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Rapid Fire

It’s been a while since my last blog post, but I’ve been far from idle in terms of woodworking. First off, I finished up the new office desk and it works great. The Eastern White Pine is much easier on the elbows than red oak, and sitting on a stool (rather than an Aeron Chair) has helped my posture immensely.

I have since purchased a drafting stool.  

I’m nearing the end of the the bathroom vanity build, which I’ll post in more detail about later in the week. It’s a complicated project in quartersawn white oak that really does a number on my edge tools. I’ve recently switched to a Lie-Nielsen honing guide (which my sister-in-law bought me for the holidays) and the angles don’t match the cheap-o guide I’ve been using forever. They are, in fact, about 5° difference (e.g., 40° on the old guide roughly corresponds to 35° on the LN). 

Sure, I could have soldiered on doing the math every time.  But thinking is the bane of efficiency in the shop.  So I made a new sharpening jig out of sweet, sweet mahogany.  This jig is less complicated too because planes and chisels register in the same slot in the LN guide (the cheap-o guide has different slots for each).


I needed a new notation because it’s really about 35.5°.

Interestingly, the LN guide is also wider.  Or, rather, it doesn’t have the extra material in the middle, so on my largest blades (specifically, for my No. 7 plane), it didn’t register fully and introduced additional error.  About 50% wider did the trick.  


The old guide and the old jig will now live in my toolbox.

Speaking of which, the new tool box is also finished.  It came out really great (if I do say so myself).  It fits a No. 5 jack plane, a tenon saw or half-back saw and all the other accoutrements I may need for on-site work.  And it looks really pretty. 


Compare it to the old tool tote.

I have two complaints about it, though. First, I haven’t found any lifts that I like yet.  Second, the eye on the transom chain anchor gets in the way sometimes, making it a little finicky to remove the tray.  But that’s the cost of storage, I guess.

So that’s all for now.  




Workbench for Sale!

With the modified Stent Panel workbench finished, I officially own too many workbenches to fit in my tiny shop.  And so, as I teased before, my old workbench is officially FOR SALE.  It’s sturdy and conventional and much of the hardware is included.

  • Asking price: $1,000 (cash on hand or paypal). Just trying to make back cost of materials and hardware.
  • Overall dimensions: 90 x 22 x 33.75 (with 3.75″ thick top).
  • Metal face vise and crochet (with screw) included.

Email: for details.  See below for additional specifications and pictures.

You have to pick it up from my home.  No shipping available.


I’ll help you load it in your truck, though.

Detailed specifications:

  • Material: White Ash, other than the vise jaws (which are mahogany) and the tool shelf (which is home center plywood).  Everything raw wood or coated in boiled linseed oil.
  • Benchtop:  90″ long by 22″ wide, 3.75″ thick.  The back 7″ or so of the benchtop is only 3″ thick (there used to be a tool well).  The benchtop is not permanently affixed to the frame and can be disassembled for ease of transport.
  • Frame:  Total height 33.75″.  Total depth 24″.  Undercarriage is about 65″ wide (i.e., the benchtop overhangs the frame by 12″ or so on each end).
  • Included Workholding:  12″ quick release metal face vise (seen immediately below); Veritas low profile planing stop (seen immediately below); crochet with wooden screw (see later pictures); five 1″ red oak bench dogs with bullet catches (see later pictures).
  • Other Notes: Front legs have 3/4″ dog holes for generic benchdogs or Grammercy Tools holdfasts.  The benchtop has 1″ dog holes for Crucible Tool holdfasts.  Holdfasts not included.

To repeat, you must come pick up the bench from my home in lower Fairfield County, Connecticut.  No shipping is available.

Email: for details.  See below for pictures.


This is the workbench for sale.


Metal face vise, Ash crochet with maple screw.  Both included.


Dog hole detail.  Benchtop recently reflattened and reoiled.


Slab top affixed with stub tenons on the front legs and rest on the upper rails.


All mortise and tenon joints in the undercarriage are glued and drawbored.


Benchtop extension is supported by simple shims.



Circle of Life

One of my very first woodworking projects was a king-size bed frame.  Made from Hard Maple and Douglas Fir, there wasn’t a single proper joint init.  Just glue, screws and corner brackets.  I built it over a couple of weekends from dimensional lumber (my only woodworking tool at that point being a miter saw).  I recall it being much too tall.  Between frame, box spring and mattress, it was probably 38″ off the ground.  Getting in and out of bed was a minor acrobatic feat.

But, god damn, was I proud of that bed frame.  the design sprang from my mind and was made reality by my own hands.  Little did I know it would be the first step down a figurative rabbit hole of my newest (and current) obsession.

Alas, the bed did not survive one of my moves.  It was permanently disassembled back in 2014 and, since then, pieces (like the stretchers) were re-purposed for other furniture projects.  And all along, the main pieces of the frame (four hard maple 5/4 x 8’s, each over six feet long) sat in the corner.  Too slathered in dark stain and polyurethane to ever be useful, I thought.

Until now.


I’m pretty sure the glue will hold at this point.

With Spring now sprung, it’s time for serious woodworking again.  Those four hard maple 5/4 x 8’s are now eight hard maple 5/4 x 4’s.  And they are quickly becoming ready for laminating.  Probably into into a single 40 x 16 slab to form the top of a sharpening/grinding station.  But, for now, I’ll leave them at full length and see how thick the final lamination can be.

And the great circle of life begins anew.


Passage of Time…

… as marked on the fence of a shooting board.


Almost 2 years since the last time I squared it up.

It’s been a while since I last posted, and I missed my usual grumpy New Year’s post.  In penance, I’ve kept with the half tails motif on my recent dovetails.  This time for the large sliding tray in my English floor chest.


Fear me, fancy lads!

Two more sliding trays to go, plus wall racks, a saw till and a lid.


Various Miscellany

It’s that time of year again: Autumn in New England.  The most beautiful time of year anywhere in the world.  I’d take New England Fall over any other season in any other location.  It’s also my most productive time of the year for woodworking.  To wit:

The guest room bed frame finally got a coat of paint.  General Finishes Milk Paint is such a joy to apply and I think their Driftwood color goes with anything.  I need to eventually add the chamfer detail on the base of each leg, but it works for now.


Not bad for home center Douglas Fir.

The entire guest room is actually done now, replacement ceiling fan and all.  If it weren’t on the southwest side of the building, I daresay I’d make this the master bedroom.


And I finally found a good place for that blanket chest.  

I also upgraded the workbench a smidge by increasing the capacity on the crochet.  1.75″ just wasn’t enough.  Adding a 0.50″ red oak spacer (a species I find similar to ash in many respects) brings the overall capacity to just over 2.25″.


It’s not a perfect match, but at least the hurricane nut doesn’t bottom out.

Finally, I started work on a couple of bench appliances.  One is a benchtop bench, that starts by laminating some old 3/4″ plywood that I reclaimed from up in Vermont.  Four pieces of 3/4″ plywood makes a 3″ thick slab that is stable and heavy.  This will likely replace my Milkman’s Workbench as my traveling woodworking bench.


Laminating plywood is not easy, but having a perfectly flat section of workbench helps.

The other benchtop appliance is a David Barron-style shoulder vise that clamps onto the benchtop (like a twin screw Moxon Vise).  This will likely end up as another ash/red oak amalgamation and is made from scraps as they become available.  And I plan to re-purpose the screw and hub from the failed face vise.


Looks a bit like a crochet at the moment.

There are a few bigger things in the hopper, but for now I’m still clearing projects and making shop furniture.


A Loving Home

A package came in the mail on Saturday.  James over at The Daily Skep was gracious enough to gift to me the box he made for his custom box for a Veritas Large Router Plane.  I am happy to say the box now has a new home in my tool chest.


Fits very nicely.

For those who haven’t seen it before, it holds the plane itself, the fence and some additional blades, with a sliding lid.  I am particularly fond of the bits of veneer that hold the plane in place in the well.  It feels very Dutch tool chest-like in its own way.


I seem to have one more extra blade than James.

Thanks very much, James.  By the way, if you’re not a reader of The Daily Skep, you should be.



Impulse Shopping

Every time I stop by the lumberyard, I find something I didn’t know I was looking for. This time, it was 31 linear feet of 12 x 5/4 eastern white pine, with very few knots. On sale. So for about US$60, I now have the boards for a carcase, lid and probably floor of an English floor chest. If I ever get around to building one. And if not, I’m sure I’ll find some other use.

My car smells amazing, right now.

I went to the lumber yard, btw, for a scrap of quarter-sawn white oak (seen in the middle).


The Vainglorious Optimism of Despair

It’s that time of year again.  The time for reflection, introspection and after-Christmas sales.  The time when everyone looks back at the previous revolution around the Sun and thinks: “Man, that sucked.  But next year: that’s going to be my year.”  I applaud your hope, whether real or feigned.  But I will not delude myself into thinking things are looking up.  My only hope is that, just like cleaning your room as a child, things have to get worse before they get better.

And so we find ourselves, on the precipice of autocracy, the world almost certain to figuratively and literally burn.  But I have my workbench, and my tools, and my hands and my mind.  And for this, I am grateful.  So if I am needed, you can find me in the shop making something that will last.

And when the world does burn, at least the hide glue will flow better for a time.  Happy New Year, everyone.

Here is a picture of my cat under a blanket.



Saving All of [my] Time and Space

My main set of tools has been overflowing from my 26″ Craftsman top chest and middle chest for a while now.  It’s very clear I needed a single storage solution and my first and  natural thought was “build it myself”.  But after making a few medium and small tool chests by hand, as much as I would love to build a custom, proper woodworking tool chest, there just isn’t the time.  Unless I went the plywood route, I’d never finish it on a timeline I’d be happy with.  And then, Sears had a sale and my dilemma went away.


But now I need to build a new rolling cart.

When I first saw this top chest, it instantly reminded me of a hybrid English and Dutch tool chest.  Like a Dutch tool chest, the top well is deep and my planes can stand on their soles.  It’s clearly meant to hold rechargeable power tools (hence the power strip on the inside right), so there is plenty of room to also attach a panel saw rack to the underside of the lid (with rare earth magnets).

Overall dimensions of the top chest are 41″, 24″ x 16″, which is pretty close (albeit slimmer) to a full-size English floor chest.  The drawer space is expansive, but not so much that I could be cavalier about tools I rarely use.  Those will stay in my old tool cabinet, tucked away for rainy days.


Outside the leather roll, it feels like too many chisels.

The rolling cart on which this new tool chest sits will be (once the casters are attached) 48″ x 24″ x 24″, with two shelves to house the balance of my everyday woodworking accoutrements.  Things like my sharpening stones, machinist granite slab and small clamps.  There may even be plans for a drawer or two in a future retrofit.  And that will bring everything up to a comfortable height.

And with the 60 shop hours or so I saved myself by not building an equivalent English floor chest, I can get back to actual projects.  Like a wall rack for fasteners or a crochet for my workbench.


A Proper Foundation for Dining

Many moons ago, when I first moved into my old apartment, the first order of business was getting my sturdy dining table ready for clamp on workbenches.  Two years later, I’ve moved, and now that I have the space for an actual workbench, it was time to get my sturdy dining table ready for use as an actual dining table.  That meant stripping the finish and reflattening the tabletop.


And also replacing the plywood shelf with ash.

Ash is quite porous, and the tabletop had soaked in quite a bit of steel slurry and rust particles over its life as a quasi-workbench.  Plus, the Danish Oil finish had fully cured.  As a result, there was nothing to do but have diamond plates on hand for frequent sharpening.  Two hours, half a garbage can of shavings and about ten resharpenings later, the tabletop was tried and true.


Fun fact: this rug was supposed to be under the table in my old apartment.

It had been a long time since my No. 4 1/2 got a decent workout.  I ordinarily use it only for panel smoothing.  All that resharpening allowed me to work on the blade geometry a bit, getting it mostly straight with a slight camber at the edges (as opposed to a full camber across the entire edge).  When it was time for final smoothing, though, I re-instituted a continuous camber.


This was sharpening #11.

Ash being a fickle mistress, there is significant tearout at one corner (far right, above), but I’m not so concerned. It’s meant to be a rustic piece. Before I refinish the tabletop, however, I will give it a once over with a tool I haven’t used in ages: the random-orbit sander.  Half an hour at 150 grit should clean up any remaining traversing marks that didn’t come out from smoothing.  I also dressed the long grain edges of the tabletop, just because.


The top is actually glued down, long grain to long grain.  No splits yet.

I can’t wait to show everyone the new workshop (spoiler alert: it’s larger than a dining nook).  I’ve been making new kitchen cabinet shelves for the new place (the old ones were warped and gross), so it’s high time for a real furniture project.  But everything in due time.


RIP old shop.