I’ve been needing a strop that I can use to touch up my gouges for a while, and have been mostly getting by with a flat strop. Last week, I grabbed a piece of ash from the scrap pile, and shaped it with the bandsaw, gouges, and spokeshaves. Yesterday I formed a piece of leather to it (but forgot about the clamps marking the leather). Today I contact-cemented the leather in place. It works pretty well for sweeps up to a seven.

concave face of the strop

flat fed of the strop

curved edge of the strop

end-view of the strop profile

I’ll probably wet the leather again and see if I can get the clamp impressions out of the leather, but it’s working well enough that I may not bother.

#HandyTools #woodworking #leatherworking

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front view of angled carving rest

Sort of a micro-project, but it will enable a lot of other things.

I had a couple triangular braces I’ll be putting on the insides of the legs of a bench I’m working on, and I plan to do a bit of carving on the bench itself and on the legs, but I haven’t done any serious carving for a while, so I thought I should warm up by carving the braces. Plus, they’ll make a neat surprise for anyone who looks underneath the bench.

So I cut some 45°︎ angles in some pine and glued and screwed it together to hold the angled pieces with their faces level. And it works pretty well. I clamp the “hook” at the front end in my face vise, and rest the piece in the trough, and I can carve away without have to worry much about workholding.

angled carving rest and carved triangular brace

Also unpacked a box that had my texturing tools in it yesterday, so now I’ve got those to play with. The bench these braces will go onto will be going to a couple who were in their 50s and 60s when they found each other and got married, so I figured adding paired hearts would be a nice touch.

The wood I’m carving is some “cherry” that came from India in a crate holding a slab of stone. Not sure what it really is, but it’s pretty enough that I feel a little bad using it for mere braces, but there you have it.

#HandyTools #project

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Originally written Dec 18, 2021

miter box bench side view

oblique left view of the bench

I bought a miter box from another woodworker a while back, and needed a place to set it up, since my main workbench is a bit… chaotic most of the time. I also had scored four 92 inch long 4×6s from a neighbor, who had planned to use them as the corners of a pergola he never got started on.

First step was cutting down the 4×6s to 30-ish inch lengths and taking off the rounded corners, giving me nine 4×5s. Then I started building.

I started by cutting a recess for the Veritas small inset vise into the top of the bench, and cutting a line of ¾” square dog holes along the edge of the “front” board of the bench. With those two boards glued together, I attached a couple legs.

close-up of the inset vise

I also glued up the back of the bench, three 4×5s and a couple legs.

The bench in two pieces

My joinery wasn't great, but I had a couple ½×10” carriage bolts, so I put one of those through each of the front legs and tightened them down. Much more sturdy! For the back legs, they got three 4” long deck screws each.

Gluing the two halves of the bench together

That done, I glued the two assemblies together, aiming to get the top of the bench as flat as possible. Then I braced the legs with a tubafor, mortised into the legs (with more deck screws).

Bracing the legs with two-by-fours

A little flattening of the top, then leveling of the legs later, plus a few coats of BLO, and it was time to wrap things up.

The miter box sits on two ¾” thick scraps of pine left over from my bookcases. This makes the deck at the same height as my main workbench, so I can use that to support a long end of a board.

miter box installed on the bench

I also made a deck for my Stanley 77 dowel maker so I can mount it on the front of the bench when I need to make dowels.

Definitely not the prettiest construction, but I find myself using the small vise very often when working small parts. I've got two pine-scrap dogs to go with it that are enough for now.

Stanley 77 dowel maker held in the inset vise

Update February 9, 2023

I'm still using the bench on a regular basis. The only thing I've changed about it is that I painted a bunch of it with leftover paint from other projects, and I added a Veritas Universal Vise to the left front corner of the bench to hold things I want to carve.

Update March 12, 2024

Miter box bench with carving vise and small inset vise holding a board I made grooves in with a Luban 043.

This is a recent photo of the bench in use. The green carving vise is to the left, and in front is a board which will be one of the long sides of the box that’s going to hold my pen-making supplies after I put in some grooves with the Luban 043, which is sitting on top of the pine board.

#project #woodworking #HandyTools

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After using this a few times, I made some updates (in mid-July 2023) and they’re detailed at the end.

clamping a small piece of wood, similar in thickness to a piece of leather

clamping a ¾ inch piece of wood

A couple evenings back, I was watching some YouTube in the evening and saw a one-day build by Adam Savage of a stitching pony. I’ve been wanting a stitching pony for a while for when I make a sheath for a knife I’ve made, but watching his build, he was talking about using it for holding metal for filing and a bunch of other uses. That gave me the push I needed in order to build one for myself.

screen grab of Adam Savage demonstrating his stitching pony

I started by cutting the arms from a piece of pine I had on hand. Rather than using plywood so the arms would be sprung, I decided I was going to use a couple pieces of hinge. It won’t spring open like his does, but I think it’ll still work pretty well, and if I make one of something nicer than pine, I can get fancier.

stitching pony with the lever removed and laid flat - the hinges are visible

With the arms built, I found an inch square piece of ash, and drilled a half dozen holes in it. Rather than having a spinning piece of wood to adjust the range of the clamp, I figured multiple holes which I can slot a bolt or a dowel through would be easier. Since drilling round holes is easier than chopping square mortises, I made the hole in the arm with that adjuster a ⅞ inch round hole, and turned the end of the lever arm round on the lathe.

round hole in one of the arms, with the round end of the level arm and adjustment holes visible

I left the other end square, and cut a slot into it to hold the cam on the lever arm. The cam was a circle drawn using a pop can, then made bigger on one side and smaller on the other. And then once I assembled everything the first time and realized that the handle restricted me to only a half-turn, I adjusted the curve so it would have the full ¾ inch of travel I needed based on the holes I had drilled. To match the square end, I had to chop a square 1 inch mortise in the other arm.

square hole on the other arm, with lever arm and cam

With it working, I added a cleat to the foot of the pony so I can hang it on the cleats on my wall. It’ll get a coat of oil after I contact-cement some leather pads to the jaws tomorrow. With the holes in the lever arm spaced ¾ inch apart, and with six of them, I can clamp anything from paper thin up to 4½ inches thick, though thicker things will have the jaws at an inconvenient angle, so I probably won’t ever use it for anything thicker than an inch or so. But I could make hinged jaws too…

pony hanging from a cleat on the wall

And that’s it.

Update July 17, 2023:

After using the pony some, I made a few minor modifications to make it work better. First, I rounded the bottoms and sides of the jaws, so the thread wouldn’t hang up on them as I was working.

Rounded stitching pony jaws

And second, I shortened the arm in the cam clamp. I can’t see ever needing those last two or three adjustment slots, and if I do, I can always make a longer arm again.

Shortened clamp arm

I’ll work with those changes for a few more projects, and if they’re good, the pony will get a coat of two of oil.

#woodworking #project #clamp #HandyTools

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The simpler of the two squares I made

During the last surprise swap, Bill Berklich made Squares Everywhere and I thought that was fairly neat. I'm going to be building a bunch of bookcases for our home, and rather than dive right in, I figured I could procrastinate by building some of my own. I went back and looked up Chris Schwarz's writeup online, and then started digging through my scraps.

Back side of simpler square

I found a fairly nice scrap of mahogany, and a birch 1×3. Since I wasn't sure what I was doing, I slapped together the square you see above. Nothing fancy at all, but it's actually square and I can use it to mark edges, but only in one direction. And shaping the mahogany got me some practice cutting curves and such (and encouraged me to finish my spokeshave so I could clean up the curvy edges).

Side 1 of the fancier square

Next was putting a profile on the birch board so I could make a fancy handle. I cut a rebate and plowed a groove in the birch, then got out my hollows and rounds and made the profile you see on the handles in pictures 1 and 2. Then I cut another rebate in the back of the board and sawed off a couple lengths in the section where my profile worked cleanly. I got the mahogany shaped, and carved a few patterns in it. The longer lines are done with a straight gouge, stabbing in twice to make a V, which is a technique I want to get better at for carving letters. And it meant I had to find my gouges and carpet tape so I could hold the piece while carving it.

Side 2 of the fancier square

Then it was time to glue things up. I drilled a couple 4/16th holes, and used some dowels to align the pieces so they'd stay square. After gluing them together, I had to run a plane along the edges to get things actually square, and run a chisel along the joint to clean up the glue squeeze-out.

Then a coat of linseed oil, and a light coat of wax, and it's done, and I managed to put off the real project for almost a full week.

Update Jan 26, 2023: I still use these two squares on a regular basis. They're a gateway drug into making your own tools, and I'm definitely hooked.

#woodworking #handyTools

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Originally written Apr 18, 2020

top and bottom views of the spokeshave

Started with a piece of katalox from Savage Woods, a spokeshave blade from Ron Hock and some directions, which I mostly ignored, as I've done this before.

I found that working katalox is pretty challenging. It's a very hard wood, and while attempting to drill a pilot hole before drilling the larger radius hole for the curve in the handle, I snapped off the drill bit in the wood, and then had to work around that until I cut away enough wood to free the bit.

Bottom view of the shave

Shaped the handle with drills, turning saws, rasps, files, a knife, and probably some cursing, too. Not sure which was the most effective, but I got there in the end. I mostly finished with the knife and a file. Hit the shave with a coat of oil, and here we are. It needs a little fine-tuning yet, but I sliced a bit off my finger testing how wide the mouth was, so I'm going to write it up and call it a day.

top view of the shave

Update Jan 26, 2023: This is still one of my most-used spokeshaves. This is my low-angle one, and the small shave from HNT Gordon is my high-angle version. Really glad I made this one, though.

#woodworking #handyTools #toolmaking

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Originally written May 9, 2021

Finished dovetail saw with cherry handle, right side

Finished dovetail saw with cherry handle, left side

I bought a beat up dovetail saw on eBay. Put a fairly minimal bid on it (it was $25 with free shipping) and won. It's shown below. My goal was to have a saw I could practice sharpening and other saw maintenance tasks on, and not feel too bad if I screwed it up.

Saw, as bought

When it arrived, almost a year ago, the handle was even worse than it had looked in the photos, and was just too small for my hands, so I set the saw aside for a while and got on with other projects. Recently, I got “stuck” during my build for the plane swap and needed to work on something else while I thought about how to get past the problem I had created for myself.

I sat down and tried to unscrew the saw nuts on the saw I'd bought. Turned out they were rivets. I ended up destroying the handle I order to get it off, and the holes in the plate were pretty nasty looking. I filed the holes flat (they looked like they'd been punched through the metal, rather than drilled) and started shaping a new handle.

Rough-cut saw handle with the layout lines still visible

I traced the handle on a Bad Axe saw I bought, which fits me pretty well, onto a piece of 5/4 curly cherry I had. There was a knot in it, but I put that in the section that would end up “inside” the handle.

Then I did some shaping with files and such while I waited for new steel saw nuts to arrive in the mail, and then again while I waited for a 3/16 carbide drill bit to arrive after I'd mistakenly ordered a 3/32 bit.

Saw handle partially shaped

Saw handle more shaped, with a coat of oil on it, right view

Saw handle more shaped, with a coat of oil on it, left view

I also pulled the back off the saw plate and cleaned up both the back and the plate. There was a fairly generic “Warranted Superior, Sheffield” etch that was almost gone (or had been etched lightly to begin with). I sanded it away, rather than trying to preserve it. I'm pretty sure this was a post-WWII saw, and nothing special, given the red plastic washer in place of a medallion and the riveted saw nuts.

I got the handle mostly shaped by the time the new saw nuts and drill bit arrived, so I was excited to get things put together. But I'd finished the handle at about an inch thick, which fits my big hands pretty well, but didn't fit the ⅞” long saw nuts I'd bought. D'Ohh!

So I took the handle to the belt sander and thinned it up a little. Which turned out to be good, since when I sawed the slot in it, I'd gotten it a little bit off, and it was off-center and aimed the blade a little to the right. Sanding the handle down let me fix that.

Saw handle, after sanding it thinner, left view

Saw handle, after sanding it thinner, right view, which is now completely flat again

Then I had to reshape and re-oil the handle, but I did that with it on the saw. That let me test it as I went, making sure that it pointed straight and felt right. Last step was cutting chamfers at the top of the handle where the back went into the wood.

A couple coats of BLO later, and the saw is in use in my collection. And I learned quite a bit along the way, and have a saw I can practice sharpening on without worrying about destroying an expensive saw.

Handy Tools #woodworking #saw #handyTools #tools

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Originally written August 20, 2017

Back when I got my Roubo Frame saw kit from Bad Axe Toolworks, I also got the kerfing plane kit. I finally got around to finishing that this morning, and have put it to use.

With the kit you get a saw plate and a cherry board. Step one is cutting a hand-hold in the board. A couple different spade bits, some connect-the-dots with a coping saw, and some smoothing with rasps and files and I had that done.

hand-hold cut, but not smoothed

hand-hold smoothed

Next was cutting a rabbet for the fence. Two saw cuts, and a little cleanup with a rabbet plane, and that was done.

Since I'm mostly after ¼ to ⅜ thick stock at the moment, I decided to make my fixed fence with a ⅜” kerf. So I clamped a couple ⅜×3/16 brass bars to the fence, and sawed right next to them with my pull saw. As it's just barely long enough, I had to start the kerf on one end, other, and then bring down the middle until it was level.

Cutting one part of the kerf for the blade

Cutting the kerf for the blade from the other side

Drill a few holes, and put in the saw plate with the provided saw nuts (much easier said than done), and I had a completed kerfing plane, as shown in the first picture. The final picture shows a ½” deep kerf I cut in a poplar board to test things out. Looks pretty good!

Contents #woodworking #handyTools #tools

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A while back I saw a guide that MaFe had made for his circular saw at his allotment house. I thought it was a pretty neat idea and now that I have a bunch of cross-cutting coming when I start on my bookcases, I decided I needed one.

Circular saw track guide with circular saw sitting on it

It's pretty simple. A 2×2 foot piece of ¾” plywood, two 2-foot tubafors, two 2-foot pieces of angle iron, and a few pieces of quarter-inch MDF.

Top view of the track guide

I glued and screwed the tubafors to the plywood. Next, I screwed the angle iron to the tubafors, making sure I had right angles (probably the most important bit). Covered the screws with some MDF I glued down, and then added a couple more layers of MDF so the motor housing on the saw can't hit the angle iron, no matter how deep I adjust the saw.

Front view of the track guide, showing the MDF holding the saw so the saw won't hit the angle iron sides of the track

The only snag is that this means the saw blade can't quite reach all the way to the plywood base, so I'll likely add one more piece of MDF on top of the base to raise the piece of wood I'm cutting. But I want to figure out the stop I'm going to add before I raise the base.

Top view of the track guide with the saw resting in the track

I also added a few stops. They're basically a scrap piece of pine screwed down to the base, with marks on the far 2x4 to show me where to align each stop. Simple, and fairly fool-proof. I cut board for 70 cases and a dozen plinths, and the biggest variance I could find as I was stacking up the cases was 1/16 inch.

Contents #woodworking #jig #handyTools

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