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Plane iron camber, part 2: the effect of the bed angle

Heartwood: Woodworking by Rob Porcaro - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 10:23pm
plane iron camber
To master handplanes, a woodworker must master the matter of blade camber. To introduce the bevel-up/bevel-down/frog angle issue, please refer to my 2009 post. Here I want to present a more intuitive approach to guide you at the sharpening bench. The issue When checking the blade after grinding, you naturally hold it up and observe […] 0
Categories: Hand Tools

Handworks 2017 Final Thoughts, a/k/a what I came home with

The Barn on White Run - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 5:10pm

As with its previous iterations, Handworks 2017 was a remarkable event and experience, and there is no way to adequately express my admiration and gratitude to Jameel and Father John Abraham for keeping the flame of hand craftsmanship alive.  I know that my particular little corner of the event was crowded almost all of the time, and several of the visitors extended very warm thanks and remembrances for the Studley Tool Cabinet exhibit in 2015.  Often this was accompanied by exclamations about the magnificence of Jim Moon’s recreation of it, and I was pleased to have played some small part in it being at Handworks.

As I said earlier, there was great interest in traditional finishing and I must have demonstrate wax and polissoir technique roughly 100-150 times.  It was heartening to hear the reactions as folks saw and felt the results.

One surprising thing to me was the decided lack of interest in my Roubo First Edition prints from L’art du Menuisier.  I would have thought this was the perfect audience for them, but I was no more correct in that presupposition than I was when I predicted John  Glenn would be President.  I sold only three of the prints during Handworks, and two more outside of the event.  Oh well, they will not go bad in their archival sleeves.

I did manage to come home with a few things myself.  First was a stash of barrette files Slav Jelisejevich had among his intoxicating selection of new old stock files.  I have no idea what sort of old file underground he is part of but I cannot cross his path without leaving a goodly pile of money behind.

Next was a criss-cross leg vise from our hosts at Benchcrafted.  I have not yet decided on which bench to install it.  I’m almost afraid to, knowing that if it becomes integral to one bench it might have to be obtained for several others.

Finally is a simple box that that was a gift from Jim Moon.  Jim is currently salvaging lumber from an ancient grain mill, and the lumber for my box came from the inside surface of one of the grain chutes.  Billions of grain seeds over many decades wallowed out the early wood of this southern yellow pine, leaving an exquisite surface that Jim exploited to its fullest.  It is now part of my treasure trove, and the only thing I have left to do is decide whether to make it an artwork on display or a traveling box full of polissoirs and wax.

And that wraps up Handworks 2017.

New Prints of Expansive Bits

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 4:04pm


Editor’s Note: Briony Morrow-Cribbs, who illustrated “The Anarchist’s Design Book,” has just completed a run of 50 letterpress prints on the evolution of the expansive bit for a client. As part of the process, she has 50 prints to sell. Read the story about the process below. Details on ordering the print are at the end. Briony does fantastic work, and we love this print (I have one in my office).

Last winter, when I completed the illustrations for “The Anarchist’s Design Book” by Lost Art Press, I was hopeful I would be invited to do similar illustration projects. While I love creating my own art — my growing menagerie of strange and beautiful beasts and botanicals — there is something extremely satisfying in rendering clean, precision-based objects. In making these illustrations, the emphasis shifts away from “what do I want to say” to “how do I best convey the purpose and physical aspects of this object?” So it was to my delight that Eric Brown of Dayton, Ohio contacted me last February about commissioning an illustration of a portion of his collection of expansive drill bits dating from 1852 to 1874.

If you are not familiar with expansive or expansion bits, they are specialized drill bits for cutting large holes in wood, which use a combination of a center pilot bit with an adjustable, sliding blade or cutter. In addition, there is a set screw that locks the cutter into a desired position. Made before the invention of power tools, expansive bits were originally to be used with a brace, or other hand drill.



Eric’s expansive drill bit collection consists of over 300 individual pieces and he has managed to find patent numbers, dates and other information about the bits. After some discussion, Eric and I decided to start with six of the oldest patented bits and include text about their patent numbers and creators.

Initially, Eric was interested in having an edition of prints made from a photopolymer etching plate. (Photopolymer etching was the process that I used for The Anarchist’s Design Book. If you’re interested in knowing how I made these images, you can watch this movie). However, after several test strips and a lot of fussing around with laminating plates and figuring out etching times, I decided that a more straightforward approach to creating a large image combining both text and illustrations would be to create a relief plate. (In relief printing — woodblocks, linoleum blocks, photopolymer relief plates etc. — the raised surfaces are inked and the incised or lower areas stay white. On the other hand, intaglio images — engravings, etchings, collographs etc. — are inked by filling in the recessed surfaces and wiping the surface clean). This decision to create a relief plate meant that I could easily combine my hand-drawn imagery and computer-generated text, and it also meant that the image could be printed on a Vandercook letterpress which would make printing an edition a much quicker endeavor than repeatedly hand-inking and wiping a plate in order to produce each print.



The process began with photographing Eric’s six drill bit pieces and compiling a full-sized image in Adobe Illustrator of all the bits and their accompanying text. After that, I printed out images of the bits that had been enlarged by 130% and created a stippled ink drawing on vellum, carefully rendering shadows, blemishes and stamped type.

Photograph of L.H. Gibbs expansion bit 

Photograph of L.H. Gibbs expansion bit

Ink drawing of L.H. Gibbs expansion bit

Ink drawing of L.H. Gibbs expansion bit


Following the rendering of each image, I scanned the drawing back into the computer at a high resolution to create a bitmap image that I then moved into Adobe Illustrator in order to create a vector-based image.



Finally, when all of the drill bits were rendered, scanned and processed, I sent the full-size, completed vector digital file to Boxcar Press. Boxcar Press is a shop in central New York that sells letterpress materials and offers letterpress printing services, and also has the awesome ability to create letterpress relief plates from polymer material. The plate comes with a double-stick adhesive on the back that allows it to adhere to a thick base-plate that raises the relief plate until it’s perfectly type-high and ready to be printed on a letterpress.


Polymer relief plate ready to be inked and printed

Polymer relief plate ready to be inked and printed


For the first printing of the illustration, I used a makeshift base plate from a ¾” piece of MDF topped by an ⅛” sheet of acrylic. While I was able to produce enough prints for the initial edition, the instability of those two materials meant that the printing of the plate was inconsistent. After receiving a solid ⅞” aluminum base plate from my boyfriend for my birthday, the printing of the second edition suddenly became much easier.


Abe getting ready to print using the Vandercook press at The Putney School.

Abe getting ready to print using the Vandercook press at The Putney School.


This print can be a great addition to any home or shop. Please message me through my Contact page for more information or to purchase a print.

Special thanks to my boyfriend, Abe Noe-Hays, for helping me to set up and print both editions of the image. While neither of us are expert letterpress printers, Abe’s mechanical aptitude made the job not only manageable but also enjoyable. Thank you, Abe!


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

Brendan Bernhardt Gaffney: New PWM Managing Editor

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 1:04pm

I’m delighted to announce that Brendan Bernhardt Gaffney (whom you may know from his ancient rules, sector, calipers and other work at burnHeart) joins the Popular Woodworking team in July as managing editor. He’ll not only be handling the day to day business of running the magazine, but bringing to the job his woodworking and toolmaking experience, and impressive computer skills  – not to mention unbounded creativity. Brendan’s first days as […]

The post Brendan Bernhardt Gaffney: New PWM Managing Editor appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Barnsley Workshop Open Day, Saturday 3rd June.

David Barron Furniture - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 11:14am

This Saturday from 10.00 - 4.00 pm the Barnsley Workshop is having an open day. http://www.barnsley-furniture.co.uk/
This is a great opportunity to see the workshops as well as the showroom and learn something of the ethos of this world famous woodworking establishment. They take on full time apprentices as well as fee paying students so if you have an interest here then it would well worth a visit in addition to the other attractions. There are usually a few smaller reasonably priced pieces for sale in the showroom, although the rocker (above) is not one of them, price £25,000.

More reasonably priced are these iconic Barnsley tall back chairs at £1,300 each.
 This Radius Chest is a time consuming masterpiece.
 This cufflink box above is a very reasonable £445 and the breadboard below is an apprentice exercise priced at £90. It is all hand planed to exacting tolerances, I still have mine as a reminder!
 And to finish these wonderful library steps with curves everywhere, priced at £25,000 I wouldn't mind seeing these library these went to.

Categories: Hand Tools

Denning’s 1891 ‘The Art and Craft of Cabinet-Making’

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 8:47am

This reprint of David Denning’s 1891 classic “The Art and Craft of Cabinet-Making,” with a forward by Christopher Schwarz, is a must-read for hand-tool woodworkers, and for anyone who enjoys the history of the craft. I fought long and hard for this one, insisting that it be made to last, and that it be printed and produced entirely within the United States. I wanted the historic book to look and feel […]

The post Denning’s 1891 ‘The Art and Craft of Cabinet-Making’ appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

The $500 Maslow CNC Beta Report

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 8:32am

The Maslow is not a conventional CNC. It’s kit based, and costs less than $500. $350 if you’ve got a couple of 2” x 4”s and some plywood to throw in. If you’re new to the Maslow, here’s Part One, Two and Three. This started out as a crowd-funded Kickstarter project, which means that the product is still in a development phase. As you can see, the Maslow is rather unique. […]

The post The $500 Maslow CNC Beta Report appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

A Table for a shebeen – part 3

Je ne sai quoi Woodworking - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 6:08am


The year is hurrying towards it’s inevitable end and the temperatures in my tropical haven are racing upwards at the same rate. The massive shift in ambient humidity that a good rainy season can induce always wind me up to get joinery that is supposed to last a really long time assembled during the driest part of the year. In my case that means before the end-of-year holidays, as the proper electric storm driven downpours tend to ignite a sudden hike in humidity around mid January. That is of course if we are lucky, because water has been in short supply in this sweltering savanna of ours.

For the purpose of this project I wanted to get the two leg-assemblies done before we leave for a hitherto tranquil spot on the Azanian south coast. Unfortunately the Zuptopian conglomerate has since done it’s utmost to “poison and destroy my brothers”, but let’s not dwell on the bane of my life while we could be discussing woodwork.

As discussed before, I prefer using Assegaai for my custom made drawbore pegs. I usually try and find a perfectly straight-grained piece before ripping strips on the table saw that are then fed to my Stanley no. 77 dowel making machine (not pictured). Unfortunately it is pretty much impossible to split (as apposed to rip) stock along the grain then using the no. 77 as you need perfectly square strips, but if you use fairly straight stuff it still turns out dowels that are far superior to the rubbish bought in local stores. I wrote in more detail on this process in previous posts.


For the sake of trying something new I decided not to go with wedged through tenons as I did with the two workbenches that was built with similar sized stock. I am however partial to the idea of using wedges to ensure maximum strength. Therefore it was decided to experiment with wedges in a closed mortise. You will notice the kerf prepared for the wedge in the monstrous tenons. The sides of the mortise that needs to allow for the wedge to expand the tenon were adjusted. Then it is simply a matter of positioning the wedge in such a way that it sits in the entrance to the mentioned kerf while using pipe clamps to coerce the tendon into it’s mortise. That is of course followed by tapping the drawbore pegs home while the clamps are still in situ. The pictures below also show how I used my Festool Domino to cut the slots for the bits of wood that will fix the aprons to the top.

This was how the two leg-assemblies spent their festive season.



The drawbore pegs were then worked flush by sawing and hand planing.


In order to mark out the exact location of the tenons of the two beams that link the two beams between the leg-assemblies (at an angle), I had to assemble the undercarriage.


By clamping the linking beams at exactly the right angle, I was able to mark out the shoulders of the tenons.


For some reason I found it very difficult to keep to the marked out lines while sawing away the waste by hand. It was the first time that I encountered this problem and still do not know exactly what was going on as I have done many similarly sized tenons in the same wood with the same saw?? Therefore I switched to the bandsaw for the rest of the work.


I usually like to saw close to the line and hone in on it by planing the cheeks to a perfect fit.


Marking out the location of the mortises.



Drilling out waste.

Removed the rest of the waste by vertical chopping.

Then it was time for the final glue-up of the undercarriage. I was very happy with how it came together and it sure is a robust construction.

The undercarriage received a few layers of Woodoc.

Before installing the undercarriage, the bottom of the top received a few layers of boiled linseed oil.

The pictures should do a better job than words to explain how the top was fix to the undercarriage.

Once that was done it became time to bring in some strength to get this baby to it’s feet.

Now I have to flatten the top by hand and trust me it looks a lot flatter than it is in the pictures below. I hope to complete this task before the end of the year.

A Victory for HANDWORK and a beautiful summary from WORK

Journeyman's Journal - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 5:25am

I thank each and every one of you for all your emails you have sent me, for your comments you left, for all your support.  You guys are the true lovers of this craft, you’ve remained silent for the last two years, but you’ve stood up and made yourselves be heard when it mattered.  You stood in defence of your craft, what a noble act that was.  In all my years of standing defiant against injustice, have never seen more courageous people like yourselves, and I commend you all.  I have read all your emails, your concerns and passions you all have for this craft,  and I have given it much thought to all your thoughts and advice on this issue and the majority wins.

You’re absolutely correct, the political bollocks of it all isn’t worth my sanity.  It is evidently clear with the mass response I received that such a magazine is much needed, and I can’t help but wonder if Ed Francis Young, the visionary creator of WORK faced the same opposition as I have,  and if that was the reason of it’s demise., for it only lived a short three years.  For the ones I did not reply too please forgive me as there were far too many.     Despite of it all,  I must commend Christopher Schwarz for his effort in making available to us books from the ancients, for if he didn’t make this effort to reprint word for word tirelessly resulting in many sleepless nights, these most valuable books would be lost to us forever.  I know he loves the craft and admittedly I was hasty in my previous assumptions, I can’t help but wonder if he too, once upon a time faced the same opposition as I have.  Chris did get in contact with me this morning via email, he believes this to be a worthwhile venture and has explained what he can and cannot do, his hands are tied due to valid reasons and has given me good suggestions, not much more needs to be added here.

So I shall continue writing this blog as I always have, but not as often as I have, for I will devote more time behind my bench.  After having said all of that, I am still torn between two worlds, reality and fantasy.  The reality is, time consumption with no monetary compensation.  As a husband and father of five I need to work to pay the bills.  To invest the time needed to produce this magazine to a reasonable standard, I need to invest a considerable amount of time and energy into it, another words it would be a full time job, and with my current fourteen hour daily shifts makes it very difficult.  On the other hand the fantasy of forcing myself to make it happen doesn’t coincide with the reality.  So how about a compromise,  I can tone it down.  Rather than treat it professionally,  I can treat it on an amateur level.  I can spend one or two hours a day or weekly on it,  working with materials I have on hand and materials you contribute if you so wish.  I will also without question include excerpts of ancient text, articles and so forth.  I will leave texts in its original words without putting them into my own words, because I would rather you hear it from the source rather than read my own interpretation and understanding of it, this is to protect you from any errors I may make.  I will include my own projects as well.

I also want to keep it free, I think that’s fair after all this isn’t a business nor a professional magazine with any monetary outlay other than my time.  The contents I receive will be given freely with no monetary exchange so why should I charge any my readers. It doesn’t feel right to do so.  I do this with good intentions and with sincerity towards my readers and our craft.  If at any point in the future this magazine or newsletter call it what you will out grows itself, which the possibilities are always there, then I will have to consider the option of going professional.  Only at that time will I have to consider charging a subscription fee and or purchase price for each individual copy.  I may even consider having two copies available to you as downloadable PDF and hard copy,  price adjustments for each will be made.  I will then consider paying contributing authors a set fee for publication of their work, provided they haven’t published their article prior with any other magazine and or made publicly available for viewing or downloading on the net.  Obviously then there will be advertising as advertising is crucial to any magazine but at no time will they influence the magazine, no favouritism, no influenced biased reviews will be made to anyone if a review of their product is being made for publication.  If they can live that then so be it, if not they need not advertise with us.  But I’m getting way ahead of myself but I needed to mention that if the day ever comes.

So the title of this magazine, newspaper or newsletter again call it what you will, will be HANDWORK.  The layout will contain my new logo or crest you see on my blog, the layout or design is influenced by WORK but with minor differences not that it matters legally anyway, I think it’s a good spread and in honour of Ed Francis Young I want to remain within the spirit of the magazine.  So I will include articles written in WORK, that’s pertaining to woodworking and possibly articles in metal work if it pertains to woodworking and if I find any subjects on tool making as well but not all necessarily WORK being the source.

As it’s apparent to us all you can choose to download all 200 scanned issues of WORK from tools for working wood.  Not all of them have turned out ok but most are still readable.   I won’t be using using scans of text of any materials other than images from ancient sources, everything will be retyped by me and printed for you in the highest quality.  As for submissions of articles by contributing authors, I would prefer them to be submitted in Microsoft office file format with accompanied pictures in high resolution in a separate folder, if you don’t have access to Office then provide me a link to your article in your website and I will extract the materials from there.  I will then email you a layout proof for your approval and only with your approval will I include it in the magazine.   If you do provide me your article in the file format specified above, then please note down what picture goes where as pertaining to your article.  At my own discretion I may also post article projects from other existing websites without obtaining prior permission to do so first, I will include the source of where I sourced the material from and the authors name if it’s available, but a link will always be provided to the sourced material.  At no time will I ever attribute someone else’s work as my own, this is not the purpose of this magazine.  This will also provide substantial exposure to the craftsman which I’m sure he or she will appreciate. I will publish HANDWORK at my discretion, there is no set time at present how often I will do so.  It’ll get done when it gets done, and finally it’s obvious my experience in magazine layouts are limited, so don’t be too judgemental on its appearance, it’ll get better as time goes by and my experience grows.  I sincerely hope that HANDWORK will be beneficial to you as a craftsman and be an asset for the craft.  I hope you enjoy reading it and look forward to each new issue.

If I can offer any wisdom it’s this, support one another, promote one another, create, learn and pass on what you know, try and teach the young and keep the craft alive.

I think that pretty much covers it all for now, and I’ll take leave by saying thank you all once more for your support, and I will also leave you with an excerpt from the chief editor Ed Francis Young 1889, may he rest in peace.



“Read you, and let us to our WORK”
                          2 King Henry VI., i. 4.
ALTHOUGH no apology may be needed for the appearance of WORK, an explanation of its Why and its Wherefore-its rasion d’etre, as our friends across the Channel would put it- is certainly desirable, and a little space in this, its first Number, may be usefully taken up in showing the causes that have led up to its introduction; the persons to whom it chiefly appeals; the objects at which it aims; the special features by which it will be marked; and the field of operation that it seeks to cover.
First, then, let it be shown why and wherefore WORK has been called, and has come, into existence. What, let us inquire, is the great demand of the time; for what are most men chiefly asking and seeking in the present day? To this question the right reply is by no means difficult to find. It is, and must be- “Better and fuller means of Technical and Practical Education.”
Never, indeed, it may be said, was the demand for technical education greater than it is at the present time! Never was it heard more that it is now among workmen of British nationality! And why? Simply and solely because of late years it has become painfully apparent that by means of increased facilities for obtaining technical knowledge the foreign workmen have been stealing a march upon them.
Never, forsooth, at any time has the necessity for sound technical education for the workman been so thoroughly impressed upon the minds of men as now; and never has it been so eagerly desired and demanded by all grades and classes of the people.
At the present moment, there lies in the pigeon-holes of the British Government a Bill for the Promotion, Extension, and Elaboration of Technical Education in the United Kingdom, which will be discussed and moulded into law at the earliest opportunity. Our Universities and great Public Schools are awakening to the necessity of teaching the hands to work as well as the brain to think. In every large town, and in London itself – the head as well as heart of the Empire – a craving is springing up for the establishment of technical institutes and workshops, in which any and every man, whatever may be his social station in life, may obtain improved knowledge of the leading handicrafts that are practised by men, or even to learn their very rudiments, if he so requires.
In these amateur workmen are already assembling, that they may better know through practice under trained teachers how to carry out the work they may have adopted as a hobby; and professional workmen that they may become better conversant with the theory that underlies the work they do; and by this, and a quickening of their taste and perception of the beautiful in form and perfection in execution, gain greatly in skill, and capacity for carrying out the work by which they have to live.
And all grades of workmen are alike led to seek self-improvement, because they have realised the truth of the grand old saying – Knowledge is Power.
To meet, then, at a most critical period of our national existence, the needs of workmen belonging to each and both of the two great classes into which workmen are naturally divided – professionals on the one hand, and amateurs on the other – WORK has been brought into being. That WORK will prove the most useful and most complete serial of its class that has yet been given to the world, there is every reason to believe; and, without doubt, it will be eagerly sought after, read, and followed by those for whose benefit it has been produced, as the first, the best, the most helpful, and the most reliable practical instructor of the times in which we live. Nay, more than this, it may be regarded as being verily unique in itself through the comprehensiveness of its scope, for although efforts may have been made, prior to this, to help and instruct the amateur, never yet has any attempt been made to regard all workmen, whether workers for gain and daily bread or workers for amusement and recreation, as one great family possessed of common aims ad actuated by common interests, who enter the lists of competition in friendly rivalry alone, to provoke one another to the execution of work of greater excellence than either the one or the other has yet produced. Each class has much to learn of the other; each class can teach the other much. Time, it is to be up and doing, and, with regard to those who write in the pages of WORK, it is to lead and help their fellow-men to better things that they are banded together. They, verily, are first afield to guide where assistance and lend a helping hand wherever aid may be sought.
And this they will ever do in the spirit of Solomon’s mingled counsel and command – “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”
Mention has been made, well-nigh in the same breath, of the amateur and the professional workman; but are they not more closely akin than superficial thinkers are disposed to allow? Are not all men amateurs alike? Are not all professionals? Verily, yes; each and every man in his own order. What, indeed, is the difference between workmen, amateur and professional, save that the latter practices his craft or calling for gain, and the former loves and cultivates an art for his amusement. The distinction is very much like that which has been drawn from time immemorial between those who live to eat and those who eat to love; and the comparison runs far more closely in parallel lines than may appear at first sight, for if the professional works to live, does not the amateur in an equal degree live to work? Even a professional workman is an amateur in everything else except the one particular handicraft by which he lives; so that, speaking fractionally, every man, if he be one-fourth professional, is very likely three-fourths amateur and so may be regarded as being in point of fact more of an amateur after all than he is of the professional.
Said a working man to a writer one day, “I look upon myself as an amateur in every man’s trade except my own, and as I like to know something about all trades besides my own, I hail with pleasure every source from which I can derive some knowledge of them.”
Every man, indeed, has, or ought to have his hobby whether he be professional or not, and therefore, in seeking to administer to the improvement of one class and to build up and augment the knowledge of its members, precisely the same thing is done in the interests of the other.
This has been said to show that the pages of WORK are intended for both groups of workmen alike, and to point out, on the good old principle that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, that that which is desirable and useful and desirable for the other. If there be any difference at all, it will be found to consist chiefly in this – that the professional workmen require and desires to gain in comprehension of theory, and the amateur conversely, in practice, and thus each will be brought on pari passu to the same goal – perfection in execution.
We must now pass on to consider briefly the objects of WORK, and the subjects that are to receive treatments in its pages. On this it is only necessary to say that in the papers which will appear from week to week will be found a clear and practical exposition of the modus operandi to be followed in every art, craft, or science that bears directly or indirectly, on handiwork of a constructive or decorative character, the directions being supplied and comments made, either in short single papers, or in series of articles tersely and comprehensively written.
If the reader presses for a more accurate definition of the nature of the articles that will be treated in WORK, let him attempt to sum up in his mind for a moment the handicraft trades that are most familiar to himself, and endeavour to realise that instruction will be given on, or notice taken of, every one of them sooner or later. To catalogue them would be simply to make a list of every kind of constructive and decorative work that is practised by man. Let us take this as done, and so avoid the waste of time, space, and power that would be involved in its preparation. Number 1 and Part 1 will sufficiently serve as samples of the whole. It is impossible, manifestly, to touch on everything at once, but everything nevertheless, will be touched on in time.
In general character, WORK will be purely technical and instructive. Nothing that comes within the region of polemics will be touched on in its pages, and discussion will be permitted on such subjects only as are processed of common interest for all readers.
Wit reference to the special features by which WORK will be marked, it may be said that every paper that requires it will be fully illustrated with sketches, diagrams, or working drawings to scale as may be described. This alone will tend to render WORK invaluable both to the workman himself and those at whose bidding and for whose benefit he may work.
New machinery, new tools, new appliances, new arts, new processes, new modes of treatments will always find exposition in its pages, and a special feature will be made of
In which notice will be taken of tools, machinery, technical works, etc., and all things useful and novel that manufacturers and inventors may produce in the interest of those who labour with the hands. Manufacturers and others are requested to send the Editor timely notice of any new tool, machine, or appliance that they are about to introduce as a new claimant for public favour.

Categories: Hand Tools

Roy Underhill at Handworks 2017--The Video

Benchcrafted - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 5:20am
Here's Roy's presentation from Handworks 2017.
Categories: Hand Tools

Non-standard Japanese chisels: mortise helpers

Giant Cypress - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 3:18am

For the most part, Japanese chisels play the same role as their western counterparts. There are Japanese bench chisels, mortise chisels, paring chisels, and Japanese chisels sized for timberframing. There are some specialty Japanese chisels designed for specific tasks. In the above picture, from left to right is a Japanese mortise chisel, followed by the three specialty chisels: a harpoon chisel, a sickle chisel, and a bottom scraping chisel. These chisels are primarily used in making shoji to help with cutting all those mortises for the latticework, although they can be used anytime you’re chopping a mortise.


Of course, to illustrate this article, I had to chop out a mortise, because that’s the sort of effort I’m willing to go to provide high-quality content here on Giant Cypress. I then cut off the side of the mortise so that it’s easy to see how these chisels are used. Yes, I know the right side of the mortise is badly undercut. I was in a hurry.


This is a harpoon chisel, or a mori-nomi. The tip is sharpened so as to make both ends of the barb cutting edges. It’s the only one of these three chisels that has a hoop, so it is meant to be struck with a hammer. It’s good for getting into the corner of the mortise, or as a replacement for a regular Japanese mortise chisel. The barb can be used as an aid to clear out chips.


The sickle chisel, or kama-nomi, is is not so much a chisel as it is a small knife blade on a stick. The end is shaped like a small double bevel knife, and it’s also used for getting into the corner of the mortise to clean out the corner.


This is a bottom-scraping chisel, or a sokozarai-nomi. It’s useful for pulling along the bottom of a mortise to get rid of high spots along the floor of the mortise. 

Of these chisels, I find the bottom scraper chisel the most useful for mortises, mainly because I use it a lot to clear out chips, but not so much for scraping the bottom. I generally don’t use it for its intended purpose very often. I don’t use the sickle chisel very much for mortises, but I find it useful for many other tasks, such as cleaning up the corners of dovetails. Overall, I’m glad that I have these chisels, but they certainly aren’t in the “must-have” category as far as chisels go.

Scything while the sun shines

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 2:59am
Mad dogs and happy scythers go out in the midday sun and enjoy amazing views. Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

I opened a can of worms.......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 1:21am
Today's blog or the making of the blog took a wee bit longer than normal. I looked at every single picture I took today and evaluated every one of them. A lot of the pics ended up being deleted which leads me to the can of worms. I never had a problem with the flash on this camera or at least I don't recall having one. My shop is well lit so I don't think the flash is needed but it seemed every picture I took wanted the flash too. That led to a majority of the pics being crap. A lot of white wash and hard even for me to distinguish any features at all.

The worms all escaped when I tried to play with the camera settings. Things rapidly went south here and I couldn't get back to the original camera settings. I took 3 videos before I realized that I had that function selected rather than pic taking. I think I finally got it but the pics I got aren't anywhere near what I was able to shoot with the canon.

I had started emptying out the area where I want to put the new cabinet. The nearest horizontal surface was my bench so I piled it up on there. I didn't find any real surprises as I knew I had most of this crap but just not where I had hid it.

rethinking this area
The original idea I had was to make the cabinet to fit inbetween the corbels on the shelf. I did that because I didn't want to take the shelf down. That has changed and the shelf is history.  I can fit a bigger cabinet there without it but I can still use the shelf ledger. I will put the radio and the other crap on the shelf on the top of the cabinet. I still have a few more things to clear out  so I can take some measurements.

went searching above the cabinets
I was trying to find the charger for a Nikon camera I have but I had no luck. I don't know where I put it and I thought I might have taken it down to the shop. I had bought this camera the last time I had the canon fixed to use in the interim.

first find
This was on top of the cabinets and I don't remember making this.

pic number ?
I was having a lot of problems trying to snap this pic. The flash was washing it due to the whiteness of the plywood lid. This was the best out of several pics that I took. What I was trying to get a pic of was this end of the lid wasn't captured in the groove at the back. It seems I made the lid about 3/16" too short in the length.

more flash miseries shooting this end
The miters at this end are pretty good. It looks like I was trying to experiment with using a different sliding lid.

gappy dovetails and holes left from the 1/8" grooving
The flash kicked my butt with these last few pics. I even got out two lamps to put more light on this but the flash still kicked in and washed out the first pic I took of this.

another find and blast from the past
This I remember doing. I did 3 boxes on this day and all were half blind dovetails. All were done at different slope.

not bad for a first attempt
When I snapped this pic I thought it was ok. Now I can see that there is a lot of distractions all around this. I was trying to show the pins and tails - the right being better fitting than the left ones. The opposite end is a duplicate of this end. I also made the lid with my LV rabbet plane. I was making a lot of boxes at this time and making lids with 4 rabbets. Some good and a lot of bad. I was struggling at this point to get the rabbets to come out even on the corners.

dutch molding plane
I got this plane for $15 (3-4 years ago?) and I sharpened the iron and tried to plane the profile. I didn't get anywhere with it and I thought it was defective. I put it on top of the cabinets and promptly forget about it. I was going to offer it up to whoever wanted to pay for the shipping but I tried to use it one more time.

Out of all the complex molders I have, this is the only one I have been able to plane the profile on a piece of wood. I have picked up and learned a few things about molding planes since I got this. What I have learned paid off with me planing this profile. I'll be keeping this now and I'll use this for sure in the future.

I would show a pick of the profile but none of the pics I took of it came out. I stopped trying after the 9th one. I'll try it again tomorrow and see if 24 hours makes it better.

a gift from my wife
This is a letter and number stamp. The holder in the middle works like an automatic center punch but instead of leaving a divot, it makes the impression of a letter or a number. Good idea but the quality control wasn't that good on this one.  Out of the 13 letters in my name, only 8 of the bits will fit in the holder. Pretty looking but it is crappola.

3 planes I made
I made these to trim tenon cheeks to a uniform thickness. Each plane took a different size grooving plane iron. They worked but not very well. There was no place for the chips and shavings to exit the plane. I spent just as much time clearing the mouth of jams as I did planing. I am hanging on to these and maybe I'll be able to do something else with them.

decided to fix the box
I found a piece of cherry stock an 1/8" thick to plug the holes. The slitting gauge is the first 'marking gauge' I bought. I didn't realize it wasn't a marking gauge for years. I used it here to cut a strip to plug the holes.

another flash problem pic
 I got the grooving holes plugged and I fixed the gappy top dovetail. I could make a new lid but I will keep this as a pencil box as it is. I don't think the pencils will mind the gap in the lid.

foundvmy old eclipse guides hidden on the top of the cabinets
I thought I had tossed these. The top one is my first honing guide I bought a long time ago. The bottom one is a LN one that I filed after watching Deneb's video on how to soup it up. I stuck these in my sharpening drawers. You never know when you might need one of these.

two 30 year old draw knives
I bought these when I was first starting out woodworking. I had just found Roy Underhill and he said I should have a draw knife so I did him one better and got two. I have never used these beyond cleaning them up and trying to sharpen them.

A2 LN chisels
I got these and I was afraid at first to sharpen them because I thought I would screw them up. I used the first set of chisels I bought years before and used these LN ones sparingly. I got a set of O1 Ashley Iles bench chisels and I haven't looked back. I plan on using the LN chisels to chop mortises because they are thicker and stouter then the Ashley Iles are. I'm not afraid of sharpening these now for when that time comes up.

getting a shine on the #2 lever cap
Most of the pebbled look is gone and there are only a few spots that still have it. I sanded this with 150 grit and it raised some shine and smoothed it more. I am going to next use 180 and finish with 220. The black on my hands isn't as dark or as bad as it was yesterday. I didn't get hardly any when I scraped it again but the sandpaper is still making it.

working on the bookcase (landscape mode on the camera)
The books are piling up in my wife's office and I have to get this going. The two sides and a drilling jig are on the bench. I decided to drill the holes for the shelf pins now rather than after it is together.

left side batting first
The drilling jig is a left over piece from the top or bottom. It is the same size as the sides and I got it flushed with it here.  This jig will drill the first two holes at the bottom of the sides. All the other holes will be drilled at the drill press. Solved the flash shooting off on every pic but now it's on the dark side.

pin spacing jig
The shelf pin drill is a 7/32 brad point bit and the spacer drill bit is the same size. The idea is to put the spacer drill bit in one of the two holes I drilled already. That will place the second hole to be drilled 2" away once I set that up. 

2" spacing

starting hole jig
The jig is also used for setting the sides the right distance from the edge and to make sure that all four of the starting holes line up.

line up the marks
I penciled a line on the left side of the spacer drill bit. I then align that mark with the mark on the fence after the hole is drilled and I moved the shelf to the right. This is to help align the drilled hole with the spacer hole. Dropping the spacer drill bit into it is a blind operation. There is no way I can see the two holes aligned and I had to do it by feel.

one edge drilled on both sides
I have to rest the spacer drill holder to the other side.  This is where the starting drill jig comes in handy because it will set the first hole correctly. I will drill the other side tomorrow.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who was Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier?
answer - the Marquis de Lafayette, America's Revolutionary War Ally

The Folly of “Prepping”

The Literary Workshop Blog - Mon, 05/29/2017 - 2:35pm

What is the best way to preserve a seed?  I first came across this question in a gardening book, and it’s a trick question.  The answer, of course, is to plant it.

I have thought about that question a lot since one memorable day last summer, when my wife got a call from our neighbor.  Did we want some dry goods?  She had some to share.  And she wasn’t kidding.  In front of her house was a big U-Haul truck full of preserved dry goods–dozens of buckets and barrels of rice, beans, wheat, corn, pasta, coffee, and other foodstuffs.

Prepper Foodstuffs Dry Goods

It had come from a local prepper who just died.  (If you don’t know what a prepper is, you can look it up on the Internet.  Prepping is a big trend down here in the Deep South–people who are seriously preparing for the end of civilization as we know it by stockpiling food, supplies, guns, and ammunition.)  When this prepper died, he left half a dozen storage units full of about $30,000 worth of supplies.  So what was in that U-Haul was only a fraction of what he had stored up for himself.  We happily took whatever we thought we could reasonably use, and passed on the rest to others.

It was all very well contained.  The owner had spared no expense in keeping out moisture and insects.  Yet we found that upon upon closer inspection, we found use-by dates from over ten years ago!

Prepper Foodstuffs Dry Goods

Still, the food was free, so we decided to try it out anyway.  We cooked the pinto beans, but they came out a nasty gray color, and they took almost twice as long to cook as fresh beans would have.  And they didn’t even taste very good.  Some of the other items, such as the sugar and pasta, were edible.  But the lima beans, the cornmeal, and the wheat were all very stale.  The coffee was undrinkable.  I don’t know what kind of existence this prepper had imagined for himself once civilization collapsed, but had he actually had to live on this food, he would have been far less comfortable than he probably imagined.

This experience got me thinking about this whole trend of prepping.  The assumption behind prepping is that an isolated individual (or a small family) can maintain some semblance of civilization–food, shelter, safety, and comfort–alone and virtually unaided, probably while holding off bandits by using the thousands of rounds of ammo that the prepper has stockpiled alongside the foodstuffs.

It’s not a new fantasy, I suppose.  What, after all, is more American than living by your wits on your own little compound deep in the woods, surrounded by a few loyal family members and a huge stockpile of food and ammunition?  Modern-day prepping is Little House on the Prairie with a vengeance.

Prepper Foodstuffs Dry GoodsIf there is one thing I learned from the contents of that U-Haul, it is the basic folly of prepping–of stockpiling food on the assumption that, someday soon, your stockpile will be all you have to live on.  But even the biggest stockpiles run out, so preppers realize that eventually they will have to be able to grow enough food to support themselves and their families.

An essential component of any serious prepper’s stockpile (alongside dry goods, ammunition, fuel, and camping gear) is vegetable seeds.  In that U-Haul, we found no fewer than five “kits” of seeds.  They were bought mail-order from a company that specializes in supplying preppers, and they came with a manual explaining that one kit of seeds could grow enough food to feed a family of four.

As an experienced gardner, I knew that was a lie.  There were not nearly enough staples, such as corn and beans, to plant even a reasonable garden plot.  There were few easily-grown, hardy plants, such as kale, that really would be helpful during a food shortage.  More importantly, the seed kits had been bought several years ago and then locked up in a storage unit.  Just for fun, we tried to plant a few of these seeds.  None of them came up.

This brings me back to where I started: the best way to preserve seeds is to plant them.  But seeds don’t feed people; agriculture does.  Growing enough food to feed a family is more than just sticking seeds into the ground and hoping for the best.  It requires intimate knowledge of the soil, of your local climate, and of the kinds of plants you wish to grow.  In other words, it requires culture.  And real culture only happens in relatively large communities over time.

As an analogy, let’s say that I was convinced that the world would soon lose all of its knowledge of woodworking, and I was determined to preserve woodworking as a craft.  (Which, incidentally, I am.)  I might be tempted to buy as many tools and as much wood as I could, store it away with a few books about woodworking, and wait with baited breath for the woodworking apocalypse.  But a better approach would be to learn as much as I could about woodworking, to actually practice woodworking regularly, and to teach other people to work wood–to get tools, wood, and skills into the hands of as many people as I could.  And that’s exactly what a few people back in the 1970s and 1980s did when they saw that the old ways of working wood were about to die out forever.  They knew intuitively a principle that preppers do not understand: the only way to keep a way of life alive is to practice it, and to teach others to practice it, too.

Feb 2010 - 23

Prepping, on the other hand, assumes that a total withdraw from culture is necessary for survival, and in a twisted way, I think it may actually contribute to the cultural collapse that it fears.  The more people stop contributing to the wellbeing of their society, the more likely that society is to decline.  If you really want to preserve your way of life, first learn all you can about it.  Then find ways to actively pass on your skills and materials to a new generation.



Tagged: children, culture, food, prepper, prepping, preservation, preserve, skill, skills

Binding Dulcimers

Doug Berch - Mon, 05/29/2017 - 1:34pm

Dulcimer Binding ToolsDulcimers traditionally did not have binding. Every time I put binding on a dulcimer I am reminded of this; putting binding on a dulcimer is a lot of work!

Putting binding around the edges of the soundboard, especially a soundboard made of a soft wood, helps prevent dings and chips along the edges. To my design aesthetic binding the soundboard is also like putting a frame on a picture.

I usually do not put binding on the backs of my dulcimers unless someone really wants it.  I don’t think it is necessary to bind the back since it is usually made of hardwood. Also, should the dulcimer ever need major repairs an unbound back simplifies removing the back of the dulcimer to gain access to its innards.

In the photograph above are the hand tools I use when preparing the dulcimer for binding.

In the upper left is a shop-made binding scribe. It consists of a scalpel blade glued and taped to a piece of wood the thickness of the binding that is again glued to a piece of wood that serves as a handle. I use this tool to gently score the binding channel on the soundboard. After the channel is scored I deepen the scored cuts with the scalpel and knife.

I use a simple router jig to remove some of the bulk and then finish up the binding rebate with the small chisel and file. I also use the chisel as a scraper, using my fingers as a depth stop to guide the cut.

After taking the photograph for this post I noticed the fingerboard did not look quite right. I realized I had left out one of the fret slots! It has since been cut and all is right with the world.

Forgetting to cut a fret slot is not a big deal as it is easy to add at anytime. What is a big deal is cutting a fret slot where one is not supposed to be.

Guess how I learned that lesson?


Categories: Luthiery

HVLP for spraying shellac and other finishes

Paul Sellers - Mon, 05/29/2017 - 11:28am

Contactless finishing I generally pick my weapons of attack to match the work battles I encounter so I have learned a few things about finishing through the years. There is no doubt that giving a good finish is critical in an age when furniture makers must no only make  but finish too. Just about the time when …

Read the full post HVLP for spraying shellac and other finishes on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

1961 Hernandez y Aguado Style Guitar, Engelmann Spruce/Ziricote, Nearing Completion

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Mon, 05/29/2017 - 10:40am
The wood of Engelmann spruce is light-colored, relatively soft, low in resin, and sometimes contains many knots and is more valuable for pulp than for high-grade lumber. It has been used for home construction, pre-fabricated wood products, and plywood manufacture. Less commonly it is used for specialty items such as food containers, and sounding boards for violins, pianos, and guitars. Engelmann spruce is widely used for Christmas trees. Spruce beer was sometimes made from its needles and twigs and taken to prevent scurvy.

USDA Plants Database, Engelmann Spruce

I apologize for not having posted anything on this blog for a while, as all of you know life can get in the way of doing things.

The New Mexico Guitar Festival is next month, June 15-17, and I will be attending as a vendor.

Much of my time these last few weeks has been spent finishing the two guitars that I want to take to the Vendors Expo at the festival: this 1961 Hernandez y Aguado style guitar, with an Engelmann spruce top and ziricote back and sides and a 1963 Hernandez y Aguado style guitar that is made entire from locally sourced wood. I'll post about that guitar in the future.

Tomorrow, I will level and re-crown the frets on this spruce/ziricote guitar, grind down the nut and saddle, attach strings and set up the playing action. I can't wait to hear this guitar!

Here are some photos documenting the building of the spruce/ziricote guitar.

From left to right: spruce/ziricote, redwood/black walnut, redwood/Indian rosewood.

Here's a video of Stephanie Jones, a wonderful young guitarist from Australia. Click here to watch videos of Ms. Jones playing all five of William Walton's Bagatelles!

Categories: Luthiery

Get Your RAM for Ramadan!

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 05/29/2017 - 10:02am


Want to ruin a secular or religious day of observance? Have a sale to celebrate it.

At my last job, the Internet marketing lickspittles took every opportunity to inject commerce into something otherwise beautiful, grave or important. A few of their gems:

Don’t Let These Deals “Pass” You Over – Our Passover Sale!

Kiss These Deals – They’re Irish – St. Patty’s Day Sale!

TGIF – Our Good Friday Sale!

It’s Cinco de Deal-o!

Of course, all of these pale in comparison to department stores that have “white sales” on Martin Luther King Day. Think about that. Without any irony they’re selling white sheets on a day remembering a slain civil rights leader.

We refuse to pair commercial activity to holidays, patriotism or national symbols. In fact, our only complaint about any of our suppliers is that the supplier for our hats puts an American flag on the back of the hat. I always cut it off when I see it.

Today is Memorial Day. Instead of shopping, I’m in the shop building a crate and thinking about my father, who served in Vietnam, and all my friends who served in the Gulf wars, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. I’m listening to some of the music my dad took with him to Vietnam for his Teac reel-to-reel – Led Zeppelin IV and the Beatles white album – and hoping the (unlikely) day comes when war is obsolete.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Personal Favorites, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

My last shop tool post ever--promise!

Oregon Woodworker - Mon, 05/29/2017 - 9:44am
I continued to struggle with this project because I felt very strongly that I was onto something, but I just couldn't get it right.  I can't design anything without making a prototype or, in the case of this shop stool, multiple prototypes.  It was getting really aggravating.  Then Gerry made a  comment on my last post:
Andy: How about a circle for the base, with the seat pedestal set to one side. If the base was 1 1/2 -2" thick you could ease the bottom front to accommodate rolling forward as well as right and left. A dense hardwood might give the weight needed to keep it upright.   
Even though I didn't want to do exactly what he suggested, Gerry's comment was the insight I needed and I knew immediately what I did want to do.  My prototypes taught me that my ideal stool would have the wooden bicycle seat mounted on a long thin stem and Gerry's idea was that it should be attached to a heavy round object at the base.  I retrieved a 10 lb. weight from my weightlifting machine, drilled four counterbored holes in it, cut off two short pieces of 2x4, grabbed a scrap of closet rod, drilled two 1 1/2" holes and there it was, exactly what I had been groping for all this time:

I know this is arguably ugly, but it works great and does have a certain modernist appeal.  You really have to work at it to knock this stool over and the rounded edge on the weight lets it move easily in all directions.  It's very comfortable and allows a wide range of movement.

This one doesn't incorporate height adjustment because I knew exactly how high I wanted it to be, but it wouldn't be difficult to add.  I am not sure if this is a coincidence, but the height I chose by feel is exactly 1/2" less than my inseam.  The important thing is that your knees be slightly bent.

This sort of active stool, as I have called it, is obviously not for everyone.  The bicycle seat is ideal because you can move around without sliding, but you probably have to be a bicycle rider to appreciate this.  I don't think you can appreciate this stool without trying it.  For me, though, it is the ideal shop stool, just what I wanted.

I look at it now and can't understand what took me so long.  Now that I can see it, this design seems so obvious that it is almost embarrassing that I floundered around.

I am done.
Categories: Hand Tools

In Memorium

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 05/29/2017 - 5:08am

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

For that multitude of heroes I have never met, who like my cousin wrote us a blank check and signed it with their blood, I offer my profound thanks and humble honor. — DCW


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