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I hear voices. Or I did. I’m better now.
I was sitting in my office this afternoon when I suddenly heard unexpected (and unwelcome) females voices coming from my laptop. I usually have many open windows and tabs, and on occasion, more than one browser. The female voices would start to talk for a few seconds, stop and then restart an arbitrary time later. One sounded like somebody named Kirby Johnson telling me about the only cream I will ever need. The other voice was an unnamed female starting to tell me that Britney Spears was starting a line of lingerie.
It took me a while to track down the offending tabs. Turns out it was the Editors’ and Chris Schwarz’s blogs from the Popular Woodworking website doing something called ad rotation, the practice of showing multiple advertisements in a single location on a web page. Seems that every 8 seconds or so, one of the eight ads on a blog page is replaced by another ad. For some reason, the offending ads kept getting in the queue and reloading.
I did a search for ad blocking software and was surprised to find that there were many more articles written about bypassing ad blockers and using the ad blocker to form a strategy for bypassing the ad blocker than there are about ad blockers themselves. Reading the articles leads me to believe that people with a second amendment level fervor believe that they have a right to place ads on our screens. I understand that there is a quid pro quo, you provide me with content and I accept that I must tolerate some ads. They have bills to pay and need to make a reasonable profit. But they also run the risk of alienating their readers and annoying us to the point that we believe that they content isn’t worth the assault.
I don’t blame the editorial staff at Pop Woodworking for this. I do not believe that they are the masters of their fates. They have owners. And the owners have owners. And those owners have investors. All are out to serve the investors. In May, 2014, F & W, the parent of Popular Woodworking, was acquired by the private equity company Tinicum Capital Partners LP. At around the same time F & W Media (formerly F & W Publications) rebranded itself as just F & W. F & W bills itself as a media and e-commerce company.
Doing some more poking around, I found the following in an article from Folio, a multi-channel industry magazine:
For F+W, the change is more representative of the company’s ongoing strategic shift into e-commerce. Not long ago, it was known simply as an enthusiast publisher in the craft, art, writing and outdoors markets, then called F+W Publications.
As the company expanded its commerce product lines—related third-party products, pattern kits, digital downloads, etc. F+W also began to de-emphasize its media designation, instead using its brands as a way to support communities and their product purchasing power.
One thing that reading the Columbia Journalism Review for 40 years has taught me is that media companies like to make money. It’s the American thing to do. Many of them run with margins that would make manufacturers cry. Editorial content is often viewed by top-level management as what is needed to keep the ads from running into each other and to turn readers into customers. The people at the magazine level care about what they produce and do the best they can to balance the needs of the owners with interests of the consumers of their content. It can’t be easy.
This explains why I get two or three e-mails a day from Popular Woodworking or Shop Woodworking. Offering to sell me stuff I already own. They produce more marketing than content. For a while I was getting roughly the same e-mail from American Woodworker. This has tapered off.
I have gone to Woodworking in America for five years. I usually register the day registration opens. Yet I still get three to five e-mails a week singing the praises of WIA and encouraging me to register. I understand the need for marketing; I just wish they would do it more intelligently. It might cost more but it would be far less annoying.
The voices have stopped. For now. It could be the ad blocker plug-in is working. It could be that there was a browser/Java error that caused me to get the ads. Or a server error. I just know I am enjoying the silence.
Epilog: I didn’t think I was going to post this blog. I wrote it as a catharsis, one of those that gets written and left in the drawer. Then Friday I got five e-mails from my dear friends and posting it became necessary. One of the e-mails was an invitation to subscribe. I am one of their premium subscribers and my subscription runs through November, 2015.
They should know that.
There’s a bunch of stuff going on around here. I shot photos of the carved box with drawer project for a couple of days; then had to set that down for the back half of this week, so I could build one of these “plain” chairs. I built this one here at home, so there’s no photos of this work. Maple legs, ash rails, oak slats. If I backed up any further to take this photo, I’d be tumbling into a pile of who-knows-what…
Time to trim the legs’ tops; then add a rush seat. I was trying to think how many tools it was – splitting tools; hatchet, drawknife, spokeshave, brace & bit, crosscut saw, mortise chisel – I used an awl and knife also. Maybe that’s it. If pressed, you could drop a couple of those tools…but I guess I should add the shaving horse, and a low bench for boring & assembly.
This one is based mostly on Dutch paintings of the 17th-century; this style of chair was the first project I ever made when I was at Plimoth Plantation. Indeed, this one’s for them, too. Here’s one that has been in use there for many years:
I came to calling them plain chairs because of a reference in the Turners Company of London, about pricing for chairs, “plain matted” and “turned matted” – so if the difference is the turning, then here’s what an un-turned chair might look like. There’s a few surviving oldies around, but they are hard to date; and most did not survive. I have seen a few die out at Plimoth after 15-25 years. You can patch ‘em back together some, but sooner or later, it’s just easiest to chuck ‘em and make a new one.
Typically I make them with low seats, best for working in, rather than sitting at a table. Like this photo Gavin Ashworth took when Trent, Alexander & I co-authored an article about such chairs in American Furniture. I think it was 2008.
Other stuff in the works – finishing up a bunch of baskets I started this summer, (there;’s some in the background of the top photo) finishing some hewn bowls also. Spoons as usual; and I just started cutting out stock for a chair different from anything I’ve done in nearly 30 years. Next week I’m going to finish assembling the carved box with drawer -just received some quartersawn sycamore (plane tree for you overseas readers) for the lid. Wow.
This weekend is time to photograph stuff for sale; mine & Maureen’s. She has added some new felted autumn stuff, if you’re inclined, have a look. More soon both here & there.
As I write this I’m in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for a few days of running around making arrangements for next Spring’s exhibit The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley (tickets available here). In the company of Cedar Rapids native and vise-maker extraordinaire Jameel Abraham I made excellent progress finding the perfect shops to build the exhibit case bases and plexiglass vitrines. Jameel took me to a plastics shop he frequents in Cedar Rapids, and the manager said, in essence, “Yes, we can make this case for you, but the guy you really need to be talking to is down in Iowa city.” Since Jameel had other business in Iowa City, off we went.
The first stop in the Iowa City area was the cabinet shop Jameel had recommended for the base of the display cabinet and the platform for the Studley workbench. It was the right choice. Any shop that can do the sort of work they do is fussy enough for me.
Next we visited the plexiglass shop, and yes indeed he was the right guy. We speced out the job and he has it on his calendar. Another great thing is that the cabinet shop and the plexi shop guys know each other and have worked together in the past.
Our final stop int eh area was one of Jameel’s lumber dealers, and while he was doing his business I purchased some mahogany for the replica of Studley’s workbench I will be building to include as part of the exhibit.
I will be hanging a number of piano-maker’s vises from the replica, and they will be “touch-able” by the exhibit visitors.
Finding the perfect shop for the plexiglass work was one of my prime concerns, and it feels great to have it resolved. Even though the cabinet work for the exhibit will be minimal and fairly simple, it was a real treat to visit a woodworking shop that makes exquisite cabinetry and architectural elements.
Believe it or not, but I am a fairly humble person. I think it is due to my working class (i.e. poor thug) background. Though I may be humble, I also am pretty intelligent, and I like to believe that I am rather perceptive, and I have good taste when it comes to things such as woodworking blogs.
About a year or so ago I began reading a woodworking blog (or maybe it wasn’t even technically a blog yet, I don’t exactly remember all the details) that I enjoyed immediately, and I felt had a lot of potential to be great. Maybe it’s because I could relate to the guy writing it. We’re both roughly the same age, we are both too young to have grey hair, and we both enjoy woodworking and writing about it. Admittedly, this gentleman is a far better woodworker than I am, but that doesn’t stop me from comparing myself to him.
However, I would like to set all narcissism aside as this blog post isn’t about me, but rather about woodworker Graham Haydon, who now will be a contributor to Popular Woodworking magazine (or maybe more-I don’t know for sure). I was extremely happy to read his first contribution to the PW Editors blog this morning, and I hope to read many more. Graham is a highly talented woodworker and writer, good on camera, and though we’ve never met, he seems like a hell of a nice guy. So I would like to be one of the first to welcome my English Brethren and wish him the greatest success. If his current body of work is any indication, I think we will be seeing some great work coming from Graham Haydon, and I’m happy to say I saw it coming. Hail Britannia!
As a new name here it seemed wise to make my first post a brief introduction. My name is Graham Haydon and I’m a woodworker in England. By day I have the good fortune of making a living as a joiner within our family business. Being a joiner from a small town in the rural South West means we cover a wide range of work – the core being windows, […]
During last month’s foray into the alien planet known as Newengland I stopped in South Portland to visit MikeM, who had emailed me about a wheel-handled vise he found at a flea market up there.
Since I have been on the hunt for piano makers’ vises for several years, and since he was literally less than a mile off the interstate, stopping to check it out was a no-brainer. The vise itself was a head-scratcher.
It is definitely in the same vein as all the others I have seen, and no two have been identical thus far, this one was a real outlier.
The general configuration certainly conformed to the style, but the travel of the face was quite short, and where in the world did that five-spoke wheel come from?
One thing that definitely made me smile was the factt hat he had taken my advice and made some polissoirs himself from whisk brooms. I was honored to add to his collection with a genuine Roubo Polissoir from Don’s Barn.
Thanks Mike for sharing this peculiar tool with me. I will look fine alongside all the others in the book.
In the comments on my post from yesterday, all possibilities were eventually correctly postulated for the location for Woodworking in America 2015. But which of the four possible cities is it? (I’m now wishing my hints had been less narrow…I have to string this out for a few more days until the conference team says I can reveal the location.) So, more hints: • I can drive there in one […]
No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.”
You can buy a non-slip “router pad” from any number of suppliers. It’s great stuff and will grip your work on one side and the table surface on the other side with amazing tenacity. Cheapsters like me, though, look for folks who have changed out their carpet with new underlayment (pad). Just keep your eyes open on garbage day and you can find a gold mine like the one pictured.
Take more than you need and store the excess in your attic or share it with your woodworking buddies. Cut a variety of sizes to accommodate jobs small to large. When rolled up, it stores in a small area.
The post Tips from Sticks in the Mud – Tip #42 – Using carpet underlayment as router pads appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
Tomorrow night at 7PM Eastern Time Matt Vanderlist will post a video interview he did with Narayan Nayar and me on the upcoming doings of the Studley enterprise. Chris Schwarz blogged about this the other day, and I have borrowed this picture from that blog (it is very difficult to take a picture of yourself while appearing on camera.)
It was great fun to chat with Matt and we enjoyed the experience and the discussion immensely. You will no doubt notice my well-coiffed and sartorially splendid self, looking like I was at the end of a long slog, For me it was the pleasant near-culmination of a week wrapping up my research on the tool cabinet in preparations for polishing the manuscript, which is ongoing at this moment.
We also shot another ten minute special segment on the workbench, which I believe Matt made available to his patrons for the web site, but I understand that segment will not be posted on the general site.
I watched both of the videos and thought they looked like fun.
For the most part I try to keep this blog focused on artisanry and homesteading, but every now and then I veer off course. This is one of those times.
My post-adolescent life has seen me plagued with sleeping problems, mostly that I had difficulty falling asleep when I was supposed to be going to sleep. Three or four hours of tossing and turning was not uncommon, one or two hours was the norm. (I did get a lot of extra reading and writing done, though.) One thing that helped me a fair bit was to listen to the spoken word as I was trying to get drowsy. For some reason music did not work as well, so from the time of my teens I would listen to radio to sop up the extra brainwaves or something.
In recent years late night radio has increasingly irritated me, mostly the 1:1 ratio of programming to non-programming like commercials, news, promos, public service announcements, etc., so instead I’ve switched to downloading old-time radio shows especially of the detective variety, which work like a charm. One delightful recent discovery was a contemporary Toronto radio theater troupe that creates hilarious over-the-top homages the the hard-boiled detective genre, in the character of Black Jack Justice and his sidekick, Trixie Dixon, Girl Detective. Though I am no longer plagued by sleepless nights, the habit is hard to kick and at times I still find myself listening and laughing out loud as I drift off to sleep.
Totally unrelated, a biographical documentary has been released recently for my long time friend, economist Dr. Walter E. Williams. I have not yet seen it but will soon, but it is unlikely that I will be surprised after three decades of camaraderie and lengthy dinner conversations chewing the iconoclastic philosophical fat. I am proud to call him “friend.”
Tomorrow, back to woodworking. I have about 20 blog posts in the can, and just have to parcel them out as the final grind for Manuscript Studley takes control of my life for a fortnight.
With Halloween just around the bend I’m reminded of one of my favorite haunts (no pun intended) for thinking about design – old graveyards. The monuments in all shapes and sizes are like a lexicon of design, sort of a mini museum without the alarms. My last blog post had a photo of an obelisk shaped town marker in Nantucket which inspired Dave Fisher to send me these obelisk
photos from a nearby Cemetery. I had to grin inside at the thought that I’m not the only one strolling through the democracy of the dead, trying to keep my designers eye alive. Dave crafts free form wooden bowls which are featured in the November 2014 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. He commented “To my eye, the most beautiful obelisk in the entire cemetery is the Mathers obelisk. Much of the reason, I believe, has to do with the base (plinth?). The quickening curve of the base roots it firmly to the ground, then leads the eye on a ride up to the obelisk itself. There is still a clear indication of where the obelisk itself begins, but without jarring the eye on the way up. The whole piece is organic, much like a tree rising from the ground. ”
I concur with Dave’s educated eye and would add that several other examples, the Roberts and Packard obelisks, look like they took a standard monument and plopped an obelisk on top of them. Not certain I ever noticed that before until they were side by side with the Mathers example. One is a unified organic composition, the others are just combinations of parts. There’s a powerful lesson illustrated here. How often does a design or a work of art fail because it’s a busy mechanical assemblage of parts rather than an organic flowering? I’m interested in your thoughts as you compare these different interpretations of a design.
George R. Walker
It was a great weather weekend for the outdoor event that spanned a large area of downtown Decatur. It was estimated that over 25,000 folks came through the city of Decatur during the 2 days of the faire. Mark said the kids had a grand time and he experienced a “first-time” event as a wood turner and demonstrator when he knelt down to help a 6 yr old girl put an eye hook onto an ornament that Mark had just turned. He was showing the turned ornament to her and apparently the fried dough she had just consumed did not sit well in her stomach and she “tossed” the dough as they say, just missing Mark by inches. Mark has decided he now has another reason to wear a face mask shield at demonstrations. He has also found a new use for wood shavings!
Other than the one upset tummy, the weekend was a good time for all.
Here is some more information on the Atlanta event: http://makerfaireatl.com/
I am pleased to announce that we’ve signed the site contract for Woodworking in America 2015. The dates? Sept. 25-27. The place? Let’s have a little fun with that for a few days. • The city has a major league baseball team. • It is the most populous city in the state. • There are many municipal fountains. • The state flag is predominantly red, white and blue. • The […]
As mentioned earlier, I just got back a few weeks ago from a trip to the Galapagos Islands with stops in Quito and Otavalo, Ecuador en route. Otavalo is a town of about 90,000, seventy miles north of Quito. With an elevation or 8,500 feet, one could safely consider it to be in the mountains.
We arrived in Otavalo early evening on Thursday, had dinner and went to bed. On Friday, we hired a small van with driver and visited a few notable local weavers. In the afternoon, we visited a local town that specialized in leather goods. It was an interesting day. Not activities I might have chosen, but it’s not always about me.
Saturday is market day. We started the day by visiting the animal market. I won’t try to describe it other than saying there are no USDA inspectors involved. Use your imagination. Ya, it was like that. Not quite enough to make me a vegetarian and it won’t as long as I visit only every ten years.
When we were done there, it was back to town for “the market”. The market engulfs the square downtown and sends tentacles down several side and main streets. Much of the merchandise looked like much of the other merchandise. To me. Woven art, purses, carved figures, some paintings. Stuff I am not looking to buy. My wife took her two friends on the grand tour. The other couple went their own way looking for a wooden flute (him) and at all the woven art (her). Once again I was left to entertain myself.
I started walking in search of an antiques shop or a furniture store and found neither. I did find one small shop about the size of a supply closet and not as well-lit. It was packed with locals that look surprised and vaguely annoyed to see me there. But they were very polite. Discretion being the better part of tourism, I left. And kept walking.
What I did notice was the doors. There were lots of different doors. Interesting doors. It is a city with all blocks solidly packed with buildings. Or one big building. I couldn’t always tell where one ended and the next began. Retail on the first level and offices and residential on the upper floors. There mustn’t be a strong zoning office in that there didn’t seem to be a uniform color palate.
Another thing I noticed was ready availability of funerary supplies. I must have seem six funeral supply stores.
And I found their dollar store. Ecuador use the US dollar as currency. Their have some of their own coins but use US paper money. So, a dollar store really is a dollar store.
While walking, I learned you can make a ladder with bamboo poles, a saw, a chisel, some hardwood scraps and a bit of wire.
Did I mention there were doors?
Lots of doors.
Click HERE to see the entire set of my walkabout pictures. It is worth a look.
Have I ever lied to you…
My two-week-long trip to make on-site exhibit arrangements and a final examination of the Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench began with a long day’s drive from the Virginia mountains to Cincinnati. I remain convinced that Google Maps employs aspiring NASCAR drivers to ascertain driving times.
About an hour out of Cincy I drove through a storm cell that almost certainly contained a tornado or two, or so I deduced from the building parts flying past me on the road. I’ve driven through rain so intense that I could not see the road in front of me, but this was the first time I have ever been in rain so fierce that I could not see the road beside me. I pulled into a gas station as soon as I could see well enough to navigate, but immediately noticed two things. First, the gas pumps were scattered around the lot, some on top of cars. Second was the unmistakable smell of gasoline. I moved on as soon as I could get turned around.
As I write this I’m in Fort Mitchell visiting Chris Schwarz for the evening, reviewing the recently returned page proofs for the Roubo l’Art du Menuisier Book of Plates and working through some of the details for the soon-to-be-submitted manuscript for VIRTUOSO: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley. We spent a fair bit of time discussing Chris’ vision for the physical manifestation of the latter. To tell you the truth I am ambivalent about some of these details; I just want the book to be as compelling as Lost Art Press can make it. Given their track record, I have nothing to worry about in that regard.
A special treat was to be a fly on the wall as Chris and Megan Fitzpatrick discussed an upcoming PopWood article (November, I believe) about a cabinet with some spectacular Gothic tracery Chris is finishing.
And I cannot deny the little tremor of pleasure I experienced when noting this image.
I finally got back to the carved oak box with drawer that I started.
I have been thinking about this box for a month, and was thrilled to get back to it. I shot a slew of photos yesterday and today. First, I had to make the till parts and install them, so I could then finish nailing the box together. Once I had the till’s trenches cut in the front & back, I nailed the back to the sides. Then after fitting the till, I nailed the front in place.
Planing thin stuff like the till lid gets scary when you shove it against the toothy-bench hook. I made a board with a very thin stop at one end, to sit the workpiece on, then I shove the board against the bench hook.
There’s lots going on when you’re fitting the till parts; 3 pieces that can one at a time, or all together hang you up, and keep the box parts from fitting. A bunch of fiddling around gets you there. Best to take a breath when fitting a till.
I make the till lids from oak, often with a molded edge like this one. The till sides and bottom can be various woods in my work; all oak, white pine, or Atlantic white cedar. This one’s cedar.
Then I worked on carving the drawer front; in this case based on/inspired by the original – but I didn’t copy it note for note. Outline begun.
Shaping & beveling.
Relieving the middles.
I work at my regular joinery bench, often hunched right over the carving. Some carvers work higher, but I find I like to get right above it sometimes.
This gives you an idea of the shaping, prior to adding the gouge-cut details.
I just try to keep from making the same design on 2 consecutive rosettes.
I had one panel of oak ready for the bottom of the box. It needs a bevel on its rear end, to fit into a groove in the back board. The front edge fits in a rabbet. To bevel it, I jammed it up against some scrap and the bench hook. Held down with a holdfast.
The inner edge gets a rabbet, so the next board will overlap this one.
A dis-orienting shot – the box is upside down, This first bottom board slips into the groove, drops into the rabbet, then gets slid/knocked over til it bumps up to the inside end.
Here’s where I quit for the day.
Let me be honest up front. I do know how to use a hand plane, and I have used a jointer plane once or twice. But it was a metal-bodied plane – only remotely similar to a wooden-bodied plane as used during the 18th Century. I liked the feel of the plane, and it’s long body made sense for one of its purposes of shooting edges to join boards. That […]
As most of you already know, I am joining Chuck Bender and Bob Lang in 360 WoodWorking (360woodworking.com). In the coming weeks, all my blog posts and other woodworking informational content will become part of the new website. As of this time, you can visit 360 WoodWorking and sign up for notification as to when the site goes live. In the meantime, the short video below fills in a bit more about our future plans.
Build Something Great!
One afternoon at the Marquetry class in San Diego, Patrick called us over to meet a former student, Aaron Radelow. The story he told was amazing; in short he created a perfect reproduction of this reading/writing table that had been built for Louis IV around 1760. The original is in the Getty museum, and Aaron was able to get access to the original to measure it.
When he was done he had a perfect replica, and a perfect inverse copy as well. Because this was made with the Boulle method to saw the marquetry parts, the packets that were prepared for each panel had layers of both blue horn and ivory. The resulting parts could then be assembled blue-int0-white and white-into0blue.
The link below has more details. Regardless of the style of furniture you like, this is an amazing piece in terms of technical complexity, fine details and masterful execution.