Jefferson Monticello Bookcase

Image Credit: Thomas Jefferson Foundation/Robert C. Lautman

Copyright © Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. (

Mr. Jefferson may have called them book cases or book presses. In 1815 he ceded, thats right according to historians he never referred to the sale of his library to start the Library of Congress as a sale.[1] This was  a sale of thousands of books. Its hard to understand the ability to amass over six thousand books in the 18th century. It must have been a life’s work. I’m sure he thought long and hard at the parting. Whether he did it out of altruism,  the library was in a poor way after the British burned DC during the war of 1812, or as some say he needed the money, we may never truly know. We, however, are the beneficiaries of his decision. In the end Mr. Jefferson sent almost his whole library to DC.

History gives us context, but the part that concerns us here is logistics. How do you move a whole library in 1812. You don’t back up a tractor trailer and have plastic totes to load all the books. So what did they do. Simple, they just nailed cheap pine boards as lids to the tops of Mr. Jefferson’s simply, yet ingeniously designed book presses.

Jefferson Bookcase from Down Under,

You see each one was an independent unit. [2] The smaller ones stacked on top of the larger ones and they all sat on a ready made plinth. Plinth is a fancy term for a low stand that was about 49 inches wide and about 5 1/4 inches tall. Each successive book press was 48 inches wide, dovetailed at all the corners with what looks like a nailed on 1/2 inch thick back. The bottom was about 18 inches tall and 13 inches deep and the middle and top cases became shallower and not as tall but remained 48 inches wide. They were all made out of lovely southern pine. Personally, I love this design for its simplicity and utility. I think Mr. Jefferson will be amazing us for centuries to come. I think I’ll go down to the home center and pick up some pine and make press me out some book er… cases.

[1] Book Boxes,

[2] Library (Book Room),

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Who doesn’t love Stanley Everlasting Chisels


Photo from

So I didn’t write this post to brag, ok maybe a little. I just wanted to share how much I love these chisels and the balance they have in your hand that I had never experienced before. I’m a convert. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The tool hunting gods smiled on me over the last few weeks. I have no idea if I’ve used up all my luck forever, but I scored this set of Stanley Everlasting Chisels along with a Stanley 45 combination plane complete down to the screw driver and chestnut box and a Stanley 71 1/2 router plane with all its parts and the 1/2 inch iron. Oh and I didn’t have to sell all my blood or my soul to get them. In fact i won’t say what I paid because you will think I took advantage of an old widower with cataracts at a yard sale. Suffice it to say I’m still mostly speechless.


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Stanley No. 1 Plane for sale for $1.02

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Picture from Hammacher, Schlemmer & Co. – Tools and Benches for Manual Training and Technical Schools

I’m shamelessly hoping the Google overlords direct all would be searches for the unicorn Stanley Number 1 plane to this post. If you’d like to buy a Stanley Number 1 plane for $1.02 you’ll just need a time machine. Ebay wasn’t around but good old H&S had you covered. If you figure how to get that time machine working pick me up 24 or so. Its funny, I always heard that the much sought after Stanley No. 1 was only a lark, a salesman’s sample to carry around or a novelty. So the other day I’m reading a blog post that talks about the old ‘Hammacher, Schlemmer & Co. – Tools and Benches for Manual Training and Technical Schools‘ and I see the section for Stanley planes. As a Stanley plane nut, I had to look. Low and behold they were selling the Stanley No. 1 to schools, for Manual training. Go figure, after 100 years the collective wisdom goes far afield of common knowledge. For some details and other great Stanley plane lore, visit ‘Patrick’s Blood and Gore‘ internet encyclopedia and defacto source documents on all things Stanley.

All this harkens back to a time when Manual Training was an integral part of all education. Maybe someday it will be again. Another way to look at it is that a hundred years ago all 7th and 8th graders were better woodworkers than most of us folks today. And they only spent a buck O two on their Stanley Number 1’s.

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Picture from Manual training magazine. v.11 1909-1910. ,

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Hummus off. Kids cooking.

Kids wanted to have a cooking competition.  So they all made hummus. I enjoyed the results.




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L’ART DU Menusier. Build and grow. It’s not nice to make grown men cry.


My Andre Roubo book of plates arrived today via mail man. My wife was surprising me for our anniversary. It came as I was working on a build and grow race car with my youngest daughter.  Abby seems to have the woodworker bug. She was the one to twist my arm today to work on the wooden race car we have been building. So I put aside my book of plates and put stickers on press board pieces that are nailed into predrilled holes. I think Mr. Roubo would have approved.


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Arkansas stones hopefully forever.


Here’s my new set of stones and a strop. Washita, soft and black. I haven’t named them yet but since I’ll be spending a lot of time with them I’m thinking Larry, Curly and Moe. I have had them for a few days and can’t decide to use water or oil. I know if I use oil it will be olive, but once I choose it will be hard to go back to water.  Either way I’m excited.  No more torn sandpaper. Now I just have to finish the Roubo so I can justify spending time carving some cedar or cypress boxes for them. Like the Scwarz recommended I’m going to try them for at least a year and since everything is getting pretty dull I’ll have to pick water or oil soon.

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Happy New Year time to flatten the top of my Roubo

Don’t ask me why I picked this as my first hand tool project. I ask myself everyday. Almost flat. The pencil mark trick I just learned helps find low spots. Kind of like blue ink and metal work which I already knew but somehow completely escaped me for this woodworking project. Ahh, I’ve been schwarzed.


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