Tour de shop and project inventory 2015


Once again, as per usual, it is time to review what happened this year at Je ne sais quoi Woodworking. It has been without a shadow of doubt the most exciting year since starting on this journey in March 2013. The most encouraging aspect was the increase in exposure of the website. Until February 2015 I had no clue whether anyone out there has ever even seen the website.

In February I saw a comment by Siavosh Bahrami on Joshua Klein’s website were he invited woodworking bloggers to contact him if they wanted to be included on his aggregator I wrote to him and he was most helpful in adding Je ne sais quoi Woodworking straight away. It had an immediate effect on the site’s exposure. I want to thank Siavosh sincerely for the gesture.

Another major bonus of my inclusion was that all of a sudden I found heaps of other blog sites that I did not know of before. In particular, I became good friends with Jonathan White at I really value his thoughts as we have discussed various topics via e-mail since becoming acquainted. Thank you Jonathan, it is a real pleasure to correspond with such a passionate and precise woodworker.

I also met Brian Eve of Toolerable. He seems to be one of the woodworking blogosphere’s glitterati  who knows just about every noteworthy blogger. I was humbled by his gesture to include my site in his Blog list, but he did give me a lot of grief over my choice of string for a bow saw and shop carpet! 🙂 Thank you Brian.

Another new woodworking friend I would like to mention is Robert (Bob) Demers of The Valley Woodworker. He is a real legend in terms of his knowledge of hand tools and allround demeanour. I really appreciate the regular correspondence we’ve had over the past year. Bob and his wife Heather is currently going through a very tough time with her illness and treatment so I would urge everyone who is part of this wonderful online community to show them support. Thank you Bob!

At some point I also wrote to Leif Hanson at Norse Woodsmith. He runs the other major woodworking blog aggregator on his site. Again I was in luck as Leif was so kind as to add Je ne sais quoi woodworking to the aggregator. It led to even more exposure and I would like to thank him immensely for that. Thank you Leif!

Tour de Shop at the end of 2015

The area in front of the shop did not change much, apart from the decking timber added to the sliding gate for more privacy.


This part of the shop did not change at all, but it is clear from the amount of stuff one the assembly table that I am juggling too many projects at present.


It has been the first year of working on my shop built bench and it is a real pleasure.


The bench against the far wall was also built this year.


As you can see here my collection of kids art grew significantly over the past year.


No changes here either.


Project inventory 2015

I started on this chopping board at the end of 2014 and it was probably the first project that got finished in 2015.


My first real workbench was already assembled by the end of 2014, but received all of it’s armoury in the first few months of 2015.


Who can forget the inauguration party of the bench.


An important step in my slow journey towards a hand tool dominant approach was to build two excellent saw benches.

Part 0ne

Part two

Part three


At Je ne sais quoi Woodworking it was the Year of the Saw. This is a 700 mm blade from Dieter Schmidt in an Assegaai bowsaw based on a L’ art du menusier plate.


Based on the amount of hits, these holdfast boots I made was definitely my most popular idea/post of the year.


Speaking of woodworking fame, the series of posts I wrote on building this frame saw earned me an honourable mention by one of my personal icons. Tom Fidgen is one of the leading hand tool woodworkers around the globe. He posted a link to my posts on his site and I want to thank him sincerely for that.


Part one

Part two

Part three


Reconditioned this pre-1900 Stanley no. 66 Beadingtool.


Reconditioned this Shaw’s Patent Jack plane from Sargent.


Unexpectedly, building another bench ended up being the major project of 2015. I just had to utilise the unbelievable Scotts Pine (Pinus sylvestris) timber I came across by sheer luck.


Seeing that I am a huge David Charlesworth fan, I just had to find and restore a Bailey no. 5½ Jack plane.


A rolling pin for the beach house.


Restored this exceptional type 8 Bailey no. 8 Jointer.


Built this 12″ bow saw (Please note the string that earned me so much abuse from Brian Eve).


Hovering skeleton tool chest.


Japanese toolbox inspired knife and fork carrier.

Part one

Part two

Part three


Boorish pencil sharpener


Seeing that the concrete floor in my shop can be harmful to any tool that gets drop, I decided to use this old carpet as a temporary solution. It is hideous, I know.


Finally, I want to thank everyone who drops in from time to time to read what I am up to. It is much appreciated and I hope that you will come across stuff that will inspire new ideas for your own journey.

Japanese toolbox inspired knife and fork carrier – part 2


The toolbox is coming along quite nicely and I have to say that it is a pleasure to build something small after all that bench wrestling. You can read part one of this saga here. In the picture below I am digging the last shallow dado in the end pieces to accept the central partition.


Since starting to use the actual work to mark out the dimensions of related parts, the accuracy of my work has improved significantly. Here I am using the assembled parts to mark out the location of the shoulders of the handle.


The curve of the Without handle echoes the Cape Dutch inspired lines of the rest of the toolbox. I specifically chose Without as it is also quite light in weight (similar to the Dolfhout) and picks up on the colour of the Dolfhout’s sapwood.


Marking out the through tenons of the handle.


Lie-Nielsen tenon saw in action.


Tenon faces cleaned up with a Stanley no.10 rabbit plane. Once again the proliferation of dog/holdfast holes in this part of my bench allows for so many different work holding options, especially for irregularly shaped objects such as this.


I used my finger as a fence to roughly mark out guiding lines before doing the shaping of the handle.


A hand screw clamp together with the twin-screw vise allowed me to work downhill (in terms of the grain direction) on the inside of these curves. The top end of the handle rested on my shoulder while I addressed the curve with a small Buck Brothers drawknife, followed by a Veritas round-bottom spokeshave and finally with a card scraper.


For the outside curves I used this work holding setup. Notice that the bottom end of the handle hooks on the dog in the leg. This allows for much less pressure needed from the twin-screw vise. While working with softer wood like this, it can be a real bonus.


So there you go, so far so good. Hopefully the final post on this project will look at finishing and assembly. I plan to use shellac for the first time. Any tips will be appreciated.


Witpeer rolling pin


The end of year holiday season is approaching fast, but not fast enough for my liking. For that reason I am doing lots of small projects for the beach house. It almost feels like I am already there, if I am engaged in these projects.

With that in mind I turned a rolling pin this weekend. As you already know, I am the family chef during the holidays so it will come in handy. In order to get to the desired dimensions I laminate three bits of Witpeer. A common problem I tend to encounter with my prehistoric lathe is that it sounds and feels like the whole shop is about to be sent into orbit while the stock is unbalanced. To limit this harrowing experience, I do as much of the rounding work as possible before loading the canon.

In the picture below you can see how one can use a twin screw vise, two dogs and a bit of scrap wood to hold the stock for this type of operation.  I then removed the waste with a very aggressively set Shaw’s Patent no. 5 Jack Plane.


I usually design stuff like this while turning it.


Done. Come on summer!!