Friday 19 September 2008

One file to rule them all - and in the Ebony dust bind them.

Over the last 8 days, I have fit the front buns and rear infills of 7 coffin smoothers. Two XSNo.4ss's, three No.4ss's and two A5ss's. Six of these planes have Ebony infills. Needless to say - my hands are disturbingly filthy. The fitting process goes something like this;

1). Waste out the bulk of the infill using saws (thanks again Mike!).

The above shoulder cut that defines the overstuffing still feels “dangerous” - even after 100+ times.

2). With the bulk removed - I turn to files, rasps and chisels to further refine the shape.

3). Once the footprint is close - I add in my 1/2" wide, by 3-3/4" long shoulder rebate plane to get the fit of the shoulder to mate perfectly with the sidewall. There is still some refining of the footprint involved - but at this stage it is a bit of a dance between fitting the footprint and the height of the shoulders of the overstuffing.

The above photo is one of many tests of the fit between the overstuffing and the sidewalls. The thing that makes coffin shaped planes a bit tricky is there is very little wiggle room with regards to the fit. On a parallel sided plane, the infill can be slid in from either end. With a coffin plane on the other hand - it needs to drop down from the top.

Take an A5. The handle is already shaped, the bed angle is established, the slot for the adjuster is cut and the section of wood that connects the top of the handle to the bed is already defined. There is really not much of an allowance to move the infill forward or back before any of these aspects will be fatally compromised. Anyway - it requires all of my wits being present to do this task.

Back on topic. Until now - the rasp and file stage took the longest. I was typically using about 6 different files and rasps for this stage, but it was never quite perfect. One of the issues was finding a tool that would remove material quickly, but do so in a very clean manner. Generally - this is not done with rasps. I love rasps - but the cutting action leaves deep V shaped grooves as opposed to a file which leaves a more level surface. Rasps are great for stock removal - but it is sometimes difficult to accurately gauge the depth of the bottom of the V shaped cut. When fitting infills +/- .003" can be the difference between the perfect fit and disaster. So I turned to files because the surface was more level. The trouble with files - they are much slower and tend to clog up much more quickly - especially when used on exotic woods.

Enter this file made by Toshio Fukazawa.

This was unlike anything I had seen before. The teeth one side were completely unfamiliar. They were not like a rasp or a file... but rather a bit of a blend of the two. They had peaks on them that was rasp like - but they were still flat-ish like a file.

The other side was a little more familiar - like a fairly aggressive single cut file. Another nice feature was both edges were safe - and very well done.

I have had this file for several months now, and when I got it home (it was a gift from a very good friend), there was a rear infill and front bun for a No.4 to fit. I decided to quickly try the unhandled file - just to see what it would do. I was blown away. The toothed side removed wood so fast - I could hardly believe it - but what really got me, was how smooth the surface was. I tried another pass - just to make sure. Same thing - rapid stock removal with a super clean surface. I could hardly contain my excitement. I took of my jacket and kept going. What would have taken 6 rasps and files I was doing with a single tool at twice the speed. Once it was shaped, I flipped over the file and tried the other side. This side was very different. It too cut very quickly, but left an almost polished surface. There was absolutely no clean up after this side. I had both infills fit in record time.

Back to these 7 coffin smoothers. All 7 of them were fit using this single file in conjunction with my Wenzloff saw and small shoulder plane. This process has become much quicker, more accurate and consistent - thanks to this last missing tool being added. The only thing left is to find out where to get a few more of them.


Blogger Unknown said...

Konrad, please leave a hint as to where one might purchase one of these files made by Toshio Fukazawa. Googling "Toshio Fukazawa" results in nothing useful.


1 October 2008 at 08:39  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hello Will,

I certainly will post if I am able to find a source for them.


1 October 2008 at 08:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You have become one of those dangerous people who can create a run on a particular tool. I have found your recomendations to be dead on. I have no doubt that I need one of these files.

Thanks for sharing your techniques with us amateurs.


1 October 2008 at 11:39  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Dan,

I was a little reluctant to write about this file for fears that I will start a "wifes against Konrad" site or something:)

It really is a staggeringly amazing tool. I am also glad to hear that my recommendations have been accurate thus far.

Best wishes,

1 October 2008 at 16:10  
Blogger Unknown said...

Very interesting post, Konrad. Both about fitting infills and the file. The rewards from work that requires us to perform at the top of our game can be very satisfying. But the wits you mention keeping are a volatile commodity at times. I find it hard to see you chucking a troublesome workpiece across the shop--something I'm ashamed to admit! I doubt I'm the only one that enjoys your posts on the how-to's of what you do.

5 October 2008 at 14:20  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Jameel,

While I have not tossed anything across the room... there are a few poor pieces of maple that bear the scars of ball pien hammer blows. Thankfully, I at least had the good sense not to hit the anvil in frustration!

Best wishes,

5 October 2008 at 22:06  
Blogger Unknown said...

Note to self: Maple offcuts should be stored next to anvil.

Good tip Konrad :)

(and add me to the list of people interested in just where these files can be obtained... I promise not to tell my wife where I found out)

6 October 2008 at 12:05  
Blogger rookster said...

I found that there used to be a way to order his files through EdoCrafts, but it looks like he no longer uses this site. You can do a little mouthwatering window shopping through the Wayback Machine:

7 October 2008 at 16:05  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Rookster! I few people have commented that Edocraft is a place to start. The window shopping link is great.


7 October 2008 at 18:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently used one of the Nicholson milled-tooth files to shape some hard maple blocks to support a vise. It's sort of like a float but with smaller curved teeth (which will make it harder to resharpen, I suppose).

It cuts much quicker than a typical file, but leaves a smoother surface than a rasp.

Might be worth trying out for those that can't find a Fukazawa file.

8 October 2008 at 13:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a colleague speeking and writing Japanes and he found this website after translation. looks like the master himself.

Greatings from The Netherlands, Bas Hemmen

9 October 2008 at 17:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a colleague speeking and writing Japanes and he found this website after translation. looks like the master himself.

Greatings from The Netherlands, Bas Hemmen

9 October 2008 at 17:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is another good link

Bas Hemmen

9 October 2008 at 17:10  
Blogger Ken M said...

From the translated interview originally on the Edocrafts site, it looks like he runs (or ran) a one man shop, and made most of his files and rasps to order.

In fact, the interview was more than a bit depressing since it looks like when he's retired, no one will take over. Which is bad enough for woodworkers, but I wonder what the orthopedic surgeons that use his rasps to fit replacement joints will do...

13 October 2008 at 16:42  
Blogger Ken M said...

I wonder whether these Iwasaki floats/files are similar. The picture isn't detailed enough to be sure.

5 March 2009 at 11:06  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the link. I did not know Lee was carrying rasps. From the photos - they look like machine cut teeth - they are very uniform compared to the somewhat random teeth of the handcut one.


5 March 2009 at 18:45  
Blogger J said...


Frustrating search for this file...until I stumbled across this today:

Sometimes things hide in the most obvious places!

You've probably found them by now, if not, leave some for the rest of us!

8 February 2010 at 21:28  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey J,

Wow - what timing! I had not found the files at Japan woodworker and as incredible as this is - I am in San Francisco right now!!!!!! Thanks for the tip... and I promise to leave a few for you:)


9 February 2010 at 11:12  
Blogger J said...


I did purchase one of the 8" Fukazawa files. I have to say, you did not under-qualify the excellence of this tool. Now I'm afraid to use it too much and wear it out!

Did you get any more at jwoodworker? If so, I'm curious about the 6" furniture maker's file. Let me know if you've used one. Thanks.

15 May 2010 at 10:13  

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Sunday 14 September 2008

A backyard loss & a surprising new saw

When we first moved to our house in Kitchener - the backyard was quite overgrown. It was clear to us that it had not been maintained for some time. We cleared out 75% of the overgrown shrubs and crooked small trees just so we could see what we were dealing with. There was a very large, Norway maple in the middle of the yard, which had clearly been neglected. One side had been butchered, resulting in the main crotch of the tree holding quite a bit of moisture. A few bold plants had even taken root! We knew it was only a matter of time before things started falling - and last summer we lost a very large branch. I was at Westonbirt in England at the time.

With the current trend towards harsh weather - Jill and I were nervously biting our nails watching from the windows with each thunderstorm.

It was time for the tree to come down.

On August 22nd - the chainsaws arrived and the tree was reduced to a pile of firewood length logs. And even more curious - it came down as I was arriving on the grounds of Westonbirt this year. I returned home to a very sunny backyard. There is an old adage that involves lemons and lemonaid... and in that spirit - this tree removal was a good thing. I grew up with a large vegetable garden in the yard - and I have always hoped our kids would be able to experience this as well. Now we can. There is a great sunny spot along a fence that will be perfect.

Some of the limbs were not cut into firewood lengths yet, and as a bit of a lark, I went into the shop to retrieve a recent purchase - a large Japanese saw. I wasn't expecting much to be honest - but boy was I wrong (and in hindsight - I should have known better!).

This is a crosscut timber saw which I am pretty sure is called a Temagori. One of the first things I noticed was the graduated teeth were frightfully sharp and the balance of the saw was very different. It was really heavy in the toe - but as soon as I placed it on the log - it all made sense.
I started the kerf with the smaller teeth (towards the handle). In this position - the weight at the toe held the saw down. All I did was pull - and as the speed quickened - the larger teeth kicked into high gear and removed a tremendous amount of wood. Because of the angle of the handle - the teeth are forced down just by the act of pulling. I did not apply and downward pressure at all. The second stroke was just like the first - but even easier because the kerf was already started. Binding appeared to be a non-issue. I also found myself feeling for the straightest pull - and once I was focusing on that - the saw did all the work. It was effortless to use really - no downward pressure required - the weight of the saw did the cutting. It is a marvel of engineering. So I just started cutting stuff - as Jill peered from the window just shaking her head.

Here are the markings on the blade.

One of the great things about the saw is the teeth are so large, that the complex geometry is very clear.

Oh, and we have already scheduled a new maple tree to be planted in early October. It will be in a new location - so that is shades the house and our patio table in the summer.

And the tree did get the last laugh in the end. Not only were there huge sections of very curly maple - there was quite a bit of birds eye as well. 14" drawer fronts anyone?
Add Image


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are quite right about the saw's name. Anyone interested can take a look here as they are still made and available;

17 September 2008 at 02:02  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks for the confirmation on the name and the link. It is a wonderful tool.


17 September 2008 at 18:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Japan,
It may be meddlesome, about "Temagori".
That makes no sense as Japanese language.
"Temagori" is made of two words.
"Te" means hand or handle.
And not "Magori", correct letter is "Magari", and it means bend or bending.
Therefore, "Temagari" means bending handle.

3 March 2009 at 18:47  

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Wednesday 3 September 2008

Wesonbirt 2008 - still the perfect woodworking show.

I had the good fortune to attend the Festival of the Tree again this August, and like last year - was not disappointed. The format was the same - camping on the grounds of the Westonbirt Arbouretum, large scale sculptures in a picturesque setting and very fine food prepared by “cheffie” (pictured below drying some tea-towels).

One of the most enjoyable things about traveling is the incredible people - and this year's adventure was no exception. There were many familiar faces to catch up with and just as many new ones. We were set up in the Classic Hand Tools marquee again - situated off to the side of the display area. But judging from the well worn pathways inside - we were certainly not out of sight.

There was a new demonstrator at the show this year - and for all intents and purposes - he stole the show. Steve Woodley specializes in supplying hand hewn timbers for restoration work and provided four days of inspirational demonstration.

He was supplied with 3 oak logs and over the course of the 4 days, managed to square up two of them. I found myself stopping to watch every time I walked by - with several additional deliberate trips to watch his progress. I was struck with the simplicity of the process - and the incredible skill and precision required to execute it properly. Steve taught me two very important lessons about axes. First - he taught me how to sharpen them - and yes - they should look like the backs of your plane irons. Secondly - a mediocre axe is not worth the struggle. He had at least 8 axes with him - all made by Gransfors. These are available in the UK from Classic Handtools or in North America through Lee Valley. Not only is he highly skilled - he is a fantastic guy. His brother lives less than an hour from my house and I am hoping to figure out a way to get him over to this side of the pond. I am working on it Steve.

It was great to see Jolyon Reynolds again this year - he was set up around the corner from Steve. Between the two of them - they had an amazing demonstration.

Mark Hancock and his charming wife Karen were at the show again and were a crucial part of the good natured fun and frolic in the classic handtools compound. There were only a few “safe” seconds for me to capture the above photo before Mark shifted his gouge and showered me with shavings. Typical : )

I was thrilled to see my good friend Michel Auriou again - it had been far too long since our last visit. I always enjoy Michel's insight into toolmaking, steel and business. The best piece of news was that Auriou is back in business. Hopefully some more left handed rasps will be in my future...

David Charlesworth and Pat stopped in on Saturday - it was great to see them again. They were set up beside me which gave us a chance to catch up a bit and talk shop. Here we are discussing one of Bill Carters planes (nice segue, eh?)

That same day - Bill and Sarah Carter arrived. It is always a thrill to see them. Bill had over a dozen planes with him - from wee little 1/2" boxwood smoothers, to an incredible 28-1/2" jointer. Bill was kept very busy with a steady stream of admirers and Sarah kept the three of us content with coffee and homemade cake.

If I had the money - this pair of mitre planes would have come home with me.

Another fine planemaker stopped in for a visit - Christopher Martyn. I met Christopher at last years show and was very impressed with his instrument planes. Some of his planes were featured in Fine Woodworkings 2007/2008 Tools & Shops issue.

My friend Tony stopped in to try a few planes - here he is testing out a No.4 smoother.

I also met Mike Riley and had a great visit with Phil Edwards. The Romanesque fellow is Alex Primmer - he works for Classic Handtools.

It is amazing how much changes in a year. Last year, Phil was contemplating making a few planes - and this year he had his own line of tools and was conducting a brisk business. A few days before I left for England, Phil sent me an email asking if there was anything he could bring along to help reduce my luggage. It was an extremely thoughtful offer and as it turned out - I did use many of his things over the course of the event. My deepest thanks Phil for taking good care of me during the show. I hope I can return the favour in Berea.

Mark Bennett was a new demonstrator at the show and I have to say I was quite impressed. He is a very kind, soft spoken fellow and we found ourselves discussing the finer points of plane design, our respective wood stashes (I suspect his will knock my socks off when I see it) and design in general. I thoroughly enjoyed his company. He was also a wealth of knowledge and passed on several great insights. One of the more interesting one was tree warts. I have to admit I was a little skeptical until he showed me one. He handed me a holly wart. He said they are very tight burls and cuts them into disks and uses them for inlay work. So I now have a Holly wart to add to my growing pile of timber.

Fun & games

The show was not just work - there was tremendous play as well. I sometimes feel guilty about it - and there were two instances where I found myself beautifully derailed.

The first instance was finding a small Boxwood branch sitting on the burn pile (yes, they were burning boxwood!). I have a wonderful Japanese hammer head by Masayuki that is in need of a handle. I have been referencing So's site to learn how to handle a hammer. I cannot find any Gumi - but this piece of English boxwood should be a nice substitute. Philly caught me cleaning up the piece of boxwood for the trip home.

The other derailment was Mark and I cleaning up a large piece of boxwood (with an Auriou rasp of course).

Philly and Mike Riley planting some vile shavings.

Chris Pye being majestic even when he is trying not to be. Chris was set up about 30 feet away but I was able to watch him transform a rather non-descript bit of wood into a very fanciful beast. I only wish I was able to pay closer attention - I know he has a lot to teach and I have a lot to learn.

I also had great visits with John Lloyd and Rob Cosman but did not manage to find them when I was collecting photos.

And last but certainly not least... a rather tuckered member of the International football team who was sadly defeated at the third annual “Billy Hancock Birthday showdown”. The Brits won 3/0. Mark shared a very funny comment on the last day. He was telling a few of us how surreal it was to be the keeper for the British team and seeing all these faces he recognizes from magazine head shots rushing at him. The quote went something like this... “and there was Rob Cosman - with the ball... rushing towards me. Bloody hell!”

I would also like to express my thanks to Mike Hancock, his lovely wife Mary, and their kids Alex and Billy. The Classic Handtool marquee is not the focus of Westonbirt - but it has become a very important part of it - and clearly inspires people to work with wood. Mike has done an outstanding job, and has proven that a vision of something different and a little creativity can make something very special happen. Congratulations Mike.


Blogger Paul Kierstead said...

I have one of Phils mini panel raisers and totally love it. Works wonderfully and has great craftsmanship too.

A couple of months back I bought a medium sized Gransfors splitting axe. I was stunned. I can accurately split off kindling one handed trivially easy with this axe. I had no idea an axe could be so great.

4 September 2008 at 09:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was great to meet you, Konrad, and a real treat to try out your beautiful planes. Tell Riley to get out those Wenzloffs and keep practising his dovetails......

Cheers ;-)

Paul Chapman

4 September 2008 at 09:24  
Blogger Philly said...

Glad you had a great time - thanks for your companionship during the five days!
See you Berea - and don't forget to bring your best shirt ;)

4 September 2008 at 12:51  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Paul,

I had a great time messing around with Phil's planes. The mini panel raiser was a favorite of mine too.

Seeing a skilled person using a high quality axe was pretty inspiring. The next LV trip - one is coming home!


6 September 2008 at 18:19  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Paul C,

It was great to meet you as well. Glad you liked the planes too. Yes - Riley is going to be practicing - I promise to post his next project.


6 September 2008 at 18:27  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey Phil,

Yeah - best shirt:) Here is the story. I was in need of a cloth or something during sharpening and Phil said he had an extra "cloth" - it turned out to be one of his old collared shirts. The shirt seemed to make its way around the whole marquee cleaning up all manner of messes.

See you in a few months Phil!


6 September 2008 at 18:30  

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