Jeremy Stoltzfus: Carpenter, woodworking enthusiast

Thoughts about woodworking and other things

Month: January, 2015

Hey there, Mr Tambourine Man.

” I am ready to go any where, I am ready for to fade, into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way, I promise to go under it,” -Bob Dylan, “Mr. Tambourine Man.”   Whenever you are learning something new, there are days when frustration digs its dirty claws into you and refuses to let go.   The thought comes that you will never be able to learn this thing. In those times it is good to step away from it and go on to something else that you can immediately do with some level of success, then come back later to the thing that is so frustrating.  Music often helps me through those times when I am working on a something and  cannot seem to get it.  “Mr. Tambourine Man” is one of those songs that always seems to cheer me up.

Yesterday I had a breakthrough day in regard to dovetailing.  I was making the sliding tills (trays) that are going into my tool box.  I have been frustrated by dovetails in the past but on this day I started to grasp the concepts I needed to do good ones.  The first corner I did was difficult because I had mistakenly milled one of the pieces with the corner coming out on a knot.  This is very important.  Don’t ever do it like this.  It is hard to cut joints right on a knot.  I already knew this but I decided to go ahead with it anyways since I already had the board cut.  Simply put, the other corners only got easier and better looking from there.

Dovetails signify togetherness.  They draw the corners together with a strength that they would not otherwise have.  If they are done right that piece is never going to come apart.  This whole world can use a little more dovetailing in it, a little more togetherness.  More dovetailing + more “Mr. Tambourine Man” = better world.  More of those things equals better furniture pieces in any case.













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My workbench. His name is Wolfie.  The idea for this thing came about studying the benches of Lost Art Press, Roy Underhill of The Woodwright’s Shop, and countless others.  I conceived the design while I was running a CNC routing machine for a trailer parts factory. and we had these seven inch leftover pieces of quality OSB 1″ thick plywood.  I turned them up on end gluing them together with Titebond III and there you have the meat of this monstrosity.  Throw in some one by eight pine placed at strategic intervals and you get the dog holes which the lumber goes up against for planing.  I glued some two by fours together to make four by fours for the legs then squared them on all sides.  I then cut mortised and tenons for the frame that it sets on and notched the thing then ran eight teen inch bolts through those legs and bolted them down twice on each side.  He is seven feet long and eighteen inches wide after I added the skirt board on the sides to give it even more stability.  I then planed the top and sides down dead square with each other added the bench vise and eight months after I had started I had my first real work bench.  It weighs as much as I do but it gives a good solid foundation on which to build stuff and there on to chisel, cut, plane leaning into the work with every thing I have.  You see, if you could listen to this thing for a little while you could hear some of the thoughts and aspirations that I confided into it some prayers sent up to the Great Spirit, and every Bob Dylan and John Prine song that there is played back to you soaked into its fibers from countless listenings.

The tail vise on the end there, I finally installed the other day, and it has greatly enhanced my endeavors as I continue to build my tool chest.  More on that in the weeks to come.  Also coming up is a baby crib though I do not have a fully conceived notion of what that will look like yet.  I am thinking maybe a place for a baby then a kid to sleep on top and a bank of drawers on the bottom but we will see.  I look forward to the things I will build on my bench and the various shops it will sit in, places to make into spaces where I can feel fully inspired to make things (where it is now being the first such place).  Old tools tell a story; everyone who uses them says that.  To music, to laughter, to love, peace, the ending of all war, strife, and hardship I raise my mug, and give a smile, a wink and a nod to all and sundry.

Jeremy Stoltzfus

Old World Carpentry and

Restoration School of Woodworking

Seeking with my companions to restore a sense of yesterday’s skills to modern sensibilities.


Question: which wood is best?

Wow.  That is a good question.  There are many answers to it and that, my friends, makes it a good question.  Wood is good.  Good for building things.  Good for adding aesthetic beauty to our lives.  Good for practical purposes like storing things.  It is one of those things that merges the practical and the aesthetic into one.  Those sorts of things are interesting.   Wood is also good for making appropriately timed jokes a million times a day, and that, you can be sure, has been the case for millenia.

With this space I intend to lay out (ha!) the process by which I have learned this trade, and the ongoing process through which I continue to learn, with pictures and words about what I am up to at the workbench.  Maybe there will be some book reviews along the way, maybe some top five lists, and maybe some venn diagrams, and some tips on getting ready for the apocalypse.  At some point in the near future hopefully there will be a lot of posts about building a big toolbox/shop on wheels which can be brought to a town or a crafts festival near you.

Here is a picture of the screen door that I built out of recycled materials.  I finished it late last spring just before the coming of the flies.  It added a nice shape to our doorway for the summer months and kept flies out, sort of.IMAG0033

Happy New Year, and here’s to many successes and overcoming of obstacles for everyone!