“Now THAT’S A Brace!”

The title is an overreach of course, but I picked up a brace today. No big deal, I have more than a couple of them already. But this was a real $2 pick-me-up for sure. I knew it had a wide sweep (Capt. Obvious, right?) but didn’t see a measure or model number at the flea market. But with a little elbow grease at the bench, this came through:


Wow, that’s a huge sweep! Cool, anxious to give it a try! But sorry, no money shots in this installment. Just a slightly cleaned up, but oiled and free-moving, 14″ sweep brace. Oh, and the other great news? The chuck is stamped “Stanley Rule and Level”. So it fits in nicely with the rest of my ‘old arn’… That’s all for now!


Unloved Side Rabbets


Until very recently, that is. A recent build needed tailored dado cuts, and after some pretty severe fettling, each of these Stanley side rabbet planes are at the ready. I’d not really even attempted to use them, with good reason as it turned out: The #99 needed the mouth filed a bit, the cutter bent into useable shape and the cutter’s edge re-bevelled. Never would have worked the way it was; no wonder it’s in such good shape!

The (missing) fence for the #98 has now been replaced, so both are complete. Huzzah for tools that work!

Sharper with Time

Long story short, I was doing final smoothing on a top tonight and reached for the #2 for some very local tear-out. The plane chattered and skipped across the piece… What the ??

So out came the DMTs and strop. Back wasn’t flat, edge not good at all. Who sharpened it last? I did, and near as I can tell it was back in 2010 (I took the plane to a class and remember sharpening all my tools then; this one isn’t used often.

It’s sharp now, so maybe I’ll reach for it more.  My sharpening skills have really progressed, too. A very good thing. Oh, and the pic shows the #2 next to Heft and Hubris incarnate, the #8C.

As always, thanks for looking!

Chairmaking Diversions: Making a Tapered Reamer

To make basic stick chairs (and other stick-based projects), one needs a small set of task-specific tools. Not sure where this kick is going to lead me but the tool hunt is definitely ON, and started with the making of a tapered reamer. I have a stickered stack of apple splits that provided an excellent reamer blank; is there one in there?


A bit of planing with the cambered jack got me far enough along that I could mark center on one end and prep the piece for lathe work.

A ‘tool-overflow’ drawer in the assembly bench held several compass saws, one with a shop-made handle shaped from plywood. That made the ideal candidate for a reamer blade. Armed with that AND the only turning caliper thingy I own (see pic above), time to turn.

Cut the widest blade area, then took a measure at the middle, the one at the smallest end, connecting each as I worked the piece from left to right. Third pic shows the size and shape roughly matched to the donor compass blade. It took about 30 minutes to have the shape I was after, so over to the bench for the next few steps.


Cutting the slot to accept the reamer cutter was a perfect task for the Summerfield table saw.


With the cutter set in place, a few high spots needed attention with the #52 spokeshave (first ‘project’ use for that tool!). Chiseled a back bevel at the leading edge of the cutter, then turned a burr on the cutter’s edge. Finally, jointed the saw teeth to dull them a bit before cutting a hole for a dowel handle. From there it was ‘trial run’ time.


Does it work? Yes, actually. Here’s a profile pic attempting to show the cutter extending every-so-slightly beyond the reamer’s main body; this is the stuff that does the cutting. Note that I’ve since filed the teeth down a bit, which in turn improved performance noticeably.


More tuning required, but I was out of time to dedicate today. I’m happy with the build and will have this reamer doing what I need it to do soon enough. That’s all for today, thanks for looking!


Chairmaking Diversions: First, Become a Toolmaker

I’ve never aspired to be a toolmaker, although I did have fun with the tool or two that I’ve made from scratch (a mallet and, uhm, well… okay just one tool made from scratch). My workbench can be considered a tool, and I did make that, but as far as making a saw, or plane, or marking gauges, etc. etc. there’s just not much allure to me.

Necessity. Now *that’s* a motivator.

Having dedicated some quality time on the interwebz reading up on tapered and ‘bung hole’ reamers, I’ve come to the realization making my own reamer is more likely to get me what I need in terms of reamed holes. It’s the old story about the guy walking into the hardware store, proclaiming “I need a drill.” Well, he doesn’t need a drill, he needs a hole. I don’t want a reamer, but I want what a reamer can do.

None other than Jennie Alexander recommends shop-made as the way to go, and Roy Underhill demonstrates one while recreating a Shakespearian stick chair in an online episode I came across in my research. That’s good enough for me. For specifics, a Jennie Alexander webpage includes build tips and a recommendation to use apple wood. I have some of that stickered and ready to go! She also says the angles of compass saws are spot on for application in a shop-made reamer. I have more than a couple of those saws in the shop, so a donor won’t be hard to come by. It’s a noble purpose, after all.

Oh, and the tool that goes with the reamer is called a “rounder plane” per St. Roy, and the reamer is used in the making of it (a matched pair, if you will). So I need to make more than one thing now?

So for now, I’m not a chairmaker, but a toolmaker. *sigh* More to come!

Taming of the Skew!

Yeah, I’m stealing the title of this post from an episode of The Woodwright Shop seen recently, but it makes sense here too. Why is it appropriate? Good question, I’ll tell you.

It’s not infrequently that I find myself working on half-blind dovetails. Seriously. Every project I do that includes drawers or trays of some kind ends up having half-blinds. So there’s just enough experience behind this particular ‘want vs. need’ discussion to lean me in the direction of actually pulling the trigger on a new tool purchase. And at a cost that’s much, much less than a more domestic solution. Wait, new tool, and one that’s actually new vs. ‘new to me’, right? Yep. Straight from Stanley UK (by way of Amazon.com) came the haul: a pair of 3/8” SW 750 socket chisels.


Wait (again), you say. Don’t you already have a set of SW reissues? Yes, I do, and I (still) love ‘em and wouldn’t trade them for any other, but take a look at the title of this blog again before taking your best guess at what’s in store for these Stanleys.

More to come, thanks for looking!