I’ve been working on some workbench tops for the new shop.

I was amazed to find curly maple hiding under the shoddy varnish and stain that this desk came with. I picked it up a few years ago for $10.. Looking at it closer now… it seems to have solid cherry and beech drawers! I guess I’ll have to go ahead and remove the finish from the entire thing now…

II’ll also be making a benchtop for a more traditional woodworking bench. The lumber was reclaimed from my grandfathers old workbench. Some of the pieces still have his name stenciled on, which I’ll be preserving. 

Seeing the wood emerge from under the layers of grime and paint was a really great feeling!

Got a chance to use my tiny milling machine to cut the recess for the brass hinge.

The stem was accented with some Cladonia cristatella lichens. They were inlaid into the wood and cast in clear epoxy. 

The bottom half of the bowl is refined from the rough block. 

An African blackwood inner bowl will be nestled inside, and a matching lid will complete the top. 

This piece of burl wood really came out nice, the grain pattern is amazing! 

Breaking open a cherry tree burl for bowl material. 

Making some bamboo charcoal samples to test out a new concept vaporizing pipe I am working on. This charcoal is very quick to light, burns hot, and burns very clean with absolutely no additional smoke or flavour. 

The final image in the set compares three different bamboo samples. The sample on the left was created over a hot flame. The middle sample was over medium hot embers. And the sample on the right was buried in dying embers. 

The sample on the left and middle burns clean. The sample on the right burns with an odor due to incomplete conversion to pure carbon. 

Inch by Inch, the walls start to go up. 

Working on one of the floor joists.

After rough hewing with an axe, I used a Stanley bench plane to square up the surface.

The 3rd and 4th logs were notched and set into place.

The notching is done with a log scribe, axe, and gouge. They are concave to produce a tightly fitting edge that both sheds water and tightens over time. Each notch looks like a unique hand carved bowl…

This past week I have been working on my 16’x13’ cabin… 

The foundation is made from dry stacked stones that were found near the border of Algonquin park. The sill (bottom row) logs were cut to match the unique shape of each top stone in a way that will tighten overtime. 

I enjoy the problem solving that comes with moving large logs by hand. At first it was very slow going, but with each passing day I learn new tricks to wrangle these behemoths into place. 

The first, is to use a cant hook. This primitive tool is essential for turning logs. The one pictured here Is made from stainless and brass, with a mahogany handle. In my experience, It’s always more rewarding to work with tools that you have made or restored yourself.

Another essential “tool” is a standard 2x4. I mainly use it for leverage, but it’s also great to jam under log ends to keep them from rolling or shifting.

To turn a log 90°, place a pivot under the balancing point near the middle. If done just right, you can spin a 1000lb log with a single finger. 

The first log to be notched sits atop the sill logs, awaiting the axe. I used a jack to both lift it onto the sills and inch it into place over the corners.


Last year I finished my skin-on-frame kayak, but since then It’s been missing a matching paddle! 

So today I went into the hills searching for a nice straight grained eastern white cedar to make a paddle from. After a nice break in my camping hammock I finally found a tree that I didn’t feel too bad about cutting down… 

These trees grow very slowly on the rocky cliffs, giving the wood far more growth rings per inch. This makes the wood much stronger than faster growing specimens with thicker growth rings. Perfect for something like a thin bladed paddle. 

It’s been raining a lot and the season is right, so the bark was easily peeled in one piece. This bark can be used for containers, basketry, rope, or even made into clothing (after some processing). I will save it and use it for future projects. 

Tomorrow I will use wedges to split the trunk in half, one of these halves will become my new paddle!

Today was all about this massive carving gouge here.. 

The steel is stamped “JAMES CAM SHEFFIELD” on the inside, and “CAST STEEL” on the outside. 

James Cam was a tool steel manufacturer from 1781 - 1838. “Cast steel” from Sheffield was among the very best steels from that era, and it still holds true today.

I acquired the rusted gouge missing the handle and in pretty bad over-all shape. I cleaned it up, reground the bevel to 20°, and fitted a proper american hickory handle with leather washers. The bevel was then honed to a shaving sharp edge on diamond plates. 

I’ve never even seen a reference to a gouge this large, it is an exceedingly rare piece of woodworking history. 

With only 200+/- years behind this tool, it’s amazing to think of the projects that it has helped complete… and the hundreds of years of future life that still remain…