Monday, 28 May 2012


Most of my tools are ambidextrous, but a few are handed. These knives have the thumb scallop on the right side for left handers. The scallop isn't just there for a comfortable hold but it also registers the blade at exactly 90 degrees, a very useful feature. The woods are snakewood, pink ivory and Brazilian tulipwood, I picked really nice blanks as the customers had to wait a while.

The finish is hand applied lacquer rubbed back to a flawless finish.

I also made a small batch of three jointer planes, these two are right handed and the left handed one was posted to the US earlier today. Soon after I shaped the fences and tapped the holes I had another order for a left handed version! That will have to wait until the next batch.

These are made in Goncalo Alves a hard and attractive timber which has turned out very well. I completed these 2 or 3 weeks ago but I like to leave them to settle before flattening the sole and opening the mouth. It also allowed me to build up a nice oil finish.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

David Stanley Auction

I visited the David Stanley auctions for the first time, this wasn't the international auction but it was still well attended. I was gently reprimanded by the auctioneer  for taking this photo during proceedings!

I had arranged to meet Bill Carter, seen here holding one of his fine jointer planes.  The other gent in the picture is Richard Arnold who made the two planes below in the style of 18thC bench planes.

Richard did a very nice job, particularly the ornately shaped offset handles. The planes had already been sold to an American for several hundred pounds.

Here is Richards stamp, in keeping with the period.

On the subject of plane makers here is a fledgling maker Timothy Smith whose mitre planes really caught my eye. Everything about his little planes was right, the look, feel, size and balance was spot on. The finish he achieved was superb. Tims day job is with a very famous cabinet maker where he has been working for 26 years, this explains a lot. By the time I met him he had already sold his finished stock, so I bought the plane shown below right in bog oak. I'm very much looking forward to receiving the finished article in a few weeks.

Bog oak plane on the right and one in Laburnum on the left. The mouth closers are in holly and the blades are old cast steel.

Here is his name stamp. The plane cost a very reasonable £250 considering the workmanship and time taken to produce. Tim's next project will be an infill plane, watch this space. Tim can be contacted at

So back to the main reason for my visit, Bill Carters planes. This little grouping above is worth about £20,000! They are wonderful tools and work superbly.

Bill kindly gave me this little boxwood plane. It's very cute and amazingly works quite well. Bills wife Sarah also treated me to lunch, I was doing doing very well. Many thanks to you both.

Of all of the planes, this is the one I really would have liked, but I couldn't stretch the plane budget. I didn't leave without buying a plane however and I bought a really nice all bronze (that's not brass!)mitre.

Here are the cupids bow dovetails on both the sides and bottom, you can't do this in wood! I called them ducks feet and was gently reprimanded, again!
As far as the auction goes I never left Bills stand and missed the whole thing! But I met a lot of very nice and very talented people, an excellent day out.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Knew Concepts saws

I have been selling these saws for the last 2 years at woodworkers shows and although they are not cheap they are superb and sell very well! For dovetails they allow you to saw very close to the line with great control, saving you both time and effort. I have always sold the standard versions of 5 and 8"as the extra cost for the cam lever version is not really justified as the blades get changed so infrequently. However I've just added the 5" swivel version to my stock which will allow the waste to be cut with the frame at 45 degrees. This enables dovetails of any width to be cut, nice!
Lee has also added two of my You Tube films to his You Tube section. See the website here

You can see the saw in use on my video 'Hand cut dovetails made easy'

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Benchcrafted Vices

A short while ago I sent Jameel Abraham from Benchcrafted one of my magnetic dovetail guides, here is a short You Tube video of the first joint he cut using it. These are utility dovetails cut for strength rather than looks but he's done a nice clean job in European beech. Whilst Jameel has ample skill to cut these without any assistance he said the guide worked quickly and without fuss.

Last week I received a Moxon vice from Benchcrafted in a very neat little box. This is a superb vice for dovetailing and I intend make a bench with this vice permanently installed rather than as a removable set up. I have one their Glide Vices installed on my main bench and it is a joy use.

Here are the contents, the wheels are heavy, the screws are precise and they spin beautifully!

The oak from HMS Victory yielded another surprise, there was a copper plate attached with copper tacks to one of the painted edges. It would be nice to incorporate this into the boxes I'm going to make.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Wood from HMS Victory

This week I called in to Nauticalia in Shepperton, Surrey and purchased some timber which was taken from HMS Victory during a restoration project a few years ago. The Victory was launched in 1765 and was most famous as Lord Nelsons flagship in the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It took 6,000 oak trees to build her, much of which would have been planted in the reign of Elizabeth 1, 200 years earlier for just this purpose. These four small pieces cost £270, I've included my 17" jointer to give a sense of scale.

Each piece came with an official signed certificate, I should hope so at that price!

This piece particularly caught my eye as you can clearly see some very nice ripple where the wood had been split.

It was also bang on the quarter so there was the prospect of some very nice timber.
The number on the bottom indicates the exact position on the ship where the wood was removed.

The layers of paint were incredibly thick and I need to try and incorporate this in a piece.

Two large iron bolts went through this section and I would look to keep this as a handle on a box lid.

The wood was even nicer than expected with some very attractive mudullary rays as well as the ripple. These shots show the wood straight from the band saw.

This yielded enough for 7 box lids with a thickness of about 8mm. I will use the other wood for the box sides, watch this space!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Magazine article

 If anyone is interested I have an article featured in the current issue (193) of Furniture and Cabinetmaking magazine. I've written about 30 articles for F&C in the last 4 or 5 years, it's always nice to see them in print but they are very time consuming to produce!

This is an oriental DVD cabinet made from some lovely quarter sawn olive ash. The doors and the back were constructed from band sawn veneers on ply, for stability and the carcass is solid.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Workshop update

 I've finished the larger dovetailed boxes. This one has a slightly protruding handle cut into the front. It has a tapered chamfer on the top which adds a tactile touch.

The birds eye maple has a nice ripple running through.

This box was made from instrument grade timber but with some colour in. This costs half the price of the wood in the first box but personally I prefer it, there's more character. The top is big leaf maple.

The handle on this one is very discreet and needed some very careful fitting. The wood needs to be bone dry as any shrinkage will cause it to bind.

You may have noticed that I always have a few projects on the go at the same, this is for practical reasons (waiting for glue and finish to dry) but it's also the way I like to work. Here are the jointers I've been working on, shaped, with the first coat of oil applied.

I'm starting another batch of mini smoothers, they have sold very well. I'm using Mexican Rosewood (bocote) and kingwood as before but I'm also making 8 in Brazilian tulipwood. This is wonderful wood, very pretty and hard as stone.

Here's a shot of the end grain, I'm looking forward to seeing these finished.

In order to try and remove as little material as possible I tried using a very thin carbon steel blade on my band saw with a 1 mm kerf instead of my usual 2 mm. Unfortunately the blade was not up to the tulipwood see the ones on the left. The ones on the right were cut with my lennox tri master carbide tipped blades which required the minimum of clean up.

Here's my Holtey no 10 mitre plane making a great job of the rock hard tuplipwood. There aren't many planes that could cope with this without tearing out.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Early European Decorated Tools

I've been contacted by the author of what looks like a fascinating new book, the detail as follows.

' New book – available April 2012.Early European Decorated Tools
from the woodworking and allied trades by Jonathan Green-Plumb
A survey of European hand tools, from woodworking and other
trades, dating from the 16th century to the 19th century. The
tools illustrated and analysed were either made decoratively or
received surface decoration. Although all the tools featured were
made to be primarily functional, the focus of the book is on the
aesthetic qualities that transform such tools into examples of
genuine folk art. Planes, braces, axes, compasses, saws and
chisels, etc, are featured, including many that have not been
previously recorded or published. The tools presented, via
photographs, drawings and paintings have been sourced from
various national museums and private collections across Europe.
About the author
Jonathan Green-Plumb has been collecting antique tools for
nearly 20 years. He was presented with a Salaman Award grant
by The Tools and Trades History Society, which allowed him to
visit museums and gain access to tools and images that would otherwise have been out of reach. Jonathan has a MA Degree in Fine Art Sculpture.
Stobart Davies Limited Stobart House, Pontyclerc, Penybanc Road, Ammanford,
Carmarthenshire SA18 3HP UK
Tel: 01269 593100 Fax: 01269 596116
Publication details: Hardback 210mm x 297mm £30.00 176 pages, over 300 illustrations
ISBN 978-0-85442-117-6Available from all good booksellers or directly from Stobart Davies Limited'

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Jointer planes.

I've started a small batch of jointer planes, one of which will be for a left handed woodworker. The wood I'm using is Goncalo Alves which is a very hard, heavy and attractive timber.

 Here are some Lignum Vitae soles cut 3mm thick and left to dry for 3 years.

 The soles are glued on using Gorilla glue as the Lignum is so oily. I should get some commission from Bessey for this shot!!

I checked the flatness of my bench (which I should do more often!) and spent 15 minutes flattening it. This much easier planing across the grain for the most part. I remember visiting Alan Peters workshop and seeing his workbenches worn down to the bolts. Apparently his wife Laura said he was meticulous about having a flat bench.

Here are the blanks marked up ready for the dowle holes to be drilled prior to separating on the band saw.

I clean up the band saw marks with a Stanley No 81 scraper with a Ron Hock blade, a great tool!

Clamping up a plane with as many clamps as I could fit on.

Here is the glued up plane after rough shaping on the ban saw. James Krenov would have touched this up with a file and left it at that. It is surprising comfortable with good grip, but I don't think I would sell too many if I left them like this!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Dovetail boxes

I've been working on a batch of dovetailed boxes with pivot hinge lids. The  four smaller ones are complete. These are a good seller at galleries and shows and I love dovetailing!!
I used some really nice birds eye maple for the front back and top. The sides are  walnut for a nice contrast. I've not used this style of handle before and I'm very pleased with the result. The recess was drilled on the drill press taking care to hide the spur indent within the lid area and therefore hidden by the handle. The discs were turned to size on the disc sander with a little jig using a 2mm brass pin.
The disc is 1" diameter and was cut from some tight burr walnut .
Here is the lid open with the handle glued in place.
The finish I used was 6 coats of shellac, left overnight to harden and then cut back with  1,000 and 1,500 grit  micro mesh  abrasive. The matt surface was then lifted with a carnauba wax blend.

I aim to keep the reveals as tight as I can without binding. The shooting board is ideal for creeping up on a perfect fit.

You've probably noticed the protruding pins which will allow me to remove the lids to apply the pig skin lining. They will be cut to length and slightly recessed into a tiny chamfer for a neat finish.