Everyone Should Cultivate Manual Training

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

A Gathering Saw

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!

Shaving Horses and Portable Woodworking

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

Another Bucksaw on the Loose

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

The Hardest Part of Learning to Sharpen

Wise words. Learning to really properly sharpen an edge tool by hand is an epiphany and makes wood and leatherworking a real joy.

The Literary Workshop Blog

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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“The Travelling Tinker” by John Burr

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

Wandering Minstral

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

The World is Your Workshop

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

The Handy Neck Knife

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

The Chart of Hand Tools

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

Motor Car Tool Kit ca. 1907

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

Fishing Reel

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

Too Many Knives

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

The Magic of Sinew

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

Pump Drills

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

Rip Cuts and Table Saws

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

Don’t be afraid, sharpen your knives!

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!

Making a frame saw

These are nearly the same type I make.  A frame saw is a useful and simple introduction to woodworking and tool-making.  If you are interested in woodworking, Paul Seller's blog has a lot to offer. From Paul Seller's: If you have not yet made one of these you should. They are quick and simple to … Continue reading Making a frame saw

More Joinery

Here's a beautiful trestle table coming together in Andy Rawls' studio; spotted on his Tumblr this morning. Seeing this makes me realize I can't wait to get some projects done over the three day weekend.  It makes me a little sad to say something like that.  Choosing a job for pay instead of a love … Continue reading More Joinery

Tools of the Bowyer

I have been working on a bow-making tutorial for quite a long time now.  Trying to be as explicit as possible while not dumbing everything down is a tricky narrative to follow.  Just gathering the appropriate images of the process is time-consuming and difficult but truly, a good image is worth a thousand words.  

Home Carpentry

As usual, an interesting old find posted on the Lost Arts Press. It’s worth a read.

“It is doubtless the timidity of woman which restrains her mending instincts. She dreads the saw and the chisel as treacherous tools that inevitably inflict wounds on the user… Moreover, she can never grasp the difference between a nail and a screw, and regards the latter as an absurd variety of nail which can not be driven with a hammer unless the wielder of the hammer has the muscles of a man.”

Lost Art Press

parrs_gentlemans_tool_chestThe woman who indulges in carpenter-work seldom does much harm. She contents herself with trying to drive nails into the wall, and with experiments with mucilage. She drives her nails with great caution, and when she has loosened an inch or two of plaster she becomes alarmed, and resolves to let her husband assume the responsibility of inflicting further injury on the wall.

She has a profound faith in the value of mucilage as a substitute for glue, and hopefully attempts to mend china and furniture with it; but mucilage is as harmless as it is inefficient, and it is only on the rare occasions when it is used to mend the wheels of the clock that it does any permanent injury to anything.

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Make a Shop Apron

Shop aprons are not as widely used as in the past.  I believe this is related to our modern view on clothing and how it has changed over the past century.  Not only are we training less in the trades, our clothes are ridiculously cheap in the modern world.  Low prices and availability keeps our … Continue reading Make a Shop Apron

Sharpening is a Simple Act

Thank you Paul Sellers for stating an obvious but nearly lost truth.  There are far too many needless and complicated gizmos, devices, and "new technologies" for a 2,500 year old task.  Clever marketers have figured out that we can blame our laziness and impatience on our tools and not ourselves. Maybe I am speaking out … Continue reading Sharpening is a Simple Act

The Making of a Cabinetmaker – Part I

“I believe I was fitted by nature to become a woodworker, and had my father been a wagonmaker or millwright, a carpenter or cooper, I would have been taught by my father the trade that he knew. He saw that I would whittle something, for when I was even smaller and lived in the woods I would ask for his knife whenever he came home. He always demurred, saying, “You will cut your fingers,” for a woodworker’s knife is always sharp.

I would tease until he would hand it out with the remark, “Now you will cut yourself.” I invariably did, and it was generally the fore finger of my left hand. That finger is just covered with small scars of every possible shape. I was bound to whittle something. Father knew it, so he calculated to give me a trade where I could whittle away and bring in a little money thereby.”
Chris Weeks
Wood Craft – December 1905

Lost Art Press

bench_plane

I took kindly to woodworking. In fact, I was brought up in the woods until I was seven years of age. During these first seven years of my life I saw my father only occasionally, for he was a cabinetmaker by trade and worked in a smart little town about sixty miles distant from our forest farm and came home after intervals of about six weeks to remain with us but a day or two. When I was about seven years old my mother died and the remainder of the family father took with him to the town where he worked.

I went to school, but had a chance to run in and out of the shop as I pleased, and just about as the child learns to speak his mother’s language by sights and sounds long before it is sent to school, so I learned a great deal about…

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Saw Bench Update

A little more done on the saw bench this weekend.  It is clearly going to serve as my go-to portable workstation.  I have several jigs in mind to add as regular features but, for now, I've started by making a brand new bench hook. I brought it out into the driveway this afternoon to get … Continue reading Saw Bench Update