The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Being that my birthday is fast approaching, my wife and daughter reluctantly accompanied me to our local Woodcraft store yesterday. I have to admit, I am becoming more and more impressed with the stock that Woodcraft offers each time I go, in particular the wood selection. While the prices on the larger boards aren’t all that great, they do have a varied selection. You aren’t going to a Woodcraft if you are building a highboy, but it definitely is a great place if you need veneer or inlay material, AND, if you want to make a wood plane, it is THE place. Go to a large lumberyard and ask for a 2 inch square by 2ft ash board and you may get laughed at; Woodcraft has a real selection of them.

Looks like I want to make a plane

Looks like I want to make a plane

As you may have gathered from the photo, it looks as though I am going to make a new hand plane, and that would be accurate. I’ve wanted to make a wood smoother for some time, and I believe this summer is the perfect time to do it. I picked up a nearly perfectly straight grained length of ash that is also remarkably square (I did check it to be sure when I got home). I made my “try plane” from Ash and it turned out well, and has remained very flat which I believe is because of the straight grained Ash I used. To dress up the plane a little, I picked up a piece of Bubinga to use for the sides of the plane, but I did leave the store forgetting to grab a piece of Bubinga suitable for the wedge. I’m not upset, though, as that just gives me an excuse to go back sooner rather than later. I only need to order the iron from Hock Tools and I will be ready to go.

While at Woodcraft, I also picked up a small sheet of high quality plywood to make a tenon jig/panel raising jig for my table saw, which is also something I’ve wanted to do for some time. I’ve said before that I do not like making jigs, and I truly don’t. Jigs are one of the things that make me listen ( a little ) to the hand tool wackos out there. I’ve seen books filled with jigs for power tools and I just can’t imagine spending all that time building them. But there are times they do come in handy. For instance, I usually saw tenons by hand; nothing wrong with that. Even though I saw those tenons by hand I still have to spend time cleaning them up with a chisel and router plane. Why not get them sawn much more quickly using the table saw? Tenons generally needed to be fit no matter which method is used, so why waste the time on the rough sawing?

I also picked up a beautiful “Swiss made” carving chisel. On that item, I spent a bit more than I wanted, but it is a great tool. I don’t plan on being a carver in the near future, but there are certain times when I would like to have the option. I’ve used a carving chisel very similar to this one before and I surprised myself a bit when I found that I was pretty good with it. What worries me is the sharpening part. I’ve never sharpened a carving chisel before, so there will be a learning curve involved. To round out the day I picked up some liquid hide glue and a silicon glue brush. I really don’t need the hide glue at the moment, I bought it just to see what the fuss is all about.

Lastly, I also picked up the poplar needed to make the Shaker Enfield Cupboard, though that was at a lumber yard. Happily, the material cost was very inexpensive, just around $100. Like I said in previous posts, I don’t plan on starting that project until the end of the summer when the weather improves. Just this week we had five straight days of temperatures in the mid 90’s (that’s 35 for all of you Celsius snobs out there). Whichever way you look at it, those temps aren’t what I like to woodwork in, especially in a garage without climate control. Making a hand plane, however, is a project that I can work on in the house if need be, at least for some of the operation.

So I’m glad to say that my summer has actually gotten off to a good start woodworking wise. I have the material ready to go for several projects, and now all I need is a little time and some decent weather. Though birthdays were never much of a big deal at my house when I was growing up, for this one I actually got a few really useful items. Speaking of birthdays, today just so happens to be the birthday of The good old Unites States of America! So happy Independence Day to all of my American friends out there, and to everybody else around the world!



  1. looking forward to the birth of the smoother and your thoughts on the glue. I’ve also never tried hide glue.

    • billlattpa says:

      I only need the iron/chipbreaker and I’ll be ready to go on that one. I don’t plan on ordering it until the end of next week though. I am working at least 6 days next week, so I’ll have little time for woodworking or anything else. I’ll put the order in from Hock probably next Friday, and I should have the iron before the end of the following week, which should be about the time I’m ready to begin the project.
      From what I gather, Liquid hide glue is best used for repairs, but I honestly know little about it. I plan on using it for a small built in cupboard I want to put in my garage, if for anything else just as an experiment. I’ll take some photos and let you know what I think.

  2. gman3555 says:

    Looks like a pretty good haul. I’m looking forward to seeing the plane take shape as well. Woodcraft is perfect for those of use who only buy a few pieces of wood at a time. Sounds like you are well stocked for upcoming projects and will be ready when time or mood permits.


    • billlattpa says:

      I have come to really like Woodcraft. They have a great overall selection, and I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the wood they offer. Like you said, they are a great place to go if you need one or two boards. The price is a little high, but at the same time just about everything I’ve seen is a good quality board; no knots, warp or twist. Their veneer selection is as good as I’ve seen anywhere when it comes to a “walk-in” type of store. Every time I go into Woodcraft I find something new.
      I think ash is a good plane wood, but I am hardly the expert in that field. Of course beech and cherry are held in high regard, but it’s my opinion that ash is better because of it’s toughness and stability. The only problem I have with it is that it is not the best looking wood-not that it is ugly-but it is somewhat plain. That is the reason I picked up the bubinga, to give the plane a little “flash”. Boring or not, the piece I picked up is nearly perfectly straight grained and it’s dead flat-I checked it with my Starrett and it was near perfect. If I do my job right, it should turn into a really nice little plane. In fact, I probably will have enough to make a scrub plane as well, though I will have to order a radius iron for that.

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