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An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...

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Chicago Lie-Nielsen Tool Event part 2 “Scott Meek Woodworks”

Matt's Basement Workshop - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 9:00am

As I mentioned in my post on Monday, I had a great time at the Lie-Nielsen Tool Event hanging out with Jeff Miller and everyone. But as soon as I walked in the door I made a bee-line right over to the bench where Scott Meek had his hand planes set up and on display.


I’m just going to go ahead and say it, Scott’s planes are absolutely gorgeous! They’re so well made, their fit and feel is amazing and the stock Scott uses is so beautiful it’s hard to believe they’re an actual tool and not an ornament (although we did half-jokingly point out how much easier it would be to hang one them on a wall for decoration versus the LN metal-bodied planes.)

For a lot of woodworkers who are first delving into the world of handplanes, wooden bodied planes are both a mystery and maybe even a little intimidating. Unlike the vast majority of metal-bodied planes there is no mechanical adjuster for positioning the blade. It’s all about tapping them in place with a mallet and learning how to set the wedge (two tasks I still struggle with!)

But aside from the steep learning curve on proper blade adjustment (which is less steep than I’m making it out to be and more about just practicing) wooden bodied planes are fantastic tools. My two favorite characteristics of using one is first, the immediate tactile feedback you get while planing.

What do I mean? A wooden bodied plane transfers the feeling of the wood being milled directly to your hands. You know immediately if you need to alter your depth of cut or even the angle of attack by the “feel” of the surface and how the plane is reacting to it.

Unlike a heavier metal bodied plane that gives you the advantage of mass to barrel through most situations, a wooden bodied plane is almost an extension of your fingertips. Giving you that immediate feedback on what you might need to do to get the result you desire.

My second favorite characteristic has everything to do with their weight. Depending on the stock itself, in almost every situation, wooden bodied planes will be lighter and easier to hold versus a comparable metal-bodied plane. This is a big reason for all that immediate feedback, but also it’s why you can work longer with the wooden bodied planes and not feel like you need a rub down at the end of the day.

Don’t take my word for it though, if you have an opportunity try one out for yourself. I think you might agree the wooden bodied planes are a nice way to go.

If you’re not familiar with Scott’s planes, checkout his website at www.scottmeekwoodworks.com.

There you’ll see the complete line of planes he builds and sells to interested woodworkers, and you’ll also find some other great options for plane making including online classes taught by Scott himself.

If you don’t have the time to take a class, consider picking up his recent DVD “Make a Wooden Smoothing Plane”.

Scott Meek DVD cover.

Did I ever tell you about the time Scott and I were in a car and he told me about this crazy idea he had for starting a wooden hand plane business? I knew I should’ve offered to purchase one of his first planes just to say I had an original before they became as cool as they are now!

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Categories: Hand Tools

Design in Practice: Negative Spaces

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 6:47am

 Negative Spaces

Continuing last week’s post (read it here) on comparative design, I thought it might be fun to move to Chippendale style chairs. The great thing about American Chippendale chairs is there’s tremendous variety, yet few are direct translations of Chippendale’s designs. The chair to the left is a perfect example. Chippendale’s “The Gentleman’s and Cabinetmaker’s Director” features no ball and claw feet in the book, but they remained popular in […]

The post Design in Practice: Negative Spaces appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

A Little Bit on Bits

The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 4:26am
  In the last video post, the Good Dr.’s Medicine Chest Part Six, I cut out the ‘windows’ for the interior panels of the chest. But before I reached for the fretsaw, and started sawing out the profiles, I pre-drilled some holes using a small...
Categories: Hand Tools

Got my goose

Giant Cypress - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 3:28am

Speaking of joineryNeil Cronk started an interesting woodworking exercise on Twitter. Towards the end of March, Neil decided, for reasons that remain unknown to me, to take on cutting a lock rabbet miter joint, which is usually made with a router table, using hand tools instead. He live-tweeted this project, and it was fun to watch.

As a sequel, Neil decided to take on the lapped gooseneck joint, also known as a kamatsugi. In addition, Chris Wong, Adam Maxwell, and Shannon Rogers decided to join in. I decided to give this a try because someone needed to cut this joint with Japanese tools.

image

There are a number of variants of this joint. I decided to try making the mechigaihozotsuki kamatsugi, which is distinguished by incorporating a stub tenon in the lower half of the joint. This is a diagram of this joint, taken from The Complete Japanese Joinery. It was used for joining large beams end-to-end.

image

I started by milling up a 2x2 piece of walnut and crosscutting it. Each piece was laid out and marked separately. This was traditional practice. Although some of the lines could be marked together, many times it was not practical to line up large beams for this task. In fact, sometimes the layout was done by different people, relying on their skill to lay the lines out accurately.

image

I worked on making the male piece first. The first cut was made along the grain, defining the bottom face of the gooseneck and the top face of the half-lap. With this cut, I realized that the 210 mm ryoba that I usually use for joinery cuts was a bit small for 2x2 pieces, and switched to a 240 mm ryoba.

image

The next two cuts define the head of the gooseneck.

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A vertical cut is made on the underside of the male piece. I knew at this point that I had already made my first mistake, which was cutting on the wrong side of the line.

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Two shallow cuts are made to define the sloped back side of the goose head.

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And a chisel was used to chop out the waste.

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Some more saw cuts, chopping, and paring finish off the underside tenon. 

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This finished off the male piece. To make the female piece, I started by sawing waste off to provide the half-lap. 

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Sawcuts were made to define the neck, and more chiseling defined the mortise in the area of the head.

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You can barely see a faint line on the side wall that is clearly not perpendicular, This is to mark the slope of the face of the female piece that matches up with the slope of the back of the goose head. I used the line as a guide to angle my chisel for paring. I don’t think achieving a perfect fit here is important. Like dovetails, the mechanical advantage will be there even if the fit isn’t perfect.

The last step was to make saw cuts and some chopping to define the mortise on the bottom of this piece. I forgot to take a picture of this part.

Then came fitting. This took up quite a bit of time, partially due to lack of experience on my part, and partially because I had to figure out which face of the joint to pare back to achieve a better fit. Finally, I was able to achieve this.

image

The male piece is not completely seated, but at this point the two pieces are wedged so closely together that this joint will stay this way for a very long time, even though there isn’t any glue in this joint.

After planing, though, it looked really good, for a first try.

image

The gap on the lower half reflects my sawing on the wrong side of that line early on in the process. It represents a two-saw kerf error. But overall, this joint came together surprisingly well, given that I didn’t mark one piece off of the other, and that I didn’t knife any of my lines before starting to cut them. Total time: about 30 minutes to mark the pieces, 1-1/2 hours for the making of the pieces, and 30 minutes of final fitting.

If you’re interested in seeing more, go to Twitter and look for #HandJoinery. This was a lot of fun.

Jackie Chan. Chopsticks. Woodworking. What’s not to like?

Giant Cypress - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 3:18am


Jackie Chan. Chopsticks. Woodworking. What’s not to like?

VIDEO: Hand Cut Dovetails Part 9: Clean the Tails

Wood and Shop - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 3:15am

VIDEO 9/15 of Joshua Farnsworth’s free hand cut dovetail video series shows how to clean up the tails with a chisel.

This is a very detailed tutorial designed to teach beginners how to become expert at dovetailing by hand. It is offered as a free resource to encourage the revival of traditional woodworking.

hand-cut-dovetails

This detailed video series was inspired by a 5 day class that I took from Roy Underhill and Bill Anderson: world-renowned experts on traditional woodworking with hand tools.

Which traditional hand tools should you buy?

If you need advice on which hand tools to buy (and not buy), then definitely read my 13 category buying guide article: “Which Hand Tools Do You need for Traditional Woodworking?”

Shortcuts to Dovetail Videos 1-15:

Our Favorite Small Publisher is Going POD (Printing On Demand)

The Furniture Record - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 9:35pm

Let’s say you have just finished a book on Latvian linden ((Tilia cordata) campaign furniture. You believe in the book but marketing tells you you might only sell 25 to 30 books. Using the traditional printing model, you can’t make money printing 30 books. Shipping alone eats up all your profits. Using their new specialty printer, our friends will be able to quickly print limited interest books in a cost effective manner.

Their new, short run printer.

Their new, short run printer.

I am personally looking forward to the possibility of a greatly expanded, limited interest catalog. Those of us interested in truly obscure topics will no longer have to depend on hastily written, inaccurate Wikipedia articles. We can now have hastily written and inaccurate books as well.

If it’s in print, it must be true.


Building a Kitchen Wall Shelf with Drawers

The Indian DIY & Woodworker - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 8:45pm
A lot of aspiring hobbyist woodworkers in India have to work with very tight budgets, extreme lack of space and no guidance. Not surprisingly most get put off when confronted with projects that require a lot of expensive tools or too much skill. For the beginner it is more important to make things out of wood rather than worry about joinery, high quality finishing and so on. It is very easy to make useful and very presentable items with just a basic set of tools, a few planks of plywood or rubber wood board, nails and glue. The choice of finish for the beginner would be plain old paint, the kind that is sold at every hardware store.

After making a few pieces of basic items with nail and glue, one should go a step beyond and try some basic joinery, making housings, grooves and so on. While the end result might not look vastly different from the one made of nail and glue, it will be infinitely stronger and longer lasting. It would also mean ratcheting up skills.

So here is a step-by-step presentation on making a kitchen wall shelf with drawers.

Step 1: Each piece has been measured, marked and cut to final dimensions.

Cutting each piece and accurately is perhaps the most basic and the most difficult part of any project. Even slight imperfections cause problems in assembly and joint making. Measuring, marking and cutting, I have learnt, is not to be taken lightly.

Step 2: The two pieces making up the sides have been clamped together and housings routed

It is easier and more accurate to cut housings with both pieces held together. This reduces if not eliminates all chance of misalignment. I usually cut housings with a router and a half inch mortising bit with a bearing on top.

Step 3: Three shelve pieces glued, screwed on and clamped

Glue is enough to hold the shelves together for this small project but I decided to add screws as well from the side to make the whole thing more secure.

Step 4: The screw holes hidden with wooden plugs

Plugging screw holes is not essential but is my preference. Alternatively, screw holes could be countersunk and later hidden with a filler.

Step 5: Strip of wood across top front attached with pocket-hole screws

A strip across the front makes the whole frame extremely rigid and prevents racking. The strip can be attached by various means including dowels, nails and so on. I have used pocket-hole screws for convenience and strength.

Step 6: Top piece has been cut to size and its edges chamfered

The edges of the top could be left crisp and sharp or treated. Different edge treatments result in varied looks. I have merely chamfered the edges with a hand plane but they could also be shaped by various router bits.

Step 7: Counter bored holes drilled for inserting screws from the top

The top could have been glued or nailed; I chose to screw them down and make a little slot for expansion.

Step 8: Top screwed on and primer and on paint coating applied before attaching back

It is a good idea of paint the insides of the shelf and the inside top before attaching the back. This makes the paint job easier. Make sure the edges of the sides on which the back is to be attached is not painted or else the glue will not adhere.

Step 9: 6mm plywood back attached and painted

Here the 6mm plywood back has been attached by glue and half inch nails. This is good enough for the job as it will not take weight or be subject to great stress.

Step 10: Back attached and second coat of paint applied

It is better to apply the final coat of paint after the back has been attached. The shelves and difficult to reach places would already have been painted.

Step 1: Parts for drawers cut



Step 12: Drawer joints cut

I used box joints for the drawers but there are many other ways of making drawers, the best being half blind dovetails (which I am yet to attempt). The worst kinds of drawers are those nailed and glued together; these invariably fail as drawers will be opened and closed hundreds of times and each pull will loosen a poor joint by a small amount. The cumulative effect over months will show sooner or later.

Step 13: Fettling the drawers to make them fit

The drawer sides should ideally be a snug fit, the adjustment being done with a hand plane. The drawers should be held securely in a vice before planing the edges.


Step 14: Test fitting a drawer

The drawer sides should ideally be a snug fit, the adjustment being done with a hand plane.

Step 15: Drawers Painted and handles fitted

For a good even paint layer, follow these steps: sand the wood surface with 180 and then 240 grit sandpaper; apply two coats of wood primer sanding after each coat with 320 grit sandpaper; apply thin coat of paint as first layer, sand with 320 grit paper; apply two to three more coats with slightly diluted paint, rubbing with 320 grit sandpaper between each coat. A decent brush helps a lot and the degree of dilution of the paint is crucial. If the paint is diluted too much it will be watery and will not coat the wood evenly, and also often cause tiny bubbles to form on the surface which can be a problem. If the paint is too thick then the brush marks will be prominent. Just a wee bit of turpentine is required to properly thin paint but you will have to experiment a bit to get the consistency right.

Step 16: Operationalised!

The undersides of the drawers have been waxed with a candle to facilitate easy opening and closing of the drawers. The shelf rests on a cleat (cannot be seen) securely screwed on to the wall and by brackets attached to the top back. This make the shelf very secure and capable of taking a lot of weight.

Needless to mention, the extra storage in the kitchen has been much appreciated.

Indranil Banerjie
16 April 2014
Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Night w/ Eden

The Workbench Diary - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 7:24pm
Remember that tavern table Eden and I started last year? We got side tracked with other projects but eventually picked this one up again. Shop night is never as long as we'd like it to be but progress gets made slowly.

 

Eden was working on this project but I haven't yet figured out what it is

 

He told me he needed to draw plans before he did anything else

Molded edge on the stretchers

 

 Working out the details

 To be continued...
Categories: Hand Tools

Tool Storage Solutions

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 5:37pm

Tool Storage Solutions

I’m yearning for the day I will have a space at home that is dedicated to woodworking. Right now, as many of you know, my “shop” shares space with books and my computer in my study. It’s a small room, and I have scads of books…and scads of tools. The books – most of which in said room are literary criticism and drama – are arranged by subject area (and […]

The post Tool Storage Solutions appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Nice Dovetails.

David Barron Furniture - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 1:25pm

Here's a first attempt with one of my dovetail guides, not bad at all!  Apparently they went together like a dream. That's hide glue on the dovetails which was used to glue the veneer to the drawer front. I've used this technique quite often to create half blind dovetails but I prefer to use my own bandsawn veneers which are a bit thicker.


The book matched walnut veneers look stunning and I've been promised some more pictures of the finished piece in due course. Thanks Jim.


Categories: Hand Tools

Techniques for Gluing

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 8:43am

Techniques for Gluing

For the last few decades, I’ve kept one indispensable tool readily available in my shop – glue sticks. Basically, they are milled material about 2″ thick and around 4″ wide (in my shop they were always made from hardwood because there was always plenty of scrap) that is cut to approximately 3′ in length. The idea is to elevate the material you are gluing up in order to be able […]

The post Techniques for Gluing appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

The Minimalist Anarchist Tool Kit

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 7:57am

three_chests_IMG_5907

To build an English-style tool chest, you don’t need a chest full of hand tools. Here is what I consider the minimum tool kit necessary to build this chest during a class or in your shop (as soon as you have your stock dimensioned).

Handplanes
Block plane: for smoothing surfaces and trimming joints flush
Jack plane: for gross removal of material
Moving fillister, skew rabbet or large shoulder plane: for cutting rabbets
Plow plane: for plowing the groove in the lid
Beading plane: 1/8” or 3/16” (optional)

Saws
Dovetail saw
Tenon saw
Coping saw, such as the Olson, and extra blades (10 or 12 tpi)

Chisels
1/2” bevel-edge chisel
1/4” or 5/16” mortising chisel
Chisel mallet

Marking & Measuring
Cutting gauge, such as the Tite-Mark
Dividers (one or two pair)
Marking knife
Mechanical pencil
Dovetail gauge or sliding T-bevel
Tape measure
Combination square: 6” or 12”

Miscellaneous
16 oz. claw hammer
Nail sets
Hand drill with a set of bits up to 1/4”
Sharpening equipment

Depending on how you cut your dovetails, you can skip some of the equipment. If you cut pins first, you can get away without a marking knife. If you like your dovetails a little irregular looking, you can dispense with the dovetail marking gauge and the dividers. If you truly cut your dovetails “by hand” then you don’t need a dovetail saw (you ninja).

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: The Anarchist's Tool Chest, Woodworking Classes
Categories: Hand Tools

Stained Glass Panel for Cabinet Finished

McGlynn On Making - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 7:14am

I got some time in the shop yesterday and was able to finish the stained glass panel for the Byrdcliffe-inspired-but-Mission-styled cabinet I’m making.

I spent probably an hour fine tuning the fit of the pieces on the grinder, and ended up re-making one or two more pieces.  I think it was time well spent because the finished panel cam out pretty nice I think.  The process of assembling the panel goes like this:  First the pieces need to be cleaned to remove any “Sharpie” layout lines or numbers and any residue from grinding.  Then I put them on a hot plate (set on “low”)  that is covered with a few layers of paper to warm up.  This makes sure the parts are dry, but more importantly it makes the copper foil easier to apply.  I used 7/32 foil for this, which seems to be a decent size for me.  You can go a little narrower, but if you’re off a tiny bit in applying it then you end up with places where you don’t have foil on both sides of the glass.

Starting to apply the copper foil

Starting to apply the copper foil

Panel completely foiled and ready for soldering

Panel completely foiled and ready for soldering

Once the parts are all foiled I’m ready to solder the seams.  I keep it in the frame I made at least until I’ve tacked all the parts together to hold the alignment.  I use a special solid 60/40 solder that is made for stained glass work, and apply flus with a brush.  It’s pretty simple work, although the technique is different than soldering electrical connections.  In this case you apply the solder to the iron as you move the iron along the seam, and the goal is to apply enough so that you have a decorative bead.  If the joint is fluxed and the copper foil is properly adhered the solder will flow easily.

I usually end up soldering the front, focusing on getting a good connection and an adequate amount of solder in place but not being overly concerned about the evenness of the beads.  Then I flip it over and solder the back side trying to get really nice beads.  The solder from the front will have pulled through already, but it won’t be complete, full beads.  Finally I go back to the face side and re-run all of the seams, flowing in more solder as necessary to get even rounded beads.  There are other techniques for the solder beads, and in fact there are books on “decorative soldering” where you can create textures or patterns in the solder.  On the “Inglenook Sconce” I used a sponge on the molten solder to make an organic texture.

For this panel, before I did the final smoothing of the seams I added the zinc boarder.  I wanted to get the border on first so the thickness of the seams at the edges didn’t interfere with the fit of the channel.

Soldered panel and zinc frame

Soldered panel and zinc frame

Once the panel was soldered I washed it with “flux remover” and soap and water to make sure all the flux was off.  then I applied a chemical patina to darken the solder and washed it again.  Finally it gets a coat of “glass polish” which appears to be about the same as thinned liquid car wax.

Finished Panel!

Finished Panel!

There are a few minor mistakes with the panel, but overall I’m happy with it.  I checked the fit, and it is perfect for the door in the cabinet.  If I can get some shop time in tonight I can probably finish the cabinet and hang it.


Categories: General Woodworking

Stained Glass Panel for Cabinet Finished

McGlynn On Making - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 7:14am

I got some time in the shop yesterday and was able to finish the stained glass panel for the Byrdcliffe-inspired-but-Mission-styled cabinet I’m making.

I spent probably an hour fine tuning the fit of the pieces on the grinder, and ended up re-making one or two more pieces.  I think it was time well spent because the finished panel cam out pretty nice I think.  The process of assembling the panel goes like this:  First the pieces need to be cleaned to remove any “Sharpie” layout lines or numbers and any residue from grinding.  Then I put them on a hot plate (set on “low”)  that is covered with a few layers of paper to warm up.  This makes sure the parts are dry, but more importantly it makes the copper foil easier to apply.  I used 7/32 foil for this, which seems to be a decent size for me.  You can go a little narrower, but if you’re off a tiny bit in applying it then you end up with places where you don’t have foil on both sides of the glass.

Starting to apply the copper foil

Starting to apply the copper foil

Panel completely foiled and ready for soldering

Panel completely foiled and ready for soldering

Once the parts are all foiled I’m ready to solder the seams.  I keep it in the frame I made at least until I’ve tacked all the parts together to hold the alignment.  I use a special solid 60/40 solder that is made for stained glass work, and apply flus with a brush.  It’s pretty simple work, although the technique is different than soldering electrical connections.  In this case you apply the solder to the iron as you move the iron along the seam, and the goal is to apply enough so that you have a decorative bead.  If the joint is fluxed and the copper foil is properly adhered the solder will flow easily.

I usually end up soldering the front, focusing on getting a good connection and an adequate amount of solder in place but not being overly concerned about the evenness of the beads.  Then I flip it over and solder the back side trying to get really nice beads.  The solder from the front will have pulled through already, but it won’t be complete, full beads.  Finally I go back to the face side and re-run all of the seams, flowing in more solder as necessary to get even rounded beads.  There are other techniques for the solder beads, and in fact there are books on “decorative soldering” where you can create textures or patterns in the solder.  On the “Inglenook Sconce” I used a sponge on the molten solder to make an organic texture.

For this panel, before I did the final smoothing of the seams I added the zinc boarder.  I wanted to get the border on first so the thickness of the seams at the edges didn’t interfere with the fit of the channel.

Soldered panel and zinc frame

Soldered panel and zinc frame

Once the panel was soldered I washed it with “flux remover” and soap and water to make sure all the flux was off.  then I applied a chemical patina to darken the solder and washed it again.  Finally it gets a coat of “glass polish” which appears to be about the same as thinned liquid car wax.

Finished Panel!

Finished Panel!

There are a few minor mistakes with the panel, but overall I’m happy with it.  I checked the fit, and it is perfect for the door in the cabinet.  If I can get some shop time in tonight I can probably finish the cabinet and hang it.


Categories: General Woodworking

Thought For The Day

The Barn on White Run - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 4:56am

As we commemorate the national day of funding government(s), generally argued as a “necessary evil,” it is worth reflecting on the thoughts on the matter from the First Founding Dad.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. — attributed to George Washington

As someone who unleashed deadly force against American citizens in The Whiskey Rebellion, I’d guess old George knew exactly what he was talking about.

The Good Dr.’s Medicine Chest – Part Six

The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 4:36am
  In the last video post, The Good Dr.’s Medicine Chest Part Five, the interior panels were veneered using a technique known as hammer veneering. If you watch closely at the end of that video, after the panels were cleaned off with a card scraper,...
Categories: Hand Tools

English Mortise Chisels - Mid-18th Century to Now - Part 4 - Chisel handles

Tools For Working Wood - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 4:00am
Click here for the start of this series. Up until the middle of the nineteenth century brass pipe was hard to make so ferrules, the brass ring at the base of most tools weren't used. Tool handles as a result had to be fairly thick so if you tried to lever the tool, the handle wouldn't split. Also the tool needed a wide bolster so that the force of the chisel would not drive into the handle and split it, and also keep the handle from splitting when levering. The oval handles of a mortise chisels not only give a certain direction to the user, more importantly they give a long more handle thickness and bolster thickness in the dimension where all the levering happens. A round handle of adequate size is just too big all round to be comfortable.

By the 1840's or 50's continuous brass and copper pipe became commercially available, and ferrules, really just a section of pipe added to the handle to keep it from splitting, became common. Every style of chisel, except for mortise chisels adapted to ferrules, and the handles got smaller, the bolsters got tiny, and since there was no danger of splitting a handle, fitting a handle became considerably easier. Round handles made by power lathes became the norm, and buying handled tools became common.
Except for mortise chisels. You still needed the big handle for leverage, but fitting an oval ferrule to handle is really hard. So the design remained the same. The only exception was that handle makers invented machines that could make oval handles, the problem was that they didn't always fit their bolsters.
Up until about 1880 or so, The handles on professionally fitted mortise chisels were fitted flush with the bolster, this gives you the smallest, most comfortable handle for the size of chisel. After that makers started just using stock handles that were oversize and leaving it at that. It's not as nice but a lot less expensive. Ray Iles, who has a machine set up for making oval handles, makes them oversize as was done, and then sands them to fit flush. This gives us the best possible handle but this type of sanding operation wasn't really available back in the late 19th century.
In the picture, starting from the bottom, we first have two typical early 19th century mortise chisels. The one at the bottom having a thin leather washer to take up the gap between bolster and handle, the second one being flush fit. Either handle could be original, user installed, or a replacement. I can't tell you for certain, other than the second one is flush fitted and is of Beech so it might be original. The third chisel from the bottom is the later style - with a stock, over-sized machine made handle that is too big for the bolster. This particular chisel has British Army markings so it must date from the First World War.
The final chisel at the top is current production by Ray Iles. The handle is flush fitted of beech and also have the thinnest most elegant bolster of the lot. Ray's design of course was a purposeful throwback to the best of the early 19th century so while it belongs to the same tradition it reflects a conscious effort to avoid any dumbing down of the style.

According to "The Joiner and Cabinetmakers" (pages 107 and 108) when end users would keep a stock of scraps for the fitting handles. Beech, a common secondary wood was very popular but ash is also pretty common.

Most tools before the introduction of the ferrule were sold unhandled. Once tools were typically sold handled the selection of wood became more regular. In England beech was the overwhelming favorite. It was cheap, compressed easily, and while prone to checks, once installed on a tool it didn't split. Ash was also used, but not as frequently.

In the United States hickory was the favorite, and ash a close second. In Europe hornbeam is far and away the most common choice. Hornbeam is harder than either beech or hickory and less easy to compress, but it still works excellently. In Japan, red and white oak are the most common choices.

The reason these woods were all so popular is because handles were installed by just banging them on and to have them stay on via a compression fit, you needed a wood that would compress without cracking. Beech and hickory and the other favorites do this to a tee.

For tools that were not stuck, such as paring chisels, or tools meant mostly for show, expensive decorative woods were used. Boxwood, rosewood, Ebony, and ivory were the preferred choices, although boxwood, rosewood, and occasionally ebony were actually used on tools meant to be used. In general you don't find much ebony or ivory on edge tools, except those meant for show. These materials do not compress and fitting them is a far trickier job. Ray Iles told me that in the old days when installing boxwood handles on paring chisels the cutler would keep a little ladle of molten rosin to pour in the hole for the tang. I suppose these days any modern epoxy would work fine.

According to Toshio Odate handles should be left unfinished so that they surface will absorb sweat and stain so that your hands will not transfer the discoloration to your work. Unfinished wood is also a lot more grippy than finished wood and the handles will work better. That being said I don't know of any manufacturer who doesn't finish their handles with something. Shellac and lacquer being the most popular choices. Ray Iles uses linseed oil on all his handles so that he can maintain a grippy surface. Manufactures do this because when you sell new edge tools the one thing you don't want the handles to do is absorb sweat and look dirty from casual handling in a store.

The most important thing is that the wood must be DRY. Otherwise as it dries it will shrink away from the tang and no amount of initial compression force or epoxy will keep it on the tool.

Another point to understand is that the handles are held on the tang by compression. it's exactly like driving a nail into end grain, only bigger. Like a nail or a Japanese plane iron what holds the tang in the wood is pressure from the compression, and just as, if not more important, the fibers of the wood getting bent back and resisting the tang being pulled out. In theory at least one would might strive for a hole for the tang that is just a tad smaller than the tang is and fits it like a glove. In reality that's impossible to do and doesn't matter anyway. The compression forces are so high that as long as there is reasonable engagement we will be able to stick a tang in the handle and even before it's driven completely home - it will be impossible to remove.

In Part 5 we will demonstrate how a to handle a mortise chisel or in fact any tool with a tang.

PS - if you are a member of TATHS you will have just gotten their yearly journal which has two killer articles, one on "The English Handsaw Before the Industrial Revolution" and "The Sheffield Saw Industry". If you aren't a member you can learn more and join here.

I'm looking for books on Japanese joinery. Any suggestions?

Giant Cypress - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 3:08am

The Complete Japanese Joinery, by Hideo Sato and Yasua Nakahara (translated by Koichi Paul Nii). Many people consider this to be the bible of Japanese joinery.

The Art of Japanese Joinery, by Kiyosi Seike. Terrific pictures, not as much detail on the uses and construction of these joints.

The Genius of Japanese Carpentry, by S. Azby Brown. More concerned with the architectural aspects of Japanese joinery, but has a nice photo essay on cutting a half-lapped gooseneck joint.

Picking just one would be difficult. I have all three books, and wouldn’t be without any of them. I would get The Complete Japanese Joinery first, but realize that you eventually get all three.

VIDEO: Hand Cut Dovetails Part 8: Remove the Tail Waste

Wood and Shop - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 3:05am

VIDEO 8/15 of Joshua Farnsworth’s free hand cut dovetail video series shows how to remove the tail waste with a coping saw and chisel.

This is a very detailed tutorial designed to teach beginners how to become expert at dovetailing by hand. It is offered as a free resource to encourage the revival of traditional woodworking.

hand-cut-dovetails

This detailed video series was inspired by a 5 day class that I took from Roy Underhill and Bill Anderson: world-renowned experts on traditional woodworking with hand tools.

Which traditional hand tools should you buy?

If you need advice on which hand tools to buy (and not buy), then definitely read my 13 category buying guide article: “Which Hand Tools Do You need for Traditional Woodworking?”

Shortcuts to Dovetail Videos 1-15:

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by Dr. Radut