The Encyclopedia of Shaker Furniture

Yesterday I went to an antique show in Columbus, Ohio when I stumbled upon this book in one of the booths. When I first saw it, I thought the book was huge so, I browsed through it to see what was in it.

After looking through the pages for a few minutes and seeing the book originally sold for $125.00, I decided the $20.00 the guy wanted for it was too good to pass up.

I’ve had several books on Shaker furniture over the years, but none are as comprehensive as this one. The first 85 of 576 pages in this book goes into detail of how the Shakers came to be, their daily life, the tools and practices they used, and the different types of furniture each community made. There were over twenty different Shaker communities during the 18th and 19th century with a few of them only lasting a few years. The book talks about the different design and building practices the Shakers brought to their community as no one was born a Shaker. When you compare the furniture of one community to another, you can see suttle design differences between the two.

There must be over 1000 pictures of furniture along with the dimensions and descriptions of each piece. If nothing else, it makes an excellent reference book on Shaker design.

The book is so nice, it’s no wonder why it still sells for over $100 on eBay and Amazon. If you can find one that’s affordable, get it, you’ll be glad you did.

Here is the Introduction from the author himself to get a better understanding of the book’s purpose.

I Did It! Quercus Magazine

Well, I finally wrote an article for a woodworking magazine. It’s called Quercus and it’s based in the UK. I was asked by the editor Nick Gibbs through Instagram if I would be interested in writing an article about how and why I restore old planes. I jumped at the chance as writing for a woodworking magazine has always been a dream of mine.

I restored an old Stanley No 5 plane and documented my progress, then wrote out my article the same way as I write a blog, then sent him the file along with the pictures. It took a few months for the article to get published but, I’m in the magazine along with Paul Sellers.

When I received my copy, I was amazed by the content that was in it. The magazine features woodworkers from all around the world and their process of how and why they work with wood. There’s not too many “How To” articles and the magazine primarily focuses on hand tool woodworking so, don’t expect an article about “Building the Perfect Router Table” in it. The only other magazine that I would compare to it would be Mortise and Tenon magazine.

This is the plane that I restored for the article. I was planning on selling it, but now it carries sentimental value to me. I asked Nick if he would like for me to do another article but he hasn’t gotten back to me yet. This may be a one-off, but maybe not. Maybe I could be a constant contributor to the magazine. Wish me luck.

Hold-Fast Bevel

A few weeks ago, I went to an antique tool auction near Xenia, OH. On the tables was an interesting little bevel with a locking mechanism I hadn’t seen before. It’s simplistic design and art deco styling appealed to me. Intrigued, I waited for the bevel to come up for auction and ended winning it (probably paying too much.) I took home my new little friend, polished him up a bit and stuck him in my tool cabinet.

Then, a few days ago, I was reading Stewart Woodworks blog about some of his bevels he uses in his workshop. Sure enough, one of his bevels was similar to mine called a Southington, except his was all metal and not rosewood like mine. The only marks I see on my bevel are the words Hold-Fast on the blade with a patent date of 12-15-14.

A google search of Hold-Fast bevels doesn’t come up with much, and James said a google search of Southington came up with limited information on his end as well. Whether or not Southington was the name of the company or just a trade name, who knows? Nevertheless, the two have to be one of the same as both have identical locking mechanisms.

EDIT: I found out that these bevels were indeed made by Southington Hardware Co in Southington, CT. Nicholas McGrath was the patentee.

When you open up the mechanism you can see the simplicity of the design which makes it easy to use. A simple turn of the screw, tightens the locking mechanism to the blade. You adjust the screw to the proper tighteness and you’re done.

A lot of the antique bevels on the market have a one armed wing nut which you need to adjust the other nut on the back of the bevel to the proper spot in order for the wing to tighten parallel to the body so it doesn’t get in your way while using it. A lot harder than it seems. That’s why I’ve always enjoyed using Stanley No 18 bevels with the locking screw at the bottom of the body. However when I use it, I have to set the angle of the blade with one hand and tighten it in the back with my other hand. Not a big deal, but tedious none-the-less.

This new bevel is going to be even easier to use that the Stanley No 18 because I can adjust the angle of the blade and lock in place at the same time with one hand. Super quick, super easy. An ingenious design that has stood the test of time.

If you come across one of these Hold-Fast bevels at a local antique store or flea market buy it. You’ll be glad you did.

Wooden Router Plane

Several months ago, I bought an old wooden router at an antique store for $20. The price tag said it was a Japanese woodworking tool. I guess it could be if a Japanese guy used it. Looked like a home made wooden router plane to me. I bought the tool simply for the hardware, and the Stanley router bit it that came with it.

I search online and came up with a wooden router plan and printed it out. Then I measured, drew, and bore the three holes for the body on a piece of 2″ thick cherry.

A few minutes on the band saw I had the new body of the router.

The hardest part in making the body was cutting the mortise for the blade holder. I jabbed at the wood with chisels, knives and drill bits in order for the piece to fit. I ended up getting the piece in the hole and then tightening in the back in order to crush the wood fibers into shape. It took a few attemps, but after a few minutes, it finally fit.

Once the hardware was in, I stuck the blade back in to see how the final fit. Once I was satisfied, I sanded the body and applied a few coats of shellac to it.

The last thing I needed to do was sharpen the blade. The easiest way I have found to sharpen a router plane blade is to grind a bevel on an oscillating spindle sander making sure to take a light touch in order to prevent burning the edge of the cutter. Then, I hone the edge and flatten the back with a whetstone.

I stuck the blade back into the router to see how it cuts. Cuts like butter!

If you’re in the market for a router plane, take a look at the wooden versions. They are much cheaper than their metal counterparts as some of their prices fetch up to $150. I see wooden router planes all the time at antique shows for around $40. They work pretty much the same way, they just don’t have the adjustment mechanism to raise and lower the blade. With a little practice, you can easily tap the blade down with a hammer to lower the blade for the next cut.

Repairing a Stool

Back in the summer, my wife bought a stool for $5.00 at an antique show. I honestly forget which show it was as we go to one every weekend. The stool was in decent shape, it just had a broken rung which is why it was only $5.00. She asked if it could be fixed and I told her I could fix it pretty easily.

The first thing I did was clean out the hole the rung sat in with small drill bits and awls. I then cleaned up a bit of the glue residue with a small wire brush.

I needed a rung that was 3/4″ in diameter so I grabbed my shaving horse and went to work. I hardly use this thing so anytime I get a chance, I jump on it. Shaving horses are a blast to use.

I used my drawknife and spoke shave to get close to the final diameter, then I used a scrap piece of wood with a 3/4″ hole to check final dimension. I could have just bought a 3/4″ dowel, but where’s the fun in that?

I removed the rung from the other side of the chair to determine the length my piece needed to be. I then glued and installed the rungs back into the chair while using strap clamps to hold everything tight while the glue dried.

The seat needed to be reglued a bit as well so some glue and clamps did the trick. When everything was dry, the stool was sturdy as a rock.

I thought Anita might have painted the stool, but she decided to keep it natural. She didn’t even stain the new rung dark to match the other rungs. The stool looks nice as a plant stand and for $5.00, I’m not complaining.

Jorgensen Compound Miter Box

A few months ago I was browsing through my local thrift store when I stumbled upon this miter box. I’ve seen hundreds of miter boxes in my day, but this was the first handtool compound miter box I had ever seen.

It’s a Jorgensen No 64020 Compound Miter Box made during the 1980’s or ’90’s in complete condition with its original instruction sheet. The price at $15 was too good to pass up so I brought it home to play with it.

The miter box appeared to be well made with smooth action on the vertical axis swing, wood support, repetive cut stop, and a hold down clamp. After figuring out how the tool worked, I was excited to put it to use.

I grabbed a piece of pine and randomly set the angles on the vertical and horizontal axes and gave it a go. After a few minutes of cutting, I was finally able to cut the piece off. The blade is either dull or the teeth are set so fine, that it easily binds in the wood. I measured the teeth on the blade and they’re 20TPI. I’m thinking that maybe this tool was meant to cut woods like balsa for model airplane building.

I went online to find a replacement blade, but unfortunately they are no longer made. Craftsman makes a 16″ long replacement blade but this one is 24″. I guess I could make a new out out of old miter box saw blade and use this one as the template. That may be a fun thing to try someday.

So right now, it sits underneath one of my workbenches out of the way collecting dust. What a shame! It looks like a really cool miter box that would come in handy for cutting intricate molding that would be too dangerous to perform on a powered miter box.

Herb Drying Rack

Last Saturday, Anita and I, were antiquing up in Northen Ohio around the Medina area. We stumbled into an antique store Seville, OH where Anita saw this old herb drying rack. The price was $89 but the lady said she would take $75 for it. Anita looked at it for a few minutes trying decide whether or not to buy it and if she did, where she would put it.

The rack looked old, but whether or not it was antique, who knows? It could have been made 20 years ago and just left outside to weather. While Anita debated on buying the rack, she asked me if I could make one. I told her it would super easy to do so she left it there and didn’t buy it.

The next day, I ripped 1/4″ strips off an old pine shelf we had in the garage. I decided the spacing should be 1 1/4″ so I cut blocks by using a sled on my table saw and laid out the spacing to see how it looked.

Anita came downstairs and told me she wanted rectangular spacing so she two two blocks and put them together. We both liked the new design, so I started pinning the strips together with 23 gauge pins. After we decided the overall dimensions the rack should be, I built a 1″ thick frame with the rest of the pine board. I used 18 gauge brads to attach the grid to the frame. The overall size was about 22″ wide x 47″ long.

In a few hours, the drying rack was built and hung up in our kitchen between the back door and the basement door. I posted a picture on Instagram and one of my followers said that the rack would work great for drying his weed. Maybe I should make more and sell them to a niche market. ??? Nevertheless, now Anita has a place to dry her herbs (whatever you do with dried herbs).

Pennsylvania Secretary up for Auction

A few months ago I wrote blog post about selling my Pennsylvania Secretary on Facebook Marketplace. Some of you commented that the $1800 I listed it for was way too low, but I knew that these types of furniture are not very popular anymore.

After a few weeks of it being listed and not getting any bites, I lowered it to $400. Even then, I only had one person contact me about it. The person was asking if it was a real antique or not. After I told him I made it, he never responded back. So it just sat out there with very little fews and no likes.

My wife was sick of the piece sitting in the garage so I decided to contact a local online auction company. After I sent them a few pictures, they responded that they would love to sell and I should bring it down to their warehouse.

When I met the owner of the company, he swooned over it. He thought the desk was the coolest piece of furniture he had seen in a long time. He even told me that he was going to feature it as his beauty shot for the auction.

I woke up this morning and checked my email. Sure enough, there was my secretary on the front of his email. I’ll get 60% for whatever it sells for which probably won’t even come close to the amount it cost me to make back in 2004.

Here’s the link to the auction. The desk is lot No 27. My guess is that it will sell for under $500. What’s yours?

https://thevelvetcricket.com/search/product-buyer-auction/982?Airport%20Rd%20Auction%20#311Pickups:%2010/29%20&%2010/30%20(11-4pm)

New Life for a Display Piece

A couple years ago I wrote a blog post about building this huge display cabinet for my wife. She wanted it to use as a backdrop for doing shows. Being 7′ long, it was long enough to stick in the back of a 10′ x 10′ booth with a little room on the sides.

She was hoping to use it for a show in the spring, then Covid hit and the show was cancelled. We waited for everything to go back to normal, but the further things went, Anita decided not to do the show anymore. In the end, we never ended up even using the piece.

It sat in our garage over the months so Anita decided to get rid of it and told me to post it on Facebook Marketplace for dirt cheap. One of Anita’s customers saw the post and came by the next day to buy it. She owns a specialty shop and was planning on painting the piece gray and using it in her store.

Anita stopped by her shop this morning and saw the piece painted. It looks amazing in her store. At least someone got use out of it.

I’m thinking now that I should make these display pieces and put a big price tag on it instead of the garage sale price this lady got. What do you think?

Ash Display Cabinet

The ash display cabinet I’ve been building for Anita is finally done. Took longer than I wanted but, working full time, restoring and selling antique tools, and doing honey-do lists around the house has eaten up all of my time. Anita will eventually put handles on the doors once she figures out which ones she wants, but for the most part, it’s done.

The cabinet is 48″ x 66″ x 16″ and is the first piece of furniture I made without using a single piece of plywood. I would have at least liked to have made the shelves out of 3/4″ plywood but my lumber supplier doesn’t carry it. The piece is extremely heavy and cost me about $500 to build. But, it’s still way cheaper than the $1600 price tag that was on the one at Pottery Barn. Plus, this is made from American hardwood and not some junky looking Chinese lumber.

To help speed up the build, I went out and bought a Festool Domino. I waited ten years to buy one until the day I could afford it, but that day never came. So, I bit the bullet and bought the tool as well as the Domino kit with the extra drill bits. So far, I love the tool. I was told by the sales rep at the store that you set the tool on the first setting one one side of the board, then switch to the second setting for the other side of the board. The wider slot gives you a little bit of play when aligning the boards similar to using a biscuit joiner.

I used the machine for the case as well as the joinery on the glass doors and it performed wonderfully. The Domino is one of those tools you wished you would have bought sooner.

The other thing I did differently on the piece versus others I have built was to put feet on the cabinet. In years past, when I built something, the sides of the case would be the feet of piece of furniture but, after studying antiques over the years, I noticed that the well built pieces would have feet glued to the bottom. This helps protect the sides by lifting them off the floor by a 1/16″. Having square feet also makes sticking furniture pads on the bottom a lot easier.

I already wrote about the wooden shelf supports a few weeks ago here. They work exceptionally well and can hold a massive amount of ironstone. I can’t even imagine all that weight on little brass pins.

Anita loves the cabinet, I love the cabinet, her friends love the cabinet, people on Instagram love the cabinet. It’s been a big hit and the money I saved building it, paid for my Festool Domino.. (see what I did there?)