OWWM link: http://owwm.org/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=148606

Finally started getting moving on restoring that old northfield.  I’ll post a write up when I’m all done, but that will probably be awhile.. I’ve ordered a new cutterhead from Byrd, and the wait is 12-16 weeks.

In the meantime, I’ve done some clean-up and painting.  I bought a HVLP spray gun from Amazon for only $40, was pretty surprised how well it worked considering I was spraying a fairly thick oil-based enamel.

I’ll post pictures along the way, but here’s what has happened so far.


Getting the pulley off the cutterhead shaft was puzzling.. After a lot of staring and some internet searches, leaned about “keyed tapered bushings”.  Basically, two tapered bushings that are pulled together to hold a pulley on the shaft.


Cutterhead finally out, and most everything disassembled..




A coat of gray primer went on before this green… Here’s the Sherwin Williams paint code for “northfield” green.

Northfield paint.jpg









Right now I’m fabricating a dust chute, so I’ll post some pictures of that when I’m done.

– Matt

$24 and 4 hours

Well, this is slightly embarrassing given my last entry, when I rambled on and on about “fine” work.  We had some baskets, and my time frame to build a shelf was one day, more or less. Well, it was an evening and a morning. I had one glue-up that I let sit overnight.

Otherwise, it was a 12″x8′ S4S pine board from the big box store, and a SYP 2″x10″x8′.  About $24.  So there is some pith involved, and some cupped boards.. But not a lot of time or money. IMG_2417

Oh, and a handful of pocket screws. I think my wife is going to paint it white.



Anyways, it won’t last 100 years, but I suppose it doesn’t have to. It’s not exactly satisfying building furniture like this, but it is a good feeling to do something so quickly.  Maybe I’ll buy a festool domino or something, so that when there is a time crunch I can still avoid pocket hole joinery.

– Matt

La Forge Royale

Well, it only took a year and half to get started, but I finally got a chance to build that carver’s vise from benchcrafted..

Not much to say about it so far, I’ve barely used it.. But like everything Jameel offers, it grips like crazy, and is of very high quality.  The mounting system is very cool too.  Works in any of your dog holes, although I think I’ll give the mounting post a permanent place on my bench somewhere, so I can quickly toss the vise up there.



I got a dead quarter-sawn piece of maple from Greg Pennington, and it was a joy to work with.  Also, those rough edges you see on the jaws are the leather! It doesn’t look nearly that bad in person, but I can see now I’m going to have to trim those up some more with a razor blade.



Besides manufacturing the best vises you can buy, Jameel Abraham (the guy behind benchcrafted) is also a constant source of inspiration. I always watch his blog because he does the most amazing work, yet presents it in such an accessible manner. Being able to peek into his shop through his blog has been an unmeasurable help. The lesson is that high quality work doesn’t just magically show up on your bench. Everything counts; every cut with the saw, every stroke of the plane. Are you tools sharp?  Are you marking off your reference face? And it shouldn’t be a tedious process. You just learn that your best work is the *only* kind of work.


And fine work is achievable by all of us. We’re all using the same tools; there isn’t magical woodworking fairy dust in one person’s shop and not the others. Just pay attention to what you’re doing, and then pay attention even more.

Figuring out this mindset has really helped me progress. I don’t get *nearly* as much time in the shop that I like to, but when I do get out there, it’s like I never left.  These are the only two dovetails I cut in 2014:


Not perfect by any means.. But I’ll get better. One other idea I really subscribe to is valuing efficiency over mastery.  I got that one from Konrad Sauer.

My goal with woodworking and planemaking is to become extremely efficient while continuing to improve my accuracy… and in that order…

Konrad has a great post on the subject here. (btw, Konrad’s blog is also required reading.  Just start at the very beginning and go from there)  It really resonated with me though. I don’t have a lot of time in the shop, so I don’t want things to take a long time. Anyone can dovetail a drawer perfectly.  But until you can do it perfectly in an hour or two, you haven’t really mastered things. So, over the past few years, I’ve consciously valued efficiency first (and produced plenty of warts and mistakes in my projects), and that’s forced me to become better. Largely because I’ve relied less on crutches to achieve a result.

Those seem to be mutually exclusive viewpoints.. “do it fast!” and “pay attention, only your best work will suffice”. But they aren’t at all. Once you are efficient in your work, once you can accurately saw, chop, plane, and layout almost without effort and thought, then you can turn all your focus into producing things of a high caliber.

Sharpening is a perfect example of this. I used to use jigs and waterstones. This was too slow and time consuming (for me), so I would use a dull tool because sharpening wasn’t an easy and quick thing. I finally decided to suffer though learning how to sharpen freehand, and my work has improved as a result. I now never work with a dull tool, because it is second nature to reach over to the oilstone and strop sitting on the bench and touch the blade up. And if there is one thing that you need to do good work, it is sharp tools.

Anyways, enough of me blabbering on like the guy in those lincoln commercials. One thing I always love are the pictures Jameel has on his blog of some exquisite piece of handwork surrounded by a few artfully placed tools and shavings. So here’s one of my own.



Ha! Funny.

But seriously, thanks Jameel.  Thanks Konrad. Keep on blogging, I would suspect you’re having more of an impact than you know.

– Matt


so much to do.

Seems like half of what I do on this site is apologize for not being on this site more.  That’s life getting in the way, I suppose.  A lot has been going on though!  First, a couple completed projects.

A few pictures of a desk I completed.. Made with some beautiful cherry boards from Greg Pennington.  My wife found a mid-century desk she really liked, I think I did it justice.




Yes, those are metal drawer slides. Blum tandembox ones though, the kind that pull closed really softly, no matter how hard you slam the drawer home.  I’m happy with the choice.  Also my first time cutting mitered dovetails; not as hard as it looks. The first one came out pretty “meh”, but you figure it out pretty quickly.

Another reason for not having time to post: one more white baby has entered the world. Jameson O’Neill is here, bulldog for scale.



Oh yeah!  Just dragged something else home last week.  1955 Medium-duty Northfield 12″ jointer.   All 1250 lbs of it.  I could stare at it all day long, no lie.

photo 1

Seriously.  I’m excited about this one. Expect some actual posts when I get it up and running.

– Matt


I was hoping to be able to write a post about these bookshelves AND a completed desk, but the desk isn’t finished. It will probably be another week or so. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do when it comes to applying the finish in this cold weather.. My shop isn’t heated. I’ll just cross that bridge when I get to it I suppose, 65 degree winter days in Nashville aren’t too  uncommon, maybe I’ll get lucky.

I finished this set of bookshelves sometime in late october, but didn’t receive the glass until just a week ago. Tempered & laminated glass is a bit more expensive then I realized. Also much thicker.  I had dadoed the doors expecting ~ 1/8″ thick glass; this glass was over 1/4″ thick. So I had to alter my glass holding strategy, but that’s ok.

SONY DSCAt first I assumed that we were going to be getting rid of the french doors, but I kinda like them there.

Cremone bolts on the bottom doors.. I thought two bolts per case would look a little heavy, so I centered the bolt on the case, and made one of the door stiles thicker than the other so it could accommodate the centered hardware. If I had to do it again, I may have just done two bolts per case to eliminate that off-centered door line. I’m pretty indecisive, as you can tell.




SONY DSCThese are highly-modified versions of some bookshelves in PWM (dec 09, plans here). I even made the crown moulding myself! Cove cuts on the table saw are super dusty and annoying though,  I don’t really recommend it.

My wife helped me apply two coats of General Finishes Milk Paint (antique white), and that was that! I’m was relieved to be done, honestly. Large projects (like, physically large) take quite a toll.  There’s just so much hand planing, fitting, sanding, painting, etc.. These are a full 8 feet high, so finally getting these out of the shop and into the house was quite a relief.

Hopefully I’ll be posting pictures of a desk shortly!

– Matt


Moving quickly now..

The end of the year is coming up quick, and I’ve still got one major project to finish.  A desk, in a sort of mid-50’s modern style.  This will be a nice mix of traditional and non-traditional techniques and materials. Solid wood construction (no plywood), mitered dovetailed boxes, but modern blum blumotion drawer slides and hardware.

I picked up some nice looking cherry from Greg Pennington; he’s got the good stuff in a giant pole barn behind his chair workshop. I’ve been using titebond hide glue for all my glueups, I really am starting to prefer it to PVA glues. The tackiness of it prevents the panels from sliding around so much.

IMG_1757 IMG_1756 IMG_1755

One other thing I noticed, while we’re on the subject of cherry… Look at these two Lie-Nielsen handles.  The darker one I got maybe 3 years ago, the lighter one just a month ago. Cherry really ages nicely by itself overtime, no need to rush things with dyes or colored wax.



I’ll be posting more as this project moves along, I only have a few weeks left!

– Matt

Table saws are so dangerous

In the past 4 months I’ve had 2 (two!) kickback incidents with my table saw. Now, most people who read this are going to have the reaction of “well, you aren’t using proper technique, duh.”  Yeah, you’re right.  In those two incidents, I wasn’t.  Both times, I was changing from a dado stack to a rip blade for the nth time that day, and didn’t bother spending the extra 3 minutes to put the splitter back in place (because I was going to have to switch back to the dado stack a few cuts later).

Now, i’m SUPER paranoid about the table saw, so I never-ever stand behind the blade, and am very careful about where my fingers are; in both instances the piece of wood flew across the room and that was that.  My garage door wasn’t very happy.

However, this is a recipe for getting really hurt. I was lucky both times something serious didn’t happen.  This isn’t about HOW to use a table saw safely, it’s about ALWAYS using it safely.  And how are you going to always use it 100% safe, every time? Reminds me of this scene from the wire:


Anyways, recognizing my own faults, I’ve decided to at least take a step to make it much more likely that I’ll always put that splitter back in place.  I ordered a “snap in spreader” from Biesemeyer.  Now, instead of dealing with bolts and wrenches, this thing literally drops in place in a matter of seconds.  It’s no riving knife, but I don’t have the money for a new saw right now. It seems pretty expensive for what it is, but I’ve got no excuse for not always running it now, with it literally taking 5 seconds to put in. Laziness is taken out of the question.

And before you start pointing fingers, find a survey on how many people run their table saws with no safety equipment at all. Before riving knives became mandatory, many woodworkers simply removed the splitter and guard when they got home, and never looked at them again. I’m not alone here. So, this is a worthy investment in your safety if you’ve got an older saw that doesn’t have a riving knife.



Be safe!  And I swear I’m not TOO accident prone, despite the name of this blog.

– Matt

Old Friends and New.

I had a chance to finally get my shop cleaned up, so I figured I take a few pictures while things were looking good.

First, I don’t know how many people use these aerosol sprayers, but I’m totally hooked. I stumbled across the recommendation on owwm.org (aka the best site on the internet), and picked one up earlier this year.

I found one on ebay for around 30 bucks, and picked up a gallon of wd40. You just fill it up 2/3 with your solvent, and then pressurize it.. I know it sounds stupid, but spraying wd40 out of a can is for chumps once you realize this thing is around. It puts out such thick, fine mist, you just want to keep on spraying things. I usually just walk around the shop once every few weeks and lay a coat of wd40 on anything that’s metal. Really enjoyable.

I made it to WIA (woodworking in america) in october, and was able to pick up a few things I’ve had my eye on the past couple years.

A bronze No.4:

Bronze low angle block plane:

And the Galbert Drawsharp! Pete didn’t know it, but talking to him was the highlight of the weekend. It was also great to talk with Tim Manney, and I put my name on his list for his upcoming adze.

Some other additions to my shop include the new(ish) dewalt brushless 20v drill and impact driver. I had dropped my drill a few years ago and bent the spindle slightly. I had been eyeing some of the festool drivers, but frankly, these are really nice and waaaaaay cheaper.

The new 20v is much smaller than the old 18v (and much lighter).

Since we entering winter, I also picked up a shop heater.  I generally can deal with the cold pretty well (I live in Nashville, after all. It doesn’t get that cold down here), but I had a couple glue up issues last year due to low temperatures, and that’s annoying.  I don’t need to bring the temperature in the shop up to 70 degrees, but getting it to like 50F would make for reliable glue-ups I think.

Now that I’ve got the heater, my 3-legged cattle dog mix likes to hang out inside the shop a little more often.

Oh yeah.. Moved those book cases inside. I’ll write up a longer entry on them once I get the glass installed.  Laminated safety glass is EXPENSIVE.

– Matt

Hmm. Might have a bench grinder problem.

Maybe it’s actually a craigslist problem? Anyways, couldn’t really pass this one up.. 7” Baldor, brand new. About 75% off.

You can always tell quality stuff when you see it in person. This is a hefty grinder, about 70 lbs. And when you turn it off, it literally takes about 3 minutes to stop spinning. It’s got stamped steel rests (lame), but they expect you to replace them with something more substantial anyways.



The bookshelves are finally coming together. Next up, shelves, then some crown molding, then doors for the lower sections.  Hope to finish them in the next couple weeks. These are tall; about an inch shy of 8’. They’re built to match the height of the windows in my living room, so it compliment them nicely.


– Matt

Hey, not so trofast

Another piece of “furniture of necessity” done.  Well, still need my wife to pick out some paint. We need some better toy storage for Porter’s room, and *almost* ordered a Trofast storage combination from ikea.  Well, no point in having a garage full of tools and a belly full of gumption if I can’t build something myself, dangit. Plus, I could build it to fit the space it was destined to be. Bespoke furniture. Although, I wouldn’t call this furniture.

Started gluing up panels last week, nailed on the back boards tonight. My wife still thinks I build things agonizingly slow; I don’t buy into it. Although I did promise her some bookcases like 8 months ago, so she may have a point.

I inlayed a piece of angle iron into the front edge. I think it looks nice, plus I imagine this will be a “jumping off point” for Porter, in the most literal sense.

Tongue and groove back; used my uncle’s stanley 45 (which, I’m always amazed how minty-condition it is in. I don’t think the 3/16 tongue cutter had ever been sharpened) and my small plow plane from veritas. Pretty enjoyable.

Anyways, didn’t take too long, and should hold up longer than whatever we could have purchased. We DID buy the bins from ikea though. Don’t get me wrong, I love ikea. It’s hard to buy their furniture though, if you have the slightest insight into what really good furniture is like. Although, the price at ikea is definitely right. No arguing that.

– Matt