Birdcage Awl Made Easy!

How about a quick easy project! How about quickly making a tool you will never want to be without!
Bird Cage Awl from a distance

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Making a Nut Float

The problem with making tools, is that eventually you have all the tools you really need. I have met this problem and figured out how to conquer it! Simply manufacture the need! In this case I have decided to make a mandolin.

This requires a bunch of new tools! Since I want to learn luthery, I have started out by doing repair, adjustment and fine tuning. Repairing a range of instruments means even more tools.

One such tool is for cutting or adjusting the notch in the nut to take a string. Ideally you want a perfect fit. Of course you could just buy a set of nut files, but since you need a nut file per string size this could mean four files for a basic mandolin. If you broaden you range, you can quickly find a need for quite a few nut files.

Here is a small collection of string sets;
String Sets

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Finally, I can make a decent cut with a Western Saw!

I took the day off to get dental work and found that my dental issues were not as bad as I feared.  So there was nothing for it, I went to the Dallas Lie Neilsen Tool Event.

It was a very important day for me.  As a woodworker, I have suffered from the inability to make anything like a reliable cut with a Western Style Saw.   Not the worst handicap, since I have no issue when using a Razorsaw(Gyokucho) 650 Royoba.   Sometimes however it would be nice to push a blade and not have sawdust covering the line.

At this event I met Frank Strazza, from the Heritage School of Woodworking.

Frank Strazza

Frank managed to teach this old dog a new trick.


I was missing four things.  The first clue is the sound of the saw.   I can’t really show that.

The second is the grip, solidly held with absolutely no pressure or tension.


The third was the stance.


The fourth thing I was missing was how to hold my other thumb when starting the cut.  When drawing a Japanese saw, I am pulling, and I guide with the side of my hand.  For starting a push cut I needed to see the other side of the saw clearly.  By using the tip of my thumb as a guide I was able to manage a decent guide when I needed it.   I practiced without my thumb to get the method clearly, but I can assure you when I cut a line that matters, I will be using Frank’s method from here on out.

Frank is a brilliant teacher with the ability to watch for a while and figure out better approaches for a task.  I would love to take several of his classes.

Lie Neilsen’s crew was wonderful as always, and I had the pleasure of meeting Lynn Dowd!
Dowd's Tools
Lynn Dowd is the person to contact if you are looking for fine vintage tools in Texas.

Dallas is quite a bit out of my way, but getting to go to this event really helped justify the time and expense.



I made an ‘amplifier’ for my iphone.

CedarAmp in the Mist

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Hot Hide Glue Pot



Here is what I use to warm my hide glue with.

Glue Pot Corked

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