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The Barn on White Run

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Where modern craft meets the past.
Updated: 1 hour 2 min ago

Different Ways To The Same Place

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 1:34pm

 

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In preparing and packing the truck load of material traveling with me for the upcoming HO Studley exhibit, I was once again struck by the similarities and idiosyncrasies of the eight piano makers vices that will be on display there. What prompted my devolution into this indulgence of my vise vice was the adjacent proximity of Dan’s vise and Tim’s vise sitting on a wooden slab.

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At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking these were two identical units, notwithstanding the dimensional differences. When they are turned over you begin to see some differences, but they still look like they are from the same lineage.

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If you work up the strength to turn them around to look at more of the business end (Tim’s vise is about 60 pounds, Dan’s is almost 90), it is clearly apparent that there are some profound differences in the morphology of the frame-and-platen configurations.

On Tim’s vise, the ways are square-bottom channels with matching shapes on the platen. There is no adjusting these. Studley’s vises are of this configuration.

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Dan’s ways are considerably different, again while providing the same tool functionality. In his case the ways are machined dovetails with on spaced to allow for the insertion of a pressure bar, which through the adjustment of square head gib screws determine the “tightness” of the unit.

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And when you toss Mike’s vise into the mix, head scratching is the result, as the movable carriage is outside the frame that is fixed to the underside of the workbench. Where did that design come from?

Only one of the multitude of mysteries about these magnificent tools. I look forward to showing them to you at the end of next week.

The Light at the End of The Tunnel (and I am hoping it is not an oncoming train…)

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 5:31pm

Two weeks from today I will be in the home stretch as the final process for executing the HO Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench Exhibit  (there are still tickets remaining here) begins at the Scottish Rite Temple of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, only twenty minutes away from the hand tool nirvana of Handworks.  The list of things “To Do” in preparation for the exhibit is getting shorter.  Off the top of my head this is the status report of what I’ve been doing over the past two years (there are undoubtedly many other components I am not remembering at the moment):

Exhibit locations and spaces scouted and evaluated – done

Exhibit space reserved – done

exhibit $pace paid for – done

exhibit graphics (wall panels, banners) selected and edited – done

exhibit graphics sent to production company – done

exhibit graphics in production – check

exhibit graphics paid for – no invoice yet

Studley collection apprai$ed – done

Studley collection appraiSal paid for – done

exhibit in$urance arranged – done

exhibit in$urance paid – done

exhibit casework designed and submitted to fabricators – done

exhibit ca$ework paid for – done

exhibit plexiglass locking vitrine designed and sent to fabricator – done

exhibit locking vitrine fabricated – done

exhibit locking vitrine fabrication paid – no invoice yet

Studley collection high securitydedicated transport locked in – check

Studley collection high security and dedicated transport paid – invoiced after the exhibit

exhibit didactics designed and fabricated – 90% there

Studley workbench replica fabricated – done

custom fitted dollie for Studley workbench base – fabricated

exhibit theatrical backdrop$ and lighting secured – scheduled

exhibit theatrical backdrops and lighting paid for – no invoice yet

exhibit tickets designed (different designs for each day) – done

exhibit ticket$ printed and paid for – done

exhibit installation crew recruited – done

exhibit docents recruited – done

book manuscript proofs sent to docents – done

exhibit deinstallation crew recruited – done

packing everything I need to take with me – NOT done (yet)

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Today I am wrapping up the last “big” thing, which is to finish applying the padding to the “A” frame style cart on which I can secure the exquisite mahogany-over-oak bench top from the original Studley workbench.

After this it is just a matter of wrapping up a multitude little things, getting packed, and then heading towards Cedar Rapids for the opening on May 15.

I hope to see you there.

Turbine Whine

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 5:05pm

Yesterday was a gorgeous cool spring day, and I was comfortable enough with the progress in preparing for the Studley exhibit that I took 90 minutes to to make some repairs to the hydro power waterline and get it up and running after a fashion.  We are not expecting any more hard freezes here, although there is the expectation for some snow flurries tonight and probably a couple more weeks of frost concerns for the garden, so the time was auspicious for the reactivation of the system that had been down since it froze solid in mid-November.

Once I get recovered from the exhibit I will tie it all back together (the top 300 feet of pipe is not yet attached and the intake now is simply laying in a trough at the bottom of the stream, with a head of about 100 feet) to maximize the power output, although I don’t really even need the power right now since I am not doing much in the way of electricity intensive work.  But next month I will be building the prototypes for the workbench build in September, and that will require some wattage.

For now, I have the system running and the soft whine of the turbine is just barely audible above the vigorous flow of water running by.

Replicating Studley’s Alcove Arch, Part 1 – The Maquette

Sat, 04/25/2015 - 4:58pm

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One of my many goals  for the upcoming exhibit of the Henry Studley collection is to give the visitor a real sense of the details Studley lavished on his tool cabinet and workbench, including many that are hidden from view but some of which are almost “front and center.”  Among these prominent features is the arch and alcove, used as the home for his Stanley #1 plane, perhaps the only instance of this model I had ever seen with honest to goodness wear.  Thanks to the permission of the owner and equipped with silicone molding rubber putty I was able to get impressions of the top half of the arch.

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Once I returned home to begin the process of making castings from this mold I realized how inadequate my mold was and set out the create a maquette, or master wax model, from which I could make a second mold, and from that second mold cast replicas for the viewer’s interaction.

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The mold that I had made was okay,  as far as it goes, but it was not as complete as I needed for making three-dimension replicas.  To resolve that, I decided to embed the entire mold in a block of molten wax, then carve away the excess and essentially sculpt the maquette from the remains.

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I found a cardboard box a little larger than the original mold and lined it with aluminum foil, then filled it with enough pigmented wax to cover all the parts I wanted to work on.  I pigmented the wax just so it was easier for my tired old eyes to work it.

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Using common bench tools, mostly chip carving knives, I whittled away all the waste to get to the material left in and around the original mold.  The resulting wax casting was perfect for sculpting the maquette, so I did.

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Next time – casting the replica for display.

Adventures From The Shellac Archive — Lost Treasures, Part 1

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 5:37pm

I realize with no small element of chagrin that between all the activities drawing on my time, energy, and concentration, I have been remiss in carrying forward the Shellac Archive (it seems as though I have posted only 10 of the documents from my collection, which at least volumetrically, leaves more than 95% to go). I will soon strive to make its nurturing a regular part of the Blog. My personal archive has now taken up residence with us in the mountains, so I can resume the scanning and editing of it for dissemination to you.
This reality was struck home to me this week as I was trying to find a particular picture I needed as I near the finish line for the upcoming HO Studley exhibit. As is my wont when I am weary, I just let my mind wander, and in concert with that began to browse the voluminous folders of images on my compewder. While doing so I ran across several hundred pictures I had taken many years ago, recording the pages of long forgotten academic theses from one of the nation’s great universities.
The titles are self explanatory, but the depth and breadth of the contents are not.
The Manufacture of Shellac Paint

Deterioration of Bleached Shellac With Age

Dewaxing of Shellac

Deterioration of Bleached Shellac With Age (different than the previous listing)

Some Studies on the Effect of Storage on Shellac

Plasticization of Shellac

A Study of the Methods for Determining the Properties of Shellac

A Study of the Solubility of T.N. Shellac in Aqueous Sodium Carbonate Solutions

 

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I will post these theses, but not until tell you the amazing tale of how they came into my possession, thanks to the conscientious generosity of two determined archivists. It is a tale of worldwide fascist ambitions, flourishing scholarship in an unlikely time (ultimately abandoned and discarded), and finally the overcoming of a pronounced phobia to reclaim them.

Stay tuned.

With Studley, the Sculptural Details Are Sublime

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 5:15am

You might be getting tired of HO Studley posts, but it is all I am working o these days so it’s pretty much all I have to talk about.  It will all be over soon.

On my final visit to the Studley tool cabinet last October, with the owner’s permission I made a number of silicone rubber molds from the details Studley created and integrated into his masterpiece.  My access to the elements was not perfect, it was an intact artifact hanging on the wall after all, so I chose two part silicone molding putty from Hobby Lobby.  In the past I have used food grade molding putty by the bucketful, but for this project I needed just a bit and the hobby store package was just fine.

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Using it is simple, just take equal parts of the two putties and knead them together until the color is uniform.  Then, in the next 15-20 seconds press the wad against the surface you are trying to mold, sit back, and remove a finished and cured mold in a few minutes.

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Given the spatial logistics of taking impressions from the tool cabinet, the molds were not perfect but they were useful.  Once I got into the swing of producing the elements for the exhibit  “The Henry O. Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench” (tickets still  available) I made some first generation beeswax castings from those molds just to see what was needed to come up with something exhibit worthy.

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It’s fair to say that all of the castings in the upcoming exhibit were the result of several generations of molds and castings, with many hours spent in refining the representations of the elements under the microscope.  On a project with more available time I might spend a week per element, but in this case I was lucky to carve out a day per element.

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Much like picture from the Mars Rover, the whole is often a composite assembled from the disparate pieces.  Even so, these are not perfect but they will allow the exhibit visitors to get a better sense of what Studley made to embellish his masterpiece.

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In the end, using the molds for casting some pigmented West System epoxy  and some mother-of-pearl I got results that will convey the grandeur of these elements up-close-and-personal for the exhibit patrons as this panel will be sitting on the replica workbench for touching and examining closely.

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As time allows I will detail the process of refining specific elements, with observations about both moldmaking and casting materials useful to the decorative artisan.

PopWood Twofer — Blessing and Curse

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 5:46pm

I’ve been a reader of Popular Woodworking for several years, and in recent times have enjoyed a very congenial working relationship with them.  I just got the latest PW Issue 218, which is a terrific and not just because I have two things in it.  There are several great articles including the cover project and a long insert.

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The magazine features my article on decorative wire inlay (bisected by the aforementioned insert) and the End Grain column about the Studley Tool Cabinet that ran on the Popular Woodworking web site a few days ago.

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Mrs. Barn glanced through the issue and said, “Very nice article. (I think she was talking about the Studley piece — DCW)  But when are you going to start making furniture for me?”

Ouch.  I guess I know what I’m doing after the Studley exhibit.

Coming Together — Studley’s Workbench Replica

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 6:48am

Integral to the in-production book Virtuoso and the upcoming exhibit on the same topic, I am striving to make it more than just a tool peepshow.  You are gonna learn something even if you do not want to!

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Part of that learning experience will be the exposure to the remarkable Studley workbench and vises (above), including a display of similar contemporaneous vises that have been loaned for the exhibit.

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To carry the weight of these six vises (somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 pounds)  I built a fairly faithful replica workbench top, sitting on a base made for the exhibit but which will be swapped out for a cabinet base at some point.

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About the only semi-tricky part of the bench build was dropping the end vise dog slot with my 3-1/2 hp plunge router, the only power tool that makes me nervous.

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With multiple measurements and confirmations, I cut the channel from above and below, and the vise and its dog yoke dropped into place cleanly.

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Now I can put the router beast away until I need it again in several more years.

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To increase the didactic function I left the front edge of the replica bench unfinished so you can see the core construction.  As soon as the unit is back home the already-constructed front edge will be installed.  Another thing to occur after the exhibit will be to dispense with the glossy finish applied for the display (four coats of Tru-Oil, then buffed) through the vigorous use of a toothing plane to leave the surface I prefer.

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I don’t have any pictures of the finished bench with all the vises on it.  I mounted them when it was upside down, but could not budge it to flip it right side up until I had removed all the vises.  So, you will just have to wait on that visual for the exhibit itself.

An Intriguing Measuring Tool

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 4:06pm
photo courtesyof Narayan Nayar

photo courtesy of Narayan Nayar

It might be the fact that I am in the midst of what could be called Studley Silly Season, wherein my time and energies are focused entirely on getting the exhibit of the Henry O. Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench done and over, but it seems that I see everything in the light of what old Henry had in his tool cabinet.  One of his tools was this set of ultra precise measuring calipers (above).

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Consider this intriguing micrometer I found in a vintage tool store in Connecticut a couple of years ago, and which I have found a useful addition to my tool kit.  While it is functionally similar to the Starret vernier micrometer Studley had stashed back in his tool cabinet, this one is a more straightforward micrometer system mounted on a movable bar.

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Made in Cranston RI at the Central Tool Co., this is unlike anything I had ever seen before, notwithstanding my years in a foundry/machine shop.

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Just something for amusing contemplation on a beautiful spring evening.

Sample Board Partying – French Wax Polishing

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 6:00am

Probably the simplest beautiful finish from a technological point of view is the French molten wax polish, which has but a few individual components yet yeilds a beautiful, lustrous presentation surface.

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The first thing is a block of clean beeswax.  I render my own from raw wax straight from the beekeepers after the honey is harvested.

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Next comes a source of heat to melt the wax onto the surface of the wood.  Historically something like a roofer’s soldering iron was used, these days I use an electric tacking iron.

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I move the hot iron over the surface, spreading and melting the wax onto and into the surface until it is fully saturated.

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Once the molten wax has been imbibed fully into the wood surface it is left to cool,

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and once fully hardened it is scraped with a simple metal, wood, or bone scraper.  If the scraper has a nice clean edge (no burr!), the resulting surface can be mirror-like.  A little buffing with a piece of soft cloth like worn flannel or fine wool and you are done.  This might even be enhanced with some spit  polish.

The result is a high-sheen, non-toxic and easily repairable surface that is pretty robust against abrasion but utterly defenseless against heat or oily materials.  I’m working on some formulations to  make this finish a lot tougher, but it is increasingly one with which I am toying, and as I move forward with designing and fabrication parquetry panels, you can believe it is something I will employ.

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Drowning in Pixels and Paper

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 4:02pm

My Team Studley compatriot and project photographer Narayan Nayar tells the tale of preparing hundreds of images for the book, which incidentally is about halfway through production.  It is scheduled to be released the day before I start the installation of the Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench Exhibit on May 13.

Am working on getting the exhibit finished all day, every day.
DCW

Chance Encounters, Camaraderie, and Blinding Insights (or, How To Make A High Angled Smoother In 30 Seconds)

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 7:42am

While many artisans are content to work alone, as I am almost all of the time (an mp3 player loaded with podcast lectures and such is about all the social interaction I need during my work day), there are those magical interludes of fellowship around the workbench with a like-minded soul.  Such is the case with my pal Tom, whom I first met by chance at a flea market ten years ago (he was selling, I was thinking about buying). That led to hundreds of Wednesday nights in his first-rate shop where a multitude of tools were sharpened or made, mountains of shavings were made then swept out into the yard, and on occasion, the world’s problems were solved.

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Tom even accompanied me frequently on working weekends to the barn, where what we were working on WAS the barn.

Tom visited recently, and is often the case, he tossed out an offhand comment that was a thunderbolt.

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While he was making some tapered octagonal legs for a dressing table I had been wrestling with my HO Studley workbench top replica for the upcoming exhibit of the workbench and the accompanying tool cabinet.  The grain of the bench surface, African  “mahogany,” was just being, in the words of my ever foul-mouthed 98 year old mom, “A real stinker.”

Rob in Lawrence KS had offered his helpful observations, namely that I could use a high angled smoother tuned to a fever pitch.  When I mentioned this to Tom with the regretful statement that I did not own such a tool, and that I was going to set things up to make one for myself, he casually remarked that there was a simple way of making a high angled smoother that might serve my purpose.  When I tried it, I had to smack my forehead.  Hard.  The solution was both brilliantly insightful and mindlessly simple and best of all, easy.  Coordinated problem solving like this is what woodworking fellowship is all about.

The solution? why, flipping the blade, of course!

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I first tried it on a tiny coffin smoother that I had, which was set up to cut at 49 degrees, but when the blade was flipped the new cutting angle was a bit too steep at 74 degrees.  Yeah, a bit too steep.

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I then looked through my collection of bench planes to see which of them might be a good candidate for this modification.  I had a nice little coffin plane with a very shallow angle on the blade bevel.  It is set up to cut at about 45 degrees, and simply by flipping the blade over I got a 62-degree cutting angle.  Not the perfect setup, but way better than I had before.

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The new orientation turns the plane from a double iron bevel-down tool into essentially a single iron bevel-up plane.  Yes indeed, I transformed one of my bench planes into a pretty nice high angle smoother in less than 30 seconds.  For zero dollars.

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A couple minutes to touch up the blade on my 12000 water stone and the tool began its work.  It wasn’t pulling off long, gossamer wisps, but did I mention I was planing African “mahogany,” a/k/a braided broom straw?

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The result in the lower right corner of the image speaks for itself.  Following the smoothing with a bit of scraping yielded an outcome that was acceptable, especially since after the exhibit I will be surfacing the bench top with a toothing plane.  I remain committed to avoiding African “mahogany” in perpetuity, but for this one problem the result is in the right direction.

 

Smacks to the Forehead and A Lump in the Throat

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 6:19pm

Yes, I am “all Studley exhibit, all the time” for the next month, but that tedium (?) was punctuated by a banner week at the Post Office box.

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First came the brilliant Chairmaker’s Notebook from Peter Galbert.  It arrived just in time for one of my periodic days at the ophthalmologist’s office (the periodicity depends on which of my eye diseases is acting up, and how severely) during which I had time to read a good part of it carefully and browse all of it to the end.  The book is only partly about making Windsor chairs.  In truth it is really about the way to think about, and the way to do almost anything of real consequence.

I am not a Windsor chairmaker and unlikely to become one other than as an amusement, my chairmaking runs from Point A, Gragg chairs, to Point A’, making slightly different Gragg chairs.  Still, Peter’s eloquence and deep understanding, and the exasperatingly skillful manner of conveying them, made me smack my forehead repeatedly with the silent exclamation,”But of course!” while simultaneously silently muttering, “Man, I wish I had written this.”

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I also received the printer’s proofs from Virtuoso, and to tell you the truth, the combination of the sumptuous imagery contained therein combined with the realization that almost five years of work are nearing the end made a sizable lump in my throat.  It has been a project of passions — sometimes love, sometimes hate — as are most such undertakings, but it it noteworthy to celebrate its conclusion.

Finally, my good friend of three decades Dr. Walter Williams just send me a signed copy of his latest book.  A collection of scores of columns, it will make for enticing bite sized bits of common sense wisdom.

All in all, a good week at the post office.

Summer Workshops 2015

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 6:27am

After long and careful consideration, I have concluded that I simply cannot host any workshops at The Barn this coming summer.  The combination of the Studley book and exhibit, brutal winter aftermath with a mountain of things to do on the homestead, projects that have languished in the studio, and the need to wrap-up Roubo on Furniture Making (almost twice as large as Roubo on Marquetry) leaves me with no time nor energy to dedicate to workshops at the barn.  I had planned on a historic finishing workshop in late June, but that will have to wait until net year.  In September I will host a week-long workbench build for my friends of the Professional Refinishers Group web forum.

This is not to say I will be entering my long anticipated hermit phase.  My presence and teaching elsewhere over the summer will be evident.  Check these out.

Henry O. Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench exhibit – May 15-17, Cedar Rapids IA

Making New Finishes Look Old – Society of American Period Furniture Makers Mid-Year Conference, June 11-15, Knoxville TN

Gold Leaf and its AnalogsProfessional Refinisher’s Group Groopfest, June 24-26, Pontoon Beach IL

The Henry Studley Book and Exhibit (breakfast banquet address) and Roubo Parquetry (demo workshop) – Woodworking in America 2015, September 25-27, Kansas City MO

 

The Virtual Studley Exhibit Experience

Mon, 04/06/2015 - 5:39pm

Just for fun, I want to walk you though the steps you will be taking when you attend the Henry O Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench Exhibit next month.  Some of the details are yet to be resolved, but I have a general idea of what the experience will be like.

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The first thing you are likely to do is to park in a lot either across the street from the Scottish Rite Temple, or a parking garage on the corner  of the next block (but still visible from the SRT).

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Then, walk through the front door at the center of the main facade.

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Once in the lobby, turn to your left.

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You will see the Library, and walk into it.  We may have the tickets and books there, or they may be in the exhibit hall itself.  Stay tuned on that.

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Once inside the Library, turn right and walk through the doorway.

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After about six feet, turn left into the entryway for the exhibit hall.

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Come on in!

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The exhibit hall will be drastically different once the exhibit is installed, as there will be dramatic theatrical lighting (no overhead lights at all), a black drapery backdrop, and large graphics and didactics on the walls.

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Along the center axis of the room will be the three main components of the exhibit.  First will be the replica Studley workbench festooned with a half dozen vintage vises for your entertainment pleasure, along with castings from the original decorative Studely-made details in the cabinet. This will be the “You Can Touch This” part of the exhibit.   Next will come Studley’s own personal workbench, and the culmination being the third station, that being the tool cabinet itself.   These last two stations will be the “Don’t Even Think About It” installations.

In addition, there will be a silent video playing overhead on the projector screen of me emptying and packing the cabinet, video Narayan and Chris shot during our multiple safaris to Studleyville.

I hope you agree with me that the setting is darned near perfect for honoring the legacy of Henry O. Studley, and celebrating the release of the book chronicling his life and labors.

The Barn on White Run @ Handworks

Sun, 04/05/2015 - 6:14pm

The upcoming Handworks event, essentially the Toolmaker’s Summit for hand tool woodworking, is unfortunately occurring at a time when I will be otherwise occupied.   This saddens me, as it is a spectacular time of browsing, fellowship, and alas, covetousness in the realm of woodworking hand tools.

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That is not to say that The Barn on White Run will have no presence at Handworks.  Jason Weaver has “volunteered” to act in my stead at Festhalle and, thanks to the generosity of Jeff Hamilton, Jason will be haunting Jeff’s booth with wares and perhaps even exhibit tickets.  cIMG_2530

Jason should be easy enough to spot; as you can see by the picture of him standing behind me at Handworks 2013 he is nearly a head taller than most anyone else there.  Admittedly, he may not be bundled up like last time when the howling arctic air filled the Festhalle.

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As for wares this time I think we will have only polissoirs and beeswax.  To simplify the process I have priced all the 1″ polissoirs at $20 and both of the 2″ polissoirs at $40 (unfortunately despite the “non-existence” of inflation I have recently had to raise the price of the Model 296.  On the other hand I lowered the price of the standard 2″ just for Handworks to make it easy on Jason, so maybe it all works out.)

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The quarter pound block of hand processed beeswax will be $10.

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In addition Jason will be able to process ticket sales to the exhibit of the Henry Studley Tool cabinet and Workbench in nearby downtown Cedar Rapids (assuming it doesn’t sell out before then).  If you are interested in tickets while at Festhalle, just look for the exhibit banner.

Conserving a c.1720 Italian Tortoiseshell Mirror – Polishing and Finishing

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 5:21pm

The final steps for conserving the tortoiseshell mirror frame were to make sure all the excess glue was cleaned off and the surface was given a final gleaning and polishing with the incomparable Mel’s Wax.

As I mentioned earlier, the tortoiseshell veneer was very fragile in general, and the simple gentle tasks of cleaning and polishing caused three new areas to pop up, so I had to deal with them immediately as well, exactly as described int the previous post.

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Mel’s Wax goes on effortlessly, and in the end yields a near-flawless archival protective surface.  It goes on like sunscreen lotion, then goes dull as it dries, and buffs perfectly with almost anything.  Paper towel, flannel, linen, cotton rags, anything.

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As always, the very last thing was to strap the mirror to its litter, take it back to the client’s house, and hang it up.  I must say, it does look pretty good.

I will work on the second mirror once the storm of Studley calms down.

Coming Together (the Studley Benchtop Replica)

Thu, 04/02/2015 - 4:36pm

Now that Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley is actually in production, one weighty anvil has been lifted from my neck.  However, another anvil still sits there for another six weeks, that being the exhibit of the Studley collection.  From now until then I am all-Studley-exhibit-all-the-time as I continue work on the exhibit components and attend to the multitude of details that have to all fall in place perfectly.

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The replica workbench top continues apace.  I got the top smooth enough (more about that in a day or two) to seal it with my preferred benchtop finish of 1/2 tung oil with 1/2 mineral spirits, and about 2% japan drier.

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I like this finish as it soaks into the wood deeply and provides a nice robust seal to the wood.

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For the exhibit the top will be pretty smooth, but once it gets back home I will achieve my preferred top surface by cross-hatching it with a toothing plane, a technique I learned from my long-time friend and colleague, and Roubo project collaborator, Philippe Lafargue.  But for now it is nice and smooth.

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I fabricated the exhibit base for the top from three 1/2″ Baltic birch plywood boxes, fitted them to fastening battens, and temporarily assembled it in order to layout all six of the vises going on it for the exhibit.

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One of the beauties of this exhibit is that it may be the only time in their lives that patrons to a museum-quality exhibit will get the chance to touch and manipulate historic artifacts, namely the six vintage vises hanging from the new bench top.

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If you would like to experience the bench top in person, and oh by the way see the entire Studley Collection, there are still tickets available here.

 

“Virtuoso” Now Available for Pre-Publication Ordering (re-post from Lost Art Press)

Wed, 04/01/2015 - 4:53pm

‘Virtuoso’ Now Available for Pre-publication Ordering

Studley-cover-2(3)You can now order “Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley” by Don Williams from the Lost Art Press store. The book is $49 and will ship in mid-May.

Orders received before May 13, 2015, will receive free domestic shipping. The first 1,000 orders will receive a nice commemorative postcard featuring a beautiful shot of the open tool cabinet shot by Narayan Nayar.

When you order, you will have the option to pick up your copy at Handworks in Amana, Iowa., on May 15-16, or have the book shipped to you. All shipping will occur after Handworks.

Retailers for ‘Virtuoso’
While we are certain that many of our retailers will stock “Virtuoso,” we do not know which ones yet will opt to carry it. When we have that information in the next couple weeks, I will definitely post it here.

Why No Digital Version?
There will not be a digital version of “Virtuoso” at this time. We have experienced a significant amount of pirate distribution of our titles, so we have decided that for this book, the pirates will have to manually scan and assemble the book if they want to rip us off. Our apologies to our law-abiding customers for this difficult decision.

Other Studley Products
We will have more news on other Studley-related products in the coming weeks, including posters, a feature-length DVD and toilet-seat covers (oh wait, no, those are for “The History of Wood”).

Thanks for all your patience during the last four years since we announced this project at Woodworking in America. A team of people has poured thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars into the research and production of this book. I think that effort will show in the book, and I hope you will be pleased.

— Christopher Schwarz

A Spectacular Desk With A Little Problem

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 6:05pm

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Recently I had the chance to work on a fairly snazzy roll-top writing desk, which needed a bit of conservation. It was built around 1770 by arguably the greatest furniture makers who ever lived, and is prominent in the collection of the elegant museum dedicated to European fine and decorative arts.

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A short section of cross-grain molding had become detached, and part of my charge was to examine the desk from top to bottom to assess its overall condition.   I did, and it is in fine shape.

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As was clear from the back of the moldings and the ground under them, this was not the first time these pieces had separated from the mother ship.  I counted three distinct campaigns of glue, and there could have been many more.

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The pieces fit their place nearly perfectly even dry, with only the tiniest bit of rocking due to the excess glue under them.

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My strategy was to soften the extant glue and remove only a bit of it, so I poulticed the glue line on the desk with some blue paper towel, cut to fit the space precisely and moistened with water.

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I did the same to the backs of the detached pieces.

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After a quarter hour or so the glue had softened and swelled to the point I wanted, and I removed the worst of the clumps and left the remainder in place.  For adhesive I turned to my long time fave, Milligan and Higgins 192 Special grade hot animal hide glue.  I had prepared this the days before the treatment, soaking it first in water overnight, then cooking it twice the day before I went.  A little dab of that, a minute of holding them in place with my infertips to gel, and I was done.

I packed up and left, reflecting on the fact that the opportunity to care for furniture from the greatest menuisiers of all time is exactly the reason I started down this path 43 years ago.

 

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by Dr. Radut