After over a year of development, we're excited to announce pricing and availability of our Swing Away Seat!
But first a few words about this product in case some of you are wondering what road we're headed down. When we started Benchcrafted it all began with a product that, although made of wood, was not a woodworking tool. The Mag-Blok. Only after we got a wild hair to build a new workbench for our shop did we take the leap in manufacturing our own woodworking vises. So, although we've become known as the "men of vise" we have our roots in making stuff we like to use, period. The other tools in our line reflect that philosophy too. We use everything we make, often on a daily basis. The Swing Away Seat is no different. And it just so happens that it's an incredible workbench accessory as well.
In early 2012 we began researching these seats after discovering a vintage example at a local food market. We were intrigued by the whole concept. How sweet would it be to have a seat for your bench that was always there, but also "never" there? We began compiling designs and searching the old patent record. Fast forward to last year. Prodded by our customers, we decided to put the Swing Away Seat at the head of the line. As is typical, it took way longer than we anticipated to complete the first run. A dead simple device, but there's more here than meets the eye. We also wanted to spend some time designing the thing so it didn't only look like something old.
The Swing Away Seat is cast in gray iron and powder coated in satin black. When you buy the seat you'll receive two castings: the larger part called the mount, and the smaller part which bolts to your bench, called the bracket. You'll also receive two black oxide-finished steel pins that marry the parts together. They are loose pins, just like you'd find in a door hinge. So if you need to remove the mount from the bench for whatever reason, you simply lift the two pins and the mount comes off.
Mounting the seat to your bench or table is easy with two 1/2" lag screws or through bolts. Bolts are the stronger option, and if you've got 2" or less of wood to bite into, we recommend bolts. Lag screws, driven into properly-sized pilot holes in hardwood are extremely strong. However, since we can't control your mounting situation, we can only make general suggestions. As such, the Swing Away seat does not come with mounting hardware. Beware of hardware store and home-center lag screws. They are usually total junk with soft steel and shallow threads. We source ours from the excellent Blacksmithbolt.com. The 1/2" square head lags in black oxide work very well with the Swing Away seat. We also recommend their rub washers under the head of lag screws for a smooth connection. These aren't so necessary with through bolts.
The Swing Away seat will be offered two ways. Castings only, for us woodworkers who want to make our own seats, or packaged with a finished, ready to mount wood seat. The wood will be offered in one species only, quartersawn white oak with a chestnut stain and satin lacquer finish. The seat is 11" in diameter and 1" thick. Each wood seat will include three screws to attach it to the mount.
Like our vises, the Swing Away seat is overbuilt. We haven't done any testing on how much weight the casting can take before it breaks, but our empirical knowledge tells us its more than anyone need worry about. Since the seat is cantilevered off its mounting surface, one does have to be mindful of the mounting structure. Obviously a free-standing structure could be prone to tipping, depending on the weight of the structure and the sitter. Again, there are lots of variables at play here that we can't possibly anticipate. Our Classic Workbench (pictured here) is not a super heavy bench, being somewhat narrow at 20" with a 3" thick top. Yet it supports a 250 pound body (me) without tipping. If you're planning to use one of these on any free standing object, keep this in mind.
The Swing Away seat will pivot a bit over 180 degrees in total.
Pricing and Availablity
The Swing Away seat will be available initially at Handworks in Amana, IA, May 19-20. After the event is over, we'll post them to the website where they can be ordered any time. The Swing Away seat will be a stock item. We won't be taking pre-orders or deposits for the seats we sell at Handworks or later online. If you want to make sure you get one of the first ones, be at our space in the Festhalle Barn first thing Friday morning, May 19. We'll take credit cards, but cash will get you in and out of our space much quicker. Unfortunately we can't reserve a seat for you before the doors open, or hold one after you've paid. You'll want to take your seat back to your vehicle immediately since they are a tad on the heavy side. We will have both the seat only, and seats with wood for sale. We'll have several seats mounted to benches for you to try out at Handworks.
The Swing Away seat is $199.
The Swing Away seat with wood is $249.
See you in Amana...
Sharpen More to Sharpen Less
This week I am hoping to address a whole bunch of sharpening questions all at once by illustrating how I sharpen my tools now that I have settled on diamond stones and strops. I discuss the process of free hand sharpening, how to use a strop, and the spectre of dubbing.
One of our newest books comes from Windsor chair expert Mike Dunbar. The book covers woodturning from a furniture and cabinetmaking perspective. If you’d prefer to make your own furniture components rather than buy mass-produced factory-made parts, then “Woodturning Techniques: Furniture & Cabinetmaking” may be of interest to you. You’ll need access to a lathe, of course – but the rewards of learning how to use woodturning tools to create your own chair […]
The post Book Giveaway: Woodturning Techniques for Furniture & Cabinetmaking appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
|24 hrs later it's green|
|Matt's came out a little cleaner|
|Ouch! switched to using my right hand|
|rinsed and driedof any water with the hair dryer|
|the plane adjusters|
|my iron is a Sweet Heart one|
|Matt's iron has writing on but I need help to see it|
|it's faint but this is what I saw|
|how the blade is adjusted|
|all the way down|
|all the way up|
|my lever adjust doesn't work|
|Matt's plane works|
|my serrations are kind of flattened out|
|Matt's serrations are better defined|
|side view of my adjuster|
It looks like I'll be rehabbing Matt's plane and not mine. I'll keep mine as is and use it as a paint remover plane. I'll paint Matt's plane, sand the sides and the sole, and make it look as brand new as I can. I put these two aside for now and I'll come back to them later on.
There you go Bob. This is all I know about these. When can I expect a #120 blog post?
|feet stock - this face is flat and straight with no hump|
|sawed off the front and back pieces|
|I am pretty damn happy about it|
|the front is dead nuts|
|I can't plane the two of these as one|
|need a bigger fence|
|used my small block plane|
Tomorrow I'll saw off the tops to the feet and see how well I can do planing them separately and end up with the two of them the same.
What did ancient prospectors use to collect grains of gold from streams?
answer - the fleece of sheep
|Two varieties of Shellac: Dewaxed Platina on left and Natural Golden on right|
India is the world's primary supplier of Shellac. The tropical jungles of eastern India (whatever little is left of them) continue to yield tons of laac smeared twigs that are processed into usable Shellac.
Shellac or laac (as it is known locally) has been around in India for centuries and has been used as an effective wood finish for as long. The use of Shellac in finishing travelled to the West following the arrival of European seafaring traders in the 16th and 17th century.
Today, most wood finishers seem to prefer the de-waxed, bleached variety of Shellac. Natural Shellac is golden, orange or garnet in colour and full of a type of wax.
De-waxed Shellac comes in many varieties differentiated chiefly by the extent of bleaching. Shellac from which wax has been removed is usually of a golden or garnet tint. This Shellac is then bleached to different extents, producing variants such as Platina, Blond and so on.
De-waxed Shellac is virtually colourless, dries very hard and adheres to virtually any surface. This variety is most widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to coat pills and capsules.
Many woodworkers claim this is the best type of Shellac for finishing. In India, however, woodworkers traditionally have always used, and continue to use, natural Shellac for finishing.
There are varieties or grades of natural Shellac as well, starting with seedlac, which is an unfiltered first stage of Shellac production where the bodies of the microscopic insects that produce laac are present. This Shellac is distinctly orange in colour and is the most widely available in Indian hardware shops.
The next type is called button laac; this variety has some of the wax and most impurities (dirt and dead insect bodies) removed and is pressed into large button like shapes.
The third variety is purified Shellac which still retains its natural wax. This comes in the form of fine flakes and in a variety of colours, including Lemon, Garnet and Golden.
I tested some natural Golden Shellac and loved it. The flakes dissolve quickly and easily in spirit (rectified alcohol) to form a dark cloudy finish. (see photograph).
|The two trays have been given a couple of coats of Shellac: the left is one finished with Natural Golden and the right one with Dewaxed Platina. In the foreground are pieces of the original Pine used in makig the trays.|
I tried some of it on a pine tray and was very pleased with the splendid golden colour that it imparted. The Platina de-waxed Shellac, on the other hand, did not tint the wood.
Clearly, the choice of Shellac depends on personal preferences but the notion that Shellac with wax is inappropriate for finishing is not correct. It would of course be a wrong choice if Shellac is being used as a sealer over which some other finish such as polyurethane is to be applied.
Natural Shellac dries as hard as the de-waxed type but is easier to use for French Polishing on account of the wax it contains. The use of de-waxed Shellac in French polishing requires the use of some kind of oil which needs to be removed later on. Natural Shellac does not require the use of any oil and the wax seems to bond well with the Shellac.
Traditional finishers in India, at one time, would add various resins such as rosin (Pine resin) gum Copal and Sandarac to add shine, hardness and so on to the Shellac polish. These techniques are mostly lost. But the use of the much cheaper "natural" Shellac varieties, some of which like Natural Lemon are extremely light, continues and has much to recommend itself.
24 March 2017
The windows in our house aren’t much to talk about. Just 36″ square vinyl windows in a typical ranch. I’m not sure how old they are as I know they aren’t original to the house, but were here when I bought it fifteen years ago. My wife, Anita, wanted to jazz them up a bit and give them some character, so she asked me to make trim to go around them.
The first thing we did, was to take out the marble sill, which was the hardest part. Sometimes they get stuck inside the frame, so I had brake them apart in order for them to come loose. If I was lucky, I could cut the sealant around the sill and jimmy it loose.
I made a new sill out of 7/8″ thick maple. I tried to get rift sawn material so it wouldn’t warp too bad. I cut notches on both sides of the sill so it would stick out on the wall so the 1×4’s could lay on top of it.
We wanted the header to have character so we took a 1×6 of pine and attached a 1×2 on the top. We then laid a cove molding on the 1×6.
Using my small miter box, I was able to cut the tiny pieces of cove for the ends.
I then took a piece of pine 1/2″ thick and used my block plane to shape the corners and ends to create a bullnose. I pinned everything together with my 18 gauge pneumatic nailer to complete the header.
Back at the window, I measured, cut, and nailed the rest of the pieces to the wall using a 15 gauge finish nailer. I trimmed the maple sill so that there would be a 3/4″ overhang to sides on both ends.
Here’s the close up of the header nailed to the wall. The 1/2″ thick bullnose hangs over 1/2″ on both sides of the frame.
After filling the nail holes with putty, Anita caulked, primed, and painted the window trim. We did both windows in our bedroom the same way. The next step is to frame around the closet, paint the room, get a new headboard, new blinds, ceiling fan, rug, etc… I don’t know, ask Anita, she’s the designer. haha
This is an excerpt from “The Essential Woodworker” by Robert Wearing.
The accurate sawing of tenons (Fig 119) is a vital skill. They should be sawn with confidence and should fit from the saw. To saw clear of the lines, for safety, is not recommended since whittling an overthick tenon to size is both more difficult and less accurate than sawing correctly in the first place. A 250mm (10in.) tenon or backsaw is the most commonly used for this purpose. Frame saws are used in Europe and by some workers in the USA, but they have never been popular in Britain since the manufacture of good-quality backsaws, and beginners usually find them rather clumsy.
Before starting, check over the names of the parts on Fig 95 and shade in the waste. While there is little chance of throwing away the wrong piece, it is essential that the sawdust should be removed from the waste and not from the tenon. That is, the ‘kerf’ (the sawcut) should be in the waste and just up to the line. Beginners using the thick pencil aid in Fig 105 should saw away one pencil line and leave the other intact. The technique is not difficult if the following guidelines are followed: do not saw down two gauge lines at a time; do not saw to a line which is out of sight. (A modification to the saw is described in Appendix B.)
Start sawing always at the farther corner not the nearer one. Beginners may find it useful to chisel a triangular nick there to start the saw accurately (Fig 120). With the rail held vertically in the vice, start to saw at that far corner, slowly lowering the handle until a slot is cut about 3mm (1/8in.) deep (Fig 121). Now tilt the workpiece (Fig 122) and, keeping the saw in the slot, saw from corner to corner. Then turn the work round, or stand on the other side, and saw again from corner to corner, leaving an uncut triangle in the centre (Fig 123). Now grip the work vertically and, running down the two existing sawcuts, remove this last triangle, sawing down to the knife line, but no farther. Keep the saw horizontal (Fig 124).
Sawing the shoulder is most important as this is the piece left exposed. Except on wide rails, which may be planed, the shoulder should go up from the saw. Cramp to the bench, deepen the knife cut and chisel a shallow groove (Fig 126). Lay a very sharp saw in the groove and draw it back a few times to make a kerf, then saw off the cheek. Take the greatest care not to saw into the tenon (Fig 127), which would then be severely weakened. Should the waste not fall off, the cheek has probably been sawn with an arc-like motion, leaving some waste in the centre (Fig 128). Do not saw the shoulder deeper. Prise off the waste with a chisel, then gently and carefully pare away the obstruction. Saw off the haunch if not sawn previously.
Saw off the set-in with a little to spare, and trim this back to the knife line with a chisel only just wider than the tenon size. This avoids damage to the corner of the shoulder. Finally saw the mitre (Fig 129). The tenons should be lettered or numbered to identify them with their mortices.
— Meghan Bates
Filed under: The Essential Woodworker
Though Fibonacci developed his numerical sequence to provide a formula that’s used throughout many mathematical considerations, and mathematicians may enjoy its reality in their work, it also occurs naturally in elements of nature too. The nautilus shell is an example and so too the natural numbering system appears in the arrangement of plant leaves, pinecones, pineapple cones, …
Some time last year I was contacted by the ancient book caretakers of the Library of Congress (LC) to inquire about some in-house training they needed in woodworking. Yes, that’s right, ancient book caretakers needed to know about woodworking. Actually I knew that because many, many years ago I had helped a colleague in the same department with a project having to do with very large format book (about the size of a Roubo original edition) that was having problems with its bookboards, or cover boards, which were made of oak. You see, the the world of old books, especially those from about 1500 and older, wooden book covers are simply part of the equation. While the specialists at LC were expert in the care of the paper contents, and their bindings, they were a bit hazy on the details and practices of fashioning the wooden boards.
Having participated in a number of collaborations with LC over my career, they asked if I could come and teach them. Of course the answer was “Yes” and we began the Dance of the Conflicting Calendars. Combined with the political brinkmanship that is endemic to Mordor on the Potomac it took many months for the training to occur last month. One of the items looming overhead was the sub rosa blustering about “shutting the government down” to accomplish some partisan goal or another. (My own attitude on that matter as a skeptical non-partisan Strict Constructionist Declarationist I wished the government would shut down, or at least retreat to its Constitutionally mandated activities, which by my count means elimination of ~90% of FedCo.)
The goal of the two-day session was to impart the knowledge and implant the muscle memory so that each member of the ancient book posse could fabricate a technically faithful book model as a practice exercise in preparation for the next time one of the ancient wooden board books needed re-binding.
So, on a bitter cold and blustery February morning I pulled up to the doors of the elegant LC Jefferson building, my CRV filled to the brim with tools and materials for them to use under my tutelage. In a caravan of carts all of these were wheeled down to the book conservation space underneath the Madison Building across the street, and I set up shop.
Only one of the crew had experience in woodworking (the fellow using the bow saw in the picture below) so I needed to start at Point Zero to review the nature of wood, tools, and the processes used in planing, sawing, etc. I brought plenty of 5/4 white oak to work with, and we got down to bidnez.
The first assignment was for everyone to use the bench bench hooks I made for them to saw a single piece to the size they needed for their book model’s boards.
Then came the flattening of one face of that board to provide a reference surface for the resawing. Given the human scale involved (this crowd was for the most part more petite than a typical woodworking gathering) they were particularly pleased with #4 planes, which are too small for my routine use.
With the flat reference face completed, next came the resawing. I’d made a Fidgen-style kerfing plane to leave with them, and they took to it like me and bacon. The final product was to be a 1/4″ thick book board, so I made the kerfing plane to create a 3/8″ thickness.
One of the more serious challenges for the exercise is that as a book conservation unit they were not well equipped for woodworking in the bench category. Their only bench was an ancient and wobbly Sjoberg hobby bench.
I have one exactly like it that I got out of the trash many years ago. Frankly if I had to use one like this every day it would end in the trash too. I completely remade mine, mounted it on some 4″ slippers to get it to a decent working height, and screwed the entire thing to the floor, resulting in a very nice and oft-used work station. Mine is currently ensconced in the corner, perhaps not coincidentally closest to the propane furnace, and is dedicated to the finer work of decorative objects conservation, gunsmithing, etc.
I will do my best to address their lack of a decent workbench, hoping to make and donate a mini-Roubo in the coming months. But for now, all we had was a wobbly little bench and some mobile work tables.
Then the resawing began with a variety of saws, and thus endeth Day One.
A spalted tamarind blank floated around my shop for years waiting for the right project. Last month, it somehow made its way to the top of the stack, where it just happened to catch my eye. I could see a small lidded box hiding in the wood. I knew it was finally time to turn this blank.
Click here to follow along with Curtis and learn how to turn a box.
You might know Anne Briggs Bohnett from her website, Anne of All Trades, or perhaps through Instagram, where she’s quickly racked up more than 60,000 followers (with a mix of photos featuring woodworking, farming and unbelievably adorable animals), or perhaps you’ve met her at Woodworking in America or a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event…or maybe even taken a class from her at the Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle. If so, […]
I have put out one recycling bin only to be told that it must be at least 1/2 full to be put curbside. Let's see if we can do the math on this together. In order to have the garbage picked up I have to have a 1/2 full recycling bin. I have put an empty one along side the garbage and I got a note explaining how wrong I was to do that. I didn't get my garbage picked up that day neither. So, Einstein, what is the solution to this?
What does picking up the garbage have to do with the recycling? If I don't put out one that is at least 1/2 full, nothing gets picked up. I think that there is one and only one genius that has thought up these rules. 90% of the time I only put out the garbage and it gets picked up. Why? because I don't generate enough recycling to put a 1/2 full bin curbside every week. Every once in a while this no pickup crappola happens. I gave up calling city hall to get a clarification on this. I am stuck with the fecal covered end of the stick no matter which I turn here.
|Stanley #120 block plane|
I don't know a lot about these block planes. According to Stanley Catalogue #34 this plane cost 75 cents and was an upgrade over the #103. The #120 got ground parallel sides and a rosewood knob instead of a metal boss like on the #103. Both planes were intended for light duty work. Insert one of Bob Demers blogs on fleshing out about everything you had to now about the Stanley #120 here.
I was expecting a derelict or at the very least something that didn't look as nice as this does. To my eye it is looking like I might be able to rehab the both of them.
|slight differences are apparent|
|knob fits on my plane|
|irons are the same width|
From the Stanley catalogue #34, the bottom and sides were ground on the #120. I'll be doing that on mine a little later on. The #103 had a ground bottom but japanned sides.
|taking a citrus bath until tomorrow|
|new feet material|
|two wide ribbons of sapwood|
|ash is about a 1/4" wider|
I think this is the best choice to to go with. I can easily get the reveal I want on both sides.
|I got my 1/8"|
|I can get both feet out of this and avoid the sapwood|
|found a smaller piece|
|stickered my parts|
Before the hair dryer was invented in 1920, what was used to dry your hair?
answer - the vacuum cleaner
I can hear the derisive snickers out there. You’re all thinking:
“It followed his wife home? Sure!”
As Roy as my witness, I promise you the story I am about to tell is true. I can’t make this stuff up.
I can embellish…
It is a closely guarded secret that I spend my spare time visiting auctions and antiques shops, recording and documenting the rare treasures I find there. It is our past. It is our legacy. It defines who we are as a species. It’s a bunch of old stuff people don’t want anymore yet has some perceived value.
On occasion, my wife will accompany me to an auction preview. It is usually my second visit. I know she has no interest in spending two hours admiring and photographing every item that was made before McKinley was president. It is one of the things that makes our marriage work. I don’t insist she spends hours staring at old wood objects and she doesn’t insist I accompany her to the beach. Exceptions have been made in certain extreme situations. We must all be flexible.
A recent auction caught my wife’s attention. It was the quarterly catalog auction and it included wine. One cannot actually preview the wine but one can read the list and do research. My wife is very organized and likes to read lists and do research. She found a lot of three bottles of Napa wines that she managed to get significantly below current North Carolina retail, if she could find it.
Buoyed by this success, she decided she wanted to hit the auction preview with me. The evening before the auction, I made my second visit and she made her first. She was better prepared. She has studied the online descriptions and had a list of items she wanted to see. I had a vague notion of what I needed more pictures of.
She quickly dismissed most of her list. The rugs were the wrong size or color. The decorative accessories were in worse shape than the casual collector could tolerate. There was one item on the list she really liked, an English settle.
English Style Settle
Description: Early 20th century, oak and pine, barrel form with shaped arms, curved seat.
About settles. We have had a front porch in need of a settle since we moved in. I know just the settle I want to build. The problem is that I have not delivered said settle. The wood is not even in the shop. Nothing on the calendar. I was slightly hurt that she wanted to buy one but I got over it.
The morning of the auction, I attempted to enter our carefully considered maximum bid, saw that we were already $80 below the current bid, talked and bumped it $100. Then when my wife wasn’t looking, I added another $40.
That night she asked what it went for. I told her that it closed above our second bid. I waited ten minutes to tell her of the third bid that was successful. She forgave me my subterfuge.
And here it is:
We had to place it flat against the wall. Being relatively lightweight pine, it makes a great sail. I was going to build mine from whire oak.
Here you see the barrel form:
A relatively shallow settle:
Relatively simple construction:
Nothing fancy on the sides:
Looking at the bottom, I could see that it has been stripped. It had gone through most of its life covered with mustard colored paint:
I suggested to my wife that for the sake of authenticity, we restore the mustard paint. She was not impressed by this notion.
I expressed my concern that this pine bench might not survive long outside, even on a covered porch. Her response was, “Well, if it only lasts two or three years, it gives us time to find something else.”
I thought, “I have shared a bed with this woman for 26 years and right now, she is a stranger to me. I don’t know this person.”
Fortunately, as an adult, I have a filter and what came out was, “Well, OK.”
This brings up two questions. Firstly, is this a historic and significant piece of furniture or just old? On some level I believe that every piece of furniture ever built needs to be lovingly preserved until we run out of PODS and U-Haul storage units. This is not realistic. Some furniture must die so others can live.
Second question, what is the best non-opaque finish to use on this settle? It will require a fairly high level of UV resistance. My first thought was a good marine spar varnish.
I am willing to entertain other suggestions.
I leave for Naples, Italy, in the morning to research Roman workbenches, which is a shocking sentence to write.
When I wrote my first book on workbenches, I had never seen an ancient French workbook in person. I’d never used a leg vise. And I had about 238 other unanswered questions as I pieced together my first Roubo workbench.
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of workbenches all over the world, and I’ve learned an important lesson: There ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby. Getting your hands on a thing is worth 1,000 images or translated texts.
Before starting Lost Art Press, jetting off to Europe to look at old paintings, sculptures, woodworking and a volcano was a laughable idea. But thanks to the company John and I have built during the last 10 years, this trip was an easy call.
We couldn’t have done this without your support. I know that a lot of you buy all our books, regardless of whether you are deeply interested in the topic or not. That sort of customer loyalty is the reason we can take chances with projects that may or may not produce results.
I know that many of you are wondering why the heck we are dabbling in these benches that look like they are for slaughtering pigs (and yet you buy the books anyway). I can now assure you that this particular adventure is a rich and untapped vein of craft knowledge that has been right in front of our faces for a couple centuries.
I have a big pile of paper on my desk that is filled with stuff I have to translate, build and put to use on this topic. But first, I have a date with a volcano.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. I won’t be blogging much during the next week. Meghan, Kara and Suzanne have all offered to pitch in during my absence. So enjoy a profound absence of squirrel metaphors during the next eight days.
Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized
Tuesday 21st March 2017 It’s hard to believe but in 2013, starting in January, I traveled 12 US states to demonstrate my belief that hand tool woodworking could feature a thousand percent more highly than it did if we could seriously consider what we wanted from being woodworkers. I knew from my experience living and working …
Here is my set of Tasai dovetail chisels bought many years ago from 'The Best Things' in the US. They are still selling them now http://www.thebestthings.com/newtools/tasai_japanese_bench_chisels.htm
I made a nice little box for them from rare Andaman Padouk, purchased from the widow of the great Alan Peters. This wood was a favourite of James Krenov, my other hero.
These are beautifully weighted chisels and just superb to handle. Unlike other Japanese dovetail shaped chisels, these are actually suitable for getting right into the corners of dovetails. Instead of finishing with square edges, they are angled sufficiently to cope with the corners without bruising.
Tasai is more famous for his dramatic and showy Damascus chisels which 'The Best Things' also sell. But I just love the way these all black chisels are so understated, no fancy layering, no multiple hollows and no exotic handles. Just beautifully made, superbly balanced and extremely practical.
The handle maker (I've forgotten his name) discreetly leaves his mark on the red oak handle.
And the famous Tasai mark, again discreetly stamped on the blade. If you bought a set you wouldn't be disappointed with either the look, the feel or the performance.
Router table cabinets can be a waste of space. This compact, vise-mounted unit stores easily and is just the right size. by David Thiel April 2005 Popular Woodworking Magazine I think it might have been seeing a $1,000 router table setup at a recent woodworking show (it’s very cool, but $1,000?). Or maybe it was realizing that our shop’s router table’s cabinet mostly takes up space and fills with dust. […]
In the late ’80s and early ’90s you could visit a strip club and it wouldn’t be sleazy. The reason: Mike Tyson. He would simply walk through opponents with devastating power in the first few rounds. Nobody wanted to order the expensive pay-per-view at home with the odds of it being over in seconds. So the strip clubs could collect a door fee, a two-drink minimum and be done with […]
I try to write a new entry for my blog every week. I also try to make it useful or at least not boring. Sometimes I succeed. However because it's a weekly thing lots of content gets rolled under the covers and after a time lost. So this week I decided to take one of the earliest blogs I every wrote (#8 from a decade ago) and bring it current again. Yes I know everyone hates when magazines to a yearly article on the same subject again and again, but like magazines we have a lot of new readers who haven't see this topic.
(note: I shot a video for this yesterday but I didn't get a chance to finish editing it so check back over the weekend and I should have added it in).
Every time someone comes in and buys a marking or mortise gauge, I give them a quick demo on how to use it. It's not unusual for customers to know they need a gauge, but not how to use one. It's not their fault. There is a hell of a lot of misinformation on this subject, and using a gauge properly isn't intuitive.
The goal of a gauge is to provide a line that is just deep enough to catch a chisel or a pencil. Some people like deep cuts with a knife, but the deeper the gauge line, the more you will have to plane the finished surface - otherwise finish will catch in the line and the entire world will see the gauge line. The great woodworking writer Charles H. Hayward noted that when he apprenticed (around 1910) visible gauge lines in a finished work was considered sloppy but it was a common practice. These days, it is all too common and perversely considered a proud mark of "hand craftsmanship."
The problem that people have in using gauges is that when the gauge sits square on the wood, its pin will dig in, follow the grain, wobble, and give you a jerky cut. So various woodworking gurus have advocated filing the pins really short, so even if the gauge sort of works, you can't see where you are going; filing them into knives, so you get a deep line that is hard to get rid of later; remounting the pins on a diagonal; and giving up entirely and using a wheel gauge.
Here is how you really solve this problem:
1) Set the fence to the right setting.
2) With your hand curled around the fence and beam, tilt the gauge away from you and rest it on the long cornered edge of the beam (the corner away from you). The picture and diagram should make this easier to understand.
3) Put pressure on the fence in so the gauge is tight against the wood, and with the corner of the bean firmly on the wood, tilt the gauge towards you. With this method, with all the pressure going into the fence and edge of the beam, it is trivial to control the pressure on the pin. You can have a tiny bit of pressure on the pin that just leaves a mark for smooth visible wood, or you can just as easily bear down on with more pressure for rough wood so that you get a mark you can see.
3) Then push the gauge away from you, always keeping the long edge of the beam on the word. You push the gauge away from you so that you can see what you are doing. And of course with the pin tilted it won't dig into the wood.
4) You don't want the gauge to go off the the end of the board, because once the beam goes off the wood, you will lose control. So stop just before the end of the line and repeat from the other end of the board this time tilting the gauge towards you.
5) It's better to have a light mark than a dark one. If you have trouble seeing your scribe mark, just run a very sharp pencil in the groove.
6) That's it. A sharp pin isn't super important because in general you want a thin shallow line, but that's a personal preference. I don't think I have ever sharpened a pin in my life.
We sell gauges from about $15 and up. They all work. If you are getting just one gauge, I would suggest the Marples screw adjustable combination gauge. The screw adjust allows you to set the width of a mortise independently of the fence setting, which is a real boon. However, in a pinch all the gauges we sell work. You don't need the fancier Trial 1, although I do like the weight of it. Colen Clenton's gauges feel wonderful in the hand. You won't regret the purchase, but it's certainly a next gauge to get, when you settled into joinery and have the urge to splurge. Over the years I have acquired a lot of gauges because I will set a gauge to particular measure, and then put a piece of tape over the thumbscrew so that I don't accidentally move it, and I'll recognize that it's set for a particular project. On a long project, I can tie up gauges for months, so I have a bunch of gauges.
You'll see over the years and over your projects a hierarchy of favorite and "others" will naturally emerge.
PS - The scribe line in the picture looks a little ratty because it took a bunch of tries to get a shot in focus.