This is John's original web site .. archived here among good friends

Things of Interest...or Maybe not..

Sharpening Box
This about as simple as things come. I have been using it for several years. Works great. The photo doesn't show the lines on the sidewall at 20, 25, and 30 degrees. Before clamping the plane or chisel blade in the dowel, I use these lines to set it at the right angle for sharpening.

Sharpening Box In Use
This is a big sweetheart #8 blade so I am using three fingers along the blade. Normally I use one, but it looks sort of rude in a photo.

I also have a piece of beech the same thickness as the whetstone that has scary sharp paper (1500 and 2000) runner cemeted, one grit to each side. I substitute that for the whetstone for the final sharpening.

The flakes of sawdust on the stone are not necessary for operation.


My sons and I built this.  Originally the idea was a shed for the tractor. Now it is a workshop. Fortunately, these items are usually covered on a home insurance policy from somewhere such as, as there wouldn't be space to keep them in the house itself.  You can see the tractor out in the snow.  Guess we need another shed.

This one works well. You can see a bit of the stove wood outside the left window. Open the window, lean down, and haul it in. This upsets my Norwegian wife who has trouble distinguishing ingenuity from sloth.

The reason that there are no icicles hanging down even though the wood stove has been going all day and the roof is uninsulated is, well, I'll leave it to the physicists.

Saw Rack

I am embarassed.  Most galoots build nice saw racks.  I just glue wood scraps in the joists of the loft..  Keeps them out of SWMBO's sight.  I have sort of run out of joist space for racks.  I am a sawaholic, and I can't quit.

Chisel Handles

I also am a socket chisel addict which leads to handle making. These are generally out of prunings on my property (ash, maple, plum, apple, mulberry) or out of  pieces of firewood (walnut, cherry, oak).

 I still am looking for the best shape.

Ash Handles
The file handle is oak. The one third in from the left is plum.  The others are ash.  The ferrules are leather, a piece of iron pipe, or a piece of copper pipe. The ash is  from prunings with the handle centered on the branch.
Walnut Handles
From firewood.
Maple Handles
Also mostly from firewood....if the chunk is hard to split.....  The one on the left does not belong to the socket it is in. The two uniformly brown ones are not maple, but I can't remember what wood they are.
Rosewood handles
Also from actually.  The small slick handle is a copy of the original one, but the original was oak or ash.  The marking knife I made 36 years ago. Amazing, I have not lost it.
First growth range fed winter hardened American hardwood file handles
What can I say? You lop off a piece of apple or cherry, you stick in a file. Beats a tang in your hand.

Stone Steps
Twelve  years ago my wife slipped on the railroad ties steps we had.  It might seem pure laziness that caused the delay in building steps.  It was not.  It was well justified fear.  Started in June, the project went on, and on, and on, and on.  The flagstone death march. My son James did more and more of the work as the project went on.

Removing the old steps  and 26   cart loads of dirt and gravel was interesting. I got an education on small things that lived in darkness, as well as the details of gopher tunnel complexes.

What to build the new steps of?  Well, might as well see what various stones look like.

We used 1600 lbs of flagstone, 480 lbs of wallstone, 600 lbs of gravel, 1800 lbs of limestone screenings, and 960 lbs of mortar mix.  We had to "make up"  a little over two inches on each step with mortar to make the steps come out right.

Laying out the flagstones was the hardest step. About a third of the stones were cut or trimmed with the chisel.  We numbered them to hopefully relay them in mortar in the right places.  James was key here as he was better than anyone else at fitting the pieces in the puzzle.

 Base is 2-4" of gravel, 8" of limestone screenings, and 4" of mortar.  The flagstones are 1.5-2.5" thick, and are NY bluestone.

Finished jobAnother picture Another.  We used hammers and stone chisels to trim the stones, occasionally aided with a $12 angle grinder from Harbor Freight. Note the fall leaves on the June project.

John Lederer departed for a heavenly home in March 2009.