Collaboration 1

Got a spare $59400?


The cabinet is made from Sassafras, with black heart Sassafras inlays on the front doors and wenge/ebony trims, and was created by Phoebe Everill from “School of Wood”

The squares and marking gauges are a complete set of ebony tools from Colen Clenton tools, and includes a couple of “one off” tools.

There is also a full set of 50 ebony tools (primarily planes) from HNT Gordon, and includes the first ever HNT Gordon moving fillister plane.

That is one stunning collection!  Viewable at Sturt Wood Gallery.

And if you really do happen to have a spare $59400, contact them at

The Anarchist

On yet another flight carrying me away from the shed, it proved the perfect opportunity to begin reading my new copy of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” by Chris Schwarz

Confronting book, because he starts off in the same place many of us are – a shed that is too small with many tools and jigs, and a shortage of space.

He then gets into tool purchases, and his many many MANY false avenues he has been down. He soon gets into one of his passions – hand tools, and particularly hand planes. As he described the standard collection of planes you wanted, I was rather buoyed to realise that by good fortune, or good planning, the HNT Gordon planes I had purchased so far over the years fitted neatly into the basic categories (I’d like to think good planning!)

Basic stock preparation: the Jack Plane

What I have:

HNT Gordon Aussie Jack Plane

Flattening stock and edging: The trying plane

What I have:

HNT Gordon Trying Plane

Smoothing the result, ready for finishing: The smoothing plane (eg Stanley #5)

What I have:

HNT Gordon Smoothing Plane

So simply, I have no excuse not to try these tools more, become reasonably proficient with them. Given I have a few blades, I may be able to choose one to put a slight camber on it for improved jack plane performance, but will check with Terry’s site before doing that.
I am sure there is a whole heap more that I will learn, or discover during the journey.

Rest assured, I don’t intend to become a hand tool fanatic, shunning power tools (I enjoy the machinery too much). Nor am I planning relocation of shed tools!

Wood Show Wrap

Friday/Day 1 has come and gone already, and it is great being back at the show after the confused drama of last year. But enough of that, and onto what is happening!

I have quite a prime position, near the front entrance and directly opposite Carbatec. I’ll take some photos tomorrow – was concentrating on getting the video camera out today (and will put up some of the footage next week). I have a corner of the Triton stand (but am not specifically demonstration Triton – it happens to be the portable equipment that is available). For those of the old school, it is great seeing a genuine Triton stand again at the show.

Almost like days of old, but with some differences. For one, there isn’t a dedicated multiple demonstrator program running – think those days are probably behind us. There isn’t the massive display of units to sell (there is plenty of stock for anyone interested in purchasing, but not like the days when we simply could not put enough SuperJaws on the stand to get to the end of the show!) There is a new product on display, and before it is commercially available.

And last but not least, the saw has a familiar and welcome shape – it is the saw of old, and not the Chinese unit which GMC tried to replace the Triton saw with. (“30% weight saving in a Magnesium body”, only to discover the Chinese motor was so much heavier there was no weight gain either way)
So I got around a bit today – will explore further tomorrow.

The showbags seem popular – if you haven’t come along/introduced yourself then do so – bags only available while stocks last!

End of day one wrap, and all the usual suspects are there. This really is a good crowd – we all get on well, and especially those that do the multiple shows. The first photo we have Colen (hand tool maker), Stan (who should need no introduction!) and Terry (HNT Gordon planes).


Colen, Stan and Terry

This second mob pulls in from a lot of areas, but revolves around the Ubeaut stand, with a number who cover that show at the ‘show’

From left to right we have Neil Ellis, who wrote the book on finishing! Top right corner is Chris (aka Doorstop for those that reminise about the old Wood Forum days) and Mrs Ubeaut (Pauline).


The Usual Suspects


It’s been a little while since I had a good look around the HNT Gordon website.  I’ve known about some (but not all) the new planes in the range, but haven’t mentioned here for some time.  I have a number of HNT Gordon planes in my workshop – certainly plan to have some more in time!

First plane to mention are the dado planes.  There are three sizes available (1/4″, 1/2″ and 3/4″)

HNT Gordon Dado Plane

Dado plane detail

This could be the most complicated plane in the range!  From front to back (and in the second photo, this is from right to left), there is a scoring blade (called a nicker), which slices a groove with twin knife-edges on either side of the dado.  This ensures a very clean, crisp edge to the dado, with the fibres scored and sliced rather than chipped.  The amount of extension of the nicker is controlled with the knurled knob on top of the plane.

The next feature back is a depth-control plate. When the dado is precisely to the required depth, the plate rubs on the top surface, preventing the dado plane cutting deeper.

Third and finally is the blade, which standard for HNT Gordon planes cuts at a 60o angle with a thick blade to avoid chatter.  What is different is the blade is skewed at 20o, so it slices rather than chips.

The next plane I’ve found on the site is the Radius Plane

HNT Gordon Radius Plane

Radius plane sole

This plane is one with a single purpose.  Well all planes could be described that way, but this one is made specifically to shape the seat of a Windsor chair (and any other similar function).  I have seen all sorts of jigs to try to get a router to scallop out a chair curve, but sometimes the traditional way is the best way, and that is what this plane is all about.  No ridges, powdered timber, extensive sanding, excessive noise.  The subtle “schick” sound of a well tuned plane functioning perfectly.

Terry has also tackled moulding planes, with a set of hollows and rounds from 1/4″ to 1 1/4″ in 1/4″ increments, and a snipe bill plane to start the process.

Moulding plane set

It is surprising just how many profiles can be created with a few hollows and rounds.  There is a new book on Lost Art Press just on the topic of creating a wide variety of profiles with such a set.

Terry Gordon also has developed some spokeshaves in the past few years.  A larger one, either flat-bottomed or curved, and a fine spokeshave for getting into the tightest of spaces.

HNT Gordon Spokeshave (curved or flat)

Fine spokeshave

Other planes to come include a moving fillister (also known as an adjustable rabbet plane), a dovetail plane, and a plow plane.  A plow plane is the precursor of the modern router for joinery – cutting grooves and narrow rabbets).  Will be very interested to see how Terry tackles each of these.

So that is it (at this stage), so many planes to tempt you, made from stunning timbers and each that work better than you could possibly expect.  They can be found, and ordered from the HNT Gordon website.

The 5 Faces of Woodworking

The Tattooed Woodworker makes some interesting observations in his classification of woodworkers.

Where do I fit? I guess with a hint of regret, I’d have to fit into slot number 1. Almost my sum total of woodworking involves murdering electrons, with just a few scant visits to “The Dark Side” (or as Rob calls them less controvertially, “The Purists”).

I don’t deliberately avoid handtools, and in fact those that take pride-of-place in my workshop (or will when I build the Krenov-inspired cabinet when on the Ideal Tools course) are all handtools that “The Purists” would be very happy with – HNT Gordon planes, Chris Vesper’s marking knife (I really need some more of his tools I think) etc.

What is interesting for me, is how I evolved to this point where I can and do pretty much every single task in woodworking with some form of (typically) large machine, yet I seem to crave the purity of hand tools, without having the time to do anything about it.  Not that I regret the path chosen – I am a mechanical/materials engineer in practice and thought, if not by vocation.  I enjoy mastering machines, and all that comes with the ability to precisely process a material, be that wood or steel. (Aluminium doesn’t rate – horrible stuff that doesn’t have the decency to burn, or melt properly!)  But I do look at the hand tool purists with a sense of loss – there is a skill set there that I am sadly lacking, and I’m not sure what is blocking me from going there – time perhaps, a desire for precision, who knows.  A rough-cut dovetail doesn’t evoke the same reaction in me as it does for some, but when watching a real artisan produce a drawer with handtools that is so precise that it can hardly close properly because of the cushion of air behind it that becomes compressed keeps me enthrawled.

Have a think about it, particularly against Rob’s list – where do you choose to fit as a woodworker, and why, or how did you get to the point that you are?

New HNT Gordon Planes

Received my latest e-newsletter from HNT Gordon planes recently, which was a good prompt to have a look at Terry’s website again.

Noticed on there that Terry won’t be attending any of the woodshows this year, and instead is offering discounts on his planes (which correspond to the State that the show is in – check his site for more details).  In a nutshell though, when the discount is in your area, it is for 20% off, which is quite a savings!  If you are in Queensland, this special is currently available until 31 May 09.

The other thing that I noticed is he has bought out some new planes – specifically hollow and round profiles of different widths. I’ve pinched these photos from his website:

HNT Gordon Hollow Plane

HNT Gordon Hollow Plane

Using the 1" Round

Using the 1" Round

Finally, an image from his site that has (and is still) gracing the wall of my office.  A stunning set of Ebony planes and associated tools from Terry and Colen (Clenton)

HNT Gordon

HNT Gordon

Upgraded Bandsaw Circle Cutter Jig

Way way back in the history of this blog (around Episode 6 if anyone cares) I did a video on a basic circle cutting jig for the bandsaw.  That jig was decommissioned and abandoned after a few years of service as part of the cleanup during the shed expansion, but it has taken from then until now for me to do something about replacing it.  I’ve had plans in my head for a new version for a long time, and finally I have realised those into a new jig (which is still a bit of a work-in-progress).

So let’s jump into what I have been working on.

I started by raiding the jig drawer, and found some useful components that looked like they would work with my mental image of the new jig.  My main thing I wanted to be able to do with the new one, was adjust the diameter of the circle without having to use the agricultural method of hammering in a nail and clipping off it’s head to form a point to mount the work on.  So a rail was needed.

The other ‘problem’ I wanted to solve was angled circle cuts, which have a different bandsaw blade path, and over time would end up with the jig rather chewed up.  Will still be working on this as the jig develops.

Jig Components

Jig Components

What we have here is some Incra Rule Track, the Incra Mitre Slot runner (not sure it’s real name), a mitre slot lock nut and some scale rule.

I wanted to use the mitre slot lock as the pivot point – setting its position along the track and it then locks down with a hex key. I needed to put a pivot point into it, and what I came up with was a threaded bolt through the track lock, which is then sharpened to a point to mount the workpiece.  As much as my shed is a woodworking shop, there is still a number of invaluable metal-working tools in there and one that is invaluable for jig building is a thread cutting set.

Metal Thread Cutting

Metal Thread Cutting

It doesn’t have a large range, but there is enough in there for the sorts of small-scale jigs etc that I need to make.  Jigs are, after all, one of the most useful things in a workshop, so making a jig is an artform in itself. (Not that I’m particularly good at it, but I do recognise their value!)

Measuring Thread Size

Measuring Thread Size

First step was choosing a suitable bolt that I wanted to use, and then determining what thread size it was to cut the matching threaded hole in the Mitre Lock. There is a tool in the kit to determine the thread on a bolt, and in this case I was able to work out that it was M5 0.8 pitch.

Drilling the hole to be tapped

Drilling the hole to be tapped

Next, using the pro drill press table’s advantages with the clamps etc, I was able to hold down (with the aid of some Vice-Grips) the small Mitre Lock to drill the hole to be tapped.  I used a 4mm bit for this, as it will be tapped out to 5mm by the thread cutter.

Cutting the thread

Cutting the thread

Using the correct thread cutters, I then tapped the hole, first with the least aggressive 5mm 0.8 cutter, and progressing through to the final cutter which produces the sharp crisp thread required.  Using one is pretty easy, and it is just a matter of taking it slow, backing the tool off every 1/4 turn to break off the swarf that is forming, then continuing deeper and deeper.  This is repeated for the next two thread taps until the thread is fully formed.

Formed Thread

Formed Thread

Here is the final hole produced, and all tapped ready for use.  You can also see in this photo the grub screw (hex drive) that is used to lock the Mitre Lock into the track

Inserting the Bolt

Inserting the Bolt

The bolt is then threaded through, and with the aid of the Vice-Grips again, the head of the bolt was sanded right down on the linisher. Then, with a combination of metal files, the Triton Rotary Tool and the linisher, the bolt was shortened, and sharpened to a point.

Ripping the Jig

Ripping the Jig

The body of the jig has been made out of this heavy ply I have held onto for years, waiting for a good use to put it to.  It happens to be the ply that is used around electrical cabinets etc, and is quite weather (and electrically) resistant.  It has a shiny, smooth side, perfect for jigs.  This is probably one of the first photos on here of me actually using my tablesaw, so have included it for that reason (I normally don’t remember to take a photo while ripping a board!)

Routing the Dado for the Track

Routing the Dado for the Track

I wanted a stopped dado for the track (in other words a slot that doesn’t extend the entire width of the board, so as much as I was hoping to use the dado blades on the tablesaw for a legitimate job, I still needed the router table for the task.  The Incra fence again came into its own, allowing me to accurately position the fence so the track was an exact fit. I did use the micro positioner to do a couple of final fitting runs, taking off about 3/1000″ each pass to get the fit perfect.

The end of the stopped dado has rounded corners as a legacy of being cut with a router bit, so I needed to either square those corners up, or round the track over to match.  I have a small tool I bought from Carb-i-tool years ago, perfect (and designed) for this task.

Corner Squaring Chisel

Corner Squaring Chisel

A few quick raps with my home-made redgum mallet, and the corner is cut square.  It is a cool design, and the tool has a rebate on two sides so it fits perfectly in the corner over the top of the round section that needs removing.

After testing with the track, I decided I wanted to set it a bit deeper, and rather than making more passes on the router table, I had the perfect tool for that job too…..

HNT Gordon Shoulder Plane

HNT Gordon Shoulder Plane

… HNT Gordon ebony shoulder plane.  Sometimes a hand tool is the perfect tool (and yes, I am sure there are many other there that would argue that a hand tool is ALWAYS the perfect tool, but I don’t mind murdering a few electrons on the way).  It can be set so fine to take of just a fine shaving, delicately thin.  You can’t beat the feeling of working with a fine tool.

Track in Position

Track in Position

The track and Mitre Stop is now in position, and the track is significantly longer than the jig so I can cut rather large circles if required.  The size of the base board was chosen to roughly correspond to the width of the bandsaw table (including the area between the blade and the riser (the throat)), so the workpiece has plenty of support.

Marking up slider position

Marking up slider position

Another tool getting actually used in a real job was the Woodpecker T Square, used here to find the track that the bandsaw blade will follow, and therefore where the slider needs to be located.  I’ve used the Incra slider here because it can be fine-tuned to fit in the mitre slot of the bandsaw table for a good, sliding fit which can be adjusted and finetuned while the jig is fitted to the table with a simple hex key.   It also means I can reposition the slider easily, if I want to use this same jig on another bandsaw.  In my case this is important, as I am designing this primarily for my Jet 14″, but will also want the jig for cutting circles on the Triton 12″ bandsaw when I run my toy-making courses at Holmesglen.

The first cut

The first cut

Finally, we are ready for the very first cut, the one that the blade will follow for horizontal circle cuts.  This is done with the slider in position, but no table stop is yet fitted, as I have not determined its position.

circle-cutter-15I’ve then fitted a stop to the underside, which catches the edge of the table so the jig can’t pass through too far.  In this case I’ve used a bit of Incra rail which is a bit of a waste, but it was the perfect size, so sacrificed to “the cause”

All ready

All ready

The track is in position, the stop is in place, the initial cut is made, the jig is ready to go.

Initial cut

Initial cut

A board is located onto the pin set to the desired radius, then (with the bandsaw running obviously), the jig is slid forward until the stop on the underside connects with the table.

Cutting the Circle

Cutting the Circle

The board is then rotated through the blade as it pivots on the pin until the circle is complete, and as seen here, breaks free of the outside stock.

Backing out of the cut

Backing out of the cut

You then back the blade through the initial slot cut until the entire jig is free of the blade, and remove the cut circle.

Circle Cutting on the Bandsaw

Circle Cutting on the Bandsaw

Circle cutting on the bandsaw – a simple task that takes a lot less time than it took to write this article!

Burl Clock

After having a couple of inquiries, thought I’d post a brief description of the Burl Clock, seen in the Gallery.


The burl (and clock mechanism) were purchased at the Working with Wood show. Total cost: $40.  The mechanism came from Jonathon Knowles Clocks.

The face has been planed and sanded to get it reasonably flat, then the sanding to produce the finish. Each sandpaper grade was used, between 120 and 1200, all on a Triton Random Orbital sander.  The ROS is used because its eccentric sanding pattern doesn’t leave the telltale swirls (scratches) of a normal orbital sander.

The finish was produced first by rubbing Ubeaut Shellawax Cream across the face until the cloth started to grab. It was then buffed with a Ubeaut Swansdown mop attached to a drill. Next, Ubeaut EEE Ultrashine was used to produce a satin finish, again with the Swansdown mop.

The cavity for the clock mechanism was made using the Triton Router (handheld), using a template guide and straight router bit.

Handplanes, a quick look

I’ve been avoiding this topic for quite a while, as much because there are so many knowledgeable people about there who live and breath these traditional tools, that I know I won’t be able to do them justice. But putting that aside, there is a surprisingly large learning curve to traditional tools and what they are capable of.

Woodworking has been around a lot longer than our planers and thicknessers, tablesaws, routers, drop saws etc etc. How wood was shaped and worked was often with handtools, and a group that has survived the ages are handplanes. Of the vast majority of traditional handtools that existed, at least you can still walk into a hardware store and buy one. How good they are is another matter entirely, but there are still some quality handtools around.

I said recently that I’m a bit of a strange fish where it comes to some things, and this is no exception. I came across a toolmaker at the Melbourne Wood Show a few years ago, and was really inspired by what could be achieved with such a basic form. He was (and is) Terry Gordon, and I really enjoy owning and using some of his planes. (HNT Gordon Planes).

So onto planes themselves. I mainly only have HNT Gordon planes to show you at this stage to highlight my points. In a roundabout way, this is another aspect of the start of the sharpening exposé. After all, when you are talking about sharpening, there has to be something that needs to be sharp!

It is said that there are the big 4 planes that all complement each other, and all fill different roles.

They are: the smoothing plane, the trying plane, the shoulder plane, and the low-angle block plane. In addition, I’d add the spokeshave, and the jack plane to complete the basic set. (And at this stage, I still need to add a spokeshave and jack plane to complete my set!)


Now I know that what I have here do not look like the planes you normally expect to see, but other than quite a different looking form to the modern plane, they still perform the same function.


I also really like the fact they come in such a traditional looking box…

The left-hand plane is the low-angle block plane. The low angle makes it very good for end-grain, and given it’s small size, is very convenient for a number of quick shaving jobs (like taking off the edge of a board)

The plane on the right is the shoulder plane. It is unusual, because the blade gets right to the edge of the plane itself, so planing the shoulder of a tenon is achievable (and where it gets its name from). It can also be used to cut a rebate, or a dado.

The last two planes really do complement each other, and as you can see, look quite like each other, just different sizes. They do have different functions. The large plane is called a Trying Plane, and is used to flatten a board. Because of its length, it rides across high spots, allowing them to be planed down, rather than following the rise and fall and just smoothing them. It can remove quite a bit of material quickly, and is the original version of what we know as a jointer (or planer) when talking about powered tools.


The other is a smoothing plane. Capable of removing the finest of shavings, and leaving a surface so smooth and shiny, that only a light touch with 400 – 600 grit sandpaper is needed before reaching for the finish.


The smoothing plane can cut so fine, that you can easily read through the shaving it produces.

So these are the 4 planes, and each needs a razor sharp blade to function. In the case of the trying and smoothing planes, I have a very thick chunk of high quality steel, and for the smoothing plane in particular, I chose a cryogenically treated steel. Bloody hard to sharpen (because it is so hard), but it holds a beautiful edge. I sharpen these on Japanese waterstones, using the Veritas Mk2 Honing jig. (The blades are so thick, you can pretty easily do it by hand, but I don’t get enough practice to trust myself.)


Here in this final image, I decided to measure the thickness of the shaving I was getting off the smoothing plane. You might be able to see it, reading 0.01mm, or in other words approximately 4/10000th of an inch (ie about 1/2 a thousandth of a inch). I’m probably beyond the capabilities of the gauge to measure that fine. I think that is thin enough!

Tool of-the-Month (February 08)

The tool for this month is the Veritas MkII Honing Guide. Veritas are well known for producing quality jigs and tools, and the MkII Honing Guide is no exception.


The MkII is a significant development on the original jig and although it has been available for a while now, it still justifies being highlighted. It is used in setting and maintaining the bevel angle for edge cutting tools (such as chisels and plane blades).

It consists of 2 main components – the black component is the blade holder, and once the blade position is set, holds it in that position during the grinding/honing process. The other component (silver) (the registration jig) is used to set the blade position so it is honed to the correct angle. Once the blade position is set, this component is removed.

There are a number of advantages of the MkII. First and foremost is the accuracy and repeatability of setting the honing angle. The guide can be used on waterstones, oilstones, diamond stones, and sandpaper (commonly called the “Scary Sharp” technique). It has a large brass eccentric roller which can be set to a secondary position for creating a microbevel.

The setting jig not only controls the amount of protrusion of the blade (ie distance from the roller, which dictates the angle of the bevel), but also keeps the blade square so that an undesired skew is not created.


Here you can see the stop which is dictating the blade protrusion, but also the far side has a fence which the blade is resting against, ensuring that it is square to the roller. The blade in this case is one of my HNT Gordon plane blades (which as you might be able to see, already has a mirror finish).


Once the blade position is set, the registration jig is removed, and you are ready to start honing the blade. I’m going to be doing a separate article/video on various sharpening techniques in the near future, so won’t go into details here.

More recently, extra jigs and modifications have become available for the MkII guide, including a Skew Registration Jig for deliberately (accurately and repeatably) setting a skew angle if so desired.


The Veritas MkII Honing Guide and Skew Registration Jig has been supplied by Carbatec, and continues to prove to be their most popular honing guide.  I’ve had my MkII Guide for quite a while now, and it has proven to be an invaluable tool where it comes to sharpening.  I had the MkI before it, and although it was a good jig, the MkII has proven to be exceptional, and I’ve never regretted upgrading.

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