It’s All About Balance

It’s Saturday and my sixth day of work in my work week. For over 50 years I’ve worked a six day week making. By that I mean I’ve worked building everything from my homes and my furniture, chicken coops and splitting logs: mostly with my boys as they grew alongside me. I felt sad sitting […]

George and I

It was 5.30 Friday evening when George and I finished the big ritual of sharpening all of our tools. Planes, saws, chisels and spokeshaves were lined up with bright shiny cutting edges ready for our return to work the next Tuesday morning. George was a happy man when all the tools were in order, I […]

Joseph’s right!

“You have never been able to resist taking an otherwise useless hand tool and making it work, nor a vise or any other piece of woodworking equipment.” Rusted scissors are lifted from the bottom of an old basket in a junk shop and the name searched out with a scratch of a thumbnail. I had […]

George and the Puthering Dust

Some days were made longer by the repetitive elements in the projects. Joinery often comprises subassemblies of frames, be they the replication of same-sized frames or individually sized ones. The pile of frame stock on the pallet truck was six feet high four feet wide and the lengths varied from 18 feet long down to […]

Seeing the Art in Hand Planing—Part I

As an enthusiast for hand plane work I do feel something of an exclusivist in that it seems the only alternative for much of the work is to crank up power planers and belt sanders, random orbit sanders and such. This then means chip extraction, dust syphoning to pull away the ever harmful excesses for […]

George Took the Blame

George laughed as we lifted the massive frame from the bench to flip it over for planing the joint line levels. We’d done this many times with smaller frames, no problems, but this time I felt the contortion in my face expressing the reality that this was different, it was just too heavy for me. […]

George Turns the Tables

Window of Opportunity I was trying. All the time it was a challenge and woodworking did not come naturally to me, especially with the standards at the bench. We were in the middle of making a mix of a hundred window frames, many with four opening sashes. Jack, the foreman, did all of the layout […]

What’s a Chisel Worth

I looked for a chisel on eBay. I wanted a specific one, a W Marples 1 1/4″. It took me less than a minute to find one I liked even though it was the lesser common type on the larger size. I wanted a wider bevel-edged chisel made by Marples or Ward—what might now be […]

I Grab a Few Treasures to Work On

Joseph once told me that he saw how significant it was for me to repair things, you know, an old saw, a plane or a piece of discarded furniture. He said in all the years he had consciously known me at my workbench as a furniture maker he’d noticed there were always pieces dotted around […]

About George—Day Two

    “Over here!” George said to me. “That’s where you will be working when you’re on bench work and I’ll be keeping my eye on you.” He pointed to the vise on the opposite side of the bench he worked at. His side was loaded with hand tools while my side lay empty. He […]