An old craftsman

This is an audio file of an old craftsman’s thoughts on the craft many, many years ago.  It’s funny to note and I am noticing as I research even deeper into the craft of the yesteryears that the complaints and wisdom are very much identical to what we see and hear today.  Go make yourself a cuppa and enjoy this short story.

Guilds and their purpose

The above photo is a medieval craft guild symbol.  Guilds were created to protect the interest of the tradesman and to prevent outsider from entering into competition with them.  Journeymen who worked for the master were not allowed to take  tools home so they don’t earn a living on the side that would take away potential work from the master.   I believe that these guilds which if memory serves me correct begun in the 10th century by none other than the king.  Which king and which country I’m sorry I don’t have the answer to this question.  I do suspect it’s main focus in the beginning was for tax purposes.  No one could work without belonging to the appropriate guild for the  associated trade.  Much like today you can’t hide your taxes so the same principles were enforced then.

Here is a brief summary of the main functionality of the guild which I’m sure you will find quite interesting and sophisticated for it’s time.  I can’t believe I just said that;  modern policies are nothing more than an extension by continuity with minor refinements of ancient policies.  Another words it’s a continuation of the same policies or ideas that begun in the 10th century.  Read on and compare for yourselves.


Craft Guilds

The craft guilds came about by increased specialization of industry.

  • A group of artisans engaged in the same occupation, e.g., bakers, cobblers, stone masons, carpenters, etc. would associate themselves together for protection and mutual aid.
  • As these craft associations became more important than the older merchant guilds, their leaders began to demand a share in civic leadership.
  • Soon no one within a town could practice a craft without belonging to the appropriate guild associations.
  • The purpose of the guilds was to maintain a monopoly of a particular craft especially against outsiders. For example, the harness makers would get together and figure out what the owners of business needed from that trade then allow as many masters to set up shop as the business could support.
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Consumer and Worker Protection

In protecting its own members, the guilds protected the consumer as well.

  • Many craft regulations prevented poor workmanship. Each article had to be examined by a board of the guild and stamped as approved.
  • Because of lack of artificial light, work at night was prohibited.
  • In Florence the number of dyers was specified by the guild. In one place it was forbidden to see pigs fattened by a barber-surgeon lest the pig had been fattened on rich peoples’ blood.
  • Metalware plating was tantamount to fraud and, therefore, was forbidden.
  • To regulate competition between members the guild forbade advertising.
  • All prices were regulated
  • Craftsmen could take work outside where it could be seen.
  • Price-cutting was strictly forbidden.
  • To preserve its monopoly a guild forbade the sale of foreign artisans’ work within a city.
  • The most important processes used in manufacturing were guarded. In Florence a worker who possessed any essential trade secrets and for some reason fled to a foreign territory must be tracked down and killed lest he divulge the information.
  • Monopoly existed within individual guilds through the limitation of the number of masters.
  • No member was ever allowed to corner the market by purchasing a large supply of a product or commodity so as to be able to fix the price.

Services Performed by Guilds
Guilds performed other services for their members as well. They

  • provided funeral expenses for poorer members and aid to survivors;
  • provided dowries for poor girls;
  • covered members with a type of health insurance and provisions for care of the sick;
  • built chapels;
  • donated windows to local churches or cathedrals;
  • frequently helped in the actual construction of the churches;
  • watched over the morals of the members who indulged in gambling and usury; and
  • were important for their contribution to emergence of Western lay education. In earlier times, the only schools in existence had been the monastic or cathedral schools.


Apprentice — usually a male teenager who went to live with a master and his family; his parents paid to have him taken on. He probably occupied the attic of their 3 story home:

  • The shop where he would learn his trade was located on the ground floor.
  • The second story was the masters’ living area.
  • The third story housed the journeyman who was there to learn also.

The apprentice was subject to the master. During his apprenticeship he was not allowed to marry. This learning period might vary from 2-7 years depending on the craft. His training included the rudiments of the trade. The apprentice then progressed to journeyman.

Journeyman or day worker — entitled to earn a salary.
The next hurdle was to produce a masterpiece that would satisfy the master of the guild so that he could assume the title of master craftsmen and would thus get membership in the guild. This was not easy to accomplish because:

  • The journeyman had to work on his own time to produce this masterpiece — Sunday was the only day he did not work sun-up to sun-down.
  • He must use his own tools and raw materials which required a capital outlay that he might not have been able to accomplish as a wage earner.
  • Then if he did produce the required work, the state of the economy guided the vote of acceptance — it was not desirable to have too many masters in a guild and when the economy was tight. The masters would not admit anyone to their ranks to strain the economy.

MasterOnce the masterpiece was completed and the guild voted to accept the journeyman as a master, he could become one.

ANDRE CHARLES BOULLE – Father of Marquetry

Andre was born in Paris, France in the year 1642 and died at the age of 90 in 1732.  He was a famous cabinet maker who practiced the art of marquetry.  Some call him the father of marquetry even though he didn’t invent the art but he did refine the art to a fine art.

His career began as an architect which only lasted a few years before merging over to cabinetry type work, another words he became a cabinet maker.  Within a few short years his work was so outstanding that at the age of 30 he was awarded the title of Master Cabinet Maker in 1672 by Louis XIV who granted him the royal privilege of lodging in the Palais du Louvre.  In the same year he achieved the title of cabinetmaker and sculptor to the king.    This allowed Boulle many privileges such as practicing two professions simultaneously which the guild through their strict rules prevented craftsmen from doing however, turned a blind eye to Boulle’s favoured position allowed him protected status and exempted him from these requirements.


Guilds were created to protect the interest of the tradesman and to prevent outsider from entering into competition with them.  More on this in another blog.

Marquetry was originally used in the 16th century by Italian craftsman but Boulle took this craft to another level of artistic flair. Boulle specialised in the inlaying of ebony with exotic woods from India and South America such as mother of pearl. Large areas were covered with tortoiseshell, inlaid with arabesques of gilded brass. He added splendid bas-relief compositions, as well as sculptured rosettes, masks, and acanthus scrolls, all in gilded bronze.  Many of his inspirations came from his personal collections of paintings, drawings and prints which included the works of the Italian artists Raphael, Rubens and Italian engraver Stefano Della Bella.  These inspirations led to some of the world’s finest pieces ever made and all works after his death that were made by other artists that included inlays of copper that were on a black or red ground were known as the Buhl.


Commode, ca. 1710-32
Walnut veneered with ebony and marquetry
of engraved brass and tortoiseshell, gilt-bronze
mounts, verd antique marble top



Table, c.1680
Oak veneered with ebony, tortoiseshell, pewter, brass,
ivory, horn, various stained and natural woods; gilt bronze mounts


Clock With Pedestal (centre picture)
Attributed to André-Charles Boulle
movement by Antoine Gaudron, clockmaker; Paris, c.1690
Oak veneered with tortoiseshell, pewter, brass, ebony,
and ebonized fruitwood; gilt bronze mounts

His work was so popular that it continued to be carried forward on by others to the last half of the 19th century, with the implementation of machinery by then enabling the creation of large quantities of furniture in the Boulle style.  Many of the cheap plastic mold recreations of clocks you see made in China and other Asian countries are based on his early work.  I’m not being a racist for naming Asian countries as producers of low quality productions as I do not blame them for the cheap productions that come out of their countries but the companies in western nations who pay them a pittance to produce such low quality diarrhea as Christopher Schwartz once said.  I am fully aware of the rich history of fine craftsmanship Asia’s talented has provided throughout the ages but as the old saying goes you get what you pay for.

Boulle left his work to be continued by his four sons Jean Philippe, Pierre Benoît, André Charles, and Charles Joseph along with the title of cabinetmaker to the king. Later in 1754 Charles-Joseph hired the brilliant German furniture designer Jean-François Oeben, from whom the Boulle tradition was inherited by Jean-Henri Riesener. His style continued with tremendous success in France during the 18th century and under Napoleon III.

Here are some more examples of this most talented true master craftsman which I hope you can appreciate my dislike of this word “master craftsman” being so careless attributed to many modern day craftsman who do not measure up to the standards of these high level of achievers and I would discourage you all to stop flaunting this word so carelessly and attribute it only to the ones who live up to such standards.




To finish this blog here is a video of William Patrick Edwards the founder of OBG and Marqueter employing two methods of Boulle marquetry, première-partie, in which the tortoiseshell serves as the background with inlaid brass, and contre-partie, with tortoiseshell inlaid on a brass ground—and sometimes made complementary pairs of furniture pieces, utilizing each technique.

A new saw added

I met a sawyer at the timber two weeks ago and saw one of his many saws he had on display, one particular saw I favoured was a 12ppi crosscut Simonds.  I have been actually looking for one to get those smoother cuts for a while now, the less time I spend shooting means less work.  Well it turns out that saw wasn’t for sale and out of all his saws the best saw he had was another Simmonds as he is a fan of this brand dated 1916-1923 11ppi.  He’s done some repairs to the horn, general cleaning and sharpened it for me.  The saw cost me $105 + $11 for postage and that I think is a bargain.  These saws on eBay would not sell for less than US$223 which is one more excuse to look else where and not rely on eBay as much.

He doesn’t have a website that I could refer you too as this is only a hobby for him, he does it for the passion more so than the dollars.

Connections are important and the best ways to gain these connections is to get yourself off the computer and out into the real world, attend shows, look at the links in the magazines, join forums and woodworking clubs.  Shows and clubs would be the best viable option to get quality goods at normal to even bargain prices.  Swap meets are good as well.

eBay sellers, antique dealers are running a muck, their prices are high and most of them don’t even understand the tool they are selling.  It bothers me very little on whose toes I tread it’s time to speak up and this I can safely say I learned from Paul.  People fear what magazines and tool makers can do but Paul has shown than in fact these conglomerates  have no power whatsoever infact they can neither increase your business nor take it away.  I can name some prominent woodworkers whose skills are unmatched and have been in magazines but didn’t make it in the real world through their craft but are doing other things to survive.  This is the story of generally most people hence why woodworking or let’s say making what we want to make are generally kept on a hobbyists level.  So as you can see magazines didn’t create work for them, museums they worked also didn’t help so what’s to fear.  Paul came out into the open and opened a can of worms that was controversial and went directly against the preachings of every magazine and tool maker out there.  He’s openly attacked majority of the big name brands and yet his popularity has increased more than any other online teacher.  He has well over 1000,000 viewers and that say’s something, I know I’ve gotten off the track a little as I usually do but it is time to make a stand to bring some normality to this world and lower those prices so people can enjoy this craft whether professionally or as a hobbyist.  Just remember this that magazines have everything to fear from the tool makers as they pay for their advertising another words their wage, but we the craftsmen and women have nothing to fear from them because it is we who pay them their wage; without us they cease to exist.

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Ripping straight

Ripping straight and to these insane tight tolerance you see here isn’t achieved overnight but as you can see it also isn’t impossible and dare I say not even necessary.  On occasion your board just may be not wide enough to leave a 16th or more to get two pieces of a specific width and instead of laying aside an offcut for another project how great would it be if you could economise and get two pieces out of that one board.

This is where these tight tolerances come into play but of course your sawing skillsets must be up there to achieve this.  As I’ve measured this from the knife line to the cut it’s dead on 1/1000″.


While the other side is 2 thou which is very disappointing to me but also very acceptable and still within the safe zone.


However the aim is to rip square because if you angle the saw to one side a little more you will saw into and over that line without realising it and ruin your cut.  This mistake will cost you dearly not only in one piece but the entire width of the board as both pieces now are undersized.  This is the risk you take when sawing to such tight tolerances, of  course if you have a bandsaw and you don’t want to run that risk go ahead and employ it but check prior the thickness of the blade as you may end up also removing too much material.

People talk about drift I personally have never experienced drift as my saw is calibrated perfectly, my blades are sharp and tight.  The bearings are at the right distance from the blade so there is no reason for it to drift.  The only issue I have when resawing boards into specific thicknesses or book matching is my fence.  After all it is made in China and I have to prop the fence up a little to make it square to the table.

The starting cut is the most important cut of all, you must start square there really is no room for error.


As you can see in this photo there is a slight bow, this is something I need to work on.  I start then shift positions which is wrong.  Once you place that saw next to your line and it appears to you to be straight commit to that cut, my problem is I keep over thinking it instead of following my own rule.  Practice on scrap, check to see which way you are angling your saw and shift it to the opposite direction, if your slanting in one way then slant it the other ever so slightly and keep doing this till you get it right.  A good idea that I saw Frank Klause do in an early video of his is by placing a mirror in front of you, if you don’t have that then record yourself through your phone or get someone to stand in front of you.  Once you get it right do a few more boards till you develop this muscle memory of it and you should by now be on top of it.

There’s an old saying you could be sawing for 20 years but if you don’t get it right from the get go then you could be sawing wrong for 20 years.

One last tip and I think this is pretty important, many people including me dred ripping long boards but if you don’t have a bandsaw obviously you have no option.  The problem is muscle fatigue, if your going to do hand tool work and I’m not referring to joinery but the whole nine yards as the yanks say then start focusing on developing strength in your arms.  Do regular pushups or even go to the gym and increase your biceps and stamina.  Because if you’re going to flatten a rough sawn board like you have seen me do many of times it’s pretty darn tiring and if you have severe arthritis like I do well bear it and grin.  But strength is the key to remain in the hand tool world especially for ripping and planing.


Health Hazards in Woodworking

by Stanley N. Wellborn

Industrial woodworkers have long recognized the risks of
their trade. But it has been only in the past few years that artists
and craftsmen have become concerned about-or even
aware of- the many hidden dangers in woodworking.
Of course everyone recognizes those hazards that cause
immediate and traumatic inj ury-blades that cut fingers and
limbs, wood chips and fragments that fly into eyes, loose
clothing or long hair that catches in whirling machinery,
smashed fingers and toes, muscle strains from heavy lifting .
But now medical authorities in the United States , Canada
and England cite a number of insidious causes of disease that
can be directly attributed to woodworking. Their list includes
wood dust, sap and oils , mold and fungus, chemical additives,
toxic solvents and adhesives , vibration and noise.
A diligent search of medical literature, or a chat with an
industrial hygiene specialist , will turn up dozens of horror
stories about the health hazards of woodworking . For example
, the 4 3 -year-old woodworker who had operated a lathe
for more than 2 5 years and became worried about a persistent
sinus irritation and sore throat. His doctor prescribed a
standard treatment , yet the condition did not improve . Finally,
lab tests revealed cancer of the nasal passages . Or the
art student who broke out in a rash , with blisters resembling
second-degree burns, shortly after she began to sculpt wood .
When she stopped woodworking, her skin healed .
The mere existence of a medical case history does n ‘ t mean
every woodworker will succumb to serious disease ; the biggest
unknown is often the size of the risk. In most cases, woodworkers
can take adequate precautions for relatively little cost.
Common protective measures are described in the box on
page 56. Woodworkers who notice something wrong with
their health would be wise to suspect something in the shop ;
some potential problems are discussed below

Respiratory ailments
Health authorities warn that woodworkers should be most
on guard against inhaling foreign substances.
To most woodworkers , concern about the cancer-causing
potential of wood dust overrides all other health worries .
Indeed , this concern appears justified, at least on the surface.
Woodworkers are 500 times more likely to have certain types
of nasal cancer than non-woodworkers . However, the risk of
developing cancer solely through exposure to wood dust is
quite low.

” The statistics on cancer in woodworkers can be made to
sound quite alarming , ” says Dr. Julian A . Waller of the University
of Vermont Medical School and an authority on health
hazards in the arts. ” But the actual risk advances only from
‘extremely rare’ to ‘ rare . ‘ Only one woodworker in 1 ,400 will
get this cancer, and at that after an average of 40 years of exposure.

Nevertheless, in various health hazard evaluations conducted
by the National Institute of Occupational Health and
Safety (NIOSH) in Cincinnati, Ohio, investigators have concluded
that wood dust is at least a contributing factor in the
development of some other types of cancer. In a report prepared
after an evaluation of the Cooper Union School of Art
in New York City, the Institute cites studies pointing out that
“cancers of the larynx, tonsils, tongue and lung have been
reported to have resulted from inhalation of wood dust ”
among furniture workers in England and Sweden .
In addition, the NIOSH report mentions that many researchers
have found that the normal functions of the mucous
membranes in the nose, throat and lungs were impaired in
workers exposed to wood dust for more than ten years .
Among the most recent and thorough research on this
problem is a study done by Dr. Samuel Milham , Jr. , of the
State Department of Social and Health Services in Olympia,
Wash . He reviewed the death records of more than 1 6 ,000
members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners
of America, and found that the results supported the hypothesis
that wood contains carcinogens . The study also
found an above-average incidence of leukemia and lymphoma
among millwrights, lumber workers and cabinetmakers.
Although risk of cancer from exposure to wood does appear
to be low for most woodcrafters, the incidence of other forms
of respiratory illness is high . At one time or another, virtually
all woodworkers have suffered irritation of the upper respiratory
tract after breathing sawdust. The condition is usually
transient and produces coughing, wheezing and tightness in
the chest. Frequently , however, long-term exposure produces
” fogged lungs” on X-rays and a type of occupational asthma
that can become virtually permanent .
Redwood dust, for example, is the cause of sequoiosis, an
acute illness that resembles pneumonia. It usually appears
within a few hours after exposure, and its symptoms are
shortness of breath, bronchio-constriction, dry coughing,
chills , sweating, fever and general malaise. Repeated episodes
of this ailment can cause permanent scarring of lung tissue.
Wood dust from another tree, the Western or Canadian
red cedar, causes similar symptoms that can develop into
asthma or rhinitis, an inflammation of the nasal passages .

Medical researchers believe the causative agent in red cedar is
plicatic acid, which is thought to give the wood its characteristic
fragrance. Lumber workers in the Pacific Northwest are
frequently affected by cedar dust. One medical case history
tells of a 30-year-old worker who could breathe at night only
by kneeling on his hands and knees . When he left the woodworking
industry, he regained his health.
Another source of respiratory difficulties is the mold and
fungus that grow in damp areas of the shop , particularly in
piles of sawdust. Mold has also been known to cause serious
reactions in skin and fingernails after continuous exposure.
Occupational health experts agree that the obvious and
best way to prevent respiratory problems is to cut down the
amount of airborne dust in the shop. Although no specific
environmental standards fo r allergenic wood dust have been
established by the fe deral Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) , the American Conference of
Governmental Industrial Hygienists has set a provisional (and
very low) limit on ” nuisance dust” of 5 mg per cubic meter of
air space. A few minutes of steady hand-sanding normally
produce about 15 mg per cubic meter in the immediate work
area ; a portable or stationary belt sander will generate about
150 mg per cubic meter. Without ventilation, the dust will
remain airborne for hours and spread through the shop .

Skin irritations and allergies
A large number of wood species will produce skin irritation
or glandular swelling in sensitive individuals who are directly
exposed to their dust, oil or sap. Some woods, such as West
Indian satinwood and mansonia, are classified as ” primary irritants”
because they are highly toxic and are likely to produce
skin eruptions or blisters in most people on first contact.
Others, such as cocobolo, are “sensitizers” that may cause
allergic dermatitis only after repeated exposure .
A number of domestic U. S. woods have been mentioned .
in medical literature as causing skin irritatio ns, such as hives
and rashes , but such skin reactions are actually quite infreq
uen t, occurring in less than 2 % of the populatio n. However,
the problem becomes much more serious with tropical or exotic
woods . A partial list of toxic timbers is given in the box
on this page .
Dermatologists who have investigated wood allergies note
several common characteristics . Allergic reactions are more
pronounced during the summer, or when a person ‘s skin is
moist fr om perspiration, or when the wood dust itself is
damp . Reactions are more fre quent among persons older than
40 . Freshly cut wood is much more likely to be an irritant
than older, seasoned wood. Occasionally, a wood species from
one geographic area will not affect a woodworker, while the
same species grown somewhere else will.
In most cases, it is the heartwood rather than the sapwood
that is responsible for skin allergies, and it is the accessory
substances, or “extractives ,” from the heartwood that produce
the toxic effects. Extractives are whatever can be leached
out of the wood (with water or other solvents) without
changing its structure. These powerful chemical components-
resins, alkaloids, tannins, acids , salts and gums-vary
widely fr om species to species and even from log to log. In
some trees they make up as much as 20% of the wood structure.
Most woods contain about 4% to 10% extractives . The
effect of extractives can be devastating. One report cited a
serious outbreak of dermatitis among workers at an English furniture plant that used mansonia wood . The entire operation had to be shut down for weeks .
Obviously , the occasional case of dermatitis won ‘t discourage
woodworkers from continuing to use exotic woods .
The best path to follow is one of prevention , including dust
control , protective clothing, washing and shower facilities and
barrier creams , such as DuPont’s Pro-Tek. Persons who suspect
they are sensitive to certain woods should have a doctor
do a skin-patch test to find the cause of the allergy .
Pesticides and preservatives introduced to wood while it is
being timbered, processed and shipped may also cause dermatitis.
These include everything from the highly toxic pentachlorophenol
to the relatively innocuous polyethylene glycol
(PEG) and denatured alcohol . Other chemicals often used
in domestic wood processing are potassium dichromate, ethyl
triethanol amine , glycol humectant, naphthenic acid , copper
hydrate and zinc naphthenate. Standard threshold limit
values (TLV ‘s) based on current medical knowledge have
been established for many of these chemicals, with the intention
of protecting people whose jobs expose them constantly
to these substances. But many chemicals banned in
this country are routinely used by foreign loggers and shipping
companies to prevent insect infestation , mold growth
and dry rot in transit.
It is almost impossible for a woodworker to ascertain which
additives have been used . Michael McCan n , an industrial hygienist
and chemist with the Center for Occupational Hazards in New York City, says, “The best procedure to follow is to
assume that the wood being used has been processed with
dangerous chemicals and take the necessary precautions. It is
also important to remember that it is not uncommon for
woodworkers to toil 1 2 or more hours a day for weeks on end
when preparing for a show or fair, or j ust plain getting caught
up with a work order. Under these conditions , it becomes
doubtful that established ny’s for an eight-hour work day
are applicable . ”
Dr. Bertram W . Carnow, professor of occupational and environmental
medicine at the University of Illinois, points out
that the key factor in determining toxic levels for an individual
is what he calls ” total body burden ” -the sum that each
person ‘ s metabolism and general health will accommodate.
” Liquid or solid particles such as fumes or vapors in aerosol
form , cigarette smoke and other exposures in addition to
those from materials used at work all contribute to the burden
on the lungs, skin and other organs, and should be minimized
, ” says Dr. Carnow.
Many skin irritations are caused by contact with adhesives
and solvents that dry the skin and make it more subject to infection
. In addition , fumes from such chemicals often are not
only toxic if inhaled or swallowed , but also highly flammable.
Epoxies, for example , can cause severe blistering and
scaling. Liquid, uncured epoxy resin and hardener will cause
adverse reactions in more than 40 % of all workers who come
in contact with it . Synthetic adhesives , such as urea-formalde  hyde and phenol-formaldehyde resin , are other irritants with
which woodworkers commonly come in contact . Although
few woodworkers have occasion to use uncured formaldehyde
or phenol resins, they should be aware that “thermal degradatio
n ” of these compounds has been reported when heat
produced during high-speed machining of wood breaks down
glues into separate components, or produces entirely new
compounds .

Toxic Woods
This list includes woods that are known to cause allergic,
tOxic , infectious or respiratOry reactions. Although researchers
point our that not everyone is sensitive to these woods , they
warn that woodworkers should be particularly cautious when
sanding or milling them . The category “respiratOry ailments”
includes btOnchial disorders, asthma, rhinitis and mucosal
irritations ; “skin and eye allergies” includes contact dermatitis,
conjunctivitis, itching and rashes.
• Arbor vitae (Thuja standishii )
• Ayan (Distemonanthus benthamianus)
-So N. W.
• Blackwood , African (Dalbergia melanoxylo n)
• • Boxwood , Knysna (Gonioma kamassi)
• Cashew (A nacardium occide r/tale)
• • Cedar , Western red (Thuja plicata)
• Coco bolo (Dalbergia re tusa)
• Cocus (Brya eben us)
• Dahoma (Piptadeniastrum afr ican lim)
• • Ebony (Diospyros)
• • Greenheart (Oeotea rodiaei)
• Guarea (Guarea thompsonii)
• • Ipe [Iapacho] (Tabebuia ip e)
• • Iroko (Chlorophora exeelsa)
• KatOn (Sandorie um indicum)
• • Mahogany , African (Khaya ivorensis)
• Mahogany, American (Swietenia 1llaerophylla)
• • Makore (Tieg hem ella heckelii )
• • Mansonia (Mansonia altissima)
• • Obeche (Triplo ehiton se/eroxylo n)
• • Opepe (Nalle/ea tnilesii)
• • Peroba rosa (A sp idosperma peroba)
• • Peroba, white (Paratecoma peroba)
• Ramin (Gonystylus bancanus)
• Rosewood, Brazilian (Dalbergia nigra)
• Rosewood , East Indian (Dalbergia la tlfolia)
• Satinwood, Ceylon (Ch/oroxylon swietenia)
• Satinwood, West Indian (Fagara /la ·va)
• Sequoia Redwood (Sequoia se1llpervirens)
• Sneezewood (Ptaeroxylo n obliquum)
• Stavewood (Dysoxylu1ll muelleri )
• Sucupira (Bo wdichia nitida )
• Teak (Teetona grandts)
• • Wenge (Mille ttia la urentii)
This information has been taken ft Om :
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
International Labor Organization Encyclopedia of Occupational
Safe ty and Health
Sculpture in Wood by Jack C. Rich, Da Capo Press, New
York , 1977.
“Toxic Woods” by Brian Woods and C. D. Calnan , British
Journal of Dermatology , Vol. 95 , Supplement 13, 1976 (an
excellent source on skin reactions to woo ds, with case histOries
and an inclusive list of toxic species) .

Vibration disease
Another woodworking hazard, well-defined over the years
by occupational health specialists, is a disease that develops
and spreads slowly through the muscles and circulatory system
of the fingers , hands and forearms . Vibration disease is closely
related to an affliction known as Raynaud ‘ s phenomenon,
and is triggered by lengthy use of machinery that vibrates in
the 40 to 3 , 000 cycle-per-second frequency range .
Most woodworkers have experienced a rhythmic tingling in
the hands and arms after using such vibrating tools as orbital
sanders, chain saws and pneumatic chisels. In most cases, the
spasms disappear within an hour. Now, recent medical research
among lumbermen in Canada has shown that serious
side effects of this reaction may develop , although the process
may take from several months to ten years . Smoking and cold
weather tend to hasten the onset of the problem . In some
cases , tendonitis of the elbow and shoulder may set in. Eventually,
numbness and a heightened sensitivity to cold and
humidity will occur, and the fingers and palms of the hands
will become extremely pale-giving the condition its more
common name of “white hand” or ” dead fingers . ” In a few
extreme cases , it has been necessary to amputate the fingers.
” We know that vibrations may cause definite lesions to the
hands with serious potential consequences , ” says Dr. Gilles
Laroche, a cardiovascular surgeon with the Hotel-Dieu Hospital
in Quebec City , in the March 7 , 1 9 7 7 , issue of the Canadian
periodical Maclean ‘s. ” Once severe occlusive arterial
disease is established , the condition is permanent and little or
no improvement will result from cessation of work. In fact ,
the condition may worsen in a large proportion o f patients . ”
Safety experts advise that cutting down on extensive use of
vibrating tools is the best way to prevent this conditio n ,
although some authorities have urged tool manufacturers to
build shock absorbers into vibrating equipment. Many chain
saws now have rubber bumpers between the engine and the
handles, and users report them nearly vibration-free. OSHA
has not set a vibration standard for tools.

High levels of noise have long been recognized by industrial
safety technicians as unsafe to workers . In a typical wood
shop, decibel levels often exceed industry limits and may
cause hearing loss.
One study cited by NIOSH found that nearly one shop
worker in four had suffered some pemanent damage to hearing
because of high noise levels from operating machinery .
Other studies have found that excessive noise can also contribute
to heart problems and gastrointestinal disorders.
Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB) on a logarithmic
scale on which every increase of 10 dB means a tenfold increase
in noise intensity. Ordinary conversation averages
about 60 dB.
OSHA has set a maximum permissible average noise level of 90 dB per eight-hour working day . The permissible noise exposure rises to a maximum of 1 1 5 dB , a level that can be
tolerated for only 1 5 minutes or less per day. A circular saw
produces between 1 00 and 1 09 dB , a medium-sized woodworking
shop in full operation averages about 1 1 0 dB , and a
chain saw may peak at 1 30 dB . One report cited by NIOSH
states that ‘ ‘ operators of saws, planers, routers, molding machines
, shapers, jointers and sanders are exposed to average
overall sound-pressure levels that exceed 95 dB . For several of
these operations , the average may be as high as 1 1 5 dB . ”
Protection from noise involves damping machinery with
mufflers and sound-absorbing material , keeping machines in
good repair and well-oiled, and mounting machines on rubber
bases to reduce vibration and rattling. In addition ,
OSHA-approved ear muffs and ear plugs-rather than improvised
cotton or wax devices-are recommended . In
general , industrial hygienists recommend ear muffs as the
most effective sound reducer.

Fire hazards
Although most woodworkers are extremely cautious when
using flammable materials, the danger persists. The National
Fire Protection Association reports that the combination of
machinery, wood , volatile fumes and finely dispersed dust in
woodworking shops results in scores of fires and explosions
annually. Small grains of wood dust , when scattered throughout
a confined area, can explode with tremendous force if ignited
by a spark or match . If flammable solvents are present ,
the hazard becomes much greater .
Fire prevention authorities agree that the best way to curb
the possibility of fire is adequate ventilation. If dust and
fumes are vented by a vacuum or “cyclone” air cleaner, and
fresh air is continually available , most fire hazards will be
sharply reduced.


Rabbet Plane woes

I’m currently working on several projects as I’m headed off to the markets and one of those projects involves making several rabbets using my Veritas skewed Rabbet plane and in doing so prompted me to write this blog hence the title “Rabbet Plane woes” I’m hoping to shed some light for those who own this wonderful tool but have frustrations in using it correctly

To cut a square rabbet one must set the blade parallel to the sole but even before one can do that you must ensure when sharpening you keep the blade at a consistent 22° angle because if it is not it is impossible to set the blade correctly.

blade angleVeritas has provided some set screw like in all their planes to return the blade back to its original position after sharpening, however as much as we would like these set screws to be somewhat of a set them and forget them type it easier said than done as these screws tend to move after heavy use and I’ve found that resetting them back to their position which means kissing the blade prior to sharpening to be a good practice.

However, setting the blade quickly parallel to the sole is anyone’s guess, I’ve have tried several ways to do so by making jigs for it and am still none the wiser.  Unfortunately setting it by eye alone is not enough only by putting the plane to the work and taking shavings with light taps with the hammer here and there will you be able to see whether or not you have set the blade accurately.  This can be a very arduous task and counter intuitive as well because setting the blade parallel to the sole isn’t really the most difficult part but having it protrude from the side of the plane by the thickness of a sheet of paper and having it parallel to the sole is what makes it frustrating.  Many of times I have often wondered about my freshly sharpened blade, after setting the blade and taking several test shavings whether I need to remove the blade again and resharpen it.  But Let me get on to some important points here.  The reason the blade needs to be protruded from the side is so the blade can get right into those corners of the rabbet, if the blade was flat against the side of the plane you would be creating steps in your rabbets which ultimately would lead to the rabbet floor slanting downwards as those step wold force the plane to angle.  The nicker too must be slightly proud of the blade as well.

In order to have a square shoulder the above mentioned must be adhered to, the inside face of the plane is not a reference face and must not touch the shoulder of the rabbet but the blade is what kisses the shoulder so that is the reason why the blade must be proud of the inside face of the plane.  The manual that comes with the plane stipulates that this protrusion must be the thickness of a sheet of paper but many out there believe that this isn’t the case at all in fact it can be a 1/16 or more proud.  I haven’t tested this theory out to know for sure but on my next sharpening I definitely will, whatever it takes to get that blade setup quickly to get back to work is the aim here.

The other issue of not cutting square rabbets is in the way you use the plane.  The front knob as pretty as it looks is an actually hindrance and should be removed prior to using the tool, your thumb should be pressing down just behind the knob at the beginning of the cut, then equal pressure downward in the middle of the cut and lastly on exit no pressure on the front of the plane at all just like you would with any plane.  Your fingers also should be placed on the fence and be pushing against the edge at all times, the picture below I found on the net shows how you should be placing your fingers and lastly you push with you’re the palm and not with a full pistol grip.


In the beginning it is quite a lot to think about but as you gain more practice with it, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.  Another thing comes to mind and that is the fence.  The fence that comes with the plane is rather small meaning the reference side isn’t wide enough to provide a good reference surface to maintain a square cut, fortunately Veritas has provided two holes in the fence where you can screw an auxiliary fence to it.  However, if you know your apron on your bench is square to your top this would aid you greatly but if it isn’t then regardless of all your setup the rabbet will not come out square so then you must use the edge of the piece you are working on which brings to another point.  Some people will have a very wide auxiliary fence but that width is wasted when it’s referencing off a 1” board thickness or less itself, unless your board is 2” or more thick having that wider fence will not provide any more stability in your cut than a 2” wide fence which is about what I use.  Having that size mean that sometimes you can plane rabbets in your vice but if the fence was wider obviously you couldn’t.


Another few more points and were almost done here.  It is a good practice to scuff up those rods and the rod of the depth stop as the fence tends to move whilst planning and that is not what you want, I would also do the same on your grooving plane as well and finally and I have to practice what I preach here is to glue up some timber to the bottom surface of the depth stop as it does mar the work.

One last important point I did forget to mention and that setting the width of the cut, many people set the fence to measure off the side of the plane that is a big no no you need to set the fence distance off the protruding blade because that is what comes in contact with the shoulder of the rabbet.

Veritas does offer both Left and right planes, unfortunately these planes aren’t cheap ad unless you can afford them buy the one that will suit you and if the work dictates the additional version then you’ll have to bite the bullet and fork out for it which in my case I will have to.