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Final Answers
© 2000-2019   Gérard P. Michon, Ph.D.

Evolution of Woodworking


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Related Links (Outside this Site)

Woodworking for Engineers  by  Matthias Wandel.
Paul Sellers (1950-)  A  lifestyle woodworker.
New Yankee Workshop  by  Norm Abram  (1949-).
The Woodwright's Shop  by  Roy Underhill  (1950-).


Woodcraft (1928)   |   House of Hardwood (1947)   |   BellForest

"Build a Chess Board"   by  Steve Ramsey   | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
End-Ggrain Chess Board (6:58)  Mark Crist  (Gunflint Designs, 2017-02-24).
Two End-Grain Chessboards (15:51)  by  Mike McCrory  (2018-08-12).
6 simple gifts made from wood (8:35)  by  Marie  (DIY Montreal, 2018-11-19).
The Chemistry of Fire and Wood  (1:42:56)  Andrew Szydlo  (RI, 2018-01-24).
Traditional Korean floor  (18:17 | 15:18)  by  Mr. Chickadee  (Dec. 2018).


Whittling  and  Carving

(2018-11-09)   Solid lumber:  Wood from around the World.
Aspect, density, properties and prices of some domestic or exotic woods.

The preferred sample size for collectors of natural wood is  6'' by 3'' by ½''.  Here's a short selection  (in no particular order,  for now):

Cork  is the suberin-rich  bark  of the  cork oak  (Quercus suber, chêne-liège).  The entire bark can be harvested with hand tools at regular intervals  (7 to 15 years)  in the summertime once the tree is mature  (about 25 years,  or 70 cm in circumference).  The first such harvest is called  virgin cork  or  male cork.  The subsequent ones produce  female cork.  A tree can be so harvested about a dozen times over its lifetime.

The Wood Database   |   International Wood Collectors Society (IWCS, 1947)
Rare Woods USA  located in Maine  (video).
2" x 2" Exotic Wood Blanks  (for turning)  BellForest.
Lumber  Home Depot.
Densest to Lightest:  Exotic wood Showdown (14:49)  by  James King  (2018-09-09).

(2018-11-24)   Lumber (US) or Timber (UK)
Planks obtained from logs  (French: grumes).

Lumber dries.  Logs rot.

Logs  (French: grumes).

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Logging   |   Lumber   |   Sawmill   |   Hewing  (équarissage)
Saw pit:  Bottom sawyer (renard) and top sawyer (chevrier).

(2018-11-20)   Composite Wood.  Engineered wood.
All grades of fiberboard & particle board,  from paperboard to hardboard.

Phenolic plywood  is a sheet product whose outer layers are impregnated with  phenolic resin  (the stuff used in modern  billiard balls).  That makes the surface very smooth,  hard and water-resistant.  At  ½''  thickness,  phenolic plywood  is dimensionally stable and it's excellent for building woodworking tables,  fences and jigs.

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Engineered wood   |   Perforated hardboard  (Peg-Board)

(2018-11-15)   Properties and chemistry of glues used in woodworking:
Wood glue can make a joint stronger than the joined pieces.

With wood glue,  the pieces to be glued must match almost perfectly and be clamped against each other until the glue dries.  Clamping ensures that glue forms only a thin layer  (a thick layer of dried glue would be a weak point).

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Wood glue   |   Cyanoacrylate (CA) glues
Working with CA Glue Adhesives in Woodworking (11:33)  by  Colin Knecht  (WoodWorkWeb, 2018-11-16).

(2018-11-18)   Clamps
Gluing wood surfaces always requires adequate clamping.

The pieces to be glued must match perfectly and be clamped against each other until the glue dries.  The clamping pressure forces the pieces against each other and ensures the glue layer between them remains very thin  (a thick layer of dried glue would form a weak point).

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Making long-reach C-clamps (7:50)  by  Matthias Wandel  (2011-03-13).
Making Deep-Reach Wooden C-Clamps with Extreme Strength, for $10 (35:46)  by  James King  (2017-05-10).
Making Cam Clamps  19:55 | 25:10 | 36:35   by  Paul Sellers  (April 2016).

(2018-11-24)   Axe  (French: hache)  and Adze  (French: herminette)
Two ancient tools,  dating back to the  Stone Age.

In an axe,  the  (curved)  blade and the axis of the handle are in the same plane.  In an adze,  they are in orthogonal planes.

An axe is primarily suited for cutting across the grain of the wood,  or at a substantial angle,  as is required for felling trees  (long-handle felling axes, for logging).

On the other hand,  An  adze  is intended to cut with the grain for finishing work.  Skilled worker can use it as a coarse substitute for a plane when the smoothness of the finished surface is not critical.

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Axe   |   Adze

(2018-11-25)   Draw knife  &  Spokeshave  (French:  vastringue).

As its French name implies  (couteau à deux manches)  a  draw knife  is just a blade with two handles.  The French also call it  une plane  (they use the name  rabot  for the more recent tool we call a  plane).

spokeshave  is the related tool where the two handle form a single piece underneath which the blade is mounted.  It's a  vastringue  to the French.

A wooden spokeshave with a convex blade meant for pushing is called a  travisher.  It's the ideal handtool for hollowing out a shallow bowl or the seat of a  Windsor chair  (possibly to finish a job started with a rounded adze).

Spokeshaves  are now commonly made industrially with metal handles and detachable blades.

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Drawknife   |   Spokeshave
How to Make a Poor Man's Spokeshave (50:24)  by  Paul Sellers  (2017-07-21).

(2018-11-15)   Hand planes.  Jointers and Planers.
Absolute and relative planing.

Rabbet plane  (rebate plane).  Bullnose.

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jointer  makes the bottom surface perfectly planar  (using the precision of its metallic table as a reference).  Running the piece through a  thickness planer  (or thicknesser)  will  then  make its thickness uniform,  thus ensuring that the top surface is planar as well.  The two operations  must  be performed in that order,  without flipping the piece over.

The specific advantage of a jointer is that it uses only a single face as a reference  (at first it touches the infeed table at two points, then it's in contact with the outfeed table which is slightly higher).  At soon as it's practical,  push the board down on the outfeed sidel;  in most cases that's all what's needed to prevent unwanted rotation of the piece.  There is not practical limit to how tall a piece can be.  Thus,  a jointer is all you need if you just want to join several boards end-to-end along perfectly straighr edges  (hence the name).  A jointer doesn't ensure that the finish edges of a board are parallel,  which doesn't matter in jointing.

By contrast,  a thickness planer only ensures that the top face is parallel to the bottom face  (and it won't be straight if the bottom face isn't).  The thickness a planer can produce is typically limited to just a few inches.  You can use a planner as a makeshift jointer  (for narrow boards only)  by making a jig to clamps them vertically onto a good flat horizontal board  (for details,  see video by Mark Hanson in the footnotes below).

Jack plane   |   Rabbet plane   |   Bullnose  (Shoulder_plane)
Jointer, buzzer, surface-planner   |   (Thickness) planer,  thicknesser   |   Hand planes   |   Jointer plane
What a Jointer Does (15:07)  by  Matthew Cremona  (2015-06-08).
How to Turn Your Planer Into a Jointer (5:42)  by  Mark Hanson  (2017-06-04).
Straightening Boards without a Jointer (10:03)  by  Rex Krueger  (2018-04-13).
Bad Vibrations (22:43)  by  Paul Sellers  (2019-01-11).

(2018-11-15)   Routers and Routing Bits
Round-over bits.

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Router   |   Router bits

(2018-11-15)   Joinery.  Wood Joints.
Uses for the various types of wood joints.

  • Mortise and tenon.
  • Rabbet cut  (or  rebate cut).
  • Dado cut  (also:  housing (UK)  or  trench).  Rectangular groove cut  across  the grain of a board.

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Woodworking joints   |   Biscuit jointer
Bamboo Joints and Joinery Techniques  by  Stéphane Schröder  (Guadua Bamboo, 2009-05-18).
How to Make Rabbet Joints (11:19)  by  Marc Spagnuolo  (The Wood Whisperer, 2015-03-07).
Making a Poor Man's Rebate Plane (55:44)  by  Paul Sellers  (2015-11-14).
Bamboo Joint Lashing Techniques (5:45)  Bamboo World  (2016-01-25).

(2018-11-14)   Portable Workbench
Most do-it-yourselfers use a sturdy foldable workbench.

The most basic and most affordable widely available unit is the  Workmate 125 ($25)  from  Black & Decker.

I use a  Workmate 425 $92 which comes with a removable middle plank and the ability to clamp vertically larger pieces  (up to 1.56'' or 39 mm thick)  by tilting the front plank 90°.  The slightly less expensive  Workmate 225  ($77)  doesn't do that.  Neither does the more expensive  Workmate 1000  ($133).

Alternatives from the competitors of  Black & Decker  include:

  • WORX Pegasus  ($99).  ABS bench (300 lb) & sawhorse (1000 lb).
  • Kreg KWS1000 ($159).

Workbench   |   Vise   |   Bench dogs & dog holes   |   Shave horse (donkey)
9 Best Portable Workbenches (4:21)  Ezvid Wiki  (2018-02-08).
Assembly Supports for the Workmate (3:15)  by  Marty Backe  (2015-08-21).
Create a simple workbench using a B&D Workmate (8:34)  Imagine then Make  (2018-04-01).
Upgrading the Workmate 425 Panels (8:34)  WorkMateGuy  (2018-03-30).
Making a workbench with handtools  [ 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 ]  by  Paul Sellers  (2017-2018).

(2018-11-24)   Hammers and Mallets

Chisel hammer.  Carving mallet.  Teardrop mallet  (nylon head).

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Hammer   |   Mallet (high-density Harbor Freight Tools 2-Inch Teardrop Mallet    (2014-02-05).
How to make a Joiner's Mallet  (33:19 | 39:20)  by  Paul Sellers  (January 2015).
Making a joiner's mallet from firewood (9:01)  by  Ian Slatas  (2014-02-05).

(2018-12-05)   Dowels, Nails and Woodscrews
Fasteners used to strenghten a joint.

Twinfast :

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Nail   |   Treenail   |   Dowel   |   Wood screw
How to Make an Awl (31:57)  by  Mike Peace  (Mike Peace Woodturning, 2015-01-11).

(2018-11-18)   Chisels

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Chisels   |   Slick

(2018-11-18)   Whittling  and  Carving

Whittling is a good excuse to own and use a fancy knife,  but a proper blade mounted on a specially-designed handle is needed to whittle for any length of time.


(2018-11-17)   Hand Saws
Crosscut saw,  dovetail saw,  bow saw,  coping saw,  fretsaw.

Rip saw.  Flush-cut saw.  Panel saw.

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Crosscut saw   |   Bow saw   |   Coping saw   |   Fretsaw

(2018-11-17)   Power Saws and their Blades
Circular saw, jigsaw, scroll saw, reciprocating saw, table saw & bandsaw.

Table Saw :

A table-saw consist of a powered circular saw permanently mounted under a table  (with a metallic or phenolic top,  to reduce friction  with wood workpieces).  The saw blade is raised or lowered through a slot in the surface of the table to control th depth of the cut.  It's often possible to tilt the blade to make oblique cuts.

A table saw in normally endowed with a smooth metallic  fence  mounted vertically on top of the table,  parallel to the slot of the blade.  The distance from the fence to the blade can be adjusted from a fraction of an inch to many inches.  The simplest way to use the saw is to slide a straight edge of the workpiece against the fence to make a cut parallel to that edge.

The versatility of the tool is greatly enhanced by the presence of two grooves called  miter slotsmiter tracks  or  miter channels  (the British spelling is  mitre).  They're parallel to the blade on either side of it.  In the US,  standard miter slots are  3/4''  wide and  3/8''  deep  (the width is more critical than the exact depth).  This allows the use of a variety of jigs called  sleds  which hold the workpiece and are guided by two  miter bars  (also called  runners)  solidly attached to them and sliding along the  miter slots  in the table.

The most common sled is the  cross-cut sled,  which consists of a large board with the two runners on one side and a tall fence fence on the other,  permanently mounted perpedicularly to the runners.  (The board is typically split in two on the target table saw.  Both halves only connected by the main fence and usually a counterfence on the other side for solidity.) 

The two runners can be made out of hardwood but.  for permanent jigs,  it's much better to use miter blanks cobisting of HUMW plastic  (ultra-high molecular weight polypropylene)  in spite of the added cost.  For top-precision sleds,  commercial miter bars are available for standard tracks  with micro-adjustments for snugness.

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Chop Saw,  Miter Saw  &  Sliding Compound Miter Saw :

All three are circular saws mounted on a pivoting arm.  The axis of that pivot and the axis of the saw are parallel.

The  sliding compound miter saw  is the most flexible.  It allows the axis of the saw to be tilted,  which is what you need in mathematically-oriented projects like the  hollow buckyball.

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Radial-Arm Saw   (Ray DeWalt, 1922)

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Circular saw  (buzzsaw)   |   Reciprocating saw  (hognose, Sawzall)   |   Jigsaw   |   Scroll saw   |   Bandsaw
Tools you'll need to start woodworking (4:11)  by  Jon Peters  (2013-10-18).
Using a Sliding Miter Compound Saw (6:33)  by  Colin Knecht  (WoodWorkWeb, 2014-06-26).
Radial Arms Saws (53:01)  by  Ricky Alexander  (Gwinnett Woodworkers, 2014-02-01).
Top 10 Woodworking Table-Saw Jigs (16:57)  by  Chris Salomone  (2018-11-07).
The Cross-Cut Sled (21:45)  by  Marc Spagnuolo  (The Wood Whisperer, 2011-04-29).

(2018-11-18)   Handheld Drill and Drill Press
Shanks diameters.  Drill bits.  Proper speeds.

General-purpuse  twist bits  are usable on wood  (a center punch or preliminary small-diameter hole is advised).  However,  brad point bits  are especially designed for wood and are superior for drilling medium-sized holes into wood.  They're also called  lip and spur  bits,  or  doweling  bits.

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Drill   |   Electric drill   |   Drill press  (boring machine)

(2018-11-18)   Wood Turning

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Pen Turning 101 (48:05)  by  Rob Austin  (Gwinnett Woodworkers,  2015-11-02).
Creating a Walnut and Copper Bentwood Ring (16:34)  by  Tempest Rings  (2017-12-19).

(2018-11-17)   Awls and Trammel Points
Bradawl and scratch awls.  Using scratches rather than  pencil  marks.

Birdcage awl.

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Bradawl   |   Scratch awl
How to Make an Awl (31:57)  by  Mike Peace  (Mike Peace Woodturning, 2015-01-11).

(2018-11-20)   Inside and outside calipers.  Divider and beam compass.

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(2018-11-17)   Files and Rasps

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Rasp   |   File

(2018-11-17)   Sanding
The last step before properly  finishing  the surface.

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Sandpaper   |   Sander   |   Belt sander   |   Floor sanding

(2018-11-09)   Staining and distressing wood with mordants.
One popular ebonizing solution is made from vinegar and steel wool.

Traditionally,  Boxwood  was used for white chess pieces and  ebony  for black pieces.  Both kinds of wood are denser than water with very fine grain which makes them exceptionally well suited for turning and fine carving.

Because of recent restrictions on the harvest of ebony,  boxwood is now very often used for black pieces as well using a process  ebonization,  which can be done several different ways,  possibly combined with each other  (the deepest black are achieved when stained wood also undergoes a coloring surface treatment).

Black color is obtained when  ferric acetate  reacts with wood tannin.  This reaction uses the same basic principle as  iron-gall ink  (upon which Western civilization was arguably founded).

To make a good  ebonizing solution  at home,  first clean some steel wool thoroughly with soap and water  (to remove any trace of oil which would hinder the rest of the process).  Rinse it well.  Let it soak for several days at room temperature in a mixture of cleaning vinegar  (6% or 8% acetic acid)  and hydrogen peroxide  (heating can speed up the process,  if needed).  Ferric acetate  will form:

2 Fe  +  3 H2O2   ®   2 Fe(OH)3
Fe(OH)3  +  3 CH3COOH   ®   Fe(CH3COO)3  +  3 H2O

This is a  mordant  which blackens wood by reacting with the  tannin  in it.

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Ebonizing wood with iron acetate
Formation of Iron Acetate in Solution (2:15)  by  Chad, the C  (2017-09-01).
Three Practical Ways to Ebonize Wood (39:30)  by  Les Casteel  (2013-10-30).

(2018-11-14)   Buffing,  Sealing,  Priming.
Smoothing,  sealing and protecting the final surface.

Shellac flakes.

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(2018-11-15)   Finishing
Achieving a flat,  satin,  semi-gloss or glossy finish.

Shellac is the traditional finish of choice for natural wood,  with of without prior staining.  The first coat seals the wood very well already.  It dries very quickly  (one hour between coat is enough).  Sanding between coats is optional  (it serves only to make the surface smoother but it's not needed to make the new coat  bite  into the previous one,  since that's done chemically by the solvent).  Do not  even think to use foam brushes to apply shellac or any other lacquer!  (They'd melt.)  Shellac is  not  a good undercoat for polyurethane.

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Tung oil   |   Homer Formby (1925-).
Linseed oil   |   Shellac   |   Lacquer   |   Varnish   |   Sheen
The hype about Shellac as a sealer  by  Bob Flexner  (2012-09-16).
Finishing with Shellac (33:06)  by  Paul Sellers  (2017-01-03).
Finishing Seminar (53:52)  by  Peter Gedrys  (2011-12-29).
Priming and Painting Wood (6:57)  by  Tracy Metro  (Dunn-Edwards Paints,  (2014-10-14).

(2018-11-27)   Dry or Wet Cooperage  (French:  tonnellerie)
Wooden containers for dry goods and liquids  (buckets & barrels).

Shaping  staves  (French:  merrains made by  merrandier)  and fitting the  heads  (the flat parts of barrels, or the bottom of a bucket).  Measurements for specific gallonage were secretly transmitted from one cooper to the next.

  • Side axe.
  • Inside shave and bully plane.
  • Backing iron.
  • Toping plane.
  • Jigger.
  • "Bangbora".
  • Flagging iron.
  • Head pullers.

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Cooper   |   Tonnellerie Ö   |   Tonnellerie Radoux
Making a wooden bucket (52:28)   by  George Smithwick,  sixth generation cooper  (2016-06-26).

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