A new home for the blog

Andrew’s Woodwork Blog is moving to a new site so please check out The Woodwork Geek from now on. All of the existing content will remain here in case you have it bookmarked.

Why the change?. I’ve decided that after a year I wanted something as a title that describes me more and I think the new one does just that. I’ve also got some new ideas planned and wanted a fresh canvas to play with them on.

Enjoy the new site



And overflowing garage and the Anarchist’s Tool Chest

My small garage is overflowing. Tools, bits of tools, semi-restored tools and piles of wood are everywhere. I’ve been struggling to get the car in and then me out of it because of the accumulation in there. It’s even overflowed into the other half (we have a weird split garage) and is getting in the road there.

I decided something had to be done, and as inspiration for one giant cleanout I got the eBook version of Chris Schwatz’s new book, ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest’. He goes through what tools you need to do fine woodworking, and what to avoid. I’m about a third of the way through it but it’s already helped me decide what to do about some of the clutter. I’ll let you know what I think when I get to the end.

What I’ve already done is grab an empty 60 litre crate and start filling it with things I know I don’t need. So far it’s mostly duplicates and what Chris calls ‘tool-shaped objects’ but it took 5 minutes to get it 1/3 full. Hopefully the other 2/3 of the book will inspire me to fill the remaining two thirds of the crate.

More spring cleanout

I’ve been taking a good look at the tools I have and trying to get rid of any that I don’t use. I’ve found that I have duplicates in functionality quite a lot so I’ve been eBaying a few that I don’t need.

First on the list was saws – I had a big pile of one’s I’d collected to restore, plus a few I got because I thought they’d fill a need but haven’t.

Here’s what I’ve narrowed down to, though I don’t have a panel saw in this photo. I finished restoring one yesterday that turned out to be a D8 so it can fill that spot.

Saws are funny things, if you really tried you could get away with three – a backsaw, a decent crosscut and a frame saw (coping or fret) and still get 95% of jobs done. I started with just those and it was fine, though adding a few more like a dovetail saw (for dovetails and small work) and a Japanese saw (for cutting dowels, trimming things flush and about 500 other things – I’m a fan) gets you that bit of extra flexibility.

This is the pile I went through to get down to this lot

There’s some good saws in there – the second backsaw will go to Dad, a forumite wants a decent panel so one of those will go to him, and the rest will get restored and sold. But basically I don’t need this many that do the same thing around so it’s time to get rid of some.

Chisels are the second offender, it seemed that everywhere I go I end up coming home with a chisel, often for free or near free. Once people find out you like old tools you’ll find the common types (saws, chisels, sometimes planes) start coming your way quite frequently. The thing is, you don’t need walls of the things and I’d rather my workshop didn’t look like the tool section at the local hardware store.

With chisels, I’ve kept a few more than the saws – a good set of bevel edge in quarter to full inch, five Berg/Bahco’s in small widths that I will use for cleaning up dovetails, three big Stanley Fatmax’s that are just there for taking out waste quickly without worrying about how hard I hit them, and a set of Titan registered mortice chisels, because sometimes. to quote a certain 90’s TV star, you just need “More Power!”.

In other tools, I have a couple of Surform tools so they can be reduced to one or two, there’s an extra coping saw somewhere around, and who knows how many hammers and pliers and weird bits and pieces that I don’t use or need so they can go to. There’s a second router and if I don’t get around to building a table for it soon it can go too, and there’s about 5 awls, a pile of drill bits, wire brushes and accessories for things that need to be sorted out as well.

I’ve avoiding mentioning planes – I like planes and even though I’m sure I could get away with just three – a good block plane, a #5 and a longer jointer (#7 or #8) I’m going to leave that for another day because it’s going to be a bit harder.

Now this isn’t nearly as vicious a cull as Chris Schwatz would advise, but it’s a fairly sensible one for me. It means I have manageable, storable set of good quality tools, I will have them all in racks shortly so can find them when I need them, and as time goes on if I find better quality ones I can replace one item at a time.

More tool racks

It’s been a week since my last post, basically because I’ve been too busy to do anything in the garage. I managed to get a bit done this weekend though.

First on the list was a tool rack for Dad’s old toledo chisels. These are my favourites and I’ve ‘permanently borrowed’ them from him and they’ve been rolling around in a tool caddy since then.

I still had some merbau decking left over from the last racks I made so marked up a piece using another rack as a template.

I cut it to length on the dropsaw and took the corners off with a tenon saw.

Then I drilled holes to match the ferrule size of each chisel with Forstner bits and cut the slots out to let the tools out with a jigsaw.

I used a block plane to chamfer the edges and then gave it a good sand, then using the pegboard as a guide marked out the position of the screw holes.

Then to screw the rack to the pegboard and test it out. Looks good I think. Lift the chisel and turn it sideways to remove, and no chance of them falling out and damaging the edge. I’ve still got a few more tool racks to go though to get all my tools stored properly.





Seasonal Woodwork

I’ve noticed from reading the blogs of some of our woodworking friends in the northern hemisphere that winter brings with it a set of problems for them. It’s too cold in the shed, machines freeze up etc.

Down here in Australia, we have the opposite problem. Winter days are generally quite nice and even in the middle of July it’s no problem to continue working. Summer however is the opposite. Even today in the middle of spring I found it took hot in the garage to work comfortably. I’ve already got a fan positioned near my workbench but the small amount of labour to drill a few holes with a hand drill left me sweating. It must be 30c in there even with the windows and garage door open.

It doesn’t mean I’ll stop working in there, it just means I take a break during the hottest part of the day and working in the evenings, which is where being a handtool enthusiast comes in handy – I can work until late in the day without disturbing the neighbours.

Strangely enough as it fits in well with the title of this post, my current project is cutting out some wooden Christmas decorations. My girlfriend and I have decided that we wanted to try making some of out own instead of buying more plastic, mass produced decorations this year. More on that later today once the camera batteries are charged.