High C

When sawing, a blade can either be designed to cut while in tension, or compression.  If the blade is being pushed into the cut, then it is likely to be a compressive stroke – typical for western handsaws.  Nothing wrong with this, although as a saw blade tends to be pretty thin, it will try to buckle when in a compressive load, and so the saw either needs the blade to be thick and wide enough to cope, or have some inherent features to stabilise the blade.

Hand SawThis is a typical panel saw.  The thickness of the steel, and the overall width of the blade means it can cope with the compressive forces during the cut stroke, where the blade is pushed into and through the material being cut.

211803This is a small crosscut saw (and specifically a dovetail saw, from Veritas), which also cuts on a compressive stroke.  It has thinner steel, and a narrower overall width, so uses a support bar along the length of the blade to keep it stable.

Japanese SawsJapanese blades tend to be used on the pull stroke, a tension stroke so they are significantly thinner than their western counterparts.

Some blades are attached at either end, which presents a different opportunity, namely allowing the blade to be placed into tension increasing the beam strength, and resulting in a push stroke being able to occur without the blade going into compression, despite the direction of the cut.

This is the principle that bandsaws and scroll saws work on, as well as handsaws such as the bowsaw

IMG_5918-bowsaw-turning-sawand the coping saw.

The fact that these blades never go into compression is obvious from their blades.  They can be very thin, and therefore particularly good at cutting curves.

A cheap coping saw has a thin frame, which will bend if the tension in the blade is too high.  The blade needs to stay in tension however, and this is particularly important when cutting curves in the timber.  If the blade is not tight enough, then it will wander in the cut.

To make a frame more capable of dealing with  tension conditions, you need to modify the frame.  There is a common structure in use that greatly improves the structure’s strength.  The box section design of a bridge.


1024px-The_Little_Belt_Bridge_(1935) The diagonal bracing transfers load, so no one area has to cope with the entire load, and therefore fail.

Knew Concepts have recognised that fact, and have produced a coping saw with the same engineering principles bought into play.

That saw is the Knew Concepts Coping Saw, sold in Australia by Henry Eckert (.com)

_DSC2465-EditThe saw has significant strength in the frame, allowing the blade to be used a lot tighter than usual.  When plucked, I swear the blade produces a high C!

The crossbracing really strengthens the frame.


The saw looks bulky, but is really light – beautifully so.

To get a blade that tight needs a special mechanism.  One that can be quickly released so the blade can be repositioned at a different rotation (8 different positions at 45 degree increments), and fed through a hole cut in the object to allow internal cuts (then as quickly retensioned).

_DSC2468-EditIt works on a preset tension using a knurled knob, then a cam lever allowing that tension to be applied and released.

It is beautifully made, simple and light, and based on sound engineering principles.

Knew Concepts Coping Saw

Router Bit Storage

This is a screenshot from a Highland Woodworker video that the Roving Reporter suggested I look at – given my collection of router bits (and the ever increasing number of Amana Tool bits I have been adding from Toolstoday.com), my original router bit storage is groaning under the load.

A cabinet along the lines of this one seems would be an ideal solution – like a large version of my Triton Routerbit POS display I have been using, this not only openly displays the bits, but also protects them from having too much dust build up.

Seems like a great project for the new woodshop!

Router Bit Storage

Grandpa’s Workshop

It has taken some time since I first became aware of this book (through updates during it’s production given by Chris Schwarz on the Lost Art Press blog) for me to finally get around to purchasing a copy.  At last weekend’s Hand Tool event, I asked at the Henry Eckert stand if they had bought “Grandpa’s Workshop” along with the other Lost Art Press books and DVDs they had (and stock).  Unfortunately they hadn’t, but as soon as they got back after the event, it was on its way and sitting at my front door yesterday.

Grandpa's Workshop cover

Grandpa’s Workshop

It is a children’s story, but real-life experiences of the author is apparent in the text as well, the sights, sounds and emotions of being in and around the workshop of a grandfather or similar figure.

Some of the stories told by the Grandfather are pure fantasy, others very much about the stories the tools would tell of their own history, and stories of the history of the boy’s family and ancestors.  As I read the book to my daughter, I hold a hope that one day she will find herself brushing sawdust from her clothes, and remember her father, and grandfather did the same and to continue to pass on a love to being able to physically create through wielding simple tools and working with natural materials.

The illustrations create a very rich experience, obviously meaning a lot more to me than my young charge, but even so, being able to show that I too have tools very similar in shape and function to those depicted in the stories must add a dimension to the stories.  My tools may not have the same history as Pepere’s, but hopefully they will be passed down through the ages so that one day, they too will have many stories to tell.

Wooden Tools

It doesn’t matter when the story was originally written, the language originally used, the country it was set in – the workshop Pepere occupies is as familiar as the one so many of us also occupy, complete with corners of tools no longer required, in a cobweb and dust shroud, and the “couldcomeinhandys”

This may be a children’s story, but it is very much one that so many of us can intimately relate to, and if you are fortunate to have children or grandchildren that you can share this story with, your experience of the book would be so much richer.  But even if not, this children’s story is one we can all read, appreciate and enjoy.

Grandpa & ChildIs it just me, but does the boy look like a young Tintin?


Trembleur Turning

This could easily be regarded as the ultimate in spindle turning.  It may not be your cup of tea, but the skill involved is unmistakable.


trembleur excentrique 2 buis 63 cm red IMAG0247 trembleur28mg6

Return to haunts of old

It was quite an experience of déjà vu this morning. To start, heading off with the family to watch my daughter’s junior netball. Not that specifically, but the frost on the ground, the nip in the air, the quality of the light, green of the hills and sunlight through the trees all gave a striking resemblance to similar scenes of growing up in New Zealand.

DCIM100GOPRO Photo 22-06-13 8 42 05 Photo 22-06-13 8 43 02

As the timing was right, I then headed towards Holmesglen Tafe. The temperature, the time of day, the drive-through at Maccas for a McMuffin & orange juice breakfast and of course driving into Holmesglen were all strongly reminiscent of when I was presiding at the Triton Woodworkers Club, and also running Triton woodworking courses there at Holmesglen (before the fall of GMC and therefore Triton).

But this time I was there for a different reason. It was to have a look around the Hand Tool event that is being held there this weekend.

David Eckert was there, with a familiar (and ever-tempting) collection of Lie Nielsen planes, Chris Schwarz DVDs, Lost Press books, Knew Concept saw and more. More on a couple of acquisitions another time. (Let’s just say, I “Knew” it would be tempting to go, and see what “Grandpa’s Workshop” may have contained had he been a woodworker!)

Photo 22-06-13 11 28 03

Chris Vesper was there, with his collection of finely (and locally) produced handtools, including one I hadn’t seen before – a “very” straight edge. (The large aluminium piece in the photo below)

Photo 22-06-13 11 48 26

The Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking was there, with Alastair in a familiar pose, draw knife in hand making staves for a Windsor Chair.

Photo 22-06-13 10 45 16 Photo 22-06-13 10 56 48

If you are interested in trying your hand at becoming a luthier, Southern Tonewoods has a collection of timbers, along with Richard Howell who runs one-on-one courses on guitar making.

Photo 22-06-13 10 45 22 Photo 22-06-13 10 45 39

Big Sky Timber has a collection of timbers for sale, some veneers, some turning blanks, boards and other pieces of tree 😉

Photo 22-06-13 11 22 42

And last, but not least, Japanese tools, with a really cool collection of mini ebony planes ($30 ea), Japanese saws, and an interesting concept, wooden nails. More on those another time (and in more detail).

Photo 22-06-13 10 56 57 Photo 22-06-13 10 57 09 Photo 22-06-13 11 17 39

Plenty of temptations, and better than that, they are there again tomorrow (Sunday).

Breakin’ Eggs

(Video free from JibJab.com)

Stu’s Shed is now 6 years old!  You’ve heard of human years, dog years, cat years etc (Dog to human years, about 7:1, cat to human about 5.5:1, (and yes I know this is poor science))

A website year is harder to define – few blogs survive 12 months, let along pass 3 years (let alone double that!)  The average blog has the lifespan of a fruitfly (30-44 days) (and some claim the intelligence of one!)

Another quote that I love:

Blogging is not writing, it is graffiti with punctuation

Previously, I have provided stats at the end of each year, but they are becoming more and more irrelevant, being harder and harder to track.  Over the last 6 years there has been a massive rise in social media, with Twitter and Facebook leading the charge.  Counting for this traffic, RSS feeds, direct emails and the old-fashion (but preferred) site hits, and the 1.8 million visits the website shows is closer to 3 million if you account for the other viewing methods.


But whatever, Stu’s Shed is still here, and with the new shed (announcement of commencement very soon (I hope!!!!)), I am feeling really inspired for a whole raft of new content. And returning to more video content to boot!

In the world of blogs (the blogosphere), Stu’s Shed is now one of the elders (remembering too, that it is still a single-author blog, unlike most other long-term players).  Who knows where it leads, but until there is a real push for a more modern alternative, we are here to stay, and even then are very adaptable on the WordPress platform.

So, “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday Stu’s Shed, happy birthday to you”

Hand Tool Event

This weekend 🙂

At Holmesglen (Chadstone) 🙂 🙂
See the following suppliers, and their product lines

MINI_Joinery_Kni_4e5ef1d8bb464Vesper Tools


Henry Eckertimg_3699_grande

Japanese Tools


Southern Tonewoods



Batesford Rd.
Building 5,  Parking $2 all day
Drive in at Gate 3.

10am-4pm both days

SSYTC048 Who says drill bits are boring?

Some can do more…..

Where it comes to the reasons for drilling holes, the reasons can be many, and varied – I’m sure you can think of dozens of reasons without me making a list.

One of those reasons is as a pilot hole for screws.  This can be to prevent the timber splitting from having a screw boring in, pushing the timber aside to the point that the surrounding timber cannot withstand the pressure. Some timbers being a lot more susceptible than others.  Alternately, (and not necessarily exclusively), it can be because the force required to drive the screw into the timber is more than the screw’s torsional strength.  We’ve all had screw heads shear off, or the driver cam-out, burring the head.



What happens to the head of the screw is what we are talking about here.  After drilling a pilot hole, the screw head can be treated a number of ways.  If it is a dome or similar, it is designed to sit proud of the surface, so job done.  But often that is not the case, or desirable.  You can drive the screw home, then push a bit further, to have the head pulled into the timber.  Works in some cases, but can lead to an unsightly crush zone around the head, or if the timber is not strong enough, you can destroy the wooden thread you have just cut with the screw and then you might as well have used a nail for all the strength you’ve gotten.  If the timber is too dense, you can again burr the drive or the screw head.

The solution is to countersink.  This is normally a two stage operation – after drilling the hole, you then pick up you countersink tool to create the recess for the screw.  These can be used with a drill, or like the old Triton countersink, be done with a handtool.

counter_sink_Weldon HLLXCW10


In the past, I have been known to pick up a second drill bit that is the diameter of the screw head, and use that to create the countersink.

If you have a lot to do, drilling the pilot hole and countersinking in one step saves a lot of time.  There are a few bits on the market that can achieve this, such as this one from Amana Tool

countersink-photoPhoto 17-06-13 22 24 30

These are drill bits, fitted into a holder with carbide tipped countersink.  You can drill and countersink to your heart’s content.  Even if the drill bit blunts or breaks, it can be easily replaced and the carbide countersink will keep on cutting.

These are much more convenient than the two step operation, and in a CNC machine, depth is controlled by the program, not by the human user.  Where you are using them free-hand, it can be easy to be a bit inconsistent in hole depth, so the screw is a still a little proud, or becomes fully recessed below the surface (and the countersunk area is a larger diameter than is necessary).  If your intention is to fully bury the screw, then fill the resulting hole with a flush-cut dowel, then no problem – the inconsistent depth is a non-issue.

But what about using them freehand (as in handheld drill), when you do want the depth consistent (which would be a majority of the time I’d hesitate to say)?

For the rare few with a surviving Triton drill, you are fine – very comprehensive, built in depth stop.


For the rest, well Amana Tool has a solution for you.  Build an adjustable depth stop into the countersink bit.  What’s more, ensure that it can be adjusted independently of setting the drill bit length/replacement of drill bit.

55234Photo 17-06-13 22 23 10The depth stop has quite a range, so you can set it anywhere between having the countersink just cut the surface for the smallest screw head (and less), right through to being able to fully recess the screw head below the surface.  Obviously, because you have that range you can cater for a number of different diameter heads, and different thicknesses.

Plenty of chip clearance as you can see, and the hex bolt in the photo above is the height adjustment.

This gives you great consistency, hole after hole without having to use the eyechrometer, or having a piece of tape stuck to the bit as a crude depth stop.

drill-bit-tapeHowever, you do have to consider the material you are drilling into – will it be affected by the spinning depth stop – be this any scratches, or heat effects from the friction?  You could use tape or similar where the hole will be drilled, even a moveable thin plastic plate with an oversized hole in the right place, and compensate for this extra thickness in the height adjustment.  That would be pretty effective.

Or you could get the non-marring carbide tipped countersinking with adjustable depth stop and thrust bearing bit from Amana Tool.  Ok, it is not quite called that, but that describes the bit pretty well.  Just call it the No-Mar Countersink 🙂

nomar-countersinksPhoto 17-06-13 22 22 14 Photo 17-06-13 22 21 53

So what do we have here?  Well it is a carbide-tipped countersink.  It has an adjustable depth stop.  The depth-stop is free-spinning on a thrust bearing, and it has chip clearance and the ability to adjust the depth stop independently of the drill bit. If you look closely at the final picture above, you can see a semicircle just to the left, and behind the bit.  That was caused by the previous height-adjustable countersink.

This one, as the depth-stop touches the surface, the depth-stop stops spinning minimising the amount of friction heat and scratches in the surface.  You could again go one step further, and carefully hold the depth stop so it isn’t spinning even when it touches the surface, but just keep fingers clear of the bit.

So that’s it, a range of countersinks, Amana Tool brand from Toolstoday.com

Photo 17-06-13 22 26 05If you want to see them in action, I even shot a quick video for you. Don’t shoot me on the quality of photos or video – circumstances are still very much in flux (resolving soon, knock on wood) 😉  Drill is the Festool CXS btw.

SSYTC048 Who says drill bits are boring?

Doin’ it old-style

The Use and Abuse of Screws in Wood Work

Lost Art Press

screw_patent_sArchimedes is credited with the invention of the screw, but whether the famous geometrician’s labours extended much further than the enunciation of the scientific principles and the mechanical power of the screw, it is difficult to say. If he made a screw, he certainly must have tried its effect, and was probably well satisfied with its performance, for in the whole range of mechanical appliances in the constructive arts there is not a more useful article than the screw.

Archimedes is further reported to have said, “Give me a prop, a position, and a lever strong enough, and I will move the world,” and, no doubt, if these conditions could be granted to him, he, as well as others after him, could lift the earth, or aught upon the earth, by a combination of the tremendous lifting and driving powers exercised by a series of screws, apart from the lever.

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