Woodworking gifts for Xmas? Try retro goggles

Want steampunk safety glasses that look cool? Problem with many safety glasses is that the sides, top and bottom are open – only the front of your eyes are really protected. So on a whim I bought these German safety goggles from Lee Valley (also available from Garrett Wade). They are easy to see through, allowing for 360 degree eye protection, preventing sawdust or chips shooting under the glasses. They have aluminum frames, and are super comfortable.



Also available from Garrett Wade, and various other places.


An old piece of wood.

Friday we went to the “One of a Kind” , craft fair in downtown Toronto. Woodworking-wise, there is an abundance of exceptional cutting boards (like 10 years ago it was almost impossible to find good handmade cutting boards, now there is a huge selection). What we bought was a stool made from a block of old growth hemlock from the Toronto Ferry Terminal Wharf. As the harbour was reclaimed, the old wharf was filled in. Whilst excavating for re-development in 2007, the wharf was found, and the wood reclaimed (by Urban Tree Salvage).


Here’s a count of the rings on this block:


There are over 110 years of growth in the block we bought. These blocks are in great shape, considering hemlock’s low resistance to rot. Who really knows how big the tree actually was.


The Lie Nielsen small scraping plane in action

When we were at Lie Nielsen in Maine last year, I picked up a “small scraping plane”, basically LN’s version of the Stanley No.212. The Stanley No.212 made its debut in 1911, and was apparently discontinued in 1934. It was advertised as a “single handle veneer scraper plane“, designed to be “used with one hand and well adapted for Violin Makers and all Mechanics requiring a light adjustable scraper”.

The main difference between the original No.212, and the LN replica, are obviously the cast bronze, and the 1/8″ blade. I used this to smooth the top of the modified viking chest I started building in September. Now, the curved top of this chest is 10″ × 28″ in length, so some people would likely say that this plane is too small for the task. Wrong. LN’s cabinet makers scraper, modelled on the Stanley No.85 may be the perfect size for most things, but on a curved surface, the smaller scraper worked wonders.


The plane is extremely ergonomically designed, which can be used in both one-hand and two-handed fashion. For two-handed fashion, the rear knob fits nicely into my right palm, with my left hand cupping the front of the plane. I used the plane on smoothing the length of the lid, for 10-15 minutes at a time. For single-handed fashion, right-palm over the rear knob, with fingers grasping the Hand-y on either side. On some good advice, I also rounded the edges of the blade minimally to prevent it digging into the wood.

The only tricky thing may be adjusting the depth of the blade. I would say the easiest way is to lay the plane on a flat surface and loosening the lever cap, slightly lift the front of the plane, and tighten up the lever cap again. Alternatively, use a thin wedge (think thickness of a sheet of paper) to place the plane end on before lowering the blade.


The blade angle can be adjusted from 75° to 100°, enabling it to be set up just right for the particular wood being worked. Here you can see the blade set at 86°. Finding the appropriate angle requires adjusting the blade until optimal shavings are achieved. The end result should be a smooth surface. More aggressive shavings can be coaxed out of the scraper by moving the blade 1-2° towards the heel.


LN’s literature states that the plane will produce shavings “like the finest lace and leaving smooth surfaces with crisp edges”. There is certainly no doubt that this is the case. The viking chest is made of maple, and the plane produced über fine shavings.


The end result on the lid of the viking chest? A super smooth surface. Verdict? An awesome plane, well worth stocking in the cabinet.