Anarchist’s Bookcase


I got back to a little woodworking last week.  I built a bookcase from Lost Art Press’s Anarchist’s Design Book (ADB) to go into my son’s dorm room.  It took a fairly big mental hurtle to convert my shop from bathroom-remodeling mode to woodworking mode, which was a good thing.  Because of the tight timeline, I used 1×12 pine from the home center.  That wood is terrible.  It appears that even the “premium” quality boards are poorly dried.  Out of about twelve boards all but two cupped just a day or two after I brought them home.  That put me on the slippery slope which led to power sanding, and then purchasing Bench Cookies (ew).  I used the two boards that stayed flat for the sides, and ended up using cupped boards for the shelves.  That seemed to be ok since the shelves are housed in 1/4-deep dadoes.

I was happy with how the shelves turned out.  I finished the outside of the sides with two coats of General Finishes milk paint (black over red).  Given more time, it could have used one more coat of paint, and some BLO or wax over that.  I would have also liked to wax the shelves, or even burnish them.  I was asked if I could make more of them to stay in the house, which is a good sign.

These felt really sturdy.  After just the glue-up and nailing the sides to the shelves they were very rigid.  They were a little out-of-square and I had planned to square them up before nailing on the back.  But it felt like it would be too big a fight (and I was running out of time.)  Then after nailing the back boards to the sides and shelves the case felt totally rigid.

Here are a few random bits that I might want to remember when I build them again.

  • Used 6d clout nails on the sides and 4d clout nails for the ship-lapped back
  • Put 2 nails in each end of the top rail and kick
  • Did not nail the back boards to the top rail
  • Made the outside back boards full-height, and nailed them on the outside of the sides and shelves, not inset as the plans specify.  This worked well and made the case a little wider than if the back was inset
  • The main glue-up was tough – not sure how much worse because of cupped shelf boards.  Would rather just glue and nail the sides to the shelves all at once, then use clamps to adjust squareness if needed
  • Height open above each shelf was 13″, 11″, and 9″.  This seemed like a good size for use at college.
  • The depth achieved by using 1x12s seemed plenty. The plan in ADB calls for wider boards, but I don’t think I’d want the case that deep.
  • Power sanding is totally gross.  Maybe it’s just that the dust collection on my random-orbit sander is lame.  Regardless, I should shoot for never doing that in the house again
  • My old Jet “lunch box” planer is a rock star.  Turned the cupped 3/4″ boards into 1/2″ back boards and went straight from the planer to plowing the rabbets for ship-lapping, and nailed them onto the case.
  • Need a small crock pot to keep the hide glue warm
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Fluffy Hair And Tight Handles


I’ve been tuning up some large mortise and tenon joints lately. It’s probably the dry February air, but I was having a heck of a time with the handle of the 3/4″ chisel staying in it’s socket. In his post here Chris Schwarz recommended hair spray to help hold on a socketed chisel handle. When I asked around the other night for hair spray, we were fresh out. So I tried some spray shellac. The handle hasn’t moved since.

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Wall shelves


Shelves in pine with shellac

Quick little wall shelves in pine, cut nails, and finished with shellac.  The dados were fun – it was the first time I’d cut them with a back saw, chisel, and router plane.  Lesson learned from this project: put the French cleats inside the box, not on the back/outside of it.

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Period Windsors, and more on The Adze


Jim’s front showroom

I caught up with Jim Van Hoven recently when he held an open house at his shop in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. He has a nice setup in a building that used to be a restaurant. From back to front he has a machine room, then a (work)bench room, and the showroom with big windows looking out onto Main Street.

While I was there I took photos of the adze I used when I took the class with Jim in 2010.  The handle is straight and shorter than I remembered.  Jim said he really likes how it has an asymmetrical shape.  Seen best in the third adze photo below, it has a steeper sweep on the left side and shallower sweep on the right.

As if those things weren’t enough to make this a unique tool, Jim’s adze has neither an external or internal bevel.  It has a knife edge with the bevel going up about an inch-and-a-half on both sides.  There’s no chance of finding an adze like this at retail outlets.

My earlier conniption about the adze is here.





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Innocent Beginnings?


Little Free Library in school colors

Not even an hour had passed since I’d delivered my last project, and I was thinking about what project(s) to start next.  Didn’t matter that I still have a number of woodworking projects part-way done, or a pressing house project that needs to be finished.  Why is it that starting a project is so easy (and so much fun), and sticking with it to the finish is so hard?

Pictured above is another little free library, this one for the school nearby.  Made of pine and repurposed oak boards.

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Toothing Plane


Lapping my toothing plane. The stack of free 60 grit paper they gave out at a guild meeting last summer is perfect on my granite test plate.  It sure is nice how quickly a wooden-bodied plane can be trued.  This one had quite a belly on it, but I’ll bet it took no longer than 5 minutes to flatten the sole.

For tool-geeks, I can not make out a maker’s mark on the plane, except “Ward” on the iron. About 20 ppi.  The iron is 2″ wide and the body is 7 3/4 inches long.  The photos below were Hyperkittens, taken before I cleaned it up a bit with steel wool.

toothing1 toothing2 toothing3 toothing4

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WIA 2013


Peter Galbert giving a talk on chair design, and the birdcage mitered corner

I attended Woodworking in America (WIA) for the third time, helping Mike run the handtool olympics booth.

I made it to only two talks this year, but both were excellent.  One was a talk by Peter Galbert on how he designs chairs, and also how he cuts the miter on top of the back of the birdcage windsor.  The second talk was Don Williams on finishing/shellac.  Excellent stuff.  I’m looking forward to his finishing book.

The bulk of the weekend was spent cajoling people to do our hand tool events.  My favorite event to work at is cutting dovetails.  I’d say at least half the people have never cut one by hand before, and when they get to this event they slow down, set aside their expectations, and concentrate on getting it right.  The sawing and chisel work is easy.  What’s tricky is wrapping your head around how to do the joint in general – marking out, knowing which parts to cut out and which to leave, and general order of operations.  I finally have a pretty good handle on it, and helping a couple dozen people with it was excellent practice for me.

It was a tiring and inspiring weekend.


Here I am timing/coaching a contestant cutting a dovetail

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