The Softer Side Of Woodworking Anarchy

As a woodworker we often delve into specialties other related trades and crafts — blacksmithing, forestry, drafting etc, but not many talk about the woodworkers who sew….

Panel Saws On Saw Bench
Panel Saws On Saw Bench

You sew?! Yep, and the is the same look I get when I walk into a Jo-Ann fabric wearing Carhartt — I know exactly what I am looking for and where to find it.  I’m usually in there picking up supplies to make tool rolls, saw cases and similar projects.  In fact the only reason we have a sewing machine at home is because I picked one up to make tool related projects.

Panel Saw Cases
Panel Saw Cases

Do you do it to be cheap? Like most woodworker’s I’d make water from a powder if I could, but I don’t think its ever really been much about saving money — that sewing machine + supplies was reasonable, but certainly not cheap. I learned the basics of using a sewing machine in middle school Home Ec and figured it would be like riding a bike. When it came time to make a tool roll for my timber framing chisels or a saw case for my panel saws I could not find anything on the market that met my needs, was made in the US or was worth the price being asked of it. So out of necessity I decided if I wanted a nice saw case for my panel saws I better make one myself.

Closed Cases
Closed Cases

So I bought some heavy duck canvas, poly edging and metal snaps and started making some patterns. Shown in this post are the results of that effort. I made the first of these cases when I was a student at NBSS and they have served me well. I also lined them with material that will protect the tool metal and compared to its unprotected brethren who were only wearing a coat of oil the saws in their cases remained free of rust. My only complaint is that the cases are a bit of a saw dust and cat hair magnet, but so long as I put them back in my tool chest as I do with a plane sock they have been holding up well. Critical joints have been reinforced, the corners sealed (you can melt poly so it does not fray) and the closing strap secured with a metal snap. Just make sure you keep or replace that little plastic tooth protector or you run the risk of sawing your seams.  I’ve been very happy with the results and just picked up some material to make some more custom tool rolls for my auger bits and some other smaller tools, so stay tuned for more info on those projects.

Panel Saw
Panel Saw

If you want to take your subversive woodworking to the next level the next power tool you buy might be a sewing machine, or better yet track down an old treadle powered model. You might be surprised at the results.

If you’d like to learn more about subversive woodworking and anarchy check out these links:

4 thoughts on “The Softer Side Of Woodworking Anarchy”

  1. BR,

    Funny you should mention this. Just a few days ago Dan F at PW, commented about blacksmithing, much as you have just done. I commented that many of us are also smiths, machinists – craftsmen of many… well, crafts. I try to work in whatever medium I require to finish a project. Yes I sew, badly, but if i really need it done neatly, Grandma is always happy to help!

    I haven’t written anything of substance in a few years, but this subject struck a chord with me. Perhaps I can find a bit of time to put some thoughts on paper.

    Best regards,
    Albert A Rasch

    1. Hi Albert,
      Most of the time I’d describe myself as a Joiner, but much as you also call out, our work requires us to pick up other craft skills as needed to complete our work. I’ve got a few posts of my own on blacksmithing here on the blog along with some other trades like masonry and plaster work. I’ve also guest-written several posts for Dan at PW so you likely as seeing some common themes between us like minded folks. I always love learning a new skill and applying it to my work. If you do write something up, please drop me a note. Keep in touch.

      Take care,

  2. Funny, I just found this entry tonight (2018) but have had trouble the last few years finding tool rolls and other assorted cases for all the the same reasons; country of origin, price or suitability of the products on the market. I too learned how to sew a bit back in Jr. High Home Ec for these very reasons, also because I was a comfirmed bachelor until I got married at 30. My wife appreciates the fact I can sew a button on my own dress shirt faster than she and I don’t bother her with it either – funny how they seem to like those little things! I have been thinking about sewing my own rolls but need to figure out about sewing denim and duck cloth with a heavier needle? I certainly do not consider these tasks unmanly as tailors have always been men and my father in law used to sew his own back packs, covers and even tents and he was a manly man too.

    1. Thank you for the detailed note. I used a heavier needle — but just the heaviest that came with my sewing machine (it came with an assortment of I think 3 needle thicknesses, so nothing overly special) and I was surprised how well it worked going through a couple layers of duck cloth and nylon webbing. When you have a lot of layers go a little slower and hopefully you will also have good results.

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