I swore I’d never do that. Buy this tool, buy that tool, get Veritas, get Lie-Nielsen, get whatever to make your woodworking better.


That just changed. This stuff. BUY THIS STUFF NOW.

SWMBO is a chef (which makes me really, really lucky). She uses these in baking all the time – they’re sheets of baker’s parchment paper. They pop up out of the box like kleenex.


Glue doesn’t stick to them. Glue doesn’t soak through them. Finish (apparently) won’t soak through them. They’re coated in cellulose, not wax. They’re cheap, disposable – like paper towels – and handy for just about everything. I bought a couple of boxes and stuck them on the shelf, and I find myself reaching for them a lot.

Get some, you’ll thank me.

But yes… now I feel like this:


Ross Henton

September 2019

30 Minutes: En Garde!



My tool cabinet needs a little reorg. It’s not in disarray, but my hand tools have grown in number and I need to rotate a few things out that I don’t use very often.

One I find myself using frequently is a drawknife. It’s an old Fulton #8 I scavenged at a garage sale. I restored the handles a few years ago (not to beauty, but to function), sharpened it, and I use it all the time. It lives in the middle of the tool cabinet, which means I have to move it to reach my bowsaws and cabinet scraper. Not ideal, but you get the picture.

The problem is that it’s viciously sharp. That thing could decapitate Godzilla. A month or so back, I reached in to get something and knocked it loose. It fell across the index finger of my right hand – a huge drop of (maybe) three-quarters of an inch, at best. And it almost laid my finger open to the bone. It’s really sharp. So no more edged tools in the cabinet without guards.

IMG_9556Today’s 30-minute exercise: Make a guard for the spokeshave that might save me a trip to Primacare. I scrounged an old leather belt, cut it to length, folded it in the middle, and punched holes around the long edge and up the side. I took a piece of black leather lacing, and sewed it together, sealing the ends of the running stitch with some hide glue. I glued a small neodymium magnet to the inside of the back, and when the epoxy set, put it on the blade with the magnet holding it in place.


From now on, I don’t have to juggle a humongous straight razor when I’m reaching into the cabinet. That’s in the good column.


  • Time: 25 minutes.
  • Cost: Old belt, leather shoelace ($0.00 USD).
  • Satisfaction: Good.

Take that last 5 minutes to empty the trash and sweep under the workbench.

Ross Henton

September 2019

Visible Means of Support

After a couple of bigger projects, I was itching to do something small and simple.  Just a weekender.  What I decided on was an older idea from Wood Magazine, called a “3-in-1 Work Support”.  It was pretty simple, and could be made from stuff I had on hand – common hardware (knobs, bolts, t-track, a handful of roller bearings), and reclaimed wood.  The plans include three different tops: a roller bearing top, a phenolic plastic glide top, and a small table top.  I only made the roller bearing top for now. I doubt that I’ll ever bother with the little table top, and I need the roller bearing top for outfeed support. I’ll probably make the glide top later.

The wood I had on hand was much softer than the project plans called for.  The plans specified maple, and what I had handy was redwood and poplar.  I really think it will do fine in the long run, but I’m a little concerned about weight. It’s extremely light, and might be subject to getting knocked over.  If that’s the case, I’ll either weight the base or scrap it and rebuild it out of something stronger and heavier.

Using reclaimed wood isn’t just a matter of not being wasteful.  I’ve seen some amazing work done from old reclaimed wood from flooring and doors.  In this case, it was simple economy. This is a work support for the shop, not fine furniture.  So free wood was perfect – build, sand, one coat of lacquer, and viola.

One major safety issue occurs using reclaimed wood.  You do not want to be running something through the table saw and hit a nail.  Seeing sparks being thrown out of your cutline isn’t something you want.  Not only can it damage your expensive blades (chipping teeth and tearing off carbide), but it’s terribly unsafe. It can throw pieces of metal, and cause your work to twist and bind against the blade, often causing kickback.  The best way to avoid surprises like this is to purchase a small hand-held metal detector. They’re inexpensive (about $20), and much cheaper than either a new sawblade or a trip to the ER.

I’ve had exactly one kickback incident. It allowed me to spend a thrilling evening in the  emergency room getting a cut on my thumb glued together.  It happened because I did an unsafe procedure that I should have known better than to attempt.  The saw threw a 5″ piece of oak at me, and it hit the back of my right thumb.  It might have actually broken my thumb; it hurt for almost three months afterwards.

If you’ve never seen kickback, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll have time to react and prevent it.  It’s easy to think that you can stop it as it starts.  It’s so fast that you can’t believe it. I heard a loud Bang, and I realized that my thumb hurt, my workpiece had vanished, and I was dripping blood. I hadn’t had the workpiece properly supported, and I didn’t have a splitter in place. The wood had case-hardened, and closed up on the blade as the cut was made. When it touched the back of the blade, the saw fired it at me like a rifle.

I have a lot of safety equipment, and most of it is specifically for the table saw.  I’ve developed a healthy respect for anything with moving blades, but the table saw concerns me most of all.  Use of a table saw means pushing a piece of wood into a rapidly spinning blade.  If you think about it, that’s intrinsically somewhat dangerous.  Managing the risk is what it’s all about.

I’ve added an aftermarket blade guard (a Shark Guard, from LeeWay Workshop), a lot of different push sticks, jigs, and such, outfeed support rails for my Bosch table saw, and now this roller bearing work support.  It’ll spend it’s life as a humble outfeed support, but if it keeps a workpiece from flipping, or keeps me from overbalancing over the blade trying to keep something stable, it’s more than worth the day it took me to build.

Next time: Starting the Roubo Monstrosity. Stay tuned.