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The Barn on White Run

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Where modern craft meets the past.
Updated: 4 hours 54 min ago

The Big Picture, I Mean the REALLY BIG PICTURE!

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 2:35pm

A few days ago I returned to Mordor on the Potomac for the completion and assembly of the c.1900 gigantic portrait of the Chinese Dowager Empress.  I was astounded at the change in the painting by my colleagues Jia-sun and Ines who, along with a legion of others, transformed it into a sparkling image.


My role in the day’s festivities was to affix the locking corner cleats I had fabricated for the frame.


I used double tapered cross battened cleats to make sure the corners do not come apart unless you want them to.





I beat a retreat as fast as I could back the the mountains.  It was a great project, and it is unlikely that I will ever be conserving a painting frame quite like this one again.


Parquetry Workshop Day 3

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:59pm

The day began with the excitement of seeing the glued-up panels.   We had slightly oversized 1/2 baltic birch plywood for each of the panels so that they could be trimmed precisely to size one the project is complete.


The first step to getting finished from this point was to moisten and peel off the kraft paper that served as the support for the assembling of the pattern, banding, and border.


It was a delicate balancing act, moistening the surface enough to remove the glued-down paper, but not so wet as to lift the veneers.  Once the paper is removed begins the tiresome task of dampening and scraping off all the glue left behind.


A quick stint on front of the fan to dry them, and then we brought out the toothing planes, scrapers, and small planes to get everything flat and smooth.


The conditions of the panels,




and the floor indicated we were making great progress.


In a normal 3-day parquetry workshop this would have been the final process,


but these guys were working so efficiently we made it all the way through a finished project by the time they left.


Using one of my panels, I demonstrated the simplest finishing approach to the parquetry, and they charged ahead.


Burnishing with polissoirs came next,


and then the molten wax treatment for the final finish.  The wax was first dripped on the surface, then trowelled around with the tacking iron.  Again it was important to use the iron delicately to melt the wax enough to impregnate the surface, but not to heat the surface enough to lift the veneer.


Once the surface was fully impregnated the panel was set aside to let cool and harden, then the excess was scraped off,


and the remaining surface was buffed with a linen rag.


The results were eye popping, and demonstrated what can be done with very little wood in a short while.  If you snoozed on this one, you loozed.  Joe and Joshua now possess another important tool for their design and fabrication toolkit for the future, and when they get home they both plan to trim their panels and build a small table around them.

Great job, guys!

Parquetry Workshop Day 2 (many pictures)

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 5:03pm

Our morning began with center sections completed and ready for trimming.




The weather was foreboding; the day was cool if not downright chilly (60-ish, in mid-July!), and the rain was threatening.  This was a theme for the day, and did impact how things progressed.


The first thing we did was select and prepare our materials for the edge banding around the center field, and glue them up into a “loaf.”


On a normal day these set fairly quickly, in an hour or so using hot hide glue, but the day being cold and damp we wrestled with this all day.  Next time I offer this course we will glue up the bandings on the first day.  Once they were set (mine hadn’t by the end of the day) we cut them into banding strips.


We trimmed the panels in order to cut and fit the banding.


Trimming the panels gave Josh the chance to show off his new Gramercy veneer saw with the “King Kong” blade for use on sawn veneers.  We were unanimous that it was a fabulous tool.


After trimming the center field, the parquetry was glued to another sheet of heavy brown paper an then fitted the banding,


gluing it in place using the aluminum head push pins from Utrecht discovered by a workshop student in Kansas City.


Then went on the outer edge, which could be either long grain or cross grain.


That done, out came the glue pots and the slathering began.


They are now all glued to their support panels and clamped up over night, awaiting planing, polishing, and finishing tomorrow.


As a reminder, all of this information (and actually a lot more) will be covered in my ongoing blog series “Parquetry Tutorial” which will be a single downloadable PDF once complete.

Parquetry Workshop Day 1

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 5:00pm

We had a terrific day creating parquetry panels in The Barn today.  Joe and Josh were on the spot at 9 AM sharp, and after introductions all around we got to work.  I quickly reviewed all the materials, processes, and tools, and within minutes we were underway. cIMG_6279 First, they glued up sawing jigs.  A bit later we layed out and sawed the kerfs for these bench-hook style tools.  I will blog about this process on Monday night. cIMG_6275 Then, we moved on to creating sawn veneer strips with my min-bandsaw, which is pretty much dedicated to sawing veneer for parquetry these days.  Joshua opted for some of my vintage and tight grained Bald Cypress, and Joe brought a piece of superb true mahogany. cIMG_6273 We ran it through the planer quickly to verify planarity, then sawed it up with the bandsaw. cIMG_6277 The we got to cutting parallelograms for the assembled pattern.  And sawed.  And sawed. cIMG_6281 It takes a pile o’ lozenges to create a completed pattern. cIMG_6288 After lunch I reviewed the working system for assembling the pattern (about which I will be blogging later next week) then fired up the glue pots and we were off to the races.  All three of us were creating parquetry panels; Joe and Josh were making small table tops, and I was working on one of four panels for an upcoming tool cabinet. cIMG_6289 By the end of the day each of us had completed the “field” of the panel we were creating. cIMG_6290 All in all, a very good day.

Roubo’s “Winding Sticks”

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 4:40am


I’ve gotta say this about old Andre, he never stops larnin’ me.  Over the weekend I built another set of his winding-sticks-on-stilts as I call them, so that I could photograph them for an essay in the book.  I have been trying to incorporate them into my own work practices for the past several months, and doggone if I can’t already see how they will make my work so much more efficient than it was previously.  His approach to flattening rough stock is insidiously ingenious.

You can read more about these gems and how they are used in the upcoming To Make As Perfectly as Possible: Roubo On Furniture Making (Lost art Press, 2014?)

Impending Order

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 6:09pm

Even my little niche of a “hardware store” the barn is beginning to look like there is a guiding organization involved.  As a huge fan of Friederich Hayek and his mentor, Ludwig von Mises, it delights me any time order is emergent!



I have a few more parts cabinets to place there in the coming days, but I am not displeased at the progress thus far.

Sometimes, Just Because

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 6:13pm

I recently hung a couple of banners in The Barn, just because they make me smile.


First was the original Barn On White Run banner we had last year at Handworks in Amana IA.  I hung it off the bridge that connects the north and south balconies, and it is an immediate greeting once you enter the door.


As a total whim I ordered a 4-foot by 6-foot version of an image I am using to promote the Studley Tool Cabinet exhibit (tickets are still available), and hung it just opposite the door to my workshop.


At that size it is an unavoidable reminder of 1) how cool the Studley cabinet and workbench are, 2) how great the exhibit is going to be, 3) how great the upcoming book is going to be, and 4) that I should be scared out of my mind with all the work (and expense) still awaiting me in order to make #s 2&3 a reality.


An Old Friend Joins Me

Sun, 07/13/2014 - 7:35pm

When back in the city last week I disassembled and loaded my first real workbench, a 5″ thick torsion-box mounted on an oak base unit, and brought it back to the mountains when I returned.


Reassembled and in its rightful place — it was designed and is intended for use in “the middle of the floor” rather than against the wall — its diminutive size makes it a near perfect fit almost anywhere, and the space between the Roubo bench in the window and the planing beam makes it an integral part of the shop activities. NOW The Barn feels like home.  It was home-y before, now it is home.


I built this bench in 1986 as I recall, using a pair of “Closeout table” vise screws from the local Woodcraft for the full length twin screw face vise, which is unbelievably handy.  The Emmert was mounted a few years later, and I remember listening to the debates prior to the first Persian Gulf War on the radio as I was rasslin’ the beast into place.

The only real downsides to this bench are three.  1) it is really small, as was dictated by the space I had back then.  At 24′ x 48″ for the core unit and 32″ x 54″ overall, it does limit the kinds of work you can do, but I have managed to do a lot with it over the years.  2) With the 90-pound Emmert vise hanging outside the trestle base, it does get kinda tippy especially when you put something heavy in it.  I found that using the base as a lumber storage rack pretty much solves the problem.  And 3) there was no end vise function, which I solved by designing and building the face-mounted end vise on it, a project that was featured in Popular Woodworking.

This bench has served me superbly for the better part of three decades and uncounted projects ranging from planing window trim to being a toy hospital to fabricating parts and even entire replicas) for priceless antiques and everything in between.  If you have a severe space restriction for your working area, you might want to give something like this a thought.   If so, I will be delighted to provide any insights and counsel I can to help you along.

But tread lightly when contemplating acquiring an Emmert.  If you do try one out, be forewarned that a complete one in excellent shape often costs a fortune.  In addition you will have to suffer the discomfort of kicking yourself non-stop for not having one before.  There is also the continued annoying (to other woodworkers) habit of comparing everything to an Emmert from this point on.  Frankly, nothing else measures up.  Thanks to Benchcrafted and others we are living in a Golden Age for woodworker’s vises, but this standard is what keeps me looking for improvements all the time.  Even when we get to fabricating Studley vises, this will probably remain my “go to” tool.


Welcomed Guests

Sat, 07/12/2014 - 4:36pm


Yesterday I had the unmitigated delight of hosting Charles Brock (aka Mr. Highland Woodworker), Mrs. Brock, and Charles’ videographer colleague Stephen Price.  They were up to film a segment for an upcoming HW episode, talking to me about my passion for finishing, which does make me a bit of an oddball in the woodworking world (which just confirms my oddball-ness in relation to just about every facet of the human endeavor) and my upcoming production of Gragg chairs.  Being a chair maker himself, Chuck and I got into pretty deep weeds about the minutiae of curvilinear chair construction.


Thank you Chuck (and Mrs. Brock) and Steve for a day of invigorating conversation, and giving me the opportunity to show off The Barn to you.


My Main Roubo Bench (for now…)

Sat, 07/12/2014 - 6:07am


This was my first Roubo bench, built from leftover timbers that were part of the original barn in Illinois. It’s been several years since I built it, and I never really did get the top finished all proper. Now it is.  Using my scrub plane on opposite diagonals I got it pretty darned flat. At that point I slathered it with some of the Schwarz bench varnish of 1/3 polyurinate, 1/3 tung oil, and 1/3 turpentine. I did it at this point because two of the timbers turned out to be eastern white pine and were a bit soft compared to the southern yellow pine; I hoped the softer timbers would be firmed up by impregnating them with the varnish. They did, but only after a week or so, which was way longer than I was willing to wait.


I followed the scrub plane on the varnished top with a toothing plane, on opposing diagonals again, checking to make sure everything remained flat. I prefer the tightly checkered surface of the toothed top as it grabs the work piece a little better than a smooth surface.


In the years since fabrication the entire unit has twisted a tiny bit, so I have a thin shim underneath one of the legs to keep it from rocking.


I have not installed a leg vise, even though I have a vintage one ready to use. I’m just trying to see how long I can keep on using the bench as is, with my workpiece-holding functions solely with holdfasts.

Above the bench I finally built racks to hold a multitude of tools, mostly files, and am hanging saws and the like off the joists with nails.


No doubt this may soon be supplanted by the group of in-process benches in line awaiting my ministrations, including a 5″ solid maple top with white oak legs bench; my French Oak Roubo Project bench, which is slowly being uncovered by the ongoing archaeology within the barn; a pair of Roubo benches also made from salvaged barn timbers (although I am almost certain to hang an Emmert K1 off one of them); a mahogany slab and black walnut legs Roubo bench (I was originally going to use this for a Studley bench, but have now decided to build a Studley bench the way Studley built it instead), and finally the true Studley bench.

I’m thinking I may need to install some of my existing or future benches up on the fourth floor.  That’ll take a passel of stout guys even with a compound block-and-tackle.

Finishing the Work Stations, One By One

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 5:13pm

In my workshop in the Barn I have a number of work stations — planing, main bench, secondary bench, Japanese tool corner, main tool cabinet, sharpening, metal smithing, etc. — awaiting my ministrations to make fully functional and dare I say it, DONE!  I am going to attempt to address them one by one for a week or so to get the place ready for making and restoring furniture, as it was intended to be from the beginning.


The lowest hanging fruit was the planing beam and surroundings, as it has been in place and vaguely functional for quite some time.  Still, my planes were scattered about in a variety of boxes and bins, so I cut, planed, and installed several shelves into the window well behind the beam to hold the ones I wanted close at hand.  It looks like I have space for a few more planes, but never fear, I have more and will pack the joint very shortly

One unexpected benefit was the realization that my shaving beam for making Gragg Chair parts fits right behind the beam on the trestles, nestled out of the way and immediately accessible.


No doubt about it, this image makes me smile. You can just barely spot the head of the shaving beam behind the planing beam.

It Must Be Getting Close

Thu, 07/10/2014 - 6:18pm


You can order it here.

Parquetry Tutorial – The Basic Tool Kit

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 4:34pm


One of the beauties of parquetry, aside from its, well, beauty, is that it is a decidedly simple process requiring only a few tools to get started.

When we gather for the workshop at The Barn in less than a fortnight each student will need only a few tools, none of them exotic or impossible to find or purchase or even make.

These are not presented in any order of importance.


1. Small back saw

The first tool needed is a small dovetail-type saw, used to cut the already fashioned veneer strips into equilateral parallelograms.  Almost any kind of small back saw that cuts cleanly will do.


2. 30-60-90 triangle

Since this type of parquetry is based on the 60-120 degree equilateral parallelogram, a 30-60-90 triangle is required.  A decent quality plastic one from the big box store works just fine.  Or you could do what I do and just pick them up at yards sales for a quarter apiece.  That does sorta explain why I have a whole drawer full of them…

3. Bevel Gauge

To both prepare the sawing jig and the layout of the veneer panel, a bevel gauge is needed.  In the preparation of the sawing guide it is the fence against which you ride the back saw for establishing the initial kerf.  As long as the blade of the gauge is straight and the locking nut locks, you are good to go.


4. Straightedge/ruler

In order to assemble the parquetry pattern properly you have to establish the greater and lesser axes so you know how to assemble the pieces on the kraft paper backing.  The straight edge makes this an easy task, especially if it is a ruled bar used in concert with the aforementioned triangle.


5. Utility knife

Many times  in the course of a project you need to cut or trim something, so some sort of utility knife is called for.  Equally applicable would be a straight ship carving knife.

6. Cutting gauge

If you are including banded inlay into your composition, a cutting gauge (pictured next to the blue utility knife) is useful for establishing the edges of the channels into which the banding will be glued.


7.  Veneer saw

For finishing the edges edges of the marquetry panel, or establishing the channels for the banded inlay, and marquetry saw is a godsend.  I show three different iterations; on the left is an “English” style, the center one is I believe of German heritage — both of these saws cut on both the push and pull stroke — and the one on the right is Japanese, hence cuts only on the pull stroke.  I have tried but do not yet own the new design from Gramercy Tools, but it is superb.  Since much of my future work will be parquetry, I will order one.

8. Small bench chisel

To clean out the channels for the banded inlay.


9. Toothing plane or analogue

When the parquetry panel is assembled and applied to the substrate, it will be neither flat nor smooth.  A toothing plane will accomplish the former.   I have about ten, but if you don’t have one you can make either a low-tech block toother or a squeegee-style toother, both of which employ hack saw blades.


10. Block plane or similar

Often the parallelogram lozenges need just a touch along an edge to make it fit perfectly, and the sharp block plane is just the tool.  Later on, you will need the block plane to follow the toother in the finishing.


11. Scraper

The final step of smoothing is done with a scraper.  Whether you use a card scraper or a block scraper is immaterial, all that counts is that it be cutting nicely and leaves a perfect surface.


12. Miscellaneous tools

I always like to have a pair of tweezers laying in the vicinity, and a bunch of metal-headed thumb pins, to tack down the banding while the glue set.

That’s pretty much all you need tool-wise to get started.  Next time I’ll talk about making and using the sawing and planing jigs.


If spending a weekend in Virginia’s Little Switzerland making a parquetry panel sounds like fun, drop me a line and sign up for the class.  It is  a week from Friday-Sunday.



“I was the victim of a good upbringing” – Q&A with Don Williams (crosspost from PopWood)

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 5:46pm

Don Williams has a new DVD with us. I caught up with him last week to learn as much as I could about the topic – creating historic (and stunning) furniture finishes. We ended up talking even more about Don’s wealth of experience in both building and instructing.



The first thing most of us notice when we look at a true historic finish is the sheer beauty of it. Where does that beauty come from? What is it we are actually looking at on the face of the wood?


I have read a number of studies about brain physiology and the connection between our vision and our psychology. There are certain kinds of images we almost all identify as beautiful. I’m not an expert on that whole topic, but what I have found in finishing is that there is an almost universally accepted definition of beauty. It translates to a finish with low molecular weight, high gloss and high sheen. Think about a traditional French polish versus an epoxied bar top. The French polish has low molecular weight and high gloss and sheen. The bar top finish is too heavy.

This can be a chicken and egg debate. Did we develop the tools to create what we already considered beautiful, or did the definition of beauty come after using the tools for many years? It doesn’t matter very much. Historic finishes are beautiful, and we have all the tools we need to do the work.


At what point in your career did you develop your own finishing vision and technique?


In about 1974 I went to work for a father and son crew – Pop and Fred Schindler. Pop had more or less retired when I arrived, but he still puttered around the shop. He was Swiss, very traditionally trained in Europe and seen as kind of funny here in the U.S. I was the victim of a good upbringing, and did not see Pop as odd, but rather treated him with a lot of respect.

When it came to finishing, we were all just sitting at the bench and doing the work. We were not following aesthetic theory or anything like that. I worked in the Schindler shop for 4 years, and that was when I developed my technique.


After 45 years of finishing and teaching, you have boiled the technique down to 6 concise rules that you share with students and woodworkers everywhere. Tell us more about where this list comes from.


To the extent that I have any native gifts at all, my gift is the ability to organize ideas. I taught off and on for 25 years at the National Institute for Wood Finishing, and throughout that time I was always seeking a more concise way to explain the craft. That’s where the 6 rules came from.


Just a few of the hundreds of brushes at Don's home shop.

One of my favorite moments in the new video is when you show viewers the Japanese rasp that has become one of your favorite tools for flattening veneered surfaces. Are there any other modern or non-traditional tools you like to use in your historic finishing process?


I probably own over 500 brushes, and have used everything from the traditional badger brush to goat hair and even boar bristle. But I use modern synthetic nylon brushes most of all. They work really well.


Thanks, Don! Readers – be sure to check out that new DVD. It’s a gem.

“Right Sizing” a Table Saw

Sun, 07/06/2014 - 8:06pm

When I began the reconstruction of the Barn I bought a 10-inch contractor’s table saw on Craigslist to use on site, as I did not want then to haul my Jet Unisaw out to work in a pretty wide-open environment.  The contractor’s saw was never anything better than a pile of pelosi, but it got me through the worst of the project.

Now that the outfitting of the interior is drawing to a close, and the Unisaw is ensconced in the basement (admittedly sans 220v electrical circuit and outlet right now, but I could wire it up in an hour or so) it was time to put the pile o’junk saw out to pasture and reconsider what saw I wanted upstairs in my main working area.  Since I mostly use it for making templates and jigs and other light work, something a lot smaller would suffice.


My friend Tony gave me a motor-less Rockwell combination platform with a 4-inch jointer and a 9-inch table saw on the same base, with a brand new thin kerf blade.  I did not need the jointer at this time, so I took it off and remounted the table saw.  It had the makings of a fine little machine, everything seemed smooth and tight.   It needed a motor and a motor yoke, so I dug out the former (3/4 horse) from my stash of motors and fabricated the latter from a southern yellow pine board and a long bolt.


All hooked up it worked well.  My final dilemma had to do with the mobility of the machine.  I am not one of these guys who wants the table saw plopped in the middle of the work space.  I want to roll it out to use, then put it back when done.  The problem is that casters make the thing unsteady and frankly dangerous unless they are high quality -and pretty expensive – double locking locking casters that lock both the wheel rotation and swivel.


While at the hardware store I found the perfect solution for less than 10 dollars.  These plastic sliders for underneath sofas are fabulous.  In addition to allowing the saw to be pulled out and put away easily on the SYP floor, they are not so slick as to let the saw to slide across the floor as I am using it.


One unexpected benefit is that the sliders have padded tops, so in fact this reduces any vibration and makes the whole setup steady as a rock.

I am not convinced that this is the ultimate resolution, especially with the ridiculous 24″ outrigger bars for the fence.  I might just cut those off at 16″ or 14″ and see how I like them.

I have two more options at my disposal.  Down in the basement of the barn is a sweet 8-inch Craftsman bench-top table saw almost identical to the one I grew up with, also smooth and tight, and back in my Maryland shed I still have my wonderful 9-inch tilting top Rockwell saw that I absolutely love.


For now I will try this set-up for a good while to see if it fits my needs.  It saws effortlessly and true, needing only an outfeed crossbar which I will add soon.  If not, I will swap it out for the next option.

Stay tuned

Whipping the Shop Into Shape, Finally!

Sat, 07/05/2014 - 10:20am


Now that the multitudes from Groopstock have departed, I am facing a fortnight of mostly uninterrupted time spent on actually setting up my workshop space.  Between the hustle of moving over the past many months and the frenzied preparations for Groopstock, my shop, not overly organized at any point in time, had devolved into a chaotic storeroom full of boxes and bins of tools from the other house.

Even after the first day of shoveling, the place was still not a furniture-making and restoration shop.  One of the fundamental problems is that the tools cannot be “put away” until there is a place to put them away to.


One of the first things I did was reorganize and enhance my clamp storage.  They were all a-jumble sorta in the same place, but I still found myself tripping over them at every turn.

Less than an hour’s uninterrupted work and the problem was solved.

July 4

Thu, 07/03/2014 - 6:41pm

As I reflect on the declaration of an astounding experiment in governance 238 years ago — in my opinion the most elegant and virtuous secular document in human history — I cannot help but also contemplate the end result of the struggles and bloodshed in the following years, and the culmination of the effort in the formation of a new nation almost a decade later.

I am not much of a John Adams fan, but his observations at the birth of the nation in the guise of the US Constitution are indeed sobering.

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Indeed, he was correct.

Nevertheless, I will once again reread and meditate on the sublime ideals first brought forth on July 4, 1776.  It remains as timely as tomorrow’s headlines, in fact it reads like tomorrow’s headlines, and serves as a guuiding beacon to all who seek the flourishing of humanity.


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.



Oh-wee-oh, wee-oh-oh

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 8:00pm

(think the scene from “Wizard of Oz”…)

It’s the first day “after” Groopstock but still the crowds are here.  The impulse for continued fellowship is so strong that we continued through the morning as folks were packing, parting, and moving out.


While I had so many sturdy bodies at the ready, I asked them to move the mondo SYP hand hewn timber from the first floor (basement) up to the second floor.  Six of the men jumped in to volunteer, and they got the job done in about 45 seconds.  This timber will soon become a 13-foot-long planing beam in the center space of the main floor, and that transformation will provide me with an excuse to blog about planing beams in general and this beam in particular.





By lunch time we were down to a half-dozen exit stragglers, and by supper only one overnighter was left.

The next phase of the summer would be finally (!) getting my own workshop space in order.  Saturday and Sunday were still decompressing time, but by Monday I was back in the shop all day.  Tales of that start tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

Groopstock Report – Day 3 (the meatfest)

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 7:08pm

The final day of Groopstock has, in the past at least, been capped off by a gargantuan meatfest for dinner.  We did it again this year, but first the highlights of the day.

photo courtesy of Joshua Klein

photo courtesy of Joshua Klein

Bill Robillard and I built the folding portable workbench in real time to start the day.  I will build another one in a month or so in order to blog in detail, and then compile those blogs into a downloadable PDF.

photo courtesy of Joshua Klein

photo courtesy of Joshua Klein

He then left to present a monumental project of restoring the dais and rostrum for the US House of Representatives.  I was still working downstairs, but I got to hear it at least.

After lunch Dave Reeves, Bill, and I began the ritual of meat grilling.  I grilled up ten racks of ribs while they worked on 85(?) bratwurst, cooking them first in beer and onions before cooking them over real wood charcoal, as I was doing a dozen yards away.  I had heard of Tennis Elbow, but this was the first time I’d ever been afflicted with Barbeque Shoulder.  Flipping those dozens of pounds of meat really got tiring, and I was pretty sore by the time it was all over.

photo courtesy of Joshua Klein

photo courtesy of Joshua Klein

While this was going on in the yard, up the hill at the Barn there were presentations by Jon Szalay on molding and casting (I think they did cast some bronze), Brian Webster on Building a Website, and finally Jim Young and Bruce Hamilton on Pricing and Estimating.

photo courtesy of Joshua Klein

photo courtesy of Joshua Klein

Those who were still mobile and non-catatonic after gorging on meat traipsed back up the the barn for Martin O’Brien’s discussion of historical varnish recipes recorded in the archives of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, which I still maintain is about as close to perfection as a museum can be.

Following that, a bunch of the crowd wanted to watch the rough cut of my upcoming video Historic Transparent Finishes, but by midnight I pulled the plug and told everybody to go to bed.  They did not necessarily obey, but I was asleep and did not care.

Treasured Mementos, Including a Replica of the H.O. Studley Tool Box

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 6:35pm

For any enterprise like Groop, there are many layers of dynamic activity.  Such truth is enhanced immensely when the members gather together during their irregularly scheduled GroopShops, of which there have been many over the past fifteen years, including three at the Barn.  It is then that fellowship goes into overdrive.


After dinner on the second night, Group Trustee Mike Mascelli took to the floor to give a heartfelt recitation of Groop, reflecting on its founder Alan Marriage and his untimely death a dozen years ago.  (Somehow I did not get a good picture of Mike)  Mike also launched a round of memento giving, including this super cool Vixen file to me, knowing of my passion for tortoiseshell and the similarities between Vixen files and French tortoiseshell rasps known as “grailles.”  It has already been put to work, which is the highest compliment you can pay regarding a tool Mike has bestowed on you.


Groopster Dan Carlson once again was the ringleader for an aggregate gift commemorating Groopstock, this time a vintage saw purloined from my ample stash of saws “to be fixed up, some day,” painted then signed by all the attendees.


It has already taken its place of high honor near the gift from three years ago, a portrait of my wife, me, and The Barn.


Dave Reeves brought down the house with his lengthy and convoluted tale of my fascination with the Studley tool cabinet, and told of his tireless efforts to find me a legitimate replica, and the joy of learning that his pickers had found one.  I will let you judge their efforts, but I am not certain they comprehended his instructions adequately.

If you want to follow the adventure of the REAL Studley ensemble, including the upcoming exhibit in May 2015, you can do that by going here.

cDSC_1007 (640x426)

One final treasure of the week was spending it in the company of my brother and nephew, without whose tireless efforts the lawn would not have been mowed, the new shower in the barn not installed…  Thanks guys.

It does not get much better than this.






by Dr. Radut