Does this mean we should neglect our intellect? Absolutely not. In fact, the opposite. We should strive to cultivate both mind and body to become the most perfect specimen we can become, daily. I came across this passage while reading a bit this morning from Amateur Joinery in the Home (1916) by George and Berthold … Continue reading Everyone Should Cultivate Manual Training
Here's another small project happening amidst all the "real work" that needs to get done during this quarantine. I want to keep this one but after inquiries rolling in, it may go into the shop (or another just like it). Be Safe!
For bow makers and other wood crafters...A shaving horse is an invaluable tool if you create or work with odd-shaped objects that are otherwise difficult to clamp or need to constantly move around. I don't know how I would get half my projects done without one. A horse, in combination with a small bench or … Continue reading Shaving Horses and Portable Woodworking
I am stunned to hear from several recent misguided enthusiasts to the gentle art of wilderness skills that their new hobby costs them so much money... I guess even our low-tech approach to life can be marketed and sold to the right customer with our ingrained need for newer, quicker, and "approved" gear. Let's hope … Continue reading Another Bucksaw on the Loose
Wise words. Learning to really properly sharpen an edge tool by hand is an epiphany and makes wood and leatherworking a real joy.
The other day, I was teaching a friend to sharpen his plane iron, and it got me thinking about sharpening. Of all the skills I have learned while working wood, sharpening has been the most life-changing. It started with chisels and plane irons, but then I began sharpening my kitchen knives and pocketknives. I had no idea that steel could get so sharp! It used to be that dull tools were merely inconvenient, but now I find a dull knife a heartbreaking disappointment.
I say this because I want to share a recent article on sharpening by Chris Schwarz, former editor at Popular Woodworking Magazine and current head of Lost Art Press. In it, Schwarz reflects (well, more like pontificates) on how few woodworkers actually know how to sharpen an edge tool. Even the some of the professionals who write for the big-name magazines often lack basic sharpening skills. He…
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A painting by the Scottish artist John Burr (1831-1893). Tinkers were originally tinsmiths or "tinners". One of many itinerant jobs pursued by a class of casual laborers. These were mostly skilled and specialized crafts like basket making, shoe repair, leather work, and metal work but many poorer workers were migrant farm labor picking hops and … Continue reading “The Travelling Tinker” by John Burr
Here is a painting by the Scottish artist John Burr (1831-1893) of an itinerant fiddler playing for a family in a Scottish lane probably trying to make enough money to eat or maybe even receive some food for his entertainment. I can't help but think the father looking out has a skeptical look; possibly wondering … Continue reading Wandering Minstral
In Britain and Ireland, the Romany Gypsys and the Traveller community are often associated with low-skilled work such as scrap dealers, horse traders, musical entertainers, or more nefarious activities outside the societal norms. However, there were plenty of skilled craftsmen and craftswomen providing goods and services to people around the country. Below is an image … Continue reading The World is Your Workshop
In the spirit of the internet Bushcraft trend of pulling out our tools and comparing I decided to join in the fun. This is the patch / neck knife I purchased back around 1986 when I first started getting primitive. This one was made by a bladesmith from an antique crosscut saw and has a … Continue reading The Handy Neck Knife
I rarely (I mean almost never) go out of my way to endorse a product of any kind but while considering the upcoming holidays I came across this link I saved a while back. I think it would be perfect for the workshop and is a work of art in its own right. I can … Continue reading The Chart of Hand Tools
I keep a couple tool rolls for specialty fixes but I really like this setup from over a century ago. I think I need to make and "essentials" kit like this for general travel to keep the tings I truly need in need place and handy. It might be a little heavy for the rambler … Continue reading Motor Car Tool Kit ca. 1907
I've been working on a new hand reel to keep in my pack with my travel fishing kit. I didn't have much of a plan when I started so I drilled out a couple of one-inch holes a little further apart than the width of my hand and started from there. The wood came from … Continue reading Fishing Reel
A few too many camp knives? This is what happens as you travel, receive gifts, buy better stuff, always need a good knife, etc. From the upper left: Camillus 5-1967 (a friend carried this through Vietnam), my small Arkansas stone for field touch-ups, Buck folder, two classic Victorinox Pioneer knives (I've carried this style every … Continue reading Too Many Knives
SINEW Sinew is the term used to describe tendon or ligament in more formal English. It is the cord that connects muscle to bone or bone to bone in skeletal animals. Like rope, it is made up of bundles of bundles of bundles as shown in this anatomical illustration. For our purposes, sinew is a … Continue reading The Magic of Sinew
In preparation for summer teaching I recently spent some time making a couple new pump drills for demonstrations and hands-on activities. While some modern tools were used in the production, these are entirely hand-made with no purchased parts or plans. As I have only made two of these previously I spent a little time perusing … Continue reading Pump Drills
I cleaned out my recently revamped tote that holds the my key leather working tools. It was good to see the bottom of the box again and pull out the non-essential items. The less used items have their own canvas tote bag of similar proportions. The above photo shows how the handle removes to access … Continue reading Leather Working Tote
As I sort and cull my tools (and life) I want to share some past projects that may seem too simple to consider. I am not always on the path to a handmade life but I'm also never far from it.
Looking through old books online I'm constantly reminded of how easy we have it in the 21st Century. I still remember seeing my grandfather and great-grandfather ripping the occasional board by hand. Neither had a table saw and it was often too much trouble for a single cut to replace the blade in the circular … Continue reading Rip Cuts and Table Saws
Reposted from 2008; what a different life it seems now. Here is one of my favorite old shave horses. It is made from a plank chainsawed from an enormous pin-oak limb that came down during a storm years ago. It weighs quite a bit but the weight means more stability when using it as a … Continue reading Shaving Horse
Talk about convergent timing ... It seems that Paul Sellars was reading my mind when he put up another useful video early today. This is a bit of a ramble I've been pecking around on for a while now. Sometime in the 1980s we seem to have forgotten how to sharpen our own tools. That … Continue reading Don’t be afraid, sharpen your knives!