Back in the shop. Finally!

The small chisel was still sharp after a year and only needed a little stropping to shave hair.

Been a long time coming. Been a long year with many distractions from my Paul Sellers inspired bookcase I started a year ago. I was so close back then. Had all the shelves made and hand cut the dados and fitted the shelves. Just needed to add in the cross rails. I had even cut the rails and put on the tennons. Tonight, a year later, I just buckled down and laid out one of the center rail mortises and chopped it out. Fits good enough and is square. Hopefully, it won’t take me another year to finish. I have stacks of old woodworking books waiting for a proper home. Wish me luck.

2 rails fit on one side.

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You can’t make this stuff up. Milking the reindeer. Merry Christmas everyone.

So i’m reading the unpluggedshop blog aggregator and I happened upon this:

Great pictures of crafts in Sweden. So I’m showing the pictures to my wife on and no lie I flip the page and there is a picture of a woman milking a reindeer. You can’t make this stuff up. I had to post it.

Here’s how that day went:
“Now Helga, be a good girl and go out and milk the reindeer so that strange man can take your picture for his book.”
“But mom, it’s Ursula’s turn to milk the reindeer. I did it yesterday.”

“Don’t argue with me Helga you know that damn reindeer has to be milked, so go milk it.”

feel free to share and make me famous on facebook 😉
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Werkzeug Eisen: Roman Iron Tools

Thanks to Chris Schwarz and the Lost Art Press team for making me spend hours looking at old books in a language I can’t remember from High School. Seriously, thank you. For all the woodworking history buffs, this type of shared literature adds a depth to the craft way beyond what most of us read on a daily basis. Great article:


The drawings are a hoot to look at!

Volume 1 (

Volume 2 (

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Hurricane Hermine  took out the old gate

It was a crappy gate with a z brace screwed right to a cut up piece of pressure treated fence panel. To be fair to me, it was the gate that came with the house and I just kept scabbing on to it. The 2×3 stringers were so wet and rotten that one good gust bent the crappy hinges and that’s all she wrote. I gave a brief thought to scabbing on a new z brace with new wood, banging the hinges flat and re attaching it. That is what I should have done, but Paul Sellers was in my head. He was saying I could do better. His phrase is “it’s not what you make but how you make it”. Que the mortise and tenon music. I made a new gate. It won’t win any awards, but I’m so Damn proud of it. Six tenons later I have a new gate. All by hand. All with hand tools and one cordless drill. Behold the awesomeness that is the new gate.

Lots of work for the stanley 78 and the mortise chisel. Go narex, it was great.


I spilt  cut the tenons. This was harry, but very fast. I recommend it. Faster than sawing. By the way, pine has knots in case you didn’t know. I apparently forgot. 😉

Old gate. Ughhhh.

Stole the design from Charles Hayward garden woodworking book.

Finally got my holdfasts holding fast. Another super time saver. No clamps to mess with. All in all, I’m happy I challenged myself to this. Took 3 days of about 5 hours of dedicated working time, but I think I could cut that in half. Now that I have some serious mortise and tenon time in. I know I only cut six. But they were through tenons in 2x4s. Hard for me nd pine is not forgiving. Lots of sharpening to keep from chopping or paring outside my lines.



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John Townsend Cabinet Maker Free Download

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Who don’t love free. Thank you met museum of art. Goddard and Townsend were Quaker cabinet makers from Newport, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, who made furniture so exquisite it is now in the Met. More about them here:


I wish my shop notebook looked this good. It seems all great cabinet makers were also great artists in their own right.


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Photo from:

John Townsend Newport Cabinetmaker, Heckscher, Morrison H., with the assistance of Lori Zabar (2005)

The images are great. Also, I have to ask. How come in the olden days they kept all the goats on an island. They must have smelled really bad back then 🙂

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Photo from:

John Townsend Newport Cabinetmaker, Heckscher, Morrison H., with the assistance of Lori Zabar (2005)


To get the pdf download of the book, checkout the link below.

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Use a string along the centerline to draw an arc.


Or… The Mothers day chairs made from old pallets with help from some crusty 2×4’s. So, as you can see I was unhappy with the first arc. Right by my hand you will notice it runs off the edge of one of the boards. To fix this I took a couple more turns on the pencil and tried again. Second times the charm. My kids said I was so smart, but I fessed up and said some one smarter than me invented this. Probably the Egyptians.


Now for the hard part. I resisted the urge to get out the jig saw. Its one of the only power tools I have left. I gave away the table saw, chop saw, router table and other jig a madoos. I’ve been forcing myself to do all hand operations. I did cheat and use a cordless drill on this for the countersinking. To make up for this blasphemy I figured I had to make an offering at the alter of the coping saw. Ugh!! I chop out dovetail waste, just so I don’t have to use this coping saw. I hate it. I dream of building a bowsaw, but I haven’t gotten around to it. I have a tendency to spend more time fittering over making tools and shooting boards and benches than I do making furniture. So, in 2016 I said I would buckle down and make some stuff. About a month ago, when I showed my wife the drawings for the 2 chairs I was making as gifts for grandma and aunt she laughed and said, “You’re going to have them done by mothers day. Ha! And you have to take apart two pallets too. Never happen.” I am a masochist, I should have just bought the wood, but I liked the idea of giving some old wood a new and more productive life.  I had a secret plan. I’d get help. I had my two boys Ethan and CJ help. They helped tear down the pallets. They made cuts for the wood, drilled holes, sanded. It was fulfilling watching them making things with their hands and we finished the chairs quicker than I thought possible. For all the doubters, checkout the next shot. Its money.


The other chair we painted barn red and delivered a week early to our aunt. This one we are leaving the painting to Gigi, grandma. She loves to paint stuff, so the boys convinced me to let her do it.  It may not look like much, but a month ago it looked like a dirty pallet 😉


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Fig. 79 Workman and Bench

Is this all you need. I love the stretchers. I wish I had enough time to read all the old books.


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Checkout the hinge used as a bench stop. I could do that!


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I’m waiting for Chris Schwarz to make a staked 3 legged saw bench!


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