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The Renaissance Woodworker
Restoring a Vintage Hand Saw Starts with a Straight Saw
While I was filming some lessons for my soon to be released Orientation semester at The Hand Tool School, I took a break to work with Niles Krech of Kennebec Saws to film a saw sharpening video. Niles has been sharpening saws for a while and learned under Matt Cianci. For the past year he has been restoring hand saws almost exclusively for Hand Tool School members and he has become THE expert on the subject in our community. It seemed only appropriate that while I had him in the shop to take a few minutes to ask him some questions about saw sharpening and restoring some of these great old saws back to life.
The Guide to Dog Hole Placement
Where do I put my dog holes? “That depends” is usually the answer I give and that probably frustrates more than it helps. So seeing as I just built a new workbench myself and had to ask myself this question I thought it was time to come up with something more definitive. So I present my foolproof, secret to success Dog Hole Placement Guide!
Want to know the sound of one hand clapping? Announce that in a room of strangers
Download the Dog Hole PDFClick the image to download the PDF diagram to help you place your first dog holes. Remember that you want to have your holdfasts in hand first so you can measure their reach. Also be sure to measure the post of your holdfasts to determine the hole size and if you are unsure about the grip, test bore some holes to determine if any counterbore is necessary to facilitate holdfast grip. I’ve found very few instances of needed to counterbore the underside of a bench for holdfasts and I’ve tested a variety of holdfasts in benches from 2 to 6 inches thick.
Having a Beer and Talking Hand Tool Techniques
I had so much fun with the last open question live session that I decided to do it again. A bit shorter this time and I think I will definitely do this more often since there seems to be no end to the questions. Again I’m sorry if we ran out of time before I got to your question but I’ll be going live again in 2 weeks. I did have some sound trouble at the beginning thanks to my own hubris and not checking my settings. Sorry about that and you can use the time stamp below to skip past it.
The Questions You Asked
- 9:58 Skip to the good quality sound
- 10:55 What screwdrivers do I use?
- 13:04 How to cut fretwork?
- 20:13 What screws do I use?
- 24:18 Favorite and worst woods to work?
- 28:48 and 42:43 Where to get center bits?
- 29:37 How to cut a curved, gooseneck style moulding and scratch stocks?
- 32:56 Clamps & Clamping
- 38:07 What Song plays at the beginning of this video?
- 39:32 What is in my apron pockets?
- 44:05 Have you ever become disillusioned with hand tools?
- 46:35 Hollows & Rounds and their irons?
- 48:43 Do I use hollows & rounds to make custom mouldings?
Enter the Lightning Round
OMG thanks so much for everybody who came out and asked questions. That was a lot of fun and as expected there wasn’t nearly enough time to get to all the questions. We talked about a lot of hand tool stuff from sharpening to tongue & groove joinery to smoothing planes and panel saws. I think I probably should do more of these open format sessions because there seem to be many more questions out there.
The Questions You Asked
- 3:40 A Lumberyard Story
- 7:08 Square Dovetail Cuts
- 12:47 Best Bits for Braces
- 18:30 Using a Combination Plane for T&G joinery
- 26:44 Where to get Auger Bits & how to sharpen them
- 33:11 Sharpening narrow chisels without skewing them
- 44:44 How to cut a T&G joint without a plow plane
- 49:00 What is the best smoothing plane
- 51:58 What is a good mallet to use
- 58:06 Where do you get leather for vises
- 1:00:00 Whats a good way to get my tools tested and sold
- 1:02:00 How flat does the sole of your plane need to be
- 1:04:15 How to sharpen a timber slick
- 1:06:30 Uses for a Stanley #80
- 1:09:28 How to know when a saw needs to be sharpened
- 1:10:30 Panel vs Hand saws
- 1:15:16 How to correct a saw cutting a curved kerf
- 1:18:20 How tall is my joinery bench vs my workbench
A Few Tools I’ll Be Testing
This week I’m really just trying to get my wits about me after being out of town for a week. But I wanted to tease you with a few new tools that have come into my shop that I’ll be testing in the coming months.
Brian over at BearKatWood sent me a tiny dovetail saw that I have really enjoyed playing with on some recent overlay half blind dovetails. I’m looking forward to using it more in the future and will report back on how it stacks up.
Shawn at Wortheffort Woodworking sent me the prototype of his convenient sharpening appliance and I’m really excited about this, well, convenient sharpening set up. It uses 2 fine grits of sandpaper and a leather strop on a dead flat aluminum base. Very cool fit and finish and perfect for me this summer as I’ll be heading backto Maine in August and it will be great to take along such a simple and all inclusive honing tool.
Take a look at Shawn’s introductory video on this appliance
RWW Live is Next WeekBe there next Thursday night, 7/6, at 9 PM EDT where I’ll fire up the live stream and be answering questions. I haven’t done an entirely open format Q&A so who knows what will happen. Maybe we will end up talking about Charles Ives and what a truly visionary composer he was, or perhaps we can discuss the merits of click bait in your B2B marketing campaign, or maybe some woodworking stuff too!
Construction Lumber and Just a Few Tools
What is the best beginner workbench? Wow, that’s a loaded question! Its one I get all the time. Usually I tell beginning woodworkers to hold off on building a bench right away because they don’t know what they don’t know yet and a workbench isn’t actually needed to get started.
For example, I’ve built a few things in the garage of my in law’s place in Maine using a sawhorse and a rickety table. But the time has come to build a proper workbench in that space. This workbench is designed to be possibly the first bench that a new woodworker would build. Though it could also end up being the workbench you use for many years as it is rock solid and highly functional. It is built using just construction lumber, 7 boards to be exact, and just 4 tools.
The beginner’s workbench should be simple to build, yet highly customizable for the future. It should be a rock solid, blank chassis that doesn’t require a lot of lumber or tools to build.
Its a straightforward built that introduces the new woodworker to some key concepts while not sweating the details that could make this project drag on for months and months. While hardly a new design, I think the approach I took to it could enable the brand new woodworker with no tools and no bench to actually get started building and come out of this experience a better woodworker
Full Build Coming Soon...Semester .5 at The Hand Tool School will be a back to basics course designed to speak to the brand new woodworker who has no tools and has possibly never picked up a saw or plane.
It will consist of a few introductory lessons and then many applied lessons in the course of building 3 essential projects for their shop. Its in production now and scheduled to be released this Fall. Watch this space or subscribe to my email list to be the first to hear about it when it become available.
Shift Your Weight Forward and Saw Between the Bench
This week I’m answering a claim that I’m “using my sawbench wrong” by talking about how my sawing technique has evolved over the years in my own work but also through teaching other woodworkers through The Hand Tool School. But how I used to use my sawbench is very different today than it was even 3 years ago.
To let the saw do the work you have to first get out of its way. This means body mechanics are so important. Working at the right height is a first step and that’s why a saw bench is helpful. But you are only halfway there unless you setting up with the right body position for a true cut and maintaining that position throughout the entire cut.
The secret to sawing accurately with any saw is letting the saw to the work.
Here’s Some More Hand Sawing Stuff
Resawing by Hand Doesn’t Have to Be Slow
4 years ago I built a frame saw based on the famous plate by Andre Roubo. Since then every project has been a guilty pleasure to find boards I can resaw and use. Building and learning to use one of these monster frame saws has really changed my woodworking and the way that I choose lumber for my projects. So in addition to this live session, I have pulled a lesson from the Hand Tool School vault and am offering it for sale individually.
More Resawing?I briefly touched on resawing with a regular hand saw and then why the frame saw is the better option. I mentioned several project videos where I used resawing to complete it, both with and without the frame saw. Here are those posts.
A Solid Tool Foundation You Can Build With and On
When you first get started woodworking the tools and acquiring them is a fun and exciting aspect of the experience. But it can also be very daunting as there seems to be so many tools we need just to build the first project. And tools are expensive making the task of acquiring a starting set even more difficult.
This doesn’t have to be true and you will find that a small set of tools can stretch a very long way and get you building quickly. Moreover it will light your path to future tool acquisitions by showing you clearly where a task could be made easier with a more specialized tool. For instance, a chisel can pretty much do anything in woodworking, but using just a chisel for some thing is just plain awful. But the chisel can do it so on that first project you may spend a bit more time with chisel and saw to cut that rabbet and when the next project comes around you invest in a rabbet plane. Slowly you start to build a comprehensive tool kit as the tools are needed.
As you add on specialty tools, you also have built the fundamental skills that will allow you to work without those specialty tools and this will come back to reward you when weird situations comes up that only a chisel can tackle. Or strong understanding of the saw, plane, and chisel will shorten the learning curve on a new tool.
Here’s the Important Bit
Which Tools Do I Reach For the Most
My tool cabinet is the final project for Semester 1 of The Hand Tool School. It combines every bit of knowledge crammed into one project. Its overengineered for sure just so that I could fit every single joint from the semester into it.
It took me a long time to build my cabinet, but it took me even longer to figure out the storage inside. I kept setting up chisel racks and plane cubbies and stuff and then switch them around. I kept searching for the best way to store things in the most efficient and ergonomic way. I built projects while working from the cabinet and started to realize which tools I needed the most and refine how I grouped them and where I stored them. The result is a highly optimized tool cabinet where everything has a place and that place is specifically chosen through building projects.
This makes my cabinet not just a storage option, but as refined and efficient a tool as my workbench.
A Powerful Tool for a More Enlightened Age
This week I show you how to sharpen a vintage pattern maker’s gouge, also known as an incannel gouge. Then I show you 5 examples where I’ve found them to be really useful in my own woodworking adventures. Oh yeah and we have a fun little history lesson on the Pattern Maker thrown in just so you can get your continuing education credits for the week.
More Old Tools Get New LivesHere are some other old and unusual tools I’ve come to love and how I put them back to work, plus more sharpening stuff cause you guys can’t get enough of that:
Lumber Stuffs, Get It Here
First, let me apologize about the static in this audio. I specifically did this same demonstration with the same hardware at the same time last week and I had great sound. All I can figure it the radio on my phone (no wifi) was interfering with the wireless lav mic. If I do it again I’ll get a wired lav mic. Anyway, this session is all about you and the questions you have about lumber, the lumber industry, buying lumber, choosing lumber, etc, etc.