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A base for the travel bench

Oregon Woodworker - 2 hours 11 min ago
A while ago I made a small travel bench that contains an integrated tool chest.  I designed it to be clamped to a picnic table in order to make it compact for travel and stable in use.  While I have enjoyed using it, the downside is that you don't always have access to a picnic table and it's just too high for some tasks.  After reading about the Moravian travel bench that OK Guy made recently, I decided that I needed to have some sort of base for mine as an option.  With twenty-twenty hindsight, I might have built a Moravian bench too; I just didn't realize how compact they are when knocked down and how quickly they can be set up.  Nevertheless, my travel bench does have some advantages, as I'll describe below.

My criteria were that the base be very compact for travel and sturdy for use with hand tools.  I chose the Krenov sawhorses I made recently as a starting point.  Essentially, I just tried to create a wide, ruggedized version of one of them, not really knowing if it would work or not.  I started by making these side assemblies that transfer force directly from the sides of the bench to the ground.  They are mortised together and have a cleat on the top to attach the benchtop:

Then I added four stretchers held in place with pegs, eight of which do double duty by pinning the mortises:

One of the reasons I designed it this way is that things like suitcases fit easily within it for travel, so it takes up very little extra space.  

Recall that this is what the bench/toolbox looks like standalone:

The base is designed to allow easy access to tools during use:

Even with the vise attached, all of the tools are easily accessible:

How does it compare to a Moravian bench?  I'd say it's different. It can be used without a base, it doubles as a tool chest, it may require somewhat less space for travel and my base design sets up even faster.  I think the Moravian bench may be somewhat superior in use, particularly for larger workpieces.  
Categories: Hand Tools


Benchcrafted - 6 hours 33 min ago

This is the first in what we hope will be a series of interesting posts on various topics related to woodworking or handcrafts.

FARLEY AND LOETSCHER MANUFACTURING COMPANY. Once the largest mill working plant in the world! Dubuque, Iowa.

Farley and Loetscher began humbly on January 1, 1875 when Christian LOETSCHER, a twenty-five-year-old Swiss immigrant, opened a mill working business.

One of many expansions of the company occurred in 1882 at a cost of between $25,000 and $30,000. The saw mill was removed and that part of the business abandoned. The plans called for the buildings to extend from 8th to 7th streets. The warehouse would be on 7th street and join the business office which was to be moved to the corner of 7th street and an alley. At that time, the company's business had grown to such a degree that local lumberyards could not supply enough lumber. The problem was solved when Farley & Loetscher contracted for one million board feet of lumber from sites in Wisconsin.

Loetscher pioneered the use of west coast white pine lumber in 1900 as the company branched out to markets around St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Des Moines, Iowa. In 1903 capitalization of the company was increased to $400,000 through the sale of bonds. Farley & Loetscher then invested a small amount in McCloud River Lumber Company of California. This company was then contracted for an annual production of ten million board feet of ponderosa lumber.

Experimentation was being done by the millwork companies at this time. As the pine forests of Michigan were depleted, some millworks along the Mississippi experimented with spruce. This was discontinued when large millworks introduced ponderosa pine which was not rot resistant and needed treating. After being kiln dried, it was seasoned. Southern pine was rejected because of its high moisture content.

In 1905 the company announced the construction of a solid block of buildings in Dubuque. The firm asked the city council to vacate the alley running through the block bounded by Jackson, Washington, Seventh and Eighth streets. It also asked for the right to lay track and switch to the right of the proposed new building. Business was slowing by 1908 and Farley & Loetscher only kept the California sawmill crews busy for seven or eight months. Once the lumbermen who owned the trees in California opened their own mills, the Farley & Loetscher mills were sold with most of the employees returning to Dubuque.

In 1910 records indicated that the company annually produced 500,000 windows and 300,000 doors. In addition the company manufactured frames, mouldings, blinds, stairwork and interior finish. Between 1,200 and 1,500 carloads of lumber were used annually. The company owned and operated its own electric light company and maintained a crew of electricians to care for it and the telephone systems used in the plant. Nothing went to waste. Wooden shavings were advertised for those interested in horse bedding.

By 1927, when the company was led by J. A. Loetscher, Christian's son, the firm occupied buildings covering twenty-three acres. The company also maintained subsidiary companies. Loetscher and Burch Manufacturing Company operated in Des Moines. Another subsidiary was Roberts Sash and Door Company of Chicago.

The company in 1930 was an employer of between eight hundred and nine hundred people. The seven company buildings covered five city blocks. Each of the buildings, except for three warehouses, were connected by bridges that crossed over the streets.

One of the structures was the largest building in Dubuque until the development of the JOHN DEERE DUBUQUE WORKS. In 1904 Christian Loetscher attended the St. Louis Exposition and bought forty huge timbers, each 13 by 11 inches and up to sixty feet in length, when the exhibition buildings were being dismantled. These were shipped back to Dubuque and used in the construction of a building described as "the largest lumber shed in the world." Thirty-two timbers were placed around the perimeter of the cupola while eight were spaced at intervals along the center of the building. In 1930 this building easily stored 6 million feet of lumber.

Years before recycling became known, Farley and Loetscher gathered waste chunks of wood and all the sawdust. This was transported to the roof of one of the buildings to a funnel-shaped named "the hog." There the material was ground to fine dust which was carried to the basement. Specially designed boilers received the dust from a moving track. When burned this dust provided all the heat for the buildings.

The company's electricity was generated by a dynamo within the plant. Unlike some companies of the time, however, there was no commissary so nearby businesses benefited from the purchases of food.

A plastics division was added to the company's line in the early 1930s. This produced laminated plastics for decorative and industrial uses and once occupied three acres of floor space. (23) A newspaper article of 1930 especially praised a new product "Formica" which resisted heat, cold and water.

In 1942 the company qualified for an "Honor Flag." Issued by the Treasury Department, the flag was issued on the basis of a company's employees participating in buying United States War Savings Bonds. More than 1,100 employees were purchasing bonds through payroll deduction according to Dubuque County War Bond Committee representatives.

The end of WORLD WAR II meant that the production of doors, windows, and other supplies that had gone to the military simply shifted to civilian use. There was no need to replace equipment or retrain employees. The only problem was the need in 1944 to hire four hundred more employees due to the demand for products. In addition to new homes, surveys nationwide indicated that 34% of homeowners were planning renovations. FARLITE, a plastic sold to the government for use in signal corps radio equipment and table tops, would be provided for civilian use.

Farley & Loetscher products include the main staircase of the DUBUQUE COUNTY COURTHOUSE; display cases for the ROSHEK DEPARTMENT STORE; millwork for the U. S. Navy torpedo boat Ericsson and Revenue Cutter Windom; the interior of the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.; and the outer doors of the main chambers of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D. C.

In addition to being the first millwork in the city to utilize ponderosa pine and recycle byproducts including sawdust, Farley & Loetscher was the first factory in the city to have electric lighting and the first to be equipped with an automatic sprinkling system. Around 1903, the company was the first in the city to install a telephone switchboard.

Categories: Hand Tools

A Juncus Polissoir – I

The Barn on White Run - 6 hours 43 min ago

The polissoirs I commission from a local craft-broom-maker employ the materials with which he normally works, namely broom straw (sorghum) and nylon twine, with woven outer sheaths.  It makes perfect sense given the scale that Polissoir, Inc. has become; he needs to use materials and techniques with which he is familiar and facile, and for which he has (for the moment) a sorta-reliable supply of raw materials.

The only variance from this is the Model 296 polissoir first commissioned by Thomas Lie-Nielsen for sale through his enterprise.  In this version, made as close to the original description in L’art du Menuisier as is practicable, the outer sheath is a wrapped linen cord rather than woven sorghum.

In reviewing the sorghum polissoirs (and To Make As Perfectly As Possible) marqueteur Yannick Chastang chided me for mis-identifying the fibers used in traditional polissoirs, asserting that the genuine article used a wetlands rush rather than sorghum, and that sorghum broom straw was an inferior material for polissoirs.   The first point is certainly a fair one, the second is a judgement/preference call I will discuss in a subsequent post.  It’s like saying a Ruger 10/22 rifle is superior to a Smith and Wesson .50 caliber revolver.  It depends on what you are trying to accomplish with the tool.

In the original text, Roubo uses the term “de jonc ordinaire” (common rush; the connection of “de jonc” to “Juncus” is not a great leap) for the plant fiber used in polissoirs.  Our dealing with that term highlights the difficulties of a translation project (and explains the reason this is a very slow writing process), especially when the primary meaning of words mutates over time.  Although French was probably the first codified modern language, it has changed little in the past three or four centuries, the hierarchy of definitions for words has definitely shifted.  Words for which the first definition might be XYZ in one time period might find definition WYZ to be the second, third, or even eighth-ranked definition in an earlier or later dictionary.  This is a struggle Michele, Philippe, and I wrestle with continually as we work our way through the original treatise.  Dictionaries roughly contemporaneous to Roubo declare that the word “de jonc” can mean reed, rush, straw, grass, hay and several other definitions I cannot recall at the moment.  But Yannick’s assertion that I chose the wrong word in English based on my editorial discretion is certainly not unfair.

With that idea in mind, I set out to explore the topic more fully.  One problem, though, resides in the question, “Which Juncus?”  After all, this is a huge genus consisting of several hundred species.

And, where would I find it?

Stay tuned.

Introduction to Vacuum Veneering with Jonathan Benson

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - 6 hours 48 min ago

When I started woodworking the idea of veneering seemed like magic to me. From selecting the best materials, to the design (orienting the grain of the pieces to present the desired and impressive final result,) to cutting the pieces (to not leave ridiculous gaps!) and ultimately gluing the whole thing in place. That last task, glueing up the veneer, seemed the most daunting. The process must have constant, even pressure […]

The post Introduction to Vacuum Veneering with Jonathan Benson appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Product Video Series: Ron Hock 8″ Kitchen Knife Kit

Highland Woodworking - 7 hours 31 min ago

If you’ve been looking for a new project to tackle, why not try making one of the Hock Kitchen Knife Kits? In the video series below, you can follow along as Mike Morton goes through the entire build process, from initial shaping to applying finish. Make some great gifts for friends and families, or get one of these kits for an aspiring woodworker you know!

Watch the videos below to find out more!

The post Product Video Series: Ron Hock 8″ Kitchen Knife Kit appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

prepping the 78.......

Accidental Woodworker - 14 hours 18 min ago
A recipient for the #3 has been picked. The  person getting it is in the dark about it.  I like giving surprises and I've been assured he will be. I would have liked to ship it before xmas but that isn't going to happen. A more likely shipping date is in the first week of the upcoming new year.

waiting game
I am not procrastinating on sawing the lid off. Both ends were cupped and I had to clamp them to remove it. The fit of the pins and tails is now pretty good but hide glue is what is holding it together now. I want to let this hang out for a while, relax and enjoy the heat coming off of the furnace. If the pins and tails still look the same as they do now come the weekend, I'll saw the lid off then.

see the cross scratches?
I wanted to take a before pic but my hands were dirty and I didn't want to stop to wash them. I used a file to clean up the horn of some deep scratches on the right side half.  I can still make out a few left overs by the hole.

the file I'm using
I don't even know what kind of a file this is but it is working on making the top of this horn presentable. I was just going to remove the deep scratches but I liked the shiny look so I continued filing  the entire horn.

looks 100% better
This is a highly visible part of the plane. Once this is painted it will present better than what it looked like before I filed it.

this part is done
the before pic of the front end of the bus
This was pitted probably from the casting and wasn't filed then. I'll do it now.

Used the same file and then ran a 150 grit sanding stick over it.

ridge line
The top of the plane here is the last visible spot. I started cleaning it up by filing this ridge away.

top part done
This is it for what I need to file and make pretty. There are few rust spots blooming around the plane but they should all sand off quickly. Tomorrow I hope to finish removing the remaining japanning. Then I'll clean the plane body with acetone and prime it. I think with so much bare metal now that priming it before I paint is the best way to ensure that the paint job will last. After all, it will be a few years before Miles will even be able pick this up.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that the Gotthard Tunnel at 57Km/35Mi, is the longest tunnel in the world?

The Impractical Guitar Maker's 2017 Holiday Gift Guide, Day Two

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 7:24pm
Knowing only what is necessary makes living dull and marks the regression of learning.

Benjamin Franklin

Many people secretly aspire to be "the artist", but they have been told their entire lives that only those "with the magic" can see the world as it is and portrait it as such. It is unfortunate that so many people believe what they are told and never try to "look" at the world and "see it". We are told that we "that special something", talent, to draw, sculpt or create any thing.

Let me tell you that you don't need "talent" or "magic" to create, you need to have the desire to draw well, to learn how to read music, to play the piano, or take an axe to a piece of wood to make an idea you in your head into something that is tangible and stands in front of you.

I want to recommend a book to buy for yourself, or anyone on your holiday list,

The Zen of Seeing, by Frederick Franck.

Never has it been more urgent to speak of seeing. Ever more gadgets, from cameras to computers, from art books to videotapes, conspire to take over our thinking, our feeling, our experiencing, our seeing. Onlookers we are, spectators...

Franck was a well known artist, who's works are in great art museums in the United States, Europe and Japan. He was also a medical doctor that worked closely with the great Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

The main premise of this book is to go outside and sit quietly, to look and to draw what you see and not to worry about the outcome. Leave behind your academic training and all the things you were ever told about how you can't draw, sit down in a meadow and draw blades of grass, or your hand, leaves on a tree, or the sash in the window of a Victorian house. Why not pull out that old Stanley plane, set it on your workbench and really look at it, then draw it? You might be surprised at the results. And think, drawing skills can carry over into woodworking, music, cooking and how to converse with folks, just to mention a few areas of life that we all need to work on.

The book was written in 1973, but everything Franck says is valid today, perhaps more so because we are so inundated by media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., that as a species we need to step back and  reconnect to nature, to ourselves.

Buy the book and give it a try, because as it states on the back cover of the book,

Even if you have never thought of drawing, if you claim to be  one of those people who cannot draw a straight line, this book will make you want to pick up a pencil and begin...to SEE.

Can you guess what book I will be re-reading the next couple of days?

Categories: Luthiery

How Much is Your Log Worth?

Wunder Woods - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 6:56pm

How much is your log worth? The short answer is probably not as much as you had hoped, but you’re not here for the short answer, so I’ll give you the long one.

First off, you need a bit of background of where I come from on this subject. I mill, sell and work with lumber from mostly suburban settings with lots of yard trees salvaged from tree services and a decent number of logs from wooded settings, usually where a building is about to be erected. This means my log supply can range from barely usable to awesomely perfect and all with lots of wacky and wild in between. I normally pay nothing for my logs and only buy a couple of logs per year, which I just can’t live without. I mostly don’t pay for logs because I mostly don’t have to. There are lots of logs available to me, especially if I am willing to pick them up.

Since I work in an area with a large population (St. Louis and St. Charles, MO), I often get requests from homeowners looking to make money from their logs, especially after hearing age-old stories of walnut logs selling for thousands and thousands of dollars. These consistent requests and a recent article in the Missouri Conservationist magazine (click here to read the article) about Missouri hardwoods prompted me to put into writing what I have repeated probably hundreds of times.

  1. A log is worth as much as someone is willing to pay. This sounds like a smartass answer, but it isn’t. If you don’t know where to sell your logs or you can’t find someone in your area willing to pay, they aren’t worth much. And, if you can’t get your logs to the buyer they are worth even less. Especially, if you only have one tree, expect no excitement from someone who normally purchases logs. You won’t get a larger purchaser, like a big sawmill, to come out for less than a truckload.
  2. Your log probably isn’t as great as you think it is. You would be amazed by how many people call me and tell me about a walnut tree in their yard that is at least 40 years old or about the tree which has its first branch at 5′ from the ground. A walnut tree is a baby at 40 years old and is obviously a short, branchy yard tree with not much of a log if there are branches 5′ from the ground. A good tree, one worth really talking about, will have at least 10′ of branchless trunk, if not 14′ or 16′ or more. Just because it is a walnut tree, doesn’t mean it is a good walnut tree.

    This walnut tree was about 90 years old and produced a very nice stem. The bottom log has about 250 bf. in it and would fetch about $500 dollars delivered to a sawmill. The top log in the pile and the second log up in the tree has about 200 bf. in it and would be worth about $175.


  3. Most high-dollar logs are veneer-quality logs. Almost all of the stories of logs selling for high prices are for veneer-quality logs. And, almost all of the logs out there are not veneer-quality logs. Veneer logs look like they came from the “log factory” and are perfect in every way; no signs of knots, straight, round, good color, good growth ring spacing, centered pith, no bird peck, no shake, no metal, fresh, and hopefully, big. I only get a few veneer quality trees out of hundreds per year and they almost never come out of yards. They are usually hidden somewhere in the woods.

    White oak logs don’t get much better than this 16′ long x 30″ diameter example. Yet, the veneer buyer wasn’t interested in purchasing it because the color was not good.


  4. Yard trees have metal in them. This is no myth. Whether you remember doing it or not, there is a good chance your yard tree has metal in it. Metal, like nails, hooks, wires and chains mess up saw blades and make a mess by staining the wood. I expect trees I pick up to have metal in them, and I will work around it, but remember, I don’t pay for trees. Larger operations have no reason to buy logs with metal in them, especially if the next log truck in the gate is full of logs without metal.

    Bottom logs have the most valuable wood and the most metal, like this electrical conduit with wires.


  5. You don’t know what you don’t know. If you are reading this, it is most likely because you don’t sell logs on a regular basis (or, you just want to see if I know what I am talking about). Without doing this consistently, you can’t know enough about your logs to properly sell them. You can’t get it in front of the right people at the right time and present them with something they can’t live without, and you definitely can’t defend your product. You will be at the mercy of the buyer. They will know after the first thing out of your mouth that you do not know what you are doing, and even if they are fair, they will never overpay.

This is a good-looking walnut log, but it has a lot of sapwood (white ring on outside), which will make it less valuable. If you don’t sell logs regularly, there is no way you would know that this could be an issue for some buyers.


You can tell from most of these points that I am pretty sure you aren’t going to get rich from your single tree or a couple of logs (especially from me) and you shouldn’t expect to. With that point made, you should know that some do have value if you have a place to sell them and you have a way to get them to a buyer. So, if I haven’t completely dissuaded you from selling your logs, below are some pricing examples that you can expect if you were to sell your logs to a larger operation in the midwest:

Average price, based on 20″ diameter inside the bark on the skinny end x 10′ long = 160 bf.

Red oak $.70 per bf. clear saw log = $112, $1.00 per bf. veneer log= $160

White oak $.85 per bf. clear saw log = $136, $1.50 per bf. veneer log= $240

Walnut $1.70 per bf. clear saw log = $272, $3.50 per bf. veneer log= $560

Cherry $.90 per bf. clear saw log = $144, $1.40 per bf. veneer log= $224

Hard Maple $.75 per bf. clear saw log = $120, $1.25 per bf. veneer log= $200


This mix of 10′ x 20″ black oak, white oak and post oak trees from a homebuilding site would sell for about $75-$100 each, delivered to a local sawmill.

Now, obviously prices will range from mill to mill, based on what wood is available in the area, what is selling well and if the mill specializes in any products or species. The above prices should just serve as a guidepost in determining if bothering to sell your logs is worthwhile. Most of the logs in the pricing example above would not cover the price of trucking on their own, so marketing one log most likely doesn’t make sense, unless you can haul it yourself.

However, you can see that if a landowner were to have a large number of trees, the money could start to add up. $112 for a red oak log doesn’t sound like much, but it starts to sound like something when there is a semi truckload of $112 logs. This is what most large timber sales are based on; a large number of logs sold at a fair price and not necessarily getting rich on one tree.

Usually, the phone calls I answer are about a single “big” walnut tree which will cost a homeowner lots of money to remove because it is large and right up against the house. They see a big log worth big money. However, the removal costs also jump up with the increase in tree size, negating any benefit of a larger tree. Their hope is that I will be excited enough about their tree to cut it down (safely, I presume) in trade for the wood, but the math doesn’t work out. A tree which costs $3,000 to remove probably won’t have $3,000 worth of logs in it, no matter if it is walnut or not.

Remember, the bottom line is that logs do have some value, but if you can’t do all of the work like cutting, hauling and selling yourself there is almost no way to make money on a single tree. Unless, of course, you just happen to have a tree like the ones below that I couldn’t live without.

This 11′ x 42″ diameter walnut took two forklifts to move and was one of only two trees which I purchased last year. I paid $950 for this log and it is the largest walnut I have personally processed. This log is potentially worth more money, but it had several obvious signs of metal, so larger mills weren’t interested.


This 15′ x 38″ diameter walnut was the second of only two trees which I purchased within the last year. I paid $700 for the tree and it is the second largest walnut I have ever cut. This tree also had metal in it, which kept the price down.

Categories: General Woodworking

Picture This CXV

Pegs and 'Tails - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 5:26pm
I have mentioned dealer sophistry before, but specious descriptions of antique furniture are sadly becoming ever more prevalent (I will save a discussion on the possible reasons for another time). The vendor of the Windsor chair in figure 1 described … Continue reading
Categories: Hand Tools

Coming in 2018: The Lost Art Press Work Jacket

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 5:24pm


I have two favorite garments: a beat-up motorcycle jacket for winter and a traditional French work jacket for the other three seasons.

The work jacket, sometimes called a bleu de travail, was popular in the late 19th century and the early 20th century among the French working classes – especially farmers, masons and woodworkers.

The jackets are simple, unlined and incredibly durable. They typically feature four roomy pockets – three on the outside and a fourth on the inside that usually is embroidered with the maker’s name. The only other evidence of the pedigree of the garment is usually found engraved on the buttons.

I wear mine in the shop and when working on our building. The pockets are great for holding tools and the jacket is designed to accommodate a wide range of motion. I can saw and plane in this jacket, and it moves nicely with me. In fact, many times I simply forget I’m wearing it. The more it gets beat up, the better it looks.

It’s also just nice enough to wear out to dinner (once I dust it off).

Most of the French work jackets you’ll find for sale are blue, which was the preferred color of farmers and all-purpose laborers. Management wore a similar jacket in a light grey or white. But French (and German) woodworkers definitely preferred black.

For many years I’ve wanted Lost Art Press to produce a work jacket that was faithful to the originals in every way, including the cotton moleskin cloth, the distinct stitching, the engraved buttons and even the embroidered inside pocket. And, because I’m a woodworker, I wanted to offer it in black.

So we’ve teamed up with designer and woodworker Tom Bonamici, who is similarly obsessed with these jackets. Tom has designed a work jacket based on a vintage one he owns. And last week, the factory (here in the United States, of course) produced the first successful prototype.

We are very excited.

In the coming weeks, Tom is going to share the history of these jackets, the details of their construction and how a garment goes from a cool idea to something you want to wear every day. And, in early 2018, we will offer these for sale.

We don’t have prices or a timeline yet. But all that is coming soon.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Handmade Christmas turtle dove decorations

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 2:30pm
Gorgeous wooden bird decorations handmade by Steve Tomlin Crafts Beautiful, unique decorations for your tree or the perfect handmade gift. Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 11: Masons’ & Engravers’ Square

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:43pm

Every year with this gift guide, I recommend one tool that is just a little more expensive than the others but is definitely worth the money. This year it’s the Lee Valley Cast Masons & Engravers’ Square. This is a new item in Lee Valley’s catalog, and the minute I saw it, I ordered one. This well-made tool excels at scribing lines that are parallel to the edge of a […]

The post Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 11: Masons’ & Engravers’ Square appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Line Drawings and Dimensions of Small Portable Vise...

The Part-Time Woodworker - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:37am
Here are the drawings of the little portable vise I posted originally on November 11, 2017. All the drawings are done full size and can be used as cut-out templates. Just print them off and glue them to your wood.




Categories: Hand Tools

I just purchased the video you made with Shop Woodworking on Japanese tools and I am really enjoying the details that you have dealt with. GREAT JOB! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!

Giant Cypress - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 5:28am

Thanks so much for the kind words! I really happy that you liked the video.

My video on Japanese woodworking tools is available at Shop Woodworking, Popular Woodworking’s online storefront for videos, books, and more. There are shorter videos on Japanese saws, Japanese planes, Japanese chisels, and “everything you ever wanted to know about Japanese tools but were afraid to ask”. These videos are also compiled into one longer video, available as a DVD and as a download. It might make a nice holiday present for the woodworker in your life.

Why Schlep? - A Look at Tools Baskets and Bags

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 4:00am
Charles Nurse 1893
Probably the classiest thing we have in our entire catalog (Colen Clenton Tools excepted) this year is our new Gramercy Tool Bags. They're elegant solutions to the challenge of schlepping tools around - a challenge that crafts people have forever faced. I have a collection of tool sellers' catalogs from the late 19th century on, so I thought I'd check in and see how tool-carrying has evolved.
The Chas. A. Strelinger & Co. catalog* framed the issue well, way back in 1896:

When a "Yankee" carpenter has a little job to do a few squares or a few miles from the shop, he takes his toolbox with tools (about 30 lbs. of tools, 15, sometimes 25 lbs. of box ) shoulders it, and starts off to his work. Now, we do not mean to quarrel with him for doing this, but it would suggest that it was about time to do away with the box business and use a Tool Basket. The middle size weighs about 18 ounces, and while the difference in weight between box and basket (from ten to twelve pounds) is not much for single lift, it certainly makes a big difference in a walk of a mile or two.
This basket can be carried over the shoulder by a stick shoved through both handles, or piece of sash cord, but when is only a few tools used, it can be carried the same as valise. The middle size measures when round, about 21 inches in diameter and when flattened sidewise by the shape and weight of the long tools (as jointer and saws), about 33 inches. They are soft and pliable, very strong, and with fairly decent usage will last for years.

Now I love the idea of a wooden toolbox (shown here in the 1912 Rd. Melhuish catalog) but I cannot imagine carrying it on my shoulder. Another possibility: a tool basket.
Rd. Melhuish 1912
Baskets have limited space, but they are certainly a lot lighter than a big box. They don't seem to have died out until after WW II, and all the tool basket vendors (here the Charles Nurse catalog from 1893 and the 1912 Melhuish) seem to have sold similar versions in different sizes. The engravings for all these retailers look the same and could even be from the same plates.
Charles Nurse 1893 - on the last pages of the catalog it was a late addition
Rd. Melhuish 1912 - by 1912 everyone seems to be carrying them
Various trades used different sized specialty baskets or bags. (The Melhuish catalog doesn't draw much distinction between the bags and baskets - some are made of the same materials.) There are bags for Engineers - a general title for what we would call mechanics. And a bag lined with carpet for plumbers. My guess is that the lining was to absorb any water on the tools.
And the Tyzak catalog from the 1930s included a bag and basket (same material) that by its illustration was simpler than those of earlier catalogs, but might also be the same product as Melhuishs specialty Engineers bag. Melhuish might not have had Instagram, but he obviously understood marketing. )
Samuel Tyzak c. 1930's
Rd. Melhuish 1912
This large canvas bag from Melhuish 1912 is not only "improved" but in elements and structure seems to be a older cousin of a modern leather bag.
Rd. Melhuish 1912

The Strelinger catalog makes a good point when it says that the tool box itself is pretty heavy, making a lightweight basket an improvement. But a basket is also open, not protected from rain, and vulnerable to spilling when put down. What is interesting is that unlike regular baskets for regular consumers, these tool baskets (and the ones in Strelinger) are reinforced. Without reinforcement, the material and stitching of the basket or bag will inevitably be stressed by the tools, and likely even cut or punctured. Leather bags were probably made in the era of these catalogs, but by and large they were too expensive for casual use by craftsmen, which could explain their absence from the catalogs I have.** Leather of course is the most waterproof of the natural materials, and most resistant to cuts and bruises. Klein Tool Bags, an American company that has been around since 1857, continues to make a wide range of tool bags today, including a mass-produced bag similar to ours. But by and large, tool bags and baskets seem to disappear from the tool catalogs, although I have not made an exhaustive search. My guess is with the advent of the automobile, the number of tradesman lugging tools around declined sharply and the concept of the milk crate filled with tools began to make lots of sense. And - ask anyone who routinely works on-site - the art of tool transportation can either be done efficiency or chew up half the day. For moving a lot of tools the Festool Systainer system is a great approach, I am seeing more and more of them on the streets in the morning as craftsman go into buildings to work on-site. (I will write about transporting buckets of tools another time.)

But sometimes you don't need a warehouse full of tools. Sometimes - oftentimes if you live in NYC - youre taking public transportation. Sometimes you are going to a class or an office. Sometimes you not only have to earn a living but you have to impress a client at the same time. Plaster and paint coated milk crates don't leave the reassuring competence than a nice bag does with a client. They just don't want the mess tracked into their apartments.

This need inspires a return to the basics. Yes, if I have a couple of tools to cart, I just dump everything in my backpack and hope for the best. Anything with a sharp edge gets carefully wrapped. My backpack is tall enough for a dovetail or carcase saw but a sash is too long and risky and I worry about the handles getting busted if I put down the bag too roughly. I just brought back two valuable short saws home in my backpack and I wrapped them in cardboard for safety. I can't imagine doing that every day. As I have gotten older, my tools have gotten better, and so is the care I take.

So that brings me to our new Gramercy Tools Leather Tool bags. We also stock Leather bags by Occidental - here and here. Occidental bags are wonderfully made, but too short for a hardware store saw, or a longer plane. One thing I like about tools bags in general is that they have a bottom, designed to have a place for heavier tools so that jostling wont cause something to shift. I don't wrap edge tools other than in a rag so that the cutting edges are both protected and can't do damage. We made sure in designing the Gramercy bags that the hardware and straps are robust (a Klein bag that I loved years ago had strap issues) and the cover really covers. The straps are anchored inside the cover which looks cool but more importantly prevents the leather straps from catching and wearing over the years. I live in fear of a collectible tool falling out. The traditional hand stitching of the Gramercy Bag will wear better than machine stitching and that with the heavy leather should mean that the stitches won't be the first thing to go (the source of my Klein bags strap problems). We use vegetable tanned leather because I discovered that I have a tendency to leave tools in my bag for ages without special oiling or waxing and I don't want to worry about rust caused by the leather.
The Gramercy Tool Bag in dark brown. We also stock a lighter Whisky brown version

.* Note: While I quote from the 1896 Chas. A. Strelinger & Co, I don't show any engravings from their catalog because I don't own an original and the reproduction I have isn't at high enough resolution to do justice to the original.
** I have other American catalogs of the period but they are currently in storage.

Geometry in Time for the Holidays

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 3:15am

Christ the Geometer

In the spirit of the holidays, let’s perform some simple, ancient geometry to create the iconic symbols of the two religions celebrating major holidays this month. You’ll need only a compass, a straightedge, a piece of paper and a couple of candles to illuminate your work. In chronological order (in more ways than one) let’s start with Judaism’s Star of David:


Begin with a circle and mark the focal point. We have actually started with the symbol for Ra, the ancient Egyptian sun god for whom winter solstice was celebrated for thousands of years prior to Judaism – but that may or may not be another story.

Scan_20171212 (2)

Now draw a line vertically through the focal point (i.e. a diameter) and mark its intersection points at the rim.

Scan_20171212 (3)

Next set the compass to span from one of the rim intersection points to the focal point and swing an arc through the rim as shown. Mark the arc’s intersection points.

Scan_20171212 (4)

Repeat from the other rim intersection and mark two more rim points.

Scan_20171212 (5)

Connect all the rim points across the circle.

Scan_20171212 (6)


Erase the circle rim, diameter line and interior arcs and you are left with the Star of David. Now let’s create the Christian cross–also from the intersection of line and circle:

Scan_20171212 (7)

Again we’ll start with a circle (which came to represent the heavens), but this time we’ll draw the diameter line at about a 45° angle.

Scan_20171212 (8)

Construct another diameter line at a right angle to the first. Use the intersecting arcs method (or just fudge it, I won’t tell).

Scan_20171212 (9)

Connect the rim intersection points to create a square (which traditionally represents the four directions, the four seasons and the earth itself).


Scan_20171212 (10)

Now bisect the lower horizontal line and extend the bisection line from the focal point down past the lower rim of the circle.


Scan_20171212 (11)

We’ll set our compass to the span between the rim intersection point and focal point and swing a second circle. (A second of a pair of circles traditionally represented the Dyad…the reflection, the knowing of the first circle called the Monad (all one/alone)).

Scan_20171212 (12)

When we erase most of the lines we are left with a cross…a symbol of the melding of heaven with earth. Or for the math geeks: a pairing of a diameter line with the non-terminating (i.e. irrational) square root of two.

Note: This geometric construction of the cross is not historical but rather the product of my imagination.

— Jim Tolpin, one of the authors of “From Truths to Tools





Filed under: From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

I Think You’ll Like Making T̶h̶e̶s̶e̶ Trees

Paul Sellers - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 2:50am

It is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and I try to have a simple Christmas project that isn’t too complex to make, is inexpensive and doesn’t tie up too much time. In making these you make four (or more) at once so I think making them hits the mark for me. I wanted something […]

Read the full post I Think You’ll Like Making T̶h̶e̶s̶e̶ Trees on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

stripping the 78........

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 1:07am
It appears that I am going to get lucky with the rehabbing of the 78. I knew I would have to paint it but I wasn't sure how easy it would be. After tonight I know it is going to be easy. My past experiences with japanning have run in two directions - easy off and a bitch to get off. It was easy off tonight only because this japanning didn't seem to have the thicker coating  I seen on hand planes.

liquid wrench and WD40
I got a comment from Matt that this wooden handle should turn and spin as I crank it. I think what happened is the metal insert rusted the handle to it. I soaked it with liquid wrench overnight without freeing it and I hit it WD40 before I went to work this morning. When I got home from work, it still would not turn.

the handle wood is soft
Even with a rag wrapped around the handle, I still left imprints in the handle from the jaws of the pliers. And I still could not turn the handle.

spinning now
I had to heat from a blow torch to get it free. It turns ok but it is a bit rough. I also toasted both ends of the wooden handle. The handle split on me which I'll have to glue it back together somehow. I don't think there was any way to avoid that because this handle is very dry and brittle.

cleaning and degreasing
Before I apply the stripper, I need to get this as clean and grease free as I can. The stripper acts much better that way.

forgot to do the depth stop
95% of the japanning is gone
I was able to scrap off most of the japanning and I will still apply stripper to see if it will remove the last bits.

cleaned and no japanning came off
back of the lever cap looks the best
I would expect this to be this way as it is mostly protected all the time.

this stripper burns
The stripper bled through the glove on my left hand. This is the one I held the parts with as I brushed the stripper on with my right hand.

big hump on the back
While the stripper was working, I sharpened and honed the iron for the 78.

the look after 1200
back done up to 8K
The back is done and I repeated it going up to 8K and stropped it.

the iron fits in the guide
I wasn't expecting it to fit in these jaws. I thought that I would have to use the long jaws to sharpen this.

stropped and shiny

shiny back too
I think this will give much better results when I road test the 78 again once the rehab is complete.

stripper on, rinsed off, and blown dry
This is very encouraging. The japanning came off very easily and what little is left I think I can scrape or sand off.

the other side
nothing left on this side of the plane

almost all gone on this side too
I was very happy to see how well the stripper worked on this side. There are a lot of nooks and crannies that the stripper removed the japanning from. I would estimate that 95% or better of the japanning has been removed. I might be able to paint this before the weekend.

I can hear a little better now. My hearing aids have been broken for a while and I got them fixed on monday. Some things I can hear again - my turn signals in the truck, key clicks opening a lock, my pants making a noise as I walk, and taking a whiz. One thing I heard for the first time is the shutter on my camera as I snap pics.

My current hearing aids are obsolete and I will be getting a new set in january. My current set is 6 years old and a few things have changed with the new ones. The new set is a lot more powerful in it's ability to process sound much quicker which will help with my hearing loss. And the biggie improvement is there are no ear molds anymore. Ear molds are custom fitted inserts for the ear canal. These can be uncomfortable at times and especially so for me in hot humid weather. They are not a panacea for my hearing loss but they help me to hear a little of what is going on around me.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that the goat is the source of true Moroccan leather?

The Rabbit Hutch – Part 9

The Bench Blog - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 1:00am

This is the final post of my rabbit hutch project.  With the project fully built, I needed to find a spot on our property to place the hutch and prepare the ground.

You can see the earlier posts in this series here:

I picked out a spot that was close to the house and well positioned.  There was a small rock wall that I had built there some years ago that would have to be removed and reinstalled.

This is where I chose to install the hutch.

This is where I chose to install the hutch.

Time to go to work with the pick axe and rake.  Once the ground was more-or-less level, I tamped it down.

Clearing the ground.

Clearing the ground.

The one setback to the site I selected, was that it was on a slight slope.  Since the hutch has drawers that pull out forwards, this means that the hutch needed to be lifted up enough to clear the rock wall and the slightly sloping ground.

Raising it up on some paving slabs.

Raising it up on some paving slabs.

Not what you might think of as “checking for wind” on a woodworking blog.

Checking for level.

Checking for level.

The hutch is really heavy thanks to me and my every expanding projects…  Why can’t I ever build small stuff?  You may remember waaaay back when I made the carcass sides, I used long galvanized lag bolts to serve as the feet of the hutch.  These can be screwed in or out to adjust the level, but their main purpose it to keep the wood away from the ground and hopefully prevent rot.  They are screwed into the end grain of the legs and I was careful not to stress them laterally as I didn’t want to split out the bottom of the legs.

Moving this heavy ass hutch outside.

Moving this heavy ass hutch outside.

My neighbor gave me a hand lifting the hutch up onto the paving slab platform.  We then lifted the roof (which is nearly as heavy as the hutch) and placed it on top.

Once it was in place, I rebuilt the rock wall using all the rocks I removed earlier.

So, with everything done, here’s a bunch of final photos:

In place, and the roof installed.

In place, and the roof installed.

From behind.

From behind.

Viewed from further back.

Viewed from further back.

I'm guessing it won't stay looking this nice for long.

I’m guessing it won’t stay looking this nice for long.

The upper ramp.

The upper ramp.

Upper area.

Upper area.

Lower area.

Lower area.

I'm happy with how this turned out.

I’m happy with how this turned out.

Feeder and water installed.

Feeder and water installed.

Is it just me, or does that rabbit look pissed off?

Is it just me, or does that rabbit look pissed off?

Thanks for reading and bearing with me.  I finished this project in April and it has taken me until now (December) to get these remaining posts written.

I hope to have some other posts in the near future, we’ll see.


– Jonathan White

The Impractical Guitar Maker's 2017 Holiday Gift Guide, Day One

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 6:17pm
Is there a classical guitar player in your life and you just don't know what to get them this holiday season?

I asked several classical guitarists what guitar-related items they would like to receive as gifts this season, and I got very good feed back that I will share with you this week and perhaps into next.

#1 Most Requested Item

A one year supply of guitar strings!

Guitarists who practice, play and perform on a regular can wear out a set of strings in just one week!

The oils from you hand actually clog the metal windings on the bass strings.  Bass strings can be washed in an ammonia solution or hot soapy water and then line dried, but eventually the strings become thump sounding. The clear treble strings fair better, but still become worn out with playing.

I remember in college having to do the weekly or bi-weekly trips to the local music store, and then there were the phone calls home asking for money to buy strings.

This is the string drawer in my other workbench. As you can see I like several different brands, Savarez, LaBella,  D'Addario and Dogal brands are all tops in my book. 

I definitely have a favorite brand, but the strings a guitarist uses are a very personal choice, so be sure to ask that guitarist in your life what their favorite strings are before you buy! 

Here are two websites to visit, please know that there are many other string supplier websites to check out.

Have fun shopping!

Categories: Luthiery


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