Full Chisel Blog

November 30, 2009

Spinning Wheels and Spinning Wheels

As I am finishing up restoring an American Flax wheel another one steps in the queue.  These are the last of the repairs to the pulley for the flyer on this wheel.  I am about to repair the cracks on the flyer, so it will all be done soon.

After I took this photograph I noticed that the small triangle piece wasn’t properly seated, I put on a bit more hide glue and pushed into place.  After the glue dries I will carefully shape these end grain pieces.

This next wheel has a history and is from the Ft. Ticonderoga area and appears to be an early wheel.  The wheel itself is four separate fellies that have open mortise and tenon connections between the segments and the spokes are tenoned into both the hub and the fellows.

 The flyer is broken [and in backwards] and the replacement pitman made of iron needs to be replace with an appropriate wooden one.  It only has one strut on the axle uprights, it is on the side of the crank.  It is broken on the end that goes into the upright and needs to be repaired.  It is nailed to the base.  Everything looks to be made of birch and there is red paint striping around the wheel.

I will have to study it closer to determine if the finish is original and the approximate age of the wheel, should be fun.


November 26, 2009

Hammer Veneering with Liquid Hide Glue

Filed under: Hide Glue,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 7:39 am

The other day I read on a woodworking forum on the Internet that you can only hammer veneer with hot hide glue.  That the wood and veneer needed to be warm and the glue hot.  I seem to remember talking about hammer veneering in Hide Glue – Historical & Practical Applications and mentioned that it could be done with liquid hide glue.

For those of you who don’t know hammer veneering is a technique of applying a thin veneer to a wooden substrate with nothing but hide glue and a special tool called a veneer hammer.  The hammer is actually a squeegee that is used to flatten out the veneer, squeeze out the glue and adhere the veneer fast to the substrate without clamps.  The veneer hammer has a hickory handle like a hammer but the head is made with a wide blade.  Inset in the maple head is boxwood which is smooth and works great.  Some hammers had brass as a blade, bone works well, anything that is smooth and resists rust.

I grabbed a scrap of chestnut burl veneer and found an appropriately sized scrap of pine.  I prepared the surface of the pine with a toothing plane to give a key or tooth to the pine to improve adhesion (by up to 30% ).  The chestnut burl veneer was rough enough and with open pores that I didn’t need to tooth the veneer.

Now here is the trick; I used a glue comb to evenly spread a given amount of liquid hide glue over the surface of the pine substrate, the notches in the comb leaving just the right amount of glue.  I then put glue on the veneer and smoothed with the flat side of the comb to insure the surface was wet but with very little glue.  I put the veneer down and at that point the veneer started to curl a bit from the moisture of the hide glue, so I put a bit on top and smoothed it with the flat side of the comb.

I then started in the middle of the piece and worked toward the edges with a zig-zag walking motion to squeeze the excess glue out.  Using the comb meant uniform glue coverage and very little squeeze out.  The hammer is held with the handle in one hand and the other hand on the head to push down while the handle is moved back and forth.  As the hammer works over the veneer it begins to make a noise.  It is almost a crackle but not as noisy.  This is the glue getting hold of the veneer from the contact with the substrate.  After I worked over the surface (wiping any excess glue from the blade of the hammer), I was done.  The hide glue will now dry and shrink holding the veneer fast to the pine.

Because it was 44 degrees (F) in the shop I had to warm up the liquid hide glue to get it out of the container.  Once it was liquid and workable, I continued.  I did not warm the pine substrate or veneer and didn’t have any problems.  Hammer veneering is just too easy, once people try a small piece they realize that it doesn’t matter how large the piece of veneer is, it can be successfully applied using this unique method.


November 25, 2009

Smoothing Plane update

Filed under: Hand Planing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Scrapers,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:14 am

Last week during the Plane Making Workshop for the Nevada WoodChucks in Reno, I built a plane along with those in the class.  I didn’t have time to do all of the tuning, so I spent a couple of hours bringing my little coffin smoother to good order.

And while the plane worked just fine, the body needed some work to improve the chamfers and smooth the surfaces, however the sole was not flat at all.  It was high in front the heel, high in the middle and high again at the mouth and just in front of the mouth.  That meant that the very heel was low as was the toe of the plane and there was also a low spot in the middle of the plane.  It was my mistake not making this flat when I was working on the plane, everyone in the class had theirs smooth, I just didn’t get around to it at the time.

I put the plane in my patternmaker’s vise and contemplated how to true up the bottom.  True, truth, then I remembered that the toothing plane is also called a truthing plane, so I got out my toother and worked over the sole of the plane.  Properly set the toothing plane just hit the high areas leaving no tooth or key on the low areas.  I also didn’t need to worry about grain direction as the toothing plane didn’t cause any tear out or chipping, just very fine serrations on the sole of the plane.

Then it was time to remove the toothing marks and I turned to a cabinet scraper.  The advantage of using this tool is that the flat bottom guides the scraper along the surface removing only the high spots.

This worked great and got out most of the toothing marks left by the toothing plane and made the sole of the smoother much smoother.

I then turned to the card scraper to remove the few serrations left by the toothing plane and missed by the cabinet scraper.  The sole passed the straight edge test, no light showing between the straight edge and the sole.

I fettled with the wedge a bit and worked on the chamfers.  I still need to do a little work on the throat to clean it up and make it look better, but these are aesthetic improvements, the plane works great and still needs a coat or two of boiled linseed oil.


November 23, 2009

Spill Plane

Filed under: Hand Planing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 5:24 pm

Well, I never thought that this type of plane would ever be reproduced and low and behold Lee Valley did just that.  Here is their ‘new’ spill plane.  The spill or spile plane produces long curled matches, much cheaper than Instantaneous Match Lights and handy for lighting candles and oil lamps from the fireplace or stove, you would never put your candles or lamps directly into the fire.  Also handy for lighting pipes and cigars and were common in public houses and taverns.

This is based on and Edward Preston’s patent in the 1860’s from an original in Lee Valley’s collection.

My current spill or spile plane is made of wood and requires that pieces being planed to be 1/2″ in thickness.  The preferred wood for spills or spiles are woods with lots of pitch like pine although other woods will work.

This plane is shop made of what I believe is Old Cuban Mahogany, the wedge is some other species of mahogany with coarse grain..

The side is attached with gimlet point screws and the blade is made from a Stanley blade that has been cut up and reground.

I tell people that the spile plane is the worse plane in my shop, it does not produce a square edge nor a straight board, but every shaving is useful and in bundles can be sold for a handsome profit.


November 18, 2009


Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:03 am

During my recent Workshop in Reno, a couple of the members of the Nevada WoodChucks were talking about some white oak they acquired, so I asked to take a look.  They said that they purchased these from a women in Kentucky or Tennessee, who apparently had a large number of them.

Found in a barn, these are factory made plow beams dating from the time of the American Civil War and ready to be fit up with the hardware.

These were purchased for their wood, in this case white oak with the intention of cutting them up and making stuff like turnings, etc.

When I talked to them about these, a member of the club said he had one that wasn’t cut up and brought it in for me to document.  I am not sure any of these are left, but I am going to try and buy one if I can get the contact information.

At first I was concerned that these ‘artifacts’ had been cut up, but at least this one has been preserved and also I was given a piece of the wood.

Here is a view of the endgrain, obviously old growth wood, look at those growth rings.

I think I will keep this as an example, although it is ready to be turned into a bowl (if I call it a vessel, I can get more money).


November 16, 2009

Smoothing Plane Workshop 2

Well, there ended up being 9 students in the class, 5 were there all day Friday, 3 showed up after they got off work and got up to speed and Sal showed up on Saturday.  All got to the same level by noon on Saturday and continued throughout the day.

The Nevada WoodChucks ‘clubhouse’ is a well equipped workshop with benches (and vices) enough for all to have a place to work.  They do have power tools and I did not discourage them from using what was comfortable for them.  Above are the first five that were at work all day Friday.  Steven on the left with his back to the camera, next Tom (had to make sure his hat was in the picture), in the middle Jan who traveled from Fernley to take the class (she stayed with her daughter who lives in Reno.  Then Dick and Chuck, with his hands in his pocket (he finished his plane first).

Jan drilling the holes for the mouth and throat of the hand plane.

Rod, the current President of the Nevada WoodChucks was one of the three that showed up late on Friday, he got to the shop at about 3:30 pm and was able to get the throat chopped and caught up to the rest, quickly.

Joe on the left was another that showed up late on Friday as was Jason, I caught Tom without his hat.

And here are the happy Plane Makers.  From left to right Jan, Chuck, Jason, Dick, Rod, Tom, Jim, Steven and Sal.

They had the options of how to shape the outside of the plane, the inside throat and wedge escarpment were all the same for all planes.  Some picked the standard coffin smoother shape, others preferred the Moxon shape, there was one that was like a Moxon but had sides like a coffin smoother.  Rod chose a hybrid shape of his own design and Tom left his large and will decide later.  Everyone finished their planes on Sunday and got shavings.

Something happened during the workshop that was a first for me, I don’t know if anyone has ever taught a workshop when one of the students was on the phone to their booky?

Everyone seemed to have a good time and invited me back next year to teach another workshop, there is some discussion as to what they want me to teach, perhaps the double hacksaw, but probably a router plane, although there is also talk of a hammer veneer workshop.

They insisted that I be in a photograph, so here it is, I am the one in the middle wearing an apron, it is not a dress.  I had a great time and sold lots of books, I actually ran out of The Universal Receipt Book I brought and sold a dozen Hide Glue Books and several Shepherds’ Compleat Early Nineteenth Century Woodworker.

Now I am going to take a couple of days off and enjoy Reno.


November 9, 2009

Smoothing Plane Workshop

I am preparing and packing for my up coming trip to Reno, Nevada to teach a workshop for the Nevada WoodChucks this weekend.  It is a 3 day workshop, Friday, Saturday and part of a day Sunday.  There are 8 people signed up for the workshop and as it were I had to provide the blades and wood.  I was able to purchase the blades (Buck PL138) at a large box store for $4.20 each plus tax as they were on clearance, meaning they will no longer carry them.  Well I bought 7 blades and Tom Doud bought the only one in Reno, I will bring my own.

No 2 inch maple available in Reno, so Mike Moore of Mike Moore’s Custom Mills in Salt Lake City, donated enough 2 inch maple for the 8 planes.  Well 9 planes, as I will make one for myself.  We will be copying a 19th century English coffin smoother, with an option to make a Moxon Smoother, I have one I made as a sample.

I have made a coffin smoother before for a past president of the Nevada WoodChucks and it is a handy little smoothing plane.  The Moxon smoother that I made is one I use all the time, I like the shape but I think I will make myself a coffin smoother this time.

Looking forward to seeing old friends and my family, always a good trip by rail and a good time when I arrive.  I will post daily during the workshop, should be fun.


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’.


November 5, 2009

Holy deflagration…

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Publications,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:15 am

it is National Gunpowder Day today.  And in honor of the auspicious event here is a recipe for Gunpowder from The Universal Receipt Book, London 1824.

Be careful and enjoy.


November 3, 2009

Spinning Wheel repair and more

I should be finishing up this spinning wheel this week.  I have also been working on the mahogany bureau and it should also be done in a couple of days.

I finished the repairs on the wheel rim.  I made ‘Dutchman’s’ of some old wormy chestnut that I have and glued them in place with Hide Glue as well as Fish Glue.  A couple of the repairs were not dovetailed (therefore self clamping), so I glued those with Fish Glue which has a higher initial tack.

I trimmed the inside with a bronze spokeshave and the rest with a 1/4″ and 1/2″ chisel.  I then lightly sanded the repairs to take off the sharp edges.

I then gave the wheel a coat of shellac.  This seals the new work and makes the old look good and give me a final color to match.  The shellac seals the new wood allowing me to add pigmented shellac over to match.

And like most pieces it takes two coats of stain to get a match.  The first is a yellow brown color (yellow ocher & burnt umber), followed by a coat of burnt umber.  I will let these coats dry and do the final touch up the next day.  Then it is a matter of putting it all back together again.  Only thing left is the flyer repairs which I will start today.

When I got to the shop, Mike and Adam were attempting to move one end of this large edge belt sander.  They moved the one end out but the end with the motor wouldn’t budge.  So I lent a hand, well I went and got my block and tackle and rigged it up.  Once in place, Mike pulled on the appropriate rope and moved this behemoth into position.  He looked surprised at how easy it was.  Then he got to sanding some curved walnut drawer fronts, I had him leave the block and tackle so I could get a picture.  Nothing like a proper purchase, leverage and mechanical advantage.


Powered by WordPress