A new hand made dovetail saw.

A new hand made dovetail saw.

Posted by on Nov 29, 2014 in Blog | No Comments

skelton sawAt the recent Northern Woodworking and Power Tool show in Harrogate Shane Skelton of Skelton Saws came to my stand to show me his new dovetail saw. Shane has taken the bold step of setting up as the only handmade saw maker in the UK, challenging the US dominance in the market.  I must say his first offering was very impressive.

The 10” dovetail saw has 15 tpi rip cut teeth with a canted blade (slightly narrower at the front than the back) and a very fine rosewood handle (which Shane assured me was from sustainable sources). The saw had a nice balance and trying it out on a piece of sycamore proved that the cut was quick and fine. I thought that the 15 tpi would mean the starting cut would be difficult however this was not the case, a testament to Shanes fine hand filing. The saw had a similar feel to a Gramercy dovetail saw belonging to a former American student of mine, strange, as the Gramercy has much finer teeth.

Review of Quangsheng No. 5 bedrock jack plane

Posted by on Nov 8, 2013 in Newsletter articles | No Comments

In recent years Quangsheng planes from China have been providing an economic alternative to the more up market offerings from Lie Neilsen and Clifton. In this article I find out whether the cheaper alternative is worth considering.

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Refurbishing a plane for Africa

Refurbishing a plane for Africa

Posted by on Nov 5, 2013 in Blog | No Comments

On my tool sharpening & maintenance course and beginners woodwork four day course we spend some time refurbishing planes. Often students come on the course without a plane to fettle, to cater for them I usually buy planes on ebay. On my last beginners course I ran out of ebay planes, so there was no plane for Dirk, a student from Belgium, to work on. Fortunately I am also involved in the local Tools for Self Reliance group, so I also have an additional stock of tools to draw on.

Tools for Self Reliance is an excellent charity which collects unwanted tools, refurbishes them and sends them out to crafts people in Africa. TFSR is based around a network of local groups who undertake the collection and refurbishment. As a craftsman who knows the importance of hand tools I have supported TFSR for over 25 years.

refurbishing vintage Stanley 51/2 plane, made between 1910 to 1918

refurbishing vintage Stanley 51/2 plane, made between 1910 to 1918

I selected for Dirk a lovely vintage Stanley 51/2 plane, made between 1910 to 1918, with beautiful undamaged rosewood handles.

A low cost sharpening system

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in Articles, Newsletter articles | No Comments
An review of the sharpening media available and a description of an economical way of getting really sharp tools.

How to saw straight

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in Articles, Newsletter articles | No Comments

An apparently simple operation but actually quite tricky. Here are some tips on how to saw straight and square.

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How to make a shooting board

Posted by on Sep 30, 2013 in Articles, Newsletter articles | No Comments

The shooting board is a useful piece of equipment for those who mainly use hand tools. It can be used to true the ends of pieces or for edging thin pieces, even edge jointing veneer. Here I show how to make a shooting board and how to use it.

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Buying tools on ebay and at car boot sales

Buying tools on ebay and at car boot sales

Posted by on Apr 4, 2012 in Blog | No Comments

A woodwork plane bought on ebay

There are two different routes you can take for buying hand tools, which you choose depends on whether you are money rich or time rich. If you are money rich you can buy hand tools from reputable makers such as Veritas, Lie Neilsen, Clifton and Quangsheng. If you are time rich, or just like restoring old things, then good tools can be found on ebay and a car boots. But you need to be wary. So what should you look for?


Buying tools on ebay is more risky than buying offline as you are not likely to be able to handle and assess them. It takes careful study of the posted images and asking some pointed questions of the seller. Do not be afraid of interrogating the seller.Here’s what to look for for a selection of tools.

Chisels

  • Is it straight? Chisels must be completely flat at the end, if not they will not sharpen or cut properly. If you can handle it eye it along the length, or better still, check with straight edge both along and across the flat of the back.
Narex chisels and Workshop Heaven

Narex chisels and Workshop Heaven

Posted by on Mar 9, 2012 in Blog | No Comments

cutting using a fettled economy Narex chisel

Today I’ve been preparing for the dovetail days over the weekend and also the beginners course that starts next Saturday.
On the first day of the beginners course we sharpen and fettle planes and chisels. For those who have no tools I have to provide some to work on. I like to buy old record and Stanley 5 1/2 planes from ebay for the plane fettling. But finding suitable chisels has been more difficult, so I thought I would try a set of  Narex chisels from Workshop Heaven. Matthew Platt, who runs this execellent business, recommends them as the best economy chisel on the market. I received a set of four from Matthew today and must say I am very impressed. Generally I don’t like chisels with striking ferrules, they often seem uncomfortable, but these have a good balance and feel right in the hand.

Some economy chisels can take ages to fettle up ie lapping the machining marks and flattening the back and regrinding.

Basic jointing weekend.

Basic jointing weekend.

Posted by on Jun 7, 1916 in Beginner's Courses, Courses | One Comment
Two day course. Success in woodwork comes from using sharp tools, good technique and an accurate approach to the work. We deal with sharp tools in other courses. On this course you will learn some basic jointing techniques which will enable you to build a wide range of furniture. Perhaps more importantly you will come to understand just how important precision is in the craft of woodwork. A must if you want to get on the right track from the start.
Tool sharpening and maintenance weekend.

Tool sharpening and maintenance weekend.

Posted by on Jun 5, 1916 in Beginner's Courses, Courses | One Comment
Two day course. Why This Course? - Woodwork is a hundred times easier and more enjoyable with properly sharpened tools. Many people struggle with their woodwork because the tools they use use have not been properly sharpened. The problem is not a lack of ability but the lack of sharp tools. This course will teach you how to get your tools really sharp allowing you to enjoy your woodwork without the frustration of blunt tools.