WT305 – Good Fartin’ Weather

Today’s show is sponsored by Brusso Hardware. Head over to Brusso.com and use the coupon code “WoodTalk” to save 10% on the finest hardware for your fine projects.
On today’s show we’re talking about mallets & chisel handles, protecting our electronic gear in the shop, shop security, keeping walnut from fading, and our featured topic, how much rehab can you do on a tool before it loses its soul?

What’s On the Bench

  • Marc is building Barrister Bookcases and enjoying thick Walnut
  • Matt is doing more trimwork…sad trombone
  • Shannon is loving garage door open Spring weather shop time.

What’s New


  • Chris shared Lee Valley’s advice for breaking sharp chisel edges and since its in print it’s more credible.

Featured Topics

  • Thom called in and is curious if one harms the soul of an heirloom tool by restoring it and adding new parts.


  • Tucker wants to know what kind of security we have for our shops. (do you think he is planning a heist?)
  • David is looking for advice to stop his Walnut table from fading and doesn’t want to add additional color to the Walnut.
  • Mike is concerned that he might hurt the handles of his chisels with a metal mallet.

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15 replies on “WT305 – Good Fartin’ Weather”

Kickback for 305:
Marc, you make fun of Shannon for being a Neanderthal using hand tools, yet you have a landline??!! Sell your domino you Luddite! 🙂

In Marc’s defense, I’d like to point out that he is, as I understand, in a fairly rural area. We’re just up the hill from a large metropolitan area, Ontario, Ca., and our cell service here sucks. Horrible coverage in much of the house, and none at all in my garage / shop. To be sure a call goes thru, we nearly have to hang over the back fence. So yes, we still have a landline. Being hi-tech is great, but I don’t want to have to drive a mile down the hill to call 911.

Shannon – your discussion of lumber thickness was surprisingly (for you) incomplete:
1) yes, rough 4/4 should be about 1 1/16″. I can source rough material from mills, a wholesaler or hardwoodtogo.com 🙂
2) S2S material is what a lot of folks see retail, and it will typically be priced as “4/4″ but has been surfaced down to about 13/16″
3) S4S is usually 3/4” and, around here at least, sold by the lineal foot.

Not incomplete at all Mike. S2S, S4S, whatever is a different product. Yes it is priced on a 4/4 tally because you have to start with a 4/4 (or 8/4, 12/4, whatever) board to make the milled product. This is always why it is sold by the lineal foot because it was “moulded” at the mill. Using the quarter definition (4/4, 8/4, etc) denotes rough sawn lumber. If I’m buying 4/4 lumber I expect 1 1/6 or thicker. Just as if you buy S2S lumber you expect it to be planed on 2 faces.

Agreed. My point is that when most hobby people buy “4/4” lumber and talk about 4/4 lumber they are actually buying S2S because that what retail dealers (around here at least) carry. Maybe in the wholesale trade 4/4 specifically indicates rough but most hobby people buy retail. I prefer buying rough 4/4 so I buy from a wholesaler or mill whenever possible.

Is that actually true? I’m honestly asking. From my perspective the S2S thing is in a shrinking minority. I actually struggle to find anything but rough sawn material in my neck of the woods. I also don’t think it is a wholesale vs retail thing since the line between those two business models is heavily blurred and almost nonexistent these days.

Mike is right. At least for AZ. I’m sure it varies by region. Whenever I buy “4/4″, it’s understood that what I’m actually getting is s2s and it’s well under 1” in thickness. That’s why I was delighted to actually have some true 4/4 rough stock.

FWIW I am in the chicago area and there is definitely a distinction between retail and wholesale here. The retail places are all S2S and S4S, you pick your boards, they are open nights and weekends, and there is no minimum order. The wholesale places are open M-F, 8-4pm, 50bd ft minimum and you get what you get. That being said, the wholesale place will sell to anyone and the retail place has better pricing for 100+bd ft. So in some ways the lines are blurred but they are two very different business models.

A police officer in Belgium told me that motion activated lights are not always helpful. If the area lit of is visible from the street or the neighbours house then yes light up the would be criminal. However, if the area lit up is not visible then all you are doing is providing light to the criminal so he can commit his heinous acts.

Well, if the area is well-hidden, he can also use a flashlight to do what he needs to do. At least a motion light MIGHT give him pause in thinking either the home owner is awake, or the motion light might alert the homeowner to a presence in the yard. I’m no Belgian police officer but they just make sense to me.

Love the show. This is in regards to ‘my grandfather’s axe.’
We debated this subject extensively while I worked as a curator at a museum that had a large artifact restoration program. The museum would restore locomotives and put them back into service for exhibition to the public. We expended great effort to maintain and retain the original fabric. However, so many items had to be replaced (often the parts would have to be created by using the rare example in another collection), that I often felt like we had to destroy the object to save it.
My take on the ‘spirit’ of the tool is that if you remember the purpose and the person while using the tool, it’s your Grandpa’s tool. No matter how many molecules are left in it. And that knowledge should help you strive to be a better craftsman.
I also have apprehension to putting family tools on the mantle as an homage to Grandpa. Grandpa bought it to work with. So use it. Imagine that you go to the box store and buy a couple of nice hand saws. 60 years later, two great grandsons each receive one as the only thing from you. One of your grandsons builds a birdhouse. The other, the one dressed in all black, with a safety pin in his nose, paints it. With a pastoral scene and bombs ala’ Guernica. Because Grandpa cut the trees down. And then he cuts bricks to represent the angst he feels from suburban life.
Guess which kid gets the haunting.
All the best,
PS to Shannon: I have a Master’s in Living History. I still loathe the interpreter who will not drop character. It’s too unsettling for most visitors and it’s like a big inside joke that the staff is playing.

I have several tools from my grandfather that I either use or simply cherish because of where they cam from. The ones I maintain I consider to have been reincarnated and yes, the “soul” is still there.

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