Wednesday, February 21, 2018

With Saw, Plane and Chisel

Hi guys,

I've never made these publicly available, only by request or at in-person appearances. But I just got another case of books in the mail and thought I'd give you all a crack at it.

Here is the writeup on the book provided by the publisher F&W.

"With Saw, Plane & Chisel documents the hand-tool-only construction of six pieces of classic American period furniture, spanning the major styles from the 1690s through to the mid-19th century. This will include details on how to do veneer work, inlay, painted decoration, etc. Finally, this book offers a brief look at the historical development of these styles and the European influences from which they evolved. Woodworkers will gain a strong understanding of how period furniture was made, how that influenced the development of those styles, and how to use this information to make excellent, realistic period furniture today."

I am offering copies of the book, signed by me (if you prefer), for $35 shipped to the lower 48. If you're interested, drop me a PM or shoot me an email at

All the best,

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

You see... the thing is....

Contrary to popular belief, I haven't died. I haven't been lost at sea. I haven't yet been put in jail.

I've just been busy... life has gotten a touch in the way of woodworking for me.

We have a toddler now. She's almost two. I always said I didn't want kids, but boy was I wrong. Her name is Abigail and every day she amazes me.

It would be unfair to blame her for my woodworking leave of absence. I've also been doing a lot of work outside the shop. I became a certified appraiser of personal property (think Antiques Roadshow, not real estate) and have been doing that for the last two years or so. I've also been taking on a lot of writing assignments with RM Sotheby's, one of the world's most important collector car auction companies. 

I must admit that I have neglected my shop. After my book came out (if you haven't purchased a copy yet let me know, I'll be happy to set you up with an autographed copy), I was so burned out that the fire was basically ashes. It is starting to rekindle a bit and hopefully I'll spend the summer making things again.

I know there has been a lot of shakeups in the woodworking media, including the departures of Megan Fitzpatrick and Scott Francis from Popular Woodworking. I hope to return to consistent posting to help offset some of that.

In short, I apologize for neglecting you and hope that all of you are doing well. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Woodworking in America 2016

I was honored to be one of the featured speakers at Woodworking in America 2016 in Cincinnati this past weekend. It is one of, if not THE, premier woodworking event in the country. I gave demonstrations on several topics including making cabriole legs without a bandsaw, and scratchstocks.

To me, though, my favorite part of the event was talking to the attendees, vendors, and my fellow speakers. I got to talk to Roy Underhill (a swell guy by the way), Freddy Roman, Joshua Klein of Mortise & Tenon Magazine, and so many others that I can't begin to name everyone. So much fun.

Of course, I got bit at the Marketplace... as long-time followers of this blog know I am a chisel fanatic (so much so that it is in the title of my book With Saw, Plane and Chisel.). Now, I need more chisels like I need a third eyeball, but somehow I ended up with five...

This incredible Blue Spruce paring chisel made by my new friend Dave Jeske. Blue Spruce Toolworks

 A set of four of these period-inspired chisels by John Switzer of Black Bear Forge. Keep an eye on this space as I will be doing a post on handling these, as well as another post on installing the very cool hand-forge bench stop I also purchased from John.

From the legendary Pat Leach (a fellow car guy as well as arguably the world's top tool dealer), I picked up these two molding planes.
A Madox thumbnail plane
An unmarked cove-and-astragal profile in a very small shape. Very useful.

All in all, a great weekend. I encourage you to investigate WIA 2017.


Monday, March 14, 2016

A c.1650 Dutch cabinet on stand

Anyone who knows me is well aware of the fact that I don't usually follow measured drawings. I prefer to investigate / measure a piece myself whenever possible. However, in this instance, I happened to see this piece in Lester Margon's World Furniture Treasures and sort of fell in love with it.

photo courtesy of The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
I emailed the very helpful Collections people at The Rijksmuseum (owner of the cabinet) and asked for any additional photos they have of this piece. They answered within 24 hours and set along two images of the cabinet with the doors open.

Photo courtesy of The Rijksmuseum

Photo Courtesy of The Rijksmuseum
Now, I enjoyed painting furniture but this stuff is several levels above my mediocre skill. I will likely veneer the drawer fronts or may play a little with marquetry instead of painting. Although there are a lot of crummy oils on canvas out there... perhaps I could buy a few and cut them up for the drawer fronts. Lots of decisions to be made, but luckily I have time.

On a piece like this, you always construct the case first and then build the stand to fit. I had a couple of free hours this weekend, so I planed some stock (oak for the sides, pine for the case top and bottom per the original), dovetailed them together, and cut the dadoes for the drawer runners.

The nice thing about dovetailing oak and pine is that you can leave the pine pieces (the pins in this case) quite fat and they will compress into the oak ensuring a tight fit. If you cut them on the line, the wood will compress too far and you'll end up with sloppy dovetails. In this circumstance, aiming for a good fit off the saw is important.. I achieved that here with the exception of correcting one pin that was slightly off-square due to the proximity of a knot. Five seconds with a chisel and all is well.

The case glued up square and true, and I planed it smooth (dovetails included) with my toothing plane to prepare for the veneer. I am using walnut veneer (I have a ton of it) and will be ebonizing with a chemical stain followed by Transtint black in shellac. I am aiming for a piano finish on this piece (several steps beyond where I usually end up). This piece deserves to be an absolute stunner!