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Be sure to visit the Hand Tool Headlines section - scores of my favorite woodworking blogs in one place.  Also, take note of Norse Woodsmith's latest feature, an Online Store, which contains only products I personally recommend.  It is secure and safe, and is powered by Amazon.

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Tool List – What to Buy? (Or Wait to Try)

Giant Cypress - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 11:08am
Tool List – What to Buy? (Or Wait to Try):

Megan Fitzpatrick does a great job with a list of what tools to start with for woodworking. But then there’s this:

Bevel-edge Chisels

My absolute favorites are a Japanese make that I can never remember (so I had a reminder on my computer at PW that I could look up. Oops.), but I also don’t think they are easily available. So among chisels you can actually get, I like the Lie-Nielsen Bevel-edge Socket Chisels.

*** single tear rolls down cheek ***

How to Saw Straight

The Renaissance Woodworker - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 8:10am

Sawing Straight is Getting Out of the Way

Learning to use a hand saw and sawing straight isn’t a thousand hours or practice thing. Honestly a well tuned saw really wants to saw straight and we have to really fight it to make it deviate. So rather than spending hour after hour making practice cuts, focus on aligning your body and getting out of the way. Focus on relaxing and actually working less and the saw will do its thing. Within a few minutes of this you will be getting straight and plumb saw cuts. It is the initial set up and alignment and relaxing that is so important. Going through that set up is what this video is all about and I address several different types of saw cuts and how to prepare and execute the straight saw cut.

More Sawing Tips

    I referenced both of these videos during the session so make sure to check them out. Additionally I have a lot of sawing related content here on my site and do a little searching or looking under the techniques menu will find you some additional gems.



Categories: Hand Tools

My Willow Phase

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 5:13am

willow_footstool_IMG_0213

The unpleasant funny thing about visiting your family during the holidays is encountering your former woodworking self.

I’m in Charleston, S.C., with my dad this week and encountered my Late Willow Phase, a time during the 1990s when I was obsessed with rustic furniture. I had honestly forgotten about this phase (unlike my leather trousers phase).

For a couple years I drove around in my Volvo 240DL station wagon cutting willow switches out of ditches on the Westside of Cincinnati. I stored all these sticks in buckets in my shop, giving it an arboreal look. Using a drill and a tenon cutter, I made dozens of chairs, trellises, frames, anything you could fashion with sticks and tenons. It was my first pleasant encounter with bending green wood.

One Christmas we planned to visit my father in Arkansas. Lucy and I were broke, and my dad already owns everything he needs. So I took an afternoon to make this little footstool for him from a scrap of white pine and discarded willow switches from a chair project.

And here it sits today (I took it out on his porch for a photo). And for something that I threw together in a day, it’s not half-bad.

Phases can fade away or end abruptly. This one had its throat slit. One day I got a letter from a family that makes willow furniture with a bunch of photos of their beautiful pieces. The letter said: “We’ve seen your stuff. It sucks. This is what willow stuff should look like. Please quit.”

I did.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Personal Favorites, Uncategorized, Yellow Pine Journalism
Categories: Hand Tools

Fraudulent use of my guitar label

Finely Strung - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 3:03am

Earlier this week, I was contacted by Serhat Köse from Ankara, Turkey. He had spotted a steel string guitar, which he thought had been made by me,  for sale on the mobile classified app Letgo  and he wanted to know more about it.

Although the guitar carried my label, it certainly wasn’t an instrument that I had made and I’m puzzled how the label got into it. The label was designed for me several years ago by Gill Robinson, an artist who is also a classical guitar player, and I had enough printed to last the rest of my guitar-making life. I’ve got a stack of them in my workshop but the only way in which they leave is when they’re glued inside a guitar.

I wrote about my new labels on this blog back in 2012, so perhaps whoever put it into the guitar for sale in Turkey obtained it from that post. It didn’t occur to me then that I needed to watermark the labels to prevent fraudulent use.  But, of course, I have done so now.

Serhat sent me this photograph of the guitar. Anyone thinking of buying it should know that the label inside is a fake.

IMG-20180102-WA0008

no humming, no buzzing......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 2:38am
Where I live it gets cold in the fall and winter months. Fluorescent lights do not like cold weather and the cheap ones like it even less. When it gets cold, fluorescents like to buzz like a swarm of angry bees. And when they don't buzz, they have an annoying hum. This was my constant companion in the shop for the longest of times. Even though I've lost a lot of my hearing, those two sounds I had no problems hearing. But no more.

Last year I came across some 4 foot double LED shop lights for cheap ($15?). I bought enough of them to replace every single buzzing/humming fluorescent I had in the shop. I saved two fluorescents to put in the boneyard but I shitcanned them. Ocean State Job Lot is still selling these LED lights and I'll buy two more for the boneyard.

 Do you know what I hear now? Nothing but the radio. It is wonderful to go to the shop, turn the lights on, and not hear that fluorescent dance music anymore. Not only is the noise gone, the light output has increased a bazillion percent. When I first put them in I was amazed with the brilliance of the light.I wasn't sure that I would get accustomed to but I did in a very short time - less than 2-3 days. If you are on the fence with LED lights, hop off and trot off to the store and buy some.

Oh and I forgot to say that the LED lights are instant on. Fluorescent lights also tend to lag coming on and have a diminished output in cold weather.

sharpened the 1/4" iron
 I'll be using this iron to make the groove for the sliding lid so it batted lead off this morning.

a Eureka moment
I didn't fully understand what this was for until today. I had been getting annoyed with it mostly because the iron wouldn't fit in the plane. The screw is used to keep the iron up tight against the plane. The shoulder of the screw lines up against the edge of the iron keeping it oriented at this bevel angle and the lever cap gizmo secures the iron.  I had been doing this without realizing that is what I had to do.  This screw will come out wide enough to put the 9/16" iron in it. The slotted knurled part of the screw is captive and will only extend out to accept the width of the largest iron.

the Lee Valley plow plane
The Lee Valley plane has the same feature but it is a bit simpler in design. I was having the same annoyance with this plane too.

finishing the big plumb bob
Both are reading about the same amount of being out of level. The black line is centered and squared on this edge.

the up/down plumb is dead on
The string is barely touching the front edge of the standoff.

confirmed
got this R/L plumb fixed
I had to play with wedge on the right side to get this plumb in the vise. Now I still have to find a home for it.

second coat on the back of the chamfer wings
These are taking a bit of time to complete. I have no way to hold them so I can paint both sides at the same time. So I'm painting this side first and then I'll do the other side. I got the second and final coat of paint on the plane body. Tomorrow I'll work on shining up the non painted areas.

the storm came
The snow started coming down in earnest around 0830 and didn't stop until about 1600. The wind is blowing in some pretty powerful gusts causing a whiteout. I can barely make out my neighbor's house across the street out of my front window. I tried to shovel a couple of times but the wind won both times. I'll try to do it tomorrow when it is supposed be less windy.

screwed the lids back on
See a white line. It is not giving me a smiley face.

the front of the saw till box
it is clean looking
I purposely kept these edges paint and shellac free. The reason I did that was because once the lid is latched, it could fuse the paint or shellac together. I don't like the white line and I don't want to risk fusing the two halves together so will have to make decision on this. It's nice that I have lots of time available to do that.

same problem with the square till box
sawing tails on sliding lid box
I don't know which tool goes in this box but it doesn't matter. I can figure that out after it's made. Since I am only doing one box, I am sawing in the vise. The bench is crowded and I didn't want to clear it off to set the moxon on it. It made me think of making another bench just for doing joinery work. A bench where the moxon would always be ready to go. I'll have to search for hole in the shop that I can put it in.

this side is a wee bit tight
The other side went on off the saw. This side I had to trim the pins that had bruising on them.

seated almost
I still have to plow the grooves for the lid. I don't like banging the corners together and taking them apart any more than I have to. I'll save the final dry fit until after the grooves are done.

it still amazes me
After all the dovetails I've done, this step still gets my motor running in the red line. This is something I have done on my own. The tools I used were extensions of me that did my bidding and this was the result.

no bottom groove
I am gluing the plywood bottom onto the bottom of the box. Not my preferred way of doing this but it will save me about 5/8" on the height of the box. I need to minimize that on both the 78 and 044 boxes.

it's square
The inside of the box is where the lid goes and it has to be square. I didn't check the outside because it doesn't matter. The back dovetails are tight and staying put. The front has one big tail and I needed to use the clamp to fully close it up.

double, triple checked it with a bigger square  - glued it with hide glue and put it by the furnace
the Record 044 iron box
This iron holder box I put 5 coats of shellac on because of the figured walnut. This side on the top left has an oval patch that I missed when I made this.

board for the lid
I noticed a crack on the end of board and sawed it off. I banged it on the bench and this happened. I didn't see anymore evidence of a crack on the face or the end grain so I sawed out the lid.

banged the lid on the bench
Nothing broke or split so I sawed it off at the right spot.

had to remove some twist
I had to plane out a cup and a hump too. I am not that concerned with this being exactly a 1/2" thick as it is a lid for a tool box.

reference edges and one square corner
I'll do all of my fitting of the lid off of these.

sticker it here until tomorrow
dovetail tips
A friend of mine asked me to explain my dovetailing. There are a few tips I think would help him. The first one is to practice them. Dovetails are like anything else worth doing. It is going to take time, practice, and making a few mistakes along the the way. Tip #1 is to label the corners however you like.

I use the nubers1 through 4 and I always label the bottom. I do the bottom because it won't readily be visible and if I glue the bottom on, I don't have to erase anything. Tip #2, don't forget to allow for the half pin that gets sawn off. On those corners the label has to be set from the end a bit or you'll saw it off.

pay attention to the labels
Tip #3. Get in a OCD, anal retentive mood when you do dovetails. Get in the habit of doing the layout and sawing the same way everytime. I always saw my tails and pins with the outside facing me so any fuzzies from sawing will be on the inside.

Once you get in the habit of doing dovetails the same way you'll be surprised that you'll pick up on mistakes quicker. Something will not appear to be right and it usually isn't. Most of my catches have to do with me sensing a mismatch of the tails and pins (labeling).

tip #4
Get anal about keeping the reference faces together. This is where I usually make a mistake and catch it. I'll turn one of the reference faces 180. I always check the corner with the numbers to make sure they match. If one board is face flipped there will only be one number on the L or R corner.

the type of saw doesn't matter that much
Developing your sawing technique is more important than the saw used. You will learn to do dovetails with whichever saw you choose. I watched a You Tube video where the guy did a dovetail corner with a hacksaw and a screwdriver for a chisel. It's not the tools that make the joint, you do that.

tip #5
Here's the habit thing again. I always make my nick on the reference edge. I look for it when I lay my square on the reference edge to knife my lines.

tails done on box #2
I wasn't going to saw these out but I did. This is where I called it quits for today. Tomorrow I will make the lid, glue the bottom on, and figure out which tool this box is for.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that USDA standards state that a gallon of ice cream must weigh a minimum of 4.5 pounds?

What is a ‘Loose Tenon?’

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:28pm

Loose tenon disassembled

Some readers seemed confused by my description of assembling a benchtop with the help of a “loose tenon.”

The expression doesn’t mean that the tenon rattles loose in the mortise. Rather it means that the tenon is not integral to either piece being joined. It is like a Domino or a biscuit. It enters mortises in both pieces.

I drew up two illustrations to show how this works. The drawing at the top illustrates the joint when it is apart. The loose tenon is shown floating between the two components of the benchtop.

Loose tenon ASSEMBLED

The second illustration is an “X-ray” view of the assembled joint with 1/2”-diameter pegs piercing the benchtop pieces and the loose tenon.

“Loose tenons” have many other names, including “slip tenons” or “floating tenons.” All these terms are accepted in woodworking journalism.

Hope this helps.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

New Book | American Furniture 1650 to the Present

Pegs and 'Tails - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:40pm
Oscar Fitzgerald, American Furniture, 1650 to the Present (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2017), 630 pages, ISBN: 978 144227 0381, $130 / £85. Drawing on the latest scholarship, this comprehensive, lavishly illustrated survey tells the story of the evolution of American … Continue reading
Categories: Hand Tools

DIY Marking Gauge

Owyhee Mountain Fiddle Shop - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:24pm

Not my idea, probably an old one at that, but simple and effective.  An adjustable marking gauge you can make in a few moments.  Good for putting that running dent in the wood, something to cut to.  The little screwhead lets allows you to get into the curves, which is nice at this point in the making.

Handy little adjustment tool, too.


Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery

Loose Tenons & Workbench Tops

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 11:36am

la-forge-royale_overall-P1040669

We think of loose tenons as a modern joint, but it is far from it. Early Greek and Roman boats were made with loose tenons that were pegged to keep the hulls together.

I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that Richard Maguire also used this same technology to glue up his benchtops (read all about that here). I’ll be honest, I’ve always relied on glue alone (when I didn’t have a monumental one-piece slab top).

But my view changed a couple years ago when we got a bad batch of epoxy and several benchtops delaminated. If I ever have to glue up a slab benchtop again, I’m adding loose tenons.

Interestingly, Maguire doesn’t drawbore the loose tenons in his tops. He states: “a draw bored peg here would have been much weaker than this straight through approach.” I do believe I will be experimenting with this joint – both drawbored and not – to see for myself.=

Maguire wasn’t the first to come up with the idea of loose tenons in a benchtop (though I heard it from him first). Recently I got to inspect an early 20th-century French workbench from La Forge Royale that used the technology.

pegged_tenon_P1040754

This commercial workbench was surprisingly rough in manufacture. Joints were deliberately overcut throughout to make the bench easy to assemble. The “breadboard” ends were merely nailed or screwed on. No tongue. I could go on and on. It’s still a great workbench (and still standing after 100 years), so I’m not knocking it. But I was surprised.

Despite the rough construction, the builders took the extra time to add loose tenons in the benchtop’s joint. That fact says a lot to me as to how important a detail they thought it was.

So it’s worth a thought for your next workbench.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com


Filed under: Uncategorized, Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

The (Almost) Final Step with the Horse Garage

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 11:14am

willard_sub-panel_IMG_0076

I have never been so happy to hear from a roofer.

After 10 weeks of waiting for my number to come up, Brian the Roofer called to say his crew will begin the job Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

Barring rain or a visit from the Angel of Death, I’ll have a new roof by the end of the week and will then set up my machines. That should take a day at most. I don’t have a lot of machines, and they (with one exception) are easy to move.

The only thing left to do is install the mini-split to control the climate in the workshop. The wiring for it is ready – so it’s a one-day job. (And until the mini-split gets installed, I’ll simply freeze my butt off when I work.)

Ever since moving my workbench to the storefront almost two years ago, I’ve been slowed down by having two shops. Though I don’t do a lot of machine work, there were times that I had to drive home to use the drill press for a very particular hole and then had to drive right back to the storefront to continue working.

Though I don’t live far from the storefront (4.2 miles), the route always has a chance of jackknifed semis or cornholed motorists on the stretch that locals call “Death Hill.”

When I was planning out my new shop, I half-considered writing a series of articles about the process. Then I realized that I think most people make it a lot more difficult than necessary. And by putting a lot of effort into the shop, they actually make it more of a pain to use in the long-term.

If you’d like to read my brief thoughts on setting up shop, check out my entry at my other blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine. Here’s the link. (Side note: I’d like to offer a huge thank-you to all the people who read my blog there – the monthly pay I receive is an important part of our family budget. And according to the traffic numbers, 2017 was a good one for my blog there.)

Now back to dreaming of my membrane roof.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Lovely Walnut Cupboard

David Barron Furniture - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 8:45am
 Nathan sent me these pictures through of a fine cabinet he has recently completed. He had intended it to be wall mounted, but at 12"deep he realised that it would be better on a stand, which is currently being designed.


It's a nice touch to use a waney edged board for a shelf and the beautifully shaped handles below look very tactile.


Categories: Hand Tools

Cresting Grain Direction

360 WoodWorking - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 7:56am
Cresting Grain Direction

Last year – that seems so long ago – when I posted about the five facts of fretwork mirrors, I received a few emails asking about the different observations. The most asked about was observation #4, grain direction of the cresting.

If you were left wondering about that particular observation, here’s the scoop. There is a better glue connection when matching long-grain to long-grain, and an end-grain to long-grain connection lacks a significant hold.

Continue reading Cresting Grain Direction at 360 WoodWorking.

big storm coming.......

Accidental Woodworker - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 3:22am
The weather situation in my part of the universe is going from bad to worse. Today was a heat wave with the temp getting above freezing but tomorrow it's turning into liquid fecal matter up to my armpits. There is storm coming and it is bringing a boatload of the white fluffy crap. Over the past two days the forecast has gone from 2-4 inches to 18 inches. After the storm passes on thursday afternoon the weekend temps are then predicted to be coldest we have seen so far this year.

The temps we have seen in the past week for december are about the lowest I can remember. Forget having positive single digit temps, we are heading for negative single digit temps. This weather forced my wife to leave a day early for her annual business trip. She is headed for San Diego this year and I doubt that it has ever snowed there.

I had my truck winterized and I had to pony up almost a grand to do that. I had the coolant flushed and replaced and the heat in the truck is working better now. Before the coolant change, the heat output was tepid at best. The heat coming out of the vents now is hot enough to make jiffy popcorn pop. I'm glad that I got it done before the storm hit.

An oil change and four new sneakers rounded out the winterization. I should be good for a couple more winters now. Especially so with new brakes 5K ago and a new battery a few months back.

walnut should be set
After the funny stuff that happened with the rapid fuse glue, I clamped this and set it by the furnace overnight. Normally I let it set a few hours and then play with it. It didn't seem to have been weakened in any way. I couldn't pull the long piece off so whatever problems I had with it yesterday had no effect on the final result.

it's a snug fit
I wasn't easy putting the lid on this. I had to shift into Cro-Magnon mode to do it.

dialing in the fit
I want a snug fit but a snug fit that I can put on and take off with just a wee bit of muscle. I sanded only the edge at the top for about an inch down. Checked the fit and repeated it until I got the snug, slip fit, I was looking for.

irons out of the EvapoRust, rinsed, and blown dry
EvapoRust darken the irons
These were shiny and bright before their bath. I could sand them again but I don't know what effect that will have on the treatment by the EvapoRust. I think I'll put some oil on them and stow them in their box as they are. It will be some time before Miles gets to play with them so it may be best to do this for the long term storage.

will it fit now?
it fits
It was a tight fit and the lid slipped over the irons ok.

not so good taking the lid of
The lid is holding on to most of the irons when the lid is removed.

the problem
This is an exaggeration, but there is a slight bellying in of the two sides. That is pinching the irons and holding them as the lid is removed. It doesn't hamper putting the lid on other than making it a bit snug.

sanding stick to the rescue
I started by sanding the bigger bottom part. I used the snuggest fitting iron to check my progress as I sanded.

this iron won't go down
I tried another iron and got the same result. The space to the left of the iron is ok. The spot where the iron is and to the right of it, isn't. Something odd - if I take out all of the irons and just put one in, I can put in anywhere along the whole slot with no problems. No sticking at 3/4 of the way in and I can slide it in and out easily.

the smallest, last iron, won't fit
sanded the lid but needs more work
you can see which irons were used the most
The 1/8" iron is the longest one so I am surmising that it was the one used the least. (on the bench hook)

still grabbing irons
After sanding the bottom part and still having a few tight spots, I filed it. That worked on getting most of it but the file couldn't get all the way to the bottom. So I'm back to square one here with both the lid and bottom grabbing irons.

a problem iron
This iron is thicker then the rest of them. Not only could I see it, but when I put against each of the other irons, I could feel it. I filed this iron until I couldn't feel a difference between it and the other irons.

made a new sanding stick with 60 grit
put a piece on the other end, opposite side
The slot in the lid and bottom wasn't wide enough for this sanding stick with 60 grit on both sides.  I started the 60 grit sanding on the bottom. When I could put the irons in to the bottom and turn it upside down and have the irons fall out, I switched to the lid.

finally done
Once I had sanded the lid slot open some, I glued another piece of 60 grit on the opposite side of the stick. Then I sanded both sides at the same time. Getting the irons to fit this box took a lot more time than the other two I did. I made this one the same way as the others so I don't know why this one was so difficult to do.

the iron adjuster knobs fit the other screw stems
chamfer thumbscrews
The thumbscrews don't fit in the adjuster knob. I was planning on going to Lowes to buy some 6mm washers but I had no transportation and it's too far to walk to. With the storm coming it'll probably be this weekend before I can get there.

#0, #1, and #2 Grace square drive  set
I got a Lee Valley gift card for xmas and I bought these for Miles's toolbox with it.

got a drill index too
I bought him a hand drill so he needed a drill index. It is a basic set from a 16th up to a 1/4".

ratcheting screwdriver square drive adapter
This will increase the abilities of the ratcheting screwdriver beyond it's phillips and two slotted driver tips.

this doesn't look good sports fans
They aren't even close to looking the same. I got this one based on looking at the picture on the Lee Valley site. This one is for a Stanley #131 ratcheting screwdriver. The screwdriver I have coming is a Stanley #135. The Craftsman one I have now I don't know if there is an equivalent Stanley for it. I don't know who made it for Craftsman. And the business end of it doesn't match the Stanley 131, 133, or 135.

seems to fit and lock in place
it fell out
As it turned, this promptly fell out. My second ratcheting screwdriver will have to be a #131.

ready for paint
I painted the plane body and it's hanging out by the furnace. These are in the on deck circle. After I got these painted I put a coat of shellac on the square and saw till boxes.

dovetail layout for the 78 & 044 boxes
These boxes are roughly the same size and the layout will be the same. I did the spacing of the tails by eye but laid  them out with a dovetail jig. I laid out the tails on one side and then used that to transfer the tails to the other one.

gang sawing
I saw this blue tape trick on a blog (?). Before this I had problems getting the a decent cut because I couldn't get and keep the two pieces aligned. The blue tape solved that problem. The benefit of gang sawing means the sides are symmetrical and interchangeable.

this sucks
It has been over a year since this last happened to me. My line didn't line up all the way around. That means I didn't knife one line off of a reference. I think I got the line knifed correctly on the second try. I'll have to wait and see how the final joint comes together.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that Rafer Johnson was the first black athlete to carry the American flag in the opening procession of the Olympics?  (Rome,1960)

Starting out a new year

NCW Woodworking Guild - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 6:36pm

With all the uncertainty a new year brings, as woodworkers we can all be certain of one thing: images like these make us do a double-take, maybe even drool a bit.

koaquilted maple

… so if you’re wiping the spittle off your chin, you’re probably in the right place.

We plan on starting out the new year with more ways to bring eye candy to your work other than relying on spectacular wood grain. In January, Autumn Doucet will give an extensive presentation on how to buy, cut and inlay mother of pearl, paua abalone, and other raw materials. So if you would like to incorporate the ability to add a little something to your woodworking skills, join us on January 17th .

mop diamond

Check out the blog section of this site to see updates leading up to the inlay demonstration. Included will be important links and tutorials.

Pybus event

The December Pybus event turned out better than we could have expected, with lots of public interest to spur us on. Craig Dixon and his wife worked hard to arrange the setup, and we all benefited from their insight and planning (and our new sign). One thing is certain: we have a lot of chair makers in our group.

IMG_3092

IMG_3095

IMG_3112

A note of thanks

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Darrell Peart for his presentation to our group in November.  Because of the timing of the meeting, many of us were unable to attend, but those guild members who were lucky enough to be there gleaned new information from his slide presentation of Greene & Greene furniture and his portfolio. “Engaging” was the adjective used most by those who attended, and they appreciated the many woodworking tips Darrell passed along, including how he executes the making of certain joints.

 

Not my last book after all!

Journeyman's Journal - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 4:57pm

Remember, a few posts ago when I said this is my last book I will ever purchase, well I wrong and foolish to think so. There is another that comes highly rated titled Woods in British Furniture Making 1400-1900 by Adam Bowett.

I discovered this book when I read the latest post at the Lost Art Press by Kara Gebhart Uhl about another book written by Richard Jones on Timber Technology. The title of the post is The Highlights and Lowlights of writing about trees and woods, here is the link if you want to read it. As a new writer I could very much relate to it, many times I felt like just giving up. As it turns out I’m not the only one battling with words, constant errors and mental blocks.

As I scrolled through the comments, I saw Christopher Schwarz recommended link on Adam’s book.  After spending a little time on the net researching more about it my desire to read it grew exponentially and I believe it will be one of those books that will be referred to regularly throughout my lifetime.

The book isn’t cheap at US$180 and will be the most expensive book I will have purchased, but I think it will be worth it.  I have found this book selling at US$128.34 at Potterton Books in the UK. I don’t believe they are shipping to Australia though as I cannot locate it in their shipping destinations.  Nevertheless there are others out there who are willing to ship Australia.

I will leave with a review of this book by Christopher Pickvance who is a Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury.

Woods in British furniture-making 1400–1900, an illustrated historical dictionary
Adam Bowett Wetherby: Oblong Creative Ltd. in association with Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, 2012. 360 p. 620 ill. ISBN 9780955657672 £110.00 / $180.00 (hardcover)

The author is well known to furniture historians as the author of two major books on English furniture and many articles, and since 2010 as editor of the journal of the Regional Furniture Society. His extensive knowledge of furniture, and reputation for challenging established views based on documentary and scientific evidence, especially microscopy, give one high expectations of this new work.

The study of furniture has taken a social turn. Broad stylistic currents, their international spread and their reflection in catalogues of furniture designs are still relevant but today the focus is on the social relations of production and consumption, e.g. the makers (their training, employment situation, tools and materials, and social lives) and their clients (their life styles, how furniture was placed and used in the house, and the meaning given to it.) Bowett argues that furniture-making is a manufacturing process and that the availability of timber is one factor affecting what woods furniture is made of, along with price, suitability, appearance, preference and fashion.

The book consists of an Introductory essay, an introduction to botanical names and statistical sources, the main dictionary, Appendices showing timber trade routes, lists of the Latin names of the woods included and their geographical distribution, photos of 149 wood specimens, a bibliography and two detailed indexes. It is hardbound and printed on ivory matt-coated paper. Of the 500 woods covered about one third grow in the Americas.

The book is set out as a dictionary and each entry discusses the names used for a wood over the centuries (a major task in some cases), its habitat, geographical distribution, physical characteristics (colour, hardness, etc.), involvement in trade, and its uses in British furniture. The entries range in length from a brief paragraph to extended essays (29 pp on mahogany, 13 on walnut, 11 on cedar, 10 on deal and oak, and 9 on wainscot).

However, some of the entries go well beyond this. Many discuss the use of woods for furniture outside Britain, and for uses of woods beyond furniture, such as for tool handles, nutcrackers, woodcuts, drinking vessels, shipbuilding and dyeing.  The use of lignum vitae for mortars is omitted. On the other hand, there are numerous entries where there is no known use in British furniture, or where the only recorded use is in cabinets made to show off the diversity of woods.   The author’s policy is to start from a maximal range of woods and then ask what, if any, uses they have had rather than to start from those where there is clear evidence of use in British furniture. This expands the scope of the book and provides baseline information for future furniture wood analysis. It also increases the value of the book to readers interested in furniture in the US and elsewhere.

The book is more than a ‘dictionary’ in another sense too. A major theme in all entries concerns imports and exports. In this respect, Bowett presents what amounts to a separate book on the historical timber trade, drawing on available statistics and on his identification of wood names. Here the focus is on tariffs and subsidies, European wars and alliances, British colonial policy, etc. The author’s PhD research on the mahogany trade means we are in expert hands. He is able to debunk myths such as that the expansion of mahogany imports followed the wiping out of European walnut trees, and one gains insights into shipping economics, e.g. in the 18th century sugar was a more profitable cargo from the West Indies than mahogany, and imports of the latter depended on capacity not needed for the former.

The folio format of the book and the triple column layout of the text makes it very easy to use and footnotes are at the bottom of the page. The 620 photos are of exceptional quality and many of them are of unfamiliar items. My only reservation is that by placing softwoods in a separate short section the author places botanical precision above the reader’s convenience. Not all readers will realise that hard and soft do not have common-sense meanings (e.g. yew is a softwood, lime is a hardwood) and some woods are split between the two categories (e.g. types of cedar).

The intellectual base of the book consists of a) the Kew economic botany collection of wood samples where the author spent two years on a British Academy fellowship, b) historical sources such as customs records, landowners’ records and furniture inventories, c) an extensive literature from the 16th century onwards via the appropriately named Holtzapffel’s 1852 Descriptive Catalogue[II] to Hinckley’s 1960 Dictionary of the Historic Cabinet Woods[iii], d) microscopic analysis of woods used in British furniture and e) the author’s familiarity with a very extensive range of pieces from famous houses to private collections. A great virtue of the book is that Bowett makes one aware of the limitations of these sources. The Kew collection itself is a moving reference point as botanical classifications change and species are renamed. All historical sources reflect prevailing ‘practical’ rather than scientific usages which may be inaccurate: Bowett repeatedly criticises ‘trade’ names which are more to do with selling than describing. He points out that trade statistics under-record generally, lump many woods together as ‘unclassified’, and record ports of origin of ships rather than places of origin of cargoes (and that some ship owners avoided high tariffs by shipping via low-tariff ports). Lastly, there is the inability of microscopic analysis to always distinguish between certain woods (e.g. American white oak/European oak, poplar/willow and pear/apple/hawthorn). There are thus intrinsic limits to the accuracy of a book like this. But on all these questions Bowett guides the reader carefully through the quagmire of past and present confusion.

There are a few minor slips: conflicting dates are given for the round table at Winchester Castle (p 166) and the statement that boarded chests in England start around 1400 (p 166) ignores the Bury chest from Durham Cathedral and those shown in Geddes in her Medieval Decorative Ironwork in England.[iv] Bowett uses a mistake by Cescinsky about the source of satinwood imports to refer to him as the ‘source of many misconceptions about furniture and furniture woods’ (p. 217). Given Cescinsky’s strong contribution to the study of early oak, including in his Gentle Art of Faking Furniture,[v] this is an undeservedly sweeping comment. Lastly, some sources cited in footnotes do not appear in the bibliography, e.g. Cross and Laslett on p 34, Chinnery’s Oak Furniture on p.120.[vi]

However, generally this is a quite exceptional book in every aspect, from its intellectual conception to its superb production. The author proves an impeccable guide to the material he surveys. The breadth and depth of treatment means that the book will appeal to those interested in every aspect of furniture-making in Britain and elsewhere and in the world timber trade. This is a definitive work which will be used for decades to come.

[i] Adam Bowett, English Furniture 1660 – 1714 From Charles II  To Queen Anne  1 (Woodchurch: Antique Collectors Club, 1999) and Early Georgian Furniture 1715-1740

[ii] Charles Holtzapffel,  Descriptive catalogue of the woods commonly employed in this country for the mechanical and ornamental arts (London:  Holtzapffel & Co, 1852)

[iii] F Lewis Hinckley, Dictionary of the Historic Cabinet Woods (New York: Crown,  1960)

[iv] Jane Geddes, Medieval Decorative Ironwork in England (London: Society of Antiquaries, 1999).

[v] Herbert Cescinsky, The Gentle Art of  Faking Furniture (London: Chapman and Hall, 1931)

[vi] Victor Chinnery, Oak Furniture (Woodchurch: Antique Collectors Club, 1979)

 

 


Categories: Hand Tools

The Highlights and Lowlights of Writing About Trees and Wood

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 9:12am

Editor’s Note: Richard Jones’s book on timber technology is designed, and Chris, Richard and I are working on final edits. The book will be available early this year.

— Kara Gebhart Uhl

In almost every project one can find good elements and bad elements in the process.

I’ll get the lowlights of working on this book out of the way first. I found there were times I struggled to put words on the page. Many things can hamper creativity, for that’s what writing is, even with factual subjects. Trying to get information across in a readable form requires finding the right words allied to illustrations so, yes, creativity matters.

It’s frustrating to complete a piece of text and ‘red pen’ it – literally printing the page, marking all the bloopers, jotting corrections (in red) and then going back to the word processing. I can’t properly proofread on a computer monitor, so printing it is. ‘Red penning’ helps me find the repetitions, awkward phrasing, spelling mistakes and bits so badly composed I need to start again. It’s frustrating, time consuming and wastes paper because on average I print and proofread five times before I’m happy, and even then I miss errors.

Other things that frustrate the writing flow include too many work commitments in my full-time job, illness in the family, and just becoming fed up with the whole thing. Why am I doing this? I don’t even have any idea if it’ll get published, and it could all just sit in big stored digital files no-one except me will ever see.

Ah, but the highlights outweigh all the frustrations. The kindness and generosity of people throughout the UK and overseas: Kiln operators, timber (lumber) yard owners, entomologists, mycologists, engineers, wood scientists, meteorologists, woodworking forum participants and so on all came up trumps with suggestions, guidance, photographs, participated in discussions face-to-face, by email and phone, and were willing to peer review sections I’d written suggesting improvements and approval when I’d got it right.

Two things surprised me. First, apart from the essential wood knowledge I chose to cover, I found the secondary information the most fun to write: tree history, ancient deforestation, forests and climate, balanoculture, the special place of oaks in the role of human development and The Baltic Problem from the point of view of the UK. The second surprise was the discovery that the supply of wood from the world’s forests currently teeters on the balance of just about enough at our level of usage – it could go either way, probably depending on future human ingenuity, or, perhaps, our greed and stupidity.

— Richard Jones


Filed under: Timber Book by Richard Jones, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Setting up a (Real World) Workshop

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 7:25am

I’m in the final stages of setting up a new workshop in Covington., Ky. It’s my seventh (!!) workshop. I could probably write a book on the process, but instead I think I’ll sum it all up here. During the last 20 years I’ve visited and written about some of the most impressive and modest shops all over the world. From a home shop with a remote-control crane (that shop […]

The post Setting up a (Real World) Workshop appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Preston chamfer shave rehab pt II..........

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 3:10am
Woke up at 0500 this morning. As in I went to bed at 2100 and slept through to 0500. I must have been a wee bit tired because I never sleep this late. 6 hours is my average for checking the eyelids for light leaks. But that again I am on vacation and I am getting used to sleeping late. Let's hope I don't oversleep on my first day back to work, eh?

the problem area
The four inset areas are the problem. They are painted while the surrounding area is plain metal. I tried taping it but gave up working with small sticky pieces of tape. I then thought of putting wax on them but I couldn't get it only where I wanted it. I cleaned that off with mineral spirits. I decided to forgo priming these areas and I will just paint them black. This wasn't primed by Preston and it survived without it and it will continue to do so.

the chamfer wings
This center slot with the two raised half circle beds was painted when I got it. I'll be painting it again but I won't be priming it.

the two outside runners
These were painted too or rather they had spots of paint on them. From that I could tell they were but that didn't make much sense to me. I am not painting them but leaving them bare metal. I sanded them but the casting was rough and there are a few pits and rough spots that will not sand out. Most of it will be hidden and never seen.

forgot this
The bottom is painted black but the walls aren't. That was the big problem - trying to tape off the the sidewalls but not the bottoms. I'll tape it all off and prime what I can.

the plane body taped off
A small piece of the bottoms shows on each handle. Tomorrow I'll scrape off any primer that may have been sprayed on the walls.

chamfer wings taped off
I found it harder to tape off the wings then I did taping the plane body.

all 3 thumb screws are the same
The screws weren't 12-28 (first choice), nor a 1/4-20 or 1/4-28. The fit in the 1/4-28 was loose and it definitely didn't fit 100%. I thought the screws might be BSW standard but I don't have anything to check the screws with for that.

it's a good fit for 6mm
This plane was made around the turn of the century and I thought England was still on the imperial system then. Did Preston start to use metric back then? My Preston spokeshave I just did has a 1/4-20 screw stem for the knob. At least I know what size washers to get now.

a plug
I got this as a xmas gift and it is outstanding. The claim is it will keep hot/cold stuff almost forever. I have had this in the truck with the temp in single digits and it kept my coffee hot. The outside got cold to the touch but the contents stayed hot. It stayed hot for the 30 minutes I was driving. I will say it wasn't as hot as when I started but still hot enough to enjoy. It's supposed to work on cold too but I haven't tried anything cold yet.  I get nothing for this and I'm not affiliated with YETI in any way. Just my opinion on this product. We will now resume our regularly scheduled blog.

can't use it
I was going to hang these on the coat hanger but it didn't happen. The screw hole is taped shut on one side and the other is stuffed with paper towels.

they can stay here for now
 Once they are sufficiently dry and I can touch them, I'll move them to the furnace table.

measuring for a box
I will make a box that holds this horizontally rather the vertical. The space in Miles's toolbox is restricted but I think having a box that isn't that high can be stowed in the bottom of it.

1/8" scraps for making a box for the irons
I made a box similar to this for the irons for the Lee Valley. This 1/8" plywood is the perfect size for these irons - it's a frog hair thicker than the irons are.

an iron has to be kept in the plane
it's because of this
The blade lever cap will only stay in place if it is holding an iron. I'll have to keep an iron in the plane or risk losing this. (this is the same problem I have with the Record 043)

laying out the box
This tic mark is the maximum height of the box based on the longest iron.

got my width
The width comes from the width of all of the irons laid together side by side. It will be less then this because one iron will always be in the plane. From here I can get the overall measurements for the box.

the box detail
It will be a slip fit.

spacers made
 I got lucky with the spacers and found them in the kitty litter scrap bin. Sometimes it pays to be a pack rat who can't throw anything away. The bottom left corner is my square one. When I glue the spacers in, I'll use that as my reference.

first spacer being glued in
The back of the shooting board will keep the this spacer flush with the bottom. The small scrap on the right is keeping the far right edge of the spacer flush with the box side edge. With the square cuts on the other spacers, I should end up with square box.

it's square
I clamped this with a couple of cauls for a 1/2 hour before I glued on the other side.

the cut in two mark
I made the box so that when the lid is on, there will be a space above the irons at the top.

other half being glued on
I have the bottoms flushed and it is slightly undersized R/L. After the glue has set up I'll plane it flush.

cleaned up the irons
Considering the age of this plane, the irons don't look that bad. All of them had a few rust blooms and I was able to sand 99% of them off. Two irons had some pits that I had to leave.

they'll be done tomorrow
After sanding them shiny I cleaned them with the degreaser and rinsed them with water. I tossed them in the EvapoRust bath to kill any rust I missed.

I sawed off this proud before I glued the other side on
I was going to leave this until after the glue set but I had trouble getting a good grip with a clamp in the middle.

I'll let this cook for a couple of hours

found some nice figured walnut to use as the lid banding
time to wrap the plane
I broke the plane done to parade rest and wraped up each individual part. This is heading across the big pond and I don't want to risk shipping this as it is here. I will ship this out on the 4th or the 5th.

box sawn in two
Got everything planed flush and square and now it's on to putting the lid banding on the smaller of the two pieces. The smaller sides pieces are batting lead off.

the nozzle was clogged
I passed a nail into the tip but I couldn't get any glue to come out. I took the cap off it and it looked like the blue cap was stuffed with cotton candy. I pulled that out and still couldn't get the glue to come. I had to warm it up with the hair dryer first.

the glue wasn't setting up
I warmed the walnut after I glued it on for a couple of minutes. This usually sets in a couple of minutes but today it didn't. It took twice as long and it was the same for the second piece.

knifed the line on one side
transferred the line onto the other side
I knifed the line as deeply as I could
snapped right off cleanly
box stock cut out
I am holding off on the box for the ratcheting screwdriver. I found a Stanley ratcheting screwdriver on Jim Bode's site and I'll wait till I get it. I don't know how the length of that one relates to this one.

no shellac today
Had a boo-boo that stopped putting on the first coat of shellac today. I had set one half on the other and got a scrape mark that I'll have to paint again.

I dropped the other half
Of course it landed right on the top corner.

box stock stickered
I decided to go with sliding lid boxes for both the Record 044 and the Stanley 78. I don't have any small hinges but I do have latches. But the latches won't work because the screws for them are too long for the 1/2" stock.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Did you know that a baseball goes further when it is hot and humid because the air is less dense?

Skills Lost Regaining Future

Paul Sellers - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 7:15am

There are often setbacks to life—many of them. When others  sail on through eventualities, we can find ourselves struggling even with the smallest things. At least it can seem that way when we’re in the thick of it. I remember days when men at workbenches  surrounding me slipped a chisel through a cut and as […]

Read the full post Skills Lost Regaining Future on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Teaching Parquetry at MASW

The Barn on White Run - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 6:26am

I recently spent a week at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, teaching two three-day courses.  I believe this was an experiment on Marc’s part, road testing some new scheduling concepts such as a three-day workshop during the week as opposed to only on weekends.

The Parquetry workshop had three enthusiastic attendees (plus a most excellent teaching assistant), a number the Marc told me precludes any repetition of the topic.  This is an entirely fair conclusion on his part as he has a huge footprint to support.  With several classrooms in simultaneous use I’m guessing he needs somewhere between 35-50 attendees every day for six months to make it work.

In fact our merry little band was in a huge, well equipped classroom with twenty (?) workbenches.  The spaciousness was both unnerving and delightful as the students could spread their projects as widely as they wanted.

This workshop is somewhat unusual for me in that there was a finished project at the end, while I tend to prefer teaching a skill-set rather than a project.

But skills and processes were taught and practiced, including the making of sawing and planing jigs,

sawing veneer stock for making the patterns,

the assembly of the patterns,

fabricating and integrating simple bandings,

and gluing them down to a substrate.

In the end they were cleaned up with toothing planes, files, and scrapers making them ready for the finishing process.

Though I will not be teaching this workshop again at MASW, I will not completely set the general topic aside.  I am hoping to have a workshop on knot-work banding perimeters there in 2019.

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