Monday, August 31, 2015

I Got Rid of My Tool Chest!

For my purposes a tool chest was useless.

Chris Becksvoort, woodworker, 2001


My studio got converted into the laundry room.

The room upstairs with a south facing window is now my studio.

I spent most of yesterday moving tools and workbench up a set of narrow stairs and put everything on the floor.



A panoramic view of my new space

I've been so busy with life, work on the house and property, along with a regular day job, I haven't made much time to make proper storage for all of my tools.

Now, I am faced with the challenge of making a tool cabinet, which will a wonderful thing to make.





I pared down my tool list to what you see in the above photo, my days of tool collecting are over because I own too many tools!

I have a feeling that I will be hanging most of the every day tools on pegs on the wall and I will make a cabinet of drawers and doors to hold tools that I use every now and again.

The plan is to convert the garage into a work shop, but I don't think I can get that done until next spring or summer, and once I move in I will make a proper tool cabinet to house the tools I need. Until that day arrives, this is my space.




The tool chest in the storage shed sitting on top another tool chest and next to another

Why did I get rid of my tool chest?

Here are several reasons-

It uses up valuable floor space.

Whenever I close the lid it immediately becomes a surface on which to put things that need to be removed when I need to access it.

I am tried of bending over and rummaging through tool chest detritus.


Chris Becksvoort also wrote the following in his Fine Woodworking article in the Winter 2001/2002 issue of Tools & Shops:

I am a furniture maker, not an itinerant carpenter. I don't take tools to job sites and I'm definitely not going to sea.


I am a guitar maker.

My last gig as a finish carpenter was 10 years ago.

My tools will live in a proper tool cabinet.

Remember, to each his own.


Monday, August 3, 2015

What I've Learned About Woodworking, Part 1

Trees are our life.

Merle Burnham, my father


I found some notes I scribbled down on what I have learned about wood working.

I wrote them as a response to some blog posting that was on one of the woodworking blog aggregators, I don't remember what the post was, but it made me a little mad. Maybe it was something about a current fad in wood working or some new book that will make you a master woodworker.

Anyway, here some thoughts on wood working.


Learn how to sharpen a knife first, then a drawknife, a hand plane iron and a hand saw.

Don't make what is popular, make what you want to make.

Make a shaving horse.



Buy the best tools you can afford.

Go to a school if you must, you learn much by working at your bench making mistakes and succeeding at projects.

Build the work bench that you want to build, not one that is the current fashion.




Learn the old traditional techniques first. You can start with books by such authors as Bernard Jones, George Ellis, William Fairham, George Hayward, Roy Underhill.

If you need a teacher, take a class from someone who is well versed and grounded in the old techniques. Take a class at Roy Underhill's school, or go to Country Workshops with Drew Langsner or take a trip to England and study with Paul Sellars!

Build a spring pole lathe. Once you do you will never want to work at a bench again.



Live in a forest every day for two or more years.

It will make you a better wood worker because you will learn how every living thing in that forest interacts with the rest of the world.

The trees will show you how to work with the wood.



When I was a little boy, I was taught how to use a single bit axe.

I made toys and such from the trees I slew with that axe. In chopping down trees I learned much about pine pitch, round headed wood borers and yellow jacket hornets.

Trees are still my best teachers.

So do as Henry David Thoreau did - "I borrowed an axe and went down to the woods..."

Make sure you return the axe sharper than when you borrowed it and that it has a brand new handle!

What a Concert Classical Guitarist Says About My Guitars

  I have had the pleasure of playing the magnificent guitars made by the luthier Wilson Burnham. The first impression that one perceives is ...