This short video is about a well known Croatian violin maker Ivan Hus (1898 – 1992). The video doesn’t go into any great detail, except that it shows how once upon a time one made a violin. Ok, maybe that’s a little unfair as the process hasn’t changed for those still working by hand. His tools are not shiny, his hand plane is full of worm holes yet fully functional. The film was made in Croatia in 1967. When looking at the film, I initially thought it was in the 1920s.
There are still small pockets in the world who continue to practice woodworking by hand, but sadly the rest of the world has abandoned this and moved towards robotic woodworking through CNC machining and what not. The mighty dollar seems to always take precedence over what truly holds value. Without getting too philosophical, I will abandon what I intended to say and allow you to watch the video. If by the end of the video you feel what I felt, then you’ll know what I wanted to say.
This post is ongoing from my previous post on glue failure. I mentioned to you that Titebond’s liquid hide glue has failed on a long grain to long grain joint. The glue never cured. As a test I placed a dab of glue on a piece of wood several days ago and it’s still very soft and sticky. This is enough evidence for me that this glue is old, despite what’s written on the bottle. Whether someone has done this unintentionally (human error) or to save on costs I don’t know and neither do I care. All I know is that they need to get their act together. I‘m still awaiting their reply and have accepted that it may never happen. The irony in it all is that if you speak to the salespeople at Carba Tec which is our local woodworking store, they try to steer you into using other Titebond products and pass off hide glue as an outdated weak glue that need not be used anymore. That’s the same thing the “tech” guy at Titebond on the phone said to me. It’s laughable and sad that we live in a day and age of total ignorance. This has been a wake up call for me to make an effort to pursue making my own version of liquid hide glue. Because in the end, making your own fresh batch is better than relying on the word of others
The same deal is with shellac, why people still buy Zinsser Shellac products bewilders me. They neither know how old the can is, nor how long it’s been sitting on their shelves. Products despite who sells it can sit on a shelf for many years and I know this to be a fact as I’ve seen it. A reputable paint store purchased one time only a batch of 100% Pure Tung Oil and Citrus solvents. I bought 5 years ago several bottles of Tung Oil and a couple of 4 litre cans of the Citrus solvents from this store. Recently I returned to the shop to get some more, and he looked it up on his computer and said this is the last batch we have, we will not be placing anymore orders as the last sale we had, was 5 years ago. I laughed, and said yeah that was me, so I bought what was left except for the one can I left on the shelf. I left it because I couldn’t afford it, as it is very expensive and not because I’m a prick. So the point being products can sit on shelves for many years and you’re none the wiser. The seller was honest about it and I have no qualms in buying this old stock as I know that this can never expire, but you cannot say the same about shellac and nor about hide glue.
If you have granules of hide glue and you keep them out of direct sunlight preferably in a cabinet, should and will last indefinitely, but as soon as you immerse it in water the breakdown process has begun.
You have up to three weeks max to use the glue before it goes off, unless you add preservatives in it after cooking the glue to keep it from going off a little while longer. Think about how they kept meat back in the day when refrigeration didn’t exist. They either ate it all within two days or they salted it and preserved it. So this is what I’m going to do from now on with my own liquid hide glue and I wish to share this ingredients with you. You too can make your own room temperature liquid hide glue that you know when it’s been made and when it will expire. Be warned though as experimentation is key to a successful outcome. It may take several weeks or months before you come up with the right dosage that you need for your everyday woodworking. Remember you’re not making large amounts to roll out for sale, you’re just making enough for yourself which is why you need to experiment and not rely on the measures left by others on the net. They worked out what will suit them and if your size needs are different then theirs, then you will need to work out what will suit you.
This is the same thing, just worded differently. Here In Australia they call it Pickling Salt. In the US, it’s Canning Salt. It’s also known as canned salt, rock salt, sodium chloride.
What is Canning Salt?
Canned salt is made from pure granulated salt. What sets it apart from other salts is that it does not contain any anti-caking ingredients or additives like iodine. These additional ingredients, which are found in common table salt, can make pickle brine cloudy or the colour of pickled vegetables black. Another standout feature of canned salt is its composition.
Where can I buy it?
If you live in the US, you can buy it in any supermarket. If you live in Australia, you must order it online. Here is where I’ve ordered mine from. Herbs and Spices Australia. The salt is made in Tasmania, which is where most of our timber comes from.
Can I make my own?
Yes you can, but it’s not worth it as it isn’t expensive to buy. However, if you still wish to make it, read below.
First, though, consider if you can correctly store this type of salt, as it shouldn’t be near any moisture when settling. Store the salt in a waterproof container that is airtight so that the ingredients don’t react with oxygen and change from a light colour to a darker shade.
Canning & pickling salt can be made by whirring kosher salt in a blender or spice grinder (or a handy-dandy coffee grinder used for grinding every kind of seed, bean, and grain that ISN’T coffee).
Take about a cup of kosher salt and run it through the grinder. Get it pretty fine, to make sure that it could dissolve adequately in the canning process. Then store it in a mason jar next to the boxes of kosher salt and bags of sea salt. In the end, you’ll get perfect canning and pickling salt.
How do I make my own Liquid Hide Glue?
As I said earlier in the post, experimentation is the key. It all boils down to how much you want to make. The steps below will be for the same size large bottle of Old Brown Glue 20fl.oz or 590ml. The trick is that most of us will not need that sized bottle, but instead will want that smaller version of 5fl.oz or 148ml.
This is what I’m looking at, which is why I said you need to experiment with the amount of salt needed for that small amount of glue. One way you could do it, is use the amount I will write below and pour it in several small bottles and give them away or possibly even sell them. But I’m looked at as a freak for working with hand tools and using hide glue, so I have no one to give it too and selling it may or may not work. One can never know without trying.
The methods below I will give you from three sources and it’s up to you which method you choose to follow:
Don Williams written by Christopher Schwarz:
To make a batch of liquid hide glue takes about three minutes of active work, according to Williams,but it’s three minutes spread over a 48-hour period. And you don’t need anything special in addition to the hide glue – except table salt.
To begin, you have to make hot hide glue. I’m sure if you have yet to purchase a glue pot (a special pot for making and reheating hot hide glue), you’re not of the mind to do so for this single purpose. You don’t have to. You can use an electric hot plate, a saucepan, a small glass jar and a small amount of hide glue flakes or pearls, along with salt.
Here are the steps: The first day, mix two parts hide glue flakes with three parts water into the jar and let everything soak. The following morning, heat water in the saucepan to a temperature of 140º F (a thermometer helps with accuracy), add in one part salt to the jar then cook everything for about two hours. Next, immediately stick the cooked mixture into your refrigerator for the balance of the day (quick cooling is key).
On morning three, fire up the burner and cook the mixture for another two hours (Williams always cooks the glue twice). Once the batch cooks the second time, you have liquid hide glue. Williams adds that he seldom makes more than a pint of glue at a time. He pours it into a plastic ketchup or mustard squeeze bottle for easy dispensing.
And here is the most interesting part of home-made liquid hide glue: The salt makes this product stay liquid at room temperature and salt preserves the glue so there is no spoil date – just as salt has done throughout time in salting meat.
Chris claims there’s no spoil date, I will shoot off an email to Don to confirm this.
Source two is someone I don’t know who has repeated Don’s idea and hasn’t added much to the subject. I still posted it for the sake of the pictures.
I used a 1/4 measure, so this means 1/4 salt, 2/4 hide glue granules, 3/4 water. This glue is 260# Bloom gram strength from Lee Valley Tools.
Mix the hide glue and water together. Leave out the salt, for now. Let the mix sit overnight. I put mine in a 1qt jar.
The next day, add the salt, then heat the jar of goop in the glue pot of your choice at 140°-150° for 2 hours. I use a $10 dollar Crock Pot that I bought at Walmart. The “warm” setting is perfect for hot hide glue.
After 2 hours, put the mix in the refrigerator overnight (Important!). Evidently the quick cooling is key, because up till now, this is what I had always done and it hadn’t made a big difference.
The next day my mix looked like meat jello, same as always. But hang in there. Heat the goop for another 2 hours at 140°-150°. This time is for real. Liquid hide glue!
Room temp success. The salt will act as a preservative, too. I would normally make a much smaller batch, but I’ve got some bigger projects in the works and expect to use this reasonably quick. Here is the link should you wish to see other stuff he wrote. My Peculiar Nature
Third and final one is from Mortise and Tenon
So there you have it and my last word on how to mix the stuff, but not my last word on whether I have successfully made a no expiry date strong liquid hide glue. More on my findings soon. Good luck to those who will venture out on this journey with me.
Liberate yourselves from the dependency on large multi-million dollar companies, who regard you as insignificant whether or not you buy from them.
Last minute addition
To help those decipher the above US mix ratio from Mortise and tenon, I will convert it for us under the commonwealth and we all use the same measurements:
1/2 Cup hide glue granules=118.3g
1/2 Cup Water = 118.3ml
2 tsp pickling salt = 11.8g
140°F = 60°C
I would suggest following Don Williams method of first mixing the granules and water ratio provided but leaving the salt out. Once the granules soak up the water and turns into a gelatinous state, heat up the stove and water to 60°C. Add 11.8g of pickling salt and begin cooking the glue for 2 hours. Refrigerate it overnight, then the next morning cook the glue again for another 2 hours and you have liquid hide glue.
Trying to drill a hole accurately with a wobbly bit is a pain in the backside. This pain I lived with for several months until I figured out what was wrong. When I bought this eggbeater, I never had such issues, but since I dismantled the chuck for cleaning several months back, I noticed the wobble started.
I will go through the steps I have taken to find a solution. You can also follow these steps when you’re next at flea markets before buying a hand drill. You don’t want lemons because these hand drills aren’t cheap anymore.
The first thing I checked was the bit. I laid it flat on my table and rolled it. There were no irregularities, for good measure I placed it in my drill press and it was fine. So, I crossed that off the list.
Open and close the jaws in the chuck and watch if the jaws open and close evenly together. If not, get a new chuck.
Next unscrew the chuck completely off the threaded shaft and inspect the shaft. Crank the drill and eyeball shaft carefully. Your eyes will pick up any irregularities if the shaft is bent. You’ don’t need any expensive gizmos for this.
Next pop out the jaws and inspect the flat milled back that holds the bit. This must be clean, undamaged, and milled perfectly flat. It is highly unlikely that it isn’t perfectly flat, so inspections by eye are close enough. There can’t be any dings.
By now I was frustrated and I mean really frustrated. I checked everything I could check, and they all passed with flying colours, but did I. There was one last thing I didn’t notice when I put the darn thing back together again. Since I don’t know the part name, the two pictures will give a better picture of what I’m referring too.
That’s right folks, that part that I’m pointing too was flipped the wrong way round. The bit rests in the cylindrical depression you see in the middle, which aids in keeping the bit centred (centered for the yanks) coupled with the jaws holding the bit in place. These two combined aid the drill bit from wobbling whilst drilling. Amazing, isn’t it? Something that’s so easy to miss can lead to months and months of frustration and hair loss.
I mentioned earlier that shellac will harden (fully cure) within 10-13 days before the product can be shipped. Some expressed scepticism, whilst others shrugged it off as mere fictitious jargon, but here is the proof.
Whilst this is thankfully only a sample piece for an upcoming project, I am grateful it happened so I can help you not make the mistake I did so long ago. You may wonder what caused this, well, I placed it in my vice not clamping hard at all to plane the edges. I wanted to figure out just how to French polish small pieces as I intend to do so on small jewellery boxes.
Why shellac when there are so many cheaper and faster alternatives? Because no other finish in my opinion can give me the clarity, depth and glass like finish that shellac can and oh almost forgot; longevity. Museums are full of antiques coated with shellac that still don’t need re-coating. Shellac has stood the tests of time whilst modern day products such as lacquer and polyurethane will never outbid shellac, neither in longevity and most definitely in appearance. I understand that there is a need for modern finishes as they come with many benefits such as ease of application, shorter drying times, ready to go out of the can etc, but shellac will always be my most go to finish. It doesn’t mean I don’t use other finishes it means that I use shellac more often than not.
I’ve had this clock for a while that my daughter bought for my birthday some years ago. The movement died and since I have many movements left from my previous clock making days; I thought it would be a great opportunity to demonstrate on how to replace a battery powered movement.
This is the pin that holds the hands on the movement. Not all clocks have pins some are nuts (open and closed). Pull this out with your fingers to remove the hands.
This is the nut that holds the movement on the face. It is only finger tight. Unscrew the nut and pop the movement out.
The movement I’m replacing is a cheap Chinese-made movement. They cost around 0.30cents to buy in bulk from alibaba and only last about 3 years. They are good if you want to build a reputation for producing rubbish. For battery powered movements you need to buy the best there is, and Takane movements are it. They are made in the USA and come with a warranty of 10 years, even though they can last longer than that. They cost around $22 each, which is significantly higher than the Chinese model, but you get what you pay for.
Insert the shaft through the hole, replace the washer and screw on the nut using finger tight pressure only.
The plastic shaft on the movement which holds the hour hand isn’t the same diameter as the hole in the hour hand, I have to make some adjustments to reduce its diameter. I will hammer the outer walls of the hole inwards.
Reinsert the hands and screw on the nut. Discard the pin that came with the previous movement.
I discarded the metal hands altogether and make some new ones from wood I had left over from the jewellery box project I made for my niece.
Have you ever wondered why many clocks for sale read 1:50? It’s an old psychological trick that sellers still use to make their clocks seem more attractive. It’s a smile and meant to make you feel good when you look at the clock in the shop’s window. You’ll never see a clock reading 8:20 as that represents a frowning face.
Made from American red oak. I’ve never had the pleasure of working with this beautiful wood before as it’s an imported species and very expensive in Australia.
As always everything is entirely handmade. I added wrought nails as more of a decorative feature than anything else. I had to experiment on some offcuts to find the correct hole size so it wouldn’t split the wood. I was surprised at its superior holding power.
The finish applied is a non toxic clear oil which is applied over a three day period. I don’t like to apply stain over any timber other than pine.
I recently bought a slow speed grinder as I’ve grown beyond weary sharpening A2 steel entirely by hand. If my plane irons were thin Stanley O1 blades, then I would never need a grinder even if the blade was nicked. However, it is what it is and life goes on.
With every new grinder or with every new wheel replacement, you will need to balance or align the wheels. You also may have to periodically balance the wheels throughout the life of the wheel due to dressing, wear and profiling. The balancing of grinding wheels is essential despite dressing them! Skipping this step may cause chatter marks, excessive wheel wear and spindle head wear to name but a few.
When you start the grinder, you may notice that the wheel has a slight wobble. This can be due to the large flange washers not running true. Fixing this isn’t as difficult or time consuming as you may think.
First turn the machine on and look at the wheel to see if there is a wobble. The chances are high that there will be. If there is, turn the machine off, unplug it from the wall, wait for the wheels to stop turning and take the covers off.
Make a reference mark on each flange washer and the wheel to record their original location.
Next, loosen the shaft nut and rotate the flange washer clockwise and the other wheel counter clockwise by ½”.
Tip: If the wheel is new, you may notice the flange washer won’t rotate due to it being stuck to the paper. I used the tip of a flat blade screwdriver to strike the flange washer, a light tap is all that is needed to unstick it from the paper.
Tighten the shaft nut by hand and rotate the wheel by hand. If you don’t feel confident that you will observe any change, then tighten the shaft nut and turn the machine on. If there is still wobble in the wheel, turn it another ½”. Keep doing this until you’re satisfied. You could spend an eternity finding that sweet spot, but at some point you will have to stop and say it’s good enough for my purpose. A small amount of wobble is fine.
The final step is to dress the wheel. The centre bushings “roughly” centre the wheel on the shaft. Inaccuracies in the manufacturing process may cause fluctuation in the wheel and to address this, a wheel dresser can be used to make the wheel run true.
Place the wheel dresser on the tool rest angled upwards with the edge of the wheel dresser facing the wheel. Slowly bring the wheel dresser to the stone until you hear the untrue side touch the dresser. As you apply light pressure, the face of the stone becomes true.
Some things to be aware of:
The left side shaft nut has left-handed threads and so the nut is tightened counter clockwise. The right-side shaft nut has right-handed threads and is tightened by rotating it clockwise.
Do not over tighten the shaft nuts. Doing so can cause damage to the wheel and the flange washers. A light touch is all that is needed. The direction of travel will keep the nuts tight.
When buying a new wheel make sure the R.P.M. rating is greater than the grinder’s motor. The outer diameter of the wheel must be according to the size specification of your grinder. The bore diameter of the wheel must be the same as the original wheel.
Do not remove the labels on the sides of the wheels. They help to spread the holding pressure of the tightened nuts on the grinding wheel flanges.
Applying the entire face of the wheel dresser to the stone without the support of a tool rest may introduce deeper grooves and further untrue the stone.
Troubleshooting as is in the manual
If the adjustment of the flange washers does not make the wheel run without side to side oscillation, then remove the wheel and flange washers and check the shoulder on the motor shaft at the point where the flange washer seats against it. A slight burr on the edge of the shoulder can stop the flange washer from seating properly. The burr can be removed using a file to smooth the edge of the shoulder. Look for any roughness on the surfaces of the flange washers and smooth these spots on sandpaper placed on a flat surface. Then replace the wheel, re-adjust the flange washers, and dress the wheel.
With wheels properly aligned,this is a wonderful machine that serves its purpose in eliminating the drudgery of sharpening A2 plane blades. With the further aid of an after-market tool rest, you’ll have one powerful addition to your sharpening tool kit.
I loved playing dominos with my dad when I was young and I still love playing dominos with my dad and now my son. I introduced him to the game not long ago, and he loves it. The box that the dominos came in was getting a bit tattered, so I decided to make for my old man a nice new one. I guess the original is a vintage box now and probably worth something so if anyone wants it before it goes in the bin let me know. I’m taking all the measurements off the original box and will provide them for you here. My choice of timbers is NGR (New Guinean rosewood) for the sides and American black walnut for the ends, top and bottom.
Sides 8” x 2 1/4” x ¼” (make 2)
Ends 2 3/4” x 2 1/4” x ¼ (make 2)
Bottom 8 x 2 3/4” x 1/8” (make 1)
Lid undetermined yet – we’ll get to that part later (make 1).
Start by preparing the parts. Rip the sides and ends over-sized. Flatten one side and plane one edge and end square. From the reference edge, mark 2 1/4” and rip and plane to the line. From the reference end, mark the overall length, square a line around the piece and crosscut to the line. Finally, mark and plane to final thickness.
In the photo below, you’ll see the two ends have been prepared as a single piece, to be cut apart and cut to length later.
Plough a ¼” wide, 1/8” deep groove that is 1/8” from the upper edge on the inside of the side pieces. The lid will slide in these grooves. It’s imperative that the two side pieces are of equal width. If one of those pieces were wider than the other, the grooves could be out of alignment with each other.
When adjusting the plough plane, it can be helpful first to scribe a gauge line on the workpiece 1/8” from the upper edge. Rather than setting the plane’s fence with a ruler, line up the left edge of the blade to the gauge line.
Using a rule, set the depth stop 1/8” from to the tip of the blade and lock it in place. Verify the distance one more time for good measure.
If the wood has reversing grain, set the iron to take a very light cut. You’re only ploughing to 1/8” depth so it won’t take long. Using a sticking board with an adjustable fence can help in ploughing the grooves. If you’re interested in making your own sticking board, plans are available in Issue IV, which can be purchased from my store. With an adjustable fence, making the piece flush against the edge of the sticking board is easy and this gives a much better surface for the plough plane’s fence to ride along.
Following these tips should result in clean, accurate results every time.
The box will have single dovetails at each corner.
Make the tails protrude by about 1/32” by setting a marking gauge to slightly more than the thickness of the pin board, as in the above picture. Use that setting to mark the baselines on the tail board.
One end of the box will be higher than the other so that the lid can slide in and stop. For this reason, the dovetails will be offset from centre.
On the end grain of a side piece, measure in ¼” from the lower edge and 5/8” from the grooved edge. At these locations, mark lines straight across the end, then extend lines down the faces to the baselines using the dovetail angle you prefer.
Cut away the waste and pare to the lines to complete the dovetail.
To transfer the tails to the pin board, use a trick from Mike Pekovic of Fine Woodworking Magazine. He uses painter’s masking tape on the edge of the pin board (as shown above). Knifing the outlines of the dovetail onto the pin board and removing the tape in the waste area reveals very clean, visible lines.
This is especially useful on dark timbers like this walnut. Saw and chisel out the waste and fit the tail board to the pin board.
To allow the lid to slide in and out, one of the ends will be reduced in height.
Choose an end to be the front and knife a mark from the lower wall of the groove onto the end piece. Extend the mark across the end piece and rip and plane to the line.
Reassemble the box and verify that the top edge of the end piece is flush with the bottom of the grooves. When satisfied, glue the box together, clamp it up and check for square.
When the glue has set, pare the protruding ends. Plane as close as possible to the surface and finish it off by paring with a chisel.
Flatten the bottom using a plane or by rubbing on sandpaper adhered to a flat surface.
Just a few strokes is all that is needed.
Prepare the bottom piece, planing to about 1/8” thick, but keeping the length and width oversized. Glue the box to it and when the glue has dried, plane the ends and sides flush with the box.
The box can be clamped in a vice to give good even clamping pressure all around.
All that’s left now is the lid.
For the lid, prepare ¼” thick stock. Then plane the edges to fit into the grooves.
A shooting board saves a lot of time and minimizes potential errors in making the edges parallel.
The fit shouldn’t be too sloppy or too tight. There should be just enough slack so the lid can slide in and out freely but not so free that if tipped on its end it will slide out.
With the lid slid all the way to the back of the box, place a mark on the lid at the end of a groove. Square the mark across the lid and crosscut to length. The lid will have a lip added to it that will hide the two grooves on the ends and will also act as a pull to open the box.
Rip a small piece whose width is equal to the difference between the height of the front end and the height of the sides. This measurement can be obtained as shown in the picture above. The length of the piece should be slightly greater than the width of the box.
Glue the lip onto the end grain of the lid, ensuring the bottoms of the lip and lid are flush with each other. Gluing end grain to long grain may not be as strong as gluing long grain to long grain, but if the end grain is coated with glue and allowed to dry, the lip can be glued as normal and the bond will be strong. This applies to all types of glue. When attaching the lip, ensure that the ends on both sides are slightly proud of the box sides. Trim them flush to the sides after the glue has dried.
That’s all there is to it. The box is now ready for light sanding and finish. I used three coats of shellac, followed by a coat of paste wax.
While computer games become out dated almost as quickly as they are released, dominos has continued to be played by friends and families since the Song Dynasty in China (1232-1298).
The pictures below show the original box and the new box. What a difference!
I’m a fan of carved projects be that furniture, boxes, clocks, etc. I haven’t attempted to try carving the fancy stuff from the 18th century but one of these days soon I will, God willing. So, I’ve started off with the 17th century which I like very much.
In comparison to the shoe rack I initially made for my wife some years back which is different to the one made for Issue 7 of the magazine, you can see by the side-by-side comparison it’s much larger and heftier. My wife is heavily into fitness training so you can see all her running shoes. Maybe one day soon I will sign up to the gym and hopefully build up some strength again for woodworking.
I guess that isn’t a great photo to show off the sides, but when I make another one I’ll do a better shot. I used 1 1/4″ cut nails to nail the battens. I realised that it would’ve been better aesthetically had I used rose head wrought nails. On the next one I make that’s what I will be using.
Here is another shot of the same side in case it comes up better on your monitors. Every monitor is different so visual appearances are also different. To be somewhat closer to period correctness I should’ve used Red oak. I definitely don’t have red oak in this thickness nor pockets deep enough to afford it. I know Follansbee has access to green logs of red oak and what seems to be he has an endless supply; I don’t. So my choice was limited to pine. Pine worked out fine for this type of carving, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the fancy 18th century style of carving. Let’s just say the wood misbehaves.
I was thinking about putting a dark stain on it, but thought it may ruin it by giving it muddy look. I will experiment though and just put this theory to test.
For now, I have a new project I was commissioned for which may end up in the upcoming issue of The Lost Scrolls of HANDWORK Magazine. I hope you’ve all enjoyed Issue 7.