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Restoring Infill #1 – Obtaining Functionality (Simplified Sharpening)

With the sole flattened and all the moving parts verified as functional, I quickly brought the iron up to snuff.  The “cutting edge” when I got it bore an eerie resemblance to the smile of a pre-adolescent who was missing half of their baby teeth.


My tools for whipping the bevel into shape were the Lie-Nielsen honing guide, an angle jig for the honing guide with several angles pre-set so I could get the rig ready to go in about five seconds, and my 50-cent granite lapping plate made from a piece of salvage counter backsplash.



For a long time I used the slab freestanding, but recently I glued it down to a piece of plywood to allow for better attaching of the 60-grit sanding belt I use to really get things going.  In this case it took a dozen strokes or so to remove the gap-toothed effect and establish a new bevel.




I moved the honing guide to my jig for holding my diamond stones and took a half dozen strokes on each of the 220-grit and 1000-grit surfaces.  I removed the iron from the honing jig and took a dozen strokes free-hand on my 8000-grit water stone, a half dozen free-hand pull strokes on the wood polishing plate charged with 0.05 micropolish powder and was ready to reassemble the plane.


The results were immediate and satisfying, and with the functionality assured I marched forward with the “purdyin’ up” of the tool, a critical component since it is a proven fact that beautiful tools work better than uglier tools.  I read that somewhere on the interweb, so it must be true.

Restoring Infill #1 – Ascertaining Utility (Flattening the Sole)


In heading down the road of restoring the three infill planes I got at the MJD auction last in 2015, in fact whenever I restore almost any tool, my first step is to determine whether or not the tool can be made to work excellently, rather than just looking purdy.  If the former can be ascertained positively I will likely embark on the latter.  If not, not.

The first thing I did was take inventory of the components by disassembling the plane completely (third from left) and making sure all the parts worked ell, or, could be made to work well without a boatload of headaches.  They did, so it ws time to get this thing tuned and singing.

In this case I was ready to bring a heavy hand to the task since I spent less than a pair of sawbucks for the tool.  I first disassembled the tool to make sure all the parts were there, and they worked as the should.  They were and they did.


The first stop was the grinding plate, my 50-cent slab of granite counter-top splash board outfitted with a 60-grit sanding belt, to flatten the sole.  Which worked out just fine.  All I wanted was uniformity of the abrasion pattern which was accomplished easily (this picture was from a later stage of the project).



A Lathe For The Bold-At-Heart


My friend DaveS at Fresh Air Finishers sent me this link, and I am passing it along to you.  If you are into turning mega-bowls, this is the machine for you!  I wish I had the money, space, and need for it, but to be honest I don’t, I don’t, and I don’t.

It of course drew my memory back to my formative days in the pattern shop when we had an analogous machine we used to turn pump shell patterns for the foundry and fabricators to then do their magic.  Whenever I am at a woodworking event and someone brags about turning a “really big bowl” of 18-24 inches, I sometimes resist telling my tales of turning “bowls” up to 12-feet in diameter.  Our setup was such that there was a freestanding tool rest on which we stood, leaning into the workpiece and at times were mostly literally inside the bowl of the pump shell we were turning.  The heat of the cutting was such that I wore a welders glove on my tool-rest hand to keep from getting burned by the hot chips.

Is was an intimidating experience, to be sure, and I will remember to my death bed my first “solo” session.  The Master of the pattern shop, Johnny Kuzma, handed me the turning chisel and said,”Good luck, kid.”  Then he stepped back and threw the switch.


Special 2017 Workshop – A Week of Handwork with Minimalist Woodworker Vic Tesolin


Of the luminaries in the return-to-traditional-woodworking there is no figure larger than Veritas Tool R&D maven Vic Tesolin, whose 2015 book “The Minimalist Woodworker” has become the starting point I recommend for every nascent craftsman.  I am delighted and very excited to announce that Vic has agreed to venture into The Old Dominion from The Great White North and teach a week of hand-tool woodworking at The Barn next summer, July 24-28, 2017.    Our project to start out the week will be to fabricate, entirely by hand tools, a Japanese-style tool box.  If you are fast, we’ll move on to another exercise which remains to be selected.


Vic’s raucous good humor is combined with a bedrock-solid foundation of working wood skillfully with the most slender menu of tools possible, and I promise that this week will transform the way you think about your tools, your skills, your shop, and your projects.

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I am eagerly anticipating this week, not only for the time of fellowship with Vic (I will probably hurt from all the laughter) but for the way in which it will change and improve me as a craftsman.

I hope you will join us for the week, the tuition for which is $675.

If this exciting week interests you, contact me here or Vic here.

The Carpenter’s Step-Son

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.


The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid,Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”


Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary?

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 

I pray for you to have a blessed time with loved ones, and that you are celebrating the Incarnation, through whom we can be reconciled with The Creator.

Fun Pic


I recently noticed one of my spirit varnish pad-polish bottles that had been sitting undisturbed for many months. I thought it was an interesting image of how the lemon shellac solution I started with begins to stratify of its own accord into its component fractions when sitting in a container for a long time.  I once put some lemon shellac varnish into a centrifuge and was able to easily count 17 distinct layers of material.

Fulfilling A Christmas Gift Wish


A couple months ago I received a note from the wife of an enthusiastic follower of the Studley project, indicating that her husband had a great desire for a pair of the Studleyesque suspenders I was wearing at the exhibit.  Where could she find a pair to surprise her husband with, she asked.  Since the Studleyesque suspenders are hand painted by me, and the hand in question was encased in a cast, I could offer no words of encouragement.

Then the cast came off, and as the days went by my hand began to regain some functionality I wrote her back and promised to try the undertaking.


Beginning with a pair of standard black suspenders I traced the pattern, using a template my pal Spider Johnson made for me on his CNC laser cutter.


Next came the base coat of titanium white acrylic artists’ paint, followed by a final application of pearlescent acrylic.


And viola’, they were done and should arrive in the mail today.  I’m told the husband follows this blog, so in a few days one of you will be joining me at the vanguard of fashion.


I am trying to figure out a way to get a friend to produce these for me to sell alongside polissoirs and hand processed beeswax.  Stay tuned.

2017 Workshop at The Barn – Traditional Finishing

Reprising my favoritest topic I will be teaching a weekend workshop “traditional Finishing” at The Barn this coming year, August 11-13, 2017.


Last year only one person  showed up for the class, and if it happens again next year they will get a private tutorial and go home with a pile of sample boards.


The tuition for this workshop is $375.  If this event interests you drop me a note here.

Heartwarming on a Frigid Weekend

Over the past year I’ve been tinkering with a fine old lathe my pal MikeM gave me some time ago, most recently giving it some workouts in preparation for turning a bunch of spindles, work I was supposed to do the afternoon I broke my arm.  In the past fortnight or so I’ve been able to return to the shop and when Daughter the Younger mentioned that she would like to learn to turn a bowl during her brief visit last weekend I was thrilled.  It turned out to be a wondrous time for us working together, and I hope it will be the foundation for a lot more projects together.


I had just the right piece of wood for her to use, a section of a plum tree from our old house where she grew up and still lives.  I made a small face plate for the project and mounted the chunk of log to it, and standing just over her shoulder gave instructions on the art form.


Although the lathe is set up for someone my height she settled in comfortably, and took to turning like a natural.  As expected she was very cautious but found her groove early on.  The only real downside to the session was that the lathe is in an unheated part of the barn, and the temperatures were in the mid-teens.


As soon as she was done shaping the outside we flipped it around so that the foot was in the bowl-turning chuck and she knocked out the inside as well.


I’ll show her how to fill the natural cracks in the bowl with pewter when we resume the project at some point in the future.  But for now she’ll have it at home, probably holding nuts.  Plus, I’ve got another nearly identical piece of the same plum log for her to turn another one.

It was a very chilly time but my heart was warmed clear through.

Teaching at MASW 2017

It might seem like I am posting a lot of blogs about my teaching schedule next year, but that is only because I am posting a lot of blogs about my teaching schedule next year.  I think I have almost everything nailed down for 2017 and being the coquette that I am, mentioning them one at a time.


Next October I’ll be teaching a couple of three-day workshops at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Franklin IN.  The first one is making an 18th Century parquetry panel.  I hope to see you there.