stevenbunn Mon, 08/17/2015 - 20:27
A pair of rabbet planes under construction
With Ann's family finally on their way home, and major work to the house finished it's finally time to getting back to puttering around in the shop.
One more quick coment on 1800's construction practice. The house was built at the point in time where traditional timber frame construction started to morph into more modern ballon framing. The problem was that at the time there were no lumber yards, and 2 x 4s as we know them didn't exist. So where ever a builder needed to frame in a window opening, he sent someone out to the wood lot behind the house and had another small spruce tree cut down and nailed in place as a stud. So as the window project went on, David our contractor would say things like, "that's the third spruce tree we've come across today." So much for 1800's best practice.
The planes on the bench are two rabbet planes built to a Caleb James pattern, and two matched pairs of side-rounding molding planes.
Thank you for stopping by.
stevenbunn Mon, 08/17/2015 - 20:09
The Main house and kitchen ell
I have been extremely busy the last few weeks working on the house. It's a never ending project. The house is over 200 years old and had been empty for ten years before we bought it. When we purchased the house and land in 1985 I intended to do a full faithful restoration of the house. The house is built on the traditional Maine pattern, all one extended connected structure, big house, little house, back house, barn. Reality, however, has a way of smacking you in the face. The wide pine flooring was punky. The beams underneath were rotten and had to be replaced. I dreamed of baking loaves of freshly made bread in the Quebec style bake oven. But firing the oven to 700 degrees almost started a house fire. The flue at the oven's front getting so hot that the chimney surround started to smoulder. On the bright side, the brick mass of the chimney stayed warm for three days after my aborted attempt at baking. Finally the layout of the house was wonky by modern tastes.To give an example, the twenty foot square kitchen ell, shown in the picture's foreground contains a large chimney mass with built in bake oven, eight, yes that's right, EIGHT doors leading off into other parts of the house, a pantry, mudroom, and as an after thought, the kitchen. My sense of 1800's contracting practice is that builders preferred to put in a door opening where ever possible to save on plastering. As I re-read this post this morning I should note that the mud room alone has four doors, only one of which made it into yesterday's count. As you come in the front door, to the left is a papered over opening into the now torn down summer kitchen. Turning right, you enter the kitchen. Looking directly to the front you find a door leading to a well opening into the cistern in the basement.
So dispite my love for old history and traditional architecture I let Ann talk me into replacing the drafty windows on the rear of the house. We hired a friend to put the windows in. To keep costs down I agreed to I do all the interior trimwork. In the old days only the front, or public rooms, were trimmed with fancy molding. I think the builder of this house owned only a single molding plane, because everything else is trimmed with a simple cove detail. I installed fancier molding to match the front rooms. That took a week or more. All the time I was working, Ann kept reminding me that her brother and his family was going to arrive that week end. OK, I get that, but fitting a wide molding profile made up of several layers couldn't be rushed. Saturday morning found Ann frantically painting the new trim in the room where I am writing this evening,  We finished re-installing the cherry work surface in front of the windows just as Paul's family pulled into the door yard. Talk about cutting things close.
After all this, Ann and I spent a week hosting family, celebrating my mother-in-law's 82d birthday. Cooking, cooking, and cooking. Other than countless trips back and forth to the shop making small tweaks to way to many pieces of window molding, not much of note happened in the shop.
stevenbunn Wed, 08/05/2015 - 16:19

I received an email earlier today from Ned Dykes showing the hand-screw clamps he's made after reading my article on the subject published in American Woodworker Magazine. His photo and comments are published here with his permission.



- I just wanted to say thanks for your article on making these hand-screws. I had a great learning experience starting with repurposing the wood billets that the clamps are resting against (in the photo). These were supposedly used as foundation cribbing some 50+ years ago and I bought about 200 pieces at an estate sale. I think it might be ash? The dowels are purchased hard maple (no lathe yet!) and the handles are formed from pieces of 2-by leftover construction lumber from the shop build. Bottom line ... these work great and I plan to make more because they are so useful. So, thanks again for the great instructions and photos. And, I've enjoyed looking around your web site. Not up to making chairs yet, but I did repair an old one that is still "sitting" well!


Great job! Its always wonderful to hear from anyone who has read one of my articles, and its even better when they've been inspired to make their own interpretation of the published project.

stevenbunn Thu, 07/30/2015 - 07:15
The completed saw box, mounted on the wall next to the work bench
As usual one thing leads to another, and another, and on and on. All I started to do was build a simple case to store my hand-saws. These have wandered into the shop at various times over the years without me paying much attention. About ten years ago I picked up a box of saws at a yard sale for $25.00. I pulled the shiniest two saws, both Disston D23 pattern saws out to put in my new tool box. See the reconfigured box in earlier posts. The rest I frankly ignored. All of the saws had the name Mr. Fish blazoned on the handles. The box with the rest of the saws migrated to the lower shelf of one of my work benches. On another trip to a local flea market I found an antique tool box, with five sliding trays filled with tools for $150.00. Who could ignore such a deal. Cetainly not me. The tool chest weighed a ton and took the assistance of several bystanders to lift into the car. I hoped the tool box would hold a hand plane or two, but no luck. A full set of spur auger bits however came close to paying for the tool-box, which is what I really wanted. Everything inside was just gravy. That box too found a place in the shop and dropped off the radar.
Having completed the hanging saw box I started gathering together my existing saws, and as part of the effort, pulling the rest of Mr.Fish's saws out of his box. Then I remembered the old tool box beside the drill press and opened it up. The tool box alone contained six saws of various length and tooth count. Several were modern junk. Cheap hardware store saws from the eighties. But amoung the dross were a couple of beauties. The most unique was a small panel saw with an etched maker's mark identifying it as made by the Richardson Bros. Co of Newark, NJ. A little research on line showed that Richardson Bros. was in business between 1850 and 1875. Mr. Fish's neglected saws included a Disston #7 ship pattern saw, a Disston #8 with thumbhole in the handle, and another obvious Disston saw with a Warranted Superior medallion, rather than the stardard Disston medallion. Intriquingly there was a reinforcing metal plate screwed to the underside of the handle extending under the join where the lower portion of the blade seats into the handle. The small reinforcement plate, which I've seen on no other Disston saw had a patent date of __July 1883 stamped on it. I initially identified this saw as a pre-1900 #8 based on the shape of the blade. Finally, there was a skew backed blade with a loose cherry handle, but no saw-nuts or medallion. The carved wheat pattern on this handle failed to match any of the known carving patterns used by Disston over the years they were in business. I spent way to much time on line trying to trace down that pattern. Finally I found a photo of a Harvey Peace hand-saw with exactly the wheat carving as the one I held in my hand. The saw was a dead ringer for the one I had. The photos of the Peace made hand-saw clearly showed the reinforcing bar I had found earlier on the miss-identified #8. The handle whose pattern I was trying to match was cherry and had an identical screw hole from a now lost reinforcment plate. Researching Harvey Peace further I learned that he was in business between 1863 and 1890. He sold his business and a number of patents he held to the Disston company in 1890. Disston cntinued to make several Peace pattern saws, marketing these with their Warrented Superior medallions rather than the standard Disston & Sons pattern medalion. So now I had a skew backed saw with cherry handle identified as a Harvey Peace product dating somewhere between 1883 and 1890, and a second nearly identical saw with an apple handle, skew back blade, a Warranted Superior medallion, and the Peace patented nickel plated guard at the base of the handle. This one a Disston product dating between 1890 and WWI.
Suddenly I've found myself with an interesting collection of antique saws which have been sitting in plain sight in the shop. And another collecting interest when all I started out to do was neaten up how I stored my saws.
Thank you for dropping by.
stevenbunn Thu, 07/30/2015 - 07:08
An interior view of the saw box
stevenbunn Sat, 07/18/2015 - 09:02
A view of the exterior construction of my tool box
My tool box was inspired by one of Roy Underhill's articles that appeared a number of years ago in Popular Woodworking Magazine. Up to the time I built this tool box I had been carring my tools around in an old canvas army cargo pack. It worked, looked like a pregnant sow, and wasn't elegant. My big tool box was way too big to take to fairs. Roy's tool box project fit the bill. The only problem was that constructing the box as drawn in the article required cutting something like 44 dovetails to construct the box. With the Common Ground Country Fair only weeks away, I needed something quicker to make. I built my version of Underhill's toolbox using mortised and tenoned frames with raised panels. The assembled panals were then rabbeted and glued together at the corners.
stevenbunn Sat, 07/18/2015 - 08:43
A view of the tool box's  revised storage arrangements
And there is still unused space on the inside of the lid! I considered purchasing a frame saw to hang on the lid, just for looks. But,they seem to have gone out of fashion. None of the major catalogs carry them these days. When I worked at a small tool store in Portland, Fox Maple Joiners Supply, over thirty years ago, frame saws were all the rage. The few I can find online today are too expensive for my taste.
stevenbunn Sat, 07/18/2015 - 08:28
Multiple drawers provide lots of storage
Once started it was hard to stop. With the saws stowed to my satisfaction, I considered how my remaining tools fit in the space remaining. As originally built, the box had two drawers and a shallow tray fitted in one of the two drawers. Chisels and cutting tools like spokeshaves were carried in tool rolls. Rummaging thru a drawer while demonstrating chair-making at a fair could be frustrating and I had to beware of pokies. I shied away from installing drawer dividers for my tools initially because I just didn't think the effort to make them was worth it. I rationalized this with the thought that building a drawer with, say, five perfectly fitted compartments, suddenly put  you at a disadvantage when you needed to find space for a sixth tool. But experience with the tool box proved that everything worked better if tools could reliably be found when required. 
stevenbunn Fri, 07/17/2015 - 20:45
The new saw till and slotted hangers for compass and drawknife
As I mentioned in my last post on this blog, I had a pent-up list of projects that I couldn't begin to work through until my church commission was completed. The most insistant need that cried out to be addressed first was to re-configure the mounting arrangements in my traveling tool box for the saws and framing square. I had initially hung the saws and square on the inside face of the lid. However, I found that the tool box bounced around while on the way to shows, causing the tools to shift, and sometimes come loose. So I had been looking at other woodworker's chests, books and articles, anything for some inspiration. Then a month or two ago, Chris Schwarz featured a simple notched braket on his Popular Woodworking blog that, when screwed to the bottom of a toolbox, provided secure storage for up to three saws. Equally important, the 3-1/2 inch x 5 inch brackets were both simple in plan and elegant. Just the thing I needed. With my saws now stored in the bottom of my toolbox, the now empty inside face of the lid suddenly offered a bonanza of new real estate for hanging my other tools. As always, one thing immediately led to another, and I found myself feverishly obsessed with a mad rubics cube like project. Rearranging tools on my bench top and the reshuffling them again, trying to fit things together as neatly as possble.
The picture posted above gives you a view of the notched brackets in the saw till. I found that two  narrow, flat tools, the scribe compass and draw-knife, which couldn't be fitted on the lid because of handle diameter, and a protruding locking nut, perfectly filled the void between the box's inside front face and the saws. In this shot you see the two tools housed in slotted hangers screwed to the front inner face. The tools hang below the ledger strip that supports the upper drawers. The drawers in turn will, when set on the ledger strips, sit over the tools holding them in place.  Neat.
stevenbunn Wed, 07/08/2015 - 18:56

The baptismal font is almost finished, just a few more coats of finish on the removable lid and I am done. I will deliver the font Sunday. I plan on posting photos of the font after it's dedication on the 19th of July. After the shop is cleaned up, I have a number of projects in the works. I have been working on a design for a hanging saw-box to store my hand-saws. I have looked at a number of other woodworker's designs on U-tube and the web. While many are nice, I am shying away from an open box with no top and an saws hanging exposed without any cover. I have found that anything exposed just becomes a dust catcher. Building a hanging cabinet with a glass-paned door will give me a chance to bone up on my sash-making skills, something I haven't done in a while. I have two smaller prototype children's Windsors for which I want to make new bows with different profiles than what are on the chairs now. It is a pain to cut stuff off and throw it away, but the design process sometimes requires it. I am happy with everything else about these two designs, but the existing bows suck. Either the curve of the bow is wonky or the size is too big for the rest of the chair. Proportion and smoothness of a bow's curve are important, and sometimes the first effort doesn't cut it. Then there is a Christopher Schwartz style saw till that needs to be retro-fitted in my traveling tool box. Not really something that I have to do, but the current mounting arrangement with saws mounted on the inside of the top hasn't kept the saws from working loose when the tool box is banging around in the back of the trailer. I am always looking for a better idea. It is a bummer to open the chest and find the saws and framing square jumbled together on top of everything else. And finally, I need to get back to working on a batch of hand planes. As you can see I have quite a bit of work a head of me, and this doesn't count the large settee I started last year, or my wife's list. This stuff has been accumulating while I have concentrated on the paying work. Trying to decide what to do first is going to be the big problem.