Renovation Resumption

My view from the bed for the last year or so.

You’d think, free for the last 16 months to make my own schedule, I’d have gotten more done on the house. You’d be wrong. Lacking a regular paycheck, I’ve been afraid to spend any money and eager to earn money, and have thus spent most of my waking hours editing for The Chronicle, Lost Art Press and Mortise & Tenon, and teaching woodworking classes.

But I’m tired of living in a tip, and there’s plenty I can do with an investment of time, but little cash outlay. So I’ve decided to set aside at least a few daylight hours each week to work on the house. This week, that day was today.

After months of looking at the exposed lath and door framing to my bathroom, I’ve finally denailed and installed the trim I salvaged off the original hallway entrance to the bathroom.

After hauling all the necessary tools up from the basement, I cut back the base moulding (every homeowner should have a multi-tool!) to fit the corner blocks, drilled pilot holes then nailed them to the door frame bottom.

The rest wasn’t as simple – which is why I’ve put it off for so long. Because I’d stripped the lath on the bath interior to install drywall then flushed the door frame to that surface, on the bedroom side the mouldings wouldn’t be flush to the frame and plaster without the addition of filler strips (stained to match the old moulding).

After gluing those strips in place (so I didn’t have to worry about them shifting as I nailed), I worked my way up both sides.

Side trim installed (finish nails for catching the frame, pneumatic nails for securing the exterior edges to the wall…so that I didn’t have to hammer atop the plaster).
Done – well, closer to done.

Unfortunately, this trim was originally against a wall on the left side, so there are no returns on the left corners of the cap. I’ll have to cut some – but not today.

Even with that wee moulding replication job remaining, the doorway now looks as if it has always been there. Sure, I still need to make a threshold and haul the refinished door up from the basement then hang it (and refinish the bedroom, hall and study floors, then paint the bedroom), but I’m pleased to have made some progress – with more to follow shortly.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Well Of Course.

It is a universal truth in home renovation that wherever one might need to make a critical cut, there will be a nail – or three (but only if one is down to one’s last blade).

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Shakespeare, Woodworking…but No Cats

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 11.37.23 PM

If you care to watch me making weird faces in response to Charles Brock’s questions, check out the new episode of The Highland Woodworker.

Though I don’t consider myself worthy of the honor, it was awfully nice of Chuck to ask me to be on the show; I had fun shooting with him and Stephen Price (the man behind the camera), who drove up from Spring Hill, Tenn., to spend a day with me. We shot some of it in the Lost Art Press shop (thank you again to Christopher Schwarz, Brendan Gaffney and the open house visitors we had that day – they were kind enough to be quiet for a 1/2 hour or so while shot a segment), then popped over to my house to chat in my basement shop. We talked about…I don’t remember exactly, and I can’t bear to watch to find out. But I know it included woodworking, Shakespeare, my house renovation, my grandfather (who trained as a cabinetmaker), my first woodworking project, and what I’m doing now. I’m almost certain I didn’t mention my cats. (And I assume Steve cut my inadvertent cursing and terrible jokes. Here’s hoping.)

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

‘To Rebate a Piece of Stuff’


§ 70. To rebate a Piece of Stuff.
First, when the rebate is to be made on the arris next to you, the stuff must be first tried-up on two sides; if the rebate is not very large, set the guide of the fence of the moving fillister to be within the distance of the horizontal breadth of the intended re­bate; and screw the slop, so that the guide may be something less than the vertical depth of the rebate from the sole of the plane; set the iron so as to be sufficiently rank, and to project equally below the sole of the plane; make the left hand point of the cutting edge flush with the left hand side of the plane: the tooth should be a small matter without the right hand side of the plane. Proceed now to gauge the horizontal and critical dimensions of the rebate: begin your work at the fore end of the stuff; the plane being placed before you, lay your right hand partly on the top hind end of the plane, your fore fingers upon the left side, and your thumb upon the right, the middle part of the palm of the hand resting upon the round of the plane between the top and the end; lay the thumb of your left hand over the top of the fore end of the plane, bending the thumb downwards upon the right hand side of the plane, while the upper division of the fore-finger, and the one next to it goes obliquely on the left side of the plane, and then bends with the same obliquity to comply with the fore end of the plane; the two remaining fingers are turned inwards: push the plane forward without moving your feet, and a shaving will be discharged equal to the breadth of the rebate; draw the plane towards you again to the  place you pushed it from, and repeat the operation. Proceed in this manner until you have gone very near the depth of the rebate; move a step backward, and proceed as before; go on by several successive steps, operating at each one as at first, until you get to the end; then you may take a shaving or two the whole length, or take down any protuberant parts.

In holding the fillister, care must be taken to keep the sides vertical, and consequently the sole level: then clean out the bottom and side of the rebate with the skew-faced rebate plane, that is, plane the bottom and side smooth, until you come close to the gauge lines: for this purpose the iron must be set very fine, and equally prominent throughout the breadth of the sole.

If your rebate exceeds in breadth the distance which the guide of the fence can be set from the right side of the plane, you may make a narrow rebate on the side next to you, and set the plow to the full breadth, and the stop of the plow to the depth: make a groove next to the gauge line: then with-the firmer chisel, cut off the wood between the groove and the rebate, level with the bot­tom; or should the rebate be very wide, you may make several intermediate grooves, leaving the wood between every two adjacent grooves of  less breadth than the firmer chisel, so as to be easily cut out; having the rebate roughed out, you may make the bottom a little smoother with the paring chisel; then with a com­mon rebate plane, about an inch broad in the sole, plane the side of the bottom next to the vertical side, and with the jack plane take off the irregularities of the wood left by the chisel: smooth the farther side of the bottom of the rebate with the skew rebate plane, as also the vertical side: with the trying plane smooth the remaining part next to you until the rebate is at its full depth. If anything remain in the internal angle, it may be cut away with a fine set paring chisel; but this will hardly be necessary when the tools are in good order.

When the breadth and depth of the rebate is not greater than the depth which the plow can be set to work, the most expeditious method of making a rebate, is by grooving it within the gauge lines on each side of the arris, and so taking the piece out without the use of the chisel: then proceed to work the bottom and side of the groove as before. By these means you have the several methods of rebating, when the rebate is made on the left edge of the stuff: but if the rebate is formed from the right hand arris, it must be planed on two sides, or on one side, and an edge as before; place the stuff so that the arris of the two planed sides may be next to you. Set the sash fillister to the whole breadth of the stuff that is to be left standing, and the stop to the depth, then you may proceed to rebate as before.

§ 80. To rebate across the Grain.
Nail a straight slip across the piece to be rebated, so that the straight edge may fall upon the line which the vertical side of the rebate makes upon the top of the stuff, keeping the breadth of the slip entirely to one side of the rebate; then having set the stop of the dado grooving plane to the depth of the rebate, holding the plane vertically, run a groove across the wood, repeat the same operation in one or more places in the breadth of the rebate, leaving each interstice or standing-up part something less than the breadth of the firmer chisel: then with that chisel cut away these parts between every two grooves, but be careful in doing this that you do not tear the wood up; pare the bottom pretty smooth, or after having cut the rough away with the chisel, take a rebating plane with the iron set rather rank, and work the prominent parts down to the aforesaid grooves nearly. Lastly, with a-fine set skewed rebating plane, smooth the bottom next to the vertical side of the rebate ; the other part of the bottom may be taken completely down with a fine set smoothing plane: in this manner you may make a tenon of any breadth.

From Peter Nicholson’s “Mechanic’s Companion.”

I always hear the word “stuff” in George Carlin’s voice.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Last-minute Class Openings at LAP

ShakerCabWe had cancellations in two fast-approaching classes, and thus have two last-minute slots available – one in my March 16-17 Shaker Hanging Cabinet class, and one in Andy Glenn’s March 23-24 Post-and-rung Stool class. Plus, there is bench space available in Brendan Gaffney’s March 30-31 Hoj Footstool class.

And I’m fervently hoping a few more people sign up for my July 20-21 Four Hand Tool Corner Joints class at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, and June 24-28 Dutch Tool Chest class at the gorgeous Port Townsend School of Woodworking – I can’t think of two nicer places to spend a few days (for both me and the students)!


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

FORP III Registration Opens Friday, March 1

FORP banner smallFrom October 14-18 , I’ll be in Barnesville, Georgia, at Bo Childs’ shop for the third French Oak Roubo Project (FORP III) alongside Jameel Abraham and Father John Abraham (the organizers), Christopher Schwarz, John Hoffman, Ron Brese, Will Meyrs, Don William and other woodworkers of note…and 20 of my new closest friends.

Registration – there are 20 slots available – opens Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m. Central (8 p.m. Eastern) at The first two FORPs sold out in seconds, so if you’re eager to build a massive French oak workbench, be ready the minute registration opens. (And if you don’t get in, send an email to and request to be put on the waitlist.)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

My Ridiculous Favorite ATC Touch

keeperI love everything about my new “Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” It’s now easy for me to find just the tool I need in one quick grab…without having to dig through piles of stuff or check multiple boxes. And it’s but a few moments’ work to put stuff away at the end of the day (which I know neatnik Christopher Schwarz appreciates).

But what I like most is my most ridiculous aesthetic touch: the lid stay.  OOOOOooooo shiny!

It is a 2mm “light-duty twisted-link, tangle resistant, nickel-plated steel chain” from McMaster-Carr – not a wallet chain I stole off a hipster. It’s held in place on both ends by 8/32 female-threaded “pear knob cap finials” in polished nickel (from Grand Brass Lamp Parts). The finials are screwed on short lengths of 8/32 running thread that I hacksawed to length, then epoxied in place in pilot holes.


I also ordered knurled “battery head screws” from the lamp parts store, in case the finials looked weird. But they look just weird enough…which is to say perfect.




Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Butt Hinge Installation

Here’s a pictorial how-to I promised to students in my “Anarchist’s Tool Chest” class – might as well post it publicly…so y’all can tell me I should have built a router template.


Start with the lid. Set your marking/cutting gauge to the thickness of the hinge plate, and mark the baseline. Then align the hinge where it goes, allowing the second plate to drop flush with the back edge of the top (that aligns the barrel properly). Knife in the edges.


Use a chisel to chop a series of cuts in the waste that are just shy of the baseline, then knock out the waste.


A router plane, set to the baseline depth, makes quick work of producing a clean, flat-bottomed mortise.


Drop the hinge in place.


Use a centerpunch to mark the screw-hole locations. (I love this tool!) Then drill pilot holes for the screws.


Drive the screws (clocking them if you’re anal-retentive).


Set the lid in place (checking the side-to-side alignment for equal overhang), then sneak in with a marking knife to mark the edge position of each hinge. From there, repeat the steps above.


Prop the chest (and lid, if necessary) on sticks to align them so that it’s easy to flip the hinge plate in position to insert the screws. Plane the top edges of the case as necessary for a perfect fit.

I know there are many ways to cut hinge mortises. But that’s how I do it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Bench Maintenance (Long Overdue)

cleanupIf you’ve ever asked me about my LVL bench, you’ve heard me praise the top – still dead flat, after 10 years! – and curse the base, because the LVL in the legs compressed from the pressure of the leg vise, which moved the top about 1/8″ off the leg.

This happened within a year of regular use, so it’s been a pain in my posterior for nine years. We’ve tried a few fixes in the past – a larger bolt to connect the top and legs at the front left position and a “bullet” inserted in the top of the leg and into the bottom of the top. Both of those “fixes” worked for a few weeks, but then it was back to the shim.

Today, Christopher Schwarz and I tried another fix. I planed and scraped the old, falling-apart suede off the chop face, then epoxied crubber (a composite of cork and rubber) on its face. We epoxied little bits of wood to the top of the legs to fill the void, then epoxied crubber over those, too.


I’m just glad we had 5-minute epoxy…because we didn’t have clamps with a deep enough reach to provide pressure at the bottom 3″ of crubber. So I checked my email while I stood there.


Now everything is back together, and I’ve a piece of walnut clamped tight in the vise to provide pressure while the epoxy fully sets. And it is clamped tight – neither Chris or I could pull it out.

Here’s hoping this “fix” lasts longer than a few weeks.


Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

More Tool Chest Storage Ideas


Anyone know where I can get a nice handle like his? Preferably in polished nickel? It’s basically a recessed pull like you’d find on a campaign chest, but with a place to put your fingers rather than a pull that lifts out. All the ones I’m seeing look kinda chintzy.

Someone on IG asked about storing backsaws in the lid of a tool chest, which immediately made me think of my grandfather’s chest – he had all his saws stored on the underside of the lid, which, like the “Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” has a raised-panel lid.

When I first started woodworking, I planned to someday have the skills to build a replica of his chest. I have built (more than once) what is pretty much the same carcase, but I changed my mind on the interior (for now, anyway).

I always admired his neatly organized trays of tools in four layers (some of the trays had their own trays, to boot!). They are about half as wide as the chest, and slide left and right to access the stuff underneath. But once I started actually working out of a tool chest, I realized it would be (to me) a bit of a pain to have to slide quite so many trays out of the way to get to stuff. (And a lot of pain to stay quite that organized.)


So instead, I’m going with three long trays (half the depth of the chest), and as I’ve mentioned ad nauseam, storing my backsaws behind the chisel rack (I worked on that today, so I’ll soon have a closer-to-finished interior to post). And in my new chest, I’m not storing full-sized handsaws/panel saws (though I’ve left enough space for that above the top till…just in case); I have only two that I’d want in my tool chest, and they will continue to live on the underside of my tool chest at home.

But my grandfather had five saws on his lid, held in place with toggles on keepers on the handle end, and supports on the business end of the long ones (plus a carpenter’s square). The dust seal on his lid is, however, deeper than what is on the ATC, to allow the handles to fit without crashing into the trays below. He built his as a high school project (a trade school where he learned cabinetmaking), so I’m reasonably certain this was the prescribed interior layout, or at least it was in Louisville in 1932.



Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments