Full Chisel Blog

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.


May 5, 2012

Cast Iron Foot Powered Treadle Wheel for a Watchmaker’s Lathe

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Turning,Workbench — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:07 pm

I first used one of these when I built my first 1805 Turning Bench* [a foot powered treadle lathe with a bench attached], I had borrowed one of these from a friend and powered the lathe until I finished the wooden wheel, crank, pitman and treadle.

* Plans available from Tools For Working Wood.

Then today a friend called me and said he spotted one in a local antique store.  I have purchased from this guy before and he has fine stuff at a little higher than I like.  My friend described the wheel, I filled in the details to his amazement.  I then talked to the owner and bought the wheel as my friend said he couldn’t afford to buy it right now.

Happy to have one and will build a small bench and mount my watchmaker’s lathe and put it to use.


May 3, 2012

Traditional Workbench – Bench Screws [Vise]

Filed under: Clamping,Historical Material,Of Interest,Techniques,Workbench — Stephen Shepherd @ 12:00 pm

Many traditional woodworking benches are being constructed today by woodworkers worldwide.  And I have seen many of them make the same mistake I did when I built my first wooden vise.  I actually bought an old bench screw and built a vise.  I attached the nut to the bottom of the bench and it worked but not well, it always bound up and was tough to fiddle with.

Then I had an opportunity to see some nice old benches and noticed that the nut was free floating.  I therefore unglued the nut, re-worked my vise and installed it with a free floating nut and it worked great.

The next bench I built at Conner Prairie Pioneer Settlement in Noblesville Indiana in 1977-78, I used an old bench screw and built a proper bench with the bench screw properly installed.

This is how the vise should be constructed, whether a face vise or a leg vise.  This allows the moving chop to be closed when not in use then pulled out and adjusted to the work at hand.  When not in use it slides freely back to the bench out of the way.



February 21, 2012

Twin bill hardy hole anvil

I posted about making the pattern for this anvil here.  It was from a design by Mark Schramm, master blacksmith and we finally got them from the foundry today.  This is how they look before Mr. Schramm spent a bit of time smoothing them out.

The anvils weigh 6 pounds, are cast steel, and hardened to RC52.  After some time on his grinders, the anvils look like this.

And here is a view of the face of the anvil.

We will be offering these for sale.  Not only are they useful to a blacksmith as the 1″ square tang will fit in a hardy hole, but handy for woodworkers, will fit in a dog hole or can be mounted on a piece of wood for an easy and convenient place to straighten hardware or a bent nail.



January 28, 2012

The Moxon Vise

This post is inspired by a recent completion of a tool I made a while back, see here.  I needed to add a cleat and after finding some of the yellow poplar that I used to build the tenon clamp, I cut a 6″ long piece.  In the side of the clamp I cut a full mortise ¾” deep and glued it in place with Fish Glue, I will peg it later.  Now when I use the holdfast to secure the clamp, the hold fast is out of the way.  I then either had an epiphany or thought the whole thing up.

Looking at the cleat as a method of securing this clamp and other planing and sawing appliances, I considered that perhaps this is how the Moxon Vise was also secured to the bench.  The holdfast might get in the way with this interpretation.  Then I also noticed the similarities between the movement of this clamp and the garter to the original engraving from Moxon’s work.






I first illustrated the Moxon Vise here.  I drew two illustrations as to how the vise was used.  However there was one mistake, I failed to draw one more hole on the workbench top.  This hole can be important as I will explain later*.

From the very beginning I have had inquiries as to how the vise was attached to the bench.  Up until now I did not know but I think I may have come up with a possible solution.  The screws need garters as mentioned by Henry Mercer in Ancient Carpenter’s Tools, so extra screw sticks out front and does not complicate things on the back of the vise.  The cleat allows the vise to be mounted on the underside of the bench by inverting the holdfast*.

This looks like a much better method of holding the vise chops.


December 8, 2011

The Great Roubo Workbench Ruse Revealed

As some of you have figured out by now and as I have revealed that this classic traditional French style workbench fit in a medium flat rate shipping box, is a one twelfth scale, 1 inch equals 1 foot model.  I have built a Nicholson bench of this style in the scale model cabinet shop, so this is number 2.

I have sold this bench, but will be building another miniature project in the near future.


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.



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