Hand tool tips and tricks

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Blog series by RGtools updated 04-24-2013 01:16 PM 20 parts 60409 reads 199 comments total

Part 1: Sharpening a Card Scraper

03-10-2011 04:23 PM by RGtools | 7 comments »

Hello all I though I would share my method for sharpening a card scraper (add to the million ways that are already out there)

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Part 2: Classes

05-25-2012 03:22 AM by RGtools | 17 comments »

My wife and I have a small B&B in the Applegate Valley. In an effort to work towards getting me on staff full time we have decided to start offering classes. Take a look here if you are interested. Here is a small selection of what I am planning to offer. As time and requests permit I hope to add more. Understanding Bench Planes Per Person Price: $70 In the class we will discuss the primary set of planes for a hand-tool woodworker: The fore, try, and smoothing planes. We w...

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Part 3: When you don't have a place for chisels.

02-03-2013 06:10 PM by RGtools | 9 comments »

Today is just a quick one. I thought I should start posting more of these little things as they come up. For the most part I like to keep my chisels and auger bits in tool rolls. It keeps them safe and sharp, but as my collection grows I sometimes don’t have enough chisels to justify buying or making another roll. For this I venture to the scrap fabric section of my shop. I pick out something like this. And wrap my tools up as follows. Sorry for the blur on some of thes...

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Part 4: Hiding Component Markings

02-04-2013 02:01 PM by RGtools | 13 comments »

I actually picked this up from Paul Sellers, though not something he specifically discussed. The tip came from a picture in his book; when I saw it I thought “why didn’t I think of that”. Here is my version of the picture. When the joint is assembled the marks are permanently hidden by the joint…you don’t have to figure out how to erase them later. A nice way to keep things straight, huh?

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Part 5: Starting a Handplane.

02-05-2013 01:41 PM by RGtools | 12 comments »

There are a lot of things written about the use of hand planes about the pressure used when starting a the tool vs finishing a cut. Getting these pressure tactics down is essential to accurate planing, but once those are mastered try this. Next time you start your cut, skew the body of the plane a bit. What this does is cause the plane to start the cut with one pinpoint of the blade as opposed to it’s full width. The beginning of your cuts will feel and look smoother and you can ...

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Part 6: No straightedge needed

02-06-2013 02:27 AM by RGtools | 8 comments »

If you have been working with hand tools for a while you have likely already seen this one. It’s as old as it gets. Using the edge of a handplane and a strong light you can very quickly identify peeks and valleys in your work…and you don’t have to let go of the tool to fix them either.

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Part 7: Getting Clean Crosscuts with a Rip Saw

02-06-2013 02:08 PM by RGtools | 7 comments »

I don’t have a dedicated carcase saw filed crosscut. I have one hanging around the shop that I should sharpen and straighten the plate on, I just have not got around to it yet. So for the most part I use my dovetail saw for finishing crosscuts. There are a few tricks to this. First, use a knife to lay out your cut lines: It’s more accurate, but more importantly. It severs the fibers of the wood that would normally be torn up by the rip teeth (a crosscut saw acts like the kni...

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Part 8: Waste Removal on a Through Mortise.

03-06-2013 02:07 PM by RGtools | 14 comments »

This one is almost stupid, but it happens to still be helpful. On a through mortise you can center your work on a dog hole and some of the random chips will fall through it rather than get jammed into the bottom, where you will have to extricate them later. And Now…a bonus tip!!! When test fitting a mortise and tenon joint take care not to snag anything important… You have been warned and so have I. Cheers, Ryan

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Part 9: Alternate use for a wheel guage

03-09-2013 03:42 PM by RGtools | 6 comments »

I am very partial to wheel style gauges. Not only do they leave a crisp lines but you can use them as an extended and delicate routing plane for all sorts of fine operations. Hear I am using it to get a hinge installed. Try it out some time. Ryan

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Part 10: Tweaks for a Lee Valley Vise Handle

03-13-2013 02:41 AM by RGtools | 15 comments »

I meant to post this in my workbench re-tool blog, but I never took all the picture needed to finish that. Oh well. This is a nice way to make the handle that comes stock with a Lee Valley vise a whole lot better. 1. Get rid of the square head screw that it comes with. It looks cool, but needs to be tightened with some regularity and my square head screwdriver is never around when this needs to happen. Also, since it rides above the surface of the head there are situations when it can mar ...

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Part 11: Reducing Fatigue During Rip Sessions

03-13-2013 01:06 PM by RGtools | 9 comments »

Even the most seasoned sawyer can dread a long session of ripping down stock by hand. There are quite a few ways to prevent yourself from burning out, but my personal favorite is to use different muscle groups as I go along. I will start by ripping on my saw-bench, kneeling on my work. As I go along I switch to this position. It may look awkward, but it’s rather comfortable and gives you an excellent view of your saw for keeping it both plumb and on your cut line. It...

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Part 12: Quick Glue Spreader

03-14-2013 02:08 AM by RGtools | 11 comments »

When I need to do a lamination I like an even bead of glue throughout the piece. I pick up an off-cut (most tenon cheeks are about the right size) and make one of these. A little bit of saw work. And you have a useful little tool. Forget to clean it…make another.

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Part 13: When a Marking Knife Won't Do

03-19-2013 12:49 PM by RGtools | 6 comments »

Sometimes you will be faced with the challenge of fitting assembly to another (a molding to a carcase for instance). In cases like this it is best to use one piece to fit the other; the fancy term for this behavior being “verify in field”. In the perfect world both your molding and your carcase would be square and you could easily do this with a knife. But you will often have little gaps from being out square. These gaps make it difficult to use a layout knife with any accuracy...

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Part 14: Layout Speed Tip.

03-29-2013 02:49 AM by RGtools | 16 comments »

This might seem totally obsessive, but I am an efficiency Nazi in my shop. Wasted movements drive me crazy and any time I can get into a habit that saves me a few seconds it makes me happy. This is of course especially true in the case of repetitive tasks. One such task is marking the layout lines of a board to cut it square. If you have been working with hand tools for even a short time you have probably heard to “Reference only from your true face and true edge”. This is sage wisdom, but...

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Part 15: Dead Blow Mallet, to Mar or Not to Mar?

04-04-2013 12:59 PM by RGtools | 11 comments »

I don’t know ab dead blow mallet both in and out of the shop. I just find all kinds of rough tasks for it on the farm (and sometimes in the shop). The problem is that I also use the thing for disassembling joints the those rough tasks that chew up the mallet face can translate to dented work. The solution is simple, mark one face for Rough work and one for Fine. How you mark your mallet is up to you, but I liked this. Problem Solved.

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Part 16: Dealing with a Bad End Vise, the Quick and Dirty Way

04-04-2013 01:12 PM by RGtools | 9 comments »

When planing across the grain your end vise should still hold…mine does not. The vise was a freebie from my Grandfather and the machining is very sloppy, do not buy a vise like this, it will irritate you immensely. But if you happen to have one, and your work keeps popping out of your dogs, two finish nails can solve your problem. Just make sure they are low enough to avoid your plane blade. Sometimes having an ugly bench is a great thing.

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Part 17: Using Leverage to Keep Things in Place.

04-05-2013 01:22 PM by RGtools | 13 comments »

I believe it was Archimedes who once said “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” a more succinct way to say it would be, “levers are awesome”. ...but they don’t just move things. Here I have set up a lever of sorts. The fulcrum being the bench dog, and the clamp being Archimedes. Because of mechanical advantage it would take a tremendous amount of force to move the lever from the end near my vise. ...

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Part 18: No Pencil Gauge? No Sweat.

04-14-2013 11:41 PM by RGtools | 5 comments »

I do a fair bit of layout work with a pencil. I find it’s a quick way to figure things out on a unique project, or a unique piece of wood that you want to get all the cuts “just right”. Normally, I use a combination square as a pencil gauge when I am trying to get the width of a workpiece. As it happens, both my combo squares had settings I did not feel like losing, so I borrowed a very old carpenters trick. Holding your hands like this you can use a rule to mark o...

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Part 19: Dovetail Tip; Mark Your Mistakes Early

04-16-2013 01:11 PM by RGtools | 10 comments »

There are an awful lot of errors you can see well before a test fit. I have found that the earlier I make note of them, the more likely I am to catch them and clean them up before they are an issue. Here you can see two places I ran afoul of my cut line, I can clean that up once the waste is cleaned out of the tail sockets.

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Part 20: A Bit More About Resawing

04-24-2013 01:16 PM by RGtools | 1 comment »

Generally the aim of resawing a piece of wood s to divide in neatly in half. One thing you have to account for is the kerf of the saw. If you place a line dead center, one side will end up thinner than the other. For this reason you can offset the line from the center by the width of your kerf (this is a measurement you will be able to eyeball with some ease after converting a couple hundred yards of wood into sawdust). It occurs to me that I should have taken some photos of that layout p...

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