Some Shop Projects – 2015

With David Rae

I have been innovating in the shop.  Well, at-least I have been building small projects to innovate the way I work even if I am not doing anything all that new.  In the space between projects and sometimes in the midst of them I have completed a punch of small projects over the last couple of months; i thought I would take a minute and say a brief something about the innovatory.


Chopping Block (also a saw horse, laptop stand and a bench for that matter):

IMG_6127 IMG_0804

So I have my bench and David has his.  Where I spend a lot of effort keeping mine dead flat, David took a little more inspiration from Roy Underhill’s rustic benches.  No matter the task at hand he seems to end up with the broad ax in hand.  We built a chopping block – four legs hold a split hard maple log.  We split the legs with a froe and than used an auger to bore the holes.  The long grain prevents the ax from entering the chopping block and a notch in the block gives a place for the work to nestle up.  While the bench has gotten a lot of abuse from the ax, it has been tasked with a surprising number of jobs including holding my rip cuts and hockey game at just the right height.

2014-07-17 19.36.29  IMG_1140

 Pinch Rods:

This episode of the woodwright’s shop was revelation.  After fighting with tape measures to determine when a box was or drawer was square – i was thrilled to upgrade to a bar which expanded to fill the distance.  When both corners are the same length its square enough for me.  Rather than messing around with copper pipe and welding equipment, I bought the hardware from lee valley.  Also see this.  Since Brian and I assembled them in the fall I have been reaching for the pinch rod as often as any other measuring tool I have.


Saw Sharpening Vice:

A dull saw sneaks up on you.  Just like the frog placed in a pot over fire  – you have to be careful or you’ll end up in hot water.  In this case hot water is a fate not as dire as the frogs but you still have inefficient work and sloppy cuts.  Sharpening saws requires running a triangular file across each teeth – a task much more pleasant when each tooth is held firmly with out vibrations or such.

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Some Additional Tool Holders:


I have been attaching wooden hooks to my tool cabinet – allowing my planes to be close to hand and a comfort to the eye.

Clamp Blocks:

I first used these at the Woodwright’s school in North Carolina.  Basically the problem comes when you clamp something on one end of a vice; the clamp grips on one side and not the other.  This jig simply provides three pieces of different thickness of wood which will set in the vice and not fall through.  Clamping blocks but the fun back in vices!



So this project is not going to blow anyone’s mind – I guess I am including it as more of a public service announcement.  I live in the swamp which is our nation’s capitol – which means I pay way too much for my space and my tools rust in the high humidity.  I took some advice and glued a piece of carpet to a block of pine – which I use to quickly and efficiently get Jojoba Oil on to my blades and soles.








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