My days are passing too quickly up to Christmas. The deadline looms and a bad day yesterday was reclaimed today and I concluded all of the mortises for the headboard today. Once these are stuffed with tenons I will be happier.

Chopping the mortises took me the best part of the afternoon because I kept stopping and thinking about things and looking at the grain inside the mortises as I chopped. I used a Faithful chisel to test it out and it worked as good as any I ever tried. It is a little bit thicker and heavier than say my old Marples boxwood chisel and also the Aldi’s and the Narex, but it took and retained a good edge and I sharpened only once in chopping out 42 mortise holes. I usually sharpen to only 250-grit for this. It’s not necessary to do more and there is little difference in resistance when chopping.

Here is a short video we did when we timed cutting five of the mortise holes to see how long it really took:

The beauty of chopping is in the freedom for thinking as I mentioned previously. I also think another beauty is seeing the chisel cut through fibres to reveal what’s in the wood directly behind the cutting edge as I chop. The wood resists the chisels edge and then yields. I like the way that feels and record it in my mind’s eye. I also like the essence of the oak as friction from the compression in the cut gives of the musty smell. Very different from machine dust filtered through a dust extractor and a dust mask altogether.

I pulled out another favourite plane today that’s very rare indeed; a #5 1/2 made by I Sorby, a famous plane-iron and tool maker from Sheffield since 1820. I have never seen another Sorby 5 1/2 in all my 50 years of working wood. I would love to have an I Sorby 4 1/2. #4’s are not common but they come up now and again.

Once the head board is done I can start the veneered panels and some of the more detailed work.


  1. Andy W on 17 December 2013 at 10:25 pm


    As I follow along with your bed project, I’m curious to know – which aspect of the project do you consider to be the most technically demanding?

    • Paul Sellers on 17 December 2013 at 11:10 pm

      None of it yet, but soon I will be doing some panels with different woods. I will be doing some more detail work and then that will be more demanding.

  2. Vodkovski on 18 December 2013 at 9:01 am

    Curious to know why the previous day went so badly. Only if it was related to the project of course…

    • Paul Sellers on 18 December 2013 at 2:28 pm

      Much work makes for a busy day and combining writing, filming and making means I must manage my time well. Expectations have to be realistic bit even with realistic goals, time can slip away and things you planned on resolving can be left undone. It’s not really a big thing in the scheme of things. I probably shouldn’t say bad day; perhaps unresolved???

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