Full Chisel Blog

October 31, 2008

The Full Chisel Store is Open

Filed under: Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 2:52 pm

I finally have something for sale, the first offering is a pen and ink Drawing of a Cabinet Shop by Clinton Whiting.

I will have the Note Cards with illustrations of Tools including workbenches available soon.

The location is there on the right under Pages-The Full Chisel Store.



Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:09 am


Happy Halloween.   It is also the anniversery of the death of Harry Houdini and National Magic Day.


October 30, 2008

Moxon Dovetail Saw

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Sawing,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 3:31 pm

In Henry Mercer’s Ancient Carpenter Tools, there is a plate from Moxon, 1703 which is inscribed by hand on the plate.  There is one tool, which I think is mis-labeled, and I don’t know what the original text calls this particular saw.

It is called a ‘Compass’ Saw and somehow I don’t think that is correct now that I have made one.

Moxon Saw 1

I used a special chisel made by Richard MacDonald, a Master Woodcarver, and is made from an old saw blade of some sort.  I drilled 1/16″ diameter holes in the end-grain of the handle to define the narrow mortise for the tang of the saw.  I then used this chisel to remove the intervening pieces of wood and finished up the socket for the tang of the saw blade.

I am not sure of the construction of the original but this is my version of that saw.  The handle varies instead of being turned it is octagonal tapered, matching my other straight handled saws and chisel handles.  Moxon also shows this shape handles on the chisels and gouges in the same plate.

Moxon Saw 2

It does not appear that there was a rivet or anything else holding the tang of the blade into the handle.   I used a cold chisel to upset some barbs on the tang to hold it into the handle.  This will allow it to be removed when it needs to be sharpened again.

I sharpened it rip and it is ever so slightly breasted.I can only cut a straight line with this ‘compass’ saw, well maybe a really large curve, but for now, I will be using it for dovetails.  A friend has already expressed an interest in purchasing this saw and it is not even one day old.  I may have to make another.

I also smoothed up the edges of the clock door.  Sometimes it is handy to have a very long shooting board.  I puttied it where needed and filled the exterior of the clock case.

Shooting the clock door

And during the 4 and a half hours in the shop today I also managed to almost finish the spinning wheel.  I applied a coat of shellac, did some touch ups with pigmented shellac and put it all together.  I still have to attach the treadle to the base, drill a hole in the bottom of the pitman and lace it to the treadle and run the string around the wheel, bobbin and pulley.

Whole Wheel

Now that I have it shellacked, I like the look and have reconsidered the pigmented varnish.  A little more shellac and I think it will look great.


October 29, 2008

Feather Slips

Filed under: Furniture,Historical Material,Of Interest,Restoration,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 3:32 pm

Not an exotic piece of clothing but a reinforcement for miter joints.

After my disastrous attempt at cutting kerfs for the slips yesterday, I securely held the piece flat on my bench using the planing stops and an additional stop block clamp to secure the frame without adding any pressure on any of the joints.

Sawing Feather Slip

I placed a small scrap of pine, you can see it at the tip of the saw, and laid the saw on this as a horizontal guide for starting the kerf.  I sawed at a slight angle and was able to replicate the angle on each corner.

Feather Slip

This is a piece of very thick 1/16″+ maple veneer a friend of mine has.  I did have to plane it down then work it over with a toothing plane to true and tooth the slip in preparation to gluing it in place.

Gluing feather slip

I used a thin blade pallet knife to get the glue in the narrow kerf.  With hide glue it important to get glue on all surfaces that are being glued together to insure the joint is ‘wet’.

Secondary slips

I then turned the frame face down and sawed secondary kerfs using the same scrap of pine to get the kerf straight, it is also angled.  The secondary slips are narrower, I didn’t want to come through the face of the clock door.

Double Feather Slip, close-up

This close up of the feather slips, the lower one rough trimmed, the upper freshly glued in place.  Tomorrow I shall rough trim the top slip, then smooth out the edges of the door.  The project is coming along nicely.

Whorl with hooks


I also got the holes drilled and hooks made for the Spinning Wheel Whorl.  I disassembled it and gave it a good coat of shellac.  The shellac was dried out in the bottom of the bottle, the lid not on tightly and the alcohol soon evaporated.  I added some more alcohol and in 20 minutes had liquid shellac again.  That is what I like about shellac.

Looks like a coat of pigmented varnish is in the spinning wheels near future.  It is my intention to varnish it on the morrow.


October 28, 2008

Mother Of All…

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Restoration,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 3:35 pm

is what this particular piece of a spinning wheel is called.  The only thing left are the 4 plying hooks on each arm and the Mother Of All will be complete.  I have yet to nail on the treadle, but that won’t take long.  Then a coat of shellac on the whorl followed by a coat of pigmented varnish and this wheel is done.

 Mother Of All

When I was ready to chop the mortises, I decided to use a V-Channel Block and needed a way to hold it in place without damage to the turnings.  I had brought a very thick piece of leather I had at home, this piece was given to me when I bought some other leather, it was basically scrap.  It already had the holes punched in part of it, but the rest of the leather is ideal for bearings on spinning wheels.  Well the part with the holes is useless for everything but using it with a holdfast.

Mother of All 1

I have since trimmed off the good leather and now have a fine pad for use with my holdfasts.  And it is large enough to cut into two pieces for both of my holdfasts.  The leather holds the stuff securely and does not leave any marks.  The V-channel block is made of soft pine, so as not to damage my work.

I would have posted pictures of the slip feathers on the mitered door, however, when starting the kerf, the door was not secure in the arrest, it dropped to the floor and popped a joint, well two joints.  I glued it back together and will carefully cut the kerfs tomorrow.  I will secure the door down, very carefully and using and equal amount of caution, attempt the kerfs again.


October 27, 2008

Wall Clock Door

Filed under: Furniture,Historical Material,Of Interest,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 3:11 pm

After three days of looking through boxes (I found two more chisels), I found what I was looking for, that being 4 pieces of wood.  I had already shaped them and run the rabbit, so I didn’t want to make them again.  They are for a Wall Clock I am building for a local couple.

clock door

I mitered the corners then toothed them, added some liquid hide glue and used the simplest clamp in the world, a rope and 8 blocks of wood.  Alright it is not the simplest, that would be a rope and stick tourniquet, but this is a close second.

Now, I did use a modern tool to do the miters, these are pine pieces so I actually did all of the mitering on this.

Oliver trimmer

This is an Oliver No. 9 1/2 Miter Trimmer, with cast iron stand and two additional miter blocks for doing compound miters.  Looking through an old Oliver manual, I came across a technique using this tool to do the cheeks on tenons, can’t wait to try it out, looks like a clever idea.

I will reinforce the corners of the miters with feather slips as I don’t want to add linen to the back of the joints.  Then I will paint and grain it to look like crotch mahogany cross banded veneer.  I am going to put a gold stripe on the back side of the glass around the edge.  I still have to number the dial, the movement is an original skeleton movement with an adjustable pendulum, has a gong and strikes the hour and half hour.  It is a 14 day movement.

I have already built and glued together the box (clock case) and the back is also fit in but is not nailed in yet.  I have whitewashed the inside of the clock case which is through dovetailed.  But they will not show as I will paint and grain over them.  Will need to cut the gain for the hinge in both the door and the clock case and make a retaining hook to hold the door closed.  I will also make a hanger, so it can be hung on the wall.  It is deep enough to sit on a shelf or mantle if they prefer.



October 26, 2008

Camera Obscura

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 3:57 pm

As opposed to Camera Obvious, my attempt at humor.  This is a rather ancient device, I am sure invented shortly after optical lenses were developed (not quite true).  Well, I have always wanted one, but they are not readily available (not quite true).  I would also like a Camera Lucida, but that is another story.

Well, today while at my local swap meet, I bought this.  And while it is not a camera obscura, the lenses are what I need.  This was probably made in the 1920’s and is an opaque projector.  Called a Postoscope – Display Artists Projector.  The mirror is not a front surface mirror, drat, however the optics are good enough.


Fancy, right?  Nice wrinkle finish and a couple of 150 watt bulbs, the handle is missing, but that is not what I need.  At first I couldn’t get it to focus for my intended use, as it was intended to project an image a fixed distance.  I needed it to focus on infinity (or as close as is theoretically possible, for those physicists among us) and it didn’t work.

I then consulted my friend Sir George and we discussed the objectives of my quest to turn these lenses and mirror into a camera obscura.  I explained that the lenses were different, one is flatter on is convex surface.  He being the brilliant mind that he is, suggested that I turn the lens tube around.  Well, that clearly brought everything into focus.

So my $8.00 investment was a good one.  I may use the lens tube as it is, but I am fairly sure I will make a wooden replacement, some nice mahogany veneer laminated into a tube.  Now you may ask what the hell is a camera obscura and why am I interested in making one?  Good question, glad you asked.

The camera obscura in an archaic instrument, the originals were actually probably invented before optical lens and shortly after the invention of the mirror, as this can be done with a pin hole, no lenses needed.  The idea is that it captures an image and projects it onto a piece of paper and that image is then drawn on the paper.  This works overhead or from beneath and was developed into a variety of different drawing appliances.

It looks like some of the Masters may have used these to aid in their paintings and illustrations.  It was popular in the late 18th and early nineteenth century and still continued in popularity after the introduction of the photographic process in the early 1840’s.  Samuel F.P. Morse, yes the inventor of the telegraphic code, among other things brought the Daguerre process to America.

This is on my list of things to do, however as for now I am busy enough, but will fiddle with it from time to time, as it is not terribly complicated, well it shouldn’t be, but I may add a few flourishes as I think this is a tool that I will use on a regular basis.

Speaking of the local swap meet, the lovely lady was there again today, it was a pleasure to see her, although I didn’t buy anything from her.  I walked up behind her as she was unloading stuff from her truck and said “We have got to stop meeting like this!’.  She got a chuckle out of that and I went on to tell her that she is becoming a celebrity on my blog.  She wasn’t sure how to take that and another friend who happened to be at the same place said something about the pictures posted on the web, throwing me under the bus.

Well after some explaining the actual context in which she was referred to was on the up-and-up and there was nothing untoward, except beating her up on prices.  So I gave her my card with the blog address, so she can rest assured everything was proper.  She then told me her name, but she has requested anonymity, so she will just be the nice lady at the swap meet.

Then after I had gone through the rest of the stuff and was on my way out, I went by her place and she said she had some other tools including a Miller Falls wooden tool box and some blacksmithing tools she wanted to sell.  She told me where she lives, not far away and asked for my phone number.  I like it when pretty ladies ask for my number. 



October 25, 2008

Whorl (flyer), Bobbin and Pulley

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Restoration,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:13 am

I don’t know if there is a more difficult part to make than the whorl, also called a flyer on a spinning wheel.  It certainly is one of the most important parts of the wheel, although the other parts are necessary to make the flyer work but the real spinning takes place here.  And this piece needs to work properly. 

The whorl because of its design is usually broken and repaired and invariably the bobbins and pulleys will have damage because of their short end grain.   You can only drop these once.

Whorl, pulley and bobbin

With the iron mandrel fit into the hole in the whorl was done with tapered reamers then a small chisel to make the square socket to accept the square part of the mandrel.  It is important to get it centered left to right as well as making the arms co-planar with the mandrel, so it spins properly.

On the original the replacement whorl was not the right shape and did not allow the pulley to properly engage the left hand threads and the bobbin would not spin freely, which it must do.

Flyer assembly

I fit the mandrel into the whorl/flyer until the pulley was fully threaded on and the bobbin spins freely.  At this point I will use hide glue to glue the iron mandrel into the wooden whorl.  I will prepare the metal surface by brushing off any surface residue, then treating it with a clove of garlic to etch the metal.

I need to bend some wire hooks for each arm of the whorl.  The original had a large number of hooks indicating they were probably spinning flax or maybe cotton or silk.  Most spinners today spin wool and all of those hooks get in their way.  This whorl will only have 4 hooks on each arm, making it much easier to spin wool and will still work with other fibers.

Then a couple of mortises for the leather bearings that hold the iron mandrel/whorl/bobbin/pulley and a coat of pigmented varnish and this wheel will be finished.


October 24, 2008

Dealing with my Chisel Problem, Part III

Filed under: Of Interest,Proper Tools,Tool Cabinets & Tool Boxes,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:38 am

Well I re-made the first chisel rack and am pleased with the results.  I went about it in a methodical way, although it is difficult to tell from how I botched things up.  I had all four racks cut out (with an additional length available should I need it, which I did) and only did one at a time, well I did two but the second one was acceptable as it holds the chisels by their tapered sockets, so with the luck of geometry and physics, I dodged that bullet

Chisel Rack re-make

By not doing them all at one time, I avoided having to re-make them all.  The gouge and carving tool racks are both very functional and I can now see all my chisels and gouges.

This has also freed up some space in my tool cabinet, after I removed the old three tiered rack.  I moved in the block with assorted tools and the rest of the boring bits into the vacant space.  I also have a bit of free space on the inside back side to hang up stuff I need at hand. 

With that problem largely out of the way, I started to organize my layout tools in the upper cabinet, I had already partially re-done my saw till (is still needs work), so it is time for to square away my squares.

I will soon be opening up an online Store here on my blog to offer items for sale.  Items for sale will be old tools, artifacts, shop art and Woodworker’s Note Cards.  I have permission from Clinton Whiting to reproduce and offer for sale his pen and ink drawing of the ‘Cabinet Shop’, just getting packaging material together.  The Woodworker’s Note Cards are pen and ink drawings of Traditional Tools from the eighteenth and nineteenth century.  Each card comes with an envelop and each card has a description of the tool and it date on the back.  There are about 40 images to choose from including saws, planes, braces, workbenches, &c.


October 23, 2008

Dealing with my Chisel Problem, Part II

Filed under: Of Interest,Proper Tools,Tool Cabinets & Tool Boxes,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:30 am

Well the first go round went off with only 50% failure rate.  The lower chisel rack with the sockets is fine, but I think I will re-do it a bit.  The upper one was a complete failure.  The slots don’t work.  I lightly kicked the door when it was closed and heard a shower of chisels, so until I make a new one I scabbed on a piece of wood to retain them.

Chisel Rack Repair

So I took the suggestions from M.Mike and Mitchell and decided to drill holes and add a few slots.  The hole in conjunction with the slot holds the tools much more securely than just the slot.

Gouge Rack

I will probably add some leather keepers on the slots if it proves necessary.  The only problem I have now is if, no when I get more chisels and gouges.  I suppose I will deal with that at the time.  There are an extra hole for a small gouge or chisel on this one and it is possible to add new holes.

While the arrangement looks compact and I will need to be careful when removing tools from the lower racks, I may put a flap of leather or some other safeguard if I should bleed just once.

I have looked at other racks and the hanging kind or the drawer solution are the best as there is little chance of damage to the sharp ends.  Racks that hold the chisels or gouges by them resting on their cutting edges is a bad idea.  Even if a soft padding of cork, soft wood or leather can still get stuff on it that can damage the cutting edges.

So, I will re-make the upper chisel rack and post a final post, with the Chisel problem solved.


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