Archive for June 2011

Right click to download in HD

In this episode I show you how to make a simple wooden saw vase based off the design from the Norse Woodsmith blog.  A saw vise is an essential piece of equipment for saw sharpening. Without one it’s virtually impossible to support the saw correctly while filing the teeth.  Unfortunately, buying a new or used vise is easily the most expensive part of getting started in an otherwise cheap endeavor.  Building a shop made vise is a workable alternative that lowers the barrier to entry.

Hardware Used

Saw Sharpening Links

Hand Tool School

A great resource for leaning hand tool techniques.  The most recent lesson (semester 2 lesson 1) is all about sharpening and has some great info on saw sharpening at the end.


Vintage Saws’ Saw Filing–A Beginner’s Primer

A veritable treatise on saw filing with the beginner in mind.  This is how I learned to sharpen saws.


Hand Saw Sharpening DVD by Tom Law

Lots of good information on saw sharpening.  This is obviously a transfer from VHS and the video quality suffers here.  Hard to get a good visual feel of the process.

I’ve been generally happy with my DeWalt DW735 Planer since I bought it several years ago.  It’s well designed, has good dust collection, and leaves a really smooth surface.  I’ve, however, been waging a constant battle against snipe.  If I took light passes it was manageable and I could clean it up with a plane but for heavier dimensioning, the snipe was pretty onerous.  I’d taken to leaving an extra six inches on every board so that I could trim off the almost three inches of snipe on either side resulting in quite a lot of wasted wood.

Motivated by the need to be a bit more creative with rough layout of my Bell Forest Adirondack Chair kit and one of the items on my shop TODO list from my Shop Tour , I purchased the Folding Infeed/Outfeed Tables for my planer. Sure I could have built something but at less that $50 and with only so much shop time they seemed worth a try.  After all, Amazon is pretty good about taking returns on items you’re not satisfied with.


The instructions were predictably laughable.  The single sheet of paper hermetically sealed in its very own plastic bag was little better than the assembly diagram.  Thankfully little more is needed to set up the tables than said assembly diagram.  Little more I say because the instructions completely omit any mention of adjusting the tables coplanar to the planer bed.  The adjustment method that worked well for me was to raise the planer to it’s maximum setting (careful of those knives underneath,) clamp a straight edge to the planer bed, and adjust the tables with the four screws that attach them to their “aprons.”  Working my way front to back a few times brought the tables into alignment.


Grabbing a scrap of poplar, I flattened one face on the jointer then took a light pass with the planer.  I tried to feel for snipe and couldn’t feel any.  I cranked down to a 1/16″ cut ran it through again.  Still couldn’t feel any snipe.  At this point I was pretty surprised.  I was expecting reduced snipe but not to completely eliminate it.  The machinist in me whipped out my dial indicator and took a measurement: less that 0.003″!!  I think I can live with that.



  • virtually eliminated snipe
  • relatively inexpensive
  • easy to set up


  • planer body blocks rear table from folding up
  • poor setup instructions

Recommendation:  If you own a DW735 planer, don’t think, just buy this accessory.  You’ll make up the cost in less wasted wood.  If you’re thinking of buying a DW735 (a good choice,) buy the package deal that includes the tables.  It’s less that $20 more and comes with and extra set of knives in addition to the tables!

I’m building two green and green styled adirondack chairs along with the Wood Whisperer Guild.   If you recall, I had a bit of buyer’s remorse over the ribbon stripe mahogany I’d picked out locally and decided to buy a rough lumber kit from Bell Forest for the second chair.  There are lots of differences between the two: honduran vs. fiji mahogany, S2S vs. rough sawn, hand picked vs. mail order.  I’m looking forward to comparing the process of building and the end result of these two chairs created with two very different batches of wood.  I’m also interested to see how time affects the color of each chair.  More science!

Rough Layout

Rough layout on the locally sourced mahogany was fairly simple and straight forward since I had so much of it.  The only major snag was that the boards I’d picked out varied from light to dark a bit more than I’d have liked.  From choosing pattern to tone, I’ve definitely learned a lot about what to look for when choosing lumber for my next project.


The mail order lumber was much the opposite as the locally sourced.  All but one board was pretty even in color but I was constrained on layout because all the pieces were cut to 4 foot lengths.  Since many of the pieces in the plan are over 24″ ate up more than half a board each.  If these boards were 8 feet long, I would have had many more options.  That being said, my only real issue with layout was fitting a side leg and front apron onto a single 4 foot piece of 8/4 stock. With the two end to end I was left with only 1/4″ between the them.  This made me a bit nervous because after a saw kerf I’d be left with ~1/16″ wiggle room on each piece.

Bell Forest must have had their mind reading machine well tuned because yesterday they sent me an email asking about the dimensions of my 8/4 boards.  They’d realized that, while they sent out an appropriate board footage, the boards weren’t well sized for layout.  They’re sending me an additional piece of 8/4 on Monday to fix the situation.  Kudos to them for realizing their mistake and being so proactive about fixing it!


I am lucky enough to have access to a laser cutter at work with which I made a template for my template.  Because the laser cutter can only handle 18″ x 24″ material, i cut the template in two pieces then traced the rough outline onto a piece of MDF.  Some quick work with the bandsaw removed most of the waste and the template was taped back onto the MDF.  Over at the router table, I trimmed the rest off with a flush trim bit.  I finished the template using the oscillating spindle sander to fair the curves.

All in all it was a really quick and easy way to make the template.  Definitely going to use this technique again in the future.

I excitedly received my pre-order copy of Marc Spagnolo’s book “Finishing : it ain’t over till it’s over” two days ago.  After spending a couple days with it I thought it only appropriate to swing grape soda microscope back around at Marc.

A little bit of a disclaimer here: I’m reviewing the pre-order print version of the book.  As I understand it , this is a limited print run and the book will be generally available as an e-book.

From The Back of the Book

“This book presents you with the “Wood Whisperer perspective” on the world of finishing: solid finishing advice explained in a way that any woodworker can understand and implement.  As an added bonus, you’ll have access to special online videos and other ressources that will further aid in your comprehension of the subject at hand.”

Entertainment Value

This category is a gimme for Marc.  His casual, entertaining “Wood Whisperer style” transfers well from video to print.  For those who have been following the wood whisperer for a while, you can easily hear Marc’s voice in the writing.  Scott Johnson’s whimsical illustrations further keep the tone of this book light and entertaining.

Score: 4.5/5 grape sodas

Production Quality

The book is nicely printed and bound.  Nothing fancy here.  The paper is nice and white and the text is typeset well making it easy to read under my dim bedside light.  The printing is black and white which felt a bit off for a finishing book especially the picture of stained pine vs. mahogany.  You can’t get a feel for the tone of the wood and the grain’s bit hard to see.  I’m guessing the e-book version will be in color and won’t suffer from the same issue.

Score: 3/5 grape sodas

Information Quality

I have to keep reminding myself that this book is meant to be a collection of practical advice to improve your finishing not an end to end explanation of the finishing process.  The advice is solid and well supplemented by the videos referenced in the chapters.  This is a good book to keep in the shop and quickly review during the various stages of finishing.

Score: 3.5/5 grape sodas

Overall Value

This was the hardest of the categories to evaluate because I pre-ordered the print version at $20 which came with a 3 month extension to my Wood Whisperer Guild membership (a $32 value at the yearly rate) so in some ways the book cost negative money.  I don’t have any information on how much Marc will charge for the e-book version.

That being said I am a bit disappointed by how short the book is.  Most of the chapters are only a couple pages long and I plowed through the whole book in the first night’s bedtime reading and was left wanting more.  That desire for more was mostly sated by watching the supplemental videos last night.  Those videos really help to ground the topics covered in the book.

Score: 4/5 grape sodas

Keeps Its Promise

This book delivers on it’s promise “solid finishing advice explained in a way that any woodworker can understand and implement.”  Though, I’m not sure what the “other ressources” are aside from possibly the appendix of Marc’s responses to emails he gotten about finishing or the list of URLs at the back.

Score: 4/5 grape sodas


Marc’s book is a solid collection of finishing advice that I think will make a great reference in my workshop.  Beginners will get a swath of useful suggestions while intermediate woodworkers will find plenty of tips that they didn’t know or just plain forgot to pay attention to.  As for advanced woodworkers; I can’t say. That’s out of my realm.

I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned from this book to finishing my next project.

And now… punching the numbers into my own highly secret weighted grape soda score algorithm…

*boop* *beep* *click* *whirr*

Final Score: 3.75/5 grape sodas

(apologies for getting sticky grape soda on your new shiny book Marc)

Right click to download in HD

EDIT: I misspoke when I named my tablesaw as a PM2000.  It’s actually the older PM66 which is why I can’t get a riving knife for it. (Thanks Dean for pointing that out!)

There’s something oddly intimidating about staring down a camera for the first time in an empty room.  Add to that spending hours editing, watching yourself, noticing every odd mannerism and you come away with quite the humbling experience.  I certainly have added respect for the other video podcasters out there.  That being said, I had loads of fun making this and know it will get easier and more polished in the future.

Shop Location: Oakland, CA

Shop Type: Bottom floor of my warehouse loft.

Shop Size: 15’x25′

In this first episode we take a tour of my shop.  I go over what works and doesn’t work about the setup and have lots of mini tool reviews along the way.

(Link to the Fine Woodworking article I mentioned on Dust-Proofing Any Tablesaw)

I’ve been playing around a bit with creating WordPress themes.  I like the direction this is heading visually but there’s still more work to be done organizationally.