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Reggie Shaw, a left-handed blog reader, (he doesn’t read left-handed blogs…but is left-handed…oh, forget it)
sent a note that this right-handed J R Fuchs hatchet is for auction on ebay. I already have 2, and don’t have the money to get in a bidding war…but someone will get the best hatchet going. Lose that godawful red paint, and it looks ready to go.
here’s the link. maybe one of you?
At finishing time, a number of things are happening near simultaneously. The bridge needs to be made, so that its position can be masked off before the finish goes on. It also has to be positioned correctly, no slip ups here, since its position won’t be able to change once the finish is on. (Not without taking the finish off and starting again!) While the fingerboard was slotted according to a certain scale length (the distance from the nut to the saddle,) in order for the ukulele to be perfectly in tune, a small amount has to be added, to compensate for the stretching of the string as they’re pressed down on the frets. In the case of an ukulele, this is about 1/16″.
Here is the bridge after masking and after finishing. (Notice the difference between the finished and the unfinished koa. Now it has truly become a “golden child!”
Now, there are more choices when it comes to ukulele bridges; many use a tie-block bridge like that found on a classical guitar (just a little smaller!) After all, the ukulele is very similar to a classical in construction and playing. However, I decided to go with a more traditional ukulele bridge to keep with its Hawaiian heritage. (Actually, the ukulele originally evolved from a Portuguese instrument, brought over during the days of exploration. But, it has since become Hawaii’s national instrument and heritage.) With the traditional bridge, the strings (gut or nylon) are knotted at the ends and fit into a slot behind the saddle.
The overall size of the bridge needs to be quite small, after all, so it doesn’t dampen the soundboard too much.
Note how the saddle is filed differently for the second string. This allows a more precise compensation for the different sized strings so it will play in tune perfectly.
The frets were leveled and crowned and polished. Tuners (again, traditional friction tuners, although improved modern ones) were installed. The nut and saddle were shaped and adjusted for a low action. And now, the first pics of the complete Kulakeiki. (The headstock is actually darker, that is just a bad light reflection. I will be taking it’s “glamour” shots for its own page at a later date.)
Hmmm. I’ve done tiny instrument now, and huge ones. What to do next?
So DJ shows me a picture and says “What do you think of this tool chest?” I glance at the picture: it’s a neatly finished Anarchist’s Tool chest painted in de rigeur Bible black with all the trimmings. Nice. Nonchalantly, he shows me another pic’ of the interior: Equally…
If you’ve been around Popular Woodworking Magazine recently, you know Wilbur Pan. You also may not think that he is new on the lectern at Woodworking in America (WIA) because he’s been to most of the conferences, but this is the first year he’s been asked to present. In the pages of PWM, Wilbur has contributed in many different columns and had a couple of features, too. In fact, he’s […]
Recently my friend Bill wrote me to ask if I had any thoughts about portable workstations, as he was about to embark on a project requiring him to work in the gallery of a museum.
I was able to help him, and in fact together we built a new bench for him to serve his purposes. I enjoyed it so much I built myself yet another one and am documenting it in great detail here.
Note: Like the “Parquetry Tutorial” this entire series of blog posts will be edited and packaged for download as a complete PDF once I have finished it. WordPress is being obstreperous about the spacing of this post, but it will be corrected in the PDF.
Working as a furniture conservator requires me to frequently work “on-site”, that is, I go to the furniture rather than bring it to my studio. There are many reasons for this; the legal liability of transporting very valuable objects, the cost of renting a truck and hiring someone to help out (I usually work alone), the ability to call it quits at the end of the workday, etc. Regardless of the reason, I often found myself working in unfamiliar, and usually unequipped, surroundings.
Thus, several times a year I would move lock, stock and workbench to a new location. Loading and carting big sawhorses, plywood sheets and cardboard boxes full of supplies to the new site is a truly odious activity. Over the years of scraped knuckles and bashed shins carrying sawhorses and plywood up or down three flights of tight, winding stairs, I vowed to find a better way of setting up a temporary work station. Obtaining the perfect portable workbench was my original goal, but by the time I finished it turned out to be just one of several aspects to my quest.
In the end, that process of finding a “better way” resulted in the design and fabrication of a new workbench to make the task of working in a portable studio more manageable and productive. Through several generations of prototypes over twenty years I have it now refined to the point where I am not sure what more there is to improve.
What did I want?
The only thing I was sure of was that my sawhorse and plywood routine had to go. But what arrangement was to take its place? My first step was to acquire a suitable workbench. Being a lazy fellow, my first actions were to look around at the market to see if any of the available “portable” workbenches were suitable. I discovered only two real options; a small version of the European-style butcher-block-top bench, or a Workmate. I looked at a couple of the former, and own one of the latter.
I found the portable Eurobenches to be too small and unsteady for my use (and quite frankly, too “cheezy”). In addition, they still weighed-in at over 100 lbs., simply too heavy.
I tried my Workmate on a couple of projects, but it wasn’t exactly what I really wanted because it was too top-heavy and the work surface was too small. My search for a manufactured bench to suit my needs wasn’t exhaustive, but nevertheless, in the end I decided to design and build my own portable workbench.
The process of attempting to procure a new portable workbench began with the question of exactly what I wanted out of the bench, regardless of its source. When I decided to make my own, I had only to review those requirements and build to fit them. But back to the original question; what were my specifications for the bench? The answer was simple; 1) the top had to be perfectly flat and at least 2′x4′ (any smaller and I might as well stick to my Workmate), 2) it had to have an integral large capacity vise sturdy enough to take a modest beating, 3) the bench had to be very light, compact, and easy to set up and take down because I didn’t want to have to assemble a kit each time I moved, and 4) it couldn’t cost a fortune in time or money to acquire. It was also important to remember that the bench wouldn’t have to stand up to immense weight or stress, since the pounding necessary during general joinery is rarely required in a conservation project. Any heavy work dictated by a particular treatment would still have to be done at home.
In the next episode I will begin to walk you though the step-by-step process of making one for yourself.
Through the first half day of the auction Thursday afternoon, there were several lots that went to the next highest bidder after I dropped out of the running. I tend to be pretty disciplined about setting a bid ceiling and sticking to it. I was beginning to suspect an Govcom conspiracy but thanks to Josh Clarke I was not being caught empty handed (I will detail the coolness of sitting alongside an active successful bidder tomorrow).
Friday morning at about 10.30 came the item I drove there to get, the Emmert Universal Benchtop Toolmakers Vise. I’d looked it over carefully on Wednesday and Thursday (twice) and it was both a beast and a beauty. Astonishingly, bidding started at $5, indicating there were no absentee (internet) bids. I jumped in, hard. At about $300 there was a lull and I could feel the thrill of victory rising in my chest. Then another bidder jumped in and the price soon chased me off. No, I did not win the bid, which was an out-the-door price of just under a grand. The disappointment was bitter.
However, all was not lost as my friend Jon found a pristine sales brochure on that very tool out in the tailgating section and gifted it to me as a very nice consolation prize. It was a truly thoughtful and generous gesture I will recall for a very long time.
I’ll keep looking, but so far this tool has eluded my wallet. If someday I find one in good condition for a fair price I will get it. If not, not.
The patternmaker’s chest also came and went above my limit. At the end of the day I saw the buyer examining it and I congratulated him on it. He knew nothing of the contents, and I spent several minutes explaining what each of the tools inside was. In the end it was apparent he cared only for the chest, and I was only interested in the contents, or more specifically, the Buck patternmaker’s chisels with the interchangeable handles, shafts, and gouges.
He offered the set to me for a very modest price, and in moments I had them in a box and was toting them off to show my friends. These high-chrome steel chisels are made only for gentle pushing to finish the surfaces of wooden patterns for foundry work, and I now have a pretty complete set as these joined my previous acquisitions from years past.
One last forlorn visit to say farewell to the Emmert on the buyer’s pallet (he was buying A LOT) and then we headed for the line to the pig roast. Roast pork is the near-perfect conclusion to almost any kind of day.
Tomorrow, finally some winning bids and horse trading with Josh.
Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking is a mecca for period furniture makers. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/ Great classes, great instructors – it really is a first-rate place to learn the ins & outs of period style furniture in depth.
But Bob himself doesn’t know which end is up – to some of my carvings, I mean. He sent me this picture, asking “where’s the top again?” He’s notoriously freaked out by the images he thinks he sees. I see a vase of flowers and leaves – he sees faces, faces & more faces. But in his twisted mind, he thinks the above photo is right-side up. What torment!
Oh, well. He doesn’t have to know how it goes – but I’ll show the students when we get together there for a 3-day class in early October to make an oak frame & panel. This course was designed to be a crash course in the basic elements of 17th-century joinery. We’ll use a combination of riven and sawn oak, plane the stock, cut the mortise and tenon joints, and carve designs on the panel (and frame perhaps, if you are inclined). Plowing grooves, beveling the panel, fitting the whole thing together with drawboring and tapered wooden pins. it’s the whole show, compressed into 5 pieces of wood.
Sign up with Bob. Tell him you’ll help him to understand. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes
The weather was perfect and open air theater was packed, but I left the play at the intermission (see below*). By then it was dark, everyone had gone home, the park was empty, I passed only one person on my way out, it was grand in its quiet.
I mention this because one attraction of woodworking to me, back when I was first learning, was the common communal experience of sharing a workshop.
There is an idea floating around these days of "Maker Spaces" where a company sets up places for "makers" usually with some high tech machines, but also with typical table saw machines. These are not just places to make something with tools an individual typically doesn't have of their own, they are more importantly a place to meet like minded people, to exchange ideas and to form a community. To a large extent woodworking schools have always preformed the exact same function. Of course woodworking clubs, rental shops, and also provide this vital place of focus. These are our maker commons. Even if you have the personal resources to own every tool on the planet working with others is so much more rewarding. Just driving with a buddy or two to a lumberyard and loading a truck together makes a truly laborious task go fast and fun. I can't stress how important community is.
The energy you bring to woodworking, the satisfaction of making things, is all very well, and lets face it most of the time practicality means we that work alone, but take your energy and enthusiasm, add it to a bunch of people who also have energy and enthusiasm, and you will learn stuff, you will find friends you never knew you had, and proving Newton wrong, all of you will have more energy than ever before.
Join a club, take a class for the fun of it. Read and participate in the on-line woodworking forums.
*The language is gorgeous, witty, even, dare I say, Shakespearean in both sophistication, exuberance, and understanding. But Lear himself is a jerk. I just didn't want to spend two more hours watching some King, who lost his temper and made some stupid rash decisions, continue a downhill spiral of self absorption and stupidity. And his daughter Cordelia? Would it have killed her to just make the old man happy in the first scene and tell him what he wants to hear, really, did she learn nothing growing up as a favorite princess about how powerful people rarely want to know what you really think? Even I know that and I grew up in a tenement.
One of the highlights of the galoot’s annual calendar is the warehouse-clearing summer sale by Martin Donnelly at his place in Avoca NY. If you have never been, you should go for the experience if nothing else. This auction of 3200 lots containing perhaps 75,000 tools is a place where tubs of tools exchange hands.
This year three lots drew me there. First was an Emmert die-maker’s bench vi$e which I have $ought to purchase for many year$, thi$ one wa$ I believe the large$t of the line (it wa$ approximately the $ize of a bu$hel ba$ket). Next was a Veritas MkII sharpening unit, essentially new in the box, and third was a craftsman-built patternmaker’s chest with tools. More about them tomorrow.
The tools weren’t the most important things, though, that would be the fellowship with tool comrades including my long time pal Mike who dropped out at the last minute because of an inflamed sciatic nerve that was so bad he could not sit in a car to drive it there.
Instead I had the good fortune to sit next to Josh Clark, purveyor of the vintage tools through his wonderful site. There are many people in the tool world, most of them a pleasure to deal with, and certainly Josh fits this description. He is simply aces.
I was also joined by another long time friend Jersey Jon who was making his first foray to this auction. He was nearly overcome with the shock of seeing tent after tent filled with fully loaded tables and hundreds, no, thousands, of tools to rifle through and gawk at.
If you were in the market for anvils and swage blocks, this was the auction for you. I almost wish I was in the market, as the prices turned out to be dirt cheap.
The tale continues tomorrow.
It had been days since I looked at old furniture. I was in the early stages of withdrawal. Fortunately a local auction house had a preview that very day. I went and saw many wonderous things. And a few mundanes. And I took lots of PICTURES.
One desk caused me to stop and think for a bit. At first it didn’t make sense. I stared for a while and finally figured out what was going on. The only question now was if this was a creative correction of an oversight or was this the plan the whole time.
First look at this fall front desk:
Then I opened the top drawer for my usual dovetail shot and saw this:
And another view:
Stop and think about this for a minute. There are two sliding bolts on the inside of a drawer that can only be accessed when the drawer is open. Makes them a little less useful than one would hope.
Being a curious lad, I looked for an explanation. I examined the desk and finally came up with a working hypothesis.
Look at the gallery of the desk:
Like many similar desks, it has a sliding panel to allow you to quickly store your papers out of view.
The fall front has a lock. The drawer doesn’t. Papers would be secure in the gallery but not in the drawer. Then it occurred to me that you could slide the the blots locked through the sliding panel in the gallery. Just reach into the drawer from above and secure the drawer. How this is easier than moving papers into a drawer with a conventional lock escapes me, but, there you have
Back to my original question, was this a correction to an oversight or the way it was designed to work from the beginning? Wouldn’t it have been easier to just add a lock to the drawer? What do I know? Might just be the way it was done.
There were other pieces of interest at this auction including this chest with tambour and drawers:
Interesting details on the legs and upper carcass.
This desk looked just like one at a local antiques mall.
Seems when a local dealer died, their inventory was sold at auction
And finally there was this odd item.
Don’t remember what it is called and a Google image search turned up nothing. More once common items that have fallen from our collective consciences.
Oh well. To see the entire set from this auction, click THESE WORDS.
Recently I got the call that the last of our gerontological felines had departed for the Great Catnip Patch in the Sky. 18-year-old Calico Girl, or “Callie,” featured recently in Popular Woodworking, died while my daughter was at work, and she buried her alongside our others. Another old gal, “Baby” also 18, had died only a fortnight earlier (all these are natural deaths of ancient cats simply fading away.) They were all rescued cats who lived long and much-loved lives.
This picture of me editing Roubo in about 2011 was a pretty typical image on a cold winter’s night, when even though we kept the house heated the cats knew it was cold outside and wanted to suck as much body heat out of us as they could. From top to bottom they were Lazy Boy (d. 2012), Toby (d. 2011, he adopted us out at the cabin in 2001), and Baby.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Toby curled up in the void of a modern sculpture I was restoring. If ever there was a person in a cat costume it was Toby.
We are now cat-less for the first time in more than 30 years. As a cat person myself, it feels a little weird. I know cats have a reputation as being aloof, but their indifference to me makes them all the more appealing companions.
I think I’ am in the market for a barn cat…
As we were working on the October 2014 issue (#213) of Popular Woodworking Magazine (which mails to subscribers in early August), Design Matters columnist George R. Walker stopped in the offices and shot a quick video that demonstrates the technique of drawing a volute freehand. Watch as George steps through the process to draw a classical form that can unlock your inner eye, and read more about it in our […]
In the October 2014 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine (which mails to subscribers in about a week), Bill Anderson has an article on common fixes for vintage wooden planes – in other words, we want to encourage you to get those wooden planes off the shelf, fix them up as needed and start using them! The article shows the five most commonly needed repairs, but here’s a sixth from Bill […]
I was informed yet again by my wife over the weekend that I spend way too much time woodworking. I don’t see it, as I usually only spend a few hours per month “on the job”. But my perceptions doesn’t really matter all that much, as I am speaking about how my wife perceives my time spent in the garage. Couple that with my health, which hasn’t been all that great lately, and it makes a compelling case.
Now, this is hardly the first time I’ve heard this, but it was definitely the most venomous. In my defense, I do not drink, smoke, gamble, or do drugs of any kind. I have no vices to speak of unless you would count woodworking as a vice, which maybe it is. I do not play sports any more, even golf. I have one other leisure activity, which is reading, as well as writing this blog, and from what I gather my wife isn’t very happy that I do those things, either.
The one thing that truly bothers me is the tool set. If I were to give up woodworking what should I do with it? While I don’t have a large set of tools, I do think it is a nice one. I thought that shrink wrapping the whole toolbox and storing it in the attic might be a good idea, but I don’t know how well they would hold up, as my attic hits 125 degrees in the summer and near freezing in the winter. Another idea I have, which I think is a good one, is donating them to a kid in high school who could use them. I would still keep any tools that I made myself, and the two wooden planes that I’ve purchased recently.
The power tools and workbench would be easy. I really only have one power tool that takes up any space, which is my table saw. Other than that I have a jigsaw and a router, both of which take up little room and are rarely used to begin with. My dad would take the table saw and workbench in a heartbeat, so they would definitely go to a good home.
Those of you who read this blog on a regular or semi-regular basis know that I’ve been through this before. You also probably know that enjoy woodworking and writing about it; I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t. But I don’t want to be in an unhappy marriage, and if woodworking is the cause of that unhappiness then I have to cut it out of my life. I’m not saying that I will never woodwork again. If and when I get older, I will theoretically get more free time to go along with my old age. So God willing, 20 years from now I may just be one of those old coots that I always talk about who attend all of the woodworking shows so happily. Who knows? It could happen.
Today I posted a page with a couple of hewn bowls, and what spoons I have ready to go. I have several spoons nearly ready; but those I’ll take with me to Roy’s place, & finish them down there. So what I have now is on the blog, then there’ll be more in mid-August. As usual, leave a comment if you’d like to order something. Any questions, send an email to Peter.Follansbee@verizon.net
Meanwhile, here’s some of what I did yesterday.
A day like this:
But I persevered and roughed out one of the last bowls from the stash of birch I have around here. Most of the ones I’ve been doing are upside-down. I start like this:
hew the broad inner face of the split bolt flat. This becomes the bottom of the bowl.
Then mark out the saddle-shaped interior of the bowl. Now the bowl is held down to a low bench with three pegs and a wedge. (well, take my word for it that there’s 3. You can only see 2 in this shot) Simple, but it works pretty well. If I end up doing these bowls regularly, then it might be time to look closely at Dave Fisher’s bowl horse…
I then make a few saw kerfs to help break stuff up when the next hewing begins.
I just begin chopping into the midst of these kerfs to remove the excess material. Now it’s a double-bevel hatchet, not the joiner’s hatchet I used to flatten the bottom.
Then comes adze work. Just like the hatchet, you want to keep the tool’s edge out of your leg.
I do some standing, then some seated. All in all, about 15-20 minutes of hewing ought to get me there.
Then it’s on to gouge & mallet work, then more hewing.
then it rained.