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In Roubo’s description of the finishing processes and materials included in L’art du Menuisier (and thus our To Make As Perfectly As Possible translation) he used the word “juncus” when referring to the fibrous plant from which the polissoirs were made. At the time we had competing dictionary definitions and identifiers, “rush,” “grass,” and “straw” all showed up in one dictionary or another, and in the end I decided to simply use the word “grass” if I recall correctly.
Yannick Chastang, like my Roubo Project collaborator Philippe Lafargue, was trained in the full multi-year program at Ecole Boulle in Paris, chided me that Roubo chose the word “juncus” on purpose and I should have as well, at least in concert with the word “rush.” Fair enough, but in retrospect since the word Juncus refers to a genus with over 300 species of grassy rushes I cannot beat myself up too much for that editorial decision.
I was talking about this to Mrs. Barn one day, she being a botanist/mycologist by training, and she said something like, “Well, you are in luck since we have Juncus effusus growing around the pond.” She took me outside and sure enough, we have a number of fairly immature clumps at the shore of our pond. When Daniel the stonemason was here building the hand-knapped dry-stack wall a few months ago he mentioned that he had loads of juncus growing around his pound and I was welcome to harvest as much as I wanted.
As a break from our activities during ManWeek John and I took the morning an went to Daniel’s place to harvest soft rush, or juncus. We first spent a minute ogling his greenhouse. Mrs. Barn will be most impressed with it when we visit again.
Then we headed to the pond and there was indeed a multitude of soft rushes ringing one end of it. In less than an hour of harvesting we had the back seat of the Envoy completely filled.
Back at the barn we sorted and arranged the rushes to dry in the sun before moving them inside a few days later.
Yannick avers that polissoirs made from these fibers have a very different feel and performance than the ones I get made from sorghum broom straw. After this material gets fully dry and I make some Juncus polissoirs I will be able to make my own determination on that.
Well that’s not entirely true, of course. I do use them when I need to make up a cut list from a full-scale drawing or story stick to tell a machine in numerical code (be it metric, Imperial or shaku) where to make the cuts. The cut list is, however, rarely necessary in the hand-tool approach to construction. So in typical layout work, I go with pin-point perfect real placements of cut or location lines.
For example, if I need to lay out the location of slats in a bed’s headboard, I simply stack the slats together against the post (or its location on a story stick) and find the intervening gaps by stepping out the number of gaps needed between the slats (number of slats + one). Layout follows as shown in the next drawing. The accuracy of the layout will be a function of however sharp I make the points of my dividers.
Of course, you can use algebra to generate dimensions with numbers:
As for me, I don’t want to spend the time doing it and then having to deal with reading tiny numbers on some ruler and coping with rounding errors!
As another example of rulers not always ruling: Say you want to locate placement buttons (the ebony plugs in the set shown here) on a pair of winding sticks so you can quickly locate the sticks on the edge of a board. In this case, the location is not a number at all (at least not until after the fact). You could, of course, measure the length of the sticks and divide by two to get a numerical center point. Or, to avoid rounding error, you could step off an even number of intervals to locate the middle division line and then enjoy the accuracy of a pin prick. But both would miss the point so to speak. What we are really looking for here is not the center of the stick, but its center of gravity. How do we find that? We just balance the stick on a sharp knife blade!
Filed under: From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized
The only difference is that you use a file instead of a chisel to remove the waste. I used a drill to remove the bulk of it, just like some people do in wood.
After cleaning up all the pins on the sole, I wanted to clean up the mouth a bit too.
This was where I discovered my first mistake: When I had drilled the series of holes for the mouth, I had used a 5 mm drill (9/32"). The small file was just able to go through that opening, but it was not great for flattening or removing a lot of material. If I had only measured the regular files first, I would have used a slightly larger drill.
I managed to rout out the mouth using a 5.5 mm drill (something larger than 9/32" but not 1/4" - this is where my limit of the imperial system seems to be).
At last I was able to clean up the mouth with a regular file, and I did only that. It has not been shaped yet.
Since I made the sole first, I did the "pins first" this time. transferring them to the tail boards was done just like any other set of dovetails. I clamped a batten on the tail board to rest the pin board against while I marked the tails.
More drilling, sawing and filing..
I completed the tails on one side of the plane, and I pressed them a bit of the way. They are tight, so I might have to ease up the corners a bit more before the final assembly.
Two years. Long time, two years. And yet for the graduating Mastery students, I can tell you that it seems like a flash of light that just flew by.
Join us First Thursday, October 5th from 5-7:30pm. There will be work from six accomplished woodworkers on display at the Studio. They have spent two years working, designing, thinking, worrying, stressing in order to make and show their final Signature pieces. Please come by and take a look.
Base Camp Brewing says howdy as well. I hope to see you there.
Tomorrow is the last day to pre-order Issue Three so if you haven’t yet ordered consider this the last call for free (US) domestic shipping and the special pre-order wrapping with wax-sealed trade card.
All magazine orders submitted after Tuesday will be mailed naked in our rigid mailer. This includes Issues One and Two. If you want any of these three issues wrapped, it’s now or never.
Mike and I have poured ourselves into this issue and we are super excited about how it turned out. One of my favorite pieces in this issue is about the passing of the craft school torch from Drew Langsner to Kenneth Kortemeier. Between our team, there have been many miles driven, interviews done, transcriptions produced, and words crafted to bring this complex and intertwined story into an inspiring and personal narrative. Mike and Jim worked this one over and over and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.
Between Garret Hack’s discussion about how simple wooden patterns are essential to his design and building process to Brendan Gaffney’s fascinating journey through the ancient craftsman’s measurement to building a spring pole lathe, we’ve run quite the gamut in this one. Jim McConnell and Danielle Rose Byrd wax philosophical about craftsmanship and Bill Pavlak show us the nuts and bolts of using period design books for carving inspiration. All of us on the M&T team are particularly proud of this issue. We think this might be the best yet.
Here's a video from our printer (Royle Printing) of the binding process. Issue Three is on a truck as I write this with delivery scheduled for tomorrow morning. On Friday and Saturday we have a bunch of people coming over to help wrap and ship the new issue. We just had a few slots open up in the rental house so if you were interested in coming up to Blue Hill, Maine on Friday and Saturday to party with us and send Issue Three out into the world, email us at email@example.com right away and we’ll reserve your spot.
When a woodworker threw two workbenches down well No. 49 at the Roman fort at Saalburg 1,800 years ago, he (or she) likely anticipated retrieving the benches once the Germanic tribes attacking the fort (or attacking the nearby limes) were defeated or retreated.
That didn’t happen, and so in 1901, and the workbenches were retrieved during massive excavations and reconstructions at the fort at Saalburg, resulting in thousands of surviving artifacts in wood, leather and metal.
During my visit to Saalburg in June, I was allowed to measure the workbench to a make a reproduction for my upcoming book, “Roman Workbenches.” During the last few months, I’ve been getting ready to build this bench. This is one of those cases where preparing for the project will take much longer than building it.
The bench itself if simple: A slab with five to seven sticks driven into it. Placing those sticks and selecting the right material is what has vexed me since June.
The primary problem has been what 1,800 years in a well will do to a slab of wood. Rüdiger Schwarz at Saalburg explained the problem perfectly this summer when he showed us a wooden yoke that had been pulled from one of the wells. The wooden yoke was shriveled and distorted, like someone had made a Shrinky Dink of a yoke and left it in the oven too long.
Next to the yoke was a casting that had been made of the yoke right after it has been rescued from the well. It looked like a brand new farm implement. Schwarz explained that wooden objects, such as the workbench and the yoke, had distorted noticeably after they dried.
So the workbench was likely much less twisted than it is today.
Also: The bench’s legs are not original. They were added shortly after the bench was recovered so the bench could be shown. As the “new” legs were wedged in place from below, there is no way to know how the mortises are angled. In other words: Who knows what its rake and splay are really like?
So the last couple weeks has been all about laying out the joinery on my benchtop, performing trigonometry equations to determine some sample rakes and splays and them comparing the results to my photos. Oh, and lots of wondering and thinking and imagining. (I know this doesn’t sound scientific at all.)
In the end, my numbers were driven by several factors aside from the photos of the Saalburg bench, including other low workbenches I have used and their working characteristics.
Today I bored out the waste inside the square mortises. There is no going back now.
— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com
Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized
Bog oak is exactly what it says, oak that has come from a bog, in this case the Fens in East Anglia. What so amazing is that it's been preserved and the trees last grew 5 - 6,000 years ago!
The timber is coloured from dark brown to black and is very dense.
It polishes up beautifully.
Here is a single plank 13 metres (43') long.
And here are the planks loaded into the longest kiln I've ever seen. The planks give off an enormous amount of water during the drying process and the cells in the wood collapse which is why the wood ends up so dense when dry.
Some of these planks are destined for an incredible project shown in the pictures above and in the maquette below. It's being held by Hamish Low, co owner of Adamson and Low, who make fantastic furniture mainly from the bog oak they recover. See website
There is an enormous amount of wastage with bog oak and the best chance of yielding reasonable boards is to cut the logs on the quarter. Shown below is an example of the cutting process which requires the log to be turned many times.
This is why quarter sawn timber of all species is rarely stocked by timber merchants due to the increased conversion cost and wastage. However approximately 20% of wood cut through and through ends up being quarter sawn (the middle boards), so if you can find a self selection timber yard you can always find some.
Drivel Starved Nation!
Before I share the next clue, I am informing all that we have a winner! NO! You say. Me too! So, why clue 3?
Well, it’s my contest, my rules, and our fun. It’s just too early to stop my ability to insult our customers. I do promise however to share this story and why we are going to have TWO winners for this contest. That’s fair, don’t you think?
Oh, one more thing… both winners will receive this thing whether they want it or not. How cool is that?
OK, now back to the mystery–What you see below is 350mm in overall length. And yes, those are acme threads.
This is the third and last post in a series about making linoleum counters and table tops. Let’s talk about corners. I find corners, whether square or rounded, the most challenging part of making a linoleum topped counter or table. When you’re working with metal edging, measurements have to be ultra-precise, and bending the material can be a challenge. Here are some tips. Square corners are sharp — never more […]
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “mnemonic” as (noun) “assisting or intended to assist memory.” As an example, they give, “To distinguish “principal” from “principle” use the mnemonic aid “the principal is your pal.”’
I used it just the other day. I wanted to order some paper for my new Festool RO-90 that switches from delta sander to 90mm round random orbit sander, and Rubin2 was the first example that popped up in the 120 grit I wanted. I thought about Steve’s video for a minute, and said, “No, what I want is ‘general, gray,’” which helped me remember it was Granat that I needed, not Rubin2. A couple more clicks on HighlandWoodworking.com and I was on the right paper.
With that in mind, I asked Steve if I could publish a written form of his memory tool that you and I could print out and nail to our shop walls, or laminate and store with our sandpaper supplies. He said OK, so here it is.
Granat: “General-gray-blue color.” Steve says if you can buy only one Festool abrasive, Granat may be your go-to general sandpaper. It’s good on bare wood and finished wood and is supplied in extra-coarse to extremely fine (40 to 1500).
Rubin2: “Raw wood, russet potato red.” It has a special coating that sheds raw wood fibers. It is available from coarse to extra fine (40-220).
Brilliant2: “Between finish coats, beige.” Anti-static coating that works well sanding paints, fillers, varnishes, lacquers, shellac even water-based finishes. Its surface won’t load up or “corn” as some papers do with finish materials. Coarse to fine (40-180).
Vlies (pronounced like “fleece”): “Clean, scour, scuff and polish.” Steve says it’s thick, like a pot-scrubbing pad. Good for applying paste wax on equipment. Clean, scour, scuff, sand, polish, smooth out irregular surfaces. It doesn’t have dust extractor holes, but dust goes right through it. Grits are A100 to A800, polishing green and fine polishing white.
Saphir: “Shaping or stripping.” Aggressive, super-coarse to coarse grits. Removes a lot of material quickly. Grits 24-80.
Platin2: “Premium polishing pad.” Foam-backed for high gloss finishes, pumice and rottenstone. Used extensively in the auto industry, but Steve has used it on an ebony project. Grits range from S400 to S4000.
Titan2: “Tucks in” to curves and contours. Solid surfaces, couple with super-flexible latex backer. Steve says use it t polish your Bentley.
Find out more and purchase Festool Abrasives at Highland Woodworking!
Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.
My first shop sawing helpers were a pair of saw benches I adapted from Jim Toplin's in his book Traditional woodworker. These are big but not as heavy as the saw donkeys. However, the two of them take up more space than the saw donkeys. I used them for a while but put them aside. I didn't like the low down, have to kneel on the stock to saw something. These now live almost permanently in the bone yard.
The one thing I really like about the saw donkeys is the height of them. I can lean over and hold the stock with my off hand and saw with the other. My knees don't hurt nor my back, when I'm done using them. After seeing the Oregon Woodworker's blog post on his Krenov styled saw donkeys, I decided to make another set.
My first saw donkeys were made out of 4x4 stock and the new set is being made with 2x4's. That will reduce the weight of them by half. The other problem with them is the space issue. I don't use or need these all the time. So the time I don't need them, they are usually in the way. These new saw donkeys will be a knock down version. I will be able to take them apart and lay them flat up against a wall out of the way.
|filling nail holes|
|raw wood before the paint went on|
|some holidays here|
|extra screw holes from fixing the banding|
|barely damp rag for the nail hole cleanup|
|needs a another coat|
|this did the trick|
|debating whether or not to paint the bottom|
|the new saw donkey stock|
|my doodling for the new saw donkeys|
There are doubles in the drawing - I only need 2 top bearers, 2 feet, and two stretchers. I doubled them to account for knots and other headaches that I might of run into.
|this has to go somewhere else|
|this one is almost quarter sawn|
|angled brown knot|
|double triple checking my cut list|
|been a while|
|marked a plumb line to saw on|
|it helped a lot|
|no way to avoid any knots|
|everything cut to rough length|
|not in use - they eat up a lot of space|
|left over stock|
|getting an idea of what they will look like|
|^%#@!!)&;;;*(*$@%& rounded edges|
|this is toast|
|new stretcher rough sawn to length in the vise|
|pattern laid out|
|can't use the bandsaw|
|vertical cuts with the Zona|
|circular cut with the coping saw|
|looks ordinary and needs help|
|two step haircut|
|clipped the top notch to complete the make over|
|some divider work|
|set the mortise gauge to the divider points|
|quick look to see how flat the back is|
|touched up the tip|
|drilled 3 holes|
|not too bad of a mortise|
|it's a consistent 1/2" end to end|
|I painted it|
Which US President is third for having places named for him?
answer - Abraham Lincoln
On a recent trip to the Philadelphia area for a wedding, I had a chance to visit some of my favorite antiques dealers in South Jersey. At one of them, I came across this rather ordinary bench:
This bench has a tool tray and a tool rack on the back:
Drawers have machine cut dovetails:
An adjustable bench stop is currently frozen in place:
The odd thing here was the label on the front of the bench:
If you know Hammacher Schlemmer at all, you probably know them for that catalog that makes you wonder why you’re getting it. It features such brilliant gifts such as The Best Bug Vacuum for $69.95 and the $50,000 The Barbecue Dining Boat.
Hammacher Schlemmer actually has a more interesting past:
Hammacher Schlemmer began as a hardware store specializing in hard-to-find tools in the Bowery district of New York City in 1848. Owned by proprietors Charles Tollner and Mr. R Stern, it became one of the first national hardware stores. A few months later, Stern withdrew and Toller continued the business until 1859, moving in 1857 to 209 Bowery. In 1859, family friend Albert Hammacher invested $5,000 into the company and the name was changed to C. Tollner and A. Hammacher.
Throughout the 1860s, William Schlemmer gradually bought out Charles Tollner’s stake in the company. When Tollner died in 1867, 26-year-old Schlemmer entered into a partnership with Hammacher and Peter F. Taaks. As a result, the company changed its name to Hammacher & Co. William Schlemmer had been actively involved with the business since 1853 when he moved to New York City from Germany at age twelve and worked at the storefront. After a few years Taaks resigned and since Schlemmer owned a greater portion of the company, the name was changed in 1883 to the present style of Hammacher Schlemmer & Co.
And it was all down hill from there.
Things change. Look on eBay for Hammacher Schlemmer in collectables and antiques.
More history for young people:
Abercrombie & Fitch: Founded in 1892 in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, by David T. Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch, Abercrombie & Fitch was an elite outfitter of sporting and excursion goods, particularly noted for its expensive shotguns, fishing rods, fishing boats, and tents.
American Eagle Outfitters: The first attempt was to open American Eagle Outfitters in 1977, positioning it as a proprietor of brand-name leisure apparel, footwear, as well as accessories for men and women, emphasizing merchandise suited for outdoor sports, such as hiking, mountain climbing, and camping.
I bought my first (and last) sleeping bag and tent at American Eagle Outfitters.
I am adding the following item to this blog because I found it interesting and don’t know where else to put it. I did find it at the same shop which makes them location coincidental. It is this box:
And waterfowl on the lid:
A closer view does not necessarily provide answers:
My best guess after looking at the actual box and these pictures if that it is a veneer failure. Looking at the corner of the lid you can see the substrate is white and the veneer likes to free itself. There is already a veneer failure at the edge of the tail board. Wood movement cracked the veneer and it either fell off or was picked of by idle fingers.
But, I could be wrong…
You can read his blog post here.
My project is moving forward at a steady pace: The blade, the chipbreaker and the screw all cleaned up nicely after being soaked in vinegar for a day. A really fantastic thing is that the black crust/scale on the steel bar also disappeared after the vinegar bath. So now I have some bare grey steel to work with which is nice.
Yesterday I sat with a piece of paper and tried to make something resembling a construction drawing of the plane. With actual size measurements and angles etc.
I also experimented a bit on the dovetail lay out until I finally arrived at something I believed in.
Today I squared up the three pieces of steel bar and sawed them to the correct length and made sure that the freshly sawn end was filed square too.
I then started laying out the lines on the sole. I started by scratching some longitudinal lines that would define the depth of the dovetails and also define the final width of the plane.
I will end up with the pins being 1/8" proud. That should be more than sufficient for peening, but off course it will give me a lot of material to get rid of in the end. But when working with standard width stock you can't be too picky.
Next I laid out the position of the mouth, but I deliberately made it too small. My idea is that I can open it up later so I can achieve a tight mouth when the blade is inserted.
The dovetails were laid out last. I eyeballed an angle that I found pleasing, and marked the lot of them.
I marked out some help lines and punched some dents with a center punch, to give the drill a starting point.
My idea is that it is faster to drill out material than it is to file it away.
All this actually took the best part of the evening, and there isn't much wow effect in showing a piece of sheet metal that looks like a Ford T after a gunfight in an old gangster movie . But it is all that I have got for you.
For those of you who follow my blog you may remember an earlier post about this plane and in that post I said I would not sell it. I have changed my mind. If you are a collector and looking for a fairly rare combination plane, this Fales' plane is for you.
The other day I noticed an unsightly gap in the binding around the soundboard of a dulcimer I am currently working on. Small gaps are not uncommon when binding an instrument and there are several methods for filling them.
This gap was large enough to cause me to consider removing the binding and starting again. The gap was about 2 inches long and barely open enough to catch a fingernail (my default tool for checking gaps) but I would not have slept well just filling it and calling the job done. No one would ever know but I would know I could and should have done better.
Before replacing the binding on one side of the dulcimer I thought I’d try another method of repair. At best it might solve the problem, at worst I might aggravate the problem but I was going to replace the binding anyway.
I ran hot water into the gap several times with a pipette to soften the glue and clamped the binding against the body to close the gap.
After a few hours I took off the clamp and the gap was barely noticeable. The soundboard had swollen a little due to applying hot water so I let the repair dry over night.
The next day most of the swelling had left the soundboard and after cleaning up the area with a scraper and file the gap was almost invisible. After applying a small amount of filler and a bit of spot sanding the gap was gone.
It’s OFFICIAL! I am a presenter at the 2018 Weekend with Wood woodworking event hosted by Wood Magazine at its Des Moines, Iowa classrooms and shops. The event is held May 17th through the 20th, so make your reservations now. Listed as teachers at next year’s event are names such as Gary Rogowski, Jeff Miller, Vic Tesolin, Steve and Jeremy Stevenson, George Vondriska, the staff at Wood magazine and others.
A teacher in the Netherlands pulled a blog post I wrote about the beginnings and outcome of following my passion in woodworking here and I am not altogether sure why what I wrote altogether mattered except, well, I got something that matters to me off my chest. It happens all the time that things left unsaid …