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This is a collection of all the different blogs I (try to) read.  A whole bunch!  If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to use the CONTACT page to get a hold of me.  Thanks!

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.  



Special Price on “Building Blocks” for “Woodworker’s Guide” Buyers.

Bob Lang's ReadWatchDo - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 11:20am
If you have purchased the “New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp” and would like to purchase the download version of “Building Blocks of SketchUp” as well for a 33% discount, just click the button below. Click here for more information about … Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp Tech. Support

Bob Lang's ReadWatchDo - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 10:50am
Thank you for purchasing the “New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp”. This page exists to provide answers to frequently asked questions about this book, and to help resolve any technical issues. You can report problems by leaving a comment below, or … Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

Making a Copy of a Miguel Rodriguez Guitar - Closing Up The Box

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 10:34am
Every maker has his own little secret twist, only truly appreciated by the public and the aficionados.

Miguel Rodriguez, Jr. (1921-1998), master luthier, Cordoba, Spain

Ten years ago, an older friend found out that I was making classical guitars.

He invited me over to his little handmade house of reclaimed wood, it sat beneath gigantic sugar pines and incense cedars, and Lassen Volcanic National Park was only 50 feet from his back door. He said he had some wood I might be interested in, an invitation I couldn't turn down.

Beneath those sugar pines and cedars were about 100 bundles of hand split western red cedar shingles, all leftover from when he roofed his house fifteen years earlier.

He said, "Go wild and pick out what you want".

I did and now when I look back at that day, I wish I had taken more.

We all know what wishing gets us.

The guitar in the above photo is the first guitar that I have made from a pair of those cedar shakes.

The three piece back is some "wild grown" Indian rosewood with a sapele insert.

The braces are Spanish cedar, so are the back joint reinforcement strips.

I use Lee Valley Fish Glue to glue on the back and as you can see I rope the back onto the sides with a two inch wide strip cut from a tire inner tube.

The guitar is ready for the bindings, which will be sapele to match the back insert.

The rosette is very similar to the rosettes created by Francisco Simplicio and Ignacio Fleta.

I will work on this guitar as I can over the summer and fall, there are three other guitars for me to finish this summer.

If anyone would like color photos of this guitar, please contact me and I will send them to you!

Here's a YouTube of Raphaella Smits playing one of my favorite J.S. Bach pieces!

Categories: Luthiery

It’s The Weekend, Crack On.

The English Woodworker - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 8:17am

There’s a time for fettling, restoring and swatting dates in old books. In fact it seems that we spend a lot of time doing these things. Sometimes we need to make the time to build stuff.

It’s easy to think, “I’ll be able to build that once I’ve tuned this up some more”, or “if only I could have tools like him”.
It’s a little too easy to get wrapped up in a lifetime of excuse.

I looked at my bench today and saw tools with handles wrapped up in electrical tape and my trusty jack plane looking as ever, like he has been chewed on by an old dog (and he has).Old wooden jack planeMy tools are sharp. But they could be sharper.
Your planes are set far finer. Your saws are set better and a whole lot straighter than mine.

Well set tools don’t impress me, nor does the terminology. Building does.
If you feel your tools aren’t up to it, embrace the challenge. I learnt some of the most valuable lessons through being vastly under equipped. A craftsman can blame his tools, but only if he is short on ingenuity.
The finest tools don’t build stuff, you do.
Smoothing OakThis week I’ve had half a dozen ebay dogs turn up at my door and they are now all functional and ready for use. That includes metal and wooden planes and saws of all varieties. There wasn’t a lapping plate in sight but they now work. They could be better, but they work.

Over the weekend I’ll be turning this pile of oak in to a chair. What will you be building? Crack on!

Categories: Hand Tools

’18th-Century Furniture’ Details 5 Classic Projects (& 4 Secret Drawers)

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 5:54am

One question to ask of any style is whether it can stand the test of time. Leather motorcycle jacket? Sure. Red satin disco jacket? No. This holds true with furniture. When it comes to woodworking, 18th-century furniture is perennially popular. Many 18th-century pieces are like the leather motorcycle jacket; they’re stylish, but serve a practical purpose. A spice chest will build your joinery skills, but the multiple drawers – sometimes hidden – […]

The post ’18th-Century Furniture’ Details 5 Classic Projects (& 4 Secret Drawers) appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Studley Tool Chest in the Flesh!

David Barron Furniture - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 4:47am

Yesterday was spent setting up at Handworks, what normally takes me a hour took eight, the other exhibitors are a very friendly bunch! Above is my neighbour Dave Jeske of Blue Spruce who did wonders for both our stands with some makeshift lighting.
Below is another neighbour Chris Vesper with a good selection of his wonderful tools.
It's the morning of the show now and I'm really looking forward to it, my YouTube videos passed the 1 million views overnight, so I'm hoping that's a good omen!

In the evening was the much awaited private viewing of the Studley tool chest and bench.

Here's a shot of his superb bench and below the equally well finished back.

For me the bench was as impressive as the tool chest, with wonderful proportions and vices to match.
There was a no touch policy which was understandable, but they had a replica bench with a good selection of vices from the era for everyone to play with.

The main attraction was the chest. It was bigger than I imagined and the no touch policy was reinforced with the whole thing being encased in a perspex viewing box. Here's Roy Underhill giving it very close scrutiny.

A wonderful thing and a privilege to have seen it in the flesh.

Categories: Hand Tools

date line Amana......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 4:13am
I arrived at my destination intact. Flying is not something I like doing. It rates just below doing a self appendectomy on my bucket list. I was surprised that both flights got in early. The first one from Providence to Detroit was 10 minutes early. The one from Detroit to Iowa was 20 minutes early. Must of really throw those airport workers for a loop - we sat there for most of the 20 minutes before we got to the gate. When I deplaned I looked and we were the only plane there.

Got a real big scare at the Iowa airport at the car rental desk. The clerk said I didn't have reservation and walked away like I wasn't there. I know I had done my 7P's on this and made reservations for the flight, car, and hotel at the same time. What I missed on the 7P's was keeping a copy of the paperwork.

 I had to get a new rental from Hertz. On my original car reservation I had an econo box car for $25 a day. With hertz I got a mid size for $55 a day. That extra hundred dollars took a big chunk out of my tool buying budget.

Glad I was able to get a car because if I didn't I would have been going back home.This weekend has some kind of college thing going on here and rental cars are harder to find then hen's teeth.

I also copied down the driving directions to the hotel from the wrong airport. I wrote down the directions to the hotel based on the airport I booked the flight to and not the actual airport I landed at.  I was here 2 years ago and I still remembered how to get to the hotel. And the first place I went was the town square to see if the chinese restaurant was still there.

It was and I had lunch there.  The lunch special was huge. I got the chicken broccoli special that comes with an egg roll, fried rice, and soup for $7.15. And unlimited refills on soda. The amount of food and the price was great but the taste was off. They practice a region cooking style I'm not familiar with. It was good but kind of like eating spaghetti and meatballs with yellow tomato sauce and hotdogs instead of meatballs. Good, but not what I'm used to.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow and I intend to spend the day at the 'Barn'. Lots of new people and events going on. I even bought my camera I shoot my blog with.

Sometime in the afternoon, while it is still light out, I'm going to drive out to the Masonic temple where the Studley Tool cabinet is. I don't want to be driving around trying to find it on Saturday.

I'll miss hearing Roy Underhill's talk but drooling all over the Studley Tool cabinet is a good excuse to miss it.

The weather hasn't been what the long term forecast predicted. That said cloudy, sunny, with temps in the 80's. So far it's been cloudy, rainy, and the temps running in the high 50's. I didn't bring a light coat or sweater with me either.

Enough non woodworking dribble for now. I have to email my wife and get ready for the Hand Tool event.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
The average ear of corn has how many kernels?
answer - about 800

Blasts from the Past - Reimagined - and Made For the Future

Tools For Working Wood - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 4:00am
There still is a lot of innovation in hand tool design - innovation that ranges from tweaks to completely new approaches in design and manufacture. Modern makers of tools, all of us, are using new materials and new manufacturing techniques to advance tool performance and tool appearance. The hand tool innovators of the 19th century did the same and did their best to industrialize handtool manufacture and wring the most performance from human-powered machinery. They did a great job. It's always been the philosophy at TFWW to look to the past for direction, and then push forward using the advantages we have today. Two years ago, at the first Handworks show in Amana, Iowa, we got a chance to see a real Montague-Woodrough handsaw. The saw, made by a small competitor of the giant saw companies of the time (Disston, Atkins & Simmonds), had an innovative tooth design that ripped brilliantly, crosscut smoothly in hardwood, and while looking bizarre, was no more difficult to sharpen by hand than any other good saw. It probably didn't succeed in the marketplace due to its lack of distribution and the difficulty of sharpening it using the machines available at the time.

We are closing the circle today, and it is fitting that we are introducing the BT&C hardware store saw with our version of the Montague-Woodrough tooth pattern at Handworks 2015. (The saw will be available on our website shortly after we return from the show and finish catalog photography and related things).

The tooth pattern of our saw was inspired by the Montague-Woodrough saw, but isn't identical. We have the benefit of studying what they did so we can move forward. We did a lot of prototyping and we think our tooth pattern has some advantages over the original. We also added a few other 19th century innovations. The saw cuts like a demon and also functions as a pretty accurate square; ruler; protractor; layout guide for dovetails; and many other tools. The idea of using a saw for layout is of course a 19th century idea, but it never caught on much and was hard to manufacture reliably. The graphic details on the saw are inspired by the mid 20th century machine tools in our workshop and the background texture (you can't really etch a flat surface evenly, and it would wear too fast too) takes its original design from an 18th century leather instrument case.

But this is a high tech 21st century saw. Really. The detailed etches on each side of the saw are accurate and clear to read. The black color of the etch is below the surface of the saw and will last for years. In the 19th century, makers could not effectively etch that amount of detail. In the 20th century, the shallow electo-etch that was popular would wear off over time and even initially rarely had the detail needed. In the 21st century, we use a state-of-the-art etching mask, lots of computer time and precision in punching to register the blade and pattern correctly from each side of the saw. Unlike the fancy square saws of the 1900's, these saws can be made to a precise standard at reasonable, if not rock-bottom, price. In the USA.

The end result is a saw that you would want around the house or shop. A saw that you might take with you on the road. A saw with a comfortable full sized wood handle, that cuts fast, but is short enough (16" cutting length) to carry around without damage. A toolbox kit, an all-around saw, a household saw. You know that saw your dad had, that he got from his dad, who got it at the local hardware store a long time ago. The saw that he used for everything. You just wish it was a better saw. This one is. We also wanted to make it versatile so you don't have to go around with a kit of tools just to cut a square line or measure off a few inches on a board or cut at an angle.

When we were first discussing the concept for this saw, we referred to it as "the hardware store saw" because that was our frame of reference: the useful saw you get at any hardware store. We figured we'd call it something different later on but the name stuck, so Hardware Store Saw it is.

Here are a few pictures. In the next weeks we will release the saw to the world. We hope you like it. I'll be writing more material about the engineering and manufacturing of the saw, because for all that it's a hand saw with 19th century roots, it really is high-tech. High-tech for what a 19th century saw can do, and high-tech in some areas even for 21st century manufacturing.

In Favor of Sumi

Giant Cypress - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 3:28am
In Favor of Sumi:

Really nice overview by Mathieu Peeters of using a sumisashi, which is a marking instrument made of bamboo, and a sumitsubo, which is a portable inkpot, carpenter’s line, and plumb bob.

Two more sun ovens

Je ne sai quoi Woodworking - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 12:41am


In November 2011 I built a sun oven for our holiday house. It  became a real gem with regards to my holiday cuisine. I do almost all the cooking while we are at the beach house and there is few things better than chucking a North African tagine in a black cast iron pot, stick it in the sun oven at 09h30 and sit around reading until sunset for a perfect meal. Seeing that the beach house is probably 1500 km south of Windhoek I though it should work even better in the vicious Namibian sun.

While engaging in sun oven building activities, it made sense to build two. One for Jacana Junction and one for our Windhoek house. It is not rocket science so I will leave it up to the pictures to tell the story.



At Jacana Junction we built this stand for it where it catches all day sun every day of the year. As you can see it has a glass lit and foil to reflect the sun onto the cast iron pots. You will be surprised how effective this oven is. I once cooked a leg of lamb that went into the pot frozen (because I forgot to take it out of the freezer the previous night) to perfection in 6 hours. It works even better than a commercial slow cooker and needs no electrons.





Unique, Odd or Contrived

The Furniture Record - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 10:51pm

Every so often I come across a real head scratcher. A piece that defies convention and makes me ask: “What were they thinking?” You wonder if they weren’t sure of “the way things are done”. An original thinker that came up with a unique style. Or perhaps just a contrarian that intentionally does something for the sake of doing something different. It all comes down to intent.

I found this press(?) at an antiques shop in Gibsonville, NC. The shop is just down the street from the Hardwood Store so, I visit it quite often.

The piece:

None like it at Ashley Furniture.

None like it at Ashley Furniture.

The hinge gudgeons are applied:

Not your father's pintle hinge.

Not your father’s pintle hinge.

The doors are actually panel in frame in frame:

Raised panel to the inside.

Raised panel to the inside. Looks like normal rail and style

Frames are mitered on the show side,

Door frames are mitered on the show side.

Drawer dividers are fitted into the shelves:

Held in place with through tenons.

Held in place with through tenons.

And thy had a different take on inlay:


Flowers and vine in monochrome?

I also liked this armoire:

Nicely proportioned armoire.

Nicely proportioned armoire.

Great molding profile:

No curves allowed

No curves allowed

And turned feet:


Lots going on in this armoire:

Haven't seen another one like it. Not antique but definitely vintage.

Haven’t seen another one like it. Not antique but definitely vintage.

Finally, a small bedroom appliance:

Not proper bedchamber should be without one.

No proper bedchamber should be without one.

With its snipe hinges:

Snipe hinges need no mortise.

Snipe hinges need no mortise.

To see more pictures of these and other delightful oddities, click HERE.

Shop Woodworking Overstock Sale now thru May 21st Save up to 75%

Matt's Basement Workshop - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 10:30pm

Don’t Miss Out on the Overstock Sale Starting this Friday at Shop Woodworking! Save Up to 75% Off Select Items at Shop Woodworking starting today and running through May 21st!

Now’s a great opportunity to save big on books, DVDs, digital downloads, plans and more. With so many fantastic items for sale the hardest part will be choosing which ones NOT to pickup for your collection.

Learn How, Discorver Why and Build Better at Shop woodworking

Don’t wait until it’s too late, save up to 75% off select items at Shop Woodworking and help support the show while getting yourself something at the same time.

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers

Learn How, Discorver Why and Build Better at Shop woodworking

Categories: Hand Tools

Studleyville USA

Inside the Oldwolf Workshop - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 9:32pm

I know there is going to be a lot, and I mean a lot of discussion, re-discussion, and examination of the HO Studley Tool Cabinet and Bench coming in the next few weeks at least, if not (justifiably) for the next decade.

Don Williams has done a magnificent thing bringing the Cabinet and Workbench out into the daylight of public consumption for a weekend. He is the only man in the world who could have made it possible. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for finding the access to this masterwork, and then thoroughly documenting the tools, the bench, and the cabinet in a way to answer almost all of the possible questions.

And Narayan Nayar's phtography . . . forget about it. I don't have the words to even start.

As a docent for the exhibit I have been fortunate enough to spend a little more time around the tool cabinet than others will. I can tell you one thing for certain.

It never gets old.
It never feels like, "Oh, I've seen that before."

Sit and study for as long as you want . . . this is alien technology folks.

Studley is showing us what's possible. It's up to us to stand up to the challenge.

Seeing it in person. . .it's a paradigm shift.

A game changer.

Tonight was the open house for the vendors of Handworks 2015. As a docent it wasn't my job to watch the Cabinet or the Workbench. It was to watch the patrons.

I stood near the cabinet vitrine.

I saw the astonishment on people's faces. I heard the expletives and excitement in their voices. I saw their reaction to seeing it in person for the first time.

I could completely relate.

Ratione et Passionis
Categories: General Woodworking

The Skill in Saw-Making

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 9:10pm


An Industry That Requires Intelligent Labor and Many Delicate Processes.

How the Large Steel Plates Are Taken And Made to Suit the Uses of Man—Saws of All Sizes and Descriptions.

The complexity of the industries to-day found in this city will, in a very few years, cause it to rank with the greatest manufacturing centers of this country. They are as varied as opportunity and science can suggest or capital establish. In any one of them there is a lesson that few, except those engaged in the work, know anything about, but it cannot be without interest even to those whose fancies or likings tend very little to mechanicism.

Each manufactory has scores of object lessons and none present more interesting details than saw-making. At an establishment of this kind a Journal reporter yesterday witnessed the evolution of a saw from the plate of steel to the packing house. Here, many years ago, the owner of the factory visited, made the first saw himself, without capital or assistants, and with nothing but industry to promise the large establishment that is the outgrowth of his little shop.

It is in the steel-room, where the plate stock coming from the furnaces of both this country and England is stored, that the lesson of the reporter began. The plates are of a dunn steel-gray, and are about the size and the exact shape of the saws which are to be made from them, either circular oblong for cross-cut or circular saws.

The plates are from this room taken to the cutting department, where long rows of powerful punches, with dies precisely the shape of the teeth to be cut, push them out with the same readiness that a knife cuts a piece of cheese, and almost as noiselessly. The machines for the cross-cut saws have but one punch, while those for circular saws have four, arranged at the ends of a cross, in sectional shape, adjusted to all work in unison and with an accuracy minute to a hair.

The operation of the punches is very rapid considering the fact that at every stroke they penetrate a thick sheet of steel. The teeth of a six-foot cross-cut saw were cut in just one minute. Almost endless varieties of teeth are made, adapted to widely different uses. The saw passes from the cutters to the devilers, by whom it is slightly prepared, outlined, so to speak, for filing.

The saw is then taken to the tempering-room, heated to a white heat in special ovens in which in used natural gas, by a secret process. The steel is then drawn from the oven by large clamps and plunged into a bath of cold oil, where the saw is allowed to cool to blackness, or rather a deep bluish-black hue. The darker this hue the higher the temper of the saw.

It is then submitted to a great lateral compression in a special machine, after which it is carried to the smithing department. Here is where the most expert work of all is done, and the men are paid very high wages. They are known distinctively as “saw-makers,” though, of course, all of the hands have a right to that name.

The saw is laid by the smith on an anvil having a surface closely resembling a fine plate-glass mirror, in which every object is clearly reflected. This is absolutely true in level, and upon it the smith corrects, by judicious tapping with an odd shaped hammer resembling a right-angle of iron, the distortions of the saw-plate resulting from unequal shrinkage in the oil bath.

From the smithing department the saw passes to the grinding-room, where huge grindstones, six feet in diameter and weighing several tons, have 300 revolutions per minute in opposite directions. They are set vertically, edge to edge, one above the other. Powerful steel clamping rollers catch the saw-blade and pass it automatically back and forth between these grinders, which remove the blackness of the steel. Finally the main surface is white, but full of shallow depressions of the original black hue.

Continued grinding levels these out too, until, five minutes from the time it made its first pass between the massive grindstones, the saw comes out smoothed to mathematical accuracy of surface. The saw now goes through a series of rapid handlings and corrections. It returns first to the smiths, who commence the high polish of its surface by gentle taps of the hammer, delivered in quick succession.

After this it passes to the filing and swedging department, where the teeth are ground by emery wheels to sharpness, and their tips swedged, or spread by smart strokes from a die of the desired shape, wielded by the workman’s own hand. Machine swedges are being introduced, but the work is still largely done by hand.

The saw now reaches the polishing department, where it is passed between very fine grinders, somewhat similar to those described above, but with the addition of fine emery powder and water. From this machine it comes in about two minutes, having the beautiful silver-colored surface.

The last touch of the manufacturer is now to be applied to the saw, and the process is, perhaps, the finest of all. It is taken to the etching department. The name has an artistic sound and very appropriately, for it is, indeed, artistic work.

The shining saw plate is laid upon a broad table and the etcher takes from a pigeon-hole in a large case, filled with them, the printing-plate he desires. It is a small steel engraving instrument, having the firm’s name and various intaglio devices delicately traced on its surface, which is about six inches long and four inches wide.

The surface incision of this engraver is first filled with greasy jet-black ink, the consistency of putty. A piece of tissue paper is then laid upon it and placed in a small press, resembling a common letter-press, and the ink comes out of the engraving on the plate and leaves the pattern on the paper. The paper is then placed, ink-side down, upon the steel saw-plate, moistened with water and instantly removed. This leaves all the fine black tracery on the plate itself.

This surface is varnished over with a secret chemical combination. After it is dry another secret compound is then washed over it. It disolves the ink and leaves the varnish. The plate is now ready for the etcher’s acids. He takes a true artist’s swab and brushes the acid quickly over the surface. Instantly there appears on the before colorless steel, a deeply etched jet black tracing of the original design and the saw is packed and sent out into the market bearing this handsome design.

The making of band saws is in every sense similar to the manufacture of other saws, except that their great length (some times sixty-five feet) requires much more care, and the soldering together of the band is a very particular and carefully managed process. The first band saw was made in this factory five years ago, and recently a large separate three-story house had to be erected for this department so great has been the growth of the industry.

As the reporter was leaving the works he entered a shed in the outer yard where more weight per square foot rests on the earth than at any other spot in Indianapolis, except at the Capitol. It was the storage shed where the supply of grindstones is kept, and 150 of these monsters, weighing 3,000 pounds each, were piled together in a small space, giving a total pressure of half a million avoirdupois.

The making of saws enlists a very intelligent high class of labor. The workmen are well paid. Several of the men employed at the factory where these observations were made have invented valuable machinery.

The Indianapolis Journal – February 17, 1889

—Jeff Burks

Filed under: Historical Images, Saws
Categories: Hand Tools

Common Woodworking Tools—Saws

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 9:01pm


It often occurs that an amateur, with a taste for mechanics, determines to go in for a small set of tools, and after having laid out four or five pounds at an ironmonger’s, finds by-and-by, to his sorrow, that his judgment has been at fault in two respects—first, in not selecting the tools most suitable for his purpose; and next, in selecting tools of inferior quality.

A few practical hints on these matters may therefore be of use to such as are not trained artisans, but who simply seek, in their workroom, the means of recreation from the real occupation of their lives. Yet even among that former class, of which I am proud to acknowledge myself a member, I trust there will be many who will derive both pleasure and profit from the perusal of the following papers.

I propose noting the principal points to be observed in the selection of ordinary wood working tools, such as are usually required by carpenters, cabinet makers, and pattern makers, and describing also how these tools are to be kept in working order. Good tools may soon be rendered almost unserviceable for want of proper care. I do not mean that they will be spoiled so that they cannot be brought into working trim again, but that they will be unfit, while in that condition, to fulfil the purposes for which they are designed.

These remarks apply, with much greater emphasis, to second-hand tools. Numbers of these find their way to the dealer’s shops and to “mine uncle,”* by reason of their very worthlessness, and even when the tools themselves are good they are usually sadly out of order. In any case, I trust the following hints will be of assistance to many, and form a fitting continuation of the “Common Lathe Tools.” (See “ E. M.,” Vol. XXXIX., p. 45.)

* Mine Uncle’s, a pawnbroker’s ſhop; alſo a neceſſary houſe. Carried to mine uncle’s; pawned.
—A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Francis Grose 1785

english_mechanic_sawsWe commence with saws. One of the first points to be observed here is the presence or absence of winding, or of “buckle” in the plate. To detect such if it exists in a hand-saw, let the teeth of the saw rest lightly on the fingers of both hands, the plate leaning just slightly out of the perpendicular against each thumb, or, better still, hold it upright with the handle lowermost, Fig. 1.

The eye is then cast over the face of the plate, to detect, if possible, any winding on its surface. If none exists, Fig. 2, well and good. Then keeping the saw in the same position, glance at the set-that is, note whether the teeth stand out at an equal distance from the face of the plate all the way down, and likewise on both sides.

Then, holding the handle in the right hand, with the narrow end of the blade away from the eye and steadying with the left, look down both edges of the blade in succession in a longitudinal direction, to see that there is no “kink,” or crookedness, or buckle lengthways, and at the same time cast the eye down the teeth to see if their cutting points show a level, or rather, a slightly rounding face.

Once more, holding the handle of the saw in both hands, with the flat of the blade lying horizontally, shake the latter up and down and judge by the sense of touch and by the sound whether the plate is strained or no. If strained, there will be a jerky vibration, like that of a plate of tin which has been unequally hammered, and there will be emitted the same peculiar rattling sound. Lastly, examine the handle to see that the grain is not “cross” or “crooked,” and that the substance of wood is not too thick for the hand which has to use it, for a thick handle, when grasped continuously, tires the hand very much.

Of the temper you can scarcely judge, except by trial, though presumably a saw with plenty of “spring” is a good one. Near the handle, however, a saw should not spring much, as that is a sign of weakness. If, on setting the saw, you find the teeth break off, it is too hard, and should, if purchased new, be exchanged. A hard saw, however, that would not stand the amount of set required in a cross cut, will sometimes make a good rip, or half-rip for going down the grain, because, in the latter case, the amount of set required is very slight. But where one saw only is kept, and that for general use, its brittleness will condemn it.

Latterly, I think, the tendency has been to go to the other extreme, and to make saws rather too soft, so that a good well-tempered saw, not too brittle on the one hand, nor losing its edge too rapidly on the other, is worth a Jew’s-eye* to its possessor. And it is worth noting that the highest-priced saws do not always turn out to be the best.

* Jew’s Eye, that’s worth a Jew’s eye, a pleaſant or agreeable ſight, a ſaying taken from Shakeſpeare.
—A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Francis Grose 1785

The same remarks as to buckle, set, and temper apply to tenon and to dovetail saws, and the only special remark to be made in reference to these concerns the back, which is made in iron or brass, the latter being the heavier and the more expensive of the two. A tenon saw is always required heavier after the rate than a hand saw, because the whole weight of the saw presses dead on the cut, instead of at an angle, as is the case with the latter, where the hand of the workman being more over the teeth is capable of exerting greater pressure upon them. In delicate cutting, in fact, it is often necessary to relieve the saw of a portion of its weight. But in most cases the heavier back is preferable, especially when the teeth become somewhat dulled by use, and the extra shilling or so is well laid out.

There is a marvellous difference between a saw systematically set and properly sharpened, and one irregularly set and carelessly sharpened. The one cuts the stuff sweetly and easily, and the other works harshly and hitches, and requires besides more manual exertion during the process.

The uniform set of a saw, therefore, far from being a trivial matter, is one of the utmost importance. For if the set be not uniform, two or three evil consequences follow. If, for instance, the set is irregular, some teeth standing out a little farther than others all down the line, the saw will hitch every now and again, jarring one’s arms terribly, and trying one’s temper.

If, again, the set is regular, in so far as each side is concerned, but is not bilateral, that is, if all the teeth on one side stand out a little farther from the plate than those on the other side, the saw will run, or, in other words, manifest a tendency to cut to one side of the line.

Similar results follow also when a saw is buckled. Again, when the tips or points of the saw teeth are not in line, but standing at various heights (Fig. 3), there is still a readiness to hitch, more particularly in hard wood than in soft, and there is, besides, a loss of economy, because each tooth is not doing its fair share of work, but only those which stand the highest.

In these days, when almost every shop has its band and circular saws, there is less chance than ever for an apprentice to learn how to keep his saws in order. When I went to the trade, one of my earliest lessons was one in saw sharpening. I well remember how soon I managed to get all the teeth down one side of the saw bigger than all those on the other, forming “cows and calves,” and the remark of the foreman that he supposed I wanted one side for thick stuff and the other for thin.

I served seven years without touching a machine saw, except an old “jigger” that was more plague than profit. Now, my apprentices never use the hand saw at all, except for cutting off stuff in the timber rack, since the circular and the band saws do all they want. And in many larger shops there is now no chance to use any saw at all, since even the machine saws are worked by a man kept expressly to attend to them.

The setting of a saw may be performed in two or three different ways. One is by means of a steel set, Fig. 4. Here the slit adapted to the saw in hand is slipped over a tooth, suitable force is applied to the set, and the tooth is thereby bent over. All the teeth leaning in one direction are thus bent in succession, after which the saw is turned round, and those leaning in the opposite direction are then operated upon, the saw being held either in a vice or by the hand during the process.

The disadvantage attendant upon the use of this form of set, and it is a very grave one, is, that in the hands of any but a very skilful workman, the setting will not be regular, by reason of the absence of any mechanical guide.

This evil is obviated by the use of an iron block like that shown in Fig 5, having edges bevelled to suit different quantities of set. The saw is held on the flat of the block, with the teeth leaning over their appropriate bevelled edge, and each alternate tooth is tapped in succession with the point of a small hammer, called a setting hammer, the width of whose striking face must be somewhat less than the breadth of a tooth. Fig. 6; then the saw is turned over and the same operation repeated down the other side.

Any flat cubical block may have its edges filed and be made to do duty as a setting block. A saw may be set very well on the end grain of a block of hard wood, no bevel being given to the block, the workman trusting to his sense of touch when delivering the blow for imparting uniformity of set; in which case an intervening punch is preferable to the direct hammer. Of course the yielding nature of the wood permits the teeth to bury themselves to the slight amount desired, and the results are more satisfactory than those obtained by the use of the plier set, though not equal to those yielded by the metal block.

This last is modified into a more complete form in Fig. 7 (Fig. 8 section) where A is a block of hard wood: B is a plate of steel grooved with four different sets, a, a, &c.; C is a steel punch dropping loosely into a hole, in the bottom of which is an indiarubber cube, D, which keeps the punch just above the saw teeth, which cube, however, yields readily to the pressure of the punch when it is tapped smartly with a hammer.

In this case it is the punch which is brought down upon the saw teeth instead of the hammer itself, an advantage which is at once apparent to those who have experienced how a falsely directed blow will often knock two consecutive teeth, instead of alternate ones, in the same direction. Here the tooth is brought close under the punch, before the latter is struck, so that it is impossible to mistake one’s aim. The four faces of the punch being bevelled to correspond with their respective set angles, and being duly proportioned in size for larger or smaller saws, simply bend the teeth without thinning them down at the points, and are capable of setting band saws, hand saws, small circular, panel, and tenon saws.

This is an amateur’s dodge, for a professional saw setter would prefer the setting hammer and bevelled block as being quicker in its operation; and in most cases, I believe, they use a “setting horse”—a block of iron, with a rounding face, on which the amount of set is given by varying the angle at which the flat of the saw is laid upon it.

A rip or half-rip saw is the proper tool for cutting thick planking of soft wood down with the grain, and it has the least amount of set of any saw—proportional to size, of course. But a saw having smaller teeth, called distinctively a “hand saw,” is that in commonest use, and is the one generally used as a “cross cut,” that is for cutting planks and boards across the grain fibres, and then it will contain the greatest amount of set, and most of all for soft wet woods.

Fig. 9 shows the teeth of a rip saw to full size. Fig 10 that of a half-rip, and Fig. 11 that of a hand saw for cross cutting. Below, Fig. 12, are shown the teeth of a tenon and of a dovetail saw. A rip contains about two and half teeth to the inch, a half-rip three and a half, a hand saw four and a half to five and a half, a panel saw seven or more, a tenon saw ten, a dovetail saw sixteen to twenty.

Many joiners have to keep saws for special woods and for special purposes: then those for the softer woods should possess more rake (Fig. 9), than those for the hard woods (Fig. 11), the former approaching the shape of a right-angled, the latter that of an equilateral triangle. One saw only, kept for general use, should be of the latter form, or, mid-way between the two.

In sharpening saws, the file is never held square with the faces of the saw plate, except with those intended for hard woods—teeth filed like that would bear across their whole width and work heavily. The proper way to hold the file is as in the Figure 13, the two sketches (14 and 15) showing the plan angles, and the angle with the vertical which the file makes. This makes the actual cutting points come in the extremities of the set, and the saw works with the minimum of friction. If, however, the angle be too acute the teeth lose their points rapidly, and if not uniform the saw will run.

During sharpening the tool is held in a vice, having long jaws of wood, and the teeth are kept barely above its edges, to prevent vibration. Then, the teeth are not filed consecutively but alternately, all the teeth having set in one direction, and leaning away from the workman are filed first, after which the saw is turned round in the vice, and the opposite set is sharpened. Thus the hands become accustomed to holding the file to a uniform bevel, which would not be the case did they alternate their position with every tooth.

Before commencing to sharpen, it will be well to run the file lightly down the points of the teeth to “top” them, or bring them to a level. The angles at which the teeth are sharpened are more acute for soft than for hard woods; many men, in fact, sharpen square for hard wood, and when we come to the hack saw for metal, the teeth are always square.

In using a hand saw, though so much depends upon the way in which it is sharpened and set, much also depends upon the way in which it is held. It should not be forced, which will result in buckling and bending, but should be allowed to work freely. The greater pressure should be given when it has fairly started on its downward course, not in the initial part of the stroke, and in order to prevent the tendency to hitch, the teeth in rip and half-rip saws are graduated, those near the bottom being not more than half the size of those nearer the handle.

The eye should be cast down the blade from time to time, to see that it is not being drawn out of the perpendicular—a trouble which most beginners experience. The angle at which it should be held is somewhere about that shown in Fig. 16. If the pitch is very upright, the elbow has to be lifted so high as to cause weariness; if very low, power is lost. The body should not be allowed to roll about much with the saw. Too much of that sort of thing wearies the workman without forwarding the work. Thrust from the shoulder, giving full play to the arm and elbow, but move the body only so much as is necessary and natural.

Hand saws vary greatly in price, 24in. ranging from 4s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. each, with different manufactures. But a good useful tool can be purchased for 4s. 6d. or 5s. Rip saws are larger and somewhat dearer. A 10in. tenon saw, iron backed, will cost from 8s. 3d. to 4s. 6d., brass backed from 4s. to 5s. A 14in. iron backed will average about 4s. 6d., brass backed 6s. to 7s. They can be had much cheaper, but are not to be commended.

English Mechanic and World of Science – August 15, 1884

—Jeff Burks

Filed under: Historical Images, Saws
Categories: Hand Tools

Amana Eve

Toolerable - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 8:12pm
Sorry Ralph, I stole your post title fair and square.

I spent the last ten days or so in Denver hanging with the fam.  Good times.  We even got to spend a couple days in Buena Vista, CO.  If you ever have an opportunity to go there, do.  While you are there go to the Eddyline brewing company and have a Jolly Roger Black Lager.  And the yak burger isn't bad, neither (more Ralphisms).

Today, we (the Frau and I) flew to Des Moines and drove a rental car to Cedar Rapids.  What a great rental car, we wound up with a yellow VW Beetle.  Perfect!

Near our hotel is a Mexican restaurant.  We each had a big-ass margherita, and a plate of Mexican perfection.

I hope to see you all in the morning!
Categories: Hand Tools

1808 Potty Talk

The Workbench Diary - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 7:06pm

I try my best to avoid potty talk and poop jokes here on the Diary because I wanna keep this place family friendly. Sometimes, though, we gotta be honest about this crap.

What kind of toilet do you have? Does yours have satinwood and mahogany veneer? Do you have a john with French feet? Well the Pierce family from Dorchester, MA did. This commode which is inscribed with the date 1808 came into my studio not long ago. One foot had broken off (surprise, surprise), some veneer was missing, and the top had a split in it. It was not a huge job but as I was working on it I couldn’t help but marvel at how delicately this thing was constructed. Those tiny little feet were tasked with bearing the weight of many a sitter over the years.

I think if I were designing such a thing, I would choose a more stout base arrangement. I mean... the stakes are pretty high, no? Can you imagine that thing giving way when youwere using it? Yikes.
Categories: Hand Tools

Choosing, Refurbishing & Using Moulding Planes with Bill Anderson

Wood and Shop - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 6:27pm

I’m excited to announce the latest DVD that I’m releasing with Popular Woodworking Magazine next week called “Choosing, Refurbishing & Using Moulding Planes with Bill Anderson“. Roy Underhill kindly invited us to film it in his Woodwright’s School! You can learn more about the video or buy it here. Here’s the cover:


And you can find all the free moulding plane (or molding plane) resources right here. These resources are a free gift to woodworkers, even if you don’t purchase the DVD! Here’s the back cover:


My friend Bill had invited me to sit in on one of his classes, and afterward I said, “Bill, this class is amazing! We’ve got to turn it into a video so everyone has access to this priceless information!”


The class covered everything from what to look for at flea markets or tool swaps…


…to types of moulding planes, to refurbishing, to sharpening, and to using moulding planes. The cherry on top was learning how to draw Ogee and Ovolo profiles using basic geometry, then cutting moldings with hollows & rounds.


Here are some photographs that I took during the video shoots (yes, I shot so much footage that it took two trips!):







Skottbenk frå Ulsrud, Vestre Gausdal

Norsk Skottbenk Union - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 4:01pm
 Jørn UlvenSkottbenk frå garden Ulsrud i Vestre Gausdal. Skottbenken står på garden som i dag er eigd av Gausdal Historielag. Foto: Jørn Ulven

Den andre av skottbenkane som er registrert av studentar i samband med oppgåva eg har skrive om i ein tidlegare post er frå Gausdal kommune. Studenten Jørn Ulven, som til dagleg er handverkar på Maihaugen,  har fotografert og målt opp benken og tekst og bilete under er hans.

Skottbenken som står på gården Ulsrud i Auggedalen, vestre Gausdal i Gausdal kommune er trulig laga på gården og har stått der sida.

 Jørn UlvenGården Ulsrud i Vestre Gausdal er i dag eigd av Gausdal historielag. Foto: Jørn Ulven

Ulsrud er en gård med lange tradisjoner og er nevnt i gårdsregister fra 1633, det er også funn fra eldre jernalder på gården. I dag står mye av gårdstunet som det var på 1800-tallet med bur fra tidlig 1700-tall som det eldste huset. Gården eies av Gausdal historielag som overtok i 2001 etter testament fra Anders Ulsrud, den brukes til arrangement og virker som museum. Gården besto av en del skog, ca. 700 da. og det har vært både oppgangssag og sirkelsag på gården.

 Jørn UlvenGarden Ulsrud i Vestre Gausdal der skottbenken høyrer heime og truleg har vore sidan han var laga. Foto: Jørn Ulven

Skottbenken er basert på kiler, har en løs og en fast plank, den faste planken har 3 stolper mens den løse har bare 2. Benken har lengde på ca. 5 meter og høyde 0,8 meter. Materialene er høvlet og forseggjort, untatt bunnstokken som bare er barket. På bunnstokken er trulig tyngden viktigst. Det ligger en kile ved benken som trolig har vært brukt til å spenne fast borda.

 Jørn UlvenStolpene er kilt ned i bunnstokken, som er en rundstokk 6 ½” – 10” som er kantet under, og både felt inn og kilt i plankene. Foto: Jørn Ulven LåsingStolper, planker og kile sett ovenfra. Foto: Jørn Ulven

Tverrstagene er låst med kon låsepinne på den ene siden og kile (23mm x 40mm – 60mm x 210mm) på den andre. Alt av treverk er i gran. Det midtre staget har knekt på kilesiden. Låsepinnene har fått hard håndtering.

StolperPlankene er spikret i stolpene med 3 klipte spiker. Legg merke til hodet på trenaglen som låser stolpen i bunnstokken. Benken har merker etter sirkelsag på planken. Både stolper og fastplanken har en høvlet profil i kanten. Foto: Jørn Ulven  Jørn UlvenDet midterste stolpeparet ser vi fremst i bildet. Her er har ikke løsplanken stolpe som står på tverrstaget. Tverrstagene er låst med kon låsepinne på den ene siden og kile (23mm x 40mm – 60mm x 210mm) på den andre. Stolpene spriker ca, 6 grader fra bunnstokken og opp. Kilene som er brukt for å låse løsplanken har nok vært kilt fra siden ettersom det er tydelige slitespor på planke og stolpe. Foto: Jørn Ulven  Jørn UlvenDet går en trenagle med diameter på 30 millimeter gjennom stolpe og stokk i bunn. Naglen har hode (denne har kile) på eine sida og låsepinne på andre. Foto: Jørn Ulven Fastplanken er 6” x 1 5/16”, mens løsplanken er på 6” x 5/4, løsplanken har stolper på 3 ¾” x 13” med 1 ½” spor til tverrstaget ( 1 ½”*2 3/8” ). Foto: Jørn UlvenFastplanken (til venstre) er 6” x 1 5/16”, mens løsplanken (til høyre) er på 6” x 5/4, løsplanken har stolper på 3 ¾” x 13” med 1 ½” spor til tverrstaget  som måler 1 ½” x 2 3/8”. Foto: Jørn Ulven  Jørn Ulven  Jørn Ulven  Jørn Ulven  Jørn Ulven  Jørn Ulven  Jørn Ulven  Jørn Ulven  Jørn Ulven

Registrert av Jørn Ulven, april 2015.

Skottbenken er slåande lik benken frå Vedum i Fåberg i både mål, funksjon og måten den er laga på. Det er heller ikkje meir enn 2-3 mil mellom desse gardane så det er nok eit felles tradisjonsområde. Det kan finnast verktøy på garden som har vore brukt saman med skottbenken. Dette står att å undersøkje. Sidan skottbenken har vore på garden i lang tid og det er mange gamle hus på garden så er det store sjansar for å finne bord som har vore høvla på skottbenken. Det er også noko som står att. Det er veldig bra å få eitt døme til på ein bevart skottbenk frå Oppland. Når skottbenken attpåtil er bevart på garden han har vore brukt må vi vere godt nøgd.

Categories: Hand Tools

Bill Anderson Knows Moulding Planes

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 12:50pm

In “Choosing, Refurbishing & Using Moulding Planes”, Bill walks you through the classifications of moulding planes, discusses what to look for when shopping and then takes you step-by-step through the process to bring the iron back to cutting shape (and how to make a new iron if it’s missing).

The post Bill Anderson Knows Moulding Planes appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking


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