Doug Berch

Dulcimer Maker And Musician

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Tag: Woodworking Page 2 of 3

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.


Pictures Of People Using Woodworking Tools

I can’t remember where I found these. Click the thumbnail for a larger image. Enjoy!

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.

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.

Doug Berch & Dulcimer Makers