Full Chisel Blog

January 22, 2013

Basswood stick glue brush


A friend lent me an old book that had a section on Hide Glue that he thought I might be interested.  I read the part about making a glue brush from a piece of basswood.  I thought they meant the inner bark as illustrated in Hide Glue-Historical & Practical Applications illustrated below.

basswood brush1

But the book said a piece of basswood, so I thought I would rebuke this with a simple test.  I found a piece of basswood and using a small froe [made by Blacksmith Brian Westover] and split out a piece of wood so the grain would be straight.  I then used my coffin smoother and spokeshave to round the wood into a proper shape.

basswood glue stick1

Then according to directions ‘soak end in water for 2 to 3 days’, which I did replacing the water every day as some was soaked up by the basswood.  After 3 days I took the wet piece of basswood and with a hammer smashed the ends, the hardy-hole anvil worked great.  As I was pounding water was squirting out the ends, which I carefully removed from the hammer and anvil when finished.

basswood glue stick2

To my surprise it delaminated and turned fibrous much like the inner bark does when softened by dry pounding.  It hardens up when dry but softens again when soaked in water.  As it wears down new fibers can be made by soaking and pounding again.  Learn something new every day.


January 16, 2013

Boxwood and Slate

My Christmas gifts arrived

This year my family changed from the usual gift exchange in the spirit of giving to a you can steal someone else’s gift in the spirit of taking.  My objections were overruled and I decided to play my own game.  I bought a gift card from Lee Valley, so that no one else in my family would be interested.  After choosing lots [my comment about deciding who is to die in a survival situation, got some chuckles] I was number 4 to draw and chose my own gift.  My sister objected and I told her she couldn’t change the rules in the middle of this evil game.  Needless to say we will be going back to the regular gift exchange next year.

Cashing in on the free shipping offered by Lee Valley, I picked up several turned and threaded boxwood containers.  I could not even buy the wood locally to make these at this price, not including labor.  Great items and very well made.

boxwood containers

I tried to order a staple-less stapler, but for some reason they can mail them to an address in the US.  I wonder if they are considered as personal protection devices or the magazine is too big?  Strange.


I also purchased a piece of slate, had to order the middle size as they do not ship the large size for some reason.  I thought it would be flat on one side but it was split and had uneven surfaces.  I checked their website and that is what they listed.


I however wanted to use it for writing with chalk or soapstone so I needed to smooth the surface.  I started with a coarse file and float, then converted to a piece of industrial sanding belt that had grit the size of cracked pepper and got it flat.  I then used a card scraper to remove the scratch marks.  The scraper was great, I did have to resharpen it during the process, the slate was abrasive to the scraper.  [I do have a piece of English Slate sharpening stone and it is very hard].


January 13, 2013

Experimental Archaeology

Filed under: Historical Material,Moses T's,Of Interest,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 10:41 am


And I don’t even need a degree to call myself an Experimental Archaeologist.  I have even done some Experiential Archeology, but I won’t get into that now.  I even think I am going to add ‘Experimental Archaeologist’ to my business card.

This is an experiment I did with a formula from The Universal Receipt Book 1824 for cutler’s cement.

cutler's cement

When I asked for yellow potter’s clay at the local pottery supply house, the salesperson recommended kaolin pipe clay, the stuff they have is white but when a liquid is added it is yellow.  This was 1/2 teaspoon of iron filings to 3 teaspoons of kaolin pipe clay and enough Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish [75% linseed oil] to the consistency of putty.

cutler's cement1

I fastened two small carving gouges and an awl into maple handles.  I had tried hide glue, hot shellac, hot pitch, nothing worked they all eventually worked loose.  So far the gouges have performed admirably and the awl is very secure.  They have dried for 30 days before I tested and used them.  I did leave a sample to dry and the thin parts dried in a couple of weeks, thicker material took longer but did harden up.

cutler's cement3

Notice squeeze out

cutler's cement2






I am going to affix the wrought iron shaft of this mulling iron made by Master Blacksmith Mark Schramm to a curly maple handle.  The iron was etched with garlic.  This will be subject to repeated heating’s so I want to see how it holds up.

cutler's cement4

I also attached a handle to a jeweler’s saw, when I got the saw the handle was attached to the end of the adjustable part of the saw.  The handle has a basswood  shim to fill the large void.  I barbed the edges of the tang and etched it with a clove of garlic.

The kaolin pipe clay will act as a drying agent for the linseed oil in the cement as well as the filling material.  The iron filings also behave as a metallic dryer as well as providing mechanical entanglement for the cutler’s cement.


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.


January 9, 2013

Traditional tanged spokeshave blade, Special Sale

Filed under: For Sale or Trade,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 11:04 am


Traditional Tanged Spokeshave Blade

Traditional Tanged Spokeshave Blade

I have a number of traditional tanged spokeshave blades [large] from Master Blacksmith Mark Schramm for sale at a special reduced price of $25.00, regularly $36.00.  Six dollars shipping to US addresses, international shipping is also available at an additional $10.00 charge.

After a couple of recent workshop for the Nevada Woodchucks, I have several extra blades and am offering them at this low price until the surplus is exhausted.

Order Here.

Happy 2013!


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