Three new additions to the shop: #auriou rasps

Installed my new @benchcrafted plane stop today. Really like it, worth the effort. #handtoolschool

Finished the saw vise. It holds a saw tight, but haven’t tested it with sharpening. Need to set up a station away from my workbench for that. #handtoolschool

I completed my new saw til. Here it is. #handtoolschool

Cheap Scrub Plane

Here’s an example of a really cheap scrub plane. I made it with a $5 old hybrid I picked up from an antique store. The hardest part of this was grinding the iron into a concave shape using a (you guessed it) grinder. I had some trouble getting mine evenly ground, but it worked great after I sharpened it up on my stone. I did have to widen the hole in the bottom up so it didn’t get all clogged up.

Here’s a pic of it in use on a slab of maple.

scrub plane in use

Here’s the iron after I ground it with a grinder and sharpened it up on a stone.

angled iron

And here’s the mouth I opened up with a chisel so shavings don’t get stuck.

base of plane

One of these days, I’m going to pick up a weightier plane for a few bucks to make another one with more mass.

New Ladle Handle

Here’s a small project to replace a handle on a Chinese-style ladle. The handle I had to replace was a cheap bit of pine pushed in to the metal part of the ladle. Instead of trying to replicate that, I decided to make a handle that would house the ladle. So I grabbed a scrap of walnut, cut it down to size with my rip saw, and then scratched my head for a while figuring out how to secure it.

My solution was to first drill the hole that would house the ladle. I locked it in my vise and used a brace I recently picked up for a few bucks to drill the hole. I also got an auger file recently and had just sharpened up some bits I had also picked up at the local flea market … so I was eager to try it out. It worked surprisingly well.

Then I took a length of 3/4″ oak dowel and used a spokeshave to shave it down a bit so I could mount the new handle on the face of my workbench to work on it. I shaped the handle with spokeshave, chisels, and a file.

This is the handle in rough form mounted on a dowel. I used a chisel to slim it down.


Then I worked on it with the spokeshave.


I tapered it with the spokeshave, then smoothed out the rough edges with a file and chamfered the edges with a chisel. I finished it off with some flexible sand paper.


And here it is attached the to ladle.



Moxon benchtop vise

I recently completed a new vise Moxon benchtop vise.  The hardware and a good portion of the design inspiration is from Tools for Working Wood. It’s hard maple, 23″ between the screws, cork lined, and finished with Danish oil. It was made with hand tools only, as part of my online apprenticeship with the Hand Tool School.

Drilling the Holes

The holes in the front and back jaw were easy to drill, but the right side was just a tad off when I put the screws in and tested the alignment and it was causing it to stick. So the second shot is a dowel with sandpaper I used to open up the rear jaw hole just a bit so there was no rubbing or sticking on the wood.

Hidden Mortises on the bottom

Here are the mortises on the underside of the vise that house the nuts. These were chopped out, of course, with mortise chisels.


Since I didn’t own a rabbet plane when I made this, I used a saw to cut the top and bottom rabbets. This took forever. I had to a lot of clean up work with the router plane to them square.

Angle on front jaw

I made a 45 degree guide for the cut, but it was only really useful to eyeball things to ensure I was at the same angle all the way across. Since I wanted a lip at the top of the front jaw, I couldn’t cut all the way to the angle guide in the back and it was too much of a hassle to get the guide at the right height in back to match up with cut I was making. So I really just relied on cutting down to the top and bottom lines marking the angle on the front jaw. Then I just planed it down. I figured I didn’t really care if it was exactly 45 degrees, anyways…as long as it was uniform and about 45 degrees, I was good. The angle is there so there’s room to angle saw cuts without cutting into the vise wood.

And here’s the final product


Side: (the cork is to keep the vice jaws from damaging wood)

Back: (the top piece is so that there’s a flat surface for dovetail joinery)


New Life for a Broken Lamp

I started out by (carefully) destroying the lamp with a screwdriver and small pry bar. I threw out the plastic junk and kept all the internal parts.

This is the wall-facing side of the lamp, showing how I reassembled the ‘guts’ of the old plastic lamp in the new wood structure. Only the on/off switch required soldering; I had to completely unsolder the switch to fit it through the hole in the wood. I used heat-shrinking plastic tubes to cover up the solder work. For the other wires, I used plastic connector caps to join them back up. I attached the components to the wood with screws and staples. It’s hard to tell here, but I mounted the metal reflective shield from the old lamp to the wood surface behind the bulb. Last note: I had to cut all the wires when extracting them from the old lamp’s plastic housing. The key thing to point out here is this: if you try something like this, be sure to mark the wires very carefully so you can remember how to reattach them.

And here’s a wider view so you can see the effect of the light reflecting off the wall behind my main monitor.So that’s it. The entire project took about five hours on a Sunday. I’m waiting for the glue to completely dry before applying a coat of polyurethane to the front. 

The most challenging part was figuring out the design: I wanted to create a very simple and functional lamp using only scrap wood left behind from other projects. Aside from my time, the project didn’t cost a dime.

The tools I used to assemble the lamp included a miter saw (to cut all lengths and angles), a biscuit joiner (to join the two pine pieces and the feet to the base of the lamp), a drill (to create a hole for the on/off switch), a table saw (to cut a strip of oak for the top edge of the lamp), wood glue, and a sheet sander.  For the electrical work, I used a soldering gun and some heat-shrink tubing, wire connectors, a wire cutter/stripper, and a few screws and staples.

I think it looks better than the original. It certainly fits in better with my wooden desk than did the plastic lamp. I may have to go and break the other lamp now.

My new desk

I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been spending all of my free time building a new computer desk in my workshop. I’m quite pleased with how it came out. 

library book, which I adapted to meet my needs. It consists of a corner desk, a writing desk, and a printer/scanner stand. The modular design allows for different configurations, which is great if I decide I want to move it somewhere else or arrange it differently down the road.

I used relatively cheap, off-the-shelf wood from Home Depot to keep the cost down. The desktop and keyboard tray surfaces are 3/4″ birch plywood edged with 2″ Radiata Pine. The legs are also constructed of Radiata Pine with birch plywood panels. 

The desk also sports a plywood bookshelf that forms the rear support for the corner piece. It serves to support the weight of the monitor, and the books and external hard drives stored there keep most of the cables, bricks, and power strips out of sight.

The black material covering the wooden keyboard tray consists of two sheets of .99¢ cent foam mat sold for children’s craft projects, which I mounted with a light tacking glue that’s easy to remove should the panels be damaged. The mat material is similar to what you’d get in a mouse pad, but it’s thinner and firmer. 

the desk using double-adhesive velcro strips. I mounted a USB hub under the desk to connect all of the devices.

I also devised a simple wooden laptop stand to raise and angle the Macbook’s monitor. I based the dimensions of the stand on the technical specs of the Rain Design mStand.

I had to buy two items to complete the desk: an adjustable keyboard mount (without a tray, as I chose to make a custom oversized tray) and a monitor arm. The monitor arm is particularly nice as I can adjust height, depth, and angle of the monitor with ease.

While the desk turned out well, it’s worth noting that using wood from a hardware store chain isn’t ideal. It’s not furniture-grade material, and I don’t have a jointer or a planer. So I had to do a fair amount of planing by hand to fix warps, bends, and thickness differences. Also, working with plywood can be maddening. The top layer of birch is so thin that it’s scarily easy to sand right through it. As for tools, it required a table saw (with a dado blade), a mitre saw, a drill, a few hand planes, chisels, and a lot of clamps for the glue-up. 

The project is complete, but there are a few things that could make it better. For instance, I’d love to mount a 30″ display on that monitor arm! And I’d like to take advantage of the fact that the monitor can be raised to standing height. The problem, of course, is that I’d need a raised platform to hold the keyboard and mouse.  I’m envisioning a small tabletop lectern that I could mount to the front of the desk for times when I feel like standing up to compute. I’d want it to be hinged and collapsable so I could store it nearby. Hmm. I’ll save that for another day.