Summer woodworking in vacation

As I write this post, I am still on vacation but last week, some visits were relating to woodworking in vacation.  


Our vacation was located in the beautiful location of Niagara in Ontario.  Yes there was the falls, but beyond the obvious, there was some other attractions that were worth while.  

Cherry Picking

We had the kids with us and having the occasion to fruit pick was a nice opportunity to show them what is was.  Peach season was not yet there, too early but was able to get some cherries along the way.  

Cherries off the branch backlit

These are sweet cherries that were picked from the trees in Niagara

Cherry Picking in Niagara

Cherry Picking in Niagara

Although it was towards the end of the season, the cherries were still pickable if this can be said.  They were still very nice to pick and with the sun glowing between the branches, this made for some great picture.  

I was able to see some cherry trees in there natural environment with there fruit hanging from the branches.  They were not very tall trees, i’d say in total about 7′ tall, maybe a but more but not much.  I live close by to other farms that picking strawberries and apples (in season) is easy but picking cherries was not a common activity that was easy access to us.  This was very interesting and worth doing again if we are in the area.

Local Distillery 

I am a growing fan of whisky and starting to know what I like and dislike.  Canadian whisky is a taste that I am cultivating and when looking for activities to do while in the Niagara region, visiting a local distillery was high on the todo list.  

We are not drinkers of wine so visiting a winery and the vines was not something that was too appealing to us.  

After doing some research, we found Dillon Distillery which was about 20 minutes from our hotel.  Visits are organised on a regular basis and are very well done by one of the distillers.  Included in the visit, was the ability to taste a subset of what they produce.  All there products are available in there store part of the distillery and are offered in local LCBO which carries there product.  

Dillons Distillery Barrel

Dillons Distillery Barrel

Dillons Distillery Writing

Dillons Distillery Writing

I Brought back there Rye Whiskey and tasted other products.  The visit and the tasting made the trip worth while.  The kids were also able to visit and were pretty curious.  Also noted the smell which was pretty distinct of a distillery.  I really recommend the visit if you are in the area.  

Lee Valley

One last note, Lee Valley opened a store in Niagara Falls not too long ago and as I needed some products from them, it was convenient to stop by and get what I needed in person. 

I’ve been to a few Lee Valley stores and I can say that the new look is very nice and finally, being able to touche there tools that they manufacture, i.e. the saws, plane chisels is very good.  There are work bench with wood and you can try the tool to the wood and the employees are there to help.  

This tool testing is finally a very good initiative to do as other manufacturer, i.e. one of there biggest competitors did exactly that so that users were exposed to there tools and not into glassed cabinets.  Kudos for that.  

Other tools were in demos where these tools are available through LeeValley which is also a very good selling point to offer the users to test drive.  

Small plow plane upgrades – Lee Valley

Lee Valley just announced small plow plane upgrades for the current owners of the small plow planes they manufacture.  Here are some details of the upgrades :

  • Upgraded depth stop clamping
    • Upgrades concerning the depth stop clamping mechanism that helps prevent it shifting with pressure while planning
  • Skate upgrade for beading blades
    • New options are to be offered for beading blades and Lee Valley offers now an option to retrofit the past/current planes to retrofit one of the skates to support it

I heard of the options from a Youtube video featuring Vic Tesolin that explained the different options.  Please subscribe to the Lee Valley youtube Channel to see the video and other great video from Lee Valley.

This week, I received a letter from Lee Valley because I own a plow plane and that I would be eligible to the different upgrade paths if I so choose to upgrade my current plane.

I also received a letter this week explaining the upgrade process/options and with great details as to how this came along and what are the options for current owners.  It also details the options for the beading blades that can be bought once the retrofit is done if you already own the plane.

You can either bring the plane in store for the retrofit or use the mail-in order process which they will send a box and instruction to send in the part that needs to be retrofitted.  They will return the part once completed.

I believe this is a very nice initiative that has customer in mind.  If the process permits it and they can benefit the customers, then very vey big kudos to the company.  Talk about customer service to make a whole lot of customer happy.   And the letters were written in both french and english, which I guess there is more and more customer that speak Franch.  Lee Valley HQ being so close to Quebec, I would assume that there are more and more french speaking customers.  On behalf of the french speaking customer, thanks.

If you never looked at or don’t know who Lee Valley is, please go visit there web site, and I am sure that you will discover a whole bunch of products and a very good source for what they carry.  I visited a few stores in Canada through travel and the experience is awesome in all the stores.

Here is a picture of a plow plane

Varitas Small Plow Plane

Veritas Small Plow Plane

Woodworking Christmas gifts – and more

So first, being the first day of 2014, may I send my best wishes for this new year.  As we also just passed christmas, I sure some that for some of you, it brought some woodworking related gifts.

I my case, it did in various form, both from a personal and from good old santa.  So here it goes :

– Gift certificates

Always a winner in my case as we always need some more tools right ? Well, I will get a chance to add some from both Lee Valley and Lie Nielsen this year again.  Just not really decided yet, way to early in the year yet but I’m sure I’ll choose wisely.

If it’s any sign as the past few years, Lie Nielsen should come to the Montreal region somewhere around april with there hand tools event.  Been a regular for the past few years and might be for this year if they make it happen.  Visit them on there web site here.

As for Lee Valley, well I’m sure to get something there too.  I’ve already got a short list of items to get, which I’m pretty could get longer the more I get the chance to think about it.  Might also get a chance to go to Ottawa, which in my case would be the closest location to a store.  Visit them here.


– Books : For many years, I always seem to find good material into varying books.  This year was no different.

– Handsaw Essentials, By Chris Schwarz, Popular Woodworking

This title complements pretty week the Hand plane essentials book, from the same credentials.  This book takes the format of a collection of different articles from the author that he has written on Handsaws through the years, either through blog or magazine articles.  So far, I’ve gotten through about a third of the book and learned a bunch.  Really appreciate how Chris writes and recommend both books if you are interested in either Hand planes or Handsaws

– The Unplugged Woodshop: Hand-Crafted Projects for the Home & Workshop, by Tom Fidgen, Taunton Press

This is Tom’s second book, which I now own both of them.  Tom uses only hand tools, hence the unplugged woodshop, which offers a perspective on how to accomplish certain projects with only hand tools.  I really liked the first book and when I heard that he authored a second book, I had to grab a copy somehow.  I have not started to read the book yet, although I have skimmed though the content.  Should be a promising read.  You can read Tom’s material on his website.


– Illustrated Cabinetmaking: How to Design and Construct Furniture That Works, By Bill Hylton

I’ve seen this book pop up through different author’s recommended reads but never could get a close look at a copy to skim through the content.  Last summer, I did get a chance to see a copy at the Ottawa Lee Valley store and I could then see why some authors would  recommend getting a copy of the book.  I have copies of other book of M. Hylton’s book, mainly on routers, another subject he is famous for.  I have not passed much time yet with the book, but will surely be looking into it in the very near future.


– Hybrid Woodworking: Blending Power & Hand Tools for Quick, Quality Furniture, By Marc Spagnuolo

Also known as the Wood Whisperer, Marc has written his first book with Popular woodworking in 2013. On top of operating the site and his business, he is the co-host to Wood Talk Online, a podcast that has been running for a while, which I have not missed an episode.  The book, as the title says, blends power and hand tools, which falls in the current of hybrid woodworking.  A good mix of the best tool to make the job I believe, which although I have not started to read yet, Marc does a good job on explaining his approach to combine both type of tools.

So this is pretty much it for this christmas, stay tune, more to come.  The year is pretty young….


Lee Valley Moving Fillister Rabbet Plane

A little while ago, I was visiting the Ottawa Lee Valley store and  had in mind to get the plane.  Unfortunately, I only got to use it last night for a little ride on a few test piece first before  cutting anything on a piece that is for use.

I got the normal first setup of the blade, watched the online video on how to sharpen the blade, which is a little different as it is angled to fit the profile.  I then got familiar with the control for the depth of the blade and the depth stop.  It then saw a piece of wood that I could tackle a small rabbet.

My  first observation was on the hands placement to keep the plane tracking.  I did some reading on how to control, but did not realize the little subtle behaviour that the plane could have until you put it  to the test.  I think I will need a little more practice with some test piece before I really get a go at it.  Granted that my first planned cut on a good piece of wood will be very shallow for Dovetail cutting (little trick to transfer), I will have a few test cut.


LeeValley Moving Fillister Rabbet Plane

LeeValley Moving Fillister Rabbet Plane


LeeValley Moving Fillister Rabbet Plane

LeeValley Moving Fillister Rabbet Plane

Veritas Small Plow Plane

It’s been a few month now that the holidays are finished and had the time to play around with one of my gifts, the Veritas Small Plow Plane.  Here is a picture :

Varitas Small Plow Plane

Varitas Small Plow Plane



This is one of the joinery plane that makes my life so much easier then setting up a router, except for the longer runs where grooves are necessary, specially close to the edge of a board (typically drawer components).  Not to say that I don’t setup either the router table or hand held router once in a while, but the plow plane does the job and without the noise and dust from the router setup.


First order of business was to sharpen the iron (baught the default size iron of 1/4″), which was pretty easy to do, as Lee Valley does a pretty good job out of the box with there irons to be flat and pretty sharp.  But still tuned it a little bit on the stones and after about 5 minutes, the iron was back in the plane for test cuts.


My experience with the plane, although short in time is very good and the next few project should prove the value of the plane in small drawer making and small boxes.


IF you want to get more information on the plane, please consult the Lee Valley web site through this link and make sure you order the proper hand side that best fits you or order both.  Pretty sure the Lee Valley folks will be pretty happy.

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