(Sign me up) When a woodworker buys a forest

In 2023, you will be able to attend woodworking classes in Japan while gazing upon a forest at the edge of Mt. Fuji. Not only is Tak Yoshino currently building a school where he bought a forest; he is building the school out of said forest. Mt. Fuji Wood Culture Society will indeed be open to the international community.

My First Kumiko

I decided to try my hand at making a small Kumiko ornament for the tree, as a first step in learning this process for later larger projects. This one took way more time than expected, because I needed to first create the jigs to cut tiny Kumiko strips. I figured out what I needed to do with an excellent book, Shoji and Kumiko Design: Book 1 The Basics by Desmond King, and very helpful YouTube videos from Adrian Preda. So I bought a big chunk of 5’‘W x 36’‘L x 1-1/16’’ basswood from Rockler and went to work. Here’s the finished piece.


And here are the basic steps, starting with some pics of getting the basswood cut down to size. I started by cutting the board into thirds.


And then cutting those boards into thirds.


And then resawing all of those thirds.


I used two-sided tape to hold the wood while I cut the small strips out of the resulting boards, after planing them down.


Here are the jigs I made, which took the most time in this project by far. The first one in the image below is for cutting the angles needed. I made this design up and I’m proud of it because it is all self-contained and can hang on a wall. You’ll see how it’s used shortly. The second jig is for planing the basswood down to uniform strips of 1/2" by 1/8"


Here’s the planing stop in action. The stop is 1/2" and two inserts are added as needed, one is 1/4" and one is 1/8". The side piece of MDF is used to cut the strips to length, after removing the inserts. So it does double duty.


Here’s how the angle-cutting jig works. The two short pieces of hard maple can be flipped around so each has two angles available. These fit into the jig with an adjustable stop for longer pieces. I hope to make larger Kumiko projects later on, so this gives flexibility. I can just cut new maple blocks if I need other angles to make other Kumiko patterns.


And here is my first Kumiko pattern (in the classic asa-no-ha shape). It is not perfect, but I’m happy how it turned out. I stuck it in the Christmas tree. Next year, I aim to batch produce a number of these for gifts. It was fun to learn how these work and was a challenge for hand tools only. Learning to do this with buttery basswood is a good way to go. I may next try one with walnut.

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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

Herb Drying Rack

Here’s a project using scrap walnut tongue-and-groove boards I was given by friend, which I used to create a small tray to dry herbs — my wife does a lot with herbal tinctures and such and needed a rack to dry some of the plants and mushrooms she collects while foraging.

This is the final drying rack:

Serving tray final

The biggest challenge in creating this was the small size. Here is the walnut board I started with:

Serving tray1

I used a holding tool I previously made called a Raamtang to keep all the small bits held firmly while I worked on them. This small wooden vise has proven invaluable over the years and is worth the time and effort to build if you create a lot of smaller projects.

Serving tray raamtang

I decided to make this a simple mitered box, but will add splines for strength. I cut the angles free hand and then dialed them in with this 45 degree shooting board I made. The final pieces are shown here resting on top of the shooting board.

Serving tray mitered edges

I added a fancy curve to the four edges of the tray. I drew the curve on paper then traced it onto the wood. I used a backsaw to cut the to lines of the curve.

Serving tray shape1

Then used a coping saw to get near my lines.

Serving tray shape2

Then cleaned it all up with files and a spokeshave.

Serving tray shaping edges

Here are the final curved edges.

Serving tray pieces

After glueing up the frame, I added the splines with a contrasting wood (scraps of oak). I cut out the corners, cut the splines, then planed them flush with a block plane.

Serving tray spline start Serving tray spline Serving tray spline final

Then the final step was adding the chicken wire, for which I used some mesh from a big box store. The wire mesh is attached to the underside of the frame with wood strips half-lapped, glued and strengthened with small screws. That’s it.

Final frame

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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Final Bench Build!

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The small bench is complete. We’re going to use this for putting on / taking off shoes in the mudroom. It’s been an interesting hand tool project, and I’m happy with how it came out. The main issues I had with assembly were some small joinery gaps, but I fixed these with hide glue and matching sawdust, and those gaps are not noticeable in the end. I have to say I’m not crazy with the sapele choice for the aprons, in retrospect. In the right light, the sapele looks kind of orange, so I think that’s what is bugging me. But it will mellow with time and I think it will age nicely.

I’m really happy with how the grain shows in the walnut, and the top of the bench really in particular shows some interesting light/dark contrasts with strong gray streaks. I also added a slight bow to each long side of the bench top, which gives the top a gentle tapered (subtle) curve at each end. I finished it with Osmo Polyx-Oil.

Here are some final assembly shots:

Here’s a shot documenting the tenon cuts for the legs.

Bench final 1

And the mortises for the bench top.

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I tapered the legs on the inside to help give the bench a slimmer profile from the front.

Bench final 2

I locked in the knots on the bench top with some 5-min epoxy and it worked well. Since I just needed a little bit, I used the epoxy that I use for fly tying. I did this so that the knots don’t crumble over time.

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Here’s the dry fit of the frame.

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And here’s some shots of the final bench after glue-up and finishing:

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And here’s what I started with for reference: some old, incredbily warped slabs of walnut … and a new sapele board for the aprons. This transformation of chunks of wood to useable furniture is just magical to me. With some simple tool work and a plan, amorphous slabs can transform into something useful and beautiful.

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Bench Build, Phase Two

Making progress on the walnut bench. I’ve cut most of the mortise and tenons to connect up the legs. I’m using sapele for the aprons. This is the rough cut of the aprons using my rip and crosscut handsaws.

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This image shows all of the markup for the tenons. I mark the lines deeply with a wheel marking gauge and then trace the lines with a pencil so they are easy to see.

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And here are the cut tenons … couple of hours later. I used a carcase saw to first cut the cheeks, then cut the tenons out. Afterwards, cleaned up with chisels to ensure the lines were straight.

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Then I started on the mortises. I marked it up so that the aprons will be flush with the edge of the walnut legs. The hand drill is used to cut out most of the tenon waste, then chisels to clean them out and square the edges.

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And … an hour or two later, all the mortises are cut in the legs.

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Here’s the dry fit of the bench, but the top is just sitting on top. In other words, I haven’t yet cut the mortise/tenons to attach the top.

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Next, I moved on to the front/back apron design. I decided to go for a big wide curve. To create that curve, I attached a string and pencil to my shop bents, then moved it to the right distance to get the desired arc. It took some trial and error (need to hold the pencil straight and taut) but it worked well. As you can see, I dressed up for the photo shoot to document the work.

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Next, I decided to create a nice profile so it wasn’t just a plain curve. I marked out proportions that looked nice to me by marking up three 10mm sections with two 5mm steps, and then using the base of a marking gauge to draw some circles until I liked the look of it. While I typically use English units, I often switch to metric for mark up for things like this because for me it’s just easier.

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I started out using my bow saw, but I soon decided to saw to the line in segments across the curve just to help get rid of waste as I cut with the bow saw; cutting out little sections makes it easier for me, at least psychologically.

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Here’s what that looked like about halfway through:

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After it was roughed out, I started getting closer to the line with a spokeshave. Once I was happy with that, I moved on the fancy profile.

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There may be better ways to do this, but this works for me. I cut down to my lines with my carcase saw and then use my files to finish the job. Here’s the before:

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And the after:

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And the following is the front apron all finished up. Next, I need to do this for the back apron so it matches. I think I’ll just leave the short side sapele aprons as they are (squared off), but I want the front and back to match, even though the back of the bench will be against a wall (it’s going to be a bench for the mudroom to put on shoes). It may not always be used in this fashion, so it should look good from any angle. It’s getting close to completion!

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Shoe Horn with Hand Tools

My wife asked if I could make an extra-long shoehorn because she’s having some knee trouble. So I knocked out this project in an evening and it was a lot of fun.

Shoe horn4

I grabbed a scrap of cherry and roughly cut it to size using a rip saw and a spokeshave. Then it was mostly an exercise in filing.

Shoe horn1

I had a small shoehorn (store bought) to use as a reference. It occurred to me that this is kind of like spoon carving, but easier because there is no “front spoon edge” (so to speak) to a shoe horn, so I could just file it right down to get the desired shape. I had my significant other test it out several times to ensure I got the shape just right. The hardest part was ensuring it was as thin as possible at the edges of the “spoon,” but still strong.

Shoe horn2

I shaped the handle with block plane.

Shoe horn3

And finished it off with some Osmo wood wax, then wrapped the handle with blue waxed cord. I also added a loop to the end to hang it up out of the way. The lovely cherry wood grain was a happy accident. I had no idea that beautiful grain was hidden in that scrap of wood.

Bench Build, The Flattening

So I went on vacation after my last post about the bench build, and this weekend I finally got around to flattening the funky boards. I used my scrub plane for the rough work, which made it bearable. Next step: come up with an actual plan to make a bench…

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Bench Build, Phase One

I’m starting a new project to do something interesting with two warped and oddly cut walnut slabs I acquired … of unknown age and provenance. They must have been rejects from some long ago project and then shelved in a barn?

Here’s an edge-view:

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And laid flat to get a sense of how NOT FLAT these boards are:

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I have never worked with wood that is this funky, so it’s going to be a challenge to flatten them. So far, I have cut each to length, getting rid of the worst (most warped) parts of each slab. I have started flattening one of them. It’s going to take time, clearly.

I started with a scrub plane to get rid of the worst of the peaks:

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And moved on to a #6 fore plane:

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That’s as far as I got this evening. Time to sharpen blades before I continue. I plan to have two flattened boards and a plan to make a bench within the next couple of days. Details are still being worked out.

200+ board feet of sapele and cherry and I’m ready for some new projects. First up: a new end table.

Split Keyboard Base with Trackpad Rest

My new keyboard set-up:


Here's a weird little project that took only a few hours and solved a unique problem. Here's what my computer keyboard set-up looked like before my project:


Backstory: I use an ErgoDox EZ split keyboard with an Apple trackpad in between (yes ... I use a trackpad and a mouse, for reasons). One problem: I'm pretty particular about my keyboard layout, so I like to have the angle of each side of the keyboard and the wrist rests just so. But each wrist rest and each keyboard half are free floating so they are always moving around. This is especially annoying when I need to move this stuff out of the way to clean underneath, or to use my secondary mechanical keyboard. Another problem: the trackpad in the center is too low, weirdly placed, and is just not great. So I came up with this odd thing:


This was an interesting little challenge to create using hand tools. But it was worth the effort. Now when I need to move my rather elaborate keyboard set up out of the way to clean underneath, or when I want more desk space for a non-computer task, or to switch keyboards, I can quickly set things back up with the exact spacing and angling I want. I start by placing the wrist rests:


And then place each keyboard half against the wrist rests:


And then place the trackpad on the raised, angled stand in the middle. The cable that connects the two keyboard parts tucks neatly under the trackpad. I wanted to keep this as minimalist as possible, so I made it so that the trackpad front edge rests on the stand, but it's angled so that the trackpad back edge rests perfectly on the keyboard edges. This is the minimal width to fit the trackpad and the spacing is just right (for me) for typing. It is very stable and feels solid.


So I'm going to use this for a few days and make sure I like it, then I'll finalize everything, glue it up, give it a coat of Osmo. Based on a few hours of usage, I think this will be a good solution. Everything lines up just so and it just takes a few seconds to get all assembled. It also looks much neater.

Kerfing Plane

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So I purchased the metal hardware to build a frame saw and kerfing plane from Bad Axe Tool Works. This was, for me, an intimidating project to build these tools using only hand tools. The plans I used are from Tom Fidgen's The Unplugged Workshop. The plane, in particular. Here's how that went.

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I started with a small slab of Koa. It’s a special plane, so I decided to use some of the special wood I had bought when I had lived in Hawaii. I printed out the plan for the plane body at actual size and traced it out. I placed the plane blade here so I could better visualize what I was doing.

Here’s what it looks like all penciled out.

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I cut out part of the body with a Carcase saw and my bow saw. Then came the scary part: carefully drilling out the holes for the special screws (forget the name of these) that would hold the blade in place.

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You have to drill two holes on each side so that these screws sit flush. Not easy to do with with a hand drill, I discovered.

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Here’s a View of cutting the inside handle hold with my bow saw.

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And then some heavy and tedious filing to get everything down to the lines and smoothed out.

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The threads in the plane body and the threads for the bolts are created with a thread cutter.

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And here is how the screws are made for the arms. I used walnut because it’s pretty easy to work with, relatively speaking.

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Rough cut for each wooden bolt. Then file them out to round them.

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The completed arms with the bolts. These fit into the plane body like so, using the threads I created.

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The most terrifying part of the plane build was cutting the kerf to fit the blade. It had to be perfect, so I created a jig to guide my saw and went really, really slow.

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So I created this fence for the plane and glued it up, then realized I had made a terrible mistake. It’s way too thick. It needs to rest against the blade, but this fence hits the plane body and was a total fail. Not sure how I got to this point, but there it is. So what to do?

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I could have started all over with the plane fence, but I decided to salvage it. So that’s why you see these interesting light colored things that look like joints that don’t joint anything. I installed a proper smaller fence arm. I tried to make the mistake look like a feature and not a bug. Here, you can see the blade is installed.

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A view of the final plane from the another angle.

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Here it is in action, cutting the kerf on a board that I’m going to resew with the frame saw. The wooden bolts lock the fence in place to get the desired line.

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And that kerf gives you a good line all around the board to help keep the frame saw cutting true.

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The result is resawed boards that are far better than I’d get than without using the Kerfing Plane.

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Frame Saw

So I purchased the metal hardware to build a frame saw and kerfing plane from Bad Axe Tool Works. The plans I used are from Tom Fidgen's The Unplugged Workshop.

Here's the finished saw in use.

Here's my documentation for the frame saw build.

The starting point.
The ends of the frame saw are bubinga. The arms are hard maple.
Here are the rough cuts.
This is how I created the angled arm for the saw handle: cuts with my big tenon saw and then chisel it out.
It was slow going to remove all this wood.
Once the angle was set, I cut the handles.
And then I rounded the handles using a spokeshave and files.
Here's one completed handle. I smoothed the middle part with a card scraper. the squared off area where the handles meet are cut with a carcase saw and chisels.
The completed handle (the 'front' of the saw).
The maple arms are tenoned.
I cut the tenons using Sloyd bench hooks to hold the long arms stable.
After the arms are prepared, I tackled the back of the saw. These holes are decorative but also reduce weight.
I then drilled out the holes for the mortises in the back piece and squared off with mortise chisels.
And then did the same for the front of the saw: cutting out mortises.
Here is the saw dry fit.
For the back arm, cut out a small mortise to inset the hardware where the big pin goes to tighten the blade.
Then I completed the back end of the saw with files to round it off.
Here it is ready to assemble.
And here it is all put together with the hardware. Lots of filing and smoothing with card scrapers and some fine sandpaper.
A close-up of a handle.
And the back end of the saw.
A nice resaw ... was a delight this saw is to use. I still need practice on resawing longer pieces, as I'm having trouble with drift. Thats where the kerfing plane comes in: to help keep on the lines.

Small Display Box

Here’s a small project designed to hold a utility knife, presented as a going-away gift for a work colleague. It’s the smallest box I’ve ever made and was an interesting challenge.


Here’s the documentation:


I started with some ¼ inch walnut I had leftover from other projects. I used my combination plane to rabbit an edge, which will hold the base and the lid.


I cut the pieces to size with my carcass saw and then squared up the cut edges.


The dimensioning was all done by sight, using the knife case as a guide.


While I used the combo plane where I could, I still ended up doing a lot of fine chiseling, especially on the crossgrain little pieces.


Using the combo plane on such a small piece was a real challenge for figuring out how to hold the work. Here, I use the birds mouth and holdfasts.


Here are all the sides of the box. I didn’t do any fancy joinery, just rabbets and grooves.

The sliding lid of the box has an inset NOAA pin, where we work. This is a lapel pin, so I snipped off the back and removed the frog.

Creating the inset hole for the pin was a slow process, using carving tools and a ¼ chisel. I used a similar process to create a small thumb-sized divet on the other side of the box lid.

The glue up. Again, this is just grooves and rabbets. I figured it was a display box and wouldn’t be subjected to a lot of stress, so the glue would be adequate.


Here is the final box. The lid slides out. I tried to keep it a bit tight on the lid so there was a bit of tension, and then waxed the inside grooves. The walnut box is finished off with Osmo. Some of the edges are a bit rough, but I thought that was OK as it matches the rustic or rugged feel of a box that holds a utility knife.


Serving Tray

I made a small serving tray to hold my teapot and cup. The design is from Fine Woodworking, which I adapted to use only hand tools. I also made a few other minor design choices that altered from the plan.

The completed tray.

Here's an overview of the build process:

The frame of the tray is simple, as you can see here. The colored dots are used to keep track of what goes where.

Another view of the rough cut. The plans call for an 18 or 20 inch long tray, but I reduced the size to 16 inches so it is a perfect fit for my teapot and cup.

Here is a detail of the cuts. Once the lines are sawed, I use a chisel to pare down to the lines and square off.

In order to clear out the joint, I sawed a bunch of lines so it’s easy to chisel out the waste.

And this is the rough fit for the top cross pieces.

I used my combination plane to cut 1/8 inch grooves in each side, which is where the panels will fit. The grooves are cut quite deep so that the panels have room to shrink and expand freely.

Each side is angled from top to bottom, which gives an elegant look. I did this with a jack plane.

To cut out the handles on each side, I used a dovetail saw to make a series of cuts and then chiseled them out.

A detail showing the chisel work.

Here are the completed handles.

Each handle is wrapped with blue waxed cord I got from the Maine Thread Company. I’ve only recently discovered how easy it is to wrap cord and I’ve been wrapping things all over the house!

Then I fit the panels. The ends of the ¼ inch panels are rabbeted to fit in the side grooves and shiplapped for the inside edges so no gaps will show with expansion or contraction.

Here’s the dry fit. The plan called for grooves on each end board, as well, for the panels to fit into. I didn’t do that. My panels just butt up against the ends, which I think will work just fine for my needs. This alleviated the need to do a really tiny 1/8 inch stopped groove in each end.

And the glue up.

Now for the scary part: for strength and appearance, small brass pins (1/8 inch diameter and ¾ inch long) are set into each corner of the tray. Here, I’m preparing to drill. It was tricky to figure out how to hold the tray firm.

And then I drilled 16 holes to fit the pins: 8 on the top and 8 on the bottom.

Here is the detail showing the pins in place. I applied three coats of Osmo satin clear TopOil.

And it’s done!

Shaving Horse Build

The completed shaving horse. I had a large black walnut fall in my yard, so I wanted to create some spoons from the Greenwood. I needed a shaving horse to hold the limbs for the carving work, hence this project. In a nutshell, you site on one side and push against the bottom bar to hold the work piece. The top where the work piece goes has a sheet of leather to keep the wood from moving around.

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.

Duck Head Business Card Holder

This is a weird little item, created from a bit of walnut I had no idea how to use: I friend gave me some duck body and head blanks. As I'm not a carver, I'm still figuring out how to use these. For one duck head, however, I decided it was a nice shape for a business card holder. I made this for a colleague who transferred to a new job. As we work for NOAA's National Ocean Service, it occurred to me that the duck head shape had a bit of an ocean wave flare to it. So that's what I hope it evokes.

Here's the starting point: a duck head blank. In the background, you can see the bodies I have yet to decide what I should do with.
The duckhead was a bit too thin for a stable card holder, I reckoned. So I added walnut strips to the front and back. It adds a bit of complexity, but I was determined to make this work.
Cutting the notch for the cards was just a matter of eyeballing it.
And cleaning it up with some chisel work.
I added a nice bottom wavy curve.
And sawed it out. The final shaping was with my files.
Here's a view of the final card holder. I got ahold of a lapel pin from the place where we work, cut off the back, then cut out a hole to fit it nicely.
Here's the front view with some sample cards. I think it turned out quite well!

Simple Ulu Handle

Woodcraft sells a simple Ulu knife kit. A while back, I picked up five of them because they were on sale for something like half off. Not much to these. Just a blade and some optional rivets. The only mildly difficult part is creating the tiny little mortises where the handle will sit.

I neglected to take a photo when creating the 3/64" deep mortises, but it's pretty easy to do with a tiny chisel. I could have used a tiny router plane. Someday, I may pick up on of those.
After I rough cut the shape I wanted with a bow saw, I switched to my miracle files from Auriou (as I call them) to shape it well. These files are expensive because they are handmade in France. They are worth every penny.
Nothing fancy, but functional. This handle is from a scrap of bubinga. I made it extra thick and nicely rounded, as it was a gift for a person with large hands.

Sector Build

a wooden sector
Completed Sector

What is a Sector? Here's an excerpt from Lost Art Press, where free instructions and template are available to download:

If you haven’t heard of the sector, it probably means you aren’t an artillery officer or a ship’s navigator working in the 17th century. An invention attributed to the great astronomer Galileo, the sector was a calculation instrument comprised of a pair of hinged plates engraved with a variety of scales that – coupled with a pair of dividers – enabled the operator to calculate proportions, polygons, trigonometric and numerous other table functions.

— Lost Art Press

While I could have made one out of paper and laminated it, I decided to make one out of scraps of poplar.

I started with a print-out of the template from Lost Art Press and used it to transfer the shape of the tool to the wood.
I used a Japanese saw to slice it up.
A bow saw and some file work made quick work out of shaping it.
For the rounded top where the two sides of the sector are attached, I used some carving tools to carefully reduce the width. Then I drilled a hole through each piece to fit a brass screw I had on hand.
With the paper template as a guide, it was pretty easy to map out the lines and points on the wood. Then I used a punch to mark the points. These points are where the compass registers to make calculations. The markings are done with sharpies.

That's it. Not much to it, really. But what an incredible tool for laying out stock and accomplishing other dimensioning. Someday, I may splurge and get a professional model. I found this beautiful Sector from Acer-Ferrous Toolworks that is both pricey and beautiful. Here's another lovely Sector from burnHeart.

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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