L’ÉBÉNISTERIE – A Silent Film About Woodworking (1932)

Last week Kari Hultman posted a short French silent film about woodworking on her blog, “The Village Carpenter.” If you haven’t checked out Kari’s blog you should go there very soon.

While watching this amazing film I looked around the website where it was hosted. I wished I had paid more attention during French class in high school.

I found several  interesting videos about woodworking, music, lutherie and more.

Here is a link to a silent film called “L’ÉBÉNISTERIE.”

L'ÉBÉNISTERIE - A Silent Film About Woodworking (1932)

It shows the woodworking process beginning with felling trees and ending with finished furniture. We watch an apprentice learning to use a frame saw, planes and other tools. There are shots of joinery, veneering, staining and finishing.

 Chopping down a very large tree

 Ripping with a frame saw

Planing at the bench


Cleaning The Shop Can At Times Seem Overwhelming

The purpose of this post is to enable me to procrastinate a little longer.

Every now-and-then I give the shop a thorough cleaning before finishing or beginning a batch of dulcimers.

Cleaning the shop can at times seem overwhelming.

Tonight I emptied out a lot of the stuff that was leaning against walls, sitting on the floor and generally causing me to lose tools, cause avalanches and other havoc.

I was actually able to sweep the floor. I was actually able to see the floor!

The shop is looking pretty good.

As for the piles of lumber, bending forms, boxes and other stuff I took out of the shop to get to the floor…well, getting that stored in an accessible and orderly fashion will take a little longer, hence the procrastination.

Coffee break is over, time to get back on my head!



Thousand Cankers Black Walnut Disease Is Spreading

While in Kentucky this weekend I learned that Thousand Cankers Black Walnut Disease had been found in Tennessee. A few weeks ago no cases had been reported in the Eastern part of the United States.

This disease can potentially cause  walnut trees in North America to become extinct.

It is not a time to give up hope for the walnut tree but it is certainly time to take action. Contact your State Department of Agriculture of University Extension for local information. Some states and counties are already banning the transport of walnut logs, firewood, etc.

Do what you can to protect walnut trees!

Here are some link to more information:

Thousand Cankers Walnut Disease

Missouri Department of Agriculture – Thousand Cankers of Black Walnut

Tennessee Department of Agriculture – Identifying Thousand Cankers Disease

The Missourian – How Thousand Cankers Disease Works

Birds Of Vermont – Wonderful Wood Carvings

While traveling with my wife’s family we came across The Birds Of Vermont Museum. The museum was closed but we soon came across Bob Spear, the museum’s founder, coming back from a hike in the nearby woods.

Mr. Spear kindly offered to open the museum for us and we were very happy not to have missed seeing the fruits of his 25+ years of bird carving.

Bob Spear

At 90 Bob Spear is still carving away. He also has an apprentice who is helping him complete this massive collection of bird carvings.

Go there if you can!

You can also view some of the museum on-line and watch live birds at the feeder on the bird-cam by going to the museum’s website:

The Birds Of Vermont Museum

Handy Shop Tips

Some odds and ends I’ve gathered from here and there.

Some of these ideas make sense. Some make some sense. Some I’m just not sure about.

Tools Work Better When They Are Sharp

Perhaps a better title for this post would be “I Do Better Work When Tools Are Sharp!”

The other day I found myself enjoying working at the bench less that I usually do. I was having a hard time clamping a dulcimer firmly enough to the bench so that I could plane the fingerboard flat.

At that moment the “smart fairy” (or perhaps the “stupid fairy” depending on how you look at it) whispered in my ear, “Hey Doug, don’t you usually hold the dulcimer on the bench with one hand and plane the fingerboard with the other? When was the last time you sharpened that plane?”


“Hmmm,” I said. “This plane sure stays sharp for a long time, but how long has it been since I last sharpened it?”

Out came my benchtop sharpening rig; a bench hook that holds a fine diamond stone and a #4000  waterstone. This is what I usually use to keep edges honed between regrinding.

benchtop sharpening station

And it had been a while since I had sharpened that particular plane.  And lo and behold, after sharpening the plane I could easily hold the dulcimer with one hand and plane the fretboard with the other and take finer shavings to boot!

I figured that as long as I had the sharpening station on the bench I may as well sharpen a few other tools.

And they all lived happily ever after. Well, at least so far…..


P.S. I had some trouble with my camera so the picture of the sharpening stuff looked better in B&W. It reminds me of pictures from the early issues of Fine Woodworking.


Some Old Woodworking Tool Ads

I’ve been a little under the weather for  the last few days so I  have not put in as much time in the shop as I would have liked too.

There are always a few things I can accomplish in the shop on an off day so I milled and glued up a few fretboard blanks to add to the pile that I age before use. I also selected the wood that will become pegheads for the three dulcimers currently in process.

This involved enough hand planing to leave me feeling that I had enough exercise for the day.

Since computers and the Internet are the great time wasters information tools of the current age I spent some time cleaning up some images of old tool ads I have found here and there on the web.


old ad for a work bench

old ad for Johnson's finishing products


old ad for a Yankee screwdriver


old ad for a Millers Falls drill


old ad for a Royal grinder

Maybe you could leave this post up for someone to find as a holiday shopping hint?

Woodworking Without A Workbench

I have great admiration for the traditional woodworkers around the world who create beautiful work with a relatively small number of tools in a simple shop.

ancient carpenters1

Tools and techniques appropriate to different cultures developed enabling the woodworker’s entire body to become involved in the work.

Japanese carpenters

bow lathe

bowsawing on the floor

I would be delighted if I could take my work outside on a beautiful day, lay a board on the grass to use as a bench and use my feet as a vice.

Woodworkers – Keep Your Nose Clean!

Woodworking is often a dusty business. There is sawdust that gets through the mask or the quick sanding job that seems to justify not taking the 10 seconds it takes to put on a mask. My shop also has a certain amount of dust that is almost always present and this often gets stirred up and released into the air. This leaves my nose and sinuses to do the work of filtering out the dust.

I don’t think I’m alone in this.

I also have seasonal allergies that can clog up my sinuses and leave me feeling as if in a fog. This is not a good state to be in when working.

neti potNasal irrigation has helped provide a lot of relief from the above symptoms. It has helped me and maybe it will help you. The basic procedure is to use some type of device that lets you pour salinated water through your nose.

Please keep in mind that I am not licensed to do anything to anyone nor am I offering medical advice. I am just suggesting that you look at the following articles that may help you keep your nose clean in regards to all the stuff you inhale in the shop and the environment in general. Some of the articles will suggest devices, formulas to make the proper saline mixture, etc.

The Mayo Clinic has an video explaining a method of nasal irrigation. I imagine the folks at the Mayo clinic know what they are talking about.

NPR has an article and audio piece on using a traditional nasal irrigation device called a neti pot. This is the method I use.

And finally, Wikipedia has an article with links that can help you learn more than you ever wanted to know about keeping your nose clean.