Some Varnish Troubles

When you receive a can of varnish from the store or maker, as the case may be, do not shake it up but handle carefully and set away in a dry and warm place until wanted for use. It is not generally known that this shaking up of varnish will cause some trouble from pitting due to the air being shaken and taken up by the varnish. The remedy in such a case is to take the stopper out and let the can stand in a clean, dust free place until the air and gas escapes and the varnish settles to normal condition.

Creeping is caused by several things, but one cause is generally overlooked or not thought of at all, namely, that when a job is done and allowed to dry overnight, the shop may become much cooler in the meantime and so cause the creeping from chilling.

Silkiness I have not yet alluded to. It may be caused by the shrinking of the wood. Adding thinners to varnish will cause it. This is particularly the case when the work is subjected to a strong sunlight. The silky appearance is due to a vast number of extremely fine lines lying very close together, and which may become larger and wider later on. These cracks you will find are sharp and clear cut, crossing the work in all directions. Cracking itself is often caused by applying a quick drying varnish over a slower one, or vice versa.

A Complaint and a Conversion

Speaking of complaints—a man called at the Disston Saw Works, Philadelphia, sometime ago. He carried a Disston handsaw and seemed very much aggrieved and complained bitterly about their sending out such a saw as the one he had. “Why,” he said, “It will not cut wood. In fact, it will not cut anything.” This struck the Disston folks as being rather curious, for in seventy years of saw making millions of thoroughly reliable saws have been made and sold by them. Upon examining the saw, however, the cause of the difficulty was readily apparent.

The Disston representative casually asked the visitor if he thought the saw would cut iron. “No, of course it won’t,” said the visitor and he was very emphatic about the opinion. Asked if he could wait a few minutes, he said he would.

Disston’s man took the saw out in the shop and had it specially filed to cut iron notice the specially filed part brought the same saw back, took the visitor to the machine-shop, got a piece of iron bar about two inches in diameter, placed it in a vise, tightened it up, put the saw to work and in short order neatly sawed the bar in twain without any trouble what- ever, and the teeth were still in fair condition.

The visitor was utterly amazed. “Well,” said he, “I wouldn’t have believed it.” After an explanation of the trouble simply a matter of the condition of the teeth in the saw he asked: “Can you put it in proper condition for sawing wood?”


“Well, do it and I will never complain about a Disston saw again.”

The majority of users do not know or they give little thought to the fact that to obtain the best results in any particular class of work the saw must be specially toothed and filed for the sawing to be done.

Years of experimenting have determined just what shape or space, angle and bevel should be given to the teeth, as well as the amount of set best suited for this or that class of sawing: that the tooth best adapted for sawing softwoods is not at all suitable for cutting hardwoods.

Of course, the work could be done after a fashion, but the result would not be as good as that obtained by the use of a saw properly toothed for its particular purpose. You can take a rip-saw and cross-cut with it, but note the difficulty.

In line with this circumstance it may be noted that even a saw blade made for cutting soft metals is not at all adapted for sawing the harder metals, nor will a saw made for sawing wood stand the work of cutting a combination of wood and metal without injury to the points of the teeth, thereby spoiling it for further use in making a clean, sweet cut in wood.

A saw that is “fitted up” for sawing wood has the teeth filed with a bevel back and front, given a proper set, enabling it to do fast cutting. A hand saw for sawing metal has no set on the teeth but is ground for clearance and filed straight across the front of the tooth, while to a limited extent it would cut wood but not in the manner that a mechanic desires.

In other words, it is not adapted for wood cutting and its temper also is different from that of a wood cutting saw.

It is for these very reasons that various patterns of saws are made and specially toothed for the different kinds of work. Experience in this line is the best teacher. Take a saw fitted up for sawing wood, try it on a piece of metal. No matter what kind of a saw it may be, or whose make, it positively will not do as good work afterwards in sawing wood without being refitted for its purpose.

Beginners Guide To Pole Lathe – Peter Wood

I recently had the pleasure of spending time with all round nice guy and the uber talented Peter Wood, founder of the renowned ‘Greenwood Days’ which is one of Britain’s top centres for green woodworking located on the border between Leicestershire and Derbyshire (UK)

Peters Website –

Peters Facebook –

Peters Instagram –

Peter has been involved in the green woodworking space for almost half a century and is considered one of the best pole lathe turners around

So when he asked if I was up for filming a detailed series of tutorials covering pole lathe for beginners, I couldn’t say yes fast enough We ended up filming a comprehensive five part series on pole lathe for beginners

The Difference Between a Mechanic and a Good Workman

Everyone who is familiar with any line of manufacture has heard both of these terms applied to artisans in wood a great many times. Frequently the words mean the same thing. Nevertheless, there may be a marked difference between the classes.

The mechanic is a man whose brains are everlastingly creating something. He is dissatisfied. Constantly he is coming up with a rig or device to enable him to do a given piece of work in quicker time.

Someone has said that the mechanic is constitutionally lazy so far as his hands are concerned, that his chronic discontent is always trying to devise ways and means of making the machines do his work for him.

Now the mechanic may or may not be skilled in the use of hand tools and even may be lacking in accurate work at the machines. In many instances a good mechanic is not capable of doing the very finest of hand work though in most cases he is a good workman as well as a mechanic.

On the contrary, the good workman is one skilled in the use of tools. He takes pride in perfect joints and in accurately finished work. A good workman may or may not be a fast workman, but he is precise and painstaking. His mind is generally not hampered by trying to devise a lot of new ways of doing a thing. He is satisfied with making it the best he knows how and by the good old way.

Your good workman, however, speedily recognizes the advantages of quicker and better methods. He also gives a warm welcome to the advantage of special tools or devices as quickly as anybody. We have known of a case where one mechanic in his noon hour dissertations at the shop would eventually set several good workmen at the construction of devices to assist them in their work and then these workmen would receive the credit for having originated the schemes, while the credit was in the first place really due the man who was so busy thinking of other devices that he had no time to develop the many things which he had already suggested.

A mechanic is properly catalogued under the term “inventor,” though the talent may be only so far developed that the possessor gets no farther than clever adaptations of the work in hand. A mechanic does not always make a good foreman. He always wants to change things, while the foreman is put in that place to see that the men under him turn out a product which the manufacturer can sell.

There is probably no class of men who lose themselves more completely in their tasks than true mechanics. When a man of this type concentrates his thought on a problem or series of problems outside matters have to wait; surrounding conditions, personal aggrandisement, all must await his pleasure; in short, he lives in his studies.

Success may come his way, failure may be his lot, but the delicious dream of improvement lures him on. Many are the rosy prospects that have brightened the mechanic’s path, difficulties have lent zest to his pursuit of the game, the tragedy of poverty has stalked through his romance, out of a multitude of inventions, his own may have never emerged from the patentable process into prosperous manufacture, yet he is kindred to these richly rewarded few who have scored with greatest success in the industrial work of the world. Good workman and prolific mechanic deserve all the reward that can come their way. They are the salt of the earth, the stirring prose and poetry of our times.