Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Hi Folks
Thought I'd share a photo of a Mini Panel Raiser that has recently made its way to a new owner. Made from a piece of Rosewood I've been hoarding away for years, it looks pretty stunning. And the customer is rather pleased, too, so I'm a happy camper.
I have some other exotic timbered beauties on the bench at the moment - more pics to follow.... ;)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Irons and More Irons

Apologies for the lack of blog entries lately - between building planes, playing with the band and taking a small holiday the month has disappeared!

First up - planes. Moving Fillisters are the current fave - I've shipped two and have a few more underway in a selection of timbers. Pics of some special planes coming soon!
I recently made a Coffin Smoother for Richard Maguire, maker of fine workbenches. He wanted the plane made with an early 18C style iron with the rounded top, which I was happy to oblige. If you would like your plane with a similar iron just let me know when you place the order - no extra charge for this.

I've also been making plane irons for customers - see the photo of a replacement iron for an infill shoulder plane. The original iron has seen some serious use and was completely used up - I was able to make a replacement for the customer which gives his plane another lifetime of use. If you need a replacement iron for a special plane or if you are thinking of building your own plane then drop me an email - I can make you a high carbon steel blade to pretty much any dimension.

Finding a little spare time in the workshop isn't easy when you are trying to be self-disciplined, but I've managed to do a little work on some projects. I've started a Maloof style rocking chair, which is a project I've always wanted to attempt. While in the States the other month I was able to get my hands on a set of plans and a DVD - this set is now available from Classic Hand Tools in the UK. I've got the chairs seat made up and the main components cut out - this week I intend to get the leg joints cut so I can fit them to the seat. I'll get some photo's taken once it looks like a chair :)



Thursday, September 30, 2010

European Woodworking Show

Hi Folks
No sooner is one Woodworking show over than another comes knocking!

Things have been busy at the 'shop - plenty of planes flying out the door. I've also managed to do a little timber shopping and have some lovely pieces sat on the drying shelves for the future. I've also managed to finish another guitar - this time a Les Paul. There's full step-by-step photo's of the build here..

Tomorrow I set off for the European Woodworking show in Essex. This is the second year of this event and it promises to be a corker! Hopefully I'll see you there - I'll report back with some photo's from the show early next week.

Other news - I notice Sawmakers Mike Wenzloff and the team have launched a new website for their wonderful saws. Well worth a look!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Festival Of The Tree

Hi Folks
It's that time of the year again - time for the "Festival of the Tree" at Westonbirt Arboretum. This is a wonderful event in a beautiful setting- every possible wood related discipline is represented and there's tons of things for the family to do while you drool over the hand tools!
This will be my third year demonstrating at this show and I'm real excited this year to be demonstrating Lie-Nielsen tools. I'll also have a display of my own planes present, so don't panic.
If you are attending make sure you come by my bench and say "Hi"!

On another note, I have actually finished a project I've been working on for the last few months. It's an electric guitar - a Gibson SG replica. She's come out pretty well - I've put step-by-step on my Philsville site for you to see how she was constructed.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Coffin Smoother Upgraded

Hi Folks
One of the things I like about my job is the chance to make more than one of an item - when I build projects for the home they are usually one-offs and I never get to make them again (without the mistakes!). But over these last few years I've made many hundreds of planes - I'm pleased to say that I am still improving and refining them. And I'd like to introduce the latest refinements to my "Coffin Smoother" plane.
With the popularity of my "Classic Smoother" model I've been wanting to bring my Coffin smoother into line with its traditional looks and chamfers. So I've subtly altered the shape and added interesting period details to it. And after much testing (by myself and dozens of eager volunteers at shows) I'm pleased to say it has made the plane not only more handsome but much more comfortable to use - the flare of the body fits the hand perfectly!
I've also upgraded the iron to a full 4mm thick high carbon steel - its a BIG iron without being ridiculous. And you notice it in use - the iron doesn't even blink on even the gnarliest of timbers. The iron is also now 50mm wide (about 2 inches) making it the perfect smoother for your workshop.

So I hope you like the upgrades to this model - its not just some "go-faster" stripes added to spruce it up. Its a ground-up improvement that builds on the lessons I've learned from building planes. And did I mention she's a handsome looking plane, too!



P.s. And no, it's not called a "coffin smoother" because it was used to plane coffins - the name refers to the coffin shaped curves of the sole!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Back To It..

HI Folks

Since my return from the States I've been back at the bench, beavering away at the batch of planes. I've also had some interesting ideas for new models, and will be showing some prototypes over the next few weeks.

First up - a customer wanted me to build him a smoother using an old toothing blade that he supplied. I was quite happy to do this and was looking forward to using it - while at the Lie-Nielsen factory I had opportunity to use their #62 with a toothed blade to flatten some gnarly stock.
I'm pleased to say it came out very nicely and hope to introduce my own toothing plane model in the near future.

I've also shipped another of my flagship model, the PPA5. This one again in African Blackwood, a beautiful and dense timber. I am now out of any suitable large pieces of this timber, so if anyone knows of a UK supplier I would be very grateful.

The "Festival Of The Tree" at Westonbirt is help at the end of August - I'll there over the four days demonstrating my planes and also giving a talk in the Masterclass tent. So if you are attending please drop on by and say hello!



Friday, July 23, 2010

Open Day Video

HI Folks
Just a little update to my last entry. Lie-Nielsen have put up a video of their open day, showing a lot more of the demonstrators present as well as more shots of that delicious seafood! Well worth a view...


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Trip To Maine

HI Folks

I’ve always wanted to make the journey to the Lie-Nielsen factory in Warren, Maine – it’s been a dream of mine since I’ve been into woodworking. And while I have met Tom Lie-Nielsen a few times at various woodworking events it’s taken until now for me to realize that dream of a “factory tour”.

So – my trip was multi-faceted. First, a tour of the factory to see how everything was made, seeing the journey from raw materials to the completed tools being packed and shipped. Next a few days training on-site (more on this later) and finally to demonstrate my planes at the open day weekend at the factory, topped off with a Lobster bake!

The Factory

We were staying in Portland, a town about 60 miles south of the toolworks location. So each day started with a coffee and a drive through the beautiful Maine countryside. The factory appears just off the main road in picturesque fashion, and we turn in and park up. The building itself has been extended many times as the company has grown over the years and looked just as I imagined it. Additional buildings have been erected alongside to house more machinery and storage – these buildings were also erected by the staff. During my many chats with staff members it was obvious how proud they were of the facility and the work they do.

We were given a tour of the facility, which has separate areas for storage, tool machining, saw making, handle manufacture, finishing and polishing, blade manufacture and packing. There is a also a handsome shop/display area with all the range of tools on display and available to try out.

Two things that stood out to me most as we were shown around were :

Each family of tools is made by a set team of makers – i.e. all block planes are made by the same team, and they have their own area complete with the tools and machinery they need. There was no “sharing” of machinery – each team had their own area and specialized in their own range of tools.

There was a huge amount of hand work involved in the making of every tool. You imagine that with modern day CNC machinery you would put raw material in one end and finished tools appear magically at the other end – this could be no further away from the truth! There was a small army of workers who specialise in particular skills, and it was quite heart-warming to see.

I was quite amazed to see the saw making shop – this had a collection of interesting machinery. Tooth cutting machines, tooth filing machines, machined modified to perform specific tasks and a man called Patrick. Patrick makes all the Lie-Nielsen hand saws and hand files and tests every single one! We were treated to a saw sharpening demonstration by Tom Lie-Nielsen (on a staggeringly hot day which took ones breath away) and shown the many steps in a saws manufacture – very low tech and definitely not the modern day super efficient production style I was expecting.

The irons for all the Lie-Nielsen planes and shaves are also made in-house. There are many steps in the manufacture, including heat treating, tempering and cryo treatment. There is a small crew of skilled workers who do this work, and throughout the week I was able to watch them at work – it was amazing how many steps were involved in the making a blade the Lie-Nielsen way and also the amount of times each individual blade was checked throughout the process, from grinding the raw blank through to the final hand lapping of the back.

We were treated to a tour of the bench making shop – this is at a separate workshop nearby. It was quite impressive to see huge amounts of maple being turned into accurate and sturdy workbenches. Shop manager Darren is a stickler for perfection and it was very enlightening to see the amount of time and care that goes into each bench.

Tom Lie-Nielsen gave us a sneak preview of many of the tools soon to be reaching production, as well as some interesting ideas he has in the pipeline. I’ve been sworn to secrecy, but there some real treats ahead!

As I mentioned earlier, I was at the factory for a few days training on too demonstrating. We had three days tuition from Deneb Puchalski , aided by the team of L-N demonstrators Alex, Lee, Curtis and Jeremy (apologies if I missed anyone!). It was very enjoyable, despite the high temperatures and humidity of the Maine summer, and I came away topped up with information, ideas and enthusiasm. Expect to see me at a woodworking show near you demonstrating these great tools soon!

The final days of my trip were the “open day” event. The factory was thrown open to the public, with tool demonstrations from Lie-Nielsen as well as other craftsmen like Michel Auriou, Chris Becksvoort, Al Breed, Kevin Drake and myself. It was a busy couple of days and it was great to meet and talk to so many passionate American woodworkers. The finale of the open day was the “Lobster Bake” – fresh Maine lobster and mussels cooked on a barbeque at the rear of the factory! Boy did that taste good (washed down with a cold beer!) A great way to end the week.

After reflecting on my trip the main thing that stood out to me was the tools – Lie-Nielsen tools are made with care and attention, with huge amounts of hand work by a hard working team of American workers. The factory was much closer in spirit to the way I work in my one-man workshop that to a modern production factory and I am amazed that they are able to sell their beautiful tools at such reasonable prices and still make a modest profit. Truly these are “heirloom” tools, tools to be proud and worthy of a place in our tool chests.

My thanks again to Tom and his wonderful staff for looking after us so well on this trip.



Wednesday, July 07, 2010

More partidge wood...

Hi Folks
I've got a fair selection of exotic timbers hoarded away in the workshop. Small pieces, not-so-small pieces and many different types. One I've been wanting to use is Partridge wood - I don't know much about it but I do know its extremely dense. And yes, it does sink in water - I've tried! Recently I made a 2 inch wide smoother for myself from this timber and was very impressed with the beautiful grain - supposedly the timber gets its name from the way the grain resembles partridge feathers. A customer called to place an order recently and mentioned this plane after seeing it in this blog. After searching through my timber store I found a single piece just big enough for a plane and wedge, so the customer was very pleased (and so was I to be using this lovely timber again).
Here's a shot of the plane before any shaping is done on the body - I cut all the important stuff first and do the fun shaping stuff when everything fits and works.

And here's a photo of the completed plane - and a sweet little thing she is too :)

I've also started another guitar project - after seeing Paul Weller in action with his trusty '60's Gibson SG I had to have one. But after finding out the price I decided to build my own. I've keeping a photo diary here on my Philsville site.

Next week sees me travelling to the States to Maine and the Lie-Nielsen factory. I'm really looking forward to this trip, a dream trip for me. Needless to say, I'll be taking plenty of photographs. And if you're attending the open day please come by my bench and say "hello!"


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Pair of Pairs...

Hi Folks
Seems I've been making a few pairs of planes recently. First up are some Moulding Planes, #2 and #4 size hollow and rounds from some perfect English Beech.

Next we have a pair of Luthiers Scrub planes - these have cambered soles, both front-to-back and side-to-side. This pair are made from Pau Rosa and they are huge fun to use - you can almost make a bowl with one of these!

Back to the bench - my last piece of Partridge wood is becoming a plane.....


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Summer is Here!

Hi Folks

Its been "busy busy busy" here at the workshop. The lovely weather we've been having lately has even got me wearing shorts - but worry not, there are no photo's of that to hurt anyone's eyes.... ;)

Orders have been pouring in, I guess helped by the recent weakness of the Pound. But that's fine - I certainly pleased to be inundated with work! And now for some photo's....

Philly Shaves - one in Oak, one in Walnut. I do enjoy making these tools, and they feel so much better in use than metal shaves, a much different experience.

Next up is Skew Miter with a Philly Shooting Board. I don't offer the Shooting board on my website as the shipping can work out expensive. But its such a useful workshop fixture - once you use one you'll wonder how you ever managed without one. I've also been making a left-handed Skew Miter, which tests the brain even harder than usual. Lots of checking, checking again and then maybe one more check before making a cut.

A plane I've been wanting to make for a few years now is a baby version of my Miter plane. Mike Wenzloff has asked me a few times to make one for his lovely Wife - I've finally made a prototype so maybe now I can send one his way. It's a 3/4 size version, and is essentially a block plane, perfect for one handed use. My prototype has seen lots and lots of use so I'm about to make the first production models and will have them on the website soon.

And finally, so exciting news. I'll be at the Lie-Nielsen hand tools event at their factory in Maine next month demonstrating some of my planes. So if you're thinking of attending please come on by and say "Hi!".

Bye for now,


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Partridge and Box

Hi Folks

The Yandles show was very enjoyable - thanks to all that called by to say "Hi!" and have a play with a plane. The verdict on the new 2 inch smoother shape was a big thumbs up, so I'm making a couple more to photograph and put on the website. One is from a piece of Partridge wood, a timber I've never come across before. It is extremely dense, possibly the heaviest timber I've worked - its easily as heavy as Lignum or Blackwood. I've managed to keep a little streak of sapwood on the one side - I need another couple of days to finish it off, but it looks very promising.

I've almost completed another Try plane, too. I love making these - I'll be adding these to the website as a standard item soon, along with Jointers. 30 inch Jointer anyone?

Here's some pics of a Boxwood Classic Smoother that shipped this week - it had some lovely streaks of colour and plenty of birds eye. Pretty rare for Box - and a treat to work!


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Show Time....

Hi Folks
Yandles Woodworking Show is upon us again - seems only weeks since the last one. Time certainly flies! I'll be there with the Classic Hand Tools Team displaying my wears - and also this little beauty.....

It's a smoother in Pau Rosa with a 2 inch wide blade - essentially a scaled up "Classic Smoother". I've been meaning to make this for a while and I'm very pleased with it. It'll be on the bench for Folks to play with at the show, so don't be shy! Depending on feedback I may make it a standard model.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Is In The Air

Hi Folks
Last weekend I was at the GetWoodworking Live show at Alexandra Palace - I gave a presentation each day on using and restoring wooden planes. It was an enjoyable show, although a little nerve-wracking giving the presentation!
Plenty of handsome planes have been making their way out of the workshop - a Coffin Smoother in Santos Rosewood, lots of Chamfer Planes and plenty of Mini Panel Raisers. The Plough plane is coming along nicely and I should have some photo's soon to share.
I've also been making quite a few custom plane irons lately - as I make the irons for my planes myself I am quite happy to make custom irons for any project you may be planning. I'll also be introducing a small range of plane irons in the near future - more details soon. Drop me an email if you're like to find out more.

With Spring approaching I've been getting the workshop re-arrange itch - I spent a couple hours today clearing out off-cuts of timber, cleaning up sawdust and various little tasks this afternoon. And I've had some interesting ideas for modifications to my bench - pics soon!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Latest Planes And News......

Hi Folks
Been a crazy month here at the workshop - planes left, right and centre. The "Moving Fillister" has been real popular as has the new "Chamfer Plane". I've also just shipped another Classic Smoother is Blackwood, an amazing piece of timber.

I'm currently making pairs of Hollow and Round moulding planes and I've slipped a pair in for myself from some slightly spalted beech that I've been hoarding away. Pics soon! Another plane that is slowly coming together is my much anticipated Plough plane - I've been slowly working on the prototype and it's looking good.

The band has been busy too - we played in Dublin this weekend (a fantastic place!), Rotherham and Leeds last weekend and Doncaster and Basingstoke next weekend. So a busy time for The Lambrettas, but so much fun.

Appearing rapidly over the horizon is the Get-Woodworking Live show at Alexandra Palace on the 12th-14th of March. I'll be giving a masterclass on wooden planes - their history and use, how to set-up and maintain them, and some useful hints and tips to get the most out of your tools. Hope to see you there,


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rosewood Fillister and Mini-Panel Raiser

Hi Folks
Thought you might like a look at the latest pair of planes I've completed. The customer wanted something a little special for the timber and chose Rosewood - so please say hello to the Rosewood Moving Fillister and Mini Panel Raiser!
There was a lot more work involved in the finishing of the Rosewood compared to Beech, but it was well worth it as they look a million dollars (they didn't cost that though, you'll be pleased to know!)
If you would like a custom plane just drop me an email or check out my website at www.phillyplanes.co.uk for more details.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Winding Sticks

Hi Folks
Already we're halfway through January - times flies! The new Chamfer plane is now available from our Website - it's been a very popular plane already and one that I've been using myself a lot lately. I'm building bunk beds for my daughter and it was the perfect tool for putting chamfers on the many rails and stiles.

Another new product for 2010 are "Winding Sticks". We get asked for these a lot and are pleased to be able to offer these useful tools - they allow you to check a surface for twist or "wind". Being able to plane surfaces flat and free of wind will take your woodworking to higher levels of precision, with projects that fit together perfectly instead of needing huge amounts of clamping pressure to pull them into "square".
Our Winding Sticks are made from quartersawn Paduak, a dense and stable timber. They are hand planed into perfectly matched pairs and are inlayed with mother-of-pearl center marks. A maple insert is fitted to one of the stick to make it easier to read the amount of wind. They are hand finished with shellac and come ready to use. Price is £45 plus shipping - please email me for enquiries.