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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...


Questions Answered – What Are Pointed Blades for on Router Planes

Paul Sellers - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:25pm


Hi Paul,

I have a question. I noticed when you use your hand router, from what I’ve seen anyway, you’ve always used a cutter with a square cutting edge. Some router cutters come to a more pointed edge and I wondered why you don’t use those? And what are they used for? Wouldn’t using one with a pointed edge be a bit risky when finishing off like a housing dado because I figured the edge could cut into the walls of the joint. I don’t know why I was curious about this but I was. Felt like one of those if-it’s-not-broke-don’t-fix-it things to me, but I figured there must be at least one situation where maybe a pointed cutter was better.

DSC_0229Winter May


At first glance this might look much more specialised than it really is and though it might be handy, it’s not necessarily essential.

DSC_0217The cutter is what was described as the smoothing cutter in the original Stanley leaflet accompanying the plane back in the 50s and 60s. Two things manage the cutter in the wood; one, the spear point bevels to each side of the centre of the cutter effectively bring the underside of the cutting edge to a level cut and so offset the relief angle of the underside of the cutter. This means that the two cutting edges are levelly present along the cutting edge in relation to the surface of the wood and so smooths the level evenly.


The angles presentation either side of the centre of the spearpoint also provide a sheer cut to the cutting edges and by manipulating the plane to the grain encountered the user can effectively gain optimal advantage in just about any grain.


The end result is a level and smooth cut, which effectively improves on the cut provided by the square edged cutters and is ideal in some situations such as inlays for instance.

Generally 95% of work comes from the square edged cutters satisfactorily and so it’s not necessary to install a spear point.


Visually considering the appearance of the cutter it does look as though in actual use the spear point might dig in to the walls or surface being refined but that is not the way at all.


The drawings below show the diamond point and the angled presentation of the cutter to the housing dado or work surface. 

DSC_0231 DSC_0230

The post Questions Answered – What Are Pointed Blades for on Router Planes appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Frank Klausz: The Man Behind the Bowsaw

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 10:44am

I have a strange relationship with Frank Klausz. Frank doesn’t know it, but I’ll share it with you. I went to work with my father in his custom woodworking shop when I was in high school, and worked there through college. I learned much from my dad, but I also lost something in the process – the dynamic of father and son. Decades later dad and I are on good […]

The post Frank Klausz: The Man Behind the Bowsaw appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

A Questionable Blog, But It’s Short

The Furniture Record - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 9:14am

If you are a genteel person with a sensitive nature, you should leave now. Some might find this topic shocking, not in the Howard Stern or South Park sense. More like the stereotypical maiden aunt from Dayton expectation of shocking.

If you are still reading you either are a curious person or don’t have a freakin’ clue what I am blathering on about. Whatever your reason, read on.

I have seen the following item in the men’s room of several higher-end restaurants and bars. I’m not sure if it’s a hipster trend or there is just a really good salesperson out there catering to all the right places. Well, here goes.

There are now toilet seats with handles:

It's got a handle. Click for a larger view. Really?

It’s got a handle. Click for a larger view. Really?

This looks like the Kohler White Stronghold® Elongated Toilet Seat With Integrated Handle and Self-sustaining Check Hinge, $28.46 street price. Available in Almond, Black Black and Biscuit at slightly higher prices.

Is this a growing niche market? There are many similar products including add on handles called Nifty-Lifty and Flipsit (Antimicrobial) and a foot powered lifter. There are a lot of really odd products out there related to toilets that I hope to forget once this blog is finished. There are some things you can’t unsee. Research takes a toll.

I asked my wife if there are similar things in the women’s room. She shouldn’t recall. In fact, she couldn’t say if the toilet seats are open front or closed front (horseshoe or oval). Part of me is glad. We don’t need two overly curious minds in the family. I will just need to do research on my own.

Or not.

Another way to create an elliptical 1/2 (or 1/4) plan

A Woodworker's Musings - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 8:26am

A true ellipsis is, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful shapes in the universe.  Unlike an oval that is drawn with two mirrored radii (or three in the case of a true “egg” shape), the radii of the ellipsis continually change.  It’s incredibly strong shape in structural terms and it’s one of the best shapes for table tops.  There are many ways to draw an ellipsis.  But here’s an old method that you don’t often see referred to these days.  It’s simple and can be extraordinarily precise.  This method can also be very helpful if you’re creating domed framing for any type of construction.

First, establish a horizontal base line then raise a vertical line.


Swing a semi-circle with a diameter based on the minor axis of the ellipsis.


Next, open the compass to the length of the major axis and strike a point to the base line.


Draw a diagonal line from the base line to the top of the diameter, as shown.  Then divide the vertical line into any number of equal segments.  (Note, the more segments, the more precise the plan will be.)  Now, draw lines, parallel to the base line, from the semi-circle and extend them to the diagonal line.


Extend the lines at right angles to the diagonal line.  (These lines should be longer than the radius of the semi-circle.)


Set your compass to one of the line segment lengths in the semi-circle.


Transfer this measurement to the corresponding line that has been raised from the diagonal line.


It’s difficult to see in the below illustration, but after you have transferred all of the line measurements, you will have, effectively, created a coordinate map.


Connect the dots and, voila, you have a half or quarter plan based on exact measurements.  (Note that I have “thrown in” a couple of extra lines at the top and bottom of the semi-circle, just to create additional coordinate points.)


Again, there are many ways to draw true ellipses.  But I find this method produces the best results for large work and it is considerably more precise that the string and nail method.

Categories: Hand Tools

Marquetry Class – Finishing Up

McGlynn On Making - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 8:26am

I decided to “finish” the class exercises from the class I took a couple of weeks ago with Patrick and Patrice at ASFM.  My view of these is a little more objective now than when I was at the class.  Lots of obvious mistakes, but I’m hopeful that once I get my Chevalet built I’ll be able to work through these again and do a better job, moving on to be able to incorporate marquetry into real projects.

The main thing I did here was to re-saw some walnut scraps and laminate my marquetry discs onto it to make coasters.  The story behind the design on these is that they are a simplification of a design used on backgammon pieces from an elaborate marquetry game table.  That just makes my head hurt to think about…

In class we assembled the projects face-down onto special French ribbed kraft paper (there is a joke somewhere there, but it escapes me), and packed mastic into the saw kerfs.  The the brown smeary stuff you see here.

Walnut blanks ready for the glue up

Walnut blanks ready for the glue up

Gooey mess in the clamps

Gooey mess in the clamps

I used Old Brown Glue and clamped the discs to the Walnut bases between waxed paper.  Once the glue is dried the process is to wet the paper-covered face and scrape off the kraft paper and excess glue.  That always feels a bit dicey, getting enough water soaked in to be able to scrape the paper mache mess off without releasing the veneer from the substrate.  But it all worked out OK.

Coasters glued to the bases and scraped clean

Coasters glued to the bases and scraped clean

Then I sanded the surface a little and started applying finish.  I’m using spar varnish on these because I needed something waterproof and wanted a glossy build up.  I sprayed (rattle can) two coats, let it dry, knocked it down with 220 grit and repeated, twice.  This is the first coat going on.

Building up the finish

Building up the finish

While these parts were drying I rube some oil into the self portraits.  Two coats of oil, then a top coat of wax.  It’s oil-only in this picture.

Self-portraits with a coat of linseed oil

Self-portraits with a coat of linseed oil

Here are the final coasters drying in the sun.  Unfortunately I can see every inconsistency in the sawing, and places where the veneers are reversed (the two green veneers are different shares, for example).  Regardless, with a cup of coffee sitting on one, from across a darkened room these will look great!

Completed coasters

Completed coasters


Categories: General Woodworking

Training your eye for Design

Design Matters - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 8:11am


“We need to be willing to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that guidance directly and fearlessly.

 Shakti Gawain

If you are new to design, telling you to trust your eye sounds like some joke that everyone’s in on except you. How do you know what your eye is telling you?

First of all, those times when your eye feeds your imagination with rocket fuel is a rare event even for gifted artists. So much so that when that explosion of  juice starts to flow, it’s wise to ride it irregardless of eating or sleeping. Magic should not be squandered.

But aside from those rare bursts of inspiration – every day our eye talks a lot. Mostly it’s like that beeper on a garbage truck when it’s backing up the alley. It tells us what it doesn’t like. A crude example of this is plumb and level. Even though we have accurate tools to measure level and plumb, most of us can do a fair job of gauging it just by eye. In fact, our inner eye is pricked when that picture frame on the wall looks tilted in spite of what a level tells us. Our eye is filled with judgments, mostly negative about proportions. We may not think all that negative feedback is that valuable. It may feel frustrating, like we hired a travel guide who tells us all the sights not to  see. But if you realize that this is the eye’s way of guiding, you can learn to listen to it and best of all, learn to train it. I may get a burst of inspiration, a spark of an idea of what I want to design. But the actual design process is listening to a series of nos that gradually morph into yeses.

This Doric Classic Order is a lesson in proportions. Drawing by  Author

This Doric Classic Order is a lesson in proportions. Drawing by Author

But training the eye? Traditionally this was done by studying masterful work. All the old design guides waxed glowingly about the classic orders. Truth is you may never incorporate a single element from a classic order in any of your furniture designs. Yet, drawing the classic orders gives your eye a reference library of no’s that are inescapable – pushing you, guiding you, until the nos start turning to yes. With a basic understanding of proportions, you can let your eye be tutored by great buildings, furniture, nature, and art.


George R. Walker


George R. Walker


Highland Open House this weekend

Highland Woodworking - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 7:00am

Looking out over my back yard,I can see that autumn is beginning to encroach upon Atlanta, though I still need to find a good way to get rid of Kudzu. Along with the hopefully cooler weather, the changing leaves and the pumpkin spice everything, we also get a wonderful woodworking holiday: the annual Highland Woodworking open house. This year the open house will be on Friday October 17th from 10am to 6pm and on Saturday October 18th from 9am to 5pm. I am looking forward to the event and will be in attendance, but more importantly several artisan toolmakers including a few folks from Lie-Nielsen Tool Works will be there, and on Saturday we will get a visit from Master Cabinetmaker Frank Klausz.

Another wonderful thing about the open house is that Highland will be offering some secret tool deals. The team at Highland was able to secure a special selection of tools that they will be offering at once in a lifetime prices. I’ll be looking them over to see if there is anything I can add to my collection and I recommend coming out to take a look as well. Sadly you have to be at the store to get the deals as they aren’t being offered online or over the phone. The folks from Lie-Nielsen will also be demonstrating some of their tools, offering up some tips and tricks and giving pointers to those interested in their hand tools.

On Saturday, special guest Frank Klausz will be in attendance. I’ve done some reading both about and by Frank and am looking forward to meeting the man himself. Frank is a Master Cabinetmaker and has been working with wood for over 50 years. He started out as an apprentice in his Father’s shop at the age of 14 and has been woodworking ever since. I’ve personally wondered what it would be like to devote myself to woodworking as much as Frank has and wish I could find the time and stability to do so myself. Frank will be at the open house on Saturday answering questions, offering wisdom and showing off some of his amazing skills. The real treat however will be for the folks that can make it out to Highland Woodworking the next day.

On Sunday the 19th Frank Klausz will be offering a special demonstration class on hand-tool joinery. Hand-tool joinery is something I’ve been working on myself for the past couple months so learning from Frank will be an absolute treat. Frank will be covering topics like dovetails, half-lap joints, mortise and tenon joints and everything in between. There will also be a demonstration on how to keep your hand tools sharp, and I intend to take some serious notes on that, also probably some pictures since sharpening tools can be tricky. The motto Frank works by is “If you’re going to do it, do it well” and I can imagine that he will display that to the fullest extent. Hopefully I will see some friendly faces on Sunday joining me for a day of woodworking adventure.

Matthew York has been a woodturner since 2004 and has been interested in woodworking since he was a teenager. He currently lives in downtown Atlanta and has a small shop in his basement. He is an avid woodworker and is always available to talk about the craft. He can be contacted at fracturedturnings@gmail.com or visit his website at fracturedturnings.com. You can also follow him on twitter at @raen425

The post Highland Open House this weekend appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

The History of Wood, Part 24

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 6:00am


Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

Smoother Restoration

The English Woodworker - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 5:07am

Before I could set my sights on a first little project I was tasked with restoring a couple of my wooden planes, starting with the smoother. My instructions were to take back any grime and residue built up around the plane and then to flatten the back of the iron
I set to with some very fine wire wool giving everything a quick clean over. I didn’t want to take back too much of the patina on the plane body so I was gentle and a swift wipe was enough to see the wood re-emerge – a lovely piece of quartered beech. The mouth needed extra attention where dust had become caked up tightly in the corners as this would become a problem later when seating the iron in nice and flat.smoother before restoration

Truing the back of the iron was a much more lengthy procedure. I had the option of a water stone grinder but felt that I would ruin the whole thing if I used something fast cutting – I really wasn’t confident about holding the iron flat, and for good reason. I started out with 180 grit paper on the granite slab and my pile gradually increased right through to 2000 grit.
If you’re going to do something similar for the first time then I would point out that sticking the paper down to the flattening plate securely would be a very good idea. I may have received similar advice but it went straight over my head and I only held the paper down loosely with a bit of suction from wetting the underside. The paper curled up at the corner but I carried on regardless back and forth over and over. When I stopped to check on progress it was apparent that something wasn’t quite right, perhaps it was the curling up paper or just poor technique, but I had managed to curve off one of the corners. This wasn’t the only issue. After revealing some nice fresh steel it had become clear that the pitting in some areas was deep – I called out for help.iron with pitting

I was shown a better technique for holding the iron while pushing, this was to turn the iron to a diagonal position rather at 90 degrees, and focus on making nice long strokes (instead of many short ones) with a stronger down force on the push than on the pull.
I gave things another go and saw some improvement in the corner but the pitting looked like it might defeat me. Richard came to the rescue with the grinder to speed things along, he held the iron flat against the side of the stone and in just a couple of minutes the pitting was removed. It’s definitely a bonus to have access to the grinder for old irons like this.Pitting removed

I was told that I didn’t need to flatten the whole thing, the first 2″ was enough, so it was now ready to go back to the flattening plate and work up the grits. I was advised not to spend too much time on each grit – once I could see even scratches across the surface I was ready to move to the next. By the 400 grit I could feel a noticeable difference, it was smoother to push and the scratches became less visible, the surface looked dull and even.iron smooth

I was conscious the whole time of keeping the iron flat so that I didn’t ruin the edge again and create lots of extra work. Slowly though the round over returned, it wasn’t as bad as before but this time it was on both sides. I’m still clearly no expert but hopefully it will be a lesson well learnt. After a slapped wrist for shoddy technique I was able to improve on things and with a lot of concentration I was able to reach 2000 grit with the iron (almost) straight at the corners and lovely and polished.

I needed to turn my attention to the sole of the plane which was a similar but much faster process . I started and finished with 120 grit sandpaper which I was told was ample since the sole will become burnished through use. This small body took less than 3 minutes, I simply pulled it back carefully along the sandpaper until the darker, low spots were gone.flatten sole_2

With everything prepared I was ready to get some further guidance in creating the bevel and sharpening the cutting edge…

Categories: Hand Tools

My Final Visit to Studley’s Chest (And Your First One)

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 4:49am


In about 90 minutes I leave the real world to enter the shadowy territory of H.O. Studley. His tool cabinet and workbench are under the kind curation of a man who wishes to remain anonymous. And so we turn off all the location services on our smart devices.

During this final visit, we will shoot a video about the chest, including a time-lapse film of us unloading it. And we will finish all the extra still photos we need for Don Williams’ forthcoming book, “Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of H.O. Studley.”

Don is almost finished with his manuscript. I have read his first draft, and Don has uncovered a lot of information on Studley himself and the interesting journey of the chest from Quincy, Mass., to the wall of a collector’s Batcave.

The photos, by Narayan Nayar, are of museum quality.

The book will be released in March 2015, just in time for the (perhaps final) public exhibit of the chest and workbench that coincides with the Handworks event in the Amana Colonies, May 15-16, 2015. Don’t miss Handworks. Seriously. You will kick yourself if you do. Nothing else embodies the ideas of hand-tool woodworking that we hold dear at Lost Art Press. It’s not a commercial thing. There are no guys selling router bits. No Sham-wows. Just lots of people who love handwork having a good time. Admission is free.

The Studley exhibit will be held at the Masonic lodge in nearby Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The exhibit is being funded entirely out of Don Williams’ pocket with some volunteer help. There is no corporate or museum money behind him. This is, frankly, a huge risk on Don’s part.


When Don visited here recently I asked him about the exhibit and if he would cancel it if he didn’t sell enough tickets. He replied, “No.” After I asked the obvious follow-up, “Why?” here’s the answer I received.

“Because it has to be done. This might be the only chance for people to ever see these objects. And,” he added, ”I said that I would do it.”

If you are thinking about attending or just want to support this kind of quixotic endeavor, buy your tickets at http://www.studleytoolchestexhibit.com/. Tickets are only $25.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Virtuoso: The Toolbox of Henry O. Studley
Categories: Hand Tools

A Card Catalogue – Part Fourteen

The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 4:11am
  Moving along with part fourteen of the Card Catalogue series- in this video, the stand is glued using hot hide glue. I began with the short ends of the stand/frame, and allowed them to dry overnight. Once the glue was fully cured, I added...
Categories: Hand Tools

Designing a Moxon Vise

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 4:00am
In the past few years what has become to be known as a "Moxon Vise" has become a pretty popular workbench accessory. The basic theory behind it is that lots of joinery operations, especially dovetailing, need to be done at a higher bench height than a typical bench - which is usually set for planing operations. In Moxon's engraving from Mechanick Exercises(1678) the vise is placed at an obviously incorrect position, with no way of attaching it to the bench. Felibien, in an earlier book, (which Moxon liberally copied from) shows a group of these vises hanging from a wall behind the main workbench.
I think it was the Lost Art Press' edition of The Art of Joinery that brought the vise back to the limelight and it is now a very popular accessory.
Today several vendors, ourselves included, stock complete Moxon vises ready for use or hardware kits for making your own. Our vise, which was designed and is made for us by the Philadelphia Furniture Workshop, has a couple of unique features, notably a cambered from jaw for ease of clamping, and handles that can be moved out of the way while working. The hardware for the vise, which was a joint design by ourselves and the PFW is specially designed to allow for wear and a lot of give in the wood. Our hardware kit doesn't include drawings for the vise because, while the PFW design is perfect for hordes of people, if you are going to the trouble of making a vise for yourself, you might as well take a moment and decide if some customization is in order. However so many people have asked us for some guidance I thought explaining some design considerations might be in order.

At its most simple the vise is just two boards with screws to clamp them together and enough thickness on the back jaw so that the vise in turn it can be clamped to your bench. The actual size isn't critical. The screws need to be inset far enough in from the ends so the wood doesn't split - a couple of inches at most - and the main dimension is the clamping distance between the screws and the overall height of the vise. Unless you have the urge to have several vises, you want a clamping distance wide enough for any carcase you are likely to make - say 24" max, but 18" or 20" between the screws is probably more realistic. Also you don't want to make such a heavy monster that moving it all the time is a chore. The height is the next issue - you want it high enough so it brings dovetailing to a comfortable height. 4" is fine for most people, 6" might be better for a tall person on a short bench - here is one area where personal preference is important.

Now we are already into two tweaks. By cutting down the ends of the rear jaw into ears you give yourself clamping surfaces that will keep cutting tools away from your holdfasts - the usual device for attaching the vise to your bench.

Among the innovations made by the Philadelphia Furniture Workshop in our vise - a narrow shelf is glued on the back of the rear jaw to create a clamping ledge so that you can clamp your tails down firmly when you lay out your pins.

The way our kit works is that the two acme screws thread into two nuts mortised into the back jaw of the vise. Just locate the holes far enough from the bottom so the nuts have enough clearance and first drill the holes and then mortise away. The nuts we use are custom for the vise and are offset. We found that, especially with a sloppy mortise, a regular nut can spin in the mortises as the vise wears. This design gives you plenty of room for error and you won't have to worry about wear.

The front jaw can be as thin as 4/4 but here again the Philadelphia furniture workshop design has a great innovation. The inside of the jaw is slightly cambered so even if the jaws are tightened unevenly the vise will hold in the center perfectly. Also the thinner front jaw, not only makes the vise lighter, the jaw can bend a little when clamping for a better fit on the work.

Finally it's nice to have a little something to help align the vise to the front edge of your bench.

We didn't use Moxon type vises when I was learning woodworking. What a shame. I cannot imagine not having one now. Especially since between my back and my eyesight (lack of) getting the work closer to me, and not having to slouch down to work is a real boon, Whichever design you use I think it's a really great addition for work holding in the workshop.

More Sweatshirts on the Way

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 3:47am


The new Lost Art Press sweatshirts are selling faster than we anticipated. We are sold out of size “medium” and are almost out of XXL. But don’t fear, small one (or very large one), we are ordering more today.

We will keep this item in stock through all the cold months in 2014 and 2015.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Products We Sell
Categories: Hand Tools

How to Choose Lumber for Woodworking {7 Simple Steps}

Wood and Shop - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 3:01am

When I got started in woodworking I was incredibly confused about choosing wood. In the above video, and in the article below, I share what I’ve learned about the basics of choosing lumber for woodworking. I want to save you time and head aches in trying to understand lumber!


The topic of lumber confused me mainly because I couldn’t find a simple summary of the topic. I found a lot of complex discussions with different terms used by different “experts”. I am by no stretch of the imagination a lumber expert, but I’m very good at simplifying complex topics so that everyone can understand. As a result, this is a simple practical guide to help you understand how wood moves, what wood to buy, how to buy it, and where to buy it.


After you learn the basics from this video and article I encourage you to look at the bottom of this article for a list of links, books, and DVDs that will expand your understanding beyond the scope of this article.

So let’s get started with the 7 simple steps below!



Question: For your woodworking projects, should you choose a hardwood lumber like Hard Maple or Lignum Vitae? Or softwood lumber like Southern Yellow Pine or Red Alder?

Answer: That depends entirely on what you are building.

©  Joshua T. Farnsworth

Some projects even require a mix of both hardwoods and softwoods, like a violin or a workbench. For example, violin makers use a soft Spruce for the soundboard and a harder Maple for the back, sides (ribs) and neck.


Many craftsmen of the past built the bases of their workbenches with less-expensive pine (softwood) and the tops & vices with hardwoods like beech or maple. The base of the workbench wouldn’t take a beating, so soft pine would work just fine. But the top of the workbench and the vice needed to be more durable.

©  Joshua T. Farnsworth

Just use your brain to determine what type of wood you should use on different parts of your furniture.

BOOK: I have found this book to be an incredible guide to choosing different types of wood because it shows beautiful grain patterns & discusses woodworking uses for 400 different woods: “Wood Identification & Use” by Tery Porter.

©  Joshua T. Farnsworth


The lumber industry uses the “Janka hardness test” to test and rate common woods for hardness. The test involves pressing a steel ball to gauge how much pressure each wood species takes to push the ball half way into the wood. You can download my free PDF of the Janka chart here. {If you can’t open a PDF then install the free Adobe PDF Reader here.}


quartersawn wood beech

Unless you’re set on having a wildly figurative grain pattern on your furniture, you’re probably going to want to choose the most stable wood possible; especially if you are building fine furniture or woodworking hand tools that need great stability (e.g. hand planes, straight edges, or try squares):


Yes, wood moves when it dries and also with the changes in seasons and location (temperature and humidity). Wood doesn’t really get longer (thank goodness) but it does expand in width as humidity rises:


Even if you are using a beautiful (yet unstable) grain pattern on part of your furniture, it’s a good idea to use stable wood on the other parts. For example, look at an old wooden door. The panels usually have more decorative (less stable) wood, but the rails and stiles (parts of the frame) are usually very stable straight grained wood (don’t worry, I’ll clarify “straight grain” below).


So the key is to find boards that will be as stable as possible during those changes in humidity. But how do you get wood that has stable “vertical grain”? This is the question that confused me for awhile. The answer is: It all depends on how the wood is milled from the tree. This is what I’ll cover in step 3:



Looking at the board’s end grain will tell you how a board was sawn from the log, and how stable it will be. In a minute I’ll jump into each of these cuts in a little more detail, but this graphic illustrates how different cuts come from the log:


But mills rarely cut up a board like the graphic above. “Through and through” is the most common method that lumber mills employ when milling lumber. It’s simply like slicing horizontal layers along the length of the log:


You’ve probably seen someone do the same thing with a chainsaw mill at home. Bill Anderson shared some valuable insights with me regarding lumber cut with the “through and through” method: “Depending on where in the log the boards come from, they will be either flat, rift or quartersawn, or show a transition between these cuts across the width of the board.”


Take special notice, in the above graphic, how stable wood can extract from a wider board.

Lumber sellers don’t always label the cut of their boards, so don’t hesitate to carry a sharp block plane to the lumber yard to uncover the end grain:


You’ll often need to remove the mill marks and the colored wood end grain sealer to see the end grain.


You should definitely dig through the boards and use your knowledge from this article to select the best you can find. You can also find good “vertical grain” as part of a larger flat sawn board, and just cut it off both edges (leaving the center for fire wood):


Here is what the different main lumber cut types look like after the’re cut off of a flat sawn board:


Let’s discuss each of them in a tiny bit more detail:



Most consumer-grade boards are flat sawn, and often display a “cathedral” pattern on the board face:


Lumber companies want to maximize their profits by getting as many boards out of a log as possible. You can definitely use flat sawn boards in your projects, but just realize that the wood will move over time, and may cup or twist and separate your wood joints. Although some joints can be arranged to better accommodate the movement (see part 1/15 of my dovetail tutorial…skip to 1:41) it’s better to start out with wood that isn’t going to move as much. In section 4 below you’ll see some problems that are common to flat sawn boards (like twist, cupping, bowing, etc.).


If the flat sawn boards have already moved out of square, then you’ll have to spend some considerable time flattening & straightening the board right before you use it. So it’s best to stick with a more stable cut of lumber, like quartersawn lumber. Or at least keep your flat sawn boards stacked (until the last possible moment) with “stickers” between them and weights on top to prevent movement, then secure them with good joinery or fasteners (e.g. nails) when building furniture.



Quartersawn wood is very stable, and less susceptible to movement. The 60-90 degree verticle grain qualifies a board as “quartersawn” within the lumber industry. See how the end grain is running nearly up-and-down? That is called “vertical grain”. Quartersawing also produces fairly straight face grain and usually very beautiful ray flecks (for example, see the flecks on the beech wood above).


But since quartersawing requires more effort and wastes more wood, it is naturally more expensive. But you don’t have to run out to your local mill and ask for the quartersawn boards. As mentioned in the last section, quartersawn wood can be cut off the edges wide flatsawn boards. Yes, even from construction lumber!


To produce 12″ wide construction lumber (2×12 pine boards), lumber companies have to use the center of the tree. So naturally quartersawn & riftsawn lumber will be on the edges, and just needs to be cut off. This is how Roy Underhill gets nice quartersawn yellow pine at low prices from big box stores like Lowes & Home Depot. He taught me this when I was helping him rip a wide piece of construction lumber for his school teacher’s desk tv program (watch the episode).


Notice how the above 2×12 construction-grade flat sawn board actually has some very stable quartersawn wood on both sides of the wide board? Here’s what it looks like after I cut it off with a rip saw and use handplanes to square it up:




The riftsawn section of a board is similar to quartersawn cuts, but its endgrain is between 30-60 degrees to the face. Riftsawn boards have a characteristically straight face grain pattern. These boards are also pretty stable and can be utilized if your furniture project calls for extremely straight face grain, like modern or Japanese-style projects.



The most stable boards are “riven” or “rived” directly from a log by you, exploiting the weakness of the grain (like splitting firewood). Riven boards are a subset of quartersawn because they are also split along the radial plane of the log, producing grain lines that are square to the board face and straight down the board.

These boards are not only the most stable, but they can also be some of the most beautiful with maximum “fleck”:


So why do you not hear about this type of lumber very often? Because wood mills and lumber yards don’t have it. Their boards are cut with large powerful saws. Riven boards require muscle power and hand tools like a large crosscut saw (or chain saw), wedges, mallets, a froe, an adze, a hewing hatchet & handplanes.


I’ll share a riving video tutorial at a later date. But in the meantime, Peter Follansbee shows how to rive your own red oak from logs, as part of his helpful DVD video: “17th Century Joined Chest.”


 (click here for the DVD).

Here is a very helpful animation (from a professional miller) that clarifies the quartersawn & riftsawn process:



Since I do most of my woodworking with antique hand tools, I like my boards to be as easy to work as possible. Wood defects can be even tougher to work with for a hand tool woodworker like me. Some wood defects can be resolved with saws, handplanes, and even epoxy. But if I’m paying for wood I like to find boards that require as little work as possible. So look out for some of these problems:



Knots can cause problems for hand tool woodworkers, especially when passing your handplane over the top. And knots like to fall out over time. Yes, you can mix epoxy and sawdust to solidify the knot, but most of the time I avoid them all together. But you may like the look of them in a rustic piece of furniture. Just be aware.



Some people like the rustic look of sapwood & insect holes. But I don’t. I avoid it, or cut around it. In the photo below you’ll see two boards glued together. The reddish wood is the heart wood. It would be on the inside of the tree. It was dead long before the tree was cut down, so the insects didn’t eat it. The sap would is the white wood with worm insect holes. Insects continue to eat at the sapwood long after the tree is cut down. So I prefer to avoid or remove the sapwood.



When lumber isn’t stacked, sealed, and dried properly it is prone to move in all sorts of strange ways:




Checking happens when a board dries too quickly or unevenly. The cracks move along the board. So it’s best to avoid these boards. If you are cutting your own lumber from a tree, checking can often be prevented by using a good quality wood end grain sealer (like I mentioned above)…the red stuff painted on the ends of boards in many of the above & below photos. Lumber should also be stacked with “stickers” or spacers of even thickness, with weights on top.



When green (wet) boards aren’t properly stacked they will cup or twist. Cupping is when the board turns into a cup shape (see above). Twisting is when board ends twist different ways. It takes a lot of work to plane out the twisting or cupping. I don’t always turn down free wood that is twisted or cupped, but I won’t buy it.



Bowed boards are like a bow that you shoot arrows with (see above). To me, this defect is a bit harder to correct for than twisting or cupping. So I avoid these boards…unless they’re free (like the above lacewood board was).


Crook is similar to bow, but the wood arcs the other way. This is an easier defect to fix because it only involves jointing the board’s eges…which I do anyway.




For nice hardwoods I like to visit small local wood mills. If I can’t find what I’m looking for there, I expand my search to regional “Hardwood” dealers. You’ll save money and get better quality wood through local mills and dealers. Some of them even carry a few exotic hardwoods. These companies specialize in furniture grade wood, whereas woodworking supply stores & hardware stores do not.


However, even though some woodworkers warn to “stay away from the big box stores” (e.g. Lowes & Home Depot) there is a place for big box stores. While they don’t carry nice hard woods, as mentioned above, you can sift through to find nice wide yellow pine construction boards, from which you can rip out quartersawn boards. These stores also carry nice pre-dimensioned poplar. This is great for people that don’t have the skill or time to dimension all their own boards. Bill Anderson and I have been in Lowes to find 1/4″ poplar for my tool chest’s trays & tills.





If you live in a larger city, then you may be close to a woodworking supply store, like Woodcraft. Their specialty is selling tools & woodworking supplies, but they usually care small quantities of hardwoods. They also carry a good selection of small blanks for wood turners. Lumber can be expensive at these types of stores because they don’t deal with large volume. But if you live in the city, then this may be your least expensive option.


Because I have a lot of lumber near me, mail ordering (or online ordering) lumber is foreign to me. Heck, my neighbors see me dragging fallen oak, beech, and poplar logs from the woods behind my house and riving boards out of them! However, even though I can’t touch the wood beforehand, I’m planning on experimenting with online lumber sellers soon. Here’s my upcoming experiment (subscribe to my free articles if you want to be notified of this experiment):

I first plan to order some small quantities of exotic hardwood from a few different higher rated eBay lumber sellers like these because of eBay’s money-back guarantee. I’ll be careful to choose eBay lumber sellers who have a high number of sales and a high positive feedback percentage:


I’ve ordered a lot of tools on eBay and have seen that highly rated eBay sellers usually bend over backwards to keep their high rating.

When I receive the lumber I’ll inspect it to see how closely it matches the photos and descriptions, and look at the quality. I’ll let you know how it goes!

In addition to eBay, here are some online lumber sellers that are reported (by other woodworkers) to have a good reputation:



©  Joshua T. Farnsworth

Most beginner woodworkers don’t know what to look for when they visit a mill, a lumber yard, or an online lumber store. After reading the above advice, you should now understand how to identify great stable wood. But how do you avoid looking like a moron when you go to buy wood?



The first consideration to keep you from feeling stupid at the lumberyard is to understand that lumber people speak of wood thicknesses in “quarters”. For example, in the United States:



Take your tape measure and calculator to the lumber mill because in the United States most lumber suppliers calculate the price of their wood using a very simple “board feed” volume calculation:


When I go to the lumber yard I like to take a small tape measure, like this pocket-sized Stanley 12′ tape measure (longest you’ll need for a board), but you can use most any tape measure.




It’s a good practice to also carry a lumber moisture meter with you when you buy rough lumber. This link shows some highly rated, yet affordable moisture meters. I purchased this General Tools moisture meter and really like it. I think it was around $25-$30.


Below I’ll discuss the debate about moister level and acclimating lumber to your workshop.




I always believed that lumber moisture needed to be under 10% for building furniture. However, in this Popular Woodworking Magazine discussion Glen Huey said that if your moisture meter registers 22% or lower, then you should buy the hardwood and there won’t be much need for acclimating the wood to your workshop’s humidity level before shaping the wood.

©  Joshua T. Farnsworth

He experimented to come up with this claim. I’m sure this claim will make many woodworker’s blood boil, but it’s nice to know that I don’t have to be quite as concerned as I once thought.


If your lumber isn’t as dry as you would like (over 22% in Glen Huey’s opinion…probably over 10-15% in my opinion), then it’s a good idea to let it acclimate to your workshop, or a room that’s similar to the furniture’s final resting place (a room, not the land fill). It’s a good idea to use “stickers” between your lumber (even if it’s plenty dry) to keep the boards flat. The stickers (thin sticks) should have a uniform thickness. This is one of the few times that I use plywood because of it’s uniform thickness. I just cut a sheet into a bunch of small strips.


Well I hope this wasn’t too confusing. But believe me, this is definitely more simple than the hours that I had to study to understand this stuff.





New Series On woodworkingmasterclasses Starts Today

Paul Sellers - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:38am

DSC_0176Just so you know. We start the new series on making the table I blogged on last night and have mentioned over the past few weeks. I think it really unpacks the past methods of this make and that it introduces methods so very viable today for today’s enthusiasts for real woodworking.

Got to woodworkingmasterclasses.com and enjoy!

The post New Series On woodworkingmasterclasses Starts Today appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Welcome and Hello.

The Workbench Diary - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 8:57pm
Every once in a while it’s good to say hello to new readers. Since the past few months I've noticed an increase in traffic here on the blog now’s as good a time as any. I often continue on in my posts as if everyone has been here since the beginning. Because this is obviously not the case I thought I should introduce myself again and tell about what I have going on here...

My name is Joshua Klein. I am a furniture conservator in private practice in the coastal town of Sedgwick, Maine. I got into this profession by first studying luthiery in Red Wing, MN. After that I attended The National Institute of Wood Finishing where I sat under the sagacity of Mitch Kohanek. Even though I knew I ultimately wanted to work on historic furniture, I took a job for a short stint in Nashville, TN at a custom guitar shop. I was the finisher for this small company. It was fun but as soon as my wife, Julia, and I had our first baby on the way, we decided to head back to where we wanted to plant our family: the Maine coast.

We moved up and had our first little boy, Eden. After we got our feet under us a bit, I started my furniture restoration business full time. Since the beginning my focus has been on developing a conservation methodology in practice. I use this blog to post quick how to’s, treatment reports, period woodworking methods, meditations on craft, etc. I also have been sharing about my research into Jonathan Fisher, an early 19th century cabinetmaker from Blue Hill, ME. Since I am currently working on the manuscript for a book about him fruit from that work appears on the blog every so often.

We live a homesteading lifestyle so I occasionally include snippets about our chickens, goats, building our outdoor mud oven, splitting firewood, etc.

You will see a “Search This Blog” bar on right hand side of the blog for your surfing convenience. Right below that, you can subscribe or follow by email. Sign up and you’ll get notices when I post something new. Lastly, you will notice the extensive blogroll in that right column. These are the numerous blogs I follow. The list is organized by most recent post. I have friends that come here to see what’s new on my blogroll. I check it everyday and have found it handy.  Feel free to stop in and check out what’s new in the handtool woodworking blogosphere.

Welcome to my blog, new friends. Feel free to leave comments. That just fuels the fire here. The more feedback I get, the more end up posting. Thanks for coming. Enjoy.

Klein Furniture Restoration from Mathias Reed Visuals on Vimeo.
Categories: Hand Tools

Ronghakane i Møre og Romsdal

Høvelbenk - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 4:17pm
Ronghake og høvelbenk frå snikkarverkstaden til Hans O. Aas i Kjellbotnen / Skorgedalen i Vestnes kommune. Foto: Peter BrennvikRonghake og høvelbenk frå snikkarverkstaden til Hans O. Aas i Kjellbotnen / Skorgedalen i Vestnes kommune. Foto: Peter Brennvik

Eg har tidlegare skrive om ein original ronghake som finnast på garden Ullaland i Volda. Det er også påfallande mykje informasjon om ronghakar i svara på spørjelista om snikkarhandverket som eg har skrive ein artikkel om i haust. For ikkje å snakke om den flotte ronghaken og tilhøyrande høvelbenk på Romsdalsmuseet i Molde som Peter Brennvik og Øyvind Vestad har tipsa meg om. Frå at dette fenomenet har vore heilt fråverande i skrift om snikkarhandverket i Noreg til desse oppdagingane synast eg at vi hadde kome langt på kort tid. No viser det seg at dette truleg berre er starten på noko enda større. Peter har vore aktiv og gjort undersøkingar rundt på gardane i sine heimtrakter og rapportert vidare til meg slik at eg kan dele oppdagingane her på bloggen.

 Peter Brennvik  Peter Brennvik  Peter Brennvik

Den fyste oppdaginga er høvelbenken frå Skakketeigen i Molde. Benken har to ulike typar hol for ronghake 1″ og ¾”. Her er ikkje ronghaken bevart saman med benken. Han kan likvel dukke opp seinare. Peter har oppdaga nokre lause ronghakar på i lokale snikkarverkstader. Hakane har han posta om på Instagram : http://instagram.com/bassdummy

 Peter Brennvik  Peter Brennvik  Peter Brennvik

Desse hakane er eg usikker på om kan knytast til ein lokal høvelbenk der dei har vore i bruk. Det an dukke opp meir informasjon om desse seinare.  Det siste er ein høvelbenk med ein fin smidd ronghake i. Denne minner veldig om ronghaken på Romsdalsmuseet.

Ronghake og høvelbenk frå snikkarverkstaden til Hans O. Aas i Kjellbotnen / Skorgedalen i Vestnes kommune. Foto: Peter Brennvik Ronghake og høvelbenk frå snikkarverkstaden til Hans O. Aas i Kjellbotnen / Skorgedalen i Vestnes kommune. Foto: Peter Brennvik Ronghake og høvelbenk frå snikkarverkstaden til Hans O. Aas i Kjellbotnen / Skorgedalen i Vestnes kommune. Foto: Peter Brennvik

Til saman vitnar desse funna om at ronghaken og bruken av den har vore utbreidd i dette området av Møre og Romsdal. Det kan vere god grunn til å leite vidare i desse områda for å finne meir om høvelbenkane og korleis ronghakane har vore brukt.  I samaband med arbeidet med skriving av artikkelen min om kjellingfot og ronghake undersøkte eg utbreiinga av ulike nemningar på benkehake, det som vert nytta som høvelstopp. I Møre og Romsdal verkar det som om nemninga benkehake var brukt om denne haken som Peter har sendt meg bilete av, ronghaken eller kjellingfot. Høvelstoppen er i staden kalla klobit, kam,  høvelbit, klo eller dobbe. Når ein i spørjelista om snikkarhandverket har spurt etter lokale nemningar på benkehake så er det ikkje sjølvsagt at ein då meiner høvelstopp. Mange av svara tyder nettopp på at dei fleste forstår benkehake som det same som ronghake. Eit tydeleg døme på det er svaret frå Endre J. Korndal i Øksendal som har skrive “dei brukte benkehake” og har teikna ein hake som minner svært om ronghaken på bilete over. To av hakane Peter har funne er frå Tresfjord. Nettopp frå Tresfjord har vi dokumentert nemninga “ronghake” i svaret frå Hans Skeidsvoll. Her skriv han “for lange stykkje bruktest ronghake og bit”. Då er det grunnlag for å bruke “bit” eller “høvelbit” som nemningar på høvelstoppen i dette området, noko eg kjem attende til her på bloggen. (Renmælmo 2014) Ei stor takk til Peter som har gjort desse viktige oppdagingane og deler dei med oss. Frå at vi hadde nemninga ronghake med forklaring, har vi no fleire konkrete hakar frå same område. Dei flotte bevarte hakane har detaljar som er viktige for at smedane skal finne fram til smiteknikk, materiale og dimensjon. Dette er igjen viktig for at vi skal få laga funksjonelle hakar.


Arkivert under:Killingfot / hallfast / ronghake
Categories: Hand Tools

A Mixed Day of Bench Banter and Creativity

Paul Sellers - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 2:30pm

DSC_0148The greatest progress often comes in the face of adversity and without pressure we cannot grow. I demonstrate the steps that need my input to pave the way for everyone as they progress into realms of becoming skilled and I see things I see as growth when others think that have stayed the same. Now the students go to the tools and work the wood with much less conscious effort even though they have uncertainty as to the outcome. The tools, sharp and repeatedly sharpened follow simple and basic patterns yet the basics makes the all the big difference. More than that though, most of the work brings unquantifiable reward, especially when the box lid closes with its unique clunk and you step back into your space and simply stare.

DSC_0268Friendships form and breaks in silence  usually start with a joke about the intensity of concentrations beyond screens and keyboards. The difference is remarkable of course. Who could ever compare touching keys on a key board with the keys of a piano or the key sounds of planes on wood and saws separating waste from wanted wood? Of course one produces present and emerging reality and the other images of the past only. Banter creeps generously between benches and between bouts of dedicated intent to plane the wood and make the joints a tight fit. DSC_0272Phil jumps in to help throughout the day with good advice and so too John who now knows more than I do about hand tools and sharpening and restoring them for future use in Patagonia. Here John has done an exceptional job restoring yet another handsaw. DSC_0152I feel a certain pride in what we are all doing because somehow it validates what I once could only dreamed of. Making woodworkers is as much a creative process as making furniture pieces or musical instruments or canoes and boats. You must have a plan and something to work to but when I started teaching I had no patterns to really follow. When I began teaching it was because people kept asking me if they could learn from me in a class. DSC_0073For a few years I just said no every time and then one day I said OK. I would teach just one one-day class. The result wasn’t to give up making and wear fancy designer work clothes emblazoned with DeWalt and Makita or Bosch and sit on a pedestal but to keep making and add another eight hours a day to my already busy schedule as a maker. One thing that has proven itself time and time again is working with the video team to make over 250 videos to use as a teaching medium for woodworkers around the world. In spite of that I am still a maker and design my work around the added things I do. As I said, without pressure we simply do not grow and without adversity character is rarely formed. DSC_0260 DSC_0239It’s no wonder advertising companies contact us daily to ask us to ‘partner’ with them. These online advertisement companies and promoters promise to screen advertisers to make certain their product falls in line with my work online. The emails usually start out with something like, “Hi, Love your blog, really good way of addressing the issues,” blah, blah, blah. In the first sentence I can see that they didn’t actually read the blog but did do the numbers in terms of hits and page views and so on with regard to our popularity. Mostly I delete the emails and mark them as spam or trash so that we can terminate future pestering. I like our advert-free blogging protocol even though I can see that some adverts might have value.

DSC_0201 DSC_0155Today we began the third project and the intricacies of making shelving units. Of course the tools move more quickly now and the cuts hit the mark exactly. it seems an easier project but soon they will see added features I built in to add the demand and challenges I spoke of above.

DSC_0170I spent much of my time between lectures and demoes restoring the occasional table we filmed for the upcoming series that starts tomorrow. here is the preview of what you will miss if you are not a member. As I said, the students are proving more and more the amazon work we are doing through the online broadcast because they arrive with more knowledge and skills than ever before. Thats been wonderful.

DSC_0176I glued up my table after I removed all of the existing finish, glue and so on. The joints were of course all numbered and they still fit after I stripped everything off. I replaced and scraped all of the surfaces so that the wood would cosily match the one I replicated as a second table. Tomorrow they will stand side by side.

The post A Mixed Day of Bench Banter and Creativity appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Great Old Work Benches on E Bay.

David Barron Furniture - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 1:17pm

I was browsing through E Bay when I came accross this supplier of old work benches http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Large-workbench-antique-sideboard-butchers-block-kitchen-shop-display/321547334699?_trksid=p2047675.c100009.m1982&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20140328180637%26meid%3Dfcbc9875d27e4665958880fc86935b5b%26pid%3D100009%26prg%3D20140328180637%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D10%26sd%3D251673019980

He's selling them for £400 to £500 each as antique displays for large houses but some of them would be far better off returned to their original use. The Scandinavian style is a great bench particularly for dovetailing. I have a version on the drawing board at the moment, but I'm not sure when I'll have time to build it!

This one here caught my eye, well past it's best, but have you ever seen a tail vice that big?!

Categories: Hand Tools

Moonlighting with the Screen Printer (Sweatshirts are in the Store)

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 1:04pm

So guess what I did today?

Today I was in the shop of Kelly Robbins who does screen printing and embroidery. Kelly, his wife and parents have been running Robbins Apparel since 1997, with Kelly working full-time for the last five years. As you can see, it is a small shop that requires a good amount of hand work. Today I was “catching” the garments after they were heated to cure the ink, which was a hot job!



Kelly starts with a poly material that he puts into a machine that places the art image onto it. I’m not really sure how it happens, but after spraying it with water the image becomes visible. This “screen” is now ready to be inserted into the print machine, which squeegees ink onto the garment.





In order to get the art to line up exactly with the zipper, Kelly thought like a woodworker. He put the image onto the carrier and then when he placed the hoodie onto the carrier he only had to unzip it a bit to see where the image was going to be placed.



And for the final very hot product…


Hooded sweatshirts are now live on the site. Get yours here.

— John

Filed under: Products We Sell
Categories: Hand Tools


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