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A cool Marking Knife – Homestead Heritage

Posted by is9582 on February 16, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , ,

I’ll start this with the premise that a good marking knife is extremely valuable, if not critical, for marking fine woodworking. I have a number of different styles and types that I’ve used over the years, from a basic utility knife to a lower-end laminated Japanese knife, to all things in between. Most styles/designs will work great for one or more tasks, while still not being ideal for another, and to this point, I’ve not found one knife that does the best at all tasks. If you have one that does, please let me know.

This knife from Homestead Heritage is extremely solid in the hand, and just feels great. I don’t know what type of steel they used, unfortunately, but it has held it’s edge all of this time, without the need to resharpen. The design is a double-bevel, in some regards, might resemble some style of chip-carving knife. I’ve used it to mark for tenons, mortises, bridle joints, as well as assorted other marks. The back of the spine is somewhat thick, so marking out the thinnest of dovetails could be an issue, but I do have a different knife I grab for those joints.

Marking Knife from Homestead Heritage, beside it's safety sleeve of sorts.

Marking Knife from Homestead Heritage, next to it’s safety sleeve of sorts.

The knife doesn’t come with a blade guard, so for a while I would use a thick piece of cardboard, wrapped with some strong tape, so I could carry it safely. One of my mates saw this and gave me a wine cork, to house the blade. I’ve used the cork ever since, as it is cool looking as well as functional.

Homestead Heritage knife with blade protected.

Homestead Heritage knife with blade protected.

If you like hand-made tools, great woodworking or other neat stuff, you should go and check out Homestead Heritage. They are located just North of Waco, TX, in the small town of Elm Mott. If you do stop by, make sure to see Frank Strazza and say hi for me.

Thanks for stopping by the site. Let me know if you have any comments or questions.


Lee Laird

What to use – My Hock Drawknife of course!

Posted by is9582 on February 16, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , ,

Ok, I’m sure there are some readers asking themselves if they’ve somehow missed a big announcement about a new tool from the Hock Tools. While it is possible this could be the case, but this drawknife isn’t one that you missed. I wrote an article for Highland Woodworking recently discussing my need for a tool that can better work the inside curves on the guitars/basses that I make. This is the tool that I created, from a Hock Spokeshave blade.

I decided to make a new saw vise, and like I tend to do when I have a new design, I’ll find some previously used wood to repurpose into a prototype. This time I used some blanks of White Oak that I’d used as a make-shift Moxon type of vise, that was attached to the edge of my table saw. If you see some sections of the wood that look like there might be cut-outs, this is just another time I’ve tapped this wood to test an idea.

This design has some curves that are more tight than my present band saw blade could handle, so I used some rasps to get a somewhat decent surface.

Inside curve on a test piece, worked with some rasps.

Inside curve on a test piece, worked with some rasps.

After spending some time working to clean up the surface of the curve, I thought it was a great time to use my new “drawknife”. I’d previously tested the drawknife on some mahogany I was working at the time, but nothing quite as hard as this oak, so in the back of my mind I was wondering how it would prevail. I flipped the drawknife over so the bevel was towards the wood, and make a couple of cuts. Wow! This thing is totally amazing! It was like I’d put some basswood or cheese into the vise, and was cutting at will. Here is the “after” photo of the same curve, with a “totally coincidental” photo op for the drawknife. 😉

The same inside curve, but just a few minutes after trying my

The same inside curve, but just a few minutes after trying my “Hock Drawknife” to create a great surface.

If anyone that read my Highland piece ever had any questions as to whether this would work, I’d say this should answer that.

Thanks for checking out the article and let me know if you have any questions or comments.


Lee Laird

Super-close chipbreaker setup – know when

Posted by is9582 on February 15, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , ,

I was planing some hard 10/4 Pecan last night, that had all sorts of craziness going on in the grain, including some spalting (both of which were nice looking). I was using a smaller plane (a No. 3), and had an iron in it with a little more camber than I usually used in my smoothing planes. I chose this sized plane since this board had so many peaks and valleys, of which some were fairly significant, and the plane’s length and camber allowed me to focus my efforts on smaller sections, to more rapidly bring the board into square. There was so much warp and twistiness, occurring during the drying process, that I basically saved this board from the burn pile. I don’t mind putting some extra effort into this type of board, especially when there is some cool figure and the starting thickness is enough that after bringing to square, I can still end up with something usable.

I was making decent progress, with the iron set efficiently deep, and after what seemed like a couple of hours (ok, it was nowhere near that long, but this plane’s old iron really holds an edge), I could tell it needed to hit the sharpening stones. I was getting pretty close to calling it a night, and it seemed like I could be as close as about 15 minutes from finishing the planing on this board, so instead I grabbed my other No. 3 plane. My second No. 3 was underneath my bench’s top, sharpened up to the usual razor’s edge, but I’d forgotten that I was testing the chipbreaker with it set much closer to the cutting edge of the iron. I normally setup my smoothing planes with the chipbreaker set around 1/32″ – 1/16″ back from the cutting edge, and get a great surface from almost any wood, but I want to see if I could notice any difference with it set closer. The chipbreaker I had prepared for testing, was setup about as close to the cutting edge as I can see (older eyes have something to do with this measurement), without the two being set so the edges are flush to one another. (Setting them completely flush with each other doesn’t work at all, so if you ever wondered, don’t waste your time trying this.)

Well, I had set the second plane up for a little heavier cut, since I prefer to be as efficient as possible, when using hand planes. If there is a decent amount of wood to remove, I want to get the bulk off quickly with a heavier shaving, and then come back in and follow up with a super light cut for a great surface. While adjusting the iron for this heavier efficient shaving, I completely overlooked the alternate chipbreaker setting. Even with this setup, the second plane performed admirably for the first 10-20 passes, but all of a sudden it felt like it hit something hard in the wood. I took a look into the mouth of the plane and it was jammed up just as if I’d run over a thick shaving laying on the surface of the board. I used my Lie-Nielsen bench brush to see if I could just sweep it out of the mouth, but even with this handy brush, the shaving(s) didn’t budge.

I took the plane apart, and when I removed the iron/chipbreaker combo, this is what I saw (photo below).

Some nice hard Pecan wood stuffed into a super-tight chipbreaker/iron setting.

Some nice hard Pecan wood stuffed into a super-tight chipbreaker/iron setting.

There was wood debris wedged in between the chipbreaker and the iron, even though they mate solidly, without any hint of a gap.

With no other known problems with this plane, nor previous occurrences of jamming at any time, it is likely the main factor in this case was taking too heavy a shaving with the chipbreaker set so close to the cutting edge. If the chipbreaker had been set further back from the cutting edge, I expect this would have provided the needed margin for error, and no jam would’ve occurred. I’m actually a bit curious whether there might be some shifting that occur between iron and chipbreakers, while we plane, that are so small in nature that  we just don’t notice or perceive.  Maybe that is getting into the “Tree falling in the forest…” territory though, and is better left alone,

I hope everyone will either keep up or work to improve their hand tool skills, as I think it’s amazing to have the level of control they afford. Thank you for checking out this article and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

Lee Laird


Luthier Clamp update – Amazing little sandpaper

Posted by is9582 on February 14, 2015 with 61 Commentsas , , , , , , ,

I disassembled the cam in my recent vise (what a great thing those spring/tension pins turned out to be), and measuring directly from the cam, laid out the exact size on a thin strip of 220-grit sandpaper.  I chose this grit as I wanted the extra “holding” power, when the cam is in a position, […]

Luthier Wooden Clamps – 1st Proto

Posted by is9582 on February 10, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , ,

Alright, it took me a little longer to find some extra “clamp” time, where I could build my first attempt at this style of luthier clamp. Since this was the first one, I needed to pay very close attention to all of the little details, so I wouldn’t waste time and wood. As I mentioned […]