Full Chisel Blog

August 21, 2014

Spinning Wheel Maiden repair

This is a maiden from a Canadian Production Wheel and had been previously repaired.  It was repaired with hide glue but the small bamboo skewer just wasn’t big enough to reinforce the joint.


I had to remove a nail holding the stub of the tenon on the end of the off-side maiden.  Instead of making a new maiden, I decided to use a shouldered tenon and make it match the original.  With the nail removed I could remove the stub tenon.


I cut the maiden off flush at the shoulder for the end of the maiden, then drilled a 1/4″ twist auger and then enlarged it with a 3/8″ duck bill spoon bit.  I fit the new birch tenon into the hole, applied hide glue and clamped it together.


I also drilled a hole with a gimlet bit for the wedge and made a new one of birch to match the original


The next day I applied pigmented shellac to match the original finish on the parts exposed.  The customer was happy.



May 27, 2014

Spindle Wheel – New Mother-of-All, and Spindle

spindle head0This is a photograph sent in by a customer and in need of a new spindle head, maidens, and mother of all, and spindle.  They sent me the tension device on the left, an unusual two standard model with a tilting head and tightening nut to provide drive band tension.

spindle head1The uprights [standards] are made of chestnut, the block is birch and the nut is white oak, an American Wheel.  There is a name stamped on the end of the table, hard to see or tell exactly what it is but perhaps ‘NORTON’.  The new upright post that fits it the block is reclaimed chestnut and the Mother of All cross piece is birch.

I had to make a tapered reamer to match the tapered socket hole in the block, the first one was from soft maple and shattered during the third hole.  A new one of hard maple works much better.

tapered reamer1A slot is cut in the center and the blade is from an old saw and is draw filed square on the edge profile, it has four cutting edges and is used in both directions.

tapered reamer2The two maidens are also made of reclaimed chestnut and these are turned to fit the holes that have been reamed out with the above reamers.

spindle head1a

Here is how the detail on the maiden looks, after details on the existing standards.

spindle head2And here is the entire mother of all with the exception of the metal spindle, flange and drive pulley.  I will finish this piece first, the flange and pulley are made of maple which requires a different finish schedule.

spindle head3I will also permanently attach the single upright post into the birch cross piece with hide glue and a wedge, a little too small for a peg, either method is appropriate.  The maidens are just friction fit as is the mother of all into the tension block.

I also have to drill holes in the maidens to hold the corn husk bearings.


November 25, 2013

Interesting Brazilian Rosewood 3 beam marking/mortice gauge – C. Sholl, Pat’d March 6, 1864

A friend of mine picked this up at a local swap meet and I don’t think he gave too much for this Brazilian Rosewood 3 beam marking/mortice/tenon gauge.  Here is a link to Christian Sholl’s Patent.  It is American made and Sholl also patented a 4 beam marking/mortice gauge and some of these are actually made and judging from the prices are quite rare.


I have seen a lot of marking gauges in my time, this one is up there in curious designs.  I fiddled with this for a while and it is most difficult to set, the mortice slide adjusts easy enough but getting all three sides in the correct position is a handful.


This view shows the triple beams and the pentagonal shape.


It has several round brass discs on the opposite side of the fence for wear, two are missing.  It is brass mounted with iron screws and iron/steel scribing pins.



September 8, 2013

New Spinning Wheel Mandrel, Flyer, Shaft, and Bobbin.

At last I got the entire prototype built and dry assembled and it functions as expected.  The first photograph shows the two shapes I will offer, both U-shape and V-shape flyers.  The flyers, whorl and mandrel vary slightly with each wheel and each complete unit is made to fit existing wheels where these are missing.  A simple measurement between the leather bearings is provided and the assembly is custom made to fit.

new flyer3

The second photograph shows one prototype finished, I am working on the second whorl, the mandrel, and flyer are done and fitted together.  I will roughen up the surface of the metal, wash it with soap and water, then alcohol before etching with garlic.  I will use hot hide glue to attach them together.

new flyer2

The mortise in the flyer is not that easy to make as it is endgrain and the unusual shape of the mandrel makes this a challenge.  I used charcoal to cover the mandrel, which transfers to the mortise to show where wood needs to be removed.  I don’t use graphite as that will interfere with the glue and the charcoal will not.

Will have the pricing soon.


September 5, 2013

New Spinning Wheel Mandrel, Flyer, and Shaft…

and the Bobbin is in the queue.  The mortice or hole through the maple flyer was fashioned to the proper taper and square shape with files and a small carving knife.  The hole for the shaft was drilled before the piece was turned.  This provides a center for the terrorizing turning process, this is a real knuckle duster.

new flyer1

The waste material is removed and the wings thinned down.  This is the first flyer and while I will use it on the wheel I am restoring, the next and future versions will be more of a ‘V’ shape than this ‘U’ shape.  Apparently spinners like the wider flyer shape to get more thread on the bobbin.

new flyer

As you can see from the two different size mandrels that all wheels vary it the spacing of the maidens; the important measurement is between the two [leather] bearings.  I will roughen up the mandrel where it goes through the maple flyer, then etch it with garlic to prepare it for hot hide glue.

The Whorl [double pulley that powers the mandrel] is end-grain maple, with two different size pulleys for two different speeds.  The mortise for the nut was difficult to chop, being end grain and is slightly undercut to hold the nut in place.

The nut is made from some pure tin tubing a friend gave me; I split the tube and hammered it flat, then using a pair of compasses I marked out the size and cut it to shape.  I then drilled a hole and used one of my new/old rinders to make the hole the proper size.

Forcing the left hand threads of the mandrel into the hole and used it to form the threads on the soft metal nut.  I then peened the tin around the edges to expand it into the undercuts of the mortise.

Now it is on to the Bobbins, which are made of three pieces, the ends being end-grain, the V-groove is deep and should be interesting.




September 2, 2013

When you can’t take the chair apart…

because of nails in all of the joints.  Nails do nothing to increase the strength of the chair, but do weaken the wood where the nails were used.  This chair belongs to a friend, it was ‘unfinished’ furniture, table and chairs in oak.  Why the original manufacturer used nails is beyond my comprehension.

davis side chair1

Not being able to disassemble the chair to deal with the break or perhaps replacing it, it was necessary to repair in place.  I clamped the stretcher then cut a small mortise across the break to receive a loose tenon to strengthen the fracture.

davis side chair2

The depth of the mortise is to the end of the cross stretcher.  This is an inherently weak joint, exacerbated by the through nail weakening the joint even further.  The above picture shows the break spread open to receive hot hide glue.

I used 192 gram strength ground hide glue from Joel at Tools for Working Wood, high quality ground hide glue; 1/2 teaspoon glue, 1 teaspoon distilled water.  This is the smallest batch I make, put it in the glue pot, the pot on the stove and when the water jacket boils over, the glue is ready in minutes.

davis side chair3

I used a tourniquet and a couple of wood end cam clamps as well as a wedge of pine between the front legs to close up the fracture, not the easiest clamping job, but I accomplished the task.

Using a flat chisel I pared the excess oak away to bring the tenon down to the curve of the stretcher.  Then some shellac with yellow ocher and burnt umber to get the color match and a bit of beaumontage to optically hide the fracture and joint around the loose tenon.

davis side chair4

Cursing the inappropriate use of nails.



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.


July 7, 2012

Chopping a Mortise like Roubo

On an English style Joyner’s bench by an American with a Japanese chisel.  Have I covered all the bases?  I was in need of a large 1 inch square mortise in my workbench to accommodate my new anvil.  After a discussion over at WoodCentral I decided to chop the mortise near the support leg of my workbench using the manner of Roubo pictured here.

Everything from the grip of the mallet to the grip on the chisel is how I did the mortise.  And while the stance pictured in the illustration may be good for shooting a rifle, it just doesn’t work for mortising.  I tried and I just didn’t have any balance, so I just widened my stance to the width of my shoulders and pounded away.  I laid out the mortise with a pencil and chopped it with my modified Japanese chisel and it took 15 minutes.

It was square, right next to the leg with blow out on the bottom.  But I didn’t take a picture of that because no one will ever see it anyway.  I think I will have to reevaluate the old engravings with a better eye as everything may not be correct.


April 29, 2012

Traditional Quilting Frame – gears, pawls, & a bench

I am making this for a friend and with the help of George Merrill, I got it done in record time.  Here is a picture of the quilting frame bench.  You can see the frame here, and the gears in an early stage here.

Constructed of knotty alder, the legs are mortised and tenoned into the seat and held with wedges, all construction is glued with hide glue.  It is finished with Moses T’s St. John’s Oil.

Here are the gears and pawls, I will drill, countersink and install a stand off washer of leather.  The gears have to be timed or clocked so they match up on both sides, I will mark them so they can be installed in the proper position when set up.

The gears come off for storage, so it is important they go back on the the proper position.  Need to make arrangements for the cloth to be tacked on both axles and it is ready for delivery.

If anyone is in need of a traditional wooden quilting frame, please let me know.



Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress