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Oriental Hand Tools
I’ve said this before, but it’s fun to see your name in print at the bookstore.
At the risk of seeming self-serving, if you don’t have a copy of this issue, you really should get one. Besides excellent material from the usual Popular Woodworking Magazine contributors, there are articles by Marc Spagnuolo, Autumn Doucet, Don Williams, Jim Ipekjian, and Bob Rozaieski that are just outstanding.
Gyokucho 372 rip dozuki, working its way through the same piece of red oak that made its appearance earlier.
Japanese saw geek content: this saw is not a true rip dozuki. The Gyokucho 372 has teeth that looks like crosscut teeth, but with interspersing teeth that act like raker teeth, much like how a combination saw blade for a table saw that has flat top teeth and alternating top bevel teeth works. This saw certainly makes rip cuts faster than the Gyokucho 370, which is a true crosscut saw.
(For Taylor Donsker.)
This has been mentioned on the Popular Woodworking Twitter feed, but since it’s now on their website, it must be official.
I have the great good luck to be one of the speakers at this year’s Woodworking in America, which will be held September 12-14, in Winston-Salem, NC. I’ll be covering Japanese tools and how to use them in your shop, even if you never have used a tool that goes backwards.
I’m especially excited to see the other speakers: Roy Underhill, Matt Cianci, Phil Lowe, Drew Langser, and Frank Klausz have been announced so far. In fact, I’m flabbergasted that I’m in their company. This is going to be a great event, for sure.
I'm interested in giving Japanese saws a try. I know next to nothing about them. What saws (type and quantity) should I consider purchasing for typical hand tool situations such as ripping, crosscutting, and joinery work? Thanks!
If you’re starting out, I like the combination of a 210 mm ryoba, which will cover most furniture scale joinery tasks (dovetails, tenons), and a 270mm saw for making bigger cuts. I wrote a post a while ago explaining why here.
Mark Harrell, on the Bad Axe Tool Works Facebook page:
Seriously thinking about discontinuing the .015-plate gauge option for our dovetail saws. It’s just too thin to be practical. Though it excels at cutting stock between 1/4 and 2/4, once you venture into 3/4” territory, there’s just not enough of a heat sink there to deal with the commensurate friction in the cut: with friction comes heat, and with heat comes an expansion of metal and warping of the toothline. The .018-gauge plate is far superior while still yielding a whisper-thin kerf. Now there’s a lot of spilled ink on the advantages of a .015-gauge plate, but I have yet to see them, unless you keep your cutting requirement at 2/4 or below.
I have never had to deal with this as an issue. My feeling is that if there’s enough heat from friction when making a saw cut to cause the saw to bind, you’re doing something wrong. In the case of a thin plate western saw, a much more likely scenario is that the plate is bending because the thin plate can’t support itself during the push stroke, even with the support of the back in the case of a dovetail saw.
For a point of reference, I have two 240 mm ryobas, one handmade, and one machine made, and both have a 0.018” plate. My 240 mm rip and crosscut machine made dozukis have a 0.013” plate. My handmade 210 mm ryoba has a 0.015” plate. None of them bind in the manner that’s being described for thin plate western saws.
By the way, that’s a dozuki with a 0.013” plate working its way through a crosscut in a piece of red oak 7/4” thick in the picture above. I experienced exactly zero binding when making this cut.
(Thanks to Ben Lowery for the link.)
giant Cypress turned 4 today!
They grow up so fast, don’t they?
In reality, all else is never equal, of course, and the dynamics are surely more complicated than described here. Nonetheless, this way of looking at it at least gives some basis to explain my real world observations using many saws that, within limits, thinner kerf saws do not seem to give a proportionate advantage in cutting speed over thicker kerf saws.
Again, my argument is against this as an assumption that may be made by some when comparing saws. This is applicable in comparing among Western saws, and generally comparing Western with Japanese saws.
Rob makes a good argument for the idea that thin kerf does not equate to faster cutting speed where handsaws are concerned. I don’t think, however, that speed is where the advantage is for a saw with a thinner plate. Speed is probably more a function of tooth geometry and spacing, rather than the thinness of the plate.
The advantage of a thinner plate is that because you are removing less wood, less effort needed to make the saw cut that you want. And if you can get the same result with less effort, then there is value to that, even if you make your saw cut in the same amount of time.
Congratulations to my nephew, who is being confirmed today. I made a small turned walnut box to hold his rosary, which is our gift to him. My wife thought that would be a better case than the plastic box with the foam insert in which it was packaged.
My wife knew Elaine Stritch through her old job back in Chicago, which is how I got to meet her. Elaine told me to take good care of my wife, or she would kick my ass. I completely believed that she would, and could.
A few years later, we saw Elaine’s one woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, before it hit Broadway. We were able to go backstage afterwards to see her, where I was able to show Elaine that she did not have to kick my ass. And yes, she wasn’t wearing pants.
Elaine Strich is awesome. This is completely worth the 48 seconds.
“We bleeped it.” No, you didn’t.
I’ll be at the Woodworking Show in Somerset, NJ, on Friday, Feb. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 22. I’ll be hanging out at the booth of my woodworking club, the Central Jersey Woodworkers Association. This will be the second year in a row that I’ll be doing a sharpening demonstration even though there will be a professional doing exactly the same thing. (This time, it’s Mike Pekovich, from Fine Woodworking.) I’ll have Japanese tools there as well, of course.
Hope to see you there!
Via the always awesome georgetakei.
The boys demonstrating the advantages of using a high angle frog.
Andrew Hunter gives a nice demonstration on milling boards by hand using Japanese planes. The key is to take a look at the shavings that are coming off the board in the initial stages of the milling process. Although Andrew isn’t explicit about this in this video, it’s obvious from the shavings and the marks that the roughing plane leaves on the board that the plane is set up with a decent camber, a relatively thick shaving, and an open mouth.
Andrew is careful to observe that even though this demonstration is being done with Japanese planes, the same principles apply to using western planes, which is kind of amusing. After all, when woodworking techniques are demonstrated using western hand tools, no one ever takes the time to point out that the same thing can be done with Japanese tools.
Nice followup by Corydon Ireland in the Harvard Gazette to this recent article:
Akinori Abo, a master carpenter from Japan, picked up a thin-bladed crosscut saw and drew it quickly through a 6-inch block of wood. Each time he pulled the rattan-wrapped handle back, the blade hissed and aromatic sawdust streamed to the floor. Abo’s final cut drew a burst of wild applause.
It may seem odd to applaud a man for sawing wood, or demonstrating a carpenter’s square, or drawing a heavy plane across a wide board. But consider that Abo’s shavings were three times thinner than a human hair, curling up from the plane like a paper scroll. Or that the block of wood afterward was as smooth as ivory.
"It was great to get to look at the Guhdo saw blades and the new Silky Japanese style saws (which are..."
Chuck Bender, on his visit to the Columbus Woodworking Show.
So close! So, so very close!
Tried a Japanese plane for the first time. Good results but my Western hand is sore. pic.twitter.com/mwjhRuzJFP— Marc Spagnuolo (@WoodWhisperer)February 3, 2014
So close! So, so very close!
It’s Get Woodworking Week again, and I’m sure that that if there is a woodworking topic that simultaneously strikes fear and confusion into the heart of woodworkers trying to sort things out, it’s sharpening. There is plenty of information on how to sharpen out there. This post is not one of them. Instead, this is intended to serve as a reminder of two things to keep in mind when trying to figure out sharpening.
1. All the methods work.
I think that people pick the sharpening regimen that they do, not because one gets you a sharper edge than the others, but because it is less annoying than all the other ones. With waterstones, you need to manage the water. Other methods of sharpening tend to be faster than oilstones. Diamonds give me an unpleasant “fingernails on a chalkboard” feeling. Sandpaper needs replacing and dealing with the spray adhesive you used to stick the sandpaper down with. Whichever one of these bothers you the least will probably be the method of sharpening that you’ll gravitate to.
And the most important factor in sharpening is to practice with the sharpening system that you have. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.
2. The demos do it all wrong.
The problem with sharpening write-ups and demos are that they always start with a beat up tool, a coarse waterstone, coarse sandpaper, or a grinder, making it seem like you have to go through all these steps every time you need to sharpen a tool.
That’s not what you should be doing in your shop. The best practice is to take a break every so often and work the bevel and back of your tool a few times on whatever your last step of sharpening is: strop, fine grit waterstone/diamond stone/sandpaper. That will only take a minute or so and and it will keep your tool sharp, which is a lot easier than resharpening your tool. Bob Rozaieski once said during a carving demo that he gave to our woodworking club that “you should sharpen before you think you need to sharpen.” This is fantastic advice. The other saying I’ve heard is, “The more you sharpen, the less you sharpen.”
This is my usual sharpening set up. It’s a fine grit waterstone that’s set up right next to my workbench, ready to go at any minute. It only takes a minute or so to touch up a tool, and it’s so convenient that the only reason I have for not touching up a tool is sheer laziness or stupidity. And of all the things I’ve done to improve my sharpening, this is probably the best one.
Rob Porcaro builds an Odate-style tool box, and does a way better job than I did, of course. He also designed and added some nice improvements:
The lower edge of the end “handle” is undercut with a 15° bevel to help the four fingers grab it reliably for lifting the box while the thumb comes over the top end piece.
新年快樂！Hello Kitty and giant Cypress wish all of you a happy Chinese New Year, and good luck in the Year of the Horse.
(Photo from Hello Kitty Limited.)