Wenzloff & Sons Saw Kit for Sale

insideSo…that bathroom tiling job I’m fervently hoping to not have to do myself? (Because my deteriorating knees simply cannot take it.) It will cost a breathtakingly significant amount more than I was expecting. Enough more that I’m finally spurred to sell a few superfluous items in my collec….er, toolkit.

So on eBay, I’ve just posted a Wenzloff & Sons 18″ panel saw kit. If you’re interested, here’s the listing.

p.s. There will be more items to come – one saw does not a tiling job make (in fact it would take about 36 of them). My nostalgia and acquisitiveness have been overcome by my need.

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Changes (Good Ones) for Me


“Cut & Dried: A Woodworker’s Guide to Timber Technology” by Richard Jones. After editing the last few chapters on Sunday, I handed off the binder yesterday to Kara Gebhart Uhl, the managing editor on this project.

I enjoyed a delightful lunch yesterday (Otto’s – yum) with Christopher Schwarz and Kara Gebhart Uhl as we discussed changes at Lost Art Press (LAP), about which Chris posted yesterday on his blog. I’ve copy edited books for LAP for more than a decade, tucking that work into my available time – so late nights and weekends. Now, I’ll be doing that and more during the work day and work week…but I expect I’ll still work a lot of late nights and weekends; it’s in my nature.

I’ve been working pretty much non-stop since I was 16; this year, I’m turning 50. I’ve had many bosses in my 30+ years of employment, and Chris has been by far the best among them. We share a lot of the same interests (I like Shakespeare quite a bit more than does he, and he likes Russian novels; I do not. But that’s a minor disagreement), the same work ethic (though he has more energy) and many of the same ideas about how things should be done (most of which I learned/stole from him).

Now, I’m working with Chris again more closely, and I could not be more grateful to him and John Hoffman for it, and to Kara for welcoming my increased involvement.

But I don’t actually have a new boss, per se (unless you count my cats…who have long had that role); I get to work not with my boss, but with my good friend. When Chris left corporate America, he vowed to never again have or be an employee, and I wholly empathize. The small but dedicated cadre of editors, designers and researchers who work with John and Chris at LAP are freelancers/contractors. I’m happy to have more freelance work that I love, and glad that my increased involvement will free up Chris to research and write more – from that, we all will benefit.

In addition to my work with LAP, I’ll still be writing (it’s weird to be on the other side of pitches after 12 years as a magazine editor!), building furniture, teaching and doing other freelance editing (including an expanded role at Mortise & Tenon Magazine, for which I’m also thankful), along with a few personal projects that have long been on the back burner.

That door closing/opening saying? While I can’t bring myself to willfully use a cliché, that one would be apropos.


Posted in Books/Editing/Writing, Lost Art Press | 14 Comments

Smacked by the Stupid Stick


It is with much chagrin that I share an old-house renovation lesson that I’ve just learned the hard way.

Today, my floor tile arrived. In prep for that installation, I need to install in the new doorway from my bedroom to the bathroom the jamb and stop assembly I removed from the former doorway from the hall. When I carefully removed it from its former location, I thought I was being really smart – it should be a perfect fit because I cut then framed the new opening at the exact same size. (And that will in turn make hanging the door a lot easier, given that it’s hung on that exact jamb since 1906.)

So I grabbed my hammer and a box of nails, and …dammit.

I was right that the jamb would be a perfect fit in the frame. But it’s too deep by about half the thickness of the plaster, plus the thickness of lath, that I removed.

I suppose I should have left as much lath in place as possible, and used thicker drywall for that wall. Or just used much thicker drywall.

Ah well. I’ll now have to add filler strips behind the bathroom-side casing so that it sits flush to the wall and jamb. I flushed the jamb to the other side, where the plaster is still at least semi-intact. I’m hoping the casing (also carefully removed from its former location) will cover up the bits there that are the “semi” of “semi-intact.”

Lesson learned. But I’ll likely forget it by the time I get around to the kitchen remodel.

p.s. See those pine 6-panel doors at the back of the picture? If anyone who lives w/in 200 miles or so of Cincinnati has the same (32″ x 83″, yellow pine, not covered with multiple paint layers) languishing in a basement or attic and wants them gone – let me know! I need a few more, and 6-panel doors of the right size and finish have proven devilishly hard to find in their original-ish state. Hoping to not have to strip…

Posted in Baths, Renovation/Restoration | 13 Comments

Built-in Linen Closet


It’s a look.

After tucking my new shower into what was a closet and part of  hallway, I’m left with dead-end space about 36″ deep in front of the shower wall (in which a toilet is temporarily being stored). That space is destined to become a 32″-deep built-in linen closet, so today, I drew up a rough design.

The top section has adjustable shelves, with three graduated drawers below and a counter that sticks out about 1-1/2″  between the two sections. The cabinet proper will be 34-1/2″ wide, with a 2″ face frame on either side; the face frame will be scribed to the walls. Below the counter, I’ll apply the same moulding that’s beneath the window sills in the house; the top will get the same applied mouldings as the door to the left, with about 1/2″ above that I’ll scribe to the ceiling. I was too lazy to draw the mouldings in my SketchUp model…or to fix that pesky 11-63/62″ measurement on the bottom drawer.

I know the bottom two drawers in particular are verging on awfully big, but they’re for towels and sheets – and I need the room. They’ll be supported on web frame, with a central member so as to have adequate support.

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 2.07.22 PM

I also didn’t draw in the hardware – but I’ll use period-appropriate bin pulls on the drawers, with applied hinges and a cabinet latch on the doors – pretty much like the image below.

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The inspiration, dug up from a real-estate listing. (That carpet…oof.)

To save money and to make the build a little easier, I’ll be using cabinet-grade plywood for most of the carcase components…and will likely Domino them together (toss those slings and arrows – I can take ’em!). The face frame, drawer fronts and doors will be yellow pine (reclaimed, if I can find it for a reasonable price), shellacked, toned and varnished to match the rest of the unpainted woodwork in the house. And if I get lucky and can find some affordable Port Orford cedar, I’ll use that for the drawer bottoms. Or maybe I’ll just beg my Pacific Northwest friends to send me bags of its shavings from time to time, so that I can make them into sachets to tuck inside the drawers. (It smells so very good!)

I doubt I’ll be able to start on this for at least a few months (classes to teach, commissions to build) – but that’s OK; it will give me plenty of time to dither and make changes. And to get the bathroom done so that I can get the toilet out of the hallway.

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 5.39.12 PM

Dither No. 1: “Telephone shelf” or no? I like the idea of a place to put a small vase of fresh flowers or what have you…but that would mean having to plant flowers.

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Sweet, Sweet Progress


Sean Gundrum, of TPG tile (I think he got tired of me watching him…but the swirls! So pretty!).

Two days ago, my neighbor and expert tile guy Rick Wolf (Wolf Custom Tile), called me late in the day. “We have an opening in the schedule and can be there tomorrow to get started on your shower pan.”

Never start a land war in Asia, never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line, and never say no to a long-awaited contractor who has an available time slot. So that night, I hurriedly ordered my floor tile. Yesterday, I got a call from the distributor; the tile I want is out of stock, and they are awaiting a shipment. Of course.

I didn’t think it would be a problem to find 1″ porcelain hex tile; it’s quotidian (unlike the hugely expensive 1″ hex soapstone tile that I really wanted…but decided against because, er, full-time freelancer here…). Except that the 1″ porcelain hex tile I wanted apparently isn’t.

I settled on matte tiles in both white and black – not already in a pattern, mind you, because I’m making my own pattern. So the two colors have to be in tiles of the exact same size and sheen, and on a mesh backer rather than that weird “new and better” rubbery stuff some companies are using now to hold mosaic patterns together. (Because that stuff really does hold all the tiles perfectly spaced. Permanently. You can’t pull out individual tiles for pattern needs, except by using a razor knife to cut the stuff then scrape off the residue. No thank you.)

The tile was hard to find – and it will be at least two weeks before it is delivered…by which time the very nice (and professional and neat) guys who were here today (Sean Gundrum and Tore Pastura from TPG Tile; they do a lot of work for Rick) will be on another job.

Still, having Schlüter KERDI on the walls and a curb in place is a massive step forward.


I’m told that, once the pan is done and the floor tile is in, I don’t actually have to tile the walls to use the shower; this stuff is waterproof. (Still, I think I’ll wait for the wall tile…)

By tomorrow, the self-leveling underlayment will have dried, and they’ll work on the shower pan (also Schlüter), which has to be custom-made (or custom-fit or custom-somethinged, because the shower is a weird size). And they kindly offered to install the HardieBacker in the rest of the bathroom, too, to a) save me the trouble and b) because they’ll have mortar mixed already. That’s awesome – I have no doubt Sean and Tore can do in an hour what would take me a day. Or two.

And hopefully, by the time my floor tile is in and they have room again in their schedule, I’ll have a few more editing or woodworking jobs (or both) lined up – then I can pay them to do all the tile, while I concentrate on my own areas of expertise. Said areas don’t, it seems, include installing a level sub floor.


Yes, yes – the need for a self-leveling layer is a bit embarrassing. But it’s a lot faster than trying to get a level sub floor over a 38″ wide x 8′ long area in a 1906 house in which absolutely nothing is square or level.

Now to keep the cats out of there until it sets up enough…

Posted in Baths, Renovation/Restoration | 7 Comments

Dutch Tool Chest for Sale (No, Not the Exact One Pictured Below)


The inside of Christopher Schwarz’s well-traveled Dutch tool chest


Update: The chest is sold – thank you for your interest. (And keep an eye out for similar items if you’re in the market… I have a few other limbering-up pieces to build in the next few months.)

Have you been longing for a Dutch tool chest but don’t have time to make it yourself? Well fret no more. Next week, I’m making one from white pine to limber up for a February class…and I don’t need another tool chest at my house. So I’ll be selling it at a reasonable price (first come, first served), and will paint it per the buyer’s instruction in any of the available colors in the General Finishes Milk Paint collection.


Yes…I will even paint it Coral Crush if you like

I’m making the “small” chest, with dovetailed bottom corners, a single-panel lid (no breadboards) atop the upper compartment and a fall front on the bottom (the same as the one above is configured). The back will be shiplapped. The hinges will be 9-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ unequal strap hinges, and the lifts will be Cast-Iron Chest Handles, both from Lee Valley Tools. The interior will be left for the buyer to configure, based on her or his set of tools. (But I’m happy to toss in an overlong hole-y chisel strip for the buyer to glue in place…after the buyer adjusts the sizes of said holes to fit his or her chisels and other long, pointy items).

The price, built as stated above, is $700, cash, check or PayPal. It goes to the first person to say, “I’ll take it and I’ll come get it” (I’m in Cincinnati, Ohio) or “I’ll take it and I’ll pay for UPS packing and shipping.” If you want it, send me an email at 1snugthejoiner@gmail.com. (Again…send me an email – a comment below won’t do it.)


Christopher’s DTC, closed. I’d be happy to add a similar layer of dust from the Lost Art Press shop to the one I’m building.

If I don’t find a buyer, I’ll line it with rigid foam insulation, cut a hole in the upper compartment floor, leave off the fall front and make it into a rather expensive and elaborate feral cat shelter.


Posted in Classes, Woodworking | 4 Comments

‘I, one Snug the Joiner…’


Louis Rhead’s illustration of Snug the Joiner, in his guise as a lion, from an 1918 edition of “Tales of Shakespeare,” by Charles and Mary Lamb.

I get a fair number of questions about my Instagram and Twitter handle, “@1snugthejoiner,” but fewer about the name of this blog,* Rude Mechanicals Press. I think that’s in large part due to Christopher Schwarz using the Twitter handle “@rudemechanic,” and referring to himself as such. As he’s explained many times, a “rude mechanic” is an old term for a skilled laborer, someone who works with his (or her) hands (though in early modern times, it did typically describe men).

Snug is one of the six “rude mechanicals” in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” a group of craftsmen in Athens who want to put on a play for the city’s royalty, an activity which has its basis in medieval times.

In short, in England (and other countries, but I’m most familiar with English history), from sometime in the 14th century (when the clergy and monks ceded the stage) up until not too long before Shakespeare was born (1564), “theater” consisted solely of “traveling” religious pageants (“mystery plays” or “mystery cycles”) that were acted by a city’s guilds. Each guild would present a pageant within the cycle, and that guild made the props and owned the costumes, and they’d be used year after year.

In the York cycle, for example (one of a handful of cycles that survive almost in their entirety), we know that every year on Corpus Christi day, the Shipwright’s Guild presented the building of the ark, the Goldsmiths staged the “Adoration,” the Bakers’  Guild did the “Last Supper” and the Carpenter’s Guild presented the “Resurrection.” (There are 48 pageants…I won’t bore you with all of them.)

By Shakespeare’s time, plays were no longer restricted to religious topics, and there were a couple professional playhouses and theater companies in London by the time he was an adult. But a group of “rude mechanicals” wanting to stage a play (within a play) would be within living memory for some theater goers, and would be recognized as a quaint, old-fashioned undertaking – ha ha…look at the backward craftsmen! And yes, Shakespeare presented most of his rude mechanicals as just a bit lacking in brains.  They are:

• Nick Bottom, a weaver (he wants to play all the parts, and eventually gets turned into an ass)
• Peter Quince, a carpenter (the group’s leader; he chooses the play “Pyramus and Thisbe,” assigns the roles and delivers the prologue)
• Francis Flute, the bellows mender (he is dismayed to playing a Thisbe, a lady)
• Tom Snout, a tinker (he plays Thisbe’s father…and also portrays a wall, because the group can’t afford to build props)
• Robin Starveling, a tailor (who ends up playing the moon, lantern in hand)
• Snug, a joiner (he plays a lion).

Snug is a little on the slow side, but he’s a kind soul; he’s concerned that the women in the audience will be scared of him in his lion guise:

You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
May now perchance both quake and tremble here,
When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am
A lion-fell, nor else no lion’s dam;
For, if I should as lion come in strife
Into this place, ’twere pity on my life.” (Scene 5, Act 1) (emphasis mine)

I am a student of Shakespeare, I am a rude mechanical…and at times, I’m a little slow (until I’ve had my morning coffee, at least). Also, a lion is a cat, and I am a semi-crazy cat lady. It seemed a perfect confluence.


* Soon to be more than just a blog – stay tuned!


Posted in Books/Editing/Writing, Rude Mechanicals Press, Uncategorized | 18 Comments