Saturday, July 31, 2010

Horse Care Tote

My wife recently bought a horse, and she needed a tote for carrying around horse care items like brushes and spray bottles. This would be something that would be used in a horse barn, a rough, dirty environment. It would have to survive being crammed into a tack closet, set down on a mucky floor, kicked, and stepped on. Obviously not a fine piece. A simple square-sided rectangular tote with center handle, similar to a carpenter's tool tote, would suffice.

I decided this would be a good time to try out the dovetail method Frank Klausz describes in Hand Tool Essentials, "The Final Word on Dovetails". This is a pins-first shoot-from-the-hip method, no layout. So I bought some pine 1x6 at the home center and performed basic stock preparation in the FEWTEL sequence.

Breaking down the boards to rough lengths, working around the knots.

Face: planing the reference face flat with a #6.

Edge: jointing the reference edge 90 degrees to the face with the #6.

Marking the jointed edge, meeting up with the face mark. This arris will be the inside bottom corner on each piece.

Width: I'm using the lumber at its dimensioned width, so no need to rip or joint it. But I want to take the stock down to 5/8" to reduce the weight. Gauging the edge all around.

Thickness: traversing with a #5 using a cambered iron set rank.

Flattening the reduced face with the #6.

End: trimming the rough-cut end for a clean cut, followed by shooting the end grain clean.

Length: after cutting to length just shy of the line, shooting the end grain with the #6 to bring it down to exact length, perfectly square.

An alternate work-holding setup for the shorter end pieces.

The work piece is completely loose here, restrained in two directions by battens. Planing is done against one batten or the other on a slight diagonal, so the remaining batten keeps the piece from sliding around.

The left batten is held in the vise and backed up by the planing stop; the edge can be tipped up at various angles for working thicker stock. The long rear batten has short 3/4" dowels glued in; these fit into dog holes drilled into the benchtop for this purpose. A second pair of holes allows the batten to be moved back another 6" for wider pieces (use the batten itself as the template for the holes before gluing in the dowels). This is a versatile setup that allows quick changing of pieces of various dimension.

Next step was Frank's method for the dovetail pins (defining three tails) on one of the sides. First, I gauged all around the end, marking a baseline equal to the thickness off the matching piece plus a hair. The rest is all by eye, just do what looks pleasing.

Make oppositely-angled cuts straight down at each end, then the next inside pin cut at the right end, parallel to the one at the left end. This defines the right-most tail shape. Then make another parallel cut splitting the difference, shown here. Finally, make the oppositely-angled cuts to define the remaining two pins. Repeat for all four corners.

After marking the waste pieces with X's (don't want to chisel off the wrong part!), chiseling them out. Chris Schwarz calls this method "beavering out", alternately straight down and then angled in, halfway on one side and then flipping the pieces and completing from the other side. Note the high-tech light-duty mallet: a pretty chunk of firewood rescued from the pile and shaved down.

Transferring the lines to the tail pieces. Remember that the tails spread OUT!

Cutting the tails: straight across, angled down, just to the waste side of the lines.

Trimming off the half-pin end waste next to the first tail, followed by beavering out the waste between the tails. Repeat for all four corners.

There followed a fidgety period of fitting the matching corners together, paring the tails to straighten up their sides and fit snugly. Unfortuntely, this caused some of the thin tail tips to crumble a bit. Agh! That's what I get for using softwood.

Full test assembly.

I was impressed with how solid it was without any glue. So I decided to do a little stress test. Ever do that project in junior high school where you build a model wooden bridge and then load it with weights to see how much it holds before collapsing?

Not-Koyaanisqatsi: making good use of my V-blocks. 50 lbs of iron dumbbells in compressive load on the diagonal, not a groan, nothing budging. Ok, don't push your luck. Take the shot before it falls over!

Testing for square after the load: both diagonals match.

Everything stayed good and tight with no racking. Nice one, Frank! Of course, his sample in the book looked a lot cleaner than mine. How many thousand has he done?

Next will be grooving for the bottom and fitting the handle before final assembly.

(Continue to part 2)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Intro Hand Tools: References

Go: Intro Hand Tools Main Page | Table Of Contents

References are normally listed at the end, but I want to give credit where credit is due and show you where you can go for more information. I've distilled things into primary and secondary references below, in roughly chronological order.

All of the individual images are links taking you to a source where you can buy the item online. I earn a small commission from sales as a referring site. But more importantly, the authors and associated people who put time and effort into them, and who are trying to earn a living from them, are rewarded for their efforts. Without their hard work, this information might have been lost. By supporting them, you enable them to produce more.

Primary References
Secondary References

These are the sources I've learned from over the past 4 years. I continue to learn from them as I progress and go back to re-evaluate them.

Primary references are the ones I feel provide the best instruction for the beginner trying to learn the fundamental techniques. Secondary references provide supplementary information or are good substitutes if the primaries aren’t available.

The books range from reprints of centuries-old historical works through early- and mid-20th century to contemporary. That provides nice historical continuity and different perspectives. Some are no longer in print but are available used. Two nice recent trends are the digital publication of historical works in the public domain, and republication of out-of-print classics; these help make obscure or out-of-print materials accessible to the rest of us.

The online forums listed on my links page are an excellent additional resource. You can dig through huge treasure troves of knowledge, and post questions to a wide base of fellow woodworkers. Just be prepared for the occasional stormy rough and tumble of conflicting opinions!

Some Comments
These aren't the only worthwhile references. They just happen to be the ones that I own and think are good for getting started. There are many other good books and videos available; I don't mean to imply that they're not useful by their absence here.

Of the contemporary authors, I'm most partial to Chris Schwarz and Roy Underhill. Chris' work has completely transformed my hobby, and he got me to pay attention to people like Roy, who's been out there waving his arms at us for nearly 30 years.

Occasionally you'll see some pretty baldly-stated opinions about what works and what doesn't, especially in the forums. I always take anything that claims to be "the best method" or "the only method worth knowing" with a grain of salt. There are also opinions of the "that just doesn't work" type, even when someone has been doing perfectly fine using it.

There are many ways to do the same things. That's why it's good to use multiple sources. In addition, each teacher has a different emphasis and presentation. Details that might not be apparent in one may show up better in another.

That also answers the question, "If these books and videos are so good, why are you doing your own version?" I have my own interpretations to offer, skewed to the beginner, since I was only recently a rank novice myself. I still have plenty of room for improvement, but I know enough to get people going and spread the knowledge.

I like to know the variety of options available. Then I can select the one I feel is most appropriate to the situation, given the tools available. As a hobbyist, I'm also free to try a method purely on whim, without deadline pressure or the need to earn a living from it. I may or may not decide to continue using it.

Keep an open mind. You never know when a method you've previously rejected may be the only way you can get a particular job done.

Primary References


The Practical WoodworkerThe Joiner and Cabinet Maker, by Anonymous, Christopher Schwarz, and Joel Moskowitz, 1839, republished 2009. The original edition described how a boy could become an apprentice, taking the reader through three progressively more advanced projects. Moskowitz has added historical context and footnotes for the modern reader, and Schwarz has gone through building the projects, with photos. This excellent book is a rare glimpse into woodworking 180 years ago; the tools and methods are still used. Between the original text and Schwarz's updated build descriptions, its stepwise progression is particularly suited to the beginner, making it a good introductory course all on its own. Available with or without DVD containing slideshow and SketchUp drawings.

The Complete WoodworkerThe Complete Woodworker, edited by Bernard E. Jones, c1917, republished 1980. Mostly lives up to its title. Covers a variety of basic techniques and joinery, though the writing of this era was rather stilted. Includes a number of good illustrations and quaint photos of workmen in vests and ties. Available used.

Junior WoodworkerThe Junior Woodworker, by Charles H. Hayward, 1952. Much more clearly written, reflecting the style of the later era. This superb book, written for boys, is really for any beginning woodworker regardless of age or gender. It contains excellent illustrations. Hayward wrote a number of other very good woodworking books as well. Available used. This is one that really needs to be republished!

The Essential WoodworkerThe Essential Woodworker, by Robert Wearing, 1990, republished 2010. Covers basic skills with exercises, then goes through the techniques of table, carcase, and drawer/box construction.

The Complete Dovetail: Handmade Furniture's Signature JointThe Complete Dovetail, by Ian Kirby, 1999. Covers a progression of dovetail styles with detailed drawings and photos. Also covers basic stock preparation, with good advice on practicing techniques.

The Woodwright's Apprentice: Twenty Favorite Projects From The Woodwright's ShopThe Woodwright's Guide: Working Wood with Wedge and Edge 
The Woodwright's Apprentice, 1996
The Woodwright's Guide, 2008, by Roy Underhill. The two most recent companion books to the long-running PBS series "The Woodwright's Shop", and I believe the most practical of them for someone learning hand tool skills. Apprentice contains a number of projects that start using basic techniques and work up from there. Building them in order would constitute a fairly complete course in woodworking. Guide is a spectacular detailing of skills from the felling of trees through a variety of fine joinery. While the initial raw timber processing may not be of use to most readers, the rest of the book is extremely useful. Rather than projects, it focuses on the individual techniques.

Hand Tools: Their Ways and WorkingsHand Tools: Their Ways and Workings, by Aldren A. Watson, 2002. A superbly illustrated and detailed compendium of hand tools showing basic usage, including a chapter on sharpening a variety of items.

Choosing & Using Hand ToolsChoosing and Using Hand Tools, by Andy Rae, 2002. A photographic compendium of hand tools. You'll be envious. Just don't  think you need to own everything shown! Also contains plans for several shop projects, including a knock-down version of a Krenov-style trestle sawhorse.

Working W/Handplanes (New Best of Fine Woodworking)Working With Handplanes, by the editors of Fine Woodworking, 2005. A collection of articles on setup and usage, including specialty planes, spokeshaves, and scrapers.

Success with Joints (Success with Woodworking)Success With Joints, by Ralph Laughton, 2005. Covers a range of joints with detailed photos.

Hand Tool Essentials: Refine Your Power Tool Projects with Hand Tool Techniques (Popular Woodworking)Hand Tool Essentials, by the editors of Popular Woodworking Magazine, 2007. An excellent collection of articles covering a broad variety of hand tools and techniques. You may not appreciate it all at once, but I found myself returning to this book repeatedly as I advanced step by step and found another article more interesting than the last time.

Magazine Back Issues

Popular Woodworking, April, 2007 (Digital issue) containing the article "Sensible Sharpening" by Mike Dunbar. He explains how to use sandpaper on a flat substrate for freehand sharpening, and goes through sharpening a variety of tools. This was the article that moved me away from jigs when sharpening, though I now use India stones.

Videos and CDs

Handplane Basics, by Christopher Schwarz, 2009. A followup to Coarse, Medium, and Fine (see below) that does a better, more focused job of showing basic handplane usage. His best video, this one really distills it down to essence.

The Arts and Mysteries of Hand Tools, by Adam Cherubini, 2009. The complete collection of Cherubini's wonderful "Arts and Mysteries" column from Popular Woodworking magazine through August, 2009. Covers a range of basic topics and projects. A couple of the columns also appear in Hand Tool Essentials.

Online Resources

The Three Kinds of Saw Cuts, by Christopher Schwarz, Lee Valley/Veritas Woodworking Newsletter Vol. 1, Issue 5, July 2007. Details third- through first-class saw cuts, the coarse, medium, and fine of sawing, as Schwarz originally read in Robert Wearing's The Essential Woodworker.

Coarse, Medium, and Fine, by Christopher Schwarz, 2008. Distinguishes between handplanes as coarse, medium, and fine tools. This first crystallized the proper setup and order of use of bench planes for me.

Sharpening Plane Irons and Chisels, by Christopher Schwarz, 2008. Details sharpening with jigs and waterstones. While I now use India stones without a jig, this was the article that finally set me on the road to good sharpening.

How to Clean a Saw
Saw Filing--A Beginner's Primer
The How's of Setting Saws
by Pete Taran. Restoring and maintaining hand saws, from his Vintage Saws Library of Fine Tool Journal articles.

Sharpening Part 1: Plane Irons
Sharpening Part 2: Flattening Stones, Notes on Chisels and Re-establishing the Primary Bevel
Videos with Deneb Puchalski of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks using waterstones and jigs.

Saws Part 1: Techniques and Sharpening a Rip Saw
Saws Part 2: Sharpening a Cross Cut Saw and Setting Saw Teeth>
Saws Part 3: Jointing, Care & Maintenance>
Videos with Tom Lie-Nielsen of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks.

Shoulder Planes Part 1: Setup
Shoulder Planes Part 2: Use and Care
Videos with Angie Kopacek of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks.

Sharpening A Cabinet Scraper , by Dougal Charteris. Video showing a simple and effective method. This was what finally enabled me to get shavings from a scraper.

Secondary References


The Art Of JoineryThe Art Of Joinery, by Joseph Moxon, with commentary by Christopher Schwarz, 1678, republished 2008. Schwarz describes this as the earliest English-language book on woodworking. He does a nice job of bringing the presentation up to date for contemporary readers. Moxon is sometimes criticized because he wasn't actually a woodworker, and he made some technical mistakes. But what I find most fascinating is that over 330 years later, the tools and methods described are still used.

The Practical WoodworkerThe Practical Woodworker, edited by Bernard E. Jones, c1918, republished 1983. A companion book to Jones' The Complete Woodworker, covering additional advanced techniques and projects. Contains a nice chapter on workshops, with workbench styles that show up in later work by Underhill and Schwarz. Available used.

Planecraft, by C.W. Hampton and E. Clifford, 1934, republished 1959 and 1997. Apparently originally published by the Record tool company, covers some history, basic setup and usage, as well as use of specialty and combination planes.

The Woodwright's Shop: A Practical Guide to Traditional WoodcraftThe Woodwright's Companion: Exploring Traditional Woodcraft
The Woodwright's Workbook: Further Explorations in Traditional WoodcraftThe Woodwright's Eclectic Workshop 

The Woodwright's Shop, 1981
The Woodwright's Companion, 1983
The Woodwright's Work Book, 1986
The Woodwright's Eclectic Workshop, 1991, by Roy Underhill. The earlier companion books to the "The Woodwright's Shop". These range all over a variety of traditional woodworking skills.

Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit, and UseJapanese Woodworking Tools, by Toshio Odate, 1984, republished 1998. While I'm not using Japanese tools or methods here, this excellent book is one of the few covering them.

Practical and Decorative Woodworking JointsPractical and Decorative Woodworking Joints, by John E. N. Bairstow. Quickly moves past beginner stage, but describes a number of joints, including several intricate Japanese styles. Something to work up to.

The Wooden Plane: Its History, Form and FunctionThe Wooden Plane, by John M. Whelan, 1993. Encyclopedic illustrated guide to all types of wooden planes, including a catalog of molding profiles. As well as a brief history, it includes glossary for plane terms from 5 countries. Based on prices, appears to be out of print.

Green Woodworking: A Hands-On-ApproachGreen Woodworking, by Drew Langsner, 1995. A superb book on working wood in the green state (i.e. recently cut, before it has dried). The projects are more rustic and the techniques are much different from cutting and joining dried wood, but they're well worth knowing. Available used.

Understanding Wood REV/EUnderstanding Wood, by R. Bruce Hoadley, 2000. The encyclopedia of wood technology.

The Seven Essentials of WoodworkingThe Seven Essentials of Woodworking, by Anthony Guidice, 2001. While this has excellent information, it also has some strong opinions. Guidice uses German bowsaws rather than English saws.

Tool-Making Projects for Joinery and Woodworking: A Yankee Craftsman's Practical MethodsTool-Making Projects for Joinery and Woodworking, by Steve A. Olesin, 2005. A nice collection within the range of the beginner.

Handplane EssentialsHandplane Essentials, by Christopher Schwarz, 2009. A collection of Schwarz's articles on handplanes, covering tool selection, sharpening and setup, basic and specialized techniques, and tool reviews. A couple of the articles also appear in Hand Tool Essentials.

Made by Hand: Furniture Projects from the Unplugged WoodshopMade By Hand, by Tom Fidgen, 2009. Some basic instruction, building a Krenov-style trestle sawhorse, followed by a number of very nice contemporary projects. And his pile of books sure looks a lot like mine!

The Perfect Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Sharpening for Woodworkers (Popular Woodworking)The Perfect Edge, by Ron Hock, 2009. I hadn't originally included this book, because when I looked at it at the bookstore I was already familiar with the information he presents on sharpening by hand. However, I did buy a copy when I wanted information on blade metallurgy; this is an excellent beginner's reference. There's similar coverage of abrasives, and a comprehensive survey of powered sharpening systems, as well as every sharpening doodad on the market. He also covers tuning and restoring several types of old tools. So there's bound to be something in here you don't already have from other resources.


Coarse, Medium, and Fine, by Christopher Schwarz, 2005. An expansion of the concepts covered in the article by the same name, demonstrating handplane usage.

Building Furniture With Hand Planes, by Christopher Schwarz, 2007. Setup and use of handplanes building a small Shaker cabinet.

Online Resources

How To Make Woodwork Tools, by Charles H. Hayward, c1945. Available as a free download from Toolemera Press. Another nice selection of toolmaking projects within the range of the beginner.

The Woodwright's Shop, videos with Roy Underhill. Several recent seasons of the program. While his presentation can seem haphazard, he crams an enormous amount of incredibly valuable information into a short time. Try to keep up!