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The Best $139 I’ve Spent on my Bench

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After 19 years of building workbenches and testing workholding devices, I am darn picky about what equipment I have on my benches. In truth, I don’t have a lot of vises on my benches because I prefer simple workholding. But when it comes to my leg vise – the most important part of my bench – I am an absolute fool for Benchcrafted’s Crisscross. Paired with the company’s Classic vise […]

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How to Avoid Hours of Handplaning

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The trick to becoming fast at handplaning is to never pause during stock preparation. No matter how you prepare your wood for a project (with machines, handplanes or some combination of the two) the biggest mistake you can make is to stop during the process for even an hour. Once you joint and plane the stock, you should take it as far as you can – even if that means […]

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Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 10: Abranet

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I do almost no power sanding. But I do use abrasives in my work. And the only abrasive I use is Abranet. I hesitate to call it “sandpaper” because it is absolutely nothing like sandpaper. There’s no paper – it’s a woven mesh. And the abrasive is nothing like sand. But it lasts forever, doesn’t clog and leaves a nice surface behind. I purchase the 5” discs in #220-grit and […]

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Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 9: Lie-Nielsen Honing Guide

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Every year I recommend one tool that is a bit spendier than the rest, and this year it is the Lie-Nielsen Honing Guide. Thomas Lie-Nielsen first showed me the prototypes about eight years ago, and it was a long and involved path for the company to get this tool into production. Like the company’s chisels (which took just about as long), the wait was worth it. So you don’t like […]

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Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 8: Better Beeswax

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During the last few years as I have turned my back on finishes with lots of volatile organic compounds, I’ve begun looking for traditional high-quality finishes that won’t shorten my lifespan. I’ve bought a lot of beeswax from a lot of different sources, from national manufacturers to the individual beekeeper. They all work, but the nicest stuff I’ve found is from Don and Carolyn Williams at donsbarn.com. Don has spent […]

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Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 7: Forged Roman-style Nails

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Good nails have been used in fine furniture for centuries. But during the last 100 years, nails have earned a bad reputation among furniture makers. That’s because good nails (cut nails and forged Roman-style nails) disappeared and were replaced by wire nails. Wire nails are cheap, don’t need a pilot hole and don’t hold for crap – and that’s the nicest thing I can say about them. You can still […]

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Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 6: Soap Finish

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This year I have experimented a lot with using a soap finish on chairs and tables. Soap is a traditional Danish finish used on furniture and floors. It’s easy to apply, easy to renew, low on the toxicity scale and leaves a delightful low-sheen finish that is remarkably soft to the touch. The downside? It’s not very durable. After decades of using finishes that require bio-hazard gear, using a simple […]

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Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 5: Veritas Trammel Points

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After 20 years, I finally wore out my grandfather’s Japanese-made trammel points. They were things of beauty, but the micro-adjustable friction mechanism began to slip and nothing could be done to fix it without the help of a machine shop. I’m going to get them repaired, but in the meantime I have lots of arcs to scribe. Megan Fitzpatrick, in a moment of pure generosity, ordered me this set of […]

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Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 4: B’laster Dry Lube

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If you use only hand tools, this isn’t going to interest you much. If you use machines, read carefully. Lubrication makes a huge difference when you work alone. Moving heavy slabs across a jointer, table saw or through a planer can be difficult if you are on your own. For me, the difference between sore muscles and not sore muscles is B’laster Dry Lube, essentially Teflon in a can. No, […]

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Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 3: Starrett No. 92 Compass

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I promise this is not an all-Starrett Christmas. Truth is (I hate to say) the last few things I’ve bought new from Starrett have been disappointing (especially a small pair of dividers). This tool, however, has not been a disappointment. Quite the opposite. For years I struggled with compasses in the shop. They were not hardy enough. They lost their settings. Even the expensive German ones I bought were just […]

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