Full Chisel Blog

March 27, 2013

Roubo Iron Bar Clamp

Well what do you know, it’s a Roubo!  Here is part of the page in Andre Roubo’s work from the 18th century.  Even shows the clamp extension which I first mentioned in Shepherds’ Compleat Early Nineteenth Century Woodworker originally published in 1981 and available in paperback here.

roubo clamp1

Here are the final iteration of the original with some ‘improvements’ made from the prototype.  Not really improvements more like matching the original as closely as possible.  These two are for the first order that has already been placed and shipped.

Roubo clamp

Slightly longer that the original prototype they just fit in a Medium Flat Rate postal shipping box.  The slight increase in length allows for 12″ between the jaws of the clamp.  The increase in the size of the short bar together with the increased size of the top tab makes loosening the clamp a breeze.

These clamps not only work great but look wonderful hanging on a shop wall.  You can purchase yours here.  Thanks to master blacksmith Mark Schramm for making these and redoing them until we got them right.



March 25, 2013

The CIRCLE Of The MECHANICAL ARTS, Thomas Martin 1813

Well it looks like Gary Roberts has done it again, bringing back for our enjoyment another traditional title from the nineteenth century.  Toolemera is offering this large volume of Thomas Martins opus on the trades.  You can order it here at a discount.


Weighing in at over 4 pounds it has many plates reproduced in color of the period.  I have just started to read this tome and it is fascinating.  The stuff on hardening and tempering is excellent as is the information on paint and turning is worth the price of the book.  I strongly recommend you add this to your bibliotech.


March 24, 2013

Card Scraper Wallet

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Scrapers,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 11:34 am

scraper wallet1I have been meaning to make one of these for a while.  I had recently admonished a friend for not having a wallet for his scrapers, then later realized I didn’t have one for my larger card scrapers.

I have one for my small set of Tombstone Scrapers out of some nice brown pig hair cell leather I picked up from the local leather supply store.   I also made a wallet for my graining combs.  This stuff is very durable, I have a tobacco wallet that has lasted very well, although I will need to repair some of the linen thread that has worn away.

scraper wallet2

I did the pattern with a piece of paper 8 1/2″ by 11″ then added another piece 4 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ to provide space for a half a dozen assorted card scrapers.  The goose-neck scraper determined the size of the center pocket.  I used a ponce wheel with 10 teeth per inch to layout the stitching spacing, using every other mark and an awl to make holes.  I had the awl backed up with a scrap piece of soft wood.  I temporarily clipped the leather together to insure good alignment before making the stitching holes.

scraper wallet3

Using waxed linen thread I double stitched with two needles, pulling the thread tight and pounding the thread flat as I progressed.  The stitching between the pockets is spaced every 3/8″ apart.  I cut out wedges of leather between the three flaps so they lay flat when closed.

It was a fun project that I should have done much earlier.  My appologies to Tom.



March 21, 2013

Dyeing Maple with Iron Buff

Iron buff is an interesting dye, the fact that the liquid is clear and can still instill a blue-grey color to hard maple and a green color to soft maple.  So it is also an indicator to determine if the maple [Acer spp.] is hard or soft.

Most folks say to place steel wool into vinegar.  The problem with steel wool is that it is covered with oil from manufacturing so I find it better to use iron filings [I save from saw sharpening] to make the solution known as ‘iron buff’.

I mixed up a small batch to stain the handle of a touch hole prick, also known as a vent pick, used to clean the touch hole of a flintlock rifle or smooth-bore.  A friend who is a blacksmith said he wanted me to make him one as he admired the one I had made several years ago using iron buff to color.  It has some age to it as can be seen in the photograph.

little prick

I will set the piano wire needle in the handle using Cutler’s Cement.  I first etch the end of the wire with garlic and as you can see the end also has some ‘upset’ marks on the shaft to help give the cement a key to improve the grip.  After it has cured for a week or so I will finish with Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish.

Everyone needs a little prick.


March 12, 2013

The Worlds simplest Bar Clamp

If there is a simpler bar clamp, I have never seen one as simple as this one.  I have wanted one of these clamps for a long time and now I have one.  Made of 1/2″ square mild steel it has a reach of 3 1/3″ and can hold up to 12″ between jaws, with an overall length of 17″ to fit in a Medium Flat Rate box for shipping.

bar clamp1

bar clamp2

The prototype in the photograph is slightly shorter, clamps for sale will be slightly  longer.  Made by Master Blacksmith Mark Schramm, it took a couple of variations of the short piece to get it looking like the old images of this clamp.

clamp extensions

With the addition of wooden clamp extensions [of any length] it can clamp very large panels, see illustration.  Simple to use, tighten or loosen with a wooden mallet or hammer.

I am offering these for sale in The Full Chisel Store.


March 11, 2013

Be Careful what you include in your pictures, Full Gnomon Disclosure

Filed under: Documentation,For Sale or Trade,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:25 am

I recently put an item on an auction site and as usual I included in the photograph of the item my gnomon for scale.  Six inch long piece of holly with ebony 1″ squares.

coffee roaster1This is not the item but it is the gnomon in question.  As it happened a fellow purchased the item, sent me an email he was happy with what he got and told me to wrap the item and gnomon and ship it off.

I sent him an email explaining that the gnomon was not for sale that I include it in every photograph.  He sent me a quote from my offering ‘…Gnomon 6″ with 1″ squares.’   I can see the misunderstanding and it is entirely my fault.

So everything is good now, but from now on I will include the gnomon disclaimer, “Gnomon 6″, 1″ squares, for scale only NFS”.  My mistake.


March 8, 2013

Shepherds’ Compleat Early Nineteenth Century Woodworker, Hide Glue – Historical & Practical Applications, and Shellac, Linseed Oil, & Paint – Traditional 19th Century Woodwork Finishes, three book special

I am now offering my first 3 books together to save over $12.00 Domestic Shipping and save over $20.00 on International Shipping.

three books

You can order Here.


March 3, 2013

30 day e-pox-ee or traditional Cutler’s Cement


As many of you know, and all of you should, that I don’t use modern things when it comes to doing traditional woodworking.  I don’t like modern white or yellow glues as their manufacture is extremely dangerous, highly polluting and based on petroleum distillates.  Same with modern poly glues and plastic finishes, I have no use for them.  They are just inappropriate for what I do.

What I was missing was the equivalent of e-pox-ee, the word does not even come out of my mouth, but I needed a permanent adhesive for chisel handles and for attaching wooden handles onto metal objects.  I did some experimental archeology and recreated the 1824 Cutler’s Cement from the Universal Receipt Book that I reprinted.

Well the stuff works great with only one drawback and that is its incredibly long drying time.  It does take at least 30 days for the stuff to completely cure and that is even helped along with keeping the newly ‘glued’ pieces near a heat source to aid in the drying and curing of the cement.  I also live in an arid mountain desert with low humidity.

I went with the exact formula on this batch, carefully measuring out the two main ingredients then adding just enough linseed oil [in the form of Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish, which is high in linseed oil with a bit of turpentine, gums and resins, etc.], to make a very thick paste.

small eating knife

small eating knife2

On a small German [F. Herder, Solingen] eating knife with a beech handle, I first etched the metal tang with a fresh cut clove of garlic, then pushed the thick past down the hole of the handle and checked it until it was pushing excess back out the hole.  I cleaned off the squeeze out and set it aside to dry.

small eating knife4

small eating knife3

After about a week I noticed that the oil had soaked through the beech wood handle in two places near the blade.  To my surprise the oil had not traveled with the grain of the wood but it migrated along the medullary rays, through the grain or growth rings.  I found that astonishing as I assumed the oil would flow along a ring rather than through the annual growth ring.

After a few more weeks the blade was securely held in the handle and I raised the grain and allowed it to dry.  I lightly sanded the beech, applied some Moses T’s Reviver [a lean oil] and some burnt umber dry powdered pigment.  I wiped off the excess and allowed it to dry for a couple of days, followed by a couple of coats of Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish [a fat oil].

small eating knife5

This knife has been used, soaked twice and washed with soap and water over a dozen times.  Blade is held securely.

The other items, brazier handle ferrules, saw handle, awl, chisels, etc., have all dried for the required time and all are very secure.  So now I have my appropriate, traditional adhesive that is waterproof, heat resistant, all natural, safe to make and use, and not a permanent inflexible dangerous petrochemical plastic.



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