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Hand Tools

Pencil Precision Video, China Field Trip, Other Bridge City News

Bridge City Tools - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 4:16pm

Drivel Starved Nation-

Here’s the latest news regarding your favorite Tool Potentate…

This Thursday I depart for China, first stop is Guangzhou. A week later, I will meet up with the BCTW field trip participants in Shanghai for a couple of days of food and tourist attractions–this should be really fun. We then will all board the bullet train (over 300 km/hr and smoother than flying!) for Nanjing. More great food and a visit to the museum of China’s greatest living woodworker. This will be an incredible experience, and I will be sure to take lots of pics and videos for you.

On November 3, I will be taking the bullet train to Beijing and that evening we are meeting the American ambassador to China (Mr. Terry Brandstad) and his wife Chris for dinner, and chopstick making! (Did you know that they extrude the bodies of the bullet train out of aluminium? It’s the largest extrusion in the history of the planet!)

This week we will open the pre-order window for Pencil Precision™. I think you will thoroughly enjoy making pencils–I’m an old guy and not easily amused (except at my own mistakes) and this thing is just a blast to use.

Many of you own an HP6v2 plane so we are offering two kits, one without the plane and the other with an HP-6v2. This is a globally sourced project with components made in the USA, China, Germany, to name a few. Without question, this is the best value tool making kit we have ever produced – Here’s a pic of the kit without the HP-6v2…
PPGroup without HP6 PP Version
This kit includes two sole kits for the HP-6, the planing fixture, the extrusion fixture, and enough blanks and ferrules to make 12 pencils. It will allow you to make round pencils. The extrusion die kits for beaded and Reuleaux pencils will be sold ala carte and are $89 per set. This way you can buy just what you want. This kit is under $450!

The kit with the plane is only about $100 more.
PPGroup with HP6 PP Version 700 Yes, the orange crank is removeable to reveal a 1/4″ hex… do the math on that one you power freaks!

In both kits you will receive a sample of six ferrules with erasers and six without. This will allow you to explore both pencil making options. The ferrules come in eight colors and you will understand why when you make your first pencil with child or grandchild assistant. Watching the look on their faces when it is their turn to pick which color is priceless.
Ferrule wo Eraser Black.70
Red Ferrules with Eraser 700

We will announce the spectrum of colored pencil options at a later date as we are in negotiations with potential suppliers. The kit comes with 12 2H leads and we will offer black lead options in the following hardness: 4H, 2H, H, HB, B, 2B and 4B and Red and Blue. We recommend H and HB for little kids.

AND, all pencil component options, whether it is 12 leads, 6 plain ferrules, 6 ferrule/erasers or 12 cedar blanks are all under $9.00. The material costs for making beautiful custom pencils will be right around $2.50 each. Combine that with the fun of involving your entire family is simply unbeatable.

When I return from China we will begin filming the HOW-TO video tutorial but to wet your whistle, here is a short video peak at one of our prototypes in the skunk lab. I removed the crank and I am using a Dewalt power screwdriver (I love this tool) with an almost dead battery. Each die is really a circular plane iron and serves as not only the cutting edge, but the chip breaker as well. It doesn’t get any easier than this!

Pencil Precision is a complete hobby/factory in a box and this is what it isn’t: a toy. This is a professionally made tool that will last generations–which is a whole lot longer than a smart phone.

Just sayin’.



The post Pencil Precision Video, China Field Trip, Other Bridge City News appeared first on John's Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Buttoned Up

Owyhee Mountain Fiddle Shop - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 1:43pm

 My two most recent, all together.  Plenty of detail work left before moving onto the varnishing, but I can now heft them to my shoulder and they feel like fiddles.  That's fun.
Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery

Alter the Tips of Your Dividers

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 5:47am


Note: This is crossposted from Crucible Tool.

Dividers work better if the tips match the job you’re doing. For layout chores, such as scribing arcs or setting out your joinery, the dividers’ tips need to match the wood you are using. Sharper tips will prevent the tips from skating on hard woods. And dull tips are needed in soft woods to prevent from marking the work too deeply.

In this video, Raney demonstrates how to make the tips sharper or duller using fine sandpaper stuck to a flat surface (a granite block in this instance). Changing the tips from dull to sharp takes only about two minutes (I timed him). And the results are worth the extra effort.

These techniques work on almost all dividers, not just our Improved Pattern Dividers.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

another day of rest.......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 1:25am
My thumbs hurt all day long, especially my master right one. I'll admit I haven't been a good little boy with taking my blue pills so I'm paying the price. As I am typing this I am getting an occasional twinge of pain. Early today I was seriously thinking of going home but stayed. My fingers would have hurt the same at home as they did at work. So I'll be doing less intensive finger things in the shop and I will start taking my twice daily blue pills.

this is past due
Evaporarust usually has a greenish tint to it and this is jet black. This isn't any good so I'll dump it and I'll have to buy another jug of it. The only place I've found it in my area is at an auto parts store.

every shop needs a few different sizes of these
there's the yoke pin
I haven't lost any parts down the drain since I started using this. And it's nylon so no rust problems.

all blown dry
A blow dryer in the shop is another good thing to have.

a moment of weakness
I've  been reading about and getting comments on making a shallow rabbet for the tail board to close up gaps on dovetails. Ken Hatch recently wrote about Alan Peter's 140 trick using this block plane. I had passed on one of these a few months ago and I should have bought it. This was $225 new from LN and the one I passed on was $100.

Gaps on the inside of dovetails bug me for whatever reason. I think what is causing it is I'm moving my knife line ever so slightly as I chop. I have come close a few times with almost no gaps but I have yet to do any 100% gap free. I got this for the fixing the gaps more than for registration. I also got it because Deneb said it will make bread board ends.

it's a heavy one too (one kilo)
run a gauge line
I figured it out
I like these mini tite mark gauges a lot but I was having problems with the wheel cutters. They were disintegrating on me. First a few chips and then big chunks of it went MIA. I didn't know what was wrong or what was causing it. The problem was me and my ham fisted marking pressure. The cutters are fine and do what they are designed to do - make a clean precise knife line - without a lot of downward pressure exerted on them. I had stopped using them and switched to old wooden marking gauges.

The problem was me digging into the wood too hard with gauge. My attempt to make the line as deep as I could was too much for the gauge. I just happened to look at the cutter wheel as I was trying to make a deeper line and I saw the cutter wheel peel off like a shaving coming up through the mouth of a plane.So I think if I let up on the depth of the line, my cutter wheels should last. I forgot to add them to the LN order when I bought the 140 block plane.

I am not doing something right here
I had watched LN's You Tube video on this plane and Deneb said that it is a finicky plane to set up. I had it set too deep on my initial try. I would have bet a lung I was good on that but I wasn't. Once I got it set I did make fluffy and wispy shavings.

This is what happens with every new plane I use. I'll continue to practice and I'll get it.

I think I made a mistake in not removing the right side plate on the plane. That would allow the iron to get up tight into the bottom of the rabbet. The shoulder on this looks like crap and it should be crisp and clean.

better on the second run
The shoulder still looks like crap so I'm sure that the side plate should be removed . Removing the side plate will also give me access to the knicker. I'll try that out tomorrow.

new saw for Miles's toolbox
a carcass saw?
The top saw is my sash saw and the bottom one is my LN cross cut carcass saw. I think this Disston #4 saw will do ok as a carcass saw. I'll look it up and see what it's original use was.

ripped ok but the saw is dull
hard to crosscut
I really struggled making this crosscut in 3/4" pine. It bound and stuck seemingly on every other stroke. I finally made it through but it was a workout.

the teeth look like crap (Disston #4)
It is hard to tell if this is a rip or a crosscut. I felt very little set as I run my fingers down the tooth line. I put this one aside and filed a small rip saw that I'm giving to Miles.

small rip saw - jointing the the tops of the teeth
I am going to sharpen this small rip saw that I am going to put into Miles's toolbox. I jointed the tops of the teeth and this is about the middle of the saw. The tooth line wasn't even after 4-5 strokes down the saw with the jointer.

the toe
the heel
The heel looked the best tooth wise which I expected.

11 TPI
the toe after I sharpened them
time to test my work
This saw wouldn't saw 1/2" stock before I sharpened it and that is what this is.

not too bad
It is fairly straight and I had no problems sawing it. It was definitely a huge improvement over the sawing I tried before I sharpened it. The saw also has no set that I can feel. I'll be doing that for the first time tomorrow.

not bad for my second attempt at sharpening
missed a few
Only five teeth still have file jointing marks that I didn't file away when I sharpened. There was one area that had 4-5 misshaped and missing teeth that I think I made better and worse. Instead of 4-5 goofy teeth I now have 2.

sharpie marks the rework spots
From the heel going to the toe about 4 inches is the best looking real estate. I marked all the problem areas that need further help. Overall, I think I improved the tooth line compared to the original line of garbage I inherited. It will be a while before I master this and it will just take some time and a lot of practice.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is a nonce?
answer - something that is made or used only once

What’s new

NCW Woodworking Guild - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 7:39pm

Check out the new “Library” and “For Sale or Trade” tabs in the menu. Here’s why:

Over the summer, new guild member Barb Siddiqui donated a treasure trove of mostly hardback woodworking books to us. In other words, we have a library! Included in the 500+ titles are some of the best ever published: all of The Best of Fine Woodworking books, woodturning books, carving books, books on making period furniture, you name it.

The library is housed at Lombard’s Hardwoods, and all volumes are available for check-out by guild members. In the notebook provided, print your name and contact info, along with the names of the titles you are borrowing, then be sure to bring them back. If someone might want a page or two copied out a particular book, we recommend taking a picture of the pages with your phone or tablet.

The “For Sale or Trade” idea has been bandied around for awhile now, and since yours truly (Autumn) will have to make all of the postings and updates, I was skeptical about starting it, but we’ll give it a go and see where it goes. I’ll do my best to keep it updated.

If you have a woodworking related item to sell or trade, send me the info, with photos, to autumn.doucet@gmail.com. Be sure to provide your name (some email addresses are obscure) and your contact information. Please send me an email advising me when to take down the posting, otherwise, you’ll keep getting inquiries.

 Darrell Peart is coming to town! Date and other info are on the sidebar.

darrell peart



Finishing Workshop @ CW – Making Sandpaper

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 4:50pm

In preparing for the sessions at The Anthony Hay Shop of CW I decided at the last minute to toss in the materials needed to make sandpaper, not knowing whitener or not there would be any interest.  It turned out that a lot of the participants were indeed interested, and several told me a very common question from the visiting public was some variation of, “Did they have sandpaper in the old days?”

So I’m glad I had what was needed.

We started with moderate weight rag paper, albeit machine made, not hand cast (maybe next time).

Wetting the paper both sides relaxed it so it would pucker less when the hot glue was applied to one side.

We were using 135 gws glue since it had plenty of adhesion properties plus was much more flexible than higher grades, making it more usable since it would not fracture when bent.

Once the glue has been on the paper long enough such that it is tacky but not wet, the surface is sprinkled with fine frit, the ground glass that was often used as the abrasive for some ancient sandpapers (hence the common terminology of “glass paper”).  You want the glue tacky enough to adhere the frit, but not wet enough to soak into it and turn it into a big chunk on the surface.

The glued sheet with frit is shaken or brushed so that the frit covers the whole surface, and the piece is set aside.  Once the glue has hardened adequately the excess frit is brushed or shaken off and the sheet is allowed to dry fully.

And voila’, you have a genuine new piece of antique sandpaper about 180 grit.






Picture This CXII

Pegs and 'Tails - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 4:07pm
Several readers have, at various times, enquired why some eighteenth-century drawers have escutcheons – and indeed, keyholes – when no locks are (or ever were) present. Locks were expensive items and not all drawer contents necessitate such elaborate protection. In … Continue reading
Categories: Hand Tools

Moving Fillister: My interpretation

Woodworking By Hand - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 3:00pm

Being been inspired by the original Moving Fillister plane I own (image above), I tried to build this rebate plane with adjustable fence, capable of very good work along the grain as well as across the grain. 
Its skewed blade (20°) eases the cut, while a nicker, situated just before the main blade, has the purpose of pre-cutting wood fibers and obtaining a clean result across the grain too.

I used walnut wood for the plane body and wedge, while the sole, the parallel fence and the depth stop are of hornbeam, a wood particulary resistent to the wear and which creates an attractive chromatic effect when couple to a darker wood as the walnut. A hornbeam piece is inserted at the top of the plane, too.

The parallel fence moves on the sole through two elongated holes and is kept in place by two M6 bolts which are screwed in the correspondent nuts inserted into the sole.

Categories: Hand Tools

dynaGlide Plus available through Vogt Toolworks

Tico Vogt - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 12:54pm

Three years ago I learned about dynaGlide Plus from Richard Welder at Micro Fence. It is a Silicone and Teflon free dry boundary lubricant. I have used it principally to clean the swarf off the bearing surfaces of my shooting boards and to lubricate them. It functions well on metal planes, edge tools, bits, bearings, and abrasive surfaces.


Vogt Toolworks is now a distributor. Click here to view the Product Page.




Diagonal Wedges: The How & Why

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 4:57am

When wedging through-tenons, I prefer to orient the wedge diagonally across the tenon. This is a somewhat atypical way to work, so an explanation is in order. A diagonal wedge has the advantage of closing up any gaps on all four edges of a rectangular mortise. That’s because it pushes the tenon against all four walls of the mortise. The more typical wedge, on the other hand, will push against […]

The post Diagonal Wedges: The How & Why appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

it's football season.......

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 12:53am
I used to be a rabid football fan. I wouldn't miss a game even if I was having a heart attack. Now, I'm ambivalent about it. I follow the Patriots and today is the first game I am watching on TV.  Well I kind of watched it. I had been going back forth from the living room to the workshop inbetween plays. But by half time I was committed to sitting and watching.

Football doesn't hold sway over me like it used to which I am ok with. If push came to shove, I  would rather be in the shop anyways. I would have been in the shop today but my thumbs ached something fierce today. So I thought it best to give them a rest. If the game doesn't interest me I can search the WWW for an iron and a chipbreaker.

quiet time work
Just finished the sanding with 600 grit. I could have gone further with 800 and 1200 but 600 works for me. It imparts a decent shine and I can't see any scratches so I don't see the need to go further.

LED reflection off 600 grit
the sole
I know that the smoothness of the sole rather than shine, is a big help. A 600 grit smoothness helps the plane to glide rather than hesitate.

autosol shine
This stuff makes the planes shine but it also protects them too. And it lasts for a few months also. I'll be checking on this one to see how long it lasts because it'll be resident in a toolbox for quite a while.

autosol on the sole
I just do the cheeks and the sole.  I haven't tried the autosol on the lever cap yet but I may on the #6 rehab.

Miles's block planes
I knew the  60 1/2 is a bit smaller than the #9 and side by side it pops out. The iron in the #9 measures 1 9/16" wide the the 60 1/2 is 1 3/8" wide. 

about the same length
The #9 has a wider iron and a lot more mass. In spite of the extra mass the #9 weighs 1lb 60oz (.634 kilos) to the 60 1/2 weight of 1lb 3oz (.543 kilos) - a 3oz difference. I was expecting the weight of the #9 to be higher than this.

motors revving and ready to go
L and R shavings
I liked seeing this. Both shavings are the same width and thickness so I don't think the defect I have on the right of the iron matters. The plane didn't skip or stall making the shaving neither.

I'm stowing them in the big till for now - they won't fit in the top ones
the #6 will fit
The saws aren't going to stay in the toolbox. I will be making a separate till for them once I get them all. I have a crosscut and two rip saws so far. The smallest rip saw I have to sharpen but the other two are sharp. I bought a backsaw on thursday and I should have it monday or tuesday at the latest.  I thought of getting the 3 saw LV set (carcass, dovetail, and tenon) but I can't get past the composite construction, even if they are a damn good price. Instead I'll buy wooden handled saws one at a time. I have only to get two more and I have plenty of time to do it.

my 7/8 T&G planes

it's a match
my shrinking collection of T&G planes

I'm going through all my wooden planes and I'm passing on all my extras. I thought I had a few more beading planes but it looks like I already passed them on. Out of the 5 sets of T&G planes only two are usable and the other 3 need work on the irons.

these are my problem planes
One of the worse planes is the second from the bottom on the left. It is a dutch plane I bought for $15 and I can not get it to plane it's profile.

it is a complex molder
The sole of the plane is good, the throat isn't beat up and I don't think the plane got a lot of use. The iron matches the sole good but I haven't been successful making the profile. The best I've been able to do is to make a partial one.  None of these planes will get passed on.

this is a beading iron
from a plane that is an astragal
I've gotten a few molding planes with irons that don't even remotely match the sole profile. This one is on the list for making an iron to match it. Lie Nielsen sells blanks and I should be able to match one up for this.

3 molders I wanted
I think in order to get these 3 planes, I had to bid on a 3 lots of about 20 total planes. Most of them were garbage and only good enough to feed the furnace. Two of these are definite users and one is iffy. The sole is chewed up right behind the mouth but it did plane a profile as is. So maybe I will be able to sharpen the iron and be ok.

I'll come back to this one
The iron is rusty looking and thumping the ass wouldn't loosen the wedge.

these four just need to be sharpened
these are being passed on
All the planes I am passing on are users. I am not giving away crap. These 3 need the irons cleaned up and sharpened but all three planed their respective profiles. All the planes I am passing on planed their profiles. These here on the only ones I didn't sharpen and hone the irons. I boxed up the planes going to a new home and I'll ship them out this week.

the plane from 3 pics above
This is a thumbnail plane for 1/2" stock. I don't see very many planes for thin stock being offered up. This one came with a lot of 6 planes. This made the profile and half way decent shavings considering the iron is rusty looking.

the front of the iron
the back of the iron
I am continually amazed by these old molding planes planing a profile with irons like this in them. I have yet to buy one with a flattened back too. This iron is dull feeling and crappy looking yet it still planed a decent looking profile. I will clean this up and add it to the herd.

brass adjuster knob off the corrugated #6
This is the before grungy, dirty looking pic.

the backside looks even worse
I can reuse the barrel nuts
The slots are usually chewed up on the older planes but these are still clean, straight, and not mangled.

string on the finger
I brushed the parts to remove as much rust as I could and put all the parts in the Evaporust bath. The reminder is so I don't forget the frog pin is in the liquid. Losing that would be a tragedy.

which one is which
The inside of the two #6 planes are identical. The top one is mine and the bottom one is the corrugated sole one.

both soles are flat
I checked them both with my straight edge but the proof of the pudding will come when I put them on the 80 grit runway.
60 grit
Most of the japanning on the heel was gone and this was to remove the rust.  The plan is to sand the interior with 60 grit, clean it with some Simple Green, and then apply stripper.

the after pic of the adjuster knob
The way to go on this is to scrub it with a toothbrush and Bar Keeps. Much more effective than letting it soak in it. I cleaned it first with orange cleaner and I used 220 grit on the inside of the knob.

nice and shiny
There are a couple of grungy spots at the top of the hole that needs attention, but overall, the knob looks great.

my #6
Most of this plane still looks good. I did the rehab on this plane several years ago and it is something to see what I did then and what I do now. I will go nutso and complete what I didn't do then. The knob and tote, the frog and the plane body. Can we say together "oh what fun that will be". And it will be like the old double mint gum commercials because I'm doing two at the same time.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What was the original title for the song, "Happy Birthday to You"?
answer - Good Morning to All

A small barn for the summer house 12, progress and plans.

Mulesaw - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 7:57pm
I am getting ready to go home now, and one of the things that I always think about during the last days on board is what projects I would like to be able to work on when I get home.

By checking my blog I discovered that I hadn't made entries about the small barn that I am building at our summerhouse since late March.
That doesn't mean that I haven't been working on it., but rather that I have been too lazy to blog about it while at home.

In the early part of summer I started painting the barn, but the weather wasn't very cooperative, so basically I only got as far as to do the south gable and the underside of the roof on that gable plus a bit on the west side as well.

I also made a door and installed it. I never got around to install boards around the door though, but I can do that later since they are mainly decorative.

Last time while at home I sawed some more floor boards and sent them through the planer a couple of times, so they were the same thickness as the floor boards on the ground floor. (1.75"). Those boards were all installed on top of the beams to form an attic.
I used the same method as last time, with a handheld router making a groove in both boards, and then assembling them with a loose spline.

After completing the floor, the last two windows were installed in the gables.  Then I insulated the entire structure with 6" of rockwool. I know that a lot of people dislike insulating, but I actually enjoy it. It is very quiet, and there are quick results to be seen.
I think that the mineral wool of today is less dusty compared to what it used to be, so it doesn't bother me to do that job.
A funny thing to notice is how the sound changes when the walls are only bare insulation. It becomes very "dead".

I had purchased 882 board feet of 1" thick T&G boards that was going to be installed inside the barn, they were delivered to the site and I was just getting ready to start installing them - when the crewing coordinator of the company called me on the phone and asked if I had seen my email.
I hadn't at that time, and told her that I had checked in the morning, and there was nothing from her.

She paused and said: No, I mean the one that I sent you an hour ago. I again told her that I hadn't checked, but since she was calling she might as well tell me what it was about.
Oh, you are signing on tomorrow, and it was just the flight details, letter of guarantee etc.
NO WAY, am I going on board tomorrow! You sent me an email like three weeks ago, and in that email you stated that I should expect to sign on around the 19th of September (this was on Monday the 11th).
Let me see she said, and I could hear her tapping her keyboard and finding the old email. Dead silence for a couple of seconds. Oh yes, I can see that. But that was a mistake. So you are still going out tomorrow!
I tried to explain that I was not impressed with the level of planning, She started explaining that the agent in Guinea had been advised about my coming, and a helicopter trip had been arranged too etc. I then managed to ask in a polite way if I at least had an afternoon flight from Denmark. But nope - My plane was scheduled to leave from Aalborg at 06:00, t
So I had 15 hours left.
I told her that if that was the case, I didn't have any time left for chit chatting, and hung up.

I took a quick look around and started shifting all the boards into the barn so they would be protected from the weather. Cleared up the place and drove home with the surplus of insulation. Emptied the trailer for insulation and stacked it in the large barn at home. Emptied the car for tools, cleared up the mess at home (which I usually do quietly and calmly the last couple of days before leaving).
Ate some supper and packed my bags with the small toolchest and arranged for a taxi to pick me up in the middle of the night. I was still not impressed, but things such as these are the downside of being a seaman.

BUT now I am soon on my way home, and I hope to be able to install all those boards so the interior of the barn will be completed.
I have considered painting the interior white, I guess it will never be easier than when the structure is empty, plus I think that it will look good.

Another project that I have been looking forward to in a long time is to make a staircase for getting up to the attic of the barn.
I guess that a lot of people have a hard time understanding that you can look forward to such a project, but I hope that those reading this post will understand that feeling.
My plan is to make a fairly simple staircase. It will also be rather steep because I don't want it to take up too much room inside. A staircase to me represents one of those projects that are just in the borderland between carpentry and joinery. Large dimensions of stock and still the joints have to be laid out and executed with a lot of care. Yup, that is definitely going to be a rewarding project.

Depending on if the weather will be nice, which it probably won't, I could also continue with some painting outside, and perhaps mount the framing boards around the door and the window in the gables. I could also do the electrical wiring so the inside will be completed, but let's see how it all goes.

Painted end of the barn, working on a floor board.

Categories: Hand Tools

New Book from Nancy Hiller & Lost Art Press

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 5:26pm

Editor’s note: Aside from my family, my three deepest passions in life are woodworking, food and music. Almost every night I cook a meal while listening to music and surrounded by the things I’ve built. I have deep-seated philosophies about kitchens and kitchen tools that parallel my writings on shops, tools and workbenches. So after talking to Nancy Hiller about her approach to kitchens and cabinets, I knew we had to do a book together on this topic.

It will be a book that seeks to overturn the decades of “rip it out” advice you get from television, magazines, books and the Internet. It will be a be a book for people who would rather build than buy. And who want their kitchen to be in harmony with their house, their families and their lives. And so let me turn things over to Nancy.

— Christopher Schwarz

Kitchen cabinets are the poor step-sister of the furniture making world. You know – the homely one with a sixth-grade education who processes fish for a living and always seems to have that smell.

“He builds cabinets,” sniffed one of my woodworking friends a few years back, referring to an acquaintance. The statement was nowhere near as straightforward as those three simple words might suggest. He spoke with a pained expression, lowering his voice to a near-whisper when he got to “cabinets.” Clearly this was some kind of shameful secret; building cabinets made the acquaintance…well, you know, not a real woodworker. He might as well have been telling me the guy’d been caught in flagrante with a blow-up doll.

“Why would I want to build plywood boxes when I could be building 18th-century highboys?” remarked another woodworking friend. The question was rhetorical, more a way of announcing that he’d broken into the East Coast market for period Americana and so escaped the obscurity of the rural workshop where he’d spent years building cabinets, millwork and furniture for the local market.

You get the picture. Among woodworkers, kitchen cabinets are the Zero Bar to the highboys’ Lindt truffle: a species of work beneath those with refined taste and higher skills.


One wall of the kitchen Daniel and I did in Washington, D.C., in 2006, described in the story “Daniel” in Making Things Work.

Most woodworkers who build cabinets do so for the same reason as our furniture-making forebears built coffins in addition to tables and chairs: because they offer a source of income that helps even out the road between freestanding furniture commissions. It’s easy to look down on built-ins when your livelihood doesn’t depend on woodworking, or when you are:

• Retired
• Your woodworking venture is subsidized by a spouse’s income
• You’ve tapped into a rich vein of market popularity
• Etc.

Not everyone is so fortunate.

How did the lowly kitchen cabinet become a friend to many who trained as furniture makers, imagining we’d spend our days hand cutting dovetails and French polishing meticulously inlaid cutlery canteens? The answer has as much to do with publishing, advertising and banking as with wood and tools. Ultimately it boils down to the commodification of the home.

We’re talking real estate. Home ownership today is light years away from that of 200, 100 or even 70 years ago, when the people who owned what’s now my acre of semi-rural land cut down some trees, dug up some rocks and built themselves a simple board-and-batten-sided cabin worthy of Snuffy Smith. Today a massive industry surrounds home ownership, from Realtors (yes, that term is trademarked and officially requires an upper-case “R”) and appraisers to title companies, banks and building inspectors. There has been a serious shift during the past century in how many of us think of our homes: They no longer simply represent shelter and a central base for family, but are the largest financial investment most of us will ever make – one that, with luck, may increase our wealth at a rate that leaves inflation panting breathlessly in the dust.

As with any investment, we’re urged to put ourselves in the hands of expert advisers. And there’s an army of them out there. Take the wildly popular hosts of home improvement shows on HGTV (please, take them) – that cast of smiling, perfectly groomed characters eager to instruct you in the magical art of transforming a hovel into an “urban oasis” or liberating yourself from the corporate rat race by hitching a ride on the house-flipping bandwagon. Take the legions of salespeople at home stores across the nation, who will gladly guide you through one cabinet display after another until you’re dizzy from over-exposure to CNC-routed fretwork, dedicated mixer cabinets with lift-up stands and decorative wine racks. Take the web-based magazines with their daily examples of designer ideas to “steal” and big-name-brand “hacks.” Or that modern means to keep yourself forever in debt, the home equity loan, advertisements for which have long encouraged us to treat our houses as ATMs.

To be a contemporary homeowner is to feel an almost moral obligation to spend money on your house. Never mind how your friends may judge your taste on seeing you still have that Laura Ashley “Dandelion” wallpaper from circa 1983; there’s a sense that if you’re not religiously “updating,” you may be losing financial ground.


I hung this Laura Ashley “Dandelion” wallpaper in the kitchen of the first house my husband and I bought, a skinny terrace (row) house in a working-class neighborhood of the English city Reading. How I loved that wallpaper.

One result of this topsy-turvy mindset is that customers are generally more willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars on something they believe will increase the value of their house than on a piece of freestanding furniture. Built-in cabinets even fall into a different category in the world of sales tax: They are “improvements to real estate.” People rationalize them as an investment. That artisan-made dining table? Arguably a frivolous buy in comparison.

Of course, you can only get the value of a kitchen remodel out of a house so many times. Property values in most regions don’t increase at anything like the rate that would be necessary to cover the tens (sometimes hundreds) of thousands spent on kitchens. And then there’s the troublesome fact that new cabinets installed as part of a kitchen update undertaken to help sell a house are routinely ripped out by the new homeowners, only to be replaced by something more in line with their own taste. Never mind the so-called “green design” professional who encourages you to tear out your laminate counters and replace them with a “sustainable” composite incorporating recycled glass. The preoccupation with updating results in a mind-boggling amount of waste. These are real-world caveats that some of us point out to prospective clients as we urge them to think about what they really want and need, as distinct from what other experts (and friends, and relatives) are telling them they should want. Despite being urged repeatedly by contractors to blow out the walls of their 1910s kitchens per the dictates of “open concept” design, I have found clients almost giddy with relief at encountering a professional who appreciates the value of rooms.

That said, I understand the desire for a change of scene, a shift in tone. There are ways to rework your kitchen without spending a fortune or increasing the elevation of your local landfill. The first requirement is simply to think. In this process, context is your friend. I’m talking about context broadly understood: where you are in life; what resources you have access to in terms of money, unusual materials or time; the architectural style of your home; and so forth. For the past 20 years I have made my living largely by working with clients to respond creatively to a variety of realities many designers and cabinetmakers consider limitations. The book I’m writing for Lost Art Press will be full of these and other ways to approach kitchen design, build cabinets and devise creative solutions to problems.

— Nancy Hiller, the author of “Making Things Work.”

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Lay Out a Chair’s Pommel

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 11:57am


There’s a quick tutorial on laying out a traditional pommel on a seat with a French curve and only two points. Check it out on the Crucible Tool site here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Two More Upcoming Classes at our Storefront

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 6:03am


Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney will each teach a weekend class in April at our storefront in Covington, Ky. Registration will open at noon on Friday, Oct. 20.

Just like with the Welsh stick chair class with Chris Williams, these will be small classes with only six attendees. Also, these are not money-making enterprises for me or Lost Art Press. All proceeds go directly to the instructor.

I’m allowing them to use the space for free because they are my friends, I think they each have something valuable to teach and the classes build the local woodworking community in Covington. Here are the details.


Build a Shaker Silverware Tray with Megan Fitzpatrick
April 7-8, 2018
Cost: $250, plus a small materials fee for wood & cut brads (likely around $30)

Make a classic Shaker silverware tray in this introduction to hand-cut dovetails. In this two-day class, you’ll learn:

  • Dovetail layout using dividers
  • How to use a backsaw to saw to a line
  • How to wield a coping or fret saw
  • How to pare and chop to a line with a chisel
  •  Several strategies for transferring the tails to the pin board
  • Techniques for fitting the joint
  • Why dovetails work – and we’ll look at some examples of long-lasting period dovetails that look as if they were gnawed out by a beaver – “perfection” is overrated when it comes to the efficacy of this joint. (That said, you’ll also learn some “tricks” for fixing less-than-stellar dovetails.)
  • How to lay out then cut and fair the handles (both the hand holds and the curved top edge)
  • How to smooth-plane your surfaces
  • How to use cut nails (to install cleats for the bottom board)
  • And of course, how to put it all together (and why I recommend liquid hide glue).



Build the Cabinetmaker’s Sector with Brendan Gaffney
April 21-22, 2018
Cost: $300, which includes all raw materials

In this two-day class, students will build their own Cabinetmaker’s Sector, my modernized design for the ancient geometer’s tool, used for drawing, drafting and (in my shop) the layout of dimensions and joinery on woodwork. The class will revolve around the skills of modern hand-tool makers, including careful marking and measuring, mixing metal and wood, hand shaping, finishing and (of course) how to use the tool.

Each student will be provided the wood and the necessary brass hinges and pins, everything needed to produce the sector. The first day will revolve around affixing the brass and wooden tabs into the tools, riveting the leaves together, flattening and lapping the tools and reviewing the principles behind the geometry of the sector. The second day will revolve around shaping the sectors, stamping and inking the sector marks, finishing the sectors and learning to use them in the shop. Every student will leave with a completed sector, plus the knowledge of how it works and how to use it.

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

Its OK to Think Inside the Box

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 5:44am

Box making department of the T.B. Williams Tobacco Company late 1800’s (Wiki Commons)










Yes it’s fine to think inside the box for a change, especially when there’s no need to think at all! At least not if your goal is to divide the box into any number of divisions. Thanks to the geometry of diagonal lines that occur inherently within a square, you need only a straightedge to reveal these fractions. This truth/tool allows you to lay out the baffles that will keep the bottles of spirits from rattling or worse. Of course there are easier ways to come up with these fractions (the sector springs to mind), but this is still a great way to construct by hand and observe by eye these geometric patterns as they spring to life.

See if you can follow the steps below which I’ve sketched on a sheet of graph paper. Why don’t you grab some paper and follow along too? Bet your kid can (and would like to) help you out! Get out a pair of dividers so you can confirm that the intersections do indeed produce perfectly spaced segments along a line.


Now isolate the first square…


…and continue by drawing a pair of diagonal lines as shown in green in the next sketch:


Next draw a horizontal line through the points that have been given to you where the (green) diagonals cross the first set. If you set your dividers to the intersections along this new horizontal line, you’ll find there are exactly/precisely/perfectly three equal-length segments. Now let’s draw another set of diagonals and connect their intersections with the original diagonals with a horizontal line:


As your dividers will reveal to you, that line is now automagically broken into four equal segments. Let’s continue the process with two more sets of lines (I really do highly recommend that you stop right now and grab a sheet of graph paper and watch this happen in real time through your own hands and eyes).


You’ll discover the red lines produces fifth segments while the yellow produce sevenths along their horizontals. Add another set (in blue here) of diagonals and horizontal and you come up with ninths:


Keep going if you like:


You’ll get ninths, elevenths and thirteenths – and on to infinity I suppose. What if you want an even number of divisions along a horizontal line, say tenths along the line of fifths? Well they are there waiting for you to discover with your dividers!

— Jim Tolpin, one of the co-authors of “From Truths to Tools

Filed under: From Truths to Tools
Categories: Hand Tools

Blue Tape Rules

360 WoodWorking - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 5:07am
Blue Tape Rules

Many of you know or have discovered that I have a passion for blue painter’s tape. I think blue tape rules in the woodshop. Here’s a bit of history.

In the 1920s Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (known today as 3M) hired Richard Drew to travel around promoting the company products to automobile shops. The product he was pushing was sandpaper. Drew noticed that many of the shops struggled with different tapes. The sticky tapes of the day would not hold enough or would hold so much that paint was removed when the tape was peeled off the cars.

Continue reading Blue Tape Rules at 360 WoodWorking.

Workshop Storage

David Barron Furniture - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 3:44am

Ian from Japan sent me these pictures of some drawers which provided him with much needed additional storage in his workshop. Such a level of organisation and tidiness is only something I can aspire to!
The drawers were all dovetailed by hand, front and back. To give the maximum amount of drawer depth, the bottoms were screwed on from underneath rather than slid into a groove. Making the bottoms with plywood avoided any issues with wood movement.

Categories: Hand Tools

puttering saturday.....

Accidental Woodworker - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 2:13am
Since I get up at oh dark thirty everyday and I am the only who does, I have to be quiet.  My oldest rolled into town on friday so I had another one to contend with. And she likes to sleep in so I really had to hunker down with finding something quiet to do. I started out playing with the 5/8" grooving plane iron, switched to the 60 1/2 block plane, went back to the grooving plane, and gave up on being in the shop. Before I left the shop I had steel wooled the box and put on a few more coats of shellac. I went back upstairs and reconciled my checking account. You can't get anymore quiet then that especially so if you and the bank agree.

the lead off batter
I went back to the shop and flattened the back of this iron again. There was a small thin, dull looking  ribbon right at the edge that I noticed this morning.  So I went back to square one and started flattening it once more again.

I checked the logo on the iron to try and date the plane. The logo on the iron matched up to the one for '1935 to the present'. But that is the iron and not necessarily indicative of the age of the block plane itself.

the top right is low
The left side takes a little dippsy doodle at the corner too but not as large as the right one.

after the 80 grit runway
I got most of the left side removed but there is still a good portion of it left on the right. I can either spend the next two months trying to sand the bevel back or leave it. This is a block plane so I am going to leave it as is for now. The other choice is to grind it straight back past the low spot and then grind a new bevel. Either method involves a lot of work and making the iron shorter. It is something that doesn't have to be done right now. Miles is still trying to get his finger coordination grabbing act together.

dewaxed shellac
I don't mind the clear shellac with all the crap from the bugs still in it. But when I went to Ace Hardware to get some shellac, this is all they had on the shelf. There wasn't an empty spot for the clear shellac, just this one and amber. I took it because I didn't want to drive all the way to Lowes to buy some clear.

I didn't see this until I had sanded the side
I'll have to go slower and pay more attention as I sand. I don't want to remove this.

sharpened the bevel again
Now that most of the bevel is honed and shiny, it is easy to see the hollow at the right corner. What is puzzling to me is that I raised a continuous burr on the back. It was pretty consistent  from one end to the other. I expected the hollow spot not to have a burr. Getting the burr there was a big reason for not grinding this away.

shiny brass to makes my day
I am back from balancing my checkbook, watching a few You Tube videos, and surviving a trip to the PO to mail out the first shipment of molding planes. I cleaned and shined up the thumb knob with Bar Keeps Best Friend and I did it a different way this time.

In the past I let it soak in Bar Keeps with some water for a while. This time I dumped some powder on a piece of paper and grabbed some water and a clean toothbrush. I dipped the toothbrush in the water to wet it, picked up some powder and scrubbed the knob.  It seemed to work better and quicker than letting it soak which never seemed to self clean. With that method I still had to scrub the brass to clean it.

box is almost done
The shellac is making the joint lines in the miters to pop out. That is understandable as I didn't smooth the miter faces after I sawed them. I had already plowed all the grooves and the dado and smoothing them in the donkey ear jig would have made a lot of blowouts on/in them.

put 3 coats here
As I was putting the finish on the box I thought the walnut needed some shine. I put shellac on the bottom rabbet and the walnut banding, on both sides. It perked up the walnut and took away the dull look it had.

didn't effect the fit of the lid
I will leave the lid off the bottom until I get to work on monday. That will give the shellac a little more time to set up and harden.
I think it looks better

It will be hidden most of the time because of the lid being on but once you remove it, you'll see this.

you can file these irons
I got the tip of it filed to fit the tongue iron but the rest it going backwards is off. I still have a lot more filing to do on this. I won't be sanding it to remove metal because the file is 100 times faster.

the fit is a lot better
The wedge shape of the iron pushed out the left side of the groove as I planed it. Over half of the length of the left groove wall separated at the bottom. At least I know I can file this and I should be able to finish this.

found it
I went nutso this morning trying to find this. I wanted to use this to hold the iron and put this in the vise. You really need both hands on the file in order to control it's cutting action.

played with these a little too
I saw these when I found the vise and tried them out. My last outing with them was a disaster. I tore out chunks of wood using them. Today I looked at the grain and used all four of them without one hiccup.  These are old tools that I have seen in Stanley catalogs from around the turn of the last century so they have been around for a while. It was like I had been using them for years.

the frog on the #6 I just got
nothing on the back of the lateral adjust
just STANLEY on the front
According to one study I did this is a type 4. On another study it is a type 5 to 8. The big clue is the lateral adjust. It didn't appear until type 5 and the round disc on it didn't happen until later with the type 6 if I remember right. So on one study it can't be a type 4 as the other puts it as a type 5. Using the second study I think the corrugated sole #6 is a type 5 and my #6 is a type 6.

my lateral adjust
This is one difference between the corrugated sole #6 and my #6. My lateral adjust has a patent date and the other doesn't. The other difference is the brass adjust knob. The corrugated one is blank and mine has a patent date in it. I know the3rd #6 is a WWII vintage one and I really don't care what type it is.

My daughter was leaving today to go back to North Carolina but the plane had issues (leaking water into the cabin) so she came back here. She is supposed to leave tomorrow at the same time. I took this opportunity to stop working and go up upstairs to play with Miles before he took his nap.

not finished
It is kind of finished but I want to raise a shine on the cheeks and sole. I have only gone through 2 grits and I have 4 more to do. It won't happen today though. Miles likes his Playschool toolbox but I think they made the hammer handle too fat for him to grip.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is the size of a standard pillow?
answer - 20 x26 inches

Customer provided Karlian Masur Birch

Two Lawyers Toolworks - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 12:27am
A Customer send us this piece of karelian Masur birch to make a saw. I'm a bit sad to let her go. That wood is a bit darker and even more figured than the Karelian Masur Birch, we've got. Would like to get mor of it. Sash saw 14" long Shy 3" deeep. 11 tpi Ein Kunde hat uns diese MAserbirke geschickt. ICh bin ein bisschen traurig sie wieder ziegen zu lassen. Sie ist etwas dunkler und noch mehrPedderhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12692353908068506678noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Hand Tools


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