A difference between cast-metal spokeshaves and wooden spokeshaves is the dynamic of bevel-up and bevel-down cutting iron I spoke of in an earlier post in the series. The two differences may possibly appear to present the blade similarly but that’s not the case. Regardless of spokeshave type, the bevel forming the cutting edge will be ground and honed at 30-degrees. When the bevel-up iron negotiates the wood, the bevel being 30-degrees (or what is on the blade if ground and honed differently), the presentation to the wood will be 30-degrees. On the other hand, because the blade is elevated to 45-degrees on metal-cast spokeshaves, and the bevel is on the underside of the blade so that the bevel faces down, the angle of presentation to the wood is then 45-degrees. Some say that this 15-degree presentation makes the spokeshave useless for planing or shaving endgrain and this again is not true at all. The marginal difference is discernible but don’t be put off. Sharpness will make all the difference and you can indeed shave endgrain just fine. The physics of the two different presentations are important because often the bevel up presentation will not tackle certain aspects of wood grain and vice versa. The ability to switch between the two types is highly valued and so you will eventually need both. My suggestion is that you but the bevel down #151 type first and when you think you need the other, go for it.
The Bevel-down #151 - Blade Presentation Strategy
The blade on the #151 protrudes through the sole of the spokeshave and so, when you place the spokeshave on the wood it immediately enters the surface wood and starts the cut from penetration. This causes a slight step-down in the surface. To prevent this we lightly present the spokeshave to the surface and at the same time push forward so as to feather-entry into the work in an elongated sweep starting from zero and, over a couple of inches, follow through to full depth, which is indeed governed by difference between the sole and the protruding cutting iron.
The Bevel-up Spokeshave – Blade Presentation Strategy
On the other hand, because the sole of the wooden-bodied spokeshave is the blade itself, we create an additional feature that toes-in the leading edge of the spokeshave, the wooden part. This angle allows us to lead the spokeshave forward into the cut and it is best to do this with firm but gentle pressure until the cutting edge starts from a feather edge that is more controlled by the beveled leading edge than the sole or underside of the blade itself.
Do you need adjusters?
This is another question I am often asked and my answer could be yes or know. Yes they are not essential, and, yes, they do make life much easier. Here again the misinformant says there is lots of whiplash in poorly engineered models and that’s true, but whiplash makes almost no difference at all. Once the spokeshave is adjusted and you tweak an extra 1/8th turn on the setscrew to cinch the blade tightly to the bed the blade will not move. Adjusters are the way to go if you are intent on working efficiently. Comparing say the non-adjuster model #150 to the #151 adjustable spokeshave is night and day to me.
Why I Did this Series
I posted this series to counter the culture proclaiming that the Stanley 151-type spokeshave will be found badly lacking and that using the standard Stanley 151 spokeshave model results always in “chatter, screeching and cursing.” This erroneous and misleading statement saddens me because it’s a statement against hundreds of thousands of professional and amateur woodworkers who used them through ten decades with no such results. Between the 1950-60s, when a spokeshave came from the manufacturer, mostly Record and Stanley, we expected to have to fettle them and take care of manufacturer’s flawed workmanship in their products made here in the UK. This included planes and other tools too. It was and still is a sad condition pandemic throughout British-made goods made mostly in Sheffield. Those manufactures now relied on the past reputation of the industry fathers who earned their reputations. This demise resulted from complacency and perhaps a lack of competition and I am glad that US makers stepped in a few decades ago to make up for the shortfall and created high quality products that replaced them. British industry should be shamed by this indeed but I haven’t seen that. Even today much of Sheffield tool manufacturing for woodworking tools still survives despite shoddy workmanship even though much of what does survive and exist is because US demand for traditional tools has created a market and Americans still believe that UK and Sheffield goods have a valid reputation. What Sheffield makers have in most of what I see are good materials poorly prepared and assembled. They indeed spoil the ship for a half-penny worth of tar and forsake their reputation for the sake of a few minutes invested the final refinement of product.
So, that settled, and though we shouldn’t have to, it takes only a few minutes to rework the bed of the spokeshave and prepare it to receive the blade. Once done, you never need do it again. Of the hundreds of spokeshaves I have salvaged from neglect, almost none of them had any remedial work done to them. They all worked just fine as far as I can recall.
The post On Closing the Spokeshave Series – Last One for Now appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.
The tools and materials required: clockwise from left, two pieces of 2" wide pine stock perfectly squared around, mortising gauge, mallet, marking knife, crosscut and rip backsaws, pair of bench hooks, paring chisel, primary mortising chisel, narrow mortising chisel, chisel-pointed pencil, and square.
This is a pre-proofread draft, but I wanted to get this out quickly. I'll clean it up tomorrow.
In Four-Stroke Tenoning Exercise, I said that the method could be applied to mortises as well. Here it is, in obsessive detail.
That post has most of the backstory, but there's some additional background on mortising. The two methods for mortising I'm familiar with are:
- Chop it out with a chisel (bench or mortise chisel of various styles).
- Drill the bulk of the waste out, then pare to the lines.
Make sure the stock you're working with is perfectly square around. The ends need to be reasonably square, but not perfect. Mark reference face and edge on each. You will work both pieces with matching face sides. That's how you know if you have one of the pieces upside down.
Layout the width of the tenon piece on the mortise piece. Leave about a half-inch of extra length on the mortise piece. This is called the horn; it provides extra wood to maintain strength to avoid splitting or blowing out the end grain when chopping the mortise. You saw it off and plane it flush after the joint is glued up.
Mark the length of the mortise in between the edge marks for the tenon piece, about 1/8" to 1/4" in.
Mortise piece left, tenon piece right. The face side is up on both pieces. The mark corresponding to the right edge of the tenon piece is about a half inch down, leaving a temporary horn for strength. The mortise ends are marked inside the edge lines.
The trick to all this is in the setting of the mortise gauge. This is a marking gauge with two pins that can be adjusted for width. Normally you set the width of the pins by setting your mortise chisel on them and adjusting them so that their tips are the width of the chisel.
Instead, drop the chisel between them so that the their sides are the width of the chisel. This offsets the tips, which do the actual marking, by about 1/32". That's it. You've just compensated for the paring you plan to do.
If you have a different type of mortise gauge, one with wheels or knives, you simply have to set the extra gauge width by hand.
The only consequence of this is that it affects the size of chisel you use. The width of a mortise should be between 1/3 and 1/2 the thickness of the stock. Less than 1/3, and you'll have beefy mortise walls but the tenon will be weak. More than 1/2, and tenon will be beefy but the mortise walls will be weak.
You still need to follow these guidelines, but now you have an extra 1/16" of width to factor in. So your 1/4" chisel that was a perfect third of 3/4" stock will no longer produce a mortise exactly 1/3 the thickness. However, it's still within the 1/2 requirement.
The problem is if you were planning on using a 3/8" chisel; that plus the extra width would be too much.
Set the pins of the mortise gauge to the width of the chisel. Here I'm using a 1/4" mortise chisel.
Closeup: that means drop the chisel all the way down between them.
Adjust the body of the gauge until the pins are reasonably centered on the thickness of the stock when referenced from the face side. Everything here is referenced from the face side, so double check that every time you apply the gauge to a piece.
That way, if the mortise is slightly offset from center, the tenon will be correspondingly offset; but if you turn one or the other upside down, the offset will be on the wrong side.
Press the face of the gauge against the face side of the mortise piece, tip it so the pins trail, and mark the mortise width between the end marks. Mark using repeated light passes; too heavy a pass tends to get caught in the grain. Run the chisel point of the pencil down the lines to make them more visible.
Trail the pins as you push the gauge between the end marks. You can also do it the opposite way, tip the gauge toward you and pull it from the far mark. But keep the body firmly pressed against the face side of the stock.
The darkened gauge lines.
You can mark the tenon now, but I'm going to save it for later once we know the actual depth of the mortise. So keep the gauge around, don't lose its setting. But you can certainly layout the tenon for a specific mortise depth, and make sure the mortise is that depth. I'm not paying a whole of attention to absolute numerical measurements here.
Chopping The Mortise
Other than the extra width, this mortise follows the traditional pattern. I'm following the chopping method detailed by Paul Sellers. Most other authors describe a similar method, but with some variation in the fine details (or annoyingly, they omit the fine details!).
Note that I'm doing a blind mortise here, the simplest type, not a through mortise. But a through mortise is essentially two blind mortises started from opposite sides that meet in the middle. That requires more formal layout of the mortise ends, since they need to be transferred around the piece from the first side to the second to ensure alignment.
Start the mortise chisel about 1/16" to 1/8" from one end of the mortise, holding it dead vertical, centered between the gauge lines. The key thing is to have the bevel facing away from that end, facing the direction of travel down the length of the mortise.
I like to stand at the end and sight down the piece so I can watch the chisel alignment side to side and make sure it stays vertical. The angle forward and back is less critical. I start the chisel at the near end, with the bevel facing the far end.
Make the first cut with the chisel very lightly, about 1/16" deep. Then advance the chisel about 1/8" and drive it a little deeper with the mallet. For each step forward, you can drive the chisel deeper, to that same depth; by the time you have progressed 1" down the length of the mortise, the chisel should be going in about 1" deep.
You'll notice that the wedging action of the bevel on the forward side pushes the chisel back into the previously cut wood, starting to break it out. Meanwhile the end grain wood ahead of the chisel will by cut at the bevel angle.
Lever the chisel forward as you go to pry out the waste. Proceed this way progressively deeper until you reach 1/16" from the far end. Pay attention to the total depth so you don't go too deep.
Start the chisel 1/16" from the near end, bevel facing the far end. Sight down the chisel and workpiece so that it is aligned with the gauge lines and edges.
Closeup of the chisel centered between the gauge lines and visually aligned with them even though it is vertical.
After two steps forward down the length of the mortise, levering the chisel forward to pry out the waste and flick it aside. Removing as much waste as you can while you go makes it easier to clean out.
Sighting down the chisel from the back side to maintain alignment.
Getting pretty deep! Now the chisel is sliding down the far slope along its bevel a significant distance as it cuts.
Last chop at the far end, about 1/16" from the line. I got a little too close with this one.
The chisel slides down backwards on its bevel, leaving a sloped end.
Push the narrow chisel down the slope to clear it out.
Inside the mortise, with smooth far slope and choppy near slope.
To finish off the joint, come backward from the far end. Start by angling the chisel back at the bevel angle, so the bevel rides straight down as you strike the handle with the mallet.
From there, simple spin the chisel around, so the bevel faces the near end, and chop the return path the same way as the outgoing path. Because there's little or no wood behind the chisel now to resist it, you'll notice it slides backward and deep quickly. Clean it out again with the narrow chisel.
If necessary, make another series of cuts to go deeper. The narrow chisel is useful for this as well, since the primary chisel can get jammed up along the walls as the mortise gets deeper. You can use the tip to perforate the floor and break up the fibers, then scrape it back and forth.
At the far end, angle the chisel back at the bevel angle, so the bevel is perpendicular to the wood, and chop down. The bevel will ride straight down.
Cleaning out the deep junk with the narrow chisel.
Now finish off each end. Set the primary mortise chisel on the end line, bevel facing into the mortise. Make sure it is dead vertical both side to side and forward and back. Look along both axes to verify. Once you're sure, chop straight down. It should be easy because there's very little wood to remove. Clean this last bit of waste out.
Chop dead straight down the near end with the bevel facing into the mortise. Then spin the chisel around and repeat at the far end.
At this point you have a traditionally chopped mortise. If you're getting a good mortise with straight edges and flat walls, maybe you don't need to use the paring method. Otherwise, this makes good practice. You'll find your initial mortises will get better and better over time.
The chopped mortise, ready for paring.
Paring The Mortise
This is where we really deviate from the norm. This is what you would do if you had drilled out the waste with a series of holes instead of chopping it.
As with the four-stroke exercise, the gauge lines form a recess to drop your chisel into, precisely positioned. That's how that method applies here.
You need to have a razor sharp paring chisel, and pare straight down the mortise walls. It should be easy to pare across the grain because there's only a thin layer.
Set the edge of the paring chisel into the center of the gauge line.
Sight down the chisel and along its side to make sure it's perfectly vertical.
Closeup showing the grip, pinching the chisel to the wall with finger and thumb as you push down.
Move over and make the next slice down, then do the other end. Repeat as necessary depending on the chisel width.
Spin the chisel around to the opposite wall, again pinching wood and chisel together as you push down.
Final stroke. Ok, I think the "four" stroke count has gone astray, but you get the idea.
To finish the mortise, chop down the parings in all four corners with the primary mortise chisel and clean them out. This chisel fits easily now, since the mortise is wider.
Chop straight down in each corner to sever the parings at the end of the mortise.
Setting up to chop down at the other end.
The primary mortise chisel fits into the widened mortise easily now for clean out. That's nice because the last bits of junk out is always a nuisance. Turn it upside down and scrape it out with the chisel.
The cleaned out mortise and severed parings.
To check the side walls, drop the edge of the paring chisel into the bottom of the mortise with the back flat up against the far wall. Sight down the side to see if it stands up perfectly vertically. Spin the chisel around and check the other side the same way.
If not, the wall is sloping. If it's sloping inward (narrowing at the bottom), you can carefully pare down a bit in the bottom portion of the side to get it vertical. Just don't remove too much!
If it's sloping outward (widening at the bottom), you're in trouble. You can pare the upper parts of the wall, which means you'll need to make the tenon wider...and now you're down the whole problem path we were trying to avoid. So err on the side of walls that slope inward.
Set the edge of the chisel in the bottom where it meets the far wall and push the back up against the wall. It should be vertical.
Spin the chisel around and check the near wall.
I found just a bit of inward slope in the bottom of the mortise on one side, so I pared that down and cleaned it out.
The final mortise, ready to accept the tenon.
In part 2, we'll use the four-stroke method to precisely form the tenon.
Just like many things in my life lately, my woodworking over the past few days has been disjointed. Before I completed the door for the little built in cabinet I made for the garage, I decided to do a little work on the dado plane I picked up from Ebay.
The first act of restoration was taking the plane apart. Thankfully, everything looked good, though the screws for the depth stop mechanism were definitely not original to the plane. I did a little bit of work on the wedges by laying a sheet of 220 grit sand paper on my workbench and giving both of them a light sanding/flattening. I then cleaned the plane, first with mineral spirits (very lightly), and then some linseed oil, getting it in all the nooks and crannies. While the plane dried I cleaned the depth stop mechanism with Brasso. The turning knob shined up brilliantly, but the screw itself took a little bit of work, as it had many, many years of dust and grime on it. I probably spent a good 15 minutes on the screw alone, and while it is not shiny, I definitely got it clean. Finally, I wiped off the linseed oil and applied a coat of paste wax. Next step was the iron.
Before I did anything, I flattened both the tang on the iron and the knicker using a ballpeen hammer, which was easy enough. I then cleaned the iron with some camellia oil. I spent a good 15 minutes flattening the back with the 1000 grit water stone. The back was reasonably flat to begin with, but I wanted to be certain. To hone the actual bevel itself I used a Veritas honing guide, which works well on skewed irons. That part took around 25 minutes, as I worked very deliberately. I wanted to get it as perfect as possible so future sharpenings would go more smoothly. Happily, I managed to achieve a really nice edge, and the old blade held up beautifully. With that, I called it a job done. I didn’t really touch the knicker other than the tang, as I am not all that sure how to sharpen them.
Saturday morning I started and completed the door for my built-in. I ran into a bit of a problem; the boards I set aside for the rails were not really long enough. I was shooting for a one inch long tenon, with a quarter inch stub. After squaring the boards and cutting them to usable size, I only had enough length left for about a 5/8 inch tenon, which I suppose is better than nothing. Either way, there is nothing much to report on that job, as it was basically a small bit of trial and error, measuring, sawing, and some handplaning. In fact, here is a good tip for making a tongue and groove joint on a table saw: Always make the tongue/tenon first, then use the tongue to set the fence of the table saw to make the groove. It takes a bit more work than setting up a dado stack, but at the same time eliminates the trial and error process of setting up a dado stack to begin with.
The last job of the day was hanging the door. Hanging a door sometimes isn’t easy, but I found a little trick that sometimes helps. Before I assembled the door and glued it, I mortised the hinges into hinge side stile and hung it onto the cabinet. It is much easier dealing with one 2 inch wide board rather than an entire door (this works well on a smaller door, but on a heavier door it may not work as well due to sagging) After I had a nice fit I glued up the door, checked it for square, and let it dry over night. This morning, I installed a pull ring and re-hung the entire door. The fit is nice, but not perfect, but at least the gaps are even, and the door opens and closes smoothly.
With this project finished I probably won’t woodworking much for the rest of the summer. Hopefully if all goes well over the next few weeks I will get started on making my smooth plane. Otherwise, I don’t plan on building any furniture. This project wasn’t very difficult, but that is a relative term. I’ve yet to build anything out of wood that was simple, even if the design itself was. This project was no exception. For what it’s worth it was fun, woodworking usually is, but it definitely wasn’t easy.
Chris Schwarz’ plans for building a Dutch tool chest in Popular Woodworking Magazine are pretty straight forward. It’s an easy build. I would have loved more detail on making the lid. And if by “more” you take that to mean “any”, then you’re correct. The drawings for the large tool chest also fail to show the notches you’ll need to cut into the middle shelf to accommodate the battens on the fall-front door. Other than that, the plans did their job.
That is, until I got to configuring the interior. Completing this part of the project easily took longer than the build itself. Yes, you can fit a lot of tools into the chest. But you need to pay careful attention to how you pack them in. Particularly in the top portion. The tolerance for error is very small. If you’re off by ¾” here or there, then the lid won’t close, or the fall front won’t seat and so forth. And fixing those errors doesn’t just burn time, it leaves surfaces pockmarked with filled holes.
The following installments will give you rich detail about how I configured my chest. They include all the tips, tricks and fixture ideas that I wish I had had when I was working on my chest. I hope my content helps you achieve three goals:
1. Dramatically cut the time it takes you to complete your chest
2. Avoid unsightly errors and
3. Give you some ideas about how you may wish to set up your own toolchest
The fixtures I built resulted in a chest that includes efficient storage for two panel saws, a whole gaggle of chisels, a marking gauge, a marking knife, a combination square; four bench planes (try/jointer; jack; smoother; block); joinery planes (skew rabbet; router; grooving); boring tools (brace & bits) some files and a bunch of other stuff.
But why bother?
“Honey, I got the contract for the Florida job,” said my lady. Nice! Boca Raton and Del Rey are some upscale areas in the state. So we (Gail, me and Bella, our black lab) had visions—yes, the dog had visions, she loves water—of temporarily moving there for the duration of the contract.
Well, if Gail was going to have her dog there, I by gum was going to have my woodworking. So I needed a chest.
What I like most about Schwarz’ Dutch tool chest design is its mobility and ample storage. I figured that I could indeed equip it with a complement of tools sufficient to build things. And I could do it with tool duplicates too! You see, you really do need that second, or third jack plane after all.
For you woodworking newbies out there, this is a fantastic early project to build. It will not only teach you a lot, but you’ll have a nice, compact space to store your hand tools when you’re finished.
That’s the “why” of the Dutch tool chest. Next time, I’ll talk about spicing up your build with some bead and round-over details.
© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.
Woodworking as a craft is one of mankind’s oldest uses of technology, and each generation has passed along knowledge about how to, when to and why to. Technology has changed within the craft itself and the way in which information moves from older to younger. A lot of things that used to be made out of wood are now constructed of different materials, but woodworking is still an important part […]
Woodworking as a craft is one of mankind’s oldest uses of technology, and each generation has passed along knowledge about how to, when to and why to. Technology has changed within the craft itself and the way in which information moves from older to younger. A lot of things that used to be made out of wood are now constructed of different materials, but woodworking is still an important part […]
I'm just completing a batch of high angle smoothers in Lignum Vitae (Palo Santo). It's amazing how much this wood darkens on exposure to sunlight, you can see my jack plane which has gone a very very dark green. I love this plane, left straight off the band saw just as James Krenov advocated. I have always finished off the planes I sell, as I figured the natural look wouldn't sell too well!
I had a request for an unfinished one recently which was nice and the work saved also reduced the cost by £20.
It is not a caliper, it is not a tuning fork, it is not a truncated trident, it is not a gimble, it is not a frog gig, it is not a boot jack, it is not an oar lock, it is not a pattern for a flyer [although I did use a flyer for the layout], it is not a crutch, it is not a stirrup, it is not a gun rest, it is not an equitorial mount and it is not brought to you by the letter ‘Y’. What is it?
So I’m working away on the Thorsen table today, and you probably know I have the Thorsen cabinet mostly done except for the stained glass. While I’m working I’m also annoying the sweet smell of pure hickory smoke wafting in from the smoker just outside my shop.
I put a 8.5lb pork shoulder on to smoke last night at 11:30pm. It should be done about 2:00 this afternoon, and I’ll wrap it in foil and pack it in a cooler to rest until dinner time.
I tweaked my rub recipe, I like this version a lot. It should be applied liberally and left to sit in the fridge for at least two hours, longer is better.
1/4 cup sweet paprika
4 tablespoons coarse hickory salt
2 tablespoons fresh ground rainbow peppercorns
1 tablespoon “smoked” paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons celery seed
On July 8th at our Annual Trade Luncheon, Bill Pavlak and Kaare Loftheim received recognition for reaching individual milestones with Colonial Williamsburg.
Bill Pavlak achieved Journeyman status.
Kaare Loftheim received recognition for 35 years of service.
Anyone who has stopped by the shop will agree Kaare and Bill are tremendous assets. On a personal note, they make coming to work a pleasure.
All their bad jokes aside.
Thanks again guys and here’s to many years to come.
Wooden spokeshaves predate the cast metal ones by centuries and more if you delve into the histories of ancient worlds. Spikes and spokes give some limited indication as to why these tools are called ‘spoke’ shaves, but so limited a definiendum only serves to undervalue the breadth and scope of a tool that multidimensionally defies limitation as a specialised tool. I cannot think of any other hand tool shaving tool that so capably spins in the hands of experienced woodworkers and amateurs too. With every shifting, twisting wrist and slight adjustment of hand the spokeshave creates unlimited possibilities for shaping and shaving wood.
Traditional Tanged Spokeshaves Can be Large and Small
Watching trainees through the many years I’ve spent training apprentices and teaching students and then literally thousands of them, I have seen what makes the spokeshave most effective and what renders it almost useless. A common thread creates many problems affecting almost all hand tools in a world that has devalued skills, devalued real and practical knowledge and lost sensitivity in craft work handling wood, materials and hand tools. This common thread is sensitivity and the desensitised use of tools throughout every aspect of work.
We tend to see sensitivity in its most very limited sphere surrounding a sort of gentleness and yet it’s more expansive realm includes developed sensitivity that enables us to feel for and know how and where and when to apply the right pressures, great, small and every level in between. Sensitivity determines the exactness of direction according to felt pressures at the tool’s cutting edge. It’s only by sensing the minute by minute changes needed that we can shift and change so as to present the tool’s cutting edge to its most effective cutting position according to small shifts in grain direction and configuration in the wood. By sensitivity we determine sharpness and the need to sharpen, change the bevel slightly and much much more beyond. We may not even be capable of defining in words alone what sensitivity means when it comes to the way we respond to a tool’s cutting edge or the grain in the wood we work. We may not even be mentally aware of the subtle changes we make by effectively changing a hand and finger position as we work the tool but we do it every second if, when we work, we sense what needs to change and make the changes immediately.
A Round-bottomed Spokeshave for Convex Work
Though spokeshaves are indeed forgiving tools when it comes to making and taking shavings, and it’s because of this that sharpness is indeed neglected, sharpness affects the work much more than we can appreciate. Green woodworking and working bark from round stems and branches do not rely on the sharpness we might rely on say for shaping a cello neck or a queen Anne leg. Green bark and riven green wood is probably the easiest wood of all to work, so sharpness, although I still think it’s important, may seem less critical to say a chair bodger.
I say all of this to say that there is much more to a spokeshave than making spokes and spindles for chair parts. I have used them for refining arched doors and indeed making them. Shaping narrow sticks for chair spindles is important and so too the crinoline stretcher for an English Windsor. The seat itself and the comb too all come from the cutting edge of a spokeshave. Long bows and wagons, wagon wheels and ox yokes all come from this very humble woodworking tool as do a vast range of highly refined and defined furniture pieces including Chippendale and Sheraton, Hepplewhite, Queen Anne, Colonial, Federal, Stickley, Mission, Craftsman and so many more dating from as far beyond cabriole as you can go.
Yesterday I replaced the worn down forepart to my Padauk spokeshave with some boxwood salvaged from an old boxwood chisel handle. No it’s flat and square again. I own three of these and love them. They work identically to the old tanged ones of old and I can say that without compromise. The older spokeshaves rely on two tangs passing through the wooden handle of the spokeshave. When the tool is well used the tangs often become loose so the the adjustment is less reliable. Progressing a cut into the wood can be subjected to pressures that act like a wedge between the spokeshave blade and the body if the spokeshave. This drives the blade out and the spokeshave develops an unintended heavy cut.
Using a fixed blade on the other hand, that has controllable adjusters, guarantees no such movement can take place and that’s what made me invest in making the Veritas spokeshaves using their component parts. It really is a lifetime tool. It looks complicated but following the instructions step by step gives a guaranteed outcome. What I like too is you can also create your own round bottomed model and use the same blade assembly. Switching the components takes only a minute.
Here you can see the shaving emerge from the rear of the spokeshave as I push the spokeshave into the wood…
…and here you can it rise up as I pull it toward me.
Adjustment is truly simple though at first it’s hard to wrap your mind around it. The larger diameter disc at the bottom, beneath my thumb, seats a threaded tube into the body of the spokeshave. The knurled knob I am turning here secures the blade stems that pass through the tube against the end of the tubes either side and so the distance between the body and the blade is set.
Very simple. The kit you buy includes the taps to thread the holes in the wood.
Hand tools and hand work has been a hot topic since I have become a woodworker. Actually, hand work is probably the reason I got into woodworking in the first place. I consumed the Krenov books in a matter of days, and then would read them all over again. There is just something about the hand tool community that is so into and intimate with doing the work with hand tools, that honestly it just made me want to do nothing more than spend my days watching shaving curl from my planes and come to rest next to the work piece on my bench.
I am really excited today to have Scott Meek on the show. In this interview, Scott will share with us how he got started building hand planes, and how what initially was a hobby for him, has turned into a full-time business for him today.
Click here to see Scott’s planes, and sign up for his plane making courses.
I’ve worked out of a traditional floor chest since 1997 when I built my first cover project for Popular Woodworking Magazine. It’s not that I’ve always been monogamous, however. I’ve tried all manner of wall chests, tool racks, rolling cabinets, soft-sided bags and suitcases as ways to contain, protect and limit my tools. But I have always come back to my floor chest. Here’s why. Nothing else gives me the […]
Good day in the shop yesterday, although it was a close thing. The third book in a trilogy I was reading came out recently, and when I get caught up in story the house could burn down around me without me noticing. Luckily I finished the book with plenty of daylight left.
My goal this weekend is to get the Thorsen table as finished as I can. I’d like to get it to the same state as the Thorsen cabinet I’m building so I can finish both pieces at the same time. After wrapping up the piercings the day before, my next jobs were the cloud lifts in the skirts and the waterfall leg detail. Both of these were pretty simple, mechanical tasks compared to the piercing.
First the cloud lift. No real magic here, I made a simple MDF template with some scraps to locate the skirt and toggle clamps to hold it firmly in place. I traced the outline of the lift detail onto the skirt and sawed away the waste, then pattern routed the part to clean it up. I did a sample part to see if I could route all the way across, but as you would expect on the right side there the bit is cutting into the unsupported end grain it splinters. Not a big deal, I just clean it up to the halfway point and flip the part in the fixture.
Then on to the waterfall legs. I used the same approach here, but I had to make sure that I set the fixture up so that when it was made I would always be cutting “downhill” to avoid tear out. I laid out some guidelines for where the steps on the waterfall would be, and routed them into the pattern in two steps.
First I set the fence on the router table so the bit protruded 1/8″ and set a stop block to allow the part to only reach the upper waterfall mark. Note that these layout marks are on the back of the pattern, when it’s in use the waterfall detail will be on the right side of the pattern.
Now reset the fence so the bit extends 1/4″ and reset the stop block so it aligns the bit with the lower waterfall mark.
Next I used a rasp and some sandpaper to shape the outside curves, after that it was just a patter of attaching the stop blocks and toggle clamps to the base.
Then I marked out the detail onto the legs in pencil and headed into the metal shop to bandsaw off the waste. This detail only goes on the inside faces of the legs, and I was terrified that I’d lose track of what I was doing and put it on the wrong face. You can bet I was very careful to triple check each leg before I sawed it.
Then I put the pattern to use, clamping each leg into place and using the router to make sure the steps were identical.
Once the steps were cut into the legs I set up a 1/8″ round over bit and went over all of the edges of the legs, the bottom edge of the skirts and the outside edges of the stretchers. The bit can’t reach the stepped faces of the leg, so I used a rasp, file and sandpaper to shape those.
I’m very close to being able to glue up the table base. Everything needs to be finish sanded, and (OMG, I almost forgot!) I need to figure out how I’m going to attach the table top. I guess I’ll make some wooden buttons and carve some slots in the side like this picture. Wow, I can’t believe that almost slipped pass me.
Ok, so as I was saying… Before I can glue up the base I have to make slots for attachment buttons, and finish sand everything. I have the lower shelf already cut, I just need to rabbet the back and notch the corners to fit around the legs. The wood for the top is prepared too, I have to make the breadboard ends and mortises for 16 ebony plugs though. Sounds like a pretty full day ahead of me.
The past two Sundays (the day I regularly post) I was either on my way to the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, or on my way to New York city for a day at the Metropolitan Museum. Today I’m sharing photos of the class. In coming posts, I’ll share photos from the Met and from the Connecticut Historical Society – where we first discovered the class project (read more about that here).
Class began with a brief discussion of how to pull leg patterns from photos using SketchUp, then the class made patterns and began their legs. After layout, everyone took turns at the band saws so they were immediately plunged into leg work. In expectation of the legs taking two days to wrap up, head schoolmaster Bob Van Dyke arranged a trip to the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) for Tuesday afternoon. (If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit CHS, do yourself a favor and do so. The staff is first rate and CHS is very reproduction-craftsman friendly.) If you plan to build this lowboy from the article in Popular Woodworking Magazine (February 2014, #209), I suggest that you take an extra 1/8″ off the leg pattern before you begin. When I saw the original lowboy at CHS for the second time, I realized that the legs on the antique lowboy were much finer, giving it a lightness that I missed while sizing from the many photos I had.
After the legs were shaped so far, a trip to the lathe was in order. Turning the feet and pad took a long time for the class – seven class members was 28 individual feet to turn. Everyone survived without problems, Right Jon? Here you can see Janice using pair of outside calipers to bring the foot to diameter. In all we used two caliper setups and only four or five basic turning tools. And it was nice to have a variable-speed lathe to work on; there’s a lot of wobble when you first turn the leg to shape the foot.
From the lathe the next step was to mortise the legs for the aprons, back and ends. While this work can be done while the leg is still as a blank, I think it’s better to actually see what the leg looks like before making a call as to where it will fit. After the legs are shaped, you can easily see which legs look best – those go to the front, while others move to the back. We had two mortisers setup and working, plus I demonstrated how to use a plunge router to do the work. Of the seven taking the class, only one used a plunge router for his mortises. (It’s great during classes to use tools you don’t have in your shop, as long as you know how to do the work when you’re at home.) One additional hint is to make sure that you’re cutting to the necessary depth – a couple of woodworkers had to make a return trip to the mortiser. Sorry I didn’t catch that sooner Mike.
By Wednesday everyone had knocked out the remaining outside case pieces and the lowboys were beginning to take shape. Jon spent extra time on his legs – he also noticed the finer look of the lowboy at CHS. After cutting the designs for the ends and front apron, we worked on bending the cock bead. I was happy that the bends for the longer end-panel beads went so well. Most everyone got those pieces bent using a soaked piece of wood and a heat guy set on high – if you take your time, you can feel the wood give up as it melts into position. If you apply the heat for a bit longer, you actually set the bend just as if you left a steamed piece in the mold until it dried. Smaller, tighter pieces were made using a router with a specifically paired guide bushing and router bit. (Read the article to learn the setup.)
Work on the inside of the lowboy went smooth, aside from the occasional misplaced screw pocket. There were a couple of hand-cut dovetail sockets that needed attention, but overall the class breezed through the interiors. As the cases were coming along, the lowboy tops came into focus. A little router work was all that was needed. It took, however, two passes around the top to get the profile complete. And with this project, the profile continued on all four edges; I checked the original lowboy to make sure. Many tops from the period are molded only on three edges.
Late of Friday and most of Saturday, drawers were the topic at hand. Of the seven in the class, three decided to build the drawers with the slanted sides and back – a challenging task even if you’re experienced in dovetail work. As you may have guessed from the opening photo, not all the drawers were completed during the class. As it is with many classes, there is homework. Also, most of the class members decided not to glue up their lowboys. Flat-packing the pieces home is much easier than trying to cram a lowboy into the back seat.
The class went great. I worked with a lot of talented woodworkers. I’m amazed at how good many of the folks are who take classes. If they had more time in the shop, their work could easily rival many of the top woodworkers in the country. Take a class. It’s fun and it’s sure to improve your woodworking.
Build Something Great!
Craving adventure and a need to explore the unknown, I went over to Raleigh Friday morning for an Antiques Extravaganza. Wandering around, I found a dealer with tools for sale. Antiques and tools, could it get any better? I did something unusual and actually bought something.
What I bought was billed as a veneer thickness gauge. It is made from wood and brass and looks something like this:
It is a tool, attractive and didn’t cost much. Perfect. That is until I got home and started examining the gauge. The description doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. The slots on the lower half are all around 1/16″. The slots in the upper half also seem to be of similar widths that bear no obvious correlation to the markings.
And then there are the markings. What veneer is dimensioned from 0.25 to 8? I thought the marks might be marking off 1/4″ increments.
6″ is close to the 6 mark. But not the 5, 4, 3 or 2. Then I noticed the tick marks are uniformly spaced but the numbers below 6 are marked in quarters, X.25, X.50, X.75. Above 6 only X.50.
The tick marks are 1.5% out of horizontal and about 0.35″ (8.89 mm) apart. The wood doesn’t really look old.
What does it measure? Is is just an old brass strip added to new wood? And what did the brass strip come from?
So, what is it really?
Reflecting upon Paul Seller’s foundations class which I took a year ago, one of the techniques that still holds my fascination is the use of a hand plane to round over the edges of boards. Until Paul showed the technique I could not fathom that a hand plane turned at a 45 degree angle would not cause tear out.
Rounding the cane is another technique that is quick simple and only requires a hand plane. This cane is tapered, round on one end and oval on the other. I simply marked lines on the sides as guides and converted the four sided piece into an octagon and continued working the sides until they are round. It took about 15 minutes.
There is final shaping left to do on the handle and the final glue up and wedging (not sure if that’s a word?), but before that I’m considering whether to shape the cane or let it remain straight. When I began the project I had every intention of creating a spiral, now I am looking at the wood grain and a couple of areas of tear out and reconsidering.
Cutting the spiral looks relatively easy but I think with the grain it will be very difficult to smooth. Sometimes less is more and I may just leave the cane straight and let the wood speak for itself. Besides I still have half a stool to complete….
Oyez, oyez, oyez! Know that this post is not about woodworking, it is about life. So if it’s only woodworking you’re interested in, be away with you and come again, another time. But if you would hear a cautionary tale, told to anyone who has ever treated a wife, inamorata or companion with anything less than complete love and respect, then, by all means read on…
My grandmother had a cousin, Goldie. In 1920, Goldie was a young woman. She was always described as lithe, lovely, full of life and full of fun. Her family were good people, hard working folk, never having more than just enough. But the family was happy and Goldie well loved. Apparently, many a young fellow fell under Goldie’s spell. But she exhibited only the slightest fraternal feeling for any of her admirers. Then “Chick” came into Goldie’s life.
Chick’s given name was Charles. There’s no need for family names here. But, suffice it to say, that both Chick and Goldie were from Irish families who had “outdistanced” Mother Church on their migrations. But still, there were rules. Chick, according to my grandmother’s account was a tall, well proportioned man, with dark hair and piercing eyes, not “leading man” quality, but impressive. He was smooth and more than a bit of a rake. Had he followed his family trade, Chick would have been a carpenter or a boatwright. But Chick chose a different path. He decided to be a railroader.
In those days, everyone in the community drank, to a greater or lesser degree. Call it genetic predisposition, boredom, fear. Call it what you like, drinking was wide spread. Well it turned out that Chick, slick as oil and soft as an evening in spring when sober, was a mean drunk. And his meanness was without favor. On payday, Chick would stand a round for the house, but pity the man standing at his side after the fifth or sixth pour. And his meanness went home with him, as well. Payday usually meant that Goldie would become the target of Chick’s fury. But in Irish-American, working class communities in 1920, men venting their frustrations on their loved ones was not uncommon. And, silence became the accepted practice amongst wives and mothers.
After a payday night’s escapade, that may have left Goldie with blackened eyes and broken ribs, came the loving. Tearful apologies would fuel the passion and Goldie would welcome her true love and become pregnant once more. This was the cycle. Yearly children became the rule. But after eight births (including several stillborns), Goldie changed. No longer the willowy darling of the neighborhood, Goldie was tired, very tired. Most especially tired of Chick.
And then it happened. Chick falling across the threshold. Maddened. Raging. Goldie, trying to calm him, received blow after blow until finally she stood and said, “if you ever lay a hand on me again, you’ll regret it so long as you live”. A brutal blow left Goldie on the floor and Chick sprawled on the bed, unconscious in his drunken stupor.
So Goldie, weeping on the floor, next to the pot belly stove that heated the small house, made a decision. After insuring that the children are asleep, upstairs, Goldie gets her needles and thread. Goldie, it seems, was an accomplished seamstress.
In a workman like manner, Goldie pulled the sheet around Chick and began her sewing, following the contour of his now limp body. Stitch upon stitch, until Chick looked as if he was ready for a burial at sea. With arms across his chest, Chick lay, looking more like a beautifully symmetrical cocoon, than the drunken brute who had collapsed in the bed just hours before. But Chick differed from the usual cocoon in one regard, the soles of his feet were exposed.
Then Goldie, lithe, lovely, little Goldie laid the flatiron on the stove. This was the flatiron she had used for years to earn the money she needed to care for her children, as Chick drank away the family’s savings.
When the iron was hot enough, she woke Chick. He was startled and she waited a moment as his head cleared. Family tradition has it that Goldie told Chick that she would never be struck again, as she laid the hot iron to the exposed skin of his feet.
As years past, people often remarked how wonderful the relationship between Goldie and Chick had become. But it seemed that Chick never again knew a good night’s sleep.
Our morning began with center sections completed and ready for trimming.
The weather was foreboding; the day was cool if not downright chilly (60-ish, in mid-July!), and the rain was threatening. This was a theme for the day, and did impact how things progressed.
The first thing we did was select and prepare our materials for the edge banding around the center field, and glue them up into a “loaf.”
On a normal day these set fairly quickly, in an hour or so using hot hide glue, but the day being cold and damp we wrestled with this all day. Next time I offer this course we will glue up the bandings on the first day. Once they were set (mine hadn’t by the end of the day) we cut them into banding strips.
We trimmed the panels in order to cut and fit the banding.
Trimming the panels gave Josh the chance to show off his new Gramercy veneer saw with the “King Kong” blade for use on sawn veneers. We were unanimous that it was a fabulous tool.
After trimming the center field, the parquetry was glued to another sheet of heavy brown paper an then fitted the banding,
gluing it in place using the aluminum head push pins from Utrecht discovered by a workshop student in Kansas City.
Then went on the outer edge, which could be either long grain or cross grain.
That done, out came the glue pots and the slathering began.
They are now all glued to their support panels and clamped up over night, awaiting planing, polishing, and finishing tomorrow.
As a reminder, all of this information (and actually a lot more) will be covered in my ongoing blog series “Parquetry Tutorial” which will be a single downloadable PDF once complete.