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Saturday, 11 December 2010

New Quangsheng Adjustable Spokeshave

I managed to find a few moments today to try out the new Quangsheng adjustable spokeshave. As usual the quality of the casting and overall finish are very good. At 484grams (1lb) it's a touch heavier than I was expecting but has a reassuringly solid feel in the hand.

The cutting iron was sharp enough to work with straight out of the box and with the capscrew slackened off by half a turn the adjusters give a sufficiently fine degree of control over the blade projection. The only thing I did need to do was tighten up the adjuster screws into the body, a dab of threadlock may be useful here although so far just nipping them up finger tight seems to have done the trick.

The sole is flat and nicely finished. It did occur to me that there is plenty of meat there if you wanted to file it convex, if this proves a popular idea we may even get some made that way at a later date.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The 12% Days of Christmas

The 12% days of Christmas is a series of one day only offers on selected product ranges. The offer will change daily at midnight and are only available while stocks last.

Simply enter the appropriate code on the appropriate day at stage 1 of the checkout to claim your 12% discount. If the item is already on special offer you still get 12% off the offer price.

There's another load of fantastic offers in our Workshop Heaven Christmas Sale!

Tell your friends!

December 6th

12% off Ochsenkopf Axes
Discount Code: 12DC01

December 7th

12% off Bessey Clamps
Discount Code: 12DC02

December 8th

12% off Atkinson Walker Saws
Discount Code: 12DC03

December 9th

12% off Famag Drill Bits
Discount Code: 12DC04

December 10th

12% off Shield Technology Products
Discount Code: 12DC05

December 11th

12% off Narex Chisels
Discount Code: 12DC06

December 12th

12% off Ashley Iles Chisels
Discount Code: 12DC07

December 13th

12% off Quangsheng Planes
Discount Code: 12DC08

December 14th

12% off Gyokucho Saws
Discount Code: 12DC09

December 15th

12% off Clifton Planes
(Including Anniversary Planes)
Discount Code: 12DC10

December 16th

12% off King Waterstones
Discount Code: 12DC11

December 17th

12% off ARNO Products
Discount Code: 12DC12

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Free Shipping Fortnight

After a spluttering start Free Shipping Fortnight is now well and truly underway. All orders for delivery within Great Britain and Northern Ireland qualify for free shipping and we have extended the period of the offer by 24 hours so it now finishes at midnight (23.59hrs) on Monday November 29th.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Extra Time

Unfortunately we have had to take the website down temporarily whilst we investigate a technical problem.

In the finest footballing tradition we will be adding 'extra time' at the end of free shipping fortnight (15th to 28th November inclusive).

Whilst the site is unavailable you can still place orders via our ebay shop or by telephone on 01295 780003.

My apologies for the inconvenience, the site will be restored as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The 5 Minute Guide to Axes

There is a wealth of information about axes on the internet, but here's a 'quick n dirty' bullet pointed guide that gives you as much info as possible in the briefest form I could manage. If you still have questions please feel free to drop me a line and I'll do my best to help.

Types of Axe

Felling Axes: Thin blades for slicing through the fibres of the timber.

Splitting Axe: Axes with fat triangular heads for driving timber apart along the fibres.

Universal: Halfway between a felling axe and a splitting axe and surprisingly effective at both jobs.

Hatchet: Small highly accurate tools for trimming and fine splitting.

Blade Shape

Broad: Broad faced felling and universal axes tend to work better on softwoods like pines and firs.

Narrow: Blades with a short cutting edge concentrate the power and are generally better for harder timbers.

Length vs. Mass

The power of an axe blow is a function of the head weight, the handle length and the amount of energy the user puts into the swing.

Heavy head: Lots of power and momentum, takes more effort to use.

Light head: Easy to wield, but less effective.

Long handle: Multiplies the energy of the swing

Short handle: Greater accuracy

A big heavy head on a long handle with a skilful and fired up user (eg OX 440 H-2708 Competition Sport Axe) will make the maximum amount of progress in the minimum amount of time but is exhausting to use.

A relatively light head with a long handle (eg OX 16 H-1008 Iltis Canadian Felling Axe ) will give the most efficient transfer of the users energy into cutting power but may require practice to control.

A relatively heavy head on a short handle (eg OX 395 E-601 Carpenter’s Bundle Axe) gives the best possible accuracy.

A relatively light head on a short handle (eg OX 25 H-0806 Harz Pattern Universal Axe) is light to carry, easy to wield and accurate, although the size of workpiece that can be tackled is limited.

Handle Materials

Ash: Has a very high strength to weight ratio (which is why it was used to make the frame for the Wright Flyer and still is used to frame cars like the Morgan +4). A very traditional timber for axe handles its only drawback is that when it does break it tends to break in two.

Hickory: (shown above) is massively strong stuff, good quality Hickory (the best comes from North America) is capable of 3-4 times the physical loading of Ash. It also has a very long fibre structure which means that it splinters apart but is unlikely to break fully in two.

Fibreglass: Modern synthetic handles are virtually unbreakable, immune to the cold and wet and on paper they seem the obvious choice. They just don't have quite the same feel as wood though.


Acute angles: (typically found on felling axes) are sharper but more delicate.

Obtuse angles: (typically found on splitting axes) will be more durable.

Axes should be sharpened with convex bevels, which are stronger than flat or hollow ground ones.

Axes should never be reground on a powered grinder. If you get a big ding in the edge an aggressive file is the best way to remove it.


No steel on steel. Hitting two pieces of hardened steel together can cause chips of steel to fly off. By all means drive aluminium, plastic or wooden wedges with the back of a splitting hammer or hit steel axe heads or wedges with a polyamid or wooden mallet, but no steel on steel please.

Eye protection: Speaks for itself, big impacts, unpredictable materials, one pair of eyes.

Gloves: Not woolly ones, proper rubberised work gloves that give an effective grip and provide some protection against splinters.

Check your equipment: Make sure that the head is securely fixed to the handle and check the handle for any signs of damage before starting work – every single time.

If it doesn’t feel safe don’t do it: Think about where the axe will go if you miss or the material moves, if a body part features anwhere in the plan for stopping the axe – make a new plan. A knee high chopping block is an essential safety aid for chopping.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Postage Charges Reduced

We have recently started franking the parcels that we send out by Royal Mail (usually anything under 2Kgs). Although it is delivered by the same postie, franked mail runs through an entirely seperate system within Royal Mail, so it is faster as well as being a bit cheaper.

We have now adjusted the shipping calculator, so all of the prices are lower than before - some by a considerable margin. It doesn't make much of an advertising headline because the rates are individually calculated according to the weight of the order and destination, but it will still save our customers a bit of money which can only be a good thing.

By the way - using the second class service where available you can save even more and if your order is placed before 2pm you still have a 90% chance that your package will arrive the next day.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Saw Handle Instructions

Thanks to some very generous assistance from Aiden (The Tiddles) of UKWorkshop, we finally have handle plans available for the Atkinson Walker saw kits. My apologies to those who have been waiting for them.

The handle templates can be downloaded here.

A step by step guide to the process can be found here.

And the guide to sharpening and using your new saw is here.

For an intermediate woodworker, these kits are great fun to make and you end up with a fantastic set of saws that you will enjoy using for many years. They also give you an appreciation of how much work goes into producing top-end handmade saws and perhaps even a few new skills that you can transfer to other projects.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Supersize Me!

The new 12mm, 14mm and 16mm Narex mortice chisels arrived the other day (along with some new sizes of the Narex bevel edged chisels) and being an inquisitive sort I had to have a play!

I had expected the 16mm mortice chisel to be a bit of a brute to wield, it is after all an enormous chunk of steel, but in its working position the weight is all borne by the workpiece. Making the initial cuts with the blade pinched low down between thumb and forefinger, you can feel the chisel start to 'swoon' if you get too far from vertical, when it feels weightless, you know it's perpendicular.

The intial cuts suggested that making progress wasn't going to be a problem, 3mm at a time into English walnut with nothing more substantial than a sharp tap with the mallet.

Having cleaned out the first layer of chips to create the shoulders of the mortice I moved on to heavier blows and the chisel just ate its way in. A handy tip I picked up from Jacob Butler is to chop through the waste rather than trying to clear it as you go. This saves a bunch of time and preserves the shoulder as all the force is going downwards. The chips gradually get more and more finely chopped too, so most of them will fall out when you turn the workpiece over and give it a sharp tap on the bench, especially if you made a cut lengthwise through the middle of the waste with a broad bevel edged chisel first. What little did need levering out at the end was done by using the kevlar reinforced head of the clamp as a fulcrum, again to preserve the crisp finish.

Considering that this was all done with the factory finish on the cutting edges I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with both the efficacy of the tool and the results. A little judicious honing of the primary cutting edge and the first inch or so of the sides will no doubt yield further performance.

If you haven't tried cutting mortices by hand I can thoroughly recommend it. Morticing machines have their place and if you are doing production work they are invaluable, but if you are only doing a few slots to cut then chiselling them is a quick, inexpensive and rewarding alternative.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Sneak Previews

Our New Continental Hand Stitched Rasps will be available shortly, there has been a minor delay as we altered the handle design slightly at the last minute. That said the results will be beautiful and it's better to get them absolutely spot on from the outset than rush them through and have to make changes later.

The new range of Narex Cabinetmakers Chisels are in production and will be available shortly. The edges are finer than the originals and the backs are correctly hollowed by around 6 thou in the length so they are very quick to prepare using 100 micron film and rapidly come into tolerance for fine work. The steel is the same bainitic chrome manganese steel used on the originals, austempered to RC59 for a deep even hardness and very high strength. The handles will be hornbeam, stained black with gold lettering and brassed ferrules.

Coming soon - the new Quangsheng Low Angle Jack! This is the first photo we have of this new addition to the Quangsheng range and although it's unlikely to be here in time for Christmas, I'm sure it will prove to be a very popular tool.

The mouth is adjustable by means of a movable front sole, and depth of cut adjustment comes courtesy of a smooth and precise V2 mechanism similar to that found on the new Quangsheng block planes.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

New Quangsheng Bench Planes

Please click to enlarge

The new Quangsheng bench planes are now available and will completely replace the original versions once existing stocks run out. The pressed steel lateral adjuster has been replaced with a fabricted one made from steel and brass with a guide bearing. The yoke that advances the iron is a little more meaty and we have switched from grasstree handles to Chinese rosewood. The lever cap is cast stainless with a fine brushed finish. We have stuck with the original 40cr cast steel bodies and T10 cutting irons as we believe that they are more highly specified than any of the alternatives.

Please click to enlarge

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Time well spent

Time spent with good friends around a fire is invariably some of the higest quality time you will spend in your life. If you happen to poke a few bars of really nice steel into the fire and then bash them around - well, lemmetelya, it just gets better and better.

We popped in to visit custom knifemaker Chris Grant on the edge of the Cairngorms this week and once we had got over the spectacular scenery:

We settled into a couple of evenings of hard but rewarding prototyping. This is both enjoyable and really hard work at the same time. Commercial decisions need to be made on the spot and although the results can be seen almost immediately, time is very limited so the pressure to get those decisions right every time goes through the roof. It's a mentally demanding process but the results are well worth a thousand mile round trip and a spot of pressurised thinking.

First up was an idea that I have been mulling over for some time - a marking knife that can be presented perfectly flush to a left or right corner and naturally balances correctly in either position, can be rolled or drawn over an edge or surface and is possibly the wierdest looking but simultaneously the most 'now why didn't anyone else figure this one out before' idea that my twisted mind has ever wrought. Can it be made commercially? I have no idea as yet, but seeing the idea fleshed out in both O1, piano wire and cut-throat razor steel certainly brings things a step closer.

Yes, the photo doesn't give much away - but at this stage of production it would be foolish to do so. Suffice to say I am very excited about bringing this product to market.

Next was a forged carving knife for green woodworking - we used the same razor steel for this and it takes probably twice the effort to forge that O1 would (guess who was swinging the hammer to get this one from round to flat) - "s'your spec pal, you've tae bash tha bugger oot!!!" People talk about steel 'flowing under the hammer' well this stuff flows like a glacier on a cold day, even at 900 degrees C, but it was well worth breaking a sweat over - I have seen edges that would slice free hanging tissue paper before but it's still very impressive. The next step would be ball bearing steel which is only just forgable by hand if you've got really big arms and a chip on your shoulder, but may just be viable under mechanised production. I've gone for the longest blade I thought was viable on the principle that you can always make things shorter, but we will see how it goes once it's handled.

While we were at it, I thought that the most ultimate, ultra-gucci spoon knife in the world would be a lovely thing to do, so here we have a differentially hardened white paper steel (which I also learned began as mass produced tamahagane) spoon knife blade, complete with hamon line. It was a right little tinker to make and took hours to get right but if your smith can knock one of these out you know you are dealing with someone who really knows their business, £125 a pop unhandled if anyone feels the need. Here it is roughed out and quickly etched to find the hamon, once fully polished I have no doubt that this will become one of my my most treasured posessions. I went for a longer shank than usual as this allows you to swoop in for the really low cuts that enable you to hollow oval shapes as well as circular ones.

Last of all was something for Her indoors, a stock removal Santoku from AE 1095/15N20 Damascus which turned out better than any of us could have imagined.

Stock removal is a cheaper manufacturing method than forging but more wasteful in terms of raw materials, forging would however have produced a larger blade. Nonetheless, this little chap will see some serious testing once it is handled and it will be enlightening to see how it performs as an everyday kitchen knife. Updates to follow.

Chris is shortly going to be moving workshops, so if you want anything made it's probably best to be both quick in placing your order and prepared to wait a while for it. I can however give my personal guarantee that he will stop at nothing to ensure that the quality of your finished item is second to none in the world.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Quangsheng V2 Block Planes

Please click to enlarge

So what's the difference between the V1 and a V2 Quangsheng block planes?

The photo above shows the two side by side, V1 (left) had a fixed threaded rod with a solid brass nut that engaged a single through slot in the top of the cutting iron. V2 (right) has a screw that runs directly into the plane body, with a captive bracket that runs in a machined groove in the top of the pillar.

The new adjuster is smoother in use and has a finer thread pitch, so the cutting iron advances a shorter distance for each turn of the knob, giving more precise control over the depth of cut. It also has less tendancy to alter the lateral setting while altering the depth of cut. The bracket engages two out of 10 slots in the underside of the cutting iron - finer threads means less travel, which means you need more slots in order to use the full length of the blade.

Here's another photo showing the two threads:

Please click to enlarge

The Quangsheng V2 standard angle and low angle block planes are both supplied with a 25 degree and 38 degree cutting iron. The 25 degree blade gives a 37 degree pitch in the low angle for predominantly crossgrain and endgrain work. Although personally I don't find a huge difference from 45 to 37 I admit that it does make the tool a little easier to push through the cut. Install the 38 degree blade and you are up to 50 degrees (york pitch) for predominantly long grain work.

With the standard angle plane, the 25 degree iron gives you common pitch and the 38 degree blade takes you up to just a couple of degrees shy of cabinet pitch (60 degrees). I am very much convinced of the benefits of steeper pitches for working very hard timbers and interlocking grain.

We have also had 38 degree irons made for the V1 block planes for those that want them, as well as 50 degree irons for V2s that give 62 degree pitch in the low angle block and 70 in the standard angle. Although you are still technically planing at 70 degrees the tool functions more like a scraper plane - I'm sure that this option will be popular with instrument makers.

The rebating block plane is supplied with a 25 degree iron. As these tools are usually used more like a shoulder plane it seemed to be overkill to offer the irons in different pitches. Replacement 25 degree irons are available for both the V1 and V2 versions and steeper piches could be obtained by honing a secondary bevel.

The other tweek was changing the cap screw from flat to countersunk, which has helped to keep the cap in place whilst adjusting the iron and reduced the chance of the cap shifting in use - this modification did sneak into some of the newer V1s.

So that's it for the block planes, I'm happy that we have now got them pretty much to where I wanted them to be. I will try to get some toothed irons done though for both the block and the bench planes as I think this would expand their versatility even further.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Whilst researching the history of my W.B. Haigh chisel morticer I came across a copy of their 1872 catalogue on the University of Reading website - link here. This was also the year of President Grant's re-election, the great fire of Boston, Louis Bleriot's birth, Samuel Morse's death and the first FA Cup, won by Wanderers beating the Royal Engineers 1-0 at Kennington Oval before a crowd of 2000 spectators.

By nibbling the end off the URL I found my way into a fascinating and rather large repository of such catalogues here!

There are many things to tickle the interest of the casual observer in these publications, the language is fascinating - 'stuff' being commonly used for timber, 'Rabbiting' still apparently in common usage in England, before it gave way to 'rebates' and 'housings', only to be perpetuated in the US and reintroduced to the UK by Norm Abram - much to the disgruntlement of those of us who are used to rebates and housings!

The other thing to strike me was how similar these machines are in design to many of their modern day counterparts - and much more solidly made. Even though they only had belt drive or hand power, the design of many recognisable machines was devised by these guys and in most cases remains virtually unchanged.

In many ways I'm sorry to part with the morticer, it really is a beautifully made thing and I would have loved to restore it to concourse condition. An icon of that fleeting moment between hand chisel morticing and the arrival of the hollow chisel morticer. Nonetheless, the decision has been made and I'll just have to get used to the concept of being a bloke who used to own a W.B. Haigh chisel morticer - made in Oldham - by men in hats.

I now know how Mr Clarkson of Brierfield felt about his wall mounted spindle moulder when he wrote on October 26th 1877: "I beg to say that I like your "wall spindle" very well.....In fact, I should not like to be without it on any consideration".

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Atelier System

An atelier is a group of students working through a highly ordered series of activities with a master who is also a working practitioner. The system works by building knowledge and skills through a blend of research and practice, with the bias towards research in the early stages and practice in the later stages. It is common in this system for tasks from seemingly unrelated disciplines to be used to illustrate and develop skills that are pertinant to the craft being learned. Another unusual feature is that students of different years are taught together. You cannot learn a skill and learn to teach it at the same time, but revisiting a skill that you have already perfected in practice helps you learn how to teach it to others - and only when you have cracked both can you truly consider yourself a master of the skill.

This is the system employed at Rowden Farm Workshops, where David Savage and Master Craftsmen Daren Millman and Steve Perry teach enthusiastic young makers. The workshop has a powerful energy that is apparent the moment you walk through the door, it's not like the fleeting slap of a wave but more an irresistable tide of inspiration - within minutes you have a sense that you couldn't spend more than a few hours there without developing an uncontrollable urge to make an exceptional piece of furniture. This is not David's energy, nor Daren's or Steve's, they would be drained in minutes if they tried to invoke this sort of atmosphere, it comes from the students. All the masters do is direct and focus their ambition - like a lens focusing the energy of the sun to make gentle warmth into fire.

The first thing that David does is teach students to draw - life-sized and accurate. This is exactly the same starting point that Rembrandt set out from and David is adamant that if you don't have the observational skills, sense of proportion and scale necessary to draw an object as it is, then you cannot even begin to conquer the comparatively monumental task of making something that barely exists - a mere concept in your mind - three dimensionally in wood.

Here's an example of an early lesson on drawing curves:

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Lovely Figure

For me one of the most appealing things about working with wood is that you can never be quite certain about what you will see when you cut into a piece of it. I freely admit to staring at trees and trying to envisage what the grain would look like if it were sliced in a particular way. You can have a rough idea from the species and and obvious factors like a bend in the bole will cause cathederal grain. If there is a branch sticking out you will get endgrain in the face with a knot at the centre gradually shrinking back in a cone shape to the pith that runs down the centre of the tree. When you get further into it though there are more subtle differences that can be predicted by looking at the tree in the ground.

Trees that grow out of a hillside tend to have a curve at the bottom of the bole, this produces compression timber which is valued by boatbuilders and Japanese temple builders for it's unusually high strength, it is also less stable than straight grained timber and more prone to variation caused by the elements. A heavy snowfall or high winds increase the strain on the bend, all of which causes localised variation in the width of growth rings and the resulting figure can be quite stunning. Trees that grow very close to water are prone to mineral deposits in their timber which causes flecking in the surface of the board and various fungal and viral infections can produce ripples, quilting or fiddleback grain variations.

A particular interest of mine is burrs (burls in 'murca), the cause of these is not well documented so I have been experimenting with a couple of holly trees. I pollarded them about 18 months ago which has delivered the expected vigorous regrowth. As well as shooting from the top where the branches are they have produced shoots all over the previously smooth trunks. In a couple of places I'm just letting the shoots go, but on the rest of the trees I'm removing them as they appear, replicating the activity of animals grazing on them or brushing up against them in the wild. Nipping the shoots of as soon as they appear doesn't stop them coming, a couple of months later they are back and seem to be all the more vigorous for it. I'll persevere and see which method produces the best burrs, if only to convince myself that burr formation can be managed to maximise the value of timber.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Clifton Anniversary Planes

The first delivery of Clifton Anniversary Planes arrived this afternoon and are packed up and booked for collection by UPS tomorrow. Once the sold ones have all been processed we will receive the remainder for stock. We still have one complete numbered set available, if this has not sold by the time the planes arrive we will split the set and offer them individually.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Quangsheng Block Planes

Quangsheng Low Angle Block Plane

This morning we received a shipment of planes from Quangsheng. Megan has been working like a Trojan getting all the back orders processed and booking the rest into stock, so if you had one on back order it was dispatched today.

The production department managed to get all of the V2 upgrades into the low angle block plane but couldn't get the 38 and 50 degree blades ready in time for this shipment.

The V2 low angle comes with a 25 and 38 degree blade as standard, so we are sending them out with the 25 degree blades installed and the 38 degree blades will follow automatically as soon as they arrive.

The rebating and standard angle block planes have some of the V2 modifications but not the fine thread adjuster, so we have put them back up on the website as V1's and reduced the price accordingly.

Customers who had on order a V2 standard angle block plane or low angle rebating block plane will be sent a V1 spec plane and given the option to swap it (all expenses paid) for a new, full V2 spec one when the next batch arrive. We will put up separate listings shortly so that customers who want to pre-order full V2 spec rebating and standard angle blocks can do so.

Apologies for the confusion, the guys in China have worked extremely hard to accommodate us and have carried out our instructions beautifully. I managed to find a few moments to play with one of the V2 low angle block planes today and it is just the sweetest little thing in the whole world.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Mastercrafts Series 2 Petition

For some reason the BBC have seen fit to abort plans to film a second series of Monty Don's wonderful series Mastercrafts, shown a few months ago on BBC2. I believe that they should revise that decision and go ahead with the second series.

If you agree with me, you can join me in contacting Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC2 and let her know your thoughts.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A Visit to David Charlesworth

I dropped in to visit to David Charlesworth's superbly appointed workshop on the beautiful Hartland Peninsula in Devon last week. David and his students were examining the task of sawing to a line. David has a painstakingly methodical approach to woodworking that drives some people nuts, however the result of his academically thorough analysis is often a simple 'now-why-didn't-I-think-of-that-before' alteration of technique that saves a bunch of time and effort. Here's an example:

When sawing to a line you normally rest the saw on the compressed side of the cut. If you are holding the saw with a light touch, have the timber perfectly horizontal in the vice and keep the blade perpendicular to the workpiece, the saw drops in diagonally during the first couple of strokes and the left hand side of the kerf proceeds along the line. Rob Cosman advocates starting the saw on the solid timber adjacent to the knife line to take advantage of the way it naturally moves along the path of least resistance until it reaches the mark like this:

Now consider a situation where you are forced to cut on the uncompressed side of the knife line - for example cutting dovetail pins that have been marked out using the tail board as a template:

If you try to balance the saw on the waste it will naturally want to fall towards the unsupported side and you will end up cutting the component rather than the waste. One solution that David picked up from Robert Ingham is to offset the template component to compensate at the layout stage. The amount of offset required varies depending on the kerf of your saw and the angle of your dovetails but Robert's rule of thumb is to have the tail board overhanging towards you by about 1.5mm.

The alternative method that David and I arrived at was to mark out on the line that you want to cut and then lay a chisel into the layout line to guide the saw for the first couple of strokes until the cut is established. Metal on metal is not ideal, so making a simple wooden chisel from something harder than the workpiece for the purpose would be the best solution. Because the fibres on the bevel side of the cut have merely been compressed rather than cut, they can be made to expand back to their original position with the application of a dab of water after the joint is assembled, indeed the fact that they are compressed makes for easier assembly and a reduced chance of damaging the edge during the process:

David runs short 5 day courses throughout the spring and summer and a long 12 week course starting in September.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

And the FAMAG quiz winner is...


Many thanks to all who took part in our FAMAG quiz, the response was fantastic and the standard of entries very high so we did end up having to draw names out of a hat.

Before we announce the lucky winner here are the correct answers:

  1. Who invented the Forstner Bit and when? Benjamin Forstner - 1874.

  2. What are the smallest and largest diameters of bits in the 3500 series? 3mm and 30mm.

  3. What do the letters F, A and M stand for in FAMAG? Friedrich August Mühlhoff.

  4. Should a plug cutter ideally be used in the middle of a board or close to an edge? Close to the edge.

  5. I want to bore through timber, thin metal and brickwork in a single pass, which series of FAMAG bits should I use? FAMAG 2183 Multi-purpose bits.

  6. What range of bit sizes will a 2202.000 Vario countersink fit?3mm and 8mm.

  7. The photo above shows a set of hollow Bormax forstner bits that allow the centre pin to be replaced with a standard drill bit. In what situation would this be useful?Drilling a hole at an angle.

  8. Bormax3 are the only carbide tipped forstners in the world that can be used safely in which type of drill? Freehand.

  9. I want to drill a hole in some Lignum Vitae, should I use CV or HSS-G bits? HSS-G.

  10. In which German town have FAMAG been continuously producing drill tooling since 1865? Remscheid.

And so, without further ado...

The winner of the Workshop Heaven FAMAG Quiz is... Alastair Hislop!

Congratulations Alastair and well done to all who entered.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Clifton Anniversary planes update

News just in from Sheffield - The first of the Clifton Anniversary planes are nearing completion and will ship in the next couple of weeks.

The planes are having the final touches applied - etching the cutting irons with the number of the plane that they will be supplied with etc. Planes that have been pre-ordered already will be dispatched first, the remainder will follow a week or so later.

The factory have asked us to supply them with Shield Technology VanGuard Anti-Rust Coating to provide extra protection for these tools as some of them may be stored for a long period of time.

We were lucky enough to grab an additional allocation of planes, so we still have one or two of each size available.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Carpe Diem

Amid speculation as to whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer will raise VAT to 20% in tomorrow's budget (Tuesday 22nd of July), we have extended our Father's Day promotion on all British made products until after the announcement. It would be pointless for me to change all the prices and then have to change them again 24 hours later. So if you are thinking about a Clifton Plane, Atkinson Walker Sawblade or some Ashley Iles Chisels, sieze the day!

Thursday, 17 June 2010


The person with the most correct answers wins a bottle of bubbly and a selection of FAMAG goodies! In the event of a tie, names will be drawn from a hat by our new Sales Manager, Chris, when the competition closes on the 30th of June. The winner will be reported here and informed by email.


1) Who invented the Forstner Bit and when? (2 marks)

2) What are the smallest and largest diameters of bits in the 3500 series? (2 marks)

3) What do the letters F, A and M stand for in FAMAG? (3 marks)

4) Should a plug cutter ideally be used in the middle of a board or close to an edge? (1 mark)

5) I want to bore through timber, thin metal and brickwork in a single pass, which series of FAMAG bits should I use? (1 mark)

6) What range of bit sizes will a 2202.000 Vario countersink fit? (1 mark)

7) The photo above shows a set of hollow Bormax forstner bits that allow the centre pin to be replaced with a standard drill bit. In what situation would this be useful? (1 mark)

8) Bormax3 are the only carbide tipped forstners in the world that can be used safely in which type of drill? (1 mark)

9) I want to drill a hole in some Lignum Vitae, should I use CV or HSS-G bits? (1 mark)

10) In which German town have FAMAG been continuously producing drill tooling since 1865? (1 mark)

Please email your answers to me or use the contact message form on

Sunday, 6 June 2010


I recently heard about a guy who was having problems with tools going rusty. They were stored in his van overnight so condensation forms on them each morning and he lives on a small island so the water vapour in the air is salt laden, making it more effective as an electolyte - one of the conditions needed for corrosion to occur. I contacted Paul Prince at Shield Technology who suggested the 'belt, braces and jockstrap approach' was called for, i.e. surface protection, contact corrosion inhibitors and VCI (airborne) protection - all in liberal measure.

I emailed Paul back suggesting that a huge VCI pot which would protect anything stored in a van would be a popular product - after all, how many tradesmen have vans? I lightheartedly suggested he could call it something like VanGuard. He said the concept wouldn't work as vans are too draughty and even if the pot were the size of a biscuit tin, a good stiff breeze would have all the corrosion inhibiting vapour drifting off down the street.

He did however come up with a new product which is the 'belt, braces and jockstrap approach' in a tin. It has a viscous high quality mineral oil base so it will provide barrier protection, plus it has both ferrous and yellow metal corrosion inhibitors and a VCI additive, so your treated tools act as VCI emitters themselves, if you miss a spot then the VCI chemical will condense on it and prevent the water vapour from acting. Wipe it on with a rag and store your tools in a sealed box so the VCI element can do it's thing.

To my great surprise he kept the name! Shield Technology VanGuard in 125ml and 250ml tins is now available on the website!