Arts & Mysteries Blog

Adam Cherubini, the well-loved (and long-time) Arts & Mysteries columnist for Popular Woodworking Magazine, shares his thoughts on 18th-century woodworking techniques, tools and projects on this blog. He’s often controversial – but never boring. Adam’s approach to the craft is entirely hand-tool oriented – and he also reproduces period hand tools for use in his shop. You’ll read about his research into period shops and practices, and find out more about his tools and thoughts on “modern” woodworking and more, here.

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Marking Gauge Maintenance

I’m busy dovetailing the 13 tiny drawers for the tool chest I’m making. I’m using two marking gauges to mark out the drawer fronts, but I was having some problems with the precision of my marks. I first turned my attention to the pins. They get dull and need to be reshaped or just...

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Medieval Stock Preparation

Though planes have been around for millennia, they haven’t always been the essential woodworking tool that we may think they were. In Medieval Europe, and especially England, lots of good woodwork was done without handplanes. Surfaces were prepared and smoothed with wide chisels. I often use chisels rather than saws or planes, to quickly...

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Working with Plywood – 18th-century Style

I used plywood for my “Machinist’s Tool Test” project (in the October 2012 issue, and continued in February 2013 issue). In the past, I regarded plywood as being unworkable by hand. But I found a couple tricks to working it by hand: • Plywood can be sawn using fine-toothed handsaws. I think crosscut saws...

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WIA 2012 After Action Report

Just got home from the Woodworking in America Midwest, the second of two conferences held this fall. Just want to say thanks to all of you who attended and supported these conferences. I really enjoyed meeting folks and appreciated the opportunity I was given to do so. Thanks also to F&W pubs and Popular...

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Prepping for Pasadena

I’m working REALLY hard getting ready for Woodworking in America Pasadena.  I think PW has given me a great opportunity to share 18th century woodworking with woodworkers on the West coast, whom I feel typically don’t get good access to anything 18th century. Years ago, I suggested a “Colonial Williamsburg Road Show”.  Essentially, taking...

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Planing Plastic?

Did you know that you can plane plastic? Me neither. I used my old Stanley #4. Its sweetheart era blade was razor sharp, though I’m not sure it needed to be. The “shavings” are UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) polyethylene. I also mic’ed these (never measured shaving with a micrometer before either). They were...

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Quick Update

A hole in my editorial schedule has afforded me the time to catch up on my honey-do list. Like you, being handy with woodworking tools exposes me to a host of home renovation/repair/remodelling tasks. Also like you, my standards for interior woodwork (really any woodwork) are impractically high. I straighten studs with hand planes...