As the covid year unfolded, everyone gradually accepted lockdowns, self-isolation in shielding and then a mass of other self-monitoring systems of distancing and safety margins. Mask-wearing for those of us working wood all day long and on a daily basis was not new at all, yet it was those wearing them for the first time that focussed on how the five-minute imposition of wearing one to buy a snack would make life impossible. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but you did see those rebels who dipped into a shop and refused to wear one when picking up their newspapers.

It was in May that I came up with these, a full set of marking gauges with interchangeable stems matching the different mortise sizes and custom-sized to the chisels you have and use. They were made from scraps of mesquite wood I had and cost just about nothing except some sweat-equity. Notice this set includes a cutting or slitting gauge stem with a two-directional knife cutter.

This small saw holder for saw sharpening simply slides in between the vise jaws and solidifies the saw during filing and setting. It is simple and making one will take only a few minutes. I have used one for decades now and have three sizes that cover all of my saw sizes.

There are other saw chocks we use for this task too. I’m thinking of including a different one in another series I am trying to pull together for 2021.

I made a series of sewing trays for starting my seeds. These innards have half housing joints for easy removal and separation of roots. I might cover that in this series if I get the chance.

Not a free project but a great one to learn a variety of new things from was making a shoji screen. It was in many ways new to me too and yet it presented no difficulties at all. With 27 half housings all within a few inches of each other, accuracy was of course paramount, as were the six double mortise and tenons followed by 24 other mortise and tenons intersecting the main frame.

I made a pair of them so that they could free-stand by hinging the inside corner.

With my garden flourishing in its second year I needed a garden shed and built one using sheetrock pallets for the walls and roof. It came out fine and now it is in daily use.

I clad the outside with treated wood as featheredge boards, but is did save considerably on time and money.

In the late Spring I pulled together a bird feeder stand for my granddaughter who loves birds as I do. It wasn’t a how-to project, just an act of love and granddad indulgence.

Hard to believe it but i bought some inexpensive sharpening plates from an Asian supplier to trial them for my audience. That was unbelievably 3 march 2020. So I have been using these for one year to date on a daily basis and they show no signs of deterioration at all. If I recall the cost then was under £10 for the three

The spice shelf was one of the earliest pieces in the lockdown and we filmed this three-part series in a single day. I did not film it. It comprises many sliding dovetails, tine M&T joints and was a fun piece to make.

If you remember, I retrieved many lengths of the wood used from a skip.

There were several other things that we filmed during the year, after we worked out how to keep everyone safe.

21 Comments

  1. Brian Dwyer on 6 April 2021 at 9:31 am

    Paul, is it possible to give a link to where you got the sharpening plates from please.
    I bought some cheap diamond plates and really wish I never wasted my time. First sharpen was great, since then it’s been disappointing.
    Cheers

    • Brian Dwyer on 6 April 2021 at 6:15 pm

      Found the original blog post with the search phrase “ 80-300 grit thin diamond polishing plate sharpening stones.”
      Just ordered some from an auction website.
      Cheers

    • John Morrison on 7 April 2021 at 5:31 am

      Check out Paul’s blog article from March 11, 2020 “EDGE SHARPENING UNDER £10” I did this back in February 2021 – cost me $16CAD (£10). The trick is using the term in Paul’s article to search in Google:

      80-300 grit thin diamond polishing plate sharpening stones

      Then select the Aliexpress option and this is where you will slow right down…. Patience and a large cup of tea (or beer or..). Might take a couple hours. The first road block you will run into is the “amazing deal” road block – they’ll try and sell you one of these for a few pennies, but you’ll only be able buy 1 and you’ll probably send an inordinate amount of time getting it figured. Skip free offers and all sorts of odd things and just find 1 store on Aliexpress that will sell you all 3. I got a 240, 600 & 1200 grit sheet all from HOMMEY Store. Doubt it matters which store, but pick one that has a higher rating by a large number of people. Delivery is slow – month or so. As Paul says, its likely the same manufacturer behind all these so you’re getting the same thing, its just picking a supplier that looks like they are dependable. Dozens or more of us have done this – you’re in good company. Cheers

      • bob hutchins on 13 April 2021 at 2:45 am

        Good information. Thanks, John.

        Can you tell me the dimensions of these stones?

  2. David Selin on 6 April 2021 at 12:58 pm

    Hello Paul, the sharpening plates have increased in price, I just bought a set for a charity i volunteer at, cost about £15:00 for a set. I paid about €10:00 last year, they are also still going well.

    • Paul Sellers on 6 April 2021 at 12:59 pm

      I will see how well they hold up long-term. They are still good value!

      • Rob Pierce on 9 April 2021 at 1:34 am

        I bought a set of them 4 months ago and used contact adhesive to a piece on 5/8” solid surface I’ve saved fo 30 years :). Works great.

  3. Jim Monette on 6 April 2021 at 5:09 pm

    Great projects. I especially liked the pallet building. Around here, in Vermont, it seems that most of the pallets I am finding are now being built with nails that cannot be pulled out very easily. They have a kind of twisted shape to them, probably special nails used in an air gun.

    • Chuck on 7 April 2021 at 2:55 pm

      Get a pallet buster and a set of nail pulling pliers and it makes pallet disassembly a breeze. As a fellow New Englander, we are blessed with a large volume of hardwood pallets not available in much of the country.

      • Paul Sellers on 8 April 2021 at 8:10 am

        I have dismantled many a dozen pallets over the years without much of an issue beyond needing a crowbar and a good claw hammer. I am not sure I could have justified such a piece of kit with so limited a function unless of course, it is intended to dismantle a thousand pallets. Just another space hogger to trip over.

  4. Shannon on 6 April 2021 at 5:37 pm

    I just don’t understand it. People are curious. I explained about the virus loads to the numerous clients who came into my office on fire about masks. What usually got through to them was when I told them how much of a load they would get with a mask on vs getting spit in the mouth from another. I then adjusted the light to the plexiglass screen in front of them. I would tell them about how I cleaned after each client whether they had a mask or not. I then pointed to the spit droplets on the screen.

  5. Joe on 6 April 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks Paul. I enjoy to see your vibrancy and productivity.

    Speaking of sweat equity, a few Christmas’s ago, my wife bought me the hardware kit for a Roubo frame saw so I can more easily resaw thicker wood. The frame is being cut from a 2″ thick x 8″ wide x 55″ long piece of rough sawn ash. I don’t own a bandsaw so a hand saw it is to rip out the parts. Quite a workout making those long rip cuts.

  6. Jeff Kirby- Smith on 6 April 2021 at 6:14 pm

    Hi Paul
    I am an “old but very interested wood working new student” and have been addicted to your UTube site. Really want to get a copy of your book, Essentials Woodworking Hand Tools…. Tried with Rokesmith and after 2 deliveries we failed. To their credit they reimbursed me no questions. My question is is there ano route to get a hard copy?? I am down South in Africa, Johannesburg??
    Your views would be appreciated? Kind regards Jeff

    • John Morrison on 7 April 2021 at 6:36 am

      Try subscribing to the podcast “Hand Tool Book Review”. Ray Deftereos is a South African and has a copy – library on his website. Might be able to give you some ideas about how to get a copy in South Africa.

  7. Ajens on 6 April 2021 at 8:18 pm

    I loved this blog post very much indeed. Just because it’s just another proof of the enormous versatility of our material: Wood! The limitations of possible projects made out of wood are almost non existent. If that’s not an inspiration for all of us woodworkers then nothing could inspire us. In my opinion wood is probably the greates gift to humanity from Mother Nature.

  8. Jim Monette on 6 April 2021 at 10:27 pm

    I know this will be unpopular, but a being known as, “ “ , gave us the gift of wood. His son was a carpenter.

  9. Jim Carter on 7 April 2021 at 5:32 am

    I just can’t get over how great your shed looks, followed blog as you built it. It is the finest example of recycled materials I have seen.

  10. Andrew on 7 April 2021 at 11:21 am

    I thought the marking gauge idea innovative, space-saving and convenient.

    • Paul Mouradian on 13 April 2021 at 1:47 am

      Good posts Paul and I know your busy but perhaps someone from your team could back to my question regarding not to use clamps to make your 2 x4 joiners bench. I have my own thoughts how to avoid bar or pipe clamps. In your example of your joiners bench is very good but the problem is that your method we have to use 8 clamps based upon your video. I was hoping you could offer another solution to clamping in creating the 2×4 bench top with 8 or 9 2×4.

      • Paul Sellers on 13 April 2021 at 8:23 am

        Clamps are necessary and long-term essentials. The workbench is q good point to count the cost as to whether woodworking is for you. If it is, then clamps need to be bought. My team of woodworkers is me alone, everyone else is involved in videography etc so please don’t think I have a backup of people doing the donkey work for me. It’s not too complicated to work out a wedging system as an alternative, and entering the experimental field for woodworkers is as important as anything else. From the workbench onwards everyone will need clamps of different sizes, might as well bite the bullet and start out.

      • KeithW on 13 April 2021 at 8:58 am

        I made mine with 4 plus several I made using threaded rod I had. Two rods pull 2 steel bars together. Bars lined with wood. It worked well for lamination, But I bought a couple more to glue the top to the apron. Although I could have used longer steel bars to solve the problem.
        An alternative might be to screw and glue the CLS or drill them and pull together with threaded rod.
        My clamps were free as I already had the threaded rods.

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