Full Chisel Blog

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.



November 9, 2013

Panel Gauge repair

This came into my shop from a follower of my blog that lives in Salt Lake City. He purchased it from a reputable dealer in the East and it was broken in shipment; the dealer offered to take it back but this fellow liked the design and was going to do the repair himself. He said he ‘chickened out’ on the repair and brought it to me to do the restoration.

panel gauge2

This panel gauge is made of Cuban Mahogany for the arm and fence with a boxwood locking wedge, an ebony pin holder dovetailed into the arm and a cut wrought iron nail as the scribe. The asymmetrical handle is identical to one illustrated in Salaman’s Dictionary of Woodworking Tools on pages 204-205.

panel gauge1

I had to enlarge the hole in the broken ebony pin holder so the nail wood fit better and the two pieces of ebony mate properly. I etched the surfaces of the ebony with garlic prior to using hot hide glue for the repair. One half teaspoon of ground hide glue and 1 teaspoon of distilled water, and I had glue left over; it was a small repair.

panel gauge3

panel gauge4

Clamping was a problem, so I borrowed a pipe clamp from a neighbor to apply a little end pressure then a few more clamps to keep everything in place. The nature of the fracture provided some locking when the break went back together, the other clamps to hold things tight until the glue dried. It was a fairly clean break but a couple of small chips of wood were missing.


I mixed up some Beaumontage [beeswax, tallow and rosin] and added a bit of red iron oxide; heating gently on the stove to mix. I then used an alcohol lamp and a thin blade pallet knife to burn in the Beaumontage. I smoothed it out with a clean hot knife, and then gave it a coat of shellac.

panel gauge6

panel gauge7

When the shellac dried, I lightly sanded the surface and did some touch up work with a fine brush and some shellac with black iron oxide to over grain the lighter Beaumontage filler. Followed by another thin coat of shellac. I then used some Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish and a bit of burnt umber dry powdered pigment to blend in the repair, followed by a light coat of Gunstocker’s Finish.

Here is the completed repair.

panel gauge8


August 26, 2013

Pounce Dispenser

I have wanted one of these for several years and now not only do I have one, I also have them for sale at the Full Chisel Store.

pounce dispenser

Made by Tin Smith Brian Westover to my size specifications and executed in a neat and proper manner.  The gnomon indicates its diminutive size.  Three 3/4″ tall, 5 3/4″ long, the container is 2″ in diameter with a snug fitting lid.

Used to dispense pounce powder, bronzing powder, dry pigments or even garden seeds by rubbing a stick back and forth across the cocks comb on the top of the spout.  This sets up vibrations that evenly dispense the powder out the spout.

Very handy tool.


July 25, 2013

Philosophical Instruments: Drawing Machine

This one has been on the list for a long time, so it was nice to finally build this ancient, archaic and obscure ‘Drawing Machine’ as Leonardo named his drawing.  There are several woodcuts by Durer showing a similar device and this particular design comes from a British movie ‘The Draughtman’s Contract’, which I saw years ago and inspired me to build this one.  I can’t remember much of the movie but I do remember the instrument.

drawing machine

It is constructed of pine with waxed linen cordage, it is portable and comes apart for transportation.  It also has a threaded insert for attaching to a tripod.  I appologize for the modern tripod, a wooden one is also on my list, which doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter.

The framework is joined with open mortice and tenons at the corners, glued together with Fish Glue.  I carefully laid out where the cords whould be in 1″ grid based on an 8 1/2″ by 11″ piece of paper.  I drilled the holes from both sides to insure proper placement and knowing the small drill bit may wander.

The base holds the large frame and a holder for the small cross hair frame aperature, which is adjustable up and down depending on whether the large frame is ‘portrait’ or ‘landscape’.

drawing machine1

I also made a stencil using a ponce wheel, that matches the grid on the large frame.  A linen bag with some powdered charcoal leaves a grid on the paper when the bag is rubbed over the stencil, which can be used again and again.

My first attempt at using the drawing machine, it takes a little getting use to, but it gets easier.

drawing machine2

Fun project, I still have a bit more refining to do and a bit of embellishment, not sure when I will make the tripod.

Durer woodcut:



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.


November 2, 2011

Damascus Striking Knife with handle

I ripped up some curly maple stock for tool handles and also found a smaller sized blank of the same ‘tiger maple’, but not a lot of stripes and fashioned a handle to match my other tool handles.  I use the tapered octagonal handles like illustrated in Moxon or from the 1596 ill fated Nova Zembla expedition, I do like the Dutch influence, on all my chisel and other tool handles.

Great shape and they don’t roll off the bench.  Early on in my apprenticeship I had a chisel roll off the bench and I caught it before it hit the ground and damaged the edge.  I immediately changed all of my chisel handles to the tapered octagon design.  Well, not exactly immediately, I had to attend to a gash on my hand and blood on the tool.  The blood got removed first then I attended to the nasty wound.

Since that time, nearly 40 years ago, I have purposefully lost my ‘catch’ response.  I literally can’t play catch.  Now if a tool drops, I quickly and safely move out of the way and deal with a damaged tool rather than a lacerated hand.

I shaped the curly maple with a small Moxon smoother then went to my toothing plane to deal with some tear out.  Worked great, then a scraper to remove the toothing marks.  Then using a very fine drill and two very narrow chisels I excavated a rectangular tapered hole in the narrow end to hold the Damascus/pattern welded blade in place.  Once it was fit tight, I etched the blade with a clove of garlic and used a bit of fish glue to secure it in place.

A coat of Moses T’s St. John’s Oil and it is ready to strike out.



September 1, 2011

Purfling [inlay] marker or cutter

I picked this up on a trade, sent the fellow a copy of Shellac, Linseed Oil, & Paint – Traditional 19th Century Woodwork Finishes and I know I am happy with the trade.

This is for marking or cutting purfling inlay on musical instruments.  The purfling is the decorative and strengthening ebony/holly/ebony narrow stringing around the edges of violins, violas, and cellos.

This tool marks out and makes the initial cuts.  It is adjusted with thin metal shims between the two outside marking / cutting blades for different widths and there is some adjustment from the round fence by placing shims behind the cutter blade.

Have to send this off to a luthier friend to give it a try.


August 30, 2011

One Striking Knife

Words cannot describe this striking knife blade made by Master Blacksmith Mark Schramm.

Damascus steel L6 and 1080.  Here is what the handle will look like.  This is a steel nib pen holder made of black palm and bound with linen thread and varnished.

Similar blades [with different Damascus patterns] are available to make your own, one of a kind striking knife, please inquire.  Handles sold separately


August 15, 2011

Pattern layout using a pounce wheel & pounce bag

I covered making Charcoal here and briefly mentioned the pounce wheel and pounce bag.  I covered it more depth in Shellac, Linseed Oil, & Paint – Traditional 19th Century Woodwork Finishes with the following illustration.

I have several pounce wheels including one that is a perforation cutter illustrated at the bottom of the following photograph.  I use paper of all kinds for patterns, thicker paper for flat work and thin ‘fodder’ for patterns on curved or carved work.  The thinner paper is more flexible and conforms to uneven surfaces.

This is a pattern for a couple of replacement wings on a spinning wheel flyer.

The pattern is transferred by using a pounce bag full of cork charcoal and worked over the pattern allowing small particles of charcoal to go through the holes and leaves a mark.  If the marks are removed by carving or planing, they can simply be re-done after registering the pattern in its proper location and reapplying the pounce powder.

Simple method, easy to repeat, no holes or marks that may be difficult to remove.  I use chalk for dark colored woods like mahogany, walnut and cherry, etc.  While my wheels are old, they are still available from sewing and fabric supply stores.


Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress