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Planemakers Didn’t Understand

Hayward’s writing is suffused with a poignant awareness that the 20th century was a time of inexorable decline in the use and manufacture of hand tools. All sorts of skills and techniques that were taken for granted in previous centuries disappeared, and the use of the double iron wasn’t immune from this trend. By the end of the 20th century it was common, as I noted earlier, to hear the claim that cap irons didn’t really stop tear-out. Some writers speculated that the real purpose of the cap iron was to stabilize or add heft to the cutting iron. One prominent author wrote that cap irons “do more harm than good in a handplane” – a statement that would have...

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A "Best-Case Scenario" Backsaw Restoration

I found this nice Disston carcase saw in a secondhand shop a few years ago, and it’s been living untouched in my tool chest since. Yes, I paid $5 for it – there are still bargains to be had if you look hard enough! The tote was solid but covered in dark grime, and the plate and teeth were straight but needed cleaning and sharpening. One evening last week, I finally pulled it out and gave it some TLC. My first step was dealing with the dark coating on the tote. My best guess is that it is some kind of highly oxidized (and very hard) oil coating – linseed, perhaps? I tried multiple solvents – alcohol, xylene, and even wiped-on...

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New Course! “Skills Over Jigs: Vital Exercises for Hand-tool Woodworkers” Now Available

  We’re pleased to announce that our newest course is now available for purchase – and we think this one is going to make a world of difference for every woodworker who signs up. Jigs can be valuable devices for guiding and aiding in repeatable, accurate cuts and joinery, but they can also become a hindrance to skill development. Just as training wheels can be useful for learning to ride a bike, eventually they should come off if you want to truly enjoy the experience. If you struggle with accuracy or efficiency without external aid – if your crosscuts dip and your kerfs wander, if you get paralyzed in laying out dovetails properly without a template, or if you just...

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