Wednesday, May 18, 2016


My favorite emails in my inbox always include a few pictures of successful work created with planes I made or by people who have read my book and put the process I describe to work.

I received several pictures from a customer, FF, a while back and thought that I'd include them here. You can clearly see the process followed below:

There is a moderate amount of work with the rabbet plane, but not too much with the profiled hollows and rounds.

I have said it before and I will say it again: the beauty of these planes is that you can embellish your work in the fashion you want. You need not rely upon your router bit selection nor Woodcraft's.

If you want to make a profile out of a single piece instead of building it up, you can.

FF may never make this profile again, but he will certainly use the same tools and the same process.

 Big and small, well done!

I will be teaching this process this weekend at Lie-Nielsen in Warren, ME. You will learn the process to make the profiles above and much, much more.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Weekend at Lie-Nielsen

I will be teaching a Weekend Workshop at Lie-Nielsen in Warren, ME from May 21-22.

These classes are a great opportunity for somebody that is interested in learning how to use moulding planes, specifically, hollows and rounds. We will be using pairs of 6s, 10s and a rabbet plane to make more than a dozen very different moulding profiles.

We will discuss plane selection (hollows vs. rounds, hollows vs. snipesbills, rounds vs. side rounds) and plane maintenance (from sharpening to seasonal maintenance). We will execute coves, ovolos, cove and ovolos, ogees and more.

The purpose of the class is to build your understanding of how to lay out and execute simple moulding profiles, like coves and ovolos, and then build that knowledge into laying out and executing those that are much more complex.

Are you interested in making your own planes? Come and ask questions. Are you interested in tuning up antiques? Bring them along. Though the class does not focus on these subjects, it's inevitable that they will be discussed.

Do you have a moulding for a current project you want to make? Bring that too. 

Do you need to have your own planes? Absolutely not. I'm bringing all of these and many others for the students to use and, if you're interested, many will be for sale.

The class will culminate with making this picture frame.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Making Planes at CVSW

This weekend I will be teaching a class at The Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. The students attending this two day class will build a round and leave with the tools, material and understanding to make the matching hollow at home.

We will cover all of the essential elements included in the process: including making a proper fitting wedge, bedding an iron, profiling the sole, creating the matching iron and sharpening profiled edges.

Whether someone intends to make a series of planes for themselves or rehabilitate antique planes, these specific steps are the major necessities.

Come join us!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Three Brothers Separated at Birth

When I produce a pair of planes I always make them out of a single piece of wood. I try to make sets out of as few pieces as possible. I spend a lot of time indexing my beech to keep everything in order. I spend more time lining up sap lines and other silly things, but I digress. Rabbet planes and dedicated planes usually get made from the odd leftover pieces: the fifth foot in a 5 foot length.

Today I separately packaged a group of three rabbet planes that were all made from the same piece of wood since I had run low on the aforementioned 'extras'. Each plane was boxed and 7/8" in width. One was left handed and bedded at my normal 50 degrees and two were right handed and bedded at 55.

I found myself staring at these three planes that effectively look exactly the same. One is going to England, one outside of Boston and the third is going to Hawaii. It was fun to think that three people, separated by thousands of miles, will be using the same plane and the planes will never see each other again.

The whole thing, this wonderful job, etc., just struck me and left me staring for a few minutes.

 I again thank my patient customers.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Spoon Carving

Well, Peter Follansbee got me again.

My family and I were minding our own business, away from people, electricity, everything.

And then, while the kids were splitting wood to burn, my wife and I found ourselves picking out a few good pieces for a completely different function. We were soon fully engaged in carving spoons: mornings and afternoons.

Here are four of mine.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Preparing for Upcoming Classes

My normal work flow has been interrupted as I make preparations for upcoming classes. This weekend, after a significant amount of re-sawing, I will be guiding a group through the process of making a rabbet plane at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks in Warren, ME.

In early August I will be in Port Townsend, WA at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. I will be leading another group through the very similar process of making a single pair of hollows and rounds.

This is the first time that I will be teaching this specific subject. This class will be five days. If you've taken several classes and tend to be ahead of the group I will bring along a couple of the rabbet plane blanks for you to work on as the rest of the class catches up.

I will also be teaching a second class at PTSW: "Mouldings in Practice." This is a class that I have taught several times before. I will have series of planes for each student to use and we will learn the process of creating predictable profiles with these tools that appear difficult to guide, progress and maintain.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Water vs. Oil Stones: An Observation

Many people will not carve because they feel that their hands are not artistic.

Many also feel that their hands have not reached a level of competency for sharpening the profiles of gouges, let alone profiled planes.

My response to these craftsmen is always the same: don't let the sharpening of these tools intimidate you. Learn to sharpen a chisel without a jig, then a carving gouge, then a single and simple moulding plane iron (not 20 off of eBay). Teach your hands the process because the sharpening medium is the same. If you tried unsuccessfully a few years ago then try again today. Your hands are naturally better if they've been used more.

Many users of antique planes have seen widely varying levels of success due to the same. I discuss this process in my book and demonstrate it in my dvd. Larry Williams of Old Street Tool, Inc. goes much further into the subject using a different method with his dvds.

One aspect of both of our demonstrations that is the same is the use of oilstones. These hard, natural stones are ideal for anybody addressing profiled edges because they don't distort nearly to the extent of  water stones.

I have been using a water stone in my work for about 12-18 months for the final polish. It's messy, yes. But more concerning is the amount that needs to be removed.

The number of times I flatten both stones illustrated below is similar. However, an Arkansas stone has a new, flat surface after a few passes on a diamond plate. A water stone may take a few minutes, especially if there has been an errant stroke that has left a mark. An oilstone leaves a discolored slurry on my plate. A waterstone leaves visible build up that could be brushed away and collected once dry.

Both of these stones started at a thickness of 1". My waterstone, again, may be a year and a half old. My oilstone, which sees 10 times the amount of work, is probably 12 years old.

The amount of use your stones see in your work environment may be drastically different than mine. On Average, I spend a full day on my stones each week. The result, though less exaggerated, will be the same. Oilstones are the proper choice of stone for profiled edges, whether moulding planes or carving gouges.

Note: I have used a DMT slip which was rendered useless. I have only used sandpaper for the initial flattening of the back if necessary (60 grit).

On a seemingly different note, one of our children likes to draw and we have spent many nights at the kitchen table doing just that. 

My latest project with my wide arrange of #3 Ticonderogas:

All work with your hands will make you a better woodworker. Any woodwork will make you better with your hands. Draw a better curve and carve a smoother volute. Know what a sharp chisel feels like and you'll essentially know how to sharpen a profiled iron. It's all relevant and you're getting better at each.

Just remember that oil stones are ideal for profiled irons and #3 pencils are terrible for shading and filling in large areas in solid black. But you can make both work.

Do not preclude yourself from making mouldings by hand due to the sharpening.