Archive

Coming Soon: A Handmade Dustpan

Almost every plastic or aluminum dustpan I’ve used has been disappointing. The aluminum ones bend too easily and make it impossible to capture fine dust. And plastic ones are just that: plasticy. So like any half-decent woodworker, I set out this fall to build my own. Shopmade dustpans were once a common sight, so it’s not like my idea is original. But finding plans for a rotating dustpan with a […]

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Cool Nailmaking Video from Austria

Blacksmith Peter Ross recently sent me a link to the video below that shows production nailmaking of shoe nails in a town in Austria. These guys are working at breakneck speed – forget those modern videos you see of amateur smiths working in their garages. If you’ve never read about pre-industrial nail production, it was a hard life. In the United Kingdom and its colonies, nailmaking was many times a […]

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Stop Spelching with an Unlikely Ally: Sandpaper

When you shoot end grain with a handplane, you have to be wary of spelching – when the end grain breaks off at the end of your stroke. There are several ways to avoid spelching; one of the quick ways is to use sandpaper. This trick works best when you are just trying to clean up some end grain by removing tool marks. If you are instead trying to correct […]

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The Best Way to Stamp Your Work or Tools

A name stamp is a great investment to mark your tools as your own, especially if you attend woodworking classes or work in a shop with others. It’s also a good way to stamp your finished workpieces for posterity. Most woodworkers, however, approach the task like Thor might. They raise their hammer high and swing a mighty blow against the stamp to do the deed in one whack. And they […]

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Use Hardboard Templates Instead of Prototypes

If I had the extra time and material, I’d build a full-blown prototype of every new design I create. Prototypes let you see in three-dimensions all the mistakes and awkwardness you cannot see on a two-dimensional plan. And fixing the design is usually obvious when you have a prototype on your workbench. As much as I love prototypes, they are not always necessary or even possible. So here is what […]

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Woe be it to the Double-Wide Workbench

Perhaps it’s the American love for excess. But no matter how many examples I cite or pleas I make, most beginning woodworkers seek to build workbenches that are entirely too wide. Most historical workbenches are 18” to 22” wide – and they are that wide for functional reasons that I’ll explain in a minute. And yet, sawyers I know who cut slabs for benches are regularly asked for 32”-wide slabs […]

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Up Your Game with the ‘Make Pretty’

When you make furniture in order to eat or meet a deadline (such as birthdays), it’s difficult to stop yourself from crossing the finish line as soon as possible. Years ago I discovered that taking a day to simply “make pretty” did wonders for my work. What’s “make pretty?” It’s an expression I first heard from chairmaker Peter Galbert to describe how he fusses all the little details of his […]

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