A Raggedy Old Chest.

I had a friend in college that inherited a home from his grandparents.  The home was a stunning and enormous brick Gothic Revival that he remembered from his childhood.  He was certain it was going to be the home he would move his eventual family into after he served his time in the Air Force and settled down.  He went to visit the house as a side trip on his journey home for winter break from school.  He hadn't seen the home in a long time, as his grandparents had moved into a retirement home after his grandmother had fallen ill almost fifteen years earlier.  Fortunately for him, his grandparents saw fit to keep the house even though they no longer lived there.  Upon returning from our winter break, I asked him about his visit.  His face immediately fell.  "They didn't hire anyone to keep it up" he said.  The house, after years of neglect had been all but swallowed by the wooded lot on which it rested.  The roof had caved in, the cellar was full of water, and the floors had started to rot.  As it turns out, his grandfather who was a professional carpenter at one time, had ambitions of returning to the house every so often to maintain the residence and do some minor improvements.  Over the course of the first year he spent in the retirement home with his wife, he too had fallen ill and neglected to ask anyone to help him take care of the house.  The years passed and whether through miscommunication, lack of interest, or just plain forgetfulness, the home started to quite literally fall apart.  As a result, my friend, while excited about the eventual prospects of the property, had inherited a crumbling money pit.


Love Is In The Air...Again...

Today, I am enjoying the second annual celebration of the New Order of Saint Valentines Day.  Last year I wrote about my disdain for the traditional Valentines Day celebration of sappy love notes and gross cherry flavored chalk candy.  During the last 12 months, my stance on this weird sap-centric holiday hasn't changed one iota.  I established N.O.S.V.D. (I haven't worked on the name at all) last year in order to sew the seeds of change in the fertile soil that is Valentines Day tradition.  The goal of the New Order is to celebrate inspirational hand made objects, especially tools.

This year, I am celebrating some of my favorite chisels from Blue Spruce Toolworks, an antique set of dividers and a genuine handmade sign of love.

I got this chisel as part of a set two years ago as a Christmas gift.  Meet the fishtail chisel.  Initially, this little guy seemed very task specific, but once I started using it I found that it is useful for a lot of different tasks.  Any time I need to clean out a tight corner or get into a narrow opening of a mortise or dovetail  I reach for this little guy.  David Jeske, the owner and operator of Blue Spruce Toolworks makes incredible tools.  They are both functional and beautiful.  I have several of his chisels and every one of them performs exactly as advertised.  These hold an edge extremely well, are made of excellent steel and have comfortable, elegant cocobolo handles.

The second chisel is a long paring chisel also from Blue Spruce Toolworks.  This 3/4 inch chisel is part of a set of six which all perform equally well.  I use this chisel a lot, but I don't have to sharpen it very often at all. A quick hone before use is typically all it needs.  The long blade lets this chisel flex a little under use, which gives me a little more control when I am paring.  Additionally, Mr. Jeske provides these chisels with a concave side, allowing the chisel to get into tight corners when paring.  I have found this to be a very desirable trait in a paring chisel.  The handle, like the fishtail chisel, is comfortable for long use and excellently made.

This set of wing dividers inspires me every time I put them to use.  They used to belong to my grandfather which gives them some sentimental value, but they are equally functional.  Fortunately, they were taken care of during their early years so they still work perfectly today!

And now for the handmade symbol of love, BACON ROSES!  My sister made these for Valentines Day, but they work so much better for N.O.S.V.D.!  I now declare a new tradition for N.O.S.V.D, the gift of hand made bacon roses to show your appreciation for things hand made...and delicious pork.  Now, go admire a beautiful tool and allow yourself to be inspired...or just go eat some bacon!



Often, my addiction to tools takes me on weird tangents through stores like woodcraft or through the virtual aisles of online markets.  Three or four years ago I came across a set of gimlets from Garrett Wade during one of their crazy sales, and like a zombie on a brain bender, I just threw them in the cart with the rest of my stuff and mindlessly checked out.  When they arrived, I tested them out on a small project which required pre-drilling some very small holes for copper pins.  After a little bit of tweaking I was amazed at how quickly these little guys worked.  I stuck them on a D shaped carabiner, clipped them to my tool belt, and have never looked back.  For infrequent, small holes these beat carrying my drill around any day.


Easy Like Sunday Morning.

Getting ready for the Super Bowl at our house usually means doing absolutely nothing because we go to someone else's house for a party.  That left an unusual Sunday morning for some light reading, coffee and a quick trip to the workshop to clean up the mess from earlier that week.  Light reading consisted of some very serious literature dedicated to.......okay it was the Sunday Funnies.

It's Funny, Because I Have Done This...
While I was in the shop I also wrapped up some panels I am assembling for my entertainment center.  The panels are assembled like doors.  The four corners are blind mortised into one another and an MDF core plywood panel is inserted into a dado running around the interior of the panel prior to assembly.  I'll post some photos of the panels when I write my entry on building the door for the entertainment center.  Prior to cramming the mortises and tenons together, I did something I have never really given much thought to before.  I can't remember where I learned this little trick but I have done it for a long time.  When assembling mortises it helps to ease the edges of the tenons at a slight angle.  This helps to see where the tight spots are, if there are any, and it helps the tenon fit into the mortise without tearing up the sometimes delicate ends of the tenons.  The severity to which I ease the edge depends on the depth of the tenon and the importance of the strength of the joint.  More easing equals less contact area between the walls of the mortise and the sides of the tenon, so just a little will do.  This is just a super simple little step that can help make some assembly easier and help prevent breakages and blowouts.  I'm all about things that make my life easier...give it a try.

Eased Tenon Edges On The Right Original Tenon On The Left