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The Renaissance Woodworker

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So Many Projects, So Little Time...
Updated: 40 min 47 sec ago

New Shop Lights & Hiding Your Nails on Mouldings

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 6:28am

Seek Out the Deep Dark Corners of Your Moulding

This week I show off my new track lighting and smart bulbs in my shop. For me these lights serve 2 masters: woodshop and film studio. So my set up may be a bit different than a lot of you, but embracing task lighting over banks of fluorescent lights is a major step forward for any hand tool shop.

Then I answer a question about nailing moulding to a case and how to hide the nails so you don’t have to mess with wood putty that usually makes things more obvious.

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 4/14/17: Chairmaker’s Lathe Tool Rest

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 9:12pm

Chair and Table Legs Made Easier with a Long Tool Rest

Turning flowing curves and long cylinders and tapered legs is much more difficult when you have to stop mid curve and move the tool rest. Inevitably you have to clean up little bumps and hiccups in the curve where you try to pick up the curve again. After seeing “real” turners and chairmakers use long 20-30″ long tool rest to great effect, I decided to stop stalling and make one for my own lathes.

And hey, metalworking! I guess I am a Maker after all!

More Treadle Lathe Stuff?

Just about all the projects you tackle have a dado of some shape in them. Here are a few suggestions:

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update LIVE 4/6/17: Edge Planing

Fri, 04/07/2017 - 6:07am

Get the Edge “Square-ish” Then Feel Your Way Flat

The focus of this Live session is edge planing, specifically getting square edges. The original question comes from Chuck who will be making tapered octagonal legs and wants to get the 4 sided taper first. Basically you lay out the taper and plane to your lines. I like pencil lines over knife lines but either method will work. I do all the heavy lifting with the Fore plane and get almost right on my lines, then flatten and refine the taper with my jointer plane. But a Jack plane would work just as well.

3 Tips to a Square Edge

There is only so much I can cover and still take questions in these live broadcasts, so in an effort to cover some more edge squaring tips, I took a live session on this very topic from my Hand Tool School Apprenticeship and edited it a bit and released the video as a stand alone product that can be purchased over on the school site (or by clicking the image)

Learn to Plane Square Edges

More Stuff from this Live Session

Lots of people showed up in the chat room and asked a lot of questions! Sorry I didn’t get to them all but maybe some of the below links will help:

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 3/31/17: Itty Bitty Dados

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 6:22am

Two Methods for Tiny Dados

This week I demonstrate two methods for creating really small dados. More importantly how to create dados that are directly opposite each other in a grid work pattern without significantly weakening the board into which you are housing your parts.

Next Week I'm LIVE

Thursday, 4/6/17 at 9 PM eastern, I go live to talk about edge planing and keeping things square.

More Dado Stuff?

Just about all the projects you tackle have a dado of some shape in them. Here are a few suggestions:

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 3/24/17: How I Sharpen My Tools

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 5:52am

Sharpen More to Sharpen Less

This week I am hoping to address a whole bunch of sharpening questions all at once by illustrating how I sharpen my tools now that I have settled on diamond stones and strops. I discuss the process of free hand sharpening, how to use a strop, and the spectre of dubbing.

More Sharpening Stuff?

I’ve written/talked about mortising many times over the years and you can find many posts here on my site, but here are some suggestions:

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 3/17/17: Boring a Through Mortise

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 1:18pm

Save This Technique for Large Mortises

I got a lot of questions after I chopped out a through mortise last week about whether boring the mortise is a valid approach. So this week I used my brace and augers to bore out the bulk of the waste and then pare back to the lines. I think you will see that the process is not actually any faster. But when you have really large mortises that exceed the sizes of your chisels, boring out the waste definitely makes sense.

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 3/10/17: Chopping a Through Mortise

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 6:46am

It All Comes Down to Working to Your Lines

This week I have a question about some through mortises so I figured I would just chop one. But to add an wrinkle, this mortise needs to be a bit wider than any of the mortise chisels I have and even a different size any type of chisel I have in my arsenal. So this mortise requires a bit more finesse to get it right.

How About Some More Mortise Stuff?

I’ve written/talked about mortising many times over the years and you can find many posts here on my site, but here are some suggestions:

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update LIVE 3/2/17: Hand Cut Tapers

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 5:00am

Pay Attention to Your Lines, and Plane to Them

The focus of this Live session is cutting tapers in a leg by hand. The original question comes from Chuck who will be making tapered octagonal legs and wants to get the 4 sided taper first. Basically you lay out the taper and plane to your lines. I like pencil lines over knife lines but either method will work. I do all the heavy lifting with the Fore plane and get almost right on my lines, then flatten and refine the taper with my jointer plane. But a Jack plane would work just as well.

Using the Jack Plane as the Only Plane

Then I get into a question from Ed about how to use his Jack plane as the single plane to go from a rough sawn board to a finish ready surface. I did a live session on this very topic for my Hand Tool School Apprentices so I have edited that session a bit and released the video as a stand alone product that can be purchase over on the school site (or by clicking the Jack plane image.

Jack plane lesson

More Stuff from this Live Session

Lots of people showed up in the chat room and asked a lot of questions! Sorry I didn’t get to them all but maybe some of the below links will help:

  • Restore a Fore Plane from a Rusty Piece of Junk
  • The Resaw Frame Saw in Action
  • Making the Center Scribe

There were also some questions about edge jointing and squaring edges but I’m going to focus on that topic for next month’s live Shop Update on April 6th. So add it to your calendar, or join my email list and I’ll be sure to send out a reminder for the event a few days prior.

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 2/24/17: New Shop Floor

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 6:02am

So Much Room for Activities!!!

I’ve wanted a better floor in my shop for years. I put down my ghetto peel and stick vinyl tiles back in 2006 in an attempt to make it feel less like a garage and more like a shop. But they offer nothing in the way of comfort and definitely don’t make it feel like anything but a garage. So when Rubber Flooring Inc had a sale, I made the leap and got my new partially reclaimed tire rubber floor! And now it not only feels like a shop but I can bounce my chisels off the floor and not have to regrind the bevel.

Stuff Related to this Stuff

I brought the Dust Right Collector back into the shop and hung it in a previous update if you want to revisit that.

The Shop Update goes LIVE next Thursday night!

Show up and win NOTHING!!!
Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 2/10/17: Planing an Assembled Case

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 6:55am

Clamps Slip, Use a Stop…and Wax, Lots of Wax

If the secret to a good finish is preparation then the next question becomes, “how do prepare this fully assembled piece of furniture?”. Finish preparation isn’t necessarily saved until the end of a project but rather I prefer to think about it before I permanently glue or join one piece to another. That may not always be the case but the sooner I start thinking about it the better my chances are for getting good results.

Want Some Smoothing Planing Tips?

I’ve written/talked about smooth planing and controlling tear out many times over the years and you can find many posts here on my site, but here are some suggestions:

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update LIVE: 2 Kinds of Tusk Tenons

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 7:40am

Wedge or Tusk or Whatever You Call It

I got an email a while back asking about knockdown joinery and specifically tusk tenons and how to go about making them in 4/4 stock. Using 4/4 stock is no different but you do have to put some thought into how long and thick the tenons are so you have enough wood surrounding the tusk or wedge once the mortise is cut. In this live broadcast I cut 2 types of tusk tenons and compare the merits of each.

Did You Enjoy this Live Show?

I’ll be doing one of these Shop Updates Live each month and hope to answer more questions and do some demonstrations. No talking head stuff, actual woodworking. Sometimes I may do open Q&A others I may have a specific demonstration like this time. Regardless I hope you will join me.

Now if I can just figure out why the live audio sucks so bad!!! AAAAAHHHHRRRGGG Tech Gremlins!!

vertical tusk tenon
horizontal tusk tenon

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 1/27/17: Dado Saw Set Up Tip

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 6:09am

You Have to Experiment to Move Forward

I received a comment on YouTube about using the dado saw and how I might set up the fence to cut the second dado wall more efficiently. The idea of using the shelf board itself to set the spacing for the fence is a good one, but I was a bit skeptical. So this week I tried that suggestion to see if there was merit to it. Unfortunately it didn’t work but in the process I discovered that I was overcomplicating my set up and I came to a better method to allow me to accurately set up and use the dado saw. So what was once an odd tool that took up some space in my tool cabinet, may not be an essential tool for all of my case work in the future.

Next Week I Go Live!

I’ve said that I want to replace one of these Shop Updates each month with a live broadcast for open Q&A, and next week will be the first one. I hope to see you Thursday night, February 2nd at 9PM eastern time

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 1/20/17: Milk Painting a Bookcase

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 5:30am


Love That Two Tone Finish

This bookcase was a lot of fun and I particularly like when I get a chance to do a two tone finish mixing natural wood and paint. I really like that look. I’m using General Finished Cypress Green Milk Paint for the outside of the case and EnduroVar on the natural wood surfaces on the inside of the case. I just cover the Milk Paint application in this update since I’ve shown EnduroVar finishes before.

More Live Coming Soon

Keep an ear open for my next live event as I will be replacing one of these Shop Update videos each month with a live broadcast where I can answer your questions and demonstrate in real time. Its a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it more often. If you haven’t yet, join my email list and you will be notified when these events come up.

Watch an EnduroVar Finish

I used EnduroVar to finish this Dining Table and showed it application in the final video
Categories: Hand Tools

Bookcase from The Anarchist’s Design Book

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 10:59am

Community Pressure Made Me Build This


…And I had A LOT of fun doing it.
I have a lot on my plate these days and my time in the shop is pretty structured around specific things for this site and for The Hand Tool School. This means I don’t have a lot of extra time for unplanned project. However when a few community members in The Hand Tool School started talking about doing a group build on a bookcase and the excitement started to build as more folks started jumping on board to build it; I kinda felt obligated to join in on the fun.

So rather than disrupt my entire calendar I decided to build this bookcase live on YouTube. Christopher Schwarz said in his book, “The Anarchist’s Design Book“, it could be built in about 6 hours, so it seemed like it could be fun to build it this way over the course of 3 live streams.

This is my not so subtle way of saying the above playlist definitely shows you how to build this bookcase by hand, but it is a different style of production than the edited and polished videos you normally see here. There are some technical gremlins where sound cuts out and stoppage in the action as I fix them or basically stand there with a vacant look on my face as I try to figure out how to fix something. But based on feedback from the live viewers there is some good woodworking contained in these videos too.

The great part is that taking a break from my schedule to knock out this bookcase was such a positive experience and really energized me. Its a great design that is very forgiving and an outstanding project for hand tools.

Techniques Related to this Bookcase

I make mention of a video I did on that dado saw several times. Check out my original video review of it from several years ago.
You might also be interested in my series on using a rabbet plane
Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 1/13/17: Gearing Up for a Bookcase

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 6:05am

Streaming Live, A Bookcase!

Several of The Hand Tool School community members have embarked on a group build of a bookcase taken from Christopher Schwarz’s Anarchist’s Design Book. So I figured I had better build along too. But since I hadn’t planned on this project, I figured I would have some fun with it and stream the build live via my YouTube channel. I imagine the whole build will take about 6 hours and I’ll be streaming for 3, 1 hour periods which should cover all the primary stuff and the repetition can go on off camera.

I will be posting the recordings of these live sessions here as well.

Live Build Schedule

  • Saturday, January 14th 11am – 12 pm eastern time: breaking down stock and making panels
  • Sunday, January 15th 11am – 12 pm eastern time: Dado and Groove Joinery
  • Monday, January 16th 12 pm – 1 pm eastern time: Assembly and Finish

Best laid plans right? We’ll see how I stick to this schedule

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update for 1/6/17: Sawing Plumb

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 7:55am

When Gravity Just Isn’t Enough, Tips to Saw Plumb

Happy New Year everybody. In this week’s update I share a few of the things I turned for Christmas gifts, talk about some vintage tools that were given to me, and show off a wooden square I made for the Apprentice program at The Hand Tool School. I’m pretty proud about that last one. It’s sexy!

Sawing Plumb

Then I address a question from a viewer about how to keep your saw cuts plumb. Here are a few tips covered in the video:

  • Treat the cut as two parts
  • Pay Attention to the reflection
  • Don’t Forget that step back
  • Commit to the cut and use the whole saw plate
  • Start Your Cut on the Push Stroke
Sawing is probably the MOST important hand tool skill you can acquire and improve, so do yourself a favor and spend some time perfecting your technique and making yourself a better woodworker.

If you do nothing else, check out my One Step Sawing Improvement video
Or maybe this video on Ditching the Miter Box.
Or, maybe you want a saw starting exercise?

Did I Miss Anything?

Are you struggling with your saw cuts and keeping them accurate? Let me know how I can help. Better yet, if you have overcome sad sawing disease, I’d love to hear how you did it.

Categories: Hand Tools