woody wins

Thanks to my penchant for digging through piles of mouldering, tool-shaped objects, I've recently met up with a fantastically talented artisan names Nigel who restores and makes his own wooden hand planes of all varieties. I was able to visit his shop and learn a pile of cool info that would have been hard-won through mere reading. Together, we attended an antique tool show in Pickering (the next one is in November) where I was coached in obtaining a number of hollow & round planes for making a range of mouldings. I also scored some necessary bits and pieces to repair tools that I've already collected. We are going to stay in touch as I move along in this fascinating hobby.

With respect to the digging itself, I found some treats.

(clockwise from lower left) A 1/8" side-bead moulding plane, a Stanley #4 with a very heavy bed casting, a 30 degree ovolo moulding plane, a Stanley #78 duplex rabbet plane, and a mill file clamp used when sharpening hand saws. A fence and rod for the 78 were located at the vintage tool show mentioned above.

Recently, Lee Valley Tools held a series of day-long demos on joinery. I was able to make it to their Toronto West location and speak at length with woodworker John Giancola about how he approaches various tasks. During our lengthy discussion, he recommended two books - one on dovetails by Ian Kirby, and the other on a complete course of hand tool instruction by Paul Sellers. I was lucky to obtain both, although the latter of the two was the last copy (the heavily guarded display copy) in the store. Amongst many other tidbits, John stressed:
  • cut the mortises first; it's easier to fit the tenon to the existing mortise
  • aim for a tenon between 30-40% of the thickness of a typical joint
  • divide tenons larger than ~4" into two, but retain the haunch
John also offered advice on how to adjust my rigid-frame coping saw to increase blade tension, and on upgrading some of the irons in my older, metal-bodied planes. It's great that Lee Valley offers this sort of unstructured event for Q&A.

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