Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Going against the grain

Category: Hand Planing

Use a Batten when Face Planing

I picked up this little gem from The English Woodwoorker. When face planing, use a thin batten with a notch cut into it to hold the corner of your work piece. The batten should be held diagonally by a clamp or hold fast. This will secure your work piece when you plane diagonally and cross grain. No need for an end vise.


Tip: it helps to have a bench dog engage the piece at the opposite corner. This will act as a pivot point to engage the batten.

Time to unwind

Beautiful furniture requires accurate joinery, and that accuracy requires square boards which are free of twist. Even small amounts of twist can wreak havoc with forming solid joints. To detect these minute amounts of warpage, a tool is needed. The tool most often employed is the winding stick. Winding sticks are nothing more than a pair of long straight sticks that are laid across each end of a board to amplify any existing twist to the eye.

I made mine out of hickory, because it is a very hard wood with straight grain. Each one is approximately 18 inches long, with a pair of holes on one board to make sighting any twist a bit easier. I also chamfered the tops of each board to remind me that I only need to maintain one side. I finished them with a couple of coats of tongue oil.


Making Stopped Dadoes by Hand

I decided to attempt this for my bench hook after watching Roy Underhill make a stopped sliding-dovetail on an old episode of the Woodwright Shop.  On the show, he mentioned that the same basic principles also applied to stopped dadoes.  You start like you would with any other dado, by marking out all of your lines.  The difference here is that you chisel a small mortise where your dado stops.  This gives your saw a place to go when you are sawing down your walls.

photo 2

Here is a picture for illustration.  My dado is 3/4″ wide and 1/4″ deep.  It stops about 3/4″ from the edge of the board.  My widest mortise chisel is only about 3/8″, so I had to make several passes to width.  I made the mortise slightly deeper than 1/4″, so that I could ensure that my saw made it to the proper depth.  In the end it won’t really matter, as this won’t be seen.

photo 3

Once you’ve made your mortise, it’s simply a matter of sawing to your line, chiseling out the waste, and then progressing to final depth with router plane.  If you don’t a router plane, a chisel could used for the entire process.

Bench Hook Progress

Yesterday, I started work on my bench hook. I am borrowing from a design used by Bad Axe Tools. The fence and hook are made from 1 1/2″ square stock and mate to the work using a bullet-proof dado joint. The entire thing will be 6″ wide by 10 1/2″ long. I am using hickory because it’s dense, and I had stock on hand. I found squaring up the fence and hook to be a real challenge due to the short length. I ended up doing a lot of the work with my block plane, because I found it too difficult to balance my bench planes on the stock. I thicknessed and planed to width using an old Dunlap no. 4. This plane worked remarkably well. Does anyone have any tips for squaring up short stock?


All squared up.


Here’s a friendly reminder to take care when using your marking tools.