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Cracked ice, East to West

Giant Cypress - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 3:28am

I’ve written an article on Chinese furniture for Popular Woodworking which should come out at the end of the year or the beginning of next year, if all goes well. One of the things that I didn’t have space for in the article was a motif called “cracked ice”. It’s a random pattern of triangles and other polygons that is mounted on the inside of a frame. They can be small scale as in the window above, or larger, as in the panel below.


They can incorporate an interior frame, as seen below.


The cracked ice pattern shows up in furniture pieces as well.


This pattern is meant to resemble cracks that form in ice covering a pond as the temperature goes up. This pattern also appears in other Chinese art, most notably in ceramics. In this case, the glaze naturally cracks during the firing process, resulting in the pattern on this vase.


Besides being a design motif that I find very attractive, I’m also intrigued by the process of laying this design out. Intrigued in the sense that I’ve been thinking about how I would lay out a pattern like this for at least 5 years now, and I still have no idea how to do it. It’s easy to lay out a random pattern of triangles and polygons. It’s much harder to do that in a way that looks good, and in the case of woodworking, good enough so that you can look at it for a few decades and not find it annoying. 

I’ve had a number of conversations with George Walker over the years, and more recently Jim Tolpin, about this design. They haven’t figured it out, either. We’re all sure that there are some sort of guidelines that can direct how to lay out this pattern. We just don’t know what it is.

Two weeks ago I was on vacation in Barcelona. And when you’re in Barcelona, you wind up looking at a lot of things built by Antoni Gaudí, designer of the  Sagrada Família, the Park Güell, and other famous Barcelona landmarks. One of the buildings we visited was the Palau Güell, which is a fabulous seven-story mansion in the heart of Barcelona. As we headed to the top, I was quite surprised to see this.


These are interior stained glass windows that face the top of a hall used for social events and musical concerts. It is said that Asian design was an early influence on him, but I don’t have any evidence that Gaudí deliberately was using the cracked ice design. In any case, Gaudí wasn’t the only Barcelona architect to use this sort of element in his architecture.


This is a stained glass panel in the Palau de la Música Catalana, designed by Lluís Domènech I Montaner, Unlike how Chinese woodworkers used this pattern, the cracked ice pattern is identical from panel to panel. In Chinese design, each panel would have had its own cracked ice pattern.

Even if Gaudí and Domènech I Montaner weren’t cribbing directly from Chinese design, they both were interested in incorporating design elements from nature into their work, so it may not be completely surprising that this design pops up in turn of the century Barcelona, given the natural inspiration for this design. 

new molding planes......

Accidental Woodworker - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 2:09am
I pulled the trigger on two new to me, molding planes. It looks like I got them just in time because the OT well has gone dry. They weren't that expensive, the beader was $29 and I couldn't pass it up for that price. And I don't have one in that size and it will get use in my shop as I do a lot of small work. The other plane is a cornice plane and I've been looking for one and I had two of them to pick from. I picked the one I bought because the sole of it looked better than the other one.

the bookcase
I had clamped this before I nailed it yesterday. I am sure the nails would have done the job but the clamp gave me a warm and fuzzy.

this corner is wee bit off
The side frame is 4 frog hairs short of the top and the top frame is two frog hairs below that. It is not going to matter in this case because the molding going here will hide. No one will know it unless I tell them and Mums is the word.

even if I don't use a molding
The joint line between the top of the bookcase and the top is pretty seamless. Once it is painted, no one would see it. The plan is to put a small quarter round here as anything else would be too large.

1/8" beader was the $29 deal
 This is the test piece that came with the plane but it isn't the reason why I bought it.

someone has done a bit of work on this

it has one large flat bevel
The plane has a removable fence so you make a deeper bead. That is what the large bevel is for as it closely matches that width.

my bead on the right
the bead profile is a wee bit off
This one should be an easy fix. I'll read up on Matt's (tiny workshop blog) post on rehabbing a beader before I tackle this. Plus I still haven't gotten any chain saw files.

reason two I bought this
$29 which included S/H was very attractive but The sole was the #1 reason why I bought it. The boxwood is almost pristine. No gaps, no looseness, no chips or other defects from end to end, and it is dead nuts straight and flat.

my cornice plane from Hyperkitten

back of the iron
looks like a large micro bevel on the edge
It doesn't appear to be sharp but I am going to road test it as is.

as good as sole as the beader
The sole is clean, clear, and defect free along with the boxing. Both are dead straight without even a tiny nick anywhere on it. And the mouth is clean and tight too. These are usually chipped a bit across the width.

nice shavings
The iron is almost a perfect match for the sole. I think I got lucky with this one as most of my irons don't match up as good as this one does.

I like this profile
Josh had a few other cornice molders but he sold them when I went back to pick another one. Now that I have seen what this looks like I will keep my eyes open for a larger and smaller one.

ripping it out
I want to see if this is small enough to use on the bookcase.

nope, it's too big
If this was about a 1/2" thinner in the width I would use it here.

It would look good here
too big for the bottom base
This molding would sit on top of the base and be set down from the top about an 1/8". If I do it that way I have a gap between the top of the base and the bottom of the bookcase. It looks like a chamfer is the way to go here.

planed and ripped out one more
this will work too
Thinking about using this on the bottom of a box. I sawed the miters by eye just to see what wrapping a corner would look like.

close but not a match
I planed the right one first and the left one second. I am sure that I registered the plane the same but I obviously was a wee bit off. I can see the wisdom in making all your moldings out of one piece of wood and all at the same time.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner

What was the name of the first movie released with the NC-17 rating (no children under 17)?
answer -  Henry and Jane

I’m hooked on fish glue

Journeyman's Journal - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 10:37pm

I’ve done an extensive article on this glue and there’s no need for me to repeat it again. Last night I was gluing up some very thin panels for another project, it’s 1/8″ thick, as always I use hot hide glue but I wasn’t paying attention and over cooked it which ended up in the bin immediately.  So instead of making another batch I heated up OBG in hot water, clamped it and left it to dry.  I left it for a couple of days as I had other projects to attend to.  What shocked me was that the glue broke along the glue line, the glue is coming to the end of its shelf life it will expire in two months time.  However, to me that means nothing because I always go by smell.  You’ll know when your glue is ready for the bin.  This has only happened to me once before but anyhow I thought I’d give fish glue another final trial run and reglued the two panels.  It hasn’t been 24 hours clamp time that you normally would do with this type of glue and its rock solid, I must be a weakling because I cannot literally break the panel apart.  It’s only an 1/8″ thick just tad over 3mm and I cannot break it apart, now that’s impressive.  What I also love is how it’s light in colour which makes it possible to make a seamless edge join.

I’m sold, I just placed an order from Lee Valley for a 500ml bottle but what gets me is how bloody picky we are.  We know that the best fish glue comes from Sturgeon and this fish is almost extinct which is why they’ve banned fishing it.  There are some places that do sell fish glue made from Sturgeon, maybe it’s banned to the rest of the world except the Russians I don’t know but I do know it cost $500 for the flakes.  Lee Valley fish glue is made from cod, this is a lower quality type of fish glue but it more than does the job, it really does.  They say it has a shelf life of two years but that’s crock, fish glue can last for many, many years as long as it’s kept either in a fridge or even more convenient as there’s no wife to jump down your throat for using her fridge to store your glue, if you keep it in a cool dark non damp spot like your drawer in your cabinet or keep it in your cabinet.  Remember I’ve had this small bottle for over 5 years kept in a drawer and it still hasn’t gone off.  So there it is in a nutshell and should be great news for all those instrument makers who’ve had nothing but trouble with their fish glue.    We don’t need the best of the best, why pay for more when you can pay less for something that works really well.  If I can’t break it then somebody explain to me why I need to pay $500 for something else I can’t break either.  Fish glue works.! Give it a try and you’ll never look back.

Btw I’ll never replace my hot hide because it spreads easy, fish glue is thick and you can thin it down but I don’t.  I love hot hide and I love fish glue and I will definitely be using fish glue for dovetails and more often for other types of joinery.  I’m so torn between the two.  I love them both equally.

Categories: Hand Tools

What’s On The Bench – 7/5/2017

Doug Berch - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 8:03pm

Dulcimer in the home stretch

On the bench is a curly walnut dulcimer having its head attached with hide glue.

It is important to attach a head onto a dulcimer, because if you don’t, it will go searching the night to find a head and the one it chooses could be YOUR HEAD!

But I digress.

This dulcimer is one of three I am currently working on. The other two dulcimers are ready for final preparation before receiving the finish and tomorrow this dulcimer will be ready to join them.

I wait until I have 3 or 4 dulcimers ready to go through the finishing process at the same time. I put the woodworking tools away, clean the shop, and dedicate the space to finish work for about a week.

After all coats of finish are applied the dulcimers hang on the wall for several days so the finish can further cure before being rubbed out.

While the finish is curing I start work on the next 3 or 4 dulcimers.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

You can see my work in progress by following me on Instagram.

Categories: Luthiery

What's the magic word?

Mulesaw - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 7:29pm
Well, the magic word will surely depend on the situation.
Quite often the correct answer will be please.

But sometimes please just doesn't do it. A stronger more magic word is required.

Back in 1992 I spent some months in Minnesota, and I had the privilege of being allowed to help out at auctions held by the then oldest auctioneer company in Minnesota: "Fred Radde and sons, auctioneers and realtors"
Fred the main auctioneer knew the magic word for Minnesotan auctions was "Fish house". If an old crappy sofa or chair was unsaleable, calling it a fish house chair would instantly spark the interest in the crowd and someone would buy it for their fish house for the coming winter season of ice fishing (a great sport by the way). Fred's next comment would usually be in line with: "buy it now and leave it on the ice, in the spring it will be gone".
He really knew how to make a good atmosphere and that stimulated people to buy, and all in all it contributed to a nice event with lots of laughter and good deals.

Now in my case "fish house" wont do it. "Please" works sometimes, but "HORSE" works every single time.

If I need to start a new project:
"Honey, I'll go mill some wood to make some saw dust to spread in the stable for the horses to sleep in".
Such an approach will be greatly appreciated, in contrast to e.g.:
"Honey, I'll start building a new workbench"

There are a number of situations where you can use the magic word, tool purchases, classes etc. the imagination is the limit.

In reality you want to say: While I don't really need this tool, I am sure it would impress someone reading my blog.
Chances are that my request will be frowned upon and quickly be discarded as not essential for the household.
If I on the other hand say something like this:
"If I buy this tool, I could make a really nice cupboard for the saddle room, so you can easily organize the tendon boots for the horses."

I am sure you get the idea.

So I am thinking that a lot of the advice offered for aspiring woodworkers start in the wrong place such as:
Advice for a beginners tool kit.
What planes to buy and when.
The first saw you should get.
And so on....

A much better place to start would be by finding the magic word. The very word that will allow you to invest time and money in your hobby and being thanked for it. Now that is something that isn't described in a lot of "how to posts" for people wanting to get into woodworking.

We are not talking complicated psychology here, a good look at your wife's hobbies will most likely give an idea of what the magic word could be, Here are a couple of suggestions that might work, but remember like in Harry Potter, there is always the risk of a magic spell backfiring on you, so be careful!

Sewing room.
Interior decoration.
Gardening (this one is dangerous because you could end up using a shovel all day long instead).
Bespoke baking supplies.
Shoe cabinets
Doll house (this one might make it difficult to justify getting a portable saw mill)
Art supplies.

Finally, you shouldn't feel bad about using a magic word, because I am fairly certain that we are under their spell most of the time anyway.

Categories: Hand Tools

It Might be a Roman Workbench

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 6:52pm


My work on the expanded edition of “Roman Workbenches” continues. I need to build one more bench (oh, if I had a dime for every time I’d written those words) and then sort through the pile of research I’ve accumulated, plus the mass of images and links that that researcher Suzanne Ellison has sent me.

Here’s the surprising/not-surprising thing we’ve found so far: These benches are everywhere. It doesn’t matter what time or place you are researching. If you look long enough at a society’s paintings and material culture, you’ll find a low workbench. It might have vises, stops, dogs or holdfasts. It might have none of these things. Or all of them. The Christ child might be tenoning (as shown) or he might be using a chalk line (not shown).

But whenever I encounter these benches, I am both amazed and thankful that Jesus was a carpenter and not a shoe salesman.

Recently Suzanne dug up the example at the top of this blog. (“La Segrada Familia” by Juan del Castillo, 1634-1636. From the Museum of Fine Arts Sevilla.) Of note: The massive top, the face vise (we see these first in the 1300s) and the stretcher at the end between the legs.

Also, two people tenoning? Is this something the artist made up or had seen before?

Time for bed.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Høvelbenken på Lydvaloftet på Voss

Høvelbenk - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 10:45am

Veka 29. mai – 2. juni var eg leiar for ein busstur med studentane på teknisk bygningsvern og tradisjonelt bygghandverk for å besøke stavkyrkjer, mellomalderbygg, gardar og interessante restaureringsprosjekt. Vi starta på Kongsberg og køyrde vestover med mange interessante og lærerike stopp undervegs. Onsdagen vart vi møtte på Voss av Ola Fjeldheim, generalsektretær i Fortidsminneforeningen. Han tok oss fyst med på Lydvaloftet som eg har høyrt mykje om frå tidlegare. Det er antyda at loftet er frå fyrste halvdel av 1300-talet, men eg kan godt tenkje meg at delar av det kan vere noko eldre. I dette loftet er det så mykje spennande å sjå på at det ikkje er råd å få med meir enn ein liten brøkdel av inntrykka. Eg vil likevel gjerne vise noko av det eg beit meg merke i for at de skal få eit lite inntrykk av kvalitetane i dette loftet.

Sjølv om loftet i seg sjølv hadde enormt mykje spennande å by på så la eg merke til ein gamal høvelbenk som stod i ei mørk krå i andrehøgda. Kor denne benken stammar frå og kor gamal han er veit eg ikkje, men han er ein del av inventaret som Fortidsminneforeningen har i loftet. Benken har føter som er tappa inn i ei kraftig benkeplate ca 2 meter lang, ca 14″ brei og ca 3 ½» tjukk. Føtene er tappa gjennom benkeplata med ei tappskulder som støttar under. Føtene har tverrtre som er tappa gjennom og nagla. Framtanga er eit krokvakse emne av lauvtre, truleg bjørk, som det står ein treskruve i.

Høvelbenken på Lydvaloftet. Foto: Roald Renmælmo

Høvelbenken er i prinsippet veldig enkel med berre framtang. Eg har ikkje funne spor etter høvelstopp framme på benken. I bakkant er det nokre runde hol som kan vere til høvelstopp eller ronghake, men det er høgst usikkert. Benken kan ha stått mot ein vegg, men det er ikkje spor etter at den har stått fast mot noko. Det kan vere grunn til å gjere meir nøyaktige oppmålingar av benken ved eit høve. Benken var kring 74 cm høg.

Arkivert under:1700-tal, 2,0 - 2,2 meter, 74-76 cm, Framtang med skrue
Categories: Hand Tools

VideoWoodworkers – Skiatook Adventure with Shawn Graham

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 9:09am

On June 23-24, 2017, a bunch of YouTubers converged on a field in Oklahoma to abandon technology and go old school. The “Skiatook Adventure” differentiated itself from other events via its complete lack of agenda. There were no tool vendors, no pitchmen, no schedule. Visitors weren’t coming to buy, learn or try new things. The event was all about getting past the information highway and socializing “IRL.” The event was […]

The post VideoWoodworkers – Skiatook Adventure with Shawn Graham appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Intro – Basic Woodworking Class at Center for Furniture Craftmanship

Highland Woodworking - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 7:00am

Me, Nick Offerman, and my Dad (Chris Bagby, co-owner and founder of Highland Woodworking)

My name is Molly Bagby and I have been involved with Highland Woodworking since I was a mere 7 days old (or maybe even sooner than that). Once my Mom, Sharon Bagby, recovered from pregnancy she started back to work right away and brought me with her. While I don’t remember much from those early days, growing up at Highland Woodworking has contributed to my passion for learning new things, as well as my crafting skills. But despite being around tools for most of my life I have never actually taken the time to learn basic woodworking. Now that I am more involved with the business side of helping to run the store, I figured it was about time to actually learn some woodworking skills.

An amazing opportunity recently came along to take a 2 week Basic Woodworking class at the Center for Furniture Craftmanship in Rockport, Maine. These classes fill up months in advance and when I called back in April to sign-up I was told that the class was full, but I could be put on the waitlist. I remained on the waitlist for several weeks. About a month before the class was scheduled to start, I gave them a call to see where I was on the waitlist. There were still 2 people ahead of me, so I figured my chances were pretty slim this close to the start. Last Tuesday, I got a voicemail while at work and saw that it was from the Center for Furniture Craftmanship. I called them back right away and they said a spot had just opened up due to a last minute cancellation and it was mine if I wanted it. It didn’t take me long to decide and I said yes right away. I mean, wouldn’t you have said yes to an opportunity to escape to Maine for 2 weeks and become fully engulfed in woodworking?

During these next 2 weeks I’m looking forward to learning as much as I possibly can about woodworking so I can become a better, more educated employee at Highland. I’m also looking forward to beginning a new hobby. Judging from what I’ve been able to see through the shared experiences of our customers, I’m sure it will be a very rewarding one.

Stay tuned to this blog to hear about my journey as a beginning woodworker! You can also follow me and my experiences on Instagram @highlandwoodwoman.

The post Intro – Basic Woodworking Class at Center for Furniture Craftmanship appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Make a Historic Beeswax, Oil & Turpentine Furniture Polish Finish

Wood and Shop - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 4:00am
In this tutorial I teach how to mix melted beeswax, boiled linseed oil, and turpentine to create a lovely historic wood finish and furniture polish. This recipe was taught to me by both the furniture makers at Colonial Williamsburg and the Frontier Culture Museum. How to Make a Historic Beeswax, Oil

Some woodworkers like to keep the hollow on the back of Japanese...

Giant Cypress - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 3:08am

Some woodworkers like to keep the hollow on the back of Japanese plane blades and chisels as wide as possible, resulting in the outside edge being really thin. Apparently this blacksmith wanted to frustrate those woodworkers.

(Photos from Nobori Hamono.)

made a lot of progress.......

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 1:37am
The bookcase is moving along nicely and it is looking like I may be done with it this weekend. I got a lot accomplished in spite taking a few extended breaks. The weather was nice but I was a wee bit tired and I almost nodded off a few times. OT has been cutoff at work andI'm still on that schedule. It will probably take me another week to get adjusted to my new hours. The goal is to get this bookcase done and make my finishing cabinet next, then Myles's tool chest.

I found out what it is
It is a window and door casing molding plane. It was available in widths from 1/2" to 1 3/4".

Ohio Tool catalog page from ?

no spring lines
From what little I know about molding planes, I know that no spring lines mean the plane is used with it held vertically. And this profile does not match the one in the Ohio Tool catalog I found. It's the middle far right one on the catalog page.

removed the tip on the right
The catalog shows this profile with a fillet (?) on the left with a slanted field ending in another fillet on the right. This profile has two fillets with one at 90° to the top (left one) or the other at 90° to the right edge.

planed it off
This still doesn't look like the catalog profile.

sample casing
I planed a 1/2" bead on the left side and I kind of like this. Not the nicest piece of wood to get a look see at how it looks though.

end view
some more molding plane work
I am trying to find a profile that I can mold on the top of the base for the bookcase. This cove is too big for 3/4" stock.

this one was smaller
I need more practice with this plane before I can use it. That thin flat at the top was not an easy thing for me to keep even and parallel. I thought I could just keep the plane up tight against the fence and this would fall into place. Moving the plane in/out in even tiny increments would change this. It was wavy and the plane had still not bottomed out. So it was a moot point as this plane was also likely too big for 3/4" stock too.

partial cove
This is my first choice for the molded edge on the base but even my smallest cove plane is too big.

the original bottom piece with a test molding on top of it
I don't think this looks good. There is no separation between the side beaded frame and the plain square bottom. That puts the molding of the base right on top of the beaded side frame. There isn't a stop and go point between the two moldings.

this is what I am going to do
 I am making a new bottom piece that will be proud of the beaded side frame by about 3/16". The bottom being up and away from the side frame will give a place for the beaded side frame to die out and the molded edge of the base to stand on it's own.

tried several more profiles
None of the profiles did anything for me. I am scraping all of them and I will plane a chamfer on the 3 edges of the base instead.

one my several breaks upcoming
I thought I would finish up the #2 plane at oh dark 45 but that was a bust too. My wife decided to sleep in late so I couldn't run the vacuum cleaner to clean the dust off of the sanding belt.

a couple of hours later
The #2 plane is done and making see through, wispy shavings.

and full width and length shavings too
the sole and port side
The sole is flat and straight, along with being shiny. There are two blemishes on the sole, one big and one small that's hard to see. I sanded the plane up to 600 grit and the blemishes remained. I tried sanding the big one with 220 grit in a sanding block and nothing. I'll have to live with them.

bow shot
starboard side
stern look
This plane closely felt like a block plane when I used it. I don't think that it will be a user for me. But it's size might be just right for my grandson. I can almost hide this in my palm so it may be perfect for a youngster. This will give him four planes now, a #2, #3, #4, and a 5 1/4.

new bottom piece
I like this and I think it gives a better transition between the sides and the bottom.

tried the same molding that is on the bookshelves
I like this profile but it is too small to use on the base. It would look good but in a larger size.

last molding look see
I don't know the name of this profile but it has two fillets and a round between them.  I planed the top one off but I didn't like the look of it.

working on the top horizontal beaded molded
I roughly sawed the 45° on this and I'm trimming it with my new 45 mitering jig. What a difference a truly sharp chisel makes. I am using the jig for both of the top and side frame miters. By using the same jig to make the 45°, they should mate better.

new way of clamping
Trying to put the stock along with the jig into the vise was proving to be awkward. There isn't a lot of meat to hold onto and my fingers were hogging a lot of making it hard to keep everything aligned while trying to tighten the vise. With this set up the clamp secures the stock and the tail end is secured in the vise.

top frame done - this is the easiest one to do
side frames are next- rough sawing the miters
I chiseled the flat flush after I did the miter

layout is done on the back
sawing the miter
I have already made the vertical saw cut and now it's the miter's turn.

last miter done
Checking to see how well this fits is next.

bottom and side frames glued and nailed
some flexing in the sides
I left the top 12" of the sides free, with no nails. I wanted to be able to move the top in/out in order to have some wiggle room for the top beaded molding.

right side dry fit
right side fit
I am very happy with how this came out and how well the miters fit. I won't need any putty to fill gaps on this.

rough sawing the base parts to length
forgot to plane the top edge straight and flat
I had this stock on the bookcase trying to get a measurement with it and it was rocking. There was a hump in the middle of this.

round two for base stock
On round one I clamped the left side piece to the bookcase. I aligned the left edge of the front with it and marked the other side. What I forgot to do was clamp the right side piece to the bookcase before I marked the front piece. It came out 3/4" short and you can not stretch eastern white pine. I tried to several times.

On round two I thought I had screwed up again but I hadn't. I cut off a new piece 33" long off a long board but I took the off cut from that which was shorter than 33". I got the right piece and marked out the front.

I just sharpened this iron yesterday and today it is dull already. On the pine end grain instead of shavings I was getting dust. I had to square up the ends of the base with the 4 1/2.

the base
The front corners will be dovetailed. The back is the first front piece that I marked short. Maybe I can use it at the back.

dovetails done
Dovetails are loosely put together so I could check fit on the bookcase.

how to connect the back?
I am thinking of using a dado at the back. I would like to use a dado and a through tenon but it is too short for a through tenon.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What was the name of the pilot of the first Presidential airplane?
answer - Major Henry T Meyers

Carving today before I carve this weekend

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Tue, 07/04/2017 - 2:52pm

I am working on another desk box; an oak box with a slanted lid. Mainly I need this for the photos, for an article in the works. The annoying part is that the photos I needed to shoot were the slots/dadoes/what-have-yous on the inside faces of the box’s end boards. But…I don’t like to do the carving after cutting voids into the board. So first, I had to carve them.

This time, I made up the design, drawing from my research (and others’) into the varied carvings coming out of Devon, England. The same style appeared in Ipswich, Massachusetts during the last 3rd of the 17th century. I carve this stuff more than any other grouping, mostly because of its variety. Once you learn the “vocabulary” it’s easy to make up designs willy-nilly.

The desk box ends are weird shapes though. Took a little sketching with some chalk, and some wiping away with a damp cloth – but I got something I like. So then the front board is simple enough – a plain ol’ rectangle. There are three boxes from Devon that seem to be the same carver, or the same general pattern anyway. One of these I photographed back when I worked at Plimoth Plantation, the other two are from a website I subscribe to, Marhamchurch Antiques – http://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/ Paul Fitzsimmons there is a magnet for this Devon/Exeter oak furniture.

I’m going to carve the box front at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on Sunday July 9. from noon to 3pm. I’ll be demonstrating the carving, and some joinery and other oak-y stuff.  http://www.mfa.org/programs/gallery-activities-and-tours/early-american-furniture-carving


Here are a few details from the Devon boxes that were the inspiration for my sketch – (the first two from Marhamchurch Antiques, thanks Paul, the 3rd is my photo).

This one had a later escutcheon on it, covering up the pattern. I took it off, so we could see the shape. At that time, I had never seen the previous two.


But before I go to Boston to work  on Sunday, I’m off to Maine for the Open House at Lie-Nielsen Friday & Saturday. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/hand-tool-events/USA/146

These events are legendary; the lineup this summer is killer. I try to do this show every July…it’s like old home week, seeing all my friends from the hand-tool circus. I guess I was there last summer – found my picture on their Facebook page –

 one or more people, people standing, shoes and outdoor

This time I’ll mostly be carving oak for a bedstead I’m working on. But I have a talk on Saturday about green woodworking, so I’ll do some spoon carving too. See you there I hope.

back to the bookcase

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 07/04/2017 - 1:51am
Today wasn't as bad as yesterday was. It was hotter but the humidity didn't seem to be up there with it. There was a nice breeze blowing which helped with that. Still, it's a bit early for all this humidity but with each passing year, the weather seems to be more and more out of whack. The temp on my porch made it up to 92.5°F (33.6°C) and this was almost ten degrees higher than what was forecasted.

I put this aside
It is a bit nicer than yesterday but sanding the #2 plane wasn't happening. Just moving around and putting this and other things away was causing me to sweat. I will try and do some of this at oh dark thirty tomorrow. The overnight temps are supposed to dip down into the middle 60's.

only one
I tried a lot of holes and this was the only one I could fit the sleeve in. I had to drill out all the other holes with the drill again.

plane iron for the LN 51 shooter
I couldn't get the entire bevel on the coarsest diamond stone. I had to drop down to the 80 grit runway.

ten strokes
That is all it took to get a consistent scratch pattern across the whole bevel and raise a consistent burr too. I had to do this because I will need a sharp iron for doing the frame on the bookcase.

bottom piece is batter lead off
I thought of making mitered returns on the ends but nixed it. The shooting plane will leave the end grain ends glass smooth and most of that will be covered by a molding.

bottom is done
I stopped here on doing the sides. I was looking at the bottom where the side butts into the bottom frame piece and it wasn't to my liking.

thinking of mitering the side into the bottom
good practice too for doing the top ones
The side piece is to scale but the flat piece is wider than the bottom one. But it will give me a visual on how it looks.

this isn't going to work
The miter on the real bottom piece would eat almost all of the width into the bottom. I can't use this one because there would create a lip proud of the bottom shelf.  I don't like how the side dead ends into the bottom. Tomorrow I will make the bottom piece protrude out about an 1/8" more and see how that looks. I can make the bottom stick out more and not have it interfere with the base.

got my new camera
Now that I have the new one, I can order an extra battery and a charger. This one comes with a USB charger and I'm not a fan of them. They take much longer to charge than an AC charger does. I have no choice on how to charge it now. That will give me some time to read the instructions and familiarize myself with the buttons and what does what.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
In 1933, what did a room at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City cost?
answer - a single $6, a double $9, and a suite $20

This is boring.

Oregon Woodworker - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 8:12pm
I have several excellent braces and a complete set of vintage Irwin pattern bits that a friend gave me, but I rarely use them for woodworking.  I use them regularly for carpentry because the bits work great in douglas-fir but the lead screws won't draw the bits into hard woods like oak.  I had been toying with purchasing some new Jennings pattern bits from Tools for Working Wood, though at $32-43 apiece they aren't cheap.  Then the other day we stopped at a garage sale.  I was walking back to the car when my wife said, "Did you see these?"  I hadn't:

Inside was a neat little three layered box:

and when I opened it, I found a complete set of Russell Jennings auger bits in great condition wrapped in tissue paper:

I paid $30. Online prices are all over, so I don't know whether this is a good deal or not, but I am pleased to have the set.

An interesting and puzzling, to me at least, sidenote is where the 32 1/2 comes from.  The bits are graduated from 1/4" to 1" by sixteenths and, if you add up the thirteen bits, the sum is 130/16.  Dividing the numerator and denominator by 4 yields (32 1/2)/4.  Odd.

I don't know a great deal about auger bits so I have been doing some research.  The bits I have are Model 100 RJ, which means they have a double-threaded lead screw and are meant for woods "not extremely gummy or hard" according to the label. The Russell Jennings company also made a 101 which, according to a label I found online, have a "single thread point for quick boring which is especially adapted for hard or gummy woods, end grain boring, mortising doors, etc."  The label indicates that the 100s are the ones used by cabinet makers and that the lead screw is the only difference between the two versions.  There are conflicting opinions about the relative merits of the two types and I cannot find a head to head test online.

I happen to have one auger bit made by the Russell Jennings Company some time before 1944 when Stanley acquired it and think it is interesting to look at the three varieties of size 15 (15/16") bits side by side:

You can see that the original Russell Jennings bit on the left and the Stanley version in the middle have many more twists on the shank than the Irwin bit on the right.  I have no idea which one will clear chips better but it does seem as if the Russell Jennings bits might be stronger.  Now, take a look at the lead screws close up:

The Irwin bit appears to be much coarser, but this is misleading because the Stanley Jennings pattern bit next to it has double threads.  Imagine two of your fingers tracing a spiral next to each other.  What this means is that the screw actually penetrates the workpiece at twice the rate as appears from looking at the threads.  Doing the best I could with my fingernail, I got 7 revolutions on the Irwin lead screw, 6 on the Russell Jennings bit and 5 1/2 on the Stanley.  I also tested this by boring holes in a piece of alder with similar results.  It took 15 revolutions to get through with the Irwin but only 13 1/2 and 13 with the Russell Jennings and Stanley bits respectively.  These results are consistent with others I have seen online.

The next test I conducted was to see if they would bore a hole in 5/4 dry white oak.  The Stanley and Russell Jennings bits did fine but the Stanley stalled.  Looking at it, it appeared that the threads on the snail clogged up.  I then used a trick that Bob Rozaieski shared.  I bored a hole in the alder just to the depth of the lead screw and covered the threads on the lead screw with green honing compound.  Then I threaded it into the hole and worked it back and forth several dozen times.  I re-attempted to bore a hole with the bit and it worked fine.  Clearly the snail needs to be clean and polished to do its job well.

So what's up?  It's not clear to me whether one design is superior to the other.  I cannot provide a technical explanation of the relative merits of double threaded and single threaded snails on auger bits.  The most important thing seems to be to make sure they are tuned-up very well.  Looking back, I think the problem I had with the Irwin pattern bits in hardwood was a result of maintenance not design.
Categories: Hand Tools

Ideas Worth Contemplating – A Tradition Continued

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 6:13pm

This post is presented annually on this date – DCW

As we consider the world around us it is worth reflecting seriously on the document encapsulating the ideas that founded the greatest nation ever known to man (the US Constitution WAS NOT a founding document for the nation, it merely established the rules for its governance [admittedly now generally unknown and ignored] which is not the same thing).   I pray you will read and reflect on the ideas expressed by men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to pursue the path of liberty.  Reading it is like reading the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament; more up-to-date regarding the human condition than tomorrow’s headlines.


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

The Gift of Doing Stuff You Love with Friends

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 2:15pm

I like to run. Specifically trails - the steeper, the better. Few things make me giddy like bombing down a rugged, mossy, meandering mountain path, or cresting the last rise before the summit and seeing the horizon burst into view. But as family and work obligations take precedent, almost all of my running takes place in the early morning hours. 5 a.m. is a lonely time, even in a place as predictably bustling as Acadia National Park in the summertime. I rarely see another soul.

What this means practically, though, is that when I happen across someone else out on the trails, I feel an instant connection with that person and the experience that we're both engaging. I want to stop and chat; I'm probably quite annoying. There is something intrinsically human about sharing effort, struggles, hard work, and in enjoying the reward of a task accomplished. We're not only wired to create, to strive, but to do so together.

Social media can feed into this impulse, for better or for worse. Taking the cynical view, one can see platforms like Instagram or Facebook as superficial means of self-promotion: a world of fake community and artificial avatars, where woodworking projects are presented in photoshopped perfection and my amazing breakfast omelette is studio-photographed. This can certainly be the case, and the stereotype of staring zombielike at your phone, thumbs sharing furiously on "social" media while ignoring all the real humans around you, is tragically common. But there can be real benefit here, too. I can't begin to number the folks who have told us of the inspiration they've received in following M&T online, and Joshua and I have received orders of magnitude more encouragement from people we'd have no chance of connecting with aside from this technology.

I was reflecting on this very fact during our Nicholson bench build with our new friend Robell, who hails from Georgia. While we worked, we discussed such weighty matters as barefoot running, the surpassing excellence of Ethiopian coffee, family life, even a bit of hand-tool woodworking... all thanks to a connection made via social media. I personally have stepped into uncharted waters (for me) in regards to pursuing different hand skills thanks to folks who know what they're doing and who generously share their knowledge through social media.

But we have to keep things real. Don't count your community in numbers of Instagram followers. Make every effort to meet folks face-to-face. Organize spoon carving get-togethers. Seek out your local craftspeople, and look for ways that you can help aspiring woodworkers nearby. Handworks 2017 was wonderful for me in this regard, being able to actually shake hands with people I knew vaguely from digital images. I can truly count some of those folks as friends now. 

The fulfilling sense of community that comes through working together is the reason behind our building those huge workbenches. We have a vision of sharing our new space with handfuls of fellow woodworkers, generating massive piles of shavings while discussing the merits of single-origin coffee or double-iron planes. We want to grow this hand tool woodworking community in a way that's genuine, that's real.

With that in mind, come see us at the Lie-Nielsen Open House this coming weekend, July 7th and 8th! It is a terrific opportunity to connect with fellow craftspeople and to check out skillful demonstrations and really, really cool tools. Hope to see you there! 





Categories: Hand Tools

In Praise of the Cork Sanding Block

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 1:37pm

When I wrote about the 50 or so essential hand tools you need to make furniture in “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” I neglected to include my cork sanding block in that list. I think the reason I forgot was that the block is as essential as my marking knife. I know the tendency today is to eschew abrasives and finish projects straight from the tools, but that’s a pretty new […]

The post In Praise of the Cork Sanding Block appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools


Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 6:12am


It’s amazing how unaware most people are of what’s involved in running a business that makes things, especially if that business involves the design and building of custom commissions, as opposed to mass- or even limited-production manufacture.

Start your own business and you’ll find yourself hit up regularly for donations to schools and nonprofits. “That Arts and Crafts wall shelf you did for Fine Woodworking would make a handsome contribution to our auction,” read an email several years ago from an acquaintance who was on the board of a local organization. “And if you wanted to throw in a copy of your latest book, that would add a warm personal touch.” Never mind that I had $1,200 worth of labor and materials invested in the wall shelf, or that, as author of the book, my discount was just 40 percent off the cover price, meaning that I would have to spend $18.95 plus tax and shipping to buy the copy he was inviting me to give away. “Your donation will bring you invaluable exposure to just the kind of clientele you seek,” his message continued: “people who have a household income of at least $100,000 per annum: pillars of the community who are active in civic affairs.”

“OK,” I’ve thought on occasion. “It’s a good cause. I’ll make this donation.” But do so a few times, only to learn that your work was purchased for not much more than you paid for the materials alone, and it gets old. “What? They bought that thing for just two hundred dollars?” I asked my acquaintance when he called with what he thought would be joyful news.

“Well, what did you expect?” he replied. “No one goes to an auction expecting to pay full price. Auctions are all about getting a bargain. Tom and Sylvia know your work and love it. That’s why they made sure that theirs was the highest bid. They told me they were overjoyed at the prospect of getting their own Nancy Hiller. “And such a steal!” Sylvia said. You should feel honored.”

“But I thought the whole idea was to raise money for your organization. I would have expected these pillars of the community to pay the full price for any item in the auction, maybe even more, knowing that their donation was going to such a worthy cause.”–Excerpted from Making Things Work

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

chip carved box for bowl gouges

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 5:30am

I spent some time yesterday hewing and carving out a bowl from a too-large-for-a-spoon crook. Cherry. It was great fun, so now it will dry and perhaps I’ll even finish this one. I dug out another that is now dried, and worked that along a bit too. I have collected a range of bowl-carving gouges, and recently I re-purposed an unfinished box with a drawer to house them.

The box is from a few years ago, and involves much conjecture. Not my favorite way to build furniture. Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). It’s about 8″ high, 10″ wide and 15″ long.

Here is the sliding lid slud back a bit…


Inside this section is a cross-piece with slots to fit individual gouges. this piece is just friction-fit into the box right now.


Here you see there are two end boards nearest the camera – the carved one slides upward to access the drawer below the box compartment. It has a tongue/rabbet at its back face – riding in a slot cut on the inside faces of the box sides. A little hollow gouged out gives a place to grab it to lift it up. 


here is that piece removed, showing the bottom of the box compartment, and the drawer below.


Now a view showing the gouges in the box and those underneath in the drawer. No divider in the drawer. (yet, or maybe never)


requisite drawer detail.

Unfinished chip carving. it’s all over the box…some finished, some not.

someone will have fun when I’m long gone trying to figure out what happened here. Why was this box not finished, but it looks like it was used…

If I get to make another of these sort of boxes, I’d like to see an original first. One thing I’d change is I’d plane the stock just a bit thinner. This is 3/4″ standard issue boards – I’d aim for 5/8″ thick. this seems clunky. Part of why I gave up on it. But it makes a nice place to keep the bowl gouges…


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