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tool rehab day......

Accidental Woodworker - Sun, 07/16/2017 - 2:03am
Most of the day was spent on rehabbing my grandson's 5 /14 and to sweeten the pot, I added a #4.  Before I got to that I started with the bookcase. The weather has turned humid again and that is playing havoc with the latex paint. It feels dry and a wee bit sticky at the same time. I don't want to chance trying to top coat the latex paint with water based poly and have it go south. So getting the bookcase done this weekend doesn't look like it's going to happen.

the back of the shelves
The shelves dried overnight and I decided to stick them in bookcase and let them dry even further there. However, the %^%$@!__((*%&;*&;#@%^*(^%$ shelves wouldn't fit. Well they did fit but it was too snug for my liking. The front of the shelves were rubbing on the inside of the beaded frame. Over time it would rub off the paint on both pieces. I hadn't planned on having to put 2,359 coats of paint on the shelves and all that paint build up made it too tight.

Stanley 102 blockplane
At least I remembered to use this plane this time. I was going to pass this on to whoever but I am keeping for just these situations. I would rather risk damaging this then one of my bench planes. The 3rd shelf I made I didn't have to plane the back of it.

dirt from the vise
Got lucky as this cleaned up with a rag and some water.

dirty finger prints
Something you have to put up with when you use white paint. Especially so when you are still building as this stuff is a dirt magnet.

planning stages still
These are the last two iterations of the cabinet to come. This shelf is history and the cabinet is going where it lives now. I have been through 6 plans and I am leaning in the direction of the left hand one. The biggest change I made is adding drawers to keep the Hake brushes in. Originally I had planned to hang them on the door but switched to stuffing them in a drawer.

what will be going in the new cabinet
I want to get all of the associated do dads and doohickeys for finishing in the cabinet along with the actual finishes themselves. The left plan shows storage for the spray cans on the left and everything else on the right.

the biggest thing I have to put in the cabinet
This is a little over 7" in diameter so the minimum depth of the cabinet has to be around 8 3/4". I need to allow 3/4"- 1" for the back panel and the french cleat hanger. I was going to start this today but I changed lanes and I'm going to finish the 5 1/4 handplane first.

nice and shiny
What can be better than shiny brass? I cleaned this last night with Bar Keeps Best Friend after dinner. I think I definitely upped the shine on it a few notches.

knob off my #2 on the left
I just got done rehabbing the #2 and this knob isn't as shiny as the 5 1/4. I did the shine job on the 5 1/4 a different way and I'm going to try it on the on the #2.

the back side before and comparison pic
the new way
Last night I mixed the Bar Keeps with hot tap water but it wasn't really hot. So I put it into the microwave oven for 30 seconds. The brass knob was covered with water so it wasn't a problem nuking it too. I kept an eye on it because I wasn't sure what was going to happen and sure enough around 25 seconds it started foaming and rising up. I pulled it out before it overflowed.

Last night while doing the 5 1/4 knob the Bar Keeps settled out to the bottom and today I kept stirring it to keep in solution. I kept doing this until I was able to hold the knob in my hand.

been about 4-5 minutes
 Bar Keeps doesn't clean this without some help from a brush or a scrubbie pad. For real stubborn stains etc, sandpaper usually gets it.

looks better and as good as it's neighbor
I used a blue scrubbie pad on both of these knobs and tooth brush on the knurling. The knurling is what I find the hardest to clean and get shiny looking. After doing two of these I don't think the microwave is necessary. Nuking the water first and then mixing the Bar Keeps in it would work just as well. I think the key in getting this to work better is getting the Bar Keeps solution hot. I'll have to do a comparison of this on my next two knobs to confirm it.

 Found another missing part. The frog adjusting screw is AWOL.

my Stanley parts
I got most of the parts here in a kit from Highlands Hardware many, many, moons ago. This frog adjust screw is shiny but it doesn't look like the original. I'll look for this and screw washers tonight. In the interim I'll use this so I can finish the rehab.

this is the same barrel nut that is in the plane tote now
ready to sand the sole and cheeks
wanna be frog screw washers
The original washers are slightly larger in the diameter (ID & OD)and thicker. I have bought a lot of wanna be washers and I've yet to find anything even close to the Stanley washers. These will be better than nothing until I get some more.

another diversion, broken tab on a lever cap
I tried to punch this out and got nowhere. I am not sure that I even budged it a frog hair. I need to get a machinist vise for things like this. Trying to hold this and hold the punch and then whack it with a hammer was a step beyond awkward.

a helping hand?
I got the fan blowing in the bookcase instead of me to try and help it dry better. I checked it a half hour later and the shelves felt better. They still felt clammy, but they felt like they were a lot less so. I'll keep the fan blowing on them until tomorrow and see what they feel like then.

sizing the cabinet
I have a square of about 27" x 27" to put the cabinet in. These are some of the spray cans I want to go in the cabinet.

my minimum depth
These two cans are deeper than the chinese take out container is. I don't want a deep cabinet because I don't what to root around in it to find things. I dislike having to move 9 things to get to the one I want.

double stacked the  spray cans for a minimum height
enough distractions, I started the sanding with 180 grit
The 180 grit wasn't doing the job. After a few strokes I could see that the toe was high and rest of the plane sole was low. I tried 120 next because the plane body had looked clean without any scratches or gouges anywhere. 120 was a bust too.

dropped down to 80
I was hoping that I wouldn't have to start with such a low grit based on how the sole and sides looked. I marked the sole up and took 5 strokes on the 80 grit runway and this is what I saw.  High at the toe and low just before to the mouth before another high at the end of the heel. I spent about ten minutes on this and the going was real slow. I wasn't making as much progress as quickly as I wanted to and stopped. I made a road trip to Harbor freight and bought a fresh 80 grit belt.

five strokes on the fresh 80 grit
it's getting smaller
There is still a small low spot just aft of the mouth, amidships. I've been working it for about 20 minutes now and it is slow going.

starboard side cheek
Low spot below the hump down at the bottom.

port side cheek
This has a low spot in the same area but it's bigger and it wasn't in a hurry to get sanded away.

ten minutes later
Success on the starboard side. I didn't devote the entire 10 minutes to just the starboard side. I worked the sole and then sides, one at a time. I check my progress and started all over again.

port side
It is gradually getting smaller. The port side and the amidships hollow on the sole took seemingly forever to sand out.

#4 for my grandson
This is one of the first planes I rehabbed a few years ago and I'm going to give it to my grandson. The cheeks have a few splashes of rust on them and the sole looks shiny with a grunge spots. I am going to check my previous work by taking 5 strokes on the 80 grit first.

done with the sanding
I sanded both planes by hand only with a block with 400 and the 600 grit sandpaper. The 320 and 400 grit belts I have both felt as smooth as piece of paper. Neither one of them appeared to be cutting anything on the planes so that is why I finished it with hand sanding. I also had to sand out the scratches left by the 220 grit belt.

I didn't do the frog on this rehab. I know I changed and picked up doing more and more steps on rehabs the more planes I did. I am on the fence about stripping this and painting it. I have lots of time to work on it so no hurry on pulling the trigger on it. I will at least do the frog today or tomorrow.

there is a burr here
 I can feel a burr here at the very bottom edge. I sanded it with 100 grit and it went south real quick. After this I set it aside to finish up the 5 1/4 so I could shut the lights out.

back to the 5 1/4
I raised a burr on this and I was getting ready to take it out of the guide to strop it and noticed it wasn't square. The left side was high. I spent a few minutes on the 80 grit runway and got it square and raised a burr again. And I repeated the all dance steps for sharpening again including a stropping.

99.9% done
I put Autosol on the plane and I really like not only the shine it imparts but the protection it gives too. The only thing lacking on this are the barrel nuts and the stud for the knob. Bill Rittner emailed me that those parts will be shipped on monday. Maybe thursday I can road test this and set the iron.

harbor freight
Six sanding sponges for $6. I couldn't resist it at that price. I did a road test of one of them on the bookcase exterior.

blurry pic of a paint holiday
This is a pic of a paint drop that I had to remove. Once I removed it there was bare wood and I had to paint the bookcase one more time.

220 grit on the left, fine grit on the right
Just by feel, I would guess that the 'fine' is coarser than 220. Maybe 180 grit? It worked good on sanding down the exterior of the bookcase. I got dust from that which was a good sign. I didn't try it on the shelves because I didn't feel that they were dry enough and would make dust if I sanded them.

got some reading to do
It seems that this camera will do everything but pan fry eggs for breakfast in the morning. The first chapter I'll be reading is the WiFi one.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Why was popcorn banned at most theaters in the 1920's?
answer - it was considered too noisy

Benefits of Being on a Budget

The Indian DIY & Woodworker - Sat, 07/15/2017 - 11:55pm

My Tools Cabinets: One for hand planes and the other for chisels

The title of this blog post is taken from an observation made by my friend Mike Zeller, who lives in Colorado, United States. Mike is helping me locate a few used hand tools, which I might someday manage to ship to India.

I have been telling him about how I don't have too much money these days to throw around at expensive tools and how great it would be if he could find me something cheap and in decent working condition.

Many Indians would be surprised to know that there are more excellent old tools in use in Western countries than here. Out here we don't have a tradition of collecting tools at home and even if we do, we dispose them off to the Kabariwalla once they are old and rusted.

In the West, on the other hand, old tools, especially hand tools, are often handed down over the years or sold to another generation. There are literally thousands of old woodworking tools, including thousands of excellent Stanley Bailey style planes, still circulating there. Some of these tools command high prices because of their vintage value; sometimes you can get them for a song.

Every now and then someone there stumbles upon a cache of rusted old tools left behind by a long-departed soul, and passes them on. People get lucky and can chance upon a fine tool that hasn't been touched by a working hand for decades.

It is very satisfying to know that many old but superbly crafted hand tools can and have lasted for a century and more; they have a life beyond ours!

Mike and I have been discussing various woodworking issues over email in recent weeks and he once remarked: "I think we are both on a budget of a certain amount, which for me is good because it forces me to be extremely creative about solving problems and doing much work myself."

His comment made me reflect on how my views on tools have changed over the years. Several years ago, when I closed down my consultancy, I got a lumpsum payment, a lot of which I spent on woodworking tools, mainly power tools because at that time I thought power tools were the way to go. Many of those tools today are lying unused.

These days I look at online stores selling power tools of all kinds and feel amused; if this was a few years ago I would be thinking how to get hold of some of them. Today, it seems such a waste to buy tools worth thousands of rupees that will become obsolete in a few years and newer better models will be out to entice buyers.

It is an endless process that consumes consumers. So much better to buy hand tools preferably old ones that will last a lifetime and do the job often better than all those shiny, expensive power tools.

I feel it is better to have fewer tools, only the ones really needed for the job and most of all to take good care of what one has. Tuning, oiling and sharpening included. A few really sharp well-tuned hand saws, planes and chisels can get almost everything done.

A tight budget also serves to accentuate the worth of what one has, instead of the perpetual round of wondering if one has missed out on the latest tool, the latest deal and so on.

Nowadays, I mostly concentrate on building things rather than on tools themselves. The process is getting more and more interesting as I find myself gradually but steadily getting sucked into it. This week, I spent most of an entire day cutting hinge mortises and adjusting the fit of the doors for my plywood tools cabinet.

The one on the right was completed today and my chisels are in place

It took time but was good time spent listening to some old '30s and '40s Jazz and chiselling away. The hinges took time to fix and required adjustments to get the doors to hang right with about the right amount of reveal and so on.

The cabinet is finally ready and mounted on the wall. The door knobs have been attached and a chisel racks added. I have applied a couple of coats of Shellac but need to sand it down, apply another 3/4 coats and then rub it down to knock off the shiny parts to get a nice even tone.

This cabinet is bound to make a difference to my working, since till now my chisels were in boxes and a hassle to get out every time when I want to do something. I have a similar cabinet for my most used hand planes and having them at arm's reach speeds up things a lot.

Ninety per cent of my hand tools now fit into two wall cabinets, one small cabinet with drawers and a sideboard while the saws hang on the door. Everything is at hand, ready to go. But hey, there's always room for a few more tools!

Indranil Banerjie
16 July 2017

Most of my saws hang on a door, ready when I need them!

Categories: Hand Tools

Scything course at RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Sat, 07/15/2017 - 3:43pm
A lovely group of new mowers learning to scythe at RHS Garden Harlow Carr. Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

Issue Three T.O.C. – Examination of Two High Chairs

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Sat, 07/15/2017 - 2:38pm

You have to see this stuff to believe it. When I tell people that pre-industrial furniture (almost without exception) is rife with tool marks, overcuts, and even tear out, I get the sense that some people don’t believe me. They think that there’s no way that the wonderful antiques they’ve seen behind velvet ropes in special museum lighting could be as rough inside as I am asserting. I’ve heard some say maybe I’m just talking about vernacular furniture made by farmers. 

I understand the skepticism because this kind of workmanship flies in the face of modern woodworking dogma. But I’m not just talking about a few slap-dash anomalies. These kinds of tool marks are exactly the bits of evidence that antique dealers rely on for authentication. From the nailed together chest to the elaborately carved highboy, this stuff is normal, par-for-the-course pre-industrial workmanship.

This discussion reminds me of an occasion in which I was demonstrating how I chop a mortise. As I was working, I was prying off the top edge. I explained how it is ok to pry off the top of the mortise (but not the bottom) because it had no structural implications and would be invisible in the assembled joint. I said, “No one will ever even know it is there.” One listener, visibly disturbed, blurted out, “But you will!” Sometimes our values conflict with our ancestors’. 

I’ve decided the best way to inform our woodworking consciences is to persistently publish photographs of period workmanship. For this reason, every issue of M&T contains a photo essay of period furniture with measurements listed. To show period workmanship in all kinds of furniture, we are consciously documenting different forms. There was the secretary in Issue One and the drop leaf table in Issue Two. In Issue Three, we will be looking at two period high chairs: one 18th century and one early 19th century. There are similarities and there are differences between the two. Although the slat-back 18th-century chair was clearly more hastily made, they both retain riving and tool marks. 

For some, the handful of photos in each issue aren’t enough. As we’ve done previously, we will also be offering separately an eBook with all the photos from the shoot. We’ve been getting great feedback about these eBooks of photography and so we intend to keep that going.

We hope that publishing this information contributes to your growth as a woodworker. Don’t take my word for it. You can see this stuff with your own two eyes. These photographs might just be the best way to unburden hand tool users from the strict tolerances of industrial machinery.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s announcement of the next article upcoming in M&T Issue Three...



Categories: Hand Tools

Beyond Noise—Silence

Paul Sellers - Sat, 07/15/2017 - 8:26am

In the noises of my working I find silences that still any disquiet in my soul. The mallet of wood strikes wood and something inside me seems able to find the things that resonate in a kind of private silence. The striking blows become measured pulse beats that sever away the unwanted waste that tumbles …

Read the full post Beyond Noise—Silence on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

My Turn.

The Furniture Record - Sat, 07/15/2017 - 6:46am

A rather well-known author/publisher/editor/woodworker/furniture maker/journalist/educator/entrepreneur/raconteur/anarchist/cicerone/father/husband has now gotten two blogs out of something I found and shared with him. Now,  it’s my turn.

It all started with a unique pair of winding sticks I found near Charleston, SC. I was told there are no tools to be found in the Charleston area but I am too stubborn/stupid to listen and went out looking. To be fair, I wasn’t only looking for tools and there weren’t all that many to find.

But find them I did and these are them:


The famous/infamous half-moon winding sticks.

Taking a closer  look reveals some interesting details:


Up close and personal.

First piece of revelatory information is that we have been using the wrong terminology. These are not winding sticks, they are wood levelers. A knowledgeable dealer would not go through all the trouble of writing the wrong name on the label of an item he/she wishes to sell.

The second is not really that important and I am not going to waste your time making you read something that is unimportant and uninteresting.

This was not my first set of wood levelers. My first set was a purchase from Lee Valley for a saw bench class taught by Chris Schwarz at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School in Pittsboro, NC. I bought them because the levelers were on the tools list that was sent out three days before the class. I was out-of-town on business and would be getting home just in time to pack my tools and head out on the long 0.57 hour drive south.


They are extruded. And not wood.

I did take some abuse from the instructor for having store-bought, aluminum levelers. I worked through the shame and humiliation, after all, better abused than ignored.

The next set I made when I got a really good deal on some thin hardwood strips:


Unclean. I used power tool to make these.

My fourth set came from a toolmaking class I took from the aforementioned Chris Schwarz at Highland Woodworking in Atlanta. This was his classic layout tool class, hand tools only.


Sapele. Only hand tools used. Really. The reversing grain made it a challenge to plane. Maybe there was a reason Highland Woodworking provided us this wood.

Which is my favorite set? I use them all equally.

I might repost this post with better pictures. Then again, I might not.

If you want, you can read those other blogs HERE and HERE.



New Collection: Ship-Shape Shop

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Sat, 07/15/2017 - 2:57am

We just compiled a new collection over at shopwoodworking.com! I am in the midst of setting up my home shop, so the pain of sorting out layout and storage is very real for me. I have leaned on The Practical Workshop for several ideas already. This collection is a great value and won’t be around forever. If you’ve considered picking up a couple of these titles, this may be a great […]

The post New Collection: Ship-Shape Shop appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

entering the danger zone.....

Accidental Woodworker - Sat, 07/15/2017 - 2:26am
The bookcase is still not almost done. I am now in the danger zone with it where I am rapidly losing interest in it. My desire to get it done and out of the shop is fighting it out with my want to do this the best I can. It is very easy to cut corners to expedite getting it done at this point. You tend to hurry up, gloss things over, and settle for less then the best.

Tonight I came to the shop hoping to sand the bookcase and apply poly. But I saw instead that the shelves needed another coat of paint. I came very close to saying I've had enough this, I'm done painting, but I was a good boy. Not doing this now will just bite me on the ass later on. This not being painted would stick out like a beacon and make the rest of the project seem invisible to anyone else.  Just like one 'aw shit' wipes out ten 'atta boys', one holiday on a project can turn it into crappola. People looking at it won't see the other 99.99% of it once the holiday enters their field of vision.

this sucks
See the streaks in this? The rest of the shelf is a nice white with no streaks. This is the front of the shelf and it won't be hidden by books. The fronts of the shelves are the focal point when you look at the bookcase. I bit the the bullet and painted it again. This will add another day before I cross the finish line.

it's fading
The errant brush stroke is fading but I can still make it out standing up and looking down at the bottom shelf. I put another coat on this too.

one last spot to touch up
I saw this when I removed the green painters tape from this area. I'll have to apply some white paint to this. And while I since I was painting white, I sanded down the exterior of the bookcase and put another coat of paint on that too.

I had to do something else
Lately I've been working on the bookcase exclusively due to it taking up most of the shop. I put the shelves on the shitcan to dry freeing up my workbench to work on the 5 1/4. All I have to do is clean up the frog face, sharpen and hone the iron, and put it back together.

punched the pin for the yoke out
This is my second time doing this and it is basically a no brainer. I think I was hesitant to do it because I read somewhere that this was a tapered pin. I don't know why that stopped me from trying this but it did. Having the yoke off makes sanding the face so much easier.

wrapped the yoke and the pin
I don't want to lose this pin. This is one thing I haven't seen for sale from any of the plane part sellers. But on the flip side, it's something I haven't queried neither.

the after pic
The before pic was too blurry to even tell what it might have been a pic of. All of the shiny areas on the face had a dull look to them with lots of scratches. It took very little time to get to this point and I'm calling it done. I am not a fan of this type of frog. I like the solid ones used on the types 13(?) on down. They don't get scratch free and shiny as quickly as these frogs do though.

look see with the new knob and tote
Just noticed that the frog screw washers are MIA. I don't remember if they were here are not when I first broke this down to parade rest. I don't think that they were because I keep these together with the screws so I don't lose them. Something else to buy.

the original tote is rosewood
I thought from how shiny this was that it was a dyed black hardwood. I can see the grain of rosewood on the bottom of the tote.

rusty studs partially cleaned up
The long stud had a lot of rust on it on the end that went into the plane body. The knob stud looked better but it had some rust on it. I don't know if this rust happened after the person did the rehab or if it was not dealt with it because it's hidden.

wired brushed them rust free
There was no evidence that these had been oiled at all. They didn't feel slick or greasy at all. I think it is important to oil these because they are hidden within the tote and knob. I think whoever did this, did clean them but because they weren't oiled, they rusted again after being put back together.

I tossed the studs and all the removable screws along with the frog adjust plate into the soup to cook overnight. I would have used citric acid but I couldn't find where I put from my last time using it.

yoke back on
I got the yoke put on correctly the first time. The brass adjuster knob is nice and shiny but I may clean it again with Barkeeps after dinner.

this I don't like
Noticed a big no-no for me. The top edge of the plane was painted. It is easier to mask off the plane sides and not do the top edge. I would have scraped but I had sandpaper out so I used that. I used 100 grit and it took less than 5 minutes to make it shiny toe to heel.

called it a night here
I cleaned the top edge of the plane and the did some work on the lever cap. The lever cap that came with the plane has the Stanley name on it and is a kidney shaped lever cap. I would rather have a plain keyhole lever cap like this. I have to start my grandson off on the right foot with this.

It felt real good to do something other than painting the bookcase. Maybe this was inconsequential but it got my juices flowing again. I emailed Bill Rittner to buy a new stud for the knob and two new barrel nuts. This plane had an old barrel nut on the knob and a newer replacement Stanley barrel nut on the tote. (the stud for the front knob is for a high knob not a low one)

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who was Edwin Land?
answer - the inventor of the Polaroid Camera

Moulding Planes a real challenge

Journeyman's Journal - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 10:27pm


I got night shift tonight I should of been in bed 3 hours ago and the results show on my no.10 moulding plane.  I can’t attribute everything to the rush but mostly to my own stupidity of not thinking things through properly.  I was too confident and lowered my guard much like the motorcycle rider who is still learning to ride, when he gets too confident that’s when the proverbial turd hits the fan.

I drew up the plans but I never made a top view which screwed me up because I got it wrong in the build.  You can see I broke through the lamination because the mortise isn’t centered.  Then I forgot how I carved the teardrop and on the blindside I planed more than 3/4 high.  The good thing is none of this affects the function of the plane, the round has a radius of 5/8 and the bed is flat, so the rest is just aesthetics.  The wedge turned out nice, I like that Walker design, its just unfortunate I stuffed up another thing I’ll have to live with.  All there’s left to do is to shape the iron and start on the hollow.  I’ll be using this round to shape the hollow. I won’t be starting any other projects until I really get a handle on these planes.  So far I’m already having a pile of commissioned jobs starting to pile up but I have said until these planes are out of the way your just going to have to wait.

I’m looking forward in doing a write up for these planes but I will do that when I’m absolutely confident I got it right.  It will be a pretty long write up because I think I have just about every mistake a person can make but no matter how much an author can give information not all of it is absorbed and it’s only inevitable you too will make the same mistakes.  But you learn from this and that’s priceless, no school can ever teach you what you learn from mistakes, no school can ever give you an indepth understanding you can from making mistakes.    But don’t knock schools for they are the greatest institutions in the world and every teacher deserves honour and respect.

Take care I’m off to bed.

Categories: Hand Tools

A Walk in the Woods in June

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 4:00pm

With June comes summer, and the forest pretty much goes on cruise control. Everything that was happening keeps happening, and not much new happens.

American basswood (Tilia americana) is a late bloomer, literally. It blooms in the early part of June:


I had a hard time getting a photo; this is about the best I could get. (The light kept changing, and the breeze kept moving things in and out of the shadows and in and out of focus.) You can see a tongue-like bract above each cluster of flowers. These bracts are much paler than the leaves, so they stand out, even from a distance.

Here’s another June-blooming tree, this one with wild-and-crazy flowers:


It’s a chestnut, probably a Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima). While Chinese chestnuts (imported after the demise of the American chestnut due to chestnut blight) are common near houses, this one is growing in a semi-wild location. It’s also possible that it is a hybrid. American chestnuts (C. dentata) do still occur in Ohio, but they only grow for a couple of years before they succumb to the blight. The largest one I’ve ever seen was about five feet tall.

Here is one of the tree’s leaves:


The fact that it is very broad and almost square across at the base is what suggests that it is a Chinese chestnut; the other possibility, Japanese chestnut (C. crenata) is more rounded. American chestnut leaves are paler green, and they taper to a point at both ends.

The other trees are all done flowering, and the ones that haven’t already dropped their seeds are busy growing this season’s crop. The fruit of the American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is, of course, the beech nut (just like the baby food):


They are supposedly tasty, but I’ve never managed to find one in that period of a few microseconds between when they turn ripe and when the squirrels take all of them.

The leaves of the American beech are somewhat elm-like (see last month), but are symmetric at the base (despite the fact that this one looks asymmetric, because I couldn’t get it to lay flat):


There are many species of hickory, and they are rather confusing. There are two species that I see here in my yard. First up is shagbark hickory (Carya ovata):


Shagbark has five leaflets, and the three distal ones are teardrop-shaped and much larger than the other two. At high magnification, the margins of the leaves have little tufts of hair.

The other one in my yard is mockernut hickory (C. tomentosa), which usually has seven or nine leaflets (occasional leaves will have five or eleven):


Its leaflets are not quite as teardrop-shaped, and the size difference from one end to the other is not as dramatic. The leaf margins have a few hairs, but nothing like shagbark.

Here’s an interesting one; I took it from one of my neighbor’s trees (don’t tell her):


There are five leaflets, tapered and elliptical rather than teardrop-shaped, and there are no hairs on the leaf margins. I’m pretty sure that it’s pignut hickory (C. glabra), but it’s all but impossible to distinguish from red hickory (C. ovalis), so much so that some authorities think the two should be treated as a single species. According to one source, “It is said that the two cannot be separated ‘except with completely mature fruit collected in November.’” Well, this one has quite a few nuts on it, so maybe I’ll be able to key it out then (again, if the squirrels don’t get them all first).

In the same family as the hickories (and pecan) are the walnuts. Around here, black walnut (Juglans nigra) is common. The trees are easy to spot, with their long, pinnate leaves having between 11 and 23 leaflets, and usually an overall “droopy” appearance to the foliage:


The bark is not quite as “braided” looking as hickory, but more so than ash or tuliptree:


Butternut (J. cinerea) supposedly occurs around here, but I haven’t seen it. Butternut is in serious decline due to butternut canker, which is probably why I haven’t been able to find any. Its leaves are similar, but generally fuzzier.

There are a couple of lookalike trees (or tall shrubs) to look out for as well. Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) is a tall, gangly shrub that’s most often seen at the very edge of the forest:


It is easily distinguished in spring by its conical clusters of cream-colored flowers, which give way by the end of June to clusters of berries:


The berries start out green, but quickly turn a deep red and persist through the winter. Staghorn sumac (R. typhina) is very similar, but less common. As you might guess, its stems are hairy and not smooth.

The tree that most resembles black walnut is a somewhat invasive alien species, tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)—most people just call it “ailanthus”:


It’s less droopy and usually a bit deeper green than black walnut.

Did you notice something not quite right in that last photo? The leaves at the center right are actually those of a black walnut growing next to the ailanthus:


The fruit of the ailanthus is a winged samara; it turns bright orange or red when ripe.


Of course, if you see walnuts, that’s kind of a giveaway:


Butternut fruit are more elongated, with smooth rather than pebbly skin covered in fine fuzz.

Incidentally, the name of the walnut genus, Juglans, means “Jupiter’s testicles.” I trust that I don’t need to explain how that name came about.

A close-up view of the leaves is also useful to distinguish these species. Black walnut leaflets have short petioles and finely serrated edges:


Sumac leaflets have no petioles, and somewhat more coarsely-toothed edges (sumac also exudes a very sticky, milky sap when cut):


Ailanthus leaflets have short petioles and just a few blunt teeth near the base:


You can also see on each tooth a gland that looks like a small pimple. From the underside, this is more obvious:


American hornbeam (Carpinus americana) is a tree prized for its hard, dense wood that resists splitting, perfect for tool handles. It is widespread as an understory tree in the forests around here, but for some reason I rarely see any with a trunk more than an inch or so in diameter. Its leaves are small and finely serrated:


Its fruit clusters hang down near the ends of the branches:


The related hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) also occurs here, but is less common, and I wasn’t able to find one with fruit. The leaves are all but identical, but the fruit looks a bit like those of hops (as in beer); hence, the name.

I’ve always thought that if a committee of circus clowns that tie balloon animals were tasked with designing a leaf, they’d come up with something like sassafras (Sassafras albidum):


Freshly-emerged leaves give off a pleasant, spicy scent when crushed. The wood gives off the same scent when cut, but the odor unfortunately fades pretty quickly. I have a few small pieces that came from a pallet (holding up a shipment of lumber from Horizon Wood Products in Pennsylvania).

Not all of the leaves have three lobes; some only have one side lobe, and others have none:


As was the case last month, wildflowers are few and far between. I found some American bellflower (Campanulastrum americanum):


This is one that I haven’t seen before. I’m pretty sure that it’s fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata), but it has some characters that look a bit more like some related species:


It didn’t help that I was out photographing these the day after the flowers were battered by very heavy rains.

Unlike the previous two, which like the edge of the woods, the smooth oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides) can be found deep in the forest:


–Steve Schafer


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Book Giveaway: SketchUp

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 12:00pm

Earlier this week our online content director David Lyle raised the question of which modeling software seemed to be most popular with woodworkers. There’s been growing interest in Fusion 360 – David attended a “roadshow” event for the software this week. It seems like SketchUp is still king for the moment, but there always new makers out there with new ideas and ways of designing things. Of course, there are some woodworkers who still swear […]

The post Book Giveaway: SketchUp appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Born to Fail at Woodworking

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 9:40am

No matter how long I work in this craft, there are days when I feel incapable of doing anything correctly. Such as today. Readers love to be reminded that even people who do this every day suffer regular failures. If you like to wallow in other people’s misery, this post is for you. (Also, it shows you how I deal with woodworking despair.) For the last month I’ve been working […]

The post Born to Fail at Woodworking appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Issue Three T.O.C. - Modern Revivalist Toolmaking: What Yesterday’s Tools Can Teach Us Today

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 7:48am

“Modern Revivalist Toolmaking: What Yesterday’s Tools Can Teach Us Today” by Brendan Bernhardt Gaffney featured in the upcoming Issue Three.

Technical innovation has smiled on the modern woodworker – combinations of castings, pulleys, blades, bits and all manner of motors, rigged in many ways, can flatten, cut, curve, bend or join boards of wood. They do so quickly, repeatably and, often, portably.

When woodworking switched its diet, from the manual to the mechanical, a lot changed. Joinery shifted in shape, better suited to rotating cutters than saws and chisels. So, too, did our methods of design, as we took advantage of flexible and industrious software, moving away from the pencil and drafting table. Simultaneously we turned away from proportion and the old, body-based measures, instead unifying and metrifying from a thousand systems to only a few, often losing proportion to the cold arithmetic of measurement. 

And yet, a constancy of aesthetic and interest in well-made and fairly-proportioned furniture has remained. While ornament and proportion change, from William & Mary to Wegner & Maloof, the skilled craftspeople of yesterday and today still find beauty in the solidity and durability of well made goods, with the telltale signs of good design and consideration of the human form.

While so many modern woodworkers work to revive the practices of our pre-industrial woodworking, so, too, does the modern toolmaker work to facilitate the revival. With the advent of networked communities, even diffuse networks of hobbyists can discuss their needs in a central forum, and so, too, can the toolmaker make his goods available there. Toolmakers today find the digital marketplace enough to financially sustain what used to be strictly a local enterprise.

And through the game of generational telephone, or even better the discovery, retranslation and republishing of source materials, we remember the techniques of the past, more and more every day.

Sometimes, though, we hear the description, or see an illustration, of a tool that we no longer use, or a measure for which we have no analog. Many tools have survived total obscurity, in some barn in Maine or in the back of a cabinet shop in Michigan. So, too, have the design practices of the past survived, evidenced by a notched stick in a tomb or a passage in an old French book.

Through the reproduction or recreation of the past’s tools, the modern revivalist toolmaker makes available the knowledge and practices of the past. I’d like to share with you some of my own research, where I’ve worked to revive and reintroduce work of the past to contemporary workshops. In doing so, I have surprised myself, finding new uses and adaptations for many tools, even in concert with modern techniques and designs. The past is a rich mine of inspiration – all we need are the tools to work it.


-Brendan Gaffney, http://burn-heart.com


Stay tuned tomorrow for the next article upcoming in M&T Issue Three...


Categories: Hand Tools

Mags Often Misrepresent Safe Practice

Paul Sellers - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 6:52am

Is Image More Important Than Safety? I thumbed through  recent issues of wood mags and though I have known it for years, I thought it might be good to tackle the giant issue surrounding machine safety as some woodworking magazines don’t always project the right image. In fact some give the impression that no safeguards or …

Read the full post Mags Often Misrepresent Safe Practice on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

New Path for 360 Woodworking

360 WoodWorking - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 5:26am
New Path for 360 Woodworking


I received a very timely message in my Inbox this morning. It was from Seth Godin. It was titled, “The Two Fears of Voluntary Education.” In it Godin writes about two reason why people hold back from online courses. The first is that the class won’t work because anyone can create and sell online courses. Who knows of their qualifications or experience? There is reason for the buyer to beware.

Continue reading New Path for 360 Woodworking at 360 WoodWorking.

Sharpen This, Part 3: What the &^%$ is Sharp?

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 4:47am


Read the other installments in the “Sharpen This” series via this link.

People say that “sharp” is like pornography – you know it when you see it.

The problem with that statement is that you cannot see sharpness. When a tool is sharp, its edge becomes practically invisible to light. You can, however, see an edge when it’s dull. If you are confused by the above statements, don’t worry. By the end of this blog entry you will truly understand the difference between sharp and dull.

Let’s begin by discussing the definition of a sharp edge because it is incredibly important. Here it is: A sharp edge is two surfaces that intersect and create a zero-radius intersection.

Like many definitions, this one needs some definition. What does this mean?

Think of a chisel. Its bevel is one surface. The tool’s back is the second one. The surfaces don’t have to be flat; nor do they have to be curved. They just have to meet. Where they intersect is the edge. And when they meet at a “zero-radius intersection” you have a sharp edge.

What’s a zero-radius intersection? This is when the intersection of the two surfaces is not a radius or a rounded-over bit. Instead, in a best-case and theoretical scenario, the bevel and the back intersect and share a single line of iron atoms in a crystalline matrix with carbon. That line of particles is what wedges between the wood fibers and separates them cleanly.

That is sharp – as sharp as it gets. So what is dull?


Dull is where you have two surfaces that intersect, but their intersection is a radius or a rounded-over section. A million things could cause this radius to exist. Perhaps the maker of the tool failed to grind the two surfaces so they meet. Perhaps the two surfaces once met at a zero-radius intersection, but then the owner used the tool to do some woodworking. When you push a steel edge into the wood many times, tiny steel particles at the tip wear off, creating a rounded-over radius.

The goal of sharpening is to re-establish the zero-radius intersection.


You do this by abrading one (or both) of the surfaces until they meet again with a zero-radius. Note that this task can be done with any abrasive. A coarse abrasive will do this quickly but leave deep scratches in the edge that make it fragile. Fine abrasives will do the work slowly and you will want to take up golf.

And I repeat: Any abrasive can make an edge sharp. Fine abrasives don’t really make the edge sharper, they just make the edge more durable. But more on that topic in a future blog post.

Meet the Burr
So the first goal of sharpening is to ensure you have two surfaces that meet at a zero-radius intersection. But how do you know when you have achieved it? Easy. When you create a zero-radius intersection, a magical thing happens: You create a small metal burr on the surface that isn’t being abraded.




This burr is the heart of sharpening. It is the only thing (other than an electron microscope) that will tell you that you have created a sharp edge. Once you have the burr, the edge is sharp. Polishing will refine it.

So what did I mean at the beginning of this entry when I said “you cannot see sharpness?” Easy. A radius reflects light. When you look at your chisel and see a bright line where the bevel and back meet, that’s the radius smiling back at you. It’s time to sharpen.

But when you are done sharpening, have achieved a zero-radius intersection and have removed the burr (more on that later), there is nothing that can reflect light back to your eyeball. Sharpness is invisible.

That fact is one of the great curiosities of sharpening: It is a great labor to create nothingness (cue the sitar solo, dude).

— Christopher Schwarz



Filed under: Sharpen This, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Imagining Daniel Day-Lewis In A Life Without Acting

Giant Cypress - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 3:18am
Imagining Daniel Day-Lewis In A Life Without Acting:

Melissa Block, on Daniel Day-Lewis retiring from acting: 

So what will he be doing?

Well, we know that Day-Lewis has a number of deep passions outside of acting. Woodworking for one, dating back to when he was in boarding school.

Back then, he imagined a life making furniture and even applied for an apprenticeship with a cabinetmaker — before drama drew him in.

I’m always interested when people who you never would have thought would be a woodworker turn out to be one. This probably speaks to the universal appeal of the craft.

From Redwoods to Red Ink

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 3:05am

My father, Robert Emmet Gaffney, was a copy editor for 30 years and a lifelong woodworker. While I was always excited to take up his reins as a woodworker, I now find myself taking up the red pen and pursuing his editorial path as well. My name is Brendan Bernhardt Gaffney. I’m Popular Woodworking Magazine‘s new managing editor, a woodworker, toolmaker and, depending on the day, musician, engineer and general autodidact. […]

The post From Redwoods to Red Ink appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Hampton Court Palace

David Barron Furniture - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 2:11am

Last weekend we visited Hampton Court Palace as well as the flower show for our 25th wedding anniversary and had a great time. The sheer scale and magnificence of this palace is hard to capture with my (lack of) camera skills.

One of a number of internal courtyards and below one of the views of the equally impressive gardens stretching out in every direction.

Huge tromp l'oil  painting on the wooden walls of the main staircase.

In the kitchens were numerous original tables of similar design.

A large sliding dovetail keeping the top flat and secure as well as allowing safe seasonal movement.

This was supported by a single massive leg and foot joined with draw bored tenons.

A massive oak table with single length boards was very impressive, particularly when this was built there were no machinery.

It was interesting to see the top and been veneered many years ago presumably to cover a very worn top surface. When I say veneer it was more than 1/4" thick!

In the wine cellar lots of old oak barrels which were hooped with wooden staves. I didn't get a chance to ask about these. Were they added wet and tightened up as they dried?

On a very warm day this very helpful young man had the unenviable job of constantly turning the spit roasted joint for 4 hours! By turning the joint the juices never got a chance to leave the meat and the drip tray below was dry. He explained this was the true way to roast meat and that when we 'roast' a joint in the oven we are really just baking it. And yes after all his efforts he did get first pickings of the delicious juicy joint!

Quarter sawn oak panelling was everywhere in the palace, used for it's stability in these thin panels.

The beauty of booked matched quarter sawn panels was also fully exploited.

There were rooms full of this intricate linen fold carving

Needless to say if you have never been to Hampton Court Palace it is well worth a visit. If you want to do the house and gardens it's a full days trip, if not two.

Categories: Hand Tools

another short shop day......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 1:35am
Today did get noticeably drier. It didn't feel that way when I hoofed it to the chinese place for lunch. However, the ride home had a smattering of off and on rain and after I got home, it really started to come down. The temp at lunchtime was 83°F (28°C) and after the rain storm my porch thermometer was reading 70°F (21°C). It was a lot more comfortable working in the shop tonight. I can't wait to get this bookcase done and out of the shop.

got it
 I got the profile planed but it was not easy to do. It took a bit of oomph to do it, especially on the lead in. The plane was binding and hesitant and even when it stopped cutting, it still didn't move too easily end to end.

no match here
This is where the iron ended up before it make a shaving in the bead portion. The good match up I thought I had yesterday appears to have been an hallucination. I did ID where and what is causing the binding. The right most flat has a lot of the iron showing above it but that wasn't the cause. It you look at the right side of the bead, the iron disappears into the plane. The bottom of the bead has too much iron showing too but the right side was causing the binding. Or maybe the whole bead portion is out to lunch. Regardless of what is at fault, I'll have to grind this profile to match the plane sole a lot better than it is now. One more molder into the gotta fix it pile.

That is the bane of these old molders. Less then half of the irons in my molding herd are an ok match and work and others, like this, work but not well. I only have 4-5 molders that I would say are a good match and plane well. I would guesstimate that over half of my molding plane irons don't match the plane sole well enough to plane their profile. I have two I would like to use but they aren't any good except to use as paperweights. I have a lot of man hours upcoming reshaping irons to their soles.

forgot about this
This is the knob from my hand drill that snapped in two when I tried to screw it back on. I glued it, wrapped it in blue painters tape and set it cook on my sharpening bench. Where I promptly forgot it until I saw the drill sans the knob tonight. The glue job appears to have worked well.

see the glue line?
When I was looking at this as I snapped this pic, I couldn't see the glue line. In the pic, I think it sticks out readily. It is solid now and two drop tests on to the bench proved it.

good and solid now
The knob had a good tight fitting feeling and I didn't feel any slop in it at all. Maybe it'll last another 50-60 years before my grandson has to fix again or makes a new one.

fingers crossed on this
I'm hoping that this will be the last coat of paint. If it is, I'll lightly sand this with 220 and put on a coat of water based poly. The weather is cooperating now with no humidity so this should cure out well.

it is not a shadow
The errant brush stroke that I deposited gray on the white is still visible. I put a second coat on it again tonight and I'll keep happy thoughts that it'll cover it.

Freddy Roman had left a comment on my blog a while back that the Parlee Lumber and Box company lumber yard out in Littleton Mass sold wide pine boards. I put in for a vacation day next friday and I had planned to go there and get some wide pine to make my grandson's tool chest. That won't be happening because Freddy did a post on the lumber yard closing. I remember a lumberyard in Griswold Conn(?) that sold wide pine boards so I'll search for that and see what shakes out. I would like to find someplace within a two hour drive of my house.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
In what war were khaki colored uniforms first used?
answer - the 1880 Afghan war


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