Category Archives: Tools and Shop
We've been remodeling our kitchen, and the way that our house is laid out, it has made access to my shop more or less impossible for the past couple of months.
In addition, the demolition of the old kitchen in our 104 year old house has generated an enormous amount of black grit and dust that has settled across all of my tools.
My hope is that by Christmas day the kitchen will be largely completed and I can begin to recover the work shop. See you then!
I finished the Roubo/Holtzapffel-hybrid bench inspired by Chris Schwarz’s book this past weekend. The bench is made from southern yellow pine and a collection of other wood types from off-cuts, etc. The front vise jaws, 2″ plane stop, and deadman are mahogany, the shelf dowels are walnut, the end vise jaws are maple, the left-end plane stop is oak, etc…whatever I could scrounge up for each step. This bench is designed to be USED, so I was not worried about matching.
It is basically the French Roubo-style bench that I modified by adding the sliding deadman, a Veritas twin-screw vise (24″ between centers, 42″ overall) and a 1/2 length tool tray. The end-vise is a Groz metal vise. I cut the slot into the bottom of the front, left leg in case I ever want to switch to a leg vise. I drilled dog-holes into the bottom shelf for storage of dog devices under the bench (see below the front vise).
Notice the Chris Schwarz designed plane stop on this end of the bench. Loosen the screws and raise the plane-stop board to the desired height. The screws ride is a T-track mounted in to the end of the bench top.
Above is the metal end-vise. Notice the tool tray slots to the right. The bottom of the tool tray slides out this side for cleaning.
Better view of the tool tray. Both vises are through-bolted for strength. Those are the bolts in the bottom left. Note the only knot that I did not manage to bury in the bench top somewhere, visible next to the bolts.
This is how the tool tray bottoms (two pieces) slide out for cleaning. They can be completely removed.
The bench is finished with two coats of Danish Oil that will be renewed as needed.
All joints are doweled together for extra strength (some are draw-bored and some are not).
I really like the 2″-square plane stop block insert into the bench top above. It can be moved up and down as needed. It is held in place by friction alone.
This past weekend I mounted the legs into the massive mortises that I had cut into the workbench top. My wife and eight year old son then helped me to "flip" the giant, heavy beast onto its feet.
Next step is to plane and install the under-shelf material, make the sliding deadman and vise chops and install the twin-screw front vise. After that, drill the dog holes and other work holding, flatten the top and its complete.
I think that I am about a week and a half away from completion.
Over the past weekend I planed and fully laminated the wood for the 5″ x 5″ x 32″ legs for the bench. Each leg is made up of four 1.25″ boards laminated together, with massive 2.5″ tenons on the top end for attachment with the underside of the bench top. After the glue dried, I jointed and planed the laminated leg blocks to final dimension.
Additionally, I made the front and rear stretchers. The front stretcher has a beveled top edge so that it can act as the lower track for the eventual sliding deadman attachment.
Next, I will make the side stretchers, and design some sort of support at the attachment point for the right rear leg’s mortise and tenon joint, since that leg will have to deal with the tool tray location that I added to this design. I have some ideas for this, but have settled on the final design yet. I hope to do these items tonight.
No photos recent, because our digital camera is missing. I hope to be able to post some soon.
Slow but sure progress on my Roubo-like workbench project.
The bench top is now "complete" and fully laminated to 24" by 92" long. I decided to go with a 1/2 length tool tray on the back of the bench. I couldn't commit to a full length tool tray, but also did not want to exclude one. I figure that this way, I will have the full bench width in front of the front vise, and the tray to the right, where I tend to stow and reach for tools anyway. The tool try has a sliding bottom (divided into two sections) that can
slide out of the bench to the right, so as to allow for easy dumping of
wood chips. The tool tray bottom is 1/4" plywood that runs in 1/4"
slots that I routed into the sides of the tool tray with a 1/4"
slot-cutting bit in the router. Photos coming soon.
I have also purchased the Veritas twin-screw vise as my future front vise, and a standard 9" Groz quick-release vise as my tail vise. These will be stored until the bench is finished.
Last night I managed to plane all of the wood for the bench's legs to final thickness. Four of these boards will be laminated into each 5" x 5" leg. I hope to begin the leg lamination glue-ups tonight, or this weekend.
I received a nice email from a relative of the Pilliod family today with the following information:
“What you have is a Tool Chest made by the Pilliod Cabinet/Furniture Company of Swanton, Ohio. I have seen a few listed on
Ebay but not in the good condition that yours looks to be in. Although related to the Pilliod family I know very little about the cabinet company.
I do know that they sold jewelry boxes, silverware chests and the tool chests
you have. The company is no longer in operation. It was to my knowledge owned
by T.J. Pilliod and passed down to his children. I do not know if T.J Pilliod
was the original owner of the company or if his ancestors started it. As for
the tools in the chest I don’t believe they came with the tool chest. Hope this helps.”
Building my new workbench with a 8' laminated top in my tight, low-ceiling basement is a bit like building a ship-in-a-bottle.
Cutting, jointing and planing the 10' rough boards for the workbench's top within the low ceiling and vertical steel support posts ends up being a real dance (similar to my post about long clamps).
Funny how building this new bench that will allow me to use more hand-tool techniques has required more power tools than any project that I have done lately. LOTS of ripping and planing.
I can't say that this project is a lot of fun (although it is not difficult or complex), but I look forward to the end result.
A few weeks ago I purchased an old Disston No. 2 hand saw sharpening vise on eBay (circa 1890-ish, I think). It was in reasonably good shape, but was rusted and had not been used in a long, long time.
I sanded and filed off the rust, repainted the vise and oiled the moving parts. The photos below are the result. Unfortunately I forgot to take any “before” photos.
I have never actually sharpened a hand saw yet…that is a skill that I intend to learn later this year. In the meantime, the vise is now ready.
The laminated wood top for my new woodworking bench is coming along well (but slowly).
In preparation for eventually joining the legs of the workbench to the top, I made myself a set of drawboring pins this weekend. I intend to experiment with drawboring these joints for maximum strength and durability.
My drawbore pins are based on Chris Schwarz’s “Drawboring Resurrected” article on the WKFinetools website here:
As Chris recommended, I bought a cheap set of “alignment tools” from Sears. Sears sells an
eight-piece set of punches and alignment tools under its “Companion” brand ($6 total). Two of the eight tools are alignment pins that can be modified into drawbore pines. The model number of the set was
I followed the directions in the article, and using some scrap mahogany from the desk project, I came up with these:
One small and one large. Slight tapered and hex handles to make it easier to “torque” the tools when using them.
I’ll try them out on the workbench in a week or two.
When I first started buying “real” woodworking clamps a few years ago (like my Bessey clamps), I went with the theory that since I was spending so much money on clamps, I should buy the longest ones that I could. After all, you can clamp a small object with a 40″ clamp, but you can’t clamp a 36″ piece with a small clamp. Seemed to make sense.
So, I bought mostly long 40″ Bessey clamps for a couple of years.
The thing is, those clamps are REALLY long (and heavy). Clamping a small object with a big clamp in a workshop with a low ceiling tends to be quite an effort. After I poke the ceiling, knock stuff of the bench and drop everything on the floor, the long clamp works very well…
I now find that my small number of 24″ and 30″ clamps are my favorites.
Another lesson learned. Good clamps are expensive, but if you are like me, you will end up wanting both long and short clamps.
As a wise man once said, “you can never have enough clamps.” I will change that quote slightly. You can never have enough GOOD clamps.
Chris Schwarz has done it again…inspired me to build a new workbench that is better suited to the "blended" style of hand tool and power tool woodworking that I do these days.
My original bench has served me well, and will be passed on to my son, who needs to graduate from the very small bench that we made him when he was about 4 (he is 8 now). My son’s very small bench will be passed on to my daughter (now 4), who also loves to spend time in the shop.
My slave labor woodworking gang is growing. Plus, its more justification for me to build myself an honest-to-goodness woodworking bench.
This project started when I bought Chris Schwarz’s new book:
Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use
Click here to buy it from Lost Art Press (Chris’ own store) and Chris will send a signed copy of the book and a CD containing an electronic copy.
Don’t buy this book if you don’t want to build a new bench!!!! I guarantee that buying this book will force you to build a new bench, whether you want to or not. It is that well researched and written, but that is what I have come to expect from Chris.
Right now, I am looking to build a blend of the French Roubo bench and the Dominy bench at Winterthur. I am still working on my design.
I am likely to go with some sort of twin-screw front vise and a metal tail vice. I’m shooting for at least a 3.5" thick top. I also want a sliding deadman. Likely, I will not include a tool tray in the top, although I have been tempted to add one.
Quick idea for bench-top planer manufacturers…
Put a power switch on BOTH the front AND back of the planer (or on the top ). In my one-man shop, I am always starting the board through my planer on one side and then walking around the planer to get it on the other. Then I want to shut off the machine, but the power switch is back on the front.
Small thing, but annoying.
I’ve managed to spend a little time in the shop over the past two weeks and “turned” out a couple of small projects (pun intended).
First is a woodcarver’s mallet. I needed a traditional round faced woodcarver’s mallet for an upcoming hand-cut dovetail class that I will be taking at Ernie Conover’s wood shop in Ohio. He recommends this style of mallet (rather than a square faced carpenter’s mallet) in his tool list for the class, and I just couldn’t see buying a mallet when I could make one. Besides, I wanted a tradition lignum vitae wood head, and you can’t buy those easily now-a-days. Hard maple seems to be norm for purchased mallets these days unless you get one with a man-made material wrapped head. Ernie does not recommend those due to “bounce.”
I turned this one with a hard maple handle attached to the head with a wedged through tenon. The head is made from Argentinian lignum vitae wood that I got from the local Rockler. I was surprised to find a large enough block of the lignum for this project.
The wedge is a scrap of ebony, and then I buffed on a carnauba wax coating.
The mallet is about 10″ long with a 3″ radius at its widest point. It weighs 20 ounces overall.
Turning the lignum was easier than I expected given its incredible density. BUT….don’t try and saw through it with your delicate Japanese hand saw. The teeth of the saw with lose the battle with the wood. Don’t ask me how I know.
Below is my first attempt at a pepper grinder. I turned it from Kingwood and then buffed on a carnauba wax coating. I used a “crush grind” ceramic mechanism for the internals. This type of mechanism allows for you to adjust the grind from the bottom of the mill, so that you do not have to have an adjustment know sticking through the cap. I found the mechanism to be first-rate.
I enjoyed doing the mill, and will likely do more of these. They are fast , fun and useful.
I received a WorkSharp 3000 for Christmas, and so far I am very impressed. Since the Worksharp has been reviewed to death in woodworking magazines, this will be a short post.
I’ve tried a number of sharpening methods and most recently converted from water stones to the "Scary Sharp" method. I have been very happy with the Scary Sharp method (as well as the water stones before them), but both method methods required setup time and labor.
The Worksharp seems to be a good way to implement a Scary-Sharp-like method as a faster "power sharpening" method. Because of its integral jig, it has a totally repeatable sharpening angle. This makes it very, very fast. You can quickly sharpen a chisel without setup, etc.
I don’t think that the Worksharp makes my tools quite as sharp as water stones, but they are very sharp, and more than sharp enough for general woodwork.
My only real complaint is that the Worksharp can only sharpen plane blades up to 2", so my larger plane blades will not fit in the jig.
For around $199, I think that this is a good machine at a good price.