22 February 2010


This time a sizable project,  but not much woodworking.  Doing some home renovation, I assembled a kitchen made by a famous Swedish cabinetmaker.

Circular saw
As my older Bosch circular saw has problems to cut a straight line, even with a guide, I got frustrated enough to buy a, cheaper than Festool, Makita plunge saw with rail. I got it at destocking price from Netherland, but nevertheless it was was time to regret I did not jump on the cheap second-hand Festool plunge saw I spotted back in September.  The plunge saw worked very well,  certainly for the cut outs. I could have done them with a jigsaw, but not without any stress, as the lowest point of the blade tend to wander left or right when I cut. As an afterthought, it is probably the cheapish blade I bought for the Bosch circular saw, to replace my old original 10 tooth blade, that gave the problem  .

17 February 2010

Tram renovation

Visiting Han and using the old (1905 & 1968) 4 km track that is still in service (300 000 passengers/year). I could see that the old wooden open carriages have been completely rebuild. This carriage is from 1994 and made in the local repair workshop.  Apparently they know how to curve wood in this shop.

An interesting detail is the floor cut around the post supports.  My guess is that in the original (? <1950) version the supports were set on top of the floor,  as the design is to rounded and irregular for an easy cut out.  But that after years of use the floor started to rot.  The only way to repair it would have been to cut out all the, by then rusted, bolts and to lift the roof as a whole.  In this version,  the floor can be replaced without touching the roof.  And the roof posts will not start to move down or tilt when the floor is weakening.

15 February 2010

Minimal project

While I was trying to clean up my workshop, my son wanted a piece of scrap-wood to make a 'real' sword, even if I had already allowed him to wield my bokken (a Japanese wooden  sword or is it sabre). So two half lap joints and some glue later, he has his sword. As a single joint project, it is a minimum in woodworking.
Although when I bought the bokken it became a zero joints project. I removed every sharp edge with sandpaper and shortened the point with a file to make it blunt. After that I scraped the remaining varnish and oiled the wood. I was quite happy with the quality of the wood as it supported every (ab)use and never splintered or broke over the years. The crack in the handle is what made it cheap, and will probably give a blister if you wield it the whole day. The bokken is shown here without tsuba (guard). I only used the tsuba on provincial-national meetings where you never know witch kind of sparring tradition your training partner has in mind.

14 February 2010

Crooked hat

Looking for some pictures about workbenches,  I found a different set made last (rainy) summer. A ....  low six sided  pyramidal roof with copper crooked hat top. I should take a picture of the more traditional pyramidal roof with onion top next time.

Workbench height

Christopher Schwarz  'raises' (96cm or 38inch) the question of workbench height when making dovetails, through his blog.

After reading his older proposals (palm height = 80 cm) I went out to check a few workbenches.  I found an old bench set at 86 cm,  measured the tables of a cnc cabinet shop as high as 100 cm.
In my chop I have a metalworkers vise fixed on a table.  The vise is hard for wood but is comfortable to saw,  so I was happy to find a proposal to set the height of a workbench to elbow minus 10 cm = 100 cm.

Looking for vises on the second hand list, I found a few examples of older metal vises. I guess that some wooden vises were also made, standing proud on the workbench, but it is less likely they survived
[edit] There is an example of such a vice in one of the blog entries of Christopher Schwarz, and in old movies. In later posts he looked for a solution by promoting the  Moxon Double-screw Vise,  offering the advantage of a removable seup.

Minimal toolset - 3

Checking the I Can Do That toollist, I see that it is completely covered, mainly through my existing tool set .  I added a 'cheap as chips' biscuit joiner and miter saw.  Found a pocket hole kit from Wolfcraft through amazon.de .  The Wolfcraft kit is based on the Pozidriv #1 bit and and as such different to the Kreg square bits although the same shouldered 9,5mm drill is used.
I tried to go kit less, but  the use of a shouldered drill is a necessity to make a pocket hole.  The Philips and the square screwdrivers are also replaced by a Pozidriv as this is the main standard here.
  • combination square 
  • tape measure
  • jigsaw
  • coping saw 
  • miter saw
  • circular saw
  • drill (corded or cordless) 
  • rasp and file
  • random orbit sander + #100 #150 #200
  • block plane
  • two sided oilstone + oil
  • biscuit joiner or pocket hole kit 
  • hammer and nail set
  • bit screwdriver with bits: small, medium and large slotted, #1 and #2  Pozidriv
  • workmate
  • clamps 
Addition 1: Guiding rail for the circular saw.  I lost patience and got one

Addition 2: Router  After looking at a finish carpenter toolset,  the main difference was the router.

Addition 3: Jack plane and scraper (and burnisher).  After seeing the FWW Surface prep: power sanders against handplanes, as handtools are sometimes more fun

Addition 4: A standard (back)saw or even an eastern model, to make (half lap) joints.  No carpenter without a saw. And chisels, a few chisels and a mallet, please.

Remove 1:  Honing oil as John Juranitch agrees with a coarse-fine method, but claims that oil is worse than useless.  Adding a sharpening guide as "There is just no comparison between the results you get when using our guide and sharpening free-handed" 

06 February 2010

Minimal toolset - 2

Finding minimal and not so minimal handtool sets on the web is not a problem.  This time I take three of them side by side.
- I already had Dan's minimal lists (from his full - smaller - smallest list)
- Christopher Schwarz proposes and used a minimal handtool set based on "The Joiner and Cabinet Maker".
- Mitchell (The Part-Time Woodworker) lists a carpenter toolbox started in the fourties, not minimal but certainly not excessive.

Marking & Measuring Tools
CS: try square - chalk line - 2' Folding rule - marking gauge - panel gauge - wooden straightedge - marking knife
Dan: 6” square - framing square with Veritas Square Fence - awl - pencils - marking knife - 6’ folding rule - marking gauge (cutting)
PTW: Sand’s craft rafter square 24” - Stanley #21 combination try and miter square - Stanley #20 try squares (6” and 10”) - Stanley #94 boxwood folding rule (two) - Stanley bevels (3 different sizes) - Stanley #94 butt gauge - Stanley #77 Mortising Gauge - Stanley #373-3 ½” Butt Marker - Stanley #6 Awl (two)

CS: handsaw - sash saw - dovetail saw - bowsaw
Dan:  20” cross-cut panel saw (12 tpi) - 26” rip saw (5 ½ tpi) - cross-cut back saw (12 tpi)
PTW: Disston 28” straight-back rip - Disston 26” skewback cross - Disston 20” skewback cross panel - Disston 14” back

CS: tack plane - trying plane - smoothing plane - rabbet plane - plow plane - (router plane) - bench chisels - 1/4" mortising chisel
Dan: Stanley # 5 jack plane - Stanley #18 block plane - drawknife - card scraper - 1/4" & 3/4" chisel
PTWStanley #9 ½ plane - Stanley #4 plane - Stanley #7 plane - Stanley #78 plane - Stanley #28 & #29 cornering tools - Stanley #82 scraper - Stanley #720 Chisels (a set of five)

Other Tools
CS: mallet - hammer - nailset - bradawl - brace and bits - turnscrew - file - Steel plate (for clinching and straightening nails)
Dan: half-round single cut file - 8” brace - auger bits - twist bit - claw hammer - nail set - Phillips head and flat screwdrivers
PTW: Stanley #150 Open Front Miter. Box - Stanley #40 Screwdrivers (a set of five) - Millers Falls #610A Spiral Screwdriver - Stanley Ratchet Bit Brace (2) - Irwin Bits (a complete set in a canvas roll) - Stanley #232 Aluminum Level - Stanley #87 Line Level - Hammers (2; one framing and one for trim) - Nail Sets (many) - Wrecking Bar - Nail Pull - Sharpening Stones (two)

Shopmade Appliances
CS: sawbenches - shooting board - bench hook
Dan: workbench - sawbench
PTW: toolbox

01 February 2010

Paring chisel

I discoverd Roy Underhill's site and broadcasts this weekend. I am impressed by his sometimes encyclopaedic presentations,  in some ways he's Pieter Bruegel's younger brother.  A good example is the presentation about dovetails. ( Later on I discovered he did a similar presentation also with Frank Klausz ,  as shown on the video excerpt on Sandal Woods)

One of the techniques presented is the use of a paring chisel.  Described as a thin long chisel, that should not be abused by a mallet.  Holes for example are squared by using a narrow paring chisel pushed downward. Looking the way Roy uses the chisel there is a reason for the length.  When paring the arm is completely bend with the elbow close to the body, and the chisel is rather pulled downward and not pushed with stretched arm.  Resting the shoulder on the chisel could be used for extra strength,  but I doubt he does it, as it does not seem very precise.  The extra advantage of bend arms is that the eyes are closer to the working surface.

Paring chisels are not in all catalogues, although I did find a reference on the Axminster (UK) site.  The price seems two times that of a standard chisel.  Luckily Lie Nielsen paves the way to a cheap alternative (...?).  Their version of paring chisels are very sturdy long handled models.  So following this road,  a possibility is to replace the handle of a standard chisel with a longer one to make a paring chisel.  The remaining problem would be the need for high quality sharpening, but that's another story.