I have decided to post my list of tools that I advise people to buy for my woodworking classes. The list is actually very short. Yet I do insist that with just these tools you can build everything. Other tools can make certain jobs easier, faster, etc.

The List:

  • Rule/Tape measure (or story board)
  • Saws; back , crosscut, coping. Or Frame, and Fret
  • Square; a big one and a small one (Make them yourself?)
  • A chisel, 1 to 2 inches wide
  • A chisel, ¼ to 5/16” wide for mortises
  • 16 oz. hammer
  • Mallet rubber or wood.
  • Knife
  • Compass/Divider
  • Marking gauge (make it yourself)
  • Screwdrivers, one w/ replaceable tips
  • Pliers
  • Nippers
  • Block Plane
  • Smooth or a Try Plane (9” or 14”)
  • ½ round Rasp
  • Flat wood rasp
  • 2 grit sharpening Stone
  • Adjustable Bevel ( make it!)
  • Brace and Bits to make holes (maybe a gimlet or burning iron for small holes) (cordless drill and drill bit set)


Add tools as you want or need them, they can be old or new. Ax, hatchet and froe maybe, Chisels: You will want a couple… a small a medium and a large at least.

ask me questions and I will elaborate in the comments…..

be well


Cheep Tools

Hi; I know that I do not have many readers 😉 but that’s OK. Sorry I haven’t made up a post recently. I’d like to say I’ve been busy, but I haven’t been. I was going to do this once a week as leverage to make myself make things, hasn’t happened yet 😉 sorry.

There has been, and indeed always has been and always will be, much discussion started by persons new to woodworking who are looking for “Cheep” tools to get started with. All of us who have been doing/making things for a while understand this.

We Sympathize, we really do! Then we tell you to spend Huge amounts of money.

Well maybe not Huge. You can get some kind of smoother plane for $20 at a big box store. OR… $219 for a good modern smooth plane from the  current best maker. 10 times the price seems unwarranted.


A Master woodworker can get some sort of performance out of a crap tool. Someone just starting out will only find frustration and anger in the package with the cheep tool in it. This is why they say “A master never blames his tools”. He knows the quality of what he has to hand and he knows how to compensate when the tool is no good. The phrase is usually used to point out someones deficiency when they complain about their tools, but I think that is backwards.

You buy that NEW inexpensive square, and it’s not square. you buy the lowest price plane and it doesn’t work because the chip breaker doesn’t meet the blade right. and can’t be made to fit right.

Cheep tools will either make you quit early and never pick up another tool, or you will buy another tool. Cheep tools are tools you buy twice.

Is there a middle ground? YES, yes there is. There are actually 2 middle grounds! (Huzzah for options!)

  1. Make your own! There are a lot of instructions out there for how to make your own planes and squares  and stuff. You could make your complete outfit yourself. And there are Kits for some of these things! There are even kits to make your own hand saws!


2. Used and antique tools. Specifically ones that were quality tools to start with.

Which have their own problems… finding them for starters. Antique shops, Used things shops, on line, E-bay, Etsy, tool dealers. The New LV smooth plane is $219. a restored Stanley is $75 to $150. already a savings! You can still find some for $5 occasionally. all rusty and in need of cleaning. But the search takes time and effort instead of just going to the store and getting one.

Restoration of old tools can be a hobby by itself. dealing with the rust and pitting. If you are in a blazing hurry to get started buy one already restored and ready to go. And the recent resurgence in popularity of woodworking makes them harder to find and more expensive but they still generally cost less than new ones.

Most of the tools I use are older than I am. Except the ones that I have made myself.

ask questions: and buy better tools is the best advice I can give anyone. With old tools you can frequently expect to sell them for the same amount you paid for them.

be well, count your fingers.


Windsor Chairs

well if that don’t beat all… I was trying to tell someone about what a Windsor Chair was, because I’m always telling people that I make Windsor Chairs. Only to find that I don’t actually have any pictures of the chairs that I have made!

Well let me correct this little omission!

here is a Sack Back Windsor that I made:


and here’s a Continuous arm chair:


And a Windsor style stool:


or two, my shop stool:


I also made the harp, for my mother.

be well



shaving horse pt 2

Just an update: this is what I ended up with doing for my shaving horse re-build, there is hardly anything left of the original.


you can see all that I re-used is the head and lever. it’s also a little bit longer than the old one… we’ll see if that’s useful or if it’ll need to be shortened. Nearly 30 years on the old one isn’t exactly a short span for a wooden tool that gets left outside. If this one lasts as long I’ll never need another.

count your fingers


Bee extraction.

Went up to Cortland, NY to remove bees from my mother’s house. Set up post jacks, where it looked like the bees would be….. immediately had to go around the corner with a ladder. remove the soffit from the overhang.

Someone was living here before…


a wad of wasp nest and fiberglass insulation.

3 hours later… 3 hours of standing on top of a shaky old stepladder  and running a sawsall blind…. up over my head! This is what I had to show for my exhaustion:

yup the bees are behind what I thought was a bit of blocking I couldn’t budge.

Day 2, Plan B: go in through the 2 x 10:

Oh yeah there they are!

Plan B works exactly as I expected plan A to work. I cut and reassemble comb, and vacuum up bees in my version of a bee vac. (for anyone who does not know a “bee vac” is a device you attach to a shop vac to capture the bees ALIVE in.


there’s the sucked up bees, the white stripe is a gate that will be opened to reunite them with the brood once everything is put up together. a lot of bees end up travelling into the other hive body with the brood. I couldn’t get a picture because I didn’t want honey all over my camera.

a bit of good clean comb for me!


here’s the site of the devastation… WTF I thought the joists went the other way!! I could see that from the hole in the soffit!

you can see the cut I made yesterday on the right!

So next I scrape that all mostly clean and wipe up/scoop up most of the spilled honey, and fill it with Great Stuff ™ so that no one else can move in. then close all of the entry points and fill them with more foam.

Now It’s up to my Brother to replace the siding so that I can get my post jacks back.

and I get to have some fresh honey!


Bee well 😉

count your bee stings.. I mean fingers…


How to Use a Scratch Stock

Hi all;

So if you read my post on “how to make a” It occurred to me just after writing it that there may be someone at some time who thinks “yeah, OK, but what’s it good for?” or “How do I use it?”

well, “What’s it good for” is making moldings without using a screaming router and without spending an arm and a leg on a hundred different molding planes. Also: with a scratch stock you can make a molding that starts and stops.. something you cannot do with a molding plane and has limited molding styles for a router.

Cautionary note.. it does not work as fast as a router or a molding plane. but it does work!

here’s a sketch to name the parts of one so that If I say “body” you will not be wondering what that means… etc

scatch stocks 10

And here are a couple of mine to show a few profiles that I use…



So the guide face runs on the edge of your work. You hold the body and the bar in your hands/fingers. The bar never needs to touch the work. The blade should be sticking out a little more than the depth you want to go to. You stop when you think you are deep enough.

the tool is worked forwards and back with two hands, I can’t take a picture without using one hand 😉


So: a nice bead anywhere you want it, start and stop anywhere you want it. Use as is or carve into peas, or any of the bead based carvings. And the shape of the scratch blade can be anything!

be well, have fun.


How to make a Scratch Stock

Hi All;

The subject came up of how to make a scratch stock, so I decided that would make a good post!

Scratch stocks have been used for a very long time. Indeed scratching and scraping to make things from wood has been a technique forever.

You can search the interwebs and find all sorts of fancy ones. sometimes I think people invent fancy ones just to put something in a magazine that doesn’t look like junk you should toss in the fire.

here are some of mine:


They pretty much all look like something that should be tossed. BUT they all work just as well as any that anyone else has ever made… and they are simple and easy and fast to make. Having a bandsaw and a drill press will make this faster but are NOT necessary to make a good one.

I make 2 types: one made from one piece of wood. and one made from 2 pieces of wood.

the one piece type: take any scrap, 3/4″ or thicker.  1 1/2″ wide more or less, 4″ or 6″ long or somewhere in there. (I hope you are getting the idea that none of the measurements are important)

Layout something like this….

scatch stocks 1

Stand it up on edge and saw the line up the edge first. you can use a handsaw or a band saw. doesn’t matter to me.

Then saw the other two lines and end up with something that looks like this:

scatch stocks 4

take a bit of old scrap steel from any sawblade (handsaw,  hacksaw, bandsaw, I use a broken 1″ bandsaw blade for stock because when you have such a blade you have a lot of stock for these and other scrapers),and cut out and file a blade to the molding profile you want to make. Make sure that the profile is made/filed clean and square with very sharp corners, any rounding of the edge and it will not cut.

Insert it into the slot that is the first saw kerf. position it @ where you want it. you will be using the face of the step as a guide fence.

scatch stocks 7

and insert a screw or two if necessary. (at least one is usually necessary).

You are ready to go!

The other way I make them is a bit more complex, and it helps to have a drill press but that is not vital…

Take 2 pieces of any stuff (I usually use 1/2″ stuff for this) and clamp them together, face to face. Drill 3 holes to pound 1/4″ dowels into.

scatch stocks 2

Pound the dowels in, you want a tight fit. no glue! use a hand plane to dress up the outer edges if they are not lined up.

Saw out a step like you see in the sketch, just like the other ones. Do not take the 2 pieces apart to saw out the step, just saw right through both at once.

Add the cutter (you’ll need to use a chisel to pry the two parts open a little), add screws just like before.

scatch stocks 8

And again! You are good to go!

scatch stocks 10

have fun, be well

count your fingers!