Roubo Panel Gauge – Design


Let’s get the punch line out of the way.  Here is the finished panel gauge and the source of inspiration.  Now we return you to your regularly scheduled “how to build it” segment. Thanks for watching.

Between big projects I like to have a few quick wins.  Some would (rightly) call this stalling the next big thing, but it also lets me feel the satisfaction of completion more often.  I decided that my tool cabinet could benefit from a few upgrades and I started with my old panel gauge.


My old panel gauge is no slouch, but it offers several opportunities for improvement.

This gauge is based in a classic and common style with a wedge-locked rectangular beam and a body with concave and convex curves.  It works and takes little time to construct.  The pencil is press fit into it’s home and the wedge locks the beam just enough to call itself locked. I was pretty happy with this little gauge until I read Roubo’s description of a good trammel gauge.


Inspiration flows from every page of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible“.

Roubo described how wedge locked beams were the norm, but were fussy in use (my paraphrase).  He described his gauge as a big improvement with it’s screw lock and trapezoidal beam.  This made a lot of sense to me and after reading this I noticed that when setting my panel gauge I typically had to knock the wedge and beam in and out of place a few times to get the setting right.  Having no vision for anything better, I was satisfied with that.  Roubo changed my expectation of a well functioning gauge and I added it to my build list.

RPG_design3 RPG_design2

No, I don’t typically doodle in marker, but I figured it would show up better in pictures.  I have no interest in CAD at home.

I started the project by playing with designs for the body.  I couldn’t copy Roubo, because he actually drew a set of trammels.  I turned to “By Hand and Eye” for guidance on design.  I used their “module” approach to design and it was really fun.  Since this gauge is to be handheld, I made my handspan the module.  This set the length of the body.  The rest of the dimensions were felt out using a compass, dividers, and eraser.


With the body designed, I went to my scrap pile to see what I could scratch up.  It looks like my new gauge will also be walnut and cherry.  If you think that is all I use, you are forgetting about cypress.

Bob Jones


Constitution Village and spottings of “Furniture of Necessity”


Our tour guide had no problem using a little child labor to turn the “great wheel” lathe.

On a recent family vacation to Huntsville, Alabama we made a stop at a living history museum.  It was a small, low key place, but I really enjoyed the visit.  My reason for wanting to visit was the cabinet shop.  I was very comfortable in there.  I prided myself on knowing what everything in the shop was and how it was used.  Sorry if that sounds prideful, but it was a simple shop and I’ve been studying this craft for a little while now.  The cabinet shop seemed strangely modern to me, for a living history museum.  There were few actual antiques and most tools were modern reproductions.  The tour guide was very friendly and I wanted so badly to step in an do the working while he did the talking.  Not wanting to be guided off the property, I restrained myself.  Maybe next time.


The cabinet shop didn’t just have tools.  It also held some of the typical projects completed therein.  The walls were lined with windsor chairs and this casket was on top of a workbench.  The first thing this brought to mind was a book that Christopher Schwarz is working on called “Furniture of Necessity“.  I tried to get Chris to name it something with “Permanence” in it, but he wasn’t moved.  Anyway, it was funny to see something that most woodworkers would consider an oddity as one of the primary objects of display in the shop.


Sorry for the lighting – the chair is the one in the shade of the desk.

The tour also included a few houses.  Compared to other museums there was not much unique there, but I did spy this Windsor chair.  What caught my eye was the seat.  It looked like it was shaped only with a jack plane, like CS mentioned on his blog here.  It is similar to the one Chris is building, but with 4 legs (how boring).



It was hard to tell from across the room, but I think the scooping of this chair was more extensive than what CS did in his post.  I wanted to jump the velvet rope and give the chair a try, but I’m certain that would have embarrassed my wife into disowning me.  She is a rule follower for sure.  All in all, the museum was nice and I could have been happy to spend all day in that shop.  They really need someone there who knows how to sharpen tools.

Changing topics – thanks to everyone who looked over at my tools for sale page.  Double thanks to those who bought anything.  Most items sold quickly, but a few things remain.  I’ve dropped the prices of all remaining tools but I’m not likely to drop them further, so if you were waiting for a better deal now is the time to strike.

Bob Jones

A few good tools for you


A matched set of Type 11 Stanley’s for today’s cheap, but discerning woodworker.

Not long after I started this blog, I opened a “for sale” page.  I closed that page after I sold all my extra tools.  Since that time I’ve hoarded gathered more great tools than I need (again) and reassessed my collection.  I can’t in good conscience keep all of these so I’m offering them up for sale.  See my for sale page for more info if you are looking for a few good tools to add to your shop.


The whole bunch.  See anything you need?


Ground, honed, and ready to cleanly shave some wood fibers.

All of these tools will be ready to use, right out of the box.  Check my minimal plane tuning post to see how I do this for planes.  I aim to remove as little history (patina) as possible to get the tools back to 100% functional.  All of the planes are tuned to a level that I would start using them.  That means the plane soles are flat enough, the irons are very sharp, the cap irons bed nicely on the irons, and the frogs are stable on the plane beds.  These are the things that make a solid performing plane.  I expect users will continue to refine them, based on personal preferences (honing angles, iron camber, flattening soles, refinishing) and the work at hand.

Satisfaction guaranteed on all of these tools.  Just don’t expect to win a nano-thin shaving contest with the planes.  You can certainly tune them to that level, but I do not because it is a silly waste of time. Work is faster when you remove more wood at once without tear out.

Consider this a fund raiser to help me attend HandWorks.  I’m not likely to attend in person, but I will virtually attend by placing orders with at least a couple of the participants.  Oh wait, maybe I shouldn’t buy any more tools.

Bob Jones

Lie Nielsen Hand Tool Event, Nashville


I guess I should have sent out a notice before this event to help publicize it, but surely anyone who was interested would know before they read my little blog.

I attended my first ever Lie Nielsen (LN) Hand Tool Event last weekend.  LN does these events all over the country, but this is the closest they have ever come to Memphis.  Since the event was “free” it was pretty easy to justify a little road trip for my wife and me.  We made a fun weekend of it.  I got the LN event and she got a fancy dinner and a trip to the mall.  Spend – spend.


Nice necklace, Scott.  He just made it of a really long shaving.

I think it’s great than LN invites other makers to their events.  This was a real plus for everyone.  Scott Meek (of Scott Meek Woodworks) and Josh Nava of Suburban Pallet were positioned at the front door.  It was fun to talk with both of them and try out Scott’s wooden body planes.  I don’t think I’m ready to give up my metal bodies just yet, but Scott’s planes are excellent.  He has a unique rear grip that felt great, but is hard to describe.  It’s kinda like shaking hands with a plane.  You just have to try it, but keep in mind that it is dominant hand specific.  Thankfully he had one left handed model for me to test out.  Scott was also showing a prototype low-angle spoke shave.  Sorry no pics, but it worked so well that I put myself on the list to buy one when he gets it all worked out.  It looked pretty similar to one that Bob R. is making now on his blog, but Scott is using hardware from Hock tools.

Josh was selling / making spoons.  As a failed spoon carver, I was impressed with his work.  Lindsay (my wife) was also impressed with his craft and bought a butter spreader at a good price.  Check out his website here.


Sorry, no pics of the LN area.  I was too busy playing with the tools to take pictures.  You can find lots of those online anyway.

I also met a few LN reps that were really helpful.  First was Deneb Puchalski.  I’ve seen some of his youtube videos, so I recognized him right away.  In his videos he’s really controlled and level – not so in person.  He’s a colorful sort who enjoys a good argument more than I do (which is quite a bit).  He spent a lot of time answering all of my questions and trying to convince me that my Stanley planes and planing technique needed improvement.  I tried his technique, but was unconvinced.  His planes were more convincing.  I’m partial to my souped-up Stanley’s, but I see the advantages to the Lie Nielsen’s.  I think I may need one or two of them to know for sure, but I’ll have to find some extra cash for that experiment.

Another helpful rep was Keaven.  She’s a woodworker who works for LN (not just road trips).  She has a great blog at K.Willa.Designs. Her blog is a useful one for woodworkers because it covers topics that are adjacent to woodworking like refinishing and upholstery.  I’ve read a few of her upholstery posts and she has me thinking I could try that sometime.  Lindsay did say we needed a new couch. Hmmm

The real point of this post was to say that if you are ever able to attend one of these events, do it.  For those who can’t spare the time or cash to spend weeks at classes or tour distant tool showrooms, this is almost the only way to try out these premium tools without buying them.  Besides, these events are “free”.  There is no admission, but don’t expect to leave there with as much money as you brought with you.  I know I didn’t.  The tools were just too tempting.

Bob Jones

Thanks, Tim Manney


For freely giving away your design of a great shaving horse.  I just finished building this horse and I have been breaking it in by shaving legs and rungs for a few stools.  This horse is a great improvement over my lumber horse (which is perfectly adequate).  Tim’s design is easy to build, lightweight, quickly adjustable, and grips like a gorilla.

This is not a how-to post from me.  Tim has already taken care of that here.  He has at least 3 posts on the topic and lots of other helpful info on his blog.  I certainly have enjoyed reading all of it (yes, all of it).

Here are a few mods I made from Tim’s horse.

– I used 8/4 cypress for the frame, legs, and platform.  I already had the cypress and it’s lightweight.  I hope it will hold up to normal wear and tear.

– The moving pieces are cherry/walnut from my scrap pile.

– I added about 10 inches to the length of the rails compared to Tim, but after using it a few hours I think shorter would work fine.

One warning – drilling the holes for the hinge pin is the most critical part of this build.  I do all my drilling free-hand (no press) and I messed up every hole the first time I drilled them.  It was a frustrating experience.  Usually I can free-hand holes to be close enough, but the tolerances on these are tight.  I ended up making improvements to my drilling setup that I will post about later.  If you have a drill press, this will not be a problem.


I added a little leather to the leading edge of the head.  The leather is contained in a shallow rabbet on both faces with a radius to connect them.  No moulding planes here, just a jack plane following an arc drawn with a compass.  This method worked great.  I used lots of tape, spacers, and clamps to glue the leather to the head.  So far, so good.


The seat was my first experiment into seat carving.  The convex contours were shaped with a draw knife and the concave contours were shaped with a homemade “gouge”.  I don’t own any seat carving tools to create a hollow, but I did have a beat-up 1 inch chisel.  I put a radius on the edge (maybe 4 inch?) and used it like a flat gouge.  It worked great for traversing the board (side to side) and left lots of shallow grooves that look fine to my eye.  I still need to add finish, but I’m having too much fun using it right now to stop and smell the oil.

Bob Jones



The worst chisel review, ever.


3 types of commonly available “mid-level” chisels

A good review would show plenty of close-ups of important details on the chisels and tell you how many mallet swings it takes to dull the tool in several types of wood.  This is not that kind of review, so stop reading now if that is what you need.  This is a more touchy-feely review.

I’m not big on reviewing multiple options of any one thing.  The biggest problem is that it involves buying more than one of the same thing.  No sponsors here, and no ironmongers sending me stuff to review (maybe this year?).  For this instance I will make an exception because I recently decided to experiment with different chisels and I learned a little in the process that I think could benefit others.


Here are the chisels in this comparison.  From left to right are Ashley Iles Mk2, Vintage Stanley Sockets, and new Stanley Sweetheart 750’s.  The picture shows a 3/4 and 1/4 inch of each type, which are the sizes that I use most often.

Ahley Iles Mk2 bevel edge chisels (on the left)

These were my primary user chisels for a few years.  They are excellent.  I have no complaints and no cons.  They are made from good steel that dulls without chipping the edge which makes them easy to sharpen and resharpen.  I always thought they held an edge well.  One really nice feature is the slight hollow grind on the back, which makes initial flattening really fast.  Highly recommended.  Buy them from Joel at TFWW and support a support a good business.

Vintage Stanley socket chisels (in the middle)

The two chisels in the middle do not really qualify as 750’s, but they are good vintage chisels.  I bought these from a reputable tool dealer because I wanted to see what the fuss was about with socket chisels.  Vintage tools are always the riskier option because you never know what you will get until you set them up and use them a while.  The steel has a lot of history that can be checkered.  As with all vintage tools initial sharpening took a while.  Small pitts on the back had to be lapped out and the bevels needed to be correctly ground.  After the initial sharpening I was really impressed.  These chisels felt different in my hands than my AI chisels.  Without thinking, I tend to hold these at the base of the socket in use.  I generally held the AI’s by the handles.  Overall they were great, except the time required to put them to work and the variability that is inevitable in vintage iron that may or may not have been abused by former hacks owners.

New Stanley Sweetheart 750 chisels (on your right)

I bought the 8 piece set on a splurge. I paid full price from my friends at the woodwork shop. They are surprisingly light, which feels great with the smaller ones but a little strange with the two largest. Why buy them?  I liked the vintage sockets and I thought the new ones may be even better.  I’d say they are a close tie, straight out of the box.  As received, the Stanley’s all have lands (edges) that are too thick for my liking.  The Ashley Iles chisels spoiled me, I suppose.  Other than the lands, these are great chisels.  Made in the UK, and priced in the “middle” of modern options.  You can’t go wrong with them for cabinet work.


My improved Stanley Sweetheart 750, 3/4inch chisel

I decided to take a chance on a modification of the new Stanley’s.  I asked a machinist friend who is good with a grinder to make the Stanleys look more like my AI chisels.  He did a commendable job, don’t you think?  After this improvement to the Stanleys, I sold the Ashley Iles.  I learned that I really liked the feel and balance of the socket chisels and with the lands now even, the edge went to the Stanley’s.  I sold the vintage Stanleys because I didn’t want to grind down the lands of the vintage chisels.  It just seemed wrong.

The new Stanley’s are really nice and were easy to sharpen.  The backs were all pretty flat.  I will admit, that if I had not ground the lands down, the Ashley Iles would have won out.  They are made to perfection, for a tanged chisel for cabinet work.

Why bother to post the “worst” review of anything? Because there is a lesson to learn.  There is no perfect tool, there is only the silly desire for perfection in our possessions.  The drive to have the best thing out there, or at least the best thing we can find today.  If I could stop this stupid behavior, I would live happier and longer.  I don’t think I can stop anymore than you.  To perfection we will strive!

Bob Jones

Operators are waiting – call now


Well, I did it.  I finished the St Jude Half Marathon.  I even beat my target time. Sorry if that sounds prideful; it was all for the kids.  Now it’s your turn.  If you made a pledge to donate based on my satisfactory finish, now is the time to follow-through.  Here is the info again, in case you missed it the fist time.

A big thanks to those of you who have already donated!


I am participating in finished the St. Jude Memphis Half-Marathon to support the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As a St. Jude Hero, I have a personal goal to raise $150 for the kids of St. Jude.

Will you help me support St. Jude by donating today?

How your donation helps:

  • Thanks to donors like you, no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for anything, including treatment, travel, housing and food.
  • St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90%, by 2020. They won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
  • Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since it opened 50 years ago.

Please visit my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page to make a donation.

Thank you for your support!


In other news, I’ll be back at the woodwork shop in Memphis again this Saturday and Monday night.  Saturday is a free demo on using hand planes, and Monday night is the hand plane basics class.  Check out their website for details.  Why not take a break from your Christmas shopping and drop by for some festive woodworking.  Reportedly they have a new fancy workbench, so it may be worth coming just to check it out.

Bob Jones