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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place! These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...
It has come to my attention that some people out there don’t like when I happen to disagree with one of their woodworking idols; in this instance Paul Sellers. I’ll say this again, for the record: I like what Paul Sellers does, I think he is a great woodworker and a great teacher. I DO NOT agree with everything he says. In fact, there are quite a few woodworking professionals that I like but don’t always agree with: EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.
I don’t always agree with everything that everybody says. I don’t always agree with the Federal Government; I don’t always agree with paying $15 to park at a public venue; I don’t always agree with the salaries that professional athletes make; I don’t always agree with my wife. Does all this mean that I hate all of these things and I am trying to destroy them or “tear them down”. No, it means that I think for myself and I have an opinion, and sometimes my opinion is that they are dead wrong.
I don’t know everything I will be the first to admit, but neither does anybody else. There is very little new under the sun, and we are all standing on the shoulders of those who came before us in many instances. So to make the assumption that any one person is the end-all, be-all final say on a topic is just foolish. And to believe that another person’s opinion is fact is also asinine.
I think for myself, I have an opinion; that is why I write a blog about woodworking. If you don’t agree with my opinion I don’t care. If you want to tell me that you don’t agree with my opinion I’m happy to listen. But nobody is going to convince me that there is a perfect woodworker out there whose methods and opinions are beyond question. If you feel that person or persons exists then I’m happy for you. The best thing to do in that situation may be taking all of those lovely thoughts and feelings about this particular person or persons and putting them into a blog of your own.
When I was an actual musician I used to pride myself on the rather small rig I used to play live. It was very simple: a direct box, a compressor, an EQ, and a tuner, to go along with my speaker and head. When I first started playing live I used a much larger rig, but that got old real quick. There wasn’t much fun in breaking down a boatload of (sometimes heavy) music equipment and loading it into a beat-up van at 5am after playing music and drinking beer for 9 hours. But the pride I felt wasn’t necessarily because of the small size of my set-up, but because I had managed to achieve a very good sound.
I spent the first year of my “live” career tweaking my guitar along with the compressor and the EQ. I had a very specific sound that I wanted, and it took a lot of trial and error before I found it. I knew guys that would walk on stage, plug in their bass and start playing. Sometimes it sounded okay, but most of the time it didn’t, no matter how much talent they had. I didn’t want to be that guy, so I continued to work at it whenever I got the chance. I knew that I had found success when other bass players, some fairly well known in the area, would approach me after a gig and asked to check out my rig. But that didn’t mean that I always was a bare-bones type of musician; I had many musical toys to play with at home, and I would spend hours recording songs, playing the keyboards, and adding every whacked out effect I could think of to the mix. It was fun. I like to believe that woodworking and music are similar disciplines. There are the tools you need to get started, but there are also the tools you want just to play with and have a little fun, just like in music.
About a month or so ago I had contacted Josh Clark at Hyper Kitten inquiring about a moving fillister plane. Josh informed me that he didn’t have any good examples in stock at the moment but if he came upon one he would contact me. So I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email last week from Josh showing me two planes in good condition and both reasonably priced. I chose one, Josh mailed it to me to inspect it, and I liked what I found, so I decided to purchase it.
I’ve wanted a moving fillister plane ever since I’ve been watching Roy Underhill. Of course, there are several ways to make a fillister without using a dedicated plane, but there is something about the look of the plane that I’ve always loved. Ordering it for me was a no brainer. It arrived in good shape, but in need of a little work. I removed every part of the plane that was removable and gave it a good cleaning. The one disappointment was the plane iron. There was no pitting or rust, but it appeared that the previous owner sharpened it with a grinding wheel of some kind. I don’t believe in grinding wheels, in particular if you really don’t know how to use one properly. The good news is that the back was flat with just a slight hollow. I began the honing process using a 1000 grit stone, though I probably should have used the 220 grit. In any event, I did manage to get a nice, and very sharp edge on it, though it took some time. The bevel of the iron could still use some work. Luckily, whomever the poor sharpener was, he at least didn’t screw up the front of the bevel, and his poor grinding was restricted to the back where it isn’t much of an issue. Still, one of these days I will really go at it and do a full regrind, by hand of course.
While I was at it, I also completely removed all of the brass from the plane, depth stop, depth stop adjuster, and the screws, and gave them a good polishing as well. I also sharpened the nicker and gave the wedges a light sanding and cleaning. I finished it all off with a coat of wax. On a side note, I removed the width adjuster to check out the sole. The sole was flat, but it did have some gook and grime on it, so I decided that I would give it a light sanding. I placed three sheets of sandpaper on my table saw: 100 grit, 150 grit, 220 grit, and proceeded to give the sole a nice clean-up. When I finished, I found something a bit scary; the wood on the sole looked absolutely beautiful. I then gave it a coating of linseed oil and it looked even better. I know that it is some sort of blasphemy to take the patina from an old and beautiful plane such as this one, but I am really tempted to do just that: sand the whole thing down, and re-coat it with the oil, and make it look brand new again.
Whatever I do, I’ve found that being a plane doctor is pretty fun. I’ve enjoyed taking these old tools, cleaning them up, fixing what I could, and putting them back to usable condition. Not that there is a whole lot to it, you only need a plane that was well made in the first place, the ability to sharpen, a little mechanical aptitude, and a little patience.
I’ve also found that the wooden planes I have worked with have been much easier to rehab than the old metal planes I’ve come across. While I still can’t call myself a traditionalist by any stretch, I am a huge wooden plane fan. My success so far has made me consider purchasing some more old wooden planes and attempting to fix those up as well. Fortunately, they are still available, and the cost is usually reasonable. Over the next few months I can see myself doing more and more of this type of work. As of today, the doctor is in.
I got home from Maine trip #2 on Sunday night. Monday kinda floundered, then on Tues it was off to a small island off the coast of America to see Heather & Pat. Heather’s show was outstanding as usual. Here’s one of my favorites, but the web doesn’t do it justice by half. The light in it is amazing.
(go to Heather’s blog and click on the paintings to see ‘em larger, then click the quill/feather in the teacup to read the notes) http://heatherneill.com/studio-blog/
here’s the gallery’s page of Heather’s work http://www.granarygallery.com/searchresults.php?page=1&artistId=11674&artist=Heather+Neill&start=1
we had a great, whirlwind one-day trip. Then back home to attempt to develop some routine or the semblance of one. Wednesday I mostly worked on hewn bowls; then Thursday spoons. today some of each.
The great part about spoon day is I can take it outside, and have the kids with me. The river, the birds – what could be better?
I have used ring-porous woods like oak, ash and hickory all my working days. I rarely have made spoons or bowls from ring porous woods because they split so easily. But sometimes I throw the rules out the window & see what happens. Catalpa is a very light-weight hardwood. I have made a couple of bowls from it before, and I had one small one kicking around ready to be finished.
Here’s the one from way back when; and the post it came from. One of the horrible things about keeping this blog is all my unfinished stuff is still there, taunting me: http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=catalpa
I remember southern visitors to the museum telling me about the fishermen who loved catalpa trees for the worms that ate the foliage – great bait. some said the best. They called it “catawba” – but it’s the same tree. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalpa I am lately reading To Kill a Mockingbird, and it’s in there, “…the class was wriggling like a bucketful of catawba worms…” Turns out that Catawba is a name of both the tree and a group of Native people in the Carolinas, and someone made a mistake with the tree’s name, and we ended up with catalpa. I always knew it as the cigar tree, because of the long seed pods. we used to whip them around when we were kids.
The other ring-porous wood I have to sample lately is really rare – American Chestnut. Or so I’m told. It was a tree planted about 15 years ago; and got some trimming done recently. It’s healthy now…but time will tell. Chances are it will succumb to the blight that all but wiped out the American Chestnut. http://www.acf.org/
It’s not a great wood for spoons, quite the opposite I would expect, but I have some small limbs and will see what happens. It’s high in tannic acid, turned my tools black as quick as you please.
The first birch bowl I was making sold before I could really get it here on the blog…but now I have finished the next 2 birch bowls, just applied flax oil to them today. I’ll post them for sale in the next day or 2. The first one is the most common orientation of the bowl in the split blank – the rim of the bowl is the inner wide surface of the halved log. Then I carved some gouge-cut decoration along the upper edge of each side.
The next one is what I call “upside-down” – you hew the split face of the log and make that the bottom of the bowl. I learned this from Drew Langsner, who learned it from his Swedish friends. Smaller bowl, but lots of fun with the shapes.
There’s still a few spoons left on the etsy site – don’t be daunted by Etsy. it’s easy to sign up, free too. https://www.etsy.com/shop/PeterFollansbee
In my above video I share a must-have book for new and seasoned traditional woodworkers: “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” by Christopher Schwarz.
“The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” is one of my absolute favorite books on the subject of traditional woodworking. Chris Scwharz displays his unfiltered humor, and no-nonsense approach to modern day woodworking anarchism: (1) build your own quality furniture instead of buying throw-away furniture and (2) stop collecting too many tools. A simple chest of heirloom quality tools is sufficient to build furniture that will last several lifetimes.
The pages are filled with unbelievably detailed research on what to look for when buying your woodworking hand tools. The chapters are broken up by different woodworking hand tool types. The book wraps up with plans & instructions on how to build the Anarchist’s Tool Chest. Chris Schwarz has created a literal movement of people who are building these tool chests and filling them with quality woodworking hand tools. Here is the Woodwright’s Shop episode where Chris Schwarz shows the Anarchist’s Tool chest to Roy Underhill:
I am especially grateful for Christopher Schwarz’s advice on “what not to buy”. This book has become a reference guide to me, that I return to on a regular basis.
I recommend that you read “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” through once (with a highlighter) and then keep it close by as a reference manual.
The beautiful bound cover & pages are nice enough to display in my living room…although it rarely gets far from my workbench.
You can buy “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” book at this link.
You can also buy the accompanying DVD at this link. In the DVD Chris actually pulls all of his tools out of his strong yet beautiful “Anarchist’s Tool Chest” and gives a brief explanation about why he purchased each tool. Here’s the DVD trailer:
I give this book 5 chisels up…way up!
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I’ve spent quite a bit of time this summer making more pipes. I learn a little bit (and sometimes a lot) with each one I’ve made recently.
I’ve been experimenting with layering different stains on top of each other, and I think I’ve finally found a process that works. The idea is to sand the wood to a fairly fine grit, apply a dark dye, and then once it dries, sand back the wood evenly but not too much. Then I apply a lighter dye. The result is that the darker dye penetrates more in some places than in others, highlighting the variations in the grain. I then sand to my finest grit and apply a coat of Danish oil to prevent the dye coming off in the user’s hand. Last comes a coat of wax.
I’m planning to try some traditional shapes next, just to hone my skills. And while I enjoy working with briar, I hope to experiment with some alternative woods as well.
Some of the pipes above are available at my Etsy shop.
Tagged: briar, Danish oil, stain, tobacco pipe, wood dye
So two weeks ago, on a cloudy, slightly stormy Saturday morning I gathered a couple axes, wedges, and a thermos of coffee and drove to Tom's shop in Pepin Wisconsin and met the two other gentlemen who decided to join us that day. From there it was a quick drive to the small parcel of woods Tom owns outside the town.
We started by busting apart a cherry log for a couple of us to share. I always fin this to be great fun and super satisfying. Then we all got to work with adzes, each on our own individual logs.
I've never found an adze in what I considered good enough shape to buy it so I had no real experience using one. The concept of swinging a horizontal axe blade in the vicinity of your lower legs and feet flies in the face of the modern, child-proof bottle cap, safety-litigation-congregation's standards. But like anything you have to be smart and keep your head in the game. Pay attention to what's safe and what's not as you're working, think through your actions before you take a swing, and you're fine.
The nice thing is the other guys all brought a nice variety of adze styles along and I took a bit of time with all of them, getting a feel for what I liked and didn't.
While the three of us worked, flattening slabs for benches. Tom worked hewing round logs square for timber framing.
It rained on and off at times, which was refreshing though we didn't get very wet at all under the heavy tree canopy.
When the day was finished I had a new blister and a cherry slab about 3" thick 15" wide on the top side, and a little over 3' long. We all loaded up and took off. The next day I was exhausted, with sore muscles I'd long forgotten I owned, but I still managed to waddle out to the shop and work on the slab some more.
I started by planing the bottom completely flat. I use metal bodied Stanley planes in most of my work, but I find for green work like this, a wooden body plane is superior in feel and function.
With the bottom set, I ran a marking gauge over the ends and snapped some chalk lines to get a uniform thickness to the top. The slab is giving me about 2 1/2". I took a hewing axe and brought the thickness down close, then planed some of the roughness away. I didn't bother getting carried away because I want to give the seat a dish out, like a Windsor chair seat.
I did some dishing, then set the slab aside. I have lots of other work and can't eat the distraction for more than a weekend right now and the slab needs to season a little before I work it some more. I have these visions in my mind of a cross between a Windsor and a Norwegian Sengebenk.
We'll see how that works out.
Ratione et Passionis
The third Woodworking in America 2014 (WIA) speaker to be profiled is Phil Lowe. In 2005, he too won the Society of American Period Furniture Maker’s Cartouche award (an honor bestowed by the Society to Master Craftsman who have illustrated the highest standard of education, resource, and applied venue for historical appreciation). He is also the second presenter who taught at North Bennett Street in Boston; he spent a decade […]
While attending a memorial celebration of Mel’s life and work last week, I revived an old acquaintance with one of Mel’s long time collaborators, a renowned architectural conservator. Our conversation was a winding one, reminiscing on our mutual respect and admiration for our departed friend.
Eventually we passed into the territories of our own projects, and he mentioned a gift he had for me out in his car. In a couple minutes he reappeared with an envelope with two index-card sized pieces of wood.
“These are some of the parquet floor remnants from the Oval Office, removed during the renovation of about 1990.”
I do not know the configuration or pattern of the parquet flooring, and even if I did the pieces are so small I could not make sense of them. Perhaps some day I will get a photo of the Oval Office flooring during this period and replicate it, but for the foreseeable future I will be content to enable these remnants to be prominently featured in The Barn alongside the c.1670 oak parquet flooring from the Palaise Royale in Paris.
So, in addition to sections of floor that may have supported Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, I have a scrap of floor that almost certainly bore the footsteps of Ronaldus Magnus. How cool is that?
Now I just have to somehow find a piece of flooring from underneath the only truly great President of the past 200 years, Calvin Coolidge…
It’s really special when an artisan can design something profound in a tight discipline. In a world where bling draws the spotlight, I’m always thankful for someone who can craft an extraordinary wine, shotgun, handplane, or chair. Here’s a short video about Martin Wenham, a letter carver who offers some insights about design. Take a moment to savor his thoughts and work. I’d like to thank Dave Fisher for sending me this link.
A few months back in blog titled The Ones That Got Away , I wrote about two auction items I coveted but apparently not enough to win. One of them was this salt box:
For a friend’s birthday I made this saltbox:
I was pleased with the build. Only thing I believe I got wrong was the angle of the cut-a-way for the lid. I didn’t pick the color, the recipient did. My mistake was picking up a milk paint sample chart from an antiques dealer 80 miles from home. I did find a local dealer but would have preferred she had chosen one of the General Finishes acrylic “milk paint” over the mix-me-up powdered genuine milk paint. She also wanted a more primitive finish, not the smooth and uniform finish that I usually try for. Just like Peter Follansbee not letting me make the English jointed stool too pretty when I took the class at the Woodwright’s School.
If you read Chris Schwarz’s blog at either Popular Woodworking or Lost Art Press, you know he has been writing about historic squares in the past month or two. The squares looked like an interesting project, relatively quick to build and not requiring much material. (No trip to the Hardwood Store.) As a woodworker with ADD, I am always looking for a diversion and something to keep me from doing what must be done. These fit the bill.
It was a rewarding build. Hadn’t really used hollows and rounds to any great extent. I scratched the bead on the Melencolia square with a #66 beading tool. The challenge is to figure out the sequence of using the planes and the best way to rough out the molding profiles before using the molding planes. I have been taught it is best to use a block or other plane to remove most of the wood before switching to the hollows and rounds to refine the shape. Block planes are easier to sharpen than a molding plane.
I made multiples because it is easier to make longer moldings than shorter ones. I have learned my lesson there. Now I have to find something to do with the spares. Always my problem, what to do with the stuff I make. Not a bad problem to have. Beats gout.
Ah, the middle of Summer, usually the hottest time of the year but also the usual time for vacations and relaxing. If you’re currently on vacation right now we invite you to sit back in your hammock or adirondack chair and enjoy our July issue of The Highland Woodturner. If you’re not on vacation and sitting at your office desk right now, we still invite you to CLICK HERE and maybe keep the browser covered so the boss doesn’t see you checking out some new woodturning project ideas and tips.
This month’s Woodturning stories and tips include:
Vacuum Chucking: Initial Impressions- Curtis Turner shares his experience in Vacuum Chucking, a system used to help “reverse mount a bowl or platter to provide total access to the bottom of the item.” Curtis goes over his process and the advantages and disadvantages he found when using this system.
Turning with Temple: Long, Thin-Stem Goblets: Temple Blackwood shares his step-by-step process of turning long, thin-stemmed goblets, which make great wedding presents!
Show Us Your Woodturning Shop: This month we take you on a tour of Dennis Purcell’s woodturning shop in Austin, Texas where he has a variety of turning and woodworking tools, including a new “old” lathe.
Popular Woodworking Presents: Woodturning with Tim Yoder: In this 30 minute episode brought to you by Popular Woodworking, Tim Yoder demonstrates the process of turning a Roman Canteen.
Improve Your Turning with the Oneway Woodworm Screw: Phil’s July turning tip gives you a recommendation on how to use the woodworm, the funny-looking screw that comes with chucks.
All of this and more in our July issue of The Highland Woodturner.
Part of my job at Popular Woodworking Magazine is to talk with tool manufacturers and get their newest innovations into the PWM shop to test and review. I tend to do things in a big way, which means I have a small mountain of things to review crowding the shop, my cubicle and the storage area in the front of the PWM offices – it’s a big pile. And with […]
Among the many great people I’ve met while on staff at Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM), one of my favorites is Carl Bilderback. Carl is a retired carpenter who has extraordinary skills with both hand and power tools (and he has vast collections of both), and a deep and abiding passion for the craft. He’s an active member of the Mid-West Tool Collectors Assn., and spends a lot of time driving […]
After doing the initial fitting, it was time to get the neck down to a little more hand friendly shape. Before I can do that, I want to get the fingerboard cut to size and bound, using some more of the bloodwood binding. In order to get the correct nut spacing and angles, the width of the binding has to be subtracted from the desired width of the neck. Then the fingerboard is cut on the table saw and the arc at the bottom shaped at the sander. The binding is glued on and, after curing, the fingerboard is surfaced on the bottom. Now it can be glued to the neck blank. (I’m glueing it at this stage, so that the water content in the glue doesn’t cause any warping, which sometimes occurs in a thinner neck blank. After the glue has fully cured, the neck blank can be rough sawn for thickness at the bandsaw. Then the width is routed using the fingerboard as a guide.
Then its time to break out the spokeshaves, rasps, and files and shape the neck and heel. Then, with the neck shaped, the final fitting of the dovetail can begin. I did need to add shims on the dovetail (next one, I shouldn’t try to fine tune the fit until AFTER the neck shaping is done,) but, with it loose, its perfect for dialing in the fit of the heel to the body.
A final overall sanding to everything, and the neck can be glued to the body. With the dovetail joint carefully fitted (after a LOT of checking, tweaking, checking, tweaking, etc.) so that it tightens up just as its seated, it goes together very quickly. Heat the glue, brush it on, slide it together, two clamps, and you’re done!
Then, after making the bridge, and masking it off, I can begin the finishing. I began with a few coats of very thin shellac, sanding between coats. The gold color of the loa really comes out now.
After sanding all of the shellac coats down with 400 grit sandpaper, and masking off the fingerboard, its time to put on the first finish coat of oil/varnish. Now the color just becomes deeper and richer. (I brought it inside to do the bulk of the drying to control the humidity a bit more than the garage. 90% humidity just isn’t good for finishing!)
A few more coats, and it’ll be ready for the final assembly.
The fact that Peter is leaving isn't news. There are rumors that Plimoth Plantation didn't plan to replace him, Chris wrote about this in a post on his blog, but down at the bottom of the comments in that post is a comment by a Sarah MacDonald, that states the organization is updating the job description and expanding the diversity of its craftspeople. (There is no updated job posting for a joiner as of today)
This all gives me pause for thought. What if I were to be hired for the job? I certainly would meet some of the qualifications
I have spent several years developing competency with hand tools in woodworking in general and with working freshly riven, green wood more recently. I can take a fallen tree and turn it into a finished piece of furniture.
I have developed a love for the furniture and construction styles of the 17th century. I have been working on the carving aspect of the craft for several years and it's a very comfortable, natural style for me now.
|My most recent carved interpretation. Walnut carved box sides. I haven't finished the till, lid, or bottom yet.|
And I have experience as an lecturer and educator, I spent two years teaching Surgical Technology and Central Service Technology at Western Technical College, before deciding to return to the field. And my work has been published in a major woodworking publication.
Ok . . . so do I have the job?
Several things will keep me from even applying if the job is posted. Not the least of which is the need to relocate. It is definitely not the right time in our lives to take on another adventure like that. Not for a while.
But the job is still fun to think about, like the "What would I do if I won the lottery?" question. Though the approach that comes across my mind is "What would I do differently?"
Peter is am inspiration to me, I've never managed to come up with a good reason to correspond with him outside of the abject hero workshop and fawning praise of an unapologetic fan boy. But if I were to trip, fall, and land in the job, I would want to make it my own. Standing on the shoulders of giants to see further is more noble than repeating what has been done before in a cookie cutter fashion.
I would certainly have a lot to learn in the job, that would be most of the fun.
Ratione et Passionis