Fair Woodworking

April 22, 2018

Lathe Free or Die. The Making of a Folding Camp Stool.

Filed under: Favorites,Skill development,Things I've made — fairwoodworking @ 8:05 pm

And there you have it. It’s just that easy…

But let’s back up a little bit.

This all started quite a while ago. Having just finished a second Nicholson bench that I finally decided to add a toothed plane stop, and quickly discovered that it is by far better than any plane stop I’d ever seen or used before.

It got me thinking. Nay wondering about all the things I might be able to do that I’d found rather tricky with my old plane stops.

It started out as just a leg. How could you make an octagon leg look a little more distinctive?

Distinctive yes, but rounding consistently on 8 sides and then mirroring it again on the other side is tough, and the octagon really shows inconsistencies!

Still tricky, but if you pare in straight lines, it’s a lot easier, although at this point, it was clear I needed a lot more practice at a skill that can be a little tedious. I think it was around this time that the idea of actually making a camp stool had come to life.

Having completed this foot I’d pretty much given up on perfection, and decided to move onto production, but thankfully through some gentle critique of people I respect, I was reminded that I should expect better from myself.

Later that night, I tweaked that last leg a little and felt a bit better about it. That was the boost I needed. It wasn’t there, and frankly “there” is probably beyond my reach, but it was an improvement.

Over the next couple of days I got a new design in my mind, I wasn’t overly hopeful about it, but I figured I’d give it a try.

I got a little distracted on the bottom trying some other late idea, but I liked the original idea. It’s good to feel good about a design. It’s not perfect, but for a guy that does not excel at design, we’re going to call this a win!

Next problem…  This sweet Lee Valley hardware was designed for a round leg.

A lathe makes all this easy, but this had become an exposé against our dependency on lathes in woodworking. Careful chisel work made for a nicely rounded area on three points, but not affecting the forth. Take that Lathes!!!

With a wee bit of confidence under my belt, it was time to dip into the project wood.

Side note. I guess you could say that’s kinda like some live edge slab, and no epoxy in site!

Obligatory gratuitous walnut end grain shaving shot…

I cut the blanks over size so I could cut them to size minimizing the grain run out.

It had been a while since I’d worked with walnut. What a great wood!

Remember the plane stop? It makes this simple jig work amazingly.

So here is the most difficult part of making these legs. Getting the first side right sets the whole leg up. When you want three legs the same, you want to get this step done on all three so you can ensure that they all match.

Obligatory gratuitous grain closeup shot…

The process is a long one. It’s faster to do as much as you can with a chisel, but at some point you need to incorporate a plane to flatten things out.

Not flat…

What a happy day it was when this most technical and painstakingly difficult step was done.

So what happens when you don’t own a drill press?

You find a way.

We don’t need no stinking drill press.

My reward for some drilling well done was some easy paring to finish the feet.

Pixie Feet.

The basics of the leather work is pretty simple. Make a template.

Cut it out. One thing I learned too late was, cut with the knife 90 degrees to the template. Don’t tilt. You’ll understand the first time you try it.

There are templates for all this stuff if you take the time to search them out. I decided to just figure it out for myself. My one tip for this is that I think I’d have preferred the holes a little further from the edge. That way I would have had a little more material to trim the edges flush. Again, I’m sure you will see what I mean on your first try.

Dyeing the leather was pretty uneventful. This was my practice piece.

The rivets weren’t too bad either. The rivet setter had a burr rounder, but it was so rough I decided to try my hand at peening them by hand. Having a nicely polished hammer head makes for a cleaner finished product. More practice would make for a better finished product.

I used my card scraper burnisher to burnish the edges. Not the right tool, but it did ok.




It even passed the stress test.

If you’ve ever thought about making one of these you should. With a simple octagon leg you could bang one out in a day or two if you are a fast worker. This whole process however, along with all the practice pieces, was more like 4 months.





June 7, 2017

From Crate, to School Box, to a Chest of Drawers. 178 Years Later.

Filed under: Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog,Things I've made — fairwoodworking @ 7:08 pm

“In 1839, an English publisher issued a small book on woodworking…”

In 2009, an American publisher re-issued a small book on woodworking that had recently been discovered by Joel Moskowitz.

The identity of the original writer is unknown, anonymous if you will, and a kindred spirit to this blog I’d like to think, although it’s a much more valuable resource on the topic of woodworking.

The book is called The Joiner & Cabinet Maker, and its three projects have been an underlying part of this blog, literally since just shy of its inception. It tells the story of a young boy named Thomas as he enters into apprenticeship in a rural English shop. When you read of my thoughts that question if I’m anything more than a mid-level apprentice, chances are I’ve been reviewing some part of the book, and let’s face it, The Champ needs a good dose of reality from time to time to keep his ego in check.

Anyways, over the past 5 years, I’d decided to make these three projects to see what I could learn from them.

The first project was the Packing Crate.


I should mention a dilemma that anyone that has done these projects has to face. Sourcing out the building material known in the book as “deal”.  There have been many discussions as to what type of wood this is, and I’m sure in the end, it was correctly identified, but the long and the short of it was that neither your local lumber yard nor your local Home Depot is going to have what Young Thomas would have known as Deal. And so in the interest of historical accuracy, I did what any self respecting woodworker should do. I went shopping for some really nice dimensional lumber. Call me a bottom feeder if you want, but like many of us, my very first woodworking projects were made with the off-cuts from local constructions sites, but over the years, I’ve learned much on harvesting some very usable wood out of some of the worst of trees.

The second project is the School Box.


Neither of these projects were difficult at the time I built them. I’d been cutting dovetails for a while at this point, and who doesn’t know how to drive a nail into softwood? What I did discover in both cases is that using nails correctly is much more than just trying not to miss the nail with the hammer. These days, nails are associated with cheap work. Back then nails were expensive and not to be wasted.  If you have never tried these two projects, you probably don’t know how badly you need to learn what they teach.

The third project took a while to get to as a Chest of Drawers is somewhat large in size, and at the time we really had no need for more drawers. Then came some work instability, and the discovery that we could very well be facing a move to the other side of the country. The result was a 3 year hiatus from the book to uproot, move, and then set up shop again.

Part of a big move is liquidating anything large that you don’t absolutely need to keep, but somehow once we got here,  we still didn’t really need another set of drawers. Then I bought one of my larger tools, and for the sake of my back, I needed a mobile place to store it.

Something that could hold my 90 lb thickness planer that could also store some lesser used tools?

Like a set of drawers?


This was the first piece that turned me on to the idea that everything in a small shop should be on casters.

And so this…


Became this.

And this.

Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself. Remember how I said that I was using dimensional lumber to build these projects?

You start by repeated visits to the lumber store. You hunt through the 2×12 piles, then the 2×10 piles. Then you go back to the 2×12, and an hour later, hopefully, you are standing in line with a board or two of promising material.

When you get home, you start with removing the pith.

Then you cut the boards to length. What length is that? Well… From one unusable knot to the next. The local lumber is very knotty spruce and hardly ideal for the application, but hey! Who doesn’t love such a great way to suffer? Essentially, at this point I’m not cutting to a cut list, I’m getting maximum yield, letting it dry, and seeing what I have to work with. As you can see above, the usable boards are not very wide  (4 to 6 inches). When the cabinet depth is over 20″, almost everything in this project had to be made by laminating multiples to width. The longer boards were used right away for the carcass, the shorter were saved for drawers, drawer bottoms, dust covers and such.

Now would be a good time to head back to the lumber store. (again, and again, and again)

There were piles of it.


The truth is, this is not at all how the drawers were in the book. This is not a dresser, it’s shop furniture. In the book the three lowest drawers are the full width, only the top is split into two. Because of the weight I expected this to hold and the weakness of the building material, I chose to split all the drawers with a full center stile.

I should say right now, I’m not much of a furniture guy. By that I mean, I have never really paid much attention to either furniture style or how it was made. Although I was absolutely competent in any of the tasks necessary for this project, I quickly discovered that I didn’t always know what task I should be doing.

The design change of adding a center stile made me rethink the entire makeup of how to lay out the pieces that would finally complete as functional drawer runners. Do you look at it as two separate sets of drawers and run six  shorter divisions that just run into the center stile? Or do you stick with three and notch out the center stile. Or do you notch both out so as much of the weight of the drawers as possible is transferred to the center? I went with option number 3.

I saved the very best of the longest pieces to build the back.

I’d never heard of a frame and panel for a back, but it gave an opportunity to pretty up the one side that would only rarely be seen.

I even got some sweet pyramid head screws to secure it.

Unfortunately, much of my efforts to give it some pop…

Just made it look like a big old bum in a black thong, and a little bit of a muffin top to keep it classy. I went through great effort to first off, color match the two panels, and then avoid getting paint on them, just to paint them black in the end.

I had some fun chamfering the top.

I’d never done any piece that large before. That was a challenge.

By this point my piles of smaller pieces for drawers were getting out of control.


Each board was then resawn, and acclimatized, re-flattened, and pre dimensioned.

Thankfully, I now had extra storage for pieces as they were earmarked for specific parts.

The durability for the drawers was another challenge. Spruce is soft, and both the runners and the drawers themselves could end up failing quickly if there was much weight in them. Switching to oak for the runners was easy enough.

Laminating a strip of oak to the bottoms of the drawer sides was another minor design change.


And then Dovetails,



As I said before, I’m not a furniture guy. This project really opened my eyes to what all these skills I’d been accumulating were actually for.


And that my friends is how you build a chest of drawers in just under 2 years.

September 10, 2016

The Man in the Mirror

Short story, I’m a lame techno geek, and I’m too easily obsessed with things that probably were intended to just be fun.

See? That wasn’t so painful?

Ok. Long story?

Hand tool skill is the culmination of many finer, smaller skills that can really be a trick to pull together. As a beginner I was just happy if I didn’t cut myself. As you improve, your internal skill monologue grows, and good motions are obvious in a sea of bad motions. That is if you can remove yourself from the task at hand and watch yourself working. Unfortunately, that level of self awareness is pretty much impossible so you really only have two options. Get someone as skilled as you or better to watch you work, or film yourself with your handy digital camera as God intended.

For the past week I’ve been practicing cutting fast dovetails to compete in the Handtool Olympics at the upcoming Popular Woodworking in America, and I’ve found right off the bat it was less about working fast as it was removing every best practice that was not absolutely necessary.


No Marking gauge

No dividers

No Dovetail markers

Marking knives are a no, and…

My beloved shallow rebate on the back of the tails?


Heck! Tails first is even out the window since I’m pretty sure pins first is faster.

All I’m left with is a Dovetail saw (no crosscut saw), a fret saw, one chisel, a pencil and a mallet.

I feel like such a minimalist!!!

Once I got comfortable, I was sure I could be faster, so I tried to work quicker, and wouldn’t you know it? My times got slower… How could that be?

What I’m coming to realize is that speed is not about rushing so much as it is about removing the slow bits. The hesitations, the missteps. When you make a mistake or are inefficient with your movements the penalty is wasted time, and possibly the need to fix a mistake.

So I got out my camera and shot this little video. It’s pretty easy to see where I’m loosing time.

How I handle the wood, keeping track of what side is the inside, and what is the show side. – If you always place each piece down exactly how you will need it, you don’t have to rearrange later.

Hesitations and lurches with the saw. – I’d thought my sawing skills were pretty solid, and they aren’t really that bad, but it still isn’t a true extension of my arm.

Transferring the pins to the tails. – What a mess, I really need to relax at this point.

How I handle the chisel. – I’m actually pretty happy with it. I feel I’ve really improved in that part although I totally blasted past the base line on one spot of the tail board.

Anyways, feel free to have a look and see if you can pick out some of the flaws in my actions, then chuckle to yourself when you see that I split the pin board.

Ah well. It happens some times.

Who would have thought I’d have so much fun practicing?


If you want to see how the pros do it, watch Mike Siemsen go head to head with Frank Klausz.

February 25, 2016

Hey you kids! Get off my airspace!

When I started this blog some 4 and a bit years ago, it was all about me. I started it to fulfill a need to document my journey in woodworking.

My blog, about me, for my sake.

Me, me, me, me, me.

Over the years, I’ll admit that I’ve gotten a little distracted with petty man crushes, sharing what I’ve learned, and the promotion of getting out there and meeting other woodworkers.

For this I am very sorry.

I meant no harm in it all, but in truth, I must admit I have strayed from my sacred task.

I forgot who the most important woodworker in my life was.

That woodworker is me, and so I owe myself one very sincere apology.

So let me return to the golden era of fairwoodworking where I was content to post what ever tickled my fancy, not for the good of mankind, but for my sake. So that in the years to come when I lack the strength to work in my shop, I can still look back and marvel at how truly brilliant I really am. “What a fine lad”, I’ll say as I struggle to impress an uninterested nurse.

Those will be good days.

It hasn’t happened for a while, but every now and then I get the urge to make a video. Lately it hasn’t so much been videos, but honest to goodness feature films. Unfortunately, I had no script or even a worthwhile story line.


I did however stumble onto some really great soundtrack sounding music, and I have a video camera, so how could this go wrong?

What ever could go right while chopping out the waste from half blind dovetails?

How can that be interesting?

What can you learn from watching my video nay Feature Film?

Don’t care!

This is my blog, and I’ll make videos of what I want.


September 12, 2015

Naked or afraid. What Nicholson bench is right for you.

Filed under: Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog,Things I've made — fairwoodworking @ 11:26 am


It’s funny to me how I’ll be working on a topic that I feel is not the topic of the month, and then before I get to it someone beats me to the punch. Some may call it coincidence, but it seems it’s just my life.

So now that the Nicholson bench has returned to the public eye, let us quietly proceed…

If you are not familiar with these two designs CLICK HERE and read up on Chris’ blog.

Last year about this time I was just days from taking possession of our new (to us) home, and I was mentally preparing for my new workshop. I had already chosen the “Naked” Nicholson bench as my future bench, but over the next few months it turned out that I had switched over to what most people call the KD Nicholson. I’ve discussed the two benches with a number of woodworkers from beginner to experienced, and found that there is a strong preference to the KD vs. “Naked”, and so you may assume that I also feel that the KD Nicholson is the superior design.



I think comparing these two, or any other benches for superiority is an un-fruitful venture, and as with most things, cost/benefit will get you a superior fit in your shop.

For those that have not watched the Naked Woodworker DVD, it is targeted at woodworkers that either have never woodworked, or are very new to woodworking. That being said, I’d recommend it any woodworker that is man/woman enough to admit that they don’t know everything. It starts with a DVD on acquiring a beginner set of tools, and enough on their setup to take on the bench build. The second DVD is proof that yes you can build a bench without a bench.

So could a DAY ONE woodworker build this bench? Honestly? I really don’t think so. And wisely the first project on the DVD is not the bench. First the beginner is tasked with building two saw horses that you will build the bench on. These are not the simplest of design, but they are a good place to cut your woodworking teeth. If you can build the saw horses, you can build the bench. It will be rough, and snobby woodworkers will turn their noses at it, but unlike most beginners, you will have a functional workbench.

The biggest criticism I’ve heard about this design is that it seems like a backwoods hack job of a bench. If you are one of those that would agree, I’d humbly suggest you may have a little “snobby woodworker” in your blood, and you completely missed the point of the DVD. So let me restate it.

Any Frickin’ woodworker can build this bench! No bench required, and really, no experience required. Show me any, ANY other design that can make that claim, and is useful. No? I thought so.  It removes one of the biggest catch 22’s of woodworking. So if you still turn your nose at this design… Lose my number!

So why would I chose the KD bench over a bench I’ve so aggressively defended?

Obviously because anything knock down is awesome, and I also have a serious man crush.

While both of those are true, the real reason is, I discovered that the doorway of my shop is really small, and it opens to a very narrow hallway. Just getting the lumber into my shop was a real eye opener. Once built, the Naked bench could never leave the shop without being completely destroyed, and that one point is what made me change.

I’m really looking forward to the new article on the KD bench. I have no idea what all it will cover, so I’ll offer my thoughts that are entirely my own.

The KD design is fantastic, but I don’t believe it should be attempted alone by a beginner with a handful of flee market tools and two 5 gallon buckets. Unlike the Naked bench, I think that a critical part of sturdy collapsible anything is precise tight fitting connection points, and many collapsible bench designs have failed at this requirement. As I mentioned before, the strength of the Naked design is that it can be build with the slop of a beginners inexperience, and still work well.

My initial goal in this build was to simply build a KD bench using the “Naked” method, and quickly discovered that Rough dimensional lumber no matter how precisely cut, still lacked the accuracy the bench required.

Have you ever tried to dimension bench parts by hand on a roughly built saw bench?


I have…

It was the final straw that brought me to this point.


If only I could fit a jointer into the shop. Not likely…

So what am I saying?

The Naked bench is accessible to all. Additional skill and power tools would make it better, but are not necessary. If nothing else, it is the perfect bench to build “your” perfect bench.

The KD Bench is also a great bench, however is no less miserable to build than most other benches without a proper bench to build it on, or your typical table saw, jointer and thickness planer to handle the dimensioning it will require.

Or both.


One last thing before I go.

If you are looking to build the KD bench you may have read about Chris’ challenge with mounting plates. He started with some cheapo inserts that failed. This was all an attempt to avoid using Tee-nuts. The complaint being that as the wood dries, they lose their hold, and will fall out when you collapse the bench. I know that some people (like me) would prefer to avoid ordering in hardware. I’m old fashioned, and believe that the only mail order you should invest in should also include a Russian marriage license.

What I’ve tried is just the good old pronged Tee-nuts but I also added some exterior grade caulking.


Quad by LePage is super thick and is a real pain in the butt to remove after it has cured. This is very different stuff from what you would use to caulk your tub. You only want to apply it on the perimeter of the nut mind you. It would suck if you got it on the threads or in the hole, so don’t do that!

I don’t know if it will solve the problem, but I’m hopeful.

July 6, 2015

Dutch Tool Chest One Year Later

Filed under: Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog,Favorite tools,Things I've made — fairwoodworking @ 1:08 am

One thing I can’t really stand is the opinion of someone based on their first impressions because how I expect something to function for me can be way, way different from how it will actually function.

What I’m saying is, Love at first sight can easily fall prey to the seven-year itch, and it’s interesting how expectations are tempered by the test of time.

So lets compare today versus what I had as expectations last year. You can read about them HERE.

One year ago today I was taking a class in Warren Maine building what was to be my second Dutch Tool chest, having just finished building my first DTC to house the tools I needed to bring to said class.

IMG_20140705_175213 copy

I really didn’t need or want a second chest, but it was a great opportunity to take a class taught by my #1 man crush in the red shirt. In the end I decided that if one DTC is good, two would be better since I seem to be a minimalist with a hording disorder.

So 1 year later, how are things going?

One of my big requirements for a chest was portability. Not moveability from one corner of the shop to the other, but out of the shop, up the stairs down the hall, out the door, up the driveway, and into my truck. Then from my truck, across the parking lot (in the rain) up the stairs, and into my hotel room. The following morning, back down to the truck, across another parking lot, through the door, up the stairs, snake my way through a bunch of sweet Lie-Nielsen benches to the furthest corner (what was I thinking). All to be repeated two days later in reverse.



Splitting the chest into two pieces was a very good call. If you are reading this post and considering building a DTC, build it in two pieces. An additional benefit of this small design change is the ability to grab just the top part for a quick visit to a friend’s house or a day class. The top half is easily capable of holding enough tools to keep you busy for a day.

But here is the down side. Just because a tool chest is capable of containing a large quantity of tools, does not mean it’s nice to work out of. A chest packed full of tools quickly begins to feel more like the kitchen junk drawer we had as a kid. If I have to pull 5 things out to be able to see the tool I want, I will quickly become frustrated, but we will get to that later.

Last year I praised the design of the lower shelves, and mocked the sloping lid of the upper half, and it all seemed well founded. Boy was I wrong. Well, to a point.

When we all first were introduced to the “Anarchist” tool chest, one of the most common negative observations was that nobody in their right mind would be happy stooping down to reach into the bottom of the chest. The thing is, before stooping down, you can look directly down at the tool you are after, and then with one hand resting on the side of the chest, reach down with the other hand and grab the tool. With the shelves of the DTC, you must stoop down just to see some tools, and there is no place to lean against as you do it. Often times to look into the very back of the bottom shelf I find myself down on my knees. That was not the plan…

On the other hand, the upper part with its ridiculous slopping lid has been a very pleasant surprise. The ability to look down at my tools is wonderful, but I have to admit the top access has actually turned me more and more on to the English style chest with sliding tills. Trouble is, tills add weight, and weight lowers portability.

Well shortly after my trip to Lie-Nielsen, I was faced with the challenge of moving my entire home over 5,500 km (3,400 mi) across the country. This was a great test on how the chest packed into a truck with a whole mess of other prized possessions. Did I mention that the DTC has a sloping top? I have to admit, I found it challenging to say the least to pack efficiently around this heavy chest with a stupid sloping top. The Dutch Tool Chest does not play well with others…

So let’s get back to the whole capacity thing. When I look at an open space in a tool chest, I just can’t help but want to try to fit another tool in there, you know, Tetris style, but then to access many of the tools, you nearly have to empty the entire chest, leaving your bench covered in tools. When you cut back the number of tools in the chest to the point that you can grab any tool without having to lift any other tools, the chest looks barren and under utilized. Finding that happy medium has been a challenge. Really, I think I just have too many tools, but I’ll deny it if you tell anyone, and that may be my biggest problem with the DTC. It suits a very limited, very lean yet functional collection of tools. Meanwhile, my idea of having a second DTC to hold my additional nick-knacks and misc oddities is an oddity in itself. The second chest is wasted as a catch-all for peripheral odd shaped widgets as it is odd shaped itself based on a very specific set of tools in the first place.

All in all, I still think the DTC is a very good design.

Its strengths are in its day to day portability, and smaller footprint than an English floor chest.

It struggles with larger tool collections, and as cargo. It’s also not ideal for people who don’t like bending over to get access to the lower shelves.

July 21, 2014

Going Dutch on the Dutch Tool Chest

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***

Tool chests are stupid!


I said it, and it feels good.

I literally don’t like tool chests, but I also don’t really like to brush my teeth. However, like having teeth, owning tools may require some things we don’t like. I also don’t like, no screw that! I HATE top lifting lids. What a stupid idea! If you have a 12″ deep chest, you lose at least 12 inches of valuable real estate directly above the chest. Then you have morons that do these sloping lids that turn 12 inches into 15 or more inches.

It’s a fool’s paradise.

Sooo… With such strong opinions about this topic, how did I get here? Well I’ve been designing the perfect tool chest/box/shelf/backpack for nearly 15 years now.

After my first day as a trim carpenter, I went to Walmart and bought the largest Rubbermaid container I could wrap my arms around to hold all my new tools. It was perfect because I was certain that I could fit all my tools in it, and I could make just one trip from the work site to my truck at the beginning, and end of the day. Once I carefully fit all my tools in that tub, I discovered that I couldn’t much more than drag the blasted thing.

It was frigging heavy.

The next day I’d replaced the big tub with two smaller tubs and a 5 gallon bucket. It took me 3 trips now, but there was no risk of needing surgery after lifting any of them.

When the world rediscovered the monstrous/traditional English Tool Chest, my first thought was that it had the same problem as Gigantor the Rubbermaid container. It’s not portable, well, not with a one man crew at least. I recently learned that the awesome size of these chests was intentional so thieves would have to team up to steal them, and since thieves are not great at sharing, they would often get caught.  Well my tools will stay safe by staying with me, so the ATC is dead in the water.

When I first got into hand tools, I tried making different styles of small tool cases that fit the tools I had at the time.

But then I’d buy a new tool and the case was suddenly too small.

In the past couple of years, the DTC has found overwhelming popularity. I immediately approved of its lower half, but despised the upper half due to its massive gaping top lifting lid. The lower shelves with the removable front face was perfect. However the DTC had become so trendy that I felt like spitting every time it was mentioned.

What the world doesn’t need is another “I made a Dutch Tool Chest” post, I thought.

Now If you just have a couple of shelves for a tool chest, you will have a great place to store your block planes, smoothers, a plow plane, and what have you. But at some point you will start looking for a home for, oh, I don’t know… Perhaps a jack plane or a jointer. Oh, look I own saws as well…

This shelf idea falls flat on its face with these tools.

So let’s soften our stance a little on this top lid idea a little. Sloping lids are stupid, but I could live with a simple flat-topped lid.

Hey, a tool rack to hold my chisels, and screwdrivers would be awfully nice on the back. Ya, that is a good part of this lidded chest idea.

Hmmm. My chisels are kind’a tall. This is going to be a rather deep chest if they are going to stand on end like this.  Well they fit so nicely there on the back, I think it will be worth it.

Hmmm. The front of this chest fits my longer planes really well, but with a flat-topped lid, there will be tons of space above the planes, and reaching over the high front is going to be awkward. It may be better if I lowered the front a little…

Ahhhh Crap! How did that lid get sloped?!?

Through years of struggle, I finally accepted that the Dutch Tool Chest despite it trendiness and idiotic sloping lid, was actually very well designed.

Well it’s at least half well designed.

It’s still a little too big and heavy.

I know people will argue this point, and say “what are you talking about? I can lift my DTC. You are just a wimp”

Well just being able to lift something does not make it portable. Being able to lift your chest off one stool and set it down on another stool does not make it portable either. It makes it moveable.

My shop is in the basement. To get to my truck I need to get the chest out of the shop, up the stairs, down the hall, out the door, down the stairs, and up the driveway. The large DTC, and even the smaller DTC are not especially portable in my opinion.

That’s why I decided to go Dutch.

If you haven’t noticed, this chest is really two chests stacked on top of each other, just like my two smaller Rubbermaid tubs. You may also notice that the top chest is a little wider than the lower one. I know this may bother some, but it’s for a reason.

The top one is 27″ wide so that it can fit saws on that darned sloping lid. The problem with that is many door openings in many houses are for 30″ doors. Most door openings also have a 1/2″ thick door stop on both sides of the jamb reducing the opening to 29″. A wide chest is a problem in a small doorway.

In the lower chest, most of the tools are stacked side by side. The longest tool in there is my framing square, and it is only 24″ long, so I was able to get away with just over 25″ wide. That makes it just possible to walk through most doorways with out scraping my knuckles.

But there is more.

Part of portability, is being able to bring as much of your workshop with you as possible. I built a simple stand that the chests sit on that also makes the top of the lower chest just the right height for free hand sharpening.

That’s right!

My tool chest is also a sharpening station.

How cool is that?

I’ve already talked about the sweet rope handles, so I’ll just let that alone except to say that the upper chest handles still need some tweaking, and have not had the ends trimmed yet. I’ll get to that… or I won’t.

And finally the gravity latches.

Once described as a “Cool locking system”, is not really that big of a deal. Almost every fence in the free world has a latch on its gate that utilizes gravity to make it latch. The idea was simple. Getting it to work in all levels of humidity was the real challenge, and resulted in the guts of it looking a little less “realwoodworker”ish than I would have preferred.

I’m still making friends with this whole tool chest idea, but I think I’ve come up with a chest that I might one day come to tolerate.

Editors note – It’s been over a year now. I’ve posted recently about how it has performed HERE.

July 11, 2014

The truth about Full Blind Dovetails

First off.


Lies are best wrapped around a kernel of truth.

The truth hurts, and…

When there’s no pain, there’s no gain.

And we all need a little gain.

So when I started hearing rumors told by big fat (but mostly skinny) liars, I had to check it out.

**The Lie**

Full blind dovetails are easier than through dovetails.


The claim is that because the dovetails are hidden you can’t see if they suck. The joint doesn’t suck if you can’t see that it sucks.

This is the premiss to lying through joinery.

Where is the truth?

Through dovetails tell the truth about how really truly horrible we all are, and the big bosses don’t want us to know how bad they are.

Where is the truth?

Through dovetails are simple to cut, but for the beginner, they can seem complicated. Full blind dovetails are somewhat more complicated, and they can seem more complicated even when you know what you are doing.

The great thing with full blinds are that even if your saw can’t find the broad side of a line, you still have a chance at making a nice looking joint.

And really, the truth is overrated.

So here is my overrated conclusion.

1. Through dovetails need less tools, less skills, and involve a simple process.

2. Through dovetails show all, ALL, your mistakes.

3. Through dovetails are easily recognized on most projects.

4. Fullblinds need more tools, and more steps.

5. Unless you lean on a drill press and a handfull of other power tools, Fullblinds can take a little longer.

6. With fullblinds, only the most savvy of wood workers will know you did anything more than a half lap joint.

7. Fullblinds will impress the heck out of savvy woodworkers that don’t know how easy they really are.



February 24, 2014

A tool shelf for the minimalist that has everything

Not enough time is spent as of late heralding the greatness of us intrepid minimalists. Birthed out of the old days when a proper set of tools included at least one of each from 1 to 8, and including type 1 to 18, but shunning the 19 and 20 for their shoddy manufacture.

Birthed out of that dark time we discovered that having one of everything was an abomination, and we were shown a better way.

Today we know that less is more. Way, WAY more! And more is good. More gets you the girls and the admiration of lesser minimalists.

We all want more.

More of less until that special day of hand tool minimalism Nirvana, when we build with only with a sharpened metal bar and a rock to hit it with. Oh that glorious day!

But minimalism is a journey, that we all must travel.

Many of us have learned that the ATC, as pious as it may be, is for minimalistic sissys. You can fit way too many tools in that thing, it’s too hard to find stuff, and darn it, it hurts my back to reach all the way down there.

The dutch tool chest isn’t much better. Sure it holds less tools, but still heavy enough that you wouldn’t want to carry it too far.

What’s worse, how will people know how few tools you have when they are hidden in a chest? No, there’s not a single true self-respecting minimalist that can be satisfied with these. Thankfully today I offer redemption. It ain’t a hunk of metal and a rock, but we are getting there.

For now you can take pride in a much smaller storage solution. A space so small, that everyone will know that you truly are the man/woman.

No minimalistic ego is complete without the “Egotists Tool Shelf”.




I also hope to finalize a larger version in the near future. I plan, if I’m able to make them out of particle board, and sell them to Ikea, but only if I can guarantee that they will last at least 9 months without collapsing.

I’ll either call it “Loogie”, or my current favorite, “Dago”.



Editors note. With that I hope that in this past week, I’ve managed to alienate pretty much everyone that reads my blog. If however you feel that you have been missed, please let me know, and I will make every effort to rectify the situation.

September 1, 2013

Roubo Stand to Scale (To build outside the box)

I built this a while ago, but I kept forgetting to take pictures of it.

This years woodworking challenge given by my woodworking club was to build out side of the box.  Now I’m no fool. It clearly was a challenge directed at me. You see here on the blog I show a lot of the boxes I make, but the club sees them all. This was their tongue in cheek way of seeing if I can make anything else.


Well I showed them!

This stand is made of Ash that was provided by the club. I can’t say I love Ash, but I got by.  I also had to scale it down a little for the width of the board they gave me as well. I think it’s about half the size it should be.

After my little practice run I figured that I was ready for the big time.


As you can see, I still haven’t solved the problem of cutting between the knuckle joints.

I also sure enough lost control with my cross-cut saw up thar…

All that said, A roubo stand is not that difficult a project with a basic set of hand skills. Most of you could easily do it, but to do it well?

To build a really nice flawless roubo stand, like most projects will require a lot more practice.

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