Archive

Hand Tools: What is Most Common is Most Precious

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At the beginning of a hand tool class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, one of the students stopped me as I was passing by his bench. “I have a question for you,” he said. “What is this plane for?” He held up a chisel plane. “I thought it looked really useful,” he said, “maybe for planing tapers on legs.” I knew I was about to break his heart. […]

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Hand Tools: What is Most Common is Most Precious

jack_plane_IMG_4949

At the beginning of a hand tool class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, one of the students stopped me as I was passing by his bench. “I have a question for you,” he said. “What is this plane for?” He held up a chisel plane. “I thought it looked really useful,” he said, “maybe for planing tapers on legs.” I knew I was about to break his heart. […]

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The Myth of Wiping Wet Glue

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The craft is clogged with so many counter-productive myths and practices that someone could make a career out of a “Mythbusters”-like approach to woodworking. If I could eliminate one myth from the national wood-consciousness, it would be that you shouldn’t wipe off wet glue from a joint and should let it set to a more solid state. Lots of people – including glue technologists and working craftsmen – have studied […]

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When Rasps Aren’t Fine (or Small) Enough

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For curved and sculptural work, nothing beats a good rasp. But there are many times that I need to do precise and fine work that most rasps aren’t capable of (at least the rasps I’ve seen or can afford). So I make my own custom sanding sticks using sticky-back sandpaper from the home center plus some dowels and scraps. Today I’m finishing up an English Layout Square for a customer […]

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Shaker Workbench No. 2 at Pleasant Hill

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The first workbench I encountered at Pleasant Hill was a little non-standard by Shaker standards, but the second workbench was unusual by most any measuring stick for modern workbenches. It is a bit Roman, a bit English and has a lot of other interesting details worth thinking about. Let’s take a look at some of them. Why is it Romanesque? The earliest workbenches typically lacked stretchers between the legs. This […]

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Shaker Workbench No. 1 at Pleasant Hill

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When most people discuss Shaker workbenches, they conjure up images of massive cabinets with drawers and doors that are topped by a workbench top – plus a tail vise, leg vise and probably a sliding deadman. This form of workbench shows up in many of the East Coast Shaker communities, but in the Western communities, I have yet to see a bench exactly like this. At the Whitewater Shaker village […]

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You Can Own the Rulers of the Ancient World

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How we measure the world around us is a reflection of how our society interacts with the world. To wit: The metric system is, in my opinion, the most efficient way to gauge everything around us. And that is exactly why I dislike it so. It is a system based on base-10 efficiency and little else. If you spend any time investigating ancient measurement systems, you find that they are […]

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The Amazing Finger-jointed Block System

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As a kid I had every manner of toys that allowed me to build stuff, from my grandfather’s set of wooden blocks to Lincoln Logs, LEGO, Spinwelder, Girder and Panel, Erector sets and on and on. But I never had Crandall’s Improved Building Blocks for Children. This fascinating system of components is based on the machine-made finger joint to allow children to build anything in their imagination with the help […]

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