This is merely one of many different varieties of mitre shooting boards. This morning I realised I went a little far with the quantity of shellac layers. It’s a one-pound cut with four coats. I’m thinking three coats on the next one. I’m planning to construct another shooting board that is completely different from this one because it is the one I’ll be using the most. I know I’ll use it primarily since I already have one made of lousy MDF. MDF is more stable than quarter sawn, however it does not look as nice as real wood. I would not have used it if I had known it would not stay flat. I planed both sides of a tiny cup and coated both sides. I could go on and on about this, but I won’t since I have work to do.
Don’t let the opinions of others prevent you from being inspired. Having lovely shop cabinets or storage units for your sandpaper, screws, nails, or whatever is not a sign that you are not busy and hence have too much free time. It indicates that you are passionate about what you do and how you do it. It should serve as motivation for you to raise the bar every time you step into your shop. It should motivate you to take pride in your work, your tools, and your craft. Having beautiful things that you made for your shop will always have a positive psychological impact on you.
Throughout our vast known woodworking history, many forms of clamping devices have been in use to clamp two boards together. Ancient Egyptians used to clamp by placing two boards vertically weighted down by a heavier object. Wedges were another form of clamping method used. Today we have many clamping devices available to us. In fact, there is a large variety of them in all shapes and sizes ranging from the highest quality Bessey
clamps, to the lower quality Craftright. There are even lower quality no name brands you can find for a couple of dollars. I would highly recommend you steer away from those cheap types no matter how tempting they are. They are just downright atrocious and should be outlawed, the manufacturer imprisoned and whipped with the cat of nine tails. Bessey being my ultimate most expensive favourite brand is sturdy built, and the head slides smoothly up and down the bar.
Prior to turning amateur, most of my work involved in making clocks. Rarely did I need clamps larger than 800mm (31 1/2”). Now I have the freedom to build what-ever I fancy and larger clamps will be needed soon enough. However, Bessey clamps as good as they are, are cost prohibitive and not within my financial reach. So, instead, I shall make myself a copy of the Bessey clamp and God willing, it will be just as good as Bessey. I will leave this for another article. A new clamp for me is the cam clamp. Cam clamps are so versatile that I end up reaching for them often. Cam clamps are lightweight, non-marring and offer just the right amount of pressure needed for light duty work like building boxes or instruments. Instrument makers are common users of these types of clamps and they’re easy and fun to build. Large clamping force is seldom needed if your boards are flat and out of twist. Sometimes boards cup and a little more pressure is needed. You would choose the right clamp for the job at hand. For light work cam clamps are the perfect choice. Since I’ve been concentrating on making moulding planes, cam clamps are all I need. If you’re wondering why I need to clamp moulding planes, it’s because I’m using the French build method they once used in the 18th Century. The British frowned upon this build method, but there are pros and cons in both methods. They’re not so heavy on the pocket either. You can use any hardwood to build yourself a set. I wouldn’t recommend using softwoods like pine. Pine is too soft, and the force applied from the bar and pins will dig into pinewood and render the clamp useless. Therefore, I would recommend using hardwoods like maple, black walnut will hold up, ironwood is very strong, New Guinean rosewood looks beautiful and is perfect for them. I already have a few cam clamps lying around but for the sake of this article, I will add one more to the growing set, besides I like making them. So, I rummaged through my offcuts bin and found black walnut. It’s always good to keep your offcuts no matter how small or thin they may be, you never know when you will reach out for it for another project. Wood is expensive in Australia and just like our predecessors you can’t afford wastage, so I hoard as much as I can to use later.
The bar I will use is aluminium, you can use iron or timber, but the aluminium is lightweight and sturdier than timber, and it won’t warp through seasonal changes. The bar length I have on hand is 23 9/16” x ¾” x 1/8” (600mm x 19mm x 3mm). I will use half that length for two reasons: I’ll get two clamps out of one bar and it’s the right size for my moulding planes. The pins will be from a brass rod 1/8” in diameter. The rod needn’t be of any great length as the pins will be cut to just a little over an inch in length. Cam jaws dimensions are 6” x 1 ½” x 1”. You will need to cut two; the upper and lower portion. The upper portion is called a fixed jaw. The lower portion is called a sliding jaw. The aluminium bar is called a bar. The lever is called a cam lever.
Step 1 Crosscut the aluminium bar in half with a hacksaw. Your bar can be of any length desired. There is no need for me to provide any specific length measurements as everyone’s need is different. Aluminium bars are soft and easy to cut. Scribed lines are visible. Wouldn’t it be nice if all metal was this easy? Once cut to length, file the cut end to a smooth square. Making it square isn’t necessary, but it’s good training. Working with a quality file is a joy to use. After it is smooth and square, prepare your stock. Note: Apply the following steps to both jaws to save on build time.
• Length, width and thickness • Arch • Through Mortise Rip and crosscut a little oversized by 1/8”, this is a precautionary method if you’re not a very good sawyer, otherwise 1/16” will suffice.
Step 2 Surface plane both stocks flat and true five sides. Both faces and edges parallel. Step 3 Thickness both to 1”. Make them flush to each other. If your stock is already 1” a little under won’t hurt.
Step 4 Crosscut and chute to final length of 6”. Step 5 Determine which will be the fixed jaw. Layout all your dimensions now rather than as you go along. We will layout the dimensions for the position of the arch which will be at the underside of the fixed jaw. From one end of the fixed jaw, measure in 1 ¼” on the edge (31.75mm). Now on the opposite end, measure in 2 1/8” (54mm), what’s left in between will be the arch. The arch’s height is ¼” (6mm). Pencil a line between the two arch points. To draw the arch, I used ¼ of the size of a 5c coin. If you wish you can use a circle template, a compass or draw it freehand.
Step 6 Shape the arch with a chisel or saw it with a coping saw or a scroll saw. Clean up the chisel marks or saw marks with a rasp, file, scraper or sandpaper. Step 7 Lay out the through mortise and chop it out. The bar will be inserted into the through mortise and fixed with two pins. The mortise is ¾” x 1/8”
From one end (refer to the drawing which end), top edge of the fixed jaw, measure in 7/8” and pencil it in. With a square, square the line around the work piece. Now, measure from the same side 1 5/8” and square the line around all four sides. We’ve now established the length of the mortise. Now we need to establish the width being 1/8”. Measure from both sides 9/16” to get 1/8” width, provided your stock is thicknessed to 1”. If it isn’t, set the pins on a mortise gauge to 1/8”. Move the head of the marking gauge so that the pins are approximately in the centre of the stock and pinprick the stock. Flip the gauge to the opposite side and pin prick again. The difference in between the pinpricks is the centre of a 1/8” wide mortise. Repeat the same on the underside of your stock. Chop out the mortise. You can drill using a drill bit narrower than 1/8” or chop it with a 1/8” mortising or bench chisel. Tip: I’ve discovered a simple way to centre a mortise with pinpoint accuracy. This method will eliminate the need of having a mortise gauge and that’s one less tool in your tool box. If you don’t own a marking gauge to mark out mortises, you can use a single cut-ting gauge with accuracy. To do so, take half the width of your stock add half the width of your chisel, then add that dimension to the half width of your stock. For example; let’s say the width of the stock is 7/8”, take half of that which is 7/16”. The width of the mortise is 1/8”, half of that is 1/16”. Add the two, 7/16” + 1/16” = 1/2”. 1/2” is what I’ll be setting my marking gauge too, and scribe on both sides. Your mortise will be smack in the middle. Clever, eh. I think this method is much more accurate than making a gazillion scribes from both ends trying to potluck the centre.
Step 9 In this final step we will insert the bar through the mortise of the fixed jaw and pin it in place to render it immovable. Check that the bar is square to the jaw and apply glue inside the mortise and on the bar. (Refer to the list of glues below). Insert the bar into the mortise and allow the glue to dry at least a half hour before drilling through it. Mark the hole locations at a diagonal on the stock/bar. Then drill straight through both. I used a 1/8” brad point drill bit as my brass rods are 1/8” in diameter.
Saw the rods/pins a little longer than the thickness of the fixed jaw. Apply glue to the pins and hammer them in place. Let the glue set. Saw the pins off as close as flush as possible. Then draw it out by hammering the pins towards the outer perimeter. This method is called peening. This is an age-old metal working trick to make the pins irremovable. Finish it by sanding the pins flush.
As for the glue that will glue metal to wood, any of the glues below will work.
• Fish glue • Loctite AA330 • Epoxy
Making the Sliding Jaw The first thing we need to do is rip a narrow kerf so the clamp pad can flex when pressure from the cam lever is applied. Step 1 Pencil a line freehand ¼” up beginning from the clamp pad and ending at 3 7/8”. Drill a 1/8” stop hole at the end of the 3 7/8” line. This will help prevent a potential split beyond the stop hole. The drawings display a screw inserted from the bottom. I have omitted this screw as I don’t see the reasons for it. Rip down the narrow kerf.
Step 2 The width of the stopped slot is 3/8”. Using the same method for marking out the mortise in step 8, we shall mark out for the cam lever stopped slot. Working from the top first, measure and mark the length from the right side 2 3/4″ (70mm). Then from the face side on the kerf measure and mark 1 1/8”. Pencil in a line connecting the two marks, this will give you the angle to aim to when sawing and chopping out the stopped slot. Drill two holes for the pins. These through pins need to be placed next to the mortise wall, ¼” down from the top and 3/8” up from the bottom. If the pins protrude into the mortise, then the sliding jaw won’t slide up and down. If the pins are further away from the mortise wall, then your clamp will be ineffective.
Step 3 Use a tenon saw to kerf the slot.
Insert a small thin shim in the kerf between the clamp pad and the stopped slot to avoid chiselling into the clamp pad. Chop out the stopped slot referring to the angled guideline you pencilled in earlier.
Cam Lever Step 1 Trace the lever from the drawings onto the timber and with a coping saw or scroll saw cut the shape. Clean the saw marks with rasps, files or sandpaper. Insert the cam lever into the slot with the large rounded part of the lever in a downward position inside the slot and rest the cam lever flat on the angle. Position the cam lever so it protrudes into the saw kerf. With the cam lever positioned in the sliding jaw, place both parts into the vice. Eye ball or measure in 5/8” from the right side of the sliding jaw and about 3/8” up from the kerf and drill a 1/8” hole. Tip: Use a brad point tip to stop any wandering of the bit as you begin to drill.
Insert the pin dry (don’t glue it in). Use the same metal working trick to peen the end as described previously. Note: At this stage, you may be disappointed as the cam lever isn’t holding its position when activated. The problem lies in the pin hole location. I’ve experimented with different hole locations and haven’t yet resolved this phenomenal problem. To date 3/8” seems to be the better candidate. If you drill your hole close to the kerf, the lever won’t swing very far and it won’t clamp at all. If you drill a hole above 3/8” then the cam lever won’t grab or stay put when activated. Even at the 3/8” mark the lever still doesn’t perform well.
My only solution to this is to insert a piece of leather with the suede facing up in between the saw kerf and the lever and glue it in place. If you like, use a quick setting PVA glue. It will set in 2 minutes and cure within 4 hours. You’ll notice that the clamp will now holding better. In this final step of the build and only if you used metal bar, you will need to file a row of grooves on the back of the bar so that the sliding jaw will grab when you clamp. Use a triangular file and eye ball the spacings.
Optional: I glued cork to the clamp pads to provide better grip and more clamping power. I’m not sure how that works, but it does.
Finish You can use any finish you like. Minwax Antique Oil is great, so is shellac. Just be careful that you don’t get the finish on the leather. It could seep in between the glue line and break the bond.
This will be a thirteen-episode build series on how to make a book holder using only hand tools. After many years of not recording, this is my first video project, and I am optimistic that there will be many more to come. If you haven’t already, please show your support by liking and subscribing to my channel.
According to the Oxford dictionary, the verb form of “stick” means to push, thrust, poke, insert, plunge, dig and probably many others. In woodworking it means to cut a moulding and to do it by hand. The easiest method is to use a benchtop appli- ance known as a “sticking board.”
A sticking board can be of any length, width and thickness. In its simplest form, it comprises a flat board and a fixed fence. A screw or several screws near one end of the board serve as stops. It can be fixed to the bench by clamping between dogs, using holdfasts, or various other methods. A sticking board doesn’t only serve to cut moulding by hand; it can be used when ploughing a groove or making a rabbet. I used mine to make my moulding planes, the entire set of which is not yet completed.
The “traditional” style sticking board has one seriously annoying flaw; it has a fixed fence like my old one here.
Rarely have I ever worked a board which was the full width of the sticking board, and if I did, it never was the exact width. Many times I would use offcuts to fill the empty space between the board to be worked and the fixed fence. I would do this trying to make the board flush with the sticking board’s front edge so the fence of my rabbet or grooving plane can utilise the edge of my workbench. Usually it would be impossible to make the work piece flush with the edge of the sticking board; instead it would over- hang. Depending on the thickness of the material being worked, inadvertently tilting the plane is a common problem and a square rabbet cannot be achieved.
A great solution is to build a new sticking board with an adjustable fence. I cannot take credit for this as my idea was spawned from watching an episode of The Woodwright’s Shop. I saw very briefly Roy using one, but unfortunately the camera angle didn’t reveal much. Nonetheless, it appeared to be a sticking board with an adjustable fence. I start- ed building on the fly.
My board is made up of hoarded scraps. Western red cedar for the base and pine for the fence. I knew one of these years I would find good use for the WRC. The adjust- able fence rides in tracks that are T slots I bought from Carbatec 10 years ago. The knobs used to fix the fence in position are part of a box set I also bought 10 years ago for making jigs. I’ve never found much use for it until now. Note to self: Stop reading catalogues.
Handy to have if you’re making a lot of jigs. I’m not sure if they’re still selling
While a sticking board can be any length, it has been said that a good size is about 8’ (2438mm). That is generally a good size for making lengths of mouldings, but unfor- tunately my bench is just under 6’ (1828mm). I made mine from the
length of a scrap I had on hand which happened to be the ideal length for my bench.
The base of my sticking board is: 35 ¾” x 7 1/8” x 1 ½” (908 x 181 x 38mm). The fence is 35 ¾” x 1 ½” x ¾” (908 x 38 x 19 mm). Optionally, you can install a hook on the front edge of the base of the sticking board A hook sits against the front edge of the workbench and stops the sticking board from sliding across the bench, much the same principle as in shooting boards and bench hooks. But it can also serve as a surface for the fence of a plane to ride against should you need to plow a groove or cut a rabbet.
I didn’t go out and buy new timber for the hook. Instead I went to a charity shop and picked up an outdoor table for $4.00. I don’t know what species it is and one of these days I’ll bother to find out, but it’s heavy and hard yet easy to plane. I’d hate to build a large cabinet with it; I think I would need a forklift to move it around. The dimensions are 35 ¾” x 2 ¼” x ¾” (908 x 57 x 19 mm).
If necessary, cut the base to length then plane flat both sides and square one edge. For the fence, rip 1 ½” (38 mm) from a board, cut it to length and plane it flat and square.
Make a couple of dadoes in the base for the T slotted tracks. Measure in 4” from both ends and make a knife line.
Holding your square still on the knifed line, butt the track against your square and mark the opposite end. You now have the exact width of the required dado.
Holding your square still on the knifed line, butt the track against your square and mark the op- posite end. You now have the exact width of the required dado.
Repeat chopping the sec- ond half and finish lev- elling the bottom of the dado with a router plane set to the thickness of the track and test the fit.
You want the tracks level with the surface. You don’t want the track proud of the base’s surface because it would interfere with the board being worked.
Insert the T slot track into one of the dados and flush one end with the edge of the base. At the other edge of the base scribe a line on the T slot track. Saw to the line using a hack saw.
Clean up the edge with a file and repeat for the second dado. These Bahco files I bought from England really leave a beautiful surface and remain sharp. Admittedly though, I don’t use them very often, but I have used in the past the modern-day Nicholson files and they were very disappointing indeed. I wouldn’t recommend you buy them.
To glue the tracks in place I used Loctite AA 330. The glue comes with an activator and can be bought separately if need be. This is an ultimate glue for gluing metal to wood, The instructions are easy to follow. Spread glue on one surface and spray the activator on the mating piece. I didn’t need to use clamps be- cause the fit was good and tight; adding clamps wouldn’t have made a difference. Don’t be in a hurry to buy the Loctite, as it is expensive. Fish glue from Lee Valley will work just as well. I’m using the AA 330 glue until it’s expended; I bought it so I might as well use it
I left it to dry overnight even though I could have resumed work within 30-60mins.
Install the hook. Remember this is optional so skip this part if you don’t want the hook. I cut the piece to length allowing a little extra for flushing the ends to the base. I used my own homemade version of liquid hide glue and clamped it overnight. To save time you should clamp this at the same time you install the tracks but I would highly recom- mend you don’t install the tracks until you’ve installed the hook and checked for square. This way you can plane the top square without fear of hitting the metal tracks. Don’t ask me how I know this.
Once the glue has cured, plane the top edge flush with the top surface of the base and check the front face of the hook for square with the base. This is critical; there is no compromising here. The reason is, when you’re planing a rabbet using a fenced rabbet plane (for example), it’s the face of the hook that the plane’s fence will register against. If that’s out of square then your rabbet will also be out of square.
Pre-drill some holes and reinforce the hook with screws.
Tidy the ends of the hook with your block plane
Now for the adjustable fence. Place the fence on the base and flush up the ends by feel. Hold the fence immobile, locate and mark both ends of each slot onto the bottom side of your fence.
What we want is to transfer the exact location and width of the slots to the fence. Then we can locate the dead centre of the tracks and bore our holes in the fence precisely to meet up with the tracks. This is more precise than using measurements
I use a brace and 29/64” brad point bit to bore the holes. The eggbeater drill isn’t ideal as it requires more torque to bore the hole.
Accuracy this time round isn’t all that necessary, but having said that, it is good practice to bore and drill accurately. It takes a long time to acquire skill, but without constant practice it takes no time to lose it.
I have chosen to omit from the article the type, length and quantity of screws used as a stop. Reason being, as there is no strict rule to use the measurements I have supplied and in particular to the thickness of materials, I could not justify adding those partic- ulars as your build will not be identical to mine. You may use thinner, shorter, longer,
wider or narrower stock and the length and number of screws I used will not pertain to what you may need in your build.
On another note my editor Matt McGrane has pulled me up on an important point that didn’t cross my mind. He wrote to me and I quote:
“I have a screw-arm plough plane and the arms extend a few inches on the side of the plane towards the adjustable fence. With a narrow fence, the plane’s arms can hit the fence’s knob, which interferes with the operation. The solution might be to use a lower knob or simply a nut.”
He is right. This would be an issue with all plough planes whether antique or new. You can avoid this potential problem by using Matt’s suggestion of using a hex nut or use
a wider adjustable fence. Having said that, the only time this will become an issue is if
your stock is ¾” or less and you had to bring the fence all the way forward to the hook. I believe this occasion would be a rarity and if it did occur then simply use the above solution as a temporary fix.
My exploration of seating continues with a couple of Shaker inspired stools. Many, many moons ago, long before GPS, we made a trip to Nashville for a friend’s wedding. We had very little money at the time and knew this would be the only trip for that year. Unfortunately, our time in Nashville was less than pleasant, other than the wedding. Anyway, on the trip home we began looking for any stop that would salvage the trip. My wife scanned over the road atlas and stumbled on the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill just outside of Lexington, KY. So, on a whim, we routed ourselves to the village.
We arrived late afternoon on a Saturday and were pleasantly surprised that they had overnight rooms. As luck would have it there was a room available. Not only that, they had a dining hall that served family style meals. So, we moved into our room and walked to the dining hall and had a very pleasant dinner by candlelight.
The next day we toured the village and I poured over the furniture and buildings as far as they would let me. This was long before I had any tools or even a shop space, but the desire, the desire to build was there. The last stop before leaving the village was the gift shop and there I bought three little books of scaled drawings of Shaker furniture.
That’s a bit of back story, but I thumb thru these books every now and again for inspiration. This time around the stools caught my eye. Actually, the rocker has my interest, but I figure the stools will be a good way to get my head around the process. These are simple stools and should nestle nicely with the kitchen island that I converted my old workbench into.
I like most things Shaker, there is an elegant simplicity in all that they built. The one thing I have never been a fan of though is the woven tape seats. Seats woven with muted earth tones are OK, but the brighter colours just look out of place to me. So, my stools will have seats woven with fibre rush. It looks simple to accomplish and I personally like the look. After playing around with the proportions and a little time at the drafting board, here is what I came up with.
Not too different from the original Shaker design, just tweaked slightly. I’m building these stools with what I have on hand. The legs will be red oak and the stretchers will be white oak. The seats will be woven from fibre (paper) rush. I’ve gotten off to start turning the eight required legs. The goal is to crank out one leg after work every evening. So far, so good. I’m three for three. I’m actually getting pretty quick at it. Quick being a relative term. The story stick is a handy thing for this repetitive work too.
I deviated from the Shaker simplicity and added a single bead to the leg as well as a little wood burning. You know I can’t not add some wood burning. Just one more reason I would have made a lousy Shaker.
Progress continues on the stools. Mostly one hour at a time after work each day. This has become my basic workflow as of late. Come home, check in and then out to the shop until dinner time. Then grab as much time over the weekend as I can. Anyway…
I managed to finish turning all eight of the legs (posts). These are close to final shape, but I’ll most likely chuck them back into the lathe and change the shape of the taper to the foot. I also completed the initial turning of all of the required rungs.
When I design a project, I tend to focus on the overall proportions and keep the details to a minimum. I do this so as not to overly influence the final product. I know this seems counter to the whole idea of design, but it’s what works for me. My goal is not to crank out identical, production style pieces. If I make a piece again, I want the proportions to be right, but I also want each piece, or series of pieces, to be unique. So, part of my process is to work each element in stages. Essentially designing on the fly through a process of gradual reduction.
Working this way would drive some folks absolutely crazy. A lot of people like to have everything mapped out ahead of time. For me though, I like having the details sort of evolve along with the project itself. Sometimes I have an idea about the details from the start, but often I don’t have clue what will develop. I find this to be particularly true with my wood turning. A contributing factor is that I’m not all that confident in my developing wood turning skills, but I’m beginning to find my way.
The point of all that rambling is that my pieces tend to change as a project progresses. The first change to the project at hand was to add a bead to the legs.
The rungs were next to fall victim to change. I first turned all of the rungs to a simple cylinder and added the tenons. I then set eight of them aside to become the top rungs around which I’ll weave the fibre rush seat. The remaining rungs went back on the lather and received a taper on each end.
The final bit of modification was to the foot end of the legs (post). During the initial turning I established the transition point of the taper to the foot, but left this area “fat”. I felt they needed a little more grace and took cues from some Shaker examples to added a bit of life to the taper.
So now I have all of my wood bits ready to go. Next up will be the drilling of holes and assembly of the frames.
With all of the parts complete, it was time to bore some holes. There are (24) rungs which left me facing (48) holes that needed to be drilled plumb and square. It’s not that difficult of task really, but one errant hole can mess up the whole works. Actually, a little variance can be beneficial by way of adding tension into the frame. Too much variance though will either split a post or make it impossible to assemble the frame.
So, I cautiously began marking out and drilling each mortise holes. To add a little extra stress, I had to be diligent with my depth. These are blind holes and need to be as deep as possible to form a strong joint. I used a standard auger bit and had to pay careful attention to the lead screw. Half a turn too far and the lead screw would come through the opposite side. To control the depth of bore you can count turns, strap on a vintage depth stop contraption or, as I did, wrap a bit of painter’s tape around the bit.
The process was to mark out the centres by sighting across the post at the top and bottom locations and connect those with a straight edge to establish the intermediate location.
The best way I have found to hold an individual leg is to place it in joiner’s saddles and clamp it to the bench with a holdfast.
The drilling is straight forward, but I checked my progress with a square.
Sometimes though, it validates your skill with the brace and bit.
And so, I progressed, first with individual frames and then the entire frame.
The glue up was a bit stressful. It was a lot of parts to assemble and hot hide glue doesn’t wait. I was given a few extra seconds though, due to the high temp (88F) in my shop. So, no pics of the glue up. All of my concentration was on the task at hand.
The glued frames with a second coat of Tried & True Original. The first coat was applied while the pieces were on the lathe. That first coat of the individual pieces saved me a good bit of work when cleaning up the glue squeeze out.
A note about the grain orientation of the pieces. I set the rungs so that their grain was perpendicular to that of the posts. I also set the posts so that none of the rungs inserted directly through the long grain of the post.
Now all I need to do is figure out how to weave the seats.
Now that the stools were assembled, it was time to tackle the seat weaving.
The material that I chose to use is fibre rush. This is a paper product that imitates the look of natural rush and has been in use since the early 1900’s. I had planned on researching and writing a thorough post on fibre rush, but Cathryn Peters (wickerwoman.com) has a “history of” article on here site that covers it. Jump over there and have a read and then come back. I’ll wait…
…to understand the weaving process I read through the articles on Ms. Peters’ site, bought a small booklet on the subject and watched a bunch on YouTube videos. The most helpful video, by far, was Ed Hammond’s (peerlessrattan.com) video.
Having prepared as much as I could, there was nothing left to do but jump in and do it. So, I gathered my supplies and tools and settled in for a long afternoon.
The pattern is a simple over-under and progresses counter-clockwise around the stool.
While the pattern is simple, the nuances that are the hallmarks of skill and proficiency are not. As with most hinges handwork, these must be earned with time on task. Where to push and where to pull? How hard? How large a coil of material can I work with? On and on. The thing that I struggled with the most is how to handle and turn the coil as I weaved. The loose coil of rush must be continually rotated, in the correct direction, else the strand will untwist and leave you with a string of flat paper. I fought this all afternoon! Constantly having to stop and re-twist the strand.
There is a rhythm that began to reveal itself as the afternoon wore on and I became more and more comfortable with the process. Over the rail, up through the middle…over the rail up through the middle. Even so, my progress was clumsy at best, but I managed to get the first seat completed.
This first seat is presentable and I’m confident that the next one will improve in both execution and speed. This first round of weaving took me six hours! I also woefully underestimated how hard this process would be on my fingers. My thumbs and index fingers are raw and sore. So, either tape or gloves will be needed for the weaving of the next seat.
I spent my evenings after work weaving the seat for the second stool. I was a little more comfortable with the process this time and actually enjoyed applying the rush.
I’m happy to report that I gained a little speed and the weave looked much neater. So much so that I dismantled several courses on the first stool and re-worked it so that there wasn’t such a marked difference between the two. Not a dramatic difference, but it would have driven me crazy if I hadn’t fixed it.
Just about everything I have read or watched says that the fibre rush should be sealed with a couple of coats of clear shellac or something similar. This adds a bit of durability and stain resistance to the seat. So, I dutifully complied with shellac.
The first coat took a good bit of shellac and I was a little worried that the uneven appearance wouldn’t subside once everything was dry.
The first coat did indeed dry to an even, albeit, darker colour and the second coat went on quickly. I also took the time to add one more coat of Tried & True original to the frames of the stools.
With that, I’m calling these stools done.
Either hubris or taking the blame. Not sure which.
We are a small team of engineers with a passion for investigating and bringing historic tools back to life.
We have spent the last 6 months collecting, studying and reverse engineering a tool first designed in the early 1900’s – the Weltrecord ratchet screwdriver. This was one of the early examples of combining a ratchet mechanism with a mechanical drive handle, creating a pocket tool that would fall somewhere between a brace and a regular screwdriver.
There were some precursors to this particular design, but this German made piece is unique in that it combines a switchable ratchet mechanism, interchangeable drive bits, collet chuck and the drive arm.
As an operational tool these original versions are still useful today with the ability to put more torque and pressure onto a screw, avoiding slipping and subsequent damage to the screw head.
Above: Original screwdriver in use
With modern production techniques and new materials, we were able to take the genius of that early patent and improve in some key areas with our new tool, MetMo Driver.
Taking a look at the original, you can see the whole design is much slimmer than our version, which was most likely a cost issue back when the tool was being produced. Our new driver has a much larger form factor which brings with it some key benefits;
The adjuster pin to change from forward/reverse/locked is now a knurled brass component which is much easier to interact with than the original pin, especially on cold days in the shop when you’re in two pairs of gloves and full arctic survival gear!
The chuck and reciprocating pin have now been hardened to increase wear resistance and the much larger chuck has a broached hex drive with a neodymium magnet mounted internally to hold all standard bits. This was a major step forward from the old design which used specialised bits and a collet system which has long since seized on our unit.
The free spinning handle has been helped along by the introduction of a brass bush and the increased size allows you to get much more weight behind it to prevent slipping and damaging a stubborn screw.You can see a how we produced this prototype here: https://youtu.be/c2ywZnQLPeI
Introducing Mr Baumann
The original inventor was a German chap named Conrad Baumann, who ran a company called Conrad Baumann Werkzeugfabrik (roughly translated as toolmaker) that operated from around the end of the 1800’s. The drivers were sold under the Baumann-Weltrecord brand, translated into English as the Baumann-world record.
Pictured here is a later version of the early design.
Conrad was a tool maker by trade but also an inventor, with patents on various screwdrivers, as well as an innovative form of shirt buttons akin to folding cufflinks! But I digress.
Getting back to the patent that we used to redesign the MetMo Driver.
The funny thing here is the original design was not a patent at all but instead a specialised German design mark! Let me explain – Thanks to rapid industrialisation and interest in international trade after the founding of the German empire in 1871, the imperial patent office introduced the “German Imperial Utility Model” or Deutsches Reichs-Gebrauchs-Muster (in German) in 1891 and would act in a similar way to modern day design trade marks or design rights, but also prove that it was a genuine product of Germany.
On a product, this Utility Model would be designated by the letters DRGM much in the same way we use the TM or C symbols now. This system was used from 1891 to 1945 and early examples of the Weltrekord ratchet screwdriver have DRGM stamped into the handle, putting the original design date anywhere between those dates.
We had hoped that through contacting the historic patent office in Germany, we’d be able to narrow the date down, but all of these early records were lost when the second world war ended. What we did find was a tool catalogue from 1942 that listed the Conrad Baumann brand and suggested it had been in business for around 10 years prior to that, so we know it was already an established and widely distributed product at this time.
The history doesn’t stop there though, in 1950 a German patent was filed with the US patent office under the same company name outlining the same details of a ratcheting screwdriver and is the first written record of the ratcheting screwdriver encompassing removable bits with an independent drive handle.
Above: The original patent drawings and Patent number
Conrad goes on after this to file two more patents, one in 1959 that officially ties his 1950s patent to his original DRGM mark that would have been lost. Another was published in 1967 a much more complex and refined design, that took advantage of the latest engineering techniques of the time, the addition of a moulded plastic handle, smaller mechanics and reduced size overall, combined with a collet style chuck. But interestingly still designed to only work with the supplied bits.
Above: drive bits were of this set size with a D shaped drive dog this set also has an extension arm.
Close up of the collet chuck, seized in place on this particular model.
Close up of the collet chuck, seized in place on this particular model.
later versions of his screwdriver have the 1950’s patent number stamped into the handle instead so if you see the DRGM mark you have a pre-1945 model on your hands. There are more of the later versions available at auction, identifiable by the semi translucent plastic handle, however, there seems to have been a design flaw with the collet style chuck on these later models that has resulted in this part no longer holding onto the bit as would have originally been intended.
Above: The Iconic stamp and patent mark of the Weltrekord brand
The last known record of Conrad’s business was in 1975 where his business was given an official registration certificate to supply the US government. At the time the early power drills and cordless battery drills were starting to take off and Conrad would have been reaching the end of his career. It is possible it was bought out by one of the other tool companies in the area, but like many small businesses we may never know its fate in history.
The area where Conrad set up shop has a rich heritage in toolmaking, on Gerber str, Remscheid-lüttringhausen in Germany located in the northern Rhine region. This area had seen rapid economic growth in the early 1800’s with mechanical engineering and toolmaking as the main industries. In the early 1900’s Remscheid was the centre of the German tool industry.
Then during the second world war this manufacturing area was considered a threat and in 1943 the town was almost completely destroyed by a British bombing raid as part of the RAF’s battle of the Ruhr, involving over 270 aircraft.
To this day the town has a very high concentration of well-known quality tool manufactures whose history’s date back hundreds of years, starting out specialising in a single tool much like how Conrad had started. It is also home to the German tool museum, something I am keen to visit when I get the chance. More information about the museum can be found at https://www.werkzeugmuseum.org/
To the best of my knowledge this screwdriver first went into production over 100 years ago and was produced for around 70 years. But there are very few remaining, so they were never mass-produced items. With the early wooden handled pieces most likely made by hand in small volumes by Conrad himself. So, there you have it the most comprehensive history of the Baumann-Weltrekord ratchet screwdriver around!
Above: 1960s version vs our 2022 re-creation
We have spent the last few months lovingly recreating this original patent, modernising some of the components with much harder wearing materials and allowing for use with a much wider array of drive bits by introducing a standard hex drive at the head.
loving the look of the original exposed mechanism we have kept true to the earlier models of the driver and re-created this as it would have been, with a few enhancements allowing for updated production techniques.
Above: The final re-creations.
To learn more about this recreation, check out our site at MetMo.co.uk
This is an extract from ISSUE II of “The Lost Scrolls of HANDWORK” magazine
I will detail the process of making a Japanese plane body, known as a dai, to compete in the annual NYC Kez, hosted by Mokuchi in Brooklyn, NY. Kez is short for Kezurou-Kai, which translates to ‘Let’s plane’, a competition in which participants compete to create the thinnest wood shaving.
In competition, the shaving must not only be thin but completely intact, it must also be the full width of the board (usually around 2″) and the full length of the competition board which is typically 8′. World record holders have pulled shavings as thin as 2 microns, which is almost impossibly thin, being far thinner than a human blood cell at 8 microns.
In Japan, it’s my understanding that competitors use Hinoki cypress, while in the US we will be competing by using yellow cedar, which is actually a cypress and very similar in quality to good Hinoki cypress. The yellow cedar we use is very old and tightly grained.
Competitors often cut their own dai, some choosing exotic materials or laminating their dai in hopes of creating a dai that will wear well, hold their tune for a good length of time and hold the blade with good support. I’ve chosen to use beech, which is not entirely ideal, especially by comparison to Japanese white oak, but shares some commonalities. Beech is the traditional western plane making wood, it can grip and release the blade repeatedly without losing its ability to do so. Beech is fairly stable and very much available. In my case I’ve chosen beech because of those positive traits and the fact that I can access it locally.
The cut-out process starts by prepping dai blanks, choosing material that is rift sawn and with grain running straight on all faces to reduce or eliminate runout. I resaw the blanks to the required thickness of 35mm and down to a width of 80mm and 85mm. I’ve cut multiple blanks, some I will set aside to age and two I will cut out. One will be used, the other discarded.
I’ve chosen a blade by Shoichiro Tanaka of VAR white 1, Tanaka is one of few makers using VAR white 1. This would be an ideal blade for competition with exception that it is 65mm and so less ideal than the typical 70mm, but it was made available and so I have chosen to put it to the test.
Next in prepping the dai block, I plane all four sides square, starting first with the sole which I adjust using winding sticks. The sole of a plane is the ‘bark side’ of the wood block, this is done so that any tendency for the board to cup results in two ‘skates’ on the outside edges of the sole, which are easy to flatten down without enlarging the plane’s mouth and so that blade is not clenched by that same cupping effect.
Once the block is squared I can begin my layout, starting first by marking the mouth line with a knife, then transferring that mark to the side of the dai where I can layout my blade, wear, escapement and bedding angles.
This dai is specifically made for a single blade, meaning it will be used without a cap iron, chip breaker, sub blade, or secondary blade (however you like to call it). When cutting shavings this thin and on such fine stock, a single blade is ideal. Few competitors will want to complicate matters by adding a chip breaker, if they do it will be simply so that their normal planes can be used to compete with.
If you inspect closely you’ll note that the wear angle, which refers to angle between the top blade and the mouth opening, is extremely tight. I’ve shown it being a single line in fact. The reason for this is that my goal in cutting the dai will be to set the wear angle so tightly that only a fine shaving can pass through.
The escapement angle is transferred back to the sole and used to set the width of the mouth opening. This is not to be confused with the distance between the blade and mouth which will be next to nothing.
The lines are next transferred to the top of the dai and knife marks are then applied.
I begin chopping out the dai, first cutting the mouth area, then flipping the dai onto its top side to begin cutting the bed and escapement.
The mortise is now formed in its rough shape, and it looks just that. I’ve remained inside the lines and have nearly come through the bottom of the plane to meet the work I’ve done at the mouth.
Finally, I break through, then close in on my final fit by chopping the bed until it is fairly thin. Next, I true up the escapement and the wear until a clean surface is achieved and finally I pare the sides cleanly.
Now I can cut the side grooves, this is a fairly critical bit of work. I use a flush cut saw to form the top of the groove, which is the critical cut, then again on the lower part of the groove.
After which I clear the grooves with an 3mm chisel.
Now I have something to work with, but still much effort remains. At this point I finish trimming the bed down to my knife lines, leaving the area nearest the mouth quite heavy.
Finally, I can bed the blade, I do so carefully to ensure that I can create a nice fit between the bed and blade nearest the mouth. If done correctly a ‘smile’ is formed.
At last I detail the dai, rounding over the back, chamfering all corners (except of the front and back of the sole) and finish planing the exterior faces. I’m ready to begin tuning.
I’ve carefully tuned the sole, as detailed in my previous posts on the subject. Happily, I was able to keep the mouth exceptionally tight, in this case from the sole it appears to be closed.
However, when we sight down the blade we can see that a shaving will be able to fit through.
The proof is in the pudding as they say, however this pudding would suggest I have a great deal of tuning ahead of me. The shaving is thin and full length, but not nearly thin enough, a real winner would be revealing a cheese cloth appearance, suggesting that it can barely hold itself together.
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.