Moulding Planes in Practice

Nothing to do with Matt Bickford. This is a video on joiners restoring a historical house using the same tools and methods they used when first built. As I don’t understand the language it’s not hard to follow along and gain a good understanding as to what they’re doing. Start from 11:24 and he’ll show you the different types of moulding planes he uses to reconstruct this beautiful interior. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Btw this movie was suggested on Matt’s blog check it out.

Results from making my own Liquid Hide Glue

Let me point out that I’ve made liquid hide glue in the past using urea, but I’ve never used salt before. Making a batch that would cause having a no shelf life was very exciting to me, just goes to show I got no life.

started off with the ingredients from Mortise and Tenon coupled with the methods used by Don Williams. I followed it to the letter and doubled cooked it twice over a two days period as Don does. Everything looked good, even the viscosity was bang on.

This surely was a good sign. I did a test glue up and I dabbed some glue on a piece of scrap

Starting from the left is Titebond LH, it took 1 week to cure, then fish glue from Lee Valley that the bottle is out dated but cured over night. For some reason fish glue doesn’t seem to spoil. I had fish glue that was many years old and worked as well as the day I bought it. I have no answer for why it doesn’t spoil. Next is the outdoor PVA white glue that I’ll use to make some planter boxes. It too dried over night. Next to it is hide glue straight from the pot and that dried fast and hard and finally my LH and hasn’t yet dried even though 6 hours have passed. I can’t blame the glue for being old and I didn’t overcook it but I feel that adding 2 teaspoons of salt which equals 11.8g was way too much and that’s why it hasn’t dried yet.

I will paste an email I got from Don which will demystify why it hasn’t dried and what the deal is with Titebond LH and why it didn’t cure. I hope this email will answer many questions you will actually never find on the web.

Hi Salko

Great to hear from you again.  

My experience from a practical matter is that there is no shelf life limit to glue wherein the gel suppressant is pure canning salt.  The Inevitable terminus of the shelf life in this case is microbial, as long as there is no mold in the batch it seems to work fine.  Exactly what proportions of salt to dry crystal is something of a mystery, I have not found nor created a reliable recipe that works for every situation.  I mix it up one small dispensing bottle at a time (usually a new condiment dispenser bottle from the hardware or home store) and add a healthy pinch or two of salt to the mix after I have the liquid glue fully soaked and double cooked.  At this point in my work I am not necessarily looking for a literal “room temperature liquid” hide glue, I do not mind warming it a bit and just exploit the much longer working and setting time provided by the salt gel suppressant.
The reason some commercial liquid hide glues have shelf life problems is that they use urea as the gel suppressant, which is not a problem if the batch is fresh.  However, over time the urea begins to “unzip” the protein chains, eventually to the point where the glue will almost not dry at all without the input of heat.

Let me know if this is helpful to you.


Absolutely Don this information helps. I’ve learned a tremendous amount just from one experiment and I can’t see myself doing another. Reason being its cost prohibitive. Hide glue is bloody expensive, it’s not expensive for you yanks but for us poor sods living down under and for those living in Europe it’s expensive. It’s mostly the shipping fee that kills it. For me to get it over from the States from Patrick Edwards I would spend $100 in shipping and that’s for 6 pounds. I don’t know how any postal service can justify this amount, but that’s what it is. I can get pearl glue here for much less and the bloom strength is 200, which is on par with what I’m using now. I prefer the stuff I’m using now because it’s from Milligan and Higgins. I’ve only ever used their glue, and I trust the source and know its reputation. But I guess that’s my fault for only ever exposing myself to one product. Then there’s the issue where now US companies are backing away from international shipping because of the excessive shipping charges and the dilemmas involved with damaged goods and what not. It’s funny when you think about it. In the beginning the world was excited that it will sell their goods across the planet and now they’re shying away from it. As far as the test pieces concerned, I will find out tomorrow night whether or not they’re stuck together.

They’ll both be going into the bin if they fail the test. I hope this doesn’t discourage anyone of you from giving it a go. Give it a try you have nothing to lose, but knowledge to gain.


By Joseph A. McGeough

The same jagged crest on the Palaeolithic chopper that developed into the axe also developed into another broad tool category, the knife, which combined a uniquely shaped sharp blade with a handle that optimized the position of the cutting edge. In contrast to the blades of the axe, adz, chisel, or plane, the motion of a knife is a slicing action made in the direction of its edge.

The first hafting of stone knives may have taken the form of a protective pad of leaves or grass. Next, pieces of flint were set into grooves of wooden handles and cemented with resin or bitumen to leave the sharp cutting edges exposed. The Metal Age produced a longer and tougher blade that could be set into a handle, or riveted to a handgrip. Some knives, such as surgical knives and razors, were cast with a handle (self-handled). Copper, bronze, and iron blades were hammered to produce a locally hard edge.

Aside from the utilitarian use of the knife in the field, kitchen, and workshop, variations giving it the status of a weapon appeared in the form of daggers and short and long swords. The stabbing dagger probably had its origin in the Neolithic Period, although an effectively thin and adequately strong blade did not appear until the Iron Age.

Hunting knives, equally useful as fighting knives, developed an overall style, proportion, and balance that changed little over the centuries after the introduction of iron. The first known folding knife is a Roman model of the 1st century CE. Beginning in the late Middle Ages, many improvements in detail were introduced. These included fancy handles and springs and locks for the blade.

As individual crafts emerged, an impressive number of convenient but single-purpose knives were fashioned to suit the specialized tasks of various craftspersons, including goldbeaters, farriers, shoemakers, and farmers.

Rely on yourself and stop relying on others

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.

Canning/Pickling Salt

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

There you can see the link to their website.

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.

Glue Failure

Titebond Liquid Hide Glue has let me down again. 10 years ago it let me down and I haven’t used it till recently. I thought I would give it another go, and it worked real good. After using the bottle, I bought another one and made sure the manufacturing date was recent. It’s 6 months old and according to their website it has a two-year shelf life. It was working fine until it didn’t any longer. The glue will not cure anymore, but why? Is the date on the bottle bogus?

I called titebond here in Australia, and it turned out that they are just a distributor for titebond. I spoke to their so called “tech” department, who knew very little about the product. After speaking to him for a while and listening to the much shit that dribbled out of his mouth, he realised somewhere along the line of his bullshit that I wasn’t the average dick who relied on the salesperson to teach him/her about a product he/she should already know about. So he paused for a sec, made a small cough and then admitted he knew nothing about the product as they do not manufacture the glue and will write to Titebond in the US and get back to me in 24hrs.

So there you have it, chaps. It pays to educate yourselves in whatever chosen field you’re in, so people don’t spin you stories just to get you off the phone or to convince into buying something you actually don’t need under the pretence that it is something you need because it will do a better job. Never be afraid to call their bluff if you see it. After all, it’s your money.

No more free plans

I really tried my best to offer you something I thought would generate a lot of interest that would help you out in the long run for free. Since uploading, only two people have downloaded my plans.

WordPress offers 3 gigs to keep a free account. After that they charge. Seeing that I’m not generating an income from this blog, paying for it would be ludicrous. Also using up precious free space for something there’s no interest is also ludicrous. I would rather post useful articles and builds and utilise the gifted free space on that.

So I’m sorry to say but from today I will be deleting the free plans and get back the space that I used. For those two people who did download them, I hope you have fun building your projects.

Take care everyone


European Usage

By Joseph A. McGeough

In western Europe the advent of metal was about 500 years later than in the Middle East. In making the transition from stone to metal, Europeans continued the tradition of the knee-shaft handle. Another type of metal head was given a wide slot, by either forging or casting, into which a cleft knee-shaft was fitted and lashed. This was the pal stave. To minimize splitting of the shaft, a stop was later cast at the bottom of the slot. Subsequently, one or two eyes, or loops, were furnished in the casting to allow firmer lashing.

The socketed head, perhaps carried over from the spearhead, was an improvement because the knee-shaft stub sat in a socket with greater security, although it still required lashing. Like its predecessors, this tool was small, almost toy like; the cutting edges of about 3.8 cm (1.5 inches) and short handles suggested a one-handed operation. Adzes were similarly proportioned, as were hammers.

The Bronze Age smiths of Europe were slow in inventing the shaft hole that those of the Middle East had developed in an earlier millennium. The knee-shaft tradition, with its socketed head, entered even the Iron Age before shaft-hole tools appeared in Europe. To forge a socket is a difficult enough operation with even modern equipment. A shaft hole, however, is fairly simple to make, but such tools appeared in northern Europe well after the Iron Age was underway, perhaps after 500 BCE. By this time, expensive bronze had been supplanted by plentiful iron for use in tools.

Bronze tools had been relatively delicate in design; their iron successors soon gained size and developed in character and effectiveness to display specialized forms. Of these, two are especially important. First, there was the felling axe of the woodcutter, the blade bevelled on both sides for symmetry and often fitted with a flat end suited to driving splitting wedges. There were numerous variations of this form as the tool evolved toward its finely balanced modern conformation.

The iron axe had little advantage over its bronze forerunners until smiths discovered carburization and could produce a temperable steel along the cutting edge. This must have occurred early, for repeated heatings of the edge in forging would draw in small quantities of carbon from the charcoal of the fire. A number of Roman axes subjected to analysis have been found to contain steel.

Steeling, or the welding of strips of steel to the iron head, was invented in the Middle Ages. The head was first rough-forged by bending a properly shaped piece of flat iron stock around an iron handle pattern to form the eye. Steeling could take one of two forms. In the first, a strip of steel was inserted between the overlapping ends and the whole welded into a unit (inserted steeling). For the second, the overlapping ends were welded together and drawn to a V-shape over which a V-shaped piece of steel was then welded (overcoat, or overlaid, steeling). Inserted steeling was regarded as superior because it furnished about three times as much steel to resist loss of metal by repeated grinding and sharpening. The manufacture of steeled, or two-piece, axes ended in the early 20th century. Thereafter heads were made of a single piece of high-carbon steel whose properly tempered edge was backed by a tough body.

To convert felled timber into squared timber, special tools were required. As the log lay on the ground or on low blocking, vertical sides were produced by using a broad-axe, or side axe. Somewhat shorter handled than the felling axe, it had a flat face, the single bevel being on the opposite or right side; it sliced diagonally downward as the carpenter moved backward along the log. The head was heavy, about twice that of a felling axe, and, although it was a two-handed tool, the broad-axe was never swung in the manner of a felling axe but, instead, was raised to waist height and allowed to fall with minimum added pressure. The handle was bent, or offset to the right, to give finger clearance when “hewing to the line” on a debarked log. A felling axe was used to score a line, after which the broad-axe was used to split off the wood along the score line. Hewn timber found in old buildings often carries the faint marks of the scoring.

If the timber was to be presented to view it was smoothed by an adz that removed the last of the score marks and left a type of ripple finish. For this purpose, a long-handled adz was used, the radius of its gentle swing originating in the carpenter’s shoulder. The blade was bevelled on the inside and removed material in the same manner as does a plane.

The adz was once an indispensable tool of general utility. In addition to surfacing, it was particularly useful for trueing and otherwise levelling framework such as posts, beams, and rafters, in setting up the frames of wooden ships, and in dressing ships’ planking. For special purposes the blade was round instead of flat, allowing the adz to cut hollows such as gutters. Dugout canoes, log coffins, and stock watering troughs, all cut from a whole log, were products of the adz. Short-handled adzes were used by coopers and makers of wooden bowls.

Another Shop made Tool

As I get older, my eyes get weaker. My eyes got weaker many years ago from sitting behind the screen too much. Because of poor eyesight, I now need a light to see the line, especially when cutting dovetails. I had a look online for those workshop bench lights and they weren’t what I wanted because they had a magnify glass on it which is useful for scroll sawing. Basically, no one had what I wanted, so I turned to my friend Matt McGrane and he had the answer. Btw Matt has an excellent blog that’s worth checking out. Woodworking in a Tiny Shop

He made one and noted it in his blog, which he sent me through the link and I unfortunately lost it. He sent me all the dimensions I needed to build the stand. After doing so, it is ideal for my shop and I can see the lines again. I thought this project is too good not to share it with you, so I’ve drawn it up and posted it in the free plans section. Click here to take you there. I combined all the pdf files into one file and as a bonus I’ve included as a separate download a 3d PDF. Since I don’t use SketchUp my files would be useless to you unless you use Autodesk Inventor Professional. This 3d PDF is the next best thing as you can view the file, rotate it, zoom in, measure without needing to have the 3d application that I use. How brilliant is that?

With that out of the way, let’s dive a little into the project. I added feet to the base which I omitted in the drawings because I didn’t plan on using feet. However, the base started to cup and made the whole thing unstable. After planing the cup out, I added some feet, and she’s been stable since.

The bolts and four-star knob I used are from that accessories package I bought 10 years or more so ago.

It’s really come in handy a few times. Since they targeted this more towards machine users for jig making, my box is still full. I think it’s safe to say it will outlive me. I want you to note that I used a T-bolt for the arm, Matt used a regular hex bolt which he recessed into the main body. As it turned out, the T-bolt holds good and tight. I didn’t need to recess it at all.

The metal plate I used is left over O1 tool steel from when I was making the irons for the moulding planes. In the photo it appears as one, but in fact they are two pieces of steel that I edge glued together and then glued and screwed to the base. I used fish glue from Lee Valley, which is made from Cod. I did a long write up on fish glue some time ago on how it’s made, it’s strength and that our predecessors used it to glue metal to wood. If it worked for them, I’m sure it would work for me and it did. The only reason I used screws was because I didn’t have any clamps long enough to clamp. So the screws only served as a temporary clamping method. Once the glue cured, I removed the screws and tried to pry the metal from the wood. I failed and nearly tore my finger nail right off. I wasn’t going to to stick a screwdriver in and bash it apart, but one of these days I’ll give that a go. People rely on epoxy and the overly expensive Loctite to glue metal to wood because A:) they don’t know about fish glue and B:) the fear of God has been placed into people’s hearts that only their products work and “do you really want to risk using ancient methods.” Well, I’m here to tell you that ancient methods work and brass pieces glued to wood on clocks and furniture are still around and intact despite how many hundreds of years they‘re old.

Ok I think I covered the important facts the rest is straightforward. The build is simple and if there is something in the build that you don’t understand, just open the 3d pdf file and things should click immediately for you. If it doesn’t, I’m just an email away.

Early Metal Designs

By Joseph A. McGeough

An Egyptian relief of about 2500 BCE, the time at which the pyramids were being built, shows a metal axe (copper or bronze) of curious shape, almost semi-circular, lashed to a wooden handle along its diameter. The same picture shows a knee-shaft adz whose metal blade makes an angle of about 30° with the handle. If the number of pictures and artefacts of the adz is a guide, the adz was more widely used than the axe. Generally speaking, the adz had a short handle, with angles of the order of 60° between blade and handle. Although the ancient Egyptians became skilled metalworkers, this was not reflected in their tools, the designs of which hardly changed over 2,000 years.

On the other hand, bronze axes and adzes from Mesopotamia of even the period 2700 BCE are shaft-hole types, the hole for the handle being formed in the mould. Aside from eliminating the nuisance of lashing the blades, these castings permitted a heavier head than the thin-bladed Egyptian models and had better dynamic characteristics.

Shaft-hole axes and adzes were also being cast in Crete about 2000 BCE. At the same time, a new tool was created there. The double-bit (two-bladed) axe, classically associated with the Minoans, was first known in 2500 BCE as a votive axe, a piece of tomb furniture made of riveted bronze plates. It became a working tool when it was cast in bronze with a shaft hole about 500 years later. Double-bit adzes also date from this time, as do axe–adz combinations. The succeeding Mycenaean, Greek, and Roman civilizations carried these designs forward. According to Homer, Odysseus used a double-bit axe of a type that disappeared with the use of bronze. Illustrations or artefacts from the Middle Ages reveal only iron single-bit types, although in a bewildering variety of profiles. By mid-19th century the double-bit was again in use, principally in the United States as a lumberman’s axe. The axe was also used in Canada and Australia, where it is still marketed.