London Pattern Handle from Southern Live Oak. Part 1. The Octagon.

So, I finally found some time to start trying to make a London Pattern Handle out of some Live Oak. Here is my first attempt. It is during the “I finally got it to be an octagonal shape” phase.

I bought a new old stock Rosewood handle from MJD tools. Isn’t it pretty. I have grand plans to make some handles out of Mexican Royal Ebony. I have the blanks already. I’m learning on some Live Oak from the yard and using the Rosewood one as a pattern of sorts.
I like using this clamp in a vice method to be able to quickly turn the work.
Small diameter tree to handle.

One of the main challenges is that all the how to I’ve read say to start with a square blank. I have 1.75 inch round super straight small branches and trees that I cut down a year or 2 ago. Normally you wouldn’t do this with a branch or small diameter tree because of the pith being too soft. I don’t know what it is about Live Oak, but once it dries the interlocking grain makes a super dense and hard piece of wood. These are some file handle made from branches. They get abused and dropped and so far after 2 years no cracks or checks.

Some of my first handle attempts. You can see the pith. These came out of the burn pile. They are actually super nice to use. Finished with mineral oil.

For any wondering if I will ever finish the Dutch Tool Chest. I finally fit the lid and have started painting with the cheapest natural paint I could find.

I have a white base coat. The second layer will be a few coats of red and the top coat will be green. This paint is non toxic and can be bought just about anywhere in the world. I will also likely be able to get this exact color 20 years from now since Crayola has been making these Tempura paints in the primary colors for decades already. I bought this quart for $2.95 2020 dollars. Milk paint was wayyyy more expensive. I’ll try this.

So here’s the box in paint progress. I hate finishing, so this will take a while.

I’m dreading finishing the painting, but I’m still pretty proud of how it is coming out. I can already envision my homemade London Pattern Handled chisels in the yet to be built rack.
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Bread board ends for the Dutch tool chest underway.

Wish me luck. This is usually where it goes pear shapped.

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Bookstore: Thomas Jefferson bookstand it ain’t, but hold books it does.

Well I got tired of holding my book, Honest Labor, by Lost Art Press. I love all the clips so far of columns ostensibly written by Charles Hayworth. Totally worth the buy, hands down. I did, however, get tired of holding up this heavy tome. So, I knocked together a bookstand. It is 11 inches tall and 7 inches wide joined with a saddle joint cut to make the back 60 degrees to the table. This was too narrow for this wide book so it is sitting on some 11 inch wide scraps. I think I will remake it 11 x 11. Either way it looks horrible and works perfectly. Don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago.

Quick and dirty, but ohhh so useful. I suggest you make one today and try it out for yourself.

I bet if you make one you will find your reading time more peaceful and enjoyable. Who are we to question the wisdom of a great woodworker like Thomas Jefferson 😉

Happy New Year everyone!

Chris

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When to stop and remake the part you keep trying to fiddle into not being bad.

Was about a week ago

Bread board ended lid for my Dutch tool chest. Not too bad looking right?

So, in my defense I have never made a bread board anything before, much less a lid or door. So this has been a learning experience. I think my troubles started where they always do. Stock prep. I had the ends flat and square on the ends, but I think the day after I prepped them they started to twist. I had put so much work into them that I convinced myself that they would straighten up when they were mated with the tenons. Well. Im here to tell you that did not happen. Whats worse is I think I cut the final grove at a slight angle on both ends. THE opposite tilt on both.

Its tilted. I should have thrown these ends out and I could have worked with the lid.

But as always, I pressed on. I blame my stubborn ancestors. 😉

I rationalized, “Well its just a tool chest. Just get it done and move on to that set of shaker cabinets for the bathroom. “

But tonight as I shaved and planed and fiddled to try to get BOTH sides of the lid to sit flat on the chest I finally had to say. Nope. Thats enough. Start over. I know me, if I went forward I would look at my chest everytime I used it and know it was massively flawed. The case came out so good. I can’t spoil it by being lazy and putting on the shitty lid.

See. Doesn’t it look like it deserves a nice lid?

Besides the whole point of this project is to protect my tools from rust, dust and lizard poop. And I can tell you that a Florida lizard can squeeze into an 1/8th inch gap and poop all over your tools.

The the lesson is, sports fans, that I knew about a week or more ago that I should have started over. So I will try and be mindful of that in the future. Here’s to wishing you the wisdom to know when to throw something away. Don’t be like me and poor good shop time into a train wreck.

Thanks for reading. I hope it gave you a chuckle and you can see not everyone gets all their joints perfect. Im going to go and try to glue up another panel. Wish me luck.

Chris

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What happens when you have never inlaid hinges before?

Maybe I was ” in setting ” them. Either way, I had a gross conceptual error.

Looks ok right?

When I laid the lid on their was an 1/8th inch gap. Ummmm, that didn’t seem right?

I forgot that Paul Sellers said once you’ve seen a hinge you’ve seen one hinge.

These hinges look great, but the barrel of each hinge is anything but uniform. Did I mention the dont really seem cylindrical either? I can hear some experienced guys laughing right now. Im guessing its a been there done that kind of issue. Anyhow, I had to shave the bottom of the hinges mortise more on the right side than the left. It was sort of a slope. This made the hinges sit below the plane of the lid and be square. So just to recap, a horribly out of square hinges mortise made the hinge sit square. Everybody still following?

If you see my layout lines on either side you will see the hinge sitting square. Ish .. 🙂

And here are the wages of the sin of drilling and screwing before you test for fit.

Had to sharpen this match with a chisel, just like Paul sharpens his pencils.
This is a highly sophisticated use of kitchen matches, to fill holes you should not have drilled, so you can drill them again in the right spot.

So that’s it for tonight. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,

Chris

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Making a Liveoak Socket Chisel Handle without a lathe.

I found this weird stick in my yard!
And turned it into this beautiful handle. Can’t buy this anywhere 🙂

Well this is my attempt anyway. I acquired some socket chisels recently. I love my Narex chisels. The steel is fantastic and they are rock solid. You know there is a but coming. But, my Narex chisels are heavy and the handle is massive. The massive handle is great when I want to two handed pare or do some various other housing dado like tasks. However, when I was making the breadboard mortises for the Dutch Tool Chest lid, that were about 1/4 wide, the unbalanced Narax was a strain to move around. The 6mm Narex mortise chisel I have works great on the cut and is rock solid, but when I wanted to delicately move down the mortise and take small chops I could almost never get the new position in the cut the first time one handed without handling the chisel by the steel way down by the tip. You know, where it is sharp and cuts your fingers. Yes, I tried to ease the corners.

When I came home with a 1/4 stanley 720 it was so much lighter and easier to manipulate one handed as I would chop and reset, chop and reset while holding the handle. Crazy talk right? I’m sure most of this is me, but I have fallen in love with my 3 new rejects from the scrap pile. I’m also a sucker for taking an orphan tool and making it work again. I had Lie Neilsen chisels in the cart 3 or 4 times, but I’m not there yet. I still have the hunt old tools and fix them up disease. As you can see below, captain hockey tape needs a new handle. I also have been resisting getting a lathe or worse yet making a spring pole lathe. Maybe one day. Until then I will release my inner sculpter and make them slowly with just a vise, rasp and a spokeshave and drawknife.

New one next to the model.
I think my handle is respectable

Main tools.

Mess from work 😉

The bark from the branch is so messy.

Yes, I’m getting closer to the tool chest completion. This weekend is fitting the hinges. Something else I have never done. It will likely take me all my shop time this weekend. Here she is with the lid ready to be fit. I will cut the ends of the bread boards when I get the hinges fit. I think thats my plan.

Please ignore my 5 gallon bucket storage system. This is why I’m learning to build toolboxes 🙂

Have a great day and thanks for reading.

Chris

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Stanley 55 Combination Plane: A long trip to my workbench.

So only galoots or the hand tool obsessed will understand the range of emotions I’m feeling. I won’t say it is as good as my 4 kids being born or getting married, … but it’s up there. After an almost tragic table saw accident about 12 years ago I had just about given up woodworking. I gave away, yes gave away, my 60s era dual cast iron wing craftsman table saw that I had lovingly restored. I gave away my router table, craftsman bandsaw and chop saw. I dismantled all the tables and stands and stations that crowded my shop space. The only thing I kept was my cordless drill and a Walmart special circular saw. I then went on to give away all the sheet goods I had accumulated. My wife was starting to ask if her car fit in the garage. Perish the thought, but I said yes! I told her all I needed now was room for the bag of soccer balls and cones ( long story.. my kids are competitive soccer players. Warning this sport takes much funds away from shop purchases;) ) and my mountain bike. I had decided that since I won’t be woodworking I guess I’d actually ride my bike.

Then one day youtube ruined me forever. They recommended a video of some British guy building a bench out of 2×4 pine studs using a tree in his backyard as a backstop. I like a good laugh so I clicked it. They guy started talking about how he was going to build this bench without a tablesaw or router right in his backyard with, get this, a Number 4 plane, a handsaw and some chisels. He didn’t even have a belt sander to sharpening his chisels.

So skeptical me starts watching. Many hours later, like at 2 in the morning no exaggeration, my wife says, “Hey you have to go to work tomorrow get up and come to bed!” I tried to tell her what had just happened, but until you have had your handtool epiphany you don’t understand.

What had happened you ask? I had watched Paul Sellers give every excruciating and awesome detail on how to take pile of 2x4s like you see when you check out at the box store and turn it into something better than one of those 2500 dollar Swiss benches you see in magazines. This and he did it in his backyard with like 3 or 4 tools and a lifetime of experience and wisdom. Bettet yet, Paul had a hook, the whole time he’s building the bench he’s talking about how a person doesn’t need a garage full of power tools to be a woodworker. What he needs is desire and a small cheap, did I mention I have 4 kids, kit of tools.

That was the day. From that day on I’ve tried to learn all I could. I signed up for Paul’s classes online. I’ve read all the Schwarz books and I’ve built a few decent projects all with handtools. I taught myself to saw and plane by ripping down and planning then 15 or so 2x12x24 southern yellow pine boards for my bench. I was sore and tired but I was never so happy. My kids helped, I wasn’t worried one of them would cut their fingers off or hurt their ears. Anyway, I could go on for hours. Im sure if you are reading this you have some sappy story better than mine about your hand tool conversion.

So, if you’ve read this far your like, show us the damn plane already. So I’ve been hunting for a 55 for at least a decade. The ones I could afford I didn’t want and the ones I wanted I couldn’t afford. Recently the matrix of parameters aligned in the universe to allow me to find a fantastic user 55 with ALL the cutters and pieces that I could also afford. Is it a mint collector’s item, no. Would you have to fight me to get it away from me, you bet your ass.

Thanks for reading heres my new to me 55.

Gotta love the lid. No I’m not changing it.
One neat little package.

All apart.
All together ❤

PS I have a plan to use it, so it won’t take me 6 years to get around to it, knock on wood.

PPS I noticed when I was proofing my post that you see a ubiquitous shot of my Stanley 10-049 box cutter. I use it as my marking knife, just like Paul told us to do. I’ve tried others, I have a Japanese knife that is awesome. At the end of the day, I almost always reach for that ugly little box cutter to mark my work and make my “knife wall”. If you see these in people’s posts or in their videos it’s the telltale sign that they are a Sellers disciple. Most, to me, don’t seem to like to give Paul credit. I guess to some he is radical, but I am proud to say that I owe my hand tool journey to Paul and his dedicated team. Yes, I’ve started reading all Charles Hayward as written (I’m reading “Honest Labor” from Lost Art Press and it is worth every penny!), this will take a while, but Paul is where I started and I just want to say thank you! And yes, I do sharpen that blade it came with about 10 years ago on my diamond stones and polish on my Arkansas.  I have a spare pack, I’m just too lazy to open the pack, unscrew the cutter, and install the new blade. I will probably have to snap off the tip to think about a new blade …  all though I do have a grinder, I could just reshape the tip 🙂 Thank you, Paul.

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Get the 10 inch vise you won’t regret it

If you are wavering between the now 98 dollar 9 inch eclipse vise or the 146 dollar 10 inch vise, get the 10 inch. I have a small 5 foot by 2 foot wide bench. Disclaimer, it is heavy. I have 4 inch wide legs and a laminated 5 inch SYP top. Anyhow, in my work on fitting the lid to the Dutch Tool Chest I needed to plane the 30 degree angle sides flat and square to the lid. I couldn’t figure out how to hold it and then a little voice said, “Hey Try the vise”. It works! The carcass is about 12 and 3/4 inch wide.

Now I just have to work up the courage to plane the twist out of the lid.

Thanks for Reading!

Chris

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The troubles with my bread board ends and other assundry joinery problems

I’ve been making decent progress on my dutch tool chest. After owning a Stanley 45 for about 6 years I finally worked up the courage to use it. I started by making the tongue and groove back for my chest.

Tongue and groove back nailed in with cut concrete nails.

It came out ok and it was flat. I let the fact that the tongues left little gaps here and there not bother me too much. The trouble was I don’t know where to trim. I planned off a set of tongue and groove and started again, but had the same result. Making the groove a little deeper seemed to help with the show line on the back, but the groove on the end has a gap. Would love to hear from some stanley 45 TandG experts. Overall, though I loved it. I was able to cut them smoothly without issues or much fuzzy tearout.

My Stanley 45, pre micro adjuster on the fence. More on this later.

I did spend about 3 hours grinding the bevels, sharpening and honing the T and G irons. This time was well spent. They cut super smooth. Any errors or gaps were my fault.

The I glued up a panel for the top. This went great.

Ready to be a lid. I grabbed two of my turning blanks of exotic wood for cauls.

Making the tenons went ok. I followed the Will Meyers method and used my 45 to cut a groove on both sides down to my gauge lines. Then I made tenons and left. 3/4 inch shoulder.

Tight on one side.
1/16th inch gap on the other.

I’m afraid to trim any more off the tenons or the shoulders on the lid or the edge of the mortise board. The all seem as flat as I can get them. Any ideas yall may have on what to look for would be much appreciated. I feel happy that I pushed myself to use the 45 to do some joinery. I could have just used battens and edge glued the back. But the perfectionist in me wants to know what I’m actually supposed to do so these joints meet properly. Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the US and best wishes to all my friends in far away places.

Thanks for reading.

Chris

PS. If you look at the picture real close you will see what followed me home from the antique mall that usually barley has a decent chisel or saw. Last Wednesday I turned a corner and saw this 1925 ish sweetheart 45 with the micoradjust fence, all the screws and all the fencers and a 1/4 inch iron. It had what looked like 3 layers of shellac from an antique dealer on it, but the price was so low, 2 digits, that I grabbed it and walked as fast as I could to the check out. I’ve ruined my antique store luck forever, but now my kids have two 45s to inherit :).

That little adjuster makes centering the cut on the edge of a board soo much easier
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Late to the Dutch Tool Chest Party

Better late than never. And so it begins. Essentially I got tired of all the lizards in my Florida workshop pooping all over my tools. Time for a proper tool chest with the ever important dust seal. I’m attempting to make the Schwarz small version with a bottom box for it to sit on to bring it to bench height. The Schwarz made a great bottom box with casters while at the Woodrights School and blogged about it. Wish me luck, I’ll need it. I hope my turns out half as awesome as Brian Eve’s from over at the toolerable blog.

Suck it up and make the dovetails.
I’ve always wanted a moxon, but as a Paul Sellers devotee I can use several clamps, a batton, and a bench vise to do the same thing. I love my vise.
I’ve also become a fan of the Joel Mosckovitz 2 stone sharpening method. If you look on YouTube there is a fantastic video with Joel and Maurice Frasier showing their sharpening method. I can finally shave pine endgrain with gentle pressure. For me, the arm hair test doesn’t cut it. I go for sharpening enough to one handed push in pine end grain and get a glistening surface and a little curl. This setup is a medium India stone and a translucent Arkansas. You can get away with any Arkansas stone, I’ve tried it, but I have a translucent so what the heck. I hone on that. Ballistol, cut 50:50 with light mineral oil is my lubricant of choice. Non toxic and smells like black liquorice.

Thanks for reading.

-Chris from Florida

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