Hand Tool Headlines

The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator




A Holdfast Rant

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 7:23pm


This evening I posted a rant at Crucible Tool about our holdfasts. I’m not very good at rants and need to take some lessons from Raney. Still, here is is.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

New Article in Popular Woodworking

The Black Dog's Woodshop - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 6:47pm

In this month's issue of Popular Woodworking, I have an article (my first!) on making a double iron coffin smoothing plane. Here's a link to a description of the article, and here's a link to purchase, should you be so inclined.

I didn't choose the title--Popular Woodworking likes puns more than the NY Post does!--but I'm very happy with how it all turned out. Megan Fitzpatrick originally asked me to write a seven-page article. A few months later, I emailed her to say "I have a problem. I've written 15 pages and I'm not done yet." But somehow, she managed to condense it down to 10 pages, without omitting any essential content.

I tried to put everything I could think of into this article, but after it was done, I realized there was one thing I didn't mention: no matter how complete an article is, it can never substitute for learning at the School of Hard Knocks. I tried to include everything I've learned over the past five years about avoiding all the pitfalls in planemaking, but you know what? The only way to really learn about those pitfalls is to experience them. You'll probably make some mistakes on your first plane. You might even have to start over. But if you want to make a plane, persevere, and you'll get there. I won't pretend it's easy, but it's not rocket science, either.

If anyone out there has comments or questions, feel free to post below.

Categories: Hand Tools

Registration Opens Friday for Welsh Stick Chair Class

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 4:37pm

Photo courtesy of Tim Bowen Antiques.

Chris Williams and I have decided to hold this Welsh stick chair class on May 21-25, 2018, at our Covington, Ky., shop. Registration will open at noon Eastern time on Friday, Oct. 13. You can read more about the class and the shop environment here. Here are the particulars of registration:

  1. Registration will be electronic. We will post a link at noon on Friday to sign up. Once the six spots in the class are filled, there will be a waiting list. I strongly encourage you to sign up for the waiting list if you want to attend this class. People’s lives change.
  2. After registering, the six in the class will be sent an invoice for a $500 deposit. The remainder of the fee ($1,000) will be due April 1. Until April 1, your deposit is refundable. After April 1, there are no refunds. I know this is strict, but there are a few students who play a juggling game with classes and deposits. We do not want to play this game.
  3. Attendees will receive a tool list and details on booking accommodations in the Covington area. Don’t worry – there are lots of rooms here.
  4. A small materials fee will be due on the day the class begins. I’m trying to source as much of the material from tree services, so I don’t yet know what the fee will be. Likely about $100.
  5. As mentioned before, we strongly encourage attendees to have some chairmaking experience or a good deal of experience with handwork. The class will be challenging. Chris works to a very high level, and we will do everything to bring you up there as well.
  6. This will be an intense and gratifying week. All your senses will be involved. As Chris’s assistant and ambassador for Covington, I’ll make sure everyone eats and drinks well and gets a good taste of what this area has to offer. Unless you are a devoted hermit, I think you’ll find the evenings as enlightening and stimulating as the classroom time.

Finally, as I mentioned before, this is not a money-making venture for Lost Art Press or myself. I’ll be handling all the particulars myself, and I’m not a professional secretary or university registrar. So please be patient with me as I put together this special event.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: John Brown Book, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Finishing Workshop @CW – Surface Prep With a Fiber Bundle

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 4:26pm

The hurdle of working out-of-order on some exercises was one the CW folks had no problem with, an accommodation I credit to their being interrupted almost minute-by-minute when the shops are open.  Apparently the concept of continuity is nearly irrelevant for much of their work.  I am particularly impressed with their ability to work in in such a crowded, dimly lit space.  I know I was having trouble photographing them.

One of the concepts I was trying to persuade them to incorporate into their work protocol was burnishing the surfaces with a bound bundle of plant fibers, a recent addition to my tool kit as a result of copying some of Roubo’s techniques employing a tool he called a polissoir.  The same tool is known across the globe, going back several centuries in the Orient and certainly known in Occidental workshops for almost as long, making it a perfect fit for their interpretation of the English mid-18th Century Anthony Hay Shop in Williamsburg.

I had plenty of sorghum polishers in hand so everyone got their own to prep and use.

As is always the case the results were impressive as the tips were prepped with a sheet of fine abrasive paper, and then the raw hand-planed surfaces rubbed with the smoothed bundle.

BTW, one of the videos I am thinking of shooting is titled The Compleat Polissoir, which will be a much more in-depth exposition on the topic than I addressed in my earlier video.

The prepped polissoirs were employed later on as we explored the role of wax grain filling.

Making an infill plane from scratch 14, depth adjuster.

Mulesaw - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 2:53pm
My original plan was to make a Norris style adjuster for the depth adjustment of the blade. But after completing the rear tote, I discovered that on account of me making the handle as small and delicate as possible, I had also made it difficult to fit a regular Norris adjuster to the plane.

I have toyed with a couple of alternatives:
1) No depth adjustment mechanism, just the tried and trusted plane adjusting hammer.
2) Inventing a new type of depth adjuster.

Ref 1) This would enable me to just move forward and have the plane done in a relatively short time, but I would also risk becoming the laughing stock of the woodworking blogosphere, since I have earlier in this series mentioned that I was going to make a depth adjuster.
A positive thing would be that there is very little risk of messing up the plane.

Ref 2) I have sketched a couple of ideas, and even went as far as to begin work on the most promising of those models.
The best design sported a worm gear giving an accuracy of roughly 1/1000" for one full revolution of the adjustment screw.

Today I had to make up my mind about which route I wanted to take.
I looked critically at the screw holding the chip breaker, since that one was fairly large,and in turn that was causing the problem of an even larger retaining ring to move the blade assembly back and forth.
Very unlike my usual behavior, I decided that it might still be easier to turn a new screw for the chip breaker, and then go ahead with a regular Norris adjuster, instead of risking to mess up the entire plane in an attempt to make a supe fine adjustment mechanism.
So that ended up being the outcome.

My Norris style adjuster will not be used for lateral adjustment, since the rear tote is fairly thin on the top. So I will need a hammer to adjust it laterally anyway. But the depth adjustment will hopefully work.

The new design depth adjuster would have the depth adjustment screw going out the left side of the rear tote. This finger screw would activate a worm gear with a ratio of 30:1.
The worm gear would then drive a threaded rod with a retaining ring on it (just like a regular Norris adjuster). The threaded rod was meant to have a pitch of 1mm/revolution (M6) A bit finer than 1/4" UNC. (Maybe it is equivalent to UNF?)
So the math of the adjuster looks like this:
1 revolution of the finger screw = 1/30 round of the worm gear = 1/30 of 1 mm = 0,03 mm (1.2 thou)

Maybe I should try to make an adjuster like that one day, just for the fun of it.

Blade and Norris style pieces mounted.
Worm gear experiments above the blade.

Categories: Hand Tools

Mortise and Tenon Magazine: Issue 3

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 11:48am

It will come as no surprise that we like hand tools – we do, after all, show you how to use them in just about every issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. But we promulgate “hybrid woodworking” – using both hand tools and power tools – depending on your preferences, and we show you how to make the most of both. “Mortise & Tenon Magazine” is dedicated to pure hand tool […]

The post Mortise and Tenon Magazine: Issue 3 appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Blackened Wood: Designing with Fire

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 9:27am

Black and grays are the stars of today’s architecture and furniture design. Most of the black in today’s wood furniture and cabinetry is painted or produced by means of stains and dyes, but another way to turn a piece black is by charring. Charring involves no solvents and requires no drying time. When topped with a low-luster finish such as Osmo Polyx oil, it produces a velvety appearance that highlights […]

The post Blackened Wood: Designing with Fire appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

The Best Tire Swing Ever

The Literary Workshop Blog - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 7:59am

We have a large oak tree in our front yard, and while we have attempted to put up several different kinds of tree swings for the children over the years, this tire swing has been by far the best.  The children have dubbed it the Best Tire Swing Ever.

Tire Swing Construction

It works best with two or three children, though one child can lay across the middle of the swing, and I have found up to five clinging to it at one time.  It has become something of a magnet for neighborhood children.  Constructing this tire swing was simple, and my only regret is that I didn’t put up something like this sooner.

For this tutorial, I took the pictures as I was replacing some worn-out parts on the original swing, so some of the parts will look old and others will look new.  As with any outdoor play equipment, you should routinely check for wear and damage, and replace worn parts where necessary.

Constructing the Swing: From the Bottom Up

Every tire swing begins with a tire.  I recommend a large tire if you can find one.  A 15″ rim diameter works really well, although a 14″ is acceptable.  If you don’t happen to have an old tire laying around your garage, it’s easy enough to get one.  (If there is a creek nearby, there’s probably a tire or two half-submerged in it–and if your neighbors routinely refer to it as a “crik,” it definitely has tires in it.)

Once you have your tire, decide which side will be the top of the swing.  Drill three 1/4″ equidistant holes in the sidewall of the tire for tie-in points.  You can do some fancy geometry to locate the holes, but I just eyeballed the locations.  Now flip the tire over, and in the opposite sidewall, drill six or more 1/4″ holes so that rainwater won’t collect in the tire.  Spin the drill bit in each hole for a couple seconds while you move the drill up and down, just to make sure the drainage holes don’t close back up.

Now it’s time to get some hardware.  At each of the three tie-in points, you need an assembly like this:

Tire Swing Construction

For each of your three chains, you need:

  • One stainless-steel eye bolt (I used a 1/4″ diameter bolt)
  • Two regular washers
  • One fender washer
  • One stop-nut
  • One quick-link.

If you’re not familiar with these terms, the sales associate at your local hardware store can probably help you.  (But for the record, a stop-nut is a regular steel nut with a nylon insert, which prevents the nut from loosening.  A fender-washer is an extra-wide washer.)  Although the bolt should be stainless steel, the rest of the hardware doesn’t have to be.  The tire protects it from the weather–but you can get all stainless hardware if you prefer.

The eye bolt will insert into the hole in the tire.  There should be one regular washer on the top of the tire.  Underneath, there should be the fender washer, the regular washer, and the stop-nut.  Hold the top of the eye bolt with pliers and tighten the nut with a ratchet equipped with a deep-well socket.

Next, you need the chain.  For chain, we used swing-set chain with plastic coating.  This keeps little fingers from getting pinched and clothes from getting caught.  Each chain is about 4′ long, so you will need 12′ total.  But don’t trust the hardware store’s measurement.  Make sure each chain has exactly the same number of links in it, or the swing will sit crooked.

Tire Swing Construction

The quick-link attaches the eye-bolt to the chain.  When you hang up the swing, be sure to orient the quick-link as you see above.  The bolt on the link should be tightened downward, not upward.  Otherwise, gravity will eventually loosen the nut and open the link.  So to repeat a saying that I learned from some rock climbers, screw down so you don’t screw up.

Up at the other end of the chains, you will need to gather them into a single tie-in point.  I used a device called a shackle:

Tire Swing Construction

Double-check that your chains are not twisted.  It helps to have a helper to hold the three chains in place while you attach the shackle.  Use pliers to tighten down the shackle’s bolt as much as you can.

At this point, you could tie the rope directly to the shackle and skip the next piece of hardware.  However, I find it very helpful to have a quick way to take the swing down if necessary.  (We always take it down when we go on vacation, for example.)  Also, it’s a lot easier to tie a knot in a thick rope without the weight of the whole swing pulling down on it.

Tire Swing Construction

I got the biggest stainless-steel snap-link (like a carabiner) that I could find at the home center.  The shackle can easily slip into the snap-link.  (Or, that’s how I had originally designed the swing.  But with our swing, I found that the rope I had hung was about a foot too short, so I added a short length of chain between the shackle and the snap-link.)  The snap-link hangs from the rope and ties in to the shackle.

Now about the rope.  The rope is probably the part of the swing most vulnerable to damage, so do not skimp on the rope.  We got the thickest braided-nylon rope that our home-center carried.  It think it’s about 7/8″ in diameter.  I repeat, do NOT skimp on rope!  Cheap, coated rope will quickly fray and break.

I can’t tell you how much to get, but I will tell you to get a couple feet more than you think you will need.  Remember that the knot at the bottom could take as much as a foot and a half, and the knot at the top (plus what goes around the tree branch) could take 2′-3′, depending on the size of the branch.  So measure the distance between the top of your swing chains and the branch and add 3′-4′.  The rope may also stretch a bit with use, so err on hanging the swing a little high at first.  I found that hanging the swing 2′ off the ground was about right.

You’ll need to tie knots in each end of the rope.  (If you’re a sailor or a Boy Scout, you can ignore this section about knots.)  There are a number of different knots that are appropriate for this application, but you need a knot that makes a non-tightening loop.  I used a very simple “overhand knot on a bight.”  It’s extremely easy to tie.  YouTube is your friend.  Tie the knot on both ends of the rope.

Tire Swing Construction

Now you need to get the rope around the overhead tree branch.  Unless you have a very tall ladder, getting the rope over the branch can be… um… interesting.  I ended up tying the rope to the end of a long, thin stick and throwing the stick over the branch javelin-style.  It only took me four or five tries!  I will not be competing in the javelin throw in any upcoming track-and-field events anytime soon, I assure you.

The good news is that you don’t have to tie the rope around the tree branch.  Since you have tied your overhand-knot-on-a-bight onto the end, just get the rope up over the branch.  Slip one end of the rope through the loop, and pull the rope until the rope is secure, as you see above.  Not only does this save you the trouble of having to tie a knot way up in a tree, but it also won’t cut off the tree branch’s circulation.

The Right Tree

Now a word about trees and tree branches.  Choosing the right location for your tire swing is important for both maximum fun AND safety.  First, be sure you are hanging your tire swing from a live branch–one that has lots of healthy-looking leaves on it–not from a dead one.  From the ground, it’s not always easy to spot the difference between a live and a dead branch unless you look carefully.

Second, the branch should be thick.  Branches do look thinner from the ground than they actually are, but on balance, choose a very stout-looking branch.  I think our swing is hanging from a branch that is over 8″ in diameter by my estimate.  Finally, be sure your swing is not too close to the tree’s trunk, or to any other obstacles that the swing might hit.  You can hang this kind of swing on a really high branch, so measure out your clearance around the swing.  Hang the swing at least as far from the tree’s trunk (or other obstacles) as the branch is from the ground.  So if the branch you’re hanging the swing from is, say, 12′ in the air, then you should hang the swing at least 12′ away from the trunk.  This will allow you to give your kids monster pushes, which they will love!

In my opinion, the higher the branch from which you are swinging, the more fun you will have–to a point.  If you go really high, say over 25′ in the air, the swing becomes difficult to push.  Ours is hanging from a branch that is about 16′ in the air, which is just about ideal.

Now it’s time to hang up your swing.

Tire Swing Construction

Of course, the children will want to test it out.


Yes, this tire swing earns the Schuler Kids’ Seal of Approval!


**Disclaimer: I have done my best to ensure safety by using appropriate hardware and construction materials in this project.  But because I can’t go to the hardware store with you or help you pick out a tree branch, it is your responsibility to ensure that anything you build according to these instructions is strong and safe.  Test everything with your own weight before letting kids onto new equipment.  Furthermore, be aware that outdoor play equipment such as a tire swing does pose inherent dangers to all users, and your kids may suffer falls, bumps, and bruises (not to mention fights over whose turn it is to ride the swing and whose turn it is to push).  If you cannot accept such risks for your kids, do not put up outdoor play equipment.  Risks can be reduced (though not eliminated) by supervising your kids at play, regularly inspecting the equipment for damage, and using the strongest construction materials available.


Tagged: hardware, rope, swing, tire, tire swing, tireswing, tree swing

Review: ‘Carving the Acanthus Leaf’ by Mary May

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 7:05am

CTA_mockup_for_webMary May probably didn’t realize the unintended consequences of one of her chapter titles: “A Rite of Passage for the Classical Carver.” She doesn’t yet know how often she will have to don ministerial robes and confer rites of passage on those who learn to carve acanthus leaves, severely disrupting her woodcarving life.

A “Rite of Passage” is usually something that marks a significant milestone in one’s life. Yet, with Mary’s teaching techniques, passing that milestone just became significantly easier. Besides, most everyone who has attended one of Mary’s in-person classes has already passed the “acanthus milestone.” A simple Acanthus leaf, similar to the first project in this book, is a frequent staple of her classes. Even as a klutzy beginning woodcarver, I brought home an acanthus carving from my first class with her. She makes acanthus carving accessible and achievable.

This book will certainly increase the number of acanthus carvers in this world.

Mary’s step-by-step descriptions and illustrations take you by the hand and lead you on a wonderful journey that includes 13 different acanthus leaf variations. Don’t worry, this is not a journey of increasing difficulty, but one of exploring different uses and different styles. All of them are achievable. Mary guides us through: the basic leaf carving, on mouldings, on cabriole legs, on a turning, on a bracket. And she offers us different styles: the simple leaf, Italian renaissance, Scandinavian, Greek, French Rococo, Baroque.

One might expect this to be simply a how-to book about carving acanthus leaves. It is, but very much more. Yes, we learn to both draw and carve leaves. But Mary also offers a richly illustrated and detailed discussion of the history of the acanthus. Mary leads us through centuries of cultural and stylistic variations. Once we become aware, we’ll start seeing acanthus leaves everywhere.

Interspersed among the carving lessons are short stories from her life. Some of the themes are: miles of mouldings, never too old to carve, display a carving and catch a husband, “opportunities” not mistakes, the atypical jack-o’-lantern, and the young bride in a bed full of wood chips. These are simply delightful insights to how Mary May has become the masterful carver she is today.


On the Technical Side
Mary includes a wholesome “Getting Started with Woodcarving” chapter that is actually a mini-course in beginning woodcarving. She highlights tools and equipment, safety, the all important grain-following techniques, layout tips and tool sharpening techniques.

Yet another “Getting Started” chapter dives into the acanthus itself, with a detailed lesson in leaf anatomy followed by instruction on how to draw and carve a typical leaf. Here we see the beginning of Mary’s step-by-step illustrations. Hundreds of these illustrations and photographs are effective substitutes for when Mary can’t be standing beside the workbench helping us learn.

Drawing instructions? Do we really need to learn to draw to be able to carve effectively? Mary suggests that learning to draw is helpful, that it builds confidence in understanding the design before committing tools to wood.

I agree, from experience…. A little personal diversion: I once undertook a lengthy stay at a place where it was inconvenient to drag along carving tools, my workbench and all the other comforts of carving. Instead, I took a copy of someone else’s book about acanthus leaves, a few pencils, a pad of paper and a big eraser. I spent many hours drawing from photos in that book. I learned that the best looking acanthus leaves are dependent on the constantly changing curves being just right. It was time well spent. Subsequent carving was much easier.

These drawing lessons, one general lesson and one for each leaf, actually double the value of this book. Drawing, for me, is a gateway to understanding carving. When I get a good feeling for the object with the low-cost investment of paper and pencil, the actual carving is enjoyable and stress free. Maybe you will find the same benefit. For those who want to skip drawing, there are drawings provided for each chapter.

By the way, as an “enginerd,” my day job has always been precise and used concise tools. The engineering mindset told me that one can’t make a curve of constantly changing radius, such as a natural spiral, with a fixed-radius tool such as a compass. Mary’s drawing lesson changed that mindset. She shows very clever ways to use fixed-radius drawing tools to get very close to the constantly changing curves we need for the spiral forms of acanthus leaves.


Mary goes on to entertain us with short stories and 13 spectacular carving lessons. Every lesson includes a description of the leaf and photos of how carvings are used in real situations, typically on furniture, or architectural pieces. Then comes a section about drawing, and a section about carving that particular leaf, all abundantly illustrated with step-by-step drawings and photos.

Stock up on paper, pencils and basswood. Prepare for many hours of thoroughly enjoyable carving, and get ready for your rapidly approaching “Rite of Passage.”

Order the book from the Lost Art Press website here. The book ships in late November. You can download a free sample chapter via this link.

This review is based on the digital PDF that one can receive with early ordering. I have not yet held the actual book. It is 8-1/2” x 11”, 336 pages. Christopher Schwarz has promised it to be a durable book that can lie flat on the carving bench, and he always delivers what he promises.

— Bob Easton

About Bob Easton: After 40 years in the Information Technology industry, many as a software engineer, Bob turned to woodworking about 10 years ago. He entered through the door marked “small boats,” built a couple of rudderless boats and then slowly drifted over to woodcarving. He was blessed to meet Mary May many years ago and helped her establish the website for her online Woodcarving School (https://www.marymaycarving.com/carvingschool/). Bob occasionally adds drivel to his own blog at https://bob-easton.com/blog/

Filed under: Carve the Acanthus with Mary May, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Living History on the Maine Frontier

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 5:03am


This past weekend my family participated in the Maine Forest and Logging Museum’s Living History Days event. The museum, located in Bradley, Maine, was founded in the 1960s as a living history site in which the lifeways and crafts of the late 18th-century Maine frontier is demonstrated. The site is known as “Leonard’s Mills” because of an archaeological discovery of five sawmills on Blackman Stream. My wife and I have been volunteering at Leonard’s Mills for years.

All the interpreters dress in period clothing, cook period food, and demonstrate many other aspects of 18th-century frontier life (including the use of a recreated water-powered sash mill). My family looks forward to this weekend every year. We’re usually stationed at the settler’s log cabin and even get to spend the nights there. This enables us to bring an assortment of recreated 18th-century furniture that I’ve made. Usually Julia demonstrates cooking and baking at the fire and discusses various aspects of domestic life. I always bring my portable Nicholson workbench and my tool chest to demonstrate period woodworking.


This event is so full of visitors that most years very little progress can be made on any given project. There is a lot of talking and rabbit trail demonstration that happens so if I get anything put together, I’m pleased. This year, I brought a small pile of maple and birch to begin building a table. This project is a great opportunity to demonstrate ripping, planing, mortise-and-tenon joinery, drawbore assembly, and tapering legs. Over the two days, I was pleased to find that I got almost all of the table’s base constructed. All I need are two more rails and then I can glue and drawbore the joinery.

Back home now, we’re taking this morning to unpack the van of the weekend’s debris. Then it’s back to regular life. After spending the morning editing the Tables video at his house, Mike will come over to work on the new work shop a bit. We’ve got to finalize our plans for these windows so we can pick up another pile of sashes from the antique dealer I’ve been buying from. We’ve got no more events booked this year. We’ll finish up that Tables video but, besides that, all Mike and I are doing the next few months is working on the shop. Can’t wait to get this thing closed in.



Categories: Hand Tools

2 more done.......

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 1:03am
I had my doubts on putting one of the projects in the done column but I was able to put a check mark there. I got another piddly project knocked out and that one was a PITA due to it's small size. Still haven't decided on what is next and it is hard to decide. Miles will be here by the time this gets posted so I'll have other things to occupy the brain bucket. I'm sure I'll think of or stumble into something eventually.

When it came to upload the pics for this post I got a big surprise. I thought I had taken maybe 20-25 pics total. How about 88 that I trimmed to 72 and shaved again to 65. So this will be another pictorial post with a sparsity of verbiage.

out of the clamps - adding cross braces to stiffen the dolly
using big ass dividers to layout the braces - just like pins and tails
step off both ways and I have the position of the braces marked
flushed the joints top and bottom
I had made knife marks on the inside of the frame for the bracing before I flushed the dolly top and bottom.

about a 1/4" overhang on all 4 sides
stops at the corners
or one long one on each side in the middle
sneak preview of the donkeys being used
flushing the dowels
sawing most of the proud off first
The offset saw in the pic I bought it in late 70's. It was sold as a dovetail saw and that is why I bought it. It didn't help me to do dovetails and I've used it as a flush cutting saw every since.

it is 72°F / 22°C in the shop
It is warm and muggy here in RI. It is supposed to stay this way until wednesday night. I had been in the shop over an hour doing quiet work and I had soaked my T-shirt already.

last of the clean up is the inside of the feet
lot of shrinkage
All of the mortise and tenons for the bearers/stretchers were snug and a week later I got this. This one has the biggest gap.

99% glamour shot - need to do a few more things to be 100%

arrises need to be knocked down and two spacers made
why I made them this way
I anticipate using these to saw wood on for breaking down stock.That is why I left the uprights above the bearers. It is a built stop for the stock to butt up against.

why I need spacers
If I want to lay out multiple boards on these I can't do it. A spacer between on the top bearer will allow that.

I can get both spacers out of this one 2x4
plenty of room for the saw blade to rip out two equal spacers
the one hiccup on my bridle joints
Don't know how I managed to do this. I usually put the taper on the outboard edge.

flushing the proud on the ends of the bridle joints
which way to go with the braces - stopped dadoes or straight through
opted for stopped dadoes
I went this way so the braces won't be in a through dado and seen at the front. I think that a stopped dado not only looks cleaner, it will be stronger too.

first half done
Marked for the other side, chiseled it down and flattened it with a router.

casters aren't impeded at all
marked the length and dry fitted them
sawed an angle a frog hair above the depth of the dado
glued the braces with hide glue
I let them set up for a couple of hours and then I put one screw in from the top down into each end of the braces.

spacers cut to length - didn't go nutso here and get a friction fit as there was no need for that

second time I've used these in over 20 years
All I can say is I hate dowels and I don't like using them. But in this situation they were a good choice. I drilled two 1/2" holes in the spacers, put dowel centers in the holes, and marked the bearers and the stretchers.

holes transferred
I wanted to use a guide to help me drill the holes square but I was screwed on the stretcher. My 1/2 drill is way too big to fit between the bearer and the stretcher. I had to use a smaller, step down shank 1/2" drill bit and do it free hand. Did I mention I dislike dowels? There is absolutely no room for error using them. And I wasn't error free today with them.

lines up ok on the first one
second one is off and it won't go together
the only one that fits and it is a tight fit - I had to pry it off with a putt knife
I will have to think of a fix for this. It may take a while because I don't have a lot of experience with doweling.

removed the button feet from the bottom
going with this setup - the miters won't be closed

I like the open miters better then this butt joint
first use of the saw donkeys - the dolly fits
pried them off, put on some glue, and put them back down
caster positioning
I wanted these close to the edge but not so close that I risked splitting the wood driving the screws home. I also didn't want the screws to be close to the bottom of the slot mortise. After playing with it a bit this is what gave me a happy face.

done - rolls freely and it feels stiff and strong
it's new home
I got lucky with this because I didn't check it before hand. Thanx to Bob D for the comment that prompted this.

fixing the dowels with my rasp
After thinking of making dutchmen, filling holes, and redoing all these dance steps again, I thought of this. This is a spacer and there is nothing critical about the fit of the dowels. The spacer's function is to sit on top of the bearer. So the idea is to shave one pin until it fit in the holes.

I tried to keep the shave job on the right 180° of the dowel
they fit - easy on and easy off but they aren't interchangeable
where I expect the spacers to live most of the time
the home for the new saw donkeys - I may put some shellac on them later on
building up my supply of glue sticks
I prefer the thinner stick on the left
you can split them which is quick
there is a lot of waste this way - I saw the wide ones in half
where I want to keep my marking knives
they need a box so they don't rattle around in the drawer
This was left over from something ?????. I split it into two pieces and it already had the 1/8" groove in it.

I'm making the box right off the miter box
1/8" plywood bottom marked out
very easy to saw this plywood
the left piece is waste but in case I mess up, one saw cut and it will be ready to go
dry fit - glued it up and let it set up for an hour
my record 53 vise might be the next project
thinned the box sides - got rid of the clunky look it had
made a holder for the japanese marking knife
Working on this was a pain in the arse. The biggest headache was I didn't have a chisel or iron thin enough to make a groove to fit the knife. I had to make a rabbet in a thin piece of wood and then glue two pieces of wood to that.

done -quick project and my knives are safe
Time to shut the lights out. Miles should be here shortly and I am sure he is excited about seeing his toolbox.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is the game of checkers called in England?
answer - draughts

Finishing Workshop @ CW – Brushing Exercise

The Barn on White Run - Sun, 10/08/2017 - 6:29pm

The syllabus for a two or three day workshop is necessarily limited to those practices that can be accomplished within that time frame, excluding anything dealing with oil-based finishes.  Accordingly I restrict the materials covered to include only spirit varnishes and wax.

The first exercise begun is applying a premium brushed finish with shellac.  Since I have scads of it we used Lemon #1 shellac dissolved in either 190 proof grain alcohol or premium alcohol blends (I am testing a custom blend solvent sample from a proprietary manufacturer based on my input, and thus far it is looking good.)  We mixed our solution with the general proportions of one part powdered resin to two parts solvent, which yields a roughly 2 pound cut.

My technique of brushing includes a surprisingly small brush applying the varnish in sections arranged in a serpentine pattern over the complete surface, blending the margins of each sector along the way.  A detailed verbal description would take several paragraphs if not pages, you’ll just have to see me do it some time.  When done, if the starting point is not wet, repeat the application process until the starting point is still wet when you get to the end of the application.  I call this unit “one inning” of finishing,  which can be as many as a half dozen consecutive applications depending on the situation, and a complete brushed shellac finish usually takes three or four innings to get to the sublime.

Given the schedule for this workshop, the first inning was at the beginning of Day 1.

A light sanding of the first inning and the application of the second inning at the end of Day 1,  (note the wetness being ascertained via direct touch; if the surface is tacky, do it again.  If it is wet, you are done.)


and the second light sanding and the third inning at the beginning of Day 2.

With this approach we were able to get a great foundation of a hand-rubbed surface that glowed at the end of the workshop.

Stay tuned.

Bad Axe Tool Works D8 – Simply “WOW”

orepass: Woodworking to Pass the Time - Sun, 10/08/2017 - 5:09pm

Many of my tools have been found in auctions, garage sales and by family members. The most difficult tools to find have been saws. Back saws, hand saws, panel saws, turning saws,  all lie hidden away in garages, barns and local restaurants. It took several months to find the 26” crosscut and rip saw and careful straightening and sharpening to make them perform. After such a struggle I asked Mark Harrell at Bad Axe Tool Works about the chance of Bad Axe manufacturing a saw equivalent to the Disston D8. Not one to shy from a challenge, Mark smiled and discussed the intricacies of producing a hand saw, clearly he had been thinking about it.  Over several years this discussion has continued and I understood that the challenges of producing a large handsaw were being conquered one by one. When the announcement of the Bad Axe Tool Works D8 came out on Instagram and Facebook (you are a Bad Axe Tool Works follower, Right?) I scrambled to place an order…

Bad Axe Tool Works 24″ D8, Walnut handle, brass slotted nuts, 9PPI, xcut.

The saw arrived a couple of weeks ago and before writing it seemed appropriate to put it to work. Here’s my thoughts…..


Grabbing an Oak board, a line was struck and with saw in hand I sliced off a few inches, next I found a piece of Cherry, that too became smaller, leaning against the wall some Sapele left over from my tool chest, then Walnut. Looking around I noticed a longer piece of Oak and “don’t tell anyone” ripped it in half with my new crosscut!

Suddenly I realized that the Cherry board that I was saving for drawer fronts may not be long enough and that Oak board…Oh well, I was having fun crosscutting and ripping if I had to buy new lumber so be it!

Taking a closer look at the saw, the finish on the handle is excellent and what a beautiful piece of Walnut! One of the things about Bad Axe saws is the ability to choose the size of the handle. I happen to be average, but I know others who have smaller hands and they are able to get a saw that fits. The clocking of the saw nuts is noted, I’m sure Chris Schwarz will see it.

At 9PPI I anticipated a rougher cut, but was surprised with a relatively clean cut, the saw started easily and the cuts were quick and smooth. Mark Harrell obviously put a little magic in the saw sharpening. I’m very impressed with the saw and know that it will give years of great service.

Mark Harrell and the team at Bad Axe Toolworks are passionate about the products they make. If you visit them at one of their saw sharpening seminars or talk to Mark at Hand Works you will become enamored with his knowledge and willingness to share. Great products from great people!

Now where’s that small panel saw and the turning saw?

Categories: Hand Tools

That Which Catches The Eye?

Inside the Oldwolf Workshop - Sun, 10/08/2017 - 12:14pm

Every woodworker I know has looked at Luca Giordano’s “The Dream Of St. Joseph” and squinted wonderingly at the tools and the workbench. It’s a masterwork to start with but the extensive display of wood butchery devices circa 1700 AD has been rumored to invoke incontinence in important woodworkers.

I spent the middle of last week hanging around Indianapolis, my wife visiting her sister and me doing my best to stay out of their hair. I visited some comic book shops and a fantastic store dedicated to all things Dr. Who. Hit up a couple antique shops and a disappointing visit to my first Rockler store. The most time I spent anywhere was four and a half hours on a Thursday morning at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

I have visited before so it was like seeing old friends. I stopped to gape at the Van Gogh for a while then continued on to see other treats. After the Charles Boule clock I pulled up a chair to sit and study Luca's work closer than before.

The tools are fascinating, but there was this little chair on the opposite side of the painting that kept pulling my attention. Obviously post and rung, with a woven seat. I quite like the shape to the crest rail and the leg turnings are familiar yet whimsical. At the museum I scribbled a couple gesture drawings in my sketchbook and I've redrawn it once a day since, I'm chasing the form and trying to re-capture the indescribable something that catches my eye. Like teasing any solid reality from an artist representation it is elusive. Giordano could achieve with gesture, blending and tricks of light, I'm trying to work from a place of tangibility and hard lines.

I'm leaning myself more and more into chairmaking and after a dozen more drawings I might just have to dig out my old, falling apart copy of "Make A Chair From A Tree" and start cracking.

But first there will be a small interlude.

Ratione et Passionis
Categories: General Woodworking

What to Touch with a 10′ Pole

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 10/08/2017 - 12:10pm

ten foot 3

Once upon a time, 10′ poles were a tool common to a number of trades including linemen and cemetery workers. What they touched with their 10′ poles – high-voltage power lines and corpses respectively – is not something most people would want to touch, not even with an 11′ pole.

Carpenters, however, were quite happy with the 10′, or as the drawing suggests, any length of stick divided into 10 equal segments. For in their hands lay a tool critical to the efficiency and accuracy of their layout work.  As we discuss in our book “From Truths to Tools” a right angle can be formed by a triangle composed of three whole-number leg lengths. In the simplest triplet, the leg lengths are three, four and five “whatevers.” The 10′ pole simply employs a doubling of those numbers: six, eight and 10, which are measured in this case with the imperial feet of some long-dead king. (If you think feet stink, you could measure out the pole in the cubits {forearm lengths} of some even longer-dead pharaoh.)

As demonstrated below – lifted from the book – we can construct a “proof” of this particular triplet using a straightedge and dividers. Be aware that there are many more whole-number triplet combinations – perhaps an infinite amount.

Triplet Proof

The sketch below shows the pole in use aligning a post square (and therefore plumb) to a level floor:

Scan 3

It’s a simple enough procedure: After fixing the base of the post to the desired location on the floor system, you use the pole to lay out a mark 6′ up from the bottom of the post. Next, you lay out a mark 8′ away from the post on the floor. When the full 10′ length of the pole fits exactly between the mark on the floor and on the post face, your post will be exactly square to the floor. Turns out that this layout problem (among many others as you’ll discover in the book) can be beat with a stick!

— Jim Tolpin, byhandandeye.com

Filed under: From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Veritas Surface Clamp Does More

360 WoodWorking - Sun, 10/08/2017 - 5:06am
Veritas Surface Clamp Does More

In 2006 when I built my Shaker-style workbench, I installed holes along the front edge of my top to help with work-holding. I could hold one side of a wide panel in my vise and clamp the opposite edge using a Veritas Surface Clamp. Slip the clamp into a 3/4″-diameter hole, tighten the wedge adjustment feature, swing the tilt arm over the panel and thumb-screw the clamp tight.

Over more than a decade of using the bench, I’ve employed my pair of surface clamps many, many times.

Continue reading Veritas Surface Clamp Does More at 360 WoodWorking.

A Lumberyard Map: Find a Lumber Yard Near You!

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Sun, 10/08/2017 - 3:00am

More than a year ago, before I joined the staff, Megan Fitzpatrick and I talked about an article that I wanted to write about lumberyards and the perennial discussion about domestic versus exotic lumber. At the time, I was also working on an interactive map of New York City’s neighborhoods, and I floated the idea of creating a map of local lumberyards that would accompany the article. The article is […]

The post A Lumberyard Map: Find a Lumber Yard Near You! appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

one more day to go......

Accidental Woodworker - Sun, 10/08/2017 - 2:58am
Most of my saturday was spent cleaning up. Having a messy shop doesn't bother me too much. And I don't get the heebie jeebies like Felix Unger would. What does bother me is the mess swallowing up tools and it not belching them back up. I have lost a few tools in the past and one thing I tend to be anal about is picking tools up and putting them away. During my clean up today I found a ruler I had misplaced a few weeks ago. I'm glad I found it because I was going to order another one today.

My grandson Miles is coming tomorrow with his mother and will be spending the week with us. I will definitely be showing him his toolbox and what tools I have gathered for his herd so far. I don't know what time their flight is coming in and I am going to try and get the dolly done before they get here.

I might be brain dead right here
It was bugging me that I would have two empty holes in the tenon and a third one that was full. I decided to try and reuse the existing two holes. I marked the tenon holes on the foot and drilled them out slightly above the pencil marks. I should have drilled the holes towards the bottom. I would have gotten the same pulling of the tenon down tight on the shoulder.

double triple checked I had good pencil points.
the front
There wasn't much offset between the tenon and the mortise holes. Most the strength of this M/T will be coming from the glue bond. I got a good, snug fit with the cheeks and the mortise walls that should provide a good glue surface. The pins certainly helped some and they did the pull the tenon down.

much joy
The left pin pulled the tenon more than the right one. The important thing is that they both came out the holes in the back. I don't have to wait now to glue the stretcher and bearer on.

second donkey glued up
I did the foot M/T, the stretcher, and bearer all with hide glue. I will leave this glued up until tomorrow. I still have to put miller dowels in before I can call these done.

time to hold field day
For all you land lubbers, field day is clean up time.

what 4 LED lamp boxes look like broke down for the recycling bin
bench area cleaned up - still needs to be stowed
machine side of the shop done
I only filled the shit can up about 3/4. I bandsawed a lot of small pieces of wood and expected to overflow it but I didn't. I didn't do a reorganization and concentrated mostly on cleaning and sweeping and it still took me almost 3 hours.

going to a new home
I have a lot of molding planes and most are extras or ones I don't want. With auctions you bid on a lot of planes that may have ten or more planes to get only one that you want. That is why I have so many of them. I am passing some of them on to reader of my dribble.  Unfortunately for  me (and him) I threw away all the packing crappola I had accumulated just before I decided to do this. So I'll be passing on few now and more later.

glue stick stock
Small scraps that I can't use for something else, I cut up into thin strips and make gluing sticks out of them. I used to be a die hard, I'll never give up my glue brushes, gluing type of a guy but I feel the same way about the glue sticks now.

my mortise jig - the knife line shows how much has to go
I'm keeping the #6
I got a comment about using the #6 as a shooting board plane. That was something I hadn't thought of and the extra weight and mass of this #6 will be a definite asset as a shooting board plane.

shop cleaned up and I started on the dolly
I was able to get three of the pieces for the dolly out of one board. I joined the corners with a bridle joint. I'll do the slot mortise on the tablesaw and the tenon with hand tools.

four pieces rough sawn

I squared up one end, marked for the length, sawed it, and squared up that end.

three cuts to complete it
I have blade stabilizers on the tablesaw and that restricts the height of the blade. I can only raise it 2 1/2" so that is the width I used. I lost an inch and I could of taken the stabilizers off but doing that is a HUGE PITA.

laid out the tenons
I did better sawing the tenons this time. I tried to keep the saw square, vertical, etc etc etc. The saw cut improved but still not in the 'fit off the saw' neighborhood. I think it'll be a while before I can afford the rent there.

trimming the tenons
I used a scrap piece on the right so I could use the router right out to end of the tenon. Without the 'bridge', no matter how much I concentrated on keeping downward pressure on the 'right' knob, I still ended up with tapered tenons. All four of these came out straight and flat.

checking for square
I have the dolly dry clamped and I checked for square with these. Because of the clamps I  couldn't take it out clamped and secured, so I marked it with a pencil.

checking the opposite diagonal
With these sticks when you check the opposite diagonal you have to rotate them 180 to get the 45's on the ends to go into the corner. The clamps pulled the dolly square but it was nice to have confirmation too.

glued and cooking
I am very happy with the fit of the bridle joints. I had to tap it together dry with  mallet but the hide glue provided some lubrication and I was able to push the joints together with my hands. The quick grips are just insurance at the corners.

Miles's rip saw
I got the saw back today and it looks great. Bob for Logan's Cabinet Shop filed it for rip from a crosscut.

99% of the kink is gone
Bob said that he didn't have to hammer the kink and got most it removed. I don't know how he did it but this is pretty darn straight. I'll take it apart and clean the plate and the tote. No rush on that and I'll put it on the B list.

saw has a good feeling with the hang and it sawed pretty good too
trimmed the bottom of the slot mortise too much
I'll plane this flush and repeat it on the other 3 corners. It looks like I was consistent in trimming all the bottoms too much.

A good day in the shop. Got the second saw donkey glued up, cleaned the shop, found my lost ruler, and glued up the dolly. Now I can start thinking of what the next project will be.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What does carceral mean?
answer -  relating to a jail or prison (try working that into a conversation)

You Can’t Get There From Heah!

The Furniture Record - Sat, 10/07/2017 - 4:26pm

If you are of a certain age, you will know this is one of the iconic lines from  Firesign Theater’s The Further Adventures of Nick Danger (1969). Depending on how you’ve lived your life, you might have been surrounded by college friends that, from memory, would constantly reenact entire Firesign Theater routines. Often on a daily basis. Possibly more often but you only saw them on a daily basis. (For extra credit, explain regnad kcin.)

That phrase has also recently become my life. A bridge that links us to the world is being replaced. Bridge 77 on Route 1133 was built in 1954 and has been declared Structurally Deficient and Functionally Obsolete. I was born 1954 and have been declared Structurally Deficient and Functionally Obsolete.

With Old 77 missing, the only way out of here is to go 3.5 miles south or 1.5 miles west on an unpaved road. From one side of the bridge to the other is 6.2 miles on the unpaved road or 9.3 miles if car cleanliness is important to you. I observed the gentleman servicing the job site toilet discovering this the other morning. Our access to Chapel Hill and Carrboro is unaffected so we can still eat well.

Here is the bridge as it is being removed:


Note you can read the individual wooden beams through 5″ of pavement.


The entire understructure is wood. Weight limit was down to 6.5 tons.


There is a lot of wood in this bridge. And I want none of it.

Why wouldn’t I want this wood. No one can positively say how it’s been treated. Creosote is a given. It was once widely used by all including the homeowner before coal-tar based creosote’s carcinogenic properties became known. And there could be other things in there including heavy metals. The supervisor told me it costs around $2000 per dumpster to dispose of it properly (legally).


240 board feet of death.

Demolition being finished, construction is well underway.


Here, the far side is complete and the near side has just been poured.


Both ends prepared.


Finally the beams have been placed. No one can explain the 3° rake other than it is as designed.

It takes a big crane to build a bridge:


Panoramic photos can be taken vertically as well as horizontally.

Depending on weather, the replacement could be ready by month’s end. The one thing we will miss is having the road to ourselves on our early morning walks:


Almost 7:00 AM and no cars in sight.


Subscribe to Norse Woodsmith aggregator