Chair Parts

December 23, 2016

I’m starting to make the parts for four chairs in red oak. The old chairs we have are falling apart. The chairs I’m making are based on a 1940s production chair.


Prototype in pine without the front legs tapered and without lower stretchers.

The changes from the original include a slightly thicker back leg in order to make the lower leg narrower from the side view. The original chair has round stretchers, and these will be rectangular in the new chairs.


Thin layers sawed for the bent laminated crest rails.


Glue-up of a laminated crest rail.


After the crest rails are removed from the form they are edge-jointed and sawed to width. The slot for the back splat is routed with the crest rail clamped back in the bending form.


Router jig for making the slots.


Routing a slot in a crest rail.


Four crest rails waiting for the rest of the chairs to be built.

Small Stroke Sander and Paper Belts

November 28, 2016

I built one of these sanders back in 1982 by following Andy Marlow’s plans in Fine Woodworking magazine. When I bought some large 3 phase machines in 1984 and moved my shop to a commercial space, I gave away the little stroke sander.

One of the first things I did in setting up a home shop last year was build a new stroke sander like my old one. This time I used larger angle iron and made the traveling table out of heavier stock.


After I mounted the motor, pulleys and a v-belt, I clamped a piece of angle iron to the sander frame. Then I used a big gouge to turn the glued-up pine squares into round drums. That was an unpleasant job!

I like its relatively small size, and the way it sands large flat panels up to 4 feet wide. I can sand narrow boards as well. It is open on the left side so that 8 foot long pieces can be sanded by turning them end for end under the machine. One of the advantages of a stroke sander is the way you can spot sand and feather out an area.

I made a 6″x7″ pine block to use as a sanding pad. It is covered with graphite cloth so that it slides easily on the back side of the belt. I also clamped a wood platen under the belt at the top of the machine so that I can hold small pieces right down on the belt.

Marlow recommended 60 grit belts made from heavy weight sandpaper, and I was dubious about whether these would actually work. It turns out that the belts work just fine. The belts last a long time and as they wear down they sand finer. A well worn 60 grit belt will sand something like a 100 grit belt. The paper belts are much cheaper than buying made-up cloth belts.

The belts are spliced at an angle by cutting through both ends at the same time with a box knife. I use a four foot straight edge along the belt to line up the splice to make sure the belt tracks straight on the drums. The cut ends are brought close together and two small brads are used on each piece to tack them down to a paper padded pine block.


A 1” strip of fine linen is glued across the joint, and followed by a 3” strip.



This is covered with 16 sheets of newsprint and another pine block. The whole sandwich is clamped together and left to dry thoroughly. The cured joint is peeled off the brads and the edges are trimmed down with scissors and a block plane.


October 7, 2016

I recently posted a short description of my sharpening method over at Madcap Woodwright, but without a picture. I do have oil stones and water stones, but avoid them if possible because the oil or water, along with the black steel left on the stones gets all over me and the work. The very accomplished  woodworker at Ishitani Woodworking has his water stones on a tray bridging a sink under a faucet and over a drain (starting at 9 min. into the video). This looks like an excellent way to clean the stones after use, and generally keep the mess under control.

I probably will install a utility sink in my basement shop at some point, and follow suit. Until then, here is my sharpening set-up.

Version 2

I just use two diamond blocks. A 30 year old coarse interrupted one, and a newer continuous 1200 grit. Both DMT brand. I use cheap window cleaner to wet them. I clamp my 4×24 portable belt sander in the front vise and hollow grind (if needed) on the front wheel with a 60 or 80 grit belt.

Robland X31: Three Legged Horses

October 3, 2016


My out-feed table on the Robland X31 works very well. I can rip boards and stack them right on the table. On the other hand it has taken me a while to work out the best way to stack wood at the front of the saw. In the past I usually set up regular four legged sawhorses, and I was forever tripping over the near-side legs!

These funny looking sawhorses work great as in-feed supports for the table saw. They are just shy of the saw table height, and with a bit of weight (an extra board maybe) they don’t tip over. I can put a stack of lumber on the horses and easily walk through them as I pick up and feed the wood into the saw.


Three Legged Horses: Made from 1/2″ black pipe and fittings, and soldered at the joints.



Saturday, August 13, 2016 -re: 9th Annual Daily Grind Bicycle Ride (and this year, Blessing)

August 14, 2016

160813 9thDGRThis bike ride, sponsored by the Albany Bicycle Coalition and the Daily Grind coffee shops, starts at the Daily Grind in Albany and ends for lunch at the Daily Grind in Troy. This year the group made a stop at St. Paul’s Church for a blessing in the Church Garden, and a tour of the church conducted by David Graham.

I had the pleasure of riding with the group on the Corning Preserve Trail, and was honored to offer the following prayer during the Bicycle Blessing:

Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, we come to you in prayer and thanksgiving.

In a world burdened by motorized transportation and consumption,
we give you gracious thanks for the wondrous bicycle,
on which we enjoy the goodness and beauty of your creation
while improving our fitness and health.

We ask you to protect the children who ride or who are learning to ride.
We ask you to keep all riders, leisure riders to elite athletes, safe from accidents.
We ask you to protect all riders from anger and theft.
We ask you to give us skill to ride in all sort of conditions, and
to help us forgive those who are negligent and mean.
We ask you, in thanksgiving for those who build or repair bicycles,
that you will guide them to be diligent and competent in their work.

Heavenly Father, be with us now and bless us as we dedicate these bicycles and their use to the preservation of lives to your honor and praise. Grant us faith to know your gracious purpose in all things. Give us joy in them and lead us to use all your gifts, including our bikes, with wisdom, compassion, patience and love.

We ask this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Tail vise with drill press vise

August 1, 2016

One of the best ways to plane a long and narrow piece (on a bench with a traditional tail vise) is to hold it in a drill press vise. I’ve glued pieces of 1/4” ply on the jaws of the drill press vice to keep it from marring the wood. This piece of wood is a little over seven feet long, and too long to hold with the regular bench dogs.

The bench needs to be dead flat so that the wood being planed isn’t distorted by something wrong with the bench. Using this method I can take a single shaving the full length with a smoothing plane.


The Jack plane is a Union and the shorter plane is a Millers Falls – both with corrugated soles.


Another use for the drill press vise is to hold small pieces to plane odd angles for repairs.


Sermon for Jennifer Duncan RIP

August 1, 2016

East Window DetailIn the Name of the Father . . .

Jennifer was fighting for her life for a good while, and the whole family has been on a war footing against the disease.

When I went over to the house on Thursday to plan today’s funeral, Jen’s mom said to me, “Please don’t say Jennifer lost the battle.”

And then Rick (Jen’s brother-in-law) walked me to my car, and we were talking about woodworking. We both were in the woodworking business at one time. I found myself boasting about what I had done, and who I worked for. I mean I was really bragging about all that I had accomplished as a woodworker. I am sorry about that Rick.

The truth is my business was an absolute failure from start to finish. But only a failure if you count the money. I loved to do the work, and I was really good at it. But, eventually I had to get out of it. And 20 years ago I went into another high paying line of work; the ministry.

We just do not have the right perspective to judge the value of things.

I can imagine when my mother was pregnant with me: I am warm, I’m being fed, I have my thumb to suck on. If there was a pregnancy committee in there I can hear them saying, “O boy, I think he’s getting ready to leave. He’s awful big. That’s too bad.” And I would’ve said, “Hey wait a minute! I don’t want to go anywhere. I’ve got everything I need right here.”

And then I get born. My mom is yelling, and I’m crying my eyes out. And that was just the beginning of my life!

Jesus actually said something like this to his disciples,
John 16:20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.
21 When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world.
22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (RSV)

“Human beings do not belong to one another. We are God’s children. We belong to Him. It is by sheer grace that we are together for a time—for a little while. We receive God’s gift of another person in our lives with thanksgiving. But we must realize that this person is a gift—we cannot hang on, or refuse to let go of one of God’s children when He calls.” (Martin Bell: The Way of the Wolf)

My wife, Marianne, says if you love life and love your people and love what you do in God’s creation you have won.

And Jennifer, with an absolute relentless stubbornness loved living, and loved her family and friends, and fought to have more and more life. She has won the battle and now she is on to a new adventure! Amen.

Table Saw To Fence Measurements

July 23, 2016

I first put a Biesemeyer fence on a Unisaw in 1980-81. And as much as I liked the fence I never used the ruler on the rail. I know some people get very fussy about adjusting the indicator on the rail. They want to be able to go over to the saw, set the fence, and start cutting.

I always want to measure from the saw blade to the fence, and actually see that the measurement is right. And I want to be sure the distance is just the tiniest bit greater at the back of the blade so the wood won’t bind. I just can’t bring myself to trust an indicator that’s almost two feet from the blade.

For years I used a white Lufkin 6’ wooden-inside-read-folding-ruler to set the saw fence. The “inside read” means that the ruler lays flat on the saw table with the numbers going 1, 2, 3 from the fence. A few years ago my ruler broke and I began using a Stanley measuring tape. It works OK, but the hook at the end of a tape moves in and out a bit to give inside and outside measurements, and this affects accuracy.

Recently, I found a composite material 78” ruler at Home Depot that works really well. The extra length means that the first leg folds out over 7″. I tested it against an accurate steel ruler and it is quite good.




Table saw measurement problems: 1. The black and red Husky tape has a metric scale on one edge. It makes it hard to measure at both the front and back of the saw blade. 2. The Lufkin wooden ruler is an “outside read” ruler and reads backwards from the fence. It also only shows 5 inches on the first leg. 3. The steel ruler is accurate but reads backwards from the fence. It is also hard to see the lines and it is so thin it can slip under the fence. 4. The Stanley tape at the bottom works pretty well, but the hook at the end wobbles.



IMG_0301.jpgMy new Milwaukee ruler: A winner! Sits flat. It’s accurate. Easy to read. Shows 7 inches in the “right” direction.





Going Cold Turkey!

July 22, 2016

Banned from shop! Chopsaw


After seeing this video by Matthias Wandel

and finally accepting how much dust this thing produces . . . I have taken my 10 yr. old Makita compound sliding miter saw out of the Woodshop and put it in the garage for use outside. It is handy for quick cuts, but I now have other ways to crosscut wood (table saw, band saw, hand saw) without producing so much dust. Even with dust collection this kind of saw throws clouds everywhere.

I miss it though, and I feel a little bad about it out in the garage. OK, I can do this. It is for the best. I can use it for handyman stuff around the house. Done.


Banned Chopsaw in the garage.

At Oakwood Cemetery . . .

July 22, 2016

IMG_0294.jpgIMG_0295.JPGthis morning to bless my mom’s grave marker and to say prayers. With Marianne, Bill S., Dcn. Alicia Todaro, L. Craig Bryce, and Laphroaig.