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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...


Jewel Cabinet Backstory Revealed

WPatrickEdwards - 6 hours 26 min ago

A Little Pride Showing
When I started this blog, I selected one of my favorite pieces to use as the Banner.  The Jewel Cabinet I made nearly 10 years ago has an interesting story and I often use it during my lectures on Painting in Wood to illustrate my favorite method for decorating surfaces.

This Jewel Cabinet was part of the first SAPFM member's exposition at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, Georgia, and I distinctly remember it as being the only piece of European furniture in that show.  Subsequently, it was also on exhibit here in San Diego, at the Mingei Folk Art Museum, as part of the "Forms in Wood and Fibre" exhibition.  I must say it also stood out from the rest of the show, as being from another planet.

As it is an iconic part of this blog, I thought it was time I should explain what led me to make such a thing.  Also, since Paul Miller just wrote me and asked if he could use my piece as an inspiration for him to make something similar, I want to post some more details for him to use.  I have no problem with others copying my work.  I have done the same thing all my career.  The difference is that the craftsmen I choose to copy have all been dead for a couple centuries.

In any event, I first saw this cabinet in London, at one of the most prestigious antique dealers in that city.  I will not name the company, for reasons which will become obvious in this post.  As I walked through their showrooms, I was impressed with the quality of the objects and the perfect condition they appeared to be in.  In one room I was stopped in my tracks by a wonderful marquetry cabinet with ivory feet and pulls.  I asked the salesman for more information, as I "might have a buyer" and he obliged by handing me three glossy 8 x 10 photographs and the price sheet.

Here is the description on the price sheet:  (Dealer name covered by blue tape)

Name Deleted to Protect the Dealer

There are several points raised by this sheet to consider.  First of all, it is attributed to "France, circa 1690."  Secondly, it is called a "Cartonnier."  Third, it is very strongly attributed to Boulle, without exactly saying so.  (The word is "comparable.")  Forth, it is 116cm wide (this fact will soon be recognized as very significant.)  And, finally, it is 18,500 British pounds.

As soon as I was able to return to my library and do basic research, I found this document:

The Evidence Exhibit A
The type is hard to read, but it says: "Flemish..Antwerp, in the manner of Van Soest..." This page is from an auction sale around the same time as I saw the cabinet in London, and the auction estimate was 7-10,000 British pounds.  I do not know how much it sold for.  I do note that the top section is"a removable superstructure of inverted breakfront form, with a central cubgoard door inlaid with a vase of flowers, flanked by eight drawers..."  More importantly, the width of the cabinet is 116cm.

I doesn't take a lot of conjecture to imagine a person buying this desk, throwing away the base section (since it needs a lot of work), adding ivory feet and pulls to the upper section and calling it French.  The motive is simple: you double your money.

My first suspicion that something was not right, was the term the dealer provided for the object: "Cartonnier."  I know from my reading and visiting museums that a cartonnier in French furniture is a different shaped cabinet which stood at the end of the bureau plat.  In simple terms, it was a filing cabinet or the paper work.  Generally quite tall and shaped to match the Louis XV forms popular at the mid century.  The dilemma faced by the dealer was what to call it, since it no longer was associated with the Flemish desk that used to support it.

In any event, here are the photos supplied by the dealer and what I did with them:

"Comparable to Outstanding Boulle Marquetry"
This first photo is of the central door and two of the small drawers.  The marquetry is very crudely executed.  My process is to trace the designs, rather quickly on tracing paper, so I can begin to memorize the details.  This is the result:

Rough Drawing of Original
At this point, I was convinced that I would not use any of the marquetry designs on the piece.  I could do much better by adapting some of the traditional French designs that are included in all of Pierre Ramond's books.  So I kept the same dimensions and form and redrew the designs completely as follows:

Final Drawing of Marquetry
You might notice that I am not afraid of cutting very little pieces.  The eye of the bird, for example, is less than 1mm in diameter.  I prefer the way the flowers stand in the vase and the perspective of the table top supporting the vase gives depth to the image.  I like to use olive oyster sawn veneers for the vase, as it lends a look of marble to the object.

I cut out the solid woods for the carcase, using quarter sawn white oak and beech.  I rough out my stock and set it aside, with stickers, for a season (at least one year) to adjust to my climate.  I cut out more pieces than I need, so I can pick the best ones when it comes time to build the piece.  While the wood is set aside, I turn my attention to cutting out the marquetry panels, using the Painting in Wood process.  I remember there are 18 panels plus the running bands on the face.  Several of the panels are identical in design but inverted in polarity so as to appear different.

For example, the two large panels on the top ends are the same design, but mounted left and right, with the individual colors of the elements selected as opposite colors.  The 8 drawers are made from only two drawings.  One has an orchid in the corner and the other has a rose.  By flipping the images left and right and changing the woods, it appears that there are 8 different designs.  There are 32 different wood species and all of them are natural colors, except the blue and green woods which are tinted using traditional methods.  Of course all the veneers are sawn material I purchased in Paris from Patrick George and are 1.5mm thick.

Here is the top of my cabinet:

Top of Cabinet
I needed ivory for turning the feet and pulls, so I contacted my friend, David Warther.  He kindly sent me the proper pieces of ivory along with a legal "Affidavit of Origin" documenting where he purchased it:

Legal Ivory
I included this paper with the cabinet when I sold it.  You may check recent posts on this blog to see how current legislation is affecting the trade in ivory, both legal and antique.

I might mention that I like to use full blind dovetails for my cabinets and boxes which are veneered.  This way the dovetail pins do not telegraph through the surface over time.  I did the same for this cabinet.  Everything was hand surfaced and toothed so I could press the veneer in place.  After the panels were laid down, the cabinet was glued together and the ebony and boxwood banding applied.

Here is the front of the original cabinet:

Made by Hand in Antwerp late 17th Century
Here is my cabinet:

Made by Hand in Southern California 21st Century
Here is the back of the original piece:

Back of Cartonnier
Here is the back of my cabinet:

Credit for Design to Louis XIV Coffer 
When I applied the shellac polish, I found myself being detached from the object in a very strange way.  As I stepped out of the job of making the cabinet and transitioned into the job of polisher, I began to wonder "who made this?"  It sounds strange, but when I am in the middle of a project, I can think of nothing else.  But when it is done, I forget all about it and move on to something else.  So, as I polished the ebony and marquetry surface, all I could think of was how amazing this object was, and how lucky I was to be able to work on it.

All told, I spend 800 hours building this cabinet and it sold the day it was finished to the first person who saw it.  Life is good.
Categories: Hand Tools

Jewel Cabinet Backstory Revealed

Antique Refinishers, Inc. - 6 hours 26 min ago

Jewel Cabinet Backstory Revealed
A Little Pride Showing
When I started this blog, I selected one of my favorite pieces to use as the Banner.  The Jewel Cabinet I made nearly 10 years ago has an interesting story and I often use it during my lectures on Painting in Wood to illustrate my favorite method for decorating surfaces.
This Jewel Cabinet was part of the first SAPFM...
Categories: Hand Tools

Emma International Collaboration 2014: Part 4

Bridge City Tools - 7 hours 37 min ago

Welcome to installment four of Emma International 2014!

Whenever you get 100 creative thinkers together without an agenda, the agenda becomes staggering! Presented here are just a small cross-section of the activities. I think you will agree, the atmosphere was something else…

Copper vessel

Basket Making


CT18 on Bench Seat

forming copper


ready to weld


shaping leather 2

shaping leather


sign 2

sign letters



table shaping

table top



Much of what was made during the week was from recycled “stuff”. There was an old piano and watching the vultures attack the carcass was fascinating…harvesting parts

More part harvesting

Watching a master like Michael Cooper work was just so cool…





Michael Cooper detailing 1

Michael Cooper detailing

And speaking of masters, Michael Hosaluk worked his ass off making turned parts for anybody who wanted to collaborate with him…
Michael Hosaluk Turning

Watching the metal smiths work was so interesting…

axe shaping

shaping up

And we had lots of dragon flies, who eat mosquitoes!
Dragon Fly

Here is a rare pic of the supervisor for the jewelry makers…

This is not a very good picture, but it is of Ness Creek…
Ness Creek

I found the isolation a welcome experience. No cell service and the internet was available in the bar for those who needed it. I have never seen so many birch trees…

Random Sign


Categories: Hand Tools

Studley Research Whirlwind Trip Part 2

The Barn on White Run - 8 hours 48 min ago


cIMG_6814Ninety miles from the Studley-era piano maker’s workbench was the finest Studley-inspired tool cabinet I have seen.  No, it wasn’t Studley, nothing else is, and it is not yet finished as there are still many tools destined for it, but I cannot imagine any serious woodworker not wanting this hanging on the wall above their bench.

The  maker is a tremendously skilled fellow whose other projects revealed that like Studley, he enjoyed making intricate and complex things.

Oh, and all the screws are clocked.  He wouldn’t bite on my suggestion that this revealed he was anal-retentive/compulsive, he merely replied that it was attention to detail.  He was a great sport about the whole thing, and I truly enjoyed my time with him and hope he will make it to the exhibit next spring.


Yup, it’ll be in the book too, in far greater detail and length.

Back home now, and finishing the first rough draft of the whole book tomorrow!

Part Two of Forensic Researching in Wood

Paul Sellers - 13 hours 31 min ago

DSC_0073It’s interesting to see the two tenons used in tandem. Again forethought by the craftsman and his regard for ensuring the integrity surrounding the tenon and mortise. He wanted to keep the fibres as connected as possible and keep strength between the walls of the mortises. This decision came as a result of the width of the tenon because the wider the tenon the longer the mortise hole.DSC_0126


It is common practice to use twin tenons at around 6” in width. So when you approach that width you begin thinking of what use a piece will be used for and also what stresses will be placed on the piece too. In this case the drop leaf flaps are to create a larger table for sitting at and yet the table cannot be used that way when the flaps are down. This then suggests that the flaps are usually down to create more space around the table when not in dining use but perhaps still useful for preparing for other aspects of family life or to fill an otherwise empty space.DSC_0103
The table itself when the flaps are down is relatively narrow at just two feet over all. With a leg between the knees the table seats six or eight if some are children. Tables get pull and pushed into place quite frequently to create work areas, passages and flow for other needs. Pulling tables on carpets is hard on the joints. Lots of leverage and only a small jointed area to resist stress. These are often the breaking points with the tenons holding but the outer wall of the mortise giving way and resulting in a split. Especially is this so if no glue is used but only a draw-bore peg. This was well known on tables and not a problem on doors. Draw bore was not used on this table and so suggests the use of clamping and this then helps in the dating too. Although it was common enough to devise wedged clamping systems requiring only boards and wedges, long screw-threaded clamps were relatively unknown prior to the late 1800s. That doesn’t mean they weren’t invented at all, it meant that the accuracy in machining to cut threads was still in the developmental stages both in the US and the UK. My namesake, an inventor mechanic named William Sellers, worked diligently towards dissecting non-standardised threading and sizing of the age to produce a standard by which threading would be reliable and so to the British engineer Joseph Whitworth of Whitworth-thread fame who also endeavoured to establish a standard for measuring and creating threads.

The Mortises
In all cases of sound M&T joinery the mortise hole surrounds the tenon on four sides. When the tenon is used in the middle of a stile or leg there may be two, three or four sides of the tenon sporting shoulders. When one or more shoulder is missing the tenon is usually referred to as a barefaced tenon and in this case the longer pine aprons have a shoulder missing on the large face of the twin tenons. This is relatively unusual on tables as tables are commonly apt to accomodate both front and back shoulders as in the short aprons. It’s not uncommon to have shoulders of different depth however. That way you can push the limits in favour of stronger joinery, which only the craftsman can determine according to his discernment.

Factors surrounding this joinery revolved around the swing-out arms that support the flaps. These are indeed wide flaps at a foot wide. Quite heavy really. The need for them to be recessed away from the front edge pushed the mortise hole back toward the rear inside corner of the leg. It was a careful consideration and well though through in terms of sizing and distance and so on. This is true of apron sizing too. The width of the leaves meant unhindered seating arrangement at least along the flap edges. More problematic in the short apron space, but no problem for children with a leg either side of the leg or indeed a child sat in the middle and older siblings near the corners. All thoughts really.

By now you will see the critical thinking every craftsman had in developing a piece. it is most likely that this piece was more functional than decorative in that there are no decorative features to the table at al except for inside tapers to the legs. Even this was most likely a functional consideration. Thicker around the joint areas and thinner to the foot for access, sweeping and cleaning and of course swinging legs in and out of spaces to sit at a chair. In those earlier days of design the craftsman was constantly engaged in decisions minute by minute when he designed his work. The decisions were at the bench and in the home or workplace, office and so on. The design, this particular design, was most likely not a one off but a pattern developed through many years. That’s also true of todays developers in designing their pieces. Artisans place their work considerations at the forefront in establishing the form they will build to. Function is of course paramount unless you cross over into realms of art. In this case the art was designing a functional piece.

The bottom of the mortise holes, or inside the enclosure, were trapped two pine shavings. Not significant at all but interesting in some cases. In times past I have found shavings between the cap iron and the cutting iron that told me the last work of the man and the plane. 


In the bottom of the mortises the chopping is indeed choppy and not smoothly executed. In fact they come surprisingly close to the outside faces and in one case on 1/16” remained between the bottom and the outside face; a near flaw. I noticed that the inside walls were very smoothly cut and suspect that they were cuts with mortising chisels of one type or another and not firmer chisels. The sizing was 13/32” and corresponded to to the tenons. that may sound obvious but it’s not always the case as in some cases craftsmen did undersize tenon thickness for speed and relied on other a draw bore pin or tenon width to be tight. This sped up the process for those under pressure from their masters. The width the tenons are set to show no underside shoulder and this is common with pieces where the shoulder is unseen. It’s quicker and easier and any shrinkage that might show as a gap is of no consequence because you would need to be bent over on your knees to connect to this. Sometimes, however, I do use shoulders here because it’s good exercise for my students in establishing skilful shoulder cutting.

My next part in this will be examining the making and using of the knuckle joints. Hand cut and no machines. Fascinatingly accurate and effective underpinning!

The post Part Two of Forensic Researching in Wood appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Workbench Class Days 5-6. Dog run!

Heritage School of Woodworking Blog - 14 hours 18 min ago

Friday: Flattened the dog run in preparation for extending the top tenons. Used a square, knife and chisel making sure the shoulder on the top remained straight all the way across the top. Next cut the groove in the end caps to fit the tenons on the top and cleaned the corners with the chisel, […]

The post Workbench Class Days 5-6. Dog run! appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Thorsen Cabinet Finish I

McGlynn On Making - 16 hours 26 min ago

Yesterday I started applying the finish to the Thorsen cabinet.

It seems like ages ago that I started this project, but I have to remember that in the course of building it I started (and completed) the Thorsen side table.  Plus I also designed an Arts & Crafts bookcase that I intended to build next (as soon as I can source the wide quarter sawn oak for it I will start it!) and almost by accident I decided to design a the Blacker House Serving Table, which I might actually build next.  Part of my interest in the Blacker table is, of course, learning about inlay — which is my current fascination.

So it was with equal parts excitement and trepidation that I started layering on the finish yesterday.  I’m excited to be so close to completing this project finally, but I’m worried that I’ve forgotten to do something in the interim.  I think I’ve made al;l the parts — case, back, door, skirt front, glass retaining strips…check.  Everything is sanded to 320, wiped with water to raise the grain, scoff sanded and cleaned to remove dust.

So I mixed the Trans-Tint Reddish-Brown water dye, and assembled my tools.

Dye mixed and ready to go

Dye mixed and ready to go

I set up my finishing stands (I made these folding stands 25+ years ago from electrical conduit to hold car parts I was painting) and did a final clean up pass on the parts.

Door ready for dye

Door ready for dye

Cabinet ready for dye

Cabinet ready for dye

I used a combination of the spray bottle and the brush to get a coat of dye on.  I did one “table” of parts at a time.  First I sprayed the  cabinet and the shelf and glass strips that were on the same stand.  I made sure I had dye everywhere and that it a good five minutes to soak in, then I wiped it down with rags.  Then I moved to the next set of parts.  Once all the parts had been dyed and dried, I left them to air dry for an hour.

Main cabinet after dying

Main cabinet after dying

Door after dying

Door after dying

After I was sure that the water based dye had completely dried I went over the parts with a scotchbrite pad to remove any little fuzzies on the surface, and blew them off to get a clean surface.  Then I slathered on plain Boiled Linseed Oil and let that soak for an hour.  In the sun the parts look very red, back inside the shop they look dark brown, the actual color when finished and in the house is in between these two extremes.

Cabinet with a heavy coat of linseed oil soaking in

Cabinet with a heavy coat of linseed oil soaking in

Door soaking up oil

Door soaking up oil

I kept an eye on the parts while they were coated in oil to make sure they didn’t dry out in spots.  After an hour I wiped them down and removed all traces of oil on the surface.  I used an air nozzle to blow out the joints and corners to make sure there wouldn’t be any drips later.  Then everything went back into the shop to dry.

Door after dye and oil

Door after dye and oil

Shelf and cabinet back after dye and oil

Shelf and cabinet back after dye and oil

Cabinet after dye and oil

Cabinet after dye and oil

You can see how mush darker the finish looks in the shop.  I want to wait at least 24 hours after the oil before spraying the Garnet shellac — and at least 24 hours after that before rubbing the shellac out with colored wax.

Today I’m going to do the stained glass and a couple of errands — I bought a new bandsaw for my wood shop and I need to haul the crate to the recycling center, and I plan to pick up some more Sapele for the Blacker table.  Ideally I’d get the glass done today, but it might get too hot later to work outside and I have to do the errands in the morning while those places are open.  If it’s too hot this afternoon I’ll have to watch the inlay video I got, and that certainly won’t be a hardship!

Categories: General Woodworking

VIDEO - Jonas' Insane Idea - Stick Chair Day 2 addendum

Toolerable - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 10:19pm
After roughing my chair's seat by hand with an adze, I might try to come up with a different idea if I had to saddle a settee, which requires removing about five times as much wood. But, when Jonas first told me he wanted to saddle his bench with a plunging circular saw cut dragging it sideways across the wood, I thought he was crazy. Then he said he wanted to do it freehand, I thought I would have to call an ambulance.

Genius, or nuts?  You decide.
 I have to say I was wrong. He makes it look easy and as natural a way to use a circular saw as could be. I'm not sure I would ever try it, but I might. If you try this, please be careful and take very light cuts.

Please visit Jonas' blog: www.mulesaw.blogspot.com

Categories: Hand Tools

Adventures in Maine

Mary May, Woodcarver - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 7:09pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

Last weekend I taught a very busy and successful weekend workshop at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks in beautiful Warren, Maine. It was a beginning class and we covered a lot of basic instruction.

We carved an apple in relief as a beginning carving project that focuses on working in the correct grain direction. I try to vary that first basic lesson just to keep it new. Then we carved that wonderful beginning project – the camellia! It covers so many things for a beginner, that I just keep it as my favorite basic carving project. We were having so much fun with the camellia that time was cut short a little to finish the classic shell carving. We made it through all the steps, but just needed a little more time to completely finish it.

The Lie-Nielsen classroom and everyone hard at work.
Awesome new tool that Lie-Nielsen is starting to sell - mainly for spoon making, but great for lowering the background!
Focus on the camellia.
More camellia carving.
Carving a camellia flower into a painted lid.
Carving the scallop shell in mahogany.

Then Monday thru Thursday I had the great opportunity of filming an intermediate woodcarving video for Lie-Nielsen (the basic carving video filmed earlier should be out shortly). It took me a while to get used to the studio lights, cameras, and that self-conscious awkwardness of being in the spotlight, but I survived.

The video is going to show how to carve 2 different flowers – a lilly and a rose (basically an extreme camellia) in deep relief. I don’t know how long the final film will be, but probably over 3 hours of carving instruction.

Isn’t it odd that I spend much of my time carving in my own workshop with a video camera nearly always running? THAT doesn’t make me uncomfortable. But put me in a studio atmosphere with other people around, and my tongue gets tied up, my brain freezes, and I can’t remember my name. Having said that, once a chisel gets in my hand – in that environment – I’m home! All in all, it went really well and I finally got tired of being self conscious and got over it. I’m excited to see how it looks on screen.

The lilly, rose (intermediate video) and phlox (beginning video)

The lilly, rose (intermediate video) and phlox (beginning video)

The Studio at Lie-Nielsen.

The Studio at Lie-Nielsen and Harry and Lief – the guys who make it all look right.

Today and tomorrow I get to play. My lovely companion and husband, Stephen, flew to Maine to join me for a few days. I just can’t get over how beautiful this part of the country is. I’m trying to convince Stephen that we need to somehow find a way to spend the 3 summer months here so we don’t have to deal with Charleston heat and humidity.

We have nearly had our fill of lobster – and are sampling various “lobster rolls” where they claim to be the best lobster rolls in the state. The first time I saw a sign for lobster rolls, I thought it was some sort of chinese egg roll with lobster in it. Nope. It’s a lobster in a roll. Go figure. So far, Red’s Lobster rolls in Wiscasset has come out on top. Now I understand why there is always a long line at this little road-side stand.

What am I supposed to do with this? I prefer the lobster rolls - not as much work.

What am I supposed to do with this? I prefer the lobster rolls – not as much work.

On Sunday, we are heading out of a little airport in Rockland. It is a little 9-seater Sessna with Cape Air. I flew in that way, and it was just such a fun experience. You definitely get an close and personal flying experience

4 – Initial Sharpening of the Nonpareil Saw.

Hand Made In Wood - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 6:00pm
I have progressed through describing how I have taken an old hand saw – well, it is thirty or forty years old – and remodeled the handle to suit me. Next is how I set up the business-end ready for work. At this point I’m going to state that I’m not a saw-doctor. Old fashioned …

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Categories: Hand Tools

Elm is Awesome - Stick Chair Build - Day 2

Toolerable - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 3:41pm
Elm is a pain in the neck.

Elm is easy to plane, and then all of a sudden it tears out just as you do one too many swipes.

Elm is gorgeous.  It is strong, resists splitting, and is a traditional wood for these kinds of chairs for these properties.

One of the interesting parts of my seat blank.
 Today was a productive day for Olav, Jonas and I.  Jonas and I decided we wanted to try to get our seats saddled today in order to free up those tools for other woodworkers joining tomorrow.  Unfortunately, life happens and none of the other woodworkers who were going to join us will be able to come, so it will just be the three of us.

Jonas did some amazing things that I have never even heard of to get his settee blank ready.  His bench is going to be absolutely stunning.  Check out this video of him saddling his bench seat with a circular saw.

Enough artsy talk, have a gander at some pics:

Jonas set this nice try plane up as a long scrub.  It was perfect for this job.  The elm behaved exceptional for this, that is except one of the more 'interesting' parts of elm had some nasty tear out that required some care in eliminating.

With all of the figured parts, I decided to use my toothing plane after scrubbing to get everything nice and flat.  I then used my 50 degree (62 degree total) blade to smooth with not much tear out, besides the one spot from scrubbing which was eliminated during saddling.

I bought this short-blade-honing-guide-adapter-thingie from Lee Valley.  I didn't realize it only worked with a Lee Valley honing guide.  It turns out that if you set it up this way, it works perfectly fine, even though you won't find this method in the directions.

That high-angle blade really does the trick on any kind of grain.

We ripped some ash bending stock during one of our few side adventures today.  Jonas really can work this mill efficiently.

My blank after smoothing.  I guess these photos aren't really in order.
After smoothing, I roughed the saddling with an adze.  As per Chairman Brown, I had it vertical in a metal vice that Jonas had.  After a couple whacks, I realized it needed a bit more support, so I put this bit of scrap behind the blank which made things a lot better.

Money shot.

Bent.  I guess his real name is Bernie, and begs for apples.

Saddling mostly complete.  I cleaned up my less-than-skillful adze work with Moby Dick, and finished the shape with a scorp, a travisher, a couple of spokeshaves, and a few scrapers.
Elm is awesome.
Categories: Hand Tools

A Different Kind of, um, Woodworking

The Barn on White Run - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 3:35pm

This will be our first full winter in the Virginia Highlands, where it gets “upstate New York cold.”  For the past few weeks the sound of chainsaws and log splitters has been a constant drone in the background of the valley atmosphere, as the locals are getting ready for intense global cooling.  Me too.  In addition to the firewood already stacked in the storage shed next to the cabin, other piles of split wood are growing around the homestead.


Last winter was perhaps the coldest in a century here, and the woolly worms, walnut trees, and Farmer’s Almanac are all projecting an even colder winter this time around.


Walnut trees?  Yep, by mid August they were already turning yellow and the leaves are now falling in a constant wave.   Hence, concerns for an even worse winter.  That would be pretty brutal, as at least on three occasions last winter the dusk to dawn temperature here in the holler was 20 degrees below zero.


Given the cold-nature of my bride the need for firewood and lots of it is riding high at the moment.  Yesterday was one of those times when I hunted and gathered firewood.  In the morning I went to my friend Mike’s farm and he cut down two trees, one maple and one beech and helped me load my truck to the gills.  I’ve never bottomed-out my 4WD s10 before, but it was yesterday.


When I finished splitting that (our altitude lets split wood dry really fast!) I went up the hill to work on a giant maple that fell last winter.  So far it has yielded two truck loads and will probably get another two by the time it is all done.  For scale, the log on the ground is 16″ by about 15 feet long, and the larger of the two trunks still on the root ball is about 24″.  It’s stretching my 14″ Stihl chainsaw to the limit.  It might be time to get another, larger one.  But for now as long as I keep the chain sharp it is doing okay.

How much wood do we need to keep the home fires burning non-stop for five-plus months?  We will find out, but the other night at Bible Study one of the fellows indicated that he had put up 19 cords of wood.  I certainly hope he needs a lot more than we do.  Otherwise I am only about 1/3 of the way there.  Fortunately(?) I want to clear more space on the south side of the barn for more winter light, so a bunch of trees will be coming down next week.

Welsh stick chair build day 2

Mulesaw - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 3:35pm
Another day of the epic chair building arrangement has come to an end.

Today we worked on stuff that ended up looking like parts for a chair, which was a great leap forward compared to the various #$£% ups yesterday.

I started out trying to make a nice round dowel for my final attempt of steam bending. I had done some of the job yesterday with one of Brian's spokeshaves, but it needed some more work to look really nice.
After a short while I decided that it would probably be a great idea to make a dowel maker. So without consulting any books ore other sources of information, I ground an old plane iron and made a wooden holder for it.
At first it worked really fine, but it was a bit tight on the dowel, so I wanted to try to reset the iron. Then it went from fine to disastrous. I got a bit angry since I had made this special tool to make it easier. And with a bit of temper I decided that maybe it would be better to clamp the tool in the bench and turn the dowel instead. This really didn't help since the dowel wasn't completely straight, and the new setting of the iron was more aggressive. The result was the some heavy tear out and a not so round dowel.
I managed to cut my finger in the process too, so I resigned and went back to the spokeshave that had to be used even more now because I had to reduce the diameter of the entire dowel to 25 mm (1") from 30 mm (1.25"). The dowel is 2.4 meter long, so it took some time.

The finished dowel went into the steamer and sat there for about an hour and a half.
For some strange reason the bending actually worked OK. There was a bit of splitting, but not more than what could be glued once the piece had dried.

With such a huge success under my belt I was ready to start on the seat itself.
I planed the blank using a scrub plane and traversing the entire time. Much to my surprise the result was a nice flat surface without tear out. It didn't even look fuzzy. 

In the mean time Brian had finished planing his seat blank and he had started saddling it. He was happily chopping away with an adze and looked just as professional as he is. That did sort of put some pressure on me.

Having had success with the steam bending and the planing of the seat I decided that I was probably smarter than anyone out there who had ever built some sort of Welsh stick chair or Windsor chair. Therefore I would not use that old fashioned adze method for saddling my seat. First off it looked kind of difficult, secondly it also strongly resembled good old fashioned work!

I have seen Mario Rodriguez saddling a chair using a tablesaw, but I had to saddle the seat of a settee so I had to invent something else.
The logical step was to use a circular saw.
I attached a board under the base of the saw and started dragging the thing diagonally over the surface of the settee seat blank, using the saw as some sort of router.
This approach worked really well. 
In very short time I had saddled the seat and it looked good with a minimum of bumps and definitely better looking than what I could have made using an adze. Here's a link to a video of it.

Next I used my old compass plane to make the saddling a little more round in the bottom.
After that I used my belt sander to clean up the saddled parts of the seat.

Actually today was a great day with success pretty much all the time.
Tomorrow I'll probably start on the legs and the spindles for the back of the settee.

Remember to visit Brian's blog for even more pictures and yet another eye witness account of the day.

Scrub planing the blank for the seat.

The steam bending results of yesterday.

The successful bending.

The blade on the sawmill, compare size to the safety glasses.

Someone needs a haircut and a shaving..

Brain professionally adzing out a seat.

Ripping the seat blank for the settee.

Saddling freehand using a circular saw.

Using the compass plane.

Selfie while test sitting the settee seat.

The bending straight from the form.

Categories: Hand Tools

Forensic Examination – Unlocking Past Treasures

Paul Sellers - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 2:23pm

Dismantling furniture gives meaning to the present and so we better understand out craft and piece together the missing pieces in the puzzle of what has gradually disappeared. I like finding chisel cuts and plane marks because they reflect a richly textured craft culture evidenced in honest workmanship. It’s something machines will never leave or if they do it will likely be in burn marks in saw kerfs and routed moulds and dadoes. I watch a machine cut the wall of a recess and it often leaves a perfect square wall straight as can be. It’s boring to watch and has no character  really. Every cut comes out the same and when it’s done the machine user knows he didn’t do it. I don’t believe we will be undoing CNC router-cut work and feel too much at all. Why? There’s no character to it. It has only the dullness of machine passes and not the record of a man’s hand as in this table.

When I open up joints and dismantle pieces for repair or because I want the wood for something else, I can spend many hours recording and researching to learn from my mentors in previous centuries. When one thing touches another it leaves a trace of itself on the other and in woodworking it’s no different. One of my favourite aspects of my work is undoing the work of my predecessors in woodworking. I think last week I mentioned that John bought a four foot square mahogany table because I told him that the wood alone was worth many times more than the £35 they were asking. I was glad he did. John dismantled the physical parts yesterday. Today I dismantled the methods and examined the cuts and slices and traces left by the tools in the wood. The parts were as a message pad to me. Grain, cuts with sharp-edged tools, different signs told me how every cut was made and also about the tools used themselves. What I take for granted is not necessarily obvious to everyone and I realise that. I can tell the difference between a single bevel knife cut and a two bevel knife cut and the difference between a knife wall and a cutting gauge cut too. Spokeshave cuts and plane cuts and chisel cuts are all identifiable if you know what to look for and I can tell when pre cuts are made to facilitate additional chops with a mallet and chisel. In other words I know how craftsmen created things because of my own working as a master craftsman of 50 years. By this I unlock the past and understand from silent works the sharpness and dullness of their tools, the direction of cuts and the choices of techniques. Let me walk you through this just a little here.


The joinery on this table is simple to make and specifically designed with great care and insightful craftsman knowledge. Firstly the joinery is traditional. Twin mortise and tenon joints create the typical intersecting of legs and aprons to form the framework undergirding the tabletop and drop leaves. The twin coplanar tenons are at first glance perhaps less pristine than you might expect or even like or admire, but in essence you can’t help but respect the standards as you see the economic steps he took to make the joints interlock with tightness and to very specific measurements. For instance, the tenons and mortises were all 13/32” – a small amount over 3/8” and of course a non-metric 10mm +. The faces of the tenons were planed and the two cheeks dead parallel with a vernier. The surfaces look rough on the inside but that’s more the glue residue and not the inaccuracy of tool work.


Look at the rough chisel work between the two tenons. This was of course pre-coping saw days but not pre bow saw. In this case the two tenon widths were cut down with a tenon saw and then a 1” firmer chisel is used to chop from each side by first placing the tenon cheek on an elevated block and chopping. First removing the waste with a rough cut say 1/8” from the line reduces resistance when the final cuts are made and hence the cut through is made with a single blow from nosed and then a second meeting cut from the other. No clean up took place.

Now let’s look at the width of the tenons. On all of the tenon widths there is compression bruising that shows that the tenons were deliberately cut over width by a surprising amount. In this case the depressed internal surfaces are 1/16” compressed. That seems a lot to me, but then I noticed the compression was deeper on the two softwood aprons and a lot less on the hardwood mahogany ones where compression is less. So, this tells me that the craftsmen made conscious assent to factors inherent to the different wood species and judged the work accordingly. What was he considering? He judged compressibility, spring, strength, fracture capacity, denseness, hardness and perhaps things I might not yet know of.

Notice too that on the entry point along the edges of the tenon he created lead in along the edge to ensure the corners don’t snag on the mortise internal walls. It’s something I have always done because I too was trained to do the same.


The shoulders of the tenons are undercut for ease and speed and to ensure that the outer rim of the shoulder closes up to the leg without any hindrance. I prefer not to do this as a practice, but sometimes it happens through injudicious cutting. Shoulder-lines for the tenons were knifewall cuts and not cleaned up with a shoulder plane at all. The faces of tenons were all planed level and smooth with no evidence of chisel work. Does that mean they were all sawn or just planed? Not at all. It means both chisel and saw cuts were refined with a rebate plane at least 1 1/4” wide and probably wider.


Looking at the mortised legs I was pleasantly surprised by the composition of mortises in relation to the leg. The mortises were not equally placed as would be more normal. The mortises on the short apron are set 5/16” from the outside face and then the long apron is set 7/16” from the inside face.This positioning allowed a full length tenon to both aprons but offsetting the long apron allowed for the knuckle-hinged folding support for the drop leaves to fold out of the way when the flaps were placed down and stowed.

All of the cuts were pristine for the main part. I mean very sharp cuts from hard steel. Both chopped and pared cuts with and across the grain were were clean cutting and so well cut all pores were fully open. This should not surprise anyone. We have made no advances in sharpness in the past two centuries that I know of.

The post Forensic Examination – Unlocking Past Treasures appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

How to Make a Benchtop Shaving Horse

Heritage School of Woodworking Blog - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 1:30pm

I ran across this Benchtop Shaving Horse the other day in an old Living Woods magazine. It was designed by Nick Gibbs for the Forest Education Initiative in the U.K., based on an idea for standing horses shown in an earlier Living Woods by James Mursell and Bob Slade. What makes this interesting is that it’s great if you don’t have […]

The post How to Make a Benchtop Shaving Horse appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Birds finally (Hey Marie – I swiped some photos)

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 12:51pm

Business first = I spent part of a recent evening blabbing about me & woodworking to Cory Mickelson  http://craftsmansroad.com/ . I understand why it’s a “-cast” but I don’t know what the “pod” part is… I couldn’t get to it from the website; and used Itunes to hear it. Once it started, I shut it off. I can’t listen to me. Cory was very nice – some of you might want to hear it. for some reason. 


But finally – birds.  Daniel & I have been making some early morning trips to try to get shots of the glossy ibis and Little Blue Heron that our friend Marie told us about over in Marshfield. Today we had great views of 2 of the ibises; the Little Blue Heron –  which you will note is white – was not too far, but still far enough that we couldn’t get good photos. The young LB Herons aren’t yet blue/purple like the adults. 

backlit glossy ibis

2 ibises

ibis better light


lbh walkin


To really see these birds; let’s swipe photos from Marie – hers are great…she had a Great Blue Heron one day she was there – Daniel & I saw him there one morning, but not today. then the ibis & the Little Blue Heron. 

Marie's GB Heron head_bill_close-crop

Marie's glossy mouth-open

Marie's LB Heron

Frank Klausz Cuts a Monster Molding with his Molding Plane

Wood and Shop - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 12:42pm


In my above video, Frank Klausz takes us into his new woodworking workshop and shows his amazing, and huge, carpenter’s molding plane that he made at the request of his local tool collector group in New Jersey.


Frank wanted to demonstrate this molding plane when I was filming a video tour of his new woodworking workshop.


Before you email me, please first look at the bottom of this article for a list of all the tools that Frank mentioned in the 3 videos.


Frank Klausz is a master Hungarian woodworker and teacher who has been featured in many woodworking magazine articles and video recordings. You can checkout these classic woodworking DVD videos that feature Frank’s instruction.


Below are a few photos from my visit…visit the other articles to see more photos & stories…





I know that I’m going to get a lot of emails for a list of Frank’s favorite tools that he mentioned, so I’ll save myself some time by listing them here:


Labor Day Laughs

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 8:45am

This post has nothing to do with woodworking – so stop reading now if you’re just going to complain about that. I imagine with the long Labor Day weekend in the U.S., many of us are heading off to end-of-summer picnics. And if you’re looking for dishes to take along, click on the link that follows, then click on the individual recipe cards. This site is – hands down – […]

The post Labor Day Laughs appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Emma International Collaboration 2014: Part Three…

Bridge City Tools - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 8:13am

Bridge Citizens Far and Wide:

If you haven’t read the first two installments of this totally awesome experience – shared on this totally awesome and worthless blog – then shame on you. Here are more pics with as few captions as possible. OH, and in case you are wondering, there are six total installments….

Basket making is the world’s oldest craft/art… the work is tedious and it really is not hand friendly over decades. One maker from Denmark commented that she has to have injections in her hands… every six months to do what she loves…baskets 1

baskets 2


“Stuff” was all over the place at Emma. All was fair game to be “upcycled” into something more meaningful. I like taking pictures of “stuff”…


Michael Hosaluk is a friend of mine (we met teaching at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking years ago) and he is the recipient of the Canadian version of the MacArthur Award. He also is the owner of a CT-18 and took delivery at Emma (this is not Michael in the image). It quickly found its way into the field for various projects and here it is helping to shape the underside of a bench project…CT18 Bench

The toothing iron was used to rapidly remove material (depth of cut was about 0.025″).CT18 1

There was a small mountain of shavings that were continually picked up by others for who knows what purpose…CT18 2
This is a great way to recycle shavings as this material makes a superb and great smelling packaging material.
CT18 3

This is an accidental pic I took while looking at the back of my camera. Really!
accidental image



Sometime in the late 1970′s I participated in a wood invitational in Mendocino, CA and one of the other artists was Michael Cooper. After all these years we finally got to meet at Emma 2014 and nobody was more excited about this than your favorite Tool Potentate. His work has always been inspiring to me, so please take a look at his site when you have an hour or two to digest the genius of this man. Here he is inspecting his bent lamination… that or he just spotted an electrical outlet which were highly coveted in the wood area.Michael Cooper
This lamination was clamped using cotton rope wound round and round… you can see the marks after the rope is removed…

Michael Cooper 1


Ness Creek


Categories: Hand Tools

Blacker Serving Table Design Completed

McGlynn On Making - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 7:52am

I’ve reached a state of equilibrium with the design for my semi-reproduction of this Greene & Greene serving table from the Blacker house.  Which almost guarantees that I’ll think of three changes I want to make before I finish writing the blog post…

Blacker house serving table - Final Design?

Blacker house serving table – Final Design?

There were some missing details that I needed to fill in, including joinery and embellishments.  I think I have those done now, but I’d appreciate feedback on goth the aesthetics and the functionals.  In terms of the latter, I settled on twin 2″ wide tenons on the skirts with a wide stub tenon across the end of the skirt to prevent cupping.  The longer tenons will hold the base together, the stub tenon probably don’t be glued but is there just to prevent cupping on the wide skirts.  The tenons are offset between the sides so that the deep mortises don’t intersect.  I can think of other ways to do this joint, so I’m curious if anyone sees a problem.

Exploded view of joinery details in the "final" design

Exploded view of joinery details in the “final” design

I added in the joinery details on the table top as well.  A wide stub tenon and four 2 1/2″ wide longer tenons.  I’ll screw through the breadboard end caps into the end of the long tenons.  I added rectangular Ebony caps to indicate these locations on the breadboard ends, although I might want them a tiny bit longer.  Also new in this “final” version are the Ebony applies that join the top and breadboard end.

I had mentioned that the transition in the cloud lifts was more gradual in mine than in the original.  I tweaked it in my design to make it a bit more abrupt like the original, and I like it better.  This is a detail I might play with a little in the future.  I didn’t update the inlay design in the top, but I probably will eventually — ok there are the three changes I predicted that I’d find in talking about my final design.

I added in the inlay design on the legs — I’m pretty happy with this part.  I think it adds a lot to the style of the table.  I feel like I got the “rhythm” of the design right, although it’s not identical to the original

Details of the inlay design for the legs

Details of the inlay design for the legs

Overall I think I’ve captured the scale and feel of the original design, although it’s different in some of the details.  The inlay is a little bit of a concern, but I think if I do a practice piece or two I  can probably figure it out.  I took today off work, so I’ll be starting the finish on the Thorsen cabinet.  Maybe during drying time I’ll run down to Watsonville and pico up a couple of wide boards of Sapele for the skirts and top of this table…




Categories: General Woodworking


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