A Better Way to Sharpen

For years, I have been trying to find a better way to sharpen my blades, and for a time I thought I did until I came across another video of the late David Charlesworth. It wasn’t a video on sharpening at all, but he happened to be sharpening at the time, and I was puzzled with his method of sharpening. With a few strokes he got a burr and then a few more strokes on the polishing stone, and he was done. I was beyond irritated by how quickly he was able to sharpen his blades. I left it alone as it was doing my head in and a year later it popped up again, and this time I was determined to find out how he did it.

I noticed in the video I was watching he mentioned something about the default bevel angle off 25°, Stanley grinds their tools too. So I ground my bevel to 25° and the secondary bevel to 30°, and true enough, I solved the mystery. With only a few strokes, I was able to get a razor edge, much to the same level of sharpness as I did after stropping. This was an eye-opener to me.

I’ve always ground my bevels to 30° then applied a secondary bevel of 33°, after which I stropped. However, applying a higher secondary bevel to a 25° primary bevel seems to get it even sharper, and after stropping it’s several levels above a razor.

After saying all that, let me ruin it all by adding this. I only experienced this level of sharpness after I ground the bevel to a hollow grind on my grinder. As I could not grind my LN chisels because they weren’t long enough, I honed a 25° primary bevel and then applied the secondary bevel of 30°. I cannot say if there was a difference in the amount of sharpness between the two. Since purchasing the low speed grinder, I’ve always hollow ground my plane blades to 30°, so I also cannot say that the hollow grind using a higher angle of 30° has anything to do with it as well either. However, what I can say is that the hollow grind at a lower angle of 25° has everything to do with it.

So there you have it. A hollow grind of 25° primary bevel with an added micro secondary bevel of 30° and above will give you a strong and razor edge with only a few strokes on your stones, therefore saving you unnecessary wear. You may end up owning two 1000 grit and one 8000 grit for the rest of your life with this method. That’s a huge saving.

Cam Clamps Build Project

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.
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.

If the pins hit the bar then you can file a small relief in the pin.
Also, when drilling, use a backer block to prevent any break out from the other side as you drill through the stock.

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.
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.
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.

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.

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.

Tip on thicknessing by hand accurately

Many people have difficulty planing to a precise measurement. They struggle because they lack the proper tool for the job. That is to say, the proper marking gauge. Veritas created a marking gauge with two blades. One has the bevel on the inside, while the other has it on the exterior. I won’t waste time describing what they’re for because we all know what they’re for.

Veritas Marking gauge

Use the flat surface of the circular blade against the material while gauging your stock for thicknessing. Why? Because using the bevel side, which is what most people do (including myself), will indent or undercut the line. You’ll notice a few thou difference when you plane to that line if you planed successfully. The thickness difference throughout the board would be roughly 1/128.

Except for a few spots near the centre where it is high 1/128, this piece is perfect on 3/4. That is incredible accuracy by hand and something to be proud of.

Here’s a rundown of how I prepare my boards for thickness. I don’t just plane aimlessly. Whether or not I need a scrub plane depends on how much material I need to remove. I lessen the cut as I get closer to the gauge line in order to creep up on it. The key is to maintain patience; if you don’t, you will almost certainly cross over the gauge line.

Not everything needs to be flawless, but when it does, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to rely on machinery. You are capable of relying on your own two hands.

Here is some thing off the topic.

The wood on the right is American black walnut and the one on the left is Queensland walnut. They may appear to be same, but their qualities are vastly different. This makes me think of my twin boys. Even though they are identical twins, their personalities are very different.

Glue up correctly for a long lasting joint

For a long-lasting joint that won’t come apart one needs to know how to correctly apply glue.  Glue is strong, irrespective of whether it is hide glue, white, yellow or fish glue they’re all stronger than the wood itself.  While yellow is commonly known for its gap filling properties it’s actually not entirely true.  No glue is a gap filler, for a successful join each joint must be a friction fit with no gaps. 

Edge joint

The practice of edge gluing two or more boards to form a panel or a table top has been in practice for several thousand years.  Sprung joints aren’t new either and is still widely practiced.  The idea of a sprung joint is to form a slight hollow in the middle of the board’s edge so as to apply pressure on the ends to keep them tightly closed during seasonal changes.  That’s the idea and it works, but I’ve also edge glued without a sprung joint and as long as the two edges are perfectly straight making perfect gap free contact works just as well.  For the sake of time and efficiency sprung joints are a better alternative.

Sprung Joint
Friction Fit Dovetails

Friction fit joinery

Mortise and tenons including dovetails should be a friction fit requiring only moderate hand pressure.  To ensure everything comes together perfectly prior glue up a quick rehearsal is recommended.  Some woodworkers like Rob Cosman are confident enough that he never does a test fit of his dovetails as he believes with each fit your loosening the joint which is true, but it is better to side with caution than to find out later you’re not so good after all.  No pun intended. 

Clamps should only be used to hold a joint together while the glue is drying.  If you find that you’re using a lot of clamping pressure to force the joints to close, then you need to reexamine your joinery as to why this is happening prior to glue up.  During glue up sometimes you get what is known as glue freeze and usually a light tap with a mallet will remedy this problem. 

Best glue up methods

The best form of glue up is bonding long grain to long grain, end grain absorbs too much glue starving the joints creating a weaker bond.  Many modern-day furniture and kitchens are made from MDF and Chipboard, applying glue to either end grain or its edges is like not applying any glue at all as the wood (lets humour the mass manufacturers and call it wood) absorbs all the glue so they rely on dowels to keep them together.   This too isn’t a good practice either as your relying on tiny little sticks stuck in tiny little holes to hold everything together.  For mitre joints you have to apply glue to end grain and there is a little trick that works very well.  You allow the end grain to absorb the glue, then you apply some more and allow it to dry enough to form a film then apply some more, clamp it and leave it to set over night.  I’ve done this using hide glue as a test and I gave up trying to break it apart so it works.

Don’t be overly concerned on what type of glue works the best, they all work equally well as they’re all stronger than the wood itself.  Usually, the company that spends the most on advertising gets the biggest exposure but that’s as far as it goes. 

I’m a big advocate for hide glue and have recently become equally enthusiastic about fish glue.  I’m a traditionalist in one respect I like to practice ancient methods but I also have a slightly different outlook on these matters to other people.  I build by hand while others use machinery, I am of the opinion due to the current rise of automation that in 50 years time there will only be a handful of people building anything by hand, and in 100 years time there will be nothing built by hand.  So, my work will be far more valuable after I’m long gone than a piece made by anyone using machinery.  If for any reason my work needs to be repaired, I know that the glue I used which is hide glue or fish glue can be reversed, repaired and re glued, while others cannot and most probably no one will ever bother.  So, I feel it’s an obligation upon me to owe it to conservationists to continue with this practice of using animal protein glues in all my builds.

Glue is readily available in all stores and is inexpensive other than hide glue.  PVA glue has a shelf life of up to 12 months while liquid hide is two years, the granules if keep out of direct sunlight are indefinite and fish glue is advertised as a two-year shelf life but if kept out of direct sunlight in a cool dark spot can run into a number of years.  No matter what type of glue you use make sure it’s fresh, there’s no point in using glue that’s gone off and ruining your hard work.  I always make a fresh batch of hide glue if I’m going to use it that day and if there’s anything left over, I throw it away.  This may sound like wastage but comparing to the price of timber it’s a small price to pay.

Irrespective of what type of glue you use the work needs to be warm, yes you read that right, even if you’re using PVA.    In the past their labels read room temperature above 32f and others have read above 65F for a strong bond.  I haven’t seen this labeled for a long time on bottles but none the less whether or not they choose to label or omit it nothing has changed.  Glues usually takes 12 hours to set but in colder conditions you need to allow 24 hours to pass before you do any work with it.  With hide glue I will always allow 24 hours to pass and the same applies to Fish glue.  I guess the only real issue I have with fish glue is that the glue line reactivates immediately if your hands are damp.  I’ve noticed this the other day after using my waterstones.   As my hands were damp from being in contact with water, I felt immediate tackiness on the glue line.  This isn’t a problem as the water didn’t penetrate to break the bond, but I wouldn’t glue up a tabletop with it.  Spills and general cleaning will leave a tacky surface and that isn’t a good thing.

When applying glue to joinery apply a thin amount and spread it over both surfaces. On edge gluing apply an even thinner coat and use either your finger to spread it, roller or brush even a stick will do the job.  Don’t apply so little to where you will starve the join but enough to end up with a small bead of squeeze out when you clamp it.  If you apply too much glue not only, will it be messy and drip all over your clamps and bench top but it will be too slippery and you will have alignment issues.  Allow an hour to pass before cleaning up, some manufacturers state 30 mins minimum but I always allow an hour.  Use a chisel if you’re using PVA and a damp cloth if using hide glue, with hide glue you can wait the full 24 hrs.  Unlike PVA glue if left will not affect your finishes but water will clean it all off not so with PVA.

Spread even thin amount
Too much glue
A good bead line

The Filling of Hard and Soft Woods

BY A. Kelly (1911)

The following woods are called “open-grained” woods and require a paste filler to make a good foundation for a varnish finish: Ash, beech, butternut, baywood, black walnut, chestnut, elm, mahogany, oak, and rosewood.

The following woods are called “close-grained” woods, or softwoods, and should be treated with a liquid filler to fit them for varnish finish: Basswood, cedar, California redwood, gumwood, Oregon pine, poplar, spruce, tamarack, white pine, Washington fir, whitewood, and yellow pine.

The following woods are called “close-grained hardwoods,” and are sometimes filled with paste filler, but this is not generally done, it not being absolutely necessary: Birch, cherry, Circassian walnut, and maple. Fill with liquid filler.

The filler must be coloured to match the wood; it is best to make it rather darker than the wood. It is important to get the right colour for a filler, so that it will be as near the colour of the wood as possible, only a trifle deeper in shade. Again, the colour of the finish may be determined by the filler; that is, the filler will be stain and filler both. Some of the finest colour effects with woods are obtained in this manner.

The purpose of paste filling is to make a solid surface for the varnish coats. The paste enters and seals the pores of the wood and all the open parts. This can only be done on wood having an open grain. But while the cellular structure is thus filled, the fibre is left more or less unfilled, and hence it is customary in many cases to apply a coating of liquid over the paste filling, when dry and rubbed down.

For this purpose, we may use shellac varnish, or a light-bodied liquid filler.

Liquid fillers are used where the wood is not open enough to take in a paste. Its purpose is to saturate the fibre of the wood and thus prevent it from taking up the liquid of the varnish coats, thus robbing the varnish of its oil and turpentine, causing it to be too brittle. Shellac varnish is a liquid filler and is often so used.

Application of Fillers

Liquid filler may be made from paste filler by the addition of the proper thinners. Usually liquid thinner is simply a cheap varnish, with the addition of cornstarch, or clay, or another suitable base. Before the advent of commercial liquid fillers, the surfacing or filling of close-grained woods was done with varnish, applied in several successive coats, each coat being rubbed down and into the pores of the wood by means of a piece of soft white pine, made chisel-shape, and upon this foundation the varnish finish was laid.

Various woods and their adaptability to the different fillers, substances in use, formulas for fillers

The use of a liquid containing some pigment or starch makes it possible to filler surface the wood with one coat. This may be sandpapered down, and a coat or two of varnish will give a finish. We call them surfacers because these liquid fillers are not rubbed into the wood, but laid on the surface, the same as varnish.

The filler or surfacer simply saves us the costlier varnish.

Shellac and Other Substances

Shellac is preferred where cost is not taken into account, because it sandpapers easier than varnish filler, but it is less desirable under varnish than even cheap varnish, because of its hard, inelastic nature, causing cracking of the varnish placed on it, particularly when the shellac is placed between two coats of varnish.

Liquid filler does better over paste filling than varnish, as it seals the open pores better. Liquid filler should be applied much the same as varnish, flowing it on even and smooth. It is best not to colour liquid filler if it is made with silica, because the silica, owing to its weight, will sink and allow the colour to float, giving the surface a painted effect.

Such substances as terra alba, talc, whiting, corn starch and barytes have the fault of whitening or fading out in the wood, a serious defect where any colour is used.

Carbonate of magnesia is very good for holding up the filler, and the same may be said of a few others of this class, but all in all nothing equals finely pulverized silica, whether for paste or liquid filling.

Starch makes a transparent filling, but it is impossible to make a dry starch and varnish filler that will keep long before using. Cooked starch makes the transparent filling, but raw starch will show white in the pores, perhaps worse even than whiting, which also is bad. Even silica is not free from the fault, but is less objectionable than any other mineral filler. Silica does not absorb the liquids of the filler, and, being thus non-absorbent, it is not affected by moisture as is corn starch. It unites mechanically with the fluids of the filler, fills the pores of the wood well, and adheres to the surface perfectly so that finishing over it is easily accomplished. It has been well said by an expert finisher that “a good finish cannot be obtained when starch, earth, and similar substances are used in the filling. “Starch is soft and easily applied, and work can be rushed by using it, and that is the most we can say for it as a filler.

Starch will not hold up the varnish, nor will the application of three or four coats help matters much. Silica can be pushed into the grain of the wood, making a solid foundation on which two coats of varnish will give a splendid finish. Silver-white and pulverized silica look much alike, having much the same atomic or molecular formation. Silver-white is a white siliceous earth found in Indiana. It is much used for making fillers.

One other fault of silica, and it is not a very serious one, consists in the fact that it will settle or not hold up in solutions. Also, it dries out rapidly, but this may be modified by adding a little oil to ‘ it, and in some cases the thinning may be done with oil alone, of which I shall speak presently. However, the fact of its setting so quickly is an evidence that it will be durable.

It should be said here that where large quantities of filler are used, as in the finishing room of a large furniture concern, the barrel of filler should be kept covered, to prevent the evaporation of the liquids, and to keep out dirt and all foreign substances. No one would think of leaving a barrel of varnish with the head out and uncovered, yet filler is composed largely of the same volatile liquids and will oxidize and become hard in like manner.

Referring again to corn starch filler, when it is applied it seems to fill perfectly because it is very absorbent of the liquids and seems to fill the pores of the wood perfectly. In a measure this is true, but in course of time, in the process of drying and hardening, it shrinks and a close examination of the filled wood with a microscope, or even with the naked eye, will disclose a surface full of unfilled pores and this may still be seen after the varnishing has been done. Furthermore, the filler will require much more time for hardening than is ever given it, and the result is seen in the chilling and cracking of the varnish.

Hardwood filler should set in from IS to 20 minutes, and to do this it should not contain an excess of oil, which would retard the drying. Thin, it with turpentine.

Filler Formulae — Liquid Fillers

Shellac varnish is a very satisfactory liquid filler or surfacer, in that it dries quickly and can be sandpapered easily. But it is usually too costly for general practice, besides which it is thought to act more or less badly under oil varnish. When used for surfacing close-grained woods, it should be applied thin. Two coats are better than one. It should be sandpapered down well.

 Imitation shellac may be made. A finisher says he makes one that is not only cheaper than shellac but is better in other ways. He takes equal parts of raw oil.

 Turpentine, brown japan and rubbing varnish, to which he adds enough corn-starch to thicken the mixture, making it rather heavier than ordinary paint, or so it can be applied with a brush. After it has been on the wood long enough to set, he rubs it off with a coarse cloth, rubbing the stuff into the wood at the same time. He applies two coats.

Here is another formula: Take four pounds of either finely pulverized and floated silica or China clay, the former preferred, and stir it into one quart of Japan driers, and beat the mass until perfect admixture takes place. Then add, while stirring the mass, six quarts of the best light hard-oil finish, or other equally good varnish, after which let the mixture stand an hour or so; then strain through a fine sieve. When desired for application, thin up to the proper consistency with turpentine, making it quite thin for liquid filling. It may be used also as a paste filler without thinning.

Oil may be used in place of varnish fora liquid filler for some purposes. Many of the best yachts and steamships have all exposed woodwork filled with an oil-thinned filling, over which is applied a number of coats of elastic varnish, like spar or carriage finishing varnish, with ample time for each coat to dry, and each coat is sandpapered. The process involves time and expense, but it gives a very durable finish when exposed to the weather.

Kaolin, Silica and Other Fillers

Kaolin filler may be made thus: Mix together a gallon of pale body hard-drying carriage varnish, one pint of turpentine, and one pint of pale-drying Japan. Take two and one-half pounds of kaolin and add enough of the mixed liquids to form a paste, which run through closely set hand paint mill, grinding it once, then add the rest of the thinners by brisk stirring, until perfect admixtures secured. Then the filler is fit for use, though it may be further thinned or made stiffer as desired.

Silica paste filler may be thinned down with varnish and turpentine to form a liquid filler. To four pounds of the paste filler add a gallon of coach varnish which may then be thinned with turpentine to a liquid filler consistency.

Liquid filler should be given at least24 hours to dry; 48 hours is better still.

Silver-white filler may be made with equal parts of raw oil, gold size japans and turpentine, with silver-white enough to form a paste, which must be worked smooth. Then it may be thinned with turpentine to the proper consistency.

White liquid filler is made after various formulas, and the following one is as good as any: In a gallon of raw linseed oil put two pounds of pale rosin, powdered, and place on the fire, stirring the mass until the rosin is melted. Take from the fire and add a pint of white japan and two quarts of turpentine; stir all together, and when the mass is cold, add eight ounces of cornstarch. After mixing the starch into the liquid, make it very thin with turpentine, and pass it through a paint mill or strainer.

Some woods require a transparent liquid filler, but such a filler should be made to match the wood in colour, which is of course very light. Mix together eight ounces of cornstarch, eight ounces of finest pumice stone powder and a quarter-gill of white shellac varnish and a quarter-pint of boiled oil. Mix thoroughly together, and thin for use.

Update on Liquid Hide Glue Production

In the meantime, I’ve been cooking more glue and have made enough to last me a while. Since I’ve added the canning salt, the date on the bottles should have no relevance. The smaller sized bottle is easier to manage than the larger size. They still need to be heated to 140°F (60°C) before use and don’t forget to clamp your stock and not rely on rubbed joints. This doesn’t work with LH glue.

As experimentation in the making of liquid hide glue is an ongoing process, I haven’t yet figured out which is more effective; to apply the salt prior, during or after the cooking process. So far, I have done all three and haven’t yet experienced any change other than visual. Adding the salt after it has been cooked twice makes the glue appear grainy. However, after a week it’ll turn clear. Either way I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter which way you do it. Also, the glue in its cold state cannot be used without heating it as it turns jelly like. My next batch I will use half a teaspoon and will see if I can lessen the assembly time and shorten the clamp time without affecting the glue’s life span.

All in all, I am very pleased with the results. It has superior holding power like any good glue on the market and I know it’s fresh.

Remember the post on Titebond and how their LH hide failed? Remember the promise that they will call me back? As I predicted, there was no call back.

You may wonder why I choose liquid hide glue over hot hide glue? There’s no doubt that hot hide glue is stronger than liquid hide and that’s only because it lacks the gel suppressant called “Urea” that’s added to the glue to make liquid hide glue. However, since I’ve replaced the urea with salt there either may be no difference in the holding power or may be as strong as hot hide. Just how much weaker LH is I cannot say, but I have noticed no difference other than you cannot do a rubbed joint without attaching clamps to it. It just does not have the strength to pull the two pieces of wood together to create a strong bond.  But who really cares because I don’t know anyone who’s really got the balls to do a rubbed joint without clamps. When it comes to reputation, who wants to take a risk of returns.

To get back to the initial question of why the preference of LH over HH and the answer is simply convenience.

Every morning that I walk into my shop I fire up the burner and pot to 145°F which I found preference to over the regular 140°F. Once it’s heated and settles to that temperature, I put the bottle into the pot and leave it alone until I need to use it. Whether or not I need to use it, I make the habit to turn the burner or mini stove on. That’s it. There’s no waiting for it to gel then cook for two hours before use, all that work was done before and I made several bottles just in case I run out in the middle of a project.

I don’t have to worry about the glue going off because HH only has a shelf life of up to 3 weeks maximum. My LH has an indefinite shelf life unlike the glue made with urea.

I have purchased a few small bottles from the $2 store, funny that it cost me $3 a bottle yet it’s called a two-dollar store and half a kilo of canning salt, a small saucepan and 6 pounds of hide glue and not to forget the glass jars. When I stick them in the fridge straight off the pan to rapidly cool, the jar tends to crack. Thankfully, it hasn’t shattered yet and not all jars cracks.

Sharpening in the “Bad Axe” Style

Anyone that truly works with hand tools knows the value in having sharp tools. Sharp tools minimises muscle fatigue and accidents that arise from frustration by unnecessarily over exerting yourself to get the work done. Handsaws are no different to planes, chisels, or any other hand tool. A mediocre sharpened saw works well, but super sharp saws like the ones from “Bad Axe” perform better than more modern manufactured saws. Admittedly, I have never tried a “Bad Axe” saw because I live in Australia, but I have read so many articles about its superiority and cutting speed that I have only imagined how fast it actually cuts until now. I have wished to pick Mark’s brain on what rake and fleam he uses that makes his saws so superior to the way other sawyers have sharpened their saws.

Today I found an old in FWW article on how to sharpen a saw on Mark’s website. I anxiously downloaded the article and read it slowly and carefully, making sure not to miss anything. When I finished, I was a little confused. I didn’t find any rake and fleam that he favours. In fact, it says to stick with the angle determined by the manufacturer. The only thing I got from the article was the stroke method he used. Medium, heavy, then a light finishing stroke he say’s. Making sure every tooth is of equal height and every gullet of equal depth. That’s it! That’s all he does. I pulled out my saw vice and a spare LN backsaw, which I intend to sell and sharpened it using Mark’s recommendation. Upon completion, I was surprised at how prickly the saw teeth felt. I put it to the test on some scrap pine and it just went through it like butter, then I tried some white oak which he recommended and it too sawed through effortlessly. I then pulled out my other backsaw sharpened by Lie Nielson and tried it sawing white oak with it, and it struggled. I had difficulties pushing it through the wood.. I nearly fell on my arse in awe of Mark’s expert sharpening technique. The rake and fleam I used was the manufacturer’s default of 15°. What I changed was the method of stroke as per Mark’s recommendation. Not only did it saw faster, but there was zero tear out on the back. Go figure that one out. I highly recommend you download this article, read it, and then give it a go. I guarantee you will never look, read or watch another saw sharpening video again.

One last note, use the recommended size files that Mark recommends. You can find other sized files on his website. Bad Axe Saw Sharpening Files by Friedrich Dick (badaxetoolworks.com) Take the time to read his articles, I’m sure you’ll agree them to be very informative.