I know, I didn’t live up to my promises

But that’s going to change this time, for real.

I’ve been unable to do much woodworking for a while, for family reasons and also just personal mental block reasons. That’s changed recently though and I’ve been getting a lot more shop time.

Here’s what I’ve been up to the last couple of weeks:

The coffee table is finally progressing nicely (I know, it was supposed to be done months ago).

Tried my hand at making some photo frames too, and was very pleased with how they turned out.

Dinked around in the shop and changed up my tool storage…again.

I’ll be posting about all of this in the coming days. I’ll keep the posts short and sweet, in the hope that this time, I really will start posting regularly.

Happy new year!

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop, 0 comments

Veritas Combination Plane

The Veritas Combination Plane is a tool that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time now, and it’s finally arrived!

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large plow plane

The Veritas Combination Plane and storage box(es)

The Veritas Combination Plane has been a long time coming (though not as long as another fabled combination plane…hehe) – the woodworking community first heard of it a few years ago on various forums, and was initially being called the Large Plow Plane.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plow Plane, Large Plough Plane, Stanley No. 45

The Veritas Combination Plane in it’s box

The plane was demonstrated at Handworks in Amana this year, where Veritas took pre-orders, and is being released in Lee Valley stores (and website sometime early September). Here’s Fine Woodworking’s first look at it.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Beautiful torrefied maple handles

Mine arrived at the local Lee Valley store for pickup earlier today (yes, I am one of the fortunate/unfortunate ones that have a local Lee Valley store), and despite having a very busy day, I had to go pick it up. It arrived with the plane box, and two blade boxes – fenced planes with lots of different blades can be a pain to store so this should help. The boxes are cnc machined out of baltic birch, and fit the blade, the extra fence rods and blade boxes.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Side view, showing the main body of the plane and torrefied maple fence

I haven’t had the opportunity to take this for a whirl yet, so this isn’t a review, but first impressions of the Veritas Combination Plane are fantastic – it sure looks to be made with the typical Veritas attention to detail and quality craftsmanship. The 17 brass knobs add some bling to otherwise sleek body, and while it has a heft to it, it doesn’t seem to be as heavy as a Stanley No. 45. A big factor in my decision to purchase this plane was the compatibility with Stanley combination plane blades, which I plan on testing out soon. It also came replete with a torrefied maple fence, a nice touch, as the fence matches the handle and torrefied maple is a very stable material.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Yes, it has a lot of knobs

Speaking of the Stanley No. 45, I never really liked them much, and in preparation for the arrival of the newcomer, I sold both of mine – and if first impressions are anything to go by, I won’t be looking back.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

The box is very well made, from baltic birch

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Reviews, Tools, 0 comments

More Tool Wall Photos

Last post I wrote about my new shop organization aid/self indulgent decor, a tool wall. Here’s a few more photos.

Squares, Combination Square, Engineers square, protractor, bevel gauge, starrett, veritas

All sorts of square(s)

Chisels, woodworking, veritas chisels, stanley sweetheart, mortise chisel

Yes, I have a bit of chisel (and mallet) problem.

Bit and Brace storage, marking tools

Bit and various marking tool storage

framesaw, bit, brace, hand drill

Brace and Drill storage, and my framesaw making a cameo too

 

Veritas MKII sharpening jig

Sharpening jigs

Folding rule, sectore, starrett, dial caliper, stanley

This is the inside of the stanley tool pouch I posted last time. Starrett dial calipers, sector ruler and folding rules

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, 0 comments
Shop Organisation: Tool Wall

Shop Organisation: Tool Wall

Ah the interwebs. Such a great source of ideas, information, inspiration…and procrastination. Sometimes I feel like I read more about woodworking than I actually do woodworking. Anyways, one of the things I love seeing is other woodworkers shops, and specifically how they store (and display) their hand tools. I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of a tool cabinet vs a tool chest for a while. Either option would be at least a few months into the future given my current list of projects, so in the meantime I decided to go with a tool wall.

Woodworking shop storage for vintage hand planes

Shop storage for vintage tools.

While my power tools reside in an unheated garage, my hand tool shop is in the basement of our house, which means my tools are for the most part protected from the ravages of rust. In the last couple years I have had a couple close calls where rust somehow magically appeared on a couple planes, so I think I’ll build a tool chest capable of holding all of my new planes and forego the wall hung tool cabinet. That leaves the wall free to hold the rest of my tools and keep them readily accessible.

Sawtill for panel saws and backsaws, disston, bad axe, veritas, lie nielsen, knew concepts

Recently completed sawtill

For the last year or so I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about owning so many tools that I hardly get to use, as a hobbyist woodworker. A couple months ago I read the Anarchist’s Tool Chest by Chris Schwarz, which only made me feel even more guilty about my burgeoning tool collection. I’ve already parted with all the tools I could bring myself to part with (and it was a lot of tools) and now I want to make sure I use all the tools I own. I’ve spent more money than I like to admit on tools, and my finest and favourite tools tend to get stored in a chest with various rust preventation measures…which means I reach for not-so-fine-tools most often because I don’t need to bend over a chest to get at them. My hope is that keeping all my tools readily accessible on a tool wall will make me more likely to use them regularly – and also put them away more frequently, leaving my shop less cluttered.

Tool wall chisel rack

Figuring out placement for chisel racks

Steve Branam’s tool wall is one of the finest tool walls I’ve come across. The simplicity and aesthetic qualities of what he created is just wonderful. As someone who loves all things hand tool related, having a wall full of tools perfectly organized and ready to go serves more than just a utilitarian purpose – it serves as workshop decor too (though my wife disagrees). Anyways, I used some of his principles in deciding on the tool layout. I wanted a single degree of separation between myself and all my tools, i.e. have every single tool accessible without having to move another out of the way. The easier it is to remove and replace a tool, the more likely I am to use it and replace it after I’m done.

Veritas, Ashley Iles, Chisel roll, tool wall

Veritas PMV11 chisels nestled safely in the jean chisel roll stolen from the Ashley Iles chisels…

For a backer board I went with veneered particle board. Each board was screwed into wall studs at 4 points. Chisel/screwdriver/rasp racks were made from 3/8″ strips of Cherry and Walnut, simply two strips laminated along with a couple small spacer blocks. The racks were counterbored and screwed into the particle board, taking care to ensure the chisels enter and exit them easily. The rest of the holders were made from scraps around the shop, other than the jean and leather chisel rolls my Ashley Iles MKII and Stanley Sweetheart chisels came in. It took a bit of fiddling, and a lot of rearranging, but I now have most of my non-handplane tools hung up right where I can see them.

chisel rack, tool wall, ashley iles, stanley sweetheart

Some more chisel storage. The leather ‘spacers’ really help keep the chisels straight, and protect you from the sharp tips.

The tool wall currently holds:

  • 4 sets of bench chisels along with a bunch of miscellaneous chisels
  • A large set of english mortise chisels, and a couple Narex mortise chisels
  • My mallets and plane hammers
  • My squares, dividers, marking gauges, bevel gauges, protractors
  • Dial calipers, rules, sectors
  • Card scrapers
  • Braces, drills, and bits
  • Rasps, screwdrivers, burnishers, files
  • Marking knives, awls, pens and pencils
  • Spokeshaves
  • Sharpening jigs
  • Drawknife
  • Straightedge
  • Framesaw (kind of)
Tool wall, veritas, spokeshave, vintage tools, storage

Simple spokeshave storage

My nicer planes get tucked away in a little rust proof micro environment and my sets of vintage planes (woodies and bailey pattern) sit on uncovered shelves along with a bunch of other vintage tools. The oxidation and patina on those tools seem to protect them from further rust. Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Stanley, chisel, sweetheart, tool roll

I’ve never cared much for the chisel rolls some manufacturers include, but they come in useful! The stanley sweethearts come in a beautiful leather roll

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Tools, 0 comments

English Mortise Chisels/Pigstickers/Oval Bolstered Mortise Chisels

The Brits really do get the coolest woodworking tools – Scottish infill planes, anything Preston and English mortise chisels, also known as oval bolstered mortise chisels, or pigstickers on this side of the water. These mortise chisels are apparently quite common in the UK, less so in the US, and even less so here in the Great White North…so much so that I never actually ran into any English mortise chisels in the wild here, and the old tool dealers in these parts don’t seem to have any either.

Pigsticker, Mortise Chisel, Oval Bolstered

(Most of) My set of English Mortise chisels

For the last couple of years I’ve been using Narex mortise chisels …they’re very reasonably priced (almost too much so) and the steel sharpens easily and holds a decent edge. I have the 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ sizes, and the first two handle most of my needs – I don’t think I’ve ever used the 1/2″ size. Despite their decent performance, these chisels lacked the fineness and spirit of an old tool, or a finely crafted new tool….so I found myself craving replacements.

Ashley Iles, Mortise Chisel, Ray Iles, Pigsticker

‘The Beast’ – a 5/8″ pigsticker chisel by Ward, beside it’s cousin from Sheffield, a 5/8″ Ashley Iles

I had my eyes set on the new Veritas PM-V11 mortise chisels or the Ray Iles pigstickers, but figured I’d check out ebay first. Long story short, I ended up winning 3 separate bids, and now have what is basically a full set of 11 english mortise chisels, ranging from 1/8″ to 5/8″…yes, you read that right, a 5/8″ pigsticker. Six of the chisels are Sorby’s, and the rest are Ward, Marsden Brothers, Thos Ibbotson and I. Cutler.

Some of the sizes seem a little odd at first, like the 11/32″ chisel, until I read Joel Moskowitz’s excellent 5 part article on this topic, which I suggest you read if you are looking into mortise chisels. I know some sizes will be used way less than others, but a benefit of having a wide variety of sizes is that if my tenon is off by about a 16th or a 32nd of an inch, I can still create a perfectly fitting mortise.

Pigsticker, English Mortise Chisel, Oval Bolster

‘The Beast’ – a 5/8″ chisel by Ward, beside it’s cousin from Sheffield, a 5/8″ Ashley Iles

The mortise chisels are wonderfully suited to their function – the blades are tapered to prevent jamming, the curve of the primary bevel helps lever out chips and the oval shape of the bolster and handle help align the chisel in the hand without looking. The handle tapers outwards in both directions, providing a wider striking area that concentrates the force on the smaller area of the bolster. The bottom of the handles are rounded to prevent chipping or cracking. And most of all they look super cool (my friends think I’m a dork for finding these things cool, but that’s another matter altogether).

Pigsticker, Oval Bolstered, English Mortise Chisels

English Mortise Chisels

Most of the chisels appear to have their original handles, which are things of beauty. I considered making matching handles for all of them out of jatoba, but the originals are so well made that I can’t justify it. A couple of the chisels will need rehandling however, and I will post about that soon!

Oh, and I’m really looking forward to using The Beast (the 5/8″) during my bench build!

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Tools, 2 comments

Sawtill in 3 Hours (-ish)

I have too many saws. Let’s just get that out of the way. And if I’m honest I don’t even use some of them all that often. But these are the ones I’ve whittled my saw collection down to, and every time I do use them I remember why they made it into my permanent saws. My panel saws were all taking up floor space in a corner of the shop, while most of my backsaws were laid flat in the drawer under my tool chest. It wasn’t an ideal situation, and I needed a wall hanging sawtill.

Disston, Saw, Panel Saw

My ‘keeper’ panel saws. A couple Disston D-8s, a few more Disstons, a Spear & Jackson and a Warranted Superior. Yes, my shop needed to be cleaned.

Another thing I need to admit – I procrastinate when I reach a crucial or difficult part of a major project. In this case squaring up and cutting the dovetails in the ends of the coffee table boards….so the sawtill was a somewhat justifiable reason to delay that part. That said, I needed this project to be quick, so I kept track of my working time. The stock I used was some Douglas Fir I purchased almost two years ago from Home Depot. The 1x board was around 4″ wide, and straight grained. I didn’t measure anything for this project except for the width of the till, as that’s the dimension that dictates the number of saws I can store in the sawtill. In my case with 7 panel saws, 9 backsaws and a little extra for the inevitable future purchases, the width came to around 26″.

sawtill, sliding dovetail

The sides glued up and ready for cleaning up and joinery

I cut the board and laminated the pieces to minimise waste. I knew I wanted to include some curves in the design, but wasn’t too specific about what I wanted yet. With the glue up done and cleaned up, it was time to cut the joinery. The sawtill has two stretchers in the back attached using lap joints, and a stretcher in the front attached via sliding dovetails that also serves as the rest for the saw handles. I cut the joinery in the sides at once, with both sides held in the vise. Cutting both sides at once saves a ton of time measuring and marking. The lap joints can be marked off directly from the stretcher stock. The dovetail tenons were slightly offset, i.e., the tenon was not centred on the stretcher. I marked the tenons off from the sides, taking care to ensure the offset was on the same side of the stretcher on both sides.

Sawtill, sliding dovetail

Gang cutting the joinery for the sides

…Unfortunately I clearly didn’t take enough care with marking the offset, as I ended up with the two tenons cut offset in different directions. After a little while considering my options and cursing my stupidity, it came down to either shortening the stretcher and reducing the saw till capacity, or ‘fixing’ one tenon by attaching a narrow offcut to it. I went with the latter, glueing up a slice of wood and holding it in tightly place with some tape for a couple hours. This seemed to fix the issue, with both dovetails fitting pretty well without needing any paring.

dovetail tenon

Fixing the dovetail tenon

With the joinery done, I marked out the side profile on one side of the sawtill, and lined both sides up in the vise to cut at once. I just eyeballed the profile and drew it in freehand – I’m sure using french curves for this step would make it more pleasing aesthetically. I used a coping saw to cut the profile out as close to my lines as I safely could. I was close to the end when the saw jumped out mid – vigorous stroke, and caught the index finger on my left hand on the push stroke. I knew something was wrong as a steady stream of blood poured out immediately. I couldn’t tell how deep the cut was, as even under running water the cut bled too much to be able to see anything, so I wrapped it tightly with a large bandaid and headed back downstairs to finish rasping the profile out. With the profile completed, I glued up the sawtill.

curves, coping saw

Cutting curves for the side profiles using a coping saw

A few hours later I headed back into the shop to check out how the till was doing, when the cut on my finger literally started spurting blood through the band aid. Fast forward a few hours, and I was leaving the emergency at 3 AM with 5 heavy sutures in my finger. Turns out the cut almost reached the bone, and was a lot worse than I had anticipated. The next day I decided to finish the project with 9 digits – there wasn’t much left to do, just glue squeeze out clean up and attaching the kerfed pieces that the sawblades slot into. This part took a little fiddling, as the sawtill was a bit steep. I cut the kerfs a bit oversize, and did them on the bandsaw.

Woodworking accidents

Handsaws are dangerous too

I decided against staining or finishing the till at all. I liked the look of the Douglas Fir, and the fact that the till would be in an indoor shop meant that a finish really wasn’t necessary. I attached the sawtill to the wall with two screws through the stretchers into the wall studs. Oh, and I added a couple nails on one side to hold my flush cut saws, and a nail on the top stretcher to hold my Knew Concepts fret saw.

The three hour sawtill!

The three hour sawtill!

All together the working time on this project was around 3 hours, not including the time for the glue to dry and the emergency visit to the hospital. I love having my tools out where I can see them, because, well, I love tools and I think they’re beautiful…but also because a tool I can see is a tool I’m more likely to use. That’s enough procrastination for now though, time to get back to that coffee table…

Side profile of the sawtill and my backsaw collection; A number of Veritas, a couple Lie Nielsens, a Bad Axe and a Disston.

Side profile of the sawtill and my backsaw collection; A number of Veritas, a couple Lie Nielsens, a Bad Axe and a Disston.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Builds, Shop, 0 comments