Jump to Navigation

Hand Tool Headlines

The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...

Be sure to visit the Hand Tool Headlines section - scores of my favorite woodworking blogs in one place.  Also, take note of Norse Woodsmith's latest feature, an Online Store, which contains only products I personally recommend.  It is secure and safe, and is powered by Amazon.

General Woodworking

Carved Red Oak Box

Inside the Oldwolf Workshop - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 9:44pm

I finished this earlier this month. It was a quick build because the client was hot to trot to get their hands on it. Originally I conceived this box as one half of a pair. Both boxes born from the same board. But the client came to me desperate for something fast and I'd already started this one at a demo. So I finished it up in a couple days and it's gone now. All I have left are the photos.

The box is red oak with black walnut trim. About 20 x 12 in dimension. I'm beginning to feel really good about these when they're done, I've started to dial in the details to where I want them. There are still things I want to explore in this form so I'm not done with it by a long shot.

As originally envisioned, I was going to build two carved boxes from the same board. The carvings were to complement each other or whatever I was going to do with those. But the insides, at least the inside of the lid, were supposed to be my first foray into parquetry.

 But one hot to trot person with money in their hands and I cave to my ideals. Oh well, I have some friends who are having a benefit for their son who has recently been diagnosed with Hodgekin's Lymphoma. I think I'll finish up that box and donate it to the benefit.

The number one question I get when people see my boxes in person is "Wow, how long did that take you." I've gotten wise enough so the first words out of my mouth are, "Well, it's not the first time I've done this." which softens the blow when I tell them the time.

Truth is I can knock out a box like this in a weekend. I cut parts and dovetails on a Friday night and spill some Danish Oil on it Sunday night. Carving and glue ups happen in between. The puzzling thing to me is the reaction I get when I admit something like this.

That I can be both efficient and proficient in getting something like this done seems to result in diminishing it's value. Non woodworkers want me to tell them I slaved over the carving for six months. Woodworkers want me to tell them it took me four hours to cut the dovetails by hand (an hour per corner without a router is the average guess)

It's a paradox I simply cannot wrap my head around sometimes.

But that rant is probably for another day.

Ratione et Passionis
Categories: General Woodworking

Second top – TV Lift Cabinet

She Works Wood - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 9:10pm
I’ve finally gotten my computer situation worked out which means .. hopefully .. more blog posts.  I’ve been working away on the TV Lift Cabinet and making progress.  The end is in sight and I’m very excited to finish this project up.
Categories: General Woodworking

In Search of the Perfect Wax Finish

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 3:53pm

My four-decade-long desire to identify, understand, replicate and develop new analogs to historic furniture-making materials has led me on some interesting quests and situations. Included in these would be learning a lot about tropical insects whose “sweat” is the foundation for the most amazing finish ever (shellac); studies of sausage casings, artificial skin and corneas as I tried to (successfully) create a convincing alternative to tortoiseshell for my own Boulle-work […]

The post In Search of the Perfect Wax Finish appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

If Bad-Luck Brian were a woodworker

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 12:04pm

By now, just about everybody with a computer and internet access has seen or heard of the “Bad Luck Brian” meme. Bad luck Brian is a hapless lad with a bad yearbook photo that can seem to catch a break. I have to think that poor Brian may have once or twice thought about giving woodworking a shot, so here is my take on that very idea. Some of them are obvious, some a bit more subtle.






Categories: General Woodworking

Quick, Easy, and Great-looking Turned Christmas Ornaments – Part 3 -The Christmas Tree Light Bulb

Highland Woodworking - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 7:15am

In the most recent issue of The Highland Woodturner, I gave the step-by-step instruction of turning a wooden snowman ornament. In Part 2 you can find out how to turn a wooden bell ornament here on the Highland Woodworking blog. Finally, here in Part 3 I will turn a wooden Christmas tree light as seen below.


Making the light bulb ornament follows the same steps as the two earlier ornaments: mount the blank, use the template to lay out the parts, mark off those lines with a parting tool, and start shaping the bulb. See Figures 1 through 4 below.

Figure 1  -  Use the bulb template to mark the sections of the ornament

Figure 1 – Use the bulb template to mark the sections of the ornament

Figure 2  -  Use a parting tool to make shallow cuts at each marked line

Figure 2 – Use a parting tool to make shallow cuts at each marked line

Figure 3 - Use a spindle gouge to shape the bulb...

Figure 3 – Use a spindle gouge to shape the bulb…

Figure 4 -  Taper the bulb just like the tree lights from the 1960's

Figure 4 – Taper the bulb just like the tree lights from the 1960′s

I’ve found the skew is quite useful in the small curve at the top of the bulb (Figure 5). Once the bulb is shaped to your satisfaction, use a parting tool to waste away material on the socket area.

Figure 5 - Use a skew at the top of the bulb area (a gouge will also work, of course)

Figure 5 – Use a skew at the top of the bulb area (a gouge will also work, of course)

Figure 6 - Start cutting down the socket area of the ornament

Figure 6 – Start cutting down the socket area of the ornament

Figure 7 -  Take the socket down to around 3/8 inch diameter

Figure 7 – Take the socket down to around 3/8 inch diameter

If you have a fluted parting tool (Figure 8), it is excellent for cutting small beads that simulate the threads of the bulb’s screw connector. If you don’t have one, a skew can be used to cut sharp threads with a V-cut, or a small gouge can be used.


Figure 8 – A fluted parting tool


Figure 9 – Use the fluted parting tool to cut the socket

Figure 10 - After shaping the bulb and socket

Figure 10 – After shaping the bulb and socket

Apply finish and wax

Figure 11 – Apply finish and wax

Finally part off the ornament (Figure 12). I’ve drilled the hanger holes on the drill press for the bulb ornaments, as discussed above, so with a drop of glue, the hanger can be screwed in place. (Figure 13)

Figure 12  - Part off the light bulb ornament

Figure 12 – Part off the light bulb ornament

Figure 13 - Put a drop of CA glue on the hanger hole, then insert the hanger

Figure 13 – Put a drop of CA glue on the hanger hole, then insert the hanger

The Christmas tree light bulb ornament is finished!

Figure 14 - The completed bulb ornament

Figure 14 – The completed bulb ornament

CLICK HERE to return to the October 2014 issue of The Highland Woodturner.


The post Quick, Easy, and Great-looking Turned Christmas Ornaments – Part 3 -The Christmas Tree Light Bulb appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Quick, Easy, and Great-looking Turned Christmas Ornaments – Part 2 – The Bell

Highland Woodworking - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 7:00am

In the first part of this article, I showed how to make a Christmas tree ornament shaped like a snowman (see Figure 1). In this part, I’ll show you how to turn a bell ornament (Figure 2).


Figure 1 – The Snowman Ornament


Figure 2 – The Bell Ornament

Ornament Sizes

Figure 3 below shows the size of the blanks for the bell ornament, and details the location of each major division of the piece.

Figure 4 - Ornament Sizing

Figure 3 – Ornament Sizing

If you, like me, are making lots of these ornaments for Christmas gifts, I suggest making a sizing template for each ornament (Figure 4). This makes it much faster to lay out each new blank when you’re ready to turn it.

Figure 5 - Templates for the 3 Types of Ornaments

Figure 4 – Template for the Bell Ornament

Preparing the Blanks

Part 1 of this article has more detailed instructions on preparing the blanks for the ornaments, so I won’t repeat them here.

For the bell ornaments, cut lengths of 1 ½ square spindles to 3 ½ inches; for the bulb ornaments, cut lengths of 1 inch square spindles to 3 inches. Mark the ends for center, mount them between centers, and rough them down to round. On one end, cut a ½ inch long tenon to fit whatever chuck you’re using.

You may wish to drill a hole for the hanger right now (Figure 5); it’s easier to do it now, rather than waiting until the ornament has been turned and doesn’t have a flat surface to sit on. Remember that for the bell and bulb ornaments, the top of the ornament is on the chuck end, so the hole needs to be at least an inch deep (to account for the tenon which is parted off).

Figure 6 - Drill a hole for the hanger on the top of the ornament, either before turning (shown) or after

Figure 5 – Drill a hole for the hanger on the top of the ornament, either before turning (shown) or after

Making the bell ornament

To make the bell ornament, take one of the bell blanks and mount it in the chuck. Then use the bell template to mark off the parts of the bell (Figure 6). Use a parting tool to cut in a half inch or so at the first line (in the waste area) to mark the end of the turning (Figure 7)


Figure 6 – Use the bell template to mark off the sections of the bell ornament

Figure 8  - Use a parting tool to delineate the top of the ornament

Figure 7 – Use a parting tool to delineate the top of the ornament

The bell ornament is laid out so that the bottom of the ornament is toward the tailstock. After making shallow cuts at the marked lines, I start by working on the bottom, cutting a shallow curve across, going in about 2/3 of the diameter, and then, right in the center, turning a small “bump” (Figures 8 and 9), which is the clapper of the bell, just visible below the bell’s body.

Figure 9  - Using a spindle gouge, start a shallow curve on the bottom (rightmost) part of the bell

Figure 8 – Using a spindle gouge, start a shallow curve on the bottom (rightmost) part of the bell

Figure 10  - Cut in about 2/3 of the diameter, to leave a rounded "bump" on the bottom

Figure 9 – Cut in about 2/3 of the diameter, to leave a rounded “bump” on the bottom

With the clapper shaped, move left to the body of the bell. Using the spindle gouge, begin cutting a slope from the bottom edge to the marked line to the left, which is the top edge of the body. For a decoration, leave a raised flat area at both the bottom and top edges of the body.

Figure 11- Start turning the body of the bell

Figure 10- Start turning the body of the bell

Figure 12  - Slope the body from the bottom (right) to the top (left)

Figure 11 – Slope the body from the bottom (right) to the top (left)

After shaping the body as desired, move left again to the crown of the bell (between the waste cutoff and the body). Turn a large bead in this area.

Figure 13 - Begin shaping the crown of the bell

Figure 12 – Begin shaping the crown of the bell

Figure 14 - This is turned as a rather fat bead

Figure 13 – This is turned as a rather fat bead

Using a narrow parting tool or the toe of a skew, cut a couple of very shallow lines at the top and bottom of the body, and use a burning wire (a length of steel wire with a small handle on each end – homemade of course, although you can buy them) to burn in two dark black lines for decoration (Figure 14). You might want to increase the speed of the lathe up to 1500 or 1900 if you’re having trouble getting a burn. Be aware, you’ll get smoke, as shown in Figure 15.

Figure 15 - Burn a line at the top of the body

Figure 14 – Burn a line at the top of the body

Figure 16  - And burn a line at the bottom of the body

Figure 15 – And burn a line at the bottom of the body

Unless you want to do more decoration, the bell ornament is ready for finishing. As with the snowman ornament, put on a coat of friction polish with the lathe off, polish it with the application cloth, put on some wax with the lathe on, and polish it with the wax applicator cloth (or paper towel).

Figure 17 - Apply a friction polish…

Figure 16 – Apply a friction polish…

Figure 18 - …and a coat of wax

Figure 17 – …and a coat of wax

Part the bell ornament off (Figure 18), and in the same manner as the snowman ornament, attach a hanger on the top.

Figure 19  - Part off the bell ornament

Figure 18 – Part off the bell ornament

Figure 20 - Be sure to catch the piece as you part it off

Figure 19 – Be sure to catch the piece as you part it off

(If you haven’t already drilled the hanger hole, you’ll have to do that first, of course.) If you’re mass-producing, however, set the ornament aside, turn all the other bells, then drill all of them for the hanger.

The bell ornament is finished!

Figure 21  - The completed bell ornament

Figure 20 – The completed bell ornament

CLICK HERE for Part 3 - The Christmas Tree Light Bulb (seen below)


The Christmas Tree Light Bulb

The post Quick, Easy, and Great-looking Turned Christmas Ornaments – Part 2 – The Bell appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Bench Design; What's In A Name?

Inside the Oldwolf Workshop - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 9:11pm
With the help I received getting the bench top done, I had to make some decisions on what I wanted from the bench and I had to decide now. The longer the benchtop sits and waits the better chance it will warp, or fall on the floor, or be confiscated by the underwear gnomes. (It's a side business for them)

Noah building the Arc at his workbench. From the Maciejoski Bible circa 1250AD.

What I need the bench to do is easy. Workbench Whisperer Chris Schwarz has a list of ten rules for workbenches that lays out everything you need to know. Really, it's everything. trust me, if it's not on the list then forget it.

Want to cover the ankles of your workbench with lace so the sight of it's slender ankles doesn't unduly excite the men-folk? Your answer is on that list. . . trust me.

My issue is in all the names. There are so many names, and fads, and trends when it comes to workbenches. Sometimes it's like hearing the well off doctors at work talk about their cars.

"What kind of workbench do you use?'

"Oh, I'm into a standard Roubo now, but I may upgrade to a split top next year."

"Have you seen the specs on the Nicholson? I understand it's back in vogue again."

"Did you see Jim was still planing on a Holtzapffel. . . that's so ten years ago."

As I reflect on it, I find it a little over the top. I don't remember my grandfather's workbench having a name, It was his workbench, it did what he needed it to do or he modified it. It wasn't a near and dear thing. It was a workbench, a tool, a place to work. Sentimentality need not apply.

But there is sentimentality for an old bench. I have enjoyed the hours I've spent working at the one I'm using now, but I can do better and I've grown as a woodworker, so much since I built the first bench. I need better. As I make the decision moving forward on my new workbench, I try and take the lessons I learned from my last bench and step forward.

The only name I've truly considered is Dominy.

On display at Winterthur Museum is the preserved remains of the historic Dominy Brother's workshop. Included is a 12 foot long workbench. It's that correlation in length that has made me think about it.

In the end, I'm not that interested in a twin screw vise for my workholding. I have a moxon vise that does that better (hmmm another name). I like a leg vise myself but I like the sliding deadman a lot especially considering the 12 foot span. The trouble is every picture I can find of the Dominy bench is obscured by the rest of the museum and that damn tall clock case.

Then I saw this bench, called "The Workhorse," from Richard Maguire, a man who makes traditional workbenches for a living, and it seems like the right configurations. Mine will be a little different yet. I want a traditional saw toothed plane stop. and I'm not so sure about a tail vise. I don't have or use one now.

In the end I say, forget the name, figure out what you like and name it yourself.

Ratione et Passionis
Categories: General Woodworking

And the ‘Practical Woodworker’ Winner Is…

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 3:20pm

Congratulations to DBell, whose comment on my giveaway post last week was chosen randomly from among all respondents. He or she is the lucky winner of a set of the four-volume paperback set of “The Practical Woodworker.” — Megan Fitzpatrick

The post And the ‘Practical Woodworker’ Winner Is… appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Making a Joiner’s Mallet

The Literary Workshop Blog - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 2:59pm

My current joiner’s mallet is over six years old and is starting to show a little wear.  I’ve had some pecan wood drying in my attic for a year now, and I decided it was time to bring it down and make some mallets with it. I have a 3″X4″ thick piece just for the heads, plus a nice 1″-thick piece for the handles. Both have a little spalting in them, but the wood is still perfectly sound. I’ll be able to get three mallets out of this stock. 

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 1

Mallets come in many sizes, and two of the three I’m making will be fairly big. All the striking faces will be 3″ square. The heads themselves will be somewhere between 3 1/4″ and 3 1/2″ tall. The heads of the two big ones are about 5″ long at the bottom, and the smaller one is about 4″. The striking faces are angled at about 5 degrees.

The handles were cut out at 15″ long, but once they are nicely fitted, I can trim them back if necessary.  I want a handle that is about 10″ long underneath the head, and I want to leave about 1″ sticking out of the top.  The handle blanks are 1″ wide at the bottom and 1 1/4″ wide at the top.

For joiner’s mallets, just about any tough hardwood is suitable: hickory, pecan, ash, white oak, beech, elm, hard maple, osage orange… the list goes on and on. You just don’t want anything that’s easy to split. (I would not use black walnut or mesquite, for example.) And when the mallet does finally give up the ghost, it takes only an hour or two to make another one.

I do like Roy Underhill’s approach to making a joiner’s mallet, and my method is almost identical. I’ll point out a couple differences in a moment.

After squaring up my stock, I rough-cut the parts out on the bandsaw. (That’s the first departure from St. Roy!)

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 4The handle on a joiner’s mallet can be attached in a variety of ways.  Some are turned and wedged into a round mortise in the head.  Others are attached with a square or angled mortise.  In this design, which I owe to Paul Sellers, the entire handle is tapered and is inserted through the head.  The more you use it, the tighter the head gets wedged in place.

Like Paul Sellers (and unlike Roy Underhill), I like a rounded top to my mallet heads. If the top of the head is flat, the top edge is an acute angle, which is naturally weak. Rounding the top off is an extra step in the process, but it seems to keep the top edge of the mallet face from splitting out. Ideally, that top edge should be a slightly obtuse angle.

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 2

I sketched the curve freehand, cut it out on the bandsaw, and then smoothed the surface with a smoothing plane. I start planing at about the last half inch of the surface, then work my way back slowly taking short strokes. With care, the result is a nicely rounded surface.

Laying out the mortise on the head is a little tricky. It’s best to use the handle itself as a template for the angle.

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 3

I mark the width of the mortise on the bottom, then lay the handle across the head. I measure from both ends to make sure the handle is centered, then trace my layout lines. It’s a little precarious, but it does work.

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 5

The result is a slightly angled mortise.

Then it’s time to actually cut the mortise. If you’re using good, tough wood (as you should be), it’s not going to be terribly easy any way you cut it.

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 6Roy’s advice is spot-on. Use a brace and bit (I used a 15/16″) to bore out the center of the mortise. Bore in from both sides. It’s a lot easier than trying to turn a big bit in a 3″ deep hole.

Then it’s just a matter of squaring up the mortises.

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 9

I took small bites with my 1″ chisel, but I did also resort to a couple narrower chisels for the final clean-up. A 1/2″ chisel is much easier to drive into tough wood than is the 1″. You want the ends of the mortise straight and clean–no under-cutting! (A rasp or file can help clean up from the chisel work.) The sides, however, can be undercut a little to allow the handle to pass in cleanly. You want it wedged up against the end grain on both ends of the mortise. Once the mortise is squared up, the handle can be planed to an exact fit.

Before you insert the handle into the mortise, relieve the corners.  If you’ve cut everything accurately, the handle should stop a little short of where you want it. Then you can just plane the handle down to fit where you want it.

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 10

In dry weather, a head can creep up the handle, but when it gets humid again, it will jam onto the handle and will become impossible to remove. That’s a good thing, ultimately. But that means you want to leave a little extra handle sticking out of the top.

But before you get the handle irrevocably wedged into the head, you need to shape the handle. This is my favorite part–all spokeshave work.

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 11

Now, if you just rounded over the corners, the handle would want to slip right out of your hand when you used it. So some shaping is in order. It’s difficult for me to take a good photo of the process, but the above layout lines will give you a good idea of how to proceed. You want to begin right up where the handle meets the head, in case you need to choke up on the handle. You also want to leave a bit down on the bottom to prevent it from leaving your hand mid-swing. The most important thing is that the handle fit your hand comfortably.

Once the handle is shaped to my hand’s liking, I round over both the top and bottom of the handle, just for looks.

Now, while you’re at it, relieve all the other corners on the mallet.

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 14On the striking faces, make an especially big roundover, at least 1/4.”  If you don’t relive these edges, they will relieve themselves in short order.

The result looks something like this:

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 15

Now for the big finish.

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 17

I thinned some safflower oil about half-and-half with mineral spirits and gave the heads a good soaking. (Safflower oil won’t go rancid like most other vegetable oils. Mineral oil would also be a good choice.) Once you stop seeing the bubbles rising from the wood, the head has absorbed about as much as it’s going to. This will add some significant weight to the mallet, so do this only if you want the extra heft. Otherwise, just use a top-coat of oil or wax over everything. Or leave it completely unfinished.

After the long soak, both head and handle got a top-coat of Danish oil, mostly for consistency of color. Pound the handles in, and we’re ready to do some heavy chopping.

Mallet Making 10-14 - - 18I’m keeping the one in the middle for myself.  The other two are going to live in other woodworkers’ shops.


Tagged: angled mortise, Danish oil, joiner's mallet, mallet, Paul Sellers, Roy Underhill, safflower oil, spalted pecan, spokeshave

Frank Klausz: The Man Behind the Bowsaw

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 10:44am

I have a strange relationship with Frank Klausz. Frank doesn’t know it, but I’ll share it with you. I went to work with my father in his custom woodworking shop when I was in high school, and worked there through college. I learned much from my dad, but I also lost something in the process – the dynamic of father and son. Decades later dad and I are on good […]

The post Frank Klausz: The Man Behind the Bowsaw appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

A Questionable Blog, But It’s Short

The Furniture Record - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 9:14am

If you are a genteel person with a sensitive nature, you should leave now. Some might find this topic shocking, not in the Howard Stern or South Park sense. More like the stereotypical maiden aunt from Dayton expectation of shocking.

If you are still reading you either are a curious person or don’t have a freakin’ clue what I am blathering on about. Whatever your reason, read on.

I have seen the following item in the men’s room of several higher-end restaurants and bars. I’m not sure if it’s a hipster trend or there is just a really good salesperson out there catering to all the right places. Well, here goes.

There are now toilet seats with handles:

It's got a handle. Click for a larger view. Really?

It’s got a handle. Click for a larger view. Really?

This looks like the Kohler White Stronghold® Elongated Toilet Seat With Integrated Handle and Self-sustaining Check Hinge, $28.46 street price. Available in Almond, Black Black and Biscuit at slightly higher prices.

Is this a growing niche market? There are many similar products including add on handles called Nifty-Lifty and Flipsit (Antimicrobial) and a foot powered lifter. There are a lot of really odd products out there related to toilets that I hope to forget once this blog is finished. There are some things you can’t unsee. Research takes a toll.

I asked my wife if there are similar things in the women’s room. She shouldn’t recall. In fact, she couldn’t say if the toilet seats are open front or closed front (horseshoe or oval). Part of me is glad. We don’t need two overly curious minds in the family. I will just need to do research on my own.

Or not.

Marquetry Class – Finishing Up

McGlynn On Making - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 8:26am

I decided to “finish” the class exercises from the class I took a couple of weeks ago with Patrick and Patrice at ASFM.  My view of these is a little more objective now than when I was at the class.  Lots of obvious mistakes, but I’m hopeful that once I get my Chevalet built I’ll be able to work through these again and do a better job, moving on to be able to incorporate marquetry into real projects.

The main thing I did here was to re-saw some walnut scraps and laminate my marquetry discs onto it to make coasters.  The story behind the design on these is that they are a simplification of a design used on backgammon pieces from an elaborate marquetry game table.  That just makes my head hurt to think about…

In class we assembled the projects face-down onto special French ribbed kraft paper (there is a joke somewhere there, but it escapes me), and packed mastic into the saw kerfs.  The the brown smeary stuff you see here.

Walnut blanks ready for the glue up

Walnut blanks ready for the glue up

Gooey mess in the clamps

Gooey mess in the clamps

I used Old Brown Glue and clamped the discs to the Walnut bases between waxed paper.  Once the glue is dried the process is to wet the paper-covered face and scrape off the kraft paper and excess glue.  That always feels a bit dicey, getting enough water soaked in to be able to scrape the paper mache mess off without releasing the veneer from the substrate.  But it all worked out OK.

Coasters glued to the bases and scraped clean

Coasters glued to the bases and scraped clean

Then I sanded the surface a little and started applying finish.  I’m using spar varnish on these because I needed something waterproof and wanted a glossy build up.  I sprayed (rattle can) two coats, let it dry, knocked it down with 220 grit and repeated, twice.  This is the first coat going on.

Building up the finish

Building up the finish

While these parts were drying I rube some oil into the self portraits.  Two coats of oil, then a top coat of wax.  It’s oil-only in this picture.

Self-portraits with a coat of linseed oil

Self-portraits with a coat of linseed oil

Here are the final coasters drying in the sun.  Unfortunately I can see every inconsistency in the sawing, and places where the veneers are reversed (the two green veneers are different shares, for example).  Regardless, with a cup of coffee sitting on one, from across a darkened room these will look great!

Completed coasters

Completed coasters


Categories: General Woodworking

Training your eye for Design

Design Matters - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 8:11am


“We need to be willing to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that guidance directly and fearlessly.

 Shakti Gawain

If you are new to design, telling you to trust your eye sounds like some joke that everyone’s in on except you. How do you know what your eye is telling you?

First of all, those times when your eye feeds your imagination with rocket fuel is a rare event even for gifted artists. So much so that when that explosion of  juice starts to flow, it’s wise to ride it irregardless of eating or sleeping. Magic should not be squandered.

But aside from those rare bursts of inspiration – every day our eye talks a lot. Mostly it’s like that beeper on a garbage truck when it’s backing up the alley. It tells us what it doesn’t like. A crude example of this is plumb and level. Even though we have accurate tools to measure level and plumb, most of us can do a fair job of gauging it just by eye. In fact, our inner eye is pricked when that picture frame on the wall looks tilted in spite of what a level tells us. Our eye is filled with judgments, mostly negative about proportions. We may not think all that negative feedback is that valuable. It may feel frustrating, like we hired a travel guide who tells us all the sights not to  see. But if you realize that this is the eye’s way of guiding, you can learn to listen to it and best of all, learn to train it. I may get a burst of inspiration, a spark of an idea of what I want to design. But the actual design process is listening to a series of nos that gradually morph into yeses.

This Doric Classic Order is a lesson in proportions. Drawing by  Author

This Doric Classic Order is a lesson in proportions. Drawing by Author

But training the eye? Traditionally this was done by studying masterful work. All the old design guides waxed glowingly about the classic orders. Truth is you may never incorporate a single element from a classic order in any of your furniture designs. Yet, drawing the classic orders gives your eye a reference library of no’s that are inescapable – pushing you, guiding you, until the nos start turning to yes. With a basic understanding of proportions, you can let your eye be tutored by great buildings, furniture, nature, and art.


George R. Walker


George R. Walker


Highland Open House this weekend

Highland Woodworking - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 7:00am

Looking out over my back yard,I can see that autumn is beginning to encroach upon Atlanta, though I still need to find a good way to get rid of Kudzu. Along with the hopefully cooler weather, the changing leaves and the pumpkin spice everything, we also get a wonderful woodworking holiday: the annual Highland Woodworking open house. This year the open house will be on Friday October 17th from 10am to 6pm and on Saturday October 18th from 9am to 5pm. I am looking forward to the event and will be in attendance, but more importantly several artisan toolmakers including a few folks from Lie-Nielsen Tool Works will be there, and on Saturday we will get a visit from Master Cabinetmaker Frank Klausz.

Another wonderful thing about the open house is that Highland will be offering some secret tool deals. The team at Highland was able to secure a special selection of tools that they will be offering at once in a lifetime prices. I’ll be looking them over to see if there is anything I can add to my collection and I recommend coming out to take a look as well. Sadly you have to be at the store to get the deals as they aren’t being offered online or over the phone. The folks from Lie-Nielsen will also be demonstrating some of their tools, offering up some tips and tricks and giving pointers to those interested in their hand tools.

On Saturday, special guest Frank Klausz will be in attendance. I’ve done some reading both about and by Frank and am looking forward to meeting the man himself. Frank is a Master Cabinetmaker and has been working with wood for over 50 years. He started out as an apprentice in his Father’s shop at the age of 14 and has been woodworking ever since. I’ve personally wondered what it would be like to devote myself to woodworking as much as Frank has and wish I could find the time and stability to do so myself. Frank will be at the open house on Saturday answering questions, offering wisdom and showing off some of his amazing skills. The real treat however will be for the folks that can make it out to Highland Woodworking the next day.

On Sunday the 19th Frank Klausz will be offering a special demonstration class on hand-tool joinery. Hand-tool joinery is something I’ve been working on myself for the past couple months so learning from Frank will be an absolute treat. Frank will be covering topics like dovetails, half-lap joints, mortise and tenon joints and everything in between. There will also be a demonstration on how to keep your hand tools sharp, and I intend to take some serious notes on that, also probably some pictures since sharpening tools can be tricky. The motto Frank works by is “If you’re going to do it, do it well” and I can imagine that he will display that to the fullest extent. Hopefully I will see some friendly faces on Sunday joining me for a day of woodworking adventure.

Matthew York has been a woodturner since 2004 and has been interested in woodworking since he was a teenager. He currently lives in downtown Atlanta and has a small shop in his basement. He is an avid woodworker and is always available to talk about the craft. He can be contacted at fracturedturnings@gmail.com or visit his website at fracturedturnings.com. You can also follow him on twitter at @raen425

The post Highland Open House this weekend appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Designing a Moxon Vise

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 4:00am
In the past few years what has become to be known as a "Moxon Vise" has become a pretty popular workbench accessory. The basic theory behind it is that lots of joinery operations, especially dovetailing, need to be done at a higher bench height than a typical bench - which is usually set for planing operations. In Moxon's engraving from Mechanick Exercises(1678) the vise is placed at an obviously incorrect position, with no way of attaching it to the bench. Felibien, in an earlier book, (which Moxon liberally copied from) shows a group of these vises hanging from a wall behind the main workbench.
I think it was the Lost Art Press' edition of The Art of Joinery that brought the vise back to the limelight and it is now a very popular accessory.
Today several vendors, ourselves included, stock complete Moxon vises ready for use or hardware kits for making your own. Our vise, which was designed and is made for us by the Philadelphia Furniture Workshop, has a couple of unique features, notably a cambered from jaw for ease of clamping, and handles that can be moved out of the way while working. The hardware for the vise, which was a joint design by ourselves and the PFW is specially designed to allow for wear and a lot of give in the wood. Our hardware kit doesn't include drawings for the vise because, while the PFW design is perfect for hordes of people, if you are going to the trouble of making a vise for yourself, you might as well take a moment and decide if some customization is in order. However so many people have asked us for some guidance I thought explaining some design considerations might be in order.

At its most simple the vise is just two boards with screws to clamp them together and enough thickness on the back jaw so that the vise in turn it can be clamped to your bench. The actual size isn't critical. The screws need to be inset far enough in from the ends so the wood doesn't split - a couple of inches at most - and the main dimension is the clamping distance between the screws and the overall height of the vise. Unless you have the urge to have several vises, you want a clamping distance wide enough for any carcase you are likely to make - say 24" max, but 18" or 20" between the screws is probably more realistic. Also you don't want to make such a heavy monster that moving it all the time is a chore. The height is the next issue - you want it high enough so it brings dovetailing to a comfortable height. 4" is fine for most people, 6" might be better for a tall person on a short bench - here is one area where personal preference is important.

Now we are already into two tweaks. By cutting down the ends of the rear jaw into ears you give yourself clamping surfaces that will keep cutting tools away from your holdfasts - the usual device for attaching the vise to your bench.

Among the innovations made by the Philadelphia Furniture Workshop in our vise - a narrow shelf is glued on the back of the rear jaw to create a clamping ledge so that you can clamp your tails down firmly when you lay out your pins.

The way our kit works is that the two acme screws thread into two nuts mortised into the back jaw of the vise. Just locate the holes far enough from the bottom so the nuts have enough clearance and first drill the holes and then mortise away. The nuts we use are custom for the vise and are offset. We found that, especially with a sloppy mortise, a regular nut can spin in the mortises as the vise wears. This design gives you plenty of room for error and you won't have to worry about wear.

The front jaw can be as thin as 4/4 but here again the Philadelphia furniture workshop design has a great innovation. The inside of the jaw is slightly cambered so even if the jaws are tightened unevenly the vise will hold in the center perfectly. Also the thinner front jaw, not only makes the vise lighter, the jaw can bend a little when clamping for a better fit on the work.

Finally it's nice to have a little something to help align the vise to the front edge of your bench.

We didn't use Moxon type vises when I was learning woodworking. What a shame. I cannot imagine not having one now. Especially since between my back and my eyesight (lack of) getting the work closer to me, and not having to slouch down to work is a real boon, Whichever design you use I think it's a really great addition for work holding in the workshop.

How to Choose Lumber for Woodworking {7 Simple Steps}

Wood and Shop - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 3:01am

When I got started in woodworking I was incredibly confused about choosing wood. In the above video, and in the article below, I share what I’ve learned about the basics of choosing lumber for woodworking. I want to save you time and head aches in trying to understand lumber!


The topic of lumber confused me mainly because I couldn’t find a simple summary of the topic. I found a lot of complex discussions with different terms used by different “experts”. I am by no stretch of the imagination a lumber expert, but I’m very good at simplifying complex topics so that everyone can understand. As a result, this is a simple practical guide to help you understand how wood moves, what wood to buy, how to buy it, and where to buy it.


After you learn the basics from this video and article I encourage you to look at the bottom of this article for a list of links, books, and DVDs that will expand your understanding beyond the scope of this article.

So let’s get started with the 7 simple steps below!



Question: For your woodworking projects, should you choose a hardwood lumber like Hard Maple or Lignum Vitae? Or softwood lumber like Southern Yellow Pine or Red Alder?

Answer: That depends entirely on what you are building.

©  Joshua T. Farnsworth

Some projects even require a mix of both hardwoods and softwoods, like a violin or a workbench. For example, violin makers use a soft Spruce for the soundboard and a harder Maple for the back, sides (ribs) and neck.


Many craftsmen of the past built the bases of their workbenches with less-expensive pine (softwood) and the tops & vices with hardwoods like beech or maple. The base of the workbench wouldn’t take a beating, so soft pine would work just fine. But the top of the workbench and the vice needed to be more durable.

©  Joshua T. Farnsworth

Just use your brain to determine what type of wood you should use on different parts of your furniture.

BOOK: I have found this book to be an incredible guide to choosing different types of wood because it shows beautiful grain patterns & discusses woodworking uses for 400 different woods: “Wood Identification & Use” by Tery Porter.

©  Joshua T. Farnsworth


The lumber industry uses the “Janka hardness test” to test and rate common woods for hardness. The test involves pressing a steel ball to gauge how much pressure each wood species takes to push the ball half way into the wood. You can download my free PDF of the Janka chart here. {If you can’t open a PDF then install the free Adobe PDF Reader here.}


quartersawn wood beech

Unless you’re set on having a wildly figurative grain pattern on your furniture, you’re probably going to want to choose the most stable wood possible; especially if you are building fine furniture or woodworking hand tools that need great stability (e.g. hand planes, straight edges, or try squares):


Yes, wood moves when it dries and also with the changes in seasons and location (temperature and humidity). Wood doesn’t really get longer (thank goodness) but it does expand in width as humidity rises:


Even if you are using a beautiful (yet unstable) grain pattern on part of your furniture, it’s a good idea to use stable wood on the other parts. For example, look at an old wooden door. The panels usually have more decorative (less stable) wood, but the rails and stiles (parts of the frame) are usually very stable straight grained wood (don’t worry, I’ll clarify “straight grain” below).


So the key is to find boards that will be as stable as possible during those changes in humidity. But how do you get wood that has stable “vertical grain”? This is the question that confused me for awhile. The answer is: It all depends on how the wood is milled from the tree. This is what I’ll cover in step 3:



Looking at the board’s end grain will tell you how a board was sawn from the log, and how stable it will be. In a minute I’ll jump into each of these cuts in a little more detail, but this graphic illustrates how different cuts come from the log:


But mills rarely cut up a board like the graphic above. “Through and through” is the most common method that lumber mills employ when milling lumber. It’s simply like slicing horizontal layers along the length of the log:


You’ve probably seen someone do the same thing with a chainsaw mill at home. Bill Anderson shared some valuable insights with me regarding lumber cut with the “through and through” method: “Depending on where in the log the boards come from, they will be either flat, rift or quartersawn, or show a transition between these cuts across the width of the board.”


Take special notice, in the above graphic, how stable wood can extract from a wider board.

Lumber sellers don’t always label the cut of their boards, so don’t hesitate to carry a sharp block plane to the lumber yard to uncover the end grain:


You’ll often need to remove the mill marks and the colored wood end grain sealer to see the end grain.


You should definitely dig through the boards and use your knowledge from this article to select the best you can find. You can also find good “vertical grain” as part of a larger flat sawn board, and just cut it off both edges (leaving the center for fire wood):


Here is what the different main lumber cut types look like after the’re cut off of a flat sawn board:


Let’s discuss each of them in a tiny bit more detail:



Most consumer-grade boards are flat sawn, and often display a “cathedral” pattern on the board face:


Lumber companies want to maximize their profits by getting as many boards out of a log as possible. You can definitely use flat sawn boards in your projects, but just realize that the wood will move over time, and may cup or twist and separate your wood joints. Although some joints can be arranged to better accommodate the movement (see part 1/15 of my dovetail tutorial…skip to 1:41) it’s better to start out with wood that isn’t going to move as much. In section 4 below you’ll see some problems that are common to flat sawn boards (like twist, cupping, bowing, etc.).


If the flat sawn boards have already moved out of square, then you’ll have to spend some considerable time flattening & straightening the board right before you use it. So it’s best to stick with a more stable cut of lumber, like quartersawn lumber. Or at least keep your flat sawn boards stacked (until the last possible moment) with “stickers” between them and weights on top to prevent movement, then secure them with good joinery or fasteners (e.g. nails) when building furniture.



Quartersawn wood is very stable, and less susceptible to movement. The 60-90 degree verticle grain qualifies a board as “quartersawn” within the lumber industry. See how the end grain is running nearly up-and-down? That is called “vertical grain”. Quartersawing also produces fairly straight face grain and usually very beautiful ray flecks (for example, see the flecks on the beech wood above).


But since quartersawing requires more effort and wastes more wood, it is naturally more expensive. But you don’t have to run out to your local mill and ask for the quartersawn boards. As mentioned in the last section, quartersawn wood can be cut off the edges wide flatsawn boards. Yes, even from construction lumber!


To produce 12″ wide construction lumber (2×12 pine boards), lumber companies have to use the center of the tree. So naturally quartersawn & riftsawn lumber will be on the edges, and just needs to be cut off. This is how Roy Underhill gets nice quartersawn yellow pine at low prices from big box stores like Lowes & Home Depot. He taught me this when I was helping him rip a wide piece of construction lumber for his school teacher’s desk tv program (watch the episode).


Notice how the above 2×12 construction-grade flat sawn board actually has some very stable quartersawn wood on both sides of the wide board? Here’s what it looks like after I cut it off with a rip saw and use handplanes to square it up:




The riftsawn section of a board is similar to quartersawn cuts, but its endgrain is between 30-60 degrees to the face. Riftsawn boards have a characteristically straight face grain pattern. These boards are also pretty stable and can be utilized if your furniture project calls for extremely straight face grain, like modern or Japanese-style projects.



The most stable boards are “riven” or “rived” directly from a log by you, exploiting the weakness of the grain (like splitting firewood). Riven boards are a subset of quartersawn because they are also split along the radial plane of the log, producing grain lines that are square to the board face and straight down the board.

These boards are not only the most stable, but they can also be some of the most beautiful with maximum “fleck”:


So why do you not hear about this type of lumber very often? Because wood mills and lumber yards don’t have it. Their boards are cut with large powerful saws. Riven boards require muscle power and hand tools like a large crosscut saw (or chain saw), wedges, mallets, a froe, an adze, a hewing hatchet & handplanes.


I’ll share a riving video tutorial at a later date. But in the meantime, Peter Follansbee shows how to rive your own red oak from logs, as part of his helpful DVD video: “17th Century Joined Chest.”


 (click here for the DVD).

Here is a very helpful animation (from a professional miller) that clarifies the quartersawn & riftsawn process:



Since I do most of my woodworking with antique hand tools, I like my boards to be as easy to work as possible. Wood defects can be even tougher to work with for a hand tool woodworker like me. Some wood defects can be resolved with saws, handplanes, and even epoxy. But if I’m paying for wood I like to find boards that require as little work as possible. So look out for some of these problems:



Knots can cause problems for hand tool woodworkers, especially when passing your handplane over the top. And knots like to fall out over time. Yes, you can mix epoxy and sawdust to solidify the knot, but most of the time I avoid them all together. But you may like the look of them in a rustic piece of furniture. Just be aware.



Some people like the rustic look of sapwood & insect holes. But I don’t. I avoid it, or cut around it. In the photo below you’ll see two boards glued together. The reddish wood is the heart wood. It would be on the inside of the tree. It was dead long before the tree was cut down, so the insects didn’t eat it. The sap would is the white wood with worm insect holes. Insects continue to eat at the sapwood long after the tree is cut down. So I prefer to avoid or remove the sapwood.



When lumber isn’t stacked, sealed, and dried properly it is prone to move in all sorts of strange ways:




Checking happens when a board dries too quickly or unevenly. The cracks move along the board. So it’s best to avoid these boards. If you are cutting your own lumber from a tree, checking can often be prevented by using a good quality wood end grain sealer (like I mentioned above)…the red stuff painted on the ends of boards in many of the above & below photos. Lumber should also be stacked with “stickers” or spacers of even thickness, with weights on top.



When green (wet) boards aren’t properly stacked they will cup or twist. Cupping is when the board turns into a cup shape (see above). Twisting is when board ends twist different ways. It takes a lot of work to plane out the twisting or cupping. I don’t always turn down free wood that is twisted or cupped, but I won’t buy it.



Bowed boards are like a bow that you shoot arrows with (see above). To me, this defect is a bit harder to correct for than twisting or cupping. So I avoid these boards…unless they’re free (like the above lacewood board was).


Crook is similar to bow, but the wood arcs the other way. This is an easier defect to fix because it only involves jointing the board’s eges…which I do anyway.




For nice hardwoods I like to visit small local wood mills. If I can’t find what I’m looking for there, I expand my search to regional “Hardwood” dealers. You’ll save money and get better quality wood through local mills and dealers. Some of them even carry a few exotic hardwoods. These companies specialize in furniture grade wood, whereas woodworking supply stores & hardware stores do not.


However, even though some woodworkers warn to “stay away from the big box stores” (e.g. Lowes & Home Depot) there is a place for big box stores. While they don’t carry nice hard woods, as mentioned above, you can sift through to find nice wide yellow pine construction boards, from which you can rip out quartersawn boards. These stores also carry nice pre-dimensioned poplar. This is great for people that don’t have the skill or time to dimension all their own boards. Bill Anderson and I have been in Lowes to find 1/4″ poplar for my tool chest’s trays & tills.





If you live in a larger city, then you may be close to a woodworking supply store, like Woodcraft. Their specialty is selling tools & woodworking supplies, but they usually care small quantities of hardwoods. They also carry a good selection of small blanks for wood turners. Lumber can be expensive at these types of stores because they don’t deal with large volume. But if you live in the city, then this may be your least expensive option.


Because I have a lot of lumber near me, mail ordering (or online ordering) lumber is foreign to me. Heck, my neighbors see me dragging fallen oak, beech, and poplar logs from the woods behind my house and riving boards out of them! However, even though I can’t touch the wood beforehand, I’m planning on experimenting with online lumber sellers soon. Here’s my upcoming experiment (subscribe to my free articles if you want to be notified of this experiment):

I first plan to order some small quantities of exotic hardwood from a few different higher rated eBay lumber sellers like these because of eBay’s money-back guarantee. I’ll be careful to choose eBay lumber sellers who have a high number of sales and a high positive feedback percentage:


I’ve ordered a lot of tools on eBay and have seen that highly rated eBay sellers usually bend over backwards to keep their high rating.

When I receive the lumber I’ll inspect it to see how closely it matches the photos and descriptions, and look at the quality. I’ll let you know how it goes!

In addition to eBay, here are some online lumber sellers that are reported (by other woodworkers) to have a good reputation:



©  Joshua T. Farnsworth

Most beginner woodworkers don’t know what to look for when they visit a mill, a lumber yard, or an online lumber store. After reading the above advice, you should now understand how to identify great stable wood. But how do you avoid looking like a moron when you go to buy wood?



The first consideration to keep you from feeling stupid at the lumberyard is to understand that lumber people speak of wood thicknesses in “quarters”. For example, in the United States:



Take your tape measure and calculator to the lumber mill because in the United States most lumber suppliers calculate the price of their wood using a very simple “board feed” volume calculation:


When I go to the lumber yard I like to take a small tape measure, like this pocket-sized Stanley 12′ tape measure (longest you’ll need for a board), but you can use most any tape measure.




It’s a good practice to also carry a lumber moisture meter with you when you buy rough lumber. This link shows some highly rated, yet affordable moisture meters. I purchased this General Tools moisture meter and really like it. I think it was around $25-$30.


Below I’ll discuss the debate about moister level and acclimating lumber to your workshop.




I always believed that lumber moisture needed to be under 10% for building furniture. However, in this Popular Woodworking Magazine discussion Glen Huey said that if your moisture meter registers 22% or lower, then you should buy the hardwood and there won’t be much need for acclimating the wood to your workshop’s humidity level before shaping the wood.

©  Joshua T. Farnsworth

He experimented to come up with this claim. I’m sure this claim will make many woodworker’s blood boil, but it’s nice to know that I don’t have to be quite as concerned as I once thought.


If your lumber isn’t as dry as you would like (over 22% in Glen Huey’s opinion…probably over 10-15% in my opinion), then it’s a good idea to let it acclimate to your workshop, or a room that’s similar to the furniture’s final resting place (a room, not the land fill). It’s a good idea to use “stickers” between your lumber (even if it’s plenty dry) to keep the boards flat. The stickers (thin sticks) should have a uniform thickness. This is one of the few times that I use plywood because of it’s uniform thickness. I just cut a sheet into a bunch of small strips.


Well I hope this wasn’t too confusing. But believe me, this is definitely more simple than the hours that I had to study to understand this stuff.





Auto-Regulator, Chapter 4: Cutting the arch, part 1

James Watriss - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 1:03pm

The arch, the upper side horizontals, and the vertical posts come together in a pair of 3-way miter joints at the top of the case. That's the short version. And from an aesthetic point of view, that's really the version that matters. As long as the joint is cleanly made, the eye will freely run along the lines of the case. But from a construction point of view, things are almost never that simple. If there are any gaps, voids, or other breaks in the surface, the eye stops there, and the mind will take note. Much like a shrieking saxophone or clarinet in an orchestra, it won't matter if the melody is miraculous. It's the shriek that you'll notice, and the reverie will be interrupted. So, to make those clean transitions, understanding what's going on is a huge help... and I didn't properly understand what was going on when I got started on this project. So I'm going to break down this deceptively simple looking joint, before we get into how it was done.

On the side of the clock, the vertical post meets the upper horizontal in a 45 degree miter. That's pretty straightforward. I'm going to refer to this as the side miter.

On the front of the clock, the vertical post meets the arch in another miter joint, that's cut at an angle that I've never bothered to measure in terms of degrees. Those miter lines point from the top corners of the case, directly to the center of the clock face. The inner radius of the arch is concentric with the dial, so the miter line runs radially through that edge. I'll refer to this as the front miter.

The curved top surface of the arch meets the upper surface of the upper horizontal members in a 45 degree miter. And I'll refer to this as the top miter. And this is where things start to get funky in the mechanics of the joint.

The plane of the cut for the side miter is at 90 degrees to the plane of the side of the clock. Or, the table saw blade is at 90 degrees to the table, when those miters are cut on those pieces. The cut for the front miter is also cut at 90 degrees to the plane of the surface. That's pretty straightforward. And in my head, that made everything seem very, very simple. That should have been a clue to me that something was awry, I guess. But because the face miter is cut at a different angle as the side miter, the edge where those two cuts intersect gets skewed to one side. So the three-way miter becomes a three way compound miter.

Each cut defines a planar surface. Geometrically speaking, two planes that intersect will define a line along that intersection. Practically speaking, that line defines the edge that's made where the two cuts come together. And for this joint to work, the edge defined by the two cuts made on the vertical post, the edge defined by the two cuts on the horizontal member, and the edge that's defined by the two cuts on each end of the arch... those three edges must come together cleanly along their length, with all of the mating faces coming together fully.

The test joint actually came together cleanly, but if you zoom in on the picture, and see the different surfaces interacting, you'll start to get an idea of just how many things can go wrong in the joint. Oh, and having one of these come together is hard enough. To cut the arch properly, there are two of these joints to consider, one on each end. Which brings us back to the top miter.

To cut that compound miter, the 45 you see on the surface is defined in relation to the top edge of the horizontal, and the back edge of the arch. The angle of the blade during the cut, which is what makes this a compound miter, is defined in reference to the surface of the parts that will lie flat on the saw table.

But the top is curved. There is no reference surface.

Obviously, to be continued...

Categories: General Woodworking

another piece of the story about my axe

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 11:39am

best fuchs hatchet


I know I’m lucky to have the hewing hatchets I do…I got mine from Alexander, and the legend is that Drew Langsner and Jennie (then-John) Alexander got them as partial payment for demos/lectures at Woodcraft back in 1979/80. I found this while down at Bob Van Dyke’s place this week: 


1971 Woodcraft catalog axe


 – a 1971 Woodcraft Catalog, that listed the limited quantity axe heads they were then offering. Says the first 100 orders will be filled, but 9 years later, they still had leftovers? $12 must have been too steep a price…

I have written about this/these hatchets many times – here’s one post about them http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/the-endless-look-at-hewing-hatchets/

Now, if there was 100 of them 40 years ago, where are they now? I had 3, gave one away….

Bench Building In An Avalanche

Inside the Oldwolf Workshop - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 8:59am
"Once the avalanche starts it's too late for the pebbles to vote."

This is one of my favorite lines from an old SciFi TV show called Babylon 5. It's been ringing in my head over the last few days.

A month ago today I posted here about some beams I picked up to build a new bench. At the time I thought those beams would sit in the corner of the shop for at least a few months before I was able to fit a bench build into my schedule. That was supposed to give me time to dwell and think about bench I wanted to make. Carefully weigh and debate my options and maybe save some pennies for new hardware and vises.

This is usually how I work, A big project has to sit and ruminate in my mind for a while. I pick apart the details and build it over and over a hundred times before I pick up a saw. Then, once I'm ready to go I can move through the project efficiently, because I have it all planned out.

This time, a trouble maker raised his hand and threw a wrench in the gears.

Mike Siemsen, The Naked Woodworker himself, was having a little spoon carving gathering at his place and I asked if I could come, hang out, and learn some from the folks there, I've dabbled a little in spoons lately myself, nothing much to be proud of really. But Mike picked up on the bench build and offered to help me run them through the big machinery he has for the school.

How could I say no. I packed up the beams in the truck and headed out for the weekend.

Mike does not mess around with his machines.

I have never owned a powered joiner or planer but I can really respect the power and ability inherent in these size tools. Mike is probably right when he says owning a smaller joiner that his really is just playing around.

We ran the three thinner beams (4" thick =  thinner. . . ) through the machines and glued them up into a benchtop in one evening. The next morning we scraped the glue and ran the whole benchtop through the planer one more time, top and bottom.

The result was spectacular.

We also sawed the larger beam in half and squared it up so I could bring it home and make my bench height decisions later. I just wasn't ready to commit just then, I hadn't cogitated on it for six months yet. And that's the crux of my next issue.

I don't want to wait to get this benchtop framed into a bench. The longer I wait to get it fixed the greater the chance of something going wrong, the top warping or falling off the stools I have it sitting on. I just can't let myself wait and see if it goes wrong. The same idea as gluing up a panel of boards as soon as possible after you joint and plane them. you want to lock in that flatness with the strength of the surrounding timber. Strength in numbers.

So for me, a simple pebble, the avalanche has started. It doesn't matter what else is on my plate, (and there are quite a few things right now) today is the time to build a bench.

Thanks Mike for the kick in the ass!

Ratione et Passionis
Categories: General Woodworking

Tips from Sticks in the Mud – Tip #41 – The bungee cord vs. the Festool cord-and-hose boom arm

Highland Woodworking - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 8:33am

That Steven Johnson just won’t leave me alone.  I’m thinking of blocking his email address. He just won’t stop bugging me about the Festool cord-and-hose boom arm. I’m hoping for one of two outcomes. Either he sees I’m happy with this month’s tip to solve the problem or alternatively, maybe he thinks I’m just fooling myself and he will take pity on me and just send me one. Prepaid, that is.  Of course, he said he’s going to send me some of his “gently-used” washers, too, but I’m still waiting.

So, what are the chances he’ll be sending me a boom arm that costs $365.00? Well, OK, I’ll give you that it goes everywhere your CT dust extractor goes, which means there’s no disconnecting and moving, as there is with my bungee cord. And, it’s always set up and ready to use. Oh, yeah, and there’s no hunting for the end of the hose or the cord.  Y’know what? Maybe that Steve Johnson is onto something. Where’s my Highland Woodworking order form? Until we can get a Festool boom, you and I can enjoy my bungee cord version below:


My cord management system started out with this succession of screw hooks installed in the ceiling joists for the purpose of hanging items to paint. By looping an extension cord from hook to hook it’s easy to keep the cord above the work and out of the way, but easy to let out more cord when needed, too


The next generation embraced cord management and dust extractor hose management, too. Some tools have long enough cords for the electricity to follow the elevated hose. The bungee cord provides flexibility as the sander moves from one end of the board the other.


A closeup of the bungee cord attachment. A forecast probability of rain had me put up the “tent” so I could sand away without getting sanding dust all over the shop, but still not get rained on.

The post Tips from Sticks in the Mud – Tip #41 – The bungee cord vs. the Festool cord-and-hose boom arm appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking


Subscribe to Norse Woodsmith aggregator - General Woodworking

by Dr. Radut