My 18th Century Workbench in progress 25

November 2014

My final job towards finishing my bench for 2014 was to start building the twin screw vise jaw. I managed to prepare the two beech boards (pictured) by hand a month or so earlier. Thus it had quite some time to settle. Lie-Nielsen provide a very detailed pdf document on how to build the jaw that goes with their hardware. It took some work with the router, a glue-up and Bob’s your Uncle!



I decided to take a few pictures to document the state of the bench prior to any work done for 2015.


2015 started off with some very tricky fitting work in order to get the twin screw vise fitted to the bench. The main reason for this is that I decided to drill holes in my 4″ bench top to accommodate the 2 ACME threaded rods, rather than to cut 2″ deep dados.

The Witpeer breadboard end had to be sawn off flush with the edge of the top before I could even start to fit the vise.


I did not take too many photos (during installation) as I was too busy swearing and struggling, but here are some pictures of the end result.



This weekend I focused on getting the end vise finished.


Then I made the two handles for the other two vises, using Assegaai and Beech.


Here are my first shop made Assegaai bench dogs in action.


End grain chopping board

December 2014

Shortly before embarking on our usual end of year holiday I decided to take the incumbent chopping board in our kitchen along to the beach house. This meant that I needed to replace it in a timely fashion for fear of life threatening marital discord. Therefore I started on this improved version even before we left the tropics.

As you can see from the pictures below, I went for contrasting colours in choosing Witpeer (left) and Kershout (right).


Here you can see both boards ripped on the table saw and the resultant strips cut to length by hand.


The first glue-up.


I removed the excess glue with my shop made flush plane …


… and fed it to the planer.


The board was then chopped in halve and glued again. The reason for this way of doing it was to make it possible to feed the first glue-up (250mm or 10″ wide) through the planer as the second glue-up (500 mm x 500 mm) would have to be done by hand. One of the end grain edges were then flatened by hand in order to have a perfect reference surface for the table saw.


I then ripped the second glue-up, turned each strip by 90º (end grain thus facing up and down) and flipped every second strip head over tail in order to end up with a chess board appearance. The third glue-up followed the mentioned procedure. You can see that I used shop made cauls to cut down on the amount of end grain planing post glue-up.


I used my Lie-Nielsen bevel-up Jack plane with a toothed blade for the bulk of the end grain leveling. With such incredibly hard wood it took quite some time to get it flat.



Once back from holiday I dug out a piece of Oregon pine I nicked out of someones rubbish skip. It looks like it might have been a roof beam of some description in a previous life.  It worked perfect as a jig (for lack of a better word) to draw a particular curve on each side of the chopping board.

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I then prepared some thin strips of Witpeer and Kershout. The bandsaw got rid of the unwanted side of the curve, after which I used a block plane and my shop made sanding planes to smooth it out.


My Oregon jig was then used to bend the strip around the curve while gluing it into place. The same process were followed for each of the other edges.


Some more flattening work followed. You can see the tools used, as well as the specific order in which they were used in the pictures below.


A couple of block planes and a few sanding planes were then employed to shape the four edges.


I use liquid paraffin (also known as paraffinum liquidum) a highly refined mineral oil on chopping boards as it is apparently safe for this purpose. Please do not quote me on that and do not try this at home kids.


These Kershout strips are supposed to keep the board flat and off a potentially wet surface. The final product made all the effort worth while (I felt).


December 2014 tool finds.


This December holiday turned into a fairly successful tool solicitation exercise. I met some people dealing in antique stuff and found new tool hunting grounds for future purposes. In the picture below you can see the artifacts I managed to secure.


This massive “treksaag” I bought at an antiques auction.


I met a lady who is the owner of an antiques/coffee shop in Groot Brakrivier at the auction. I later bought a few old tools, including this brass and leather bound tape measure from her.


She also sold me this old ink roller, which is destined to become a glue roller.


This medium sized screw driver (embossed with “Yankee patent made by Stanley”) I bought for R65 (US$5,64 with todays exchange rate). They fetch between US$50-75 (shipping not included) if bought form antique tool dealers. I love these and only had the large version until now. I use them all the time, so this would probably be my favourite of the lot.


My father in-law gave this more recent version of the Yankee patent to me as a present. This one (large size) has only the Stanley name on it. He bought it new in 1978 for R18,40 as you can see on the original box. It has a plastic red handle, as opposed to the wooden handles of the earlier models. I think this could become my son’s first Yankee!


Speaking of Didi, I also bought this run down Stanley Bailey no. 4, which we will rehab together. It will be his first bench plane. It was R300 (US$26). I am certainly no expert, but it looks to be a Type 17 (ca 1942-1945).


This a collection of wooden smoothers and joiners found in 2013 and 2014. I will use these for decorative purposes in the shop.


Protracted tool perambulations through sub-Saharan Africa.


One of the joys of living in Africa entails serious challenges in acquiring quality vintage woodworking hand tools. Therefore, you end up being at the mercy of kindhearted internet-based antique tool vendors such as Jim Bode and Patrick Leach. So far all my acquisitions from Patrick Leach went swimmingly (pun unintended) in terms of the transatlantic journey of the merchandise.

However, my first acquisition from Jim Bode Tools turned into an unexpected drama. This was, I have to say, through no fault of theirs. It was simply an inevitable consequence of life on the dark continent. Just to be clear, I love living in the cradle of humankind, but like every other location it has it’s vexations.

It all started on the 8th of October 2014 when Jim shipped 4 items that I have been buying over a few months time. He kindly held onto the tools until there were enough to justify a shipment as it is quite expensive to haul solid hunks of metal across the equator. I tracked the parcel’s movements via the US Postal website as per usual. On the 22nd of October it checked into a sorting facility in Zambia! I immediately knew that this meant trouble. None of the previous 10-ish parcels that found me via US Postal from the USA ever visited Kenneth Kaunda.

For some (not particularly) mysterious reason the parcel then went into hibernation. It did not move again according to the website (until this day in fact). My incumbent practice manager spent days on end to try and locate it. She spoke to just about everyone in Zambia apart from Kenneth himself, hence my deduction that it had a protracted high tea appointment with the former statesman. At some point she was told that it left Zambian shores en route to Azania (aka South Africa in this particular instance).

Problem was that the feeble Azanian Postal Services were in the midst of yet another strike. I am not sure why they even strike, because I am sure that is more work than what they get up to during the brief spells between strikes. Anyway, it meant that we would have no way of establishing where the parcel was. More correspondence with the entire population of Zambia followed, which produced a rumor that the parcel might have joined ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe!! What next?

By the 24th of November I requested Trish Bode to make an enquiry with US Postal as you need an American address to do so. She opened a case to track the package and the local postal service (presumably in Zambia) explained that they need 25 business days to complete the “investigation”. In sub-Sahara Africa that could mean anything between 2 and 10 years. At this point I decided that I would never have the pleasure of seeing these tools.

We left on holiday for three weeks and returned on the 5th of January. The next day my practice manager phoned to inform us that the parcel arrived!! Hallelujah!!

It was obvious from the packaging that the parcel perambulated the entire SADC Region en route to the Land of the Brave, but the contents were in pristine condition.





As you can see, it is a real special ensemble of priceless tools, hence my acute melancholia when it seemed as if it might be MIA. The ensemble includes an early Stanley no.77 dowel making machine (the later models are blue) with a ¼” cutter, a 9″ Witherby drawknife, a 24″ 7tpi cross cut No.12 Disston saw and a small Stanley cross pein hammer





I hope that the members of touring party are ready to work after their extended travels through paradise.

Tour de Shop and project inventory 2014


My last proper weekend in the shop for 2014 has now come and gone. It is therefore now time to start reviewing what I have managed to accomplish during this year and to take a quick look around the shop.

It all started with the rehabilitation of the two planes I happened to buy at an antiques sale in RSA over the December holidays. The Bedrock no. 606 has become one of my go-to tools.



I also bought this no.78 Rabbet plane from Stanley at the same auction, but it’s rehab took quite some time as it had several parts missing.



This was the last of my holiday shopping, a no. 45 Plough Plane from Stanley. It was covered with a thick black paint, and had no iron/s. I decided to tidy it up for shop decoration purposes.



I managed to finish turning all those file handles that I started with at the end of 2013.



My major project for 2014 started on the 1st of February and is not finished by quite some way. I spent at least 80% of my shop time this year working on my 18th century workbench and am pleased to say that it is at least assembled by the end of 2014. You can read all about it in a series of posts entitled “My 18th Century Workbench in progress”

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My 17 m³ wood finally completed it’s journey when it took occupation of it’s purpose built shed.


These exquisite chisels from Lie-Nielsen arrived after a wait of several months. I made this very basic storage to keep them out of harm’s way.



Didi (my son) started his woodworking journey by turning this mallet for himself.



I used an antique brace bit from my father’s collection that had key parts of it’s business end missing to fashion this birdcage awl. It is a real winner.


Didi’s next project was this bird feeder.


I revamped and sharpened this old scissor.


This shop high stool saw a bit too much action during the 14 years since I first made it. I re-upholstered it with leather and strengthened the base, while (clearly) not worrying too much about je ne sais quoi.


Didi learnt a few more skills by producing this beautiful Assegaai handle for an old axe we had lying around.


This Miller’s Falls no. 88 joiner gauge was successfully rehabilitated.


The wife and I managed to make a team effort of the re-upholstering of “die rooi bank”.


In order to hand plane the two edges of my benches top parallel, I had to first build this large panel gauge.


In order to create the space for my 18th century bench, I had to rearrange  some of the power tools. This planer and radial arm saw were placed on the same steel table and lined up to become each other’s out-feed table.


A set of winding sticks.


My favourite shop made wooden plane received some cosmetic surgery. I added a thin strip of Tamboti to it’s chipbreaker/lever cap and covered the lever cap screw with Kaapse Swarthout. This is a true workhorse as it makes short work of all scrub plane and very aggressive fore plane tasks.


My own version of a Melencolia Square.


Custom made leather apron.


Restored a Stanley no. 10 Rabbet plane (ca 1900) and a Bedrock no. 607 Jointer.


Replaced my ½” Lie-Nielsen mortice chisel handle with a shop made Ysterhout version. So far it is standing up to heavy abuse without breaking a sweat.



A custom made pairing handle for my bevel edge chisels.



Finally got round to making an Ysterhout straight edge.


Restored this Stanley no. 203 bench clamp.



Restored this Stanley no. 9½ block plane.½-block-plane-rehab/


I started restoring this Stanley no. 8 Jointer (ca 1896), but there is a lot more work to do next year. I will replace both tote and knob.



Tour de Shop at the end of 2014

This is simply a series of photos documenting the state of the shop at the end of 2014. The major change from last year has been the addition of the assembled (though not finished yet) 18th century style workbench. I also managed to collect quite a few new hand tools with the help of Patrick Leach and Jim Bode. As I am writing this my first shipment from Jim has not arrived yet despite leaving the States on the 12th of October. My guess is I will never see those tools or money again. Just one of the joys of living in Africa.

(9/1/2015 – I am very happy to report that the shipment arrived in Namibia on the 6th of Jan 2015 without as much as a scratch. I will write a post on this saga in the near future)