stevenbunn Sat, 02/24/2018 - 16:41

Another batch of miniatures under construction


Partially assembled miniature Sackback Windsor chairs on my workbench.
I am currently working on a batch of eight miniature Windsor chairs. I spent this week turning legs and stretchers. Thirty-two legs, sixteen side stretchers and eight center stretchers. All split from green maple and then turned on my lathe. Tomorrow I will drill a mortise in each leg so that I can fit the stretcher subassemblies to each chair. With the under-carriages complete, I am going to turn to making the steam bent arm and back bows and the spindles.
I have documented the construction of an earlier group of miniatures in a series of posts previously published in this blog.
Thanks for dropping by.  STB
stevenbunn Sun, 01/28/2018 - 11:19

Drill and Router bit storage cabinet


The new storage cabinet built to consolidate all my drill and router bits
My collection of router and drill bits has grown like Topsy and was threatening to take over every drawer in my shop. Drill bits took up over three drawers in my primary tool box, router bits took up a drawer in the new Shaker bench, and a set of spur-auger bits still lurked in an antique tool chest I bought years ago. Any time I needed a particular bit I needed to remember which drawer or shelf that item resided in or on. Things were definately getting out of hand.
This has been a nagging on going problem. I started by putting together a plywood cabinet carcass with the intention of adding drawers as time permitted. I put the cabinet on wheels so that I could roll the cabinet to where ever I needed it at the moment. These concept died a slow death for three reasons; (1) I never got around to making the drawers, (2) I already had misgivings about drill and router bits simply being tossed in a drawer and getting banged up, (3) the feeling that drawers weren't the answer. As it turned out the rolling cabinet serves best as a place to put down lathe tools when I work at the lathe.
My personal take on tool storage goes against the current grain. The latest FWW Shops and Tools issue's cover features a beautiful open storage tool cabinet filled with sparkling clean shiny tools. When I see pictures like this I think that the the cabinetmaker either doesn't actually use his tools very much, or he spent a great deal of time cleaning things up before the photo was taken. My shop can look like King Tut's tomb with thick layers of dust and cobwebs (don't get me started on cobwebs) covering everything. My preference leans toward the Shaker vision of storage. Everything has a place and everything is put away in a drawer or behind doors at the end of each day.
I ended up making a simple pine box with a board and spline back, adjustable shelves, and flat panel doors. The carcase was dressed up with some left over molding so the crate looks a little less crate like. I spent a day laying out all the drill bits, grouping them by style and diameter, and laid out locations of drlled stopped holes for each bit. This frankly took more time than knocking together the cabinet. During all the hubbub of laying things out I had to allow room for the inevitable future purchase of additional drill and router bits. I finished the case up by turning Shaker style knobs from some scrap cherry. The new storage cabinet was screwed to the wall beside my drill press.
Being forced to empty every drawer and lay out all the drill bits that have accumulated over time made me take stock of what I had. Not a bad thing. If only I could explain to myself how I ended up with four 3/8 inch dia. brad point bits?
Thanks for stopping by. STB
stevenbunn Tue, 12/26/2017 - 19:34

Merry Christmas

A new Sack-back design based on photos found in an old brochure printed by an antique dealer of a antique Windsor in his possession.
This chair was started while I was at the Common Ground Country Fair this past September. More information about the construction of this chair may be found by scrolling down thru this blog and reading several earlier posts.
I hope that all who visit this site have had a wonderful Christmas Holiday with those they love. Happy New Year!
stevenbunn Wed, 11/15/2017 - 10:15

Making New Saw Handles for Several Old Saws

New handles made for two of my older saws
After an awful lot of discussion we cut the cord to the TV. No more cable, just programs we can stream on the internet. For Ann this has meant binge-watching the BBC's Call of the Midwife. I have been watching every Utube video on saw sharpening and saw making that I can find. Some of this knowledge was put to use two weeks ago when we lost power for four days. I spent my time sharpening hand saws by candle light out in my shop. This got a great laugh when Bob stopped by. Very eighteenth century. It was a cloudy day so what else could I do.
Watching Andrew Milacci's U-tube video on making a dovetail saw from a cheaper gents saw inspired me to retrofit several of my older, but not antique, saws with new but old-pattern handles. The Blackburn Tools site,, has a number of traditional saw handle profile templates, drawn to scale, which may be printed off and then used to make a new handle for one of your saws. In the photo you see one of the templates which has been first, glued to a handle blank, and then second, used as a pattern for drilling and curring out the handle. Shaping the handle blank after cutting it out with the band-saw was done using a small carving knife. Nothing fancy or difficult. Frankly, cleaning the new handle up with sand paper took more time than the time spent roughing out the handle with the carving knife.
The split saw-nuts used on the back saw were purchased from Blackburn Tools as was a saw-nut screw driver made by Blackburn.
Next on the list of to-do's is to install a new saw back on a Sorby Kangaroo medallion back-saw which I picked up at an estate sale. Readers wanting more information on British made back-saws can visit It is a great site and I highly recommend it if you are looking for more information about an older back-saw in your collection.
Thanks for dropping by.  STB
stevenbunn Wed, 10/18/2017 - 16:20
While I was at the Common Ground Country Fair demonstrating Windsor chair-making, I took the opportunity to create a new sack-back design based on a photo I found in an old antiques brochure. What made the original chair so striking was the curve of the front of the seat saddle combined with the boldly sculpted underside of the front of the chair.
I was concentrating on creating a seat matching, as closely as possible, the form shown in the brochure. I did not care for the turnings used by the original craftsman, so I substituted leg turning profiles from another antique chair which I reproduced several years ago. The original source did not identify the source of the chair pictured or provide any other information about it. Which is a shame. STB
stevenbunn Wed, 10/04/2017 - 07:02

At the Common Ground Country Fair 2017

Ken Kortemeier (in striped shirt with his back to the camera) teaching a class how to whittle a tree branch into a decorative coat hook
I spent three days at the Common Ground Country Fair, where I demonstrated Windsor chairmaking. This was my twenty-second year at the fair. I have brought my pole lathe for around twenty years. If you squint and look in the background of the upper left in this picture you will catch a glimpse of the pole lathe.
This year I was joined by Ken and Angela Kortemeier and their students from the Maine Coast Craft School. They demonstrated a wide range of crafts taught at the school. Some of the crafts demonstrated included spoon carving, bowl making, and Welsh style Windsor chairmaking. One of the schools instructors, Nate Chambers spent the weekend turning bowls on his treadle lathe, which can be seen in the background. Look for the large blue colored frame. Nate was aided by Oliver, another of the school's students. They spelled each other every so often. Their demonstration of spring pole lathe use was a real hit.
Readers wanting more information about the Maine Coast Craft School can write them at 260 Old County Road, Bristol, ME 04539, or visit their website at www,
In the very background I can decern my hat and Anu's pink sweat shirt. We are having a well deserved mead tasting break. At last year's fair Anu', the coordinator for the crafts area of the fairs, promised that she would bring me some of her home-brewed mead wine. She more than kept her promise, showing up every afternoon with a new bottle of mead. Forewarned, I brought a bottle opener and several wine glasses along. The wine provided a break from talking with the crowd. There were over twenty thousand people in attendence Saturday, and I felt like I spoke to everyone of them.
Thank yous go out to Angela Kortemeier for her photos. All of us were going full tilt all weekend and only Angela had the foresight to snap some photographs.
I am already looking forward to next year's fair.
Thanks for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Mon, 10/02/2017 - 20:55
Diamond Light Doors on the Hand Plane Cabinet
This Spring and Summer have been incredibly busy, but there have been few things accomplished that warranted a blog entry.
Mark Batholomew filmed a short video about the shop, my business and myself which you may now view by clicking the link on my home page.
Popular Woodworking's August issue featured an article on constructing diamond light doors written by Phil Lowe. Several years ago I built a cabinet in which to store my expanding collection of molding planes.  When I built the case I made a serious error in not allowing for the width of the double door's bottom rails when laying out the spacing between the shelves. When I went to make doors for the case I quickly found out that the horizontal mullions would not line up with the shelves. Making a pair of standard divided light doors was no longer an option. I used the case to store my plans anyway, but always regreted my mistake.
Phil Lowe's article provided an elegant solution to an intractable problem, as well as allowing me to broaden my woodworking skills. The finished doors add a lot of character to the case.
Thanks for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Sun, 03/26/2017 - 17:50
Tall-case clock in the house
A tall-case  clock built to Lonnie Bird's plans as published in Fine Woodworking
I built this clock-case five or six years ago. It sat in the shop taking up space, but also served as a great conversation starter with drop in clients. Still I needed to rearrange things in the shop. I finally asked Ann if she would mind if I brought the clock into the house? She said OK. I moved the clock in late January. At that time the hood door still wasn't painted I hadn't felt the need to finish painting the clock's hood door.The project was more about learning the construction do's and don't of clock case making. I finally got around to painting the door frame and installing glass after the paint dried. All in all a very nice project.
Thanks for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Sat, 01/21/2017 - 11:53

Carving totes for my new chairmakers plane


Shaping handles for my new chairmakers plane.
I spent Inaguration Day glued to the TV set in the living room. I was supposed to be working on a batch of new totes for the chairmakers planes I am making. I didn't want to miss the news so I brought my work inside and shaped these handles while sitting on the couch. Our pet rabbit loved the shower of wood shavings that rained down around my feet. Luckily, I got the living room rug swept and vacuumed before Ann got home from work.
Thanks for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Fri, 01/13/2017 - 17:04

Finally, After a lot of Trial and Error, a chair-maker plane with a tote


The final design of my chairmakers plane with tote.
Visitors to this site may know that I have been working off and on over the last few years to see if I could successfully design and build a chairmakers plane that had a real handle (tote).
I have used a small chairmakers plane in my shop for over twenty-two years. The small chairmakers plane has a 1-1/4" dia. wooden ball mounted behind the iron. The little plane fits comfortably in my hand  Easy to hold and work with, but after a day carving out saddles on three or four seat blanks, a bit of a strain on the heal of my palm and wrist. For a number of years I considered whether adding a traditional tote was possible, or even desirable, as doing so would necessitate increasing the length of the plane. Would a longer plane body fit the variety of curves found in a typical seat saddle as well as the smaller version I've used for so long? Without making a protype to try out, my concerns about a larger plane's performance couldn't be tested. There was nothing else to do but make one and see how it performed. My first effort was a razee pattern round bottomed compass plane. This plane ultimately proved to be too heavy and ungainly. Prototype Mark I didn't feel right in my hands. I never bothered to grind a blade for the first prototype as the plane body didn't meet my expectations. In addition to technical performance I wanted a design that was pleasing to my eye. I wanted a handle both visually attractive and physically comfortable. My collection of 19th Century hand-saws with their variety of handle patterns led me down another rabbit hole. I found patterns on-line for many different handle profiles. These can be printed off full-sized so that you may use one as a template for making a new handle appropriate for repairing an antique saw with a damaged handle. I used these profiles as patterns for possible plane handles.
After the razee fiasco, I experimented with mounting my handles to a plane body with a sliding dove-tail joint. This worked really well so this technique is used to fit the tote on the plane pictured above.  And, dispite my inital hopes most of the more attractive traditionalsaw handles proved less comfortable than I hoped. The long horns on some profiles are meant to help you grip the saw in regular usage, but limit the range of hand motion needed in a plane that cuts in an arc. I haven't quite given up on several of the hand-saw handle profiles. Time being what it is, this may have to wait until my second life-time.
After all  this I was back at the point of using a standard pattern tote a'la your basic Stanley bench plane handle profile.
My prototype Mark III was designed to match the length of a Stanley #2 bench plane. I wanted the plane to as short as possible. The original #1 bench plane is admittedly smaller still, but I thought the handle of the #1 to be to small for continuous use over the course of a day. I used a template of the #2's tote, but beefed up the bottom to allow for a dove-tail profiled pin to be cut on the tote's bottom edge. This prototype worked really well and I thought I had come up with a design that was a keeper. I demonstrated its use when carving saddles in several seat blanks at the Common Ground Country Fair last September. I had designed the third prototype to be used without a handle or knob on the front of the plane. Two days of grasping the front of the plane's stock with my left hand convinced me that a front knob would be a very good idea, The other thing I realized was that the 7-9/16 inch long plane body could still be shortened by 3/8" to a 1/2", and still allow me to add a front knob. The resulting plane is pictured above.
The new plane is 7-1/16 inches in length, 2-1/8 inches in width and 1-3/4 inches in thickness at the widest point of the bottom's arc. The 1-1/2 inch wide blade is ground from O-1 tool steel which is 1/8 inches thick. After roughing out the profile of the bottom curve on the band-saw, I shape the rounded sole with a spokeshave. I like the spokeshave's tool marks on the sole of the plane. I find the look very attractive and the plane is after all handcrafted, so why not leave evidence of its construction. I will have to see if potential buyers feel the same way as I do.
This batch of planes uses a laminated stock with quartersawn cherry as the infill and hard maple as the cheeks. I used hard maple for the wedge because I want something that can take a lot of wear over time. I have a number of boards of 8/4 quartersawn beech, which gives me the option of using that species of wood when I make the next batch of handled chairmakers planes. I am also open to suggestions from anyone interested in one of these planes.
I will be listing these planes for sale on the PLANES page of this website and on ebay in the near future. Pricing for the moment is up in the air.
Thanks for dropping by. STB