Two- and Three-Panelled Doors


Fig. 60 – Two-Panelled Door

This is an excerpt from “Doormaking and Window-Making” by Anonymous. This book was discovered for us by joiner Richard Arnold. 

The door shown in Fig. 60 is very common as a front door in some parts of the country, although it has not much to recommend it, the long panels being very weak, and also the stiles, owing to there being no middle rail to strengthen them.

The making is very simple, being the same as an ordinary panel door, minus the middle rail; hence no detailed instructions on setting out are required here. They only mystifying point is the circular head panels, but those are only formed by the bolection moulding, the top rail being framed in square, as in Fig. 61, and the circular corner pieces glued and bradded in on the outside of the door only.


Fig. 61 – Showing Corner-Pieces in Panels

The circular moulding is formed in a lathe, as Fig. 62, and cut through to form two heads. It should be sawn through across the grain, as shown in the drawing, so that the end grain on the straight moulding will butt against the end grain on the circular moulding. In doing this, the shrinkage will be the same on each piece, and the intersection will not be affected. Of course, it must be understood that, if a good job is to be made, the turning must be accurately done, or the two will not intersect, and no amount of cleaning off will put matters right.


Fig. 62 – Circular Moulding for Tops of Panels

In making doors which have to be bolection moulded, some care is needed in gauging for the mortises, to ensure the moulding is bedding properly. If the moulding is rebated to a depth of half an inch, the gauge should be set to nine-sixteenths; the moulding will then bed tightly on the framing without any trouble. If gauged on too far, when the moulding is nailed in there is a risk of splitting at the outside edge; and if not gauged enough, the moulding will not fit closely to the framing. The medium should be aimed at, as in Fig. 63, where the moulding beds closely at A and B, and is slightly away from the panel at C.


Fig. 63 – Method of Fixing Bolection Moulding

In fitting bolection moulding, the mites should be shot as it is difficult to obtain a clean joint direct from the saw; the correct length of each piece should be taken, and the moulding cut to the marks; there will be no difficulty in making them fit accurately. The rebates are usually made slightly edge-shaped, as shown in Fig. 63, which forces the mitres up tightly as the moulding are driven in. In nailing each piece in, the nails should be driven as at D (Fig. 63); this will draw the points A and B down tightly, and at the same time allow the panels to shrink, without the danger of splitting them. This method of fixing does not, however, find favor in some parts, the favorite method being to screw the moulding from the inside of the panels, as at E. This certainly holds them firmly to the panels; but unless the latter are very dry, they are apt to split, owing to the outside edges being held by the screws. Taken on the whole, the writer prefers the former method of fixing and it must be understood that both methods should on no account be used together.


Fig. 64 – Bolection Moulded Three-Panel Door (with Section)

In Fig. 64 we have a door that will be a familiar object to some readers, but a total stranger to others: it is a bolection-moulded three-panel door, the third panel being formed by leaving out the bottom munition, and throwing the space below the middle rail into one panel. This, however, is relieved by planting on a raised panel of 3/4 in. wood, bevelled off from the centre to all four sides to a thickness of 3/8 and screwed to the panel proper from the inside. A vertical section of such a door is also shown, and an enlarged section of the bottom part appears in Fig. 65. In some cases a narrow raised panel in fixed to the upper panels in the same way as the lower, but this is not commonly done.


Fig. 65 – Enlarged Detail of Fig. 64

The above makes a very substantial good-looking door when finished, far better than that shown in Fig. 60; but to ensure lasting properties the bottom panels should be very dry, and the grain should cross in the two—that is, the panel proper should run longways, and the raised panel upright, or vice-versa.

Meghan Bates



Posted in Doormaking & Window-Making | 1 Comment

Now Available: ‘Roubo Workbench: By Hand & Power’


You can now purchase our latest video “Roubo Workbench: By Hand & Power” for $35 through our online store. The 4:19-long video can be streamed or downloaded and played on nearly any device – we offer the video without any DRM or copy protection.

The video is an in-depth look at how to build a massive French workbench using giant slabs of wood, but without enormous machinery. Will Myers and I walk you through all the construction steps and show a variety of ways to perform every operation, from a pure hand-tool method to one that uses the latest hand-held power tools.

Along the way, Will and I debate the fine points of construction – we don’t always agree – and discuss the pros and cons of everything from wide benchtops to wet timbers to tail vises.

Oh, and I might add that the video is beautiful. Shot using a three-camera setup at F+W Media and directed by our own John Hoffman, this presentation is the best we could do without hiring Orson Wells.

In addition to the 4:19-long video, we also include a three-page pdf containing a construction drawing of the bench, a cutting list and a list of the suppliers mentioned in the video. You’ll also receive a sheet of timecodes that will allow you to skip easily to individual chapters.

This video is the start of a series of instructional videos from Lost Art Press and directed by John. Next up: Peter Galbert on turning.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Workbenches | 18 Comments

Book Signing & Reading With Nancy R. Hiller


Nancy R. Hiller, a professional woodworker and author of the fantastic “Making Things Work,” will read a selection from her book and autograph your copy during a special free event at the Lost Art Press storefront at 7 p.m. on Aug. 12.

Thanks to Nancy’s agreeable nature and off-bubble sense of humor, we also will abuse a piñata she is making (filled with things that don’t normally go in piñatas). And we’ll play her version of “pin the tail on the donkey” – called “pin the tail on the dove.”

Oh, and we’ll have beverages for everyone. So to recap: Nancy, blindfolds, alcohol, sticks and sharp objects. What could go wrong?

The event occurs on the same day as one of our regularly scheduled open Saturdays. So if you’ve been contemplating a trip to our store, Aug. 12 would be a good Saturday to make it. The store at 837 Willard St. in Covington will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Then we will re-open at 7 p.m. for the book reading.

To secure your free ticket to the event, please register here. Space is limited.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Lost Art Press Storefront, Making Things Work | 2 Comments

Caption Challenge!

Come on, you witty and waggish woodworkers!  Caption this illustration.


From  ‘Livre d’Amour’ by Pierre Sala, first quarter of the 16th-century. Collection of the British Library.

Suzanne Ellison

Editor’s note: I closed the comments after people began interpreting it as a political image.

Posted in Historical Images, Personal Favorites | 109 Comments

Update: ‘Roubo Workbench: By Hand & Power’ Video


We are on the verge of releasing a four-hour video on building a full-blown 18th-century French workbench in the next week or two. The video, starring Will Myers and me, is as complete an explanation of the process as we could manage, and it covers everything from dealing with wet slabs to what is the appropriate finish for a workbench.

In between, Will and I discuss a variety of techniques for completing every operation necessary to build a bench, no matter what sort of tools you use. For example, for making the tenons on the stretchers, we show how to cut them by hand, how to cut them on the table saw and even how to use a Domino XL in the process.

The video will be available to stream through our website, and (if all goes to plan) you will be able to download a copy of it so you can watch it while not connected to the Internet.

Before we launch the video, two things have to happen: We have to settle on the retail price of the video, and I have to complete the construction drawing that accompanies it. Unfortunately, my computer was fried in an electrical storm a few days ago (don’t worry, everything was backed up), but I don’t have a machine loaded with the suite of software I need to make the drawing.

So stay tuned.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Workbenches | 9 Comments

A Walk in the Woods in June

With June comes summer, and the forest pretty much goes on cruise control. Everything that was happening keeps happening, and not much new happens.

American basswood (Tilia americana) is a late bloomer, literally. It blooms in the early part of June:


I had a hard time getting a photo; this is about the best I could get. (The light kept changing, and the breeze kept moving things in and out of the shadows and in and out of focus.) You can see a tongue-like bract above each cluster of flowers. These bracts are much paler than the leaves, so they stand out, even from a distance.

Here’s another June-blooming tree, this one with wild-and-crazy flowers:


It’s a chestnut, probably a Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima). While Chinese chestnuts (imported after the demise of the American chestnut due to chestnut blight) are common near houses, this one is growing in a semi-wild location. It’s also possible that it is a hybrid. American chestnuts (C. dentata) do still occur in Ohio, but they only grow for a couple of years before they succumb to the blight. The largest one I’ve ever seen was about five feet tall.

Here is one of the tree’s leaves:


The fact that it is very broad and almost square across at the base is what suggests that it is a Chinese chestnut; the other possibility, Japanese chestnut (C. crenata) is more rounded. American chestnut leaves are paler green, and they taper to a point at both ends.

The other trees are all done flowering, and the ones that haven’t already dropped their seeds are busy growing this season’s crop. The fruit of the American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is, of course, the beech nut (just like the baby food):


They are supposedly tasty, but I’ve never managed to find one in that period of a few microseconds between when they turn ripe and when the squirrels take all of them.

The leaves of the American beech are somewhat elm-like (see last month), but are symmetric at the base (despite the fact that this one looks asymmetric, because I couldn’t get it to lay flat):


There are many species of hickory, and they are rather confusing. There are two species that I see here in my yard. First up is shagbark hickory (Carya ovata):


Shagbark has five leaflets, and the three distal ones are teardrop-shaped and much larger than the other two. At high magnification, the margins of the leaves have little tufts of hair.

The other one in my yard is mockernut hickory (C. tomentosa), which usually has seven or nine leaflets (occasional leaves will have five or eleven):


Its leaflets are not quite as teardrop-shaped, and the size difference from one end to the other is not as dramatic. The leaf margins have a few hairs, but nothing like shagbark.

Here’s an interesting one; I took it from one of my neighbor’s trees (don’t tell her):


There are five leaflets, tapered and elliptical rather than teardrop-shaped, and there are no hairs on the leaf margins. I’m pretty sure that it’s pignut hickory (C. glabra), but it’s all but impossible to distinguish from red hickory (C. ovalis), so much so that some authorities think the two should be treated as a single species. According to one source, “It is said that the two cannot be separated ‘except with completely mature fruit collected in November.’” Well, this one has quite a few nuts on it, so maybe I’ll be able to key it out then (again, if the squirrels don’t get them all first).

In the same family as the hickories (and pecan) are the walnuts. Around here, black walnut (Juglans nigra) is common. The trees are easy to spot, with their long, pinnate leaves having between 11 and 23 leaflets, and usually an overall “droopy” appearance to the foliage:


The bark is not quite as “braided” looking as hickory, but more so than ash or tuliptree:


Butternut (J. cinerea) supposedly occurs around here, but I haven’t seen it. Butternut is in serious decline due to butternut canker, which is probably why I haven’t been able to find any. Its leaves are similar, but generally fuzzier.

There are a couple of lookalike trees (or tall shrubs) to look out for as well. Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) is a tall, gangly shrub that’s most often seen at the very edge of the forest:


It is easily distinguished in spring by its conical clusters of cream-colored flowers, which give way by the end of June to clusters of berries:


The berries start out green, but quickly turn a deep red and persist through the winter. Staghorn sumac (R. typhina) is very similar, but less common. As you might guess, its stems are hairy and not smooth.

The tree that most resembles black walnut is a somewhat invasive alien species, tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)—most people just call it “ailanthus”:


It’s less droopy and usually a bit deeper green than black walnut.

Did you notice something not quite right in that last photo? The leaves at the center right are actually those of a black walnut growing next to the ailanthus:


The fruit of the ailanthus is a winged samara; it turns bright orange or red when ripe.


Of course, if you see walnuts, that’s kind of a giveaway:


Butternut fruit are more elongated, with smooth rather than pebbly skin covered in fine fuzz.

Incidentally, the name of the walnut genus, Juglans, means “Jupiter’s testicles.” I trust that I don’t need to explain how that name came about.

A close-up view of the leaves is also useful to distinguish these species. Black walnut leaflets have short petioles and finely serrated edges:


Sumac leaflets have no petioles, and somewhat more coarsely-toothed edges (sumac also exudes a very sticky, milky sap when cut):


Ailanthus leaflets have short petioles and just a few blunt teeth near the base:


You can also see on each tooth a gland that looks like a small pimple. From the underside, this is more obvious:


American hornbeam (Carpinus americana) is a tree prized for its hard, dense wood that resists splitting, perfect for tool handles. It is widespread as an understory tree in the forests around here, but for some reason I rarely see any with a trunk more than an inch or so in diameter. Its leaves are small and finely serrated:


Its fruit clusters hang down near the ends of the branches:


The related hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) also occurs here, but is less common, and I wasn’t able to find one with fruit. The leaves are all but identical, but the fruit looks a bit like those of hops (as in beer); hence, the name.

I’ve always thought that if a committee of circus clowns that tie balloon animals were tasked with designing a leaf, they’d come up with something like sassafras (Sassafras albidum):


Freshly-emerged leaves give off a pleasant, spicy scent when crushed. The wood gives off the same scent when cut, but the odor unfortunately fades pretty quickly. I have a few small pieces that came from a pallet (holding up a shipment of lumber from Horizon Wood Products in Pennsylvania).

Not all of the leaves have three lobes; some only have one side lobe, and others have none:


As was the case last month, wildflowers are few and far between. I found some American bellflower (Campanulastrum americanum):


This is one that I haven’t seen before. I’m pretty sure that it’s fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata), but it has some characters that look a bit more like some related species:


It didn’t help that I was out photographing these the day after the flowers were battered by very heavy rains.

Unlike the previous two, which like the edge of the woods, the smooth oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides) can be found deep in the forest:


–Steve Schafer


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Sharpen This, Part 3: What the &^%$ is Sharp?


Read the other installments in the “Sharpen This” series via this link.

People say that “sharp” is like pornography – you know it when you see it.

The problem with that statement is that you cannot see sharpness. When a tool is sharp, its edge becomes practically invisible to light. You can, however, see an edge when it’s dull. If you are confused by the above statements, don’t worry. By the end of this blog entry you will truly understand the difference between sharp and dull.

Let’s begin by discussing the definition of a sharp edge because it is incredibly important. Here it is: A sharp edge is two surfaces that intersect and create a zero-radius intersection.

Like many definitions, this one needs some definition. What does this mean?

Think of a chisel. Its bevel is one surface. The tool’s back is the second one. The surfaces don’t have to be flat; nor do they have to be curved. They just have to meet. Where they intersect is the edge. And when they meet at a “zero-radius intersection” you have a sharp edge.

What’s a zero-radius intersection? This is when the intersection of the two surfaces is not a radius or a rounded-over bit. Instead, in a best-case and theoretical scenario, the bevel and the back intersect and share a single line of iron atoms in a crystalline matrix with carbon. That line of particles is what wedges between the wood fibers and separates them cleanly.

That is sharp – as sharp as it gets. So what is dull?


Dull is where you have two surfaces that intersect, but their intersection is a radius or a rounded-over section. A million things could cause this radius to exist. Perhaps the maker of the tool failed to grind the two surfaces so they meet. Perhaps the two surfaces once met at a zero-radius intersection, but then the owner used the tool to do some woodworking. When you push a steel edge into the wood many times, tiny steel particles at the tip wear off, creating a rounded-over radius.

The goal of sharpening is to re-establish the zero-radius intersection.


You do this by abrading one (or both) of the surfaces until they meet again with a zero-radius. Note that this task can be done with any abrasive. A coarse abrasive will do this quickly but leave deep scratches in the edge that make it fragile. Fine abrasives will do the work slowly and you will want to take up golf.

And I repeat: Any abrasive can make an edge sharp. Fine abrasives don’t really make the edge sharper, they just make the edge more durable. But more on that topic in a future blog post.

Meet the Burr
So the first goal of sharpening is to ensure you have two surfaces that meet at a zero-radius intersection. But how do you know when you have achieved it? Easy. When you create a zero-radius intersection, a magical thing happens: You create a small metal burr on the surface that isn’t being abraded.




This burr is the heart of sharpening. It is the only thing (other than an electron microscope) that will tell you that you have created a sharp edge. Once you have the burr, the edge is sharp. Polishing will refine it.

So what did I mean at the beginning of this entry when I said “you cannot see sharpness?” Easy. A radius reflects light. When you look at your chisel and see a bright line where the bevel and back meet, that’s the radius smiling back at you. It’s time to sharpen.

But when you are done sharpening, have achieved a zero-radius intersection and have removed the burr (more on that later), there is nothing that can reflect light back to your eyeball. Sharpness is invisible.

That fact is one of the great curiosities of sharpening: It is a great labor to create nothingness (cue the sitar solo, dude).

— Christopher Schwarz



Posted in Sharpen This, Uncategorized