Archive for the 'Thoughts & Musings' Category

Feb 23 2010

Usable Hand Tool Storage? Thank Mr. C.A. Jewett.

Walt Quattro is a really cool guy who has a really cool used record store in Waterbury, CT that <looks right, looks left> secretly doubles as a vintage tool store. <but please, keep that to yourself, eh?> 😀

Walt’s place is Brass City Records and Tools. Those who know Walt know that he is known to drop into a tool forum with a song lyric that doubles as a riddle that somehow describes his latest tool prowl. Please click here for one of Walt’s riddle answers. Walt’s posts are always a great time and he is great to trade with! So as usual, I like to make a habit of going over to his site to look around, because it is always changing. Me? I am usually late to the party but eh… you know how it goes. His site changes a lot as some of you know. Early birds get the worm, fair is fair. Walt knows this and it works that way to shop with Walt too.

Well anyway, Walt’s haunts are the flea markets of New England, where many a tool he finds are straight out of the heart of where the industrial revolution took place. He is also centrally located near where many of these tools were originally made. These are the tools that helped bring that revolution, and are now sought after by many of us who don’t want those tools to become just another historical footnote. (Thanks Walt)

It happens that Walt has a cool link on his site that points to Pat Leach’s (of Superior Works fame) site, that I have looked at many times over the years. While we all seem to discuss tool cabinets around at various forums on the net pretty frequently, I don’t recall seeing anyone really discussing this one for a pretty long time. It is worth a visit, or for some of us, a re-visit.

jewett_chest.jpgPhoto Courtesy Pat Leach

It is C.A Jewett’s Patternmaking Chest. It is worthy of discussion and so let’s, shall we? Continue Reading »

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Sep 10 2008

Shop Space Comfort. A Shop Heater for the Winter.

Got Shop Comfort?

Woodworking season comes around yearly, with Labor Day behind us, many of the summer outdoor oriented activities and chores are soon to be waning. The colder weather will be along soon enough to push us in and keep us indoors.

This is good, it spawns the need to be creative through other ways, and hobbies fill that gap. Problem is, many of us have to use a space for our woodworking hobby that is not exactly comfortable during a good bit of the indoor season. When we are cold, we don’t often enjoy what we want to enjoy as long or as much. We are more in the mode of just do it and get er’ done, rather than enjoying ourselves, where thinking through the process, being in the moment, and feeling like we relieved some stress are all big parts of having a good time. If it isn’t a good time, let’s face it, we generally avoid it.

To add, when you are cold, humans do not think as critically, and can even become distracted from slower thinking. Woodworking, like other tasks that require concentration, really does want your attention in many, many ways, because it is a very detailed endeavor, which can be inherently dangerous as well, so how you help yourself overcome these issues while trying to enjoy the woodworking season is a question that is a good thing to have on your mind.


My want is to help you stay warm in the shop. It was my want too. I bought this as a ‘what the heck’ purchase, meaning I did my research, but I really had no idea if my purchase was the best choice or if it was going to work adequately for my purposes. I do not enjoy being cold, and after asking around, no one really knew what to tell me. Electricity costs in my area rule that out, and Permanent installations are out for me as well. I got lucky on both counts, because this heater did work out for me big time. In fact, it exceeded my expectations. Now that I have used it several years it, I’m sharing my observations with you. Continue Reading »

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May 09 2008

Creativity in Hardware Storage: Altoid Tins.

During the evolution of a woodworkers development… A development which never ends by the way, a person observes design, considers various methods of joinery, acquires the tools that coincide with their preferences for the various methods of work, develops a style they enjoy as they continue to grow, and accumulates a TON of hardware along the way.


Back in the 30’s, 40’s 50’s and 60’s of the last century, woodworkers commonly used containers named “MJB”, “Hills Bros”, and “Folgers” for the proper containment of “hardware”. The proper methodology for sorting the “hardware” was to sort through the top inch and a half of the can, and then up end the contents on the bench for a closer sort of the needed hardware at the bottom of the can.

A higher tech solution was to use mason jars, commonly used for canning, and errr, other handy and imaginative uses, and all you had to do was deny knowing anything as to where the canning jars were when it came time to put up preserves, and the high tech part was that you could see in advance that the “hardware” you were looking for was at the bottom of the jar.

Advances in baby food preserving had the Beech-Nut Corporation putting 13 varieties of food into glass jars, beginning in 1931, and the resourceful woodworker in fatherhood found this as a boon to “hardware” storage. The thing was you see, the integral lids could be mounted to the bottom of shelves, making use of otherwise unusable space, and the woodworker could simply look from underneath and see the needed hardware at the bottom of the jar, and not have to spread as much on the bench to sort for the needed pieces. Continue Reading »

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Apr 02 2008

The Woodworks Library

Amongst the many dilemmas facing the woodworker, just a few are what to build and how to build it, but even as those questions seem like early ones in the process, the earlier ones considered are even more elementary.

The nature and ways of wood, joinery, adhesives, and style are all things that need to be dealt with in the “what” to build and “how” to build it. Is it furniture, casework, cabinetry? Will it involve carpentry, as a built in as many elements of Arts and Crafts styling will? will it include some metal work or upholstery? Other leading questions like, will I have the appropriate tools, and can I properly fixture the work for all the different elements of construction? What finishes are most appropriate, and how best to apply them?

You see, it is a lot of questions. Fortunately there are a lot of answers. The art and craft of woodworking is age old, in fact, even our great grandparents and grandparents knew a lot about it, and lucky for us, even as much of an undertaking it was to publish books back in the day, the understandings of the woodworking trades, the methods and the how to with hand and power tools was something they authors of that period wrote about quite articulately. There was a want for future generations to know these things, and there was a lot they understood. Continue Reading »

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Mar 24 2008

John Barleycorn Must Die. The History of Modern Measurement.

Published by under Metrology,Thoughts & Musings

The way measurement is handled in the United States, and to some degree the UK and Canada, depending on the person’s age, is the foot. The foot has an interesting history, and there are a couple different accounts you can go with, but it has its beginnings in the Roman Empire.


Before the world was very big and there was not so much need to measure great distances, measurements were based on what a man had, er, handy! Sure there was mans foot, which is the foot’s namesake, but it didn’t keep a consistent length, so three hands, four palms and twelve thumbs worked better to more consistently derive it. So the Foot became the distance of 12 thumbs, and the width of the thumb became the inch. Welcome to base 12 measurement. Continue Reading »

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