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Carving and Sculpture
The latest video lesson that I have added to my online school is how to carve a Fleur De Lis. It will be a total of 2 episodes, and so far the first episode has been added to the school.
But WAIT! There’s more! This first episode can also be watched as a “sample” lesson for FREE if you go to the home page of my online school. Scroll down to “Try a Sample” and you can watch this 32 minute lesson in fabulous HD quality (probably won’t be able to view this in HD on your computer, but it still has improved the quality and clarity of the videos by leaps and bounds).
Check it out!
I’ve gone into quite a few different workshops and am always fascinated with what people listen to on the radio while they are working. Probably most often is classic rock. Then the next favorite is classical music (usually NPR). Country Western on occasion. Then there is talk radio that shows up here and there. There are very few times when there is just silence.
Which brings me to the conclusion (or maybe confirms my suspicion) that I am quite an odd person when it comes to this. I generally do not listen to anything while I carve or work in my shop. I do turn the radio on occasionally, but find that when I am really concentrating and focusing on a carving, the music ends up being a distraction and I end up turning it off. I think the only time I listen to any type of music is when I feel like I need to have distraction from what I am working on. This is usually when I am doing something very repetitive and I am past the point of really needing to concentrate or focus on what I’m working on. I find that I turn to listening to music as a distraction and it causes the time to go by faster.
I think also that I tend to really listen to the music, rather than just let it be something in the background – which can be more of a distraction that just passive background music.
And if you do listen to certain types of music, what types of music do you listen to that will inspire you when you are doing a particular kind of work? French polishing with French opera music? Celtic knot carving with The Irish Tenors? How about when you have to do a lot of really hefty mallet work you can listen to some really angry rap music.
Maybe I’ll just enjoy the “sound of silence”…
I just finished teaching a challenging but very fun class on the Fundamentals of Woodcarving at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Indianapolis, Indiana. These classes at Marc’s can be pretty intense because of the size (18 students) and the length of class (5 days).
It was a great group of students and they tackled some difficult projects, challenging wood, and long hours. We had a lot of fun along with a lot of carving.
I will be teaching a class again at Marc Adams on Classical Relief Carving August 4 – 8. There might be spaces still available and this is open to beginning carvers.
Highland Woodworker has just published an interview with me on their “Web TV for Woodworkers” site – Episode 12. There are several other things happening on that particular show – You can also see Luthier Kipp Krosa and his beautiful musical instruments, Glen Huey talking about how to buy shellac that is not too old (who would have known?) and the Tennessee Barn Project where some of those amazing old barns are salvaged.
My interview starts at about the 29 minute mark.
Since my 47 year old mechanical school clock has left home, there’s been an empty spot on the wall where eyes land several times a day, finding little but a faded outline and silence. It’s time to change that.
Back when clocks and watches actually had mechanical things inside, watchmakers and watch repairers (often jewelers) needed an accurate timepiece from which to set and check times. “Regulators” were accurate enough, probably not quite as accurate as H4, or other chronographs used for navigation, but close.
Many case styles exist for regulators. Two of my favorites are movements with longer pendulums, the Vienna Regulator and the Jeweler’s Regulator. Here we have a Jeweler’s Regulator that has been offered for many years by Klockit. I’ve admired it for as many years, keeping it on my bucket list as one of the clocks I want to build. Nope! I am NOT building a kit. Klockit offers drawings for this clock, 8 large sheets. I’m working from those drawings and using some Cherry that I bought last year. However, I will be using the mechanical movement components the clock was designed around, a Hermle regulator movement. When I built that school clock 47 years ago, mechanical movements were very plentiful and reasonably affordable. That was a decade and a half before the rise of quartz movements. The transition to quartz is now nearly complete and mechanical movements are becoming rarities. Demand has fallen, resulting naturally in fewer choices and dramatically higher prices. So, I caught this one during a 20% discount sale before its cost escalated yet more.
Rarely do I build from plans. In this case, I’ll stick close to the plan but will make some alterations, specifically to allow some carving. At the moment, I’m thinking the biggest change will be replacing the dentil molding in the crown with egg and dart. Maybe more…
In any case, we now see the reason I jumped on that set of hollows and rounds a while back. They were bought for clock moldings. Learning curves ahead…
These photos of my squeaky clean workshop were actually taken several months ago and it doesn’t look quite as tidy as it did back then.
I spent an entire week going through everything in my workshop, reorganizing it, cleaning it, and discovering things I haven’t seen in years. It was truly about time…
…and now I can’t find anything…
My workshop is approximately 12 ft wide x 36 ft long. It started out with a single shop about 12 ft x 12 ft. This is where I do my main carving and filming of videos.
Then when things were slow at my husband’s business, he kept his guys employed by adding a “porch” onto my workshop that was another 12 ft x 12 ft. Then about a year or so later, things slowed down again with my husband’s work and that porch was closed in to become my “center” shop. This part is usually used as an “overflow” from my original carving shop and where I have any machines that might produce dust (hate the stuff).
Then several years later, another downfall in the economy (which I benefitted from) – the guys put the third addition on – another 12 ft x 12 ft fully windowed room – sort of like a sunroom. This is where I do a lot of my castings and mold-making – a messy process that I want to keep completely away from any of my woodworking tools.
I love my workshop. It is my “happy place”.
I have several beginning carving classes coming up that still have spaces available. Come join us!
May 2 – 4, Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking I will be teaching a class on the Fundamentals of Furniture Carving. This is a beginning class where I will go over the basics of relief carving – acanthus leaf, shell & linenfold in shallow relief. Check out the full description by clicking the link to the school above.
I am also going to be teaching a beginning carving class in Germany! Yeah! I really want to make sure that it fills, so PLEASE, PLEASE if you are in the Berlin, Germany area June 19 – 21, please join us! It will be at the Dictum School.
Another class that still has spaces available is the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine. This is a full week class on basic carving techniques.
There are still some spaces available in classes later in the year also and you can see them on my class schedule.
Maybe my online video school isn’t helping my class enrollment? I wonder… maybe I’m creating my own competition! I guess that’s not a bad thing…
A new project has been added to my online video school. It is a fully 3-dimensional carving of a cardinal in basswood. This is not the typical type of carving I have on the school. Most of the styles I do are classical decorative carving that go on either furniture or architecture.
I go through the process of how to get the general shape cut out with a band-saw. I also show how to keep strategic pieces of wood attached so that I can clamp it in my bench vice without having to hold it in my hands. These carvings are often held in your hands and carved with a whittling knife or palm gouges. I am MUCH more comfortable using my long-handled European gouges and clamp the work to my bench. Much less blood… all body parts away from the gouge…
Every Thursday (actually Wednesday evening) I add another video episode. Sometimes the lessons only have one episode – usually when they are less than 1/2 hour long. This project of carving the cardinal will be 3 episodes (approx. 1-1/2 hours total) and so far 2 episodes have been added to the school. The final episode will be added next week (can you handle the suspense?) The plot is pretty predictable.
I added a blog post previously describing this carving process in photographs.
If you haven’t seen my online school, I currently have 122 video episodes and more every week. 12 beginning video lessons are available for FREE!
This is a great example of how to care for a very fragile carving. This delicate leaf design is for the detail on the top of a Philadelphia Highboy (this project is actually going on a Philadelphia Chest-on-Chest, but since the highboys are so much more common, I’m just going to refer to it as a highboy from now on).
I am NOT going to carve this after it is glued to the final furniture surface for several reasons -
1. The rest of the piece of furniture is in NC
2. If my gouges decide to gouge into the background (which they like to do on occasion) I won’t damage this beautiful flat surface.
So, I am going to attach this to a temporary backer board where I can gouge away as I please. This also allows me to clamp the backer board and as a result any clamps or bench dogs will be far away from my carving or gouges.
There are several ways I could do this.
1. Glue it to the backer board with newspaper or paper bag between the carving and backer board (great for more solid and less delicate carvings)
2. Use double sided tape (excellent for fragile carvings)
3. Use hot-melt glue (this is becoming more and more NOT the best choice in my book)
I decided to use the double sided tape method for this delicate carving. When Charles Neil and his gang hung out in my shop for a week last year, they introduced me to an amazing double-sided tape that you can get from Lowes – it is a type of double-sided duct tape called “Suretape”. It is truly impressive in how it holds. Then when you are finished with the carving, brush along the edge of your carving with lacquer thinner (use in ventilated space) and the tape will soak up the lacquer thinner and will gently release from the backer board.
So here we go…
Cut out your design on a scroll saw – use as small of a blade as you can to get a clean cut, but don’t let it get so small that the blade bends and distorts. For this particular design I used a scroll saw blade with 15 teeth per inch. For the inside sections, I drilled a 1/4″ hole to insert the blade into.
Lay your carving on a backer board that is at least 1 inches larger than your carving on all sides. Draw a rough outline around your design as a guideline for where to lay your tape.
Lay the double sided tape on your backer board in the general shape of the outline you drew. Pull off the covering of the double-sided tape.
Lay your carving on the tape.
Clamp another board over your carving to ensure that the entire carving is tight against the backer board. Clamp it tightly and then release. There is no need to clamp it for any period of time.
With a small knife that can fit into tiny areas, cut the tape around the outside edge of your design. One of the most irritating things is to carve and have your wood shavings stick to any exposed double sided tape. It’s a tedious job to remove this, but very important.
And now we’re ready to carve!
No, it’s not woodworking … nor woodcarving … nor (especially not) DIY.
The back story of why it’s been “in progress” for 6 months will come later.
I recently received a great new commission – to carve the top details for 4 reproduction Philadelphia Chippendale chest-on-chests. These ornate tops are usually seen on highboys from around 1760 to 1780, but occasionally are added as decorative tops (or bonnets) of chest-on-chests. Quite often the chest-on-chests have a simple flat top.
The following is a photo that my carving will be roughly based on.
The first step is – how to get the design to the wood in the most accurate and efficient way possible. Since I am carving 4 of these, it would be best to get a clear, durable and accurate template made of each detail that I can use for all pieces of furniture.
Ideally, I would get a thick piece of flexible plastic. I often use a disposable cutting board or chopping mat that I purchase at a flea market (those booths where there are boxes filled with really inexpensive Chinese made things that you can never imagine needing – except for now). You can also use plastic page dividers at office supply stores. What you want to look for is something clear enough to see the design through, thick enough so you can run your pencil along the edge as a template, and textured enough so you can draw on at least one side of it.
However… I did not use this process because when I started, I did not have any of this thick plastic to use. So I used the next best thing I had in my shop and settled on velum or tracing paper. Great for tracing a design, but not great for use as a template because it is so flimsy and you can’t run your pencil along the edge easily. So the process I went through was a little more laborious because I really do want the template to be on a stiffer material that I can trace around.
After enlarging the photo of the original to full-size, I traced over the leaf design onto velum paper. This is definitely not a real accurate process because of the fuzziness of the photograph as it is enlarged. I got it as close as I was comfortable with for this first step. More detailed drawings were done after this.
Next, I cut out the design in the velum paper, taped it to my wood (about 5/8″ thick mahogany) and gently traced it around the outside.
Next I drew the design details accurately on the wood as it should be carved, fixed any parts where the tracing process was a little vague, and did any adjusting with the design. Why didn’t I do this while it was on the velum paper? Good question. And I really had to think about this. There is something about drawing it onto the material that it will actually be carved in where I can visualize it easier and more accurate. If you wanted to, I guess you could do this final detailing on the velum drawing before it was cut out. But if you do that, then the following steps will make no sense… so let’s not confuse things…
Next, I scanned the wood with the drawing on my computer scanner. I had to do some real funky adjusting with the color to make the drawing show up. But it worked! Now I have a file on my computer where there is an accurate, full-size drawing of my design.
Next I printed this design out, and glued it onto a manilla file folder (or any other thicker cardboard or plastic material) with a light coat of spray glue or you could use glue stick (don’t use glue that will soak into the paper and distort the design). Next, I cut out the outline of the design as accurately as possible.
Now this template can be used for all 8 of these cut-outs (2 for each piece of furniture – used in reverse). And since it is in a thicker material, the accuracy of running a pencil along the outside edge makes it all worth the effort!
Like I said, this process was a bit long-winded, and it could have been accomplished much easier if I simply had that thick plastic where I could just trace the design from the photo, and cut out the design. That’ll teach me to make sure I have my shop stocked! I went to the market last weekend and bought 6 packages of the plastic “chopping mats”.
I could also have shortened the process by making the final accurate drawing on the velum paper, gluing that to the manilla folder and cutting it out. But that wouldn’t have been nearly as fun! I’m sure there are some engineers out there that are just cringing at my “meandering” approach.
The moral of the story is… be prepared! Also, if you can’t do it one way (because of lack of organization), there are ALWAYS other ways.
I think I’ll do it differently next time…
My husband, Stephen, and I took the last 2 days to explore an area of SC that is truly amazing. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Brookgreen Gardens, just south of Myrtle Beach, SC, it is an amazing experience.
Archer Huntington and Anna Hyatt Huntington purchased 4 rice plantations along the SC coast in the 1920s that were no longer in working order. They employed many local people to help fix the buildings and gardens, and since this was in the middle of the depression, they made a huge impact on the local economy by simply giving people work.
The reason Brookgreen Gardens was so interesting to me is that Anna Hyatt Huntington was a sculptor (sculptress?). She mostly did large bronze sculptures of realistic animals in action. She also collected many sculptures from other, mostly American sculptors – in bronze, stone, and wood. The gardens have hundreds of sculptures and two days was definitely NOT enough time to enjoy all that was there.
There is also Huntington Beach State Park nearby that has the home they lived in and her sculpture studio that used to be army barracks.
They decided to move to warmer climate because she had TB so they moved to SC from New York. I thought that was interesting because you mostly hear about people with TB moving to drier climates out west – not humid SC! But I guess the move was good for her because she lived to be 97 – and was making sculptures most of her life.
They didn’t really need to worry about “making a living” because Archer Huntington was from a rail-road family, and Anna was quite a famous and wealthy artist in her own right. Ahhh… the freedom to create without the concern about actually paying bills! What an odd concept…
Sometimes I am asked what I would do if I did not have to carve to make a living. It’s a difficult question to answer, because I truly love to carve! I’m not sure I would change a thing.
Maybe one thing that I might try is that I would do more sculptural pieces of my own design – both in wood and stone. I don’t get much opportunity to do this. In fact, I really only have had one stone carving commission – the 8 foot tall limestone dolphin fountain. All the other stone carving sculptures have simply been pieces I have done for myself as “practice”.
Occasionally I get a commission to carve a sculpture in wood, but not often. When I do, I really do enjoy it because it becomes a completely different challenge than decorative carving. Sometimes it’s easy to settle into what you know and what you are comfortable with (ball and claw feet, acanthus leaves, etc) and that’s when it’s good to stretch your skills into something that brings you into those areas where you feel like you have to turn your brain inside out. That’s not a bad thing!
I have 2 more episodes to add before the full lesson is on the site. I’ll be adding a lesson each week. This was a challenging project because it was a small carving and I didn’t want to hold it in my hand while carving (I don’t like to bleed). I needed to figure out a way to leave strategic pieces of wood attached so I could clamp it to the workbench. It was a challenge, but I really enjoyed the process.
I have a blog post on carving this – Carving a cardinal
How many ball and claw feet do you have to carve to say “enough is enough”? I never thought I would say this, but… enough is enough!
If I admit that these historic eagle talon feet grasping the “pearl of wisdom” have gotten the best of me, will I be kicked out of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers? Will I ever be able to look at a period furniture maker in the eyes again without feeling the shame of defeat (de-feet)?
OK, I’ll be back next week ready to tackle more, but for now… just a wee little break is all I ask. Then I’ll be on my game again and happy to carve more.
When you go to sleep at night and have visions and nightmares of gnarly and twisted talons creeping around every corner, I think it’s time to take a break.
But I shall return! They will not get the best of me! There are more feet that are struggling to escape – and I’ll be there for them…
Now if you want to learn how to carve these wonderful feet, here are the instructions: Ball and Claw Instructions
We had a great weekend demonstrating at the American College of the Building Arts and Lie-Nielsen’s Tool Event. I got to set up my little workbench and carve to my heart’s delight for 2 days! What more could I ask for?
It was a great turn-out and after all the weathermen said that Saturday was going to be constant thunderstorms, it turned out to be a great day with no rain. It was fun to work with all the Lie-Nielsen “gang” again and it’s always good to see Christopher Schwarz. There was a new woodworker in the mix, Caleb James, who is a chairmaker out of Greenville, SC.
I am working with Lie-Nielsen and Auriou tools (the French company that makes the hand-made rasps) to make a set of my favorite shaped fishtail carving gouges. I can’t wait! I have 4 of the prototypes that I have been testing for a few weeks, and I LOVE them! Hoping to have some available for sale within 3 to 6 months. I’ll keep you updated.
I also got to see some stone carving friends from the upstate, SC. Clint Button, who carves amazing marble and granite sculptures, and David Gillespie, who carves beautiful traditional slate grave stones. It was wonderful to see them and their families while in town.
I wanted to show the true southern hospitality thing and attempted to host a bon-fire while everyone was in town – with a combination of steamed oysters, marshmallows and beer (sounds like a wicked chemical combination). But alas, the rain on Friday night washed that idea out. Maybe try again next year??
This Friday and Saturday (March 28 & 29) there will be a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at the American College of the Building Arts in Charleston, SC. I will be demonstrating carving, Christopher Schwarz will be demonstrating his dynamic hand woodworking skills (and will also be giving a tour of historic Charleston on Thursday), Caleb James will be demonstrating plane making and chair making while the wonderful staff of Lie-Nielsen demonstrates the use of their fabulous tools. They even let you try them out! You will also have an opportunity to meet Thomas Lie-Nielsen, the owner and founder of Lie-Nielsen tools.
The event is located at a fabulous old jail house that is as creepy as it gets. The college has done a lot of renovations on the building, but they have kept the wonderful rustic atmosphere of the old jail. I definitely would NOT have wanted to be a “guest” – some rooms still have that damp dungeon smell and feel. Can’t imagine…
Anyway… The Master of the Building Arts Festival will be held on Saturday from 10 to 5 at the school. It is free to attend and there will be a lot of demonstrations of traditional building techniques such as wrought iron, stone carving, traditional plastering techniques, timber framing, and much more!
Hope you can make it out for the show! The weather is going to be sunny and upper 70s. Ya gotta love Charleston!
Pines are native to most of the northern hemisphere. So, why is it when I go to nearest home center, the pine they have is the Radiata species grown in New Zealand? I wonder what the market dynamics are that brings the stuff nearly 9000 miles to get to the big orange box store near us. I do have to admit that it is generally very free of knots and usually straight, flat, and straight grained … much better than some of the other stuff in the store.
This little flip-lid box is intended as storage for a growing collection of card scrapers. Being a shop accessory, I decided to use some of the radiata pine I have left from other projects and save the hardwood for other times.
The box needs dividers and I’ve never made them before. I worked out the simple scheme of three dividers and two end pieces to hold them. Another quick wood decision. … There’s a lot of cedar left from boatbuilding days and it can be cut down to 1/8 inch thickness very quickly. It’s the nature of cedar to crush more easily than cut, so when it came to routing the dadoes, a knife and slicing motions worked better than a chisel. A shop made router rounded out the tools needed for these joints. These are very small dadoes, 1/8 inch wide and only 1/16 inch deep. It turns out that they need exactly as many steps as any of their larger brothers.
As the box neared completion, regrets about wood choice began to loom. All of the boxes I’ve made recently have been made as much for having something to decorate with carvings as much as having a practical storage box. Carving wasn’t in the original plan, but why not? …. Because it’s stringy pine, that’s why not.
A simple three leaf embellishment, a recent carving lesson from Mary May, originally meant for corner decorations, turned out to be just complicated enough to be satisfying and just simple enough for the pine. Taking shallower cuts to avoid unwanted splitting resulted in more facets than I like in the background, but adding yet more facets even things out.
All in all, she’s right. It turned out to be a satisfying project with a purpose.
Dimensions: 6 3/4 inches (L), 3 3/4 inches (W), 3 inches (H)
Card scraper box - carving on my new bench-on-bench
Dadoes are 1/8 inch wide and 1/16 inch deep to accept haunched dividers.
Like all good dadoes, they fit perfectly.
Card scraper box - ready to finish - waiting for shop to be warm enough - dividers are cedar
Card scraper box - body pieces are 1/4 inch thick Radiata pine - dividers are 1/8 inch thick cedar - bottom is 1/8 inch thick pine
Card scraper box - end view shows lid pivot pin
Card scraper box - finger notch was cut with a #6 gouge
Card scraper box - room for more
Card scraper box - bottom is only 1/8 inch thick, captured in grooves
Last month I had a wonderful time teaching in Rochester, NY. Unfortunately, I travelled there the day after a major snowstorm and ended up spending about 10 hours in lovely Washington, DC airport. I ended up missing a talk/demo I was supposed to do for the Rochester Woodworking Society that evening and did not actually get into Rochester until about 1:00 am. The next day an all-day talk and demo on the basics of woodcarving was also scheduled. I guess I was riding on adrenaline or sheer will-power, because I made it through that day with only losing my voice, not my mind!
For the next 4 days I taught a class for the Society of American Period Furnituremakers (SAPFM). Their request was to carve drapery linenfold (like on the cover of the Samuel McIntire book), scrolls and volutes, a basic acanthus leaf for a cabriole leg and an advanced acanthus leaf design. We really covered an amazing amount of carving- and several of the projects were new topics that I had not taught in classes often – at least not these specific projects. So it was new for all of us! (They were very cooperative guinea pigs) There was some great carving accomplished!
My hosts, Dave and Irene Brawley, were wonderful to me and completely spoiled me the entire time I was there. It has been about 15 years since I really saw that kind of deep snow (growing up in Wisconsin and Minnesota, I knew snow!) I felt like a kid again trudging through nearly 20 inches of snow and coming inside when your eyes feel like they will freeze open.
Glad to be back to the warm I am SOOO spoiled.
A small box I’m making wants interior dividers. This is the first time I’ve tried making them, so it is a learning experience. The idea is 3 lengthwise dividers organized by two end pieces. The end pieces need dadoes. The scale of the project is such that the interior pieces are only 1/8 inch thick. I don’t have a 1/8 inch chisel and didn’t want to order one and wait. I do have an “Old Woman’s Tooth” router. So, off to the scrounge bin of Allen keys … some time with the hand cranked grinder … and some more time with the stones. The result is a 1/8″ router made in about a half hour.
The material shown here is a sub-optimal choice, but it will do. It is cedar which is quite soft and crumbles in fear when a chisel comes near. Slicing is the key to success, and that little knife is kept razor sharp for marking, and now for slicing cedar.
Haunched dividers and stopped dadoes: a success, and fun learning how to make snug. (Yes, each fits snugly enough to support the end piece.)
My first Bench On Bench was delightful. It brought carving and joinery tasks to a very comfortable height. Two and a half years later, I still appreciate it, but know of ways to improve it. The most wanted improvement is better work holding capability for carving work. Pinching stuff between dogs in the front vise and the “floating planing stops” just wasn’t working well enough. Shims of various sizes were almost always needed. The front vise itself grew to be a bit floppy, the result of installing the vise screw nuts loosely in softwood sockets. As they floated and wiggled around, they also wallowed the sockets. The best part about the bench was the vise screws, 1/2 inch veneer press screws that were available several years ago from Tools for Working Wood, but are not to be found anywhere today. The handles on those screws can be pulled out and rotated, very convenient for moving them when “tight” leaves them sticking up in the way. Those are keepers! Lastly, the excellent Gramercy holdfasts were rarely useful due to the smaller size of most of my work pieces.
Along comes Chris Schwarz with the “Milkman’s Workbench.” Intended as a portable bench, it has a few features I like and thought would be useful. In the end, I borrowed a few ideas from that bench. The first was lamination from maple instead of fir. This is the last workbench I’m going to build; I might as well use hardwood. The next feature was the wagon vise. However, I’ll use another veneer press screw instead of the wooden screws. I can’t justify the tooling cost for making just one of those wooden screws, and for what it costs to buy one ready made, I can buy a couple of top of the line carving gouges. The last feature was square dogs and their recessed self-storage. I’ll keep the full width front vise and the excellent screws with adjustable handles. I find that vise better suited for the way I work.
One of the nearby home centers actually carries maple. It’s “mystery maple” since the specific variety isn’t identified. There was some minor spalting in two of the three best boards. My right thumbnail Janka gauge determined the stuff was OK. That’s the discoloration seen in a few spots. Even though the specific type is unknown, it was straight, free of knots and a joy to work.
Yes, it is a lot harder than most stuff I work with, and yes the Record 044 didn’t want to plow a 1/2 inch groove without a bit of help, and yes, cranking a 1 inch auger through it with an 8 inch brace was a bit of work. Yet, it is remarkably predictable and finish planing leaves a glass like surface.
The new veneer press screw doesn’t deserve nearly as much praise. It is advertised at most all woodworking supply sources and out of stock in almost all. Once acquired, the threaded socket that is advertised as a “1 inch press fit” is found to be an elliptical shape with ribs on the side and must have been the seventieth son of the seventieth son to be so asymmetrical. There’s enough play in the threads to never have to worry about them seizing, but maybe that’s why they hold a setting so well. Fitting something like this is when one learns to really appreciate how well Michel Auriou’s rasps perform (the one on the right, not the rat tail).
About 3/4 of the way through gluing up the pairs of strips that accommodate dog holes, I remembered that some of my working methods really want clear space on the right end of the bench. Actually, I find myself doing several operations that overhang the right side. Oooops, that vise screw is going to be in the way. OK — Plan B! Just flip it over … and smooth finish the bottom side … and make some more dog recesses.
The rest is a matter of careful assembly, lots of gluing and clamping, lots of planing, a bit of drilling and fitting. By the way, the entire project was done with only hand tools. No electrons murdered. No sandpaper martyred. Very sharp plane blades, and well groomed card scrapers gave excellent results. There’s only one area not completely finished. I did not glue the end block for the vise. It is temporarily fixed with press fit Miller Dowels. It is the dry season now, about 25% humidity. In late summer humidity goes to 90%. I’ve left this area free of glue in case it needs to be disassembled and adjusted.
The work holding capability is better than I aimed for, and the fit and finish is a big step above the previous version. All of the methods I practice can now be done easier and more reliably with this bench. There’s a slideshow below this last group of photos. It has a few more photos with explanations. As always, click on any photo to see a larger version.
The first Bench On Bench worked well and taught me what improvements it needed.
Start with 3 boards 1x6 by 8 feet. Rip each into thirds. Then, crosscut into thirds. The color streaks are from spalting.
Plowing 1/2 inch grooves used more than one tool, and a good bit of patience. The 044 plow plane was good at removing waste, but only after the groove sides were cut ahead. Maple is hard.
Checking the layout. Yep, that'll work.
Turning a 1 inch auger, in maple, with an 8 inch brace is near insanity. My 10, 12, and 14 inch braces are still on the 'buy someday' list.
All parts catalogs say this is a 1 inch force fit. Yeah right! Asymmetrical, winged, and tapered. Lots of fussing... The Auriou rasp is superb!
Vise dry fit #1
Ahhhh. Vise dry fit #2. Now, it looks like a vice. Those walnut pins are the garter, temporary for now.
All the parts ready for assembly ... in 'Plan A' configuration.
Do this 6 times over the next few days, or go buy 50 more clamps. :)
Nuts for the front vise screws are mortised in very snugly, and then epoxied to prevent any wiggle.
Plan A - Traditional, with wagon vise on the right.
Plan B - Flip it over. Wagon vise on the left and better use of the right end of the bench.
Scrub baby, scrub! I have an alternate curved iron for the #5. Maple is hard, but predictable, and finishes very nicely.
Miller dowels through the bridle joints make the vise strong enough. Nothing here was glued for now. It's the dry season and may need disassembly when the humid season arrives.
Work holding - a typical relief carving
Work holding - a larger and scarier relief carving - space for much larger...
Work holding - This one is hard to hold well, but this works, a good test for moderate sized 'in the round' carvings.
Work holding - typical joinery cutting - 22 inches between vise screws gives lots of capability.
Work holding - on the bench surface - plenty of capability for my scale of box making
Work holding - Needed a slight overhang. Easy. Drop the left end of the front chop and use the wagon vise. Easiest grooving ever.