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The Funeral Chair Part Eight: Leather Seat Variation

The final video in the funeral chair series showing the leather seat variation.

The Funeral Chair Part Seven

Part seven of the funeral chair series. In this video, the chair is finished and assembled.

The Funeral Chair Part Six: Making the Seat Slats

Part six in the funeral chair series.

The Funeral Chair Part Five: Shaping the Parts.

The fifth video in the Funeral Chair build. The stretchers are shaped using elevated bench dogs.

The Funeral Chair Part Four: Frame Joinery

The next installment in the Funeral Chair series.

The Funeral Chair Part Three: Making the Seat Frame

Part three in the Funeral Chair Series. The seat parts are cut and assembled using hand cut bridle joints.

The Funeral Chair Part Two: Preparing the Stock

The second video installment for the funeral chair project from my new book- The Unplugged Woodshop.

The Funeral Chair Part One: Assembling the Cut List.

The first video installment from my new book, The Unplugged Woodshop.

Speaking of Wood

Author, musician and custom furniture maker, Tom Fidgen shares his thoughts on working wood at the Unplugged Woodshop.

2B or not 2B

Furniture maker Tom Fidgen shares some thoughts about this all to often, overlooked tool in the wood shop. Good design starts right here.

the Gorman bench

This was a custom design I fell into this past summer, 2011. The Gorman bench. Tom Fidgen. The music is something I wrote for the piece.

A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - final -

The final installment by author Tom Fidgen as he completes his Dedicated Sharpening Bench.

A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - part 7 - The Glue-up

Continue along with author Tom Fidgen as he builds a dedicated sharpening bench.

A Dedicated Sharpening Bench -part 6- Cutting the Top and building the Under Carriage

Continue along with author Tom Fidgen as he builds a dedicated sharpening bench.

- A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - part 5 - Shaping the Feet and Finishing the Frame

Continue along as author Tom Fidgen builds a dedicated sharpening bench.

A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - part 4- The Frame

Continue along with author Tom Fidgen as he builds a sharpening bench.

A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- Part 3 : Hand-Cut Joinery

Continue on with author Tom Fidgen as he builds a dedicated sharpening bench.

A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- Part 2: A Workbench Surface

Continue along with author Tom Fidgen as he builds a dedicated sharpening bench.

A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- part 1

Follow along with author Tom Fidgen as he builds a dedicated sharpening bench.

Some thoughts from the Unplugged Woodshop

Do the tools you use effect your furniture designs?

Tool Chest

Tool Chest Contest

skinny legs and all

I designed and built this small side table over the past winter, it's main body is Ash. A log that my wife and I literally stumbled over a few years back on the shore of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. I had a freind with a bandsaw mill rip it down and left it to air dry for three years. The drawer fronts are made from Angelique, again another 'sea-faring' wood species...This was reclaimed from an old barge that sat in Marthas Vineyard for the better part of 100 years! This table was completely made by hand using only hand tools. The finish is Tried and True oil/varnish mix. Reclaimed wood, no power tools used and a food grade all natural oil for finish...what could be any greener than that? Cheers!

Resurrecting Jack

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy..."

Working Wood: The Music Video

A'wood working' inspired tune I wrote this winter.

walnut media cabinet

Handmade Modern Through the aids of modern power tool jigs, this cabinet was made using entirely hand tools. Walnut Media Cabinet. More at  

Recent comments

Re: The Funeral Chair Part One: Assembling the Cut List.

Thanks for the comments folks!

Christopher M.-
The new book is The Unplugged Woodshop- Hand Crafted Projects for the Home and Workshop
available here at The Taunton Store.

all the best


Re: The Funeral Chair Part One: Assembling the Cut List.

Please note:
If the video doesn't play, try adjusting the video player settings to 720p HD. Thanks and enjoy!

Re: 2B or not 2B

Great comments everyone- thanks for the feedback.
and to mbutts- good catch. cheers!

Re: 2B or not 2B

; D
my sincere apologies to anyone who may be offended by my 'Luddite' over tones, I'm really not that bad. ha!
But you're absolutely right, it does sound a little harsh.
Remember, it's only my method and not a reflection or opinion of what others are doing in their own shops. Now writing a book by hand? -you've got me thinking! uh-oh...

Re: 2B or not 2B

PORC, thanks for the comments.
Funny, this afternoon when I posted this I knew someone would pipe in with a comment similar to this. Believe me, the article is in no way an attempt to dismiss anyone who uses computers in their everyday lives! Hell, the post was written on a computer and here we sit and carry on a dialogue still on the computer.I answer countless emails and write my blogs on a computer almost daily and you know that really is the point ; )
All of this time we spend online, I'm simply trying to encourage or perhaps inspire the reader to get back to a simpler and more direct method of getting thoughts and ideas down.That (for me) is with a pencil and paper.Furniture design never starts in Sketch-up. Ideas may indeed be refined with the aid of a computer program but the initial spark of inspiration? Never. At least not in my shop. If it works for you then that's wonderful- I'm certainly not dismissing you or anyone else for it. I purchased the Tim Killen eBook, ~Sketch-up Guide for Woodworkers~ this past year and really enjoyed it. (You can find a link on the side bar above.)and yes, I surf the web looking through images and watching video on furniture making and design but who doesn't?
Anyhow, it's getting late and here I am still on this computer!
thanks again for the comments.

“Drawing is the artist's most direct and spontaneous expression...” - Edgar Degas

Re: the Gorman bench

thanks for the comments gents-; )

Re: Shop Tours with Fine Woodworking Staffers

Hey John,
the shop looks great- the thing I miss the most about my old wood shop on the Coast besides the nice big windows is my wood stove. I loved having it in my work space- nothing better than working wood on a cold winters morning- gettin' the fire cookin' with a warm cup of coffee. I'm in a small basement workshop now and when I finally move to yet 'another new space' a wood shop is pretty high on my wish list.

Re: Adrian Potter: Thinking Furniture

Beautiful piece on Adrian Potter's work-
thanks Jon- well done!

Re: Who Is A Hand Tool Woodworker?



Re: Drawing Dovetails With a New Plugin


Nice post, I hope to find some time this year to try to get my head around using Sketch-up and this looks like a great plug in for when I do!
It's funny because when I originally designed the sharpening bench I had full intention on using dovetails for the drawers but decided to simplify them at the last minute due to my time line. Its nice to finally see how they would have looked!
Thanks for this and keep well.


Re: UPDATE: Book Giveaway: Made By Hand by Tom Fidgen

Congratulations to the winner-
I hope you enjoy the book !


Re: shaker nightstand

love the look of these- the curly maple drawers look great with the cherry.
are the drawers framed with a darker wood or is that just a shadow in the picture?
either way they're really nice-
thanks for sharing-

Re: Poll: What's more important? Speed or the joy of woodworking?

Working in a 'hand tool only' woodshop it always has to boil down to the love of the craft- even when I'm pushing a clients piece out the door! If that feeling ever changes I'd probably just go back to the Set Design Industry.
That said, hand tool work doesn't have to be slow and I'll be interested to see the outcome of the Tenon Shootout-

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- part 1

sounds like you have a system that's working for you and that's really what counts. Good job!
To answer your question- the scary sharp method is using sandpaper instead of water or oil stones. The sandpaper is applied to something like safety glass or other suitably 'flat' surface and the blades are honed.
All the best and thanks for the comments-


Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- Part 2: A Workbench Surface

RD16- thanks for the question- The workbench I have is one I purchased a few years ago through Garrett Wade- they call it a traditional cabinetmakers bench. If you're interested in building a bench I'd suggest you pick up Chris Shwarzs' book on workbenches. It'll give you a ton of great information on the history of workbenches and a couple of good workbench designs.
and DuncanSuss- a 'stopped shaving' is done while you plane the edges of boards crating a slight concave edge over its length. You start an inch or so in from the front edge and stop just shy of the opposite end while planing. Make sure you're taking a light cut with your hand plane. After a few passes your plane will stop cutting and you're done! Essentially you're only planing the mid section of the plank creating a very slight hollow. This is a good thing. Once you glue and clamp the pieces together you'll have nice tight seams on the ends. Search through the archives here at Fine for an article on edge jointing boards by hand and you should find some more information- thanks again for the question.


Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - part 7 - The Glue-up

Robert- (birchwoodguy)
thanks for the comments and the tip on some great reading!
I know what you're saying with the top movement and hope I won't have too much trouble with it. The surface being attached to the front apron doesn't seem like an issue to me- I think when the top expands it'll move where it can and that's towards the back where the surface is only 'floating'. The front of the tool tray is also floating and actually has a small rabbet to deal with any opening seams. The granite is sitting on runners and is also free to move with and when the top does. When the oak contracts then the opposite will take place. The surface will move away from the rear tool tray so I'll simply nudge the front of the tool tray forward closing any gaps.
A plywood or similar sheet product would illiminate any of these potential issues and may be worth considering when people build versions of the plan. I've seen a few excellent examples of plywood surface benches and if I didn't have the oak offcuts already here in my shop, might have considered using something like it. Examples of bread board ends used in traditional workbench construction is also pretty frequent and I'm hopeful I won't have too much of a problem with wood movement. Time will truly tell so I'll post something in the summer and then again next winter. The bench isn't going anywhere and I'll still be right here working wood!

Have a happy and healthy New Year-

Re: Free Plan: A Dedicated Sharpening Station

Well it seems the comments don't take time off for the holidays ;) thanks everyone-
I'll do my best to answer.

Rusty- thanks for the feedback, happy to hear you're enjoying the book.

Shedmanuk- I'm not too concerned with water- I think people would be surprised at how little water gets onto the wood while I sharpen. A small spray bottle for keeping the stones moist when in use is all that's needed. I have been placing a small towel under the stones while I sharpen- this has helped in keeping the water out of the oak.
I will post another 'chapter' showing the bench in use- it'll walk you through my routine. Probably won't get to it this week so keep watching in the New Year.

Kenny- I didn't make the bench drawing so I can't comment on the software. Sorry.

Papa504pvd- congrats on the new sharpening system...I've been using the Jet for a few years and I'm pretty happy with it.

lipster- thanks for the comment and the suggestion for a sheet product top. This totally makes sense and would help with wood movement issues. I used the oak off cuts because it was here in my shop and I was really working on a budget. I'm hoping the construction will allow the wood to expand and not have any ill effects on how the bench functions...time will tell I suppose.

Zakri- good luck with your journey into's a fantastic way to spend the day and the social network and woodworking community is amazing thanks to sites like this one! ;)

loghacker- (love the name) The granite is for reference purposes as well as flattening plane soles. A piece of sandpaper on top is all thats needed for any dressing over the seasons...especially on my wooden planes.

marioignacio- happy you like the bench plan- enjoy!

and finally David024- thanks for the feedback. I think a solid surface will make sense and as mentioned already, help deal with any wood movement.
Cheers everyone-
Have a healthy and happy New Year!


Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - part 7 - The Glue-up

Rhysling- thanks for the comments and the question. First thing is the material selection- I used quarter sawn white oak which is a pretty stable wood for cross grain movement. That said, wood will always move so I'm hoping the granite just strolls along with it!
If you notice the hangers underneath, there's room for the granite to move from front to back with the oak. If the oak opens up some, which is unlikely due to the time of year it was built, but if it does- then I'll have larger gaps around it. If it shrinks, then it'll be as tight as a drum and I may have to shave off some wood. I don't think that will happen either...I did leave a whisker around it- maybe and 1/8" total? If I was setting it into a countertop for a more permanent location, the you may have to consider leaving a hair more. Consider the species and the cut you're using and try to guess at the total movement you'll see. There are ways of figuring this out covered in some great articles on this web site- search for wood movement articles and go from there..
Hope that helps- good luck!

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- Part 2: A Workbench Surface

When I build pieces that have large surfaces my method for joining panels is always the same and thats with a good, clean glue joint. I've never felt the need for adding mechanical fasteners or some other kind of method like buiscuits or dowels etc...must situations in my work that have glued panels usually incorporate some other joinery aspect-so even though a panel may only be glued, it's usually held by some other means as well. This top as an example is held from the bread board ends as well as the dowels into the front apron. Other case work may have a dovetailed carcass or a through tenon.
Modern glues are incredibly strong and for edge gluing boards seem to be quite adequate. I suppose in some rare occasion where extra strength would be needed some blind dowels could be used or even something decorative like a butterfly joint across the seam comes to mind.
Hope that answers your question.
thanks again.

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - final -

thanks for all of the comments-

TedFurlong- I went with the oil and wax finish for the easy maintenace of it. this is still a workbench and although it's nice to look at new, I'm not too concerned with any water damage. the white oak is a great species for any high moisture areas and the oil and wax finish will be easy to maintain and touch up. when the oak starts to patina and perhaps even ebonise and turn black from moisture- I think I'll enjoy it. I like watching wood age through daily use and hard work!

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - final -

Thanks for the comment JeffB-
I've already started my next project which is a small wall cabinet. It's a Christmas gift so I'd better get cracking on it ! I'm also finishing off a design for a very big commission I just got- it's a fold away bed cabinet + table top and side storage closet. A couple here in Toronto live in a small one room condo and want to save some space. A challenge for me to design something that will be not only practical for all of their needs but aesthetically pleasing as well.
all the best-

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - part 7 - The Glue-up


thanks for the question- I did indeed drill some holes into the tenons before assembly and with a small file I elongated them for movement. These tenons were also left dry- no glue. I forgot to mention that step in the write-up...
thanks again.

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - part 7 - The Glue-up

Thanks for the comments everyone-

jeffb, I also think the wood is a nice contrast and was a coincidence really...the oak was taken from offcuts and the ipe was the cheapest hardwood I could find ! ;)
must be some 'good wood charma' I guess?

thanks again.

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- Part 2: A Workbench Surface

well said...and thanks for the support!

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- part 1


A full set of detailed bench plans will be available for download very soon- thanks

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- Part 2: A Workbench Surface

A daguerreotype- now your talking-that would be right up my alley!
Maybe I'll search through some antique stores and try to find one.
And as far as the light of day- I's pretty dark down in here my basement workshop.

and tablesawer- time is what you make of it and the journey in my world is the destination. I do this work using only hand tools because I enjoy the process and to me this is a project where 'the application of hand tools makes sense'.

maybe you two should hook up sometime and compare the size of your...'saw blades' ;)


Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench -part 6- Cutting the Top and building the Under Carriage

Actually, the surface plate won't be used for the scary sharp system- I use water stones for my sharpening. The plate will be used for a few things- first would be when flattening and checking plane soles for true. A piece of 220 grit wet/dry paper is all that's needed. That same method can and no doubt will, be used for flattening my water stones as well. Having a true 'flat' surface in the woodshop is important for other referencing as well. Thanks for the links - that's a great deal for granite plates ! Wish I found them before I purchased this one. cheers-


Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench -part 6- Cutting the Top and building the Under Carriage


I appreciate the comments- thank you !


Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench -part 6- Cutting the Top and building the Under Carriage

John- thanks for the comments...there is indeed something very liberating about working with only hand tools- not to sound too much of a romantic but it's good for the soul. (not to mention a little safer than power tools, quieter, healthier and doesn't eat up a ton of floor space!)
as for the granite, yes- it is a precision plate accurate to ±0.0001" overall (not 0.001" but 0.0001").
all the best-

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- part 1

From old microwave ovens to plastic buckets- these examples show just how resourceful we woodworkers can be!

In my shops over the years I came up with a few different scenarios but none of them were ideal. This is what inspired the dedicated bench. If you don't have room in your shop then perhaps some of these other examples will work for you but if you do have the room, then........

Instead of me trying to convince you, here is what 'Sharpening Expert' Ron Hock had to say on his blog a few days ago-

This bench would make a valuable addition to any shop. Sharp tools are essential to quality (and safe!) work. If it’s a pain in the neck to find and set up the sharpening gear, your tools may not receive the attention they (and you) deserve. A dedicated station like this is more than a luxury, it belongs in the shop as much as any other work station.
Very nice work, Tom. We’ll look forward to your next post. Thanks!

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- part 1


thanks for the info- I'll do a search and see what I can find. Do you find it awkward cranking with one hand and holding the iron/tool with the other? I'm so used to using both hands while sharpening it must take some getting used to. Kind of like patting your head and rubbing your stomache at the same time ! ;)
thanks again.

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench -part 6- Cutting the Top and building the Under Carriage

thanks for the comment jeff.
sharp tools is the secret and this bench will help me keep them that way !
all the best-

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- part 1


thanks for the detailed info- this system sounds appealing and may be a great solution for woodworkers.
all the best.


Re: - A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - part 5 - Shaping the Feet and Finishing the Frame


I too have read about the poor glue properties of Ipe; that said, these tenons are a tight fit to begin and I used Titebond III...I'm also adding wooden pegs through the joints as you'll see in the next post. It seems to have worked very well. Lots of glue. As far as using it for say a panel type purpose I'm not too sure what to say- I haven't used it before this frame and to be quite honest with you I'm not in any rush to use it again !
It's dust really irritated my nose so I think I'll stick with the domestics.
Thanks for the comments. Sorry I couldn't be more help.

If anyone out there in cyber space has used it in a glue up/laminating process, would you be so kind to post a comment?

Re: - A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - part 5 - Shaping the Feet and Finishing the Frame

Thanks for the comments everyone-
To address the 'overview' issue,
I'm blogging and building as I go- the bench is coming together so I'll have some better pics next time...seeing as I'm doing this on my own, it's difficult to provide 'detailed' plans or instruction. The lead diagram is all I have thus far, it shows the 2D view of the bench with a few dimensions. If this was a magazine article for say a publication like ummmm....say....Fine Woodworking, then they would have their artists and computer guys draw up some 3D plans etc.. etc... This being a blog I'm doing on my own, I don't have that luxury. Hopefully it'll all come together in the next post and you'll be able to get a better sense of what I'm doing over here! ;)

With that, better get back down to the wood shop-

Re: - A Dedicated Sharpening Bench - part 5 - Shaping the Feet and Finishing the Frame


I appreciate the comment but I'm not so sure that 'no one else knows where you are going with this project' is an accurate statement...
this being the 5th PART of a SERIES you should probably
GO BACK to PART ONE to begin- and then when you do you'll see 'the overview' you reminded me not to 'forget' !!!!

anyone else having trouble following along?
just curious.

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- part 1

twotone- thanks for sharing.
How do you like the Lee Valley 'stone pond'?
I've looked at it a few times and always thought the plastic looked a little light...any issues with it?
keep me posted. I do like the design but was worried it would be too light weight. Any feedback would be appreciated-

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- part 1

starryNight- sounds like a good plan- my 'luxurious' basement shop also has one of those laundry sinks and I'm always rinsing off my stones placing them on my washing machine...(my slow speed grinder is currently on my dryer) your shelf idea may find it's way to my sink too !
thanks for the comment. ;)

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- Part 3 : Hand-Cut Joinery

hee-hee, yeah, it's the tearout that occurs when you cut across grain. ie: a rabbet or on a shooting board.

Re: Saw Cabinet

this looks really, really nice ... well done !

a saw cabinet is on my list here in my own shop.
thanks for the inspiration.


Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- part 1

thanks for the comments everyone ~

Ted- I wasn't planning on including the bench hook plan here but you can see a shot of it on my blog-

it's really as simple as it sounds...just a big oversized bench hook with a couple of sticks of wood nailed down to wedge my water stones between. a plastic container is on the left with the stones. it sits on a table I grabbed on garbage day and looks like hell...I'll post a shot in a future blog.

Kaytrim-sounds like a good strong bench ! also sounds like we share a few common needs on our sharpening benches. this design also has a granite insert, an area for my stones but man I wish it needed a place for a hand crank grinder !! ;)
I gotta watch for one...

Re: A Dedicated Sharpening Bench- part 1

JLYoung- thanks for the comment !
My shop is also in my basement, a 12' x 12' storage room to be more specific. This small space, with it's low ceiling and poor lighting has been ~working~ for me but indeed has pre-determined the scale of this design. I'll let you know how it works out. It may be a good option for you in your own basement workshop.
I've also used a bench hook sharpening system and it's a great option for small spaces- problem was I always had to move my work or some tools off of my bench top to use it. And while that's not a big deal, when you're in the middle of a project, all set up on your bench top and need to resharpen a tool-it can get be a bit of a pain. Now if I had a second bench ?

-also strolled down the MDF vs. H2O path as well!

cheers ;)

Re: Alan Peters, 1933-2009

They say things come in threes- well they have this year in the woodworking community haven't they?
Sad news indeed, I've been a fan of his work since watching Rob Cosmans video about three years ago. It's worth checking out.
An inspiration on design and hand tool use he'll be missed.
Thanks for the video link.

Re: After The Goldrush lingerie cabinet

Seeing a piece like this makes one realise the possibilities in wood craft. Wow....incredible;all the elements are there, incredible(I said that already didn't I?). Now I'm either going to go practice my skills or throw away my tools !

Re: skinny legs and all

The finish I use exclusively is the oil/varnish blend by Tried and True. After spending years with heavy varnishes and toxic resins I've found this product a real pleasure to use.

Re: Tool Chest


The plane is one of my favourite hand tools. It was made by James Krenov; I purchased it from him a few years ago and have enjoyed working with it since. The small 'shelf' or 'piece of wood' on the lower front edge enables me to quickly determine plumb while holding a piece in the front, vertical position with a surface clamp. Nice for sawing dovetails. The one I'm using in the picture here is the 'surface clamp' by Veritas-available through Lee Valley Tools...In use, simply flush up the right bottom edge of the workpiece with the far right side of the shelf and while lightly holding/pushing the workpiece towards the main body of the clamp I know that the piece is least in relation to the tool chest!
The wooden cam-clamps on the back don't get in the way while in storage but they're the first thing removed when I get to a work site...they're sole purpose is to hold the toolchest firmly down to a larger work surface (ie:kitchen table etc..) while I'm using the chest as a make shift workbench. And finally, I do actually store an 8" engineers square on the back tray section as well as a small level, pencil and any other odds and ends that find it's way in...usually some screws and lint!t
Check out my blog for more information on it.

Re: skinny legs and all

I'm actulaly designing a slightly larger version of this piece with the woods reversed! It'll be interesting to see...
And to answer your question, yes, I do sell my work.

Re: Resurrecting Jack


Besides rumaging through 'ol flea markets and antique dealers I wouldn't really know where to start looking for a replacement tote. (handle)
I'd suggest you make your own, it could be a fun and rewarding experience for you as well as giving the tool a 'custom 'made by Fred original'.

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