My second commission – part 2


If you want to read this epic tale from the start, go here for part one.

The stock for this Nakashima-esque table has been sitting in the shop for the past 2 weeks. It should have acclimatised adequately by now for us to take the next step. Having said that, we’ve had a heatwave warning were they expect temperatures to go above 45ºc on a regular basis in the next 5 days or so. That might mean that the stock will need further acclimatisation, but what the heck.

I still remember vividly how we were waiting in eager anticipation for the  so called ‘heatwaves”, while living in Yorkshire UK. Usually we would ask the locals when the heatwave was supposed to hit when it got up to 18ºC (if you are lucky) and they would say that we are in the midst of it! At that stage we usually noticed that all the locals were halve naked in the streets. We would still be wearing jerseys and only venture outside if absolutely necessary.

Clearly it seems Namibia has a different type of heatwave. Anyway, it seems as if I went on a wee bit of a meteorological tangent there.

In the pictures below you can see the Kershout (Candle wood) boards we chose for the top. This stuff is exceptionally hard and the tree that the board on the right came from must have been close to or more than 900 years old. These trees spent all that time in the pristine surroundings of the Knysna-Amatole montane forest. Since being harvested the boards has been air dried and seasoned for at least 11 years, possibly closer to 16.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to work out what would be the best way to join them into an aesthetically pleasing top, while allowing the natural ‘defects’ and cracks to take centre stage, as per George Nakashima’s famous mantra: “Every part of each tree has only one perfect use.”


I used my Festool TS55 with it’s guide to cut as straight as possible. Another variable I had to keep in mind is the maximum width of my planer, which is 300 mm. The wood is so hard that you will simply toast all your hand planes and yourself in attempting to plane these by hand. As you will know by now, I am not one to shy away from ridiculous hand planing tasks, but to attempt it in this case would be absolutely mental.



I plane the boards in two very tiring sessions down to the appearance in the pictures below. As you can see there is still some way to go, but it needs to settle down for a while before I can do the rest. If one does too much at once, the wood tends to move all over the place.

The wood was so hard that the planer really complained while removing as little as 0.1 of a millimeter. You can just imagine how many passes it took to get it down to the current state of play.


By Sunday night I clamped the boards to each other and the top of my assembly table to keep them straight while they wait for probably 2 weeks before we touch them again.


… because I want to be like David Charlesworth


Stanley no. 5 1/2 C (ca 1902-1907) rehab

I bought this plane from Jim Bode in August of 2015. It is my 4th no. 5 and 5th Jack plane (if I include my shop made wooden Jack plane). Why, … because I want to be like David Charlesworth, that is why! It is more than an adequate reason to buy another Jack plane in my book. David is such an icon to me, I just love his meticulous and cerebral approach to the craft.

In the interest of woodworking ethics/morality, I should probably say to the beginners out there (who wants to be like me … did I say that out loud?), that you do not need 5 Jack planes. In fact ,you do not need any other bench plane than a single no. 5. The problem is that I like the tools of the trade as much as the trade itself.

This plane seems to be David Charlesworth’s favourite as it is never far from his reach in those famous Lie-Nielsen DVDs. The no. 5½ was made between 1898 – 1958 and this particular specimen is a Type 9, which were made between 1902 – 1907. The pictures below are those taken by Jim, before it traveled to Sub-Sahara Africa.


Kenny at the Prop Shop did the usual bead blasting for me.


I actually prefer the Type 8’s frog receiver to these, but they are still pretty good. Stanley changed the frog receiver in 1902 as indicated by the patent dates in the main casting. They did this to cut the time and cost of production, not as an improvement in function. The slippery slide towards poorer quality at a higher price is probably what led to the emergence of so called ‘tool shaped objects’ that we are so familiar with in the 21st century.This particular plane does not have the frog adjusting screw, which was added to the Bailey series from 1907 onwards.


One of the reasons I like this plane so much is that it does not have anything cast into the area of the main casting behind the frog. I find the smooth surface much more comfortable when putting firm thumb pressure in this area, … you’ve guessed it … ala Charlesworth.


Rust converter.


Anti-rust undercoat.


High gloss truck enamel paint.



This past weekend I managed to assemble the plane.


Sorry for the poor quality of this picture, but you should be able to see that I did some work to flatten the area where the blade beds down …


… as well as the frog receiver area.


David Charlesworth eat your heart out.


I have already done some work with this plane and it is an absolute gem.