Doug Berch

Dulcimer Maker And Musician

cropped Dulcimer Builders and Makers 1 23

Month: August 2009

The Teachers Handbook Of Slöjd – Free Online Book

A few years ago I learned that a sloyd knife was named after the Slöjd method of teaching woodworking.

sloyd knife

There are many handbooks covering the basics of choosing and using woodworking hand tools. The variety of tools, methodology and illustration is almost always fascinating and colored by the era in which the book was written.

I find “The Teachers Handbook Of Slöjd” to be particularly appealing. The presentation of tools and their usage is, in my opinion, unusually crisp and direct.

Trainor's Improved Bench

Here you go: “The Teachers Handbook Of Slöjd

The Song I Sang During Dulcimer Week

I had a great time at Dulcimer Week 2009, a wonderful festival organized and produced by the lovely and talented Lois Hornbostel.

One evening I performed a set of three songs. I decided to “clear the palate” between two somewhat serious songs with something “a little lighter.”

The song in question was “Shame And Scandal In The Family,” an old calypso song with a theme that shows up in just about every folksong tradition.

I came home with a stack of email addresses from people who wanted the words and/or a recording.

Well, you asked for it…..

I can't believe he sang this song!

Here’s a live recording (warts and all) of the song  made during a concert I gave at The Fort New Salem Dulcimer Festival earlier this month.

“Shame And Scandal In The Family” performed by Doug Berch


Thanks to Bill Schilling for making the recording.



My Acoustic, Low-Carbon Footprint Thickness Planer And Jointer

I should have taken a before picture!Acoustic low carbon footprint thickness planer and jointer

This is the woodworker’s equivalent of biking to work!

Truing The Sole Of A Very Large Plane

A year or so ago I found a very nice type 11 #7 plane at a local antique mall for a reasonable price.

Unfortunately the sole of the plane had a bit if a warp and twist. It worked well enough for roughing stock to dimension but try as I might I could not get this plane to shoot a straight edge.

I have trued the soles of smaller planes before; a tedious task of lapping the sole against a flat surface covered with sandpaper or a sheet of glass covered with abrasive grit.  I was not looking forward to spending hours, possibly days, lapping the sole of a 22″ plane.

Last night I came up with two possible solutions.

The first was to contact a local shoemaker to see if I could borrow his night crew to do the work while I sleep.

How do I get these guys to work for me?

That didn’t work out so I went with plan B.

I decided to try truing the sole in a manner similar to leveling the frets on a stringed instrument. I lowered the blade and clamped the plane upside down in my bench vice and stoned the sole with diamond stones. I frequently checked progress with a straight edge. I was able to feel the drag of high spots on the sole just as I feel the high spots on frets.Truing the sole of a number seven plane

The work went surprisingly fast.

I would not say the sole is perfectly flat but after about an hour of work I was able to make see-through shavings a yard long and leave the board I was planing very straight and flat!


The Tools We Want And The Tools We Need

I once came home from an auction with a two-person crosscut saw.

I knew I had a tool problem.

I will never have a need for this saw but it was only $15.00 and it fit in the back of the car!

Having a small shop with limited space and only so much money to spend on tools has helped keep me out of trouble!

overflowing toolbox

I have learned to separate the tools I need from the tools I want, though what I end up with at times is another matter entirely!

Having several #4 and #5 planes tuned for different work is very handy but there often seems to be room for “just one more.”

bench plane growth chart

I use two braces , one with  a 6″ swing and the other with a 10″ swing, but I can’t seem to part with several others.  Three hand drills hang over my bench, each with a different bit I frequently use. Surely this adds up to a huge savings in time!

In truth I have reached a point where I have become more focused on the use of tools rather than the accumulation of tools. The busier I am in the shop the more I just want to get to work and the less time I have for tool hunting.

But lately I have been increasingly using finger-planes. I have a few but could use a few other sizes and profiles.

how to make thumb planes

They are all so different and relatively easy to make. Surely just one more couldn’t hurt?

Doug Berch & Dulcimer Makers

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