Broken River Joinery

Add lightness…and simplify. -J. Brown

Craft & Tintypes

At the end of the day, craft is craft. And there is still a place for beauty.

Back To the Bench(es)

Part I of building the next Shaker Meetinghouse Bench, this time in Cherry. A good portion of the initial work went into planing/jointing/flattening the boards which had been sitting in a barn for several years.



Employing a butterfly joint to stem a crack in one of the legs.





All the pieces laid out prior to the joinery phase. This entire bench came from one plank.


Using the dovetail plane to prep the legs which will be joined using a 12″ sliding dovetail joint.


Almost identical.


Not a bad fit, but still room for improvement. Should finish up nicely.


Dawn in the workshop.


Danish Cord Stool

In learning more about chairs and chair design I came across an older technique for creating chair seats using Danish Cord. As with all things discovered on the Internet I realized it’s only new to me, i.e. of course it’s been widely used from WWII onward to present day-I just didn’t know about it.

Danish cord is tightly laced kraft paper which is then woven into different patterns to create seats for stools, chairs, benches, etc. It looks pretty cool and I wanted to try it out so I came up with a quick design for a square stool to use as a practice frame for my weaving experiment.

It’s a pretty simple design as you can see from the sketch in the photo below. I used white oak, mostly because it was easily available in the size I needed.


I also got some practice in tapping out one of my wider chisels but I’ll detail that in another post.



Here’s the basic stool without the stretchers, dry fit.


For the two stretchers, I added some curves and using a draw knife and spokeshave, faired them out on the shavehorse.



All the pieces ready for a test assembly.



Prior to glue-up, I took my chances at hand planing all the pieces. I have only limited experience with hand planing Oak (and Ash for that matter), all of which resulted in pretty awful tear out. But I decided to give it another try and this time used my Veritas 4 1/2 bevel-up smoothing plane (contrary to Japanese smoothing plane pictured below) for the initial planing which has an effective bedding angle of 42 degrees. This worked really well; no tear-out and the satisfaction of getting complete plane shavings from each piece. Although the shavings from some of the quarter-sawn sides were less substantial, but effective none-the-less.


For the weaving, I found some good videos online, including this one. After that, it just took a few nights in front of the TV to get it all wrapped up. This, despite one night where the Danish cord roll became completely entangled which took me about 2 hours to unwind (that was fun).


Almost there.


And the completed stool. This was a good first go-round. I’m looking forward to the next one, maybe an actual chair or else a smaller stool.



Studs Terkel Interviews George Nakashima (in 1977)

Bones & Shadows

What is a chair, really?img_6288

Backyard Firewood Shed

A friend gifted us with nearly a cord of seasoned firewood for Christmas and not having a place to keep it dry from the elements necessitated coming up with a woodshed of some sort. I had a lot of different scraps of wood lying around, basically taking up space and a $50 gift certificate to a local hardware store so I tried to see if I could put something together on the cheap and try a few things out in the process.

The cedar shingle roof is made of old fence pickets from an earlier project and the four posts are all weather treated since they will be in contact with the ground. I’ll go over it with wood sealer once the temperatures get back up to reasonable levels. It was a fun little project. I thought about trying to scribe the posts to stone but it turns out that working with pressure treated wood and using hand tools is gross and smells bad so I stuck with current construction techniques for that. For the bottom rails and stretchers I chopped out mortises and pegged the tenons with oak dowels.

It ended up being a combination of regular construction with some traditional joinery thrown in for good measure.









Back to the Bench

Time to get back to making Shaker Benches. Unfortunately the shop heater just can’t keep up with the -2 F temperatures out there.IMG_6260

Waterstone Sea Abstraction

#6000 Grit


Milling On a Cold Winter’s Day

Kind of a perfect day to saw up a log…






It Takes Time


I’ve been woodworking now for about 6 years, blogging for 4, and using hand tools for about 3. I don’t necessarily believe in the culmination of anything to be perfectly frank, i.e. there’s always room to explore and improve, but getting to the point where I’m able to flatten a rough sawn piece of wood using only a jack plane, a jointer plane and a smoothing plane has been nothing short of gratifying. On the surface of it, a simple task, no? But considering the details of keeping a hand plane properly tuned, of learning to correctly sharpen a steel blade by hand, and to listen and respond to a piece of wood in order to coax the desired form from underneath is a real trial and a real joy. It’s a unifying process, of working in harmony with hands, tools, and wood. And I’m grateful for the opportunity.


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