Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My latest projects

After many months away, I'm back with my last and latest projects!

 This entertainment center is tiny but holds everything we need it to:
That's our 39" flatscreen, to give you an idea of scale.There are two hinged doors for hiding DVDs and our modem and router. Don't know if you can see it, but if you can: yes, that's my Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Chosen Collection, since you asked.

We also needed a coffee table, so I built this Shaker-influenced project:

There's a through-rail under the top that comes out each end, as well as a shelf underneat to hold magazines and stuff.

My next project is a lot bigger, somewhere on the scale of difficulty of the built-in bookshelves. We've been looking for a sideboard or a stepback cupboard, but we just can't find one we like. One of my woodworking books has a nice drawing of one with the height, width, and depth measurements--and that's it. So I'm trying to create my own measured drawing based on the things I like about the pictured one. More details to come. Suffice it to say that I'm taking my time with the drawings, so that when and if I start it, I'll be ready. At the same time, we'll still keep looking at antique stores.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Latest hand tools blitz

Sorry it's been so long since I posted; work's been a booger, and we moved to Maine in August 2012!

So we're now in Brunswick, ME, living in a nice old farmhouse (rental). Our weekends, when we're not working, have been spent going antiquing, which we LOVE. One of my favorite things to look for is cool old hand tools that will still work. Here are pictures of a few of my latest acquisitions:

First up, my new ax!

It's a Keen Kutter 24" ax by Simmons Hardware Company. A little research showed me what I already knew: this ax is highly collectable and valuable. The fact that the trademark still says "E.C. Simmons" shows the ax was made pre-1940, when Shapleigh Hardware Company purchased the trademark and replaced the "E.C. Simmons" with "Shapleigh." Sweet! Pre-1940 is awesome.

The best part? I paid $20 for it!

The handle almost looks hand-made, but I can't be sure on that.

Here's a Buck Brothers firmer gouge with an obviously home-made handle:

Buck Brothers Cast Steel. Nice! I only paid $4 for this!

This next chisel is a big old hand-forged gouge:
You can see where the metal was hand-forged, I think:
This one is big, about 18 inches long from handle to tip. Gonna be making some big spoons like my man Dick Proenicke! Once sharpened, this baby will remove some wood with a quickness! I'm trying to remember what I paid for this -- maybe $10?

Here's a nice little trim plane I got for ten bucks:

The trademark stamped on this reads "AMER TOOL FDRY CO," the American Tool Foundry Company. I found one on eBay along with a Stanley version, and both were going for about $25. I paid $10 for this one.

Finally, I found a bucksaw that was in decent condition and that didn't cost an arm and a leg:
Nice old red paint and workable gear:
The blade is not exactly a pro cutting edge:
Just even zigzaggy teeth. No idea how sharp it is.

I'm taking all of these tools to a sharpening service I found over in Topsham; I met the guy when I was out knocking doors for work, and he seemed to know his stuff and was excited to see my old tools. I would love to learn how to sharpen my own tools, but I'm terrified I'll ruin them.

I love love love looking at antique tools. There are always tons of old planes and stuff. I usually try to buy at the lowest prices I can find, so I don't usually buy a lot of planes. They're always pricey.

Next time, I'll feature some other great purchases, including a Carborundum Niagara hand-cranked grinder, another little Buck Brothers gouge, a Speedball gouge, a draw knife, a spokeshave, and more!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


This is an old-fashioned wheelbarrow I made from scrap wood I found around the rental house where we live:

It's meant to be very rough, so I didn't adjust the one higher side to be even with the other side because that would've involved a rip cut or planing it down, when I wanted it to be rough.

A profile pic might've been better -- so I added this photo:
 A detail of one of the legs, which I fitted to the body with a sort of rabbet joint:

Here's the wheel assembly, which is some sort of old buggy wheel (?) I bought at an antique place, with a bolt for an axle, and two maple saplings for handles:
The wheel is really awesome; it's got ball bearings and everything.

Here's one of the handles:
I had started to strip the bark off the maple when I changed my mind. Oops.

I plan to use it to haul things around the yard, obviously -- though everyone who's seen it keeps telling me I should use it as a planter. I don't really like to build something that could be useful but then use it as something decorative; that seems like a waste of a good tool. You often see this kind of barrow used as a planter in people's yards, but I think those were made for decorative purposes, not for actual use. This barrow is more sturdy and should stand up to some good gardening usage.

I especially like the fact that it only cost me about $12 to make -- the cost of the wheel and the nuts and bolts to hold the handles on and to serve as the axle. The rest is either scrap or maple sapling.

Coming up: focus on hand tools!

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I've been a woodworker for some time now, but I've never received any kind of training or help. When I say I'm an amateur, it's because my efforts are amateurish, if a little ambitious.

Here are a few things I've built in the past:

This is probably the most ambitious project I ever took on: floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall built-in bookshelves with a carcase cabinet on the bottom (with doors) and a window seat in the center. This is a lo-res photo, so I apologize for the quality. It's the only photo I have of this project, which I called the Taj Mahal, a gigantic labor of love for my girlfriend at the time. I built it into the living room of the house we once owned.

I also built us two nightstands:
Another cabinet with a door and a curved-front base, top, and little shelf. Again, lo-res photo.

Both those projects were built with a combination of interior-grade (beech veneer) plywood and solid white pine. The Taj Mahal probably took a month from start to finish; the nightstand was done in a day.

I've also been trying to learn woodcarving. Here's my first-ever project:
It's a gnome, carved out of a cedar garden stake.

More to come!