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One of the frequent challenges for finishers is the undulating surfaced — carvings, moldings, and similar. In reviewing the historic methods for the CW crew I emphasized the problems of square-tipped brushes for this process, as the corner tips of the brushes often squeegee on the raised surfaces being varnished, resulting in excess varnish and runs dripping down the surface. This result often causes hair pulling and pungent language.
In the past the ancients often used oval or even round brushes similar to sash brushes, and thus reduced the problem. In our time, we not only have these brushes to rely on but also a form used by water colorists, the Filbert Mop. The tapers oval tip of a Filbert makes varnishing a vibrant undulating surface a piece of cake. Not only are there no brush corners to deposit excess varnish where you do not want it, but the tapered oval tip drapes the surface excellently.
The preparation for carved surfaces is essentially the same as flat surfaces; good tool work followed by scraping as necessary, and finally burnished with a bundle of fibers.
After that it’s simply a matter of applying the varnish by brush, and not too surprisingly this crew tool to this like a fish to water.
After the initial application dries, the surface can once again be burnished with the carver’s polissoir, a tool I designed for my broom-maker to fabricate along with all the other polissoirs he makes for me. This was followed by second round of varnishing, and the pieces were ready to be rubbed out with beeswax and rottenstone (grey Tripoli).
|Stanley 71 for Miles|
|Miles's Stanley 72|
|the 72 has a brass wear plates|
|Miles gauge herd|
|the plumbline stick ready for string|
|dull razor blade|
|back of the frog|
|the next project|
|a pattern board|
|I got most of them to fit here, the 140 was left off|
|cut out another pattern board from cardboard|
|the plywood scraps are too small to use|
|my first choice|
Food for thought and I'll sleep on this for now and attack it tomorrow.
Who is Soyean Yi?
answer - she was the first Korean astronaut
This week I'm learning how to make a Windsor chair, along with a few friends, from the expert James Mursell. All hands to the pump with the double bend on the chair rail.
Initial sizing of the spindles was done with a Veritas cutter and an electric drill, after that the fitting and tapering was all done by hand with spoke shaves, an afternoons work.
Through all the activity the workshop dog relaxed, keeping one eye open for the tennis ball!
Bern Billsberry very kindly brought everyone one of his ingeniously simple pencil gauges made from a design patented back in the 1860's. The oval hole and matching stock are locked with a small turn of the head and the small scale of the gauge is just right for the scale of marking. The execution is perfect as usual. Catch up with his Instagram posts at 'bern carpenter'.
Here's Bern modest as ever, looking a lot better on his long road to recovery.
Tucked away in his tool box was his little boxwood gem. Again beautifully made to a tiny scale and fully functional.
Drivel Starved Nation-
Your favorite Tool Potentate just returned from three weeks in China. I spent a week in Guangzhou, 3 days in Shanghai, a week in Nanjing, and 3 days in Beijing.
While in Shanghai I met up with the Bridge City China field trip participants. And while in Beijing we had the privilege of a private dinner with the American ambassador of China and his wife in their private residence followed by a private tour the next day of the American embassy, the largest American embassy in the world. In short, this experience was more than any of us expected and will take multiple posts to share all that we explored.
TRIVIA #1: “Jing” means capital. “Bei” means north. “Nan” means south. Nanjing is the old capital of China and Beijing is the current capital.
Before I dive into the details I am reporting that what is happening in China (over the past 20 years) is the largest renaissance in human history. The scale, the speed, and the importance of what is happening in China cannot be ignored. It is almost beyond imagination. It is also beyond my intelligence grade to judge, comment, disagree or approve of what is happening in China, this post is to simply share what I observed from my limited perspective. That means no politics in this safe space I call my Totally Awesome and Worthless Blog.
The Canton Fair is held in Guangzhou every October over a three week period and is the largest trade show on the planet. If you have ever been to a woodworking show in America, the attendance ranges from 1,000 to 5,000 and around 25,000 for the two big shows that alternate between Atlanta and Las Vegas. The week I was there the attendance was around 500,000. That is insane.
We were showing the Chopstick Master and other assorted Bridge City Tools but honestly, my jet lag was so bad I had a hard time staying awake. I did find it fascinating that several attendees asked me about Pencil Perfection which is crazy because we just released it for pre-order two days before I left for the exhibition. The speed of the digital world still amazes this old guy.
Our Chinese host and I arrived in Shanghai on Friday and that evening Bridge City hosted a get acquainted dinner for our field trip participants. We had several cancellations at the last minute so the group totaled 10 or so for the duration. The dinner was fun and I enjoyed watching Americans push the limits of their palette with the various Chinese dishes that have been perfected over their 5,000 years of cooking. My limits were pushed too — check out these menu items…
I asked our Chinese host if there was anything the Chinese would not eat. His response;
The next report will be the sights and sounds of Shanghai.
Now, go get a snack.
The post Bridge City China Field Trip Report #1: Adventures in Eating… appeared first on John's Blog.
People use the term salvaged to describe a variety of lumber. Salvaged lumber can be cut out of beams, joists, or other parts of buildings, whether remodeled or demolished. It can come from cabinets, furniture, packing crates, or other objects no longer in use. It can come from a tree felled by a bulldozer to make way for new construction or uprooted by a storm. Using material from any of […]
Digging out a Hole for your Butt
I’ve discovered that this Perch seat is unlike the other Windsor seats I have carved in that I really don’t need a lot of extra wood around the perimeter to hold on to it since there will always be a flat around the back edge and the pommel. So I did go ahead and saw out the outer perimeter using both my turning saw and a regular hand saw to quickly cut away the excess. Because there is a lot of edge work done with the drawknife it is NOT necessary to spend a bunch of time perfectly refining the outer shape right to the line or cleaning up the grain. Save that work until the bottom chamfer is cut and you will have much less shaping to do.
Layout is the key to making a seemingly free form task like this seat carving into a more controlled process. Boring depth holes and drawing a oval to define the bowl of the seat will help immensely. And keep feeling the seat and removing any bumps or inconsistencies that you feel as you blend the shape from the bowl into the leg hollows. As I say in the video, when done the hollows should feel as it they were scooped out in a single pass.
The carving of this seat perfectly illustrates the concept of “coarse, medium, and fine” where rougher tools do most of the work and more refined tools come back to blend and refine the shapes. In this video I only use the coarse and medium tools and in a future installment I will come back with a card scraper to blend and smooth all the shapes. That is my fine tool. Below you will find all the tools I used as well as some alternative tools that can work. Much of the dedicated Windsor chair tools can be very specialized and if you don’t intend to build further Windsors you may want to consider using alternate methods so you don’t have superfluous tools floating around your shop.
Tools Used in Seat Carving
- Inshave: this is your rough removal tool, easy to hog out material and easily skewed to control tearing as your work across the grain with it. Available through Barr Tools
- Alternative: a bowl adze or even a large carving gouge (40mm #8 sweep)
- Travisher: your medium tool used for refining the bowl shape and blending the shapes through the seat. Much like a spokeshave but better the larger size makes it better at shaping larger surfaces. Available through Peter Galbert and Claire Minihan, Elia Bizzarri also makes a nice Travisher
- Drawknife: your coarse (and medium and fine tool depending on your skill) for shaping the convex surfaces of the seat. Available everywhere from vintage to newly made, so abundant on the antique market you will trip over them. Lie Nielsen also makes a good knife though I have not used it personally.
- Spokeshave: your medium tool for refining the convex surfaces on the outside of the seat. Available everywhere much like drawknives. I use several vintage shaves and newly made ones. My Boggs shave from Lie Nielsen leaves a super fine surface but I’m also very partial to the shaves made by Caleb James.
Next Live Broadcast
2 PM on Saturday 11/11/17
Let’s add stretchers and assemble the stool
Tapered Tenon Discrepancy
At the outset of this broadcast I talked about how the Veritas tenon cutters supposedly are designed to match the 12 degree angle of the Veritas reamer. Obviously that won’t match the 6 degree taper of the reamer I used yet I was still getting tightly fit legs and couldn’t see much different in the tenons I had cut vs my reamer. But if you look closely at this image you will in fact see and angle difference at the top of the tenon where the Veritas cutter formed a steeper angle as compared to the 6 degree cutter I used. So the moral of the story is to be sure that your reamer and tenon cutters match each other, or just turn your tenons on the lathe. Still I am surprised at how well my legs fit despite that difference in angles so it is obvious there is a bit of wiggle room.
The closer you get to the end of the year, the faster time goes by. Maybe the older you get the faster it goes too. Paula, Pret and I have started sorting out stuff for Greenwood Fest, who’s doing what, etc. But in the meantime, we have a few courses closer to the horizon. There’s a spoon carving class coming up in early December at Overbrook in Buzzard’s Bay.
We have held classes there a lot, it’s a wonderful place. 2 days, lots of spoon wood and Paula’s lunches. December 9 & 10, 2017. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/spoon-carving – plus both afternoons there’s a German Holiday baking class going on with Kirsten Atchison – maybe if you’re good they’ll let you sample some goodies https://www.plymouthcraft.org/german-holiday-baking and https://www.plymouthcraft.org/more-german-holiday-baking
Then the following month, after all the hubbub dies down, is Tim Manney’s sharpening class. This class is a deceptive thing. Sharpening classes are not as glamourous as a project-based class, but the skills you develop in this class reach into every aspect of your woodworking.
Tim gets things fiercely sharp, and is an excellent teacher. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/an-axe-to-grind Last year, people were scooting around asking “what else can we sharpen?” – I’m going to be around for it, and I’ve been cleaning my loft out in the shop. I plan on bringing a box of tools that will be free for the taking – but you’ve got to sharpen them!
Hope to see some of you there…or beyond.
I found a hammer handle at the Hammer Source. This is the same place I got my Thorex 712 hammer and I bought one of them to put in Mile's toolbox. I ordered a replacement hammer handle and I was happy to find out that each order comes with the necessary wedges - included in the price of the handle.
I had a bit of confusion with it in regards to the eye of the hammer. The instructions on the site say to note the shape of it and then get the long and short measurements of it. What I found confusing was they didn't say which end of the eye to take the measurement from. I tried to find something on line about it but I didn't find anything helpful. I measured the bottom of the eye, which made sense to me to do. The top is tapered/flared and with the wedges installed it will push the handle outwards against the walls. I'll find out next week whether or not I pissed away $10.
|yoke hanging out|
|the frog hanging out|
|mineral bath worked|
|rip back saw|
|I was right|
I was working on cleaning the 077 here. That entailed a lot of finger aching sanding with 220 followed up with 320, 400, and finishing with 600. I wasn't no where near done with it when I stopped to go run some errands.
|Home Depot acquisitions|
|worth going to HD and finding these|
|I have 3 kinds of gloves|
|can't wait to try them out|
|mason's line and degreaser|
|my strops are all stuck together|
|I was worried about this one|
|the white/dark spots are hide glue (I think)|
|gave them a haircut on the tablesaw|
|crosscut feather left by the tablesaw|
|mineral oil darkens them|
|big kudos for the gloves|
|flattened the back, raised a burr, and sharpened it|
|the before pic|
|bow shot sans the decal|
I was a little surprised by how rough this was in spots. I was expecting this to be a lot more uniform and precise. The handle had four rough spots on the outside edges. Two at the front and two at the back. I couldn't sand them out completely. Another rough spot was the bed for the iron. I could not only see it but I could feel it with my fingertips.
The hook part of the plane where the pins from the handle engage were rusted and very rough. The tops of them weren't finished and both are uneven and have a different shape. That part doesn't effect the fit of the handle but I would think this would be finished a bit better than this. I already mentioned the shim in the nose isn't symmetrical.
My overall impression of the plane is still highly favorable. The areas that matter the most appear to be dead nuts on. The sole is flat and square to the sides and the nose is in line with the sole too. All the areas I'm quibbling about won't interfere with the plane making rebates or being used as a chisel plane. These areas are cosmetic at best but they also show the care and workmanship of the person who made it.
|can't put these in a drawer|
|hanging out here until I need them again|
|time to saw off the proud ends|
|last side flushed and cleaned up|
|used a stick to mark both legs for the 45 saw cut|
|handy having the miter guide on the bench hook|
|check of where I'll do the libella|
|unraveling like crazy|
|ready to see if the libella says I'm level|
|I couldn't see my black mark on the tape|
|a pencil line|
|I got the left leg propped up on piece of scrap|
|the second libella|
|it's off the squared line|
|hanging right on the line|
|propped up the left leg|
|swapped it 180|
|found my centers|
What is Leap-the-Dips?
answer - the worlds oldest roller coaster built in 1902 and is located in Altoona, Pa
For me, one of the highlights of the auction season is the Country Store Auction in Mebane, NC. Not much in the way of furniture but tons of interesting stuff. The focus of the auction is things found in a country store, the merchandise found there-in and advertising of all sorts.
My favorites of favorites continues to be the foods or nominally edible products. Many unfamiliar products or familiar products in unfamiliar formats. Like soft drinks:
Then the are some adult drinks (non-alcoholic):
There was also other the counter remedies:
But, by far the largest category is something you don’t eat. Directly. I hope.
One thing this display points out is that there are no longer local brand in the number there once were. Consolidation has killed off local and regional brands. That and people used to buy a lot of lard.
You would need to buy one of these:
Meanwhile, back in Ohio…
I was walking in the woods one day, as I am wont to do, when I came across this fruit on the ground:
I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve never seen a butternut tree around here, but this looks suspiciously like a butternut (Juglans cinerea). I looked up at the trees over the spot where I found the nut, but there were definitely no butternuts (or black walnuts, either), although there were several hickories.
A typical hickory fruit is more spherical, such as this shagbark hickory (Carya ovata):
Mockernut (C. tomentosa) fruit are similar, but they’re distinguishable when you open them up:
The mockernut, on the left, has a large kernel surrounded by thin flesh, while the shagbark on the right has a small kernel and very thick flesh.
I opened up the mystery nut, and on the inside it looks very much like a mockernut, albeit aberrantly shaped:
It’s definitely not a butternut, as the shell of a butternut is deeply grooved, much like this black walnut (J. nigra):
Here’s another hickory; I believe that it is a bitternut (C. cordiformis), but I can’t get near enough to the tree to pick one off and look at it closely:
There’s another kind of hickory around here that I didn’t mention back in the June installment, because I hadn’t come across an example. But now I have:
The shellbark hickory (C. laciniosa) has bark that’s peely like shagbark, but in smaller pieces. I probably would have passed right by this tree had I not noticed the fruit. The fruit of the shellbark is round and huge, almost the size of a tennis ball. Unfortunately, this one was standing in a swamp, and I was not willing to search for a fallen nut in the fetid water. (I will only go so far for you, dear reader.)
Other trees setting fruit in August are black cherries (Prunus serotina):
And yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava):
The fruit of Ohio buckeye (A. glabra) is more spherical, and sparsely covered with short spines.
Late summer is mushroom season in the Appalachian forests. There are mushrooms at other times of year, too, but the peak is in July and August. One of the most sought after is the golden chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius):
This is one of the few wild mushrooms that I’m willing to pick and eat. There are a few inedible and even poisonous species that are vaguely similar, but a telltale identifying characteristic of the chanterelle is the presence of small ridges, in place of true gills, on the underside of the cap:
This is a destroying angel (Amanita virosa):
You can probably guess from the name that it’s one you shouldn’t eat. It and its close relatives are the species most often responsible for mushroom-related fatalities. Its toxicity is especially insidious because by the time you experience any symptoms, your liver and kidneys are pretty much gone.
The destroying angel is pure white, but other Amanita mushrooms are not. Like the other members of its genus, there is a distinct “veil” on the stem, and the base of the mushroom appears to emerge from an egg:
Here’s another veiled mushroom:
I wasn’t able to figure this one out; maybe Amanita or Lepiota. I don’t think I’ll eat it.
This one is a bolete; I believe that it is Gyroporus castaneus, the chestnut bolete, but I’m not 100% sure:
I didn’t get a good photo of the underside, but in place of gills, boletes are covered with tiny, close-packed pores.
Many Russula mushrooms, such as this short-stemmed russula (R. brevipes), won’t kill you but are not particularly good to eat:
Interestingly, they can become infected by a parasitic fungus, Hypomyces lactifluorum, which causes them to turn bright red, whereupon they’re known as lobster mushrooms. Apparently, in this form they are much better tasting (I’ve never tried), with a seafood-like taste (appropriately enough). I’ve seen lobster mushrooms in these woods before, but couldn’t find any this year.
The stalked scarlet cup (Sarcoscypha occidentalis) is tiny, but is so brightly colored that it’s easy to pick out, growing on fallen twigs on the forest floor:
Not all mushrooms look like mushrooms. The jellied false coral (Tremellodendron pallidum) is closely associated with oak trees:
We can’t have a false coral mushroom without also having a true coral mushroom, so here’s a crested coral (Clavulina cristata):
I found these mushrooms growing on some hardwood mulch in my front yard:
It took quite a bit of research, but I think I’ve correctly identified them as Hohenbuehelia mastrucata, the wooly oyster mushroom.
I’ve avoided writing about grasses, mostly because there just aren’t that many that grow in the woods. They’re also usually pretty hard to tell apart. But one common grass that grows deep in the shade and is easy to identify is eastern bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix):
I found this flower growing in my yard:
It’s an orchid, spring lady’s tresses (Spiranthes vernalis). Despite the name, it often blooms in late summer. While researching it online, I discovered that there was no record for this species for Athens County in the USDA PLANTS database, so I submitted photos and other documentation, and now there is.
I took the above photo ten years ago, and I haven’t seen it blooming since. I don’t know if the plant is still around or not. It’s very inconspicuous when it’s not blooming.
After a couple of slow wildflower months, activity begins to pick up again in August. Because it’s still pretty dark in the woods, most woodland-associated wildflowers are found either in open spaces within the woods, or along the margins.
There are many, many species of goldenrod (Solidago), and they can be very tricky to tell apart. One of the earliest to bloom is the aptly-named early goldenrod (S. juncea):
It’s hard to tell from the photo, but this one is easy to identify by its narrow leaves without toothed margins, along with small offshoot leaves that grow out from the bases of the main leaves.
The widespread goldenrod that we see along roadsides and in open fields is tall goldenrod (S. altissima). It’s sometimes called Canada goldenrod, but that name is also used for S. canadensis. You’re probably aware that there are many plants that have been imported from elsewhere into North America, and that have turned out to be extremely invasive. It works both ways, as Canada goldenrod has wreaked havoc in Europe and Asia, even leading to the extinction of several species in China.
The common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) grows in grassy openings in the woods:
The Carolina horsenettle (Solanum carolinense) is a member of the nightshade family, and shares the same five-petaled “beaked” flowers that all nightshades have:
Look closely, and you can see the thorns covering its stems and the undersides of its leaves. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the tomato-like fruits are the only part that might kill you.
I’ve mostly let nature take over the yard, and as a result, tall ironweed (Vernonia altissima) has started showing up:
At first, the deer would munch off the leaves before the plants got very far along, but now there are enough of the plants that I get lots of flowers. And it really is tall; this particular plant reaches well above my head.
It’s a stretch to call butterfly milkweed (Aclepias tuberosa) a woodland wildflower, but it’s one of my favorites, so you get a photo anyway:
– Steve Schafer
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I spend most of my time in the house, where my shop is, hunched over the bench, worried about bumps or awkward curves in my carving, thinking this new batch of varnish really isn't the right color. Sometimes I'm practicing tunes, wondering if I'll ever learn how to play the fiddle.
It's nice to quit for the day, step outside, and see something that just is what it is. Knocks me down a gear or two, and that's a good thing.