Jump to Navigation

Hand Tool Headlines

The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

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

Thank you to everyone who contributed towards Walt Quadrato's battle against cancer!  Their fundraising goal was met.  Our prayers are with you, Walt!  



WPatrickEdwards - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 10:05am
I have been thinking about posting my thoughts on endangered species materials for years now, and every time I sit down to start writing, I stop and reflect on the impact it may have.  I have personal and professional friends who are on both sides of this issue.  I also argue with myself from time to time, trying to decide how I feel.  It is a very difficult problem to resolve.

First of all, there is a jewel cabinet which sits at the top of this blog which contains ivory feet and knobs.  It is one of my best creations and has been exhibited in museum shows on both sides of this country, as well as published in several magazines.  When I made it I took particular concern that the ivory be from legal stock, harvested in Kenya before 1963, and I have legal papers which confirm that fact.  It wasn't until 10 years later that the creation of an international convention to protect endangered species was signed ( C.I.T.I.E.S.) forcing nations to control and restrict the sale of such materials.  The purpose of this treaty was to prevent the continued depletion of certain precious materials but at the same time allow for the continued consumption of existing stock.  Thus, each legitimate business which had inventory of a protected substance would register the amount of stock and provide certificates with each sale showing the amount sold and the origin of that stock.

When I purchased the Brazilian rosewood (dalbergia negra) for my Louis Philippe tables from Patrick George, I got papers which certified it was harvested in Brazil in 1952.  Mr. George indicated on my papers the actual amount of wood and, at the same time, reduced that amount from his list of legal stock.  In theory, each dealer who maintained stock of these endangered materials would reduce their inventory lists until they were depleted, at which time there would no longer be any stock.

The same process was used with the ivory material I consumed for the jewel cabinet.  I purchased the blanks from David Warther, and was given a certificate authenticating the ivory as pre-C.I.T.I.E.S.

I watch in dismay as each day brings news of the elimination of rhinos and elephants from the face of the earth due to illegal poaching.  Obviously the efforts to legislate the control of horns and tusks has had little effect on their activities, unless it is to raise the value of their horrible trade in other markets.  I cannot express the feelings I have when I see tons of illegal ivory being destroyed by countries to make a point.  I feel the same way when I see antique pianos being crushed by tractors in the dump, with no effort to salvage the ivory, ebony or rosewood materials they contain.

Let me make a simple observation about efforts to control endangered species by contrasting two materials: tortoise shell and rosewood.  People harvest sea turtles because the meat is a food and they taste great (so I read; I have no desire to sample sea turtle).  Thus, if the shell is no longer valuable, people continue to harvest the turtles, eat the meat, and then throw the shell back in the ocean.  On the other hand, in Brazil where the rubber tree is a valuable item, natives make every effort to protect the rubber tree from destruction.  By making the rosewood tree illegal to harvest, and therefore not valuable, there is no protection for the tree and acres of ancient forest are systematically burned to open up land for farming, with no regard to the species of trees destroyed.

What if the rosewood tree was worth thousands of dollars?  What would change?  Would the forests be saved and managed or would the tree just be cut down and sold and then the rest of the forest would be burned as before? Does international legislation have any effect on a farmer with a match?

I do understand that C.I.T.I.E.S. has had a profund and positive effect on managing the international trade of certain materials, but only among those nations who fully support its mission.  For example, in the past year America has proposed and adopted more specific legislation regarding the control of ivory, and this year similar bills have been proposed in California (AB96).  More information can be found here:Ivory Education Institute

As a professional conservator in private practice for the past 45 years, I have collected a good supply of ivory, tortoiseshell, Cuban mahogany, Brazilian rosewood, and many other materials which are currently listed on the C.I.T.I.E.S. list.  All of this material was purchased years before there was any concern with their ownership, and I have no records to prove that I purchased them legally.  Only the materials purchased since the passage of restrictive legislation have certificates.  My business is restoration of objects of art which contain similar materials and that is how I use them.

More and more the decision to use these materials is causing a serious dilemma for me.  It is not clear to me what the future holds for collectors of antiques which often contain precious materials.  Do I use a piece of tortoise shell to restore a missing element in a Boulle clock?  Should I use a scrap of an ivory piano key to make a missing key plate?  How about a scrap of Cuban mahogany veneer being recycled to restore a Georgian card table?  I cannot bring myself to substitute plastic filler or paint and putty to make such repairs, as is more and more the case these days.

I decided to sit down and post these thoughts today since the possibility that all objects which contain ivory will loose their value is a serious concern.  A good example of this is the work of Aaron Radelow.  Aaron is a young furniture maker who I have known for some time.  I first met him when I was the Superintendent of the Design in Wood Show at the Del Mar Fair.  His work was always large, massive and complicated to assemble.  I suggested that he focus more on smaller designs with more detail and "finesse".  He subsequently attended classes at my school where he discovered French marquetry.  During one of these classes I mentioned that the ivory table in the J. Paul Getty collection was perhaps the finest example of work I had seen, and that it had never been copied.  His response was that he would make a copy, and I was quick to dampen his spirits.  I pointed out that it was "iconic" and a "masterpiece" like the Mona Lisa, and that it was "sacred" or some other crap.

Well, he did it.  He spent several years in research, consulted with Brian Considine at the Getty, purchased thousands of dollars of legal ivory and horn and figured out how to do it.  Not only did he succeed in making and exact copy of the original table, he also produced the counter part, which has never existed.  Both of his tables were here in my shop for several weeks as my partner, Patrice Lejeune applied the French polish, so I had a good chance to examine the work.  In my opinion these tables are equal to the original in every respect, and even Dr. Pierre Ramond wrote that they were unique in his experience.

Now the problem:  After thousands of hours of work by a very talented craftsman, using legal materials, what is their value?  How do you recognize this achievement and where will they end up?  When he started work on this project he had every expectation that they would be worth a lot of money, and in my opinion, they are nearly priceless.  However, due to subsequent legislation they may end up as illegal or certainly difficult to sell.

Here is a photo of his tables on either side of the original in the J. Paul Getty Museum:

Radelow, Gole, Radelow

What does the future hold for these and other great works of Art?
Categories: Hand Tools

The Skep: The Symbol of the Artisan

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 8:56am

vintage beehive victorian

When we started Lost Art Press, we kicked around several ideas for what should be the symbol of our small company. We toyed with a saw and then a plane, and we eventually settled on using Joseph Moxon’s compass.

The dark horse candidate was to use a skep, a woven, basket-like beehive. The beehive has long been the symbol of the industrious, and I love its shape and the parallels between the world of the bee and artisans.

But few people (aside from Mormons, Freemasons and the history-obsessed) associate the skep with building things. I’d like to change that and have been working on a T-shirt design that marries the skep with the tools of the joiner.


To prove that I’m not nuts, take a look at some of these images. The cover of “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker,” a Victorian reprint of an 1830s volume, features a skep at front and center in the cover design.


Or check out this 18th-century certificate from the New York Mechanick Society. Yes, we all see the hammer and the butch muscles. But check out the little bird just to the left of the hammer.


Yup. It’s a babe with a skep. (Note: Lost Art Press does not endorse walking around while carrying a beehive and a shovel. There are easier ways to get someone to buy you a drink.)

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

More Tim Yoder Woodturning Videos for me!

Matt's Basement Workshop - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 8:44am

Large Tim Yoder
Maybe the number one reason I’m so slow getting back into the shop and starting the first project of the year is because I’m too busy watching these great Tim Yoder Woodturning videos, specifically “Woodturning with Tim Yoder – Season 2, Episodes 7-12″ I bought over at Shop Woodworking recently.

This is the second set of Tim Yoder videos (downloadable versus DVD, so I can take them with me on my iPad) I purchased so don’t be surprised if some of the projects somehow make their way into the show in the near future.

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers

Categories: Hand Tools

Hello from Your New Course Manager & Online Editor

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 7:52am

If you’ve been following Popular Woodworking’s Facebook page over the past week, you’ve probably seen some of my posts and wondered who this Nick guy is. I joined the company in November of 2014, and an introduction is overdue. I’ve been a cabinetmaker since 2003, and in the last 12 years, I’ve worked with architectural millwork, cabinets, countertops, laminate, veneer and a lot of other wood products. I started in […]

The post Hello from Your New Course Manager & Online Editor appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Chips ‘n Tips 7: Shaving Tight Fight

The Renaissance Woodworker - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 6:26am

Win woodworking prizesSometimes I goof (heh, sometimes, okay a lot) and despite all the layout in the world, I get a joint that is just too loose. Fixing a loose joint is sometimes as much a part of woodworking as the actual cutting of the joinery in the first place. Today’s Chips ‘n Tips shows you that its no reason to panic, just sweep up the floor to find your fix.

Gramercy Dovetail SawThis episode’s prize winner is Bill Frarey. Bill chose a Gramercy Dovetail saw from the list of prizes and he is excited to learn how to hand cut dovetails with it. Congratulations Bill!

If you have already registered for the prize drawing, good luck next time. If not, visit my Chips ‘n Tips page to register to win tools, books, and DVDs. Of course I’m always open to hear your own tips. Drop me a line using the contact form (over there on the right side of your screen) and let me know what tips or tricks you have. If I pick yours, you win a prize too!

Categories: Hand Tools

The History of Wood, Part 38

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 6:00am


Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools


The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 4:16am
  “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”                                                                 ...
Categories: Hand Tools

Pay For Play

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 4:00am
I am tired of reading blogs that tell you that everyone except themselves are corrupt and everyone just recommends stuff they have an interest in. Salesmen, of course, recommend only what they make the most money on, and magazine endorse any product if the manufacturers advertise enough or pay a bribe.

Not only isn't this true - it makes no sense. Of course a bad salesman in a crappy store might do that. And a fly-by-night magazine may do it, but good magazine? Good retailers? No chance.

First let's discuss salesman. Good stores make their money off of repeat customers. Better stores (and I hope we count amongst them) have free return shipping. So any company that doesn't try to make sure that a customer walks out with the best choice of product that they can is just shooting themselves in the foot. Retailers rarely care what you buy. They care that you by it from them, and you walk away happy. Happy customers return and buy more. The big problem for good stores is when a customer wants to buy something that isn't right. While we might gently suggest an alternative, we don't want to get into an argument, and we are just unhappy because we know the customer might be disappointed and blame us.

The only time this breaks down is with stores where the salesperson gets a commission. This means the longer term goals of the company might not be in line with the shorter term goals of a salesperson who has quarterly goals to make. Retailers we like, ourselves included, don't pay sales commissions and that solves that.

While it is easy to suspect woodworking magazines of requiring payment for a favorable review, it doesn't happen. The reason is simple: Magazines make their money by selling subscriptions and advertising. Readers aren't stupid and if a magazine really was pay for play readers would figure it out and ignore them.

We would happily send just about any tool, or any shop full of tools, to any magazine reviewer in the United States or Canada. Except that since every manufacturer is willing to do the same thing the bribe effect is totally cancelled out. In addition no reputable magazine of any kind allows their editors or writers to accept free stuff, and if they do borrow stuff for a test or an article it's generally understood that there are no strings attached and will be returned or donated when they are done. Otherwise it's just too complicated for everyone.

Most magazine do have columns for mentioning new products. These aren't reviews and they don't have the impact of a recommendation. Even in this case editors print what they want. As manufacturers we can influence content by sending in a relentless stream of new products and press releases, but we can't force them to be printed (and I've tried for years). Editors are happy to look at new products. Sometimes they say send them along, and sometimes they say please no as they have tons of stuff to do and no place to put anything. Sometimes we have something interesting that jumps the queue, most of the time something we think is really interesting falls into the editorial abyss.

The American magazines keep a barrier between the editorial and advertising departments. In general (and I am hopeful this can change) even if a magazine writes a glowing review about a product we sell we don't find out about it until we get our copy in the mail - usually after sales spike, and we are out of stock for reasons we cannot fathom. Sometimes the editors do drop a hint and that way we don't disappoint readers who want the product. But it's always after the magazine has gone to press. English magazines work almost the same way, although we do occasionally get calls from advertising departments saying our product will be in the next issue and would we like to advertise. We don't.

What keeps the magazines honest is you, their readers. Readers aren't stupid, Once readers figure out that a tool recommendation makes no sense based on performance, they start figuring out what's going on, and the few bucks a magazine might make in bribes will kill readership pretty quick. It's just not worth the risk. Even advertisers don't have an advantage. We don't advertise in Fine Woodworking very often, Lee Valley doesn't either (just one large example), but what do you know, both companies get products reviewed and recommended all the time. Even when our products aren't recommended magazines the articles usually explain why and even if I don't agree, it's pretty obvious that taping a couple of Benjamins to the tool when we send it in wouldn't do any good.

Most magazines don't publish bad reviews. While a bad review can be hysterically amusing to read, there are way to many good products to write about and why waste the space on a turkey? From a purely statistical point of view a lot of good products never get written about either. Not enough pages on the planet.

While I am sure there might be some magazines with a pay for play policy I haven't found them, they are not influential, you probably don't read them, and they won't last long.

So when you read a good review in a mainstream magazine you can be pretty sure that the magazine writers and editors like the product well enough to write about it, or in the case of announcements they thought the item newsworthy. If you disagree with a review (and gosh knows I do all the time) take a look at the review and figure out why. It's more than possible that the features of the tool that you find important aren't the same ones as an editor finds important. Just because their conclusion isn't the same as yours doesn't mean anyone was paid off. They weren't.

The blogosphere seems a different matter. According to the law if a blogger accepts a product for free, or for payment, they have to disclose it. Some do, unfortunately many do not. In the woodworking world, just by reading the blogs it's pretty easy to see which blogs are pay for play so I don't need to tell you here.

I get asked to write blogs on this or that all the time, or just publish a press release. I don't. I do try to write about new products, but just like a magazine my creditability depends on material that rings true. Otherwise you wouldn't both to read it. I have written blogs based on suggestions from other people, but it's because I find the subject interesting. Now I am writing a series on diamond sharpening. Why am I writing it? Because we just started stocking DMT and I need to learn about the stones so I can write product descriptions and answer questions. The series of blogs is about my testing and how it will effect my approach to sharpening. My suggestions on stone selection apply to me. I think they also apply to many of you but not necessarily. Part of my testing is so I can figure out what we should recommend to customers. But our general recommendations might have little to do with your actual situation. We stock a lot more permutations of diamond stones than anyone needs, myself included, and there are whole sizes of stones that I can't see myself ever wanting but might be appropriate for you. I need to learn enough to recommend the right stuff depending on application. So that's why I am working with diamond stones and why I am writing about them. And yes maybe reading about my testing might help sales. I certainly hope so. But even if it doesn't, long term having good content brings people to the site, lets us recommend equipment appropriately, and leads to sales - or at any rate that's the theory.

Shooting Board Questions and Answers Volume One

Evenfall Studios - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 3:00am

I get questions about our shooting boards from time to time, so I thought I’d help out by sharing the Q&A stream with you.

Q: Why do we use shooting boards?

A: Shooting boards have been pretty common in woodworking for the last 200 years and were widely taught for use in Educational Sloyd. Shooting devices certainly predate 200 years ago, but were less common when furniture was less complex. They are tools that help reduce the workmanship of risk, reduce the complexity of difficult work such as specific needs for straightness and angles, and help enhance woodworker safety, particularly on small parts.

Making anything from wood means working to the lines and begins with layout lines on accurate boards. Lines are then sawn closely on the waste side and finished to the line, smooth with planes to remove the saw marks. When the need for a line is to fit parts precisely with other parts, that line is planed with a shooting board. The shooting board and a sharp plane can improve upon any sawn line whether it was cut by hand or machine, removing all the tearout and leaving a crisp edge and smooth surface. It also reduces risk to work the further a project progresses. Shooting boards offer a great deal of surety in the work.

Q: Why offer Shooting Boards as a tool, Don’t people make those from scraps around the shop?

A: A shooting board is a device that can offer accuracy to woodworkers that rivals machinist accuracy. This is really handy for fine work in woodworking. Historically, as the woodworker has acquired tooling of higher precision, the appearance of their work has reflected it. To make a tool capable of this precision with repeatability in accuracy and durability requires a specialized manufacturing process. The shooting board has to be more accurate than the things it will be used to make.

Many scraps of wood and quick build methods for making any shooting tool usually result in short term accuracy, or a jig that doesn’t last. We found we could offer woodworkers a very versatile shooting board, that is multiple angle capable, and able to calibrate one-thousandth inch (0.001) accuracy while compensating for seasonal wood movement.

While anyone is welcome to make their own shooting board, we specialize in making them to a high degree of lasting precision. Many people expressed to us that making tools for high accuracy isn’t easy, and others would rather save their time for making projects that are not shop tools. We understand. Quality, accuracy and precision are key to a fine appearance and helpful to accomplishing everyone’s finest work. Time is elusive. Some timbers, moldings, veneers and flitches are expensive and irreplaceable. Our shooting boards are here to help!

Q: Which Shooting Board type is the best overall?

A: Just about everyone will use their strong hand to push the hand plane on the chute, will have a need to shoot stock that is fully square or rectangular and will find having the 45 degree and 90 degree angles very handy. Every Shooting Board Model we offer except the Long Grain Shooters will provide these capabilities. If you need capabilities beyond these, we offer those too, so think about the future and what you would like to make.

The best shooting board for a job may be quite specialized for that job, but there are also boards that will handle a great deal of general work, and they are well worth having on hand. We specialize in shooting boards that will cover a lot of woodworking situations.

Q: Shooting Boards are known for making accurate angles, but what about matching something that isn’t exactly accurate?

A: A shooting board with a nailed and glued in fence will likely suffer from wood movement and the resultant inaccuracy. We spec woods that are highly stable for tools of accuracy, and design +/- 3 degrees of adjustment into the angle calibration of our fences to compensate for most of the slight inaccuracy that can happen with wood and its movement. We also offer the “Any Angle Fence” to adjust for any angle you have or need. If the angle you need is a little off, our fences can usually adjust and adapt. If you need angles that are more than a little off common angles, we have a fence for that too!

Q: Why Shooting Boards that offer more than one or two angles?

A: We offer shooting boards that allow woodworkers precision in any project the imagine. Bookmatch joins, and for angles that will help join up to 12 sided objects. We want to leave a lot of capability in the hands of imagination and think that is good! We also offer a fence that allows figuring at any arbitrary angle, so you can make whatever you want with full precision accuracy. It’s mostly about value added empowerment that doesn’t impose on shop space, and building all that you can dream and imagine.

Q: What keeps my plane from cutting into the shooting board, and ruining it’s accuracy?

A: If you look at the sole of a standard bench plane, you’ll see there is about 1/8th to 3/16’ths inch from the side plate of the plane to the mouth. Then there is usually another 1/16th-ish gap between the mouth and the blade. The plane rides in the chute on the side plate and the mouth position never reaches the base of the chute. This space rides the accurate edge we put on the chute and is never cut away. We don’t recommend using Rabbet or Shoulder Planes on our shooting boards.

Q: My shooting board fence does not seem to reach the edge of the chute. How does this happen?

A: How it happens is from having a setting on the shooting plane that is for a too thick shaving. Shooting is most commonly done in end grain wood fibers. Its a difficult cut cross cutting grain with a plane iron, the most difficult cuts the plane and iron must achieve. End grain cuts – even angular ones are across the grain, and require both sharp irons and thin iron settings to get the best quality.

We recommend setting the plane iron for no more than a 0.002 inch cut thickness with the 0.001 thickness preferred for the best finish. Leave room for a thin shaving on the final pass for the nicest work. Never take a run at the work piece. This can bruise the workpiece and will surely speed the dulling of your iron. If the iron is sharp as it should be for this difficult work, it will slice and leave a nice finish by bringing the iron up to the wood gently and pushing through. Best results will provide you with shavings. Dust is an indication of a dull iron.

With an iron setting of 0.001-2 inch, as outlined above, the plane will never wear the shooting board’s fence beyond this depth of cut.

Q: What does “Calibrating” the Shooting Board mean?

A: It means setting the angle for the fence accurately. Our boards offer a great deal of options when it comes to the angles you can shoot. When it comes to high levels of accuracy, it may surprise you, but many materials experience movement from heat or humidity, so to be angularly accurate, it is best to confirm the accuracy of the angle we need before we shoot. It’s easy, and can be done with many different angle setting tools, we like using drafting squares. Calibration means you can have an accurate shooting board from a quick calibration process for the first shot on any day of the year.

Q: What is important to shooting board accuracy ?

A: Quality Assurance is as important to us as our tool accuracy. We employ tooling from Starrett, Mitutoyo and certified granite surface plates to help create and confirm this.

There are actually four dimensions to accurize per cut. Top to bottom and side to side. Our part in creating this accuracy for the tool happens during the making of each shooting board. We cut and confirm that the chute edge is straight to 0.001 inch over it’s length, then we test, adjust and confirm that the chute has become coplanar with the top, also to 0.001 inch tolerances. The fence is flat on each edge to 0.001 straight, and square to the same standard. Accuracy like that helps assure you of the angles you set. We want your craftsmanship to shine.

Q: Do we really need accuracy in woodworking?

A: It depends on what is being made and who the maker is. Our best work comes from the highest accuracy and precision. This is not completely about measuring., but it is all about the fit and finish. Joinery fitments are everything to the joint and often beyond. So are decorative fitments like moldings, veneering or parquetry. Pieces that fit together with perfection are accurately laid out and accurately made. This also lends itself to the exact replication of multiple parts. The best fitment we can make will be lasting fitment, and it will look as good as we made it for years. When you can make to that level, there is never a need to apologize for skills or tools. the proof in in the making. We offer a tool that simply and directly helps you make as good as you want.

The nicer you want to make anything, the more important all this will become.

Q: Who can use this tool?

A: Any one, most any age, and any skill level. A second hand block plane is priced well for entry level and will work to 4/4 thicknesses easily. Any plane that is sharp can play. Any plane you have can shoot. The shooting board will help you fight above your weight if you are developing skills, and no matter who you are, it can help you look really good!

We custom make these tools to order for woodworkers world wide. Are you ready to take your making capabilities to a higher level? It’s easy! We offer a wide range of shooting boards to fit the woodworking you do, and the woodworking you have imagined. Check them out in our Woodworks Store, Order when you discover the tool that best fits your work.

Please remember to subscribe to our Blog, we offer both RSS and email feeds at the top of every blog page!

For much more frequent woodworking thought for your consideration, please follow our Twitter Feed:

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');

We enjoy your questions, comments, ideas and suggestions! Please Contact Us.

Thanks for visiting Evenfall Studios!

© Copyright 2015 by Rob Hanson for evenfallstudios.com All Rights Reserved.

Categories: Hand Tools

Nails, baby nails!!

She Works Wood - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 8:22pm
So a friend of mine wanted to build a toy chest for his daughter and asked for my help.  So I suggested the six board chest since its a pretty quick project and he agreed.  Turned out it was the right level of effort and its coming together fairly quickly.   The amazing part about this chest is […]
Categories: General Woodworking

Why You Should Be Using Tru-Oil

Benchcrafted - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 8:14pm

When asked what may favorite finish is, I usually respond "shellac".

But that's not entirely true. While shellac is my favorite finishing material, due to its endless list of pluses, my absolute favorite finish to apply and touch is Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil.

I've been using the stuff for about twelve years now, and I consider it one of the absolute best finishes you can use, for nearly anything. I know that sounds like a lot of fluff, but it really is the case.

If you like French polish, but don't like some of the quirks of the finish (keep that pad moving now!) then you should try Tru-Oil. It's sort of the French polish for the lazy. So maybe we should call it.....well, French polish.

Anyway. Here's a quick rundown of my sequence.

If you don't sand, polish the wood surface with your finest smoothing plane until it gleams in the sunlight. If you can't plane, sharpen a card scraper to perfection and made the surface as smooth as you can. If you (can) sand, work progressively through the grits until you reach 1000. Yes, 1000. Then go over the entire surface with 0000 steel wool. Liberon brand. Wipe it down with a rag soaked in mineral spirits to get all the dust off.

Cut a square out of an old t-shirt about the size of a playing card, then ball that up inside another piece of the same size (like making a small French polish pad) dribble a dime size puddle of Tru-Oil onto the pad, tap it off onto a scrap of wood to distribute the finish, then in smooth, even strokes wipe the finish onto the wood. The goal is to get as thin a coat on as possible. Do not leave any sags or runs, or pools. Thin coats is the key.

Let that coat dry for a couple three hours. If its humid it might take longer. Feel the surface. If there are any rough spots, carefully and lightly sand with 1000 grit. Repeat the application described above. With thin coats like this, you can apply three coats a day unless you shop is humid. One first thing in the am, one after lunch, and one before bed.

When I finish furniture with this method, I usually do six coats (so, two days or so) then sand back with 1000 grit a bit more aggressively  (use a lubricant like mineral spirits) to level the finish. Even though you put it on super thin, there are always a few areas that will be heavier. Then I'll do six more coats or until I'm satisfied with the evenness and sheen level. The final coats will have a semi-gloss to gloss sheen.

With open pore woods, like walnut, the pores will remain open using the thin coats technique, but without a built-up area around each pore like you would get with a brushed finish.

If you keep the coats thin, you can control sheen by simply stopping when you achieve what you're after. The more coats, the shinier it will get. Designed for finishing gun stocks, this is a very durable finish that will last under fairly hard use. It's a favorite finish for guitar makers as well, and those see some pretty hard use.

The very last step is to let the finish cure for about a week. If I want to knock back the sheen a little I rub with 0000 steel wool, very lightly, then apply a tiny bit of lemon oil and burnish with a piece of burlap or coarse fabric. The resultant finish has beautiful clarity, which allows the luster of the wood to shine, and if feels like silk to the touch.

Right now I'm letting the last coat of Tru-Oil cure on the lid of my case for sharp tools. This is by far the most difficult part of finishing for me. That seemingly endless wait before you get to see the finished piece assembled for the first time.

Give Tru-Oil a try. I think it might become your new favorite finish that doesn't rhyme with shellac.

Categories: Hand Tools

Which chisel should I sharpen?

Trial and Error - Woodworker - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 7:40pm

which chisel to sharpen

At the end of an evening in the garage I often find I don’t remember which of my chisels have been used and need a touch up. So I devised a simple system to highlight them.

I place them in their rack facing backwards.

By turning them around I know which ones I need to strop (or sharpen if use was excessive) and wipe with an oily rag before packing up for the night.

Filed under: Hand tools, Sharpening, Tips & Tricks Tagged: chisels
Categories: Hand Tools

Suitable Spirit for Varnish-Making

Pegs and 'Tails - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 5:38pm
When making spirit varnishes for polishing furniture etc., the gums and resins (colophony, sandarac and shellac etc.) are dissolved in ethyl alcohol (ethanol) – or more acceptably, for safety reasons these days – Industrial Methylated Spirit (IMS or ‘meths’). Meths is … Continue reading
Categories: Hand Tools

Details on Drilling and Reaming

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:58pm


To make the conical mortise for a piece of staked furniture, I first bore a hole that is the smallest size of the overall joint – typically 5/8” in diameter. Then I follow that up with a tapered reamer that turns the cylindrical mortise into a cone-shaped mortise.

There are lots of good ways to do this. Here is the method that suits my tools, head and hands.

I make the 5/8”-diameter mortise with a brace. You can do this with a drill press with an angled table or any other boring tool. But after trying many methods during the last 11 years I have settled on making the initial hole with a brace and an auger.

I sight the drilling angle against a bevel gauge that I tape or clamp to the underside of the seat. As long as I sight against only one angle (what we call the resultant angle), then I can get within a fraction of a degree with this method.

Like with all good augering, I reach below the seat to feel for when the auger’s lead screw pokes through on the exit side of my hole. When I can feel the lead screw, I flip the seat over and finish the mortise from that side.

That’s the easy part for me. For many years I struggled with reaming. When I used a brace I tended to create an elliptical mortise, which is no good. After much practice, I still made a wonky mortise. I know other people do this operation with ease, but it’s out of my hands, apparently.


Then I tried reaming with a cordless drill that was set to a low speed and maximum torque. For some reason, this fixed my mortises. Instantly. Perhaps I’m suited to focusing on the direction of the cut while the drill supplied the round-and-round.

I’m not saying this is the best way, but it’s something to try if you have the same problem.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
Categories: Hand Tools

Project Rebirth

The Slightly Confused Woodworker - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:28pm

If you happen to own a garage, or barn, or perhaps a workshop, eventually you will find something in there that surprises you. Before I go on, let me say that there is not one item in my garage that wasn’t put there by me or my wife. When we purchased our house the only things left in the garage were an old door, an old workbench, an old vice, an old shovel, and an old cabinet. If combined the value of all of the items (including their usefulness) they may have been worth roughly one dollar. It wasn’t long before I ridded myself of that small pile of junk and went to filling the garage with my own junk.

To be clear, I have a lot of tools. I spent more than 10 years operating a printing press and almost 7 years as a field electrician. Not to mention, I also have many of the tools of your average homeowner: carpentry, plumbing, masonry, and gardening. While I hardly have a large set of woodworking tools, I don’t work with just a saw, hammer, and chisel. Most of the people who happen to read this blog have seen my woodworking tool set and the tools I use on each project, and it is average in just about every way.

Recently on many blogs and forums I’ve been noticing some tool purges going on. They don’t necessarily affect me all that much, as I don’t have enough tools to warrant a purge of my own, and at the same time, since I already have most of the tools I need, I’m not heavily in the market for purchasing a lot of new stuff (or at least new to me stuff). But, there does happen to be a few tools I’ve been looking around for, among those are a 3/8 and ¼ beading plane. It seems that these planes are becoming more and more scarce on the used market, so you can imagine my surprise when I found that I had a 3/8 already in my garage.

The truth is that I immediately recognized the tool, and this wasn’t the first time I’ve seen it in years, but it was the first time I’ve taken notice of it in quite a while. I can’t necessarily remember when it was purchased, though I do know that it was purchased on EBay, and it was inexpensive. I honestly didn’t know what size it was until I looked at it last night. I’m guessing that it was purchased somewhere around 4 years ago. Why did I purchase it if I wasn’t exactly sure of what I was getting? There are a few reasons; I like beaded profiles, I don’t care for electric routers, and sometimes you have to bring the tool to the work.

I’m no expert on woodworking tools, not even close, but I like to think I have a good overall knowledge. Moulding planes, however, are not one of my strong suits. I took the plane apart last night and it seems to be in decent shape. The iron looks pretty good; I flattened the back and the front bevel, probably when I originally purchased the tool. The wedge is in decent shape but could use a little work, and the interior of the plane is a little rough. The boxing seems okay, but there is a little ding in it, which may or may not affect how the plane functions. If I happen to get a free hour or two this coming weekend, I think I will give the plane a good going over and see what I end up with. I’m not worried about saving the patina, or the character, or the Soul of the tool. I am only concerned with making it a functioning plane again.

With these tools becoming more and more scarce, and with the cost of a new one hovering at $300+, this is one of those instances where spending the time on rehabbing an old tool is by far the better option. The lead time on a new, side-beading plane is a minimum of a one year wait, and maybe much longer. Rather than sitting around waiting a year or two for a new plane that may or may not show up, I can just as easily fool around with this one. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose. I’ll have to put my money where my mouth is and see if I can get this thing up and running.

So the Slightly Confused Woodworker would like to give his full endorsement for refurbishing an old tool rather than purchasing a new one. My endorsement, along a dollar, will perhaps get you a bag of potato chips. But let it never be said that I always go against the grain.

Here are some before photos. Let’s hope the after photos are better…

A few dings on the boxing

A few dings on the boxing

Side few of the damage. I think I can improve it.

Side few of the damage. I think I can improve it.

The iron and wedge are decent, but both need work.

The iron and wedge are decent, but both need work.

Categories: General Woodworking

New tool chest for the sea 1

Mulesaw - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:50pm
I have used the old tool chest for the sea in a bit more than a year, and I can't ignore the fact any more: It needs to be replaced.
Being thrown around in a bag in various airports have taken its toll on the chest, and it is pretty much beyond repair now. 

The good news is that it gives me an excuse for building another small chest while I am on the ship. Furthermore I now know that it needs to be a bit more sturdy built than the old one. 

There was hardly any space left in the existing tool chest, so I want to make the new chest a little bit bigger, so it can accommodate my moving fillister plane as well. But I still need to be able to put the chest in my bag for transportation.

I have pretty much settled for a chest with outside measurements of 16 x 11.5 x 8" My aim is to make the stock approximately 5/8". That should give me an inside volume of around 3.5 gallons (13.5 L) which is a bit more than my current tools chest.
I might make the bottom just 1/2" which should give a little extra volume. With a bit of luck, I can maybe use the bottom of my current tool chest. 

Normally when I attach a bottom to a small chest, I either nail it on and cover the sides with a skirt, or I'll plough a groove and insert the bottom in that.
For this chest my idea is that instead of adding a skirt for covering the end grain of the bottom, I'll make a rabbet for the bottom and thereby leave a clean looking side. The bottom will then be nailed in place with nails from the sides to add strength to it. That will also give me an excuse for using the moving fillister.
If I am able to use the plywood bottom from the old chest, I'll use screws from the bottom only
I should be able to see in a year or so, if it is an OK solution.

The lid will probably be a panel in a frame assembled with mitered bridle joints. 
I would like to paint the chest, so that will rule out using the lid for a shooting board this time. Instead I might be able to make a small shooting board that can fit inside the chest. Kind of like a bench hook.

As usual I'll make the major parts out of pallet sides, I found this set of sides that looked OK. It is for a half pallet, and It should be enough for the sides of the chest.
I started out by sawing off the hinges.
Next I flattened one side of each of the boards and then I tried to make it 5/8" thick. 
I am not very good at planing 4 panels to the same thickness, so there is bound to be a bit of planing to do once it is assembled. I did get pretty close on these boards though, and that is fine with me.

One of the boards revealed a massive pocket of liquid resin, once I had planed it to the final thickness.
Even I couldn't ignore such a pool, so I had to do something about it.
I traced the outside of a piece of wood that would cover the resin pocket. Then I carefully sawed on the inside of the line and chiselled out the waste afterwards. Kind of like a very shallow mortise.
The piece was glued in, and when the glue has dried, I am going to plane it flush with the board again.

The pallet sides.

Stock preparation.

Resin pocket.

Shallow mortise and graving piece.

Graving piece glued in.

Categories: Hand Tools

Furniture Details: Are We Perfection Obsessed?

360 WoodWorking - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:01pm

2008.0009.2Times have gotten complicated and so have the people that live in them. Life used to be so much simpler, but was it less perfect? I’m not talking about the quality of life, but what we as a people expect of it.

I see it in many aspects of our lives, but it’s most clear to me in woodworking (probably because I’m fully immersed in it daily). What I’m talking about is our quest for absolute perfection, and I’m as guilty as any. Somehow I just don’t think our forefathers were as worried about the minutiae of things. They were too busy hunting and gathering to worry about taking a “half-a-thou” shaving with a handplane.

The Industrial Revolution has ruined mankind. We’ve driven the soul out of the creative process. Everything is all “piston-fit.” Sometimes I just think we need to relax and enjoy things for what they are – not what we wish they were.

The cupboard pictured in this post is a beauty. It’s a large piece, but it doesn’t appear to be bulky. The feet look large enough to adequately support a piece of this size and the crown molding certainly doesn’t look like a shrunken head up there. The door panels give the piece good lift while not being so tiny that they look out of place. The drawers look roomy, but don’t stand out as being way out of proportion to the rest of the piece. And the size of the panes of glass in the doors is large enough that you can see the contents of the cabinet, but small enough that the doors themselves don’t look gargantuan. All-in-all it’s a cupboard of great design – a real thoroughbred.

The things that are going to bother most people are the shelf placement in the upper cabinet and the door pull placement. And this is exactly what I’m talking about at the beginning of this blog post. Who cares if the shelves don’t line up with the door mullions? And there’s a practical reason the one stirrup drop is higher than the other. When I look at this piece, I see the work of a highly skilled craftsman who had a tremendous eye for design. What he didn’t have was an obsessive-compulsive need to line up everything perfectly. And he’s not alone.

There are lots of 18th-century pieces out there that have misaligned hardware and/or shelves placed for optimal use rather than optimal aesthetics. I’ve seen hardware that was mismatched or missing altogether. There’s something to be said for appreciating the quirks that some makers built into their pieces. And in the case of this particular cupboard, just because the guy was building in the Chippendale style doesn’t mean he had to make absolutely everything symmetrical. Sometimes, we just have to appreciate things for what they are – with all their faults included.

— Chuck Bender

Salt Saw With Copper or Bronze Blade

Toolemera - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:31pm
This is one of those peculiar tools that I've read about but never had the opportunity to exam one, much less own one. I can't determine if the blade is copper or a bronze or brass alloy. The blade is fairly hard, has a decent spring to it. Any information on salt saws would be much appreciated! Till next, Gary
Categories: Hand Tools

Getting excited to Organize My Shop with Steve Johnson, this weekend!

Highland Woodworking - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:29pm

Have you ever wandered around your shop desperately looking for a tool, or some glue, or even the work piece you just had in hand? I know I have. I’ve had those moments of, “I just saw X a few minutes ago, where did it go?” and have been frustrated by all the time I wasted looking for things around my shop. I’ve worked on getting organized a few times, done grand cleanings of my shop where I get everything put in a particular place, but these never really seem to stick. A few months ago I saw a video series by Steve Johnson, the Down to Earth Woodworker, about the organizational system he uses for his shop. Steve uses a modified version of the manufacturing principles known as 5S and his discussion of these principles really hit home with me. I’ve been building my shop toward those principles over the past few months but now I have an even better opportunity to learn from Steve.

This coming Sunday, Steve will be offering a class on his 5S principles at Highland Woodworking. Steve will be speaking about the various principles he incorporates in his shop, and how you can apply them to your own shop. I know I am certainly looking forward to learning from Steve. The 5S principles are intuitive enough that I feel I can follow them once I get them implemented and Steve’s instructions have always been very helpful.

The 5S principles are loosely based on a Japanese manufacturing strategy that many companies have adopted to improve workflow and time management. The principles are based on 5 words beginning with the letter S and designed to engender particular modes of behavior when you apply them to your workshop. The 5S’s are Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Straighten), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (Standardize), and Shitsuke (Sustain). Applying these principles to your life in the workshop should provide more quality time within the shop. I know Steve’s video series on the 5S principles helped me somewhat and I am looking forward to learning and listening to his points directly during the class. It is my hope that by attending the class I can further refine my own use of the 5S principles and make my time in the shop more productive and valuable.

Matthew York has been a woodturner since 2004 and has been interested in woodworking since he was a teenager. He currently lives in downtown Atlanta and has a small shop in his basement. He is an avid woodworker and is always available to talk about the craft. He can be contacted at fracturedturnings@gmail.com or visit his website at fracturedturnings.com. You can also follow him on twitter at @raen425

The post Getting excited to Organize My Shop with Steve Johnson, this weekend! appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

How I Remember ‘Rake’ and ‘Splay’

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:45pm

These aren’t the real legs for this chair. They are “dummy” legs that I use to check the angles.


First-time chairmakers often confuse the terms “rake” and “splay” – and never mind the other names for the other angles in a chair.

After I took my first chairmaking class 11 years ago, I made up this little explanation for myself so I wouldn’t forget.

Chairs are like saws.


When you look at a saw from the side, you can see the teeth raking forward or backward (depending on the filing). When you look at a chair from the side, you are seeing the rake of the legs. And chair legs can rake forward or back – just like sawteeth.


When you look a saw from the front, you can see the teeth bent out from the sawplate. This is called the set. When you look at a chair from the front, you can see the legs splay out (they never splay inward that I know of). “Set” and “splay” both begin with “s.”

OK, it’s not the most perfect explanation, but it has prevented me from mixing up the terms for many years now.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
Categories: Hand Tools


Subscribe to Norse Woodsmith aggregator

by Dr. Radut