Sean's Blog (25)

Christmas in the Workshop

I am not one of Santa's elves, but at this time of year I do a reasonable impression.

This year, I am making a couple of hope chests for my daughters.

The challenge in these pieces lies in…


Added by Sean on December 19, 2011 at 7:19am — No Comments

My insanity plea, update,

A little over a year ago I posted about one of my ongoing woodworking projects-a homemade pipe organ.  I thought I would drop in an update:  I have finally completed the pipes, all four hundred and change of them,  for the keyboard.  I am now left with a decision:  Should I build fifty pipes for the pedal argan, or should I leave it keyboard only?  The pedal organ pipes would be the largest, and at… Continue

Added by Sean on April 12, 2011 at 12:30pm — No Comments

My new kid.

My third child, a boy, was born this morning at 9:20 after twenty six and one half hours of labour. Mother and child are doing well.

Added by Sean on June 10, 2010 at 10:16pm — 2 Comments

It's Shakespeare Day!

Today is the 446th anniversary of the date traditionally assigned to Shakespeare’s birth. It is also the 396th anniversary of his death, but people being what they are, we tend to look upon the birthday rather than the deathday aspect of the matter, thus, perhaps, play some lip service to the long acclaimed notion of the ever-living, immortal bard.

But why do I speak of Shakespeare, the man from Stratford, and his life and death, when many believe that he did not, could not, in any… Continue

Added by Sean on April 23, 2010 at 7:30am — 8 Comments

Lessons in Manliness

My father. Born in Hamilton in 1922, died in Mississauga in 1996. In the almost three quarters of a century that he lived, he saw the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, the Second World War, the Post War Boom, the Cold War, the end of the Cold War. At the beginning of his life, cars were a luxury, and carts pulled by horses still rumbled regularly through the streets of Hamilton. The sound of an aeroplane flying overhead was enough to make people run out of their houses and look up. He…


Added by Sean on March 22, 2010 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

My insanity plea

I'll start off with a photograph of the project I've come to call "my insanity plea", and then I'll explain.

First the photo:

For those of you who do not recognize what these are, they are an entire rank of pipes for a homemade pipe organ. For the technical minded, they are an inverted mouth wooden flute open pipe, 8' rank. To make a long story…


Added by Sean on February 16, 2010 at 12:00am — 4 Comments

Was Shakespeare a homosexual?

Brett's recent post on whether or not Baden Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, was gay reminded me of my time when when I taught Shakespeare. I could always count on the class asking me two questions. The first was: did Shakespeare write Shakespeare? The second question: was Shakespeare a homosexual? The answer to that question, I told them, was a little more complicated than a simple yes or no.

First off, merely asking the question requires a series of assumptions that Shakespeare…


Added by Sean on February 13, 2010 at 1:30pm — 2 Comments

The lathe,

A phenomena one runs into on occasion when meeting other woodworkers is what I call the 'single tool woodworkers',which, as the name implies, means they tend to work almost solely with one tool. The two main single tools of choice tend to…


Added by Sean on February 10, 2010 at 11:30am — 6 Comments


Here's some more stuff I made for the kids.

Here are some fairly straightforward toys I made from various plans and books, except for the spitfire. As I often said for the games, though these look complicated, they are actually straighforward. The wheels were all cut with drill attachments. If you can cut wood, and then plane or file it to a line, these are all easily within reach.

I leave these toys all unfinished,… Continue

Added by Sean on February 1, 2010 at 10:30pm — 2 Comments


Until the advent of video games, it was fairly easy, and common, for fathers to build the toys and games of their children. These are among my favourite things to build. I love seeing my daughters play and enjoy the things I have built for them. This post will examine a few games.

A game board can be as simple or as elaborate as the builder desires. I will begin with a simple checkerboard.

This board could not be simpler.… Continue

Added by Sean on January 27, 2010 at 10:38am — 6 Comments

Looking to the past

I've decided to take a break from my woodworking series for this evening to write about something else. I'll get back to it in a few days. What I am writing about tonight is something I've noticed while tooling around this site, and I've seen an increase in it lately, and something is people's various perceptions and appeals to the past.

The past is a voice I feel strongly within me. I look to the past for guidance and for examples, both positive and negative, and it never fails to… Continue

Added by Sean on January 24, 2010 at 11:38pm — No Comments

Some smaller pieces.

The general theme of tonight's post is about small pieces of woodworking, however, first, here's a photo of some chairs I meant to publish last post:

The Queen Anne style one was something I found in a book of designs. I built it at my wife's request, as it is her favourite style. The Chippendale style chair plans I got from a local store. The carving on the backsplat was my first attempt at carving.

I would not want… Continue

Added by Sean on January 24, 2010 at 12:30am — 2 Comments


I'll start posting a few pictures of some things I have built down through the years. I'll start off today with some of the furniture I have built for my home.

Our sideboard. I saw a photograph of a jacobean sideboard in a woodworking magazine, and my then fiance now wife and I thought it was a beautiful piece of furniture. I began making it, despite having no plans, nor ever having undertaken a project like this before. I drew up a few basic plans and started work, and kept at it,… Continue

Added by Sean on January 19, 2010 at 11:54am — 10 Comments

More of my shop

What you don't see in my shop are some of the power tools I do have, which include a small table saw, a scroll saw, router and a few other items. I don't have room for them in the shop and have stored them in the basement for the time being. The one power tool I do keep in the shop is this one, my old Beaver lathe:

It is a servicable and functional lathe. It is also one of my favourite tools in the shop. Working on a lathe is really… Continue

Added by Sean on January 16, 2010 at 11:33pm — 5 Comments

My workshop

I meant to say something profound and meaningful about the relationship between a man and his workshop, but nothing's coming. So here's a few pictures of my shop and my main tools.

This photo is a picture of my shop from the door. As you can see, it is small, and rather messy. The mess is deceptive, though. I have no trouble finding what I need in here. It is also something of a defense mechanism, as the fact that I have packed the garage fairly tightly with my stuff ensures that no… Continue

Added by Sean on January 14, 2010 at 8:30pm — 4 Comments

card table

I've decided to do a series of copiously illustrated posts about my workshop and the things I do in there. I'll do this one first, for no reason than because I happen to have useable photographs available. I should have another post up about my workshop and other projects I have done or am working on. I encourage the other woodworkers to do something similar.

One caveat: I am not a photographer. The only camera I can use for this sort of thing is a camera owned by my younger… Continue

Added by Sean on January 11, 2010 at 2:00pm — 4 Comments

A Week of Remembrance: The Homecoming

Ninety-one years ago today, on the evening of November 10-11, the Canadian Corps had reached the outskirts of Mons, and the men began to prepare for the end of the war on the morrow. To their shock and dismay, orders came down for the men to start marching. They were to capture Mons. Will Bird wrote of the reaction among the men that night in his book "Ghosts Have Warm Hands". The men were planning their lives after the war when and unexpected visitor showed up.

"Bird!" It was the… Continue

Added by Sean on November 11, 2009 at 6:35am — No Comments

A Week of Remembrance: And the Greatest of These...

C.S. Lewis once wrote that courage is not merely a virtue, but rather it is every virtue at the testing point. All the men I have profiled in this little series have shown the courage to stand at the extreme testing point, and to make what difference they could. The last one, Andy Mynarski, stands out because, first of all, his actions really made no difference. He saved no one; he won no battle; he did not turn around any dire situation. Yet his actions move anyone who hears his story. I… Continue

Added by Sean on November 10, 2009 at 6:40am — 1 Comment

A Week of Remembrance: Courage to the End.

Courage takes many forms in war. There is the courage of defense, the courage of attack, the kind of courage that saves situations and wins battles. There is the courage in risking one's life to save one's fellows, which is the greatest of all. There is also an kind of courage which may be called an existential courage, that of a man put into an impossible situation by indifferent or incompetent commanders, trying to meet his unjust doom with what dignity his grace affords him. Unfortunately,… Continue

Added by Sean on November 9, 2009 at 7:30am — No Comments

A Week of Remembrance: Day of Nation and Memory

For Sunday, I have decide to post twice in this little series.

July first is Canada Day, formerly known as Dominion Day, the anniversary of our Confederation in 1867. At the time, only four provinces elected to enter into the new Dominion- Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland opted to stay out. Prince Edward Island joined the confederation a few years later, and was later joined by BC, Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Newfoundland,… Continue

Added by Sean on November 8, 2009 at 9:11am — No Comments

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