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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway!  Enjoy!


Youtube Carving Videos

Mary May, Woodcarver - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 4:26pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

I’m starting to make short introduction videos for every new video lesson I have on my online school just to give people an idea of what the lesson is about. They usually run about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes long and give an overview of what the lesson is about.

On my “to-do” list is to go back to some of the older videos and make an intro video for these also, but my “to-do” list is getting longer by the day – so I’m not sure whether that will happen soon.

Here are a few of the intro videos. You can either see these on my Youtube channel or on that particular lesson on my online school.

I also have several full lesson videos on youtube and as a Free member of my online school:

The Youtube ads are really annoying and I haven’t figured out how to get them off my videos. One showed up for “Laser carving machine”. What??? I don’t even get paid for these, but if they’re putting them up there, I’m going to figure out how to get rid of them.

Enjoy the videos (ignore the ads).

Meet me in the middle.

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 3:59pm

Where the average woodworker shops for his or her woodworking tools and supplies has become a hot topic on some of the woodworking forums during the past two days. Most woodworkers realize there are cheap tools, great tools, and tools that fall somewhere in between. Most woodworkers also realize that there “knockoff” tools being sold on the market as well. Sometimes these knockoffs are serviceable, sometimes they are complete garbage. For my part, I don’t own any knockoff tools, at least that I know of, and though I would do my best to avoid purchasing knock-offs, I wouldn’t criticize others for doing so. Though I can’t condone purchasing knock-offs, I can sometimes understand how it happens, because there are two major problems in the world of woodworking: Mid-level tool manufacturers don’t really exist anymore, and, real hardware stores don’t exist (on a large scale) anymore, either.

Speaking for myself, the nearest actual woodworking store to my location is roughly 30 miles from my house; the nearest hardwood dealer (that is open to the general public) is more than 50 miles away. So if I want to go to a real store that has stock I can touch and salespeople I can talk to, I need to plan on spending at least a few hours just for travel time. That doesn’t sound like much, but considering I live in the most densely populated region in the country, you would think that there would be more than one woodworking store within a 30 mile radius of my house, but there isn’t. I can only imagine what it must be like for those who live in more remote locations, in some cases, there may not be a woodworking store within a day’s drive, let alone a few hours. That to me is a problem.

75 years ago, the average hardware store from small towns to big cities carried woodworking tools. I have an honest to goodness old fashioned hardware store right where I live. They don’t carry much in the way of woodworking tools anymore, but according to the owner they used to way back when. What is the difference between then and now? The answer is Stanley Tool Works.

Stanley Tools did one thing that Lie Nielsen, Veritas, and the plethora of smaller makers could not,cannot do, and will not do: they made it easy for stores both big and small to stock their tools. If you think good quality and affordable tools are important to the consumer, they are that much more important to the retailer. While I may not be a woodworking expert, I am an something of an expert in hardware and how a hardware store operates. Because Stanley was such a large operation, they could sell their tools at a reasonable price. This low cost allowed even the smallest hardware stores to stock those items on their shelves and still keep their overhead down. If you don’t think that is important you are very much mistaken.
Small businesses live and die on the stock they keep. There is a very fine line between carrying too much stock and not enough, as either can doom your business to failure. Much of the time, a business will err on carrying too little stock simply because it is less expensive on paper to do so. When the accountant looks at the books at the end of every quarter, one of the first things you are going to hear is, “You have too much stock”. Too much stock is a relative term, of course. ‘Too much stock’ doesn’t mean that you should be carrying only 900 ½ inch lock nuts rather than 1100. It means that you spent too much on stock, and it is hurting your overall profits.

Most small hardware stores simply cannot afford to stock high-end woodworking tools, even in a consignment situation it can get somewhat tricky. When Stanley got out of the woodworking tool business, so too did many hardware stores. Hardware stores both large and small will not carry woodworking tools ever again until a mid-level maker re-emerges, like Stanley used to be, and sadly that may never happen. There was a time that a person could walk to his local hardware store from small town to big city, and actually pick up real woodworking tools, handle them, and even purchase them and bring them home. The ability to see a tool on display, pick it up,get a feel for it, and then purchase it on the spot because it was reasonably priced and for sale right in your home town is a pretty powerful thing. That is something that is almost non-existent in the world of woodworking today, and it needs to change, badly.

Today, if you want to purchase a good woodworking tool you nearly always have to do it on the internet. I’m lucky in the sense that there just so happens to be a Woodcraft within driving distance to my house, even if it isn’t necessarily close. Woodcraft may not be a perfect woodworking store, but it is really my only option if I want to actually walk into a store and see real live woodworking tools in the flesh. I’m sure I’m not the only woodworker who is in that same boat. As far as I am aware, Lie Nielsen doesn’t sell any tools there, Veritas just a select few, and the boutique makers sell none at all.

I know first-hand the challenges of opening and running a “brick and mortar” hardware store as they are known in the internet age. I know that a lot of fat, pimple-faced computer/marketing geeks will tell you that brick and mortar stores are a thing of the past. Well, maybe that’s true, though I don’t believe it. But I do know that woodworking as an entity needs way, way more outlets than it has now. I can’t be the only person who doesn’t like having to purchase every woodworking tool online. I can’t be the only person that doesn’t like driving a hundred+ miles to purchase tools and wood. I have to think a lot of woodworkers would welcome a few more places to shop. And if I know anything about selling tools, I have to think that the proper amount of brick and mortar stores would in theory bring tool costs down, not up. I can’t tell you I have all the answers, because I don’t. But I do know that woodworkers need a lot more than $150 marking gauges, or tools that you have to order from 1000 miles away. We don’t need that option 10 years hence, or even 10 months hence; we need it now..

Categories: General Woodworking

Woodworking Fun with Jim Tolpin

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 2:00pm

I’m pleased to announce that we’ve just contracted Jim Tolpin for an upcoming article on building a beautiful standing desk. I’m not quite ready to show it to you…but I do believe you may be able to find it online, or see it in some of Jim’s Instagram shots, wherein he’s doing a great job of fomenting shop envy (you’ll find him under the username jimtolpin…because he’s tricky). Jim is […]

The post Woodworking Fun with Jim Tolpin appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

no eagles…

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 1:43pm

Back in the good ‘ol days, I was on the payroll, but no one knew what my job was. So I could spend 4 or 5 hours at a time, watching for bald eagles in the winter… Now that I’m on my own, time’s a bit tighter. I gambled a couple hours today, came up empty for eagles, but got some shots of a red tail hawk shrugging off some crows.

crow & hawk

rt hawk

hawk & crow

hawk & crow behind

When the hawk is  over-exposed, the crow comes out with some detail.

good crow shot

This one’s got a nice diagonal symmetry to it.

neutral corners

While waiting for the eagles that didn’t show up, this great blue heron flew in front of the sun…bg heron

Flat layout of frustums and cones

A Woodworker's Musings - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 12:28pm

First, please note that, apparently, the correct spelling is frustum, not frustrum. Hmmm….  You learn something new everyday!

Second, you might ask why am I talking about this?  Isn’t this subject more appropriate to a blog on sheet metal work?  Well, think about it.  What if you’re designing a chair with a back that is laid out as a portion of a frustum?  What if you want to make a brass lamp shade?  How about a coopered pail?  How about a dunce cap for your friends?  I mean, the potential for this method is unlimited.  Right?  Okay.  Maybe unlimited is a bit of a stretch.  But understanding this layout may help visualize measurement of these shapes (or portions of them) in a number of scenarios.  Remember diameter x 3.1417 = circumference.

001_1 002_1 003_1 005_1 006_1 007_1 008_1 009_1

If you should ever find yourself in the highly unlikely situation of having to layout a truncated cone, here’s an excellent tutorial site:  http://leonjane.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-develop-a-Truncated-Cone#

Categories: Hand Tools

Woodworking by Jack Handy

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 11:46am


I wonder sometimes if the reason old woodworking texts seem frustratingly incomplete to us is because there weren’t many words out there that could help one learn the craft.


Put another way: Why do most old woodworking texts begin with an exhaustive explanation of geometry and then refuse to tell us how to set up a smoothing plane?

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
Categories: Hand Tools

You Cannot. You Should Not. You Will Not.

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 11:24am


Peter Follansbee’s brain switches off when someone begins a sentence with, “You should….” Mine does a similar thing when I am told, “You can’t….”

Part of the beauty of modern communication – you can get a message rapidly to the whole world – is also its flaw – soon everyone is repeating that same message. If you repeat something long enough, it will soon become a facsimile of truth. (If you want to test this theory, start reading a lot about wood finishing.)


In some ways I am grateful that I did not learn woodworking in the Internet age. I did a lot of things that are so incredibly stupid that I have burned the evidence, lest it end up on someone’s blog. I made up joints that probably shouldn’t exist. And I built furniture that by all rights should have exploded by now (it didn’t).

Oh, and I spent the first six years of my life as a newspaper reporter being fed outright lies everyday.


So I like to test declaratives (three-legged chairs are tippy), assumptions (you need special tools to build chairs) and writ (you cannot bend kiln-dried wood) and common practice (drawboring is for timber-framing and old work). Most of the time I find that these ideas are based in some truth, but they have become twisted into holy law.

Woodworking doesn’t have a lot of laws. They are similar to the laws of physics, but not much more.

In other words, wood can be shaped by your mind and your hands, but not by words.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
Categories: Hand Tools

More On Buying Hand Tools

The English Woodworker - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 10:25am
'Ethically' cheap next to quality tools.

‘Ethically’ cheap next to quality tools.

Advice on buying hand tools is always an interesting and provocative subject that has the ability to either enlighten or confuse those new to woodworking. On the surface there are many contradictory approaches to planning your first tool kit, dig a little deeper and this becomes tenfold. Ultimately there is no right or wrong and so the only satisfying end is consumers who are educated in their choices.

I read an interesting post linked to on the Lost Art Press blog this week which touched on one facet of this subject; copy cat manufactures. That is larger companies or manufactures who copy the work of the individual bespoke maker and sell it for cheaper. It would appear that this has become a growing problem which can all but cripple a small business, and yet for all intents and purposes no laws are being broken. For what it’s worth I thought I’d add my two pence.

Scolding companies can’t make a difference, so long as they’re making money they’ll be happy. The only thing we can hope to do is take away the demand through education. They won’t make what doesn’t sell. Now I am all for variety and options within the market so I don’t want you to think I’m suggesting that cheap tools should be banished, on the contrary I belive they are vital. And at the risk of seriously over simplifying things for making a point, I would like to suggest that we all have two routes to consider when buying tools. Either we want something that functions well for our needs, or we want something that functions well and also goes a step beyond so that it is a joy to own, a pleasure to hold, admire and use.
A mass produced copy can only provide the former at best, and yet it’s price mark will still hold some bearing to it’s copycat looks.
If you’re seeking cheap functional tools then go with a time tested bog standard one or take a look at something second hand. If you want individual design, quality and service then go to a small maker or reputable quality brand.
Strong principles are often a part of buying hand tools, it’s a passionate hobby and quite often we are drawn to tools not only because we need them but because we want them. If we can find a way to create transparency and education for the buyer then we will be taking a step in the right direction.

Categories: Hand Tools

Questioning the Cross-grain Rim On Toolboxes

Paul Sellers - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 8:21am

DSC_0099There are concerns about the type of lid fixing to the toolboxes we made where the lid is skirted crosswise to the main long axis of the grain of the lid with a lip covering the end grain at each end of the lid in the traditional manner. I understand the comments and the concerns, but then again, it’s not so much perhaps an exam piece but a near replication of something that has been common practice for centuries and so there I almost rest my case, well, initially at least, and with no pun intended.

DSC_0013This lid shows evidence of some cracking from restriction from shrinking. Would I mind? Not at all! It’s a toolbox not prissy.


DSC_0024Slight evidence of end shrinkage but all is still stout and strong and the cracks are very small and short too. N problem on a ship bound the Americas!!

On all of my toolboxes and tool chests I use frame-and-panel, a method also very traditional, but of course it would be pointless to do a replication if you change everything because a better way was devised. The reality here is that no modern woodworker came up with a better way beyond reconstituting the materials common to the craft like a Pringle chip so that it stacks up in the box as sheet goods do and use MDF to get around the issues of expansion and contraction. Of course the life span of most MDF goods are not what we were promised when magazines in the late 70’s in the US were saying MDF was the new miracle material that could be a great substitute for wood and one that could be routed, sanded and stained and would change our need and use of wood. DSC_0006 - Version 2MDF was never a real alternative in furniture making for real woodworking but machine-only woodworking mostly; that is except for those building in ways to limit life expectancy and create fashionable and mostly but not always disposable product.DSC_0002

Putting ourselves in the place of men building boxes like these shown above, from the centuries before, helps us to place ourselves in true realms of realness when working people knew no such thing as the luxury of leisure time, disposability and short shelf-life furniture pieces. They didn’t buy wood as we would from Home Depot or B&Q in S4S sections pre planed and such. Boxes like these had no counterpart in the form of plastic alternatives and people traveled the globe, boxes in tow, stowing their chattels in cases just like these to contain some of their most valued possessions, not the least of which were indeed the tools of a man’s trade. For some, this traveling container was purely a transitional step to one of the colonies and a new life. When I moved to migrate to the USA I made twenty 3/4” plywood boxes glued and screwed together and skinned each side with 1/2” plywood. Strong and watertight, half of them were filled with my tools and the other half treasured family stuff. These boxes became cupboards and shelves in my shop and as far as I know are still wherever they were screwed to the walls in different workshops I left behind me as I moved on.

For others intent on protecting their tools in previous centuries it was more important to make something that was lightweight and strong and built to last. These boxes fulfilled their existence as being fit for purpose and, though perhaps in an era of unknown and uncertain futures, unable to predict what would happen, they have proven themselves worthy of total respect in the fact that we are using them now a hundred or hundreds of years later on. DSC_0010The boxes traveled continents and supported craftsmen through two world wars. They transported tools to and from work places and kept them safe in workshops too. No small thing and especially so when I think that I own several of them and still use them today for keeping and protecting my personal tool collections.

It’s interesting to see the responses people have had and the discussions issuing forth and yet no one actually acknowledged that hundreds of thousands of chests were built and used just like those shown here over at least four centuries. Was it that no one knew what we knew today? Not at all. Woodworkers did what was necessary. It took much more work to create the more sophisticated  framed panels that also date back through at least half a millennia. This system was developed to make doors that would not shrink too much and panels that remained solid and constrained in a massive range of situations. Security was the key issue in eras when people really valued even the smallest of possessions in a none disposable or fashionable age. That meant that chests had to be durable, strong and fit for purpose at the very least.

DSC_0262This box made about three months ago now shows no signs of degrade at all. DSC_0034Spring clamping like this works brilliantly well. DSC_0126This 2 1/2″ dog will draw both parts immovably together in two hammer blows. DSC_0009Make a few dogs in half an hour and you replace the need for too many clamps. DSC_0097After more than a century the top and the rim are still in solid condition.

I have noticed how much more people do obsess about things like expansion and contraction. I noticed this when I wrote on spring clamping wood where some people said I had it the wrong way around and I should really not have clamped the ends with a clamp at each end but with the one clamp in the middle and a slight concave rather than a convex along the edges of the conjoined boards. In actual fact you can do it whichever way you want, slight convex or concave. DSC_0064 Back in history people used the nail dogs I showed extensively, which defies everything the naysayers said. Now then, that said, there are considerations in that people today live in an era of total air-conditioned immersion, where everything is conditioned to a certain dryness and temperature. The ends of boards supposedly dry out faster than say the mid section of a tabletop or, as in this case, a chest top. That’s not so interactively concerning when you nail on the end piece though over longterm exchanges of moisture can become an issue and might in some cases become problematic. But the problems can be adverse either way. I think too that gluing and nailing can occasionally be a problem because it is very rigid and immoveable but rarely is it actually so, and especially in Britain where we have pretty regular levels of humidity. The glue does seal the end grain pretty well and prevents the ingress of moisture except in long terms of exposure or immersion. In the US there are other considerations such as the differences I found between east and west Texas, Arizona and Arkansas. It’s simple enough as I said at the time. Keep the wood in the same conditions it will be living in if possible, let them acclimate, and then get on with the build. Your box will most likely be fine. Here and in other situations, people who believe this will usually never risk making a toolbox like this, even though it’s more likely to work out than not. It’s a shame really because the toolbox may never do what they’re fearful of at all.

The post Questioning the Cross-grain Rim On Toolboxes appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

The Architect’s Chair

The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 8:02am
  Please note: This project is from ‘the cutting room floor’. All of the full scale images from the original files were lost, making the case easier to delete this project from The Unplugged Woodshop book. I still have the original text, but none of...
Categories: Hand Tools

A Beautiful Texas Snowfall!

Heritage School of Woodworking Blog - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 7:14am

  I know most of you in the northeast are tired of this white stuff, but for us down here in Texas it is a rare treat! We are basking in the beauty and tranquility of a peaceful snowfall this morning. The fire is cranking inside the wood-stove. What a great day to be a […]

The post A Beautiful Texas Snowfall! appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Tips from Sticks in the Mud – March Tip #2- Wood Storage Solutions

Highland Woodworking - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 7:00am

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift.  Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip.  It’s OK if you call me “cheap.”

Search the Web for “wood storage” and you will be inundated with more articles and videos than you can digest in a lifetime.  Every woodworker has his own take on where and how to store materials for future use.  And, I believe that most will agree that the answer to our storage problem is, “put it somewhere that can’t be used for anything else.”

In my case, the majority of wood storage is between the front wall of our house and a wall that supports a porch above.

This wall was originally made of wood, but the studs were weakened by Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters, so I replaced it with a galvanized steel wall.

This wall was originally made of wood, but the studs were weakened by Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters, so I replaced it with a galvanized steel wall.

That space is too narrow for parking, so I made a rigid frame to support materials of all shapes and sizes.  One end is dedicated to sheet goods and, with an inexpensive layer of lauan as the foundation, I can add everything from full sheets to small scraps.

The plywood end of the storage area allows for full sheets down to small scraps, as well as room for expansion by simply adding cross members for additional layers

The plywood end of the storage area allows for full sheets down to small scraps, as well as room for expansion by simply adding cross members for additional layers

The other end is for solid wood and is organized by species, with the bulk of the space going to treated pine.

Because I handle all of our home’s maintenance, I keep plenty of treated lumber for outdoor use, as well as leftovers from previous projects.

Because I handle all of our home’s maintenance, I keep plenty of treated lumber for outdoor use, as well as leftovers from previous projects.

Lumber for a current project could be stored, but I usually keep it close at hand on sawhorses nearer to the work area.

Lumber for a current project could be stored, but I usually keep it close at hand on sawhorses nearer to the work area.

Under the house is the roughest of the rough; mostly construction lumber, cedar siding left over from our home’s original construction, posts and poles.

Having experienced, “Don’t I have (fill in the blank with a wood species and scrap size) somewhere?” many, many times, I try not to throw away any scrap I think might be usable.  Perhaps the best part of this storage system is that there is nearly zero monetary or space cost to this system.

The inspiration started with a tip I read online, suggesting the storage of dowels in PVC gutter downspouts attached to the underside of ceiling joists in the shop.  I was convinced this was the storage solution for me, and I got on a ladder, measuring for the lengths of downspouts I wanted to purchase when it hit me:  “I can store stuff up inside these wooden I-joists without sacrificing ceiling height and without buying anything.”

An overview of the parking side of our garage to orient you for the ceiling photos.

An overview of the parking side of our garage to orient you for the ceiling photos.

Here’s how I did it:  I already had little strips of treated lumber I use for stakes and a thousand other uses.  It was a simple matter to take an inside measurement of the space between joists to customize roughly 14″ pieces of the little stakes (the space between joists is not always equal) to fit tightly, where they act as supports for the scraps.  Close together for short scraps, far apart for longer pieces or even letting long lengths span several supports.  Each collection is organized from longer to shorter.

Short scraps are accommodated with supports close together.

Short scraps are accommodated with supports close together.

Long scraps not only need supports far apart, they need support in the middle to prevent warping.  Good organization helps.  Taking the time to sort from short to long pays off when you need a scrap of a certain length.

Long scraps not only need supports far apart, they need support in the middle to prevent warping. Good organization helps. Taking the time to sort from short to long pays off when you need a scrap of a certain length.

At first, when I had only a few rafters in use, it was easy to look up and see what kind of scrap was stored where.  Now, I have 20 rafter storage spaces, necessitating an identification system.   Initially, I used blue painter’s tape, but the lack of contrast between blue tape and black Magic Marker made reading difficult, especially against the glare of ceiling lights. Two-inch adhesive tape (enter the tiny bit of cost) solves the problem, with excellent contrast between black and white.

Like your grammar school teacher said, “Neatness counts.”  Take your time with lettering for a neater job and greater legibility.

Like your grammar school teacher said, “Neatness counts.” Take your time with lettering for a neater job and greater legibility.

I also use this free space for storing very long pipe clamps, garage door hurricane supports and anything else that will fit.

I also use this free space for storing very long pipe clamps, garage door hurricane supports, and anything else that will fit.

You’re not paying for “router pad,” are you?  If so, CLICK HERE to learn how to get all you want FREE!

You’re not paying for “router pads” are you? If so, CLICK HERE to learn how to get all you want for FREE!

Some very, very small scraps are still worth keeping, but they won’t easily fit into or onto conventional storage.  For that, 5-gallon buckets are the cat’s meow.

This bucket holds all of my very small cedar scraps and stores neatly out of the way.

This bucket holds all of my very small cedar scraps and stores neatly out of the way.

Then, there’s the wild card scrap storage:  drawers salvaged from old refrigerators.  The vertical standards can be used to hang the drawers in their original fashion, or you can improvise by fashioning wooden runners to support the drawer edges.

While this storage does hang down below ceiling height, I chose an area where it didn’t matter.  Also, if it ever presents a problem, it’s a simple matter to take it down.

While this storage does hang down below ceiling height, I chose an area where it didn’t matter. Also, if it ever presents a problem, it’s a simple matter to take it down.

In my wife’s tile studio I used refrigerator shelves for storing some really heavy pieces.  They are up to the job.

In my wife’s tile studio I used refrigerator shelves for storing some really heavy pieces. They are up to the job.

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home. Questions and comments on woodworking may be sent to DrRandolph@MyPetsDoctor.com. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

The post Tips from Sticks in the Mud – March Tip #2- Wood Storage Solutions appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

The History of Wood, Part 43

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 6:00am


Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

New Classes for 2015

The SawWright - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:10am

bench work 004 (2)

I promised myself I was going to keep my teaching schedule light this year so that I could focus on the book…but I have scheduled two really cool classes for later in the year.

First, I’ll be up in Maine at Lie-Nielsen doing a weekend workshop on saw sharpening on May 2nd and 3rd. How could I pass up an invite like this, right? Details here…


I’ll also be teaching my ‘Build A Backsaw’ class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking on August 15th and 16th. This class is back by popular demand…we’ve got access to amazing saw kits with traditional folded brass backs and I’m looking forward to this one with great anticipation. I’m even making a nest of three new saws to demo for the class. Details here…


See you there.


Categories: Hand Tools

How to fit a Record vice

Hackney Tools - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:07am

Last year I had a rush of Record 52 1/2 vices for sale and they all went in a week. It’s testament to how wonderful these quick release vices are. if you find a good one, keep it, I kept two from the batch for my own future workshop! I’ve lost count of how many conversations I’ve had about mounting these excellent vices, but this explanation turned up in a recent book I purchased, Scott Landis’s excellent ‘The Workbench Book’.
He covers four ways of fitting the vices, edge mount, flush mount, flush mount behind apron and mortised mount. I’ve reproduced the drawings and copy to help anyone who is struggling with this. (I hope I won’t get emails from Collins about copyright, if I do, this will have to disappear quickly). My own book is a vintage secondhand edition, so in the spirit of Stewart Brand’s ‘access to tools’ (praise the Lord, for Brand is God), I hope they will respect my wish to get the information out there to help as many people as possible.

(Text and images from Scott Landis’s ‘The Workbench Book’)

There’s more to hanging a Record (or similar vice) than simply bolting it to the bench.To work properly it must be straight level with the top and secure. At the very least, once the vice position is decided, you must accurately bore four holes, attach the mounting bracket (which is a single casting with the rear jaw) and add word cheeks. But there are several fine points and a variety of mounting options to consider, as shown below.
The rear jaw may be mounted onto the edge of the bench top (Fig.1), inset flush with the edge (Fig.2), set behind an apron (Fig.3), or mortise into the underside of the bench (Fig.4). If the working surface of the rear jaw is the front edge of the bench top (Figs. 3 and 4), it will be easy to add additional clamps to secure a long board to the bench. On the other hand, if the cheek protrudes (Figs. 1 and 2), irregularities on the stock won’t strike the bench top edge and make it difficult to close the vice jaws.
Which vice-mounting method you choose depends on the thickness of your bench top, the shape of the edge and your own preference. Here are some other considerations to make vice installation easier and vice operation more effective.

Record Vice Fitting _1
Record Vice Fitting _2
Record Vice Fitting _3
Record Vice Fitting _4

  1. When positioning the vice, make sure that when the vice is closed, the screw and guide bars will not interfere with any dog holes or with the legs of the bench.
  2. Fitting the rear jaw/bracket to the bench will be easier if you turn the bench top upside down on it’s edge. If this is not possible, you can remove the front jaw of the vice along with the lead screw and guide bars to reduce the weight whilst fitting.
  3. Unless your bench top is unusually thick, you will have to insert a spacer between the mounting bracket and the underside of the bench. This can be made out of hardwood, plywood or mdc, or built up out of 1/4″, or 1/8″ tempered Masonite, or similar material.
  4. Size the spacers to position the top of the rear jaw about 1/2″ to 3/4″ below the top surface of the bench. This allows for periodic resurfacing of the bench top. (The wooden cheeks should be flush with the top.)
  5. If you let the rear jaw of the vice into the front edge of the underside of the bench, allow a 1/16″ gap above the casting. The spacer is bound to compress when you attach the vice, and this gap will close. Without the gap, the wood may buckle above the jaw and have to be planed off. (A snug fit on the sides of the rear jaw helps position the vice.)
  6. To hang the vice, use either 3/” bolts or lag screws. Bolts provide a more positive fixing (Fig.1), but their heads must be countersunk beneath the top surface and the holes should be plugged. (The square shank beneath the head of a carriage bolt will strip the wood after several installations, so I prefer to use machine bolts and lock washers.) Lag screws work well (Fig.2), but make sure that you size and bore the pilot holes carefully, and don’t remove the vice more often than necessary. Lag screws and machine bolts maybe be combined using an enlarged spacer (Fig.3), which strengthens the fixing.
  7. Metal vice jaws should always be covered to protect your work and the edges of your tools: 3/4″ to 1″ thick hardwood is fine. You can make these cheeks wider than the metal jaws to extend their clamping capacity, but bear in mind that the farther you clamp away from the centre screw the more the vice will rack out of square. For a neater job (and more protection), the wooden cheeks can also be routed to fit around the top and sides of the front jaw (Fig.1). Allow about 1/2″ of space between the tops of the guide rods and the bottom of the cheeks so that veneer edges or mouldings can fit between them.
  8. if you let the rear jaw into the front edge, wood must be rooted away to the exact thickness of the casting. If too much wood is removed, the wooden cheek will dish. If not enough i.e.s removed, there will be a gap at the top between the cheek and the front edge of the bench. Sawdust will work its way in and wedge the cheek away from the bench.
  9. The Record and Paramo vices are designed to make contact first along the top edge of the jaws. This ‘toe-in’ should be retained for a better grip. If your vice jaws are parallel, you can create your own ‘toe-in’ by tapering the wooden cheeks.
  10. To make it easy to align work vertically in the vice, inlay thin pieces of veneer in the top of the front cheek. These should lie at a right angle to the outside edges of the guide rods. Work can be quickly installed in the vice by pushing it against the guide rod and alleging it with the veneer on top.
Categories: Hand Tools

Hello Wilbur. I sharpen all of my edge tools (western and Japanese) full bevel without a grinder. I am slow at this but don't mind the time as the result is very good using a progression of 1000-5000-15000 grit Shapton stones. Many of the forum threads...

Giant Cypress - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 4:28am

Hello Bruce. Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.

Many woodworkers who use Japanese tools whom I’ve spoken with over the years often adopt this sort of workflow: when starting, they take time to sharpen the tools that they will be using for the day. After that, they go to work.

This may seem like overattention to sharpening, or maybe not being mindful of time, but I think what gets missed is that for the most part, once the sharpening is done, they seem to be good for at least the majority of the day. There’s something to be said for getting the sharpening out of the way so that you can spend the rest of the day woodworking, rather than interrupting your progress on your project to sharpen up a tool.

I should caveat the above by noting that it’s most likely an overreach to characterize all woodworkers who use Japanese tools as following one method for their workflow. It would be like saying that all woodworkers who use western tools do the same thing as well.

Guest Blog: Many Sincere Thanks

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 4:00am
We get lots of email, most good, some pointing out where we screwed up. This email from Tom Garry was so much fun to read, I thought that, with Tom's permission, I would share it with everyone:

Dear Tools for Working Wood:

Please allow me to share the thoughts of a dying man with you. (The doctor recently only gave me 5 or 6 more decades to live).

When I was young, I heard or read somewhere "never be afraid to buy the very best - especially when it comes to tools." That phrase stuck with me throughout my life. A couple of years ago I had to give up my then-current hobby, which was rather extreme and involved several trips to the emergency room, and I took up woodworking as a replacement. I knew very little about hand-tools, other than that I absolutely loved the look, feel, and entire concept behind them. How a man could wield such instruments of beauty and produce equally beautiful and functional pieces of furniture and art using only the power of his body, the direction of his vision, and the touch of his hands was utterly fascinating to me. So I did what any new student would do - I visited You Tube University. There, I was lucky enough to stumble across Paul Sellers and his videos on woodworking. I was hooked. It soon became obvious that chiseling with a sharpened screwdriver and smoothing wood with a massive belt sander was simply not going to get the job done. I needed to invest in some tools.

Through more online investigation, I also discovered Tools For Working Wood, and specifically, the Gramercy hold-fasts. After building my work bench (thank you Paul Sellers) I couldn't wait to hold down my first piece of wood with my new hold fasts, modified with a piece of leather from an old belt. I was amazed at the force that could be applied and the obvious durability these would have through my few remaining decades of life. I had discovered, in a world filled by the biblical flood of cheap imports, in a word - quality.

The next couple of years saw my collection of tools grow, and included the full set of Ray Isles mortising chisels. I was dying (no pun intended) to use them for a REAL mortise. So I made a walnut slant - front writing desk, where the only electrons harmed were in cutting the tapers for the 12/4 walnut legs on my portable table saw. I chopped a dozen perfect mortises with these hunks of solid D2 steel and they laughed at my feeble efforts to punish them. They were taunting me to do something that only they could do.

Not knowing if I would survive another Christmas, I revisited my favorite on-line tool store again and discovered the Moxon vice hardware of my dreams! I had an ideal piece of 12/4 walnut left over from my desk build that would be perfect for this ingenious bit of hardware. When my prize arrived a few days later I excitedly examined everything in the kit - and then I saw those 1/2" thick rectangular nuts that would require...be still my heart...a 1/2" wide, 1" long, and very, very deep mortise! I could almost hear my English mortising chisels shudder in my tool cabinet.

When the day of mortising finally arrived, I wanted to play some gothic-choir-chant-type music and wear a dark hooded robe as I lifted the mighty 1/2" chisel, named Mr. Mortise, in the air. Alas, I had no such chants, or hooded robe, so I played the Monty Python segment where they walked through the town calling "Bring out ye dead!" followed by a rhythmic 'thud' of a drumbeat. After laying out the location of the mortises twice (I was so excited I got the location wrong the first time) it was finally time to strike Mr. Mortise on the head with a mallet and see how far I could go. The mortise began to take shape and I was now swinging the mallet over my head and delivering as forceful an impact that I could muster. Mr. Mortise plunged deeper and deeper into the abyss of walnut sheering huge chunks of debris out of his way. The sides of the mortise actually became polished after brushing shoulders with Mr. Mortise time after time again. When the final blow fell silent, I dropped my stainless rule into the mine shaft to check depth: 4 1/8" deep. Straight down. No drift. No problem.

I think the finished Moxon vice looks pretty nice, if I do say so. I was so proud of surviving another year of my fatal disease called "natural causes" that I rewarded myself with the Gramercy dovetail saw. Oh I can't wait to drive that Formula 1 car around a long racetrack of joinery!

So, my toolmaking heros of the North, I would like to offer a very sincere 'Thank You' to everyone who was involved with bringing peace to a man who's years were once numbered. I'm happy to report that because of you I appear to be in remission and am as healthy as a horse. Never be afraid to build the very best - we will buy it.

Best Regards,

Tom Garry
The Woodlands, TX

questions and answers.......

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 1:25am
I got a couple of questions on how I fitted the lid on frames. I don't think it's anything special but what is obvious and easy to me may be incomprehensible and hard for someone else. I planned on gluing up the lid and frame of frame #1 tonight so it's nothing to add a bit of show and tell to it.

lid  and frame anatomy
The two slip by each being captive in the other's groove. The depth of the groove in the panel isn't critical in that it has to be certain measurement. As long as it's deeper then the groove of the frame you'll be ok.  You also have two choices for how the lid presents itself. It can proud of the of the frame like the top is here. Or it could be recessed like the bottom is. A possible third choice would have the top and bottom the same - recessed, proud, or even with the frame.

no room for expansion
It's winter so that means that this panel will be expanding so I have fit this loose. One thing I tried to do was to make the panel a snug fit in the frame grooves. I only have to take off some of the panel on the two long sides and just on the bottom flange. I don't have to make the top part any narrower than what it is. It's the bottom flange that I have to allow for movement. I also tried to make the long grain dimension as snug as I could too. That will make the panel less likely to rattle in the frame.

The bottom flange in the panel groove is about a 1/8" less than the top flange that sits on top of the frame. By making the panel fit snug you get a tight fit on top of the panel to the frame. A gap here would look like a crap.

question #2 - the lead into
How did I plane the miters with the tenon in the middle? Carefully. The big problem is the lead into the miter face and the exit. The lead isn't fully supported and the exit can blow out.

the exit and potential blowout
this is how I did it
I put a scrap miter on the bottom and that lends support right at the start of the miter. Without using this I tended toward rounding this and ending up with hump. Instead of just trimming in one direction, I had to do it in two. This piece is a great aid in keeping the heel straight and in line with the toe.

the exit
On my first trimming I didn't use this aid. The frame was toast and I wasn't going to fix it then so I wasn't concerned about blowouts.  When I used the aid this time I clamped it before started trimming. Made it a lot easier to trim the faces of the miter.

I rounded the panel insert and put some paste wax in the corner grooves. I got it clamped up and cooking by the furnace until tomorrow.

frame #2
I used the small block and made a bevel on the four edges. After I got done I stepped back to look at and decided I like the round over better.

sanding a round over
I was able to knock back the bevels and make this round-ish with this sanding block.

you can tell it's round and it has the hover look I like

ran the groove for frame #3
dry clamped
The fourth miter was open but I was able to close it with hand pressure and clamp it. On the other attempts yesterday I had to use a clamp to close up the 4th miter.
it's open slightly at the heel
All four of the miters are opened at the heel when I clamped them individually.

the dry fit is better than the clamped one
I checked the miters with a combo square and there is a tiny sliver of daylight there. Tomorrow or the next day I'll take a another turn on the shooting board. Maybe I can sweeten these up just a bit more.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is the only female deer to grow antlers?
answer - the reindeer

Santos Hernandez Style Classic Guitar - Late Night Work

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 7:53pm
The classic guitar is a difficult and demanding instrument. There are no short cuts.

Vladimir Bobri, The Segovia Technique, 1972

I got back to work on a close copy of a 1930 Santos Hernandez guitar yesterday by glueing on the so called "fan bracing", as you will notice, these braces are nearly parallel to each other, and the transverse braces to the top.

When I got up this morning I un-cinched the clamps and discovered that the top had a definite twist to it.

Hmm. Bad glue up technique on my part and the humidity had dropped from 39% to 29% overnight, not good for a guitar top or my nerves. That is the problem with working at lutherie this time of the year, especially during and right after a big snow storm, the relative humidity can really drop. The humidifier can't keep up.

I needed to run errands this morning, when I got back I split the transverse braces off the top and shaved the remnants down to the glue.

Then I made new braces.

I clamped the top down to the work board and glued on transverse brace number one, once the glue was set then I glued on the wide flat brace closest to the neck.

After that, time to walk the dogs and make dinner.

The brace below the sound hole has a 1/16th of an inch arch to it to help dome the top.

Doming the top gives the guitar a real voice, one that has volume and character. It's like a drum head, you want it tensioned to be loud.

When I glue this brace on I usually use two slats as backing cauls and a C clamp at each end. Then I push two shims in between the slats to force the top to the brace and the glue.

This action is what can cause twisting.

Tonight, I used the slats, but I started by clamping in the middle, the a C clamp on each side of the Quik Grip, and continued on down to the ends of the brace.

I couldn't see any twisting or winding to the top.

Then it was a little trim work on some laminated all walnut cam clamps, which I should work on tomorrow..

and then double check the neck. If all goes well I can bend the sides tomorrow and attach the top to the neck.

Now it's bed time.

It's not that late, maybe nine o'clock, but I never could work late into the night, even in college I couldn't work on term papers past 11pm. Back then I had an electric typewriter that could erase the last ten words that you typed, I thought I was lucky to have such a beast.

Still, I have a jar full of incense cedar bodied pencils that are more fun to use than any computer.

Categories: Luthiery

Restoration vs. Conservation: What’s the Difference?

The Workbench Diary - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 6:56pm

Some people use the terms restoration and conservationinterchangeably while others use them as polar opposites (often with restoration used as a pejorative). Do restorers and conservators do the same thing but conservators are more “purist”? Or more skilled, perhaps? Or are we to think these practitioners use radically different solutions to accomplish the same goals? Where is the truth?

Finding answers to these questions requires considerable hashing out but the way I understand it conservation is a profession which is broken down into two categories: “Active” and “Passive/Preventative” conservation. Active relates to implementing treatment on already damaged historic artifacts while preventative refers to control of the artifact’s environment to avert future damage. Most folks are familiar with the active part as this is the only thing sexy enough to make the headlines. Active conservation is the side we are concerned with in this essay.

Restoration is part of what conservators do. The simplest definition for the word restoration is “a process of returning to a known or assumed past state”. Regular conservation treatment entails a variety of tasks: cleaning, repairing broken elements, and compensating for losses (replacing missing parts or color). All of these activities are, by definition, restorative.

So is it possible to do restoration without it being conservation? Maybe. Part of what sets conservators apart from restorers is adoption of a code of ethics. Many American conservators have adopted the AIC Code of Ethics. Among other things, the Code specifies a commitment to documenting the treatment process. This includes description of before and after treatment condition as well as treatments performed. So a practitioner who treats an object outside ethical constraint or without any documentation may be considered as working outside the conservation profession.

Do restorers and conservators perform identical treatments? Yes and no. The Code of Ethics obligates the conservator to choose “materials and methods appropriate to the objectives of each specific treatment and consistent with currently accepted practice”. Hmmm? What does appropriatemean?

I think this is where the world of conservation in private practice comes into the discussion. There are many conservators who work independently rather than as museum staff. These conservators frequently receive objects in their studios which are in regular use unlike their institutional counterparts. Are the “objectives of each specific treatment” different when the object is in regular use? You betcha. When a museum’s historic chair is treated for structural damage there is no objective of making it “sittable” again. But that same treatment may be inappropriate for a chair that will be in regular use. What this means is that appropriate conservation treatment is determined based on understanding the context and values of the object in question. Is it utilitarian? Is it historically significant? Does it hold sentimental value? Conservators treat objects with all these values and their objective is to preserve or enhance those values.

I have friends and colleagues who refer to themselves as “restorers” and others that have adopted the title “conservator”. When they talk shop there is so much overlap it is hard to discern what the difference is. There are many ways of understanding and conceptualizing the subject but this is my take on the matter.

Categories: Hand Tools


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