03 April 2021

Mongo Work Good

 About a year or two after I started woodworking, I built my first hand plane from a Lee Valley kit.  I decided that I needed a fore plane after reading some of Chris Schwarz's writings on coarse, medium, fine tools.  I made it out of scraps of laminated oak (body) and pine (handle).  It is ugly but beautiful as is light, powerful, and works very well.  I named it Mongo (based on a character from Blazing Saddles movie) as it seemed to fit the brute strength and simplicity of the tool.  Despite a huge wide open mouth, I get very little tear out if I use it for finer work.  The 8"ish radius camber on the blade works exceptionally well at hogging off material and thinning boards. 

Recently, I had a 1/2" thick piece of maple I wanted to use in a frame and panel construction.  I wanted the panel to be 1/4" thick.  I could have done a lot of other things to use the 1/2" thick stock.  But, I wanted what I wanted.  I've often found what matters most to me isn't what I make but rather how I make it.  I wanted it to be 1/4" thick because that is what I wanted.  It took a fair bit of muscle to get it there but I felt great satisfaction.  There was a slight increase in complexity because to get the best grain flow, the two laminated pieces had the grain raising in opposite directions and it required a bit more attention to avoid tear out.

Every time I look at the frame panel, I will smile because I will know what I did.  I even left some of the scallops on the inside non show face face so I could feel it as well.  This seemingly insignificant decisions will bring me joy for the remainder of my life because like Frank said, "I did it my way."


  1. Using tools that you've made can be so satisfying. I hope Mongo gives you many years of service.