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Go Johnny, go.

Giant Cypress - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 10:48am

Go Johnny, go.

clocks and sharpening......

Accidental Woodworker - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 3:18am
Didn't get a lot done in the shop today and I may not get much done tomorrow. I got the clock going and I'll need 24 hours before will make any adjustments to it. The sharpening thing is under going a major rethink. The clock was first and then I did some sharpening.

24 hours and ready to unclamp
it's holding
Both sides are sprung a bit for a lack of a better word. They are laying on the speaker at a slight angle. The hide glue seems to be holding well and I think I'm going to forgo the screws for now. They are something that I can add later if need be.

got 3 packages of AAA
Do I have any AA batteries? I have one and I need two of them for the movement. I had to make a quick pit stop at Wally World.

put the batteries in backwards the first time
The polarity for the left hand battery is partially obscured by the pendulum arm. I went around the dial 3 hour rotations and didn't get any chimes or an hour count. A dark sucker (flashlight) showed me the error of my ways. After that I got chimes and the hour count.

fixing the clock upstairs
There is a Perry Mason marathon on and I have to watch it. It isn't the old TV series that ran from 1957 to 1966 but the made for TV movies. I've seen them all a bazillion times but I really like watching them again.

Can we say that this sucks out loud together? Plastic hands for a clock?  Even from far away you can tell that they are plastic. The metal ones I took off the old movement don't quite fit. They are a frog hair too large and they, especially the  hour hand, need to be a snug fit on the time post. If it slips, the time you read will be toast.

it's working
The hour count is correct after running one hour. The chimes are going off every15 minutes with the full Westminster on the hour. Now it's a waiting game to see how well it's running 24 hours from now. I got the old hands on there now because I can't bring myself to put the plastic crap on.

back to sharpening
 A couple of items I have to address and tic off from column A and move to column B. The first is a shiny bevel. For a quite a long time I have taken a shiny bevel as being sharp. The shinier I got it, the sharper I assumed it was. Learned the hard way that this isn't true.

I can have the shiniest bevel in the universe and still have an iron that wouldn't cut wet paper. A sharp iron is where the toe on the bevel goes to nothing meeting the back of the iron. Therefore, I can have a shiny bevel and a dull iron at the same time.

Now we come to the burr. I've been watching sharpening videos a lot lately and 4 or 5 stand out for one thing. These guys only use two stones to sharpen - a coarse stone to raise a burr and a fine stone to polish the bevel. Two of them that come to mind are Rob Cosman and Richard Maguire using the two stone method. The two stones apart, all of the methods I watched raised a burr first.

I kind of realized that I wasn't doing this a few months ago but I don't sharpen that often. And I was out in La-La land being seduced by that shiny bevel. I also think I was under the influence of Mars being in the House of Jupiter. Or is that the other way around?

The burr raised is much more important then the shiny bevel. The burr comes from the zero meeting of the back of the iron and the toe of the bevel. Once I feel a burr straight across I can then get my shiny bevel.

I only sharpen at two angles 25 or 30
I use these two to set the angle of the tool being sharpened in my LN honing guide.

I set the honing guide on the top and drop iron down
the iron rests on an aluminum angle iron
This drop equals a 25° angle with the iron in the honing guide. I used aluminum as the stop because it'll hold up better than a piece of wood.

current stone setup

Coarse, medium, and fine diamond stones with a 8000 Japanese polishing stone.

stropping is last
After I go through them this is the last thing I do before I install it in the plane and road test it.

problem iron
I have already sharpened this iron several times previously using my step up. I have a burr on this iron except for the spot inbetween the two black lines in the middle. I was not able to raise a burr on the coarse diamond stone after several minutes of back and forth. However, I was getting the bevel shiny.

my coarsest diamond stone
This is what Richard Maguire uses as his first stone to raise the burr. I'll be adding this to my sharpening regimen. The first step in the new way is to raise a  continuous burr first on this.

This raises another thought I had on my sharpening method. I am questioning my repeatability with the honing guide. But since I haven't been a good boy and checking for a continuous burr each time, I may be chasing my tail on this. I should establish getting a burr each and everytime I sharpen before I question the repeatable factor with the honing guide.

a few minutes work and I had my continuous burr
I have noticed on some sharpenings when I road tested them, I got shavings with holes in them. I thought is was the wood I was using was the cause. In retrospect, it was most likely a badly sharpened iron that had a flat spot on it.

you can have a shiny bevel and a burr
off the extra fine stone
I can still feel a continuous burr on the back at my next to last stone. The 8K polishing stone is next.

shiny I do like
I like it better now that I have sharp and shiny. I can't see any reflected light on the edge with a magnifying glass.

the 8K removed the burr and the black lines
the chipbreaker has a chip in it
This is what I have and I'll have to work with it as is. I stoned and stropped what I could on it.

LN A2 iron
This iron came out of my LN 51 plane and it was dull. I was barely able to shave powder but the bevel is so damn shiny and sharp looking. I have two LN A2 irons that I use only in the 51. I have two LN O1 irons that I only use in my LN 4 1/2. I find the O1 irons to be much easier to sharpen.

I still don't buy the thick iron PR

It took me a while, but I finally raised a burr across the back of the iron. I went to work on the coarse diamond stone and the top right corner is low. I was a bit larger than this but after a couple of minutes it started to reduce some. I seemed to be stuck on this small spot just staying the same size. If my thinking on this is right, the scratchy spot is low and the rest of the bevel is high. That means I have to take a lot of A2 metal off to level this out.

cleaned it off
LN recommended that I clean the honing guide after each use because I use diamond stones. This is where I'm calling it quits today. I spritzed it with water, wiped it down, and then gave it a aerosol can air bath.

I still have a burr
This brings up another question. I have a continuous burr across the back but it doesn't feel even. It is heavier at the spot where it is low and lighter on the shinier part of the bevel. I'll see what shakes out tomorrow when I finish sharpening this iron.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
How much silver is in Sterling Silver?
answer - 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper

Thoughts on Dovetails.

David Barron Furniture - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 3:07am

Here's a nice pine box from Daniel. He used the 90 degree guide to pare down to the base line giving a nice flat bottom to his dovetails, good idea.  I've seen a few different ways to achieve this, the classic way is to chisel a hump in the middle from both sides and then carefully pare it flat. Personally I prefer a hollow in mine, it's faster, no less strong and gives me the reassurance of no gaps on assembly.

Many woodworkers assume that pine is an easy wood to dovetail, it's soft and forgiving which means you can bang home the joint without much risk of splitting. However that same softness is also a disadvantage as the sides easily collapse under pressure and spoil the crispness of the finished joint.
I've found the best combination for dovetailing is a 'hard' wood for the tails, which hold their crisp shape and a 'softer' wood for the pins with some flexibility. A classic combination is hard maple and walnut, which also gives a strong colour contrast to the joint.

The dovetail alignment board below was Marks first project with his new 1:6 and 90 degree guides and he looks to have done a great job. The alignment board is a very useful tool and a great project to get used to using the guides. It's best made from a single board (quarter sawn if possible) for future stability. If you leave the parts over long then any mistakes made in the joint can be cut off and you can have another go.

Using 3/4" board also makes you appreciate the need for squareness in your dovetails, the thicker the material the more chance your cuts will wander off square and the joint won't fit. This is where the magnetic guides really come in their own keeping the cuts straight, but above all, square.
Nice to see a bit of Blue Spruce tool porn in there!

Categories: Hand Tools

Meet the Author: Jim Tolpin

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 7:05pm


In early March 2017, Jim Tolpin woke up in the middle of the night with a revelation: He finally understood where trigonometry comes from. “I was actually just working on that when you called,” he says. “And I actually think I just figured it out.”

He approached it the way an artisan would, hands-on, intuitive. “It hurts my head to keep doing this,” he says. “Why am I doing this? Why am I waking up in the middle of the night thinking about math? I literally got up early and just started taking notes, looking up Latin and root words.”

Jim is, above all else, a teacher. But he’s the best kind of teacher. The kind who never believes he knows it all, the kind who never stops learning. In some ways, he can’t help it. It’s in his blood.

Jim grew up on the East coast, specifically Springfield, Mass., with his parents and his sister. His family is East European and came over several generations before. Most of them were in the sciences, but his highly educated grandfather was a craftsperson, who found work in America as a grocer and cabinetmaker.

As a young boy Jim spent the weekends with his grandfather, tagging along to lumberyards, helping him pick out material and working on small projects with him at home. “He definitely was a very early inspiration to the pleasures of making something with your hands and seeing it come to life,” Jim says. “I attribute that to him.”

Jim’s parents were not craftspeople. “My dad was basically a bean counter and a court reporter, and my mom was an at-home mom,” he says. “I related quite a bit more to my grandparents than I did to my own parents.”

Most everyone else in Jim’s family? Teachers.

In high school Jim fell in love with studying the sciences. “I had some super-nerd friends and we got together and built ham radios and went up to the mountains with our radios and set up antennas and did all that kind of fun stuff,” he says.

Jim attended University of Massachusetts Amherst, first majoring in physics and then switching to geology with a minor in journalism. He enjoyed field work, especially mapping, and working with his hands.

“At this point I really enjoyed learning about science and understanding the basic concepts of it, and I wanted to do what Carl Sagan ended up doing, which was bringing science to the public and being able to explain it to the public,” he says. One of Jim’s favorite professors taught both geology and journalism. Jim’s future career, science writing, seemed obvious. He was accepted into Stanford to pursue a doctorate. in just that. But then came the Vietnam War. Jim got a deferment and entered the Teachers Corps in Wooster, Mass., for one year.

After the Teachers Corps, Jim got a job teaching geology at the University of New Hampshire in 1970. There he met some students who had studied under Tage Frid at the Rhode Island School of Design. They were taking on various cabinetmaking and installation jobs, and Jim devoted himself to them, helping them and learning from them. “Within just a year or so I think I learned more about woodworking than I did about geology in four years of college,” he says. “Because of that total immersion, that total engagement.” At this point, “science writer” began to fade. “I had an inherent compulsion to want to work with my hands,” he said.

Enter Bud McIntosh, an old-school boat builder. Bud turned out to be a huge influence on Jim, convincing him that he wouldn’t be throwing away his education by going into woodworking. “He also had a degree in classic literature, actually, but he devoted his whole life to boat building, and found it a challenge from start to finish.”

Something clicked. Jim realized there could be challenge, joy and the chance to always learn new things in the field of woodworking. “My mind and my hands would be fully engaged,” he says.


Jim Tolpin timberframing in the early 1970s. Photo by Ken Kellman.


Jim continued cabinetmaking and then got a job with another boat builder in Rockport, Maine, fitting out interiors of workboat-type yachts. It was a crash course in complicated woodworking (think slopes and curves) that improved his work.

In 1978 Jim moved out to the West coast, Washington state, specifically, with his young family for opportunities in boatbuilding. He heard the pay was better — and it was. He found work right away doing interior finishes on boats, but soon transitioned to cabinetmaking for a couple reasons: he could make even more money and he realized he was a more efficient cabinetmaker than he was a boatbuilder.

Wagon work

Jim building a tinker’s wagon in the early 1980s.

Cabinetmaker and son

Jim with his son and traveling model cabinet in the early 1990s. Photo by Pat Cudahy.

Jim learned how to make a (good) living out of a small cabinetmaking shop. He experimented with setups, and figured out the best way to design his workflow. And from that came his first book: “Jim Tolpin’s Guide to Becoming a Professional Cabinetmaker.”

So he wasn’t his own version of Carl Sagan. And he wasn’t teaching anyone about science. But he was teaching woodworking. And so, his college dream began to come true in another way. (Spoiler alert: He’s now written more than a dozen books and has sold more than three-quarters of a million copies.)

In the cabinetshop

Jim’s cabinet shop in the early 1990s. Photo by Pat Cudahy.

During these years Jim says he thoroughly enjoyed cabinetmaking, and not just the making. He enjoyed figuring out, and writing about, how to run a successful cabinet shop. “Really the goal, in cabinetry, is to design a system where you can hire some kid off the street and in one or two days you can teach him the entire process,” he says. “When I realized that I was that kid off the street, it wasn’t challenging anymore.”

So he explored new avenues of woodworking. This included green woodworking, and building pitchforks and chairs with his friend, Dave Sawyer. “And then I got into this whole notion of building small boats,” he says. “I did a couple small boats and then I got into gypsy wagons.”



Yes. Gypsy wagons.

“That was a real challenge,” Jim says. “I didn’t have plans for building gypsy wagons. I did have some museum drawings but they didn’t show joinery. And I needed to do joinery for something that could travel on the highway. So I kind of did a lot of seat-of-the-pants engineering to build these things.” He built six.

It was during these years that Jim became a prolific writer. “I’m writing stuff down as I’m learning it,” he says. “So after I learned something and felt like I really had a handle on it I’d write a book about it. There’s a whole series of books that happened one after another and I slowly migrated from making a living woodworking to making a living writing about woodworking. I was really getting into a balance of journalism and doing the craft itself.”

And Jim loved that balance. He was living out Bud’s wisdom, engaging both his hands and his mind while also doing what he loved — woodworking along with constant learning.

“Most afternoons and evenings I’d be in the shop making stuff, testing things out, testing out some theories about the process,” he says. His mornings, when he says he was “freshest and not antsy,” were devoted to writing. “I was constantly discovering a different way of looking at all these processes and trying to really understand what’s really happening when we use a tool on wood in a certain way. What’s really going on from a physics point of view? And I’d do some analysis about that and experiment with that. I’m not a fast learner, by any means. I had to really experience it. I find that I have to work from my hands to understand something.”

With his books, Jim became a household name among woodworkers. With this fame came the reputation that he was, as he says, an absolutely fantastic woodworker. “I’m an OK woodworker,” Jim says. “I do pretty good woodworking.” But, he says, he’d never consider himself a fine woodworker, one who builds studio furniture. “I just basically became a good woodworker that does good stuff.” (I tell him he’s being humble.)

He admits to being a good teacher — it’s his passion. But he finds it interesting that people confuse the prolific writing he does with this idea that he’s an exceptional woodworker. “I’m much more interested in the process, in teaching the process than I am the product.”

He has no attachment to the things he makes, which likely stems from 25 years of cabinetmaking and spending a month on a project only to sell it to a client and never see it again. His joy, he says, came from the process of making them.

With a number of books under his belt Jim was approached by Tim Lawson at a neighborhood party. Tim thought Port Townsend was the perfect location for a woodworking school. “It’s a very rich learning environment here and there are so many masters of different trades here,” Jim says. “He just approached me and asked me if I’d think about it and I thought about it for about 30 seconds and said, ‘Yeah. Let’s see what we can do.’”

But Jim had one condition. “If I did teach I would only teach the hand tools because I was done with routers and tables saws,” he says. “Well, not exactly table saws but I was absolutely done with routers and power sanders. I gave them all away. I’d be happy to never see one for the rest of my life.”

For Jim this was a circling back to his time as a boat builder, which required lots of hand fitting with planes and chisels. This also meant a return to another love: learning. “I returned myself to studying and practicing and really developing my hand tool skills,” he says. And he now firmly believes that machines aren’t able to teach the same things as hand tools — an intimate connection with the wood is essential. “And for selfish reasons I just didn’t want to be around students and power tools,” he says. “They scare me, the tools scare me to death.”

Jim and Tim teamed up with John Marckworth, and the three founded the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. It officially opened its doors March 8, 2008. Today the school is considered to be one of the finest in the country.

In many ways, Jim has lived several lifetimes but his story, of course, doesn’t end here. About five years ago he attended a lecture about proportional systems and the influence of Grecian architecture in furniture at a Woodworking in America conference given by George Walker, a man he’d never met. And George attended Jim’s lecture on how our bodies inform the form and function of furniture, having never met. At the end of each lecture, Jim and George were asking each other questions the other had never considered. “And basically, we’ve been talking ever since,” Jim says. “He can’t shut up about it. Neither can I. We find there’s always something to learn about the ancient systems that have been in place for thousands of years about designing furniture and building.”

It was after those lectures, at a bar in Chicago, when Jim said to George, “You’ve got to write a book about this stuff.” George said, “I don’t know how to write a book.” But Jim, of course, did. “We just ended up in full collaboration mode,” Jim says.

The result: “By Hand & Eye” and “By Hound & Eye,” with “Tricks and Truths: Geometry of Antiquity For Artisans of Today” forthcoming.

By Hand and Eye Class Pix

Jim teaching a By Hand & Eye class.

The duo has formed their own company, By Hand & Eye, LLC, and occasionally meet up to give talks. Recently they both traveled to Los Angeles to give a 90-minute talk to Google’s design team. (And if you haven’t watched the “By Hand & Eye” animation made by Andrea Love, who also was the illustrator of “By Hound & Eye,” you must. You can see it here.)

These days a typical week in Jim’s life includes continuing program development for the Port Townsend School of Woodworking, working on projects for Lost Art Press, woodworking (the day we spoke he said he was headed over to a friend’s house that afternoon to help plank an 18-foot-long rowboat) as well as what he calls “reality maintenance chores.” He also goes to the school two to three times a week, visiting classes.

Since moving to Port Townsend Jim has remarried. His wife, recently retired, worked as a physician for more than 30 years. He has two grown children from his first marriage and now also has a grown son and a 15-year-old who lives at home.

Home is in uptown Port Townsend, an old Victorian town and one of the only Victorian seaports left in the United States. His house is one of the oldest in town. The design of his shop, which was completed a couple years ago, was informed by the existing house. Jim designed the shop and one of the school’s main instructors, a third-generation carpenter named Abel Isaac Dances, took the lead on it. Several graduates from the school’s foundation course spent a summer working as paid apprentices, and together they built 90 percent of the shop using only hand tools.

The town of Port Townsend is small and fairly quiet, except in the touristy summer months. And, it’s walkable. Jim and his wife can walk to the movie theater or down to the water in about 7 minutes. They visit farmers’ market and grow their own herbs and berries — lots of raspberries. “I feel like I’m living this charmed existence,” he says.

Jim says he can’t imagine ever leaving Port Townsend. It’s home. In the years ahead he expects growth in the woodworking school, with expanded programming. “And I always think that the book I’m working on now is the last book I’m ever going to write, and that was six books ago,” he says, laughing. “If I know I have something worthwhile to say I will probably keep writing.”

And ever the life-long learner, Jim plans to continue the role of student. “There are college courses I want to take online,” he says. “I may go back to college for all I know.” He tells the story of his uncle who, at 100 years old, went back to college to major in American history. “I talked to him when he went back to college, and he said, ‘I’m really cheating, actually.’ And I asked him, ‘Why are you cheating?’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m majoring in American history and I lived through half of that.’ He was a very funny guy. He was an inspiration to me. He had this love of learning his whole life.”

Jim’s love of learning shows up every day in his shop. “This is what happens to me: I’ll be doing something and I’ll just question, Why am I doing that? I was one of those really annoying students that always asked that question. I even asked why one and one equals two, because that made no sense to me. It turns out it’s a good question, by the way, in mathematics.”

Jim says he loves going back and revisiting things he had been taught, but this time with deeper meaning and explanation. “I want to know the intuitive reason why all these things work,” he says. “I mean, how long did it take me to realize why a plane is called a plane? It’s because it makes a plane. I should have known that. I should have known that 35 years ago. As soon as you say that to someone they whack their foreheads. It’s fun. It’s just really fun and that’s why I keep doing it.”

This constant questioning, thinking, experimenting and processing requires intense focus, which is why Jim enjoys working alone. His shop music is lyric-less: classical, Gaelic or electronica.

This intense focus also requires breaks. For fun, Jim enjoys making gliders. “I make wood that flies, basically,” he says. Made out of balsa, most without motors, Jim says they’re simply hand-launched things that play with the wind. It’s a passion that stems from his childhood, when he would make stick-and-tissue model airplanes.

He’s also keen on keeping himself physically fit, which means walking every day with his wife and rowing solo or with one person most every day in the warmer months. He goes to the gym almost every other day for basic conditioning, in order to continue rowing and working with hand tools as he is now. “When I do that stuff I’m not thinking about all the other stuff,” he says. “I’m just enjoying being outside, getting into nature and getting into the physical exertion of my body.”

The paths in Jim’s life have led him to unexpected places, and yet, the destination has always been the same: figuring out a process with his hands, and knowing and understanding it so deeply he can explain it, simply, to others. “I love being in the position of not knowing but maybe going to find out,” he says. He hopes to keep his eyes as wide open as possible, while not taking things personally and observing slowly. He encourages others, particularly longtime woodworkers, to do the same.

“Pass on what you know while you still can,” he says. “There are a lot of people out there who want to know this stuff. If you have an inclination to teach, do it. You’re not more than you think you know, so pass it on.”

— Kara Gebhart Uhl

Filed under: By Hand & Eye, By Hound and Eye, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

‘You Smell Like Mothballs’

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 3:53pm

0319 Jonathan Fisher Chests of Drawers-2

Last night I got home from work and my wife said, “You smell like mothballs.” I am pretty sure I looked a bit disheveled too. I had a blank stare on my face and had the hair-falling-out-of-the-ponytail halo going on. “I just had a mind-blowing experience,” I replied.

I had just gotten back from the Fisher house and was digging deeper into a couple of chests of drawers that had never seemed relevant to the Fisher story. I never gave them too much notice because they looked nothing like the rest of his work – too fancy. Because he built furniture for a rural community, most all of Fisher’s work was on the less expensive side of things. He made ladderback chairs, candlestands, six-board chests, etc. ranging between $1 and $3 apiece. He never really got the opportunity to exercise his (uber meticulous) skill on furniture that was a bit more upscale. That is, until Mr. Johnson commissioned two chests of drawers in 1812. As I was tracing through this story while putting together the manuscript, I was struck by the fact that Johnson paid $14 for the two chests, making it Fisher’s biggest commission ever.

What did those chests look like? And where are they?

At that moment, it dawned on me to revisit the two chests I’d been dismissing as not from his hand. Maybe these were made by Fisher?

0319 Jonathan Fisher Chests of Drawers

Mike and I had the drawers out, our heads inside and flashlights glaring for a good long while. We began to reveal bit by bit little evidences that make it possible that Fisher was, in fact, the maker of these chests. Besides the fascinating chalk marks that tie these pieces together, we were looking at some unique construction details like the fact that the backboards that were resawn by hand and attached bookmatched next to each other.

My mind reels as I record this story in the book. With the War of 1812 (which Fisher was adamantly against) just declared, his new infant son deathly ill and his windmill partially assembled, this commission must have been a dramatic one to work through. Putting these kinds of stories together in this book has been an amazing privilege. There is more to write so I should end here, but it’s refreshing to come back up for air to share with you my adventures in writing.

— Joshua Klein, Mortise & Tenon magazine

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

rear post for a wainscot chair

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 3:22pm

The next couple of weeks will feature some chairmaking here. As I said earlier, I’m revisiting the ladderback chairs I began my woodworking career with…I shaved some posts & rungs and chopped slat mortises – but shot no pictures. But today, I had some wainscot chair work to do; and what a world of difference. I had to fashion one hewn rear post for a wainscot chair like this:

wainscot chair, side view

The “cant” or “rake” to the rear post is hewn, not bent like in Alexander’s ladderback. This post starts out as a split billet 3″ x 4″ x 48″. That’s a lot of oak. I hewed it oversized; a few weeks ago I worked one and it was too close to the finished size. When I was done hewing and planing, it came up “scant” – i.e. too small in cross-section to match the first one. Here, you see the template laying on the riven and hewn piece:

Thinking about the JA chairs – this one billet had enough wood to maybe make 3 or 4 posts for a JA ladderback. This is a rare case where I work primarily on the tangential face first. I want the front face of these posts to be the radial surface (it’s going to be carved, & I like carving that face better than this one). So the cant gets laid out on the growth-ring plane.

Once I hewed and planed that face pretty flat, I scribed the template and began to hew the shape. The front is easy enough to hew, because of the way you’re cutting down the grain. In this photo, I have the front faces planed, and I’m cutting the thickness of the post above the seat. I decided to saw, rather than split this, so I can use the piece that’s coming off – it will become either a stretcher or one of the carved figures that is applied to the side of the chair. I made a relief cut at the seat height, and am sawing down to that cut. In the photo, this saw cut is nearly done. Then the stuff below the seat will get hewn away, there’s nothing worth saving there, so hewing is quicker than sawing. Easier too. You can see relief cuts there too, I stood the piece up on its top end and hewed down to the mid-point. 

Cleaning up these rear surfaces is pretty easy. They don’t have to be dead-flat or true. I shim under the end, and shove the post against my bench hook/planing stop. A holdfast keeps it in place. I’m only planing as far as the plane will fit. It gets close to, but not up to, the angled spot where the post leans back. I skew the plane to get close…

Then switch to a spoke shave. it’s one of the few times I use this tool in joiner’s work. That’ll sneak right up to that junction.

I have to let it dry out a couple of weeks, then I can cut the joinery in it & continue on with the chair. I have another to start in the meantime, so there will be more chair work on the blog soon.

Kerfing Plane III

The Barn on White Run - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 5:24am

With the initial endeavor into making a Tom Fidgen-ish  kerfing plan resulting in a functional tool, I needed one last step to make it worth keeping on the shelf.  Since the body of the plow plan was so short, the tool had a tendency to try to flip forward as I was using it aggressively.  So, I fashioned a handle for it based on tracing one of my favorite hand saw handles.

Like a lot of things I make in my shop, especially when prototyping, the handle was from a scrap piece of wood from the scrap box, cut with a coping saw and in this case simply glued to the body of the plane with yellow glue since I did not want to whip up a new jar of hot hide glue just for this.

I got the orientation of the handle a little high, angle-wise, but it lengthened the profile of the plane so that I could really get to it.  With a new blade in its proper orientation (not pictured) it works like a charm and sits in a handy place right over the planing beam.

It was a great introduction to the tool and I thank Tom Fidgen for introducing it to me.  The plow plane starting point was a good one for me, but the final result was a bit clunky in my hand even thought it preformed exceedingly well.

But I wasn’t done yet.

maintenance shop day......

Accidental Woodworker - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 12:09am
A quick mini rant against Window 10. First let me say I understand the importance of updating my computer. I know how to do it, I know when to do them, and most importantly, I always did them. Not only is Windows 10 trying it's hardest to turn my laptop into a cell phone it has now taken away my ability to install updates when I want to do them.

I have updates set to ask me if it can install an update. It doesn't do that. Instead it installs them without asking me and then tells it is going restart. It happened to me tonight where I got the update installed message and do I want to restart now or later? I picked now to get it over and done with.  37 minutes later it was complete and I could use my computer. This sucks not having this control over my own computer but having to wait and not having use of my computer sucks even more.

a surprise
I had ordered these back in Nov of last year. They were back ordered but I told Lee Valley to ship them when they were available. I got an email wednesday from them saying it had shipped. I had to look up the order because I had forgotten what it was. They came in today.

 I've been told the old nails looked like this
squarish shank with a point
the shank isn't centered on all of the heads
My opinion on nails and furniture changed after I saw a lot of shaker furniture up close and personal at the Shaker village in New Hampshire, the village at Pittsfield Massachusetts, and Pleasant Hills village in Kentucky. I was surprised at how many nails I could easily see in the furniture. There didn't seem to be any attempt to hide them at all. I don't remember them looking like these though.

speaker clamps
They aren't very pretty but they won't be seen and they will secure the speaker in place.

gluing them in place with OBG
my small screw stash
Once the glue has set up I'll add a couple of screws on each side to help hold them down.

my maintenance pile
 I have ten plane irons to sharpen and 5 chipbreakers to fettle. I'll be doing this for a while. The first batter is the chipbreaker for the #8 iron. The iron has been sharpened already and I need to fettle the chipbreaker.

the patent date on this chipbreaker is 1867
I got a flat from side to side and this is ready to road test.

stropped the leading edge
I think getting the leading edge shiny and smooth helps the shavings to easily pass up and over the hump.

nice pile of shavings
no shavings in the space
I wasn't sure if I saw light under the chipbreaker but I made a bucketful of shavings and I don't see any shavings etc in there.

it's a record iron
I have had this iron since I was in the Navy. I don't remember where or how I got it but I finally have a plane to put it in.

which pile is the Stanley and which is the Record?
You can't tell by looking at these which iron made them.

#3 iron
My sharpening education continues. This iron was in the #3 plane and it made good shavings but it felt like it was dulling so I swapped it. I ran it about 10 times on the coarse stone and only felt a small burr on the two corners. Things like this puzzle me. I expected to feel a burr straight across. I'm using a honing guide and I set the projection the way I always do. So why no continuous burr?

bevel is shiny
I'm finding out that this shiny bevel doesn't mean diddly squat. The burr on the back means more than this.

the reason why
The spot where my finger is at has a small flat where the toe of the bevel meets the back. This is also the area where I didn't feel a burr.  Last year I wouldn't have looked nor felt for a burr. I assumed then that I was using a honing guide so I didn't have to. After all, I got a shiny bevel and a shaving coming up from the mouth.

I do have a couple of irons that I get a burr raised on but most I'm finding are like this one. I think I'm going to have to go through each and every iron and re-establish the bevels until I get a continuous burr on all of them.

spokeshave iron
 One side of this iron will make shavings and the other side won't. I have a nice shiny bevel but with a magnifying glass I can flat on the side of the spokeshave that won't make a shaving. I had thought that I wasn't using the right technique with the spokeshave. I thought that was the problem and not the iron not being sharpened properly.

Spokeshave irons I do free hand because they are too small for me to grip with just my fingers. My thanks to Paul Sellers for showing how to make this holder for sharpening these small irons. I still have more to learn about sharpening even though I think I have a lot of knowledge about it.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
How many teeth do turtles have?
answer - none, they have horny beaks similar to birds

Mistakes Were Made…

The Furniture Record - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 10:44pm

There is a fairly common type furniture, many variations with the word setback almost always being in the name. Usually made in two pieces, stacked with the upper section being shallower than the lower. They often look as if they could exist as two pieces of furniture. The base of the upper section is the same as or reflects the base of the lower section as in the following examples:


China on server?


Just a setback cupboard.


The same only primitive.

I ran across this piece in a Raleigh antique/consignment shop. I believe mistakes were made in stacking:


Just don’t look right…

(Although this style is fairly common, I still had to go through 8,000 picture to come up with these the three exemplars. I really need to get an intern.)

Shop Update for 3/17/17: Boring a Through Mortise

The Renaissance Woodworker - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 1:18pm

Save This Technique for Large Mortises

I got a lot of questions after I chopped out a through mortise last week about whether boring the mortise is a valid approach. So this week I used my brace and augers to bore out the bulk of the waste and then pare back to the lines. I think you will see that the process is not actually any faster. But when you have really large mortises that exceed the sizes of your chisels, boring out the waste definitely makes sense.

Categories: Hand Tools

Drawer Runners

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 12:35pm

FIG. 1. CUT-AWAY VIEW FROM REAR OF SOLID END CARCASE. The runners rest in grooves so that they are supported throughout their length. No glue is used (except at the stub-tenon at the front) as this would cause the ends to split in the event of shrinkage.

This is an excerpt from “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years: Volume II” published by Lost Art Press.

That drawer runners must be strong is fairly obvious, but there are other equally important considerations to be kept in mind. For example, they must be square with the front and be free from winding. The latter point may not always be apparent. Glance for a minute at Fig. 2, which represents a cabinet seen from the side with the end removed. If the distance between runners and guides is measured it might well happen that it would be the same everywhere, and the work might be passed as in order. But the drawers would not run properly owing to the runners being in winding. This is a detail over which it is easy to trip.

When there is just one drawer occupying the whole space in a carcase it generally runs directly on the bottom, and the top acts in place of kickers. In a similar way the cabinet sides are virtually the guides. When there are several drawers, or when the lower part is occupied by a cupboard, however, it becomes necessary to add separate runners, guides, and kickers. The method of fixing these depends primarily upon the construction of the cabinet itself. For instance, the fixing in a cabinet with solid ends is rather different from that in one having panelled ends, because in the former allowance has to be made for shrinkage.


FIG. 2. IMAGINARY SIDE VIEW OF CABINET. The runners are in winding so that, although the distances shown by the arrows are all equal, the drawer would not run properly.


A reliable method for these is given in Fig. 1. It will be noticed that the mid-drawer rail is grooved at the back. This is to enable a dustboard to be fixed, but it incidentally provides a useful means of securing the runners, the front ends of which are stub-tenoned. When no dustboard is required the groove is cut in locally to provide a mortise in which the stub-tenon can fit. The runners are grooved with the plough at the same setting, then when the stub-tenons are cut it is merely necessary to make them line up with the groove.

It will be seen that the runners rest in grooves worked across the ends. This is essential for a really strong job because the grooves offer direct resistance to the downward pressure of the drawers. It is important, however, that no glue is used for fixing because, in the event of shrinkage, the ends would be liable to split. The best plan is to glue just the tenon and drive in a skew nail, partly to force the runner tightly home, and partly to hold it whilst the glue sets. At the back a screw is used, the wood being cut away to remove the groove and to enable a shorter screw to be used. Note that a slot is cut for the screw rather than a round hole. This enables the end to draw along the runner in the case of shrinkage, so avoiding splitting. The screw serves to hold the runner in place rather than to provide direct support.

Since there is no end to which the centre runner can be attached, another method has to be adopted here. It depends in a measure upon the kind of back being fitted. If there is a fairly substantial muntin in the middle it is often possible to cut a groove across it and allow the back end of the runner to rest in this. If this is not practicable the simplest alternative is to introduce a hanger at the back, as shown in Fig. 1. This can be conveniently dovetailed into the top rail. At the bottom it is again dovetailed, this time into the runner itself. The fixing at the front is by the stub-tenon as in the side runners. Skew nails again are advisable to prevent any tendency to pull out. Both edges are grooved for dustboards, and in this connection it should be noted that the back dovetail is set in at each side sufficiently to clear the grooves easily.

A guide is needed in the middle, and the best form is a plain square of wood glued and screwed directly on top. It is a good plan to make it slightly tapered in width so that there is a trifle more width at back than at the front, so giving easy clearance for the drawers. This is not essential, however. Many workers prefer to make the job exactly the same size back and front. What is important is that there is not less clearance at the back.

When there is a solid top to the carcase this prevents any tendency for the drawer to drop when opened.

Sometimes, however, a couple of rails are substituted, as in Fig. 1, and this calls for the use of a kicker as shown. One only is needed because the rails are built out in their width at the ends and provide the necessary support. The strongest method is to frame the kicker between the rails before the last named are glued to the ends. Alternatively, a stub tenon can be cut at the front only, the back being butted. There is sufficient give in the wood to enable the tenon to be inserted and the back pressed down. A couple of nails can then be driven in askew, one at each side.

Meghan Bates


Filed under: Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker
Categories: Hand Tools

A happy customer

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:21am
Some lovely feedback from a recent customer. Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking


Northwest Woodworking - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:08am

I have a Hand Tool Shop class running this week with a fun group of folks trying their hands at this work. Being at the bench to the untrained eye looks like a picnic. Simply pick up your tools and build something. How hard could that be?

At craft shows I would inevitably have someone come up to me and say, “You know if I had the tools I would do this myself.” I could only smile at them. If you had the tools, you would have built it already, but tools aren’t the problem. It’s the knowledge that is. And once folks realize what a world this woodworking opens up for us, they understand how much there is to know.

One of my lecture topics this week was Flow. I realized how important it is to my productivity, my happiness at the bench when things go smoothly. Which is why disrupting things at a critical moment is so disturbing. I was on a roll, work was getting done, and then something interrupts the Flow. It could be that I lose a tool, or a jig breaks, or I go to find that board I always to use to brace this job and I can’t find it.

Building this work is challenging. Woodworkers when they admire a piece, they see artistry and form, or skill and joinery. They also see the time and effort that went into the piece. They know deep down how much Flow it took to arrange all this wood into the correct pattern to create the work they see before them.


1-Dovetail corner1






Categories: Hand Tools

A Couple of Celtic-influenced Projects

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 10:25am
celtic knotwork

I don’t always post holiday-themed projects, but hey – with my heritage, I can’t pass up the opportunity to share some Celtic knotwork in celebration the Emerald isle. So here are a couple woodworking articles from our archives that feature Celtic carving (though the “Peasant Chair” has a distinctly Moravian flavor to all but the carved back). Both the “Celtic Love Spoon” and the “Peasant Chair” predate our digital files, […]

The post A Couple of Celtic-influenced Projects appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 2: Sandpaper on Glass

Highland Woodworking - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 7:00am

Amy Herschleb attend Jim Dillon’s Hand Tool Sharpening class at Highland and came away with a new appreciation of working with sharp tools. In this series she will go into thoughtful detail on the 3 methods of sharpening Jim Dillon taught. Today she covers Method 1, Sandpaper on Glass.

The first technique we learned was sandpaper on glass, the simplest and cheapest way to get started, though the most expensive method when used over time. The price of sandpaper eventually will exceed the short-term savings of a quick setup. We used wet-dry sandpaper (dry to minimize the mess in the workshop) beginning with 180 grit.

The first directive was to flatten the back of the blade. By drawing the blade at an angle in a single direction, a diagonal hatching is achieved. When the entire back is thus marked, we move on to 220 and change the angle of the blade so that the scratch marks now make a cross-hatching. When the back of the blade is entirely changed to this opposing diagonal, we move up a grade of sandpaper, and so on until we reached 2400 grit.

At 2400 we achieved a mirror-like surface, from which no further refinement was necessary. All that remained was to remove the burr left on the front of the blade by dragging the front of the edge, ever so lightly, against the sandpaper, then gently wiping the back on it. This technique, called “backing off”, prevents the edge from being crushed or otherwise deformed by being pushed against the burr, which is barely detectable.

For the beveled edge we tried two different honing guides: a side clamp honing guide and the Veritas MK II standard honing guide. These guides support the blade at a consistent angle against the sharpening medium and require a simple measurement to set up (side clamp) or have predetermined settings (Veritas). Chris Schwarz recommends sharpening everything to 35° in his blog, Jim Dillon 30°, and both have made a wooden gauge set to their angle of choice.

Check back next Monday to read Amy’s thoughts about the second of the three basic systems of sharpening she learned.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the staff writer at Highland Woodworking. In 2015 she and her dad co-founded Coywolf Woodworks, their hobby shop in North Florida.

The post Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 2: Sandpaper on Glass appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Hello Wilbur. What do you think about hollow on the back of the blade (urasuki?) being non-symmetric? There's a blog post of yours from about 6 years ago where you restored a plane blade and flat portions of the back had a very artistic profile. I'm...

Giant Cypress - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 5:48am

Ideally, the ura should be symmetric. If you’re rehabbing a used chisel, there are going to be some factors out of your control if you’re trying to accomplish that. First, you don’t know how well the chisel was made when it was new. If the hollow wasn’t symmetric to start, maintaining a symmetric ura as you use it is going to be difficult. 

The second factor is how well the previous owner(s) of that chisel maintained that ura. They may not have been particularly careful about that.

Having said that, the primary purpose of the ura is to ease sharpening by keeping a small area of steel at the cutting edge. Whether the rest of the ura is symmetric or not doesn’t affect this function of the ura. For me, I try to maintain the ura on my chisels and plane blades to look as nice as I can, but I don’t worry about it too much if it’s not perfect.

In any case, I think the attention paid to the appearance of the ura is a relatively modern phenomenon, especially when you look at lots of examples of used Japanese tools.

Video: Make a Panel-cutting Sled for Your Table Saw

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 4:00am
panel cutting jig

In this video excerpt from “Table Saw Jigs & Fixtures,” Matthew Teague tells you why you might want this jig for your table saw, how to make it, and how to safely use it. Get instruction from Matthew on making 10 more essential table saw jigs on the video download – or better yet, get 24/7 access to all our videos (more than 400 of them on things woodworking!) on […]

The post Video: Make a Panel-cutting Sled for Your Table Saw appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

retrofitting a clock movement......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 12:13am
I am finally getting around to fixing this clock. It is one of two that I have to replace the movements in.  The two movements that I'm replacing were expensive with the two of them costing over $200.  They are/were total crap.  Both kept time but neither of them bim-bam'ed once. Come the first DST change, both clocks went south and stopped keeping time.

I have been making clocks for over 40 years and the quality of the movements available today I would put a step below junk. My favorite seller told me that quartz movements today are only good for 2 years, maybe. I made 27 clocks in the same way that Paul Sellers did for his first woodworking video. Out of those 27 movements, I have had nine movement failures.  All of the movements were made in China.

I know there were quality, long lasting quartz movements for sale once. I have a kitchen clock I made in 1995 that is still running, keeping perfect time. I had a wall clock I made in 1996 (my wife's brother owns it now) that is still running. That movement is still available but instead of having 3 chime rods, it only comes with 2 now. And the cost of it has doubled.

The movements I am using now are German made and cost about $90. They have bim-bam chimes (my favorite) and Westminster with night silence. They have a 3 year warranty which is way better than the chinese ones. I hope that these work out because I have run out of sources to get decent quartz movements.

fingers crossed on this
This is a first for me. I have never removed and put it in a replacement pendulum movement before.

potential problem area
The set back for the pendulum is the make or break point. The replacement movement will work without a pendulum and still bim-bam. I don't have that much meat to remove at the front of the slot. At the back I don't have that problem. This movement will be smashed flat with a sledge hammer once I take it out.

it fits
The pendulum has about 1/8" clearance but I wish I had a wee bit more. The important thing is that it fits in the original slot. I will look at it later and see if I can get a rasp in there and make some wiggle room.

big, easy to read instructions
I glanced over the time setting instructions and they were crystal clear. Some of these movements have instructions that you need a Shaman to decipher them.

not happening
The wire isn't long enough to have the speaker on the door and open and close it. I could splice some longer wires but I'm reluctant to do that. I still have bad memories of soldering wires back on the two movements I'm replacing. I'll have to find another spot to mount the speaker

brass cap nut
For some reason there were two clock accessory bags with this movement. I dropped one brass nut on the deck and I'm lucky I have another one.

sometimes you get lucky
The deck is littered with plane shavings and I found it after looking for it for just a few seconds.

transferring some lines
The instructions say that a series of 1/4" holes drilled in a 2 3/8" diameter circle can then have the speaker mounted over them. I drew a 2 3/8" circle on the inside bottom and I transferred the outside of that circle onto the bottom. Once I had that I drew another 2 3/8" circle on the bottom within those lines.

right over my brand
the ring that will secure the speaker in place

another hiccup
The real estate I have for the speaker ring is less than it's diameter. I don't want to put this forward and potentially hit the pendulum. I marked the overhang and filed it off.

circle only has 2 1/2 not 2 3/8
laid out a grid and drilled 1/4" holes
filed it - no problems doing it
piss ant sized screws
Three of these are used to hold the speaker retaining ring in place.

two screwed in
I had to take the movement out in order to get the top screw in. I did that and when I tightened it down, the other two screws popped out. I'm going to have to come up with another way to secure the speaker. I can't leave it loose on the bottom of the clock.

what I came up with
I marked the outside of the speaker on the edge of this piece of 1/8" plywood. I then traced a line parallel to that 1/8" over to the right of that line. I had to do that so the 1/2" circle would fit over the lip that is on the speaker. I had to quit here because Mickey's big had was on 12 and his little hand was on five. I'll pick this back up tomorrow.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is the average heart rate of an elephant?
answer - 25-30 beats a minute

Failing Daily Since 1993

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:50pm

After the 2015 election, I did what every sane American did: I eliminated the annoying people from my social media feeds on both the left and the right who had become singularly obsessed with politics. And then I took another healthy step: I eliminated feeds from the “fake perfectionists.” Who are the “fake perfectionists?” You probably know them. They are the people who post beautiful photos of their work on […]

The post Failing Daily Since 1993 appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

What Does Letterpress Look Like?

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:14pm

Roman Workbenches from Christopher Schwarz on Vimeo.

During the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event last weekend several attendees mentioned how they loved that our books were printed via letterpress.

I had to correct them because that’s absolutely not the case. We are printing just one book letterpress, “Roman Workbenches.” All of our other titles are printed using 20th-century offset printing technology. (The most modern way to print – digital – is still too ugly for me to even consider.)

What does offset printing look like? Check out the video I shot at the plant where we manufacture color books.

Letterpress is a physical process that is similar to what Gutenberg came up with, or how we make prints with potatoes. Like all printing, it requires skill and training to get a book that feels like a real book and not some manifesto or corporate annual report.

Today I spent an hour at Steam Whistle Letterpress as Brian Stuparyk and his dad, Ken, dialed in the settings for a plate and began making the impressions for one of the sheets. The short video above documented the process.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools


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