The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Back, for the moment…


Considering that this is my first blog entry in some time, I thought about writing a “controversial” post. I won’t do that, however. Rather, I will provide a brief explanation of what I’ve been up to over the past summer. Woodworking wise, I completed a handful of smaller projects, but nothing large. As I’ve said many times on this blog, summers in this region of the country are generally long, hot, and humid, and this past summer was no exception. When I woodwork, I don’t want it to be “work”, I want to enjoy it, and woodworking in 90+ degree weather in a space with no climate control is far more work than I want to do with my free time. So my project list over the summer, while fairly long, really  added up to a half dozen or so small boxes.
However, this past summer was a summer of tools.

Last spring, we hired a new employee who happens to enjoy going to area auctions. When he found that I enjoy woodworking, he mentioned that he had quite a few woodworking tools that he purchased at these auctions for very little cost. I was more than happy to have a look at them. Needless to say, I came away with dozens of old tools, including half a dozen bench planes, some saws, several spoke shaves, a really cool hand-cranked grinder, and an old wood-bodied jointer plane. And it was that jointer plane that lead to my first power tool purchase in many years.

During the spring, I had noticed a sharp pain in my right forearm, often running from my wrist to my shoulder. I found out that it was tendonitis, which is hardly the end of the world, but it’s not something I would recommend having, either. In the meanwhile, the jointer plane, a Howland & Sons, was in pretty rough shape. The strangest part was the iron, which was completely rusted over. Most old plane irons I’ve come across look like they were sharpened by somebody who held it with their teeth as they ran it across the grinder. This iron, while slightly skewed, had a bevel that was pretty straight, or at least much straighter than many I’ve seen. Still, it took me several hours of hand grinding just to get the bevel to the point where it could be sharpened. And after the fact my arm was hurting pretty good. There and then, I decided that my days of hand grinding old tools were over.

In the meanwhile, I received a few hundred dollars in Visa gift cards from a promo. With that money, I purchased an 8 inch slow speed grinder and a Vertitas grinding wheel jig. For the sake of full disclosure, I will admit that I would not have purchased the grinder if I hadn’t had the gift cards, bad arm or no (sorry, but I’m cheap). In any event, the new grinder has done a lot to make restoring old tools more enjoyable.

On another note, I also scored more than 100 board feet of walnut and around 50 board feet of cherry all for the cost of nothing (next to nothing at least). I have two projects in the works that I will be writing about over the next few weeks, and I want to do one last post concerning tool trays…



  1. Steve D says:

    Welcome back Bill. I thought I had tendonitis because I had developed pain in both my thumbs after milling and stacking and restacking a walnut tree that I had cut down. It turned out to be osteoarthritis in both thumbs which is the mechanical wearing out of the joints at the base of my thumbs. I was pretty surprised since I don’t do much of anything with my left hand but they both wore out together.

    Post some pics of your new tools when you have a chance. My walnut is air dried and is a pleasure to work. I’ve never worked kiln dried so I can’t comment on that. After douglas fir, anything will be nice to work with. That is quite a score based on my latest trips to the hardwood dealers. You should be able to make some great stuff.


    • billlattpa says:

      I had no idea I had tendonitis until I just happened to run into a physical therapist. I had a habit of stretching my wrist at any given time. She happened to see me doing it (lovely young lady by the way), asked me what was going on, and told me that I likely have tennis elbow and that if it’s really bothering me to have it checked out, which I did. I got prescribed Relafen, and a wrist brace and elbow brace. The wrist and elbow braces I could easily have just purchased on my own for half the cost of the “prescription”. The wrist brace seems to have done the most good, and after wearing it for a few days there was a noticeable improvement. The elbow brace I do not wear unless I am doing repetitive lifting. The only thing this has really affected is going to the gym. I can’t exercise how I would like, and they are telling me to give it around 6 months before I try to allow any inflammation to go down.

      I will definitely post some pics. I have around half of them working, the others are in the process. The walnut I believe was used on the interior of a barn. All of the boards are between 12 and 15 inches wide and 8-10 feet long. They are rough sawn and just over an inch thick. I also have some cherry that was sawn on my in laws property, That was air dried, but it’s only in widths of 7-8 inches (not that I’m complaining). There is actually much more there for the taking, I just didn’t have enough room for it in my car.


  2. ausworkshop says:

    Sounds like you got a bargain, I’ve almost used up all my Queensland Walnut, I don’t think I will be buying any more, the price is way too high these days and it’s probably the toughest wood I’ve ever worked with, that stuff is really hard on your tools! I’ve never used American Walnut, I think it’s a completely different species. Like most Australian timber they just give it the same name if it looks close enough in colour and grain texture.

    We have a hardware chain here called Masters, it was based on the American Lowes and was partly owned and managed by them.
    It is now closing down after only a few years. They just couldn’t compete with our hardware chain Bunnings. It’s such a shame as I only started going there recently and found they had a lot of stuff that Bunnings don’t sell.
    They are brand new GIANT stores that popped up all over the country! Such a waste, they never made any money so they have had to pull the plug.
    Last time I was in there looking for bargains I picked up a few pieces of Red Oak. I think they are selling most items left for 60% off. Should I buy more of this Red Oak? I haven’t used any yet but it looks nice sitting in my wood pile. I’m assuming it’s from the USA as most of their stock is. I’m considering going back there to see what is left. I may have to make some more room on my wood racks!

    • billlattpa says:

      The Walnut I paid only $20 for the whole stack. It’s all 12-15 inches wide, just over an inch thick, and 8-10 feet long. The cherry I got for free from my in laws property.

      I’ll be honest, I’m not overly a fan of red oak, though I would certainly use it. White oak, in my opinion, is much nicer, but it is also more costly. From what I gather, red oak is usually stable, and it’s certainly strong. I made a small box out of red oak and it turned out nicely. I really just don’t care for how it looks when finished. For the box I finished it with wipe on poly urethane and it looks just okay.

      I will get pine from Lowe’s or the Home Depot because they usually have a nice selection and it’s inexpensive. Lowe’s also sometimes has nice poplar, but it is hit or miss. Hardwoods I will usually get from a yard. Lately, I’ve been very lucky and getting some very nice boards for little cost or even free. I have more than enough walnut to build at least 3 nice sized projects. That will carry me well into the spring.

      • Steve D says:

        Hi Bill,

        I visited a local sawmill the other day hunting for some material. I didn’t find what I was looking for but they did have some really wide pine that was fairly clear. It put the big box pine in a new light. I will still buy from them for casual projects but anything special I will visit the mill.


  3. bloksav says:

    Hi Bill
    Great to hear from you again.
    I have been busy with the DCBE which started yesterday, so I better make a blog entry about it now.

    • billlattpa says:

      Thanks Jonas! It is good to be back. I have some projects in the works, I have some old tools to restore, and the lovely autumn weather is finally here.
      Have fun with the chair build. I wish I could be there to learn from you guys!!
      Your friend,

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