News and Announcements

Maker of Replacement Totes and Knobs for New Planes?

Because I think this reaches a wider audience than my current twitter following, does anyone have a recommendation for someone who makes replacement totes and knobs for planes? 

When I first started woodworking, I purchased a brand new, generic Stanley No. 5. It’s lightweight and I plan to tune it for general work, but I hate the molded plastic tote and knob. I’d love to replace them but I don’t have the experience (or the desire) to make the replacements myself.  So if anyone knows of a woodworker who makes custom totes and knobs and wants a paying customer, please send their contact info my way.

Thanks much.


Glossary of Terms

There are so many woodworking terms. For joints. For tools. For techniques.  Where does a person begin?

Before I took up woodworking a few years ago, I didn’t know a damned thing about it.  I started on YouTube and worked backward. Wikipedia was helpful, as was my first woodworking book (Working Wood 1&2 by Paul Sellers). Now over three years into my apartment woodworking sojourn, my knowledge has grown along with my vocabulary.

I have recently been made aware that woodworking jargon can create a barrier to entry. Knowledge that I take for granted is not universal.  So going forward, in an effort to make the site more approachable – and because I think it will be fun – every defined term appearing in a post will be included in a new page entitled “Glossary of Terms”.

The page went live yesterday.  Please feel free to critique my definitions, as most are from memory.


Unveiling the “New” Workshop

Last week, I was lamenting the spatial constraints of my apartment woodworking shop, and I decided to do something about it.  Behold, the reorganized workshop!


It’s like one of those “spot the difference” games in the local newspaper.

The biggest change was the location of my tool chest.  When I first moved into the apartment, I noticed the corner of the dining nook fit the tool chest pretty well. It did fit, but the angle always felt weird in relation to my normal working location. With the tool chest now adjacent to my work table, I have a better reach angle, plus I was able to hang my panel saws off the sides of the rolling table that holds the tool chest.  I put the dust extractor in the corner where the tool chest use to be.

Ruined as furniture!

Ruined forever as furniture!

The second real change was to move the table another 12 inches or so away from the back wall, which served two functions.  I now have more storage space for clamps and wood behind the workbench area.  I also am no longer tripping over the shop vac when in my normal planing position.

Seen on the right.

Plenty of clearance, seen on the bottom right.

Finally, because I know it’s the only picture anyone would care about anyway, here is the shop, fully unpacked and just before I started moving things around.  I had forgotten that I never made a bottom shelf for the table and there is just a sheet of 3/4 birch plywood under there.


Let’s Go Mets!

And one more shot of the workshop from the opposite angle, too.


Oft unseen.

It’s been working out well so far.  I haven’t noticed any impact on the travel lanes in my apartment, which is the most important part. Now to actually make something…


Where to Put It All?

It’s increasingly apparent that my little apartment woodworking experiment has hit a major snag. No, not sheer lack of time because of my hectic work schedule (I find the time). Not even lack of effective work holding (I’ve got that covered). My biggest problem right now is lack of space. Specifically, lack of tool storage space. I’ve pared away everything I can. There is simply nothing more to cull from my on hand tool collection and I’m still short on space.

Workshop Banner

Filled beyond capacity! Like a trendy nightclub!

I know I’ve been lamenting the space constraints in previous posts, but I’ve finally decided to do something about it. No, not build a TARDiS. Beginning this weekend, I am doing the next best thing: a major workshop layout redesign. The hope is to find enough floor space for a standing cabinet that can store larger, less frequently used tools and free up workbench and tool chest space for more commonly used items. All without cluttering (further) the travel lanes in my apartment.

I haven’t decided yet about the type of standing tool cabinet (store-bought or custom made [by me]). Given my stance on casework, and the need of an immediate solution, I will probably go with store-bought. Seems to be my new theme.

Wish me luck!


I Bought a Real Camera!

Usually on The Apartment Woodworker, I try to come up with clever titles for posts.  Today, no such luck.

It’s been almost 6 months since I started The Apartment Woodworker, and it’s been pretty clear to me from the beginning that I needed a real camera.  The internal camera on my Samsung smartphone is pretty good, but like all smartphone cameras, any bit of zoom immediately grained out the picture.  I had been putting it off until I was sure The Apartment Woodworker was something I’d enjoy.  It’s been a blast, so I took the plunge and bought a proper point and shoot.  It even shoots video, so maybe there is some of that in store.

I have tapped a buddy of mine to teach me how to use the thing.  I’m hoping that with a bit of training, and some better lighting (which I will unveil later this week), The Apartment Woodworker will reach new heights of artsy foofiness.  The updated banner (full image below) was shot using the new camera.

Workshop Banner

Very little staging required!


Some Winter Cleaning

I set up my apartment woodworking shop just over three months ago, and I’m proud to report I just filled my first drum liner full of shavings!


I can think of no better representation of what I do.

Admittedly, most of those shavings are planing slab Douglas Fir (with some light arbor and footstool Ash mixed in), but still. With the planing slab nearing completion, I’m just about all full up on shop furniture – at least until I decide to make room for a moxon vise.

Drum liner number two is where it starts to get interesting. But I have absolutely no idea what to make next.


A New Year, Indeed

2104 has been a great year for The Apartment Woodworker, and we’re only getting started.  Thanks much to all of my readers.

Things look to be busy Q1 of 2015, but I can promise there are several great projects and stories coming very soon.  The soonest may very well be the completed planing slab.

Only 2 more laminations to go!

Only 2 more laminations to go!

So stay tuned!  Happy New Year to all!


Holiday Cheer at The Apartment Woodworker

As the year wraps up, I find myself (as always) being very grateful for my loving and (mostly) supportive family and friends (especially Matty).  They indulge me in my eccentricities and manic woodworking fervor and I am very lucky to have such excellent and admirable people in my life.

Now, I would like to brag about the awesome woodworking gifts I received this Christmas.

From my parents, a 24″ imperial ruler blade for my Starrett combination square.  When not in use with the combination square, I expect it will live on the workbench as my go-to straightedge.  Its first combination square task, though, will probably be in connection with squaring the ends of the planing slab (as soon as I finish a couple more laminations).

A gorgeous piece of steel.

A gorgeous piece of steel.

Speaking of the planing slab, my brother and sister-in-law gave me not only a Veritas inset vise (for which I had asked), but also surprised me with the pivoting jaw and the low profile jaw as well (both of which were actually sitting in my Lee Valley online shopping cart ready for purchase).  Now i just need a Veritas planing stop and to settle on inset vise positioning.

I have a feeling this will quickly become my favorite vise.

I have a feeling this will quickly become my favorite vise.

All in all, a pretty awesome Christmas.  Thanks very much, family.

Happy Holidays to all!  I should probably get back to making the second footstool for my niece and nephew.


Shavings Piled Like Snowdrifts

Sawdust, wood shavings, waste wood. Hand tools or not, going from rough-sawn lumber to finished furniture makes a mess.

The main benefit of hand tool woodworking is the significant reduction in breathable particulate matter (i.e., wood dust) in comparison to power tools. Not a total elimination, of course, but with hand tools you don’t need breathing protection just to cut a joint. Ditto for hearing protection (although chopping mortises in hardwood in an apartment sometimes calls for earmuffs and sound dampening technology [more on that in a few months]).

That having been said, whether by scrub plane or power jointer, by tenon saw or table saw, by mortise chisel or plunge router, you’re still removing stock and the waste has to go somewhere. And that somewhere tends to be the floor around the workbench.

In my shop, I never let the shavings pile like snowdrifts (as romantic as the image may be). After each task, the waste is swept and sorted. Chips in the trash, shavings in the drum liner [seen in the background of most pictures], dust in the shop vacuum. Shavings and wood dust are slippery and there are few things worse than extricating embedded splinters from my living room rug because I tracked chips all around the house.

A clean shop is a safe, happy shop. When your shop is also your home, that is doubly true.


Usually not a fan of Brooklyn…

Just received a pair of Gramercy holdfasts from


I guess not everything from Brooklyn is terrible hipsters…

Two is probably a bit much for a 30″ workbench, but the price was just so I right for the pair, so I was more than happy to replace the cast iron holdfast on my sawbench.  Shipping was fast and the included issue of The Comely Advertiser was good for some smiles.

Much better

Much better

All in all, I am glad to know I probably never have to buy holdfasts again.