Published on 25 Feb 2017
Follow Sue on Instagram: @rhodes_woodwork
Workbench made by Sue Rhodes as her masterclass student project at the John McMahon School of Fine Woodworking, Nottinghamshire, UK (http://www.schoolofwoodworking.co.uk).
March 22, 2017
March 15, 2017
Published on 11 Mar 2016
The best way to get hold of a mitre box that suits your needs is to make your own. In this video, Paul shows how he makes one in a matter of minutes that guarantees accuracy, especially when used in combination with a shooting board (link to shooting board video). They can be used for many things such as trim for tool chests, boxes and drawers as well as picture frames and the like.
March 13, 2017
Published on 1 Mar 2013
A new method for storing my hand tools and allow me to get rid of my pegboard. I decided on using french cleats to hang screwdrivers, pliers and other items. It’s a really flexible system that lets you get creative customizing it.
March 7, 2017
Published on 15 Jan 2016
If you want to make things out of wood, a table saw is one of the most useful tools you can own. If you are new to woodworking, this video will help get you started.
Kickback caught on camera video: https://youtu.be/u7sRrC2Jpp4
March 3, 2017
Published on 27 Feb 2017
Chisels come from the manufacturer needing preparing or initialising as well sharpening. How do you check they are flat and get them sharp? Paul shows you the process he follows. This gets them to the level we need for crisp and accurate work.
February 1, 2017
Ace put up some shelves recently. He was not impressed with some of the tools he used:
I thought I had a drill that could drill (and drive screws) through studs. I did not. What I had was two pieces of shit which, combined together, made up a collection of shit that took up more space in my tool drawer than a single piece of shit would.
The things could not even push past the first eighth inch of drywall. The easiest part.
It’s like, “Hey, thanks Tool. Thanks for getting me past that first easy eighth inch. I’ll take it the rest of the way, now that you’ve gotten me off to such a swell start. You take a well-earned break, and get back to napping in that drawer. I’ll power through the rest of this with my forearms and my dinky little ratchet.”
I literally was just pushing on the drill to make a small starter hole for the screw, like it was a poorly-balanced nail with a pistol grip.
It’s a poor workman who blames his tools, but I think you can all agree I am a poor workman in the first place, and these really are shitty, shitty tools.
July 8, 2016
May 17, 2016
As my father the industrial designer used to say, “Stainless steel is so called because it stains less than some other steels.” But give me, by preference, wrought iron from a puddling furnace, for I don’t like shiny. Unfortunately it is not made any more except on a small craft scale: but I have, in the kitchen of the High Doganate, a pair of Chinese scissors that I’ve owned nearly forever, which have never rusted and whose blades stay frightfully sharp (they were only once sharpened). They cost me some fraction of a dollar, back when forever began (some time in the 1970s).
Too, I have an ancient French chef’s knife, nearly ditto, made I think from exactly the steel that went into the Eiffel Tower. It holds an edge like nothing else in my cutlery drawer, and has a weight and balance that triggers the desire to chop vegetables and slice meat.
And there are nails in the wooden hulls of ships from past centuries which have not rusted, after generations of exposure to salt sea and storm. Craft, not technology, went into their composition: there were many stages of piling and rolling, each requiring practised human skill. (The monks in Yorkshire were making fine steels in the Middle Ages; and had also anticipated, by the fourteenth century, all the particulars of a modern blast furnace. But they gave up on that process because it did not yield the quality they demanded.)
What is sold today as “wrought iron” in garden fixtures, fences and gates, is fake: cheap steel with a “weatherproof” finish (a term like “stainless”) painted on. These vicious things are made by people who would never survive in a craft guild. (Though to be fair, they are wage slaves, and therefore each was “only following orders.”)
However, in the Greater Parkdale Area, on my walks, I can still visit with magnificent examples of the old craft, around certain public buildings — for it was lost to us only a couple of generations ago. These lift one’s heart. I can stand before the trolley stop at Osgoode Hall (the real one, not the Marxist-feminist law school named after it). Its fence and the old cow-gates warm the spirit, and raise the mind: if the makers sinned, I have prayed for them.
Almost everywhere else one looks in one’s modern urban environment, one sees fake. This, conversely, leaves the spirit cold, and lowers every moral, aesthetic, and intellectual expectation. To my mind it is sinful to call something what it is not — as is done in every “lifestyle” advertisement — and to my essentially mediaeval mind, the perpetrators ought to be punished in this world, as an act of charity. This could spare them retribution in the next.
David Warren, “For a Godly materialism”, Essays in Idleness, 2015-01-31.
March 15, 2016
Sewer gas is like a lot of topics in construction and maintenance. Sewer gas should be understood, and its relative danger respected. Fear is not the same as knowledge and respect.
Knowledge coupled with respect is not au courant in today’s world. If you watch any “home improvement” show, there is only one constant. Everyone wears safety glasses all the time no matter how trivial the dangers involved. I have seen people put on safety glasses to hang drapes. If you truly understand risk, and respect danger in proportion to that risk, you are using judgment. If you do not understand risk, but are simply afraid of everything, you wear safety glasses all the time. An overwhelming fear of putting your eye out trumps any rational assessment of the behavior you should undertake to avoid it. You’d be smarter to examine your neurotic urge to achieve an illusory feeling of safety while ignoring really dangerous things.
Safety glasses are the clown shoes of fear. I have seen all the shelter shows — once — and I have observed a noticeably pregnant woman put on safety glasses in order to undertake the demolition of perfectly good tile in her tract home bathroom. It’s not unwise to wear safety glasses if you’re determined to strike ceramic tile with a sledgehammer. It’s just really dumb to think that striking ceramic tile with a sledgehammer is how demolition is accomplished. The pregnant woman was wearing flip flops in order to display her painted toenails to the public. People who understand risk and respect the process they’ve undertaken do not perform demolition in open-toed shoes while pregnant. Believing that wearing safety glasses under those circumstances bestows safety is magical, cargo cult thinking. Magical thinking doesn’t result in safety, ever. It results in paranoia with recklessness ladled all over it.
January 9, 2016
On what separates us from the apes:
Michael Tomasello, one of the world’s foremost experts on chimpanzee cognition, [said] “It is inconceivable that you would ever see two chimpanzees carrying a log together.”
On what doesn’t separate us from the apes:
Acheulean tools [a style used by hominids 1.8 million years ago] are nearly identical everywhere, from Africa to Europe to Asia, for more than a million years. There’s hardly any variation, which suggests that the knowledge of how to make these tools may not have been passed on culturally. Rather, the knowledge of how to make these tools may have become innate, just as the “knowledge” of how to build a dam is innate in beavers.
Jonathan Haidt, quoted by Scott Alexander in “List Of The Passages I Highlighted In My Copy Of Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind“, Slate Star Codex, 2014-06-12.
December 13, 2015
Published on 11 Dec 2015
Paul shows his very simple method of how to get a razor sharp edge on your kitchen, carving, pocket or any form of knife using just a few pieces of sandpaper or some diamond paddles.
November 7, 2015
Lee Valley now offers a 3D-printed plumb bob and shows the advantages of using 3D print capabilities:
July 27, 2015
Published on 23 Jul 2015
Paul Sellers shows how he sharpens and sets a bench plane in his every day of work. A quick and easy guide to get your plane working.
January 29, 2015
October 25, 2014
Paul Sellers talks about the practical limits to sharpening woodworking tools like planes and chisels:
As I have said, we have become something of an obsessive bunch when it comes to the different elements of working wood; sharpness has become more and more obsessive. Now we are not talking about the violin maker seeking sharp levels for clear tone from the wood and who uses wood so soft, unsharp gouges and planes would bruise rather than cut the fine surfaces he strives to achieve. His standards parallel the levels needed for severing tissue by the surgeon’s hand, not the bench joiner chopping mortises and cutting a few dovetails.
It’s unfortunate that since the demise of ordinary craftsmanship we now turn to guru wood writers and not wood-wrights. Woodwrights are no longer there to give us our information of course. It’s true too that the sources of information become more and more questionable. Three recent sources of information teaching on sharpening techniques I tracked back to tool catalog and online sales people selling products for sharpening. Most of the information they have is not new but regurgitated. Each phase of sharpening change marks another saleable product and so we see Japanese water stones added to carborundum stones, Arkansas stones and Washita stones and then came diamonds and abrasive films, diamond paste and flattening stones. The list goes on.
We have survived the different gospels of scary sharp and micro-bevel methodology and are emerging to this very simple reality. As long as you start the cutting edge somewhere around 30-degrees and polish it out it will cut well. If you you sharpen to around 1200-grit it will cut most anything you need in woodworking. If you sharpen to a polished edge of around 15,000-grit you can slice the most delicate of materials effortlessly, but 98% of the time that’s far from necessary. What am I saying? I’m saying that we generally sharpen to task but often sharpen to a higher level because it’s not much extra effort. We all know after a few efforts at sharpening that the greatest effort comes at the start of the process when we have to regain ground to get through a fractured and dulled edge and back to a productive cutting edge. That said, it’s not a big deal, just a few extra strokes on the coarse diamonds gets you there. So, if that is the case, why do we sharpen to higher levels than are usually needed. Well, it is a fact that the more polished the two plains forming the arête for a cutting edge are, the sharper the edge is but the stronger the edge is too. As I said, the extra effort is worth the work because it’s so quick and effective. It’s not so much what we do to the edge to establish it but what we do to the edge after we have prepared it for work. Taking the chisel to the surface of the wood to work the wood begins an immediate process of edge reduction we now know is edge fracture but was once called wear. No matter the steel, edge fracture occurs at some level but some steels fracture more readily than others. What we often do not realise is that it is impossible to find a steel that both takes and retains an edge and at the same time has a level of durability we can rely on forever. All edges wear away by fracture and constantly need restoring.