Pencil Box

This is another going-away gift for a work colleague who left for another job. I’m incorporating a lapel pin in the project from my place of work, as I’ve found that cutting off the back pin part and insetting the small metal logo looks really nice. The box is poplar with a bubinga top and bottom. The gift is for someone who appreciates quality pencils, so this project was a great fit. The instructions for this box come from Renaissance Woodworking. This is a great, easy-to-do project. The pencils I bought for the box are Mitsubushi 9850. As an aside, I’ve found Mitsubishi 9800 pencils to be perfect for woodworking because the graphite is strong and makes dark lines.

Pencil box

Studley Mallet

A short article in the September/October 2021 issue of Popular Woodworking called attention to retired pattern maker Bill Martley’s project to reproduce the bronze head of the classic Studley Mallet, named after Henry O. Studley (1838-1925) that many woodworkers know from his famous and mind-blowing tool chest.

A member of my woodworking group spotted this article and suggested we embark on a group build. The bronze casting for the mallet cost $69 with shipping included. What an amazing opportunity and bargain! I received my bronze mallet head in the mail a couple of weeks ago and here’s the mallet I made with it using bubinga, bocote wedges, and a handle with inset waxed cord. I just love how this came out and I’m so grateful that Martley made this possible.

Here’s the mallet I made with the casting:

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And I’ll briefly document the steps I took to make it.

First off, here’s the bronze casting as it arrived in the mail, along with the wood I selected to make the infill and handle. I went with bubinga.

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Here’s the infill block sized to fit through the hole in the bronze head.

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Next I chop out the through-mortise to match up with the hole where the handle will fit.

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Here’s a view of the wooden insert with the mortise completed, mostly to show what the top and bottom of the casting looked like before I polished it up.

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Now I began to shape handle, drawing out what I wanted in pencil.

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Here’s a view of the handle, where I’ve cut out the slot to fit into the bronze casting. I used my large tenon saw for this. I squared it all up with chisels.

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Here it is all rough fit together. Looking like a mallet now.

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Next, I shined it all up using a Dremel. Wow, what a difference. I left it rough, because I liked the look of it.

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Now, onto the handle. I cut it out roughly with saw work, then filed down with my beloved Auriou rasps.

Here’s the handle, showing the cuts for the wedged tenons that’ll go in the top to splay the wood out and hold it firm. The infill wood has not yet been cut to length.

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Next, I decided to go with a wax cord wrap for the handle. I wanted it to sit flush, so I chiseled out the beginning and the end so it slopes inward from each side, so when I wrap the cord it’ll gently slope upward. This will form a nice place to hold it.

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This image shows the beginning of the cord wrap, using tape to hold the ends in place. I wrapped the cord so tight, my hands cramped up.

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And here a few glamour shots of the completed mallet, which I finished with boiled linseed oil. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I’ve added the wedges here. The two top wedges are tiny slices of bocote, which I think contrasts nicely with the bubinga. It was a fun project, and now I have a small mallet with a lot of mass. It’ll be a useful shop tool that I hope will still be in use by someone long after I’m gone.

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Japanese Joinery Square Build

Here was a challenging project from a few years back that I neglected to post. It involves some difficult joinery.

It looks great from the side.
But the joinery in the back is not so nice. It's functional as a square, though, so I'll take it.
The project was mostly an exercise in chisel work to clear out the wood.
The arm of the square showing the joinery. The curved handle was cut with a bow saw and smoothed out, no big deal.
The handle after cutting out the mortise and dovetail, with the completed arm in the background.

Sloyd Bench Hooks

I made some handy bench hooks based upon the teachings of Sloyd (which I don't know much about, but discovered is quite an interesting thing). Actually, learning about Sloyd may be the most interesting thing about this project. Anyways, these bench hooks are really useful to hold wood of different lengths on the bench for, say, cutting dadoes, or to hold up long pieces level when crosscutting on the hook I use for sawing, or for holding wood for paring. 

slab of hard maple
I started out with a scrap of hard maple. Bad choice. This made a quick project into a several day project, because the wood was like granite. 
I cut out 12" blocks and surfaced all the edges with a hand plane. Then measured 2" from each end, marking the center points, then drew a line from that point to the far corner as seen here. Once I had the layout, I sawed in a bunch of relief cuts with a carcass saw.
two sloyd hooks in rough form
Here's a shot of the two hooks, with the surfaces ready to be chiseled out.
Finished surface of one sloyd hook
Here is one finished surface. To get to this point, I chopped out the sawed parts with a bevel-down chisel, then pared down to my line with chisel and block plane. You can see the unfinished bottom surface here. This is a rinse, repeat operation for the other surfaces.
Finished bench hooks
To finish off the hooks, I rounded the corners with rasps, so it's easy to hold with the hand. I also used a card scraper to get the show surfaces as flat and smooth as possible.
The hooks seemed a bit slippery, so I lined the bottoms with cork (secured with hide glue). Now they're ready for use.

Fly Rod/Reel Case Build

All hardware in place

Over the past few months (July-September 2018), I created a display case to hold a fly rod and reel for the Potomac Valley Fly Fisher club, of which I'm a member. The fly rod/reel this case is designed to display is raffled off once a year. The person who wins the raffle gets to use it for one year. The prize comes with a small book to log fishing experiences. At the club's annual banquet, the person who used it for a year gives a short presentation of his or her experiences. 

To get me started on this rod/reel case, I was provided with some photos of a similar box from a fly club in Pennsylvania. That rod case has been in circulation since 1963! I like to think that the display case I made will also be in circulation for many decades to come.

a stack of unfinished walnut
Before: I started out with a stack of tongue and groove walnut panels. These are offcuts and rejects donated by a neighbor used in an 80s project to panel a living room in walnut.
finished case
After: this is the completed case, showing the interior.
finished case - exterior
And here is the completed case, showing the interior.

The following is a log of how I made the case. What this doesn't show is how much trial-and-error was involved in the process. I spent a lot of time testing out different ways to hold the rod and reel in place, in particular. It also doesn't show how much help, guidance, and inspiration I received from fellow woodworking members from the Hand Tool School.

Stack of walnut boards ripped and planned.
I used a 5tpi rip saw to cut the boards in half and to cut off the tongue and grooves. Then I used a #7 plane to get the panels to proper thickness.
Cutting boards to length with crosscut carcass saw.
I used a crosscut carcass saw to cut the boards to length.
cork liner on base panel
The bottom of the case was lined with cork, which I glued on.
cork liner installed, showing rabbets on side panels
Once the cork liner was in place, I measured the total thickness of the bottom panel. I then used a plane to get the total thickness to 5/16". This is the size of the blade I used to cut the grooves for the side panels. To cut the grooves, I used a Veritas combination plane.
Paper sketch of dovetail set-up
I sketched out the dovetails on paper before I started cutting. I decided to go with half-blind dovetails. I used two dividers because one is set to step across the end grain and the other was set to mark the distance from the edges.
End panel with pencil marks for dovetail cuts
I marked out the tails first, then cut them out with a dovetail saw and 1/4" chisel.
marking out the pins
Once I had the tails cut, I marked out the pins using a dovetail knife. I secured the bottom panel here in a Moxon vise.
sawing pins of dovetail
This is a shot of cutting out the pins. For half-blind, I cut at a steep angle down to my lines.
Chopping out pins with a chisel
Then I chopped out the pins with a 1/4" chisel. It was a delicate, time-consuming affair.
Rough half-blind dovetail fit together
Here's one corner completed, showing the half-blind dovetail up close. I color code each part of the project so I can keep track of how the different pieces fit together. Note that I also cut my grooves through because it's just so much easier. I plug the groove holes at the end of the project and they are barely visible.
carcass assembly
This shot shows all the dovetailed corners connected up, without the bottom panel inserted so the bottom grooves are visible.
A rip saw and a thin strip of sapele
Next, I started working on the lid for the box. I used sapele for the mitered frame of the box lid, mainly because I ran out of strips of walnut! I cut the strips of sapele to size with a rip saw.
cutting miters
I used a miter box I made in 2017 to cut the mitered corners for the box lid frame. Here, I'm using a Bad Axe tenon saw.
using a plane to finish edges of panel
This is the inside panel of the box lid, which will be framed with sapele using mitered corners. Here, I'm using my #7 to finish up the long edges.
shooting ends of panel
Squaring up the edges of my panel using a shooting board.
box, all dry fit together
And here is the box with everything dry fit, showing the completed box lid with the miter frame in sapele and the panel in walnut.
fly rod laid out on bench
Next up, I had to figure out how to secure the rod in the box. Here, I'm laying out the rod sections on scrap wood to see where to place the inserts in the box that will hold it in place. I used sapele for the inserts (to match the mitered frame of the box lid) because I thought it balanced it out nicely with the contrasting walnut.
inserts that will hold the rod
And here are the inserts that will hold the rod. I used double-sided tape to hold the rod pieces in place on these blanks, then used a pencil to mark out the lines. I used a marking gauge to figure out how deep to make each groove.
filing out the rod holding grooves
I used Auriou rasps to file out the grooves to hold the rod in place. These rasps are expensive, but they are so worth it.
tapping thread in wood
For the center insert that goes in the box, I threaded the wood. Why I did this will be apparent in the next photo.
Center insert with holding arm
This is the center insert with the threaded hole. I used a brass thumb screw here from McMaster-Carr to attach a small swinging arm. This arm keeps the four rod sections held firm when locked down.
making a dowel
Next, I made a 1/4" dowel, which is used to hold the reel in place in the box.
dowel attached to box, used to hold the reel
Here is the dowel attached to the inside panel of the box. I glued a small rare earth magnet to the end of the dowel. For the reel, I'm holding it with a reel seat blank, in which I  also glued a magnet. When the reel seat is slid down onto the dowel, it locks in place with the magnets so to hold it securely in place.
Interior of box with rod and reel in place
Here's what it looks like when it's all put together, with the rod and reel locked in place.
chisel cuts for butt hinge mortise
Now all that's left i installing the hardware. Here, I'm cutting a mortise for a butt hinge. I used Brusso hinges for this project and they are worth the money. I started out with some gentle chisel cuts. The depth of the hinge mortise is set with a marking gauge.
router plane for butt hinge
Then I used my router plane to smooth the bottom of the hinge mortise after I chiseled out most of the waste. I slowly crept up on my lines and dry fit the hinges many times to ensure a tight fit.
butt hinge in place
This is one of the butt hinges in place after the mortise was completed.
All hardware in place
And here is the box with all the hardware attached. In addition to the butt hinges, I installed small box ball clasps from Woodcraft to hold the box closed. The chain support is from Rockler.
completed box
I finished the box with two coats of Osmo wood wax.

Making some Sloyd hooks today. My mistake was choosing a scrap of hard Maple. I'm getting a workout. #handtoolschool
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Finished my fly rod/reel box! I'll soon post a "how it was made" article, for posterity.
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Fly rod case coming together. I'll do the inside parts next. #handtoolschool
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Been out of the shop for awhile, so decided I better start with some practice half blind dovetails before doing it on my real project.
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Shooting Board

So I needed a new shooting board. My old one was created over a year ago and I skimped and made the fence with douglas fir, which didn’t hold up well at all. Plus, it just wasn’t that well constructed and I wasn’t able to get great results with it. As I’m about to start a project which will require lots of shooting, I decided to do this now.

So I did a search for “shooting board designs” and came across this one, which is a plan I didn’t purchase (but the photo on the page was enough to inspire me). I made the base with good plywood and the fences with hickory lined with wenge. The guide is also wenge. I choose hickory because I have a lot of it left over from my bow saw project. I choose wenge, because when I visited the Lie-Nielsen shop and saw their demo shooting board, it had wenge incorporated in it, and the person working there told me that wenge is a good choice because it stays true. That was enough to convince me, and I happen to have wenge.

I thought I was going to have buy some parts to make a detachable miter fence, but then it occured to me that I already have a couple of featherboards for a router table that I NEVER use, so I could steal the hardware from that and use it for my project. By chance, I already had a couple of longer carriage bolts that fit perfectly:

So here is the completed shooting board without the miter fence:

Here it is with the miter fence: And here it is on edge, in storage position (added a groove in the front to snuggly hold the miter bits.

I did some test cuts today and it’s great. I’m quite happy with it. One thing about it: the board is smallish. Not a big deal for squaring an edge with long pieces because it’s easy to stick in some support on the bench. But when shooting miters on longer boards, the ends are going to hanging in the air of the table. So the way I’m dealing with that is with my shop bent. I didn’t glue up the top piece in my bent so it can be removed:

The “standard” height of it lines up with my bench top, but I can swap it out for different heights. So now I just need to make a new top piece that is a few inches taller for when I need to support longer pieces for miter cuts. As an aside, I made the bent this way because my other small bench in the shop is a different height, so I have a top part that matches the height of that for those times I need to support things on that surface.

Morning practice. Pin side of a mitered dovetail cut on some scrap wood. So far so good. #handtoolschool
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Got the brass parts today from McMaster-Carr for the next project: a panel guage. Never thought I'd be excited to get a delivery of brass bars... #handtoolschool

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Finally getting around to learn how to sharpen my saws. Starting with a crappy 80s Craftsman I don't care about. I just watched the @nkrech video again to refresh my memory and ready to give it a go. One thing I need to do before I start is put a sheet or something underneath to cover the wood stored underneath on this table to keep the filings out. #handtoolschool

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All finished with the bow saw. It's hickory and koa with a coat of Osmo. Won't try cutting with until tomorrow at the earliest. #handtoolschool

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Fly Tying Box

I have a new fly tying box. The aspect of this that I’m most proud of is that it was made with handtools from start to finish, with one small exception which I’ll detail below. It took about two months from start to finish, working on nights and weekends. I created this because I often tie flies away from home and I wanted a case that was easy to carry and also contained all the essential hardware. I also wanted a box that quickly converts to a tying station.

Here’s the finished product. I used about $50 of hardware from Rockler for the handle and the catches. The box is walnut, lined with cork on the bottom. The top is framed by walnut with cherry in the middle. Here’s the front:

Here’s the back:

And here it is opened up. The raised L-shaped arm on the underside of the top is the tying station. There is also a swing-out arm with hand-made dowels to store/use 12 extra bobbins of thread, tinsel, wire, etc. The last “dowel” that you see in the front is made of metal. This metal dowel matches up with a rare-earth magnet on the underside of the base so it stays secured when swung in for storage.

Here’s the tying station set up for use with the tying vise in place, tools places in the holes in the L-shaped arm, and bobbins stacked on the swing-out holder. I also carved in three concave holes in the cherry base to hold various small tying items, and embedded a strong, long magnet on the insides across the front of the cherry base so that hooks are caught from falling on the floor. Lastly, I cut a shallow groove between the concave holders in back and the magnet in front so that if anything non-magnetic rolls (non-metal beads, mostly), they’ll settle in the middle of the station and not roll onto the floor.

Here’s a walk-through of how it was made.

I started out with a bunch of walnut tongue and groove boards I was given by a neighbor. I had a rough piece of cherry also, not pictured here.

I then drew up a rough plan of what I wanted. I set outside dimensions and the height of the box (it had to be big enough to hold all my stuff and tall enough to store and mount my vise), but I didn’t use a ruler to measure out anything else for the box. I  based every other cut by referencing from other parts.

The hardest (manual) work in creating the box was resawing all the stock with my rip saw and planing it down to final dimensions.

The bottom panel was glued up with hide glue (I used hide glue for the entire project).

Then I cut all the dovetails for the box frame and the grooves to house the bottom panel.

Here’s the box in the process of being dry fit.

And here’s the interior of the box all fit together, complete with the inner carrying compartment. The small compartment is sized to hold the fly tying vise clamp. The odd U-shaped bit and hole on the right side is custom-sized so that it perfectly fits my vise. The rest of the area is for tool storage. The outside L-shape is where the tying base mounted to the box top fits in for storage.

Then I lined the bottom with cork.

The next image shows how much the storage compartment holds: the vise, the vise clamp, all my tools, and a bunch of extra stuff depending on what I might need for a particular session.

Next, I started on the top of the box: walnut frame with mortises/tenons and a cherry panel. Here is the top completed, exploded view.

Here’s the one spot where I had to use a power tool: a table saw. I needed to cut out a really big space to hold the hidden magnet, but it had to cut in a way that the top was really thin so that the magnet had enough strength through the wood to hold hooks and other metal objects on the base. I didn’t try to do this by hand with such small margins. So I used the table saw to cut a deep groove, then used a 1/4" mortise to square up the hole so I could fit the magnet.

After the top was completed, I then started working on the L-shaped tying station that mounts into the top. I used a Raamtang vise I made, ideal for holding small parts for shaping and planing down. here’s the L-shaped tying station top, the bobbin holder, and the arms to attach it to the base with the mortises cut out.

I cut out the dowel for the corner arm and the tiny dowels for the bobbin holder using a dowel maker from Lie-Nielsen.I also had to cut in a groove where the clamp fits on the tying station because I made it just a tad to short and there wasn’t enough space to tighten the clamp. So this solved that small error. I finished it all up with Osmo polyx-oil.

Here's the project I recently finished: a custom fly tying box (walnut and cherry). Lots of storage space, a swing-out arm to hold 12 extra bobbins, and a hidden magnet in the base to keep hooks from falling on the floor. Last shot in this series shows it set up for use. #handtoolschool

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First corner complete on my fly tying box. Still debating what kind of panel I'll make for the bottom. #handtoolschool

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Completed a new shelf: top and bottom shelves with sliding dovetails, two middle shelves with stopped dadoes. Shiplap back panels. This was quite a challenge for me using only #handtools and happy with how it came out. #handtoolschool

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My first sliding dovetail #handtoolschool

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Installed my new @benchcrafted plane stop today. Really like it, worth the effort. #handtoolschool

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Finished the saw vise. It holds a saw tight, but haven't tested it with sharpening. Need to set up a station away from my workbench for that. #handtoolschool

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Making progress on a saw vise. The jaws are hard maple, adding inner bevels to fit backsaws. Hope to finish tomorrow. #handtoolschool

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I completed my new saw til. Here it is. #handtoolschool

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I swear it looked good at THD, but this wide poplar had some pretty bad cupping to eradicate. Took me an hour to flatten two pieces this size. #handtoolschool

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Lights are back on in the shop after more than a week of no woodworking. I've missed it. Finally starting the saw til build this weekend ... But first need to go get some 12" wide poplar. #handtoolschool

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