Full Chisel Blog

October 17, 2014

Pre-publication Sale of The Spinning Wheel Repair Book

I am offering a pre-publication sale on the Spinning Wheel Repair Book which is going to the press soon.  I will be delivering these by the first week of December 2014.

Here is a mock up of the cover, color being added as we speak, original artwork by Tim Burnham.


For the first 25 orders I will include an 8.5″ by 11″ hand impressed copy of the hand set title page by Lauri Taylor of Loose Cannon Press, along with your order.

lauri title page3

The book is 8.5″ by 11″, 77 pages with 160 illustrations and 25 photographs.

The book can be ordered here at the Full Chisel Store, the price is $20.00 plus $6.00 domestic shipping.  International shipping charges apply.  The book will be shipped by early December, 2014.

Thanks to all of those who helped with this publication.


October 21, 2013

Casting a Pewter nut into a Wooden Spinning Wheel Whorl

I have had experience with casting pewter into or onto wood; back in 1972 I built a halfstock flintlock rifle and pistol and both had pewter endcaps cast on the end of the maple gunstocks.  So I had every confidence that this would be fairly easy.


The square mortise is undercut on all four edges, so the nut is captured in a dovetail in the maple endgrain of the whorl.


I had to borrow a casting ladle from a friend then melt down some pewter on the stove.  After the pewter was melted I put a rice grain size piece of beeswax into the hot metal to flux out any impurities, then used a wooden stick to remove the dross floating on the surface.



A dam of thick cardboard protects the maple of the whorl and adds thickness to the nut.  I cast the nut onto the shaft [with left hand threads], so the threads are cast into the pewter nut.  I heated up the shaft so as not to shock the hot pewter as it is being poured.



With a hacksaw I removed the excess and smoothed it down with a file, then gave it a bit of burnish.  Spinning Wheel parts available here.


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 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.


April 3, 2012

Gibson Mandolin A-1 repair

This particular mandolin was made in 1911 according to the Gibson Archive and is in fairly good condition considering its age.  I usually don’t work on ‘modern’ items but this is for a friend.

I have repaired several stringed instruments in my time and when they have water damage it is generally on the bottom or the sides from sitting in water.  This one however has damage to the very top of the peg box.

The mandolin has what appears to be a birch body stained mahogany, spruce top, cherry laminated neck with a strip of ebony or ebonized wood in between.  It has an ebony finger board and ebony veneer on the peg box which is damaged as is the cherry substrate.  It is trimmed with ivory celluloid and mother of pearl.

I will put a small cherry end grain dovetail Dutchman to prepare it for the ebony veneer, it will also be toothed as there is evidence of toothing plane was used to prepare the woods for gluing with hot hide glue.

Should be a fun restoration project.



November 27, 2011

Roubo Workbench – For Sale

Because of space restrictions in my shop I don’t have room for this bench so I am offering it for sale.  Just in time for the gift giving season.  This is a fairly faithful copy of an original bench from 18th century France made with American hardwoods, red birch top, maple legs stretchers, storage shelf boards, and the  drawer is constructed of pine with a maple bottom.

Measures 32″ wide, 96″ long, and 36″ tall according to my scale.  All joinery techniques are examples of the original and it is glued together with Fish Glue.  Is fully assembled and comes with chisel rack, crochet, iron hook in wooden dog, holdfast, grease cup [with screw/nail grease {beeswax & tallow}], and dovetailed drawer.

I did speculate as to how the drawer was hung from the bench and I used a method I had done on an earlier bench I made, it is a full extension drawer.  Keyhole and half mortise lock plate.

Price $400.00 US, F.O.B. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Shipping to any United States destination estimated to be $11.00 Medium Flat Rate Box.


November 25, 2011

Roubo Workbench build day four, finished except for the finish

A long day today but I finished the Roubo Workbench, I have yet to put a ‘finish’ on the bench tomorrow, Moses T’s St. John’s Oil, a coat or two.  I finished the dovetailed drawer, half blind on the front and through on the back, in pine.  The bottom is a single piece of maple, feathered on the edges and inserted in the groove on the sides and front.

As I said before all of my material was to dimension before I started, hence the speed with which I finished this project.  All joints, dovetail mortise and tenon were glued with Fish Glue.  Here is a picture of all of the parts for this project.

Grueling work, big pieces and I had to bend over a lot.  But I am happy to get the job done.  I will now put it up for sale.  Here is the finished bench.



November 23, 2011

Roubo Workbench build day three.

And I should be done.  However I have been distracted several times so I am behind schedule.

The top is completed with the square catch hole [made the wooden part of the catch] and all holdfast holes are drilled.  The legs are all joined with dovetail and rectangular tenons on the top and the 2″ by 4″ mortises on the legs to receive the stretchers.  I also drilled the holes in the front legs for holdfasts.  The stretchers are 4″ by 4″ with a 1″ by 3″ rabbit on the inside to accept the boards for the storage shelf.  The ends of the stretchers are tenoned off and all dry fit up.

I made the chisel rack, will finish up the crochet, the iron for the catch and grease cup today and will try and finish the drawer as well, but no guarantees on that one.

This bench is built on speculation, it will be for sale and I will not be using the bench, my personal bench is a Nicholson, English through and through.

I will post construction pictures and finished pictures on the next post, after the holiday.


November 20, 2011

Roubo Workbench

Well with everyone building a Roubo workbench, I thought I would make one.  I started today and finished the top, solid slab of birch 32″ wide, 96″ long and 6″ thick.  The legs are maple 6 by 6 inches and just under 36″ tall with a dovetail and rectangular tenon on the ends.  I fit up one leg today and should finish most of the bench tomorrow.

I still have to rebate the stretchers, tenon them off and mortise them into the legs.  Then some leg holes, holdfast holes, crochet, grease cup, drawer and chisel rack.  No vise on this one.

Kind of fun, and a fair amount of work.


July 13, 2010

Sea Chest

I have wanted to make one of these for some time now and at last I have an order to build one.  I may have to make two as I like the design.  The sailor’s sea chest was his seat, table, tool box, strong box, food locker and the only place on board that was uniquely his.

I will be making it from pine, dovetailed at the corners.  The top and bottom moldings will be attached with glue and nails, the hinges are simple offset strap hinges secured to the inside with rivets or clinched nails, the lock will be a double lug half mortise lock with a self escutcheon.  The box will be painted blue with Prussian blue oil based paint, not as bright as the drawing and interior decoration to be provided by the new owner(s) as will the beckets [the rope work handles].

The side handles are attached to the box with long clinch nails and the rope work ‘beckets’ will be done up through the round holes provided.  Some of these are quite simple and some are incredibly complex, occupying many hours of work during long voyages.

The chest is 31 1/2″ wide on the bottom, 28″ wide at the top; 24″ deep at the bottom, 16″ at the top and 18″ high.  These are approximate sizes, pending approval of the sailor that placed the order.  I got the design and dimensions from a photograph and it was difficult to scale, but I think I got the measurements close to the original.


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