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A Freed Rib, or Six

Owyhee Mountain Fiddle Shop - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 11:50am

 The plates, top and back, are done to the point that they can be glued onto the ribs.  So this means the ribs have to come off the forms.  I have linings both top and bottom, the first step for removal is to trim these from square to tapered.  All sorts of ways to do that.  What you basically want is a big surface at the outside, to create a bigger gluing surface, tapered down to thin on the inside, to reduce weight and stiffness.

I take a compass and set the pencil at about half the width of the lining, in the vertical sense, and trace out a line on the linings all the way around, top and bottom.  Then a sharp knife, cut a bevel from the line to the inside edge, tapering down to meet the rib.  I usually make a few nicks on the form and on the ribs, but nothing so much to worry about.  And it doesn’t need to be perfect right here, because I’ll clean it up later after the ribs are off the form.

Once the linings are trimmed, I use a small hammer and knock the blocks loose from the form.  Then a flat chisel, I strike diagonal cuts to take out the ‘inside’ corners that will disappear anyway. 

When those fragments are out, it’s a matter of carefully loosening the ribs -- may have a few accidental glue spots that you don’t want to rush loose -- and then bending the ribs outward a bit, tipping the form as you go.  I start at the C-bouts and work towards the larger, lower bouts.  Once the endblock is free, you’re pretty much done with the removal.

Then, trim up the blocks and clean up the linings a bit. 

Next, glue on a plate or two.

Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery

What’s Been Simmering?

The English Woodworker - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 11:20am
What’s Been Simmering?

If you want some good news then just scroll to the bottom…

The last few lines or so.

If you want a jolly good moan, then read on.

There’s that old saying about knowledge being power, or the force is strong with you, or something along those lines.
That doesn’t really work now.
With the internet, every bugger is an expert…at everything.

This makes it pretty hard to find good, reliable knowledge.

Continue reading at The English Woodworker.

Categories: Hand Tools

I am a Tool Abuser

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 9:56am


And I do it for you. Details on the Crucible blog here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Product Video: Tormek T-4 Sharpening System

Highland Woodworking - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 8:00am

Are you thinking of upgrading the sharpening in your shop, but don’t want to break the bank? Consider the Tormek T-4 Sharpening System, available at Highland.

And for a limited time, you can get the Bushcraft Limited Edition T-4, that includes a $40 Knife Jig, $20 Axe Jig and a $49 Mora Kansbol knife, all for $425 while limited supplies last (a $93 net savings!)

In the video below, Steve Johnson takes a closer look at the Tormek T-4, walking us through the new sharpening process he has adopted for his shop.

The post Product Video: Tormek T-4 Sharpening System appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Finishing Workshop @ CW – Grain Filling 1

The Barn on White Run - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 6:55am

One of the aspects of  finishing that has occupied the interests of woodworkers for centuries has been the quest for executing a smooth and glossy surface.  Part and parcel of that effort has been to diminish the texture of the wood itself, hence the need for grain filling.  Its importance and vagaries were such that I have introduced two disparate exercises into my teaching, both of which were pretty explicitly described in the historical literature.  As done by the ancients, the quest for a non-contaminating grain filler with both enough hardness and flexibility to fulfill the task led them to employ purified beeswax as the backbone for the fill material.

The first exercise was to prepare the base for spirit varnish pad polishing, sometimes known in our vernacular as “French polishing.”  In this instance the objective is to flow molten beeswax onto the surface, then scrape off any excess in readying for the pad polishing.  Historically they would have used a tool similar to a roofers’ soldering iron, albeit a bit more flattened at the end such that it resembles more closely something like our modern electric tacking iron.



So that is what I use.  First the molten wax is drizzled onto the surface by rubbing the hot iron against the block of beeswax, followed by working the iron over the entire surface.

When the entire surface has been saturated with molten wax, the heel of the iron is used to squeegee off any excess and the piece is allowed to cool.  Then using a scraper sans burr, the surface is cleaned fully down to the wood fibers.  Historically this scraper would have been steel or brass, but equally viable now is a piece of plexiglass with a nicely prepared edge.

With a final buffing with a piece of coarse linen or something similar, the end result is a surface ready for the spirit varnish pad polishing to come.

Hand Tools - Sharpening with Japanese Ceramic Stones

The Indian DIY & Woodworker - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 5:47am
Blade and Honing Guide

I am a happy man! I have discovered a great regime for sharpening my plane irons and chisels. I use a honing guide, a simple Eclipse type one that costs about a thousand rupees. It takes just a few seconds to fit a blade and the results are consistent and repeatable. I find that if I use the same honing guide and the same angle on a particular blade, the bevel presented to the stone is consistent and requires very little effort to re-sharpen.

My regime requires the use of three moderately expensive Japanese ceramic stones:
the Sigma Power 400 grit (Rs 2900), Sigma Power #1000 (Rs 2200) and a Naniwa Ebi #8000 (Rs 3400). The prices quoted are for stones from toolsfromjapan.com and exclusive of shipping charges.

I follow this procedure for maintenance sharpening:
1. Fit the blade in a honing guide
2. Do initial honing on #400 stone to raise a burr. About 100 strokes.
2. Refine edge on #1,000 stone - 50 strokes
3. Polish edge on #8,000 stone - about 25 strokes

And Voila, the blade is super sharp once again.
Max time 5 minutes.

Japanese Ceramic stones: Sigma Power #1000 (left), Sigma Power #400 (Centre) and Naniwa Ebi #8000 (Right)

The key to this is the Sigma Power 400 stone which cuts like the devil and is way faster than diamond stones or sandpaper. The Sigma stones work exceptionally well with India made plane blades and the harder Chrome Vanadium chisel steels. Indian plane irons are usually if not exclusively made of EN42 steel, also popularly known as Spring steel. It takes forever to sharpen Spring steel blades on sandpaper and Diamond plates too are not great at taking down this steel. Sigma Power appears to have been designed to wear down this steel in no time at all. It is a marvellous piece of work and hugely reduces sharpening time and encourages me to keep my blades razor sharp. It's so easy.

The downside is the cost - buying the three stones will cost about Rs 10,000. Not a small sum to drop on sharpening supplies. But for the serious woodworker there are few alternatives. Sandpaper in the long run is extremely expensive and so are Diamond stones. Clearly there is a cost for maintaining super sharp blades.

Local Indian carpenters get by with a Rs 180 stone - one could go that route and add a strop with polishing compound. I have, however, tested the sharpness of those blades and the ones sharpened with Japanese ceramic stones; there is really no comparison. Local carpenters use a lot of forces while planing and chiselling which is completely unnecessary if the blades are super sharp. There is also the question of the final quality of a planed surface. The grit at which a blade is honed at will determine the smoothness of the planed surface - no question as it is a direct relationship.

Thin shavings can arise only out of the mouth of a super sharp plane

In other words, if someone is going to invest in hand tools for woodworking, I would advise they keep the number of tools to a minimum but spend on good sharpening stones.

It is better to have just three or four hand planes (Jack, Jointer, Smoother and Block) and about 6 chisels of different widths and a set of good stones. It is worth it if you can stop work and re-sharpen for just 5 minutes and then get back on the job.

I have been flattening small 15 inches square panels in between other work and my sharp planes are a huge help. They are quick, clean and satisfying. Nothing like a good sharpening regime!

Indranil Banerjie
11 October 2017
Categories: Hand Tools

An Introduction to Hand Tools - The Instructor Confesses

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 4:00am

Tomorrow night (I am writing this on Monday evening, October 9th), I will be teaching dovetailing. This Saturday I will be teaching a free class called "Introduction to Hand Tools" for the first time. So I have teaching on my brain. I've taught the dovetailing class before, so I know what's on tomorrow night. It's the second session, and we'll be learning about body movement and sawing straight. This afternoon I checked to make sure that all the wood we need is ready, and Tuesday need to double check that class saws are ready to rumba.

It's the Saturday class that preoccupies me a bit. The class is in response to the many people over the years who have come to our showroom, for themselves or looking for a gift, who are trying to wrap their heads around the idea of using hand tools. They sincerely want to expand their horizons. Sometimes they are familiar only with what Home Depot stocks and hand held power tools. This applies to professionals and amateurs alike. Many are perplexed by the idea what you can actually build anything by hand. Of course, misconception about hand tools are formed by never seeing the tools in efficient operation. You can drill a hole with an electric drill even if the bit is dull and the drill is noisy. But it isn't patently obvious how to work a brace or a bit so it's fun. We have a reputation and a lot of showroom and warehouse space devoted to hand tools, so the curiosity is natural.

What can I do to give people what they've come to discover? I have to get and hold people's attention. I have to make hand tool skill look like obtainable. I have to show the distinction between cheap knockoff tools that don't work well and quality hand tools. And - particularly for the amateurs - I have to show that the basic operations of woodworking by hand, operations that can be performed in a small apartment or shop, don't have to be painful, and can result in good results.

I try to be practical, not (just) philosophical.

I should teach how to measure accurately but I am afraid it isn't sexy enough to keep a class engaged. People want to see sawdust!

I think I want to teach people how to start a cut with a handsaw. That's a big problem people have. They try cutting something and since they can't start the saw they never get to the joyous moment when they can advance easily through the wood.

I think I want to teach people how to set a hinge because that gives me a chance to demonstrate marking out and chiseling to a line. And it's easier than setting up a router.

I think I want to show people how to clamp their work. It's not very sexy but it's pretty useful. I know some tricks with a few clamps that let you set up anywhere even at the kitchen table.

I will have to plane something - wood shavings are sexy. And if I rub the shavings on the wood I can show a wonderful burnished surface.

And of course I plan to drill a big hole with a brace and bit, showing how to not splinter out at the end and also how a ratchet brace really helps with those large holes.

I think that's all I can do in a couple of hours. My main goal, of course, is to inspire. I hope that at least a few of the attendees will look at what I am doing, try it themselves and then go home, take the plunge and start building stuff.

If you are in the area this Saturday, you're invited to the class! For more details click here.

another box......

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 1:14am
My best friend says that I am the box king and I make the same kind of box all the time. However, comma, slant, backslash, and double ditto marks, this box is different. 99.99% of the boxes I do make are dovetailed but this box is mitered. I'm not a fan of miters and I tend to avoid using them. But now that I have a miter box and it cuts a good 45° miter, I may be banging out a boatload of mitered boxes.

I made a mitered box tonight and I made one with a method I have seen many times before. I had thought of making it in the past but I felt it was something beyond my capabilities. That was mostly due to the box being mitered. The other part has to do with how the lid is secured, sans hinges or some other contrivance of that ilk.

my box
I will use this box at work to store my rubber bands in. This drawing is a side view of the one of the box parts and the interior on all four will be same. The box will be sawn apart down the middle of the 5/8" dado separating the box into a lid and a bottom. I will then fit a piece of wood into the bottom half of the dado and extend it up over the top of the lid a 1/4". The lid will now be secured and held in place by that. That is the plan and we'll see how it shakes out.

find a couple pieces of 1/2 stock
I plowed the grooves at the top and bottom and the dado is next. I had been thinking about this during my lunch break and how to best go about making it. The tried and true marking knife, chisel, and router would work but I decided to try something new for me.

marked where the 5/8" dado will go
this isn't carved in stone
The measurement for the dado and the distance down from the top isn't critical. I did them by eye and I was more concerned with the bottom storage being maximized. I also didn't want to make the top too narrow as it will get stressed a bit taking it off and putting it back on.

used the 043 to make the dado
 I plowed the two outside grooves first and then plowed another one down the chunk left in the middle.

last dado done
I removed the bulk of the waste with a chisel and then finished with the router.

two long sides done
I am going to put the box together off the saw. I haven't done any saw cuts at 90° and the 45's  so far appear to be accurate but very rough.

can't forget to mark the dado
Once this is glued up I would have to ask Superman to tell me where the dado is.

all the parts are sawn and I'm ready for a dry fit
wee bit too long
The first dry fit looked ok but I couldn't completely close the miters with hand pressure. I did a couple of plane and check dance steps with the fit  before it closed up. It easy to get the right size for the plywood. It has to end exactly where the groove exits on the 45 slope.

this is ready to glue up
The miters closed up and looked pretty good on this dry fit. I see myself using the miter box a lot more now. One thing I'll be looking at a bit closer is the saw. It feels sharp, cuts easily, and I can feel set in the teeth. But it leaves a very rough cut surface in pine. I haven't tried it in a hardwood yet but I think a touch up sharpening may be in the future.

wax protection
I put some wax at the ends of the dado to help with removing any glue squeeze out that may end up there. On the bottom half I'll be gluing in a piece of wood but not the top. I will clean up the wax with mineral spirits.

glued with hide glue
It appears success with a band clamp is helped by good miters. This is the first time I can recall that I glued something up with these clamps and I didn't cuss up a storm. As I tightened the clamps the box got drawn up on the miters. They did not slip and slide by each other and  they all stayed aligned as I cranked down on the screw.

Tomorrow I'll saw it in two and fit the bottom piece in the dado.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
The President of the United States rates a 21 gun salute. How many does the Vice President get?
answer - 19

This Weekend: Don Williams at our Storefront

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 6:03pm


Here’s a last-minute surprise: Don Williams will be at our storefront this Saturday (Oct. 14) to sign books and talk about all things A.J. Roubo, H.O. Studley and historical finishing.

If you’d like to chat with Don and ask him to sign a book, be sure to stop by between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. (I don’t want to force him to stay in one place all day.) Don is the author (or co-author) of some of our most intense and rewarding books, including:

With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture
To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry
Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley

Don is a wellspring of information on historical finishing techniques (he is the only person I know with a shellac collection?). And is a remarkably generous person with his time and his hard-won information. So this visit is a very pleasant surprise.

As I mentioned before, we’ll have lots to see this weekend, including my completed Saalburg workbench (a replica of a surviving 1,800-year-old workbench) and the Horse Garage, which will become our machine room. Plus Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney from Popular Woodworking Magazine will be hanging around. It should be a fun day.

The storefront is located at 837 Willard St. in Covington, Ky. We’re open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Book Signing at LAP Storefront

The Barn on White Run - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 5:34pm


I’ve decided to trek to Covington KY this coming Saturday to sign Roubo and Studley books at the Lost Art Press storefront open-house (and pick up my own copies of the Deluxe version of the new Roubo volume).  I should be there from mid-morning through mid-afternoon if you want me to sign your book.

Actually, I’ll be there even if you don’t want me to sign your book.

Introducing Pencil Precision from Bridge City Tool Works

Bridge City Tools - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 4:13pm

Drivel Starved Nation!

It’s always exciting when we have something new to share… which I suppose makes this post news. (I did that math all by myself – FYI)

Since 1983, (that’s 34 human years, but 311 tool maker years), we have been producing impeccably crafted bench tools primarily for avocational woodworkers. It’s been mostly fun, but not as fun as it could have been knowing what I know now…

Three years ago, I experienced a life changing happening in China that I cannot get out of my head. If you missed my original post, you can read it here.

What I learned over the previous three years is the enthusiastic joy the Chopstick Master™ has brought to people’s lives the world around  is something I hope to duplicate with future offers from Bridge City.

I believe the thrill of using the Chopstick Master is not the pair of chopsticks (yes, they are beautiful and function perfectly), but the self-esteem boost one experiences from the making process. Learning something new is always its own reward (good and bad) but there is another aspect in play here that is noteworthy. And that is the power of gesture.

To make a pair of chopsticks takes about 15 minutes. Giving them away as a gesture creates a feeling that lasts way beyond those fleeting 15 minutes.  It is simply about as good as one can feel about themselves. And it is contagious, as in Quality is Contagious™.

Last January I met with the lawyers that manage our patents and trademarks and we were discussing the improbable success of the Chopstick Master when one of them blurted, ”What’s next, a gizmo to make pencils?” This unintended comment, meant as a joke, was simply a great idea in my mind.  Why?  Because I felt that making pencils would be 10 times more fun than making chopsticks! And having fun, is a big deal to me.  I now love lawyer humor too!

I left on my annual work retreat in February and immediately jumped head first into the rabbit hole of pencil making (when the Muse talks you listen). I have been doing almost nothing since.  So yes, your fearless Tool Potentate has yet again “bet the farm” on this improbable idea. It worked with the Jointmaker Pro and I sure do hope it works here…

The patent and trademark has been filed so here’s an overview of how  Pencil Precision™  works;

Using our venerable HP-6v2 Plane (any version with locking dovetail nuts), you attach the pencil groove soles, insert the iron and adjust for a whisper cut, attach the fixed purpose acetyl depth skids, and plane the supplied 170mm cedar blank until the plane quits cutting. This process creates two 1mm radius channels and dimensions the blank stock to exactly 4mm in thickness. Repeat this for the second blank. The blue knob tightens the red clamp jaw which freezes the blank in place. The unit was designed to work on a kitchen counter or workbench. This step for both halves is less than 5 minutes.
Cutting Pencil Lead Channels 700

Once the two halves are complete, you put a thin film of wood glue on one side, position the 2mm dia lead blanks in place and use the fixture to clamp the blanks for at least 1 hour. No other tools are required (OK, a small hammer will help later…) but this device is literally a factory in a box.
Glue Up Image 700

You next place the pencil sandwich back into the fixture using the orange index clamp pads. These keep the pencil blank centered while you plane 1/2 the diameter of a round pencil blank. All pencils shapes emanate from this round pencil blank. When the plane quits cutting (the depth skids control everything so you cannot screw up), flip the blank and repeat. The result will be two round pencils! Again, about 5 minutes for this step.
Round Pencil Pass 700

Next, you decide what pencil profile you would like to make, your choices are to stay with round (perfect for colored pencils) or hex, or beaded or our modified Reuleaux profile. In the image below, we are making a beaded pencil. Put in fixture and crank away. You are literally extruding wood through a series of progressive dies (think circular plane irons). The results will almost make you scream with joy the first time, the second and third… it is that much fun! This takes about 1 minute.
Extruding a Pencil 700

With a completed blank, you have to decide now how to finish your pencil. You can paint, or go natural, the many choices are yours. (I will post later why making a pencil out of cocobolo/ebony/rosewood is a stupid idea). With a piece of cardboard under the fixture, your paint set-up looks like this;
Paint Setup 700

Painting will require at least 3 coats, so you need to plan accordingly. We will provide detailed painting tips (I have an airbrush which is awesome) but in the shop we are painting with a brush using acrylics and a top gloss coat. Once the finish is dry, it is now time to cut the tenon to receive the ferrule. This is strikingly easy for anybody regardless of skill. First, you put the pencil blank in the hole and lower the guillotine. Spin the pencil with the cutter engaged to score the shoulder. This takes 15 seconds.
Ferrule Shoulder 700

Once the pencil blank has been scored, you remove the excess wood by repeatedly pushing the ferrule end of the pencil into the hole at the end of the fixture, rotate and repeat. This shaves the pencil to the proper diameter. The other cutter you see is the built in pencil sharpener.
Cutters 700

The supplied ferrules (we have not decided on all the colors yet, but we really like the champagne color, works for everything) are beautiful. Plop one in the the fixture, raise the guillotine to the fixed 90 degree position (no, the blade is not exposed, it just looks that way) and with the pencil resting against the guillotine and the orange body, tap the pencil home. Without this setup it is way too easy to get the ferrule on crooked. All that is left is sharpening and inserting the supplied eraser.
inserting the ferrule 700

What’s not to like?
Beaded Pencil 1 700

Yes, we have a way to identify the lead types and we will offer colored pencil leads for the adult coloring book market.

Imagine making a pencil for your child’s SAT test? Your grandchild’s first pencil? The gesture opportunities are endless. This “pencil factory in a box” can be enjoyed by your entire family on the kitchen counter!

I will give a report on the crazy way our contest was won in my next post. And, we are still working on pricing.



The post Introducing Pencil Precision from Bridge City Tool Works appeared first on John's Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Corner Chairs. Or Are They?

The Furniture Record - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 3:03pm

This is another situation were we need some Federal regulation as to the standardization of furniture terminology to avoid confusion and indicate the actual use and derivation of a furniture type. It is commonly called the corner chair but there is not indication that these types of chairs were used  exclusively in corners:


Circa 1740 – 1765, probably made near Dover, Delaware. From the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover.

There is speculation that this design was meant to allow men wearing sword to sit comfortably. Many doubt this. It can also be called a writing chair, a smoking chair, a roundabout chair or simply Edgar. My personal belief is that exist to promulgate manspread.

There are many variations of corner chairs out there. The common design elements are that the legs are rotated 90° from typical, the side legs continue up to become the arm supports and that the chair arm goes from one side leg to the other. I now believe that some of those odd chairs I came across are just corner chair variants.


A previously undiscovered variant or mutant, if you will.

Some are more functional:


A wide apron indicates it probably concealed a chamber pot. From Winterthur.

Some are more elaborate than others:


Twists and splats and beads, oh my.

Some aren’t rounded:


This one would fit well into a corner.

Some are less than utilitarian:


Ugly with a certain lack of grace.

Some are more modern in their approach:


With a touch of Asian influence.

Whatever they are and however they’re made, you can find more in a photo set HERE.

Washington Monument

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 12:33pm

Do we ever reach an age where we become too old for heroes? And I don’t just mean every day heroes such as firemen, policemen, and teachers (not that they aren’t important), but legendary heroes such as King Arthur or Babe Ruth. Maybe you all have, but I haven’t.

Growing up in Philadelphia, stories about the American Revolution was pretty much second nature for me. Some of my earliest memories revolve around Valley Forge Park, the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin, and the Liberty Bell. The battles of Brandywine and Germantown were fought basically at my back door, so it was just a normal part of growing up, for me, to learn as much as I could about the War for Independence.

However, of all the legendary names from the War for Independence that I can spout off automatically, George Washington stands atop the list.

As a child, Washington was a mythical figure, a larger than life titan, a legendary demi-god who descended from Heaven, led America to a glorious victory, and rode off into immortality in a chariot of fire. As I grew older, my hobby of researching the American Revolution turned more towards the battles and tactics of the time. I loved the political intrigue, the clandestine spy operations with code names and invisible ink, and the sacrifices of the common soldier. Yet, I always found myself coming back the Washington, even if in passing.

Fast forward into married adulthood. Four years ago my family was going through a difficult time. A very close family member had become ill, I was not feeling so hot myself, and it was quite frankly very difficult on all of us, in particular my wife. Living so close to Valley Forge National Park, I found myself there often, taking long walks just to ease my mind. And though I had been to VFP many times, and though I had known the story of the park since before I could read, the park was still to me in many ways a place of legend, in much the same way that George Washington had become a legendary figure. But it was during those walks that began to look around, and not just inwardly. I found myself reading the many marker stones and inscribed monuments to those who served there; I spoke to park rangers and historians, I attended park events, and soon after I found myself once again engrossed in history. It saved me.

I read at least 50 or more books on the Revolution. I volunteered at the park whenever possible (and still do to this day). I took it upon myself to become a steward of history, learning whatever I could whenever I could. And in doing so I came to admire George Washington more and more, not just for his war time exploits, but as the leader of a new nation.

I don’t know how many books I’ve read just on Washington to be honest. I now count 22 on the book shelf right behind me, and at least that many more in my Kindle reader. A few of those books were little more than fluff pieces, but the majority of them are true in-depth studies, and just as I chose those books specifically to de-mystify the legend and learn more about the man, instead his legend grew in my eyes and I now hold him in greater esteem more than ever. He was far from perfect, and I am not implying that he was; he had faults like all of us do; I am only doing my utmost to understand the man in context to the era he lived in, and I found perhaps the greatest leader of men the world saw in the entire millennium.

So this is a woodworking blog, right, and not an ode to historical figure? Why then post a fanboy crush diary entry on George Washington and his ragtag band of rebels? Glad you asked.

A few weeks back I went with my family to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. It was a geek-out heaven for me, and among the thousands of artifacts were some of George Washington’s personal belongings. Of course, there were also replicas, and among those was a desk that was believed to be similar to the furniture that would have been used by the officers, and perhaps Washington himself, during the American Revolution. I made the decision right then and there to build it myself.

Washington desk

Washington’s campaign desk?

It just so happens that I have been planning for the past year to dedicate a section of our family room to my love of history. I have collected dozens if not hundreds of historical artifacts on the era: artwork, newspapers, broadsides, books, lamps, and tools. Admittedly, most of those artifacts are replicas, but they are of high quality. As of last month it was my plan to restore a desk which belonged to my father-in-law’s family and use that to house my collection. Though I still plan on restoring that desk, I have decided to make the “Washington” desk my centerpiece.

Even better news is that in doing some more research, I’ve found that most of Washington’s campaign furniture was made from walnut, which I thankfully have plenty to use ( I had planned on using it regardless). I’ve recently consulted with my first and best woodworking mentor, his excellency Chuck Bender, on some of the construction details, and he was, of course, a huge help.

With any luck I am hoping to not only have the final measurements down, but the material milled and the desktop panel glued up this weekend. The top I will make using breadboard ends. The legs may be a bit of a challenge in that I don’t plan on making them foldable because I have no intention of moving this desk throughout the colonies. So I may make those using a ship lap joint, which is a joint I’ve generally only made perpendicular. Otherwise, I plan on staying pretty much true to the photo.

I’m hoping this turns out well, because even though it may not be my most ambitious project, I can already guarantee that it will be my favorite thus far. George Washington has inspired me much of my life, even more so as an adult than as a child, and I cannot think of a better way to adorn my home and continue my research than to create a piece of furniture inspired by the man himself.


Categories: General Woodworking

Amish Furniture Styles: Mission vs Shaker

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 10:31am

Amish furniture has been present in North America since 1737 when the first Amish families arrived from the Netherlands. As more Amish settled in America and applied their gift of wood craftsmanship, they soon made a name for themselves as master furniture makers. It wasn’t until 1774 that the arrival of Shakers from England began to change the way the Amish designed their furniture.

The Shaker brought with them a style of furniture that was simple, unadorned and visually appealing to the way of life the Amish chose to live. Amish furniture makers adopted this new style, aptly named Shaker style, and began to craft this type of furniture. The long history of the Shaker style amongst the Amish communities is reason why this particular design is most often associated as the classic Amish furniture type. However, there is another type to consider.

The second style of Amish furniture is Mission style. Mission furniture was adopted by the Amish in 1898 and appealed to craftsmen that wanted that heavier, dark look in their work. This style was adapted from the furniture commonly found in Spanish missions. Despite being so heavy looking, overall the designs of Mission furniture are very simple, similar to why the Shaker style is so beloved.

While both Shaker and Mission style furniture are made by Amish craftsmen, and they’re both very similar in terms of simplicity, there are some significant differences between the two. If you plan on investing in something like an Amish living room furniture it is important you understand what sets these two styles apart from one another.

Features of Classic Shaker Furniture:

Tapering and Turnings

In effort to keep furniture as light as possible tapering and turning of furniture, especially the legs, was done. Tapering is the graduation of the wood piece to a small size while turning is the removal of excess material, often on the inside part of table and chair legs. When tapering is done it is very gentle and gradual, not ornately or sharply tapered.

Wooden Drawer Pulls and Knobs

Shaker style is most often finished with wooden drawer pulls and knobs. This maintained the overall simple, understated look for the furniture. It also allows the craftsman to use one product for the entire piece of furniture.

Plain Wood Finish

Majority of Shaker furniture is made of light colored woods like pine, maple or cherry. These were sealed and finished but never stained dark. The purpose of this is to allow the quality of the wood to speak for itself without relying on a heavy stain to show the beauty.

Hidden Joinery

The Amish are not prideful and do not do work to appeal to the ego, which is the main reason why their furniture is fairly basic. Joinery requires meticulous skill and is often hidden from sight. For example, a half-blind dovetail will be used on drawers, which could only be seen when open.

Graduated Drawers

If you’re purchasing a dresser, buffet or some other type of Shaker furniture with drawers you’ll notice that, more often than not, the drawers are graduated. This means the drawer at the bottom will be the largest while the drawer on top will be the smallest. This design is practical and also looks appealing.

Features of Classic Mission Furniture:

Thick Wood Stained Dark

Oak is one of the more common types of wood used for Mission furniture, but regardless of wood type Mission work tends to consist of thick pieces. Mission furniture is also stained dark, varying from a rich brown to a deep stain close to black. This really makes the furniture stand out and look even stronger.

Exposed Joinery

Rather than having hidden joints Mission furniture tends to really showcase the joinery. The mortise and tenon joint technique is very common with Mission furniture, and for good reason. This joint is incredibly strong and also very beautiful to look at.

Straight Lines

Most Mission furniture relies on straight lines, with very little tapering or curvature present. This is an even more simplistic design than Shaker, though it requires just as much skill to design.

Parallel Slats

Since Mission furniture is thicker the use of parallel slats on open portions of furniture, such as the back of a couch or chair, to make it lighter. Slats are very popular and highly requested on custom Mission furniture.


While not exceedingly common, some Amish to incorporate the use of leather into their Mission furniture. This was done in the Spanish style and has been carried over in some shops. Most often you will see leather touches on chair seats or perhaps even on a headboard.

Choosing a Style

Shaker furniture is the epitome of Amish craftsmanship. It retains the very original designs of tapers, all-wood construction, and plain wood. In a way Shaker furniture settles more into the room and is more neutral. Mission style furniture is bold and stunning, easily becoming the statement pieces in the room. The use of hardware is more traditional of what most Americans are accustomed to in their furniture.

Both Shaker and Mission style furniture are beautiful as well as equally appealing to anyone that appreciates minimalistic, handcrafted furnishings. Choosing to go with Amish-made furniture is a guarantee of quality, expertise and traditional design.

Categories: General Woodworking

Wood Stain is Not Wood Finish

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 10:05am

I often come across people who are confused about the difference between a stain and a finish. They’ll use a phrase such as “I want to stain the wood,” or “would you stain the wood for me?” when what they really want is some color added to the wood and a finish applied to deepen the color and protect the wood from moisture. They’re including the finish within the word […]

The post Wood Stain is Not Wood Finish appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Making Floating Shelves

MVFlaim Furnituremaker - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 5:45am

My wife, Anita wanted me to make some custom floating shelves for the dining room. We had some floating shelves from Ikea, but she wanted something that would match the coffee bar I made her.

Making the shelves were super easy. I grabbed 3/4″ pine and a couple of 2 x 2 select pine from Home Depot. I made the width of the shelves 3 1/8″ thick so that the 2 x 2 would fit inside nicely without getting jammed inside.


I used my miter jack to make sure the sides were a perfect 45 degrees so all the pieces would fit nicely together with no gaps. Most people make these shelves with simple butt joints on the ends, but I didn’t want end grain showing so I took the time to miter the corners.


After making sure everything fit together well, I glued and clamped the whole assembly together.  Anita then stained the shelves with apple cider vinegar, steel wool solution and gel stain to match the coffee bar.


When it came to install the shelves, I attached the 2 x 2 frame to the wall by securing it to the studs making sure it was level.


I then slid the shelf into place and secured it in place from the bottom into the 2 x 2 frame.  I then did the exact same thing on the second shelf.


Here are the shelves installed with a bunch of Rae Dunn pottery on them. Anita was planning on writing messages on the chalk board wall to give it some pizzazz, but decided the wall is too dark and will eventually paint it back normal. What do you think? Should she give the chalk board wall a shot with fancy chalk board writing on it?


New hay rake tine cutter

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 4:51am
I’ve been making wooden hay rakes for several years now. To make the rake teeth, called ‘tines’, a cleft ash billet is knocked through a sharpened steel tube called a tine cutter. As the wood is split from a larger … Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking


Giant Cypress - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 3:28am

I recently finished a joint stool, made from read oak that was originally split from a log, following the method shown in Jennie Alexander and Peter Follansbee’s terrific book, Make a Joint Stool from a Tree. The dimensions are modified because this joint stool will be serving as a footstool for one of our chairs.

A joint stool is a traditional western woodworking project, and doesn’t have an equivalent in Japanese woodworking either as a commonly used piece of furniture, or in terms of the method of construction. Despite this, I made this completely with Japanese tools, except for the part where I drilled holes for the dowels for the drawbored mortise and tenon joints, and for the dowels that attach the top board to the base. There is a slight nod to George Nakashima, as the stretchers have a live edge on the bottom side, I maintained the sapwood on the top, and the decoration on the legs certainly are not in the period style for this type of furniture piece.

My viewpoint on the Japanese woodworking tool world has always been on the side of looking for similarities between Japanese and western woodworking tools, as opposed to focusing on the differences. As with the Bible box I made some years past, I think this project illustrates this point quite nicely. I like to think that this is a good example of how, despite visible differences between groups, there are many more similarities than differences. In these times, that’s a good lesson to keep in mind.

And I’d like to point out that, yes, this project was made with hardwood.

it was a holiday......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 1:25am
Over twenty years out of the service and I still don't think like a civilian. I got up this morning at my usual time, got dressed, and I went to work. At 0700 I was wondering why was I the only person working. There should have been at least a few others at that time besides me. Then I looked at my Lie Nielsen calendar and saw that today was Columbus Day. A Federal holiday. Not only won't there be any mail delivery, I didn't have to be at work.

This is the second I have done this. The last time was also Columbus day about 4-5 years ago. Oh well, shit happens. I was up anyways and I couldn't go to the shop because everyone was still sleeping. I'm sure the couple of hours I was there will be turned into comp time and not OT.

let's have a sharpening party
I added two more to this but I didn't finish it all. I still have two LN irons to sharpen. They have been on the bench for a couple of months now awaiting their turn on the stones.

first one I did
I do free hand sharpening but I try to minimize that. This had to be done that way and it had a high  angle on the bevel - I'm guessing greater than 30°. I sharpened a new partial bevel around 25° and it will be a while before I get the whole of bevel at that. The important thing is the angle on the iron matched the mouth.

some of the output
The other molding plane is the center bead I bought last week and it is now shiny, sharp, and ready to road test.

Instead of sharpening the irons in the planes and putting them back, I cycled them. I took the spares I had and put them in the planes. I sharpened the irons I took out of them and put them in the drawer.

the last of them
I am going to have to work some on my bench chisels.  The whole herd will need to be sharpened soon. I would have done it today but my fingers said that this was enough. At this point here I still had to strop all of these to be 100% done.

polishing the cheeks and sole is dead last
Not only does the autosol shine things up, it protects the metal too.  Months after polishing the planes they will still look pretty decent. The 5 1/2 and 4 1/2 are my go to planes and I keep them out on the bench all the time. They will show wear and tear but they will also look pretty good considering the use they get.

made my center bead
Sharp does fix a lot of problems. I think this will work well for an upcoming project I have in the works.

making another bead
I used my forefinger as a fence to guide the plane for this first part. I did a short run and made some tracks at the end of the board.

tracks end to end
I place the plane at the rear of the first set of tracks I made and extended them another couple of inches. I kept doing this backwards dance step until I had made the tracks from the left side to the right. Once I had that I used them to make the whole profile.

I'm not sure if this is the correct way to do this but it worked. The other way to do this is to use a fence nailed or clamped to the stock. The more I do handwork, the more I understand that my hands and eyes are a powerful combination that are capable of a lot of things.

it looked straight
The left side is 9/16" from the edge and the right end is a frog hair over 9/16". I think this is more than acceptable considering it was done strictly with my hands and eyes guiding me.

the unclogger
My first center bead took a bit of oomph to do. Then I realized that the mouth was clogged and that is why the profile stopped being developed. On the other center beads I did, I kept the shavings clear of the mouth by using this after each end to end run.

I need lots more practice here
This 1/2" rabbet plane (skewed iron) is going to take a while to master. I made 6 practice runs on the long grain edge and had 6 failures. I got a rabbet started on the front and exit, but the middle I hardly planed anything at all. I'm not sure if it was the board had a hump, the plane sole isn't flat, or the fault of the operator. Or maybe a combination of all three. When I first got this I planed a rabbet with it out of the box with no problems. So I'm leaning towards the operator being OTL(out to lunch) here.

a pair of #8 H/Rs
I was going to buy an individual harlequin set of H/Rs but I may reverse myself on this. I want to get the even numbers from 4 to 12. These two cost me $90 and that buying that set will run $450. Jim Bode had a harlequin set of 1-18 for $295. I should have, could have, would have, but didn't buy them.

a little bit of pitting on round iron
I didn't want to flatten and polish this out now but I hope it does when the time comes. That pitting is right on the edge which will make this useless.

1/8" beading plane
 I bought this to complete my collection of beaders. I used it once and made a bead and the second time I got nothing. When I looked at the iron, the round part of the bead looked to be almost gone. I tried to file a new round in the iron with a miniature round file and I think I was successful with that.  I wasn't sure if the file would work on the iron but it did. It took me a few tries but I think I got it.

Not too too bad for my first attempt at this
The top bead is the one that the plane was making before I tried to file the iron. The one on the bottom is after the 3rd time I filed the iron. Not perfect but much improved and I have to work on the bead circle to remove the line on the outside edge.

decided to play with my 3/4" T/G (match) planes
 One thing I should have done first was to scrap the paint off the face of the board. I got paint on the plane that I'll have to remove. I also think that thin layer of paint caused some problems when I plowed the groove and the tongue.

groove was easy, the tongue was a bitch to do
If either of these planes gets tilted off of 90, even a couple of degrees, the plane stalled. The tongue plane stalled so bad I couldn't push it. I had push it backwards and lift it off and restart.  I did better with the groove plane I think because of my use with the plow plane. Initially I had the iron set too deep and fix for that is easy - bring it up some.

joint line isn't aligned
back side is off set too
Flipping the board to the other face made the alignment worse.

scraped the paint and made another set
This helped as the second run was a bit easier. However, the tilting problem was still evident and the plane jammed on me twice doing the tongue.

groove done - still a bit too heavy on the depth of the iron by the thickness of the shavings
better alignment  on the reference faces
I made 5 sets of T/Gs and I used the same two boards for all of them. I just kept cutting off the T/G and doing a new set. This second run had the best alignment of the 5.

another hiccup
The tongue is too long or the groove is too shallow. Since both planes bottomed out after making their half of the joint, it's a coin toss.

the tongue and groove looks ok here
I planed the tongue down and the two came together with one flat face. Not aligned well, but one flat face.

hiding the misalignment
I planed a bevel on the left one and a 1/4" astragal on the right. I think if the astragal was larger it would look better but you get the idea. These are the same boards from above after I planed the tongue.

plane I used to make the bevel
I have no idea what the original purpose of this plane was. Whatever it was, it is well made and boxed in the high wear area. It will plane varying width bevels with the grain. Against the grain it tears out like crazy.

might as well play with the 1/2" T/G
I also have a 3/8, 5/8, and 7/8 sets of T/G. The three of them all have a problem with one of the irons in each of them rendering them useless. This 1/2" set appears to have a good set of T/G irons.

misaligned and the tongue fits snug in the groove
just as bad if one board is flipped
1/2" thick board and the tongue is off center
I am still doing good on plowing the grooves
1/2" irons
The groove iron is wider than the slot in the tongue iron. I went into buying up T/G planes with a wild look in my eyes and I never did much with them. The 3/4" match set is the best one I bought and they are proving to be a bit on the finicky side to use. And I have yet to use any of them on a project.

the 3/4" T/G irons
The tongue iron fits in the groove iron. The tongue appears to be a good fit in the tongue plane and the same for the groove plane. But somehow I have nagging feeling that all is not well in Disneyland here. I can't put my finger on it but maybe with some time using my other molding planes I'll figure it out.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is a footling compliant?
answer - one that is trivial and irritating

Influences That Affect Your Point of View

Paul Sellers - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 1:00am

Influence, the word, the resulting action, literally means to ‘flow in’, I suppose suggesting more a gentle ebbing that nudges the shoreline or a steady but easy current influencing another entity, source or supply of one kind or another. Sometimes an influence goes one way and other times it can be more symbiotic but not […]

Read the full post Influences That Affect Your Point of View on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools


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