Full Chisel Blog

April 16, 2009

The Hide Glue Book, cover mock-up

Well at last, after years of epic struggle and endless controversy I can now say that I am ready to go to press.  I started work on this in earnest in 2002 and it has continued up until press time.  I am just dealing with final matters and one is the book’s cover.

And while you can’t judge a book by its cover, it should look somewhat attractive.  I wanted something different so this is what I came up with, so far.

Book Cover

What do you think?  I will probably increase the size of the smaller type to make it look more readable from 6 feet away.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.


April 12, 2009

Ft. Buenaventura Easter Rendezvous

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 5:48 pm

Seems happen every year about this time of year for some reason.  It is a small event (although it is getting bigger) with some interesting vendors.  It is held where Miles Goodyear built his ‘fort’ or trading post in the Ogden Valley (named after Peter Skene Ogden of fur trade fame) and there is a rebuilt fort near the river.  From 1846 or a little earlier, he was here before the Saints came out west.

Well it is fun to see friends and see what is for sale.  I did pick up a couple of nice reproduction pewter pieces, the compote and pitcher are by the same manufacturer, I bought them from separate dealers and paid $12.00 for the pair, 8 for the pitcher and 4 for the compote.


I also picked up a nice pricker, she came down from 5 to 4 dollars before I opened my mouth, I have purchased from her before.

There was also a nice set of carving chisels and the guy wanted ten dollars apiece for them.  A good price, but I didn’t need them.  He also had one separate chisel that didn’t match and he said it was the only one marked so I gave him ten dollars.  It is marked J. R. BARTON on one side and 21 on the other.  I needed this chisel and was about to order one, I am glad I waited.  It is an eighth inch goose-neck mortise chisel.

Then I came across the Leather Drinking Jack.  I have wanted one of these for years now and there it was and it was made by a friend of mine that made my portmanteau.  There are two things that he said he would never make again, a portmanteau and a drinking jack and I now own them both.  I paid him the $50.00 he wanted as these things can be real pricey. (It holds three 12 ounce bottles of your favorite beverage).  It is lined with beeswax.  There is a story that they made these drinking jacks from leather so they wouldn’t be lethal weapons in a tavern.

So all in all I had a good time, visited with some friends and enjoyed the lovely weather.

April 11, 2009

Bureau Restoration continues

This like all restorations is a challenge in that while I have restored hundreds of artifacts, still new learning happens with each ‘new’ piece.


This is a small pine repair that was necessary before the thicker mahogany piece is replaced.


This is a small repair to the top of the back edge of one drawer.  The repair is in birch and while it is a lighter color now, I will use pigmented shellac to make it the same color once it is finally shaped.


And this is why I love restoration work in that it is possible to determine certain things about the original manufacture of the piece.  Obviously the tails were cut first, as the back board doesn’t quite reach up high enough to fill the previously gang cut tails.

You can also see that a hand plane was used to trim the pins and bevel the back edge.

This repair was done after a piece of pine was placed in a chip in the top edge of the drawer.


In order to get the piece of veneer to the proper curve of the drawer front, I held it in my fingers and with my fingernail on the underside put a series of little bends in the veneer, you can see a couple of them that telegraphed through.  I relied on the liquid hide glue to hold this piece in place, it was just too difficult to clamp.  (On some repairs masking tape can be used to hold small pieces in place.)  I had to do some more work on this repair which I will show later.

I could have used hot shellac stick to fill this nail hole, but decided to cut a round veneer patch.  I have to admit that this is the smallest piece of veneer I have ever used.


I even got the grain to match.


I am repairing a small piece of missing crotch grain mahogany veneer.  I was given some scraps of this veneer to make the matches, so I had a lot to chose from so I could match the grain.  The clear plastic glue block is essential to restoration work, I can see through them and they press the repairs perfectly flat.  II am also repairing some loose veneer that is slightly bubbled on the surface.

The small light colored space is where I removed some putty and cut sharp edges.  I will glue in a matching piece of mahogany when the other glue dries.


April 7, 2009

Beam Drill

Filed under: Drilling,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 2:03 pm

Well that didn’t take long at all.  Although I don’t have a table yet, I was able to use a couple of holdfasts to secure it to the front of my bench.

Beam Drill

I couldn’t be happier as to how it works.  I made the post from some scrap pine that was salvaged from a pallet.  There are three pieces of wood that I glued it together with two openings, one for the beam and the other for the table.  I took the board with the most bow and cut it up for the center pieces.  This will allow me to adjust both up and down to accommodate any size material and different length drill bits.

The beam is a scrap of poplar that I tapered, drilled a hole for the pivot then drilled a countersunk hole on the underside of the beam 12 inches from the post.  This means that if I center the work and the hole to be drilled in the proper place, the hole will be straight up and down.

I plan on drilling a small hole on the end of the beam to secure a weight, as was traditional.  I however feel that this provides plenty of leverage and there is no worrying about whether the hole is straight up and down and this tool insures that with proper setup the holes will be straight.

And the list gets ever shorter.


April 6, 2009

Bib Brace 2

Well, I smoothed off the bitstock and was ready for a ferrule.  Before looking around the shop for a length of pipe that I could hacksaw an inch from one end, I decided to look through my hardware box.  And what did I find?  A perfect size piece of iron pipe that was already japanned.

Bibe Brace 3

When I tell people I etch metal with garlic prior to gluing with hide glue, they don’t believe me.  Well here it is that is a piece of garlic, not very fresh but still enough of the necessary acids to do the trick.  I peeled it then cut it to expose the essentials.  I then rubbed it on the inside of the japanned iron ferrule then applied liquid hide glue to both the wood and the metal and pushed them together.

Bib Brace 4

I knocked off the corners near the ferrule to make a smooth transition from squarish/octagonal to the round of the ferrule. 

When I went to fit the ferrule, I set up a marking gauge to the length of the iron ferrule then scored a line around from the bit end.  I did the marks on all edges then used a fine toothed saw to cut the shoulders.  I did this on all 8 sides then set it up in a vice an split off the waste.  I of course first placed the ferrule centered over the square tapered hole and marked around the inside.  After splitting off the bulk of the waste, I then pared off the remaining.

I also used a rasp in fitting the ferrule and finished up with a float.  I used the float to flatten the sides and dress up the shoulders that I had cut with the fine tooth hand saw.  Once it was fit, I etched with garlic, applied glue and slipped the ferrule onto the tenon on the end of the bib brace.

The brace also has one coat of boiled linseed oil and I stamped it with my mark.  I gave it a try and it works wonderfully.  I will have to dig out the pad for my bow drill to use on this when not using the bib or beam drill.

 I also started on the post for the beam drill.


April 3, 2009

Bib Brace

I made a brace bib, so then I needed to make a bib brace.  This one has been on the list for years and it will cross off two items on that list.  The first being a bib brace and the second acting as a brace for a beam drill, which is on the list and I intend to make shortly.

Brace Mortise

I marked the center and drilled a 1/4 inch hole about an inch and an eighth deep.  I then took my 1/4″ dovetail chisel and marked out a square slightly larger than the hole.  I used this to start the square tapered hole.  I made sure the hole was drilled straight, checking in both directions to insure a proper hole.  I then switched over to an 1/8″ chisel and finished out the hole.  I used a 1/4″ gouge bit to remove the chips made by the chisels.

It was an easy operation to make the square tapered hole.  I will eventually shape down the end and add an iron ferrule to reinforce the end to take the torque that the brace makes.  I cut the shape out with a bow saw, then shaped it with small spokeshaves but mostly with a coarse cabinetmakers rasp.

Bib Brace

After the rasp, I used a coarse cabinet file, then finished up with a fine cabinet file.  I then worked it over with card scrapers and this is what it looks like now.  I got it wet to raise the grain and will work it over again with card scrapers to smooth the finish.  I will finish it with linseed oil / turpentine (50/50) and it will take several coats.

Also after giving it a try, I increased the size of the holes in the bib, because it slipped out and that point poked me in the belly.  Nothing serious, but I see the need for a deeper counter sunk hole in the bib.

This was a fun project, now I need to make a beam drill to drill very accurate holes, at long last an early nineteenth drill press.


April 2, 2009

Bureau Restoration

Here is a before picture of the chest of drawers in question.

Empire Bureau

This is a repair on one of the small drawers in the glove boxes on top.  The thin feathered bottom edge broke and required that I make a Dutchman in pine to repair the groundwork before I could repair the veneer.


I also prepared a chip on the lower edge for a patch as well as some missing wood around the keyhole.  There is suppose to be a brass escutcheon plate, lining the keyhole but both are missing on both glove box drawers.  I will be able to order replacement reproduction escutcheons and replace them both.


I actually cut the pieces of mahogany veneer with a pair of sharp scissors.  I cut it when it was dry and had to get it wet to both determine finished color and to counter the effects of the liquid hide glue used to adhere the missing veneer.  There is also a strip of mahogany on the top of the drawer and part is missing on the right hand side.

The veneer on the drawers are thin enough to used modern veneer to make the replacements.  Some of the veneer on other parts of this piece are quite thick and I will have to both make my own as well as double up on some repairs.

I used liquid hide glue to make these repairs and the dovetailed piece swelled up when glued, so I had to use a sharp knife to trim.  The V shaped repair on the upper right, distorted when it was wet with glue, so I had to use a wide sharp chisel to make the adjustment to make it fit.

I then had to spend about 20 minutes to finally get the three pieces stuck down.  I had to rely on the tack of the glue to hold it in place.  Once one area adhered, I moved on to another, using a fine knife blade and thin awl point to push it down until it was all stuck.  I fiddled with it enough and there were minutes in between when I did other things, but over the course of 20 minutes all three pieces were tight and when the glue dries and shrinks the repairs will be fine, and with no clamps.



April 1, 2009

Prototype Dovetail Saw

I have finally come up with a solution to the controversy between Western Push style Dovetail Saws and the popular Eastern Pull style Dovetail Saw.  It was brought about when one day I was cutting some dovetails with a Western style Dovetail Saw while a friend of mine was watching.

He commented ‘if that saw had a handle on the other end, he could give me a hand’.  What a thought, my mind went back to the two handle whip saws of yore and put 2 and 2 together and got 22.  Now I think I have solved the problem with whither you prefer the Western or Eastern style handsaw.

Ultimate Dovetail Saw

The Eastern end is traditional with a tang and bamboo wrapped handle.  The Western end is a typical riveted handle that is octagonal and tapered.  This will surely set to rest the problem about deciding which to choose.  Just choose this one.


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