Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway! Enjoy!
Wouldn't it be great if I could come up with some creative, visually attractive way of enhancing and strengthening miter joints that could become a sort of personal signature? I realize this is somewhat silly because I don't have the Greenes' creativity, but you can't blame me for trying, can you?
Here's what I'm after:
- Strengthened and enhanced mitered corner
- Fast and easy to make with hand tools
- Creative and unique
What else could I do? I don't like pegging this joint because there is so little material between the tip of the miter and the peg, so I don't think it is very strong. But what if you put a peg diagonally through the joint so that it appeared on both sides? It would be much stronger and you'd see an oval that might look nice, so that is what I tried next:
I had hit a dead end ... and then I thought of the Greenes. I drilled a larger hole a quarter of an inch deep straight in on the top of the diagonal peg, grabbed one of the hollow chisels from the old mortise attachment for my drill press that I haven't used in years and whacked it in, then glued in a piece of square stock to fit the hole. I sawed off the insert about an eighth of an inch above the surface and, not expecting it to work, I went over it with a sanding sponge. To my amazement, the sponge pillowed the square peg, just like the ones Greene and Greene made. (Actually it was the Hall brothers who made them, but that is another story.)
tedious effort you always hear about. OK, my square pegs probably aren't as good, but I like them and they sure are fast. Fast is as fast does.
This is the best idea I have come up with so far. I haven't heard of running a dowel diagonally through a mitered joint before and the peg is so far away from the corner that it looks like an attractive decoration, not a part of the joint. Still like the butterflies better though and I think I have a better appreciation of why splines are the usual choice.
In 1990, I was fresh out of college, working my first job at The Greenville News and terrified of being fired.
During my first year on the job as reporter I hit a patch where I made a string of minor errors in my stories that required the newspaper to print corrections or clarifications the next day. And it seemed the harder I worked to get things right, the worse things got.
After a couple weeks of this it got to the point where I couldn’t open the second-floor door to the newsroom. I just froze at the top of the beige-painted stairwell and stared at the fire door.
I had no idea what to do next. So I opened the door and resolved to ride it into the dirt.
At this point in the tale, I’m supposed to tell you that things took a turn for better. That I became a stronger person and a better journalist. But that would be bull#$&@. It got worse.
I made an error in a story about a huge oil spill at a golf course. I misspelled the name of the oil pipeline company at least a dozen times in my story. I should have been fired that day. But I suppose my editor took pity on me.
But even that wasn’t the bottom of the well. Hitting bottom was so painful I can’t really talk about the event except with close friends and my wife. And that wretched weekend is where things started to turn around for me as a writer and a journalist.
What does this have to do with woodworking? For me, everything. When I hit a rough patch in a project or a design, I have found that the only way out for me is to drive the car off the cliff and into the sea. I have to find bottom so I can push off that and find air.
I’ve tried other strategies – walking away from a project and then coming back to it with a fresh attitude and new ideas. For me that’s like pressing “pause” on the Betamax. It only prolongs the inevitable.
Today I am looking for the bottom with this design for a backstool. It has to be around here somewhere.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
How do you choose the right finish? That is a question I’m often asked. In this final installment related to the 3 in 1 crib / toddler bed / adult bed building project I will walk through my own through process for how I picked the finish for this project.
Setting High Level Project Parameters:
Customer input — in this case, my wife Alyssa. We wanted something in that warm amber to medium brown color and tone range. She wanted something to potentially match a darker rocker and changing table we had and I wanted something more on the natural side given this wood was of higher quality and thought it would be a shame to hide all that figure.
I chose Cherry wood for this project as I like cherry’s grain, workability and warm tones once it has time to age. Given that the project is for my newborn son I wanted a child safe finish that would be durable. (So that has me think of shellacs, low or preferably no VOC finishes that cure to hard film that will protect the wood and be easy to clean)
Freshly milled cherry has a light, almost pink finish so I likely will dye or stain the project to get a jump on the aging process and even out the tones of the wood.
Cherry also has a tendency to blotch, so I always want to seal it with shellac as a sanding sealer to try and protect against blotching.
Color Sample Chips:
With some high level parameters in hand, I first take a look at the color chips and samples I have on hand.
I have a real nice collection of General Finishes samples that I use in my teaching and they are one of my go-to finish providers as I’ve found their products to be high quality and reliable.
PRO TIP: Whenever you test a sample on a cut-off or similar piece of wood, label it with the finish — maker, type, color, date, #coats and wood species. I keep a box of these sorts of samples in my shop and they can often help in this process as my samples are larger than the standard chips that are usually on paper or small bits of veneer plywood. As the samples age they provide that much more information on how the pieces you make will age with a given finish.
From looking at the chips in a few different lights and in the baby’s room we decided on the following three samples:
Test your top 2 or 3 choices:
In the photo below the wood is set up in pairs. The left piece of wood is raw cherry. The right piece of wood had a wash coat of blonde shellac applied to see how it would reduce the amount of blotching in the cherry.
You can help jump-start the cherry aging process by exposing it UV light. With the above samples I kept them on a sunny window sill in the shop for a few weeks to get a feel for how the finishes might look as the project ages.
I didn’t love the results from the above experiments, I wanted a warmer tone, so I decided to mix up a batch of garnet shellac (described here) and continue my experimentation. On my next round of sample boards I experimented with a few coats of garnet shellac to see what I liked best. The garnet shellac alone did a fairly good job of warming up the cherry.
The experiments continued with several pieces of wood scrap from the project to see how the recipe of garnet shellac and dye stain looked on knots, different grain orientations etc.
In the end my wife and I both liked the same samples, so in the end I wound up going with two coats of garnet shellac with the second coat having a small amount of dye stain in the second coat. All of the above experimentation was well worth the time as I would not want ruin a project like this with a poorly executed finish.
I decided to go with General Finishes High Performance Water-based Polyurethane Top Coat in a Semi-gloss. I like this finish as it’s easy to apply by hand or via sprayer, low VOC, it’s UV stabilized and once cured is a durable child safe finish. For fine furniture when it comes to a top coat I adhere to the mantra of ‘if I wanted it to look like it was made out of plastic, I would have made it out of plastic’, but for this crib it’s very nice but not super fine furniture and from what I know about babies the ability to quickly and easily clean off any accidents makes this higher gloss sheen all the more worthwhile.
For this project I applied the poly by hand using a folded up lint-free white cotton rag. I worried the sprayer would cause too many drips around the many slats and after all the work I put into the project I didn’t want to foul it up in the finishing room.
I’m very happy with how this project turned out and look forward to seeing how the cherry ages in Bradley’s very sunny bedroom.
If you’d like to read some other posts related to this project please check out this link here.
P.S. How do you choose your finishes? Feel free to share your thoughts and tips in the comments section below.
Filed under: Children's Projects, Made In The USA, Traditional Woodworking, Woodworking Techniques Tagged: Bradley's Crib, Cherry, Cherry Crib, Crib, Full Size Bed, Toddler Bed, Wood Magazine, Wood Magazine 3 in 1 Bed
Whatever step I take next in this process of making a jack plane (see part 1 here), I like to have my muse close by and through looking at then trying to replicate, I gain more respect for the tool making art. From a distance the simple rectilinear form of jack, try and jointer planes do little to suggest the nuances and evolution present within them. It is only when […]
Having a childhood flashback right now.
One check I didn't have in the war post was checking the face of the miter for plumb. If the plane iron is skewed out of parallel, the face of the miter will not be plumb. I had checked this with a square and should be part of the set up to go through before shooting.
|I found my signature|
|lid is done - the base is next|
|mitered frame #2|
|corners of the 45|
|the best corner|
|they aren't perfect|
|mitered bridle frame #1|
|changing the size isn't a problem|
|this is better|
|shot the new miters|
|these aren't so easy to fix|
|the bottom of the mortise needs to be deeper|
|still not seated|
|I have to trim the tenon|
|almost there - took a few cycles of trim and check|
|I can see a big improvement in this|
|this scrap piece of pine will be the panel insert|
|too long and too wide|
|back of the frame|
What famous play begins with the line, "Who's there?".
answer - Hamlet by Shakespeare
Flip it and make the cuts on the other side.
The cuts allow for very rapid chipping away and act as stops.
Although this walnut peels and pares beatifully, you can get very aggressive and take off almost the whole chunk if you drive the chisel hard enough.
Eventually with just the chisel you can get pretty close.
I did use spokeshaves to clean up a bit.
This is how I made the dowels which will hold the handle in place. Just a tiny stick with corners planed off using my miniature jointer.
The handle is just about done and ready to be installed.
Devil’s Advocate time for me.
Jennie Alexander wrote today commenting about the recent post “what is green woodworking” – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/what-is-green-woodworking-2/
Here is her comment:
“I am fascinated by the continuing dialogue about green woodworking crafts. They are crafts where wood of substantial moisture content is initially processed by riving, not sawing, in the direction of its long fibers. Glossary, Make a Chair from a Tree, Third Edition, Lost Art Press…..when it gets published. So there. Jennie”
JA – by your definition today, the chest above is not green woodworking. i.e. it’s sawn stock. Not riven.
just to keep things lively…on a cold winter day.
By the way, I can’t remember the last time I mentioned it, but if readers want to see lots of oak furniture of this period, do sign up for Marhamchurch Antiques emails. I always stop and look at what Paul Fitzsimmons has churned up over there. Great stuff. I swiped these photos from him. Thanks, Paul.
First off using the table saw without a blade guard and riving knife (splitter) is illegal in commercial workshops in the UK. However as I work alone I can do as I please in the privacy of my own shop.
I will say though, I only use my table saw for crosscuts doing all my ripping on the bandsaw.
So with a high end table saw fitted with a rock solid sliding table why do I use a crosscut sled?
Firstly for a splinter free cut, to the both the left and right of the work as well as the rear.
Secondly it cuts dead square, the aluminium extruded fence on my Felder saw is very fiddly to set and once you tighten the knobs it flexes. The fence on my planer thicknesser suffers from the same problem.
Thirdly it supports the work both sides of the blade which actually helps with safety as the off cut can be moved completely clear of the blade before removal.
Lastly it allows me to make cuts against a stop either side of the blade
None of this is new to woodworkers in the US.
Above is a shot of the adjustable support for the overhang from the sliding table.
Below you can see the zero clearance either side of the blade.
Although I've used a simple sled for a few years, there were two major improvements I wanted to make. Firstly I made it bigger, 3' to the left of the blade and 2' to the right with a 16' capacity. With anything greater than 3' I could use the telescopic arm and stop on the table saw fence taking it to 6'.
Secondly I was fed up of clamping on bits of wood as stops, then measuring, adjusting the clamp and so on until it was just right. So enter 'Flipstop'.
This is an industrial piece of equipment with a price to match but I've used it for many years on my drill press and it is superb http://www.flipstop.com/. Rock solid, easy to adjust and with no play whatsoever. The fence has elongated screw holes so you can adjust it until the scale reads absolutely spot on, no more tape measure! A pair of stops is very useful as you can retain a setting by flipping the stop arm out of the way. This is great when cutting box sides with continuous grain as you can alternate from one stop to the other as you work down the board. This will get plenty of use preparing the parts for the tool chest course in the summer for New English Workshop.
Here's my drill press setup, the stops are being borrowed on the table saw and are easy to swap over as needed, at £61.20 per stop I didn't feel like buying two more unless absolutely necessary!
So that just leaves me with the 'get out' that all the magazines over use over here, 'guards removed for clarity', what a load of b******s!
For most of us, woodworking can be a pretty solitary business. And, for the most part, that’s the way we like it. But when I have the opportunity to spend time working alongside a couple of expert woodworkers I take it, gladly.
Several months ago, my friends Les and Scott, and I agreed that it would be interesting to meet once a week and work on a project together. One of the problems working on your own all of the time is that you become terribly “hide bound” in your approach. We decided we’d all benefit from sharing our methods with one another. We settled on a project, a small drop leaf table with hinged apron supports. We’re old(er) and slow(er) and once a week has stretched the project out. But we’re making headway and we’re “in the white” at this point. I thought it might be interesting to give a little documentation of our progress, so far. All pictures, few words.
In way of a caveat, most of you know me as a dedicated hand tool woodworker. Though I prefer to be unplugged in my own shop, I’m perfectly okay turning on the power when I have the chance to commiserate with guys like Les and Scott. But visitors to my shop should not expect to see any increase in powered equipment there, actually, quite the contrary.
I was directed by a friend to read a very good post on Lost Art Press concerning knock-off tools. I agreed with nearly every word. The post was inspired by another post written by Kevin Glen-Drake of Glen-Drake Toolworks, and there is a link to that post on the Lost Art Press blog. I clicked on that link and once again I agreed with nearly everything that was said, but the key word is “nearly”.
The post author was/is quite understandably upset at the fact that Chinese tool companies are manufacturing cheap knockoffs of his tools. I don’t blame him for being pissed; I’m pissed and they aren’t even my tools. But he does, in my opinion, place too much blame on consumers and not enough on American and Chinese business whores. These “businessmen” have one job: figure out a way to manufacture it for nothing and sell it even cheaper. They pay their workers peanuts, and they have no ethical compass of which they follow. This is nothing new, and has been going on for nearly 100 years, of which the past 25 we have seen far more of an outcry over the results. Unfortunately, the American consumer didn’t so much demand cheaper pricing, rather, the American shareholder, as well as the foreign, demanded much higher dividends, which are obviously taxed far less than standard income and make a much more attractive form of capital. How do you get higher dividends? Easy; cut manufacturing costs, such as salary, quality, and safety. How do you do that? Simple; move your manufacturing to a country that will meet your wishes. Or, in some cases, that country already decided to cut out the middle man and do it for themselves.
American consumers aren’t to be held blameless either, and that is the main reason I’m even writing this post. In his post, Kevin argues that the Federal Government does little to stop this de facto theft of his designs, and he is correct, but how many times have I seen hundreds, or even thousands of comments on woodworking forums etc., that lambast ANY attempt by our Government to regulate manufacturers? When the Government tries to make tools safer, i.e. made better, they are quickly labeled by the geniuses on woodworking forums as Communists(when in actuality they should be using the term ‘Socialists’, though who can expect an uninformed commenter to worry about semantics?) The magazines are no better, and I’ve read some editorials and blog postings that made me feel sick. It turns out that we want better tools, made here in America without Government interference, but when the Government doesn’t interfere, they automatically get blamed for the consequences.
If the woodworking forums are any indication of the average woodworking consumer, then I have to say that the average woodworker is woefully uninformed not only as a consumer, but also in basic economics and basic government. For the most part, consumers have very little control over how and where something is manufactured. The good news is that woodworkers have better options and access to high quality tools and makers now than they’ve had in several generations. The bad news is we as consumers have lost much of the power that we had in years past. We can only do what we can to purchase the best quality our budget allows us. I for one will do my part and try to support makers like Glen-Drake Toolworks whenever I can. The only question is: Will that be enough?
It’s no secret. I’m intrigued by the skottbenk. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the skottbenk, it is a simple machine used for jointing long boards for things like flooring, clapboards, etc. And, if you’ve ever tried to joint an 8′ long board on a power jointer, you’ll immediately see the value of the skottbenk. It seems to be unique to Scandinavia, specifically Norway and Sweden. It is a design that has been around for centuries and even Leonardo DaVinci found the skottbenk so interesting that he drew up an “improved” design. But, for some reason, the skottbenk is not commonly seen in the U.S.
A Sketchup file on the type of skottbenk that Roald Renmælmo uses is available on his blog skottbenk.wordpress.com. In the same post, Roald provides a video showing the use of the skottbenk. Many readers will find the planes used in the process of particular interest.
I’ll be starting mine, as soon as the weather “breaks”.
A 16″ tenon saw is in the works, and I needed to gather all the components together before I started the job. In this post I’ll talk about where I got all the pieces – no point in talking about how to make the saw when there are many sites that explain the saw making process much better than I can hope to. The most appropriate walk-through sites I have found include these by the Alaskan Woodworker, Bob Rozaieski, the Literary Workshop, Norse Woodsmith, and Ray Gardiner.
- Firstly (and this was the easy part) I got a 0.025″ thick, 16″ long saw plate from Ron Bontz along with a 3/4″ deep brass spine. Ron cut a tooth pattern in the plate for me. I went with an 11 tip rip.
- Nuts and a medallion are slightly harder to find. eBay has some on offer every now and again, but you must be careful to differentiate between the handsaw and back saw sized-medallions; 1″ and 13/16″ respectively, according to the Disstonian Institute. I guess this might not be critical, though. I recieved some old nuts and a medallion from ‘Joe’s used tools’ back when that fine website was in operation.
- The handle is definitely the most daunting part of the task. To start with we need either our own design or to use a pattern. As I wanted my saw to be similar to the Disston D4 handle I have on the carcass saw, I found a D4 pattern on the TGIAG website. Other patterns are available from Mike Wenzloff, Blackburn Tools and on Backsaw.net. I did modify the pattern to incorporate a lamb’s tongue into the design – just because it is a little flourish that looks nice. All that is left is to find a nice hardwood blank about 7/8″ to 1″ thick.
I found my first attempt at making a handle was very crude. I wish I had practiced on some cheap stock rather than the nice walnut I had put aside for it. In the end I made a second and much better looking handle out of mahogany.
Filed under: Hand saws, Hand tools Tagged: hand saw
Spending time with the hand tool crowd this past weekend brings to mind some ideas about utility. And why not? The right tool for the job depends on many factors like skill, economy, and cost. Not just the quiet of the shop alone gets weight in this decision. How many times does a jig get made on the saw and drill press in order to work later on by hand?
These choices we make to use hand tools or powered ones are driven by our need to build work. Sometimes building the product wins at my bench; sometimes enjoying the process is more important. And sometimes both win and that’s when I am usually the happiest.
But the best advice is to use the best tool for the job at hand. Have many tools at your disposable and choose the right one for the job, the day, or the deadline.
OK for those of you who wrote, and now mostly for those who didn’t – yes, it’s a technical mixup…
I edited the sidebar of the blog – to do a little housekeeping, and to add some new stuff, Instagram for example. In doing so, it seems that now the sidebar (widgets in WordPress-speak) right now only appears on the front page of the blog. If you open just a post, then all you get is some blather about that particular entry. So something went haywire when I updated the widgets…
My intention is to keep some links there, a search button (that’s how I answer most of your questions, by the way…) and I forget what else.
It’s all still here, going back to 2008. I’ll sit down tonight to try to get it back on track. Daylight is for woodworking, or, I wish, birdwatching.
If you know what I did, and how to un-do it, let me know. Otherwise, I scroll through loads of the help forums on wordpress.com
Before starting the groove I used a marking gauge to traced out the edge of the channel and marked the outside corners by tracing around a coin:
I used a carving gouge to cut out most of the channel:
Carving a long groove consistently along the grain is difficult. To solve this I made a scraper and attached it to a wooden block. By running the block against the edge of the board I was able to get a smooth consistent channel:
Next I rounded off the edges of the board slightly it was done!
The slab for the Studley work bench top is all glued up and trimmed to size, and slid off my workbench onto a pair of horses for further ministrations, and just in time as I need my bench space to finish up a large group of sample boards for a luncheon presentation I am making soon for an architectural/decorative arts finishes assembly.
I have a lot of clamps, but not enough for me to affix the final top lamina of the bench in one step, sot I first glued on the first half, then a day later the second half.
The slab is a beast, and I would estimate its weight at about 175 pounds. My version is about 1/8″ thicker than Studley’s, giving me a little bit of room for planing and finishing. The edges will be installed once the wheel-handled vises are attached for the exhibit, which will turn the top into a 500-pound behemoth.
From this point on I will be planing and finishing the top. Due to the time and budgetary constraints on my side, I selected something called African “mahogany” as my face laminae over the white oak core. As I mentioned earlier, it looks beautifully similar to the true mahogany that Studley used for his tool cabinet and work bench, but works like a composite that would be the result of making “wood” out of straw and donkey dung. It is the nastiest stuff I have ever worked, and I can state with a fair degree of confidence that this will be the first and last project to employ this “wood.”
Planing it is a challenge. I touched it with my “go to” low angle smoother and got horrific tear out. That took me back on my heels. Hmmm. So, I switched to my favorite toothing plane, and got tear out with the toothing plane as well! I mean, I have never had tear out with that toother. I backed off the blade a bit and had some success, and today I will touch up the toothing blade and proceed, but it will be slow even though the surface needs very little work.
The next challenge is to resharpen my smoother to use after the toother, or conversely just tooth it overall and go straight to the scraper for the final surface.
I know someone who loves the colour black. His kitchen has a black granite work surface and black floor tiles. To finish it off he really wanted a black chopping board but was having no luck finding one. It had to be jet black with no frills except for a groove to catch juices and crumbs. In terms of colour, I suggested Ebony would be a good choice but a very expensive one. Rightfully so, as it is becoming increasingly rare. Ebony is also very hard but brittle. It is also heavy, so perhaps not that practical for a chopping board.
I tried to find alternatives to ebony. I found out that a solution of steel wool soaked in vinegar was excellent at blackening oak (do a search on ‘ebonising wood’ and you’ll find all kinds of information). This created a deep black colour, but it didn’t penetrate deep enough for a chopping board. Even after soaking for a few days, the black only went down half a millimetre at most. A few chopped tomatoes and the unblackened oak would be exposed.
So I decided to take the plunge and go for ebony, but only if I could get it ethically. The most ethical source of ebony I found was a shop in Spain that is involved in a partnership with Taylor Guitars. Together, they’ve purchased a saw mill in Cameroon, through which they are promoting the ethical sourcing and use of ebony. Apparently most ebony isn’t black. Only after chopping down a tree does it become visible how much black wood there is. Since the non-black ebony had little value, only the black ebony logs were taken to the mill. The rest was left to rot. One benefit of this project is that they promise a good price for the non-black ebony and Taylor uses this in their guitars, thus reducing waste. As Taylor says “We need to use the ebony that the forest gives us”.
I agreed on using ebony on two conditions: the first was that I get the wood from the Cameroon project and the second was that I would make something else from the wood if the board was to fail for some reason.
The project got a “go” and I bought the ebony. The most suitably sized blanks were 30mm x 15mm. My plan was to glue these together to create a 30 mm thick board, about 500mm long and 300mm wide. I ordered the ebony and it arrived a week or so later:
The ebony has arrived
It was a heavy pile of wood! Next: how I created the board.