Better Way to Plane Chair Seats

For many years I’ve used the following trick to plane irregular-shaped objects: Screw a square block to the underside of the piece and then clamp that block in my face vise.

So today I am planing up a seat blank and fetched my little block of wood and two drywall screws. I tossed the block on the underside of the seat blank. The block landed near the front of the seat and I froze for a second.

Usually I screw the block to the dead center of the seat. But I just then realized there’s a better way. Screw the block to the front edge (or back edge) and you can get most of the seat supported by the benchtop.

Chair seats don’t flex much when you plane them. But the extra support is noticeable.

It’s a small detail. But it helps.

If you need some good hand and power tools, check this out.


Hand Tool Maintenance-Don’t Ruin Your Tools!

Woodworking, like fishing, covers a lot of territory, so the audience for our magazine and web site is a diverse lot. When I learned how to make stuff out of wood, the Internet didn’t exist and there was only one magazine and few books available on the subject. Lacking these modern resources, I was forced to make do with the advice of guys who had been making stuff most of their lives. I never had the benefit of extended discussions about taking care of my tools so they wouldn’t be ruined. I never thought about:

  • What’s the best oil to use to wipe down my tools?ChiselsBLG_0040-218x300
  • What’s the best rag to use with the best oil to wipe down my tools?
  • What’s the best plan to make a dedicated tool oiler, because even the best rag is sorely lacking?
  • Should I wipe my tools down every time I touch them because human skin excretes incredibly corrosive substances that will instantaneously cause devastating rust?
  • When I finish wiping down all of my tools should I start over because the atmosphere of planet Earth also contains incredibly corrosive substances that will instantaneously cause devastating rust?

Looking back, the sum total of advice I received was “get it sharp and get back to work.” The chisels in the photo above were purchased new in 1979. I try to keep them sharp and free from big gobs of foreign stuff. I use the back of the edges to scrape off glue, and wipe them off with whatever is handy, if I notice. If I don’t, I scrape off the surface with the handiest sharp object. I suppose that I could spend some time making them look like they just came out of the box, but I would rather be making stuff. There’s a long way to go before they’re completely useless.