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Hand Tools

Dumb but now better than OK

Oregon Woodworker - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 5:08pm
Recently, I knocked a quarter-inch chunk off the tip of the top horn on the handle of my Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw.  I have no excuse whatsoever.  When I do something like this, I just shake my head and wonder how I could be such an idiot.

I certainly wasn't going to leave the handle that way but I wasn't looking forward to making or buying a new handle.  Holding the handle, I noticed for the first time that it was kind of tight for my very large paw and it looked like it might be more comfortable if the horn were shorter.  With nothing to lose, I used a quarter to draw a new shape and had at it with my TFWW saw handle maker's rasp.  I originally purchased this when I was shaping a saw handle, but now I use it regularly for all sorts of things.  It's the only hand cut rasp I have and the shape and random fine teeth are perfect for shaping of compound curves.  It's a must have.

Reshaping took only a few minutes and, to my great surprise, I ended up with a handle that I like better than the way it came from the maker.

  Really.  It fits my hand better and I can't see how it detracts from the saw's handling.  I don't think it looks bad either, although maybe that's a rationalization.

I read that Lie-Nielsen finishes its handles with a wiping varnish, so I applied two coats of satin Arm-R-Seal to the repair.  As expected, the tip of the horn is somewhat lighter but I think it will age and doesn't look bad anyway.

This was one of those lucky occasions where a dumb move had a happy result.  It got me thinking.  What other tools that I have would I like to personalize?  I might even try it without damaging the tool first.
Categories: Hand Tools

Making an infill plane from scratch 7, shaping a mushroom.

Mulesaw - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 3:46pm
I found a brand new fine file in our spare tool cabinet, and I used it to make the plane look nicer than yesterday.
I also opened the mouth a bit to the rear of the plane at an angle, so the blade can get through to the bottom and do its job once everything is ready.
Since I will need to flatten the end of all the rivets once the plane is completely assembled, I didn't see any point in going all wild with emery cloth etc. The body is flat and reasonably good looking, so it was finally time for me to get back to some woodworking.

My experience with working this bubinga is very limited, so I decided that it would be a smart move to tackle the front knob or tote first.
I had an idea about making a mushroom shaped knob, and I started by sawing out a block of wood that was slightly oversize.
Once the block was ready, I sketched the outline of the mushroom and the lower part of the knob. I used a hacksaw to saw close to my layout lines, and that way remove the bulk of the material. A coping saw would probably have made it a bit more roundish, but the hacksaw did its job admirably.

I haven't quite figured out how the grain orientation works on this wood, because it seems to be very prone to tear out. But skewing the chisel and working end grain slowly but surely helped getting the shape out.
There is still a long way to go before the front knob is finished, but at least I am back to woodworking which I prefer to filing metal.

Front knob straight from the hacksaw.

Patience and a sharp chisel will eventually get you there.

Categories: Hand Tools

Recipe for Happiness

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 1:46pm

“Traditional Chair Making – High Wycombe,” photographer unknown. © High Wycombe Furniture Archive, Bucks New University

“It is one thing for the man whose daily work offers him a really creative job, the engineer, the skilled craftsman, the artist, the writer, because with the work comes the discipline. He has to stick it, in spite of the weather or his feelings at the moment, because he who will not work neither shall he eat, neither, in fact, shall he have anything else that is worth having. But because the job is a job into which he can really put all his powers, he has the chance of extracting real satisfaction, real happiness, from it. Or at least as much as we can hope for in an imperfect world. Because to become absorbed in an interesting job is happiness. But when a man takes up some form of creative work in his spare time, he has to be his own taskmaster. And that is not so easy. There is always the temptation to cry off when he doesn’t feel like it, or to drop it altogether when difficulties crop up—as they are bound to do when a man is learning to do a thing on his own. In short, it takes character and grit to stick it long enough to acquire real skill. But once that is attained he has achieved something that will set him on the road to still greater achievement in the future. And that is at least one recipe for happiness.”

— Charles Hayward, The Woodworker magazine, 1942

Filed under: Honest Labour, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

More Ripple Molding Success

The Barn on White Run - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 9:38am

While I was fussing with the Roubo bench, John was in the adjacent space being utterly productive in tuning up the Winterthur ripple molding machine.  His success was such that he was able to concentrate on running samples with a variety of the cutters that my long time friend Cor van Horne made when he built the machine.


Our plan is for John and me to feature and demonstrate this machine at the upcoming Working Wood in the 18th Century conference at Colonial Williamsburg in early 2018.

Meeting Friends at EWS

David Barron Furniture - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 5:02am

One of the nicest things about going to shows is to catch up with old friends!

Categories: Hand Tools

Forums, Magazine Misinformation & Screws with Dale Barnard – 360w360 E.251

360 WoodWorking - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 4:10am
Forums, Magazine Misinformation & Screws with Dale Barnard – 360w360 E.251

In this episode of 360 with 360WoodWorking I asked Dale Barnard to join us again to talk about his (and some of my) pet peeves. He’s written blogs on many of these topics. We discuss woodworking forums, some misinformation found in woodworking magazines and screws. He likes drywall screws. Me, not so much. But we reach a mutual understanding.

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

Continue reading Forums, Magazine Misinformation & Screws with Dale Barnard – 360w360 E.251 at 360 WoodWorking.

New Tool from Bridge City… Clue #6

Bridge City Tools - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 2:07am

Drivel Starved Nation!

I know, this is hard!

This part is 210mm in length. And, it serves several purposes, one of which is in conjunction with an earlier clue…

For those of you who follow this Totally Awesome and Worthless Blog (about 4.2 billion people when I last didn’t check) you know that when we use the color red in our products, there is a reason…


The post New Tool from Bridge City… Clue #6 appeared first on John's Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Grrr, **&$^&%#@#!*(%)^$#@.....

Accidental Woodworker - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 1:35am
It's been quite a while so I should be thankful for that but I'm still pissed off. Another fender bender, rear end accident involving two pick up trucks on way home tonight. Route ten was bumper to bumper from the Union Ave exit up to the Reservoir Ave exit. That is about 2-3 miles and with no accidents it takes about 3 minutes to travel. Tonight it was 45 minutes.

As I see it these two cost me 40 minutes of shop time that I can't get back. Losing this time and sitting in traffic, which I like about as much as stabbing a fork into my right eye repeatedly, put me in a real crappy frame of mind. I really look forward to time in the shop after work to decompress. Dealing with sick veterans and ones that pass on all day at work sucks. I need this time in the shop after work to clear my head. The young ones bother me the most and lately I've noticed the passing of a lot veterans close to my age.

final length for the foot
I had to revise what I wanted to get done tonight. The feet, bearers, and stretchers needed to be sawn to finished length.

bearers and stretchers final length
The outside width of the uprights will be 23 1/2". Taking into account the mortise depth and the thickness of the uprights, this is the length of the bearers and stretchers.

finding the center - two diagonals and a square line
layout for the mortise on the foot
No measuring stick errors doing it this way.

almost time to quit
I got almost nothing done and I was hoping to get at least two foot mortises chopped. That won't be happening tonight sports fans.

the chopping chisel
This is the chisel I'm going to chop the four mortises with. I did some chopping on a cutoff and it did ok. I'm sure it'll do even better once I sharpen and hone it. I started by touching up the back.

the bevel is wonky looking
I tried sharpening these for few times by hand it shows. Tonight is the first time in years it's been in a honing guide. There isn't enough time tonight to establish a good 30° bevel. I'll have to do that tomorrow on the 80 grit runway. The bevel as it is now, has 3 facets but it doesn't look a diamond.

last pattern
This is going to be a half pattern for the detail at the top of the upright. I like 1/2 patterns because they make for a symmetrical full pattern. You have to flip to complete so it takes an extra step but I don't mind that. This way also allows for me shift into anal mode and refine and polish just a half rather than a whole.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Fort Dearborn became what Illinois city?
answer - Chicago

Hey moron did I pass?

Journeyman's Journal - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 11:43pm

I got an email yesterday from someone saying I didn’t make those mistakes on purpose. Seriously, do you have nothing better to do with your life than call people liars?  Just to prove mines bigger than yours I made some new dovetails. Well moron did I pass? Am I a craftsman now?  Will you be sending me a merits badge? You should be happy I named the pictures after you, moron_1 and moron_2.

I know I should ignore people like that but today was a test of patience day and I ran on empty.


Categories: Hand Tools

Solving the Sticking Legs

The Barn on White Run - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 5:43pm

As we left our intrepid adventure, all four legs of the FORP workbench were bound in place, unable to move fore or aft.  The effort to seat them with a hydraulic bottle jack and the weight of the building was inadequate but that episode opened an avenue for contemplation.  Namely, how about constructing a frame to capture both the feet of the legs and the hydraulic jack against the slab top?

Brilliant! sez I, and I set about making one such device from oak 6x6s and framing 2x4s.  I placed the lower 6×6 cross piece underneath the feet at one end of the bench and captured the bottle jack with the other 6×6 above the slab.  Good concept, poor execution.  The corners were pinned with 1/4″ lag bolts, which almost immediately bent to such a degree that the unit was not functional.

For the next iteration I ripped a pile of surplus 3/4″ CDX plywood into 5″ wide strips, the fashioned them into a more robust frame what was three pieces for the stiles and seven pieces for the beams, all glued and screwed with four 1/2″ carriage bolts holding each corner together.

I held my breath as I maneuvered the bench and the frame to their respective locations, placed the bottle jack directly over one of the legs  with a metal bar at the top to transfer the force to the frame and started pumping the lever arm.  The results were almost immediate and immensely gratifying as I worked my way around the bench from leg to leg.  With each new stroke of the handle the legs would be driven into the mortises about 3/16.”  In about 30 minutes I had all four legs seated and a huge note of thanks for the person who invented the portable hydraulic jack.

At “peak compression” I noted that even the seven-layer beam deflected almost a half inch due to the force.

Finally the bench was on its feet, with zero wobble and clearly no need for glue in the joints.  I installed the stretchers and the shelf, and having already completed the game of Tetris required to move it where it was going and the six steps of moving other things to make it happen, including four other workbenches to new locations,  with two 8-foot workbenches being hoisted to the fourth floor, and the 450 lb. FORP bench slid easily to its new home.

I will wedge the through-tenons next week and true the top next spring after it goes through the winter in its new, heated home.  I have not yet decided what to do about spacing the holdfast holes, or installing the planing stop and leg vise.

Stay tuned.  At least I now own a killer hydraulic press frame.

Making an infill plane from scratch 6, assembling the body.

Mulesaw - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 3:14pm
I bolted the two sides together to be able to dress the edges evenly on both pieces at the same time.
There was a little bit of metal left from the sawing, but all in all it went pretty fast.

This was where the exiting part started. There wasn't really much more I could do except trying to assemble the pieces.
The sides went on with a few taps from a plastic faced hammer, and then it was a question of mustering a bit of courage and start peening the metal.

A couple of small clamps would have been nice, but we haven't got any on this ship, so I found a pair of pliers that could work for the initial holding.
The side that was to be peened was mounted securely in the vice, and I started hammering.
I had no idea if I had hammered adequately, too much or too little, but I could feel that the side had become attached to the sole. After peening all the tails, I was astonished by how solid the plane felt. Like one single unit.
I peened the protruding pins a bit as well for good measure, and then it was back to more sawing and filing..

After quite a bit of work, the plane no longer looked like a hammering exercise, but more like a plane body.
I discovered a few places where the dovetails were not as tight as I would have liked them to be, but overall I am happy with the result.
There is still a long way to go to make it a shiny plane, but at least it has got the shape. A belt sander would have come in pretty handy, but lacking one, a file can still do the job.

I would like to thank Peter McBride for an excellent page with a bunch of useful information on building infill planes. I am sorry that I have forgotten to mention that site before, but it has been a great source of inspiration for this project.

Assembled plane body after first filing.

Plane body.

Dressing the edges.

After peening the metal.

Categories: Hand Tools

New Tool from Bridge City Tool Works Identified!

Bridge City Tools - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 2:36pm

Drivel Starved Nation!

We have our two winners who identified what I have been working on over the past 7 months. Now watch it make me the laughing stock of the internet.

It’s called Pencil Perfection and here is what you can do with it;

I have some commitments that will keep me out of the office until next Monday, but when I return, I will share the story behind our winners, this project and what it means to me and hopefully you too.


The post New Tool from Bridge City Tool Works Identified! appeared first on John's Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

‘Carving the Acanthus Leaf’ Off to the Printer

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 10:06am


Mary May’s first book “Carving the Acanthus Leaf” has been delivered to the printer and we will open pre-publication ordering on Friday.

The book will be $49 (which includes shipping in the United States and Canada). All customers who place pre-publication orders through Lost Art Press will also receive a free download of a pdf of the book. The book should ship before Thanksgiving.

This is a massive book. It’s 336 pages and filled with more than 1,000 full-color step photos and illustrations demonstrating how to carve 13 different acanthus leaves, from an understated Scandinavian version, to the classic Greek to the gorgeous Renaissance-style leaf. Woodworkers of all skills – from the beginner to the seasoned carver – will find lots of techniques explored and explained.


“Carving the Acanthus Leaf” will be a hardbound book with a tear-resistant dust jacket. The binding will be sewn and glued so the book will sit flat on the bench for many years without the pages coming loose.

We will have more details on the content – including a free excerpt – on Friday. As always, we will offer this book to our retailers across the globe but it is up to them to stock it. So I don’t have any information on who will carry it.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Filed under: Carve the Acanthus with Mary May, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Plymouth CRAFT workshop in October

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 6:40am

With Greenwood Fest taking center stage in the Plymouth CRAFT calendar, there is an understandable quiet period in the summer, just after the Fest. But now autumn is here, and we’re back at it. Along with Pret Woodburn and Rick McKee, I’ll be teaching a 2-day class; Riving & Hurdlemaking Weekend in late October; https://www.plymouthcraft.org/riving-hurdlemaking-weekend

An alternative name for this class could be froe, hatchet and drawknife. But even that leaves bits out. Here’s Rick using the riving brake to shave pieces with the drawknife…

This class is an excellent introduction to the ancient method of riving your work-pieces directly from a log, and using simple edge tools to produce your stock for a project. In our case, it’s a garden fence called a “hurdle.” When I first started green woodworking, these were the methods I learned to make ladderback chairs. The 2-day format precludes us making a chair, hence the hurdles.

The workshop takes place outside of Pinecones, part of the Pinewoods Dance Camp where we hold our Greenwood Fest in the spring. The link above tells the details, you can opt to stay at Pinewoods in one of the cabins – it’s a great setting.

We’ll cover the structure of the wood, why we split it this way & that. How to shave it, hew it – the proper shapes of the various tools and equipment like shaving horses, riving brakes, etc. Lots to cover, and a real eye-opener to many who think wood comes from the store or lumberyard.

Here’s a group shot with the nearly-finished hurdles…


There’s other classes coming up in the fall and into the winter. Spoon carving, German holiday baking & more. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/


Ten Ways I am Doing Things Differently - Part 3

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 4:00am

I've been working with wood since I was a kid. I took my first woodworking class at the 92nd Street Y when I was 6 years old. I've been taking classes and building stuff for over 35 years. For the last 17 I have been working at Tools for Working Wood. In that time, new tools and new techniques have come on the market. By and large I have ignored them in my personal work. However, I haven't ignored everything, and my methods of work have in certain areas changed dramatically for the better. I've broken up my list of ten things into three posts so I don't drone on and on here. This is Part 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here

CBN Wheels

When I was I school, we would go out of our way not to grind anything. The grinding wheel was smooth, the sharpening jig was very hard to set up, and without exercising extreme care, burning the tool was the norm. Around 2003 or so, Barry Iles of Ashley Iles Edge Tools taught me how to grind like a pro. (I later wrote about this technique for Fine Woodworking magazine and on my blog. This was a revelation for me and I started hollow grinding everything. Most of my sharpening kit became unnecessary. I helped develop the Norton 3X wheels which use seeded gel technology for cooler grinding, and they were a big step forward too. Then a few years ago I heard about CBN wheels, which are aluminum wheels with CBN crystals bonded to them. This innovation was great. The new wheels ran cooler than the 3X wheels and required no maintenance. No dressing or anything! The only trade-offs that I can think of are that they cost a lot more than regular wheels; you can't use them for non-ferrous metals (they clog); and they don't have the crown that Barry Iles showed me makes grinding so easy. I had some crowned CBN wheels made and I was sold! The non-ferrous problem is solved by changing only one wheel on a grinder to CBN. The cost is still, understandably, a deterrent to lots of people, but if you have the budget I cannot imagine why you would not switch.

The next couple of items are all tied together in how I make joints now vs thirty years ago.

Pistol Grip Saws

I learned on gent's saws. Gent's saws have two advantages for beginners: they are inexpensive and they are easier to use than a lot of other options. By easier to use, I mean easier to saw straight with. However, the straight handle, which great for enabling sawing straight, does so at a compromise is speed and comfort. I currently use our Gramercy dovetail saw. It seems as easy to use as a gent's saw but with more comfort and power.

Cutting Waste with a Coping Saw

I was taught to chisel dovetail waste out. It's not hard. I know a lot of people who use fret saws to remove most of the waste of a through dovetail. It does make chiseling to the final base line a little easier, but I have always hated the fragile blades. Using a bow saw or a coping saw isn't as straightforward. You kind of have to do two cuts, and the baseline needs to be chiseled anyway. It's a lot faster than using a fretsaw and you don't break blades. Start on one side of the waste, a little in from the edge of the joint, saw diagonally down until you touch - but not cut into - the saw kerf on the opposite side of the joint. Then, starting on that side, cut straight across the waste, removing the bulk of it all. BTW, the secret to a good coping saw is a sharp good blade.

No Layout Dovetails

When I studied woodworking, we measured compulsively. We spent weeks carefully cutting to a line and then chiseling out. As I have written in recent blogs, I discovered that the less I thought about it, the easier it was to saw straight. It was a huge wake-up call for me. My new model is treating sawing dovetails and everything else like a sport, in which practice, follow through, and instinct trump compulsive attention to analytic detail. This is the approach I use in my classes. We have had great success, and I can't imagine going back thee other way. It's true that there are some joints that do require compulsive measurement - a twisted dovetail for example - but once the hand skill are practiced, and the muscles know what they are doing, scribe lines and measurement became a welcome guide instead of an impossible standard to meet.

Has your woodworking changed over the years too? I welcome your comments.

New week - Number 10.

saw donkeys pt III.......

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 1:15am
The last few days have been warm (83°F+/28°C+) with a corresponding uptick in humidity too. Soaked a T-shirt last night and tonight planing the saw donkey parts. It would have been more bearable but the motor in my big box fan went south last week so no more breeze in the shop. Nothing like the nice acrid smell of burning insulation to wrinkle the nose. Pretty soon I'll be going from sweating to wearing a sweatshirt in the shop.

I think I got this right
A friend at work asked me how I was going to get reliable joinery with just one reference face and edge. I think the answer is pretty easy. This the basic layout of the saw donkey sans the other upright and foot. The reference face on the upright and the foot is facing up. With the stretcher and top bearer it doesn't matter but I'm putting the reference edge facing up.

tenon on the stretcher and mortise in the foot
The tenon will be laid out from the reference face. The opposite side cheek doesn't matter. It is the front one that has to be parallel and straight with the reference face on the foot. I can plane any differences that happen on the back. The mortise in the foot will be laid out from the reference face too.

these hold the saw donkeys together
If the faces on the two uprights are twisted it will be difficult to get these two to line up squarely from one side to the other.  I will be marking and chiseling shallow mortises in the upright for the top bearer and stretcher to seat in. I will square up the top of it to the reference edge and make the reference face parallel to the upright reference edge. The opposite face won't matter because I will knife it's line directly onto the upright. This is driving why the reference faces are in rather than out.

repeat the same dance steps on the opposite side
I will align the top bearer and stretcher reference face with the upright reference edge. That will ensure the reference faces on the bearers/stretchers are parallel to the upright reference edge.

I'll plane both edges square to the reference face
The stretcher serves two functions. It will keep the uprights parallel and rigid. The second function is as a shelf. I will be able to utilize this to lay boards on for temporary storage for stock waiting their turn to be played with.

I'm using the same measurements I have my 4x4 saw donkeys. The height of them is 28 1/2" (I'm 5'10") so your mileage with this may vary up or down.

width of the 4x4 donkeys
If I keep the top bearers/stretchers at this length, these will be a couple of inches wider than the 4x4 donkeys. I don't see a problem with that and I don't think the extra inches will be a hindrance.

got all the stock planed
I am going to plane both edges on the top bearers and the stretchers. That will make it easier to layout and mark for the mortises in the uprights. These will sticker for one more day before I start chopping and sawing on them.

fingers crossed
I checked each upright (I planed them last night) to see if my reference surfaces were still twist free. I checked both the face and the edges and there was much joy times 8.

new marking knife
I got it from the Japan Woodworker and it is a right hand beveled marking knife. I have used a spear point for several years and in all that time I only used one bevel. No need for two as I don't use my left hand to mark.

The back of the knife is hollow ground. This should prove to be interesting as this will be my first experience with this kind of knife.

my Paul Sellers mortising guide
 I needed something to try out the new knife and this was handy. It lays right on the lay out line.

the other side too
This is ready to go for chopping the foot mortises. I may have to cut it down a bit but I'll wait and see how much I need with the chisel in place. And the new marking knife marks a wickedly sharp line.

about the same size
This knife is crazy sharp. It is sharper than any marking knife I have ever used or sharpened. The catalog said that it came with sharpening instructions but I had nothing in the box but this and brown paper. I'll figure it out without the instructions by trial and error.

I'll keep these together for now
found some big ass wheels
where they came from
This cabinet used to be where I had my Hitachi chopsaw.  That it is long gone and I didn't need mobility with the cabinet anymore.

those wheels are overkill for this
Bob commented on putting the toolbox on wheels. Putting wheels on this would be a pain because of the skirt. That would involve building it up and it is not something I want to do. However, he also wrote to put it on a dolly which I do like. It'll raise it up more off the deck. Harbor Freight has a good selection of caster wheels in stock. I'll make a road trip there on sunday and pick up a set of four. I can hear my back thanking me already.

plenty of room here
I put the stretcher up high on this for leg room. It's a desk/dining table my daughter used when she was in grad school living in a teeny apartment. After the move from her 3rd apartment, she didn't have the room for it anymore so I got it back.

I'll have to work up some dolly plans on my lunchtime. Maybe the first use of the new donkeys will be making that.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who was the last US President to wait 4 months after his inauguration before assuming office?
answer - Franklin Delano Roosevelt (his first term in 1933)

Bridge City New Tool Clue#5

Bridge City Tools - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 10:00pm

Drivel Starved Nation,

Keep thinking!

This milled and anodized aluminum part looks similar yes/no?

I am happy to share it is exactly 300mm in length.


The post Bridge City New Tool Clue#5 appeared first on John's Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

When The Barn Isn’t Heavy Enough

The Barn on White Run - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 5:40pm

Getting back into the shop after harvesting juncus I was anticipating installing the legs on the French Oak Roubo Project workbench after having it wait on me for more than fours years.  The joinery was all done, the repairs completed, and all looked well.  The first few whacks on the bottom of the legs (the bench was upside down) produced pleasing results, and we flipped the bench over the finish driving them home from the top.

A few good moments of movement, then, nothing.  No mount of persuasion would budge the legs any more than about halfway in.  Even with my 12 lb. sledge nothing was moving.  On any of the four legs.  So I tried driving them back out to fiddle with the joint shoulders.  Nothing happened.  No matter how hard I beat on it.  A cold clammy sweat began prickling me all over.

Then a stroke of genius came down.  How about if I used a hydraulic bottle jack and placed it under the bridge between the two balconies with a 6×6 post filling the excess space?  I practically dislocated something patting myself on the back for that one.

The first attempts revealed the propensity for the jack force to lift up the bridge beams.  No big deal, I just cut 4×4 spacers to fit between the top of the bridge beams and the barn frame, essentially bring the entire weight of the barn into the equation.

I began to have some results as I levered the 12-ton jack and could hear and see the legs creeping into their mortises.  Then I started hearing creaks from places far away, and rapidly backed off when I realized that the process was literally inflicting enough force to potentially tear the barn apart.

Back to the drawing board.

Square Neck, Round Neck

Owyhee Mountain Fiddle Shop - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 4:41pm

Shaping the neck is one of the toughest jobs for me.  It's the one place the musician actually touches the instrument, and that is with the hand, probably the most sensitive spot for touch on the human body.  Any bump or dip or other weirdness in the neck is easily found and soon becomes annoying.

For the violin maker, the neck is further complicated by the usual material, highly figured maple.  It likes to flake out, chip out, at the worst possible place.  As is common, I use a saw to make a series of cuts arong the neck, using the Japanese saw in the background, center right.  After that, I then chip it out with a chisel and mallet.  I use a cheap, but easy to sharpen chisel and a wooden mallet, shown here on the left of the photo here.

My experience has taught me two things about myself.  First, in any series of cuts, I'll make one too deep, cutting into material that I actually didn't intend to cut into and then wishing I could then go back in time and yell "Stop" at myself.

The other is that no matter how careful I am with the chisel, I am going to get too close to the final surface and chip out a bit of flamed maple.  There's really no good way to glue one of these little pieces back in, if you can find it among the debris on the bench or floor.

So, now I don't cut as deep with the saw.  I don't take such big swipes with the chisel.  And I'm left with a surface that is a bit farther away from the finished edge.  That's where the big rasp comes in.  This one has coarse teeth and is heavy and long enough to hold with both hands, one on either end.  I can push and take off a decent amount of material without too much fear of chip-out, and it's wide enough that I am getting the beginnings of the smooth surface a musician will not even notice.

Plenty of rasps fill this need.  This particular one I got from Stewart-MacDonald, which they call "Dragon Hand-cut Rasp, Large, Coarse."  You could do worse. 

By the way, I paid full retail for this rasp, and am not being repaid by Stewart-MacDonald or anyone else.  A good tool is worth its price.
Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery

Making an infill plane from scratch 5, shaping the sides

Mulesaw - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 3:18pm
I continued my infill plane build by filing the remaining dovetails on the last side of the plane. After a test fit much like on two pieces of wood where you press the parts around half way, I again turned my attention to the sole of the plane.

I filed a tail like depression on the pins, so that I have a recess that I can peen the metal into and lock the parts together.
This was a really quick job.

Next I laid out the shape of the sides and the positions for the holes.
I have decided to deviate from my original idea of a 45 degree angle. Instead I'll aim for a 50 degree angle. That way the plane shouldn't look too much like a Stanley copy.
This meant that I had to alter the measurements of the sides as well. I did it on the fly, and since I won't be making multiples of this plane, it really doesn't matter much what the measurements are, as long as it looks OK.
Oh and the entire plane will be 1/8" lower than on the drawing, because I forgot to take into account that I needed some metal for peening when I made the drawing. So again a small alteration from the original idea.

I honestly hadn't given any thought about the position of the holes for the infills, so I more or less drilled them in the middle of the vacant space above the sole.
The rivets will be 1/4" (6 mm), because we happen to have some round steel bar of that dimension. Since the sides are also made of steel, the rivets will not show very prominently as opposed to a plane with brass sides and using steel rivets. So that is at least one good thing about building a plane like this in a cheap fashion.

Finally I sawed the outline of the shape of the sides. Tomorrow I plan to dress the sides with a file, and try to get everything smooth.

Sides drilled together.

Sides and sole together.
Sole showing the filed "tail depressions"

Categories: Hand Tools


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