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In anticipation of the upcoming Issue Three, we’ve just released the new cover poster. It is the same (sane) 14.5” x 11” size as the first two on the same heavy paper for long-term durability. We think there is pretty much nothing more rad to hang on your wall than old hand tools. This cover features Kenneth Kortemeier receiving a drawknife which symbolizes the passing of the craft baton from recently retired Drew Langsner of Country Workshops. This image, while powerful on its own, has so much more meaning once you read this Langsner – Kortemeier story.
You can order your Issue Three poster here. $15. And, yes, we do now ship all over the world.
P.s. Tomorrow I will have news about the packing party for Issue Three. If you were bummed to miss our last party, you will want to be ready for tomorrow’s announcement. We’ve arranged accommodations for all our helpers but there are only so many slots available. Stay tuned…
Wooden cutting boards are wonderful. I wouldn’t be without them in my kitchen. But over time, their surfaces get chewed up–especially if you keep your kitchen knives sharp. A wooden cutting board can go years and years before its surface needs to be restored, but eventually it will be time to resurface it.
We were thinning out our camping gear a while ago, and we pulled out this sorry looking wooden cutting board. The surface was just too nasty to put it to use in our kitchen.
“Well,” I thought, “I know what to do with this.”
I set to work planing down each surface with my smoothing plane. About two minutes later, the surface looked very different.
The handplane leaves a glassy smooth surface, so no scraping or sanding was required. The wood appears to be hard maple, which is very common in older wooden cutting boards. It’s a tough wood–the same stuff they use for bowling alleys and basketball courts. A handplane needs to be razor sharp to cut this wood effectively. A closely-set chipbreaker also helps a lot.
Now, I realize that not everyone who has old wooden cutting boards also has a good handplane. But if you’re the sort of person who does a lot of handyman projects around the house, I think it’s really helpful to have a handplane. An old #4 or #5 Stanley is not hard to find used, and with a simple sharpening routine, you can keep the blade razor sharp. (There are many good tutorials on YouTube and elsewhere.) Just avoid the new-in-the-box handplanes at the big-box home improvement store. They’re pretty much all junk.
So after I posted the above pictures to social media, I got a message from my mom. Would I please bring my handplane next time I visit so I can resurface her cutting boards too?
Sure, Mom. I’d love to.
These are her cutting boards before I started work on them. They had belonged to my grandmother, and I remember them being in our kitchen growing up. In addition to the marks left from normal kitchen use, there were scoring marks from craft projects, as well some paint splatters and pinprick holes. I had to remove quite a bit of material from each side, but when I was done, they looked pretty good.
I not only resurfaced the working faces of each board, but I also scraped the grime off each end and edge with a card scraper. When I brought the cutting boards back into the house, my Mom hardly recognized them. But she was pretty happy with them.
I hadn’t brought any finishing materials with me, but I don’t think it’s really necessary to put any finish on cutting boards anyway. They will slowly but naturally absorb oils in the kitchen. I’m not lazy, just efficient.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of cutting boards, I was in a high-end home-furnishings boutique in a big city last month, and I ran across this fancy cutting board:
It’s probably more of a serving platter than a cutting board, but you get the idea. Zoom in on the price tag if you can, and you’ll see it’s priced at $140.00
It certainly is a nice piece of spalted maple, but I think the price is a little steep. But I’ll tell you what: if you want a similar cutting board, I will happily make you one out of spalted pecan for half the price of the above cutting board.
Tagged: cutting board, cutting boards, handplane, maple, resurface
In the next few months, I’ve got a lot of furniture to make, as Josselyn (my partner) and I just moved to Cincinnati from Maine. Last week, I built a new coffee table for our place. This week I’m building us a new kitchen table, in between getting settled in my new job here and figuring out where to buy lumber (and food, clothing, etc.). Later this week I’ll post […]
Last month I taught two short classes in Germany – a rare exception to my vow to avoid teaching and instead focus on new furniture designs. The reason I taught those two classes is quite personal, so I won’t discuss it here. But during the classes I was struck by an odd question I’ve struggled with for 30 years: Is it a good idea for students to personally like their […]
The post Like Your Woodworking Teacher? Maybe You Shouldn’t appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
I had a peculiar childhood, I grew up running CNCs and robots before I got my drivers license. Perhaps it was that experience that led me to believe that every other woodworker was as interested in the future of automation as me – I think I may have gotten ahead of myself. Before I attended the AutoDesk Fusion 360 Roadshow in Columbus, Ohio, I wrote a post and asked our […]
Prevent rust from taking over your tools with these simple tips.
Summer heat and humidity can be tough on our woodworking tools, especially if you store them in an unconditioned space. The absolute best way to eliminate rust from the surfaces of machines and other tools in your shop is to stop it from ever really getting started in the first place. If you’ve already got a rust issue, we’ve got some solutions for how to completely remove it once it’s already formed.
While searching for examples of lowrider (Roman-type) workbenches for Chris, I started to find images of workbenches from the Spanish Colonial era in Mexico and South America. As this is a field that is underrepresented, Chris and I thought it would be a good idea to assemble them for study. I found woodworking images from seven countries, with the majority from the early 17th through late 18th centuries.
Except for a very few, the majority of Spanish Colonial images are of religious scenes. In Europe, the shift from religious to secular images occurred earlier, but in the Spanish-controlled lands religious orders of the Catholic Church set up craft guilds for the converted indigenous peoples, and controlled much of the production of painting and other arts until the 19th century.
Paintings from Spain were used to communicate religious ideas and also served initially as examples to copy. And many copies were needed as churches were erected in every settlement, and new arrivals from Spain built new homes. In a twist that did not occur in North American, the Amerindians in Spanish-controlled territories began to infuse elements of their ancient cultures into the art they produced.
Along with workbenches, you will also see the basic tool kit in use, some sawing, angels and a few cats.
In the image at the top (lightened to see detail) Joseph is using an adze at a simple staked bench. Note the cabinet in the upper left corner with the basket of tools and two planes. You will not see all of Joseph’s workshops so neat and organized. And there is a parrot.
The painting above shows a simple bench with a substantial top and stretchers. A wall cabinet with a door is somewhat unusual in colonial paintings. Jesus has contrived a support for sawing on his own, no angels needed. This painting is probably a close copy of a European painting.
The painting above is from Oaxaca. Joseph and Jesus use a low and very long bench to support their sawing. There is a tool rack on the back wall and strewn about the floor are a selection of planes, chisels, an adze, square and mallet. It looks like Joseph is using his leg and a short bench as an additional support for the piece they are sawing.
In Mexico in the 18th century a type of secular paintings were made to illustrate a complicated and legal caste system. Very briefly: with a population of Iberian Spanish, colonial-born Spanish, Amerindians and Africans there were bound to be intermingling; racial mixtures were used to determined levels of status. Casta (caste) paintings generally illustrated 16 mixtures.
In the secular trinity above we have a nice example of the staked bench, although a bit higher than Chris would like, and a small selection of tools.
Of the hundreds of Casta painting I looked at most of the craftsmen were shoemakers, so I was surprised to find some carpenters. With adze in hand he works the wood supported by his bench and child.
It is highly likely some of the workbenches are exact copies of benches in European paintings. As more immigrants and members of religious orders arrived, more paintings and other artwork was available to copy. However, I think the Casta paintings and paintings from missions point to the type of bench most commonly built and used in mission shops and by craftsmen working in city shops.
The Spanish-controlled lands in the new world became part of a global trade network that extended from Spain to Asia. Via “La Nao de la China,” otherwise known as the Manilla Galleon, precious metals found in the New World, especially silver, were transported to Manila to trade with Chinese merchants.
The Manilla Galleons ran from 1565-1815 and ultimately completed two voyages a year using the largest ships in the world. The goods from Asia landed in Acapulco with some distribution in the New World. The bulk was moved over land to the Atlantic Ocean and thence to Spain. The human cargo consisted of slaves and freeman and with them the colonies were exposed to new materials, methods and influences.
One example is the use of mother of pearl for inlay (a craft the Japanese had perfected) which became known as enconchada. In paintings it was generously used to impart a richness to the subject. In dim churches and homes, the garments of Mary and Joseph, angel’s wings and the embellishments around doors and windows would glimmer and glow.
Back to the benches. Similar low staked benches, one with stretchers. On the left there is the not-recommended tool storage above the dishes. On the right, we have a sensible woodworker with only a gluepot (?) and a smaller saw on the shelf and a nice basket o’tools.
In the Mexico gallery there is a painting with bench that may be a reproduction, more glowing, some polychrome sawing and a vista. Click on each image for a description.
To wrap up Mexico here is a 19th century bench of a master carpenter.
The legs look like they have been replaced. The bench is 228 cm long and 127 cm wide. Chris commented that he suspects the face vise screws are so long to accommodate sawing pieces for veneering. My contribution is to name the nuts “double-bunny ears.”
Flemish paintings brought to the colonies introduced the idea of spiritual scenes warmed with details of domestic life. This is very likely a close copy of a European painting.
Jesus is a bit older and has his own bench. Both benchtops seem to have holes for pegs (or a holdfast) to use for work holding.
The right leg on Joseph’s bench seems to have holes and perhaps a holdfast.
This painting is from Medellin. The staked bench has a substantial top and legs. Tool collection on the ground and a cat.
Nice heavy bench top and a face vise with indeterminate nuts.
Staked bench with a very skimpy top and wonky legs, but you get the idea. The same set of tools strewn about. Baby Jesus is not using a safe chiseling method.
I add subtitles to images in my notes to remember which is which. This one is, “Get that baby off that bench!” But, we are back to the long and narrow staked bench. Demerits for the Baby Jesus on the bench (with chisel), merits for using a basket for tool storage.
Chisels in a rack on the wall, squares, planes, mallet, and saw on the floor. Dividers and adze on the bench. Bench more than a bit too high for its legs. Wait! What is that NOTCH on the front edge of the benchtop? I can’t repeat the exclamatory phrase Chris used when I sent this image to him. I believe this bench joins the Roman Saalburg workbenches in Workbench Mystery No. 326 (read that post here).
The Colombia gallery has two more benches and a vista.
Isabel de Santiago was the daughter of a well-known painter. Using her will, and other documentation, it was determined she had painted several paintings attributed to her father. Of course, the re-attribution occurred a few centuries after she died.
Joseph is about to strike a chisel with his mallet. An angel with dividers in one hand and a square in the other works alongside Joseph. The bench is similar to others earlier in the post with the addition of a cat and dog.
I had almost given up on finding a clear and uncropped image of this painting.* The bench has a face vise with hurricane nuts. There is a tool rack on the wall and minimal tossing of tools to the ground. The painter, Miguel de Samaniego, a mestizo, is considered one of the premier painters in Ecuador’s colonial era. He clearly had a sense of humor.
He gave Joseph a plethora of shop angels: naked angels are ripping, but who is supporting the other end of the wood? Joseph’s leg? The clean-up crew is busy. The chickens are being fed. Over at the soup pot, one angel blows air to stoke the fire while another suffers from smoke inhalation. And under the bench we have a spoon carver.
A staked bench with no face vise. Just as Joseph is about to bring his adze down, his helper angel puts finger to lips in the international sign of “Shhh” and points to the sleeping Jesus.
In the Ecuador gallery there is another painting by Isabel de Santiago (Joseph and bench are in the background), from the coastal city of Guayaquil a painting of Joseph with his tools and two vistas.
*A big thank you to Jaime H. Borja Gomez and his ARCA project. I was able to find missing information and better photos of previously found paintings, and many more images I would not have otherwise found.
I hope to have the next post up in a few days and it will cover Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.
— Suzanne Ellison
Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Workbenches
Since this is a handtool build, I did mark a reference face on the rails and stiles. I paid attention to them when I plowed the grooves and marked for the mortises. I thought all was well in Disneyland and the lines for rides had only 3 people waiting. I found or saw a hiccup right away tonight.
|all 3 are different|
|stile and rail|
|they are even|
|Holy bat turds Batman said Robin|
|no problems sawing out the bottom tenons|
Noticed another hiccup with these in that the mortise gauge lines I did don't line up with the tenon cheeks. My plan on these is to fit the cheek up against the wider wall first because that one is the reference face. I ran a pencil line from the edge of the groove up and around the tenon on both sides.
|the back side that I couldn't see|
|my front saw line|
|won't go any higher|
|not my favorite way|
Who was Dov Moran?
answer - he invented the USB flash drive
In the morning they arrive and we will be together for nine days. For some it is all new. For some a new career path will begin. We will all be excited and wide eyed. In my mind I will be unlocking doors into the lives of people I may have never met or met only …
One of the different tasks in saw making is to smooth the flat parts on top and below the hand. If you use rasps across the handle you risk blow outs on the fare side.
Also benutze ich die Raspel falsch. Im Englischen kenne ich den Befriff drawfiling. Die Raspel wird in maserrichtung und in 90° zu ihrem eigentlichen Hieb bewegt.
This is the final installment of our Issue Three table of contents announcement series. Check out the full T.O.C. here. (You can click on any of the article titles to read about them.)
“Resurrecting the Derelict: Hard Choices in the Conservation of a Chest” by Joshua Klein
No one wants to be guilty of destroying an antique. What if we ruin exactly what is so special about a piece? What if it ends up on Antiques Roadshow someday? Will we be berated for ham-handed restoration? This legitimate fear rises up especially when our projects do not go according to plan. Often, furniture conservators set out on their treatments with a grand vision of a phoenix-from-the-ashes resurrection only to be faced with hurdles and inevitable compromises. Even after all the examination and solvent testing, many projects are more complex than the original examination suggested.
How does a conservator decide the “right” thing to do when faced with stubborn finishes or other complex problems? What do they do if they just can’t physically achieve the ideal outcome? Anyone who has thoughtfully undertaken the restoration of an antique knows that the answers to these questions are not obvious. There are always many factors to consider when deciding treatments.
This summer, I undertook a conservation project that I knew was going to have a lot of real world complexity. The chest was covered in many layers of goopy paint, original elements were missing or cut out, and other parts were added on. Although the chest was derelict, I could see beneath it the beauty of a handmade late 18th-/early 19th-century New England chest over drawers. As is, it was headed for a dumpster. Restored, it could live on for another few hundreds years.
This article is not a show-off piece for my portfolio. As I proceeded, I encountered complicated problems with removing layers of paint to get to the lowermost indigo blue. This forced me to tack another direction in the treatment which brought to light the importance of understanding the different values we place on artifacts.
Although I walk through one particular treatment from beginning to end, I’ve written this piece to teach others how to do the hard work of assessing the “right” thing to do for any restoration project they take on. Most of the hand skills required in this work are well within reach of the average woodworker but it’s the decision making and thought process that sets an excellent conservator apart from a hack.
In the end, we want beautiful results but we also want to be able to sleep at night. The only way we can be sure we won’t have guilty consciences is to learn to think carefully. Think of this article as a conservation 101 lab. This hands-on experience gives context to the statements like “What’s it worth?” and “bringing the piece back to life”.
Check out the full table of contents to see what’s coming. Mike and I are excited about all this and are confident that fans of our first two issues will be delighted with this next installment. Pre-orders for Issue Three open in one week on August 1st at 12:00 am (Eastern time). We will soon be blogging about pre-ordering details relating to subscriptions, brown paper wrapping now offered only for pre-orders, the packing party information, and a special giveaway for the first slew of orders. Stay tuned.
There’s more than one way to attach a solid wood table top. The most important requirements of any method are (1) to keep the top firmly in contact with the undercarriage, preventing it from warping more than minimally, and (2) to allow the top to move across its grain as the wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity. Table top fasteners are one attachment method. They’re roughly Z-shaped, with […]
The post How to Attach a Table Top with Traditional Wooden Buttons appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
|bookcase is done|
|all are still flat and straight|
|gloves were a bust|
|all goodies ready to strip|
|while the stripper was working|
|laid out a practice mortise|
|looks good from up here|
|appears to be square on both walls|
|chopped one with the 1/4 chisel|
|walls look ok|
|chopped a little off plumb with the 1/4" chisel too|
|road testing my mortise chisel jaws|
|found a use for my old 8K stone|
|been almost an hour|
|I don't think it's going to get any better|
|it's worth a try|
|primer coat is dry to the touch|
|the wax worked|
|laying out my gauge lines for the stiles and rails|
|ripping it just off the line|
|all ripped out, planing to width is next|
|the batting line up|
|planing worked in this|
|can't set this mortise gauge|
|finally got one|
|had to use this|
|it's a flip of a coin|
|my first hand chopped through mortise - photographic proof|
|all four done in about 45 minutes|
|sawed the rails to length plus an 1/8"|
Who was Clyde Edward Pangborn?
answer - the first person to fly across the pacific ocean non stop (in 1931)
“Der Narzissmus der kleinen Differenzen (The narcissism of small differences).”
— Sigmund Freud, 1917
The topic of sharpening is plagued by Freud’s “narcissism of small differences,” and the best example of this is all the noise about the shape and angle of the tool’s bevel.
Almost every word written about this topic is nonsense, at least from a practical perspective. Let’s talk first about the shape of the bevel.
Convex, Concave or Flat?
All the wood can see is the tiny intersection of the bevel with the back. It cares only about two things: the angle at which the edge is cutting and whether or not the edge comes to a zero-radius intersection.
The wood doesn’t care if you hollow-grind your bevel and hone it flat on stones. It doesn’t care if you have a dead-flat bevel. It doesn’t care if you add a secondary bevel. Or if your bevel is convex.
The wood never sees the bevel – only you can.
So from a practical standpoint, the shape of the bevel is unimportant (I’ve worked extensively with all of these shapes). Unfortunately, theory and speculation cloud what is – at the bench – dead simple.
A hollow-ground edge is not weaker than other edges. You might draw diagrams that show how the cutting edge isn’t as well-supported by the iron atoms behind the edge, but you are only making noise. Please stop that. A hollow-ground bevel works very well.
A flat bevel that is fully polished is not particularly difficult to sharpen. Yes, it might take a little longer to polish the scratches out because you are polishing a lot of iron and steel. But the time difference is not significant enough to warrant discussion. If it were, entire woodworking cultures wouldn’t have done it for thousands of years. So a flat-sharpened bevel also works very well.
A secondary bevel works very well. The wood has no clue you are using one.
And a convex bevel isn’t any more robust or easier to sharpen than any other bevel. Yes, there is theory that our human brains might ponder, but the wood doesn’t care about your theories. Bottom line: A convex bevel works very well.
Animosity Toward Angles
Another source of intense noise is the exact angle of the bevel. I’ve written about this red herring before. It seems logical that low sharpening angles are best for end grain, and high sharpening angles are good for mortising.
What’s is far more important than the angle, however, is the zero-radius intersection. You can pare end grain with a sharp chisel honed at 35°. I do this all the time. In fact, almost every tool in my chest is honed at about 35°, which keeps my sharpening regimen simple.
Pre-industrial woodworkers didn’t seem to care much about angles, either. In the old texts, a wide variety of angles are acceptable (check out Joseph Moxon’s discussion in his ‘Mechanick Exercises’” for a good example). The advice of the dead: If the edge crumbles easily, raise the sharpening angle. If the tool becomes too hard to push or won’t take a shaving, lower it.
So pick a practical angle – somewhere between 20° and 35° – and see what the wood and steel tell you. Soon you’ll forget the sharpening angle you’re using (I certainly do) and focus more on that zero-radius intersection and less on the shape of the bevel or its angle.
— Christopher Schwarz
Read the other installments in the “Sharpen This” series via this link.
Filed under: Sharpen This
Vintage Fulton Tool Company Transitional Jointer Plane, 26 inch. This is a good user plane. Bottom and sides were jointed, not much patina is left on sides and bottom. A piece of ebony has been inlayed to close the mouth, finish work on mouth has not been completed. 85% of japanning remains on metal parts. Knob is in good condition, tote has some dings, patina remains on top and ends of plane. No manufacture mark on plane body, Fulton Tool Co. is on the 2 5/8" wide plane iron which still has plenty of length for use and no pitting. Light pitting on plane cap. This plane needs a good home! Please direct any questions to email@example.com
Every two years the woodworking world gets to spend time looking at the newest if high-tech woodworking and even hand-tool woodworking. It’s a great few days and we’ve enjoyed sharing what we say with you. Here’s a short recap: One of the more popular stops at the show is the Fresh Wood Student Competition. Always inspiring to see what the newest and brightest woodworkers are creating. The entries ranged through […]