Full Chisel Blog

July 14, 2013

Map Glass leather and wood case, with copper tacks

I have wanted one of this type of magnifying glass stand for a long time.  I recently acquired this on a large trade for many other tools, etc.  I had my apprentice cut out the round pine disk with a coping saw then using a rip saw cut it in half leaving two pieces 5/16″ in thickness and 1 7/8″ in diameter.

map glass1

I made a paper pattern for the leather for the case as well as 3 pieces of round leather, the lower pine disk has leather on both sides and the upper disk has leather on the inside and walnut burl veneer on the top surface.  The leather and veneer were glued on with Lee Valley Fish Glue, I really like that stuff.  I put a French polish on the walnut burl, then a thin coat of Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish.  I punched my mark in the bottom before assembly.

map glass2

Using a bone folder I put some decorative line work around the leather including the tongue that secures the case shut when pushed through the retaining strap.  The strap also had decoration on the front, it passes through slits in the leather I made with a sharp chisel.  Using a Hudson Bay pattern stitching awl, I punched square shaped holes for the waxed [beeswax and tallow] linen thread, in line so the points of the square holes line up.  This allows the thread to lay flat along the seam.  I also pounded the thread flat into the leather to reduce wear.

map glass3

map glass4

Using #2 copper tacks I affixed the leather to the sides of the disk after having applied fish glue to the leather and edges of the top and bottom pieces.  Tiny little tacks, but just right for this small project.

map glass5

I then cut thin strips of leather to cover the exposed pine edge; I scarfed the ends of the leather to lay flat where the leather flap opening is not attached to the top and bottom.  Using even smaller #1 1/2 copper tacks to attach the exposed pine edges finishing off the case.

It was a fun project and took my mind off a truely challenging project that I will post soon.



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.


August 9, 2012

Cloudy lens cover, oxidized paint, scratched helmut visor? Moses T’s Oxyguard

Filed under: Alchemy,Finishing,For Sale or Trade,Moses T's,Nautical,Of Interest,Restoration — Stephen Shepherd @ 10:55 am

Sounds strange on a Woodworking site, but this is one of Moses T’s All Natural Products I manufacture and sell.  I originally took an old formula and modified it to treat old painted surfaces and raw metal to prevent oxidation.  It also restored oxidized paint, removes scratches from plastic laminate and after a friend used it on automobiles he was restoring, it worked better than anything on the market.

Here are some before and after pictures.  Plastic headlamp lens covers are oxidized and cloudy.  An inexpensive solution to replacement.













After one application of Moses T’s Oxyguard, put on wait 10 minutes and wipe off, allow to dry for 24 hours.  Dispose of oily rags properly.

A friend offered his car an an experimental test bed for Moses T’s Oxyguard.
































Another friend had a motorcycle helmut and it was covered with scratches, he was going to buy another.  I took this and applied Moses T’s Oxyguard, waited 10 minutes and wiped off all the excess.  Cleared it right up.

A 4 ounce bottle is enough for one automobile, boat or small recreational vehicle and can be ordered here.


July 26, 2012

Price of Goods in Boston, March 6, 1856 part 2


From the Boston Press and Post



DUCK, per piece

Alexandrotsky             none

Billibins                      — @ —

Chepotchkins               — @ —

D. Bruisgins                — @ —

Gontsharoff                 none

I Bruisgins                   none

Kinoploff                     none

Massaloff                    none

Plotnikoff                    12 50 @ 13 50

Serikoff                       none

Ravens, Imp.               none

Do, light                      7 62 @ 7 75

Do, heavy                    9 62 @ 9 75


DYE STUFFS, per pound

Cochineal                    1 06 @ 1 15

Indigo, Bengl best       1 20 @ 1 40

Do, do, mid                 1 00 @ 1 18

Do, do, Inferior           — 50 @ — 95

Do, Guatemala          — 80 @ 1 20

Do, Manila, prime       — 60 @ 1 00

Logwood, Campeachy, per ton  — @ —

Do, St. Domingo          20 00 @ 21 00

Fustic, Cuba                35 00 @ 40 00

Do, Maracaibo                        — @ —

Do, Savanilla              21 00 @ 24 00

Do, Tampico               — @ —

Brazilletto                   23 00 @ 25 00

Camwood                    — @ —

Hache Wood               37 50 @ 43 00

Nicaragua, Coromandel — @ —

Do, Lima                     62 00 @ 72 00

Sapan Wood                55 00 @ 62 00

Indian Coast do           28 00 @ 32 00


GLUE, per pound

American                     — 10 @ — 18

Chinese                       — 18 @ — 17

Russia                         — 14 @ — 18



Finished                      20 00 @ 30 00

Rough                          — @ —



No. 1                           — @ —

No. 2                           — @ —

No. 3                           — 14 @ — 14 ½


GUNNY CLOTH, per yard – 12 ½ @ — 13


HIDES, per pound

Buenos Ayres, dry salted        — 25 ½ @ — 26

Do, wet do                              — 13 ¼ @ — 13 ½

Chili                                        — @ —

Maranham                               — @ —

Maracaibo                               — @ —

Montevideo                             — 25 ½ @ — 26

Pernambuco, dry salted           — @ —

Porto Cabello                          — 19 @ — 19 ½

Rio Grande                              — 25 @ — 25 ½

Truxillo                                   — 19 @ — 19 ½

California                                — @ —

West India                               — @ —

African                                    — 15 @ — 24

New Orleans                           — 15 @ — 15 ½

Deerskins                                — 18 @ — 47 ½

Calcutta, buffalo                      — 13 ½ @ — 14

Do, cow, dry, salted each        — 90 @ 1 00

Do, do, wet, do                       1 12 @ 1 22

Buenos Ayres, horse               1 37 @ 1 62

Goatskins, Cape Good Hope, per pound

24 ½ @ — 25 ½

Do, c. de Verds                       — @ —

Do, Calcutta                            — @ —

Do, Curacoa                            — 45 @ — 50

Do, Patna                                 — 19 @ — 21

Do, Madras                             — 25 @ — 28


HONEY, per gallon

Cuba                                        — 72 @ — 80


IVORY, per pound

Prime                                       1 50 @ 1 75

Scrivellas                                1 00 @ 1 30


LEATHER, per pound

Boston, slaughter                     — 20 @ — 25

Eastern, dry hide                     — @ —

Do, Slaughter                          — @ —

New York, light                      — 23 @ — 24 ½

Do, middling                           — 23 ½ @ — 25 ½

Do, heavy                                — 20 ½ @ — 23

Philadelphia City                    — 25 @ — 31

Do, Country                             — 25 @ — 28

Baltimore City                         — 28 @ — 31

Do, dry hide                            — 25 @ — 27

Calfskins curried                     — 70 @ — 80

Do, In rough                            — 57 @ — 60

Neats, thick waxed, per foot    — 15 @ — 18

Do, light, do                            — 11 @ — 18

Do, heavy, do                          — @ —

Kip                                          — @ —

Black grain                              — @ —


NAILS, per pound, 6 mos.

Cut, assorted                           — 4 @ — 4 ½

Do, 3d                                     — @ —

Do, 4th [sic]                               — @ —



Rosin, extra                             3 75 @ 4 50

Do, No. 1                                2 50 @ 3 50

Do, No. 2                                2 00 @ 2 12

Do, Common, 6 mos.               1 85 @ 1 90

Pitch                                        2 25 @ 2 50

Tar, Wilmington                      3 00 @ 3 25

Do, North Co.                          2 75 @ 3 00

Spirit of Turpentine, per gallon cash   — 44 @ — —

Varnish, bright             — 16 @ — 17


OIL, per gallon

Lard Oil                                  — 80 @ 1 10

Neats Foot                               — 75 @ — 95

Sperm, Fall and Spring, un-bleached and bleached 1 90 @ 1 95

Winter, bleached and un-bleached 2 00 @ 2 10

Do, crude, cash                       1 80 @ 1 85

Linseed, Dutch                         — @ —

Do, English                             — 87 @ — 85

Do, American                          — 85 @ — —

Red Oil                                   — 67 @ — 68

Pine                                         — @ —

Olive, Sicily                            1 17 @ 1 18

Palm, per pound                      — 10 @ 11 10 ½

Straits, per bbl                        24 00 @ — —

Bank                                        23 25 @ 23 50

Shore                                       22 00 @ — —

Florence, per case                   — @ —

More good stuff.


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.



October 30, 2010

Can the Sun run any slower?

Filed under: Historical Material,Instruments,Nautical,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 7:35 am

I know it happens every year at this time.  You pull out your trusty sundial, set the gnomon, orient to north and you get a reading that is over 16 minutes SLOW.  It has to do with the position of the sun everyday at noon.  When plotted over a year it forms an irregular figure 8.  And this time of year it is at its slowest.  In order to get an accurate reading you need the equation of time or an analemma, like the one below.

The vertical numbers are the declination of the sun and the horizontal numbers are minutes.  On the horizontal scale to the right of 0, it is plus or fast and to the left of 0, is minus or slow.

So keep this around to correct your sundials.

And yes it will run a bit slower before it starts to speed up.


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.


May 24, 2010

Oil & Water

Filed under: Historical Material,Nautical,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:59 pm


I am sorry for my late response to this timely issue, but better late than never.  The recent problem that has surfaced has prompted me to consider a solution.  Now I know nothing about the depths of the problem except the enormous pressure and temperatures that things don’t Behave Properly.

Since I cannot add to the technical problem they face, except did I mention the high pressure and cold temperature?  I do have some suggestions as to how to deal with the problem on the surface of the water in the Gulf.  For one and many of you may know this, Oil and Water don’t mix.  And oil by its self is fairly nasty stuff, useful but nasty.  It kills a lot of things from contact in a crude form, as refined products, etc., etc.  But did I mention it was useful, I like Asphaltum for making varnish and people are fond of Gasoline.

But I digress; a solution for the problem would be to deal with the problem that Oil and Water don’t mix.  Oil is lighter in molecular weight that Water, so oil conveniently floats on water.  If it were lighter than water it wouldn’t be a good hydrocarbon.  But I digress, how would a chef make an oil and vinegar salad dressing mix, he would add an emulsifier to make them mix together, mustard, egg yolks, soy, etc., there a number of ingredients that will do the same thing.

Or you could add surfactants, a fancy word meaning a surface reactant that is basically a soap that will cause the oil to break up into smaller little spheres of oil that will settle out of the water.  But the oil is still there.  Remember you can clean oil paint out of your brushes with soap and water, but the oil does go down the drain in suspension with water.

So how does one get rid of a lot of oil, I would suggest wood ashes.  When mixed with water and oil they become soap.  It is a simple soponification process that has been known for centuries. And soap is far less dangerous than crude oil.

Now here is an interesting bit of history, when ships were at sea and the weather was turning bad and the waves were increasing; they would put an oil soaked rope into the water to trail behind the ship and it would break the surface tension of the water and reduce the possibility of waves breaking over the stern of the ship.  Buckets of oil were placed on both sides of the bow at water line to help eliminate waves around the ship.  The oil would calm the sea.


March 7, 2010

Nineteenth Century Measure & Value

Filed under: Historical Material,Nautical,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 5:15 pm

Measurements & Valuations in the Nineteenth Century


Liquid Measure

1 fluid ounce= 29.5737 Cubic Centimeters

Gill = 4 liquid ounces

Pint = 16 liquid ounces

Quart = 32 liquid ounces

Gallon = 128 liquid ounces

Gallon = 8.3 pounds

Cup = ½ pint or 8 liquid ounces

Flagon=2 quarts

Keg=3 gallons

Firkin=¼ barrel or 8-9 gallons

Kilderkin=17-29 gallons

Rundlet=3-20 gallons

Barrel=28-31 gallons

Hogshead=52-68 gallons

Puncheon=72 gallons

Pipe=two hogsheads

Butt=110-120 gallons


Wine & Beer Measure

Anker=10 gallons

Rundlet-18 gallons

Tierce=42 gallons

Hogshead=63 gallons

Puncheon=84 gallons

Pipe or butt=126 gallons

Tun=253 gallons


Dry Measure

4 Gills=1 pint

2 pints=1 quart

2 quarts=1 pottle

2 gallons=1 peck

4 peck=1 bushel

2 bushel=1 strike

4 bushel=1 Coomb

8 bushel=1 quarter

4 quarters=1 cauldron

5 quarters=1wey

2 weys=1 last

1 dicker of leather=10 skins

1 last of hides=20 hides



Penny weight=one twentieth of a troy ounce

24 grains=1 penny weight

20 penny weight=1 ounce troy

1 ounce (troy)=31.1035 Grams

Pound=14 ounces troy



20 grains=1 scruple

3 scruples=1 dram

8 drams=1 ounce

12 ounces=1 pound



16 drams=1 ounce

1 ounce (avoirdupois) =28.3495 Grams

Pound=16 ounces avoirdupois

Stone=14 pounds

28 pounds=1 quarter

4 quarters=1 hundred weight

Hundred weight [cwt]=112 pounds

20 hundred weight=1 ton


Linear Measure

1/48th inch= hairs’ breadth

Fingers’ breadth, a measure of 2 barleycorns in length, or four laid side to side.

3 Barleycorn=1 inch

1 inch= 25.4 Millimeters

1 square inch = 6.452 Square Centimeters

1 palm=3 inches

1 hand=4 inches

1 span=8 inches

1 foot=12 inches

1 cubit=18 inches

3 feet=1 yard

39.37 inches= 1 meter

Fathom=6 feet

Rod, perch, pole=16 ½ feet

Chain=66 feet

Furlong=220 feet yards

1 mile=5280 feet

3 miles=1 league

69 ½ miles=1 degree



5 pennies=half dime (nickel after 1866)

10 pennies=1 dime

12 ½ pennies=1 bits

25 pennies or two bits=1 quarter

50 pennies=half dollar

100 pennies or 8 bits= 1 dollar [Spanish milled dollars were cut into 8 bits or ‘pieces of eight’ for ease of spending.  I believe most Spanish Milled Dollars were actually ‘Maria Teresa Dollars’ or talers from Austria, first minted in 1760 and unchanged today.]

2 ½ dollars=quarter eagle

5 dollars=half eagle

10 dollars=eagle

20 dollars=double eagle


1 £ [pound sterling]=20 shillings

1 shilling=12 pence

In the mid nineteenth century value conversion to U.S. Dollars:

1 pence=$0.0104

1 shilling=$0.125

1 pound=$2.50


A handy reference and good for settling bets.


November 7, 2009

Spinning Wheel & Mallets

While they have little in common, I did use a wooden mallet to drive the pegs into the ends of the spokes on the wheel’s rim.

After doing all of the repair to the wheel rim, it was time to put this puzzle back together.  It took a couple of hours to figure out where the spokes went in the hub and then making them line up with their original positions.  It wasn’t easy as there were too many choices and only one way that they went back together properly.  Had I had the wheel intact, I would have marked where each spoke belonged.

But two spokes were missing, so it was a lot of trial and error in fitting and testing the spokes to get them in their right place.  I have given the repairs and spokes a coat of shellac with burnt umber and a lot of yellow ocher to get the right base color.  After it dries I will give it a coat of shellac, burnt umber and a little black iron oxide to get the correct glazing color.

I did glue the spokes in the hub, which needs a little touch up at the wedge of wood hide glued into the crack.  I also put a drop of glue in the peg holes to secure the pegs.  I do believe that the original pegs were glued in place.  The new pegs are made of chestnut that I split out to insure proper straight grain.

Just a little repair on the flyer and the wheel will be done.


I also made a new mallet, the one on the top of this photograph.  I also put some needle hitching on a mallet handle.  It gives a good grip and a great look to the mallet.  The new mallet is one I have wanted to make for a long time, I am actually going to make a couple other versions of this ‘serving mallet’ to go with my kit.

A serving mallet is used to pull serving cord tightly around a rope when ‘worming and serving’.


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