Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Kerfing Plane Mk.II — finished


Behold, the mighty Kerfing Plane!

I don't know why it's not called a kerfing saw. Never mind.

You can clearly see the horrible checking (or delamination) in the piece of red beech I used for this project. It's a very common failing with timber I get from any of the local suppliers; I suspect they have their drying kilns cranked up a bit high, prioritizing throughput over quality.

If I do a similar project in future, I think I'd prefer oak over red beech, as among its other failings I've found the beech to be very prone to chipping. New Zealand beech seems to have rather different characteristics to English beech. Though I will say that it peels away beautifully under a sharp chisel.


I trimmed down my old ash kerfing plane, which has made it much handier and easier to use. It may not be as elegant as the more traditional type, but it works just fine, and it has the advantage that the plate height can be adjusted so that the body acts as a depth stop.

I do want to do something about the wing-nuts that lock the plate in place though. They are very ugly.


I was dissatisfied with my home-made 8tpi plate, so I replaced it with another cut down from a $20 tenon saw.

This makes it easier to begin the kerf, although it does cut more slowly.

I'm thinking that next I should think about some sort of depth stop.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Kerfing Plane Revisited


Quite some time ago I made myself a kerfing plane out of some ash offcuts and a Bahco gent's saw.

It works okay, but it is rather heavy and clumsy to use, so I intend to make a replacement.

I got some plans for a much nicer one from Nic Taylor Woodworking — they're pretty straightforward, and they only cost five YankeeBucks.

He has a video on Youtube of the construction process, which is useful but not really essential viewing.

He made his from some quarter-sawn oak, but I think I'll use some beech I have sitting up in the rafters of my workshop. It's New Zealand beech, which isn't quite as good for toolmaking as European beech as it grows much faster and has a less dense grain as a result, but it's still a good, stable timber that is easy to work.

2023-05-28: the plate

The body of the new plane is sitting there in the background. There's still some shaping left to do on it, but it looks much as it will when it's eventually finished.

I am making the saw plate for the plane from scratch, using a piece of metal cut out of an el-cheapo throwaway hand-saw.

The first step, after cutting out the blank, is to cut slots at regular intervals along the edge. These will form the gullets between the teeth.

I'm doing 8tpi (teeth per inch), mainly because it was easy to measure. That's a relatively coarse tooth ratio, but it will do for a start. If I find I want a finer tooth than that, I'll probably just repurpose a cheap gent's saw, as I did for my old kerfing plane.

I'm using a plywood cutting guide which guarantees that the tooth spacing is regular and accurate. When I get to the end of the guide, I just realign the plate with the last slot I cut lined up with the first slot on the guide, and start cutting again. There's also a piece of 3mm MDF in front of the plate which gives me a depth stop.

Here's the plate with all its gullets cut, ready for me to start filing the tooth profiles. They're not nearly as regular in depth as they could be, but it's the spacing that is the most important.

I destroyed two hacksaw blades in the first fifth or so of the cutting, owing to having blades that appeared to be best suited for cutting cheese rather than hard metal. However, now I've bought some decent blades and the remainder of the cutting went much more smoothly.

I have cut the gullets a bit deeper than they strictly need to be, as the extra length reduces the wear on the saw file. The corners of the file gets the most punishment when it's filing into fresh steel, and having a long gullet slot moves that wear point on to the sides of the file, which are much sturdier, and the file therefore lasts a lot longer.

Here are the teeth in the process of being shaped.

It's exactly the same process as sharpening an existing plate, except that each tooth requires more filing. I'm filing all of these teeth symmetrically, with no rake at all, which means they'll cut equally well (or poorly) going forward and backwards. I may find that I have to give them a bit of rake, but that's easy enough to attend to later on if need be.

At the moment the teeth have no set at all, which would cause issues with the blade sticking in its cut. I will give them a bit of set, but a lot less than I'd normally use for a 8tpi saw as it's never going to be cutting very deep, and I want to keep the slot it creates as thin as possible..

2023-05-29: the fence

The fence will be mounted on two bars, running through mortices in the body of the plane.

The mortices have to be dead straight and square, or else the fence will bind as it's moved back and forth.

The runners will eventually be secured by a pair of wedges; I have not yet cut the housings for those.

The ends of the bars, on which the fence itself will be mounted, get a little bit of shaping. There's not really any functional purpose to this as far as I can see; it just makes it look nicer, which is of value in itself.

The fence will be mounted on a pair of pillars, so that it just clears the bottom of the plate when it is mounted.

The fence is complete, and I've done a bit of shaping refinement on the body.

All that remains now is the cut the housings for the fence runner wedges (and make the wedges themselves).

2023-05-30 - last stages

Now I've cut the housings for the wedges, and made the wedges themselves. I made the wedges from oak rather than beech.

I've given everything a coat of oil, and in a few hours I'll put on a couple of coats of wax, mount the plate, and it will be done.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

More Old Tools (continued)


These are the planes I got in my Box 'O Tools the other day.

The jack plane (at the back) and the little coffin smoother (front right) look a bit tatty, but are fundamentally sound. The smoother might benefit from having its mouth closed up a bit perhaps.

The small German-style plane though (front left) is in a pretty sad state — missing iron replaced with a handleless 1 1/2" chisel blade, cracked body, and a chunk taken out of the heel of the sole — and I don't think it would be worth the trouble of trying to rehabilitate it.

Friday, April 28, 2023




Indian ink and watercolour
Approx. A4

More Old Tools


Yesterday I bought a box of old woodworking tools from a guy over in Lyttelton. Apparently they came from an old carpenter friend of his.

There were three wooden planes, two of which are in decent condition. Two hand-drills that just need a bit of a clean and oil, and both of which are infinitely superior to the horrible crappy plastic-bodied piece of garbage I already own. And most important from my point of view, a roll of nicely-kept bits for my brace, and this box of assorted specialty bits.

I remember making a box like this in woodwork class at intermediate school, though that one was supposed to be a pencil case, and it was made of pine.

This one is made of cedar I think, and it's had a pretty hard life, probably rattling around in the carpenter's tool bag for decades. Cedar is a pretty soft wood, and it doesn't take much of an impact to leave a mark.

There's history in the battering this box has taken, and I don't want to obliterate that, so I've just cleaned off the worst of the dirt and grime with a solvent cleaner, and given it a light coat of boiled linseed oil.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Ink reservoir insert


This is an insert to fit a Parker Quink bottle, with an internal neck diameter of 30mm.

With the insert in place and the cap on the bottle, the user can just tip the bottle to fill the reservoir. Then a dip-pen or brush can be loaded easily without having to reach right down into the bottle, avoiding a whole lot of potential messiness.

Printed PLA doesn't create a reliably watertight object, so I suspect the ink may seep away over time. However, it's a simple matter to just refresh the reservoir, or else I guess you could line the inside of it with epoxy or something.

The STL can be downloaded free from https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5984034

Thursday, April 13, 2023



We have a silhouette, made in 1851, of a great-great-great-uncle, Alfred Edward Hands, when he was two. (There may be another great or two in there).

It really needs a bit of protection from ambient dust and dirt and what-not, so I shall have to make a glassed-in shadow box to house it.

The drawing-in over the silhouette appears to have been done with a gold stylus; the metallic sheen doesn't really come through well in this scan. The background drawing — the toy and floorboards, and the curls of hair — appear to have been done in croquil pen and ink line and washes. I'd describe it as being careful and meticulous work, to a good professional standard, rather than the work of a highly skilled artiste. Nevertheless, it's a pretty little thing.

Next day...

The shadow-box is complete, and Alfred is safe behind glass. I've left a space at the bottom for a caption plate, which I will no doubt get around to in another decade or so.

I used a nicely figured bit of rimu for the frame, and plain old 7mm plywood for the backing board. The top is not glued, just held in place by brass screws, so I can access the innards at my whim.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Kunz cabinet Scraper Modifications


I have a Kunz #80 cabinet scraper. It's basically identical to the Stanley #80, and Veritas also make one, but both the Stanley and Veritas versions are two or three times the price while being functionally identical.

Where the Kunz falls down is in its fastening and adjustment screws. They're all standard M6 threads, which is handy, but the screws holding the bar at the back are just slot-heads, requiring a screwdriver for adjustment, and the front thumbscrew to adjust the blade deflection is tiny and difficult to tighten.

I've used my Ender 3 3d printer to make bigger, more easily manipulable thumbscrew heads for all three. The back screws are limited in diameter to 16mm by the geometry of the scraper body, but they never need to be super-tight since they only need to hold the bar and blade in place. The front knob can get up to 32mm diameter, allowing plenty of surface for my cranky old fingers to tighten or loosen it in the blink of an eye.

Friday, March 31, 2023



Another painting today, just because I felt like it. An abstract this time.

300 x 800 mm, acrylics on canvas.



I think this is about finished. I've had enough of it for the moment at any rate.

300 x 800 mm, acrylics on canvas.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Tee-Vee Stand


I finally got around to making a new stand for our living-room TV, to match the oak coffee table I made some time about 2010 (I think).

The oak I had was just a bunch of off-cuts, and it is exceptionally gnarly and twisty and knotty, so it was pretty difficult to work with and required much planing. So much planing.

Snappy Sammy Smoot
by Skip Williamson,
sometime late 1960s.

This is the old stand I replaced. It's a shabby old thing that I knocked up out of 12mm MDF some time about 2005 and pressed into service as a stop-gap.

As tends to happen, it ended up being a very long-lasting stop-gap.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Door Work, Part Two


I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had a home maintenance job awaiting my attention, and today being warm and fine, I thought I might as well get on with it. I'm scraping the old varnish off one of our doors, from between the kitchen and the living room.

How old the existing varnish is I have no idea. There's a pretty good chance that it's the varnish that went on in 1920 when the house was built.

I'm not sure yet what sort of finish I'm going to put on afterwards, but on the kitchen side at least it had probably better be something pretty tough and moisture-resistant. 

Scraping complete, first coat of polyurethane applied.

The depressing thing about this sort of job is that it's a whole lot of work with entirely unspectacular results. 

People will look at the door when it's done, and they will think "Oh, a door."

"Oh, a door."



Saturday, February 18, 2023

Pill Box


I made this little wooden box today from a scrap of rimu tongue-and-groove panelling.

The timber had been milled with a pair of grooves running down its length, which I filled with strips of kwila. The hinge is cut down from one of some small brass-plated piano hinges I got from Ukraine not long ago.

The dimensions of the box are roughly 80 x 112 x 25mm, with an internal cavity 55 x 90 x 15mm. It's held closed by four 3x3mm cylindrical rare-earth magnets, which keep it fairly firmly shut without being too difficult to open.

I've rounded off all the corners so that it will sit comfortably in a pocket.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

New Painting — First Beginnings


I've started a new painting. Acrylics so far.

I have only the vaguest idea about what I want to do with it; I'll just let it develop as it wants to I guess. The terracotta colour is just a base coat, there won't be anything much left of it in the final image.

It's not huge — just 800 x 300 mm, on canvas.

I'm really not confident when it comes to colour.

Note: it's upside-down in the photo, so that I can reach the top half while I'm sitting down.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Door Work


Some time ago — a year? Two? Three? I swapped out the door-handles on our kitchen door for these brass lever-style ones, so that I could open the door with my elbow while carrying two plates of food. The old handles had larger escutcheon plates than the new, and their removal left visible silhouettes in the varnish, not to mention ugly screw holes. So, I scraped back the varnish around the area on both sides, fully intending to take the door off its hinges and scrape back  and re-finish the whole thing.

As usual with renovations, I kind of didn't get around to that, and then winter came and we needed the door in place, and I sort of kind of forgot about it.

But no more! I've filled the old screw holes, and I fully intend to get the door off while the weather is good and I can work on it outside with my new(ish) Kunz #80 cabinet scraper.

I'm absolutely definitely positive that I won't forget about it this time. Absolutely.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Easel Shelf


My stand-up easel is too tall for the low ceiling in my workroom, which means that a canvas on it is too low to stand at comfortably. One option would be to chop a bit off the top, but I am loathe to do that, so instead I made a shelf to lift the canvas up to a more comfortable height.

It's made of scraps of pine and macrocarpa that I had lying around. I should probably get a couple of small G-clamps to hold it firmly in place, but I think it should be okay for the moment as long as I don't get too enthusiastic.

I have another (smaller) table easel, but I've almost never used it, as I find it rather uncomfortable to paint on a near-vertical surface when sitting at a table.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Mahl Stick


I lost my old bamboo mahl stick, so I made a new bamboo mahl stick. This one is nicer.

A mahl stick is used as a hand rest for painting. The end is covered in a soft material that won't (hopefully) damage the surface; in this case it's some of that sticky silicone shelf liner.

The shaft is a bit of bamboo from our garden, the knob on the end is turned from a bit of an old broom handle.

When you're finished painting, you can flourish it at people and cry out "Expelliarmus!" It won't do anything, but there you go.