Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway! Enjoy!
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I bought these mortise chisels on ebay for £6 each. Hard to imagine, but they are all Marples, virtually unused if used at all, and all top of the Marples-of-old mortising chisel line. Three of them are 5/8” and the other four 1/2”. Unbelievably good value and all with brass ferrules, leather washers, trapezoidal blades and boxwood handles. I want students to experience these and the heavier mortise chisels to assess for themselves how these chisels work. The main advantage of heavyweight chisels is mostly when you dig out deep mortises deeper than say 1 1/2″ or so. The need for deep leverage and enough steel mass to hold up to pressure becomes more important the deeper you go.
Working on the woodworking masterclasses videos build this last week we had sixteen 1/2” mortise holes to chop, four are small but the others are quite large at 4” and 6” long by 1 1/2 deep. You can see my 1/2” bevel-edged chisel alongside the seven I bought for size comparison but there’s more. I chopped some mortises with the larger 1/2” Marples and some with the 1/2” Marples bevel edged one. I chopped some with my Thor 712 38mm driving the chisels and then some using my mallet, which is half as heavy again as my trusted Thor. Have you noticed now how many people are using the Thor hammers for woodworking these days since my blog began? Here is what happened.
The mortise chisel took 17 chisel hammer blows to deliver the depth. The next cut adjacent to the one just made with the large mortise chisel was done with the 1/2” bevel-edged chisel and that took just 6 chisel hammer blows. The bevel-edged chisel was indeed far more effective, efficient and much easier throughout. Just worth considering. No one else will tell you these things.
Much of this of course has to do with Newtons law of equal and opposite forces. Briefly, and from a novice, Newton’s Third Law talks about action and reaction, which basically means that for ever action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
At long last, there is a fantastic and reasonably priced tri-bolt available so you can make your own campaign stool. The hardware is beautifully machined from solid brass and stainless steel, made in Canada and is only $34.50 (U.S.). You can order it directly from Lee Valley here. I’ve made at least 20 of these folding stools using a variety of bolts and the Lee Valley version is by far […]
Artists and craftsmen too should deal
With good faith and with honest zeal;
Let each of them the other aid
With work well done and things well made,
And as he would be served, thus serve.
— Hans Sachs, “The Book of Trades (Standebuch)” (Frankfurt, 1568)
Filed under: Furniture of Necessity, Personal Favorites
Seit ich wieder Griffe schleife, habe ich das schleifen auf die Abende in der Woche verlagert, wenn ich in Hannover bin, neimanden störe und nebenbei Musik höre. Reduziert die familienabwesende Werkstattzeit am Wochenende.
Sanding ist boring, but there's no way around in handle making.And it is rewarding.
Since I sand handles again, I do it on the evenings of my workdays, when I'm in Hannover and don't disturb anybody. Gives me more time with the familiy on the weekends.
Mein Schleifplatz. Das Handtuch fängt den Staub ganz gut auf. Und es riecht so gut nach dem Duschen.
My Sanding place. The towel catches the Dust pretty well and it smells so well, when I use it after the shower.
Klötzchen und Schleifpapier parat.
Prepared papers and cut offs.
Nach 80 Minuten.
Bereit fürs Öl. Was wollte ich auch in hannover machen, aber habe das Öl in Kiel vergessen
Man, jetzt im Foto sehe ich doch noch eine Stelle, die ich weiter bearbeiten muss.
In this last installment, I talk about other treasures to enrich your life.
Bonus Tip #11: Look for other stuff too.
Once you’ve made two rounds in the tool-rich areas (garage, basement, outside shed), take a moment to just look around. Seek out items congruent with your hobbies and interests. Are you a gamer? Collector of tobacco tins? Want to spruce up your bar area with vintage liquor/beer signs, mugs and glasses? Estate sales are an economical way to do just that.
For instance, I enjoy a scotch and soda from time to time, so I look for good vintage decanters and pick them up for a fraction of their cost even on eBay.
This fine crystal decanter would easily fetch $80 or more at an antique store, a sum that I would never have paid. But because it was sitting at an estate sale, and priced accordingly it now resides on my bar, forever filled with Johnny Walker Red. I’ve never gotten more pleasure out of a $5.00 purchase in my life. I love the quality of the glass and admire the sophistication of its design. Not to mention the feel of it in my hand as the golden elixir splashes into the tumbler below.
And that’s it. Ten-plus-one simple tips to help you frugally tool-up your shop with quality vintage hand tools. After a while, you’ll reach the threshold where you can build most of your projects with the tools you already own. And you’ll have gotten there at lower prices plus a whole lot of adventure.
© 2015, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.
End of Estate Sale Series
I've been busy making ready for this event and have several tools in process in my shop. I just hope the clock doesn't run out before I get them finished. I of course have to get them completed in time to ship them to the venue so it's not like I have up until the day before the event to get them finished. This shortens my time line considerably, however I won't let it stress me and I won't be rushed. There are some things about these tools that takes a certain amount of time to do properly and there are no short cuts. If you take shortcuts you get a different result, and I don't do "not exactly'. I will opt to show up with fewer tools in lieu of many that were rushed.
I'm not wired to accept less than my best work and that's typically the nature of the tool makers that will be showing their wares in Amana. Many of the businesses represented there blazed the trail of very fine hand tools and they set the bar pretty high. If you want to be among them you have to achieve that level of work, otherwise when your tools are in close proximity to theirs it shows up in stark contrast.
It almost makes me glad that Mr. Studley's work will be displayed at another venue in Cedar Rapids. I'm most interested in getting a glimpse of that legendary kit of tools housed in a finely fitted case. As a hand tool enthusiasts I don't think it gets any better than what will be happening in Iowa next month.
Above: An assortment of rear totes in process. 2 Macassar ebony totes in the foreground, a Desert Ironwood tote and finally at the back one of Olive wood.
Hope to see you there,
At the recent David Stanley Auction I had the pleasure of meetings Oliver Sparks, a very nice and very skilful young man. His work is stunning and I've included a number of shots of planes he's made although they are much better in the flesh.
He only makes planes part time at the moment and I thought his prices were very reasonable, especially considering the standard of workmanship. You can see more of his work and make contact here http://oliversparks.co.uk/gallery.html
I was away for a few days chaperoning my son’s middle school camping trip, and came back to find that there was a lot of buzz about a video where people were making chopsticks with a hand plane and some jigs. I assume this was it.
I worked fairly steadily on the Blacker Table Saturday and Sunday, but there isn’t a lot of progress to show. I started building the various jigs I’ll need to add in different details like the cloud lifts, leg indent and the spline for the breadboard ends. Of course I don’t have the right router bit to use for these jobs, so I was stuck.
I also glued up the top for the table, this is going to be a fairly large table — smaller than a dining table but certainly bigger than a side table. In fact, I scaled it so I could use it as an extension to a dining table if it’s set sideways. I plan to make a matching dining room table in the future, but frankly I have so many projects I want to do I can’t imagine when that will come up in the rotation. I do owe someone a bookcase…
While I was working I kept hearing this noise from the corner of the shop. It turned out to be a scrap of Claro Walnut calling my name. I surfaced it, then re-sawed it and glued up two lamp shades for the “Falling Water” bedside lamp. This is after the first coat of True Oil has been allowed to dry and sanded back with 320 grit. The miter joint on one of them has a tiny gap where I over clamped, but when it’s all finished I don’t think it will be noticeable. I’ll make the bases out of MDF and paint them black (the original bases were metal). Which of course I didn’t have in the right thicknesses either, so another trip to the big box store is in my future. Playing with this design lead me to look at other Frank Lloyd Wright lamp designs, several of which would be really interesting to build. But that’s a story for another day.
Most woodworkers who have seen the Studley Tool Cabinet, whether in person, on television, or in photos will acknowledge that it is a masterpiece of cabinet construction. Not only is the form amazing (it holds hundreds of tools perfectly in an unbelievably small footprint), but the attention to detail is staggering. The chest is adorned with intricate mouldings and ornate inlay work that elevates it from an extremely well made tool cabinet to a work of art. This is no mere tool cabinet, nor is it just a very nice example of high end woodworking. It goes beyond those things because it is a truly personal glimpse into the mind and talents of a highly talented craftsman. It was not built to be copied, or duplicated; but to hold a very specific set of tools, the implements of a woodworker widely considered a genius. Likely constructed as a labor of love, the Studley Tool Cabinet has become an icon in the world of woodworking, serving as an example of high-level cabinet making, art, and a historical artifact.
Admittedly, I know very little of the history of the Studley Tool Cabinet. I know that it was constructed well over one hundred years ago (obviously by Henry O Studley), and when he died it was left to a member of his family. Maybe thirty years ago it was sold at auction to a private buyer. I was first introduced to the cabinet on an episode of the New Yankee Workshop probably more than twenty years ago. At that time, I had never woodworked, I did not own any woodworking tools (unless you want to count a combination square and a block plane etc.), and I hadn’t planned on taking up woodworking as a hobby. But just because I knew little of woodworking at the time, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t immediately recognize the Studley Tool Cabinet as a masterpiece. I probably didn’t realize just how unique this creation actually was, but even my then untrained and inexperienced eye knew a work of art when it saw one.
Last week I broke one of my cardinal rules, and commented on a “professional” woodworking blog. My comment was pretty innocuous and uncontroversial. On the Popular Woodworking web page Megan Fitzpatrick wrote a blog article about the upcoming showing of the Studley Tool Cabinet next month in Amana Iowa. This is quite possibly the last time in my lifetime, or anybody’s lifetime, that this cabinet will be displayed in public again. My own comment, paraphrased, was simply that I wish this cabinet was not “owned” by one person privately, but rather part of the collection of a museum so that all would have the chance to see this one-of-a-kind masterpiece of woodworking in person. Sure as the sun will rise, a douchebag I’ve never seen before on the PW page chimed in with a comment which was supposed to be oh so witty accusing me of wanting to confiscate the tool cabinet and how would I like it if somebody wanted my stuff and what “ownership” really means, etc. I’m paraphrasing his words but that is the gist of it. I replied to his comment, told him what I thought of him, and that was the end of it.
What bothered me wasn’t the comment, writing a blog I’ve dealt with many that were much worse, but the fact that the commenter was more than likely one of Christopher Schwarz’s fan boys.
A legitimate question to ask would be “How do I know that?” Well, I don’t for sure, but I have a strong hunch. Firstly, while I’m not exactly positive, I believe that Lost Art Press has something to do with the showing of the Studley Tool Chest next month. Secondly, the commenter was doing his best Christopher Schwarz imitation with his comment. Here again, I have nothing at all against Christopher Schwarz, I just happen to think that some of his fans are complete assholes. They are the people that keep me going to the gym and working the heavybag, just for the off-chance that I have a run-in with one of them. Many are extreme conservatives disguising themselves as extreme liberals, which makes some sense considering that once you get to the extreme end of any ideology you have only arrived at the same nut house by taking different roads. To clarify, I am not trying to get political, because I am as politically moderate as it gets. When I say “liberal/conservative” I’m not necessarily speaking of politics, but of a mindset.
As far as the ownership of the Studley Tool Cabinet is concerned, it is really none of my business who paid the money for it. I will say this, there are certain creations that I believe should not be owned by any one person, and this tool cabinet happens to be one of them. Why? Only because this is a singularly unique piece of woodworking history, and perhaps the most famous “toolbox” ever made. This isn’t an end table, or chest of drawers, or Highboy that happened to be owned by a famous person. In those cases, it is not the object that bares the relevance or importance, but the owner who made them “important”. In the case of the Studley Tool Chest, it is the creation itself that is so significant, with all due respect to Henry O Studley. A table or an overcoat that may have been owned by a person such as George Washington certainly has historical value and importance, but those objects may have been very common items in their day that many people owned. This tool cabinet is perhaps the most unique piece of “furniture” constructed in well over a century, or maybe much longer. In my opinion, it is to woodworking what the Mona Lisa is to art, or what the Sphinx is to Egypt: a true one-of-a-kind work of art and irreplaceable piece of history. That is why I wish that it was part of a museum collection and not just owned privately. Of course there is nothing that can, will, or should be done about that fact; I just wish it wasn’t the case.
And as far as the current owner, I have absolutely nothing against him or her. Whomever this person happens to be, it seems pretty clear that he or she respects the cabinet and its significance both historically and to woodworking. At the very least there is no worry that it will be stripped of its tools and thrown in a trash bin. It seems that it will be well taken care of for the foreseeable future, and I suppose that is all anyone could ask. But pretty soon it will disappear from the public eye, maybe forever. I feel no better about that than I would if a collector entered the Louvre, offered them an obscene amount of money, and purchased the Mona Lisa for their own personal collection never to be seen again. Of course that would be absolutely none of my business, nevertheless it would be a sad day for anybody who happens to like art. To me, the last public viewing of the Studley Tool Cabinet happens to be a sad day for woodworking. Maybe I’m overvaluing the cabinet, maybe I’m just being melodramatic, but that is how I feel about it, and I’m certainly not going to let a witless douchebag tell me different.
Ein Geschenk aus Eibe von Uwe. Eingebaut ist die Diamant-Nadelfeile, die ich nicht mehr oft zum Säenschärfen, aber beim anfertigen des Griffes einsetze.
A present from Uwe. The triangular diamond file is fitted, wich I use in handle making and some rare times to sharpen saws.
I heard a poet speak last night about doing good work. I was immediately intrigued by the parallels to our work at the bench. He said that doing it was worth it because it was hard. It was hard to do good work. Nothing good comes easy. If you’ve ever tried to write you know how hard good can be.
The same thing is true for our work at the bench. It’s easy to drop your standards. Here’s a note from a maker struggling with this issue:
I hear you. Your goal has to be to let people know what quality is and You can produce it. You show the difference between a CNC box and one of yours. The key is marketing unfortunately. Not what you are probably good at. But it’s the key to your survival as a professional woodworker. Get an article in your local paper, do blog posts, have open studio tours so people can understand your process. Photographs of work both completed and in process. Folks have to learn to appreciate quality. And unfortunately you have to sell them this. It’s more than a piece of furniture that you’re selling. It’s a piece of quality. Good luck to you.
Dorothy L. Pillsbury, Adobe Doorways, 1952
We got to enjoy a wonderful spring snow storm over the last several days, by early this morning we got close to a total of 36 inches of very wet snow at our little house.
One small community in Larimer County recorded five feet of snow from this past storm!
My wife and I dug out the Jeeps yesterday so we could drive to town to get groceries and dog food and this is my last week of freedom before I return to my day job as a historic preservation carpenter.
Here's where I heave a big sigh, I will miss my days in the studio making guitars.
I've been very busy on 3 guitars, 2 are custom orders and one is a "speculation" guitar that I assembled several years ago but couldn't complete because of orders, work and life.
I started French polishing 2 guitars last week. I work at a day job seven months out of the year so when I get back to French polish I have a short learning curve to work through. It is frustrating at first, then the shellac becomes glossy, the polish builds up and the wood underneath it is gorgeous.
One glory of French polishing is it makes me slow down so I can consider what is really important in life.
Many people dislike French polish because they say it takes too long to complete, just go to any forum on guitar making and you will see what I mean. You have to do from 4-12 sessions of French polish to cover the guitar, not to mention you need to let the shellac harden for 2 weeks before you can do the final rub out and there is that tedious task of pore filling open grain wood with pumice and shellac.
I did go to one guitar forum to see if anyone was using a certain brand of epoxy for pore filling, sure I was thinking about speeding up the pore filling time on next guitar in line, most thought the epoxy didn't work well or it took too many coats, hence too much time. Most of the older luthiers all said to give up the new stuff and just use pumice and alcohol for the pore filling. Not many liked those comments.
One guitar maker I know of states a person can French polish a guitar in one week, and there is an article on the Internet that says you can do it in three days!
Me, I'd rather take my time at it.
If you have read this much of my posting, you are probably wondering why I am not disclosing The Secret to Woodworking!
Maybe you have figured out what that secret is, turned off your computer and have walked to your shop to start making something new or continue work on a current project.
Perhaps you are thinking about "surfing" to look at another woodworking blog.
Just bear with me another moment.
There will be close to 150 hours of work on the guitar in the above photo and I will sell it for $3000. I know some people think that is not enough money for the time spent.
I am not in this game for the money, if I was I'd have a big factory of workers that would crank out 50,000 guitars a year and all I had to do is to sit and watch the money roll in.
No, I work with wood for the experience, the joy, the knowledge and all the other stuff that comes along with time spent in the shop.
What is The Secret to Woodworking?
It is patience and love.
For a new woodworker, finding an effective way to work these days can be tough. It would be easy to choose a totally unplugged path. And what a wonderful path that is. The Eaton County Woodworker , Tom Fidgen and Peter Follansbee are examples of how exciting and dynamic that experience could be. Even though I get a great deal of satisfaction from doing a great deal of my work by hand, […]
In this episode I finish up the construction of the display shelf by making shelf panels, slats, sizing them, and assembling the whole piece. Specifically I detail more of my hybrid milling approach, how I use match planing to make tight panels, smooth planing to prepare for finish, and how I size everything to get identical parts using nothing but hand tools…plus a little clarification on hand saw vocabulary. All in all a great hand tool time was had full of saw dusty goodness and lots of gratuitous wispy shavings. I hope you enjoy it.
Integral to the in-production book Virtuoso and the upcoming exhibit on the same topic, I am striving to make it more than just a tool peepshow. You are gonna learn something even if you do not want to!
Part of that learning experience will be the exposure to the remarkable Studley workbench and vises (above), including a display of similar contemporaneous vises that have been loaned for the exhibit.
To carry the weight of these six vises (somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 pounds) I built a fairly faithful replica workbench top, sitting on a base made for the exhibit but which will be swapped out for a cabinet base at some point.
About the only semi-tricky part of the bench build was dropping the end vise dog slot with my 3-1/2 hp plunge router, the only power tool that makes me nervous.
With multiple measurements and confirmations, I cut the channel from above and below, and the vise and its dog yoke dropped into place cleanly.
Now I can put the router beast away until I need it again in several more years.
To increase the didactic function I left the front edge of the replica bench unfinished so you can see the core construction. As soon as the unit is back home the already-constructed front edge will be installed. Another thing to occur after the exhibit will be to dispense with the glossy finish applied for the display (four coats of Tru-Oil, then buffed) through the vigorous use of a toothing plane to leave the surface I prefer.
I don’t have any pictures of the finished bench with all the vises on it. I mounted them when it was upside down, but could not budge it to flip it right side up until I had removed all the vises. So, you will just have to wait on that visual for the exhibit itself.
As you probably know by now, I am in the process of building a working set of frame/bow saws. For the small bow saw I decided on Witpeer (Apodytes dimidiata) to compliment the quality hardware from Gramercy tools. I also decided to use their design, as their reasoning for how they came up with their design made perfect sense, given all the other reading I did on the topic. This is a link to their plans. I found this discussion very helpful in terms of understanding the important design aspects.
In the picture below you can see how my new bench light made it much easier than before to chop the two tiny mortises in the cheeks after removing the bulk of the material by drilling.
The rough shaping was done on the bandsaw.
Just a quick reminder of what the hardware looks like.
The rest of the shaping provided me with an ideal opportunity to use my new spokeshaves from Veritas. We were in Johannesburg over the Easter Weekend, which meant that I could do some shopping at the Hardware Centre in Randburg. They usually have bits and pieces of Veritas tools lying around.
Sawing the tenons of the stretcher.
Shaping the stretcher.
I then turned the handles and epoxied the brass pins into position.
Fitting the handles.
A picture to show what my bench looked like while building the first two bow saws.
For the spindle I found a Tamboti (Spirostachys africana) off-cut. This is as far as I am concerned one of the most precious African woods. If you want to know a bit more about Tamboti, use this link.
It is very difficult to turn small pieces like this in my lathe. Therefore I decided to used the method illustrated below to turn the Tamboti spindle.
I flattened two sides of the lower section with a block plane.
The first assembly prior to finishing …
… which was followed by a Tung oil treatment. You can also see some of the parts of my monster Roubo-esque crosscut bow saw these pictures. I will write a separate post on that project, which should be publish later this week.
There you go … one 12″ Witpeer bow saw completed.
I recently bought an old number/letter punch set and tried it out for the first time on this saw.
The Roubo Beast Master (to steel a term from Mark ‘Bad Axe’ Harrell) crosscut bow saw is also finished so watch this space.
Recently I received an email from a viewer who was running into an issue with a benchtop jointer he purchased. The viewer asked “when I try to run the edge of my piece of wood over the jointer it chips the edge of the board, what can I do?”
Not this exact model!
There was of course a little more information in the email which included the fact that he had purchased it from someone indicating it was “lightly used,” that it was a 2-blade cutterhead, and that he had already ruled out grain direction as the issue.
Of course grain direction was my first thought, but immediately I started thinking of a few more things; 1) blade sharpness, 2) depth of cut, and 3) rate of feed.
Let’s start with the first one, “blade sharpness:”
This could mean one thing to one individual and another to someone else. I don’t doubt the seller only used it a few times, but it’s possible that the “few times” was on some nasty material or maybe it was even used incorrectly leading to early blade dullness.
I’m willing to bet this is probably a good place to start and a good way remind ourselves that when purchasing something used it’s not always a bad idea to just assume the blades and bits are slightly dull and can use a good sharpening.
Now if after touching up the edges the chipping continues, let’s take a closer look at my number two hunch, “depth of cut:”
This one might not seem very obvious but after having a chance to play with a small benchtop jointer a few years ago I discovered pretty quickly that the depth of cut is a crucial detail to pay close attention to with these smaller tools.
With a larger full-size jointer I’d be willing to take cuts up to 1/8″ depending on the width of the board and the material I’m working with, but with these smaller benchtop models, anything more than a 1/16″ is probably starting to take it to the point where you’ll run into issues such as tearout and chipping.
In fact with the small benchtop model I played with, the manufacturer even indicated anything more than a 1/16″ is exceeding recommended guidelines (a fact I learned later on while trying to figure out what was happening by breaking all the cardinal rules…reading the manual!)
This then led me to my number three hunch, “rate of feed:”
Because of the fact this benchtop jointer has only two blades it already indicates to me that it’s going to leave a rougher surface. As a result my thoughts start heading towards ways to artificially imitate a machine with more blades. To do so, I’ll actually decrease my rate of feed over the cutterhead.
This isn’t saying I’m going to hover over the cutterhead and put myself in danger, instead it simply means I’ll plan to move forward just a little slower than I normally might. This slower rate of feed combined with a shallower depth of cut should result in a smoother surface. Not one that’s hand plane smooth, but one that’s a lot smoother than a typical two-blade cutterhead smooth.
One last bit of advice I had for this emailer was a trick I’ve used in the past, and have had great results with when all else fails “wetting the fibers.” This is a technique you may have seen and heard about in relation to dealing with tearout and chipping on tricky and highly figured woods.
It’s super simple and works great, assuming of course your blades are relatively sharp and that you’re taking the right depth of cut.
“Wetting the fibers” involves wetting the edge or face of a board with something like mineral spirits or alcohol (maybe even water, although that could potentially cause some rusting on blades from what I’ve heard) and then running it over the cutterhead.
The wet fibers become more elastic and can handle the tearing action of the blades without the usual tearout and chipping that might normally happen.
Do you need to use a lot mineral spirits or alcohol? Nope, just enough to wet the surface and take your pass. Trust me, it’s a great technique that’s super simple on both jointers and planers. And while I’ve never tried it for router bits, I bet it could be used there too.
Of course, I’d like to mention one more time that the other possible issues are important to look at too, but if all of those have already been tried “wetting the fibers” is a nice technique to try as a last resort, or start with first if you already know you’ll need a little help with a particular species of highly figured wood.
Do you have any other suggestions? Or have you tried this technique and gotten good results? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.
If you have a question, I’d love to hear from you too. You can use the form on our contact page to send it to me, along with the ability to upload pictures if you need to send something to further explain it. Click here to visit the contact page.
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