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Hand Tools

Wearing a Veneer of Perfection Never Did Me Any Good...

The Part-Time Woodworker - 5 hours 20 min ago
I hope it works out better for my cabinet.

I've been out of it for pretty much the summer. I have no excuse for it, other than just being a lazy old fart. But the times they are a changin'.

In truth, I have actually been at it, not hard, but at it. I haven't written about any of it yet, but that will change over the winter months. While I'll include a few images here, I'll mainly be putting all my time and energy into getting my damned tool cabinet built, and given its size, that can only be done outdoors. Will the cabinet be anything like I have yacked about in the past? Ya, close I guess, but there will be some supple differences from the original drawings. There will also be one major difference; it will be made from veneer covered plywood. 

Going with veneer wasn't an easy decision to make. Like most in my generation, every time I saw a piece of veneered furniture I would actually cringe a bit, so deciding to use it on this project was a HUGE change for me. If you were raised during the '50s and '60s, you will remember all the mass produced furniture that was being pumped out. Walk into any Kmart or Woolworths back then and you would see acres and acres of cheap, crappy furniture that was typically made pressed board (pressed paper), smothered in less than paper-thin veneer, which as often as not, wasn't made from wood. The printed-to-look-just-like-wood plastic laminate was pure junk, as was the pressed board it was sort of stuck to. As a result of this trash furniture, I, and the majority of my generation, came to look down upon veneered furniture as cheap crap that we wouldn't give house-room to. We were wrong, but hey, it was the '50s and '60s, so none of us would listen.

So what changed my mind about veneer?


I wanted to build a 1" thick solid maple cabinet with dovetailed joints and burled floating panels, but getting into it, I realized the material bill would equal the family jewels. Rough 5/4 maple sells for around $7 a board foot in Ontario, Canada, so I figured the wood bill for the whole thing would run around $800, plus the usual additional costs. Given this cabinet will never sit in my wife's living or dining room, and that, maybe, if I had a party or something, maybe 8 people would see it before I'm a goner, so I came to realize that a solid maple cabinet would be the epitome of overkill.

With the decision to go with veneer finally made, I started looking for a source. Enter, surprisingly, eBay. A gentleman was selling out his father's small mill, and he had a huge selection of veneers. I wanted maple, and he just happened to have some...well...actually, he had a lot. I offered to purchase 24 consecutive sheets of maple, 14" wide by 12' long for $300. Surprisingly, he took it and we both walked away from the deal happy.

I used scrap wood as spacers between the
different lengths of veneer and
sandwiched them between
two pieces of ply.
The veneer arrived stacked in sequence and rolled up together so my first job was to get it all numbered, cut to rough lengths and sandwiched between some plywood to keep it all flat. It took me about four hours to go through everything.

Where no spacers were needed, I used clamps
to hold the bundle together and keep
it all flat (the veneer outside the
ply will be trimmed off)
For the substrate, I decided to glue together two sheets of 11mm good one side plywood, giving an overall thickness of 22mm, or roughly .87". I went this route because gluing two pieces of plywood together results in a very ridged panel which is thick enough to handle any joining I could come up with. I also did a few things a bit differently because the panels will be veneered as well. I didn't bother with clamps for the glue-up. I just laid one piece good side down, then I spread yellow carpenters glue over the exposed rough face, positioned the second sheet over it with the good side up and screwed the whole lot down to the bench top (I flattened the top before I did this) using 1 1/2" deck screws. I wrapped the whole lot in a tarp and let them dry for a couple of days. The result was some great panels to work with.

Here, I just finished driving 17 screws through the ply and
into the bench top to ensure the panel dries flat

Given the wet weather we have had here this summer, the
whole lot was wrapped in a tarp which was held down
by cleats and left for a couple of days
I also think the hardest part of a cabinet to veneer is the edges, and the proof of this is how many cabinets I have seen where the edge banding has fallen off. To get past this, I bought some solid 3/4" thick maple and cut it up into 1" strips. I then glued a strip on the edges that would be exposed once the cabinet was assembled. When the glue dried I planned off the excess using my old man's No.4 Stanley plane, letting the heel of it rest on the panel so it worked as a guide. I'll run the veneer right up to the outside edge of the maple and I'll plane the whole lot flat and square.

Here the 1" strip of solid maple is glued and clamped to
the exposed edge of a side
Once I had the panels glued up and edged, I gave each side a fair coat of Bondo auto body filler. This was done to not only fill the holes caused by the screws when the panel was glued up, but to help flatten the ply, filling in the hollows that are always present in this cheaper, construction grade plywood. The Bondo will be hand sanded with a 18" sandpaper flat that will be fitted with self-adhesive 120 grit paper. The result should be hard, flat, and properly toothed for the veneer to be attached using hide glue, my first time for it as well.

Here the different panels have been coated with a thin coat
of two-part auto body filler to true their surfaces

Categories: Hand Tools

Register for Classes with Megan and Brendan

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - 11 hours 27 min ago

Registration is now open for 2018 classes with Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney. The classes will be held in our storefront and are limited to six participants.


To register for Megan’s April 7-8 class on building a Dovetailed Silverware tray, click here. The class is $250 plus a small materials fee.


To register for Brendan’s April 21-22 class on making a Cabinetmaker’s Sector, click here. The class is $300, which includes all materials.

Full details on the classes can be found here.

Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Filing/Honing Guide for #80 Scraper

Paul Sellers - 11 hours 46 min ago

Watch the video first to see how effectively it works. Go here:   After a class, most times, I notice that  two or three (some times more) of my cabinet scrapers have been filed and honed incorrectly and end up out of square, often with the bevels are far from 45-degrees, often to a bull-nosed […]

Read the full post Filing/Honing Guide for #80 Scraper on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Passing It On

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - 12 hours 53 min ago

Published by John A. Gray and Green, printers. Photo courtesy of: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-pga-01411.

“Utility furniture is now on the market, and everyone is able to see in what respects it differs from the uncontrolled product, and to form conclusions as to what extent we may expect it to influence furniture design of the future. The story of mankind with all its perverse, twists and turns, its chivalries, its discoveries, its unconquerable vanities, and its tragedies, stamps itself even on our furniture, so that the very line of a chair-leg or the rake of a chair-back may be a dumb witness to the end of an epoch or the herald of a new age. But there is more than mere history in the shapes of things: there is the sum total of human experience.

“When a craftsman of to-day sets to work to make a chair, the knowledge which he takes so much for granted is the stored-up inheritance of generations of craftsmen who had preceded him. He is profiting by their discoveries, their failures, and adding whatever of its own particular worth in new processes the present age has to offer. Only in our own age the ratio of skilled craftsmen is diminishing, and with so much that is good and civilised in process of being destroyed, one wonders how much will survive.

“Not that it is difficult to see that war will leave behind it advancement in some branches of knowledge, not only in weapons of destruction. We may, for instance, look for considerable advance in surgery, learned on the living bodies of shattered men, a considerable advance in chemical discovery, in aviation, but these are not the things on which our civilisation can be rebuilt. We are finding to our cost that men may have these and still be barbarous. Civilisation is founded on a sense of order, measure, proportion, self-control both of the mind and of the body, exactly the qualities which the acquisition of any true skill tends to develop. In fact, we may say that it is upon the world’s craftsmen in wood, stone, clay, who have made it possible for the living thought of one generation to be handed on to the next, to be a living witness of what man can do, and a living challenge, a standard to live up to and, if possible, surpass. To transmute the soaring vision of man’s destiny into a cathedral needed the work of stonemasons, carpenters, glassmakers, just as it took a craftsman to conceive of the letters in wood from which modern bookcraft had its beginning. Always the craftsman has been the conserver, the guardian, who passed on what was imperishable from one age to another, not failing to set his own seal upon it in the doing. Because no man’s work is exactly like anothers. There are always the little individual characteristics that stamp it as his own, giving it just that living touch which the machine will always lack.

“But now that the machine is with us, what are we to do about it? We cannot go back, even if we would. It has brought leisure and amenities which we value, and which could, if we would, be turned to good account. For leisure and amenities provide just that opportunity of developing those creative qualities of which modern life tends to rob us and which will be badly needed in the world after the war. It is only by doing creative work of some sort that a man learns both to know himself and to train himself for more and better work, and it is essentially the mark of the civilised man. To be indifferent, careless of one’s time, to want only to be amused, is to invite personal disintegration, a loss of personality which is not only a loss to oneself but to the community at large. For after the war we shall want men of personality, men of creative ability, men with patience, shrewdness and sound judgment to deal with the problems of peace. The new world cannot be a good world unless we conserve for it all that we have inherited of lasting value from the old. Only the barbarian blindly destroys. It takes civilised man—the man with the craftsman spirit—who is careful to see that beauty does not perish, to pass it on.”

— Charles Hayward, The Woodworker magazine, 1943

Filed under: Honest Labour, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

The Dance

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - 13 hours 27 min ago
Click, drag, cut, ripple delete, cross dissolve, fade to black. Look out the window, let your eyes focus on the horizon. Get another cup of coffee. Stretch that mouse arm.
As I've been wrapping up the editing of our upcoming Apprenticeship: Tables video, a few observations have jumped out repeatedly. First and foremost is the irony of the fact that I can split firewood for hours with an axe, or rough out carving projects with a hatchet, and feel no ill effects - but a few days of making subtle little gestures with a mouse and keyboard can cause the most excruciating elbow pain. Lesson learned - workspace ergonomics are important!
Shavings, shavings everywhere. A project like the table Joshua built for this video can generate a small mountain of them. Shavings are the ubiquitous waste product of our craft, from the teeny little ones created by a coarse rip saw to the gossamer tissue generated by a finely-set smoothing plane. I've been wading through hours of footage involving this mass-production of shavings, and I honestly haven't yet gotten tired of looking at them. Why is that? What is it about this particular waste product that is so compelling? I can't think of another creative outlet that shares this odd distinction. Gourmet chefs don't Instagram their vegetable peels or bits of trimmed fat. Classic car buffs don't run their fingers through used motor oil. But plane shavings are endlessly captivating. 
Working with hand tools is a lot like dancing. Really. Watching hours of clips of ripping, crosscutting, planing, etc. clearly demonstrates that both rhythm and body position are extremely important in becoming efficient with the use of hand tools. Back in the day (further back than I care to admit), my wife (then fiancé) and I took up swing dance. We became quite good, I must say, eventually graduating to the Advanced class. But those early, awkward lessons stand out in my memory - stepping on toes, bumping into other people, feeling very inelegant. 
Ripping a long board by hand can feel exactly the same. Where do I put my weight? How should I hold my saw? This cut is wandering all over the place! A seemingly simple task can become an exercise in frustration, and you might find yourself agreeing with everyone who holds that hand tools are slow and difficult. But, like learning to dance, proficiency is found in practice, practice, practice. Our goal with the Apprenticeship series is to demonstrate more than simply how to cut and assemble joinery, but how to do so efficiently. We want to help these skills to become second nature so that, without a conscious thought, every cut sings straight and true. Like being on the dance floor when some Brian Setzer Orchestra comes on, your legs and arms know exactly what to do. 
It's back to editing for me. Stay tuned for more updates on Tables - it won't be long now!
~ Mike Updegraff
Categories: Hand Tools

Wedging Mortise and Tenon Joints

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - 14 hours 53 min ago

FIG. 1. A. AN OLD METHOD. Tenons and wedges were cut back in the stiles and a “pocket piece“ let in, making a first class finish. B. A BAD METHOD. Wedges are driven into the tenons themselves, causing splits

This is an excerpt from “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years: Volume III” published by Lost Art Press. 

“We’ll glue those wedges and tenons!” How often is this explanation heard when gluing up framed work. A usual response being to dip the wedges into the glue and drive them hard home, unless the wedges break off or bottom badly.

If we analyse the reason for wedging a joint we find that the wedges are provided to ensure a compression in the fibres of the tenons to equalise the inevitable movement due to age and conditions. At the same time it is necessary to provide a mortise with parallel sides for the tenon, so allowing for movement.

Take as an example a through mortised and tenoned wedged joint, the shoulders being tightly fitting to ensure rigidity in the work. In framing up we glue the shoulders and a small adjacent area only of the tenon, to allow the movement along the tenon (see Fig. 3 B). It will be obvious that to solidly glue the whole joint is defeating the essential object of that particular joint.

The logical method would be to glue the shoulders as usual, place the long grain edge of the wedge to the tenon, but do not glue (it may in fact be slightly greased), but gluing the remaining parts of the wedge into the mortise of the stile, making a parallel path for the tenon, but under compression. A joint made in this manner will not open at the shoulders.


FIG. 2. DIAGONAL WEDGED TENONS IN THIN WOOD. This method is permissible in this case

In the case of double tenons, drive the outside wedges first to set the compression, the inner ones then being driven to equalise the compression on the tenons.

Good quality work of the old days had the tenons and wedges cut back in the stiles to allow for shrinkage clearance, and a pocket piece let in and flushed off in the stiles, making a workmanlike job (Fig. 1 A).


FIG. 3. A. THE EFFECT OF WEDGES INSERTED IN THE TENON AND GLUING ALL OVER. Tenon is held at outer edge of stile and shrinkage takes place away from shoulder B. THE CORRECT METHOD. Wedges are placed between tenon and sides of mortise, and only the shaded area of tenon is glued. Shrinkage of stile can then take place at its outer edge, but shoulder holds firm

A Bad Fault.
An odious method becoming prevalent to-day is tenon splitting and wedging the tenon out into a fantail in the mortise; it is apparent that the least shrinkage will pull the shoulders right open, when all rigidity in the work vanishes (see Figs. 1B and 3A).

Such a method is only permissible when diagonal wedging in thin material such as carcase construction, shelves to ends (Fig. 2), or in fox-wedging in the appropriate joints.

Selecting suitable joints and framing them up is a complicated matter at times, but consideration on the foregoing lines will amply repay the craftsman in the quality of the work he produces.

Meghan Bates

Filed under: Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker
Categories: Hand Tools

My video(s) on Japanese woodworking tools have dropped

Giant Cypress - 16 hours 59 min ago

Look what just dropped, as the kids say.

This past summer I had the great good fortune to spend a weekend in Frank Klausz’s shop filming videos on Japanese woodworking tools for Popular Woodworking. Yesterday a package arrived with some of the first copies of the DVD version. Although the original plan was to make four half hour segments, it turned out to be almost three full hours of video covering Japanese chisels (and hammers), saws, and planes, and an overview of why Japanese tools have the properties that they do that I called, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Japanese Tools But Were Afraid To Ask”. (Apparently that title was too long.) 

The DVD is available at shopwoodworking.com, Popular Woodworking’s online store, and can also be purchased as a download. The four individual segments are also available as downloads.

Going into this project, I wanted this to be high quality, knowing the high bar for videos that Marc Spagnuolo, Shannon Rogers, Matt Cremona, and yes, Fine Woodworking have set. I can say that the production quality was beyond what I expected. David Thiel and Aaron Allen did a terrific job shooting the video, and I know from personal experience that it is hard getting good shots of shiny metal tools, which they were able to do. David and Aaron also did a great job helping me work through my first real video shoot.

Here’s what you’ll find in these videos. I’m going on the assumption that the viewer is an average woodworker, with a typical workshop, looking to incorporate Japanese chisels, saws, and planes into their workflow. You don’t have to be a full-on Japanese woodworker to enjoy using these tools. 

I also try to demystify Japanese woodworking tools. For the tool segments, I take a practical approach to the use and set up of these tools. The more esoteric stuff is saved for the “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Japanese Tools But Were Afraid To Ask” section, but I like to think I provide a straightforward, practical explanation as to why Japanese tools can be sharpened to such a fine degree while also having such excellent edge retention, among other things.

Anyway, I hope you like the videos half as much as I enjoyed making them.

in and out real quick.......

Accidental Woodworker - 19 hours 36 min ago
Made a decision to send the new (to me) back saw out to be sharpened. I could probably do it but I doubt I would be able to do with any competency worth more than a bucket of spit. I do think that I can the follow on and maintain the saw afterward.  I got the email sent and I am just waiting permission to ship it.

Making the box for it tonight is all I did. I gave up trying to find cardboard boxes a long time ago. Besides cardboard could be easily punctured and maybe in the wrong spot. I can only remembering sending out one saw in a cardboard box many, many lunar eclipses ago. It was a nightmare cutting and making new flaps because I had to cut down a larger box. Making a specific box out of wood is a no brainer to me.

french fit in foam insulation
I thought I would be clever and french fit the saw in this. I traced the outline of the saw and followed that up with a knife cut made with a sheet rock blade. This insulation was the packing in the box that my #6 came in from Timeless Tools & Treasures.  I would have used this insulation and that box but the box is on it's way to China by now and I was left with the insulation.

not cooperating
I can very easily make a downward cut with the chisel but one laterally is not working. This foam will saw quicker than a hot knife going through butter but balks at being chiseled. It doesn't like evacuation work with a chisel at all. I thought of heating the chisel and doing it that way but I wasn't sure of the fumes. I wouldn't want to wake up tomorrow with a third eye in the middle of my forehead.

saw packed up
 I used a scrap piece of pressure treated fence picket for the sides and 1/4" flooring plywood for the top and bottom. It's the same construction as the one I made for the panel rip saw.

almost ready to go
I have to get the ok for this, put the to and from addresses on a piece of paper in the inside, add few more screws, and I can ship it. The panel saw cost me $11.60 priority and if I had used priority boxes it would have cost $13 and change.  I don't expect this to cost much more than what the panel saw was.

Tomorrow I am going to try the 140 trick employing some of my other planes. I got a comment about making it with the Lee Valley skew rabbet plane which I don't doubt would work. I'll remove all doubt tomorrow on that and try a few other tools.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Which US President was taught to read and write by his wife?
answer - Andrew Johnson our 17th president

Fish Glue Merciless

Journeyman's Journal - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 11:10pm

I use hide glue when making up the blanks for the moulding planes, but I don’t like how the colour of hide glue at the join shows that it’s laminated. So I made a trial run with fish glue as I know it will dry to a clear finish and is just as strong as hide glue.

Animal products is not a gap filler, but hide glue to a small degree will fill some small gaps. Fish glue on the other hand shows no mercy. If the join isn’t tight enough, it will not fill it and will remind you how much you suck at woodworking. This means your work has to be God like and how is that possible?


As you can see in this scrap of beech, I ripped it into four separate pieces, jointed and edge glued each one individually. You can clearly see that the glue did not fill the gap in the top right corner, but the left side was well done so it’s a seamless join.

I haven’t had the balls to try this when laminating the blanks, because I’m sure there would be gaps on such a large surface.

I think in making up the blanks if you don’t want to see a dark brown colour at the join, then white PVA glue would be a better option.

Categories: Hand Tools

Barely Legal

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 4:16pm


We had our first inspection from the Covington fire department this week and were told to fix something I’ve been meaning to get around to for 18 months: an exit sign.

We had a lighted exit sign when I purchased “The Blaze” more than two years ago. But the sign was super nasty, painted in glitter and covered (somehow) with hair. Hair? What the…? I ripped down the sign when I removed the odd ventilation fan (also covered in hair) and about three metric miles of sub-code electrical wiring.

Today we installed a hairless exit sign that was 100 percent to code, and we’re added an “anti-blowjob” light to the front door to boot. I feel this light needs explanation.

Our shop is on a busy street corner that is used by everyone from elementary school students to prostitutes. When the sun goes down, some of the prostitutes have decided to use our shop’s stoop for their customer service duties. When this happens, the neighbors call the cops, and I get a nastygram from the police about the illegal activity on my property.

If I receive a couple more of those police reports I’m told I might be declared a nuisance by the city.

And so I debated today as to whether I should install a light above our door or monetize the whole thing with a webcam.

We’re going with the light.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

How to Read, by an Oak-snob

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 11:14am

I’ve been slow to add stuff to the blog here. Time to correct some of that. Today’s chore is splitting up some leftover bits of oak, and some newly dropped-off bits. Here’s how I read these, and how I decide what to split from a few different bolts. the first one is an old one, been split & hanging around a long time, over a year I’d say. It was given to me about 2 months ago. Free wood is sometimes not worth it. this is one of those cases. Note how the radial plane is cupped. This isn’t from drying, it’s the way the tree grew. The medullary rays curve from the center of the tree to the bark. So if I want wide flat stuff from this, I have my work cut out for me. What I do with such a piece of wood depends on several things: what I need at the time, how much effort I want to put into it, and how much other wood I have around. These days, wood is in pretty good supply, time much less so. Thus, I want to get the best piece I can from this as quickly as possible.

The ruler shows how “un-flat” the split is.

The piece was 26″ long, but with the checking at each end, I expect to get about 22″ length out of it. Just right for a joined stool stile (leg). So I opted to split a 2″x 2″ square out from right below the sapwood. First split with the froe gets off the inner twisted bits.

Next I split off the sapwood & bark. Surprise, the sapwood sheared off across the grain. Usually a log that has been around this long has punky rotten sapwood – I expect that. But to shear off like that means there’s something underneath…

And there was – some deformity curving the grain near one end. So didn’t get my 2″ x 2″ x 22″ stile. The resulting piece could be a ladderback chair front post (something I want to build, but have no time for right now. I’ve made parts for 3 of them so far this fall.) or the leg to a workbench out in the yard. I already have maybe 4 of those benches. On to the next split.

This one’s big & fresh. Just came in yesterday. Bark looks good. Very wide bolt, maybe 12″ or more.

But a big knot creating disturbed grain all around it, the full bottom third or more.

I always am working between getting the biggest piece (widest) I can, or getting the best piece of wood I can. Usually I want the best one. Which in this case, is much narrower than what I first expected from a section like this. See the ruler here, the best (straightest, flattest, least-work) piece is from the 10″ mark to 15″. So that’s what I split.


Now the distorted stuff is isolated in the right-hand section, destined for firewood.

Then I further split the remaining stuff into four thin boards for carved boxes, or narrow panels for the sides of some chests. Once I don’t think about where they came from, these are excellent clear, straight boards. This is a case of free wood that is worth it.

One of the older bits looked promising: wide, maybe 7″ or more. 24″ long.

But when I sighted down its length, lots of twist from one end to the other. I didn’t shoot it well enough, but you can generally read the twist down at the far end. Its right hand corner is high, as is the left corner nearest us. Means some hewing before planing. Not fatal, but maybe there’s better wood out here.

Yup. Fresh too. (that means easier to work…) Shorter, but wider.

When I scooch down and sight its radial plane, dead flat! That’s the stuff I’m after…

Gonna have lunch and find some more like this one.


Want to learn more about how to read these logs – Plymouth CRAFT has a weekend class coming up that’s just the ticket.  https://www.plymouthcraft.org/riving-hurdlemaking-weekend

Riving, hewing, drawknife work. Me, Rick McKee ( https://www.instagram.com/medullary_rick/  and https://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/  ) and our friend Pret Woodburn will show you all we know about opening oak logs and what to do with them.



Bill Carter Shows How to Make a Dovetailled Mitre Plane

David Barron Furniture - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 10:13am

Bill Carter has produced a whole series of videos on how to make his wonderful mitre planes. The pace is a little slow (he is nearly 80)  but if you set the time aside there are some wonderful gems to be found and if you fancy having a go at making one of these planes then they are invaluable.
Categories: Hand Tools

Hurry Up and Last

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 6:34am

As someone with a few completed pieces of functional furniture under my belt, I've found that I've developed a chronic condition that causes me to look underneath every dining room table, and around the back of every sideboard to see how they're made. The other day at a wedding I even found myself waiting for an old lady to vacate her ladder-back chair just so I could turn it over and look for tool marks. Maybe madness is setting in, but even this madness has its method. I do this (compulsively now) because I find that I'll often learn a thing or two about how another craftsperson came up with an ingenious solution to the same problems I encounter. Sometimes, I learn from their mistakes. Either way, I almost always learn something that informs my own practice.

The other day I took my daughters to buy milk paint at the only local spot that sells such a thing which, as you may expect, is also one of those chi chi "antique" stores meant for interior decorators and not rust hunters. I always feel like I'm walking into an issue of Garden & Gun when I go there, and this time was no different. As I entered the front door I was greeted by this magnificently reclaimed dining table.

The tag made a selling point of the fact that this was made from "vintage" wood reclaimed from a farmhouse. Or maybe it was just regular old wood from a "vintage" farmhouse. It's hard to follow how people use adjectives in advertising these days. Regardless, the point was that they wanted you to know it was old and it looked old and that the price would be adjusted skyward because of it.

We love old looking stuff, we just don't have the time it takes for it to actually get old.

The table certainly was striking and my curiosity was piqued, so I began to study it to see how it was built. A twinge of worry came over me almost immediately when I noticed the breadboards had no pins, so I looked under the table and to my dismay all I saw were pocket holes and plugs - hundreds of them. Not only were the "breadboards" attached this way, but the long boards were edge joined likewise. I cried a little inside. 

I wish to be clear. Pocket screws have their uses, even in pre-industrial period work, but this is not one of them. There's absolutely no need for them, and it is possible that they will predestine this "one-of-a-kind-vintage-farmhouse" table to the scrap heap when the wood begins to do what it does (move) and the screws do what they do best (keep things from moving). Maybe the wood is old enough and dry enough that this won't be a problem. Maybe someone won't lean too hard on that breadboard and tear the four brave screws out of the opposing end grain. Maybe I'm over-reacting. Maybe.

On one hand, I feel like ranting about  how someone was in such a hurry to make this thing that looks "authentically" old that they doomed it to the same fate shared by other hastily manufactured commercial furniture, but that's not really the heart of my concern. They could have reclaimed this resource more responsibly, but wood is wood. It grows on trees and in 200 years someone else will make equally ill-advised choices.

What interests me is this -  hand tools so often meet skepticism over the myth of how "slow" they are to use, but how long did it take to drill, screw and fill all those holes? Edge joining a table top like that would be relatively quick work with a plane by comparison. And yes, it would take longer to properly join a breadboard to the ends, but those tenons and pins would likely outlast more than a few vigorous games of cards with your rowdy uncle Phil. When I looked at this table all I could see was an unnecessary calculation to make something that looks like it's been around for 200 years rather than making something that may actually be around 200 years from now.

The relationship between furniture and fashion has changed over time. It was once perfectly reasonable to commission a piece in a "fashionable style" (else where would the highboy be?) but the understanding was that a client was also commissioning a piece that was structurally sound. The ornament was once icing on an already very sturdy cake. This is no longer the understanding people have when they think, "hey, I want a farmhouse table" because there is always an implied "for now" at the end of that thought. We expect our tastes to change, and so we want things based on a "look" and not on their lasting function in our lives.

We can no more hurry up and make things that are "old" than we can hurry up and make things that will last. Good things take the time that they take whether they are fashioned with a frame saw or a table saw. Part of educating ourselves (and others) about period furniture (or furniture, period) is learning this lesson. Good will always be good. Junk will always be junk. We may make our decisions accordingly, but at the very least we should take a look under the table and make them knowingly.

- Jim McConnell


Categories: Hand Tools


Paul Sellers - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 4:34am

Changing Our Looks and More I know many of you that have been with us through the years have noticed changes to my backdrop and also heard hints of changes yet to come too. We’ve not wanted to be secretive so much as make certain we carried you along the journey with us. Many of […]

Read the full post Changes on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Dave Campbell Tells All About “Weekend With Wood” – 360w360 E.254

360 WoodWorking - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 4:10am
Dave Campbell Tells All About “Weekend With Wood” – 360w360 E.254

In this episode of 360 with 360WoodWorking, Dave Campbell, Wood Magazine’s Editorial Content Chief, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Weekend With Wood, happening in May 2018. He tells us why, in his opinion, this event is so successful. Plus, he shares all the happenings included with the spouse’s event that runs at the same time.

Join 360 Woodworking every Thursday for a lively discussion on everything from tools to techniques to wood selection (and more).

Continue reading Dave Campbell Tells All About “Weekend With Wood” – 360w360 E.254 at 360 WoodWorking.

Make Your Own Liquid Hide Glue

Journeyman's Journal - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 3:05am

I came across a website several  weeks ago on how to make liquid hide.  I copied it down but didn’t note which website I took it from. So, whomever you are I thank you in advance.

What you need:

  • Hide Granules
  • Urea
  • Water
  • Container


These three ingredients are mixed by measure of weight. Follow these steps to mix your own batch.

1oz (28grams) of 192 grams strength Hide granules

.2oz (5.6grams) of Urea

1.5oz (42 grams) of distilled water

Mix the Urea into granules and stir it.


Then pour the distilled water into the mix and give it a quick stir.


Cover it and let it sit overnight. The next day heat it up to 140°F (60°C) for 2 hours.

(I’m not sure why it’s required to use distilled water unless tap water in the U.S. is filthy)

Liquid Hide is now ready to be used. Pour it into a small plastic bottle and when you need it, just heat the bottle with water up to the same temperature written above.

All well said and done, but we’ll see how works out tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted.

Btw, the Issue III of The Lost Scrolls Of HANDWORK magazine is in its final stage. I’m hoping to publish within the next couple of weeks. Fingers crossed


Categories: Hand Tools

it worked.....

Accidental Woodworker - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 1:30am
I read Ken Hatch's blog post on the 140 trick but he didn't show the inside of the dovetails. Seeing that was what I wanted to see.  It was all I could think about at work today. When I got home I had to rush and make a sample dovetail joint. I got to see that it worked and then I went and did my errands. No since risking the wrath of the bride is there?

my toe stubs
If I had continued to file this I would have filed the toe and heel down to flat nothings. I would not know what the tooth spacing was and that is why I stopped here.

the heel
The toe and heel are pretty much in the same line with a big dip in the middle of the saw.

the middle of the saw
As you can see I have about 2 1/2 inches to go to get it flat end to end. I got a couple of comments yesterday that said to file the nubs to increase the gullets and then file the tooth line flat again. Repeat as necessary until the tooth line is flat and straight toe to heel. I'll try to do this on saturday or sunday.

setting the 140
When I do dovetails I shoot for getting them flush or just a frog hair or two proud. I set the right most corner of the iron on inside of the knife line.

I'm guessing this is maybe a 32nd deep
I'll try this first and see how it works. I still don't see a need for this to be much deeper, if any, than this.

cutting the tails
I had to try this doing the tails. It was so-so. The deeper I sawed, the more it balked but I was able to saw them all. I did the pins with my dovetail saw.

off square on this half pin
This isn't that important here and it was a different saw than I normally do dovetails with. I could correct this with a chisel but I left it as it is. Closing the interior of joint is what I'm shooting for.

tails done
I can see the step down I did with the 140 from side to side.

an added bennie
As a registration this works very well. The placement is solid and it is square in both directions - across and from end to end. This will be very beneficial when doing 1/2 blinds.

setting the pin depth
At first I thought I wouldn't be able to set the depth of the pin sockets. But by placing one face of the dovetails flush with the end, I had the depth of the pins which I marked with a pencil first. After I had sawn the pins I repeated this and used a marking knife instead of a pencil.

not too bad for hurrying
 This side doesn't look too bad considering but it is the interior that I am concerned about.

tumultuous joy and dancing in the streets abounded
I have found a new way to do dovetails such that the interior of them looks as well as the exterior. Both parts are closed up and gap free.

half pin is gappy
The tail and pin sockets are gap free.

planed them flush and glued it
the 140's nicker
I think this is useless. I tried to use on this but I didn't see the knife line. I made the knife line with a square and a marking knife. I could feel the knicker beneath the sole with my finger tip (it's retracted now) but I saw and sensed nothing trying to use it. Just as well as I have intention of using it.

glued and cooking
I labeled this and I'll put it with my other practice joinery. This will give me something to look back at and compare to what I'm doing now.

I didn't hesitate at all
I saw this on Jim Bode's tool site and I bought it immediately. I didn't think about pulling the trigger on it all.  I lost out on one plane because I thought about it and this is a plane I have wanted for a while.

finally got the pair
I got the #9 years ago and now I have it's sibling, the #60 1/2 ( in front).

nice fluffy shavings
the adjustable shoe works easily
sole is in decent shape
It has a few stains on it but no deep scratches, dings, or dents.

spin wheel
The wheel runs in and out squarely. These wheels bend and distort way to quickly when dropped on the bench or the deck. And also when someone cranks it down too far onto the iron.

iron looks good and has plenty of life left to it
back of the iron
It looks like the back was flattened. I'll check it again when I sharpen and the hone the iron my way.

precise adjuster
I got this replacement adjuster from an Australian site. There is something about it that is better then what LN has. There is zero backlash in it and it advances and retracts precisely. Derek Cohen put it out in one of his blogs and I'll check his site to find it again. I will check this on the new plane before I buy another one.

no room for it with it's mate
I will have to rearrange this end of the plane storage. I can make a shelf unit and possibly fit all the the block planes including the 102 & 103, the violin plane and maybe some other planes in it. Might be the next project out of the gate.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
This started in July of 1943. What was it?
answer - federal income being withheld from paychecks

Why I Converted to Wooden Hand Planes

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 1:13pm

In a recent blog post I mentioned how our content editor, Jim McConnell, and I have agreed to engage in a friendly discussion on the blog about metal-bodied and wooden hand planes. In that post, Jim explained some of the reasons that he prefers metal-bodied planes. We aren’t here to make this topic controversial and adversarial. That’s the stupid kind of stuff that happens on forums. This is just plain ol’ honest discussion. Here's my take:

I was trained on metal-bodies planes at the luthiery school I attended. We learned the setup, adjustment, and use of these high-performance tools. Even though my introduction to planing was with new high-end examples, after I graduated from the program, I fixed up a few old Stanleys to fill out my set. I had no reason to complain about metal-bodied planes—I had nothing to compare them to.

It wasn’t until I began demonstrating pre-industrial woodworking that I decided I better figure out how to use wooden planes. I expected to eventually achieve decent competency—at least enough to do planing demonstrations—but I didn’t have high expectations.

For me, the only way to learn is to dive in head first. I resolved to go cold turkey for a few days to force myself to learn the mystical subtleties of adjusting these foreign contraptions. I cleaned the grime off some old fore plane and sharpened the iron same as I always did on my metal planes. I read some instructions and watched a YouTube video or two and then gave it shot. I spent about 20 minutes playing around with the adjustments, varying the tapping pressure, and even experimenting with retracting the iron a bit (I don’t know why but I didn’t expect that technique to work.)

I found that it only took me a few hours of playing around with wooden planes until I was instinctively making confident adjustments with the hammer. This was an honest-to-goodness surprise. I began to incorporate these planes more and more into my work to increase my proficiency with them. After a few weeks, it occurred to me that I was actually beginning to prefer using wooden planes over against my faithful metal ones. How in the world did that happen? What were the advantages I saw in these planes?

A Few Reasons I Prefer Wooden Planes

  1. Lightness – If you are a hand-tool woodworker who preps your stock with hand tools, mass is not your friend. Why in the world would you want to spend hours slugging around a heavy metal plane when a wooden one works the same (or better)? This is no joke—It makes a huge difference for endurance. If you use machines to prep your lumber and pretty much only use your smoothing plane, then this point is probably irrelevant to you but if it’s up to your muscles to get the job done, you’ll want all the help you can get.
  2. Lack of Sole Friction – This one goes hand in hand with #1. Wooden soles glide on wood like no other. With my metal planes, I remember regularly going back to lubricate my soles in order to minimize the resistance while planing. I’d rub a little wax on the sole and BAM! what a difference it made. Lubricating soles is an old practice that even historic wooden plane users took advantage of. It makes sense. Why muscle the tool around if you can make it glide better? The truth is, I almost never lubricate my wooden plane soles. Once in a blue moon I remember that most people out there do that so I put some wax on there for good measure. I hardly notice any difference.
  3. Ease of Adjustment – I know, I know. You don’t believe me. Am I really saying that adjusting a wooden plane is easier than adjusting a metal one? Yes, I am. Although there is a learning curve (like everything in woodworking), I think the wooden plane’s fewer parts and more straightforward design makes adjustment easier. Metal planes have their own learning curve. The cap iron has to be in the right place or the iron projection will change. Then the lever cap screw has to be turned just right to get the right pressure—too much and you have problems adjusting the iron, too little and you can bump your setting out when planing. And forget about that little knurled knob that you have to cram your fingers to spin, spin, spin to adjust. (Is it clockwise or counter-clockwise, I forget?) I always felt the lateral adjustment lever that can be finicky. Etc, Etc. None of this is a big deal to someone who is used to these idiosyncrasies but my point is both metal and wooden planes have learning curves. My belief is that once you get past the learning curve, the wooden plane is faster, easier, and much more pleasurable to adjust. Try it, I dare you.
  4. Comfort in Use – There is a reason that metal planes have wooden handles and knobs—metal is cold and uncomfortable. I like the feel of wooden tools and find them much more inviting.
  5. Tactile Feedback – The wooden body transfers to my hands all the subtle vibrations from the iron engaging the wood. This gives me a source of feedback I never had with thick and heavy metal planes. I can actually feel how the plane is working.
  6. Beauty – This is totally subjective, I know. I think many metal planes have their own beauty but, in my view, wood ages better than metal. To me, there is nothing like a couple hundred years of patina on an old wooden tool.

You don’t need exceptional planes to get these results. All my planes are over 100 years old and are nothing special. When I am searching for a plane in an antique shop, I look for grain orientation (quartersawn, preferably), no major structural concerns, and at least decent amount of iron left. That’s about it. I am very happy with these simple ho-hum examples and don’t feel a need for anything fancier.

If you are someone who wants the best of best and has the resources to pay for it, there are several wooden plane makers out there that make high-quality bench planes. Old Street Tool has been making single-iron planes for a long time, Steve Voigt makes double-irons, and I recently got to try out a nice single-iron fore plane from Jeremiah Wilding. I highly recommend all these makers.

Have questions? I’d be happy answer in the comments below. 

- Joshua


Categories: Hand Tools

one more day of rest......

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 1:07am
The hands felt a lot better today. No twinges and by mid morning I had no more aches. I am still going to take it easy for another day. The rehab of the #6 planes can wait a little while longer. I'm sure they aren't looking forward to what is upcoming. I have plenty of things I can do while I rest and heal.

wavy tooth line
I put the saw back in the vise and started to work on the problem areas I marked yesterday. Some of them I fixed and others will have to wait and catch up. Tonight I'm seeing a few spots where a couple of teeth are higher then their neighbors.

Mt Everest
How did I miss this wavy undulating tooth line last night. I thought I had done a pretty good job but tonight I can see it is mostly crappola.

whoa big doggie
I thought I would file the high teeth back down to match the others in the line and then sharpen it again. No wonder my tooth line looks like crap. A dog's hind leg is straighter than this saw. It had not occurred to me to check for this first. This roller coaster tooth line explains why my teeth are so uneven.

I like this one
This is what I used to joint the tooth line the first time. Not a good choice considering the dipsy doodles I have in this saw. As an side, if anyone knows of a source for short files like this please leave a comment.

Lee Valley file jointer.
This is long enough to bridge some of the hills and valleys. I should be able to even out the tooth line but it may take a while.

it' better but not complete
The file is evening out the tooth line but the problem is I won't have any teeth left at the toe and the heel by the time I get to the mid section. The teeth are almost gone at the toe and heel with just the bottom of the gullets left. I don't have the skills to file a complete set of new teeth from nothing. I will have to find someone who can punch me a new set of teeth. That is the only way I can see of fixing this.

makes rip cuts easily
I looked at this saw under the magnifying glass and I am still not 100% sure of how it is filed. From the side it looks like a rip.  Looking at it from the side it kind of looks like a crosscut but it doesn't have the angles a crosscut has. There is also very little discernible set.

a couple of shoulder cuts
I am going with a rip cut. It didn't like sawing these shallow crosscut shoulders at all. The rip cut was smooth and fluid and the crosscuts were hesitant and jerky. Now I have to decide if I want to try and file this myself or send it out.

I'm leaning in the direction of sending it out and having it filed properly. The tooth line on this saw isn't perfect either. It is almost straight and there aren't any missing teeth.  If a pro does it I'm sure I can follow on that and keep it in good shape.

never thought of doing this before
I ran all three of my tite marks over the 8K stone and it made a difference.

nice clean knife line - sharp cures another problem
trying out the 140 again
I knew I should have removed the side plate last night but I wanted to see how it felt and what she could do. Doing it the right way felt real good.

nice clean shoulder
I would think that I wouldn't need to make the rabbet any deeper than this for dovetails?

side plate
This didn't come off as easily as I thought it should. Maybe it needs to cycled off and on a bunch of times to loosen up a bit. It went back on without any problems but still stiff removing it for the second time.

no slant to outboard on this practice run
slanted across the width
Put too much pressure on the heel of the plane doing the start of the cut.

corrected - flat, straight, and even end to end
the action of the plane is very sweet
skew blocks for the LN honing guide
Deneb says that this iron has to be done free hand or with the jaws that fit the iron. These are the ones I bought to do the LN skew chisels. I'll have to check the LN website to see if I need to buy a set for this iron. If I remember right they offer a 30° and 18° set of honing guide blocks.

I like this saw
I can't saw this good with my LN tenon saw. I like the feel and action of this saw a lot. I think it may become my go to tenon saw. It has thicker plate, more weight, and for me it makes it easier to saw a truer cut.

found a box for the 140
lots of room
The shaft for the fence is too long to stow upright (the way I want it). The lid won't close with it this way. I would have started on making a new box for it tonight but I don't have any stock. I have 1/2" thick poplar but I prefer pine for my shop boxes. I'll have to make a run to Pepin Lumber and get some 1/2" pine. I hope that they still have some to sell.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who was Juan Sebastian Elcano?
answer - he was the first person to circumnavigate the world (He assumed command after Magellan was killed in the Philippines)

Outdoor serving table

Oregon Woodworker - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 6:39pm
I have been cooking outside more and have found that I need a side table for preparing and serving food.  When we remodeled our kitchen I salvaged a piece of Corian 14" wide and 60" long that is about the size we want.  The task was to design and build a base for it.

I thought about a number of options, but kept coming back to the kitchen work table I made last year, which has exceeded our expectations.  My  wife loves it and uses it constantly.  I decided to use a similar design for the outdoor table.  It is a bit narrow, but it will sit against a wall.

The next issue was what species to use.  Cedar and redwood are obvious candidates, but I decided to use white oak because it looks nice and is an excellent outdoor wood.  In a Forest Service study, untreated white oak was found to have an estimated average service life of 30 years in outdoor untreated applications.  It also weathers nicely.  Think of old whiskey barrels.  I bought three 5/4 boards 8 feet long averaging 6" wide for $70, under $5/bf.  I like this thickness because it makes strong stretchers and, doubled, makes 2" legs.

One disadvantage of white oak is that it is somewhat difficult to work with hand tools.  It is subject to tearout and quite hard (Janka hardness of 1360 vs. 1010 for walnut, for example).  It's manageable though; the key is very sharp tools, which requires honing very often.  Given my severe patience and discipline issues, I have to be able to do this quickly at the bench with no fussing.  The best way I have found is three steel honing plates loaded with 6, 3, and 1 micron diamond paste:

I also keep a strop at hand.

My design requires 14 mortises, which I made as I normally do by using a drill press to remove the bulk of the waste and then finishing with a bench chisel.  At some point, I will buy a pig sticker and give it a go, but this method is so easy I am ambivalent.  A personal failing I know.

Here are the four legs mortised and ready to go:

Categories: Hand Tools


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