Yacht for the New Granddaughter

One of the most satisfying things about selling tools is being able to participate (vicariously) in the projects of our customers.

Terry Wisniewski of San Diego started this project some months ago and it soon became clear that he would need some additional tools to do the job.  He had a new granddaughter on the way so this endeavor was beginning to develop a bit of urgency.

The first item on his list was a Lie-Nielsen Boggs Spokeshave followed by a couple of Auriou rasps (foreground).  There was great deal of hand shaping of curves which was a breeze with these well-chosen tools.

Terry built a “steamer” to bend the Poplar planks and Red Oak ribs.  He hand riveted the planks with copper rivets and roves.  Screws are bronze and cleats are of brass.

Davits have hidden sheaves (pulleys)  and the davit parts are joined with oak dowels and brass pins so they can be disassembled for storage.

Here’s the finished cradle complete with the bumper pads and mattress made by Terry’s wife.  There’s no doubt this will become a family heirloom with many more children to share in the joy.



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Timber Framing | An Adventure

While visiting Maine this summer we had the good fortune to meet up with Steve Chappell, President of the Fox Maple School of Traditional Building where they teach timber framing and traditional building methods, including traditional clay infill, thatching and progressive natural building systems on their 40 acre campus in Brownfield Maine.

Timber Frame Home

Steve’s been building timber frame structures since the 1970′s and authored the book Timber Framer’s Workshop: Joinery, Design and Construction of Traditional Timber Frames,  Far from just a how-to guide, Steve brings the history, engineering and practice to light in a way that is both understandable and engaging.  …and with over 500 photos he doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

While you may not be quite ready to start a post and beam construction project there are certainly  opportunities to practice the techniques building garden structures and other decorative projects.  Not to mention the perfect justification to pick up one of his extraordinary Stainless Steel squares we will feature in a future post.

If you’d like free shipping on Steve’s book, like us on Facebook and mention it in the comments section of our shopping cart when you checkout – we’ll take care of the rest.

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What’s the Best Choice for My First Hand Plane?

We’re often asked this question when woodworkers are starting out with hand tools.  Few of can afford to buy a wide array of quality hand tools at once.   Our recommended approach is to start out with a few versatile tools of good quality.  You can add to your tool kit as projects need additional capabilities and funds become available.

Lie-Nielsen No.62 Low Angle Jack Plane
Versatile, Easy to Sharpen – Best overall Value

In a nutshell, this 14″ long jack plane has a massive 3/16″ thick by 2″ wide blade bedded at 12º which is easy to sharpen by hand or with almost any honing guide.  The bevel-up blade design requires no  chipbreaker which makes changing blades a breeze.

It is fitted with a large comfortable handle and knob.  The adjustable mouth is easily positioned by loosening the front knob.

The Lie-Nielsen No.62 Low Angle Jack Plane pictured above with the accessory Hot Dog handle which is useful for “shooting” or squaring the ends or sides of boards on an accessory bench device known as a “shooting board” which can easily be made in your shop  with this plan.

As you gain experience in working with different types of wood it is clear that this plane’s Low Cutting Angle of 37° works very well on end grain and soft straight-grained woods right out of the box, but woods with figure or interlocked grain tend to tear-out.

Fortunately there are three options to deal with tear-out in figured woods:

  • Increasing the bevel angle of the blade of this plane will result in a higher cutting angle.  Angles of 50º to 62º often eliminate tear-out.
  • The “Toothed Blade” pictured above is capable of removing wood very quickly. This is particularly useful when removing deep tear-out because it saves a great deal of time and effort.
  • In cases such as very highly figured woods, veneers and inlays it is necessary use a very high angle with a scraping action to smooth the surface.  This is where the blade sharpened at 90º (above right) comes in.

For further information you may want to view the Lie-Nielsen Toolworks Videos below.

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So what are Rifflers?

Auriou Knife/Spoon Riffler
Auriou Knife/Spoon Riffler

 The word riffler is derived from the French word “rifloir” meaning ‘to scrape or file’.  Wood rifflers such as those made by Auriou Toolworks in France are used to create, refinine and smooth irregular shapes in wood carvings and furniture details. 

We offer these tools in 6,7,8 and 10 inch lengths. As the rifflers increase in size, the tooth pattern becomes more course, so a 6″ riffler would be a grain 14, while a 10″ would be a grain 10.  You can see examples of the grain patterns here.

In each size of riffler there are six different tools with different profile on each end – For example: knife and spoon profiles (above). Here’s a handy collection of photos showing Auriou riffler sizes and profiles.

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Trompe L’oeil Table by Craig Thibodeau

This exceptional marquetry table was created by our friend Craig Thibodeau,  a San Diego, CA studio furniture maker.  The primary veneer is Pau Ferro with a Quilted Maple top and Ebony trim.
 You can see other examples of his work at CT Fine Furniture website.
Trompe L'oeil Table by Craig Thibodeau
Trompe L’oeil Table | Door Closed
 Inspiration is good - and Craig’s table is certainly that!
Drink holder slide-outs on each side give a sense of the size of this table.
Trompe L'oeil Table by Craig Thibodeau
Trompe L’oeil Table | Door Open
Check out the video for the hidden compartments
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Low Angle Jack Rabbet Plane | Product Highlights

Lie-Nielsen No.610 Low Angle Jack Rabbet Plane

A Lie-Nielsen original design, the Low Angle Jack Rabbet Plane is a cross between their No.10-1/4 Bench Rabbet Plane  (without the tilting knob and handle) and No.62 Low Angle Jack Plane, with a full-width 2 in. wide blade.

We expect this to be a very popular product.  Larger than their Block Rabbet Plane,  it is better suited to tasks such as panel raising because it permits a better grip and more control over the process. – (Left).  Lie-Nielsen Low Angle Bench Rabbet Plane - Panel Raising

 Cutting long rabbets, across-grain dados and sizing the cheeks of large tenons is a breeze. 

We suspect timber framers will find uses for this tool as well – especially in view of the modest price of $245.00

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Violin Maker’s Plane | Product Highlights

This Violin Maker’s Plane by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks of Manganese Bronze with an 1/8″ thick by  7/8″ wide A2 tool steel blade measures 3 7/16” in length.

Lie-Nielsen Violin Makers Plane


The finely controlled blade depth adjuster make this little workhorse perfect for detail-oriented jobs like instrument building or model making.

You might also want to consider it for budding woodworkers with small hands or perhaps a gift for a friend.

Price: $95.00

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Bench Chisel Selection

We’re frequently asked for advise on bench chisel selection. Making a sound decision on an investment in chisels can be difficult when trying to compare online offerings.

  •  Lets start with where to go for advise. A good place to start is to actually try the chisels before buying in order to get a sense of how they feel in your hand doing some practise cuts.
  •  It’s also useful to read reviews in woodworking magazines which feature articles involving hand tools such as Fine Woodworking, Popular Woodworking, etc. Local woodworking instructors and experienced woodworkers are another good choice.
  •  Online reviews in News Groups and woodworking web sites can be useful “if” you know the qualifications of the contributor – We often hear comments from customers voicing their confusion and frustration after reading conflicting reviews containing little substantive information about why a tool was good or bad.

OK, now you’ve done your homework and are ready to buy chisels. It’s just a matter of settling on the set – Right?

  •  Well, unless you are very confident of your selection, we recommend buying a single chisel in a size you would use often and try it out at your leisure.  Some retail stores have demo tools to try and if not, at least you can get a sense of how they feel in your hand.
  •  Flatten the back of the chisel, sharpen the bevel and put it to work. How does it feel in your hand doing paring work? …now use it with a hammer or mallet. How well does it hold an edge? If you’re satisfied, then proceed to get a set, or select a few more chisels in sizes to round out a set for your current needs.
  •  If it didn’t work out, you’re only out the price of a single chisel and there are always those odd jobs which require a chisel, but not one of the really good ones.

Chisel characteristic notes:

  1.  Steel – There are a variety of high carbon tool steels available which perform similarly. A2 Tool steel used by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks differs in that during the heat treating process, this steel benefits from thermal cycling (cryogenic treatment) which makes the cutting edge more long lasting.
  2.  Handle sized to blade – This feature is nice where there are a large range of blade widths such as our Two Cherries chisels.
  3. Blade design – Tang blades such as our USA made Buck Bros chisels have a tapered point created during the forging process which extends into the handle. Chisels of the socket design have the handle extend down into the body of the chisel. This makes it easy to replace a handle and produces a stronger chisel, but is a more costly design to produce due to the machining involved.
  4. Sharpening of Japanese chisels requires the use waterstones (non-powered) and a bit more finesse because of their laminated construction. It’s better to learn on less expensive chisels, then graduate to these fine tools.

=- Bill Kohr

Reposted from: November 8, 2008 (We upgraded our Software)

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Sharpening – Diamond Products

Diamond Types – Diamond sharpening tools are manufactured of two types of industrial diamonds – monocrystalline and polycrystalline.

  • Monocrystalline Diamonds: These diamond products are well suited for sharpening the tools we discuss below because they wear well and maintain a consistent grit size. This is critical in sharpening hard steels requiring a range (or sequence of grits) to achieve the final edge.
  • Polycrystalline Diamonds: Some products offered by diamond tool manufacturers utilize polycrystalline diamonds which fracture much as natural media used in sandpaper like aluminum oxide. This results in a constantly changing grit size. While this type of diamond is highly effective in industrial finishing applications, it is perhaps not the best choice for an expensive diamond plate due to a rapidly diminishing grit size.

Diamond Plate Types - Manufacturers offer two types of monocrystalline sharpening plates – continuous and interrupted. Both types of products work well in a variety of applications. There are circumstances in which one has advantages over the other.

  •  Continuous products: such as the DMT’s DiaSharp series and the Trend Diamond Whetstone Products have the entire surface evenly coated with diamonds. Continuous surface products work best when kept lubricated to carry away the swarf. The lack of holes prevents tips on pointed objects such as carving tools from falling into the hole and they leave a consistent scratch pattern. We recommend these products as part of a sharpening system for Chef’s Knives, Carving Tools, Plane Irons & Chisels, Straight Razors and touching up carbide tooling.
  • Interrupted surface products: utilize a plastic substrate and holes in the cutting\surface which serve to collect swarf from the sharpening process. In our experience, interrupted surface products work better for chef’s knives, pocket knives and similar straight bladed tools where speed is important and water for lubrication may not be available, or convenient. We found these products to wear more quickly under heavy use and sometimes leave noticeable marks in the sharpened-surface due to the holes in the surface of the plate.

Flattening Waterstones

  • Customers often ask if it is appropriate to use DMT DiaSharp 8” diamond plates to flatten waterstones. On the surface this seems like a good idea, but in practical application, only the DMT Dia-Flat Lapping Plate is suitable for some waterstones. This is because the diamonds are large enough to create an “air break” between the surfaces of the waterstone and diamond plate so the two don’t stick together due to the surface attraction of the water.  It is also specially treated to prevent the waterstones from wearing the material attaching the diamonds to the plate.
  •  We recommend the DMT Dia-Flat Lapping Plate for use on Shapton Professional series, Norton and King Brands of waterstones. The plate will quickly remove an appropriate amount of material.

Reposted from: Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 (We upgraded our Software)

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