Restoring smoothing planes

I bought this Record plane in grungy condition to restore. It’s 50 years old. All plane handles are too small for my hands. I had to reshape it some. I flattened the sole too. Degreasing took a while. I could tell it was an engineer that owned and at not a woodworker but the grease kept most […]

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Walking home from work

It’s raining as I walk home. Cool, Welsh rain. It’s not too heavy, but it’s close rain that wets thoroughly and the earth soaks the drops in quickly. My cheeks and hands are cold and my hand shields my lens in case I see something I want to photograph. The trees are saturated so much […]

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Know your wood #3-Oak

Oak trees grow on each of the five continents and cultures at every level have relied on the wood and acorn, the tannic acid and the bark throughout the millennia. Great ships with oak bows and rudders crisscrossed the globe.   Oak leaves have a unique and distinctive leaf shape Massive barns and manorial homes […]

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Know your wood #2-Beech

Beech trees grow abundantly throughout the temperate zones of Europe, Asia and North America. The wood is of very even denseness throughout the grain because of its relatively small pores evenly distributed through both the early and late growth of each growth cycle (annual ring). My first mallet was made from beech and most mallets […]

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Restoring the past

  An old discarded gauge Sometimes we look at something and lament the neglect. The stem sticks in the stock. It’s swollen now and has been for two decades. The brass, now tarnished has that musty smell of dampness and we say it’s not worth anything, but we give 50p. A few weeks ago John […]

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Chisels

My hand encloses the  boxwood shaft both hard, resistant to my mallet’s blow, yet soft under the pressure of my hand.  My fingertips trace the lines. They falter as they touch the brass enclosure polished by a man’s lifetime cutting, shaping, shaving wood. Pulling the chisel from its place between the rest I slice thin […]

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A lovely Disston handsaw

A saw by any other name could cut as sweet I have many favourite saws. One in each of the categories. You’ve seen them in past posts here on my blog. I don’t collect them. I can’t imagine the empty vanity in collecting good saws you don’t use to work work wood with. I want […]

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Know your wood #1-Cherry

Most people only talk about grain at the most superficial level of how it looks. We woodworkers enter the fibres. We tease the cells apart with the chisel’s edge and search for weaknesses and strengths in the species. We want to know these intimate details so we can exemplify the strengths and protect the weak from harm. […]

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How to cut large mortise holes by hand

I have been replacing doors at Penrhyn Castle and the oak I am using, as with all oak, can be a resilient wood and its  grain repels the onslaught of chisels the deeper you penetrate into the wood because leverage becomes difficult. I have never particularly liked the boring-holes-and-chiselling method for mortising but in the […]

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