Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Never a Given

It's not yet entirely glued together but it fits and is square.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Weekend After a Weekend with Peter Follansbee

I was at the Furniture Institute of Mass. last weekend with the Lie-Nielsen Handtool Event tour. Peter Follansbee was there. I'll let the picture speak for itself.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How To Make a Crossbow (Guest Blogger)

(My oldest son wanted to write an instruction booklet. He dictated the reasons and instruction. Enjoy!)

My name is Sheldon Bickford. I am 6 years old. I decided to write this blog for other woodworkers with kids or grandsons. I think you will be interested in putting this together. It only takes 45 minutes.

These are the tools that we use to make the crossbow.

These are the pieces for the crossbow.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Result

I have finished sharpening the dedicated plane I made yesterday. Here's a quick image of the result.

The profile my plane cuts is on top. The profile from Owen's router is on the bottom.

Three quick points:

1. A custom router bit is cheaper.

2. Setting this profile onto an edge, however, will always be a 5 minute operation from start to finish. Compare that to the time it will take you to set up a router table and then sand.

3. The making of this plane speaks well to the versatility of hollows and rounds. The sole of the plane was made with them. The profile itself can be made with them. There are scores of additional profiles you can create with just them and an incalculable amount that they could be incorporated into.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dedicated Plane for a Harpsichord Bridge

It has been a while since I posted a step by step. I thought you might be interested in this one because it's a little different.

I'm in the process of making a dedicated plane for Owen Daly, a professional harpsichord maker. The profile is for the bridge.

The dimensions here are approximate and for the actual moulding, not the plane.

Rabbet plane

1 pass with a snipes bill

Rabbet plane for the chamfer followed by #1 round. (Take note that I am using the plane on a chamfer, not as I traditionally do on the arrises of a rabbet. It's just too small.)

#1 hollow. (Again, because the plane is so small I am simply starting on a single corner.)


Waiting for approval before I go ahead with the grinding, etc...
The actual profile is off his router table. The plane is my work.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

You Cannot Crosscut With A Rip Saw But You Can Rip With A Crosscut...

Just not economically and not if you intend to remain friends with the person on the other end.

I spared you the picture of me being up on a ladder while doing this. I wouldn't want you to laugh, after all.

We were definitely craving the frame saw that the Minnesota SAPFM guys has at WIA.

I didn't have high hopes. The saw was hanging in my buddy's house. But we stayed on target and didn't go off by even 1/16". We went about 12" deeper than what you see on the far side. It would have worked, but I found access to a bandsaw with nearly 19" resaw capacity. 

Here are a few pictures of other pieces that are being worked on for NWA 2012.

Don's chest of drawers.

Chris' chest of drawers.

And of course, more progress. I will be done with the carving of this next week and will pick at it/clean it up for a night after that.

Don't forget the SAPFM deadline of Oct. 31 for submitting pictures of your work to enter into:

A Tradition of Craft: Current Works
by the Society of American Period Furniture Makers

I went down to Don's last week to take a couple pictures of the three pieces he has entered. Here's a sneak preview of one...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Progress Continues On Dressing Table

Our group met for the third time last night. You can see the night's progress on the right.

Everything looks smooth until you see a picture.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

An Idiot Guides Through Moulding Planes

I started writing this blog for a few reasons:

-I like talking about these planes and I work alone.

-I travel to a lot of shows. I spend a lot of time with a few people. I often throw a lot of information at a small group in the span of 20 minutes and I'm genuinely concerned that what I explain, despite being understood at the moment, is not always remembered.

-I wanted to show people my work and myself.

By now you have heard that I am writing a book that is going to be published by Chris Schwarz' Lost Art Press. We do not yet know the exact release date, price, binding, color scheme, etc. You now know my original title, which is above. It was rejected.

The book is the following:

-An explanation of the process of using and maintaining the planes that fascinate me in a manner much more comprehensive than this blog. (Again, if you're reading the blog for the first time start at the beginning.)

-The book will show you what things look like when things go right.

-More importantly, the book will illustrate what things look like when they go wrong.

-An introspective justification for the same planes.

The book will be separated into two sections. The first section details the process: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. Everything I've concluded and excluded is in it.

The second section is a test. "What will you do with these profiles?" vs. 'What I've done.' I've measured approximately 75 different mouldings from real pieces. They're all in there with a step-by-step process that starts with a blank profile for you to test yourself and ends with how I would execute.

The book will likely lay flat on your workbench so that you can bring it to the shop and try. The goal of the book is for you to read it twice and unload it because there no longer any need for it.

You will turn this.

into this.

and then into anything in any of these and more.

The process is simple. The reason is simple. My next month is overwhelming.

P.S. My other title was "No Tails but Perfect Rabbets"

Good Night!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Ultimate Portfolio

I've spent quite a bit of time around Chuck Bender and The Acanthus Workshop, but it's not enough. I've flipped through the pictures in his portfolio a lot too. Again, it's not enough.

Well, Chuck has updated his website and made it more streamlined. The pictures he has online are easier to get to now. It's well worth a look.

Rumor has it that he has 200+ more photos that he will be putting up when he decides we're worth it.

If you ever make it to his shop (like, say, for a class on moulding planes in March or September of 2012) you will be overwhelmed by the number of patterns hanging around. 

While at his site I noticed that Chuck is also starting an online school, NoBSWoodworking:

"NoBSWoodworking is a weekly show available only by membership. When you join, you’ll have taken the first step in opening new doors to better woodworking. Each week, from November through April, you’ll see some of the best tips and tricks of the trade available. You’ll also see woodworking techniques explained in detail as well as complete projects and unbiased tool reviews (we even test tools right on camera so you can see what works and what doesn’t). You’ll  get to meet craftsmen in other mediums who’s work can enhance your own projects and we’ll visit some of the Nation’s finest museums, collections and furniture craftsmen in order to learn more about the craft we love and enjoy. Throughout the year members will receive exclusive content, project builds, live demos and question and answer sessions with Charles Bender and some of the Nation’s best woodworkers. All of this comes to you commercial free, in the privacy of your own home or shop. If you’re as passionate about woodworking as we are, you will most certainly enjoy our show."

Why force yourself to work without a bandsaw? Seems weird.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Barn Raising in Haddam Neck

I went to my first barn raising Saturday. A house is being erected upon the old footprint of a house and marina that burned several years ago. Our small volunteer fire department proudly boasts that we have yet to lose a foundation! You can see the result of our work below (twisted metal beams and all). 

I had planned to go to the barn raising for 3 one hour segments throughout the day. I knew that I would be staying for the entire thing about 5 minutes into it. I really had a great time.

The company that built the frame is The Barn Raisers. Brendan Matthews has been making post and beam houses on his own for 15 years. This was his 62nd structure. His first was across the street from this venue. Many of the people here on this day were there 15 years ago, including my wife and her brothers.

There were 40-50 people from the Haddam Neck community actively helping at any given time with many more watching from the sidelines. 

Before (the metal structure in the foreground will be a shop for the marina, the post and beam house will be on the foundation behind.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Haddam Neck Woodworkers' Guild

The Haddam Neck Woodworkers Guild met for the first time last night. This will be a group of local craftsmen that meets once a week after work in an effort to force ourselves to produce things for ourselves. The group will meet, work, and exchange upwards of 6 sentences. I'm happy that 75% of the local woodworkers have joined.

In classic Haddam Neck form, a tree fell on a wire in the middle of a perfectly clear and windless day, knocking out power to half of the town. The location had to be changed and one third of our group (of three) couldn't attend because there was a tree across the only road.

I made this practice piece a while ago. It was very difficult to pick this up again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall/Winter 2011 and 2012 schedule

I often make the mistake that everybody reading this has been here since the beginning. If you have not and want to learn how I use hollows, rounds, etc., start at the beginning of the blog last December. I will start from the beginning again sometime, but at this stage I just can't rewrite it again.

I was sent the following note from a man that attended the LN show this past weekend in Newport, RI. He came for LN and found me. 

"I have to admit I was blown away by your system for using the planes, particularly the hollows and rounds. Went home last night, signed up for your blog and read every every entry. Obviously, I will have to go back and and digest more, try to put some into practice, re read etc but I am enthusiastic. I am also going t see what I have collected over the years, resharpen whatever looks to be a workable pair and see what I can do with what I have. I am very glad to have met you and am looking forward to your book."

Come to one of these shows if you have the opportunity and interest. I can help you put those $5 antiques to work.


This blog has seemingly turned into a M. S. Bickford Moulding Planes scheduling advertisement and self-depricating ramble. I apologize for that. It is not my intention for things like this to overwhelm the subject matter to the extent that it has. Things have been pretty weird here. I'll leave it at that and tell you that we'll get back on subject...but not tonight.

I will be at WIA next weekend. This show is one of the highlights of my year. If you're reading this blog I can assure you that you will never be around as many people that share similar interests.

I am extraordinarily poor at updating my actual website, (hint). I will get it done before WIA. In the meantime, this is what I have so far.

Lie Nielsen Handtool Events

October 28-29
Manchester, CT
Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking
(This is Halloween weekend so make certain that you where your costume)

December 2-3
Beverly, MA
Furniture Institute of Mass.
(Always a full house)

January 6-7
Brooklyn, NY
3rd Ward
(This was the best LN show I went to last year. I really enjoyed that weekend.)


March 31 and Sept. 1
NWA Woodworking Showcase
Saratoga, NY
(The focus of this show is on the product, not the tooling. I highly recommend it. Bring a piece to enter.)

January 21-22
Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking
Learn how to use these planes at the bench
(Thomas Lie-Nielsen will be teaching a class on 1/20. You can get fully overloaded with all things 'hand planes' in just three days)

March 23, 24 and 25
The Acanthus Workshop
Pottstown, PA
This is a three day class with the 3rd day being optional. Chuck Bender will teach carving mouldings for a portion of this third day if that's where your interests fall.

September 15, 16 and 17
The Acanthus Workshop
Pottstown, PA
(second verse, same as the first...three days with the 3rd day optional)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Life of a Planemaker

Fixed door frames and sills from rift sawn beech, moulding details skipped...

Monday, September 12, 2011

This Past Weekend and Next.

I'm certain that a great time was had by all at the CVSW open house this past weekend. There was a full house with plenty of different exhibitors.

Jeff Noden (of Noden Adjust-a-Bench and The Noden Inlay Razor) and woodworker/author Craig Bentzley stopped by for dinner and end-of-summer fun before their trip home to NJ and PA, respectively.

Here are a couple pictures of Jeff demonstrating what sounds like his original passion.

(Jeff and my oldest son, Sheldon, at work)

(The final product. I don't have enough room to explain what happened to the real rockets)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


To whom it may concern,
We lost electricity during the storm and will not have it back for another 4-7 days. I will check my email again in another few days. I apologize for the slow responses. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Alone in the Wilderness (with my family)

My three children, wife and I went to Vermont this weekend to my family's cabin.

The cabin was built by a logger in 1900. My grandfather purchased it in 1940.

A sawmill stood on the opposite end of the pond. 

This is an effort to take a picture of the bottom of the lake. You're looking at the pond's floor about 10 ft deep.

Note the difference of the floor where the sawmill stood. It is only about 12" deep. 

There is not much left of the sawmill. There are a couple of logs with a couple of joints. 
Nothing more.

If you've ever had the pleasure of seeing the documentary "Alone in the Wilderness" you may recognize the effort of the logger that built this camp.
The man in Alaska sawed much of the joint. The man that built this cabin did not.

 A long winter's hobby is evident in the main room's ceiling...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Quit

I have known this day would come for a long time. I have prepared myself.

I hereby adopt the English spelling of 'Moulding' and will no longer write 'Molding'. The transition may be difficult. I may fall off the wagon from time to time. I will likely never change the spelling in my head.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend Class

I taught a weekend class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking that ended today and I had a fantastic weekend.

The students were great. The school is great. I didn't have to help clean out the childhood bedrooms, closets and attic of my wife's family and that was great.

One of the students, Ben, made this frame profile completely by hand, excluding the rabbet on the bottom for the picture. (I imagine that Bob Van Dyke, the proprietor and one of the several teachers at  CVSW, nearly threw me out when he saw me cutting it on one of their several Sawstops. I don't know why. It's a Sawstop, right?)

I told Ben what order to cut the rabbets. He did the rest. To the best of my knowledge, he had not used hollows and rounds before. Total time: about 60 minutes. Total length: five feet. Total planes: 5. Total coats of finish: 0.

When introducing ourselves, Dan, another student, said that the prospect of making a tall case clock led him to the class. This, I can relate to. He came in with his own profile to stick. Consider it stuck...

Again, I don't think Dan had used hollows and rounds before. I cut the rabbets on my tablesaw this morning (where I don't need to have a gallery of people with mouths agape). I also took the first three passes with a side round to show the class how it is used. Dan did the rest by himself. I intended to help him. He didn't wait.

For the record, 8 people used 28 planes off and on for 14+ hours. I stropped 3 of the 8 rabbets, one round and no hollows.  One rabbet iron got damaged and has to go the the stones.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lie-Nielsen 30th Anniversary

Congratulations Thomas Lie-Nielsen! 30 years...My knuckles ache just thinking about it.

I got back from a weekend in Warren, ME, home of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. I had a great weekend with my family and The Toolworks'. I used new products by Daed Toolworks, Sauer & Steiner, Brese Planes, Benchcrafted, and Czeck Edge. I saw several familiar faces, but did not take any pictures. My apologies. I will get some in the coming days to post.

I did get to stick a new molding profile in front of a crowd.

The waist molding to a Federal tall case clock:

Monday, July 11, 2011

CVSW Class

I will be teaching a class at CVSW next week. The class is July 24th and 25th, Saturday and Sunday.

Here is the write up I did for the class:

"Stop making compromises with your router. Stop getting “close enough”. Learn how to use some of the most abundant molding planes of the past to get the exact edge you are after. Hollows and rounds do not make specific profiles. They make specific arcs. Learn to transform these few arcs into scores of various profiles. From layout to execution, this weekend class will focus on creating various moldings with these extraordinarily versatile planes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

SAPFM Mid-Year Conference

The SAPFM Mid-Year Conference was this past weekend at The Connecticut Valley School of Woodoworking (I will be teaching a class there regarding molding plane use at the end of July).

The three high points for me were as follows:
3. The slideshow of members' work. I thought it was truly fantastic and wished it was longer.

2. Yale furniture study/lecture. On Friday much of the group went on a field trip to Yale. It was the first time I had been on campus in 8 years and the first time I went to the furniture study. If you haven't been, and you're interested in period furniture, go. There are 1100 pieces in the basement of a building that are waiting for you to measure, photograph, and copy. It's incredible.

1. I have been to two Lie Nielsen Handtool events (30th Anniversary in a few weeks in ME, see you there) at Phil Lowe's Furniture Institute of Massachusetts. Both times I demonstrated next to the following chair...
I saw it again this weekend. I think it's my favorite piece of furniture. I can not keep my eyes off of it. You just need to see it.

To the point of this blog...

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I am often asked about adding the boxing to a plane. I took a couple of pictures along the way tonight.

(Please excuse the picture quality. I think I left my camera's charger in St. Louis...or Cincinnati...or Philadelphia.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011