Mark van Roojen's Woodworking Page

A couple of infill shoulderplanes.

Back to my Homepage.

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My Timberframe Cabin Page.

Old machinery interests.

A page of my projects.

Oldtool resources on this site (including links to Ohio Tool, Atkins and Goodell-Pratt catalogue pages).

Tools I have questions about.

My Old House Page.

Woodworking links to other sites.

Old tools I'm looking for.

Some infill planes to view.

An interesting compound miter vise.

Midwest Tool Collectors Association

My Philosophy Page.

When I was a kid, my father was always making things for me, for our house, and also for other people. He had the usual 1960s power tools (tablesaw, circular saw, sander, beltsander, drill, Radial arm saw, etc.) as well as various handtools. Most of my father's woodwoking projects were well-made, functional stuff in a contemporary (now somewhat dated) style. Where he really excelled was in metalworking. He built himself a lathe before immigrating to this side of the Atlantic, and a small milling machine during his forties ( link). His plan was to use these to build model steam engines in his retirement. As I got older, he encouraged me to use the safer tools in his shop to make things for myself. Being a kid, I had little patience for his level of perfectionism, so my favorite strategy as I was working on a project was to ask for his help. Still, I did pick up the general attitude that a person could make what he or she wanted.

After I moved out of my parent's home, I took a bit of that attitude with me, but I had few tools, especially few of the power tools that I thought of as necessary to make anything very interesting. So I made the occassional functional but ugly futon bedframe that one can make with a circular saw and screwdriver, and the odd bookcase.

During gradschool though, I started building a dulcimer for a friend and checking out books on how to make instruments and other things of wood. I noticed a decided emphasis on hand tools, and having no shop space the obvious strategy was to hit the local flea markets and pick up some planes, chisels and so on to use while working on the porch. I also got a lot of nice help from the manager of the Princeton Physics Department Shop, who let me use their power tools (mostly lathes, bandsaws and drills) to do operations I thought I could not do at home with handtools. I ended up making a telecaster copy and my workbench during that time.

Over the years my woodworking has evolved to using handtools a much greater percentage of the time. Part of that has to do with the dust and noise that power tools make. And part just has to do with liking the aesthetic qualities of old and old-style handtools. I still use power tools for certain operations (especially ripsawing) but I often tend to avoid power tools except for older machines that still get me excited.

One result of this is that I've amassed a pretty good assortment of nice old hand woodoworking tools. Many of these cane from the abovementioned flea markets and garage sales, but a number of others have been found at meetings of the Midwest Tool Collectors (or MWTCA ). One of my nicest finds was an old carpenter's chest with most of the tools dating from the early 1900s. I've written an article about it for OldhouseChronicle which you can find at

Sadly, my father kept working until late in his life, and he had enough heart problems that he did less model making in his retirement years than I think he had planned. He did build one beautiful model steam boiler that I'll post a photo of here soon. And he made lots of projects for his grandkids much as he had done for my sister and I in our childhood.

I plan to use this page for links to my woodworking and tool-related interests. I'll be posting some photos of projects and hopefully useful info on older handtools and their use. Among the projects I've made are an acoustic and an electric guitar, my workbench, several boxes, and stereo equipment cabinets. You can see some of these by following the projects link in the sidebar.

1997, 1999, 2003, 2009