Third acquisition from Patrick Leach


My third shipment from Patrick arrived today. As you can see it contained a Stanley no.271 mini-router plane, a Stanley no.10 Rabbet plane (ca 1910) and a Stanley Bedrock no.607.


I first decided not to do much more than sharpening the blade and the usual flattening of the key surfaces (of the #607), but after taking it apart my OCD kicked in. As you can see it is a plane in very good condition given it’s age (as far as I can deduct from “Patrick’s blood and gore” it should be ca 1912-1925 given the style of levercap), but I have a problem as you might know by now. Therefore the main casting were also sent off (a few days after the other bits) to Kenney at the Propshop for a beadblast-exfoliation.



These babies were made between 1926-1973, but I have no idea when this particular specimen were fashioned. It is however the only member of the party that escaped my Rehab-compulsion.



This is the #10 aged 113. It will receive the full wroth of my compulsive rehab-therapy.




Custom made leather apron

2/12/2013 – I decided to take a dive into the world of hand stitching leather as I thought it could be very useful all around the workshop. Therefore I bought some beautiful cows leather from Nakara for the first project of this nature being a shop apron. Up until now I have been using an apron made by my dear wife. It worked quite well, but like with most things there were a few bits that needed improvement. Here you can see the leather.



I found the two images below on the net, which helped me to improve the design of my apron. The first image shows Lie-Nielsen’s version of a leather apron. What I borrowed from them was the split bottom part and the belt around the waist that wraps all around the apron as apposed to only being attached to the edges of the apron. I found that it was a bit of a mission to squat with my previous apron which did not have the slit at the front. The second picture shows the x-strap design which distributes the weight of the apron better and takes it off one’s neck. This is also a part of the Lie-Nielsen design although the second picture is not a LN apron.



Initially my plan was to take the bits (pictured below) of leather (already cut) on holiday to RSA and ask my mother-in-law to stitch it together with her sewing machine. This did not work as the leather was far too thick for her machine.



Once back in Windhoek I made some enquiries and found an old German shop that specialises in all the tools needed to hand stitch leather. Unfortunately I did not take pictures of the process, but here is the final product.


Stanley no. 45 rehabilitation

I bough this Stanley no 45 at an antiques auction in Groot Brak River RSA in December 2013. As you can see there are several parts missing and was painted with a thick black paint. I decided to get rid of the paint and sent it to my main man Kenney at the Prop Shop who bead blasted it to bare metal. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of this.





21/7/2014 Then I took it to a gunsmith who “blued” it. This is a process I know nothing about apart from it being a rust resistant treatment usually applied to a rifle’s metal parts. Now it looks a bit better and will hopefully stay looking this way for another century. I am using it as decoration on my shop’s wall due to all the missing bits. If you listen to Patrick Leach, it is not a plane you want to use anyway.


My Journey 5 (The Awesome Foursome)


It has been a while since I wrote “My Journey 4”, 17/7/2013 to be precise. Over the past few weeks  I started thinking about the process over the past 3 years since starting to set up my current shop. As I explained previously, I am using the shop setup phase to improve my skills and to learn as much as possible before diving into the proper cabinet making phase. Over the past three years my knowledge, philosophy and skills have undergone a major metamorphosis, predominantly as a result of all the reading, research and DVD based learning I did.

In this post I want to discuss what I consider to be the most influential characters in this process. The so called “awesome foursome”. They are (in no particular order) David Charlesworth, Christopher Schwarz, Patrick Leach and Deneb Puchalski. Let’s tackle them one by one.

I was given five complimentary DVD’s by Lie-Nielsen as part of my first purchase back in December 2012. I could chose from their list and just happened to chose four Charlesworth masterpieces, as I did not even know who he was at that time. You will find the titles on the library page of this site. These DVDs changed the way I think about and approach woodwork in the most profound manner possible. I struggle to remember or understand why I even enjoyed woodworking prior to watching these DVDs. He single handedly opened up the ancient and mesmerizing world of hand tools, their use, care and maintenance. His dry English humour, meticulous approach and crystal clear explanations are absolutely riveting to a receptive woodworker. I say, to “a receptive woodworker”, as my wife absolutely hates it.

My enjoyment of the craft has increased tenfold since he made me aware of the quiet precision made possible by sharp, well maintained quality hand tools. His advice and techniques apply to almost every woodworking problem I have encountered since. Another key characteristic of David that changed my approach significantly is his sedate and thoughtful yet meticulous and deliberate manner. In the past I used to try and race through projects, trying to finish them yesterday and often ended up feeling unhappy with the result. Charlesworth taught me to slow down, enjoy the process and consider each move carefully before diving in. This made a profound difference in the enjoyment and quality of my work.

He is without a doubt my woodworking icon.

d charlesworth

The next guy I really appreciate is Christopher Schwarz. The first I saw of him was also a Lie-Nielsen DVD on workbenches. After watching a few Charlesworth DVDs, I enjoyed his but was not all that impressed. Since December 2012 though (when I first watched that DVD), I came across more and more of his stuff and really acquired a taste for his work. What I like about the guy is his seemingly limitless enthusiasm for the tools and history of the craft.

I then bought his two books on workbenches (which you can find on the library page of this site) and enjoyed that as much as the Charlesworth DVDs. I have now reread the books several times and am in the process of building my own 18th century bench based in large part on the advise and discussions in these two books. In December 2013 I read his book ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest’ and that really got me interested in his way of approaching the craft. I really like his style of writing and learned heaps about several tools I’ve not even been aware of before.



Next is Deneb Puchalski. I got to know Deneb via e-mail communication with Lie-Nielsen. He was extremely helpful from the start and over time become my go-to man when I need advice about anything. He helped when I needed advice on the best angle of attach while I built all those wooden hand planes, suggested the best blades from their collection for the various planes, and more recently he gave me advice on the best adhesive to use (in terms of open time) once I assemble my workbench. It really helps to have someone who knows what they are talking about when you are stuck. He is also very prompt with his responses, which I appreciate given that he is probably quite a busy guy.


Last, but not least is Patrick Leach. Patrick is the owner of The Superior Works. He sells old vintage tools that he finds all over the world. Patrick has a vast knowledge of old tools and the manufacturers that used to produce these tools (and is not scared to share his knowledge). His famous work called “Patricks Blood and Gore” seems to be the most comprehensive source of information on Stanley planes available and it is free to read and download from his website. His monthly list of tools for sale is accompanied by descriptions of each tool. The information in these lists has taught me more than any other on the topic of tool history.

Patrick is helping me to find all the old tools (that I need) that is not available for sale anymore and in the process I have learnt heaps. I really appreciate having access to someone like him, while being stuck in the tool wilderness.



In other words I am a different woodworker as a result of these gentlemen and I am very grateful for the knowledge and different perspective they have imparted in various different ways over the past 2 years.

Shop made Melencolia square with the Marxian Improvement


I first learnt about these squares from Chris Schwarz’s blog on the Lost Art Press website. He was made aware of these by Jeff Burks who noticed it in an Albrecht Dürer engraving dated 1514 (see picture below), and several other ancient woodwork engravings. It has obviously disappeared from the modern woodworking toolset, but seems very useful as a light small square that would be easier to hang on one’s apron than the modern versions.


Chris made some of these himself and also recently blogged on those made by Niel Cronk (pictured below). I used the ancient engravings (posted on the Lost Art Press site), Chris and Neil’s versions as a starting point for mine.


The first picture show how Chris used a two piece design for his handles and Neil (second picture) used a single piece. I decided to use a single piece.


As for the blade, I decided to use Chris’ design with a slight protrusion of the blade beyond the handle to make it easier to square the tool up post gluing and in future. He calls it the Romanian improvement as the idea comes from decorations on the pews of a Romanian fortified church in Biertan (second and third pictures). The church were constructed between 1468 and somewhere in the 16th century.



I found some bits of beech (for the blades) that fell off while building all those hand planes last year and a small piece of Olienhout (for the handles). I first glued an Ysterhout strip to the edge of the beech blades to make sure that the so called business end would last forever.


Cutting this groove in the Olienhout handle was actually the first job I did with my Lie-Nielsen tongue and groove plane.



In the first picture you can see the ysterhout strips on the blade stock. The second picture show how the blades were glued to the handles.



As usual, I like to add my own twist to the design. I therefore changed the design of the handle to improve the grip for the various different ways the tool will be used. I think it also adds a bit of esthetic je ne sais quoi as well. We could call it the Marxian Improvement!



I tried to illustrate how I think the design helps with grip by taking a few pictures of my own hand.



Festool TS55 issue


I use the Festool TS55 with the basic unit of the CMS (Compact Module System) as a table saw. One problem I seem to have on a fairly regular basis is pictured below. The sawdust does not clear adequately necessitating a proper clean, which takes up time that I would rather spend working wood. I am not using it with a dust collection system as I cannot justify the expense yet, so I guess that might be part of the problem. I am very happy in every other way with all the Festools I own. This is really the only problem I’ve come across.


Shop made winding sticks


A post on an interesting winding stick design on the Lost Art Press website, got me as far as to finally build a proper set. It has been on my list of things to do for quite some time, but given that my major project for 2014 is a 18th century workbench, there are a host of shop made tools waiting patiently to be designed and made. The first picture below shows the design that Chris Schwarz discussed in his blog last week. I liked the idea of the holes that helps to see the high corners when using the sticks looking into a light source. I have found that it becomes a bit of a challenge to see the far stick while looking towards a light source. I used a combination of the designs in the pictures below, which I found on the net.



I used beech and Kershout for contrast purposes. This piece of Kershout is incredibly hard to the point were I had a hard time to plane it, even with very sharp irons. I made two beech dowels which were glued and tapped through the centre of both sticks (pictured) to make it easier to located the sticks in the middle of the board being checked for wind.


Here I chiseled out small triangular areas to be filled with epoxy mixed with black acrylic paint. The idea is for the two triangles to make it easy to line up your sight down the centre of the sticks while using it.


I used the setup below to mark out the shape of the sticks on the end grain to provide me with a guide while shaping it by means of the table saw, hand planes and sanding planes.


Sticks after a confrontation involving my table saw.


The various gadgetry I have made over the years that attach to my assembly table amde it fairly easy to shape the sticks using a #5 Bailey Jack plane and a Nie-Nielsen small block plane (based on the Stanley #102).


Here I used the mentioned concoction to inlay the small triangles.


The final surface preparation were done with shop made sanding planes and sandpaper on glass.



A few coats of Tung oil followed by Wooddock and we have a set of je ne sais quoi-esque winding sticks. In the final picture you can see it hibernating in a custom made (by moi) leather sleeping bag.