New mini tools from Lee Valley


I just wanted to share a heads-up that I just received from the Sawmill Creek forum. Lee Valley Tools has just introduced a mini shoulder plane and pocket market gauge. You can see them here: Lee Valley store.

I've placed my order and will have pics and a review when they come in. At $39.00 for the pair, how can you go wrong? The marking gauge looks especially useful, in that you can set and use two different measurements at the same time.

I'll have an update when they arrive at my door.


The New Yankee Workshop is no more...


As I'm sure you've heard, The New Yankee Workshop is ceasing production after 21 seasons. Russell Morash, the creator and producer of TNYW, has said it was a mutual decision between himself, WGBH Boston and the star Norm Abram. While I can't say that I'm surprised, given the repeat season we were shown this year and the rumors that have been circulating, I can say that I'm troubled. While I didn't always agree with Norm's methods (for example I don't own, and never will own, a pneumatic brad nailer or a massive wide belt sander), I do respect his craftsmanship and his drive to bring our chosen craft to the masses. I also appreciate his willingness to occasionally use hand tools in his project and the reverence that he showed for tools that were owned and used by his father Louis.

I sincerely hope that the end of TNYW doesn't spell the end for how-to woodworking on television. I don't believe that the Internet can replace Norm and others as a gateway into the craft. It is very easy to turn on the television on a Saturday afternoon and stumble across Norm or Roy building something beautiful. There is less opportunity for this type of exposure on the Internet. You have to know what you are looking for to find it. Many people don't know they are interested in woodworking until they see it and this is the role that Norm has filled so ably for the last 20 years.

Many woodworkers can say that it was Norm who first exposed them to the craft. For that, we all owe Norm a debt of gratitude, a hearty handshake, and an exuberant "job well done".


Projects in the hopper

I've been very busy designing and starting to build a new treadle stand for an old grindstone I picked up at an antique mall. The basic plan is to make a sawbench-style base, increase the splay of the legs to provide more support for the top-heavy design, and build thick vertical arms to support the stone. I've also made some progress on my new bench.

I should be able to snap some pics of both projects over the weekend.

Take care,


My latest handtool project

All of my posts lately have been focused on my acquisition of hand tools. I figured it was time to show off some of what I do with those tools.

My wife had been after me to build her a new end table for some time. Most of my work ends up being sold to clients or given away to friends, so I figured it was time to make her happy. I saw this table in Popular Woodworking and decided to go with it. However, I'm not a totally "to plan" kind of guy, so I played with the materials.

Rather than the traditional quarter sawn white oak, I decided to branch out. I visited Johnson's Workbench and decided to let the material speak to me. I found a very nice plank of wormy mahogany, which sounds like an odd choice, but for some reason it called to me. I used this for the legs after carefully sawing to ensure proper grain orientation for the square legs.

Drawbored through tenons. The ends of the tenons were beveled at 45 degrees with a block plane

With such a simple design, I knew that the top had to really pop to provide a very strong focal point. After wandering around Johnson's, I found a small piece of curly beech. It was only 3/4" thick and provided just enough material to glue into my top. I, of course, jumped. The top was rough cut with a bowsaw and smoothed to final shape with a spokeshave. I also used the spokeshave to bevel the bottom edge of the top. Beech was also used for the stretchers.

The table top, finished with boiled linseed oil and amber shellac

Once assembled, I ragged on two coats of boiled linseed oil, then three coats of amber shellac. After the shellac, I rubbed out the finish with some Bri-Wax to soften it. The wood of the top has a silky, tactile feel to it that really makes this table a pleasure to use, with a coaster of course. It has a soft sheen that looks very nice in the light. My wife was delighted with the table and I was quite happy with my choice of materials. I hope this inspires some of you to try non-traditional wood combinations in your next project.


The Stanley 5 1/2

I've started the restoration of my new Stanley 5 1/2 and I've decided to document the process as much as possible. You may recall that the plane was hidden under a thick coat of gray housepaint, prompting the use of a citrus based paint stripper. You can see the results of the first application in the pictures below.

The overall shot, plus my very cluttered bench

Closeup of the citrus stripper at work

Lever cap after the first application of stripper, before scraping and sanding

After the citrus stripper, some light sanding and scraping got rid of the stubborn areas and I was down to bare metal. After a very careful masking job, I sprayed the first coat of satin Rustoleum enamel. It will take two coats of the paint to get the proper look.

After the first coat

The front knob and tote are next. Check back for an update after progress is there. The hard part is done though!

My latest finds

My latest finds: my new Stanley #2, a 604 Bedrock, a house painted 5 1/2 and a Type 11 Number 7

Well, as promised, here are pics of my latest finds. I'll start with the star of the group, my new Stanley #2. I purchased it at the MWTCA event in Dearborn, MI for $40. It was missing the lever cap but it just so happens that I had a #2 lever cap in my bag of spare parts. I sharpened the iron up and it cuts beautifully. It is sitting there next to my favorite 604 smoother, which I just purchased off eBay for $25. It has a big chunk out of the casting but this doesn't effect its use at all. So I scored a great plane at a fabulous price. I put a new Hock iron in there and I can cut hard maple shavings you can see through!

My two favorite smoothing planes

The Type 11 #7 jointer I purchased at the Midland Antique Show this past weekend. The tote and knob are perfect, the casting is solid and the iron has plenty of life left. The only apology is that most of the jappaning is gone. I'm planning to re-paint the plane to restore the proper look. I plane to make this into my best user jointer plane. Best of all, I paid the guy a grand total of $20 for it! I almost bought a Type 11 number 6 from the same guy, but the mouth on the plane was all chipped out. I probably should have bought it, but you can't get them all.

Number 5 1/2 and a Number 7... both should restore nicely!

The 5 1/2 I just purchased today. I found it over at the Lake Odessa Antique Mall in Lake Odessa, MI. I spent the first few minutes simply in awe of how much stuff they had! The mall was literally one half of a city block. Simply massive. I left some good stuff there too, including a Craftsman version of a Stanley 45. I encourage you to head that way if you get the chance.

At first, I believed that my new 5 1/2 is a Type 4, which makes it just about 130 years old. However, after receiving some information from the Galoots on the Old Tools List, I now believe it was made between 1898 and 1902. At some point, someone decided it was a good idea to paint the whole thing with a thick coat of gray house paint. Despite destroying the japanning, I'm actually grateful to this misguided soul because there isn't a spot of rust anywhere on the plane. The first order of business is to strip the paint and bring it back to user quality. I might sell this one, given that it is pretty old and I imagine quite collectible. Anybody have any idea? For this one, I gave $14.00.

The 5 1/2 and the 7, full body shot

As you can see, it has been a good couple of weeks for me. I'm getting ready to sell off some of my collection, a piece at a time, so keep checking back. Just like on my weekend tool-hunting trips, you'll never know what you might find.

If any of you ever come up to mid-Michigan and want to head out to do some rust hunting, get in touch with me at As always, here's hoping you get some time in your shop and time to shop for your latest treasures.


As requested...

How the spring attaches to the box itself

The hinges for the swinging arm... nothing too fancy

As requested, here are some pictures that show the swinging arm and how it mounts to the box. It simply uses two mortise hinges to attach to the right side of the box. It is a simple set up but it makes it really easy to get to the tools in the box behind the arm.

I'm still working on getting pictures of my latest finds. My wife took our good camera to Cleveland this weekend so I'm stuck with my $40 digital. I can't do my new Type 11 #7 jointer or my new #2 the justice they deserve with that.

Look for more a little later this weekend! As always, here's hoping you get some time in your shop and time to shop for your latest treasure!


Some more pics of the box

Here are some more pictures that were taken of my carriage makers tool box. These shots show more detail on the chisel till, as well as how the braces and egg beaters and other woodworking tools are stored. It's a really neat system. The braces hang from an arm that is mounted inside the box on hinges, but there is a spring on that arm to keep it tight against the right side of the box. I'm having a hard time figuring out the point, but it is neat nevertheless.

The spring loaded arm also does a really good job of whacking you upside the head if it slips out of your hand while taking out a brace. After I regained consciousness, I was able to hoist the whole shooting match up with block and tackle (it weighs about 400 pounds) and mount it to the shop wall.

The outside of the box, showing the skeleton key lock that still turns easily!

Chisel till, auger bits, saw till, and router plane

Egg beaters, braces, ball peen hammers, and the infamous spring loaded brace arm of death.

If you have any ideas about the swinging brace storage arm or if you would like to see any specific item / storage area in the box, use the comment feature below this post. Thanks!

My Carriage Makers Tool Box

I purchased a carriage makers tool box earlier this year at an antique mall. Pictures are attached. For everything you see, I paid the princely sum of $200. A partial inventory follows:

- 9 buck brothers chisels and gouges - sharp and nicely polished
- Stanley 71 1/2 router plane - like new
- Stanley 60 1/2 block plane - like new
- Stanley 5 jack, good shape
- Stanley 78 rabbet plane - like new (still has the sticker on the handle)
- Stanley 4 (strangely, it is very rusty)
- unmarked small bull nose plane
- 3 unmarked brass spokeshaves - flat, convex, and scraper
- wood scraper spokeshave
- numerous ball peen hammers
- 2 braces
- 2 egg beater drills
- the largest draw knife I've ever seen, stamped 1837, still sharp enough to use
- Large, medium, and small Millers Falls ratcheting screw driver (like the Yankee (like new)
- Disston 22" panel saw - still very sharp
- Warranted Superior rip saw - still sharp
- Stanley No. 94 boxwood and brass rule - excellent condition, joints a little loose
- Two vintage pin up girl shots (oh my gosh, they are showing their ankles, how risque!)

Left side of the box

The Whole She-bang, including the Girly pictures!

There is so much in this box that it is going to take me quite some time to inventory it all. Once done, I will make sure to post it to the Creek. Apparently the original owner worked at Clark - Carter automobiles as a carriage maker. The company only existed for two years, 1911 and 1912. They entered a car in the 1912 Indy 500, but soon folded due to lack of money. The box itself has a Cutting Autos tag, so I'm assuming it was company property that the original owner took with him when the company folded up.

Enjoy! Anybody have any idea how rare the Stanley 94 rule is? I've never seen one before buying this one.

A Blast from the Past: Tool Hunting over the 4th of July

Fellow Creekers,

I took the opportunity this Independence Day to go on a short road trip to rust hunt in areas unknown. Destination: Allen, MI. Apparently, the antique stores here are legendary for good deals but I had never been there rust-hunting. I scored numerous old tools. I purchased 8 good hollows and rounds, most of which I got for $4 each, some are matched pairs. I never seem to be able to find good user molding planes, so I was thrilled with these finds. In another mall. I purchased a low-angle wooden plane, what I believe is called a box plane, in great user shape. It has been over-cleaned and looks like brand new wood, but it should be a great user once I get it sharpened.

At the next stop, my first purchase was a complete leg vise with metal screw in good shape.

In the same mall, I was able to purchase a large, 2 1/2" diameter, Ohio Tool wooden vise screw and nut in extremely good shape, with only a few chips in the threads. These will go perfectly in the new bench that I'm planning to build.

The last stop of the day yielded a very heavy cast iron miter box with large backsaw which I desperately needed.

The Galoot Central link:

I also purchased a large cabinetmaker's tool chest, but I wasn't able to fit that in my car. I'm returning tomorrow with the truck and hopefully some more tools if I hit the malls I missed. For the whole shebang, including the tool box, I paid $110. I highly encourage any old tool fan who happens to be in Southern Michigan to make the trip to Allen. In addition to the large malls, there are numerous smaller stores that I didn't have the chance to visit today. All of these stores are on US 12, known as Chicago Road because that was the preferred route from Detroit to Chicago.

Happy hunting.