It’s Been Real and It’s Been Fun, but…

It’s been said, the only constant thing in life is change. Some people embrace the rhythmic ebb and flow while others throw punches at the waves.

I’ve spent the better part of my life fighting the seasons and ringing out ideas until the last drops become blood. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to recognize the pattern of my ways and ultimately this flaw of character. Basically, I am a champion at beating dead horses.

This woodworking blog and so many others need to be sent to the glue factory.

What started as a way to promote a now defunct business has became a non reciprocal confabulation. Writing this blog, feels to me now, as nothing more than an ego stroker.

Yes, I build a lot of things from wood and have been for some time, so do a lot of other people.  There is nothing I can do that cannot be done by other capable and motivated persons. As my wrestling coach used to say, “No matter how good you are, there is always someone better, somewhere. Get better.”  

You will not become a better woodworker, reading things on the internet. You must earn better, by the sweat of your labor, standing on the floor of your shop.

I will continue to work on increasing MY better, not only in the shop but in all parts of my life.  Woodworking and creating are much to important to me to sacrafice them on the alter of public opinion. 

My new found joy of writing will be introvertedly inscribed, indefinately.

No Pics, Didn’t Happen

I had grand intentions for this blog post and even had a catchy name lined up to draw in readers.  But, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men… 

As mentioned in my last post, I have recently aligned with a live edge furniture maker.  Complex and large builds will be my assignment.  Live edge furniture poses an interesting problem.  This type of furniture routinely incorporates large slabs of labryrinthine wood, wider than most machinery can handle.

Of course you could tackle this chore with nothing but hand planes, but let’s be honest.  The nostalgia of pulling shavings wears off after about 10 minutes and then you’re left with manual labor, plain and simple.  Fine for the one-of, masochistic for the long run.  I recall reading a quote about how digging a hole can be fun, if you have a fancy enough shovel.  I have a custom-made shovel but that doesn’t increase my desire, or make it any easier, to dig a hole.

Knowing I needed a FASTER, EASIER and more CONSISTENT method, I called upon electricity.

With the help of some existing Groz T-bar clamps, all-thread, plywood and a router, I made a 36″x54″ slab flattening jig.  

I’m sure you would love to see what it actually looks like.  Unfortunately I can’t get any photos to upload into word press.  However, I did manage to get some pics to upload to my FB page.  Check it out, and while your there, please like my page.

I hope to get this picture thing worked out, because I would love to show you the upgraded version that I’m making now.  It will increase my capacity to 40″x94″. 

“Just Groz to Show” was the original title….


Are we live?

I can only be amazed at some of the synchronicities life presents. Names, times and places are all woven together in a cyclical web of change and chance. Once you open yourself to seeing the bigger picture, you realize there is a faint guiding line that tries to tie it all together.

Some time ago, I received an email from the owner of KY Live Edge, Drew Gahafer, inquiring about building some simple cabinets, for live edge slabs to top. Drew had delved into furniture making by chance and he was trying to expand his offerings on Etsy and elsewhere.  While single slab tables on hairpin legs and up-cycled bases are one thing to make, fabricating bases and jointing large slabs together takes a bit of making knowledge.  He drove out to the shop one afternoon and we have worked on projects together since.


I bring this up because Drew has decided to take on craftsmanship fulltime and I’ve agreed to help. This past weekend was the first step in that direction. Drew and I were filmed for a short video, showing what his brand is about. It was shot in my shop and I am in the video but by no means is the show about me. My shop is where the higher end furniture is built, but this is his baby. I do what I love and am compelled to do, which is creating and making and he does what he is gifted with and that is sourcing unique slabs and acquiring high quality opportunities. Seems like a quality match up and given the fact he and his daughters formal names are one letter off mine and my daughters, makes me think something bigger is working behind the scenes.


I’m looking forward to seeing the video. The cameraman had a very nice set up and took some high quality shots. It was fortunate that a large tree had been felled a couple weeks before and there was a wide crotch section, perfect for slab tops available. We just had to get it in my truck. This is where I’m hoping Brian, the cameraman, has some magic up his sleeve. He filmed the whole process and graceful is not how I would describe the loading of a 500# log with nothing more than a metal bar, a come along and country power. The go-pro shots of the timber, making the trip to the mill and being sawn, should be cool. The owner of the sawmill also has a go-pro and has placed mounts on his woodmizer for “action shots”.


Regardless if the footage is any good or not, I got three book matched sets of crotch slabs. Fortunately the figure is nice, because I stacked the flitch in my shop and it stinks to high heaven. I need to make a spot in the wood shed pronto because it smells like wet ash in my shop.



The past few weeks have proven fruitful in regards to productivity. Stage one in a large set of cabinetry is taking form, new work is on the floor and new plans are in the making. My awakened openness to people and situations is presenting opportunities in multiple directions.

I’ve been working on this set of cabinets for a few weeks. The cases are made from maple and will be painted white. Natural cherry wood accents will be present, tied together with a wall of pantry storage. There are numerous details present in this kitchen, from divided light upper cabinet doors to ball tip inset hinges. I’m working directly with the homeowner and her architect, so lots of ideas coming together on this one.  I’m almost as excited as the homeowner, to see the final results.

005415 Shelby

The finger jointed shelf above the range, plays off the arts and crafts details in the house. It will also help in bringing some of the finished wood up onto the uppers. Once clear coated, it will really POP against the white. The wine rack will also be cherry, in a sea of white.


My go to euro hinges were nixed on this project, in favor of a more traditional ball tip leaf hinge. Though these can be faked with an add-on, all the upper cabinet doors have clear glass fronts. Seeing the shiny, bulky mechanism of a clip-on hinge would cheapen the look of the cabinetry. Makes my job a bit more challenging but that’s why I keep coming back.


This bathroom linen cabinet is also in the works. This homeowner wanted a brown cabinet for a remodel. I suggested instead of staining wood to look like something it’s not, pay a bit more and get a nice, clear coated wood cabinet. Knowing the client is into well crafted guitars makes me confident he will love the grain of this walnut cabinet.


Speaking of loving the grain, while at my suppliers getting material for this linen cabinet, I came across this sheet of plywood. Left by numerous others, due to the fact it was too crazy for cabinets. My impulse buying gene is weak, but I quickly snatched this up, none the less.


Figure it will be good for my next woodworking adventure. Seems there may be a combination of craftsmen, joining forces. Talk is definitely on the live edge table about marketing a line. As always, I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Working Under Hills


So I take the left on Forrestville Rd, just as the Mapquest directions indicate. Being North Carolina, the road is flanked on both sides with tall pines. About a mile in I come upon a large, white, cinderblock building with an even larger metal building, teed onto the back. The sign next to the drive says Kay & Sons Woodworks. I’ld arrived.


Driving up the long gravel lane, you begin the realize you’re not only on the property of a business, you’re on the property of an individual. Fully mature blackberry bushes and purple martin bird houses decorate the landscape. Once in the small parking lot, you’re afforded a hidden glimpse of Kay’s house. Surly built by him, a woodworker, given the complimentary arch roofed barn, sitting in close proximity.


I had gotten Kay’s number by chance. Katie, Ethan and I, had been in Raleigh for about a month and my search for work was intensifying. By this time I was walking onto job sites, portfolio in hand, asking for work. You can imagine the looks I received, showing a binder of finished art and studio furniture to tradesmen and migrant workers.  The most common reply I recieved, you’re overqualified. Fortunately during one of my wild goose chases, I ran into a cabinetmaker, leaving a jobsite.  He interestingly looked over my binder of miscellany, then mentioned the shop he purchased doors from was looking for help. That was all I needed to hear. I went home and scheduled an interview.

Walking under a covered porch, equipped with rocking chairs and ceiling fans, you enter the showroom. A mahogany mantel, wall of cherry cabinetry and numerous articles and awards decorated the front room. Looking around, it was obvious that this shop was big time.


Clay was the first Hill I met, followed by his twin brother Kay Jr, or as the shop preferred “little Kay”.   After introductions and a quick overview of my work, Clay handed me a sheet of paper. I was told to fill it out, as he left the office. It was a test. Yes, an actual written math and woodworking quiz.  After about 15 minutes, the questions were answered. I handed it in for grading and got a tour of the shop, while  my test was graded.

From the showroom and offices, we walked through a door and into a hallway. A chalkboard on the wall had space balls and glue scribbled on it. The sound of the shop was beginning to come into tune. When the next door was opened, the sound waves crashed upon me. I was now in the shop and getting my first look of the place I would call work, for the next several years.


To Be Continued…

*all photos property of Scott Hill Photography




As if I need another project.  I happened upon this little guy while in North Carolina. I was immediately drawn to the rubeness of the device and all its mechanical beauty. From what I was told by Ed Lebetkin, it’s an old pattern makers plane.  Ed runs the shop above The Woodwright’s School and keeps an incrediable collection of vintage hand tools.


It was missing a wedge and didn’t have all the blades, but this didn’t sway me in the least. In my eyes it was a perfect broken child and I had the parts and ability to bring it back to life. So it came back to KY with me, accompanied by an old Stanley 51.


The interchangeable bottom plate has a radius with a corresponding blade. This effectively makes one hand plane, a small set of very large cove planes. Unscrewing the front knob releases the plate. Small studs on the planes bottom, slide into metal keyhole ways, rebated in the plate.


Not sure who W.J.Houck is or if he only made the bottoms. His name is only stamped on the wooden plates. The blades are tapered and marked as Buck Brothers.


Fortunately this plane has a number 10 blade and matching sole. It will be perfect for the perpendicular scooping of the seat and back on this bench design I want to build. It is yet another project, on the list.


This might happen also…


Onto Obscurity

I have been asking myself some questions lately, in an attempt to further my peace of mind. Things are easier to comprehend in retrospect and I believe it is important to have clear answers to the questions we ask ourselves. My present thoughts question, who is this body of work for and whose opinion matters? The body of work I’m referring to is the hand plane company, the social media presence and what you’re reading now, this blog.

I’m sure had I actually formed a solid business plan, NAP would have flown farther than it did. My early assumptions and goals could have easily been redirected, had I actually attended a woodworking show or took a woodworking class. The notion there was a need for simple/affordable wooden planes would have quickly been rescinded. This probably would have kept me from attempting a social media presence and starting this blog also. The reality is, Me and social are generally antonyms. My matter of fact charm is best experienced live and even then I’m socially awkward and hard for some to take. My “speak when spoken to” mentality keeps conversation minimal but as Christopher Wallace used to say, “To know me is to love me”. He also said, “love me or leave me alone”.

This blog was spawned by need for a platform, to promote my planes. It has since turned into a relaxing and enjoyable outlet for my thoughts and opinions, most of which never get uploaded. I don’t know if my writing is any good, I just know it makes me feel good doing it. I’ve never taken writing classes and I’m sure my “style” is incorrect. Acknowledge that and let’s continue. Of course I could keep my writing to myself, but the cats out of the bag. While I don’t have a readership per se, people have been reading this blog. Last stat check showed almost 10,000 views from over 57 different countries in only 4 months. This amazes me, simply because I talk to maybe 5 people a week on average. More importantly, I’ve had people who aren’t woodworkers or family members tell me they like to read what I’m writing. This alone motivates me to continue. I’ve found encouragement and acknowledgement go a long way towards motivation. Like all skill, I believe my writing will improve with practice. I have little idea where this current creative outlet will lead but I’m willing to explore it and invite you to come along.

Finally, worrying over the opinions of others is something I’ve done very little of. I respect that everyone has a right to their opinion and a right to express it in any manner they see appropriate, even if I do not agree with it. I do not stand for people pressing their opinions on others and calling it truth.

Nothing you will ever read on this blog should be taken for truth. The only opinion that matters is yours.


These are simply words, spilled on a digital page,

moving into obscurity at the speed of electricity.

Getting Better in NC

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a highly sought after class, held in NC.  It was a week of discovery, reunion and new beginnings.  Revisting an area I used to reside, not only recharged my mind but it rekindled my desire to simply woodwork.

Like most things, timing is key. I was reading Unplugged Shop and happened upon a Lost Art Press blog post about openings in a Dutch tool chest class. Nice enough by itself but these particular openings were at Roy Underhill’s school, in Pittsboro NC.  The Woodwright’s School is a mecca for hand tool enthusiasts and is, I think, the best place in the country to start a hand work education.  After telling Katie about the opportunity, she told me I was going. I quickly registered, managing to avoid the dreaded wait list. Things were real now and the planning of a trip began.


It would be a lie to act like any of the planning was actually done on my part. My lovely bride found me an awesome bed and breakfast, with-in walking distance of the class. The Small B&B is a farm to table café’ as well as a comfortable place to rest your head. Kind hearts and folk art mix with whole foods and culinary inquisition. The lemon ricotta hotcakes were by far the best warm morning confection I’ve eaten to date. Dave tells me the recipe came from a personal kitchen favorite and has been a big hit since introducing it to the menu. 




The first day of class began with a quick introduction and overview of things to come. I took along a very minimal tool kit which consisted of a 50/50 mix self made/vintage hand tools. I had emailed Chris earlier about tools I would need and he assured me there would be a shit ton of tools available, this was actually an understatement.  Don’t let a weak tool kit keep you from attempting a class. 


The class itself was very enjoyable and the instruction was top notch. It’s no wonder Chris Schwarz is such a big draw when teaching, he knows his stuff and keeps things entertaining.  The pace was easy and I never once felt rushed in my project. I came away from the experience with a new confidence in my abilities and feel I have a deeper understanding of hand tool woodworking in general.  There is no substitute for hands on learning, especially coming from people who’ve mastered the routine.


I did not finish my chest during the class, due to the fact I left early to start my journey back home. Given my families circumstances, travel is a big undertaking. It would probably have been easier to get a circus across the country than to get me away from the house for this class. I am very gracious to have the wife and friends I do. This rare reality would not have been possible without them.


On my journey west, I took some time to stop in and see my good friends Maurice and Lisa. It’s been the better part of seven years since I’ve seen them and it was a beautiful reunion. Maurice is the Dr who inspired the MO chair and is the brains behind Akea Essentials, a fermented whole food supplement. He gifted me a kombuchi scoby as I left. I look forward to the benefits of this magical elixir and plan to blog about the process of cultivation, in the future.


Thanks for reading and please understand this blog is simply a brief narration of my life.  Take it for what it is.


There was once a banner that hung in an elementary school hallway, in primary color it read.

Never rest until your good is better and your better is best.

I’ve been reciting this little rhyme like a mantra for the last few days. It emerged from my memory,while trying to remember why I was building a plane milling jig for the 7th time.



When I first started, what can now be called an experiment in making planes, I laminated them, same way everyone else does. My notion to split the body was first addressed with a rude shape, a clamp and  a router using a patterning bit. Not only was it double dangerous, it was awkward and provided mediocre results. I could still turn the resulting mess into a functioning plane, but I wouldn’t want to make very many that way.
In comes a visual if the old Onsrund pin router at Kay’s shop. The one he had offered to sell me once at a ridiculous price. If only my shop at that time wasn’t in the attic of a rental home…
Instead of sinking a large sum of money into an industrial machine, I decided to make a small overarm router, understanding if it worked and I sold some planes, I could upgrade.


pin (2)
Let me quickly explain the basic principle of pin routing. There is a pin in a table which follows a pattern. Directly above the pin is a spinning bit of the same diameter. The cut made above is a mirror image of the pattern below. This type of machine has all but been replaced by computer numerical control, or CNC.
This makes older industrial machines available for little money. The big plus, they have better spindles than anything in the semi-affordable CNC category, huge greasable bearings, true 3hp motors and belt drives. These machines just take a different kind of brain to work them.

More hands on mechanical and less finger tip digital.



I’m finding the fit of the plane halves lie in the precision of the jig. The difficulty is in not only making two mirror images of each half, but then transferring that “image” to a square of wood. All the while keeping the grain lined up, oriented and everything on the level. This called for a jig with some adjustability.


Dipping into the 80/20 rabbit hole once again, I have designed a jig worthy of being called better.


Along with 4-way adjustability to dial in the two halves, the top side is fully adjustable to ensure the grain lines up, uninterrupted.


Weighing in at a hefty 40lbs, this jig is no joke.
But here’s the best part. I can easily switch patternsto mill different bed angles, mouth openings and escapements. Countless configurations are possible, within the confines of this little system.

Determination, Perspiration, Motivation, what’s left?,
When attempting to move from better to best.


I also made my bed this morning.

Building Between

I’ve been quasi-busy with NICE Planes the last few weeks. So between orders and others, I’ve been crafting a few shop tools and jigs. Some to make jobs more comfortable and some to make planes more durable.

Let’s start with this little carving apparatus I’ve configured. It’s for optimum positioning of plane bodies, when using spoke shaves and files. I found clamping the plane bodies in a straight vise restrictive. Not only would I need to clamp and unclamp the plane multiple times, I was often using awkward body positions to achieve the cut I was after.



With a bit of internet rummaging, I came across carving vises. You may have already been thinking carving vise, well, I had to find it in order to see it. But, instead of buying it, I went with building it. Using a piece of steel pipe, a flange and a bit of ingenuity, I now have a carving vise to call my own. And who doesn’t love a new vice? I added a pivot on the lower wooden body, to keep it from being shifty.



My sharpening situation has been less than stellar for some time and I’ve had an idea simmering. The gentleman who sold me my DeltaRU50 was a plastic fabricator. During our transaction, I scored a slab of 1” thick acrylic glass. Knowing the machine I now have, once cut the material I also have, gave me confidence to try working it myself. I made a pattern for the pin router and used it to recess areas for each stone to sit in. This keeps them from sliding when in use. The acrylic was actually simple to cut and route, though the chips had some bite. They stung a bit, being thrown from the router and saw.


023 (2)

These chips sort of lead into the other shop built goody I’ve been working on, a vacuum chamber. This will be used to infuse wooden plane bodies with acrylic resin. The resin used is essentially acrylic chips, melted in acetone. The vacuum will pull in the liquid resin, the acetone will flashes off and the acrylic will be left, inside the wood….in theory. I have yet to try the resin but I have done some small runs with colored dyes. So far, results are good enough to keep me interested.



Lots of little things have occupied the times between.