I wasn't getting the stripping action.

I'll keep an eye on that and for the time being I'll leave the wheels on their respective lever caps. If the stripping action comes up again, I'll swap out the wheels.

I would have done the planing on the sides to thickness tonight but I was tired. The one thing I didn't want to screw it up was the thicknessing because I was tired. I probably would have made a mistake and not caught it until the next day. Grrr!. No rush or deadlines on this, so I'll pick this up on Saturday.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
How teaspoons are there in a cup?
answer - 48 (3 teaspoons to a tablespoon and 16 tablespoons in a cup)

Shells and Shell-Like Carvings

The Furniture Record - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 10:42pm

Given the right tools, expert instruction and hours of practice I believe I stand a good chance of becoming a mediocre carver. It’s something to which I aspire. Eventually. Aim for the stars…

I was watching the famous and talented Mary May do another carving demonstration today. Not for the first time and not, I hope, for the last. We are at a furniture seminar at MESDA (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts) in Winston Salem, NC.

I have a special relationship with MESDA, I give them money and they let me into the museum. I give them more money and they let me come to seminars. With food. All very civilized.

Knowing that it will be a while before I create my own most excellent carvings, I choose to honor them with the only way I know, take pictures and share skilled people’s work.

This is a set of pictures of carved shells and shell-like objects I have dcoumented between January of 2016 and now.

Shell-like carved objects come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and styles. There is:


The realistic.


The abstract.


Ones that just suggest the form.


Innies (Concave)


Outies (Convex) Usually applied.


Overhead shells.


And shells on which you sit.

You can see the entire flickr set HERE.

Bookboards II

The Barn on White Run - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 6:58pm

The task for the second day of training at the Library of Congress rare book conservation lab was for each of the specialists to emerge at the end of the day with a perfectly prepared matched set of oak bookboards in order to create their own model of the art form.  Considering that this was an assembly of gifted folks with near-zero woodworking experience, that is no small feat.

Re-sawing in the vise, crosscutting, and trimming on the bench hooks was what consumed the entire day.

I let them try any number of re-sawing methods, ranging from my vintage 4tpi carpenter’s rip saw, my own bow saw or their bow saw, a range of Japanese saws they had in-house, my French style frame saws, etc.  I have to say that by nearly unanimous confirmation the Japanese saws came out the favorites.

Following the re-sawing, and the flattening of one face of each of the two bookboards, I asked them to mark the desired 1/4″ thickness with a gauge and shoot a rabbet around the perimeter for the final thicknessing by hand plane.

Off they were to the races.  After the boards were to the proper thickness they were sawn to width and length on the bench hook with back saws or Japanese saws, and all four edges shot also on the bench hook, mostly with either block planes of small bench planes (most of the book boards were in the 5″ x 7″ range).  The final step was slightly beveling the edges.

As I packed up at the end of the second day I think everyone was well on the way to having their own pair of boards ready for making their model book.

It was an unmitigated delight to introduce them to the tools and processes of making their own bookboards and I look forward to getting reports of them applying their new skills to projects in the future.  The virus of hand toolism was planted, and some of them even went to the recent PATINA tool sale two weekends later.

Now I just gotta see to fixing their orkbench problem.

Spring Pole Lathe-Part 1

Hillbilly Daiku - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 6:10pm

I have always been fascinated by the lathe.  There is something mesmerizing about watching the shapes appear from the spinning wood.  As much as I like the lathe, I never planned on adding one to my shop.  There’s a whole list of excuses why and I had taken the lathe off of my to-do list and penciled it in on my some-day list.

Through a strange series of events however, things have changed.  There’s a big long story that explains all of it, but I’ll just cut to the gist.  I was recently given several turning tools.  How awesome is that?  There is a mixed bag of Craftsman, Buck Brothers and Vermont American.  I think all of the basic profiles are here.  A few gouges, a skew, a parting tool, thumbnail, ect.  They are in need of a little love, but should get me more than started.

So now it seems silly not to delve into lathe work.  Of course I need a lathe first.

The basic types of human-powered (I have no interest in electric) lathes are spring and treadle.  Each has its pros and cons.  The spring type lathes are simplest to build, are portable but work with a reciprocating action.  Treadle lathes are a little more complex to build, are generally too heavy to be easily portable but have the benefit of constant rotation.  So why choose one over the other?

Portability seems to play a big role in the decision process.  Even still, there are several examples of historical shops with permanently installed spring pole lathes.  So maybe personal preference has always played a part.  For me, the combination of simple to build and portability is hard to ignore.

Roy Underhill’s version of a German spring pole lathe is a design that is hard to beat.  It’s a self-contained, reasonably light and portable lathe.  The only issue I have found with Roy’s version is that it seems a little short.  In most of the videos I’ve watched, including The Woodwright’s Shop, Roy and others look stooped over while using this lathe.  My suspicion is that the low height is a function of the novelty of building the lathe frame from a single 2″x12″x12′.  That’s just my personal guess though.  Anyway, I think I’ll have a go at building and using Roy’s version of the spring pole lathe but, I’ll build it a little taller.

Plans for the lathe can be found in a few places.  One source is Roy’s book, “By Wedge and Edge“.  Most recently, PWW magazine (August 2016) ran an article by Roy on the building of the lathe.  Or (if you have the time and money) you could attend a class and learn to build this lathe directly from Roy.

As you may know, I like to work with proportions. Short of that I prefer metric.  All of the plans for Roy’s lathe are based on imperial dimensions though.  So I did a little CAD work, converted the plans to metric and tweaked a few of the details.  My version will raise the work a few inches/centimeters, it will be a bit longer to ensure that I can work with table-length legs and I’m changing the decorative elements as well.  No surprise there.

I’m building the lathe out of SYP and purchased a couple of 2x boards and will be utilizing the pieces left over from the recent table builds as well.

Step one was to break that lumber down into the required components and layout the joinery.

I then cut the large mortises that will receive the rails.  I used an auger to remove the bulk of the waste and then used a chisel to finish off each mortise.  The “spring” part of this lathe design is supplied by two wooden rods.  These rods are contained in three holes and one slot.  The slot allows the end of one rod to travel up and down creating the spring action.  The three holes I simply bored through.  To create the slot I bored a hole at the extents of the slot and used my turning saw to cut out the bulk of the waste.  Finally cleaning up the walls of the slot with a wide chisel.

Stay tuned.

Greg Merritt

Categories: Hand Tools

‘Making Things Work’ by Nancy R. Hiller

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 2:50pm

Making-Things-Work-dust-jacket-300As cautionary woodworking tales go, Nancy R. Hiller’s might just be the funniest – and the most sincere.

Standing in contrast to James Krenov’s “The Impractical Cabinetmaker” from 1979, Hiller’s new book, “Making Things Work: Tales from a Cabinetmaker’s Life,” is not about waiting for a particular plank of wood to tell you its true purpose. It is not an exhortation to fuss over each detail, no matter the personal cost. There is not a shop cat.

(Side note: I do love Krenov’s books, but they have not taught me squat about making a living.)

Instead, Hiller’s funny and occasionally ribald story is about a cabinetmaker who was trained to work at the highest level possible and how she has dealt with the personal anxiety that occurs when the desire and drive for excellence collides with paying the monthly bills.

The backdrop for “Making Things Work” is a cast of characters who could populate a Cohen brothers film – a Missouri furniture maker who masquerades as a Brit to impress his customers. A 30-something client and her older husband who seem hell-bent on cheating every trades worker in the Midwest. And Hiller’s British trainers, who through teasing, criticism and mockery finally let her know what “navy cake” really is.

At the center of it all is Hiller. She seeks to run an honest business, make beautiful things and be fairly paid. Doing all three things at once is an immense challenge, and she tells her odyssey in a series of vignettes that read like a modern-day Aesop’s fable. There is a lesson in each chapter about the craft, business or personal relationships. But it’s up to you to decode them. Her indirect approach is one of the great charms of the book.

If you are considering abandoning your cozy corporate job to make furniture, “Making Things Work” is required reading. It will illuminate you as to how difficult the profession can be. If you are undaunted after seeing the quality of Hiller’s furniture and reading about her struggle to make a living, perhaps you have a shot.

For amateur woodworkers, the book is a great read. Hiller is a fine and precise writer who knows exactly when to land a punch line (sometimes with a sledgehammer).

For those of you who appreciate the manufacturing quality of Lost Art Press books, “Making Things Work” will please you. Hiller used one of our printing vendors here in the United States. This is a book designed to last.

Most of all, kudos to Hiller for taking on this book like a piece of fine furniture. She managed most of it herself, from the writing to the production to the distribution.

“Making Things Work” is available from Hiller’s website here. Highly recommended.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Personal Favorites, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Piano Repair: Fixing a Broken Hammer

The Literary Workshop Blog - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 1:43pm

I am not a piano repairman.  But when our piano tuner told us that it would be pretty expensive to fix our 1950s-era spinet piano (for which we paid $60), my wife urged me to try it myself.

A couple weeks earlier, one of the younger kids had been pounding on the keys, and the dowel rod holding one of the hammers snapped right off.  My wife found the broken piece inside the piano.  It was the B-flat above middle C–so not exactly a note that we could do without.

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

It’s easy to forget that a piano is both a stringed instrument and a percussion instrument.  Press a key, and a small hammer strikes a string held in tension over a soundboard.  There are 88 of these hammers, most of which strike three strings at once.  The dowel rod that held this hammer somehow snapped in two–perhaps there was a flaw in the wood, or perhaps the key was just struck too hard.  That happens sometimes when you have little kids.

Regardless, fixing this hammer was going to be tricky.  Open up the bottom of the piano, and this is what you see:

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

All those vertical, wooden pieces are part of the action–the mechanism that connects each key to each hammer.  The broken piece was deep inside this very complicated mechanism.  (Pardon the funny lighting, but the ambient lighting in my living room is abysmal, and I was working mostly by LED flashlight.)

Looking in from the top, this is what I see:

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

Somewhere down there is the other end of a broken dowel rod.  My first thought was that, if I could get the stubby end out, I could surgically insert a new dowel without having to disassemble anything.  Some older pianos, I knew, were assembled with hide glue, which will release when moistened.  I tried it out on the free end of the broken hammer, but no luck.  It’s PVA, i.e. yellow wood glue.  The whole thing was going to have to come out.

All the way out.

I had heard from pianists that it was possible to remove the entire action assembly from a piano.  I looked over the inside of the piano for quite some time, trying to see how the  action assembly was attached.  Fortunately, the internet had a helpful tutorial by a professional piano repairman.  I’m not sure I would have gotten any further without his help.

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

Once I located the points of attachment, I started carefully removing nuts and screws.

At one point, I ran across an odd little nut that looked like this:

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

I recognized it as a “split nut,” which is used on many old handsaws.  Getting one loose can be quite a trick, unless you have the right tool.

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

Which I did.

It’s an old spade bit ground down to a screwdriver shape and a notch filed into it.  I made this split-nut driver several years ago when I started working with old handsaws.

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

When I made it, I didn’t think I’d get to use it on a piano.

In order to remove the action assembly on a spinet piano, it is also necessary to remove ALL the keys.  And piano keys are NOT interchangeable.  The keys on our piano are numbered, but I still kept them all in order so as to make it easier to put them back in later.

Once the keys were all out, I was able to remove the last few bolts and screws holding the action in place.  I carefully lifted the whole thing out.

Piano Hammer Repair 2017


Here is the now-an empty piano with the keys lined up on the floor and the action assembly at the very bottom of the picture.  (Side note: you can probably imagine how much dust accumulates underneath the keys over sixty years.  It took us quite some time to vacuum it all out.)  The keys fit over those metal pins and rest on felt pads.  It really is an ingenious design, very complicated in some places and dirt-simple in others.

It was time to carry the whole action assembly out to the workbench.

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

If the soundboard and strings are the soul of the piano, this is its heart.  I sort of feel like I’m doing open-heart surgery here. One false move, and the patient may not survive.

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

With the action on the workbench, I carefully un-hooked and un-screwed the very-complicated mechanism that had the broken piece.

Each key is connected to a mechanism like this.  From this perspective, it looks a little like a Rube Goldberg machine.  Press the key, and a whole sequence of levers, straps, and pads moves to strike the strings.

Take a moment to appreciate how many individual pieces there are in even a small piano.  I count 14 wooden pieces all together here.  Some of the higher notes have fewer parts, but there are 88 keys total.  There over 1,000 little wooden pieces in the whole action assembly!

You can see here where the dowel supporting the hammer broke–right at the base where it was glued in.

Replacing the broken dowel was, I think, the easy part.  Once it got down to cutting and shaping wood, I felt that I actually knew what I was doing.   But order of operations was critical.

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

I first sawed the broken dowel off flush at the base.  Then I carefully re-drilled the hole.  The replacement dowel I’m using is a hair thinner than the original, but it’s dead-straight hardwood and should hold up to household use.

It took me three stops before I found a suitably tough hardwood dowel at a local hardware store.  The original one was, I think, maple or birch.  I’m not sure what species the replacement is, but it’s not poplar, which was too soft for this application.

Dealing with the other end was more tricky.  After close inspection, I noticed that the dowel went into the hammer’s head at an angle.  I would need to drill out the old dowel at the same precise angle.  So before cutting off the old dowel, I made this little jig:

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

In a squared-up piece of scrap, I cut a small dado to fit the hammer and wedged it in upside down.  I then inserted a long, pan-head screw into one end of the underside so I could raise the whole jig up at an angle by turning the screw. I sighted the dowel along an upright square and, by trial-and-error, found the precise angle at which the dowel was inserted.

I sawed off the old dowel and took my jig and workpiece down to the drill press.

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

It was easy to drill the hole at the correct angle.

I glued in the new dowel and went and had a cup of coffee while the glue dried.  (Sorry, no picture of the fixed mechanism.  I was so tired that I forgot to take one!)

It wasn’t easy getting the repaired mechanism back into the piano.  Having one or even two people to help guide it in was very helpful.  The more you bump things inside a piano, the more out of tune it will be.  And I sure didn’t want to break any more pieces on this action assembly!

My oldest daughter kindly helped me put the keys back on, too.

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

Keys, nuts, screws–all had to be reinserted exactly as they had come out.  It was especially annoying to reattach the damper and sustain pedals.

Piano Hammer Repair 2017

Finally everything was back in place.  It was a lot of work to fix a little piece.  It kind of reminded me of car repair–and not necessarily in a good way.  I had to remove so many components in order to replace one little piece without which the whole thing wouldn’t work.  At least it leaves my hands less greasy.

Now, of course, the piano needs to be tuned again.  But it plays.  And I fixed it all by myself.


Tagged: drill press, piano, piano hammer, piano keys, piano repair

In Search of the Best Finish for a Classical Guitar

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 1:26pm
You can bring the surface to a smooth sheen by rubbing the wood, with the grain, using a handful of dry spokeshave shavings - before you scoff at the idea, try it.

Drew Langsner, The Chairmaker's Workshop, 1997

The other day I consigned a cedar/Indian rosewood guitar at a guitar shop of a fairly well known guitar maker. He liked my guitars and said that I was doing "a really good job in making them", but he criticized my use of French polish.

He said "Shellac scratches too easily and it doesn't hold up well." He took one of his custom guitars off a wall hanger and showed it to me.

"Here, the way you should go is UV cured catalyzed polyester! You can finish a guitar in a day!" he boasted, "however, you have to wear a hazmat suit to enter the spray booth"

"Why would I do that?" I asked, "I have a very tiny shop and I am trying to be safe and green!"

"It's the finish we like to see these days! Looks like glass, hard, long wearing and very scratch resistant", he replied.

I couldn't help but to notice the slight "orange peel" on the back of the his guitar.

"I've been thinking about going to a water based finished", I said.

"Water based finishes are too pasty looking for my taste!", he fired back, "don't waste your time with them, use a catalyzed polymer or nitro lacquer!"

That was pretty much the end of the conversation and I walked out of the shop.

On the drive home I thought long and hard about what I should use to finish the two guitars that are on my work bench, they need to be finished by the first of June. French polish/shellac is the time honored way to finish high end classical guitars, but shellac takes a long time to harden and continues to shrink, ad infinitum, into any unfilled pore. Not too mention, if you look at a French polished surface cross-eyed you will more than likely scratch it. I would like to revive what George Frank called "an open pore French polish" that he said was very popular in France and the rest of the world in the 1920's. No pore filling, just shellac showing all the beauty of the wood. Problem is most classical guitar players want to own an instrument that has that "perfect factory glass-like finish". And no, no one in the flamenco or classical guitar world wants a guitar that has a soap finish.

I have pretty much decided to go with a water-based lacquer to finish the back, sides and neck of my guitars and French polish the top. There is one company that I will be calling next week to ask "Why should I use your finish for my classical guitars" and see what they say. Their website is very informative and I like the idea of being able to rub out a finish just three to four days after applying it. If I like using a water based finish, once I complete the new workshop I will dedicate a space for a spray booth, yes, I will purchase a HVLP spray gun.

I wonder how many people who read my blog will groan at this post? Wilson not using French polish? It is a wonderful skill to have, but, I am trying to make a living at building and selling my guitars. I am not an amateur. I want the best finish possible for my guitars, that helps bring more customers to me.

Yes, I know there are many guitar makers and players who swear up and down that French polish with shellac is the best finish for a classical guitar, however...

Here is something to think about: the world famous guitar maker, Robert Ruck, who was awarded a life time achievement award from the Guitar Foundation of America in 2016, is considered the man who set the industry standard for classical guitars. He uses a catalyzed polymer finish for his guitars. Shouldn't that be the standard for all classical guitars?
Categories: Luthiery

photos from this week

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 9:16am

We got out early on the vernal equinox, to see the sunrise over the trees on the riverbank. While we waited, these red-breasted mergansers came along, chasing the fish along the river.  The other fish-chaser, great blue heron left the scene, water was too high for him.

The sun hit the workshop before it hit us down at the river.

Inside, I’m a sucker for raking light.Now that I finished the chest with drawers, this one is next. Needs some trimming here & there, and fitting the lid. Then when someone buys it, initials carved in the blank area on the center muntin.

Here’s the first 2 (of 8) panels I carved for a bedstead I am making for a customer.

A couple of boxes underway. The front of this one was a carving sample for my recent class in North House Folk School.

Here I’m working on cutting the rabbets for another, smaller box. 

Here it is, test-fitted. Next is to make the till parts, and assemble it.

we went to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston the other day. the kids are studying Greek myths, and we went to look at Greek art, mostly sculpture & pottery. I saw patterns everywhere. I probably hadn’t been in those galleries since the 1980s. Amazing stuff.

Kerfing Planes In Wisconsin Part 1

Inside the Oldwolf Workshop - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 8:48am
To say this without ranting, a few years ago my bandsaw broke, unrepairable and unsupported by the company that slapped their name on the side of the POS and my resaw world has suffered for it. As I weighed my options I decided that a meat powered frame saw might be a better way for me to go.

I rolled that around for a while until I was able to get my hands on a resaw and kerfing plane kit from Bad Axe Toolworks last early fall. Mark Harrell had recently revisited and retuned the kit as a whole and had all the parts and pieces up to his usual over the top quality. The man doesn't know the meaning of the word compromise.

Since I was just setting up shop yet at the time I decided working on the kerfing plane part of the package was where to start. Tom Fidgen really is the pied piper of the resurgence of these tools in hand tool woodworking circles and the kerfing plane is the key to making resawing a more reliable operation. the shallow grooves made by the kerfing plane help keep the resaw blade on track and reduce the skill buy-in factor.

The original kerfing planes I saw had arms and an adjustable fence like a plow plane. This seemed ok but a little fiddly to make in my shop. But I'd also recently snapped up a set of match planes and tuned them up to work on 3/4" stock. Now I was inspired.

I wanted to make a dedicated width kerfing plane, but I wanted to be able to also cut kerfs for three different common thicknesses I use. The answer is to make three different plane bodies and just be prepared to swap the plate out from one to another.

Since I like those match planes so much I decided to use them as the pattern for the kerfing planes themselves. I pulled some walnut chunks off the pile and milled them up in preparation.

I used my tablesaw to consistently set the repeated cuts to remove big swats of the stock. I completed all the cuts with handsaws and cleaned things up with some chisel work.

Once the basics were done I recreated a couple details from the match planes. This little finger groove along the top of the fence is a nice touch that figures into the comfort of using these tools. Those old planemakers really knew what they were doing and I'm lucky to be able to stand on their shoulders.

There were still a couple problems to work out, shaping the handle and fitting the blade square to the fence and I'll write about those things soon.

Thanks for hanging out while I took a break. It's good to be back and re-energized

Ratione et Passionis
Categories: General Woodworking

Heat Treating O1

Journeyman's Journal - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 8:25am

What is A2 steel

“A” stands for air hardening which means you don’t quench in any liquids but set it aside and allow it to cool down on its own. It contains .95% High Carbon a 1% Molybdenum, 1% Manganese, .3% Silicon, 5% Chromium, .15% Vanadium, .03% Phosphorous and the same for Sulphur.  Excellent edge retention is possible thanks to the Chromium Carbides that are mixed during the heat treating process that makes it the most preferred cutting tool steel by tool makers.  However, the trade-off is that honing A2 steel takes longer and more effort than O1, it won’t hone an edge as sharp as O1 and the edge fractures quicker if the bevel angle is honed at 25 degrees.  To prevent the edge from fracturing Lie Nielsen recommends to hone the bevel at minimum 30 degrees but preferably to 35 degrees.  So, if you notice your blade isn’t cutting as well as it should be hone a steeper bevel.

O1 Tool Steel

O1 is a high carbon medium alloyed cold work tool steel with 1.1% manganese, 0.6 chromium, 0.6% Tungsten AND 0.10% Vanadium added to it with good hardening capacity.

The O stands for oil quenching.  Quenching in oil is recommended over water because it cools slower reducing the chance of cracking.  O1 also takes an edge better than A2 but will not stay sharp as long as A2.  So, the main difference between the two is; O1 sharpens relatively quicker than A2 and hones an edge sharper than A2 but the edge retention in A2 is better than O1.  Obviously thinner O1 blades that come with old Stanley planes will sharpen very quickly than the thicker modern A2 blades because their less steel to hone which is why they’re still a preferred choice for many old-time woodworkers who know the difference between truth from fiction.  Thicker blades do not reduce chatter as advertised, instead they are a pain in the backside to sharpen but for more information on that refer to Paul Sellers blog.  I believe he’s done a video on that.


Heat Treating Process

So now that we know all the technical jargon and we don’t want to spend an eternity on sharpening lets go with the heat treating process of O1.  Remember this is the tool steel I’m going to use on my moulding planes and the small router plane that’s been holding me back from the true build.  Maybe I should fill you in before I continue.

The small router plane I currently have which is the Veritas, the blade is ¼” wide which is too big for the mouth opening on the moulding plane which should be no bigger and smaller than 1/16” and I’m referring to the gap between the edge iron and the breast.  The mouth on the plane is 3/16” (5mm) and I’m using an iron that is 1/8” (3.175mm) thick so that should leave a precise gap of 1/16” to allow shavings to go through.  The thicker the iron the larger the mouth opening should be, so make your adjustments according to the thickness of the iron, all in all the gap should equal to 1/16”.  This I learned from Charles Hayward may he rest in peace.

I actually thought that a gap opening of 1/32” was ideal but that would only allow very thin wispy shavings through and that isn’t ideal for a moulding plane.  So, this router plane once I actually get it done will have a longer blade to do 2” or more depth and I’m yet to find out if it can handle that depth and also have a 1/8” width blade.  This will be the only tool of its kind in the world as far as I know and I’ve looked everywhere for one.  What’s holding me back you might ask, I’m trying to make it look pretty.

Ok now with process of heat treating O1.  O1 comes annealed so we can skip this part.  Grind your bevel and shape first, then whatever process you like to use as heat go with that, I used 2 blow torches.  You heat the cutting iron to about 1500 degrees Fahrenheit (815deg. Celsius) you will know you’ve reached that temperature when it reaches a bright cherry red colour.  In my opinion, I think that a bright orange colour is a more correct description of it but that’s the word that’s been in use for a few hundred years now so I won’t rock the boat.

Once that critical temperature has been reached you plunge the iron into an oil bath.  I used peanut oil over motor oil as it has less tendency to flame up and apparently, it smells better but I couldn’t smell squat.  I even stuck my nose into it and still couldn’t smell any peanuts.  You can use a metal container or a glass jar, I used a glass jar that was fairly thick.  I think the thickness is important due to the heat build-up of the oil, you don’t want the glass shattering and spilling oil all over your bench so a Nescafe jar is ideal.

When you plunge the iron into the oil, plunge it in vertically and keep it upright vertically while you continue to plunge.  If you angle it in and stir it you could induce warpage, I’ve seen Tod Herrli stir it gently but it was still held vertically.

Now take it out and let it sit for ½-1 hr to cool down, be careful though as it is still quite hot so don’t touch it and don’t ask me how I know that.   This is the confusing part though, some technical websites say cool it in the oil until you can touch it with your bare hands and temper it immediately, others say let it sit depending on its thickness, so 1 hr for 1” thickness and then temper it.   Up to you on this one, I don’t know who is right or wrong here but as for me personally on the next one I will choose to let it cool in the oil and then temper it.


Tempering is the process of reducing the steels brittleness, if you didn’t temper it, the steel would shatter like glass if dropped on the ground.  You also wouldn’t be able to shape the edge nor sharpen it, your file would just skate over it.

Ever wonder how those martial arts experts were able to karate chop an iron in two, well you too can do that in its brittle state and that’s why we need to temper.

The temperature may vary according to the desired hardness and the hardness scale we are working to is the Rockwell C scale.  You see in every tool sellers’ description hardened to Rockwell C 60 or 62.  To reach that Rockwell C scale we need to heat up the iron in an oven to about 325 deg. F (162deg. C) for about an hour.  The iron will reach a light straw colour, you don’t want any other colour but that.  If you were tempering a knife then your Rockwell C should be about 55 -57 which is about 500-600 deg. F (260deg. C).  My oven only goes up to 260 degrees and there is no guarantee your oven is accurate.

If you can’t use your oven here’s the way I did it.  I held the flame back from the cutting edge and observed the colour change.  I withdrew the iron from the flame and watched the heat travel up the iron until it reached the edge during which a colour change was occurring.  Once the light straw colour was reached I immediately plunged it into the oil and then left it to cool in air.

I did skip an important part, after hardening clean and flatten the back to take out any potential warpage and clean the black oxidation around the cutting area up to the beginning of the tang.  It’s important to do that so you can observe the colour change during the tempering process.  Also get yourself a good magnet so you know you’ve reached the correct hardness and either glue it on wood or get one big enough you can hold by hand.  If you your burn fingers in the process you’ll live, don’t be pussies about it you won’t burn them second time round.


Categories: Hand Tools


Subscribe to Norse Woodsmith aggregator