An Ode to Panel Saws

Most of my projects trend towards the smaller side. Boxes and such. So using a full-sized saw (26” or so) to cut out their parts is overkill. Add to that the incongruous fit between my shorter arm reach and long handsaw tooth lines. I stand at five-foot six inches and my saw bench is customized to accommodate my stature. That means it’s shorter. So that when I use a full-sized handsaw, I smash the tip into the ground from time to time. I’d rather not do that to a 100 year old saw.

Enter the panel saw. The main differentiators between a handsaw and a panel saw is that the latter is shorter, usually in the range of 16-24” in length. An added bonus for me is that they tend to sport smaller handles. Ones that fit comfortably in my small hands.

As a result, panel saws are on my perpetual “short list” of tools to pick up. So when I came across this one at an estate sale I paid the $5.00 and took it home.

P1-Disston-D-8-8ppi-panel-saw-As-Found-at-Estate-SaleThe medallion dates the saw’s manufacture to between 1917-1940. It’s 22”, has 8 ppi, and a smaller handle which fits nicely in my hand. After my initial inspection, I cleaned it up.

P2-Disston-D-8-8ppi-panel-saw-after-rehab P4-Disston-D-8-8ppi-panel-saw-before-after-handle

Then sharpened it.


And put it to use


My hand/panel saw till contains two panel cross-cut saws, one 8 ppi for general use and one 11 ppi for fine cuts. Five dollars and a couple of hours of relaxing rehab and I’m ready to tackle the small-project crosscuts on my list.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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The New Traditional Woodworker-Project #4-Winding Sticks

Lately, I’ve had my nickers in a twist. That’s English for having a hissy fit. And fit I had, when I resawed some quarter-sawn oak—lovely rays and all—only to “flatten” it. But not really, because it had some wicked twist. Crap. Guess I’m going to have to make some winding sticks. Oh yeah. And learn how to use them.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to make a pair. But Jim Tolpin’s New Traditional Woodworker design calls for 5/4 stock, and I didn’t have any lying around. One night, while enjoying the warm embrace of a Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, I queried aloud, “Why not just use ¾ stock?”

“Well, because they’ll tip over,” came the reply. But, then again, the sticks’ pyramid cross-section mitigates this possibility. So after rummaging through my lumber stores I pulled out some ¾ maple and walnut. Then, I thumbed to page 107 of Tolpin’s book to bone up on the build process and techniques.

As for dimensions, I went with a short stick. Thirteen inches long is plenty of stickage for my winding. That’s because I flatten boards around 6” wide. The abbreviated length also means that the sticks fit neatly into one of the drawers under my workbench.


I enjoyed building a tool to be used on other projects. It was particularly fun to plane a pyramid cross-section.


And to laminate maple to walnut.


Then to add a center-dot detail in the form of a dowel.


Here are the finished sticks.

P05-Winding-Sticks-Finished-A P06-Winding-Sticks-Finished-B P07-Winding-Sticks-Finished-C P08-Winding-Sticks-Finished-D P09-Winding-Sticks-Finished-E P10-Winding-Sticks-Finished-F P11-Winding-Sticks-Finished-G

And now that they’re done, I can focus on fixing the twist in my boards rather than in my nickers.


© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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Record 043 Grooving plane for my Dutch tool chest

My Dutch tool chest was made for traveling. And when I’m on the road, I won’t have access to a router table. So to make grooves, I needed a plow plane. Yes, I could take my Veritas small plow plane. But that would violate my rule to only take tools that I could accept—though grudgingly—being lost or stolen.

So I researched vintage (i.e. affordable) plow planes and settled on the Record 043 to serve my box grooving needs. Record is an English company, so it’s not surprising that I found my eBay specimen in Norwich, UK. The price was decent but shipping boosted the final cost to around $80.00. And while the £15.00 shipping fee hurt, the sentimental value of having a tool that comes from my ancestral land takes a spot of the sting away.

Here’s what showed up on my front porch.


After a good sharpening of the 1/8”, 3/16” and ¼” irons, the plane cut decent grooves. Even so, I decided to optimize its performance with a good tuning.

Tuning the Record 043
I read a nice article here that guided me through the tuning process, (see “Will it work out of the box?”).

Lap the skate
The bottom of the skate was slightly out of true, plus showed machine marks from its manufacture. To correct these issues I lapped it through 2000 grit sand paper.


I also checked the edges to remove any burrs or hindering nicks. Now the polished cast iron sails across the wood.

Add a fence
In my opinion, the stock fence is simply too small to deliver, spot-on and consistent grooves. So I crafted a fence out of walnut (½” T x 1 ¼” W x 4 ½ L.) I cut and chiseled a shaving escapement as detailed in the Record 043 owner’s manual.


Then rounded the bottom two corners and chamfered the outside edges.


I finished the fence with Danish oil followed by a liberal waxing of the inside face to minimize friction.

P03-Record-043-Added-Fence P04-Record-043-Added-Fence-2 P05-Record-043-Added-Fence-3

Make shorter fence rods
The stock fence rods are 5 ½” long. What that means is that they extend several inches beyond one side or the other. And that interferes with my grip.

P06-Record-043-Left-Hand-Hold P07-Record-043-Right-Hand-Hold

To rectify that, I made 3” rods from some 7mm silver steel that I ordered from Chronos Engineering Supplies.

The shorter length won’t be a problem since I’ll be using this plane for box bottom grooves. And it clears the way to a better grip.

P11-Record-043-short-rod-left-hand-grip P12-Record-043-short-rod-right-hand-grip

Sharpen irons
I sharpened the irons with a 30 degree bevel. The manual calls for 35 degrees. The 30 degrees has worked fine so far. But choose for yourself.

Testing the Record 043
With the tuning and fence done, I set up the plane to make a 1/8” test groove.


That resulted in a pretty clean groove.


Which fit some 1/8” plywood very nicely.


Comfortable to use, perfect for grooving role
The 043 is surprisingly comfortable to use. And it performs the box/drawer grooving role quite well. So now my Dutch tool chest has that base covered.

Though after using it for a while, I must confess that I would be mightily disappointed if this plane was lost or stolen :)

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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The elusive #5 ½ T11 finally finds a home-Part 2

In the last post, I completed the cleaning and tuning of the #5 ½. In this, Part 2, I cover three common repairs to the mangled tote.


Most tote repairs are straight forward. However, I’ve found that replacing a beavertail is very tedious, exacting and time-consuming work. That’s why I’ve described it in detail below. Still, by bother? I have four reasons.

1. I’m a woodworker and there’s a deep satisfaction that comes from repairing my own tools.
2. It can take a while to find a vintage replacement tote. And when I do, they are usually expensive.
3. I get blisters in the web of my thumb when I use totes that are missing beavers. So I find it necessary to repair them to make them users.
4. The main reason I fix totes, however, is because I want to keep as many of the original parts on my planes as I can. In so doing, my repair becomes a part of the tool’s history for some future craftsperson to enjoy. I am after all, only a custodian of these tools for they will surely outlive me.

Repair #1: Fixing the break
After removing the tote, I looked at the broken halves. The edges showed signs of wear, meaning that they were slightly rounded. That suggests to me that it got a lot of use after the break. So I used a wire brush to remove any gunk and dirt that may have seeped onto the surfaces over time.

Then I drilled 1/8” wide by 1/8” deep holes in each half to receive epoxy, and glued/clamped the two halves. There were two repairs yet to complete, so I waited until they were all done before sanding everything smooth. After sanding and staining, the glue lines were barely noticeable.

Repair #2: Filling the nail holes
To fill the nail entry/exit holes, I jammed rosewood sawdust into the cavities followed by some CA glue. Yes, you can see them in the final pictures if you look for them. But after being sanded flush, I don’t feel them at all.

Repair #3: Adding a beaver tail

Step #1: Prepare tote to accept replacement blank

The roughened break at the top of the tote doesn’t offer an acceptable gluing surface.


It needs to be flat so that it can bond concrete-tight with the replacement blank. It also needs to be parallel to the tote bottom so that a clamp can hold the glued pieces without squirting out the glue-covered blank like a watermelon seed.

I have found that the most accurate, and blood-free way do this is with a shooting board.


I clamped a combination square to the fence so that the tote bottom could register square to the sole of the shooting plane. Then I placed a shim between the fence and tip of the tote and took light passes so as not to break anything. With that done, I turned my attention to the blank.

Step #2: Prepare & glue the blank

My shorts pile included a block of East Indian rosewood that I got from Rockler. I believe it’s worth spending the money to get rosewood because the grain blends in quite well with the original tote after staining it. But before cutting it up, I needed to figure out what size to make it.

That I did by “superimposing” my beaverless-tote over a #5 tote template from Lee Valley.  It wasn’t an exact match, nor did I expect it to be because of variations in tote manufacture over the decades. Still, all I did was align the tote’s leading edge with the template and mark the location of the break.

Using that as a baseline, I drew parallel and perpendicular lines to form a rectangle around the template beavertail.

PT-02-Tote template-layout

It is oversized, allowing for 3/16” excess to the left, right and top. That gives me sufficient stock to work with during the critical shaping, smoothing and blending operations to follow. The end of the tail looked too short so I modified the template to be longer.

From the rectangle, I computed the blank’s dimensions. To determine the blank’s thickness, I measured the thickness of the tote at the break and added 6/16” (3/16” to either side.)

After cutting the blank to size, I took passes with a smoother until the blank seated perfectly flat against the tote’s prepared surface. Then, I secured the tote in a bench vise and drilled 1/8” wide by 1/8” deep holes in both it, and the blank, so that five-minute epoxy could make a strong bond. A bar clamp fit between the vise jaws to secure the blank to the tote. It held firm with no slipping due to the opposing pressure being applied in parallel between the top of the blank and the tote bottom.

Step #3: Rough-shape glued blank
Next I cut out and glued the template to the side of the blank.

PT-03-Tote template-glued-to-block

A backsaw quickly removed a lot of excess material.

PT-04-Tote template-blank-material-removal-backsaw

While some rough shaping with a coping saw produced this.

PT-05-Tote template-blank-material-removal-coping-saw

Step #4: Drill tote bolt hole and nut recess

At this stage, I like to drill through the top of the blank so that any tearout will disappear during the shaping process.

I use an extended-length, ¼” bit mounted in a brace to carry the bolt channel through the tote from the bottom.

PT-06-Tote template-blank-drilling-through-blank

That’s followed by drilling the nut recess with a 7/16” drill bit.

PT-07-Tote template-blank-drilling-nut-recess

The bit didn’t cut well, so I had to clean up the recess with sandpaper wrapper around a dowel. Once the nut seated properly it was on to finish shaping the beaver tail.

Step #5: Mid- and final-beavertail shaping

A four-in-one rasp roughed out the beavertail shape. Then a drill-press-mounted drum sander helped shape the design further. That was followed by finer rasps, then sandpaper (60, 120, 220, 330,400 grits,) and finally, a polishing on the buffing wheel (no compound.)

PT-08-Tote-beavertail-ready-for-finishing PT-12-Finished Tote-ready-for-finishing-full-shot

Step #6: Finishing

The baby-smooth surface received a coat of Minwax Jacobean stain. After drying overnight, I added two coats of amber shellac, using 0000 steel wool between coats.

PT-09-Finished Tote-ready-for-mounting PT-10-Finished Tote-mounted PT-11-Finished Tote-mounted-closeup

The final product is both functional and pleasing to the eye. Not bad for a mangled tote.


© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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The elusive #5 ½ T11 finally finds a home

One snowy day, I found this while rummaging around a used tool store in downtown Denver.


I was so gold-fever blinded by my desire to fill the #5 ½ hole in my collection, that I overlooked the fact that it had lived a hard life. And the fact that it wasn’t a Type 11, my

The cold must have dulled my senses too, because when I got it home, I found this.


Cracks don’t work for me. So the plane went back. The owner’s “we only give in store credit” policy didn’t work for me either. So I’ll never do business with them again. You can keep your credit and I’ll chalk up the lost money to an expensive lesson of what happens when you don’t give a plane a really careful review.

Stanley #5 ½, take two
A year later, I had a flashback when I came across this #5 ½ in a flea market.

P1-Stanley No 5.5 Type 11-As found from antique store

Is it a type 11?

P4-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Three patent dates closeup P5-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-V-Logo P6-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Low-knob

Well yes. Parts all there? Yup. Everything adjusts as it should? You bet. Any cracks or other damage? Well, the tote was cracked clean through and it was missing its beaver tail. But I can work with that. And the price was reasonable.

Under the blaring lights of my shop, it was clear that this plane was a lot rustier and dirtier than I had thought.

P2-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Disassembled-as-found-from-antique-store P3-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Disassembled close up P7-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Some-rust-to-deal-with P8-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Barn-fresh-dirt-to-deal-with P13-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-shavings under frog

The chipbreaker, though, was properly set for a jackplane.


However, the iron was sloppily cambered and showed many nicks. The plane clearly hadn’t touched wood in, possibly, decades.

After a serious de-rusting, cleaning and oiling, her inner beauty began to emerge.

P15-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-FullView-AfterRehab P17-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-AfterRehabCollage P18-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Before-After-FrogDetail

That’s a spare, late-model tote you see in the pictures. It was on there so that I could tune it before turning my attention to repairing/restoring the original tote.

I sharpened the iron and put a mild camber to the edge. Then spent five minutes lapping the sole. Now normally, I wouldn’t bother doing that on a course-cutting plane like this. The need for flatness is not as stringent as it is for a smoother or jointer. However, I wanted to make sure that the sole didn’t have any twist. And the sanding scratch marks confirmed that all was good.

So too did test passes in some pine.

P23-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Nice-Shavings P24-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Nice-Shavings-Close P25-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Nice-Shavings-Closeup

In the next post, I’ll detail three common repairs that I did to the ravaged tote.


© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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The New Traditional Woodworker-Project #5-Straight Edge

I first built Jim Tolpin’s straight edge (p. 81 of The New Traditional Woodworker) about two years ago. Truth be told, I was skeptical that a straight edge made out of wood would hold up over time. Surely the changing seasons and time would warp it. But even though I questioned the tool’s utility, I still wanted to learn the skills Tolpin’s tutorial presents. So I built a 33” version. Out of poplar.

P16-Straight-Edge-33-inch-FIRST-One-Project Shot

No sense using the good stuff on something that might not pan out.

However, pan it did, and years hence, it’s still tryed and true. My total maintenance investment in the tool consists of two swipes by a #8 jointer to touch up the edge. As a result, I trust it. And I use it all the time. Especially to try test long boards.

You could spend $30-$80 or more on a steel or aluminum equivalent depending upon the length. But my experience with a wooden straight edge has shown me that you can keep that money in the tool-fund cookie jar.

The 33” version is useful to be sure, but I’ve frequently wished I had a less wieldy 24” version. Having been sold on the idea of wooden straight edges, I splurged and made this one out of walnut.

From wood selection to finishing, Jim’s step-by-step process accomplishes two things. It makes it easy to complete the project and it teaches you how to do basic techniques. To give you a taste of that, I’ll paraphrase Jim’s method for dimensioning stock to thickness. I’ve tried other means, but I use his technique exclusively now because it delivers consistent results for me.

The walnut stock I had was ¾” thick and needed to be reduced to ½”. Following Jim’s process, I marked the desired thickness with a gauge, and planed angles along the edges with a jack plane until they met the lines.


Then I marked the edges with a readily visible white grease pencil…

P02-Straight-Edge-Dimension-Thickness-Mark-Edges P03-Straight-Edge-Dimension-Thickness-Mark-Edges-Closeup

And planed the face with a try plane until the lines disappeared…


…and I brought the stock to final thickness.

Rather than going over the build, I’ll share with you what I like about Jim’s design features.

1. The curved top edge is not only pleasing to the eye, but it also reduces the weight of the tool. Using my grandfather’s draw knife to remove large portions of waste was a blast. This was a great opportunity to hone my bevel-down knifing skills.

P06-Straight-Edge-AfterCuttingTopCurve P11-Straight-Edge-Curved Top

2. Handhold. The hand hole makes it easy to hold the edge atop the surface to be tryed. And it prevents me dropping the tool given that the width at its thickest is a bit much for my smaller hands.


3. Tapered try-edge. By tapering the business edge to ¼” it’s easier to read the flatness of the surface. The taper has the added benefit of reducing the weight further. And, it’s a lot of fun to plane an angled surface to marked lines.

P09-Straight-Edge-Tapered-Edge P12-Straight-Edge-Beveled-Edge

4. Hanging holes. I’ve found that the only convenient way to store a straight edge is to hang it. It takes up a lot less space, avoids being banged about, and makes it easy to access. This project motivated me to make room on the peg board to accommodate both edges within arms reach.


Four coats of shellac with a final coat of paste wax and this baby was ready for use.

P17-Straight-Edge-Walnut-Completed-A P18-Straight-Edge-Walnut-Completed-B P19-Straight-Edge-Walnut-Completed-C

I would encourage fellow woodworkers to give a wooden straight edge a try. It’s fun to build, reliable to use, looks great on the shop wall, and saves precious tool dollars for other goodies.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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New Life for a Harvey Peace No 45 Panel Saw

I found this Harvey Peace saw buried under a bunch of rusty ones at an estate sale.


The nib and handle lambs tongue set it apart from the others. So even though it was covered in rust…

P04-Harvey-Peace-No-45-Panoramic-View-Left-Side P05-Harvey-Peace-No-45-Panoramic-View-Right-Side

…and caked with what appeared to be glue…


…it came home with me.

I’ve never owned or used a Harvey Peace sample before. This 8ppi specimen measures 22 inches long. Good. I can always use another panel saw.

I took a minimalist approach to my rehab, choosing to sand off decades of glue and rust while giving the handle and brass hardware a gentle cleaning.

P09-Harvey-Peace-No-45-Before-After-A P10-Harvey-Peace-No-45-Before-After-B

The handle fits snugly in my small hands with little to no hang from what I can tell.


The tooth line, however, was a mess and included one broken point.


A good sharpening would fix all that. But how to use my latest acquisition? Glancing at my saw till, I spied a gap. You see, my courser rip saws leave some nasty tear out. And there have been times—a lot of times—where I would have preferred to have had neat edges. So I decided to convert this 8ppi saw from crosscut to rip.

My first impression of the Peace steel was very positive. It took well to two jointings and a sharpening.


That went a long way towards filing out the broken tooth.

So how does it cut?
This saw is sa-weet! It rips relatively quickly through birdseye maple.


And it tracks accurately…


to leave a relatively neat finish in the backside.

P15-Harvey-Peace-No-45-Edge in birdseye maple P16-Harvey-Peace-No-45-Edge in mahogany

Overall, I’m impressed enough to recommend adding Harvey Peace saws to your till. The excellent steel, handle and fit and finish make this No. 45 a keeper. And so are the clean rip cuts I’m getting in walnut, maple and cherry.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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