Today’s Chips From My Bench

DSC_0163Here is John’s upcycled Ashley Iles 35mm 7-sweep gouge replete with its new beech handle and his retro box is shown below too. Trash to treasure turns the useless to full of use and what one person chunks another knows will last another lifetime. Today I realised a few things as I filed the teeth on the £1 saw I bought last week and made it into a very, very functional saw that now cuts like the very best of saws I ever owned. I topped the teeth and redefined the shape as the students watched me to learn my techniques. The light flashed off the newly topped teeth for a few strokes and then they disappeared stroke by stroke as the teeth became uniform in shape and size before their eyes. This is the very best way to learn to sharpen if it’s possible and it’s the way I learned 49 years ago to the day. I stripped the rust off yesterday in readiness for this class. What they saw today will never intimidate their saw sharpening in the future.DSC_0222
Progress on joinery went well and I pointed out the joints in my tables we made for the videos as I taught them joinery, which is really useful of course because it makes it so applicable. Most people see joints in mostly one-way applications when there are many more uses for each joint when you make a few minor adaptations to suit the task.DSC_0229
I recounted a story from a former occupation when i learned that bank tellers are only given real notes when they are learning their banking skills. After a period of time has elapsed they slip in a fraudulent note and, remarkably, every time their fingers touch a bad note they can sense the difference in their fingertips. What they do is what we do. We present the truth first. A tangible permanent reference in the fingertips and hand pressures of every student who pushes a sharp chisel into wood for the first time. From this day forth and forever they will always know what sharp is. DSC_0237

Phil is setting his brass backed R Groves dovetail saw with a hammer and nail set…



…and my recent eBay R Groves steel back 14″ below is awaiting another demo for sharpeningDSC_0165


No other single aspect of hand tool woodworking is more important than sharpness and every person we teach comes to know that from the very start. Knowing sharpness cuts to the very chase and showing students the way to that end means the eradication of any and all doubt. That’s what happened today. Well, a couple of hours later we did the same with the hand plane. Next week we are filming much of what I taught today because there is a lot we want to upgrade for everyone to learn from. They will be free videos that you can watch for on either YouTube or if you have signed in for your free online subscriptions.

Here is John’s finished chisel box. the one I mentioned in yesterday’s blog.

This what I wanted from the beginning, when I started teaching my first workshops two decades and more ago.
Upcycling is, according to Wiki, “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.’, so I think that’s me and many others who are being upcycled as we upcycle our finds.

I hope you enjoy these little shavings. Tips and chips from my bench to yours.

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I hope you have  a wonderful weekend.

7 thoughts on “Today’s Chips From My Bench”

  1. Great post. Paul is that your standard construction of drawer frames? I cannot zoom in enough to see how you attached to front legs, whether by dovetail, M&T or otherwise. That is one of future steps in the coffee table build, I was considering a wide front upper divider dovetailed to keep the front legs in place and resist stresses.

    1. Yes. I have used this method for decades now and it’s the best I know of. Perhaps I will do a blog on it.

      1. Paul, I am sure you continue to enjoy the time off from travel, being able to focus your energies elsewhere, like the online classes. By any chance have you thought about when your in-person classes in the US may re-start, specifically the 9 day foundations class?

        Love the blog and the online videos in the meantime though!

  2. Paul, could you expand a bit on “hammer setting” saw teeth, as opposed to using the plier type tools? I’ve heard some say it is a superior method but it’s never talked about. Thanks.

  3. Paul another great blog and am looking forward to this new project. I to would like to know more about teeth setting the way you do it. I have heard pro’s and con’s about it. I am just getting serious about saw sharpening so the timing is good.

    Thanks again for all you do and share.


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