Full Chisel Blog

June 8, 2014

Tapered Reamer with a spokeshave blade

Yes this one has been on my list ever since I saw it illustrated in Salaman”s book and I did a more detailed sketch on page 48 of Shepherds’ Compleat Early Nineteenth Century Woodworker originally published in 1981.

Richard McDonald did the turning in hard maple for me, and Mark Schramm made the special long spokeshave blade, similar to these but 4″ long with short 1″ tangs.  [If you are interested in one of these blades send me an email.]

spokeshave tapered reamer

The layout was interesting and a bit challenging to get the cutting edge near the center line of the turning.  I drilled the through holes with gimlet bits starting with my smallest and working up a couple of sizes.  I then worried the square holes with a small 1/8″ chisel and used the ends of the tangs to scrape the holes to their final shape.

spokeshave tapered reamer2

I then had to cut off some of the lower tang so it did not protrude from the wood on the back side.  I waited until it was fit up before I sharpened the blade with a file and honed it on a whetstone.

spokeshave tapered reamer1

I had to make a recess for the chips to escape and not clog up the works as it cuts the taper.  I used a small gouge to carve the shape then one of my Tombstone Scrapers to smooth it out and deepen the channel.

All in all, I am happy with how it turned out and how well it works, even though it was not the easiest tool I have ever made it is finally off the list.

Now where is that list to see what is next up?


July 11, 2013

Sharpening a Gedge or Cooks Pattern Auger Bit

Filed under: Drilling,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Sharpening,Techniques — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:35 am

I received a request about how to sharpen a Gedge or Cook pattern auger bit from someone who follows my blog, and I realized I had never posted about how to sharpen this type of auger before.  This is a great bit because after the led screw engages the auger bit can be tilted to almost any angle and the unique nature of its engineering allows it to cut a perfectly clean entry hole with no tear out or chipping.  And the spelch looks unusual.



It is absolutely crucial that the top flat remains flat, no micro bevel devil or stupid tricks for getting this type of bit to cut properly.  Try any of those hair brained ideas on this bit and it will get stuck in the hole, if it can make a hole.



With a fine flat file gently get the top to a shiny edge keeping the file flat on the back.  It is just like a chisel or plane blade in that you want it flat.  You can also use a small whetstone to accomplish the same purpose but keep it flat.



Any chips or irregularities on the cutting edge is dealt with from the inside flat bevel.  The inside on my two bits are very flat as well with no improper filing of an additional small bevel, so keep it as flat as possible even on the inside.  The smaller bit [7/8″] made by Marples had what looked like a small chip perhaps made while hitting a nail?



I corrected the problem by filing it from the inside.  I used two sizes or round chain saw files to work the inside, however a round slip whetstone would have worked.  I filed the inside curve from both the top and bottom, the sweep takes a little practice to follow.



Once I felt a slight burr on the top, I was finished sharpening.  I don’t bother removing the small burr as it will go away after the first few times I use the bit.  The larger bit [1 15/16″] is a Cooks Pattern Patent dated 1851.  Never improperly filed it sharpened up quickly.

Here is a link to a video of this bit in use.


June 5, 2013

Not an Oil Stone, not a Water Stone it is a Whetstone

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Sharpening,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:50 am

The reason for that is I don’t use oil or water or any other lubricant when I sharpen, I sharpen dry and only use water with soap to clean my stones after use.  This even applies to old oil stones I acquire; when the need arises I wash them with soap and water.  And there is a very good reason for this, actually a couple of reasons.



A number of years ago back in the mid 1980’s I read an article in either Popular Science or Popular Mechanics Magazine about sharpening on stones.  The article included photomicrographs of the surfaces of both plane irons and chisels.

All samples had the same grind from the wheel and were photographed before any work on the stones.  Then one set [plane iron and chisel] were sharpened in the traditional manner using oil as a lubricant for the process.  The other set [plane iron and chisel] were sharpened using the same stones but with no lubrication on the stone.  The photographs comparing the two were remarkable.

The tools sharpened ‘dry’ had nearly perfect edges while the tools sharpened ‘wet’ showed tiny chips in the cutting edge and these were caused by, according to the article metal particles suspended in the oil.  These metal pieces were floating in the oil and striking the cutting edge causing the chips.

I immediately started using the ‘dry’ process and haven’t gone back.  I use soap and water to clean the stones when they become filled or glazed and the stone is ready for the next sharpening session.  Because it takes a while to fill a stone I don’t wash my stones that often.

Another advantage to this method is that there is little or no mess made while touching up an edge of a tool; no need to wash off the oil or dirty water before going back to work.  Give it a try and see what you think.



June 3, 2013

First time working Cypress

One would think that having done woodworking for over 40 years I would have worked this wood before, but this is the first opportunity to work this particular species of wood.  I got some scrap pieces from a friend, I had told him I had not used the wood before so he gave me some cut off from a bathroom counter top he is making.

soft arkansas2

Needing a new home for my soft Arkansas sharpening stone, I decided to make it from cypress as my others were made of pine.  Having worked a lot of pine, I thought that cypress would behave in a similar manner.  Much to my surprise it worked more like poplar than pine, with little end grain collapse of the softer spring wood.  I liked how it cut under a chisel, the router plane made smooth work of the inside mortise and it stood up well under a hand plane.

soft arkansas3

In making the box I noticed that the stone was not symmetrical, one end was slightly wider than the other.  I fit it tight in the bottom but had to make the top a bit loose in order to fit on the stone in either direction.

soft arkansas1

On the bottom of the sharpening stone box I used a long fine cut headless brad, pounded it in then cut it off with pliers to form small points to prevent it from slipping when in use.

I will not put a finish on the cypress and as you know I never use lubrication when I am sharpening only when I am cleaning the stone.

I generally keep my shavings separate and put them in my compost pile, however not the cypress, it won’t decompose.


May 28, 2013

Norton Soft Arkansas Sharpening Stone and…

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Sharpening,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:25 am

it came in a different box.  Going through some old watchmaking/clockmaking tools last week, I came across this box, saw the name Norton on the outside, then as I was about to open the box I saw that it was labeled ‘India combination stone’, it being man made I wasn’t interested but opened the box anyway.

soft arkansas

It did not look like any India stone I had ever seen, so I slipped it out of the box and to my surprise it was marked Soft Arkansas and is in near perfect condition, very flat on both sides.

Not ever judging a book by its cover, I am now going to look in all containers no matter what they are labeled.


May 3, 2013

The Complete Cabinet Maker And Upholsterer’s Guide – J. Stokes 1829


Gary Roberts over at Toolemera has done it again and reproduced a fine tome from the nineteenth century.  The book has many full color plates, hand colored engravings and Mr. Roberts has reproduced the entire book in color, so the pages appear as they would in an original edition.

Mr. Stokes has done an excellent job at assembling material from his peers and predecessors, which I won’t call plagiarism as it was common practice.  Some of the engravings have the long f for the s, indicating an earlier time.

The book is however full of very useful information about lay out, perspective, drawing, design and construction of furniture, with an emphasis on finishing, which I found fascinating.  This is a great hardbound edition of an historical work that is a pleasure to hold in ones hand and read about the past and the ways of old.  Add this one to your bibliotheque.


January 16, 2013

Boxwood and Slate

My Christmas gifts arrived

This year my family changed from the usual gift exchange in the spirit of giving to a you can steal someone else’s gift in the spirit of taking.  My objections were overruled and I decided to play my own game.  I bought a gift card from Lee Valley, so that no one else in my family would be interested.  After choosing lots [my comment about deciding who is to die in a survival situation, got some chuckles] I was number 4 to draw and chose my own gift.  My sister objected and I told her she couldn’t change the rules in the middle of this evil game.  Needless to say we will be going back to the regular gift exchange next year.

Cashing in on the free shipping offered by Lee Valley, I picked up several turned and threaded boxwood containers.  I could not even buy the wood locally to make these at this price, not including labor.  Great items and very well made.

boxwood containers

I tried to order a staple-less stapler, but for some reason they can mail them to an address in the US.  I wonder if they are considered as personal protection devices or the magazine is too big?  Strange.


I also purchased a piece of slate, had to order the middle size as they do not ship the large size for some reason.  I thought it would be flat on one side but it was split and had uneven surfaces.  I checked their website and that is what they listed.


I however wanted to use it for writing with chalk or soapstone so I needed to smooth the surface.  I started with a coarse file and float, then converted to a piece of industrial sanding belt that had grit the size of cracked pepper and got it flat.  I then used a card scraper to remove the scratch marks.  The scraper was great, I did have to resharpen it during the process, the slate was abrasive to the scraper.  [I do have a piece of English Slate sharpening stone and it is very hard].


January 11, 2013

Shepherds’ Compleat Early Nineteenth Century Woodworker – First Review


This is the first book review of my first book that was originally published in hardbound in 1981.  This review appeared in Smithsonian Magazine April 1982.





I found this while doing research at the University of Nevada, Reno at their excellent library.

Now I need to find the reviews in Workbench Magazine, Soldier of Fortune Magazine and Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly.

Available at Tools for Working Wood

and The Full Chisel Store or from Amazon.  Amazon also has original hardbound editions for sale.


September 29, 2012

Traditional Tanged Spokeshave Workshop – Reno, NV Sept. 2012

The workshop for the Nevada WoodChucks was a success, at the end all of the people had a usable traditional spokeshave with a tanged blade.  When I teach workshops, I build one to show the various steps, but in this case I didn’t have an opportunity to finish the one I was working on as I had to help a couple of new students with their project.

I did manage to finish mine when I returned home.  It is fancier than most I have made, I usually go for an earlier style like here.

Joe has taken my class before and here he is concentrating on his task of smoothing the throat.

Ed, a vetern of several workshops I have taught in Reno goes about forming the throat of the spokeshave, good two handed technique.

Rod [on the right], another repeat offender brought a friend to audit the class.

Jim is a first time participant in one of my workshops.  I spent additional time with him and Skip another first timer.

Charlie, my youngest student ever [6 years old] had an impressive set of tools, his dad Chuck a turner said his son owned all the bench tools.  Photo below shows a trusting father, with a bit of concern in his look.

Chuck and Charlie watching Rod at work on his spokeshave.

I demonstrated how to use a burn auger and a video was made so here it is.  We turned the fan on after the first one to prevent the smoke alarm from calling the local fire department.

burn auger video

The spokeshave blades required sharpening, which was done with a file.  Two of the blades proved to soft and needed to be heated cherry red, quenched in water, polished bright and heated to temper with a straw color, then quenched.  The spokeshaves were all finished with Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish.



April 4, 2012

Making a Veneer Saw

There are several current models of veneer saws being produced, the nicest is perhaps the one offered at Tools For Working Wood with interchangeable blades.  I have made a couple, and have orders for two more saw blades.  I needed to make this now as I need to cut some walnut burl veneer for replacing the top of a sewing machine cabinet for a friend.  There is no way to cut this crispy veneer without a veneer saw.

This is the end of a saw blank for a patternmaker’s saw, which was longer than I intended, I cut and snapped the end off to make the veneer saw.  The tip already was slightly curved which helped in the shaping process as veneer saws are severely breasted.

I had to remember to file all of the teeth in the same direction, which took me a bit of time, I kept skipping a tooth.

Once the teeth were all filed in the same direction and with the curve or breast formed, I filed off the teeth to knife points.

I drilled two holes in the saw plate and countersunk them on the proper side for mounting to a wooden handle.

This is my current veneer saw [on loan]:

















Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress