Archive for ‘Reviews’

WoodRiver 4 Piece Butt Chisel Set Item #152169

By , 9 May, 2012, 3 Comments
Shown in the Box

Shown in the Box

I picked up this set last week at the Lenexa, KS store.  The clerk opened the box for me so that I could inspect the chisels before I purchased them, and we found that one of the blade guards was broken.  He quickly dug out the one from the display box and substituted it for my broken one which was really nice of him.  Otherwise, on first glance, I found the box and the chisels to be in very good shape and the overall appearance of each piece was nice.

I liked the feel of the handles in my hands.  I have a large hand and wide palms.  They just feel right for me, and I am excited about using them in the years to come.

Factory Edge of 3/4

Factory Edge of 3/4

The blades all looked good on first inspection.  The tips were ‘mostly’ square and roughly sharpened, but still sharp.  I knew immediately that I would be working them a little bit.  What I discovered after working on them for a while is that the width of the blade right at the tip was a bit more than the width of the blade as you move down.  I would not have noticed this, except for the fact that I was using a square to line up the blade in my sharpening jig, and I could see it then.

The edge actually took like time for me to sharpen.  I set my guide to 30% and started on a 1000 grit stone.   I found that their bevel was close, but slightly different, so I quickly got a new bevel that was very sharp, but only about 1/8 inch up the bevel.

Back of 3/4 Chisel

Back of 3/4 Chisel

I flipped the 3/4 over and started again on my 1000 grit stone to see how flat the back actually was.  You can see here that the back, although polished nicely from the store, is not all that flat.  I found each blade to be uneven to some extent.  When I finally got to the 1 inch chisel, I discovered that it had quite a bow in it from tip of the bevel to the end of the flat section.  Using a straight edge, I would estimate this to have been close to 1/32 of an inch.

I have a Work Sharp 3000, and I laid the chisel on the top of this and worked it for a while, being careful to not overheat the edge.  If I had been doing this by hand on a stone, I think I would have given up.  But, after about 5 minutes of time on the Work Sharp, I had the back pretty flat and I went back to my 1000 grit stone until I had a nice flat surface.

I then used a 4000 and an 8000 grit stone on the backs and on the bevels to polish them up to a nice, almost mirror surface.  The steel took a very nice edge, and I shaved hair easily with each chisel.

Overall, I am very happy with the finished results.  I love the look of these chisels, and the Bubinga handles look and feel great.  The fit of the ferrule to the handle is nicely done, and does not have any rough edges.  Some will think that the blade is too thick, and maybe the edge bevel is not enough for getting into tighter areas.  That will remain to be seen as I begin to use them.

I have a Crown butt chisel, but never really cared for the feel of it.  I like these much better.  I expect these tools to become life-long friends.


By , 31 March, 2011, 1 Comment

Readers of this blog, apart from my family, probably already know the name of James Krenov.  He passed away September 10, 2009.  Some consider Mr. Krenov to have been among our greatest contemporary furniture makers and teachers.  Sadly, I cannot say that I ever met the man in person, nor do I anticipate every owning one of his highly valued pieces.

But, I do own two of his books.  I am currently reading The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking published originally in 1977 when he would have been about 55 years old.  I am finding this book a challenge to read, because it is so inspiring that I can only read about 2-3 pages at a time before I am fired up to get back into the shop.  I see wood differently, and I see making something from wood differently when I read his books.

He communicates thoughts and feelings and ideas rather than presenting plans and joints.  My wife read the first book and thoroughly enjoyed the book.  She is not a woodworker.  But the man is a fascinating read.  He seems to have written down so many of my thoughts and feelings.  How amazing to find someone that expresses what you feel and think.

For example, with a couple of my projects, I have struggled greatly with details and many steps in the projects caused me much stress.  I found myself distraught with fears of ruining a piece.  I then needed to take a half hour or hour break before I could continue.  My next experience might be euphoric as I saw such beauty in the wood and the project as it came together.  I could not explain that to myself, or to my wife.  This was supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable hobby!

But, then I read this section from The Fine Art Of Cabinetmaking, “I am cautious almost to the point of paralysis.  Afraid to spoil something, and get off the track.  Oh, I am afraid: when I have the most wonderful wood, I flutter between delight and terror.  Yet, I do go on, wanting that wholeness where nothing lets you down.” pp 38.

Well, here is a man writing down my feelings 35 years ago.  Perhaps he wrote down yours too.  If you cannot explain your passion for wood, tools to work wood and the rise in your blood pressure over photographs of beautiful furniture, then maybe you need Mr. Krenov to explain it to you and to your loved ones.

Having taken a long hiatus from woodworking, I grow frustrated each day to realize that I cheated myself of one more day to enjoy this passion.  My projects still resemble those of first-year students rather than those of a seasoned master of grain, color, shape and varieties of wood.  Sigh.

Thank you James Krenov for enabling me to understand my own thoughts and feelings.  Thank you for blessing my energy, time and money spent on my shop and projects.  Thank you for explaining that unexplainable urge to hoard beautiful pieces of wood in my home.  Pieces that I have to walk around every day to get into and out of my shop. Thank you for giving light to the path ahead, so that here in Nebraska, far away from your shop and the college you began, I know where my skills ought to take me.

Thank you for spending the time with me.  I’m glad that I got to know you.

Small Shoulder Plane

By , 21 March, 2011, No Comment

I purchased the Veritas Small Shoulder Plane from Lee Valley a couple of weeks back, and I love this tool!  I already own the medium version which looks and feels nice.  I purchased the medium first because I got to handle one that a friend at work owns.  At the time, I liked its features and it had a nice feel.  But, I found that it felt too hefty and seemed overly large for some of the jobs on which I am currently working.

So, I took a chance and bought the smaller version.  I have to admit that it looked like it might be more difficult to handle compared to the medium size, but the opposite is true for me.  By the way, I have pretty large hands, but this tools fits nicely.

Before I bought this tool, I found myself in situations where I wondered how I was going to get a certain task done without botching it.  I knew that I could use a chisel, but my control would be all over the place.  I knew that I could use a file, but also knew I would not like the end result.

This tool is wonderful.  Recently I needed to shave about a 64th of an inch off the last 3/8 inch of a couple slats that measure 4 inches wide.  I used a marking gauge to draw a line across the edge and then clamped a piece of MDF along that line.  The shoulder plane has a nice flat side, and I simply pressed it against the MDF and made about a dozen simple passes across the wood.  It was so easy to get a super sharp edge and a wonderfully flat surface.  I love this tool.

If you make furniture and are on the fence about the value of a nice shoulder plane, I encourage you to get one.  I know there are several options out there, and I have not touched the major competitors tools.  But the Veritas tool is very nice.  I personally would suggest getting the small plane before the medium if you do not yet own either.


Miniature Plane

By , 24 January, 2011, 5 Comments
Veritas Miniature Shoulder Plane

Veritas Miniature Shoulder Plane

I have large hands, and they are not quite as limber as they were when I did woodworking 30 years ago.  The benefits of age though are many.  One particular benefit is the cash to buy some nice little toys that are cute and useful on projects.

Sometimes you need something small when you are working on something small. These desks contain a few small pieces of wood that fit into sockets.  I got them close with table saw and router, but finished the fit by hand.  One piece is 1 inch wide and the other is 1 and 1/2 inch wide.  Both are just over 3/8 inch thick.

Using the Veritas Miniature Shoulder Plane

Using the Veritas Miniature Shoulder Plane

With just a tiny bit of adjustment required, I started with my marking gauge.  I scribed a line all the way around each end to make a cut about 3/8 inch from the end which is the depth of the mortise into which the pieces will fit.

At this point, I needed to shave of a very minute amount of wood along that line to make it fit nicely into the mortise.  I started with a sharp chisel and then finished with the miniature shoulder plane from Veritas.  It worked very nicely.  The plane hugged my scribed line, giving me a nice sharp shoulder, and removed the tiniest shavings until I had a great fit.

This is the second occasion in which I pulled out this tool, and each time it was a delight to put into play.  So far, I have not sharpened it, using it just as it came from Lee Valley.  Highly recommended.

Mortise Pal

By , 3 March, 2010, No Comment

My desk has a lot of mortise and tenon joints.  I tried mortising with my drill press and regular drill bit, but that was tedious and not too satisfying.  After looking around on the web, I discovered a product call The Mortise Pal.

The Mortise Pal

The Mortise Pal

Although a bit on the pricey side, the reviews were excellent, and I have a bit more money than time these days, so I ordered one.

I used it to finish the mortising around the top joints of the desk and then I used it to mortise for all the stretchers or rails.  I would have to say that it is wonderful for the mortise part.  If you decide not to square out the ends with a chisel, the you don’t need to do anything more on the mortise side.

However, cutting the tenons means that you are going to have to round the ends of the tenons to fit that profile.  I see that as a drawback.

Mortise and Tenon

Mortise and Tenon Made With The Mortise Pal

On the website, the tool maker sells stock that is already rounded for loose tenon joinery.  I might try making those myself on the next project.  As stated earlier, I would say that is my only complaint.  I plan to do another blog later when my next project is underway.  I will let you know how that went.

Cutting Tenon

Cutting Tenon With Pull Saw

Thus far, all of the tenons have been cut with my hand saws.  This has taken a long time, but I the experience paid off in developing my skills with the saw.