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General Woodworking

Blacker Table Design

McGlynn On Making - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 6:57am

I want to thank John Vernier for his comments.  John always has valuable input and has shared some great insights on both history and techniques.  Yesterday I mentioned that there were two versions of the table — I was alluding to two different sizes that were produced, but John clarified that there were also two of the smaller version of this table produced for the Blacker house originally:

You are right that there are two versions of the table. There are two identical serving tables, the one in Chicago and the other in the Oakland Museum (you should pop over and take a look). There is also a breakfast table which is larger, and scaled so that it can butt up to the main dining table and act as an extension. I think that one is in private hands but I’ll get back to you if I find out differently.

The two identical smaller tables were both originally in the Blacker dining room. Jim Ipekjian’s copies are there now, against one long wall, opposite the sideboard. I think they have silver tea service displayed on them, and they really are just auxiliary serving tables. The breakfast table was in a separate room which is connected to the main dining room by a set of double-fold french doors, so that the space can be opened up into one large room, and the breakfast table scooted up to the main dining table. The dining table also has extension leaves which mount on each end, so the resulting table would be extremely long, just the thing for 32 person dinners. On the whole it really is the largest and most elaborate dining set the Greenes designed.

When Nellie Blacker died in 1947, the people who bought the house sold off the furniture in basically one big yard sale. One of the neighboring families bought most of it, and kept it for many years. When interest in Greene and Greene began to pick up, they realized the importance of their collection and sold it off slowly over a couple of decades (I don’t know if this is still going on, a lot came to market in the 70s and 80s). Many different museums have bought a piece or two as representative examples of G&G work, so it is dispersed all over the place.

Thanks John!  I would go see the one in the Oakland museum, but it’s not on display.  I wonder if they’d let me see it anyway?  I may actually have an “in” there…I’ll investigate that.

For comparison, here are the two different sizes of the Blacker table.  First off, here is the version that I’m thinking of building.  The chair in the picture puts the scale of the “smaller” table into perspective, it’s still a fairly large table at about 36″ wide by  22 1/8″ deep by 29 7/8″ tall  .  The chair would be an interesting project too, although that scares me.  Chairs in general, but G&G chairs with tapered trapezoidal curved legs and angled mortises and so forth. If you look closely you can see some subtle “stepping” on the lower stretchers of the chair too.  Wow.  Something to file away for another day…

"small" blacker serving table

“small” blacker serving table

The larger version clocks in at 59 9/16″ wide by 51 5/8″ deep by 30 3/8″ tall, with a base that is 23 1/2″ square.  You can see that the style is identical, although the larger version appears to have supports under the table top.

Larger Blacker table

Larger Blacker table

So here is my updated CAD model.  I am not trying to get it to be a complete clone of the original, but I want it to be visually very close.  I spent time making the legs thicker up to 2 3/16″ to try to match the original, then backed them down to 1 7/8″ with the thought that I could make them out of the 8/4 stock I already have.  I think they look large enough visually at this dimension.  I spent a lot of time playing with the details on the bottom of the leg, eventually adding some subtle shaping to taper the leg in the last inch and a half, and then adding the “Blacker leg indent” on the two outer faces.  The indent is not on the original version of this table, but it was on a number of furniture legs in the Blacker house.

Close up of leg ends

Close up of leg ends – the wood texture is getting in my way here…

I changed the height of the skirts and stretchers, making both slightly smaller, and reduced the round over on the edge of these parts too.  I moved the stretcher a little closer to the skirt.  I played with different widths for the start and end of the cloud lift design — this is the most obvious different between mine and the original.  The “lift” on the original is more abrupt, the transition from one horizontal surface to the other is vertical, where on mine it’s angled.  I may change mine to match the original in this aspect.  The hight of the lift on mine is taller than the original too, I’m on the fence about whether to change that.

I added the ebony pegs on the legs, although as I look at them I may want to increase the sizes one step.  I have 1/4″, 5/16″ and 3/8″ — I will probably increase them all a step.

I removed the inlay on the legs, only because it was just a quick mockup and was getting in the way of the other changes I was making to the leg shapes.

Version 2 of my Blacker table design

Version 2 of my Blacker table design

So, I want to experiment a bit more with the skirt and stretcher profiles, and work out the joinery for those parts (I just have a single wide stub tenon right now).  Then model the actual inlay that will be on the legs.  The top needs some attention too — joinery details, ebony plugs and ebony spline and changes to the inlay layout.  Another couple of hours and I’ll have a workable CAD model that I could build.

I measured a space where I think this could go in the house — right under where I want to put the Thorsen cabinet.  It’s narrower but deeper than the sofa table that is there now, which might leave enough room for a pair of chairs to flank it…

Categories: General Woodworking

Parquetry Tutorial – Laying Out the Pattern

The Barn on White Run - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 5:45pm


Once you have sawn a great pile of equilateral parallelograms with the jigs from the last post, you need to arrange them into the final pattern.  Next post will go through the nuts and bolts of assembling a finished parquetry panel to adhere to a substrate, but for this post I want to diverge for just a few minutes and talk about the pattern layout itself.  I feel justified in doing this because I have yet to teach a workshop where everyone does not make some layout mistake that has to be undone, often with great damage to the glued up pattern or at the very least loss of a lot of time and a raised level of frustration.

The key is to remember that in most instances, this exercise included PARQUETRY IS A REPEATED PATTERN.  In fact, this simplest exercise is really about a dozen patterns superimposed on each other, and you must be mindful of their construction in order to avoid catastrophic mistakes that might deter you from finishing or continuing.

The pattern Roubo illustrates in the plate above, Figures 4 and 5, is simple and to my aesthetic taste, garish.  I prefer to adapt it to my own preferences by using all the same wood for all the lozenges, and establish the shimmering pattern only through the changing grain patterns of the lozenges via laying them out.

parquetry 4

The simplest unit of the design is the cubic die.  It is repeated ad infinitum until the panel is complete.

parquetry 5

All you have to do is make sure you lay out each and every one of them with the grain pattern like this.

parquetry 7

Or perhaps more simply, just remember to make it a whorl like this.  But in truth, this is like George Costanza getting hypnotized by a poster on the wall of the bathroom.  Hopefully you do not proceed only partially robed.

parquetry 6

Such would be the risk when you realized suddenly that the dice overlap each other, and your eyes start to spin around.  Let’s see if there are other approaches that might help.


parquetry 10

Another, second set of patterns is the pinwheel with a center point.

parquetry 13

They are simple to lay out, just make sure that each opposing pair of lozenges is aligned to each other and the overall pattern.   Like this,

parquetry 12

and this,

parquetry 11

and this.

parquetry 9

Unfortunately, the pinwheels also overlap each otherand there is the risk of visual confusion.  Arrrrgh!

There are a third set of simultaneous patterns at work on the panel that are easy to keep in mind, running always in the background like a security system on your computer.  It is the most straightforward pattern set, and this is often where I begin, laying out a horizontal row of lozenges tip-to-tip, each with the same grain orientation.

parquetry 1

But, since we are working with a six-sided form, there are two additional complimentary patterns identical to the first one, each of these two off-set by 60-degrees.

parquetry 3

Like this,

parquetry 2

and this.

So, you can see the advantages of thinking about complex complimentary rows.

If you keep all these things in mind while you are assembling your panel, success is at hand.




What do you do with design failures?

Design Matters - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 4:59pm


I’m a firm believer in re-visiting work after some time has passed. Be it writing or woodworking, a few years allows for a more disinterested judgment. If it holds up, you may be onto something. If not, there may be lessons to learn. About fifteen years ago I began to venture beyond printed plans. I built this little maple table for Barb. Although the joinery was solid, the design – not so much. It’s largely a failure in details that add up to mush to my eye. It began with a nice chunk of bird’s eye maple that I glued up for a top and aprons. I didn’t just do a poor job of joining together pieces for the top (cut from the same board no less), I managed to make them look like they were two different species of maple.


Instead of using a crisp moulding profile for the edge, I settled for a simple round-over that always had a feeling like some rolled out pizza dough. The curved apron patterns were based loosely on some pictures from a book on period furniture but I had no eye for curves and I fell into the mire that plagues so much massed produced “Early American” furniture. It has not the grace of the fine urban originals or the folk of the back country originals. It screams, “ I don’t know Jack about curves!” Finally I topped it of with an oil varnish finish that couldn’t take spilled beverages and hot coffee mugs. Game, set, match.


What is one to do?




Perhaps I can salvage the legs and build Barb another table.

More to come.


George R. Walker

Moxon Vise Omnibus

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 9:43am

The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer; there’s simply not time enough for me to track down and link to everything we have written about the Moxon vise, or the many posts on other sites about the same. But I’ve taken a  stab at it, because at least once a week, I get a question about the vise – how to build it, its utility, hardware […]

The post Moxon Vise Omnibus appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Get Back

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 9:38am

Over the past weekend I was talking to a friend of mine who was interested in putting a workbench in his garage. He’s a handy guy, but he isn’t necessarily looking to be a furniture maker. But, he is interested in a bench that would be useful for general carpentry and possibly some future woodworking. My advice was to pick up some 2×6’s and a sheet of plywood, which he probably is going to do. He then asked if I had any plans that I could email to him. I don’t have any plans for a basic bench, so I told him to check out Amazon for Christopher Schwarz’s first workbench book, or if he could wait I would loan him my copy next time I saw him. After I got off the phone, I went onto the Lost Art Press web page for first time in quite a while and found a few things that surprised me.

Firstly, I was a little surprised that the site did not offer Schwarz’s first workbench book for sale, though I am guessing that the book is likely property of FW Media. But I did read a few of the blog postings, one which was a video of a knock-down workbench that I thought was well done, and quite like the bench that I’ve been wanting to build for myself for the past several months, though I wouldn’t necessarily make a workbench in the knock-down style. Most surprising to me, in a pleasant way, were the comments on the blog posts that I read. There wasn’t one stupid or nasty comment, at least not that I saw.

I stopped reading professional woodworking blogs for several reasons. One good reason is that there are very few professional woodworkers whose thoughts I really want to hear. Case in point would be Paul Sellers. I respect Paul Sellers and I think he is great woodworker, but I’ve read his blog and I really don’t care for it all that much, and I say that with all due respect. But the main reason I stopped reading professional woodworking blogs was because of the comments. A wise man on Twitter once told me to not read the comments on blogs in general. But I think that the comment section of a blog, if done thoughtfully, can really add to the discussion. I personally enjoy most of the comments on this blog, and I do my best to answer every one in a timely fashion.

I’ve found that some woodworking blogs for whatever reason attract a disproportionately large amount of nasty, stupid, rude, and childish comments. Now, I have no issue with a disagreement with the author, but I do believe that if you want to voice your disagreement in what may be a “controversial” fashion it should be done on your own forum and not the author’s. I’m not claiming to be the blog police, I’m not sticking up for a blog author, nor am I telling anybody what to think or say. I am just saying that I don’t care for nasty, stupid comments; they make me want to say even nastier, stupid things.

Some may feel that I am being hypocritical. After all, I’ve let fly with my opinion once or twice here. But, I can say with all honesty that I’ve never gone on another person’s blog and left a rude or nasty comment. I’ve had disagreements, but I never let them get nasty, not even close. In fact, I don’t often comment on most blogs in general, and if I do it is usually positive. If I read something I disagree with I will usually keep it to myself, and if I really have an issue I will write my own blog post about it.

So for the first time in quite a while I found myself happy to have read a professional woodworking blog. I’m not going to go so far as to say that I will be a regular subscriber again, but I can see myself checking it out from time to time. And maybe that will lead me to check out some others that I’ve neglected for quite a while. Stranger things have happened.

Categories: General Woodworking

Cadfael: Blacker Tables

McGlynn On Making - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 6:32am

(With apologies to Derek Jacobi and his TV series about a Crusader-turned-monk that investigates murders)

I’m ready to start on the Arts & Crafts bookcase, although I’m not ready to buy the expensive, wide quartered white oak sight unseen and have it shipped here.  So I’m still noodling on how to get the materials I need for that.

While I’m doing that, I had a couple of ideas I wanted to play with.  One is this side table from the Blacker house.  I believe there are two different versions of this table, in different sizes, made for the blacker house, one that is scaled to be roughly the size of a side table, and another that was a serving table in the dining room.  I need to read through my books to get a petter handle on this.  Here is the side table version from the Ari Institute of Chicago.  They list the dimensions as 29 7/8 x 36 x 22 1/8 in.

Original Blacker table at the Art Institute of Chicago

Original Blacker table at the Art Institute of Chicago

Working form this photograph and dimensions I started building parts in CAD.  I’ve been through a couple of revisions, tweaking things to get the scale right.  I still don’t have the scale quite right, although I’m getting close.

First draft of the design for the Blacker table

First draft of the design for the Blacker table

I think the skirts are too tall still.  The legs, currently at 1 5/8″, seemed too big compared to the Thorsen table I recently made.  I think they are actually too small in reality.  I found a furniture maker in Texas who made a version of this table, and emailed him to get his take on the dimensions.  In his version the legs are actually 55mm or 2.165″.  The top on his looks out of scale, but the proportions on the base look pretty good to me.  His version uses the blacker leg indent detail, I don’t believe the originals had that, but I’m not positive.

Blacker table by Leon Nolte

Blacker table by Leon Nolte

I just doodled in some inlay to get a sense of how this might look as a finished piece, the inlay design is still somewhat crude.  I’m going to play with this design a little more — I have enough Sapele left for the legs I think…

Another view of the table mock up

Another view of the table mock up

Categories: General Woodworking

Scythe vs Strimmer video

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 3:34am
Scythe vs strimmer raceA film of a race between a scythe and a strimmer; no competition, surely? Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

baskets continued

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 8:01pm

Basket bottoms. Two of our household baskests; c. 1987-90. The one on the left is a standard item; square bottom, round top. Ash with hickory rims; hickory bark lashing. The one on the right is our colored-pencil basket. Gets lots of use. A rectangular basket, all ash, rims either oak or hickory.

2 baskets

Here’s the bottom of the square one. Typical weave, resulting in openings between the uprights. Probably most splint baskets are like this.

open bottom

Here’s what I call a “filled” bottom – thin and narrow filler strips woven between the uprights.

filled bottom


The filled bottoms of baskets are made a few different ways. One is to make a round basket, with “spokes” laid out to form the bottom and sides. I do these with 16 uprights; laid out in 2 batches of 8 spokes. Here’s the underside of our laundry basket; showing this spoke bottom from below.

ash basket detail 2

Each upright, or spoke, is cut into an hourglass shape; so its middle section is narrower than its ends. This makes it easier to weave these things all close together. One spoke is cut in 2, down to the middle. This photo shows these first 8 pieces; the one my left hand is on has been cut down the middle to make an odd number of uprights.

first 8

I then take a thin, narrow weaver and start to weave these 8 pieces (9 really…) together.



Once the weaver makes a few trips around you get out to the point at which you can add in the next 8 pieces. I add these pieces one at a time, the weaver catches each one in turn and binds it to the section already woven. No need now to split one of these; things are up & running now. Around & around this goes, and you bend things upright after a certain point, to begin to form the basket’s shape.


setting in 2nd bottom


The other filled bottom is a rectangular (I guess it could be square too, but I always made then rectangles) bottom, with filler strips laid in between the uprights. In this case, there’s 3 different pieces to deal with – the short uprights, the long dittos, and the thinner filler strips. These are just a bit longer than the finished bottom of the basket. So I start with laying the long uprights down, with filler strips between them. Then alternate in the short uprights over & under the previous bits. It gets a little complictated – it’s like when I teach joinery and carving – now for 2 consecutive thoughts, and sometimes 3.

This photo shows the first 3 of each upright, with 2 narrow thin fillers between the long uprights (those that run across this photo horizontally) Then I add in each kind of splint in pairs, the longs/shorts/fillers- as the case might be. I always work out from the center. Easier to keep things even that way. Usually.



filled bottom

I’ve got the polished satin-y finish of the fillers inside the basket – they appear bright white in the photo. Remember, all this stuff is very wet as I weave it.

filled bottom 2

This is the finished laid-up bottom. Next is to tuck the filler strips in.

filled bottom before turning fillers up

I bend them back on themselves, and tuck them under the the 3rd upright -they have to go over the first two because of the weaving pattern. It just is. Then pull it tight, and trim it off just under the upright.

weaving fillers in

snipping fillers

I wove two bottoms like this, then piled up some weaving material; and will re-soak these and weave up the bodies next time I get the basket stuff out. Maybe tomorrow, it’s nice work for a hot day.


ready to weave filled bottom baskets

Inlay, Again

McGlynn On Making - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 11:34am

So I decided to try doing some simple inlay, I ordered the micro router base for the Foredom tool from William Ng today, and a couple of micro router bits.  Now I’ve done it.  I’ll probably start with some flush inlay first for practice before attempting to do the bolection style.  I wish there was a course where someone would walk me through the process to get me jump started, I’m finding it a little intimidating frankly.

I did find a set of DVDs on inlay by Larry Robinson, who does some amazing work, primarily on guitars, in shell and metal.  I don’t care for his “meet the beetles” guitar in this video, but the other work is pretty stunning.  The DVDs are available from Stewart MacDonald, they are a little spendy so I just got the first one to check it out for now.  I’ll post a review after I watch it.


Categories: General Woodworking

Wood Finishing Tips: Finishing my Bottom

Highland Woodworking - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:10am

benhamtableMany times as furniture makers, we will put a finish on the underside of a tabletop to prevent it from warping or cupping. The theory being, if you put the same finish on the top as you do the bottom the moisture transfer will be equalized on all sides, helping to prevent wood movement. Regardless whether or not this theory is true, there are other reasons to finish the bottom of your tabletop.

I am often asked to match a stain color and in doing so I end up mixing different colors together in an attempt to get the color just right. The underside of the tabletop gives me a blank canvas and plenty of room to dial in the color. This also adds extra reassurance that the stain will react the same on the top as it did on the bottom because I am staining the same piece of wood. If the bottom blotched badly I know the top most likely will too. I can then adjust my application method before applying the finish to the show side.

Staining the bottom also give me an opportunity to see what the color will look like on a larger scale, to be sure I like the final color. This is especially helpful if you have a customer or spouse that has a hard time visualizing what the entire piece will look like from a little stain sample. It is much easier to strip the finish off the bottom to try a different color opposed to the whole piece.

Having the blank canvas on the bottom also allows me a risk free area to practice a new application technique. When I first started using water based gel stains, I found the application method I typically used for oil based stains left streaks and overlap marks. The water base finish dried much faster than an oil finish. Without using the right application technique, I found the water based stain would dry before I had a chance to come back and wipe up the excess, leaving overlap marks. That is something I would have never discovered on a small test board, and would have been devastating to discover when staining the show side of the tabletop.

However, practicing my application technique has saved me from many tabletop do overs; it is not the main reason for finishing the underside of a table. When I build any piece of furniture, I want people to be drawn to it. I want them to reach out and feel how smooth the finish is by running their hand across the top. I think we both would be disappointed, if as there hand glides across the smooth top, wrapping around to the underside of the table, only to discover a rough unfinished piece of wood. When someone buys custom furniture, I believe part of what they are paying for is for the craftsman to pay attention to the details. I think finishing the underside of a table adds a nice detail.

About the author:

Brian Benham has made his lifelong passion for woodworking his profession. He enjoys taking his clients’ ideas and combing them with traditional woodworking techniques to create a unique piece of furniture. You can find more about his furniture at http://www.benhamdesignconcepts.com/

The post Wood Finishing Tips: Finishing my Bottom appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Getting Better

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 9:04am

I have to admit, I managed to get in almost two hours of woodworking on Sunday without my wife going cray cray and getting all up in my grill about it. We spent a nice afternoon at Valley Forge National Park, which we visit frequently, and maybe that had something to do with the new recognition that her husband is a sovereign person who has been endowed by his Creator with certain Inalienable Rights. I just so happened to be inspired by the beautiful furniture in General Washington’s headquarters, so I felt the need to declare my independence from tyranny, oppression, and absolute despotism. Don’t misunderstand me; I only woodworked for about 90 minutes. If I had planned on starting a large project that would require 8 hours every weekend for the next 3 months I’m sure my proverbial King George III would have declared woodworking an act of treason and stationed his (her) proverbial troops at every corner of my garage.

Among all of this, I managed to get a decent amount of work finished on the wood smooth plane I am attempting to make. I started by laying out and routing the recess for the cap iron nut. I used a chisel to define the cut, an electric router to remove the bulk of the waste, and then a chisel again to finish it off. It didn’t turn out perfectly, but it is certainly good enough. With that finished I drilled out the holes for the dowel pin to hold the wedge using a ½ forstner bit, and then marked the cheeks of the plane for glue up, applying wax to all the areas of the plane I did not want to glue. To keep the cheeks in place and aligned during glue-up I drilled four ¼ inch holes for dowels.

I let the glue dry over-night, and when I got home from work I removed the clamps and sawed off the ends to remove the alignment dowels. Currently the plane is just about 11 inches in length. I’m looking for a finished length of roughly 9 ½ inches. I’ve noticed that wood smoothing planes often have a longer distance from the mouth to the front of the sole than a metal plane, at least in the examples I’ve seen. My plane will have 3 inches from front to mouth, which is very similar to the Stanley smooth plane. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not sure why wooden smooth planes tend to have a different set-up. I would think that a shorter distance from front to mouth would allow the plane to catch and remove more of the high spots on the board. I could be wrong; I’m learning as I go.

The next step will be cleaning off the wax with mineral spirits and the initial flattening of the sole. I will then make a wedge, give the plane a test run, and shape the plane to something that I hope looks nice. After I will give the plane a final true-up, and coat it with a few coats of linseed oil and wax. I’m thinking I have 2-3 hours more work left to finish it up, which should happen this coming weekend with a little luck.
So at least for the time being I managed to get in a little woodworking as well as write a few blog posts about it. While I would like to be doing much more, it’s better than the alternative. Hopefully, this means that my situation on the woodworking front is looking a little better.





Categories: General Woodworking

2 Weeks, 2 shows & 1 Awesome Store

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 8:07am

I’ve been on the road quite a bit the last couple of weeks. It all started with a 48 hour trip (72 of which was spent in the Milwaukee airport) to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the New Product Symposium at Milwaukee Tools. That trip was immediately (it felt fairly immediate anyway) followed up with four days in Atlanta for the International Woodworking Fair. From those two shows, I have tons of new tools coming […]

The post 2 Weeks, 2 shows & 1 Awesome Store appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Something Interesting Wherever You Look

The Furniture Record - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 7:15am

The preview pictures of the auction did not look promising but I went anyway. It’s what I do. And I’m seeking treatment.

I looked around and saw that what seemed mundane at first was actually fairly interesting when you looked at the details. I’ve recently seen two benches with unique systems of folding. At least I hadn’t seen them before. Both are actually the same principle, legs that folds to the center locked in place by cross brace supports that also fold up. Only the details vary.

The first one has tubular cast legs:

Long view of the be bench.

Long view of the be bench.

The hook on the cross brace locks the legs in place.

Hook locks the legs.

Hook locks the legs.

To fold the bench, unhook the cross brace, fold the leg up under the cross brace and latch the hook onto the provided post. The cross brace holds the folded leg in place.

I couldn't actually fold the leg. Use your imagination. Click for an alternate view of the latched cross brace.

I couldn’t actually fold the leg. Use your imagination. Click for an alternate view of the latched cross brace.

The other bench uses similar mechanism but in wood.

Another folding wooden bench.

Another folding wooden bench.

Cross brace locks the leg down. To fold, lift the cross brace and the leg is able to fold toward the center.

Leg folds to the center. I'm not sure what locks the legs up. Click for an alternate view.

Leg folds to the center. I’m not sure what locks the legs up. Click for an alternate view.

I was intrigued by this antique exam table:

They don't make them like this anymore. Health codes.

They don’t make them like this anymore. Health codes.

especially when I saw the leg.

High style for an exam table. Look around on your next doctor visit.

High style for an exam table. Look around on your next doctor visit.

Then there is the matching waste receptacle:

A waste receptacle. Too nice to be a trash can.

A waste receptacle. Too nice to be a trash can.

This book shelf on secretary is not as old as some furniture:

Not the oldest piece in the auction.

Not the oldest piece in the auction.

but is has a rather interesting apparatus for supporting the slant front in the open position:

No lopers below. Just brass from above.

No lopers below. Just brass from above.

And this chest with a wooden pintle hinge:


There is a pintle screwed to the back of the chest that passes through a hole in the end of the batten attached to the lid.

Side view

Side view

Top view.

Top view.

I wrote about this pintle hinge in the older blog: March, Orange County.

Click HERE to see the rest of the pictures from this auction.

Building Two Saws: Part 2

The Literary Workshop Blog - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 7:47pm

There’s a certain irony in the fact that people who blog about woodworking don’t spend much time writing about sanding, since sanding takes up a large part of most woodworker’s time.   So this is a blog post about sanding.

Once I discovered card scrapers, I spent a lot less time with sandpaper.  Even so, some projects just require a lot of sanding.  These saw handles are examples of projects on which I am spending some quality sanding time.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 8

Shaping the handles is not terribly difficult, and it didn’t take me long to do it.  I followed up the rasps and files with small card scrapers, and that probably saved me a lot of sanding time.  (The picture above shows the handles after scraping, but before sanding.)  While the scrapers can’t get into all the little nooks and crannies, they do an excellent job following contours and keeping flat surfaces flat, depending on how I hold them.  I use the credit-card scrapers from TGIAG, which are perfect for one-handed use on small projects like this.

I began sanding at 220-grit.  I seldom hold the sandpaper in my hand alone.  On the few flat surfaces, I used a sanding block.  On the curved surfaces, I used a couple of emery boards.  It’s a trick I picked up from pipe makers, who spend a LOT of time sanding contoured surfaces.  The regular emery boards are good for getting into crevices, while the foam-backed emery boards are excellent for contoured surfaces.  They come in different grits, though I usually just get the lowest grit available and wrap sandpaper around them.

Two Saw Handles 8-2014 - - 9

Using a backer for the sandpaper allows for much better control than simply holding the sandpaper in my hand, though there’s a time and place for that, too.  Control is crucial on a project like this, when the shape and feel of the handle is every bit as important as how it looks.

And speaking of shaping handles, I was reading an article by Willard Anderson on hand plane repair in the October 2014 issue of Popular Woodworking.  The author points out that a good tote should not have the same cross-section throughout the grip.  Rather, the middle should be close to half-round inside and out, but at the top it should be an ellipse so as to fit the web between the thumb and forefinger.  I followed this bit of advice, and the result is a very comfortable handle.

But back to sanding.  Some woods are well-behaved when being finished, but the grain of pecan tends to rise significantly when moistened, so I had to rinse the handles in water and let them dry in between grits.  Placing them in front of a high-velocity fan dried them quickly.  Then I sanded the raised grain back with the next grit.  Actually, I only used two grits: 220 and 320.  I could go to higher grits, but I don’t need these handles any smoother than that.

Also, when applying an oil finish to open-pored wood like pecan and black walnut, I have found it advantageous to leave the sanding dust on the wood when applying the finish.  The dust clogs the pores and makes for a much smoother finish, making a top coat unnecessary.

The next step will be cutting the saw plates to fit the handles, and then drilling out the holes for the saw nuts.


Making a Bench from Dimensional Store Bought Lumber

MVFlaim Furnituremaker - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 5:43pm

When my wife Anita does shows, I’m always looking for something that I can make fairly quickly that she can sell in her booth to help pay for some of her fees. After helping her do shows over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that small benches are quite popular. They’re nice to stick out on front porches or foyers or even mud rooms. In fact, some people even use benches as the seating for one side of their kitchen table.

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I designed this bench to be made from a 2″ x 12″ and a 2″ x 8″ that are eight feet long. However, if you change the dimension of the stretcher a little bit, it could be made form a 2″ x 12″ x 10′. The only issue doing that is you need to make sure your 2″ x 12″ x 10′ is choice wood with no splits at the end of the board because you’ll need nearly every inch of it. It doesn’t matter to me because I can’t fit a ten foot board in my car anyway, so I bought a 2″ x 12″ x 8′ and 2″ x 8″ x 8′ for under $20.00.

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When I scrimmage through the wood pile at Lowe’s, I always take the time to pick out a nice 2 x 12 with nice grain and very little knots. However, most of the time the board is a little cupped, so I whip out my Stanley No 40 scrub plane and plane the top flat. I plane the wood near a 45 degree angle and scoop out nice little shavings from the board until the board is fairly flat. When I was satisfied with the result, I brought the board over to my planer and planed the underside of the board taking away the cupping from that side. I didn’t take anything from the side I hand planed, I left the plane marks to give the top of the bench a bit of detail.

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The construction of the bench is super simple. I make the legs 9″ wide x 16″ long. I measure down 2 1/2″ from top and bottom on each side and use the lid from my garbage can to draw an arch connecting the two marks. Then I cut it off the arches on my band saw. Simple!

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The feet are 5″ wide x 10 3/4″ long. I draw a 1″ radius on both sides and remove the material with chisels, planes and files.

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I want the bench to have four feet so I take two of the pads and cut grooves in them on my table saw. Once all the grooves are cut, I remove the waste with my bench router and plane everything smooth.

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When designing the stretcher, I did nearly the same thing as the legs. I measured 2 1/2″ from each side and make a mark. Then I find the stretcher center and mark 2 1/2″ off each side of the center. I swing a compass set at a 12″ radius connecting the marks creating the arches for the stretcher.

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In order for the legs to attach tot the stretcher, I bored a 1″ x 4″ mortise through the legs with a 1″ forstner bit and cleaned it up with chisels. The tenons I cut on the table saw and band saw and cleaned them up with my rabbet plane.

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After all the parts are sanded, I dry fitted everything together to make sure the bench looked right. I wanted the tenons to have a mechanical fastener along with the glue, so I drilled two 1/4″ holes through the side of the legs going through the tenons.

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I grabbed some scrap oak and split a few splitters of wood with a chisel. The pins run down the grain making them exceptionally stronger since the grain follows the strength of the wood.

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I sized the pins by punching them through my Lie-Nielsen dowel plate. I shaved the pins a little bit with my spoke shave so they would start to fit through the 1/4″ hole of the dowel plate. Once the pin starts to fit in the hole, I pound the hell out of it.

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After I was satisfied with the way the bench stretcher fitted to the legs, I started gluing and screwing everything together, I placed glue of the pins and inserted them into the tenons of the bench. I didn’t bother draw boring the holes of the tenon. I was already satisfied with the tightness of the joint.

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The bench was painted a duck egg blue and waxed over top. The next bench I make will probably be a different color. Maybe a black or grey as neutrals are always popular.

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You can see the detail of the top where the scrub plane left little ridges in the wood giving the bench a bit of detail. It definitely looks better than having a plain board for the seat of the bench. Now I need to make ten more of these babies.

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McGlynn On Making - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 4:12pm

I’ve been really fascinated on inlay lately.  Well, more correctly, I’ve been obsessing over inlay.  I’ve wanted to try doing “Bolection Inlay” as seen on a number of Greene & Greene pieces for a while.  I almost went to the G&G inlay class at the William Ng school this past year, but it just wasn’t in the budget at the time.  Now it looks like he’s not offering it again this year, instead he has a regular inlay class planned. R A T S,

The Greene & Greene I’ve seen is mostly (all?) raised above the surface, and subtly carved / shaped.  I’ve never done anything like this, but mu understanding of the process is that the individual pieces of inlay are sawn out and fit together on top of the paper pattern, then super glued together into one unit.  The outline is then scribed onto the surface of the wood and a cavity is excavated using a tiny router bit.  The neatest setup I’ve seen is this router base from William Ng that uses a Foredom flex shaft tool for power.

William Ng micro router base with Foredom hand piece

William Ng micro router base with Foredom hand piece

It’s not clear to me if the individual pieces are “carved” or shaped first — since they are being drizzled with super glue I can see some problem here.  With metal and shell inlay pieces they are nonporous and the glue won’t affect things.  In fact, with any inlay that will be flushed up after inletting it’s probably not a concern as the first step after gluing it in is to flatten it with coarse sandpaper.  But with inlay that is carved first ant then wet with superglue it seems like it could interfere with the finishing.  I can see two options (I’m just thinking out loud, I have yet to try this myself):  Either glue in the uncarved inlay pieces, and shape them after gluing into the substrate, of apply an even coat of super glue so that becomes the base for the final finish.

I’m on the cusp of convincing myself to buy a few inlay tools (not much is required, mostly the base above) and giving this a try.

I’ve collected bunches of pictures from the internet to augment what I have in my books.  Just recently I came across Jonathan W. McLean’s website, which shows some outstanding G&G inlay work.  Well, all of the work looks spectacular, but the G&G inlay is what caught my eye.  I’m only going to post pictures on one example, you should check out his site for more.

Reproduction of a table from the Thorsen house by Jonathan McLean

Reproduction of a table from the Thorsen house by Jonathan McLean

Detail of inlay work by Jonathan McLean.  Koa stems, Vermillion flowers and thorns, leaves inlayed with ebony veins, and semi precious stone accents.

Detail of inlay work by Jonathan McLean. Koa stems, Vermillion flowers and thorns, leaves inlayed with ebony veins, and semi precious stone accents.

Top view

Top view




Categories: General Woodworking

Hand Cut Dovetails with Frank Klausz (Pins First)

Wood and Shop - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 1:26pm


In my above video, Frank Klausz takes us into his new workshop and shows his amazing method for speedy “pins first” hand cut through dovetails with hand tools. This is a continuation of the tour that I shared of Frank’s new woodworking workshop. Watch the video tour of Frank’s workshop here.


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 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. Here are a few photos from my first article:


In the video Frank implores woodworkers who prefer the “tails-first” dovetail method to give the “pins first” dovetail technique a try!



Later this week I will share the next video that Frank wanted me to share with you, so subscribe to be notified or keep checking back!



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:




Best Veneer of the Year

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 12:22pm

The IWF and AWFS show (held in alternating years in Atlanta and Las Vegas) are known as places where machinery manufacturers and industry suppliers show their latest products. One of the highlights of these shows for me is the announcement of the winners of the annual Veneer-Tech Craftsman’s Challenge awards. I was a judge for this contest in 2010 and 2011, and you can click here to read posts I […]

The post Best Veneer of the Year appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

That was basket week…here’s part of it

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:01am

Last week was basket week – and today I’ve started some new work, but I’ll show you what I did last week. Basket work will go on, but as a time-filler. I have enough baskets woven, or started, that I can pick them up here & there for an hour or two. Like many woodworking projects; most of the effort in basket-making is preparing the materials. I have written before about pounding the splints from an ash log   – here’s links to old posts on the subject. I have some new posts coming up about peeling the splint, but in the meantime…



But right now, this post is about weaving up the basket bodies. Handles and rims are for another time. The basket itself is made up of the uprights and weavers. “Uprights”  is  something of a misnomer, because although they bend up to be the sides of the basket, they also form the bottom. 

Uprights are generally heavier (thicker, and wider most often too) and weavers thinner and narrower. So a big part of the work is sorting and sizing the material. 

If the splint is too thin to divide (or peel) then I scrape it smooth. This makes it less fuzzy, and also thins it some. Better for weaving. These pieces are uprights in the basket. To scrape it, I pull the splint across a piece of leather on my knee – then hold the knife in place to scrape it as I pull back…don’t do it w/o the leather! My them braces the knife blade so it stays stationary. 


Then you have to trim them to the desired width. The baskets I was working on last week had around 25-30 uprights. Round baskets have 16, another time. those pictures are on a different camera. 



Once you have all your uprights and weavers; you lay them out, this basket has long and short weavers; to form a rectangular bottom. I start with 3 going each way, and weave them one under the other, this way & that. Then add pieces side to side, and north & south. Here, I am weaving a single thin weaver around the perimeter of the basket’s bottom. This binds them together, keeps them from shifting around as I begin weaving the body. Some refer to this piece as a “keeper” – it keeps the uprights in place. 


Some baskets have independent weavers – each horizontal row is a separate weaver. This is easy to do, but wastes a lot of material. So there’s lots of ways to weave a continuous spiral around the basket. But to do this and keep alternating where the weaver goes under and over the uprights, you need an odd number of uprights. You can split one, or add one. (or do one of several other approaches – but I usually split or add)  – Here I added an upright, and tapered it to become the first weaver too. It’s towards the upper right hand corner of the photo – follow that bendy upright, and you see it weaves into the others. Then you just keep adding & overlapping each new weaver as one runs out. I overlap them for 2 uprights. 



added upright & wever



Then you just keep on weaving. I periodically dunk everything in the water, especially outdoors in summer. I want this stuff damp. Once I’ve gone around a bit, I gently bend things up and then cinch the weaver in tight as I go. 



basketry 3

A basket like this has an “open” bottom – there are spaces between the uprights. That’s the most common form I make. but there is one we have around the house that is closed or “filled” in the bottom. 

filled bottom before turning fillers up

Next time I’ll show you how I lay that up. 

Don’t forget – the spoons are posted and ready to go. The spoon rack I had sold, and one reader asked if I would make another – of course I will! Anytime you see something like that – if you missed it, and would like to order one, I’d be happy to oblige. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-august-2014/


Thorsen Cabinet Details

McGlynn On Making - Sun, 08/24/2014 - 4:21pm

I spent today futzing with the last details on the cabinet before starting to apply finish — which I’m going to wait to start until I’m fresh and go over the cabinet one more time with clearer eyes.  But, I think it’s ready for finish.  All the hardware has been mounted, the parts fit and sanded to 320, and today I sorted out the last little bits.

First, as Ralph pointed out, I needed to make the retaining strips to hold the stained glass panel in place.  I probably would have remembered that, although whether I’d have remembered it before starting to install the glass is a coin toss.

Back of the door with the copper framework for the stained glass in place

Back of the door with the copper framework for the stained glass in place

Back of the door showing the wood strips to hold the glass in, cut to length, shaped and sanded.

Back of the door showing the wood strips to hold the glass in, cut to length, shaped and sanded.  I’m going to leave the top copper cross-bar exposed on the inside, it will be black from the patina, so I think it will look fine.

With that chore out of the way I mounted the door pull and chopped all of the square holes for the ebony plugs.  This was ease compared to the recent Thorsen table which had 40 plugs, there are only 12 in the door and another 6 in the case.

Handle test installed, square holes made for the ebony plugs

Handle test installed, square holes made for the ebony plugs

About the door pull – I thought seriously about putting a mortised lockset into the cabinet, but eventually realized that the backspacing for the key didn’t look right.  To have that look right I need narrower stiles.

Then is was just a matter of making the ebony pegs, I used the little sanding board I made for the last time I did this, and it didn’t take much time at all to knock these. out.  Maybe five or ten minutes.  Less than two Lighting Hopkins songs.

Setup for making the Ebony plugs

Setup for making the Ebony plugs

Plugs done, 3/8" and 1/4" square (about .010" oversized)

Plugs done, 3/8″ and 1/4″ square (about .010″ oversized)

To glue the pegs in, I first bevel the sides slightly so I can get them started.  Then I apply glue into the hole using a little wood coffee stir stick cut square on the end.  Then I set the peg in the hole and tap it down with a plastic mallet.  I try to stop just before the rounded-over edge gets to the surface of the door.

Put glue in the holes -- keep it off the face Joe!

Put glue in the holes — keep it off the face Joe!

Set a peg in the hole

Set a peg in the hole

Tap the pegs down until they are just proud of the surface

Tap the pegs down until they are just proud of the surface

And that’s it.  The finishing should be pretty straightforward, and the glass isn’t too complex (although I still have to do the layout for that).  The end is in sight, I need be starting another project soon.  Speaking of which, I priced out the wide, thick quarter sawn white oak I need for the bookcase project — it’s probably $1,000.  Gulp.  That might not be the next project after all!

Door ready for finish

Door ready for finish



Categories: General Woodworking


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by Dr. Radut