• Saturday, September 08th, 2012

I don’t mean to complain but . . .

1. Ulmia used to make a little vise that I’ve only seen in The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking by James Krenov, and months too late on Ebay. It is an Ulmia “Hilfs-Spannstock” (auxiliary vise) model #1812. [Note: One vise jaw is stamped “LSP-2816-4” and the other “LSP-2817-4” but I don’t think those are model numbers.] It can be clamped to the workbench top for holding small work, but, more usefully, can be secured in the tail vise to hold thin, small, and narrow parts. I have a shop-made alternative plus another option to be discussed in a future post.

2. The Lie-Nielsen convex sole block plane gets plenty of use in my shop since almost everything I make involves multiple curves. I like the shallow 27″ radius along its length, but it would be more useful for me if the 3″ radius across its width were shallower. Thus, even better would be a few different models with different radii. The plane is very handy to use but, for my taste, could still could be a bit bigger overall, and would be easier to grasp with grooves on the sides as finger grips.

3. I wish the Lie-Nielsen #2 had an option of a 50° frog as do most of their other bench planes. I think 50° is the best basic go-to angle for bevel-down smoothing planes and would make the handy 7 1/2″-long #2 more valuable.

4. The rose-head countersink with radially-asymmetric flutes that Lee Valley used to make is just about perfect, but as far as I know, has disappeared from their product line.

5. Veritas (Lee Valley) makes saddle squares and other, similar, markers which are very nice except for the annoying cut-away on the inside of the angle which is supposedly to vault saw whiskers. Who has these big saw whiskers and why would you want to preserve them? The cut away causes your layout line to deviate at the corner, often just where you need it most. This type of feature is found on machinist squares to vault metal burrs but is a disadvantage on tools used for marking continuous layout lines on wood.

The above suggestions are made here with great respect for these excellent companies.

6. The old Disston “Stronghold” style file handles are unbeatable. I have a supply in different sizes but, as far as I know, they are no longer manufactured. I wonder if the patent status would permit their manufacture again by some company.

7. I don’t know about you, but my hand gets tired using a coping saw or fret saw, even of the best quality. Because the handle is parallel to the blade, one is forced to use it with a bent wrist. There ought to be some way to rig a handle which is nearly perpendicular to the blade, much like a backsaw. I suspect this would also make it a more accurate tool. Uh oh, I think I just put a bug in my ear.

8. Finally, I request a magic lantern which grants me just these three wishes: an instant sharpening system which requires no time or effort whatsoever, a board stretcher (especially for width), and, most of all, a clock that doesn’t move unless I want it to. I’ll pay for shipping, no problem.

Readers, you undoubtedly have your own lists, and if I thought about it longer, my list could certainly exceed this one. Thanks for reading.

Category: Tools and Shop
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11 Responses

  1. YES! Great post, Rob. I, too, would love to see a larger convex-soled plane as well as Veritas Saddle Squares without the big reliefs at the corners.

    The Ulmia vise looks like a small machinist’s vise attached to a block of wood. This vise looks similar:

    The clock in my shop only moves when I want it to (and put in a fresh battery).


  2. 2
    ralph boumenot 

    I’ll take 2 of #8. Post the link when you find it.

  3. 3


    Thanks. More to come on that vise topic soon.




  4. 4

    Coping saw, like a Japanese saw moves vertically. If you use it that way, the handle fits naturally with the sawing motion.

  5. 5


    True, yea, sometimes. But I use a coping or fret saw to remove dovetail waste with the wood held vertically in the vise with the saw blade moving horizontally.


  6. 6

    lee valley/veritas still does make a countersink very similar to the one you list in item 4. however it now comes with a handle on it already.,180,42337&ap=1

  7. 7


    As far as I can tell from the photo, that countersink does not have the all-important feature of radially asymmetric flutes. That feature eliminates chatter. See the photo in my previous post:


  8. 8

    I have always liked the Ulmia vise as well and remember that auction (too high for my budget). I think that it would be better for a small vise like that to be mounted on a T-shaped support so that it would clamp in a vise rather than requiring a clamp to clamp it to the top of a bench.

  9. 9


    Thanks for the comment.

    The most useful role of the Ulmia vise, as I see it, is to have it held in the tail vise of the workbench with only its jaws above the level of the bench top. In that way, it can hold small, narrow, and fairly thin pieces of wood.

    I’ll soon have a post on this describing two alternatives to the Ulmia.

    Thanks for reading.


  10. Hmm… the magic lantern could really help, couldn’t it… :)))) Think about it this way – if all the tools we wished for existed, our tasks wouldn’t be as interesting and challenging. And I’m always up for a challenge, aren’t you? :)

  11. 11


    Ha, yea! I guess a world with unlimited tools would make for less imaginative woodworkers.