Full Chisel Blog

November 30, 2010

Bird Feeder

Filed under: Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 10:21 am

I started feeding the birds about two weeks ago.  I was just spreading the seeds out on the two tree stumps in my front yard and a friend gave me an old plastic feeder that was too small for their needs.  It holds about two pounds of seeds and is too small and then it is made out of plastic.  So when I get an opportunity I will build one of wood.

I have attracted sparrows, towhees, grosbeaks, chickadees, finches and even morning doves.  The dove and most of the other 50 or so birds feed on the ground under the feeder.  Birds are messy eaters but do pick up after themselves and are happy, most of the time.

I have also attracted a peregrin falcon that also seems to enjoy the arrangement.  The fence rail must be cold as the falcon is standing on one foot.

Gives a new meaning to the term ‘Bird Feeder’

Also have some other critters, squirrels, skunks and raccoons.


November 29, 2010

Anyone Read Hebrew?

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:35 am

At the local swap meet yesterday, I picked up a few items; a stamped ‘1 quart liquid’ tin pitcher, a fancy roster nutcracker, some Army Engineer’s Brass Buttons [not sure of the age yet] and a silver tea caddy?

I spotted this at a vendor whom I have never dealt with, mostly modern stuff, but this caught my eye.  At first I thought there was something sitting on top.  When I got closer I saw that it was a raised cupola or turret that was pierced with Hebrew writing.

This is on the front:

This is on the reverse:

I have no idea what the purpose of this is and am hoping that someone may shed some light on the subject.  They were asking $12.00, but I had to beat them up on the price and got it for ten dollars.  It weighs 14.5 troy ounces and is marked 925 Sterling.  It passed the acid test and is sterling silver.  Lets see at the current price of silver, I did alright.


November 26, 2010

Tree Nuts

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Trees,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:50 am


Almond – Prunus spp. ripe fruit of various species, sweet flavor with 50% fixed oil and a shell that is easy to crack.

Black Walnut – Juglens nigra, this is a small nut, compared to English walnuts, but packs a wonderful intense flavor from mainly fixed and some volatile oils.  The shell is difficult to crack without destroying the nut meats and requires a nut pick to retrieve all of the tasty bits.

Brazil nut – (Bertholletia excelsa) named after a wood ‘Brazil’, but not Brazilwood, is usually considered the hardest nut to crack but if placed properly in a nutcracker it is possible to retrieve the tasty oily nut whole.  Pound for pound Brazil nuts are the most fattening food on earth.

Butternut – Juglens cinerea, I have only had the opportunity to taste this fine nut a couple of times as it is not commercially available where I live.  It has both fixed and volatile oils and gets its name from the creamy taste it leaves in your mouth.

Cashew – of the Anacardium family, this imported nut is available either ‘raw’ or roasted, because of nasty alkaloids, Urushi, related to poison ivy, poison sumac, etc. the nuts are boiled first to remove them, then sold as raw.

English Walnut – Juglens regia, this is the classic walnut most of us eat and cook with.  Has a bit of a bitter taste with fixed and volatile oils and tannin.  I believe the walnut was designed improperly as it should crack open at 90° to the seam between the nut halves.  If you crack the nuts in that direction the entire meat section comes out in one or two pieces.

Hazelnut – Corylus spp. undoubtedly my favorite nut, I enjoy cracking the nuts open and enjoying its great flavor.  My naughty brass nut cracker does an extraordinary job at precisely cracking the cob nut or filbert while saving the nut whole.  Oddly enough I don’t like anything hazelnut flavored.

Hickory nut – Carya spp. another nut that I have only had a couple of times.  By far the tastiest nut I have ever eaten and one of the most difficult to extract the meat.  The shells are very hard and requires work to get to the good stuff.  A nut pick is a must for this tasty petite morsel.

Macadamia nut – Macadamia integrifolia probably the most expensive nut, it has a rich flavor but I think they are a bit mealy.  I have never seen this nut in the shell, but have heard they are difficult to crack as well.  Some species are inedible or poisonous.

Pistachio – Pistacia vera, you don’t need a nutcracker for this treat, the cooking process conveniently splits the shell allowing easy extraction of this green nut.  What would spumoni be without pasticcios?

Pecan – Carya spp. related to hickory in name only [well the wood marketed as hickory is either hickory or pecan].  Pronounced with a long or short ‘a’ depending where you are from the shell of this nut couldn’t be more different from its sister the hickory nut.  Easy to crack and delicious baked into pies.

Pine nut – pushing the boundary of nuts the ‘seed’ from the Pinus edulis are available fresh in the fall during harvest, but popular in cooking it is now available year round.  I love cracking open the shells getting pine pitch all over my hands, closest thing to eating wood.


November 23, 2010

TRADE – Stanley No. 289 for Wooden Moving Filister Plane

I own a Stanley No. 289 with an original fence and most of its japanning.  There is a chip on the corner of the cap iron,  but the plane still works well. 

I would like to trade it for a wooden Moving Filister plane in good to excellent condition [or better].  I would accept either American or English manufacture.

The Stanley is worth a good amount of money especially with its original webbed fence.  Wooden Moving Filister planes are fairly common, so I think it would be a good trade for everyone involved.

Send me an email


November 16, 2010

The Importance of Washing your Hands before applying Oil Finishes

Filed under: Finishing,Of Interest,Techniques,Uncategorized,Wood — Stephen Shepherd @ 12:56 pm

First, let me relate a story; someone asked me how to clean grease and grime from their hands without using any petrochemicals?  Simple; vegetable oil [that you cook with and eat] and salt [which you also cook with and eat].  Just pour into your hands some oil which acts as a solvent, and the salt, which cannot dissolve in oil, acts as an abrasive to help scrub out the dirt, grease, grime, stains, varnish, paint, etc.  Then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the organic cleaning compound.

And as a side note, while in Reno teaching the Painting and Graining workshop, I had to wash the sticky varnish from my hands with mineral spirits [petro chemical], as they didn’t have any turpentine, which I use from time to time to clean my hands.  Well the next day both of my hands were swollen and the skin obviously irritated.  I can only attribute it to using paint thinner.

Now to the point.  It is always a good idea to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and hot water to remove any surface dirt.  You can also first clean them using the oil/salt method above followed by washing with soap and water.  And the reason you might ask, or is now obvious, oils are great solvents.  Oils such as linseed/flaxseed oil, poppy seed oil, hemp seed oil and walnut oils are all drying oils and solvents.  These oils lend themselves to being applied by hand and if your hands are dirty, the oil will clean them and deposit the dirt into the wood.  On dark colored woods this isn’t much of a problem, but when oil finishing light colored woods such as maple, birch, poplar, holly, sycamore, deal, basswood, etc., dirty oil will color the wood.

Try the oil and salt [organic cleaning compound] trick, you will be surprised.


November 13, 2010

Cheese Saw

And this saw blade has Zero (0) teeth per inch.  Inspired by an artifact, this is a reproduction of an early cheese slicer.  On the original only the iron frame was extant, the wire and handle were missing.  I needed a cheese knife/slicer/saw, so I asked Mr. Schramm, Master Blacksmith to make one up.  And he made three, two of which I still have to handle.

I would normally make up all three at once, but I needed one for my kitchen so I went ahead and handled one up for myself.  I have several square tapered curly maple handle blanks, so I just grabbed one, marked the center and using a 1/4″ gimblet bit drilled a hole to the desired depth.  Then using a small 1/8″ chisel I worried the hole to a square taper.  I also used a 1/4″ chisel to flatten the inside cheeks then a small square file to finish up.

After I fit the handle, I used a small cold chisel to upset some barbs on the corners of the tapered tang.  I then gave the handle a coat of Hemp Seed Oil before driving the handle onto the tang.  At last something to do with all my piano wire.  I put the iron frame in a clamp and compressed it while I twisted the ends of the piano wire.  When I removed the clamp, the wire went taught.  When plucked I believe it is R sharp.

And it works on some hard Parmesan cheese.

Now it is on to handle the others and make a handle for that spatula as well.


November 11, 2010

I Saved a Pine Tree

Filed under: Of Interest,Trees,Wood — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:35 am


On a recent trip to Reno, Nevada, while staying with my niece and nephew I noticed that a large pine tree [not a fir, spruce or larch] in their front yard was being girdled by a chain.  The chain had been put around the tree a couple years back and it is where they secured the dogs when they were out in the front yard.  I pulled on the chain and it was stuck solid.  My nephew and great nephew wheeled out the compressor and with an angle grinder cut a link then managed to remove the chain from around the tree with considerable effort.  The tree will survive.

And it got me thinking about my tree deficit.   How many trees have I used up in my career compared to how many trees I have planted?  Being a woodworker, I use wood and that does grow on trees, so how many have I used?

If I count the wood that I ‘worked’ while working for other people, during my apprenticeship as well as the other ‘cabinet shops’ where I have worked, the amount of wood I have ‘used’ would be nearly impossible to calculate.  Tens of thousands of board feet I am sure, but because I was working for someone else, they can have the lumber deficit; it will be on their ledger not mine.

In the late 1990’s, I planted 50 redwood trees and about 30 other trees on Orcas Island in Puget Sound in Washington state.  I assume most of them will grow to maturity.  I have also planted about 2 dozen trees of various sorts on my own in various places around Utah.  So if they all grow to maturity I am sure that my tree/lumber deficit will be augmented and my ledger should be on the positive side.

I calculate that I have used up about two very large pine trees in my personal woodworking as much of my work is repair work requiring insignificant amounts of wood.

How many have you used and what is your tree:lumber number?


November 10, 2010


Filed under: Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:06 am

I have on occasion got a nut of one sort of another with two nuts in one shell.  I got these hazelnuts in with some mixed nuts in the shell.

This one is a double nut and shell.

And naturally one nut is bigger than the other.  And as usual one hangs lower than the other.

What, they grow on trees?


November 8, 2010

Early style spokeshave

The handles on late 18th early 19th century wooden spokeshaves are a little more utilitarian than those on later models.  Later versions have thinner handles that flair out on the ends and I must admit look quite attractive.  But most of the early styles the handles are straighter with not much attempt to embellish.

The upper spokeshave I have had and used for several years.  A friend made it for me as a joke after I showed him my little bronze spokeshaves.  I made a dogwood handle and as you can see by the wear, it has been well used.  I showed some traditional spokeshave blades to Mark Schramm, Master Blacksmith, in order for him to reproduce them.

The first one he made and delivered this weekend and I couldn’t resist making a handle for it and put it to use.  I selected curly maple and made it thicker to raise the handles up a bit, helps in close work.  A coat of linseed oil/turpentine last evening and here it is.

The 1831 penny is there for scale [it is 1 1/8″ in diameter], and yes I am a Copperhead Democrat.  The traditional tangs are friction fit into small square holes that I worried through the wood.


I sharpened the blade with a fine file then honed it on a soft Arkansas stone then a leather strop.  It cuts beautifully with its extremely low angle blade.


November 4, 2010

Give Garlic a Whorl

So much more than a culinary delight.  As some of you may know I am an advocate of using Garlic [Allium spp.] for etching metal prior to gluing with animal hide glue.  I have also discovered its use in traditional varnish and painting techniques that will be in my next book.  The garlic contains a couple of acids, the ones that make your eyes water, that will etch metal and other smooth materials to provide a key for the glue to bond.  Works great on oily exotic woods as well.

I am just finishing up the curly maple spinning wheel and have finished the pitman and finally finished the whorl.  I took a clove of garlic and pushed each of the bent wire hooks into the bulb, then dipped into fish hide glue and pushed them into position.  Took a while to remove each one, plunge it into the garlic, dip it into the glue and push it back into position and align it to dry in the proper position.

I discarded the perforated clove into the compost pile, wiped off the excess glue and have set it aside to dry.  I will assemble the wheel tomorrow and it will be finished at last.


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