Wood Reports Posts

Last week, Welsh chairmaker Chris Williams returned to the United States to teach a couple classes and work on some supplemental photography for his forthcoming book “The Life & Work of John Brown.” (Due out next year, knock wood.)

Working with Chris is always a blast of chairmaking, stock prep, talking, planning, arguing, asking questions and generally giving each other the business about how the other makes chairs. Plus beer.

In fact, it’s so time-consuming that I’ve barely had time to do anything else (except prepare a couple hundred handles for lump hammers).

When Chris arrives, he always brings a big dose of Welsh culture to the shop – this year he brought along a Welsh flag to help set the mood for the class. He’s even tried to teach us a few more Welsh words, though the only one I can remember sounds like the words “bad TV” to my American ears.

And we are hoping to give him an equal dose of American craft culture. Last year we took him deep into Eastern Kentucky to explore the roots of chairmaker Chester Cornett. This year we plan to take him up to a huge Amish community in Ohio to revel in their sawmills, excellent fried chicken and cheesemaking. Oh, and maybe some old tools.

But before we can have any fun, we have to complete six chairs with some eager and talented students.

— Christopher Schwarz

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports

Wood Projects

Click here to enlarge. This simple but effective push stick stores in the bandsaw’s miter slot—out of the way yet close at hand. A small rare-earth magnet keeps it from…

how to wood

Picnic Table Modifications

It’s easy to modify this picnic table to different dimensions.  I do recommend working with your materials to minimize waste – for example, if you want a 5 foot long picnic table, simply purchase 10 foot long 2x6s (for the seat and top) and cut in half.

You will need some center support if your 2×6 seat and tabletop boards span more than about 4 feet with no support underneath – so maybe keep that in mind before building a 12 foot long table.


Picnic Table Building Materials

I recommend building this table out of cedar or other outdoor appropriate materials that are popular in your local area for building decks. If you do use common lumber, I recommend painting or staining.

I do not recommend using treated lumber for the tabletop or seats (as these areas come in contact with food).  A good compromise is to use treated lumber for the legs and supports, and untreated for the tabletop and seats.  


Finishing Your Picnic Table

The picnic table should be painted or stained how you would paint or stain your deck – with consideration for food contact.  If you are building with cedar, no finish is required, but the table will turn grey from the sun.

If you are using paint or a “film forming” finish like polyurethane that sits on top of the wood, make sure you seal every side of each board.  If water penetrates the wood, it will cause the wood to swell, make the wood bigger, and causing the paint or polyurethane to crack and peel.  The best way to seal every edge of every board is to prefinish before assembly.

My favorite option is to use an exterior penetrating stain to finish, as it soaks into the wood (instead of sitting on top of the wood like paint).  This is more forgiving, but will need to be re applied every 3-5 years, depending on the brand and your local elements.

If you’d like more information on finishing outdoor furniture, I share all my secrets here.


Wood Projects

My Favorite Adirondack Chair Plans

Of all the Adirondack chairs I’ve built, this one is my favorite.

Because we use 2x4s for the legs (and add the back leg) this decreases the overall cost, but increases the strength and durability.  This also makes the chairs easier to build.

But we don’t sacrifice comfort – with the deep recline and optional footstool plans, these chairs won’t disappoint.


Optional Footstool Plans

I have also created a matching footstool plan (see below) that works with this Adirondack chair.

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports


More About Outdoor Wood Finishing

Outdoor furniture should be finished more like a deck than a dining table.  It’s not complicated, but knowing just a few tips can make your furniture last much longer.  I share all my hard earned outdoor wood finishing secrets in this post.




Wood Projects

The Queechee Gorge near Woodstock, VT, on the drive home, beautiful even on a gray day.

Friday and Saturday, October 7 and 8, I demonstrated hand tool techniques at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Shackleton Thomas, in Bridgewater, VT, run by Charles Shackleton, furniture maker, and his wife Miranda Thomas, potter.

Also at the event were Matt Bickford with his wonderful wooden molding planes, book, and DVD, and Isaac Smith of Blackburn Tools, selling saws.

I was promoting my Intro To Hand Tools online course at Popular Woodworking University. See this blog post for a full episode guide, tool list, and sample videos.

And newly available, the course parts can now be purchased individually as digital downloads from Popular Woodworking’s online store, along with my recorded webinars and digital magazine issues containing my articles.

I also had my copy of Nick Offerman’s new book Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop, which is now available. You can read my review of it here.

My setup, with workbenches, boxes of tools, Nick Offerman’s book, and large-screen monitor in the background running my trailer.

I did my usual ad hoc demonstrations as people asked questions and I offered to let them try anything they saw on the workbench.

Two things proved especially popular: Terry Moore’s scraper sharpening method, and Yoav Liberman’s gouge sharpening method (where I add a concave surface to the block, and use it with my in-cannel scribing gouge). Both of these tools present particular sharpening challenges, so people are eager to see effective methods.

I must have sharpened my scraper 15 times over the two days. Since I had only brought white pine, Lindley Brainard, the shop manager and one of the Shackleton Thomas furniture makers, let me pick a few nice pieces of hardwood from the basement scrap pile so I could demonstrate real scraping.

The results were glorious. I produced a cloud of white, brown, and reddish shavings in maple, walnut, and cherry as people watched and tried it for themselves. I really should have gotten a photo. You could have stuffed a nice comfy throw pillow with the pile of feathery shavings.

I’ve included Terry’s method below, because I’ve gone through at least 5 other methods before I settled on this one, and it’s worth sharing.

Pizza With The Shackletons

As I mentioned in my post about last year’s event, Charles is the cousin of Ernest Shackleton, who accomplished one of the greatest feats of leadership and survival of the past hundred years. If you’re not familiar with the story of the Endurance, take some time to read this.

Friday afternoon, Charles came through and invited us all to pizza at his house. My wife and I joined the caravan following Lindley’s car up the narrow winding roads in the hills above Bridgewater to an absolutely spectacular spot. The entire valley lay before us in magnificent Fall color as the last rays of the sun dropped below a cloudless horizon, a fire crackling in the firepit in the yard.

I expected this to be a delivery from one of the local pizza parlors. But no! Nothing so mundane. Miranda had made up dough and toppings, and we each made up a pie. Then, Charles shoved them into the stone oven built into the giant fireplace in the living room of their antique Colonial house. Because, of course, that’s how you have pizza!

Along with the LN crew and some of the Shackleton Thomas employees and spouses, Charles’ brother Arthur and his wife, artist Carol Booth were visiting from Ireland.

Charles Shackleton baking a pizza. The fire was actually orange, not purple!

It was a magical evening, the kind that lives in your memory forever. There we were, enjoying pizza fresh from the hearth in a home with a deep connection to history, with a group of happy woodworkers. I probably had too much wine as I basked in the warmth and companionship of new and old friends.

Our Accommodations

My wife and I spent Friday and Saturday nights at the lovely Deer Brook Inn just down the road in Woodstock. Innkeepers Phil Jenkins, Win Coffin, and Reba Burress provided excellent food and service.

Phil bought the inn this past Spring after having previously owned the beautiful 1842 Inn in Macon, GA. You can read a nice article about the new ownership here.

Terry Moore’s Scraper Sharpening Method

This is actually an article I did for the Guild Of New Hampshire Woodworkers’ quarterly Journal. I’ve made one addition to the original text regarding burnishing, as noted below. This is the exact procedure that I showed people, and it worked every time, with great repeatability.

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Fig. 1: Using a freshly sharpened card scraper to thin down walnut strips to 1mm for practice bending violin sides.

I’ve recently taken an interest in making violins by hand, and after having watched a number of videos and read several books, I was very happy to see a meeting of the Granite State Luthiers at BJ Tanner’s workshop in Manchester.

The topic of the day was sharpening. Several attendees demonstrated their setups for sharpening chisels and plane irons. I showed freehand sharpening a chisel on oilstones with my portable sharpening station. Terry Moore demonstrated sharpening a card scraper. This was the one that stood out for me.

Terry is a founding member of both the Guild and the New Hampshire Furniture Masters, with decades of experience. This is why I love being a member of the Guild. Amateurs and hobbyists like myself get to mix with and learn from masters of the art, who are happy to share their knowledge. Terry graciously gave me permission to write up his method.

Sharpening is challenging enough for beginners, but scrapers are downright voodoo mystery. I collect scraper sharpening methods like I collect planes and chisels, always eager to acquire another one. I’ve settled on one that produces good results.

But when I tried Terry’s method in my own shop, I found it far superior. The proof was in the gorgeous fluffy shavings I was able to produce on a variety of hard and soft woods.

The method I’ve been using isn’t all that much different from his (and in fact all the methods are pretty similar), but he’s distilled it down to bare essentials that quickly produce superior results. Simple, fast, effective, and repeatable. That’s an almost magical combination.

Scrapers are valuable tools for furniture and cabinet makers, but they’re absolutely essential for luthiers. In addition to flat surfaces, stringed instruments have a variety of simple and compound curves that must be rendered smooth and fair. Scrapers are the final tools used to produce these graceful satin surfaces.

Instruments also require very thin materials. Violin sides need to be 1 mm thick. Planing stock this thin can be difficult. It’s very easy to damage the piece.

Scrapers can be used to thin down the stock after it has been resawn and planed flat at some more manageable thickness. In addition to being able to take very fine, delicate shavings, scrapers can take them at very controlled points. This allows you great precision in fine tuning the thickness.

Even a simple scraper, just a rectangle of metal, has an anatomy. It has two long edges and two short edges. Because it has some thickness, each long edge will actually be sharpened to two working edges, one on each side of the scraper, front and back. So you up end with four sharp working edges. A working edge is called a hook, because you draw the metal out to a tiny hooked cutting edge.

Terry’s method, like most others, consists of three stages: filing, honing, and burnishing. The trick is in the details. He’s a believer in keeping it simple, not turning it into a religion. A quick sharpening and then back to work on the wood.

You can adapt this slightly to the tools you have. Like Terry, I’m honing with a fine India stone (oilstone), but this should work with any kind of stone.

One step common in most other methods that he doesn’t do is lay the scraper down and burnish the old hook flat. He simply files down past it in the filing stage, which all the other methods do anyway.

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Fig. 2: The tools: scraper, wooden holder, chunk of fine India stone, mill bastard file, and burnisher (with or without handle).

The first key point is to mount the scraper in a vise. Terry demonstrated on a metalworking vise. I use a face vise with a simple wooden holder as a clamping aid. It’s just a length of wood a little longer than the scraper, roughly square in cross-section, with a slot sawn down most of the length. Slip the scraper into the slot, then clamp the holder in the vise. It concentrates the clamping force to keep the scraper from slipping in the vise.

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports
Fig. 3: Slip the scraper into the holder and clamp the holder in the vise.

I have a T marked on the holder to show the top front orientation. The T mark helps you keep track of which of the four hook edges you’ve worked on, although Terry’s simple procedure makes it pretty easy to keep track.


Using a mill bastard file, file the top edge of the scraper to remove the old prepared edge. Terry used a draw-filing motion. Filing should take 10-20 seconds.

Hold the file oriented across the top at an angle to the length of the scraper. By aligning the file teeth visible on the top side with the edge of the scraper, you know that the cutting teeth on the bottom side are properly aligned across the edge to cut the metal.

The key point is to hold it dead level, so that you file the edge flat, square to the sides. Run the file sideways down the length of scraper with moderate pressure. You should feel it start to bite and remove metal. Take enough passes to be sure you’ve removed the old hook edge, 5-10 strokes.

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports
Fig. 4: With the file level across the top edge, push it sideways along the length of the scraper.

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Fig. 5: The file needs to be dead level so that it files the edge square to the sides.

Every 5 or 6 filings, joint the scraper to maintain the straight edge. Hold the file level and oriented lengthwise along the scraper. Run the file down the length of the scraper for several strokes.

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Fig. 6: Holding the file level, lengthwise along the scraper, joint the edge flat.


Using a fine oilstone with a little oil on it, hone the top and sides of the scraper. Honing should take 20-30 seconds total for the top and both sides.

Lay the stone across the filed edge oriented roughly diagonal to the length of the scraper. Again, the key point is to hold it dead level. Run it down the length of the scraper for several passes, 5-10 strokes, shifting it around to spread the wear across the surface of the stone. The goal is to remove the file marks, leaving polished metal.

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports
Fig. 7: Holding the fine stone level, run it up and down the filed edge several times.

Now hone the front side. Lay the stone flat across the front face of the scraper and move it back and forth along the length for a few passes, 5-10 strokes. Repeat on the back side.

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports
Fig. 8: Lay the stone along the front side of the scraper and run it back and forth across the length.

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Fig. 9: Hone the back side.

The result is that the thin top edge of the scraper and the front and back faces meet at square, sharp corners down the length of the scraper. These will be the cutting edges.


This last step is where things tend to go wrong. People are usually able to file and hone the edge straight and square without any problems, but burnishing is the voodoo part.

Burnishing turns the hook on each long corner of the scraper edge, drawing out the metal to its working edge. The problem is that people tend to overdo it.

As Terry points out, most people have a long burnisher with a handle. That means they’re able to apply a lot of force and leverage as they run the burnisher down the edge. But this just ends up over-turning it. Then they compound the problem by making multiple passes.

This is the secret to Terry’s method. He has a short, stubby burnisher that he prefers to use, but with a long burnisher he showed how to choke up on the end, mimicking the stubby shape. The key point is that you use just the end of the burnisher with moderate direct pressure, not heavy leverage. Burnishing should take less than 5 seconds total for both sides.

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports
Fig. 10: Hold the burnisher in your hand…

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports
Fig. 11: …and choke up on it, leaving only the end exposed.

With the burnisher in your hand, hold it near the end to leave just about an inch exposed. Take the tip in your other hand and set the small exposed portion of the burnisher on the edge of the scraper at the near end. 

This paragraph is the addition to the original article, adding the step of burnishing flat across: Holding the burnisher level, flat across the edge, push it along the length of the scraper for one quick stroke. Zip! Don’t use too much pressure! Just light hand and finger pressure. Set the burnisher flat on the far end, and pull it along the length of the scraper for another quick stroke. Zip! That’s it, zip, zip, just two equal, flat strokes in opposite directions to slightly mushroom the edge out to each side. The residual oil from the stone provides lubrication for the burnisher. Then do the same thing, but with the burnisher tipped over each face of the scraper.

Tip the burnisher down over the face of the scraper by about 5 to 10 degrees; you may need to experiment a bit to find what angle works best for you.

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Fig. 12: Hold the tip in your other hand and set it on the edge of the scraper.

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Fig. 13: Tip the end down somewhere between 5 and 10 degrees.

Push the burnisher along the length of the scraper for one quick stroke. Zip! Set the burnisher on the far end the same way, and pull it along the length of the scraper for another quick stroke. Zip! That’s it, zip, zip, just two equal strokes in opposite directions.

If you curl your fingers into hooks and pull them up the face of the scraper, your fingernails should catch on the tiny hook edge you’ve just turned. Don’t run your fingers along this edge, it’s extremely sharp!

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports
Fig. 14: Hook your finger and pull it along the face of the scraper toward the edge. Your fingernail should catch on the hook.

Now burnish the second edge, on the back face. You can leave the scraper as is or spin it around in the vise. Two strokes, zip, zip. That’s it.


Now flip the scraper over in the vise and repeat the process on the other edge. This is where the T mark on the wooden holder helps you keep track of which edge and face you’re working on.

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports
Fig. 15: Flip the scraper in the holder over and repeat on the second edge.

Time required to do the entire scraper is 1-2 minutes. This is so fast and simple you should never hesitate to do it if you feel the scraper isn’t performing as well as it should. Have your scraper sharpening kit ready to go at a moment’s notice so it doesn’t feel like a chore.

Testing The Scraper

Setup a piece of test stock as if you were going to plane the surface. Hold the unsharpened short sides of scraper in both hands and use your thumbs to bow out the center. This bow cambers the cutting edge; experiment with various degrees of bowing.

Set the bowed edge on the workpiece with the scraper straight up. Start tipping the scraper forward and moving it forward. At some point between vertical and 45 degrees, you should feel the hook edge bite into the wood. Experiment with a few degrees more or less tilt to find the best bite.

Then with moderate pressure, run the bowed scraper at this tilt angle down the length of the wood. Lean forward with your whole upper body as you extend your arms.

Your response to this action should be GOOD GOD LOOK AT THAT! The scraper should produce amazing fine fluffy rolls of shavings similar to those from a fine set smoothing plane. It should NOT just be producing dust.

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports
Fig. 16: The fluffy rolls of shavings on a piece of mahogany after the above sharpening.

Lean back, returning the scraper to the near end of the piece, and take some more shavings. Don’t scrape repeatedly in the same spot, or the bowed edge will scrape a divot into the wood.

Spin the scraper around and flip it over to try all four hook edges. Don’t be surprised if they all perform a little differently, requiring different degrees of bowing and tilt to work effectively.

Turn the board around and try it from the other direction. On a flat surface, scrapers often work just as well in either grain orientation. That’s less true on angled or curved surfaces. In general, you went to scrape with the grain, down the slope across it.

Test the scraper on several different woods. Softer woods tend to fuzz up unless the scraper is very sharp. On hard tropical woods, it’s like shaving glass.

What If It Doesn’t Work?

What if your results aren’t as advertised? What if all you get is dust, or unimpressive shavings?

Dust from the scraper is a sign that it’s not sharp enough (also a sign that it needs to be resharpened). Try again, and pay particular attention to the key points.

Poor shavings are a sign of either poor sharpening, or poor use. First, experiment a bit more with the bowing and angling of the scraper. Bow it more heavily, tip it down further. Once you’re sure it’s not a usage problem, try sharpening again.

As simple as the procedure is, it may take a few attempts to get it right. Some details are very objective: filing and honing square across the edge, and honing along the sides. You should be able to hold the file and stone level on the edge and flat to the sides easily without any kind of guide, but there are also simple guides available if you’re still having difficulty.

And it doesn’t hurt if you use more pressure or strokes than necessary with the file or stone, you just may end up removing a little more metal than you need to. Overdoing it won’t hurt. The only mistake you can make is using too little pressure or too few strokes. Once you’ve adequately filed and honed, you should have two good sharp corners along the edge.

But other details are much more subjective. Specifically, the angle and force of the burnishing. Remember, two strokes, zip, zip, at an angle 5 to 10 degrees down from level, with moderate pressure. Not enough angle, or not enough pressure, will fail to turn enough of a hook. But overdoing it is a real mistake. That will over-turn the hook.

Achieving the right hook is a delicate balance and takes a little practice. The hook itself is a delicate and subtle thing. There’s that voodoo again!

You can slightly unroll an over-turned hook by laying the scraper down flat, standing the burnisher up at an angle with the tip caught in the hook, and lightly drawing it down the length of the edge. That may salvage a sharpening job.


You can often get a couple of burnishings out of an edge before having to go all the way back to a full sharpening, although this method is fast enough that a complete resharpening is easy.

First unroll the hook entirely flat. Lay the scraper down flat and lay the burnisher down flat across it. Draw the burnisher along the edge once or twice. Now if you run your fingernails across the scraper to the edge, they won’t catch.

Mount the scraper in the vise and repeat the burnishing. That should restore a usable hook.

You can do this a couple of times, but eventually metal fatigue and wear will reduce the hook to an unusable state. At this point, resharpen the scraper completely.

Practice Session

Take an hour and repeatedly sharpen, test, unroll, re-roll, and re-test the scraper. Invest the time to completely resharpen it two or three times, with multiple burnishings in between, as you explore the limits of the tool.

By the time you’re done, you’ll have significantly developed and refined your skill. You should notice a definite improvement in the effectiveness of the scraper and your efficiency getting it there.

Wood Projects

7 parts. Nearly 60 segments. 12 hours of video.

I’m very pleased to announce that my 7-part course Intro To Hand Tools is now available in downloadable video form at Popular Woodworking Magazine’s ShopWoodworking.com.

Each part consists of a series of segments, for a total of 12 hours of video instruction.

Learn how to use these and other hand tools.

Part 1: Welcome! is available for free on their YouTube channel. It covers general introduction, a quick summary of the tools, safety, and details about the types of handsaws and handplanes.

The remaining 6 parts are available for purchase at $4.99 each:

For a detailed guide to the segments in each part, see this blog post. There are nearly 60 segments in all.

This brief video shows what’s covered in the course:

This is Part 1:

This 7-minute video is a free sample lesson on rabbetting, showing just a few of the methods covered in the longer lesson in Part 4:

how to wood

Cherry is notorious for blotching, with all sorts of methods suggested for preventing it. But it’s important to keep in mind that “blotching” is simply the opposite of “beautiful figure.”


how to wood

Jarvis Boards founder Tony Smith grew up making things – out of LEGOs, then model cars and rockets, and so on – with his brothers. Despite that lifelong interest in making things with his hands, as an adult, he ended up getting a job as a stockbroker. Until …

One day when Tony happened across a book about building wooden canoes, purchased it on impulse, then followed up with purchases of a table saw and some wood. He built his canoe and then, based upon his own hobby of stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) turned his attention to building wooden paddleboards.

That interest, in turn, led to his founding the company “Jarvis Boards,” an Austin, Texas-based company that makes some standard types of paddle- and surf-boards, as well as made-to-order custom boards. They’ve also put together board building plans, materials and kits for those who want to build their own.

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports

To balance the factors of user experience, environmental impact and overall aesthetic, Jarvis Boards builds each of their boards from recycled foam cores and woods such as maple and cherry.

You can find out more about the company and their paddle- and surfboards at jarvisboards.com.

The post Jarvis Boards: Wood for the Water appeared first on Woodworking | Blog | Videos | Plans | How To.

Wood Projects

Recently, I had a hand in building a coffee table based on a George Nelson design. The top was created with solid walnut slats with about 14 cross-lap joints per piece. That turned out to be a stinking lot of joints to make. And each had to be placed properly. It occurred to me that, if I was off the mark on each joint by as small an amount as 1/64-in., by the time I was done making 14 cuts, the cumulative error would add up to almost a quarter inch!

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports

The project turned out fine, as I made accommodation for possible error. But it got me to thinking of the times that I had not been as careful. A set of octagon picture frames comes to mind as a foggy memory of additive failure.

So what about you? Have you experienced the heartbreak of addition? If so, please share! Misery loves company.

Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

The post Adding to My Errors appeared first on Woodworking | Blog | Videos | Plans | How To.

wood plans

We’ve got dozens of articles on how to sharpen hand tools like a regular plane blade or a set of chisels, but what about the rest of your tool arsenal?…

how to wood

This large box with a drawer below is my interpretation of this rare form from the 17th century.

This is an excerpt from “Joiner’s Work” by Peter Follansbee. 

Now things differ significantly from the basic box. Let’s start with the feet.

I’m no turner; I think of myself as a joiner who does some turning. I only know turning on the pole lathe, so I can’t guarantee that the methods I use will translate to other lathes. The lathe is a simple machine: a moveable “poppet” slides between the beds/rails of the lathe. One upright extends above the bed. Embedded into this and the moveable poppet are two iron points – these are what the turning blanks spin on. A cord wrapped around the workpiece connects to a long springy pole in the ceiling and a treadle underneath the lathe. Stomp on the treadle and the pole bends, the workpiece turns toward you and you can make a cut with your gouge or chisel, which is braced against a tool rest. Then let up the pressure on the treadle, the pole pulls back and the workpiece “unwinds” so you can start all over again. Very rhythmic.

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The pole lathe, like a shaving horse, is a folk tool. Each one is different, but they are all essentially the same – a means to make the workpiece turn so you can cut it into cylindrical shapes.

I sometimes have turned feet from white oak; but I’ve mostly used maple to great effect (maple turnings are typically stained black, said to be an imitation of ebony).

Start with a billet about 16″ long and almost 2″ in diameter. I turn a foot on one end, test-fit its tenon, then burnish it and cut it off. Then re-center the turning and repeat. Or rough out several feet, trim the first tenon, then cut that foot off and re-center and resume turning.

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My view of the lathe. On the left, the moveable poppet secured between the rails, or bed, of the lathe with a wooden wedge. On the right, one upright extends above the bed to form a fixed poppet. I’ve wrapped the cord around the workpiece and it’s tied above to the pole and below to the treadle. The workpiece spins on two iron points. One is threaded to make fine adjustments. Iron brackets running through the poppets support the tool rest.

The foot is a simple enough shape that I don’t make a pattern stick, but you certainly could. I just mark the 2″ height of the foot, with about a 3/4″ long tenon beyond that. Define the shoulder that separates the foot from the tenon with a gouge and skew. If you have a parting tool, that’s an excellent tool for this step. Someday I have to dig mine out and sharpen it, but in the meantime, I use the skew and gouge approach. The foot consists of a pear-shaped cylinder, a cove and a collar. I scribe a line defining the collar and cut in under that with the gouge to begin shaping the cove. I alternate coming in from the left and right to help open up the cove.

After roughing out the shape, a few light shavings bring the final smooth shape to completion. The best surface comes from the skew chisel.

For me, turning is always a lesson in “enough is enough.” I often have a tendency to think I can go back one more time to make it better. This sometimes works, but more often results in disaster. The pole lathe is helpful because it allows me to make mistakes more slowly than a faster lathe.

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Here I roughed out several feet, finished the tenon on the left and will cut that foot off and repeat.

The feet have 1/2″-diameter tenons that fit through two 5/8″ x 1-1/2″ x 16″ slats of oak. I usually turn green wood, so I leave the tenons a bit thick so that when they shrink they will fit 1/2″ holes bored through the slats.

Leave the tenons extra long, too, but with a slight taper toward their ends. Size the tenons by forcing this tapered end into the hole (a test hole in dry hardwood is best, rather than risking deforming the actual piece). This burnishes an impression on the tenon.

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Now the foot is secured in the slat. For my lifetime at least.

Then pare the tenon down to this impressed area. These can go back on the lathe for this trimming, or you can just shave them with a knife or chisel. This is another one of those patience things – if you hurry and drive in a too-tight tenon, it can split the thin, narrow slat. Once the feet are tenoned into the slats, split the protruding tenons from above, then drive a wooden wedge into each split to secure the feet in place.

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I bored a pilot hole for these nails, reaching through the box bottom and just into the box sides.

Saw and pare them flush. Then bore pilot holes through the slats from below and nail these foot assemblies to the bottom. Depending on the thickness of your bottom boards and foot assemblies, your nail might reach through the bottom and into the bottom edge of the box ends.

Meghan Bates


Wood Projects


Do you need rustic bathroom vanities for your home?  You can DIY your own bathroom vanities and save a ton of money!  We built these from just common whitewood boards!

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports

It was difficult to find that perfect bathroom vanities for our master bath – especially since I needed a custom depth and wanted a top mount farmhouse sink.  And, of course, I wanted solid wood vanities.  After much shopping around, and even buying a vanity, installing it, and taking it out, I knew I had to build my own.

I spent about $150 a vanity (including the sink) to build. These ones are a little more complicated, because there are so many pieces (that is what makes them beautiful) but well worth the effort!

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports

I customized the top two drawers so they fit around the plumbing.  This gave me so much more storage, and I love the compartments – the longer one is perfect for a curling iron, the smaller ones great for hair ties or even cosmetics.

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports

The hardware was a big deal on this piece!  The pulls are Liberty Hardware Soft Industrial Cup Pulls.  I seriously went from thinking maybe this project is a mistake to maybe this project is my favorite ever after adding the pulls.

The faucet was also a big deal.  It is the American Standard Serin.  This thing is beautiful.  American Standard is a great product for DIYers because you don’t have to be a master plumber to hook it up – our faucets came with all the supplies and pieces and even a wrench for tightening.  I find it more cost effective to buy a high quality faucet like this, than a cheapo one, and pay a plumber to hook it up and make a zillion trips back to the hardware store for parts and pieces.

The stain is Varathane Dark Walnut –

It’s a true dark brown, very neutrel in tone.  I’m loving it right now!

The plans follow, but I do want to warn you, this is NOT a beginner project, so please don’t tackle as a first project.  But it’s not difficult, just alot of pieces and a need for precision when cutting and assembling.

Enjoy and please share if you build!

XO Ana


PS – Check out our completed Master Bath Tour + Sources here!

, Rustic Bathroom Vanities, Wood Reports

Wood Projects