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Hammer Veneering with Hide Glue: Lessons Learned


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Figure 1. A homemade veneer hammer

 This is a quick compilation of everything I've learned about doing hammer veneering, both from the radio cabinet project, research, and my previous experiences with veneering and hide glue. Pictures are ones I've compiled from different projects (mostly the radio cabinet piece) to show what I'm yammering on about, so it's not quite like following a project. I've not done copious amounts of veneering, but I've done some over the years and have researched it quite a bit - so here's everything I know in one place (this should be short!).

Hammer veneering with hide glue, though considered daunting by many, is actually pretty easy. It's really just a matter of preparation... The procedure I found that seems to works best for me is a traditional method...



Hide Glue - Historical and Practical Applications by Stephen Shepherd


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Hide Glue - Historical and Practical Applications by Stephen Shepherd

 Modern adhesives have come a long way, especially when one considers that most of them have been developed after the Second World War.  The most common glues used in woodworking today are likely white or yellow glues and epoxy, with polyurethanes pulling in a close third. Before WWII, hide (animal) glue was used almost exclusively.  It's favor has diminished in the eyes of most woodworkers today, it's use relegated to restorers and "purists", for reasons I don't really understand.

The modern glues all work well, each with their own strengths.  Yet none, at least in my opinion, work as well as traditional hide glue.  Yet, I've seen it's use actually discouraged - something I find somewhat unsettling.  I remember reading one well respected epoxy protagonist's views of using it rather than hide glue for repairing chairs.  "It can fill gaps where the wood has worn or broken" was said, as well as "it can later be disassembled with 'gentle heating' ".  My first thought was how unfortunate for the future restorer such a choice would be.  I've never known an epoxy to release it's grip with anything close to what could be called "gentle heating".   Also, while it does have impressive gap-filling capabilities, a properly repaired joint won't require it.  I've restored several old pieces of furniture, some the product of later restorations using epoxies and yellow glues, others that had been assembled with hide glue.  The latter were always a joy to work on or to restore.  The former were nearly always frustrating in some manner.

There are hide glue advocates that remain, and Stephen Shepherd is one of them.  Mr. Shepherd is a learned woodworker, schooled heavily in traditional methods and materials.  He publishes an oft-updated blog at, which is a great resource for many woodworking tasks, and a must-read for any hand tool enthusiast.  He's worked as a "period" woodworker in a pioneer village, restores and builds traditional furniture and tools, and has published previous works on woodworking in the 19th century as well as some magazine articles.  His latest work, titled "Hide Glue - Historical and Practical Applications", is an attempt to educate today's woodworker on the uses and benefits of hide glue.

A Bad Axe update


Mark from sent me an update on his new line of "Bad Axe" saws - I thought it might interest some of you - so I thought I would share it here.  Here's the latest:

Moving ever onward. Thought I’d share some pics with you of the latest developments. Still working out some finish and back issues, but am almost there. With luck, I should still start shipping at the end of the month. At any rate, there’s been major headway this month, and as soon as I get my saw backs at 100%, I’m ready to go into production.

Shooting Boards from Evenfall Woodworks


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Fig. 1:  Illustrations of Different Shooting Boards

One of the most common tools in the arsenal of pretty much every hand tool shop is a shooting board, a couple examples of which you can see illustrated in Fig. 1 that are based on illustrations from one of Charle's Hayward's writings, "The Complete Book of Woodwork".

I don't know how many of these I've cobbled together over the years. Usually from scrap, and often - because I'm usually more worried about the project than how I put together the shooting board - thrown away not long after because I don't take the time to make it properly.

Essentially, a shooting board (or 'chute' board in some lands) in its simplest form a simple fence that allows one to plane an edge or end on on a piece of wood to a known angle, commonly 45 or 90 degrees.  It provides a shelf to place the wood on to raise it so the blade of the plane used is fully exposed to the wood (if it isn't a rabbet plane, the blade doesn't go all the way to the edge of the plane).

 The plane used can be a specially made "miter plane", made just for the purpose - one such as Lie Nielsen's iron miter plane, but usually it is just a standard bench plane whose sole has checked to be perpendicular to its side. 



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Fig. 2.  The Evenfall Woodworks Shooting Board


Rob Hanson (no relation) has come up with an interesting product - one he's been selling through his blog page at the Evenfall Woodworks web site.  You can see his version of a shooting board in Fig. 2 at work with a low angle bench plane.

If you look closely, you'll notice a series of holes in the body of his shooting board.  This is what makes Rob's product devilishly clever - its fully adjustable to different angles.

 I'm impressed.  It's bloody ingenius.




Make Your Own Totes? An Interesting New Veritas Router Bit


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The Veritas Variable Round-over Bit

Do you make your own totes or tool handles?  It is one of the most time and labor intensive parts of toolmaking.  I find when making a saw, it probably took as much time to form the handle as it did to make the entire rest of the saw.

Today I see that Veritas, the manufacturing arm of Lee Valley, has come out with a new router bit the likes I haven't encountered before - a variable width round-over router bit.  Made specifically for handles, it promises to speed the process greatly...

Lee Valley has also come out with several templates of theirs and classic Stanley plane totes, free for download.

The instructions for the router bit are available here.

Kudos to Veritas.  This is the kind of forward thinking and customer oriented design we've come to expect from Lee Valley and Veritas.  They are constantly innovating and coming out with tools and products geared towards the hand tool user - and though this technically doesn't count as a hand tool itself, I think I can let that slide by this time.


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