Woodnet Secret Santa and Galootaclaus

Every year I take part in the Woodnet Secret Santa, as well as the Galootaclaus on the Old Tools List. It appears that my normal image host for pics like these isn't working at the moment, so I'm posting them here. Enjoy looking!

Nice name stamp from Woodnet Secret Santa

Stamp on my favorite jack plane

EA Berg chisels

Combo square, push drill, heavy mortise chisel and corner chisel

Nice carving gouges and a Stanley block

Keen Kutter plane


Haul of the year

On Saturday, I attended one of the best tool auctions I've ever been lucky enough to attend. Met up with a few good friends and made a few new ones. On to the tools that followed me home:

W. Haw side rabbet, homemade 1/4" stick and rabbet, homemade 1 1/2" skew rabbet, homemade astragal moulder, Shepley #8 Round, Auburn #10 Round, Auburn #8 Hollow, Homemade quirk plane, L & IJ White 1/8" bead, unmarked 1/4" dado (poor shape),
22" Scioto try plane, perfect condition (literally never seen a nicer wood plane),
30" Dutch jointer plane, 9" Marples steel sole smoother bedded at 50 deg., 18" Jackson tenon saw (thanks to Dave Jeffers), 26" 6ppi Butcher handsaw, large unmarked wood vise screw.

The following are all missing parts. I will try to repair some of them; others will be used for parts or donor wood:
Howland 1/8" bead, Ohio Tool large round, unmarked large bead, L & IJ White 6 round, Sandusky 5/8" dado, unmarked small sash ovolo, Sandusky horned smoother, unmarked 1 1/4" steel shoulder plane, D Malloch Perth glass check plane.

Now, the find of the auction, probably the find of my tool hunting career: 18 Gabriel molding planes, all bedded at 55 degrees. All have two successive owners stamps and appear to have always been together. Gabriel, for those of you who don't know, is a very well known maker in London. He made or provided most of the tools for the famous Benjamin Seaton tool chest. The planes:
#4 Hollow, #5 Hollow and Round, #6 Hollow and Round, #7 Round, #8 Hollow and Round,
#10 Round, #13 Hollow, #14 Hollow and Round, #16 Hollow and Round, Small ovolo moulder, Small ogee moulder, Pair of snipes bills.

Incredibly, I paid $9 per plane for the Gabriels. What a bargain! I have literally never been more excited to make a purchase. For the whole spread, with tax and buyers premium, I spent $270. More than I usually would spend on tools in one day, but I had to own those Gabriel planes. Like my friend Jim Crammond said, I can always get more money, but matching sets of 18th century planes don't come along every day.

18th Century Plow?

I won this plow on eBay a week ago. It arrived today. Check out the pics and tell me what you think.

This plane has several characteristics that I would expect to find on 18th century Pennsylvania planes. The wedge finial matches a Pennsylvania molder that I have. The zig-zag border with the initials is also a common feature of Pennsylvania planes. Yet another point is that the D. Fish is branded into the side. According to Tools: Working Wood in Eighteenth Century America, this was a common practice for Southeastern Pennsylvania woodworkers.

So, does anyone have any information about the ZW mark? Do any of you have a D Fish plane?

More pictures of the mystery smoother

Some of you guys requested a few more pics of my new single iron smoother.  I'm still trying to track down information about the iron maker, but with very little information I have little chance of narrowing it down. 

Side shot, 7 1/4" long

Rear 3/4 view

Side view

Tapered wear on the sole

Sole, not traditionally "coffin" shaped

Iron and wedge


If only this plane had a maker stamp or an owner's mark.

Recent purchases

I've been having a great run of old-tool luck lately.  I bought a number of great things at an auction last weekend, including the miter jack you see below, and the sweet solid boxwood plow plane. I won a great little Greenslade smoothing plane on eBay, and today I bought the Varvill badger plane, as well as the two Casey large ogee molders. Rather than prattle on, I'll just show you the pictures.

Solid boxwood plow, 18th Century smooth, small smooth, badger plane, two ogee molders

User made miter jack.  A real beauty!

J & L Denison solid boxwood plow

Casey Grecian ogee, Casey ogee

Badger plane

Badger plane mouth

Greenslade 6" coffin smooth.  I love this small size.

English Made!
The true treasure of this group is what I believe to be an 18th Century smoothing plane.  The round top iron made by I Smith, and the broad chamfers along the toe and the top of the body are all classic 18th century plane characteristics.  The body appears to be user made, as there is no user stamp, and the grain is oriented incorrectly, not something I would suspect a professional plane maker to do.

A special plane

I Smith iron
The iron is laminated and appears to be wrought iron.  This one is special.  Does anyone have any information on I. Smith? I don't see him listed in Goodman's book.



Forged in Wood

I suspect that many of you are fans of Roy Underhill, his television show "The Woodwrights Shop, and his series of books. One of my favorites is The Woodwright's Workbook: Further Explorations in Traditional Woodcraft. The last chapter of that book features the building of the Anderson Forge at Colonial Williamsburg. I found that fascinating, and didn't know that there was a video showing the build.

Now, into the story comes my lovely wife. For my birthday, she bought me
Forged in Wood- Building Anderson's Blacksmith Shop. It's a great video! Shows the construction of the forge, talks about the history of James Anderson, and shows the carpenters of Colonial Williamsburg building the forge, as well as the blacksmiths at work in it.

This particular DVD also includes the 1967 documentary about the coopers trade, as well as a short look at the Hay Cabinet shop and other craftsman using the tools of the 18th Century. This DVD is just about the perfect thing for those interested in traditional construction, Williamsburg, hand tools or St. Roy.

Stop the ride, I want to get off!

The work that period woodworkers were able to accomplish with such a small kit is astonishing, when you compare it with the level of tooling present in most modern shops, even hobby shops. I tend to agree with Adam Cherubini on this point: he's mentioned that most woodworkers are equipped in a fashion more similar to a 1900s production shop than that of an 18th century woodshop, but that most of our woodworking output is geared more to a 18th century shop mindset (smaller volume, one-off pieces not production runs).

One thing that contributed to the output of period woodworkers and their small kits is the level of specialization. For example, in many cases they bought wood already sawn to the proper size and thickness by professional sawyers, eliminating the need for rough hewing / planing / sawing. A Philadelphia chairmaker probably wouldn't have needed carving chisels, as he would have had a professional carver do that portion of the work. He likely wouldn't have finished his own chair, as there were professional finishers to do that job. Upholstery was the same deal. In contrast, modern woodworkers do it all, and most of us are self-trained, unlike period woodworkers who would likely have had at least a minimal apprenticeship with a skilled master.

Modern woodworkers are frequently doing the work of several skilled craftsman with significantly less training that the average worker of the past. Because of this, the projects that modern woodworkers complete on a regular basis are just as impressive, if not more so, than the 18th century pieces we all revere. It also, in some ways, explains the woodworking community and its obsession with tools, as we are all fighting an uphill battle against basic human nature. We can't do everything or be good at everything, so we all seek the next great thing to allow us to cut those perfect dovetails, or carve the Newport shell, or apply a French polish in 20 minutes. It's a losing battle, but one that makes a great deal of money for some people.

Like a lot of guys, I'm just trying to get off the merry-go-round, be happy with the tools I have and can find / restore, and make the best furniture and sash that I can with what skills I've got.

Progress on the chest over drawers and a few new old tools

I've been busily working on my pine chest over drawers.  I've made quite a bit of progress since deciding to build this project. I've decided to go with a red-brown milk paint finish. I also found time to visit one of my favorite antique stores and bought a couple of things.

The case, before adding the face beading, base and lid

Case back, showing shiplap backboards
Case beading molding stock, being jointed with my Mathieson try plane
Pile of shavings, plus beaded molding, ready to be ripped off

 I managed to score a few nice, fairly uncommon saws. I bought a Harvey Peace Perfection  26"crosscut saw, and a Wheeler Madden and Clemson 22" panel saw.  Both need some cleanup, but are in very good overall condition.  Check out that wheat carving on the Peace applewood handle. Also scored a very nice pair of Davidson dividers, which will be put to good use here in the shop.

Harvey Peace Perfection saw and a Wheeler Madden and Clemson panel saw
A very nice pair of Davidson dividers

"Of course your chest is over your drawers"

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was struggling to identify my next shop project. I finally finished the woodworking on the Nutting tavern table for my wife April, it only lacks its milk paint. April will be painting that soon, after which I will post the photos. I'm quite happy with the way it turned out, especially the clamp joints on the top.

So, looking for my next project, I once again cracked open Denis Hambucken's book on country furniture, Early American Country Furniture: 22 Woodworking Projects Inspired by 18th- and 19th-Century New England

In the book, there is a rather nice chest over drawers that I immediately knew I wanted to build, which is extremely simliar to this 18th century English piece:

18th Century secretary, but one with similar lines to my storage piece

It features a slanted lid to the top chest portion, with two nine inch deep drawers underneath. Mine is a storage piece, not a desk, so it will not have a writing surface or chest gallery divisions. As I mentioned before, one of the great things about Hambucken's book is the lack of measurements. Choose the composition (overall size / footprint) of the piece, then make the parts to fit proportionally. A great way to work. Mine is being constructed from quartersawn eastern white pine (cut from home center 1x 12s, but I've left a few knots in it) and will be painted with milk paint. I'm undecided if it will be painted a red-brown color or a blue-green color, but blue-green is winning right now.  Anyone have any thoughts?

I'll shoot some pics of my progress tonight. This weekend I got through panel glue-ups, some dado work (my router plane got a workout!), a few rabbets, a some dry test-fitting.  Eventually some dovetailed and cockbeaded drawers will be built, along with square bracket feet.  This project is going extremely quickly, but I won't be making any predictions on how long it will take.  If I do that, something will come up and it will take me 6 months to finish, just like that darn Nutting table.