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The Handyman's Guide: Essential Woodworking Tools and Techniques

The Handyman's Guide: Essential Woodworking Tools and Techniques

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The Handyman's Guide: Essential Woodworking Tools and Techniques

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Feb 8, 2011


This comprehensive guide to the tools and techniques of woodworking has been a favorite of both amateur and professional woodworkers for over a century. Readers will learn to make almost anything using only hand tools. With nearly 3,000 illustrations, this definitive guide is an invaluable resource for any do-it-yourselfer.

From identifying and holding tools properly to constructing your own household furniture, The Handyman’s Book is your trusted resource for all things related to woodwork. Precise illustrations and design details provide a map for hundreds of woodworking projects, including gates, sheds, trellises, tables, yard and garden accessories, fences, porches, furniture, cabinets, and much more. If it’s wood, and there’s work to be done, don’t start without Paul N. Hasluck’s essential guide.
Feb 8, 2011

Informazioni sull'autore

Paul N. Hasluck, a true woodworking guru, was the craftsman behind titles such as Manual of Traditional Wood Carving, The Handyman’s Book: Essential Woodworking Tools and Techniques, Rustic Carpentry, Traditional Glassworking Techniques, Metalworking, The Handyman’s Guide, and more.

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The Handyman's Guide - Paul N. Hasluck





WOODWORKING is intended to treat fully upon mechanical handicraft, to show what to do and how to do it, to include the tools, materials, and processes, and to be supplemented with a full selection of varied examples of work. The tools will be described and illustrated, and their peculiar features and adaptability will be discussed. The materials will be examined and the characteristics of different varieties will be mentioned, and the suitability of each explained. The processes incidental to woodworking, such as preparing stuff, setting out work, making joints, etc., will be detailed. Specimens of handicraft work in wood will be minutely portrayed in working drawings, beginning with simple work involving but slight skill to execute, and advancing to complex work developing the highest dexterity. The contents of the book range from the rudimentary teaching that will show the tyro how to hold tools to the construction of high-class examples that will interest the adept craftsman.


A tool may be considered to be any implement used for performing or facilitating mechanical operations, or for enabling man to change the form of material; but perhaps the second definition is too restrictive, and if it is adopted, certain so-called tools will be found to be mere contrivances. According to it a chisel or a hammer is a tool; but the boxing of a chisel or plane and the handle of a hammer are contrivances, for by them the modes of application and the power of the tools are extended and varied; and according to the second definition, a vice, a soldering bit, a nail, a square are not tools, but contrivances only. This is the opinion of Mr. A. Rigg, M.A., as expressed in Cantor Lectures delivered before the Society of Arts. According to the lecturer, it is hardly possible to draw a distinction between a tool and a machine. Whilst the former is more simple than the latter, they so merge into one another that it is difficult to determine where one ends and the other begins. For example, a lathe is a handicraft tool, arid yet in its highly developed form it is a very complicated machine. It was one of the earliest devices to be erased from the list of tools and promoted to a place amongst machines.


It may be said that tools increase and vary human power, economise human time, and convert substances apparently the most common and worthless into valuable and useful products. Without tools the hand would be nearly powerless; add to it a hammer and a cutting instrument, and its capacity is increased many fold. Rollers as a means of moving heavy blocks of stone were a contrivance which very largely extended the powers of men; the application of grease to bearings and surfaces enabled man to utilise a much larger portion of his power; whoever first pointed a strip of bone or shell, and made an eye in it, gave to man as a tool an invention far exceeding in importance and value anything yet accomplished by heat or electricity; and whoever first applied a barb to a spear and a hook, introduced a contrivance of inestimable importance.


Aristotle (384—322 B.C.) made the first known attempt at determining the place which man should occupy in a general zoological classification. He selected as the distinguishing characteristic of man, regarded for this purpose alone, that man was a tool-making animal, and he could not find any other group of animals who made special implements and used them as man does tools. This view of man is accepted generally, and in recent times the inferences from it are wider and more extended than Aristotle could have anticipated, antiquarians now admitting that wherever on the earth tools are found, there men must once have dwelt. The first traces of tools are said to be met with in the post-tertiary strata, and the inference is that man’s existence may be placed so far back that centuries seem insignificant periods of time. Sir Charles Lyell speculates that at least two hundred thousand years have passed since implements were formed; these implements are found in the respective geological strata, not in isolation, but in groups which are silent evidences of facts long precedent to all human traditions. History, at all reliable, written in a known language, and in intelligible alphabetical characters, does not carry further back than the days of Herodotus (the father of history), born between 490 and 480 B.C. In a scheme of geological strata, the strata found above the tertiary are divided into three classes—the post-glacial, prehistoric, and historic; in the post-glacial there are not any traces of handicraft work; in the prehistoric, there are found remains of canoes made of trees, of dwellings erected on piles, implements made of flint and stone, and fragments of charred wood. For the present purpose these are three ages: in the first one tools were of stone, and this is again subdivided into two periods, the palæolithic or ancient stone period, when the stone tools were left with rude and rough exteriors, and the neolithic or recent, when there was somewhat of an external finish or polish on the tools. In the second age bronze tools are found, and also those of pure copper, these latter tools being so rare that they are comprehended in the term bronze. In the third age tools are of iron, and form an introduction to the present age. These ages are not markedly distinct, and it is probable that whilst in one part of the world men were using bronze, in another they were using iron. It is known that in times to which even geologists might hesitate to apply the term recent, the smelting of copper and of tin was known, and the combining of these metals to form a bronze as hard as any made and used at the present time was also practised. An analysis of these ancient bronze implements shows that the copper is alloyed with from 5 to 10 per cent, of tin. Analysis of Egyptian bronze implements gives 94·0 copper, 5·9 tin, and 0·1 iron.


Another source of information materially helps in supplying inferential, if not actual, knowledge with regard to the first formed tools. The traditions and customs of a people are preserved and repeated, generation after generation, by savage and isolated races of men. Hence amongst savage tribes and roving barbarians may be found at this day tools altogether different in form from those amongst civilised people. Such tools may be, and probably are, derived from ancestors of geological antiquity. In the Pacific Islands, in North America, Australia, Africa, and elsewhere, there are races who know not the use of metals, and whose implements correspond exactly with those found mixed with the fossil remains of extinct animals. Herodotus mentions that flint knives were used in Egypt in embalming, and such knives are found in the tombs, and were employed long after bronze and other metals were general. There is thus a connection between the tools used in prehistoric times and those of savage races. The handicraft contrivances and skill of the untutored are not to be despised, and much is owing to uneducated men of clear thought, cunning resource, singular ingenuity, and much handicraft skill. It is well known that even in our own times the earliest germs of many most important inventions and discoveries have their origin in the suggestions of hard-working but illiterate artisans.


To pass from the earliest suggestions of bronze implements to the first unquestionable period of metal tools, the forms and modes of using which are so clearly shown pictorially, Egyptian history must be considered. The paintings and sculptures of ancient Egypt and Herculaneum show very clearly the tools which were then in use, and an amazing amount of information has thus been preserved. The subject cannot be gone into here, but it may be said that the tools and contrivances used in the building of the early pyramids are not known. The erection of these early pyramids is placed about 2120 B.C., that is, about a century before Abraham arrived in Egypt, and (1902 + 2120) 4,022 years ago. There are no hieroglyphics on these, and they do not carry their history as the tombs do. In a tomb at Thebes have been found a case of tools and a tool basket, belonging to a cabinet maker, these now being in the British Museum; the tools, etc., are: Bass of palm fibres, neatly plaited, with cover; bell-shaped wooden mallets or hammers, such as are used by masons at the present day; bronze nails; a skin pouch for holding small tools and nails; a horn for oil for sharpening tools, such as now is used in a country wheelwright’s shop; drill bow, drill spindle, and drill cap; chisels; hatchet heads; adzes, knives, and chisels with wooden handles. On one bronze hatchet, and one bronze adze, and one bronze saw is the name Thothmes III. of eighteenth dynasty, 1453 B.C. These therefore were in use (1902 + 1450) 3,352 years ago. And on other blades of axes is the name of Ata, an officer in the time of the sixth dynasty. In addition to these, the Egyptian cabinet maker had in his bass rasps, a plummet, and a hone. Sufficient has now been said, it is thought, to convince the reader of the antiquity of many commonly used tools.


Tools may be classed according to their functions and modes of action, as follows: (1) Geometrical tools for laying off and testing work: such tools are rules, straightedges, gauges, etc. (2) Tools for holding and supporting work: such tools are benches, vices, stools, etc. (3) Paring or shaving tools, such as chisels, spokeshaves, planes, etc. (4) Saws. (5) Percussion or impelling tools, such as hammers, mallets, screwdrivers and (combined with cutting) hatchets, axes, adzes, etc. (6) Boring tools, such as gimlets, brace-bits, etc. (7) Abrading and scraping tools, such as rasps, scrapers, glasspaper, and implements such as whetstones, etc., for sharpening edged tools. These tools and their functions will be described in much the same order as the above.



THE simplest of these is the lead pencil, which is of a flat oval section sharpened to a chisel edge; if sharpened to a point, the pencil wears away quickly and is capable of marking a fine, solid line for only a few minutes together. There is a greater body of lead in the chisel edge, which therefore lasts some time before requiring to be resharpened. Steel scribing and marking tools are illustrated by Figs. 1 to 3. The chisel end marking awl (Fig. 1) and the striking knife (Fig. 2) are used for all purposes of scribing and marking smooth work, where an indented line answers the purpose better than a black line, the scratch providing a good starting point for edge tools. It is advisable to use a pencil for rough surfaces. A home-made striking knife (Fig. 3) commonly used in workshops is ground down from an old table knife.

Fig. 1.—Chisel-end Marking Awl.


A straight-edge 15 ft. long, 6 in. wide, and 1¼ in. thick is large enough for all practical purposes of the joiner, mason, bricklayer, engineer, millwright, etc. The best material is pine, it being the least affected (permanently) by change of temperature or weather. The pine board must be cut from a straight-grown tree, as a board from a crooked trunk will not keep parallel and straight for any length of time, owing to the grain crossing and recrossing its (thickness) edge. Straight-edges are made from all parts of boards cut from whole logs, but they cannot be relied upon to keep perfectly straight and true for any length of time. A strip that has been made without regard to the position it had in the whole tree will have to be trued up occasionally, and it therefore can never be relied upon unless tested each time it is required to be used, which is a great annoyance.

Fig. 2.—Striking Knife and Marking Awl.


To test the truth of a straight-edge having the above measurements, get a clean board 1 ft. longer and about 7 in. or 8 in. wide. Lay the straight strip at about the centre of the board, and with a sharp pencil draw a line on the board along the trued edge of the strip, keeping the side close to the board, and making the line as fine as possible. Now turn the strip over, placing the edge on the other side of the line, and if the trued edge is perfectly straight the line also will appear so. If the line is wavy, the edge must be planed until only one line is made when marked and tested from each side; mark a fresh line for each test, otherwise there will be confusion and inaccuracy. One edge now being perfectly true, proceed with the other edge. Set a sharp gauge to the required width, and mark the second edge lightly on each side of the rule, working the gauge from the trues edge; then the wood is planed off to the gauge marks, and the second edge tested as to its being true with the first one, using the pencil line, as before. A still more delicate test than the gauge line for parallelism is by the use of a pair of callipers. The points of the callipers are drawn along the edges, and if they are perfectly parallel there will be no easy or hard places, the presence of which, might possibly not be detected by the pencil line. If the edges will stand both these tests, the strip is perfectly straight and parallel.

Fig. 3.—Home-made Striking Knife.

Fig. 4.—Whitworth method of Testing Straight-edges.


Sir J. Whitworth’s famous method of trueing engineers’ straight-edges should interest the woodworker. Three straightedges are prepared singly, and each is brought to a moderate state of accuracy; two of them, A and B (Fig. 4), are compared with each other by placing them edge to edge, and any irregularities found are removed, the process being repeated until A and B fit each other perfectly. The third straight-edge, C, now is compared with both A and B, and when it fits perfectly both these two, then there is no doubt what-ever that the three are straight, approximating to the truth in proportion to the labour that has been spent upon them. Why this is so is obvious when it is remembered that though A may be rounded instead of being straight, and B may be hollow sufficiently to make them fit each other perfectly, yet it is impossible for C to fit both the rounded and the hollow straight-edge.

Fig. 5.—Testing Surface with Straight-edges.


How surfaces are tested for winding with straight-edges is shown by Fig. 5, from which it is obvious that if the work has warped ever so slightly a true straight-edge must disclose the fact, as it could not then lie flat on its edge across the work. If the board is in winding, each straight-edge will magnify the error. If the winding is wavy, the edges will touch at certain points, and in other places light will be seen between them and the work. Taking a sight from one straight-edge to the other is another test.

Fig. 6.—Two-ft. Four-fold Rule.

Fig. 7.—Rule with Brass Slide.


A 2-ft. four-fold boxwood rule (Fig. 6) is the best for the all-round purposes of the joiner; and for those who can use the slide rule, the tool shown by Fig. 7 would be handy. A simple 2-ft. two-fold rule (Fig. 8) is cheaper, but it is the greatest economy to buy the best tools, and for that reason perhaps the rule with double arch joints shown by Fig. 9, though costing more than twice as much as the one illustrated by Fig. 6, will be found the best and cheapest in the end. The average worker will find a simple rule preferable to an elaborate one. Fig. 10 shows a combined rule and spirit level, the rule joint also being set out to serve as a protractor. This tool may prove useful in special circumstances, but its use as a spirit level is not recommended, it being preferable to have rule and level two quite distinct tools.

Fig. 8.—Two-ft. Two-fold Rule.


A reliable method of dividing a board of any given width into any number of parts is illustrated by Fig. 11. Suppose a board 9 in. wide is to be cut into six equal parts; place the 1-ft. rule so that its ends touch the opposite edges of board, as shown in Fig. 11; draw a line right across, and upon this line mark off from the rule every 2 in., as 2, 4, 6, etc. Remove the rule, and draw lines parallel with the edge of the board, intersecting with the marks upon the oblique line, thus obtaining six parts, each really 1½ in. wide. The principle of this is simple: 2 in. is the one-sixth part of 1 ft., and whatever be the slant of the rule across the board (and the narrower the board the greater will be the slant) each 2-in. mark must denote a one-sixth part of the width. Say a board anything less than 24 in. in length or width is to be divided into eight parts; then as 3 in. is one-eighth of 2 ft., use a 2-ft. rule in the same manner as before, and mark off at every 3 in.

Fig. 9.—Rule with Double Arch Joints.

Fig. 10.—Rule with Spirit Level.


The woodworker constantly uses squares for setting out and testing work, as will be described in detail later. The simplest is the try square (in. Squares with other graduations can be obtained.

Fig. 11.—Dividing Board with Rule.

Fig. 12.—Try square.


A carpenter’s try-square that is thought to be untrue may be tested in the following way. Get a piece of board whose edge has been proved to be quite straight, apply the square as shown at A (Fig. 19), and draw a line; then turn the square as at B, and if it is true the blade should fit the line; if it is less than a right angle it will be as shown at C D (Fig. 19), and if more than a right angle the defect will be as indicated at E F (Fig. 19). If the blade has moved or has been knocked out of truth through a fall, it should be knocked back into its proper position, and, when true, the rivets should be tightened by careful hammering. If the blade is too fast in the stock to be knocked back, the blade must be filed true.

Fig. 13.—Combination Square and Mitre.

Fig. 14.—Mitre Square.

Fig. 15.—Iron Frame Try Square.


A crenelated square has a tongue in which there is a series of crenelations or notches at the graduations. It is especially useful in marking off mortises, etc., though it is available for all other ordinary applications. Three sides of a piece of timber can be set out without moving the work. To use this square, say in marking out a mortise or tenon, take it in the left hand and lay its tongue upon the surface of the work, as in Fig. 20. The lower end of the main arm is lowered for 2 in. or so from the surface to get a better purchase, and then an awl, held in the right hand, is placed in a notch at the correct distance from the edge to mark the left-hand edge of the mortise or left-hand face of tenon as the case may be. Then push the square forward, pressing it down gently upon the work, and one mark will have been made. Replace the square, and with the awl in another notch at the thickness of the tenon or width of the mortise make a second mark. Horizontals are drawn by means of the smooth edge of the tongue (see Fig. 20).

Fig. 16.—Adjustable Try Square.

Fig. 17.—Ordinary Sliding Bevel.

Fig. 18.—Brass Frame Sliding Bevel.


The chalk line, pencil and rule, and scribe are variously used for the marking of the lines by which the saw is guided. The first-named is used for long pieces of timber, the second for ordinary and roughly approximate work, the third for the most accurate sawing. Lining off a plank or board for ripping, when rough on the edges, is commonly done with a straight-edge or chalk line. If square-edged it can be done by the rule and pencil, as explained in Fig. 21. The rule is held in the left hand, measuring off on the board the breadth to be ripped, and the forefinger placed against the edge to act as fence. The pencil is held in the right hand to the end of the rule on the board. Both hands are then moved simultaneously, and the required line is traced backward or forward, as may be desired. Lines for cross-cutting, when square across or at right-angles to the edge, are readily obtained by the square, keeping its blade flat on the board or plank and its stock hard to the edge (see Fig. 22). For lines at an angle of 45° to the edge use the mitre square (see Fig. 23), and for other angles, set and apply the bevel-stock in the same way (see Fig. 24). For this and similar purposes the bevel-stock differs from the square only in having the blade movable, and capable of being adjusted at any desired angle with the stock by means of a screw. In the chalk line method of marking (see Fig. 25) a piece of fine cord is whitened with chalk, and being strained taut between two points whose positions are marked to correspond with the terminations of the line of cut, the chalk line is lifted vertically at or near the centre, and, being suddenly released, chalks a perfectly straight and fine line upon the timber, and furnishes a correct guide to the saw. Lines are marked with the timber scribe in such cases as squaring the ends of planed stuff and in marking dovetails and tenons. The saw may then be made to cut close outside the scribed line, allowing just sufficient margin of material to be re-moved with the plane; or the saw may pass right along the scribed line, as in cutting dovetails and tenons, no after-finish being required. In either case the scribed line is preferable to the pencil-marked one, because the cutting can be done much more accurately in the first case than in the latter. Also, when the end of a piece of timber has to be squared with the plane, there is, besides the greater accuracy, much less risk of spalting or breaking out of the grain occurring with scribed lines than with pencil-marked lines. In the case of planed ends, a careful workman will also contrive to saw extremely close to the scribed lines, in order to diminish as much as possible the labour of planing.

Fig. 19.—Testing Try Squares in Truth.

Fig. 20.—Marking Mortise with Crenelated Square.

Fig. 21.—Lining Board with Rule and Pencil.

Fig. 22.—Squaring Line on Board.

Fig. 23.—Marking Mitre Line on Board.

Fig. 24.—Using Sliding Bevel.

Fig. 25.—Using Chalk Line.

Fig. 26.—Pencil Gauge with Bound Stem.


The carpenter draws a line at a short distance from, and parallel to, the edge of a board by means of a rule and pencil, the method being made clear by in., that distance always being allowed for. Shop-bought marking and cutting gauges are illustrated by Figs. 30 to 35. A beechwood pencil gauge is shown by Fig. 30, a marking gauge having a steel point by Fig. 31, an improved cutting gauge for scribing deep lines by Fig. 32, and mortise gauges for scribing mortise holes and tenons by Figs. 33 to 35. The mortise gauges are of ebony and brass, the one illustrated by Fig. 35 having a stem of brass. The ordinary marking gauge is shown by Fig. 36, and the use of mortise gauges will come later.

Fig. 27.—Pencil Gauge with Square Stem.

Fig. 28.—Rule Pencil and Cutting Gauge.

Fig. 29.—Section through Rule Gauge.

Fig. 30.—Improved Pencil Gauge.

Fig. 31.—Ordinary Marking Gauge.

Fig. 32.—Cutting Gauge.

Fig. 33.—Square Mortise Gauge.


A panel gauge (Fig. 37) is used to mark a line parallel to the true edge of a panel, or of any piece of wood too wide for the ordinary gauge to take in. The stock (of which Figs. 38 to 42 give four alternative patterns) is of maple, beech, or similar wood. It is 1 in. thick, and has a ⅜-in. by ⅜-in. rebate at the bottom. A mortise is made for the stem to pass through, and another one at the side for the wedge. The edges of the stock are shown square, but it is an improvement to have them rounded. The wedge (Fig. 43) should be made of box-wood or ebony if possible, and is a bare ¼ in. thick. The taper of the mortise in the stock must be made to correspond with it. The stem should be about 2 ft. 6 in. long, and may be made of a piece of straight-grained mahogany. It should fit the mortise, not too tightly, but so that it can be moved with the hands without tapping, and is held in position by, the wedge when set. A piece is dovetailed in the end, as shown, to bring the marking point level with the bottom of the rebate. The stem may be made square if preferred, or if the rounded mortise presents a difficulty. The stock should be well finished and nicely polished.

Fig. 34.—Oval Mortise Gauge.

Fig. 35.—Brass Stem Mortise Gauge.

Fig. 36.—Using Marking Gauge.


The joiner and cabinet worker have a multitude of uses for the above tools, which are of the simplest construction. The ordinary form of wing compasses is shown by Fig. 44, in which the wing (the curved side projection) forms one with the left leg, whilst the right leg has a slot by means of which it slides up and down the wing, the set screw being tightened when the legs are to be fixed at a certain distance apart. For very accurate work, compasses with the sensitive adjustment at side, as shown in Fig. 45, are found to be useful. Compasses can be used very conveniently as simple dividers, but these cost very little. They are used for stepping off a number of equal distances, for transferring measurements, and for scribing. Callipers are used for measuring diameters of round pins, circular recesses, etc.; for the former purpose outside callipers (Fig. 46) and for the latter purpose inside callipers (Fig. 47) are used. Callipers are subject to great variation in shape, but those used in woodworking should be the simplest obtainable.

Fig. 37.—Panel Gauge.

Figs. 38 and 39.—Elevation and Section of Panel Gauge Stock.


The shooting-board is used for trueing up the edges of square stuff. The ordinary shooting-board (Fig. 48) is made of two pieces of plank, the lower one wider than the other, to support the plane, and the upper to form a base on which to hold the wood. This sometimes is not altogether satisfactory, because the board is likely to warp, and the grain of the wood, being all in the same direction, renders the board likely to split at, or near, the place where the pieces are joined. The shooting-board shown by Figs. 49 to 53 is a desirable improvement. Fig. 49 shows the elevation, in which A is the board on which the work rests; B, the ledge or rail on which the plane moves; C being rails fixed to B, as shown in the other figures; D, the stop. Fig. 50 is a plan. Reference letters are the same in each figure. Fig. 51 shows the edge of B. Fig. 52 shows the frame on which A is fixed; the dotted lines indicate the tenons and wedges. Fig. 53 shows end of completed board. Each of the cross-rails also acts as a ledge to the upper board, materially stiffening the whole; while advantage may be taken of the opportunity thus afforded to leave room for the powdery waste, produced in shooting the ends of the wood, to fall out of the way. A further improvement might be made by fixing a narrow piece of plate glass along the path on which the plane is to travel, to reduce friction.

Fig. 40.—Stock of Panel Gauge.

Fig. 41.—Stock of Panel Gauge.

Fig. 42.—Stock of Panel Gauge.

Fig. 43.—Wedge of Panel Gauge.

Fig. 44.—Wing Compasses.

Fig. 45.—Compasses with Sensitive Adjustment.


A prominent fault of shooting-boards, as generally constructed, is that the plane used on the board loses its edge very quickly, especially on thin wood and when dealing with material of uniform thickness.

Fig. 46.—Outside Callipers.

The reason for this is that only a small part of the edge of the plane-iron is in use, and the same small portion constantly. All who have used edged tools know that an oblique movement cuts sweeter than a direct and forward movement, the edge employed in the actual cutting having a greater width than the shaving removed. The same thing is observable in a rebate plane. A skew-mouth plane not only keeps better up to its work, but the shaving seems to be more smoothly removed, and the cut surface has a better finish. In order to obtain these advantages, the shooting-board shown by Fig. 54 is offered. The planes used on a shooting-board should be sharpened squarely with a straight cutting edge; this is very important when shooting mitres, especially picture frames. If the iron of the plane is so sharpened, the distance between the surfaces on which rest the plane and the material worked upon need nor. exceed ⅜ in.; nearly the whole width Of the plane-iron is then available for use. Supposing that a shooting-board is required to take advantage of the oblique cut and the employment of a larger part of the edge, the wood operated on may be taken to be not more than ¾ in. thick (for thicker work is more independent of a shooting-board): then the difference in level at the two ends of the shooting-board may be possibly as much as 1½ in. This board (Fig. 54) is not drawn to scale, but may be made of any size suitable for the purpose for which the maker intends it, and it might be improved by making the incline adjustable with a pair of thumbscrews, or perhaps, preferably, by hingeing the two parts together at one end and employing a movable wedge and bolts at the other end for the purpose of adjustment.

Fig. 47.—Inside Callipers.

Fig. 48.—Shooting Board.

Figs. 49 and 50.—Elevation and Plan of Improved Shooting Board.


The technical term mitre is applied usually to the angle between any two pieces of wood or moulding where they join or intersect, as in the case of a picture-frame.

Figs. 51 and 52.—Frame of Improved Shooting Board.

In this instance the joint would be a true mitre—that is to say, it would be 45°, or half the right angle (90°) formed by the two inner edges of the frame. Although the term mitre is generally understood to apply to a right angle, yet any angle, acute or obtuse, may be called a mitre.


There are various appliances employed in cutting mitres, the simplest being known as the mitre block. The work is laid upon the rebate C (Fig. 55), and the saw kerfs A B serve as a guide for the tenon saw. The best form of mitre block is made from a piece of dry beech, about 16 in. long, 6 in. wide, and 3 in. thick. A rebate C is cut to about the size shown, care being taken that the angle is perfectly true. Lines A and B are set out to an angle of 45°, and they then are squared down the rebate and back of block. The lines are cut down with a tenon saw, and upon the accuracy of the sawing depends the value of the finished mitres. Fig. 56 is a section of the mitre block as commonly used by the joiner. This is merely two pieces of wood (deal, as a rule) planed up true and screwed or nailed together. This plan answers very well, as when it becomes worn and out of truth another can be made for a few pence. The block shown by Fig. 57 has a ledge on the bottom as shown; owing to the inward slant the work is more easily held.

Fig. 53.—End Elevation of Improved Shooting Board.


Fig. 58 shows a mitre box which answers the same purpose as the block. This is made with three pieces of deal about 1 in. thick, nailed together at the bottom as shown. Mitre boxes for heavy work require a strengthening piece on top to hold together the sides (see Fig. 59), or even three pieces may be necessary (see Fig. 60); both these illustrations show pieces of moulding in position for mitre-cutting.

Fig. 54.—Shooting Board giving Oblique Planing.


Figs. 61 and 62 show a mitre shooting block for shooting or planing the edges of stuff sawn in the mitre block or box. In Fig. 61 the bottom piece is of dry red deal, 2 ft. 6 in. long, and rebated. The top piece must be made of some hard material, such as mahogany or beech, by preference. It is planed up perfectly true, and cut at the ends to a true mitre (45°); it is firmly screwed to the bottom piece. It is an improvement to fix ledger pieces across the bottom, to keep the board from warping. In Fig. 62 the bottom piece is of two separate boards as shown.

Fig. 55.—Mitre Sawing Block.

Fig. 56.—Section of Mitre Block.

Fig. 57.—Inclined Mitre Sawing Block.


Notwithstanding the large number of patented mitring machines in the market, skilled joiners, when any particularly good piece of work is in hand, still prefer to use the ordinary home made wooden shoot. The machines, whilst new and in good condition, are undoubtedly the more expeditious in use, but if carelessly handled they are apt to get out of order, and then their work is far from satisfactory; whilst the wood shoot will stand a deal of rough usage, and is also easily repaired. Figs. 63 to 67 illustrate several improvements on the old form of shoot. A mitre-shoot, square-shoot, and joint-shoot are combined in the one board, which will prove very handy where these appliances are wanted only occasionally. The shoot consists of a top board of seasoned yellow deal 3 ft. by 9 in. by 1½ in., slot-screwed to an under-frame of teak, made up of the plane bed B, 3 ft. by 2¾ in. by 1½ in., into which are framed three cross rails 2¼ in. by 1 in. flush on the under-side. This frame is shown in plan and in section respectively in Figs. 65 and 66. In the centre of the top board is the mitre-block, a piece of dry oak 2 in. thick cut with two of its sides exactly square with each other, and at an angle of 45° with the third. This block, instead of being fixed in the usual way, is mounted on a pivot in its centre, as shown at B (Figs. 63 and 64), and is capable of adjustment either as a mitre-shoot, as shown in the full lines, or as a square-shoot, as indicated by the dotted lines in Fig. 63; it is firmly secured in either position by means of three ½-in. by 3-in. squarehead screw bolts similar to Fig. 68. The grain of the block should run parallel with the plane bed, then shrinkage will not alter its shape. The board is arranged for jointing by removing the mitre-block and working the boards against the adjustable stop A. This stop, which is shown in perspective also at Fig. 69, works in an undercut groove, and is secured in any required position by the screw bolt; the projection at the end prevents the boards slipping whilst being planed.

Fig. 58.—Mitre Box.

Fig. 59.—Mitre Box with Strengthening Piece.

Fig. 60.—Mitre Box with Strengthening Pieces.

Fig. 61.—Mitre Shooting Block with Solid Base.

Fig. 62.—Mitre Shooting Block with made-up Base.

Fig. 63.—Combination Shooting Board.

Fig. 64.—End Elevation of Combination Board.


A donkey’s-ear is used for mitreing Or bevelling the edges of wide but thin material, with the cut at right angles to that adopted for stouter mouldings. Fig. 70 gives an idea of its form and construction. Fig. 71 shows another handy form of mitre-shoot for wide surfaces that have to be edge-mitred. This also is known as a donkey’s-ear, and it consists of a rest A for the material to be mitred, a bed B for the shooting plane, a guide C for the plane, and a frame D for the purpose of elevating the appliance to a convenient height by fixing it in the bench-screw or to the tail of the bench. The rest A is made of a piece of deal 1 ft. 3 in. long, 4½ in. deep, and 3 in. thick, and has a rebate run along two of its edges (see the section), Fig. 72. The bed B should preferably be of teak, as this wood is of a greasy nature and does not cast. It should be about 2 ft. long, 3 in. wide, and 2 in. thick. The guides C are 1 in. thick, and project about ½ in. above the bed. The frame D is made up of 3-in. by 1-in. deal, and tenoned through the bed with bare-faced tenons, with shoulders towards the rest.

Figs. 65 and 66.—Frame of Combination Board.

Fig. 67.—Elevation of Combination Board.

Fig. 68.—Screw-bolt.

Fig. 69.—Adjustable Stop.


Of constant use as an aid in cutting mitres is a mitre template, which is made from a piece of hard wood, in the form shown by Fig. 73; it is usually about 4 in. long, 3 in. wide each way, and ½ in. thick.

Fig. 70.—Donkey’s-ear Shooting Block.

It is made by planing up true a square block of hard wood, cutting out a rebate B, and making a true mitre (458) upon each end, as shown. If an ordinary cupboard framing is examined at the junction of the rail with the jambs, it will be seen that each of the moulded edges has been mitred as shown in Fig. 74. To obtain this mitre, the template is used, as Fig. 75. Fig. 76 shows the template applied to the edge being held by the left hand, whilst the right guides the chisel A.

Fig. 71.—Donkey’s-ear Block for Shooting Wide Surfaces.

Fig. 72.—Rest of Donkey’s-ear Block.

Fig. 73.—Mitre Template.

Fig. 74.—Moulding with Mitred Joint.


The spirit level is used for determining the plane of the horizon, that is the plane forming a right angle to the vertical plane. A frame firmly holds a closed glass tube nearly filled with anhydrous ether, or with a mixture of ether and alcohol. Good spirit levels are provided with a graduated scale engraved on the glass tube or on a brass or steel rule fastened to the frame beside it, so as to mark the position of the bubble, the tube being so shaped that when the level is lying on a flat and horizontal surface the bubble occupies the centre of the tube. Many levels have provision for altering the length of the bubble. in., and diminishing to ½ in. at the ends. The frame is of any hard, tough wood, such as box, ebony, lignum-vitæ, birch, beech, walnut, or oak. At the back of the tube should be silvering, which shows up the bubble and enables side lights to be dispensed with. The tube is set in plaster-of-paris, and has a brass cover. Shop-bought spirit levels are constructed generally in ebony or rosewood, better qualities having a metal protection for the edges and faces. This protection preserves the truth of the instruments for a long time, and is very desirable. A serviceable American level has a mount entirely of steel, which is hexagonal in section, and has rounded ends. Another handy form is the one mounted wholly in brass; this has a revolving protector over the bulb opening, and there is provision for adjustment should the level after a time wear out of truth. A very convenient form of level is the one with a graduated screw slide, by means of which the fall per foot is shown at a glance.

Fig. 75.—Application of Mitre Template.

Fig. 76.—Using Chisel with Mitre Template.

Fig. 77.—Spirit Level.

Fig. 78.—Section of Spirit Level.



BEFORE any definite work can be done, a bench, or its substitute, must be obtained. For general manual work the ordinary bench in use by the joiner is, all things considered, the most serviceable; it should not be less than 6 ft. long, 2 ft. 6 in. high, and, say, 2 ft. 6 in. wide. It should be fitted with two wood bench screws and wood vice cheeks, one at each left-hand corner of the bench, to accommodate two workers. If possible, the bench should be so placed that light may fall directly upon both the ends—that is to say, the workers must face the windows.

Fig. 79.—Workman and Bench.

There are many good and suitable benches on the market, but the worker must not get one that is too low, and the height should be influenced by the kind of work it is intended to perform upon it. The smaller benches sold at the tool-shops are not high enough for an adult—from 33 to 34 in. for a man is excellent, 26 to 30 in. for boys. The worker will become accustomed to work at the ordinary bench height, but it is absurd to suppose that one height suits tall and short people equally. The worker should choose a bench of the height at which he has the most command over his tools. He should be able to do his work conveniently without much necessity for stooping; but the height of the bench should not prevent his standing well over his work (see Fig. 79). It will thus be seen that some latitude is allowable, although no doubt something near ordinary bench height, somewhere about 2 ft. 6 in., is about the best. The height of an ordinary bench can be altered easily by cutting the legs shorter or putting something under them. A height of 2 ft. 6 in. may be found just right for mere occasional use, but too low to work at for any length of time. A simple method of raising it slightly from the floor is to put a piece of quartering under each pair of legs. For heavy work the bench may have to be fixed to the quartering, and the quartering to the floor, for which purpose stout screws or screw bolts will answer. Fig. 79 shows the relative heights of worker and bench.

Fig. 80.—Bench with Side and Tail Vices.

Fig. 81.—Double Bench with Vice at each end.


Fig. 80 is a general view of a simple bench with side and tail vices. This form is extremely useful for cabinet making and similar work, where it is desirable to hold pieces of material that may have to be planed, moulded, chamfered, mortised, grooved, etc., without using a bench knife or similar method of fixing. The material could be held between stops, one being inserted in one of the holes in the top of the bench and another in the hole made in the cheek of the tail vice. The following dimensions are, of course, only suggestive, and the bench may be made longer or shorter, narrower or wider, to meet requirements: Top, 5 ft. by 1 ft. 9 in., and 2 in. thick. Height, 2 ft. 7 in. Distance between legs, 3 ft. 2 in. lengthwise, and 1 ft. 3 in. sideways. Legs, 3 in. by 3 in. The whole may be constructed of hard wood, such as beech or birch, and in any case it will be best to have hard wood for all the parts forming the tap, side cheeks, and cheeks of vices, these being the main parts of the bench; the framing of the legs, rails, etc., might be of red deal. A simple bench is illustrated by Fig. 81; this is suitable for general carpentry and joinery. The framework is of thoroughly seasoned dry spruce fir or red pine, and the top of birch or yellow pine. This is a very serviceable bench for general utility. The folding bench illustrated by Fig. 82 will be found very suitable where a portable bench is required for occasional use only. It will be seen that when the bench is not in use, the screw, screw cheek, and runner can be taken out, the legs folded on to the wall, and the top and side folded and let down as indicated in Fig. 83. A more elaborate bench for cabinet work is shown by Fig. 84; it consists of two principal parts, the underneath framework and support, and the top. The former has two standards joined by two bars. On the feet of the standards rests a board which serves to hold heavy tools and other articles. There is a rack for small tools, and underneath this a band, tacked at short intervals, for other tools. The front rail has holes on its top face 1 in. by ¾ in. for holding bench stops, whilst in the front face of the rail are round holes for holding other pins T, 1½ in. square at one end, but made round at the other end to fit tightly into the holes. The pin T and the block V (Fig. 84), screwed on the end of the movable jaw of the vice, serve to hold wood during the process of edge planing. Holes in the back rail receive pins W which are convenient for cramping up joints. A kitchen table bench is shown by Fig. 85. The end of the table employed is not the one containing the usual drawer. Two blocks of wood A B, 3 in. square, are attached to the table top by two cramps embedded in the ends of one of the pieces. Through mortise holes C C are inserted slats glued and wedged to block A, but running loosely in holes in B. S is a screw, and the two parts of the bench serve the purpose also of vice cheeks; though if desired the two blocks can be screwed together solid.

Fig. 82.—Folding Bench in use.


The ordinary bench is provided with holes for the reception of stops, against which or between which work is held for planing, etc. These stops are of iron shaped as in Fig. 86, and have springs at their sides by means of which they are held tightly and at any required height in the bench holes. An adjustable stop for screwing to the bench is shown by Fig. 87. For a temporary stop some workers drive a few nails into the bench end, leaving the heads projecting enough to hold the wood. A much better substitute can be made out of an ordinary butt hinge, one end of which should be filed into teeth so as to hold the wood better. This end should be left-loose, and the other side screwed down tightly to the bench end as shown by Fig. 88. A long, light screw through the middle hole in the loose side will afford sufficient adjustment for thin or thick stuff. When done with, the hinge can be taken up and put away.

Fig. 83.—Folding Bench not in use.

Fig. 84.—Cabinet-worker's Bench.

Fig. 85.—Kitchen Table Bench.


A common form of joiner's bench screw is shown in general view by Fig. 89; Fig. 90 is a view looking from the inside, supposing the top, leg, and bearer of the bench to be removed, and Fig. 91 is a sectional view. D is the side or cheek of the bench to which the wooden nut A is screwed. The box B, which accurately fits the runner shown inside it, is fixed to the top rail connecting the legs, and to the top and side of the bench. Care is taken to keep the runner at right angles to the vice cheeks. To fasten the vice outer cheek and screw together so that upon turning the latter the former will follow it, a groove E (Fig. 91) is cut. Then from the under edge of the cheek a mortise is made, and a hardwood key F is driven to fit fairly tight into the mortise, its end entering E. The screw cheek is usually about 1 ft. 9 in. long, 9 in. wide, and 2 in. to 3 in. thick. The runner is about 3 in. by 3 in. and 2 ft. long. The wooden screws and nuts can be bought ready made.

Fig. 86.—Iron Bench Stop.

Fig. 87.—Adjustable Bench Stop.

Fig. 88.—Hinge used as Bench Stop.

Fig. 89.—Bench Screw Vice.


The defects of the old-fashioned form of bench vice shown by Fig. 92 may be noted.

Fig. 90.—Inside View of Screw Vice.

Suppose it is required to hold a door rail whilst tenons are cut, a piece of stuff of the exact thickness of the rail has to be inserted between the jaw and the bench at the opposite end to that in which the door rail is put, and, should the piece inserted be a trifle thicker or thinner than the rail, difficulty will be experienced in tightening the screw sufficiently to keep the rail rigid whilst cutting the tenon, and even then it will probably slip about and become loose. If it is required to plough, say, the edge of a mullion, when this is placed in the screw and tightened up the jaw tilts over as shown in Fig. 93 and grips the mullion hard on its two arrises; and in fixing it in the vice in order to plough the second edge, great care must be exercised to avoid splitting off pieces from the rail at each side of the groove, and thus disfiguring the work, and there are other disadvantages. An improvement on the old form is suggested by Figs. 94 and 95. Instead of having the jaw horizontal, the idea is to adjust it in a raking position; it will then grip the work on both sides of the screw, instead of only on one side as formerly, thus avoiding the tilt; and this advantage is assured whether the work be placed in the vice vertically, horizontally, or obliquely. There is another good point in this arrangement—namely, the rail mortised into the jaw at its

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