Blog

  • Paul’s Top Woodworking Tips: Part 3
    In this blog we are continuing to share some of Paul’s favourite woodworking tips he has collected over the years. You can catch up with part 1 and part 2 here. Poor Man’s Rasp Get a dowel (eg. a broom handle) and cut it in 2 lengthways, glue sandpaper around this to make a poor…
  • Paul’s Top Woodworking Tips: Part 2
    In this blog we are continuing to share some of Paul’s favourite woodworking tips he has collected over the years. You can catch up with Part 1 here. Removing a Buckle in Saw Plate To see if your saw is buckled, turn it so the teeth are facing up and look down the length. If…
  • Paul’s Top Woodworking Tips: Part 1
    Having worked with hand tools for over 50 years, Paul adopted many tips and tricks to help him in his everyday woodworking. In this blog post we’ve shared some of his favourites in the hope you find them useful too! Pulling a Plane Sometimes you can’t get your body in the right position to push…
  • Have Your Say!
    Is there a tool you can’t quite get sharp enough? A technique you keep trying but can’t master? Are your joints not coming together as you had hoped? You may come across several hurdles on your woodworking journey which are hard to overcome. We want to do our best to help you on your way…
  • Woodworking in Small Spaces
    Paul’s studio and workshop is the size of a single car garage, this is because we did a survey a few years ago asking what space you work in. Most people came back letting us know it was a double or single garage, but there were also people working in sheds and spare rooms too.…
  • 10 Free Beginner Woodworking Projects
    Simple projects make for a great learning opportunity. Putting the joinery you have practised into a practical project can really help you understand the need for accuracy and square stock. Under the current circumstances, many of you have reached out to let us know that woodworking has been a welcomed distraction. We’ve put together a…
  • Reading the Grain: A Beginners Guide
    If you can understand what’s going to affect the hand tool that you work the wood with, you can shorten the time spent working against the grain. In this guide you will learn all you need to know about reading the grain, what it is, how to do it and why you need to do…
  • Dovetail Troubleshooting- Part 2
    We opened up our postbox for beginners to send in one of their first dovetail to get advice as to why it may not be the standard they had hoped for. Michael sent in his 3rd dovetail joint, he said he found sawing straight and cleaning up difficult. Paul identified that Michael had chosen a…
  • Your First Woodworking Project
    For someone getting started in woodworking, tools and skills may both be lacking so to get you started, we recommend starting with a project which doesn’t require many tools. The spoon and spatula are great learning projects as they involve shaping which builds skill. To make them, the tools you need are: Pencil Coping Saw…
  • Sharpening Your Hand Tools: A Beginners Guide
    Learning to sharpen your tools is a useful skill to have and one which we recommend you learn early on. It will save you lots of time if you’re using well sharpened tools and you will get cleaner results too. Paul recommends learning to freehand sharpen, however you can use a honing guide to help…
  • Paul Sellers- The Lifestyle Woodworker
    For those of you who don’t know, Paul Sellers is one of the best known hand tool woodworkers in the world. His knowledge and experience has allowed him to become a well respected figure in the world of woodworking. All the content on this site has been written alongside Paul to ensure we have created…
  • Tips for a Beginner Woodworker
    Getting started in woodworking? These top tips for a beginner show the importance of getting into good habits right from the start of your woodworking journey. 1. Make Sure you Have Sharp Tools This may seem like an obvious one, but having sharp tools will improve your accuracy and make the tools easier to use.…
  • Buying a Gent’s Saw
    Paul recommends the 10″ (25cm) with 16-19 PPI. There are many different names on the saw plate but only one chief maker. They usually come in 6, 8 and 10″ sizes, however the 10″ will do everything the smaller sizes will do. You shouldn’t have to pay more than £20. Paul recommends new where possible…
  • Get Started in Woodworking for under £100 ($121)
    Starting a new hobby can be expensive, however with our buying guides, Paul advises you on buying the right tools for your beginners toolbox to help you get started in woodworking. To make the 3 main joints, you will need: Chisels– 1″ and 1/2″(Approximately £15 for 2) Chisel Hammer (£16) Combination Square (£10) Tenon or…
  • Dovetail Troubleshooting- Part 1
    We opened up our postbox for beginners to send in one of their first dovetail to get advice as to why it may not be the standard they had hoped for. One of our members, Jenny, sent in her dovetail in return for feedback from Paul which he critiqued in his YouTube video. We have…
  • Woodworking Masterclasses or Common Woodworking?
    With so much woodworking information out there, it is overwhelming for a beginner to get started. The aim of our site is to help new woodworkers learn the basics and to build skills which will enable you to feel confident enough to move on to more advanced projects in the future. Common Woodworking was made…
  • How to do Woodworking Without a Workbench
    Our recent survey found that over 30% of the Common Woodworking audience didn’t have any kind of workbench. To many, this will be the obstacle standing between them and practical woodworking. However it is possible to begin your woodworking journey with nothing but a small collection of tools (see our buying tools guides for more…
  • How to Make a Sharpening Stones Holder
    In this guide, Paul shows you how to make a sharpening stones holder which can be clamped in the vise for ease of use. For this, you will need: Plywood Holder: Paul uses 11 ½” (292mm) x 9 ½” (241mm) x ⅞” (22mm) but thicker or thinner works fine, but not less than ½” (13mm)…
  • Buying Diamond Stones
    When buying diamond stones, Paul suggests getting a coarse stone between 120-400 grit (250 is best), a fine stone between 600-1000 (600 is best) and a super-fine between 1200-1500 (1200 is best). Paul recommends the 3” (76mm) x 8” (203mm) diamond stones from EZELAP, this width is so you can comfortably fit the width of…
  • How to Apply Shellac
    In this guide Paul will show you how to apply shellac to your project, this can be adapted depending on the project and the coverage you want to achieve. Before applying finish to your project, make sure you have removed any dried glue as this will be visible on your project after the finish is…
  • Want Feedback on Your Dovetail Joinery?
    Please note this opportunity is now closed. We have created our step-by-step courses to suit beginner woodworkers, they have visuals accompanying each step along with a written description breaking down the process. However, you might find that you’ve followed all the instructions but your joint still doesn’t seem to turn out the way you had…
  • Using Registration Faces
    For this exercise, you will need: Plane Knife Square Pencil Plane down two adjacent surfaces so that they are flat and straight and square to one another. These are now your ‘registration faces’ and will be the faces you register the stock of the square against each time. Mark them with a face mark and…
  • How To Choose Wood
    Which wood is best for indoor use? Generally you don’t have to worry about durability for indoor use unless it’s being used a lot and especially in water soaked conditions, so you can use any wood. Outdoor use? When you purchase your stock, it is good to consider the durability of different woods. Some woods…
  • What Level Woodworker Are You?
    We recently put out a survey to find out a bit more about our sites users. We asked what level each user considered themselves and what projects they have made, if any. The feedback was really useful as it gave us an insight into how our users defined ‘beginner’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘advanced’. There was such…
  • Using a Honing Guide
    Paul doesn’t consider these an essential tool, however he understands that some beginners may not feel comfortable starting with freehand sharpening. The honing guide is useful if you want to achieve an exact angle, however there is a bit of leeway when sharpening as chisels can be sharpened anywhere between 25-35° and plane blades can…
  • Gluing Up a Table Top (and Other Wide Boards)
    Ensure all your boards have been trued and are square, to see how to do this, see our Truing Stock guide. For this you will need: Pencil Plane Handsaw #80 scraper Abrasive Paper Glue Sash Clamps Lay the boards flat on a large surface such as the workbench top to decide their configuration. Then, put…
  • How to Make a Rag-in-a-Can Oiler
    Note: Some oils spontaneously combust, see Paul’s blog post here, do not use these in the rag-in-a-can-oiler. Equipment Needed: 230g can Chisel Hammer Warrington Hammer (Steel Hammer) Rag- 10 inches wide, length will be determined by the width of the can and or the thickness of the material (this can be an old t-shirt or…
  • Spokeshave Control
    For these exercises you will need: 1x piece of wood approximately ¾” thick (19mm), 4” wide (100mm), 16” long (400mm) 2x 1” (25mm) panel pins (finish nails USA) Pencil Spare thin piece of wood (thin enough to bend gently without snapping) 3/16” thick (5mm), ¾” (19mm) wide, same length as your main piece of wood.…
  • Where to Start
    With a new year comes new resolutions and we hope woodworking is one of yours! It can be daunting starting a new hobby, especially with all the information on the internet, it can be difficult to know where to begin. We want to help those new to woodworking get started by guiding them through the…
  • New Year, New Projects
    As the new year approaches we have been reflecting on everything we’ve done these past few months. It’s been a busy time for us as we’ve moved to our new building and built our custom garage studio which has enabled us to up our content quality. We also officially launched Common Woodworking, the response has been…
  • Sash Clamps
    Sash clamps are used to hold together projects for an extended period of time, this is usually when gluing up to ensure the parts don’t move while the glue dries. They can also be used for temporary assembly (dry assembly) and to hold the components in the vise and on the bench top. As wood…
  • Cutting with Crosscut and Ripcut
    You will need: 2 x pieces of wood (scrap wood will work for this) Ripcut Saw Crosscut Saw Pencil Square Knife Ripcut Draw a line about 1” (25mm) from the edge along the length of your wood. Starting with the ripcut panel saw, use your thumb to guide the saw to the start of the…
  • How to Choose a Wood Finish
      Before finishing, sand your project or section with 240 grit sandpaper, this gives the surface texture (also known as ‘tooth’) and gives the finish something to cling to. If your wood is oily, (like teak or rosewood) often we would wipe the surface with a solvent, such as denatured alcohol, to remove surface oil…
  • Round Rod
    For this, you will need: Wood Pencil Steel Rule Brace and Bit (the size of the required round rod diameter) or a 1-inch coin Sash Clamp Bench Plane Spokeshave (flat-bottomed) Card Scraper Abrasive Paper (150 grit)     1. Once you have cut your wood to a square section, you can use a coin to…
  • Roundovers
    For this exercise you will need: Wood (Any size will work, the longer the edges, the more practise you will get) Plane Sandpaper Once you have trued your wood, it is best to remove the corner of the wood first before starting to increase/decrease the angle of the plane for the roundover. Work on the…
  • How to Make a Dovetail Template
      For this, you will need: Piece of wood- 1 ¼” (32mm) wide, ⅞” (22mm) thick, 4” (102mm) long (any straight grained, knot free, durable hardwood will work best) Pencil Steel Rule Card scraper Knife File Router Plane or Marking Gauge Dovetail and Tenon saw 1″ Chisel Make sure all your faces have been trued, to see…
  • Setting Hinges
    Equipment needed: Hinge and screws Screwdriver Gauge Chisel Square awl Knife Chisel Hammer Square Place your wood in the vise and put the the hinge in the desired position, using the knuckle of the hinge butted up against the component you are hinging first (it is generally easier to hinge the lighter component first).  …
  • Truing Stock
    For this exercise you will need: Wood (size will be dependent on the project you are working on) Plane Steel Rule Winding Sticks (you can make them using this video or you can use the ‘poor mans’ version Paul uses in this guide) Pencil Square Gauge All stock must be trued before joinery to establish the…
  • What’s New?
    Since our launch date we have published many more free guides, exercises and courses. We really appreciate anyone who has got in touch over the last few months, your feedback has been used to help improve both the site and our content. Incase You Missed It Glossary We have changed the way our glossary works,…
  • Buying a Sawset
    Paul recommends buying a secondhand sawset as they are cheaper and rarely wear out, these are readily found on eBay and also in secondhand outlets such as flea markets and car boot sales. When buying a secondhand sawset, check there is a spring in between the sawset handles before purchasing. Avoid Eclipse plastic handled sawsets…
  • Using a Sawset
    When using a sawset, start at one end of the saw and work your way down, setting each alternate tooth so you don’t lose track of your pattern (ripcut/crosscut) and end up setting the teeth in the wrong direction. Set every other tooth one way, then turn the saw end for end and repeat the…
  • The Sawset Guide
  • Arches- Stop Cut Method
    For this exercise, you will need: Wood Pencil Arch Template Tenon Saw Chisel Spokeshave Card Scraper (optional) 240 Grit Sandpaper   1. Cut a template from a piece of paper and transfer the shape onto your wood (Paul uses a more permanent wooden template here).   2. Use your saw to create stop cuts about…
  • Bench Plane Setup
    You will need: Bench Plane Bailey-pattern #4 Flat head screwdriver Start by dismantling the plane, take any removable pieces apart, including all the screws but not the tote threaded bolts, and lay them all out. Test yourself to see if you can name each one and refer to the pictures below to see if you…
  • How To Make a Strop
    For this, you will need: Leather (any processed leather will do, this can for instance be a scrap from leather clothing or a leather bag) Piece of wood or plywood 3” (76mm) wide x 10” (254mm) long (any type of wood you can spare but needs to be flat on the top face) Double sided…
  • Launching Common Woodworking
    The day has finally arrived to launch Common Woodworking! Over the last year we have been working to create content which will guide and encourage beginners to get into woodworking, regardless of their level of skill. Our tool guides provide the basic knowledge which will enable you to start or continue your woodworking journey. Some…
  • Angled Cuts
    Equipment needed: Wood Pencil Dovetail Template or Sliding Bevel and Square Tenon Saw or Dovetail Saw To view a video showing the sawing technique, click here. Marking out using a dovetail template Use a dovetail template to mark multiple angled lines across the end grain of the wood, about 3/16” (5mm) apart. To see how…
  • Sharpening a Router Plane
    Setting Up Before you use your router plane, it is important to check that the leading edge of the cutting iron, the fore edge, is parallel with the actual sole of the plane as it may need to be corrected, flattened and polished before use (Paul sometimes refers to this process as initialising). This process…
  • Sharpening a Card Scraper
    Sharpening Draw file along the 2 long edges by pushing the file away from you, small steel spirals should appear from the edges as a result of the filing. Place each long edge against the diamond sharpening plate keeping it vertically aligned and push and pull it 10 times making your way through all the…
  • Sharpening a Plough Plane
    Setting Up When buying second hand, the plough plane may be sticky with grease or rusty, this can be cleaned using a wire brush and abrasive paper. Your plough plane may also arrive in multiple parts, start by lubricating the stems with oil to ensure they go into the fence and body easily. Sometimes the…
  • Sharpening a Gouge
    Note: This is the sharpening process of an out-cannel gouge. Paul recommends 2 methods to sharpen an out-cannel gouge which can both be done on diamond plates or abrasive paper. You will also need a curved strop, which you can make yourself, to polish at the end of the sharpening process, for this you will…
  • Using a Card Scraper
    When using a card scraper, wrap three fingers around each side and push your thumbs into the opposite side of the scraper to bend the plate. To begin working the wood, lean the scraper forward and press and push through the base of the scraper plate. The more you bend the card and the more…
  • Using a Plough Plane
    When using a plough plane, the cutting iron can be set deeper than a smoothing plane as it is narrower and therefore requires much less effort to push into the wood. The cutting iron sometimes go under the wood’s surface fibres and causes them to tear because the side walls at the surface level are…
  • Using a Gouge
    You can drive the gouge into the wood using a chisel hammer or mallet or use hand and arm pressure only. You can use them to pare cut, depending on the gouge type. The gouge can make shallow or deep cuts depending on the pressure applied, if you are using it to hollow, you would…
  • Buying a Gouge
    Paul recommends the Ashley Iles No7 37mm straight gouge to use in spoon and bowl carving. He also uses and recommends Pfeil and Hirsch in similar size and sweep, however these brands are not always in stock. We found the Stubai 40mm No7 to be in stock from Tiranti which is just as good as…
  • Buying a Plough Plane
    Paul enjoys using a secondhand Record 043 or 044 plough plane, however these are no longer in production as new models but so far they have been readily available via eBay. You can sometimes get a good secondhand deal on eBay for a Stanley 13-030 or similar plough plane and these work very well too,…
  • Buying a Card Scraper
    Paul recommends a Veritas scraper as the steel takes a good edge, hardness is just right and not too brittle and they flex well. They come in a set of 4 rectangular scrapers (listed as Veritas Super-Hard Milled Scrapers) which contains scrapers of different thicknesses and sizes so will suit a wider range of options…
  • Setting Up and Sharpening a #80 Scraper
    Setting Up Whilst working on a flat surface, turn the adjusters to loosen the retaining bar and load the blade into the holder. The 45 degree angle should be facing the back. Pinch the bar and blade against the body of the holder, making sure the cutting edge stays flush with the sole, and tighten…
  • Setting Up a Sliding Bevel
    Setting Up Some sliding bevels have a rounded loop at the end of the beam. Where the straight edges join the rounded edge there is often a pointed edge, which can sometimes get in the way of marking out so Paul recommends filling this down slightly to avoid inaccuracy and misalignment when applying the sliding…
  • Setting up and Sharpening a Swing Brace and Bit
    If you have purchased your brace secondhand, ensure all the parts move freely without friction, if not you can oil these parts to ease up the friction. There is usually an oil hole where the neck connects to the pad, only one or two drops are needed. The chuck and the chuck thread may also…
  • Setting Up and Sharpening a Combination Gauge
    To see a video on centring the gauge, click here. When setting a mortise gauge, one of the twin pins is moveable. Place the chisel against the fixed pin, then set the moveable pin to the width of the chisel. Position the chisel just inside the tips of the pins (refer to picture for positioning).…
  • Consumables
    Furniture Wax Paul likes to avoid waxes with Toluene in as this can be harmful. Furniture wax can be applied as an frictionless polish on top of shellac. We purchased this from National Trust UK for £5.00 with £4.95 delivery in May 2018. If you are ordering from the US, we recommend this one from Amazon.…
  • How To Make a Rounded Card Scraper
    This is known as a ‘curved’ or ‘round’ scraper and is mainly used for refining a bowl shape  carved into wood. Draw the centre line down a piece of cardstock, draw a rounded, quadrant shape on one half and cut to shape.   Fold down the centre line and follow the rounded edge using a…
  • The Gouge Guide
    A gouge is similar to a chisel in the way that it looks as it has a handle and a metal blade, however the blade is rounded which is mainly used for carving. Uses The gouge is used for carving, shaping, hollowing out and curved cuts. They often will be used within fine woodworking for…
  • Using a Sliding Bevel
    The sliding bevel is used to mark or check any angle. By sliding the beam from inside the stock you can adjust both components to set the desired angle needed. The lock mechanism holds both components in place and can be a variety of mechanism types. These include wing nut, lever cam, slide lock or…
  • Using a Router Plane
    When using a router plane and removing material to a specific depth, you can use a chisel to remove the bulk of the material then go over it with a router, or you can make incremental depth changes with the router until the final depth is established. Removing the bulk gallery: Though used to level…
  • Using a Combination Gauge
    To see a video on using the gauge, click here. This can seem like an awkwardly shaped tool, holding the wood with one hand and the stem with the other can aid control. Press lightly but firmly when marking, the pressure should be applied against the registration face, not downwards onto the pins. You don’t…
  • Using a Swing Brace
    To use a brace, rotate the centre grip and combine hand and arm pressure to push the bit into the wood. The bit has a spiral point that assists to pull the bit into the wood with each rotation you make. The bit is held firmly within the chuck by two jaws. Turning the grip…
  • Using a #80 Scraper
    When using the #80 scraper, generally known as the cabinet scraper, the first thing you should do is establish a comfortable grip. It is designed so you can hold the handles and press your thumbs into the back of the centre. This applies the most direct force behind the cutting edge. To lower the blade,…
  • Buying a #80 Scraper
    Paul found that although the Faithfull #80 Scraper is similar to the Stanley, the blade was thinner and sharpened to the wrong angle. Although this turned out to be easier to sharpen, it didn’t work as well as a thicker plate. The Axminster Rider No. 80 Scraper comes with an extra thick blade which is…
  • Buying a Sliding Bevel
    You can certainly make do with only one sliding bevel, but in some larger projects you may be laying out several different angles throughout, and it is beneficial to set a separate sliding bevel to each angle and not alter them for the duration of the project. When buying a sliding bevel, make sure the…
  • Buying a Router Plane
    Buying a secondhand router plane isn’t always the cheapest option with these tools, it is best to check the prices of new ones too. Availability in both new and secondhand camps is often an issue for buyers. Paul Sellers recommends the Edward Preston router plane as it has a long rectangular base, however they are…
  • Buying a Combination Gauge
    Buying a combination gauge is more cost effective as it essentially combines the marking and mortise gauge into one gauge. Paul recommends the type that have pins rather than discs as the discs tend to be brittle and fracture in places around the circumference. Discs are often difficult to re-sharpen and if broken can be…
  • Buying a Brace
    A secondhand swing brace should last a lifetime if it has been well looked after. We recommend buying secondhand as there are lots available which are not worn down, they are also much less expensive than buying new. Stanley has proven to be good quality so look out for them when buying secondhand. You can…
  • The #80 Scraper Guide
    Commonly mistaken for an oversized spokeshave, the #80 scraper slices the wood in a similar way to, but not the same as, a plane. Despite the tool’s name, the scraper does not scrape as such but cuts ultra fine shavings. This double handled tool is used in a push motion to remove very fine sections…
  • The Sliding Bevel Guide
    The sliding bevel is a layout tool which is essential for accurate and precise woodwork. It is made up of two parts, the beam and the stock which can both move on an axis. These can be fixed using a wingnut to allow you to transfer an accurate angle marking. The stock can be made…
  • The Combination Gauge Guide
    The combination gauge has 4 main parts, the wooden stem, the wooden stock, the setscrew and the marking pins. The stock has a lock system on it to allow it to keep the distance from the pin, this enables you to mark exactly the right location. The reason this is called a ‘combination gauge’ is…
  • General Tool/ Accessories Guide
    Eraser This is used alongside the pencil to remove layout lines. Pencil lines are useful to have when constructing the project but the eraser can then be used to remove them once the project has been assembled. Paul likes the Staedtler eraser as it has no rubber in it. We purchased this from Amazon (£2.09*).…
  • The Plough Plane Guide
    The plough (plow USA) plane creates channel grooves by removing material from the middle of a piece of wood, leaving two outside edges. The plane has a guide or fence, which runs along the underside or outer edge of the plane body to keep the groove parallel and the plane fully aligned to the material.…
  • The Card Scraper Guide
    The card scraper is a plate of sheet steel which is sharpened along the full length of the long edges and relies on careful precision throughout the sharpening process. The card scraper performs much the same tasks as the #80 scraper (cabinet scraper) and both blade types are made from plate steel, however their blades…
  • The Router Plane Guide
    The router plane is used to refine cuts which are either made by chisels, saws or machines. In use, the blade cuts in a similar way to a chisel but the blade is fixed within a wooden or metal body and has an adjustment mechanism making this a true plane. Uses A router is used…
  • The Swing Brace Guide
    A traditional woodworking brace, is used to bore holes from ¼” in diameter and up in increments of 1/16” to 1 ½” which are often too big for a hand drill. They can create cleaner work than power tool versions because they operate by a screw thread and cutting edges instead of power and speed.…
  • Setting Up and Sharpening a Saw
    This applies to all saws except the coping saw which does not need sharpening as it comes with replacement blades, to see how to insert the blades, click here. Some saws will need setting before sharpening and some will need sharpening before setting. This all depends on the quality of the teeth to begin with.…
  • Saw Files
    Saw files can also be known as triangular files or three-square files. They often have single cut teeth across the full width of each facet of the file and can come in many different variations including: Lengths Widths Taper Fineness (the closer the teeth are on the file, the finer it is) Double-cut/ single cut/…
  • Setting Up Rasps and Files
    A rasp and file cannot generally be sharpened and do not need setting up, however you can prolong their life by taking good care of them. Most of the time the sawdust which builds up in between the teeth will be pushed out by new wood fibres, however you can clear out the gullets by…
  • Setting Up and Sharpening a Spokeshave
    Note: Be careful when sharpening as the tools will become very sharp, always face the blade away from you when sharpening. Setting Up If your spokeshave is secondhand, check the angle of the bevelled edge using a protractor. The bevel should be no more than 30°. To set the cutting iron depth, use the two…
  • Setting Up and Sharpening a Chisel
    Note: Be careful when sharpening as the tools will become very sharp, always face the blade away from you when sharpening. This guide will show you the process of how to sharpen a chisel using diamond stones and the process of how to sharpen a chisel using abrasive paper. Paul recommends diamond stones, however if…
  • Sharpening Tools and Accessories
    These methods work best for tools with a cutting edge, to read about saw files, click here. There are several types of abrasive materials you might come across when looking for something to sharpen your edge tools on, these range in price which makes some options more suitable for beginners than others. For abrasive material,…
  • Setting Up and Sharpening a Woodworker’s Knife
    Note: Be careful when sharpening as the tools will become very sharp, always face the blade away from you when sharpening. Often the knifepoint of the blade breaks off quite soon in use, this is because they are used more heavily for woodworking. As they do wear away more quickly than if they were used…
  • Setting Up and Sharpening a Plane
    Setting up If your plane has plastic handles, you might be able to feel a seam down the middle where the two halves of the handle are joined. If left, these seams will become uncomfortable and might cause blistering. Use a file or a card scraper to remove these, the texture will feel different and…
  • Setting Up a Hammer
    Note: This guide is on both chisel hammers and warrington hammers. Paul recommends scraping off the varnish from the handle when you get a new wooden-handled hammer and he recommends adding 4 coats of boiled linseed oil over a few days. This finish will ensure the hammer handle keeps in great condition and lasts a long…
  • Setting Up a Square
    To check if your square is accurate, you can use a piece of paper or card stock as, due to their manufacturing techniques, they are very accurately square. Put your square on the long side of the paper and draw down one side of the beam, either using a knife or a sharp pencil. Then…
  • Using a Rasp and File
    The file and rasp are used in a similar way to each other for different tasks which can lead to confusion. Whereas the file is used on both wood and metal, rasps are used mainly on wood and stone but never on metal. The file is used to shape, refine and to smooth out surfaces,…
  • Using Saws
    The Western saws we use don’t cut on the pull-stroke, so you are cutting on the push-stroke and only using the pull-stroke to retrieve the saw ready for the next stroke. Back Saws and Backless Saws (Dovetail, Tenon, Gent’s and Panel Saw) Put your non-dominant foot forward and your dominant foot back, this will enable…
  • Using a Woodworker’s Knife
    You hold the knife by gripping around the handle, rest your thumb on the side and use your index finger to apply pressure to the top of the handle, this will allow you to vary the pressure, and therefore the depth of the cut and maintain firm control of the knife. This is made easier…
  • Using a Combination Square
    Once you are confident your square is set up you align the head (stock) against the straight edge of the wood and use a pencil or a woodworker’s knife to mark the 45/90° angle. To move the head along the beam, turn the adjustment wheel to loosen the head, this enables it to be moved, when…
  • Using a Plane
    Note: When the plane is in between being used, Paul recommends that you should keep it upright with the blade against the benchtop. Contrary to popular opinion, this way is not considered the norm as they often used to teach in schools to lay it on its side, this was thought to protect the blade…
  • Using a Spokeshave
    You adjust the blade of the spokeshave to a shallow setting to produce thin shavings and adjust it to a heavier set to take thicker ones. The joy of using the spokeshave is its variable positioning, you can turn the spokeshave to get the angle you need which makes it great working with curves. Place…
  • Using a Chisel Hammer
    To get the most from your hammer, you need to get the weight and balance ratio right. The Centre of Percussion (COP) is the optimum point on the hammer face that allows the best transfer of energy into whatever you are striking. With smaller hammers there is little you can do to take advantage of…
  • Using a Chisel
    When chopping paring or splitting, you should ensure the chisel is presented to the wood at the appropriate angle. PARE When you are paring wood you should rely on hand pressure only and use both hands to present the chisel to the wood. With your dominant hand on the handle and the other wrapped around…