Ben Sandness

Builder / Thinker / Artist / Designer

Hand Tool Chest

Hand Tool Chest - Open

This is a tool chest for my hand tools to live in.  It is made from walnut and sycamore with double-dovetail joints at the corners and a thick slab of figured sycamore for the lid with walnut breadboard ends.  Aside from the thicker 6/4 sycamore top, the rest of the lumber is 4/4.  The box has internal dimensions of 33″ x 18″ x 8″.  Inside, there is integrated storage for planes, saws, and my brace.  Other small miscellaneous tools fit in the “in between” areas.  The goal of this project was to give a suitable home for revered hand tools, while also working to push my abilities and craftsmanship to their limit.  This is as much a functional home for tools as it is a homage to them.

Contemplation Bench


Contemplation Bench - Seat top

This is a single seat bench that I have built from walnut and ash.  The goals for this project were to (1) work without specific plans and focus on being responsive to the material, (2) build a small bench, and (3) use primarily hand tools.  The finished height is  around 18″ tall.  I planed the rough sawn 3 1/4″ x 5 1/2″ ash beam flat and square by hand.  The bench is held together with strong mechanical joints reinforced with glue.  There are three Dutchmen (two walnut on the bottom, one ash on the top) stabilizing the split in the seat.  The legs are mortised into the bottom of the seat, held in place with glue, friction, and gravity.  The stretcher between the legs connects with a thick double shouldered dado that is pinned in two directions and, again, reinforced with glue.  The finished bench is quite solid and hefty, at 30lbs.

Marking Gauge

Marking Gauge - Bottom points (fixed & sliding), spread

This is a home-made mortising/marking gauge.  It is essentially the product of items from around my workshop coming together to make a very solid, functional marking tool for short distances of less than 5″, as well as the capability to mark a double-line for mortise and tenon joints.  The beam is a short scrap of aluminum Incra T-track.  The sliding fence is made of walnut, sycamore, and hard curly maple.  The fence locks in place with a 1/4-20 stainless steel bolt that slides in the track and is tightened with the knob on top.  The knob was once the front knob on a “Champion” No 5 hand plane that my friend Dave Paine had turned a new set of handles for.  I embedded a t-nut inside of the knob and glued on a cap made from walnut.    All of the wood surfaces are finished 3 coats of tung oil.

Curly Cherry & Walnut Box

Curly Cherry & Walnut Box - Hinge ViewAs the title suggests, this is a box made from curly cherry and walnut.  The box measures 8 15/16″ square by 7 3/8″ tall.  This project was designed mostly on the fly with only materials and rough dimensions decided ahead of time.  The 2:1 box joints were cut my my router table with the help my Incra LS.   I used this tool a lot for this project, including the rabbet the floor, dado the walls to accept the rabbeted edge, the decorative rifling on the under-side of the lid, and the 31/64″ cherry inlays in the top.  The hinges were mortised by hand and all of the final sanding and finish was also done by hand.



Large Joinery & Assembly Mallet

Joinery Mallet 2 - Top view

This mallet is a larger joinery mallet used for driving chisels and assembling large joints.  The handle is made from curly cherry and the head is made from walnut, ash, and maple.  The handled is attached with a wedged through tenon.  The various species in the head are held together with sliding dovetails and dadoed square bars inlaid into the sides.





Joinery Mallet

Joinery Mallet

This is a joinery mallet made from walnut, curly cherry, and hard maple.  The head is held to the handle with a wedged through mortise and tenon joint.  There are two bars of maple dadoed into the sides that reinforce the pieces of the head and the head to the handle.  I consider this to be a medium duty mallet for mildly persuading chisels and carving tools or for general assembly use.


Diamond Edge Fore Plane Restoration

Diamond Edge Fore Plane 07

A few months back, I picked up a “Diamond Edge” brand plane that I have been slowly working at bringing back to life. Below are some photos. I started with a thorough cleaning and de-greasing (where needed). I removed the light surface rust from the components, primarily with a soft brass wire wheel. I sharpened the blade, which was in a pretty sad state. I also repainted the inside of the body and the back of the frog since the paint was largely gone. The handle is made of some kind of plastic/composite material (bakelite?) and is cracked. Using scrap from another project, I made a new handle from walnut and maple.  I glued three pieces of wood together (walnut – maple – walnut, grain parallel and parallel to the base of the plane) and traced a handle template that I had made.  I had cut a groove at 60 degrees into the maple section for the long machine screw that extends the length of the handle to pass through. I then drilled holes that roughly lined up with the concave curve at the front of the base of the handle and the top of the back of the handle. The rest was cut out with a coping saw. The sanding was done on my 4″/6″ disc/belt sander, hand sanding, and a convex wood rasp.  Once it was finally shaped and smoothed, I also sanded down the front knob and finished both in 3 coats of satin Minwax oil based poly.  Following this, a fellow craftsman Dave Paine from PA turned a matching walnut and maple front knob which I have finished to match and installed.


Small Table

Small Table, 2012 (Mortise & tenon joint detail)


This is a small table that is approximately 20″ x 8.5″ x 7″.  The size and proportions were designed to hold food at water dishes for man’s best friend.  The table is made from hard maple and walnut, laminated into opposite stripe patterns between the top and legs.  The legs have walnut through-tenons that hold it firmly to the top.  Likewise, there is a maple stretcher that passes through both legs.  The table legs are set at a 15 degree angle.  The table is coated in satin finish oil based polyurethane.