Hand Tool Headlines

The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator




‘The Peasantry is Unimportant’

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 3:30pm

li161.1 C44 Q.R

One of the ideas that’s been crashing around in my head for years is that vernacular furniture – what I call the “furniture of necessity” – is divorced, separate and independent from the high styles of furniture that crowd the books in my office.

This idea is not commonly held.

The conventional wisdom is this: Chippenton Sheradale invents a style of furniture that is Neo-Classical Chinese. So he publishes a pattern book to illustrate his new pieces, and the style becomes all the rage. All of the rich people want pieces in Neo-Classical Chinese to replace all the pieces in their houses that were Neo-Chinese Classical.

So the local cabinetmakers oblige and (as a result) can all afford new chrome rims for their carriages.

Rich rural farmers see the pieces in the new style and return home with the crazy idea that they should also have pieces in the latest Neo-Classical Chinese style. So they get Festus, the local cabinetmaker, to build them a Neo-Classical Chinese chair. But Festus uses Redneck Maple (Holdimus beericus) because Festus can’t get New Money Mahogany (Stickusis inbutticus).

Oh, and Festus takes some liberties with the new furniture style to please his rural customers, who want a series of cupholders in the arms that can accommodate a Bigus Gulpus.

Then the poor farmers see the Redneck Maple Neo-Classical Chairs owned by the rich farmers and ask their local carpenters to make copies, who also make changes to the design (a gun rack on the back). And then the dirt farmers see that chair. And so on.

Meanwhile, back in the city, a furniture designer draws up a pattern book for Neo-Gothic Romanian furniture. The cycle begins again.

All this sounds plausible because it has been written down in almost every book of furniture history ever published. The rich make something fashionable, and the poor imitate it until the rich become annoyed or bored. So then the rich find a new style, which the poor imitate again.

The only problem with this theory of degenerate furniture forms is that the furniture record doesn’t always go along with the theory.

I think there’s furniture that is divorced from the gentry. Furniture that is divorced from architecture. Instead of beginning with a pattern book, it begins with these questions: What do I need? What materials do I have? What can I make that will take little time to build but will endure (so I don’t have to frickin’ build it again)?


For several months now I have been plowing through “Welsh Furniture 1250-1950” (Saer Books) by Richard Bebb and have been thrilled to find someone who thinks the same way. Bebb has done the research on the matter when it comes to Welsh furniture. And he has convinced me that I’m not nuts.

In the first section of Vol. I, Bebb deftly eviscerates these ideas like a fishmonger filleting a brook trout. It’s an amazing thing to read. I’ll be writing more about Bebb’s research in future entries, but if you want to get right to the source, I recommend you snag your own copy of this impressive work.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: The Anarchist's Design Book, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Sunday Blog Post

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 12:06pm
Look, listen and do, but never ask why.

Kenosuke Hayakawa, Japanese wood worker.

Friday is the only day I get to be in the workshop. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to take a day job to cover our bills and with this job I have to work four ten hour days, thus Friday is really the only day I get to myself. Weekends are just that, trying to catch up on yard and house work along with having some fun.

Don't worry, by mid-November I will be back in the studio workshop cranking out guitars and capos/cejillas!

My studio workshop is a bit of a mess because I have no proper storage for the likes of fretting tools, sandpaper, wood cauls, etc., etc., many of these things make up an organized chaotic mess on the floor underneath the window, or are cached away in cardboard boxes.

To remedy this situation and help make the studio workshop look like a real studio workshop, on Fridays I have been making two sets of drawers that will support a work surface.

You won't find any dovetails in these drawers, twenty five years ago I discovered that I find cutting squashed triangles a very, very boring task. Rectangles and squares really don't excite me, either. Curves and circles, the shape of a guitar, are much more pleasing to me.

A trim nail gun, a router, a table saw and some glue helped me put this very basic, rough and tumble set together.

The nail holes were filled, now the set awaits primer and paint. I still need to build a base and the work top.

Yesterday, I was able to do some work on a guitar neck that I made about four years ago. It is Spanish cedar with an East Indian rosewood face plate and it is for a guitar with about a 25 5/16" string length or 643mm. When I first made it I tried a different technique for carving the heel, that was using a short knife on a long handle instead of chisels. I almost ruined the neck because of a slip of the knife.

The headstock crest started out in the style of Santos Hernandez, but since I am focusing on making near bench copies of guitars by Hernandez y Aguado, and that there was enough wood left, I cut a HyA style crest. The field between the tuning machine slots will get rabbeted and stippled just like some of the original HyA guitars.

It is nice work to do and a bit of a challenge.

We have had over ten days of thunderstorms and rain here in this part of Colorado, a very soggy start to August. It's been so damp that I had to fire up the furnace! Lots of mushrooms are popping up and in the above photo you can see that the woodland pinedrops are growing at a phenomenal rate! This is less than one week's worth of growth!

This photo shows the saw filer for the Sierra Lumber Company at Lyonsville, California, circa 1900. This was an important job in a logging camp, as you can well imagine, especially for the men who worked as buckers. This photo is from the Digital Collections at CSU Chico.

This flume carried rough cut lumber from the Champion Mill in Lyonsville to a planing mill in Red Bluff, California, a distance of over 30 miles. The flume was abandoned in 1914, this photo shows a crew of men dismantling the flume. I was told that my grandfather, Rufus Wilson, helped dismantle this flume, I like to think that he is somewhere in this photo. Photo from the Digital Collections, CSU Chico.

Categories: Luthiery

Review from Woodcentral on HANDWORK

Journeyman's Journal - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 11:37am

I’m speechless, gob smacked, never saw it coming.  I’m honoured and humbled.


Categories: Hand Tools

Getting ready to go over all the types of Japanese saws at Frank...

Giant Cypress - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 6:59am

Getting ready to go over all the types of Japanese saws at Frank Klausz’s shop.


Accidental Woodworker - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 5:09am
Lately my mistake total had been going down. However, over the past couple of days I've wiped out all of my atta boys and got a boatload of aw shits due some brain farts. Everyone makes them, some more than others, and other less than. I'm kind of in the upper middle between the half way and full. I seem to go for a while on the right side of the road and then I end up in a ditch.

I had a bad one yesterday where 3 days of working on a drawer got flushed. I thought I was doing good but not looking to check myself cost me big time. I made an error today (different than a mistake) based on an assumption. I thought something was square but it turned out it wasn't. I didn't lose anything there but it could have been as painful as yesterday's.

Mistakes and making them are part of life and woodworking. I kind of thought I made enough in woodworking already but that keep on a coming. At least the flavor of them is changing but it would nice to finally meet my quota on them.

making drawer slips
This is a left over from the bookcase I just made and I can get two sets of drawer slips out of it.

didn't come out too good
I sawed these out the wrong way. The way I did it still gave up slips but if I had sawn the opposite face it would have been much easier for me to clean up and square them.

one set
The right one is the way I should have sawn out all of them. These two are different sizes but I can still use these on the same drawer. As long as the rabbets line up, what is underneath that doesn't matter. I'm not going to use these for the drawers. I'll set them aside to use on another single drawer.

lot of work on this one
I will have to saw this into two pieces. Square up two faces and then adjust the rabbets to fit the plywood bottom.

got a bead I can use elsewhere
one set of slips done
The board gave up this set and I can get another set out of it.

plow a groove on both edges
saw them out on the inboard side of the groove
clean up the faces next
This face doesn't have to be square. Nothing is referenced off of it and nothing will be attached to it nor will it be a glue surface.

ganged together and planed
this part matters
The rabbet is too shallow for the plywood. I used the rabbet plane to get it to the correct depth. One thing I could have done was to use a wider iron when I plowed the groove. I used the one that fits this plywood. If I used the 1/4" one it would have been wider than the plywood. Instead of making the rabbet deeper, I would have been planing the rabbet flush to the plywood.

final check and tweaking the fit
I put the plywood in the rabbet and moved along the entire length checking for flush. Any spots that were still proud I planed with the bullnose plane.

labeled and stowed
I'm hoping that I don't ignore the labels and mix this up. I'm not sure that they are interchangeable.

new small drawer front on the right
planed to thickness
thought I was planing square with this
loose fit in the opening
I did the loose fit on purpose. I lost my grain flow between the drawer fronts so I'm going to paint them. The loose fit will allow for the paint film thickness. I used this drawer front to get the width for the drawer sides.

two drawer sides
I have some cup to remove
If I was going to groove the sides for the bottom, I wouldn't use this stock. Planing out the cup could make it too thin for that. With drawer slips the thickness of the sides doesn't matter that much. I could probably go down to a 1/4" and still use slips. They are glued to the sides and 1/4" is thick enough for that.

one side is flat and not rocking
I am not going nutso on this and planing it too a gauged thickness. All I am doing is making each face flat and twist free.

this side is twist free
this side has some twist
found my assumption was wrong now
I thought that this was square but it isn't. All four corners are slightly out. I used this to set the width of the sides and they ended up too short for the opening. That is when I knew something was OTL (out to lunch) and the drawer front was the winner.

an exaggeration
Not only is the drawer front off, but the sides are too. There is no way I can use them to make this drawer. The sides can be reused but the front is toast. I can square the front up but by then it would be way too small to use. At least I found it out before doing any dovetailing.

I used this yesterday and I got dead nuts square with it. I didn't jar or change the fence. I used it and put it back here. The only other thing I can think of is I used the 4 1/2 then and today I used the 5 1/2 but that shouldn't make a difference. Or maybe it does.

from the LN 51
I will have to sharpen the iron on the 51 before I can use it to square up the ends. That stripe on this is caused by a chip in the iron.

I can see the chip without help
See the two whitish dots on the edge of the iron on the right? That is where the stripe is coming from.

almost gone
On the bevel side the chip wasn't all that big. It only took about 5 minutes to remove on the 80 grit runway. I  raised a good burr too.

new small drawer front
Planed this to thickness and I got no rocking at the corners. That tells me that this is flat and twist free. I got this done and the new sides and stickered them.

a me box
I need a box for storing some big binder clips. I have a 3 compartment box at work that I made but it is too small for all the big binder clamps. This is a quick project. I ganged the sides together to saw the tails on both at the same time. This is something that I rarely do because I still have some problems getting both side pieces identical.

Here I finally got it, so I gave it a try. It is definitely a time saver and speeds up things over doing each one separately.

sawed and chopped
I paid a little more attention to cleaning out the corners on the tails and pins. It paid off when I put the box together.

off the saw
It's a good feeling having your tails and pins mate up off the saw. Today I got the tails to be 99.90% gap free. I think the extra care I did on cleaning the corners out helped it a lot. The bottom is almost perfectly flush too. I'll be able to make the bottom grooves without flushing the bottom first.

grooves done and the interior cleaned up
I sized the plywood bottom and glued the box up and set it aside to set up overnight.

stopped here
I sawed the tails on the front of the sides and marked the front. I sawed the sockets and the last step for today was the card scraper severing the corners. Tomorrow I'll chop and fit them.

went nutso on the clamping
The clamps weren't necessary as the box joinery was good and would have stayed that way while the glue set. The clamps closed up and seated the tails and pins that extra 0.01%. I'm anxious to see this tomorrow and how the inside looks. With the clamps there were no gaps and hopefully tomorrow it'll be the same.

spare lid
I was hoping to use this on the binder clip box but it is too small. The box is 12x7x4 1/2 and this is 12"x 5 1/2". I want some overhang on the box and I can do it on the front but I can't stretch this and make it longer.

more spare parts
The crest rail was a thought but I changed my mind on that. The arms I am going to use. I will use these as the hinge for the box. I will have to glue up some stock for the lid maybe. I have some 1x10 that I can plane down to a 1/2" to match the rest of the box.

for Bob D
The left drawer has more weight in it then the right one. Both are still chugging along with no hiccups well over a year later. I have rounded slips in both drawers and you can see part of one in the left drawer.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who is Nolan Bushnell?
answer - the founder of ATARI and Chuck E Cheese

Woodworking Courses Without A Computer

360 WoodWorking - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 5:07am
Woodworking Courses Without A Computer

Taking online courses in any subject, including woodworking courses, is the future of learning. It’s convenient. Bring the course directly to you. (There’s a free example posted below.) But in woodworking, being tied to your computer when you need to be in the shop practicing your new found skills is problematic. This week 360Woodworking.com took steps to alleviate that problem. The newest offerings are downloadable courses presented as a PDF with embedded video that plays whenever opened in Adobe Reader.

Continue reading Woodworking Courses Without A Computer at 360 WoodWorking.

Week in Review – August 7-12

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 2:55am

This week we released a brand new episode of I Can Do That! In this episode, Chad Stanton walks us through a hall table build using lumber purchased at the local home center. The project is stunning and we hope that it encourages our viewers to leave their excuses behind and to build something incredible! You can watch the video and download the plans on the I Can Do That […]

The post Week in Review – August 7-12 appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Picture This CXI

Pegs and 'Tails - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 12:11am
A dealer is currently offering this walnut chest for sale and describes it as Queen Anne with original brasses. What do the sleuths say? Fig. 1. Fig. 2. Fig. 3. Fig. 4. Jack PlaneFiled under: Antiques, Picture This
Categories: Hand Tools

A2 steel plane blades are not all the same

Heartwood: Woodworking by Rob Porcaro - Sat, 08/12/2017 - 10:29pm
A2 steel chipping
Before making my point, here is a synopsis of the differences between A2 and O2 blades, as I understand them, and have experienced in using them. Better however, you should also read a much more learned discussion by the Man of Steel himself, Ron Hock. In general, for comparable quality blades: O2 is finer grain […] 0
Categories: Hand Tools

Introducing the Combi Shooter Shooting Board

Evenfall Studios - Sat, 08/12/2017 - 1:53pm
We’d like introduce a new shooting board to our lineup, called the Combi Shooter. The Combi Shooter, “Multi”. The Combi Shooter gets its name because it combines two models of shooting board we currently offer into one. Starting with the Long Grain Shooter shooting board, we build it completely as a Long Grain Shooter including […]
Categories: Hand Tools

Thanks to Edith Klausz for the treats!

Giant Cypress - Sat, 08/12/2017 - 12:23pm

Thanks to Edith Klausz for the treats!

Getting ready to do my best to convince woodworkers to use...

Giant Cypress - Sat, 08/12/2017 - 12:22pm

Getting ready to do my best to convince woodworkers to use Japanese chisels.

but I felt better........

Accidental Woodworker - Sat, 08/12/2017 - 4:56am
Last night after supper I screwed the first filter on the camera and headed for the shop. I couldn't figure out on line which filter was which, so..... I tried them one at time.  None of them worked and the pictures I snapped with them all had the fluorescent light halo glare in them. I took 6 pics of the finishing cabinet with each filter from different angles. All of them were the same and I couldn't tell a real difference in any of them.  Other than the one set being a little darker than the others, they looked the same.

After taking the pics I did some web surfacing and found out the filters I have won't remove the fluorescent white halo glare from pics. The filter for fluorescent lights removes a green tint that is associated with pics taken under fluorescent lints. Tonight after work I took some pics of the finishing cabinet that came out a bit better.

my last pic
 I took this one with what I think is the fluorescent filter. The filter is labeled UV and fluorescents give off UV light but it won't remove the glare. From what I've read about photography nothing will remove this. Most lightning that I've seen in the examples has been indirect or in front of the object to be snapped.

much better pic of the finishing cabinet
The fluorescent light to the left of the cabinet I tucked up into the joists. The one above in the pic, I pulled the plug on and I put a desk lamp in it's place.  I used that to put some light in this area because with the two fluorescent lights out it was dark in this spot.

the open shot
I am not putting a knob or a handle on this door. The bottom extends past the bottom of the carcass by about 2-3 inches and that is my 'handle'. I'm trying to find a hook and eye for keeping the door closed. I'm having a problem finding one with the 'eye' plate being 3/4" in width or less. I'll keep looking and I'll find one eventually.

this side is down a 32nd
I flushed up the opposite side and the back and that was it. Any more fitting to get this in the opening will be done on the bottom.

flushed up the bottom
fits almost all the way - got stuck here at this point
cleaned up the back last
This most likely will never be seen but I cleaned it anyways. Sides have been planed too and it is time to check the fit again.

This is the look with the drawer in the opening as far as it will go. I may leave this one as is depending upon how the big drawer looks in it's opening.

layout for the finger grab hole
I made the finger hole like a sort of flattened out ellipse. I made a 1/2 pattern so I can get both sides to look reasonably alike. And I can use it on the big drawer too.

last visual check
Last chance to eyeball this and make sure I can get can one of my booger pickers in the hole.

laid out and made relief saw kits
not a good note to end the day on
When I laid this out, I looked for the bottom but there weren't any numbers. I had planed them off a few pics back. No problem I said because the bottom back is short of the sides. Now I know what the bottom is and I  have my reference back. That is what I used to layout the cutout. But on the wrong side of the drawer front.

There is no way I can fix or patch it. It is burnt toast and it pissed me off that I made such a stupid mistake. I was paying attention and being careful to make sure I was working off my reference but I didn't put the finger hole where it was supposed to be.

the before pic

the after pic
And yes I do feel better because I showed that drawer who the boss is. I shut the lights out after this and went upstairs. I have a new shop rule - one big **^@*(*^%#%^*()!!#$#@%^ mistake and I leave the shop immediately.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is the largest one day sporting event in the world?
answer - The Indy 500

My car is all loaded with tools and props for shooting Japanese...

Giant Cypress - Sat, 08/12/2017 - 4:35am

My car is all loaded with tools and props for shooting Japanese woodworking tool videos with Popular Woodworking Magazine this weekend at Frank Klausz’s shop.

I Made This !

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sat, 08/12/2017 - 3:10am

Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire, England. National Trust.

In 1559 Richard Dale, a local carpenter, completed an addition to Little Moreton Hall that included a large bay window to light the new dining room. The estate owner was apparently very pleased with the job and allowed Dale to sign his work. Although a bit garish, his signature adds to the history and character of this fine old house.

In combination with construction methods, woods used, a signature and a date we can learn a lot about the maker and the communities in which he or she worked. For the owner, the signature of the maker extends a hand into the future and forms a connection.

Between 1510 and 1530 Robert Daye carved 79 bench ends in the Church of St. Nonna on Bodmin Moor in Altarnun, England.

I think he deserved to make one bench end to commemorate his efforts.

Phillip D. Zimmerman’s article, ‘Early American Furniture Maker’s Marks’ (Chipstone) provides many good examples of signatures and where they have been found (undersides of drawers, the top, etc).

Collection of Winterthur Museum.

On the back of this high chest both makers signed their work. Top: ‘Made by Josha Morss/Jany 1748/9.’ Bottom: ‘Made by Moses Bayley Newbury February AD 1748/9. Just to make sure they both put two signatures on the chest. They worked in what is now Newburyport, Massachusetts.

In another example the signature at the top of this chest was deciphered as ‘Walter Edge’ in the 1940s. Who was Walter Edge? No telling, because decades later Walter Edge turned out to be ‘Upper Edge’ a shipping mark!

Zimmerman also made note of signatures that provide other details about the maker. Although he didn’t provide a photo (and I couldn’t find one), somewhere out there is a Philadelphia-made table with the following written on the underside: ‘Made by Elias Reed in the year 1831 this table caused me to give Black Eye to a frenchman.’

Although he knew few people would see his work, a bell framer left his mark high up in the bell tower of St. Botolph’s Church in Slapton, Northamptonshire.

Photo by Christopher Dalton, Building Conservation.

The tower is too fragile to bear the weight of the two bells it previously held, but the bell frame and its plaque are still there. It reads, ‘Be it knowen unto all that see this same. That Thomas Cowper of Woodend made this frame. 1634.’

Earlier this year a mahogany bow-front Charleston-made chest was aquired by the Charleston Museum. The chest is from the workshop of the well-known and prolific Robert Walker and is on display at the Joseph Manigault House.

Charleston Museum

Prior to going to auction the previous owner thought the chest might be a Robert Walker Charleston piece. He disassembled the chest to inspect it and found written on the top support rail under the chest top the following: ‘Boston, October the 18th, 1805.’

Boston was once a slave and freed by 1790 or 1795. Even though the signature was hidden, some articles have termed the act of a 19th-century freed black craftsmen signing his name to something he made as ‘audaciously indiscreet.’  To me, it was a determined affirmation of, ‘I made this’ and also, ‘I exist.’

Suzanne Ellison

Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

Painted Bucket Bench – Home Center Wood Transformed with Faux Graining

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Sat, 08/12/2017 - 2:14am

A simple project from home-center wood is transformed with faux graining. by Catharine C. Kennedy Pages 51-54 August 2014 Buy the issue here.  Faux graining is the art of illusion. Use this technique, and your choices aren’t constrained by what woods are available or what’s shown in the veneering catalogs (or your bank account); you are limited only by your imagination. With the use of simple tools and materials you […]

The post Painted Bucket Bench – Home Center Wood Transformed with Faux Graining appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

New & Better Studley Posters for Everyone

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 6:13pm


We weren’t happy with the paper thickness of our H.O. Studley posters that went up for sale in May. So we found a new printer that would work with thicker paper. We reprinted the entire run and have sent replacements to everyone who ordered posters through the Lost Art Press website.

Almost everyone should have received their replacement posters by now. If you haven’t, give it until Monday’s mail arrives and then send a message to help@lostartpress.com and we’ll check your order. If you bought one of the posters at Handworks, please send a message to help@lostartpress.com, and we’ll send you a replacement immediately.

The Studley posters now in the store (click here) are printed on the new, thicker paper by a company a few blocks from our storefront in Covington, Ky. The posters are significantly heavier (they were a bit of a struggle to roll to get into tubes) and still $20, which includes domestic shipping.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Old Names on Old Tools

The Literary Workshop Blog - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 2:04pm

Most old tools are anonymous–unless you knew the previous owner personally, there’s no way to tell who owned them before you did.  But there are happy exceptions.  Two of my handplanes have a previous owner’s name on them.  And while the names don’t exactly give me a full history of these tools, they do tell me something about the men who owned them.

Mr. A. Robertson

My wooden jack plane was once owned by Mr. A. Robertson.

Wooden Jack Plane Sandusky

I know Mr. Robertson only by his name stamp on this handplane.  I got the plane from a guy in Alaska, but I have no way of knowing whether Mr. Robertson lived in Alaska, or whether the plane was brought up there by someone else later.

Wooden Jack Plane Name Stamps

Mr. Robertson really liked his name stamp.

Wooden Jack Plane Name Stamps

I mean, he REALLY liked it.

He stamped his name on this plane no fewer than 26 times!

Wooden Jack Plane Name Stamps

There are at least four name stamps on every side except the sole.  On the top, there are six.

Wooden Jack Plane Name Stamps

Mr. Robertson also stamped the wedge, and he punched his initials into the top of the iron.

At first, I thought that this was just a guy who was excited about a new name stamp, and that he got carried away marking his name on his handplane.  But the more I look at the stamps, the more I think differently.   This man was methodical–to the point of being obsessive.

If he had been merely trying out a new stamp, I would expect more irregularity in the depth of the stamps.  But the depth is quite regular.  Plus, he always stamps his name in pairs, and in each pair of stamps, one stamp is inverted.  That suggests a very deliberate method.  I think that Mr. Robertson was determined that nobody would steal his tool and be able to sand off (or otherwise disfigure) all the name stamps.  After all, it would be relatively simple for a thief to do away with one or two stamps, but not 26.  It wouldn’t be worth a thief’s time to erase that much evidence.  The fact that Mr. Robertson had a name stamp at all indicates that he was a professional, probably working alongside other professionals–a situation in which it is all too likely for tools to disappear.

The general condition of the plane confirms Mr. Robertson’s meticulous character.  The tool is quite well cared for, given its probable age.  It was made by the Sandusky Tool Co., which operated from 1869 to 1929.  That would place this wooden plane at over 88 years old at the very least.  The iron has not been ground down very much.  In a plane this old, I would expect more of the iron to be gone due to regrinding.  But if the user is careful–as I think Mr. Robertson was–an iron need not be ground very often.

Wooden Jack Plane Sandusky

Yet the plane does show wear from regular use.  The ends have been tapped regularly with a mallet, which is how these wooden planes are adjusted.  When I acquired the plane, the sole was not quite level.  It had been inexpertly resurfaced after some wear.  I doubt that the sole had been planed down by Mr. Robertson, who was far too conscientious a man to have done a job like that.

I wish I knew more about Mr. Robertson.  I wish I could compliment him on taking such good care of his tools.  I hope that he would be pleased to know that his old jack plane is still in regular use, nearly a hundred years later.  But I really, really want to know why he stamped his name on his plane 26 times.  I’m sure there’s quite a story behind that.

Mr. R. Kendall

The second handplane is about the same age as the wooden jack plane.  I picked up this Stanley #3C smoothing plane at an antique mall in Indiana.  The plane is an early type 9, which means it was made sometime between 1902 and 1907.  (Note for handplane nerds: I know it’s an early type 9 because it has a type-9 frog and body, but the lateral adjustment lever is that of a type 8, which means that the plane was probably one of the first type 9s produced, and the factory was still using the last of some of its type-8 parts.)  The plane was in remarkably good condition for its age–it merely required some cleaning and the gentle removal of a little surface rust.

Stanley #3 Smoother Restoration

This is what the plane looks like after some cleaning.

Stanley #3 Smoother Restoration

And this is what it looked like before the cleaning, but after total disassembly.

When I first bought the plane, I didn’t even noticed it was marked.  But as I was cleaning off the tote with some Murphy Oil Soap, I noticed something on the top.  It seemed to be some initials punched into the wood:

Stanley #3 Smoother Restoration

I could just make out an RK.  Perhaps you can, too.

I was intrigued.  What could RK stand for?  I thought it must be the original owner’s initials.  I didn’t think much more of it until I started cleaning the rest of the parts.

Stanley #3 Smoother Restoration

As I cleaned the lever cap, I found that under a light coating of rust, there was an etch, faint but distinct.  It was difficult to photograph, but in just the right light, you can read the name R. Kendall.

Now I knew what RK stood for!

Like Mr. A Robertson, Mr. R. Kendall is mostly a mystery.  Yet I can deduce a few things about him from this tool.  Like Mr. Robertson, he cared for his tools very much.

I would guess that Mr. Kendall was a small man, or at least that he had small hands.  The #3 is a fairly small smoothing plane, and my average-sized hands are not altogether comfortable on the tote.  It is true that the #3 cost a little less than the #4, so it could be that Mr. Kendall was merely pinching pennies when he bought it.  In Stanley’s 1934 catalog, the #3 with a corrugated sole cost $7.10 and the #4 cost $7.45–not an insubstantial price difference back then.  Yet Mr. Kendall opted for the corrugated sole, an extra expense that a true cheapskate would have avoided.  I think that the #3 fit Mr. Kendall’s hands, or perhaps his usual scale of work.

Stanley #3 Smoother Restoration

I do know that Mr. Kendall was a craftsman.  The plane is expertly cared for.  Despite its age, the wooden parts are in excellent condition, and the Japanning (the black paint on the inside of the body) is almost completely intact.

Also, the neat, cursive etching on the lever cap suggests a solid grammar-school education.  His penmanship is precise.  And the fact that this is a neat etch rather than, say, a shaky engraving indicates that he cared for the general appearance of his tools.

Mr, Kendall also knew how to adjust his plane for maximum performance.  When I got the plane, the frog had been set pretty far forward, making the mouth very tight.  Set that way, the plane will produce a fine shaving with minimal tear-out.  While it is possible that a later owner re-set the frog, I doubt it.  Frogs are not normally repositioned unless there is trouble with the plane’s performance.  If Mr. Kendall was the one who positioned the frog, it is clear that he was knowledgable and experienced with handplanes.

It is highly likely that Mr. Kendall, like Mr. Robertson, was a professional woodworker of some kind–perhaps a furniture maker or a trim carpenter.  An amateur has little need to put his name on his tools.  But on a job site or in a busy shop, tools have a way of “taking legs,” as they say.  Mr. Kendall valued his tools too highly to let them go easily.


One of the biggest changes in woodworking over the last century has been the de-professionalization of the craft.  There are still a lot of professional cabinet shops as well as a few individual artisans carving out a living for themselves (sometimes literally), but I would guess that, today, the vast majority of woodworking tools, and especially high-quality hand tools, are bought by amateurs, not by professionals.

That means that, when we find high-quality, antique tools for sale today, there’s a good chance that they were originally owned and used by professionals.  These were men who knew the value of hard work and good tools, and that’s why we have so many good antique tools available to us today.  Without perhaps realizing it, these bygone professionals have left us a rich inheritance in their tools.

So here’s to you, Mr. Robertson and Mr. Kendall!  I’m much obliged to you.

Tagged: #3, A Robertson, etch, handplane, jack plane, name stamp, plane, R Kendall, restortation, smoothing plane, Stanley 3C

Video Giveaway: ‘Build a Welsh Stick Chair with Don Weber’

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 12:00pm

This week’s giveaway is the 2-DVD set (or the download version, if the lucky winner prefers) of our recent video “Build a Welsh Stick Chair with Don Weber” (& Friends). Confession time: I’m one of the “friends”…but I have yet to complete my Welsh stick chair. I’d set aside that week for filming and blocked off my calendar accordingly so as to keep anyone from calling me into a meeting. […]

The post Video Giveaway: ‘Build a Welsh Stick Chair with Don Weber’ appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Talking of Beauty

Paul Sellers - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 11:49am

An abandoned wardrobe lay bereft of its doors on a burn pile and I tugged on it to lift one end from the pallets below as if the pallets deserved to be there but the massive wardrobe didn’t. It was pine, only pine! I remember hearing the man say. But I tugged on it anyway, …

Read the full post Talking of Beauty on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools


Subscribe to Norse Woodsmith aggregator