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F&C Magazine, Article on Compound Dovetails

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 10:47am

The latest edition of F&C is out now and has my article on the making of a compound angle dovetail box. This is the most complex box in the recent run of articles and my favourite.

There are five pages of detailed explanation as well as the usual very good exploded drawings and dimensions.

There is also a good four page feature on Australian tool maker Chris Vesper, he makes some wonderful tools and you can one of his sliding bevels being used in my article.

Funny man and great woodworker Roy Underhill is in the spotlight this month. I'm really looking forward to seeing him perform again at Handworks next month.

Categories: Hand Tools

Yandles Show

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 3:21am

This was 20th Yandles show amazing where time goes! The weather was wonderful and the show was very well attended on both days. Representing Classic Hand Tools rather than selling direct allowed me more time for demonstrating (and chatting!), here are the results of a mornings work.

As an update to the recent post on an upgraded adjuster for Lie Nielsen planes, Mark kindly brought in a plane with the adjuster fitted. He is very pleased with the ones he bought and it did work very well with no annoying lateral movement.

You can buy the adjusters from Robert Howard in Australia, apparently the service was very good.

Categories: Hand Tools

Matthew Burt, Fine Furniture Maker.

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 11:00am

Matthew Burt has long been one of my favourite furniture designers. His impressive new workshops are backed up by this shop, run by his wife Celia, all in the lovely Wiltshire village of Hindon just off the main A 303. I pass by on the way to the Yandles show so great to see what's new.

There are two well stocked rooms with all kinds of lovely modern pieces.
You can see more on their website http://www.matthewburt.com/#home

This is a fascinating new design, a wall mounted consul table. The half cone shape was made up from 16 tapered coopered oak staves, rounded after glue up and the top is a veneered cross section from across the trunk. It doesn't have any shrinkage cracks which must have been hard to achieve. the design is beautiful and simplicity at it's best.

This circular jewellery cabinet is one I've admired in the past, it has a turned barrel hinge and looks stunning in this tightly rippled olive ash.

Here is the interior revealed.

Here is the entrance to the third room (which doesn't exist) it gets me every time. It's a semi circular table fitted against a mirror, very clever.

Matthew makes some great chairs and I have long admired the Tricorn chair, here it is in hand stitched padded leather, very nice.

The solid wood seat on this version is very comfortable and supportive and nearly half the price of the hand stitched leather. I left the shop with this chair and it will take pride of place in my office.

The lovely village of Hindon is well worth a visit one it's own with a couple of nice pubs...

..... and of course a fine old church.

Categories: Hand Tools

George Miller Shoulder Plane

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 9:08am

I bought this Miller shoulder plane on E Bay recently, it's 8" long and 1 1/2" wide.

George Miller worked from 1890 to 1914 and specialised in these heavy gunmetal shoulder planes with a sweated on steel sole. Apart from his London address I can't find out any more information on him, is there anyone out there who knows any more detail? Are there any collectors of his planes?

The style of the bronze casting is beautiful and distinctive and didn't change during his working years, which is helpful as the majority of his planes weren't stamped. Fortunately this one was. Nearly all are 1 1/2" wide but I have seen 1 1/4" models with the identical profile.

The infill was always rounded nicely and had a curved front grip which is very comfortable to hold. Occasionally the infill extended beyond the metal and examples with a 'rhino horn' have also surfaced. The infill material seemed to vary, this one is walnut but most were ebony or rosewood. The shape of the wedge also varied quite a bit, this one isn't as attractive as some but is very supportive.

The irons are made by Marples on all the examples I have seen and the mouth is always nice and tight. If you ever comes across one of these they make great user planes as well as being very collectable.

Categories: Hand Tools

Bidge City CT-8 Block Plane For Sale

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 10:53am
This lovely dovetailed plane is a rarity over here, in fact there weren't that many produced in the US. It's been out of production for 10 years now and there's one being offered on E Bay at the moment
I was tempted to buy it but I already have one in my collection.

They produced two models, the low angle CT-7 (12 degrees) and the standard angle CT-8 (20 degrees). The standard angle model is the more versatile, being able to handle end grain as well as long grain, sharpened at 30 degrees it provides a 50 degree angle of attack. It has an adjustable mouth as well as adjustable blade and is beautifully made.

Categories: Hand Tools

Yandles Spring Show this Week.

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 1:35am

It's the Yandle's Spring Show next week on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th. Here I am cutting dovetails (and chatting) at last years show. This year will be my 20th appearance at Yandles.

There are always plenty of turning demonstrations.

And basket weaving.

Some very skilful chain saw carving.

More baskets!

A large and popular café, inside as well as outside when the sun is shining, which it always seems to do at this show.

Guitar making.

and there's even a tattoo parlour....
 ..........and a bus stop!

Categories: Hand Tools

Beautiful Boxes

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 10:02am

Ivan sent me these pictures of some lovely small boxes he made after being inspired by the work of the great box maker Phil Weber

Categories: Hand Tools

Norris Plane in Action

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 10:20am

A short while ago a friend of mine was asking my advice about buying a Norris plane. The classic pre war model A5 was what he was looking for, but I persuaded him to go for the Norris A50 instead. It cost him a lot less and worked a dream. He is very pleased.

Here is the Norris A50 that I use. It required the minimum of sole flattening as there was a dip behind the mouth, see the darker area on the sole. I could have continued lapping to remove this but it wouldn't have made any difference to performance.
The mouth (the tiny dark area) is just a sliver, enough to let a reasonable shaving through.

Although this was a budget model by Norris, costing about half of the A5 in the 1920's, it is actually more stable as the iron rests on the metal casting rather than the rosewood infill. With the iron removed (below) you can see the casting with the wooden infill set back slightly so it plays no part in supporting the blade.
The other thing I like is the handle is set very low down, giving a better 'feel' in use.

Of course with a sharpened blade it works a treat....

.... even on this curly English walnut.

Categories: Hand Tools

Customer box from Denmark.

Sat, 03/25/2017 - 10:15am

Jesper from Denmark sent me these pictures of a little oak box he made for his partner.
After making a dovetail alignment board, this was his first attempt at a dovetail project and he looks to have done very well.

The box was used to present a gift certificate as congratulations for passing her PHD in architecture, very touching.

Here is Jespers dovetailing kit of tools, he looks to have everything he needs there.

Categories: Hand Tools

Tasai Japanese Dovetailing Chisels

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 1:02pm

Here is my set of Tasai dovetail chisels bought many years ago from 'The Best Things' in the US. They are still selling them now http://www.thebestthings.com/newtools/tasai_japanese_bench_chisels.htm

I made a nice little box for them from rare Andaman Padouk, purchased from the widow of the great Alan Peters. This wood was a favourite of James Krenov, my other hero.

These are beautifully weighted chisels and just superb to handle. Unlike other Japanese dovetail shaped chisels, these are actually suitable for getting right into the corners of dovetails. Instead of finishing with square edges, they are angled sufficiently to cope with the corners without bruising.

Tasai is more famous for his dramatic and showy Damascus chisels which 'The Best Things' also sell. But I just love the way these all black chisels are so understated, no fancy layering, no multiple hollows and no exotic handles. Just beautifully made, superbly balanced and extremely practical.

The handle maker (I've forgotten his name) discreetly leaves his mark on the red oak handle.

And the famous Tasai mark, again discreetly stamped on the blade. If you bought a set you wouldn't be disappointed with either the look, the feel or the performance.

Categories: Hand Tools

Thoughts on Dovetails.

Sun, 03/19/2017 - 3:07am

Here's a nice pine box from Daniel. He used the 90 degree guide to pare down to the base line giving a nice flat bottom to his dovetails, good idea.  I've seen a few different ways to achieve this, the classic way is to chisel a hump in the middle from both sides and then carefully pare it flat. Personally I prefer a hollow in mine, it's faster, no less strong and gives me the reassurance of no gaps on assembly.

Many woodworkers assume that pine is an easy wood to dovetail, it's soft and forgiving which means you can bang home the joint without much risk of splitting. However that same softness is also a disadvantage as the sides easily collapse under pressure and spoil the crispness of the finished joint.
I've found the best combination for dovetailing is a 'hard' wood for the tails, which hold their crisp shape and a 'softer' wood for the pins with some flexibility. A classic combination is hard maple and walnut, which also gives a strong colour contrast to the joint.

The dovetail alignment board below was Marks first project with his new 1:6 and 90 degree guides and he looks to have done a great job. The alignment board is a very useful tool and a great project to get used to using the guides. It's best made from a single board (quarter sawn if possible) for future stability. If you leave the parts over long then any mistakes made in the joint can be cut off and you can have another go.

Using 3/4" board also makes you appreciate the need for squareness in your dovetails, the thicker the material the more chance your cuts will wander off square and the joint won't fit. This is where the magnetic guides really come in their own keeping the cuts straight, but above all, square.
Nice to see a bit of Blue Spruce tool porn in there!

Categories: Hand Tools

Norris Mount Cutting Knife

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 11:37am

I bought this Norris mount cutting knife (made for Buck) ages ago as I really liked the look and feel of it.

The blade is sharpened at a very low angle to a spear pint on both sides of the blade, ie 4 bevels in all. I ground the bevels and finished off on water stones and it gave a super sharp point which was easier to achieve than I had envisaged.
Oliver Sparks made a small batch of modern high quality copies which can see on his Blog

The other end of the blade had been formed into what looks like a small 'split nut' screwdriver, not exactly sure what for. The picture below shows the construction with a central brass tube and flat sides which were bent over the wood of choice.
Time to use it!

Categories: Hand Tools

Curved Dovetail Box Magazine Article

Sun, 03/12/2017 - 3:09am

The latest issue of F&C is out now (no 256, April 2017).  My article on the making of a curved sided dovetail box is featured if anyone would like to have a go at this technique.

It includes an exploded drawing with all dimensions as well as a full description and lots of pictures.

There is a very good article on the Williams and Cleal Furniture School in Devon showing some of the fine work they do there. I've visited the school and set up and the atmosphere seems to make it a great place to learn.

A two page article on preventing tear out with a hand plane is very interesting, exploring the benefits of a higher angle, tight mouth and a finely set cap iron, although not necessarily together.

An interesting article by Jim Hooker (appropriately) on the sharpening and use of various types of scrapers.
In this issue there are also articles, on hand engraving, Lie Nielsen honing guide, the Geffrye Museum, Robert Ingham, decorative mouldings, antique furniture and planning techniques.

Categories: Hand Tools

The One Tree Project

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 10:54am

Back in 1998 a 179 year old oak was felled on the Tatton Estate in Cheshire and leading craftsmen were asked to design work using very part of the tree. By 2001 the completed work was gathered in and an excellent book was published, see above. Prince Charles wrote the forward to the book. It can be bought second hand on Amazon, enter 'One Tree Merrell'.
One of the standout pieces was the Dory Shelves (below) designed by Petter Southall which harks back to his training as a boat builder in Norway. This one off piece has come back to the market and is for sale at his lovely showroom in West Bay Dorset for £4,950. In comparison to the work he currently sells this is a relative bargain and I'm sure will represent an excellent future investment as well as a lovely piece to own.

Another stand out piece is the Romanian Chest which was Alan Peters last significant piece before his sad decline and passing. I was lucky enough to see this when I visited Alan's wife Laura and it was subsequently bought by the Craft Study Centre in Farnham where it was briefly displayed before being locked away in one of their warehouses, shame.

Matthew Burt made this lovely fluted hall table.

Branch oysters were used to make this top, one for the catwalk only!

Robert Ingham made this bench cleverly combining angles curves and straight lines.
I've heard another one tree project is being planed and I very much forward to seeing the results.

Categories: Hand Tools