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Updated: 58 min 27 sec ago

Time to Set Up the Co-sleeper Again

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 3:28am

 

Wyeth Day Klein born May 20th 9:51 a.m.

It’s a good thing I was home from Handworks because three hours after the show started on Friday, Julia’s water broke. I left work right then and met her and the midwives at our house. She labored through the evening until the next morning when our third little man entered the world in a tub in our bedroom. The birth of a child is an awesome experience. Mama and baby are doing great. I’m on paternity leave taking care of the older boys and attempting to keep up on laundry, dishes, and homestead chores. I’ll go back to work half-time next week.

So, it was time to set up the co-sleeper again. A couple years ago when our second child, Asher, was born, I built a co-sleeper attachment for our rope bed. There were a lot of designs online but nothing I found was inspiring. Most of them had boring prison-bar slats or were screwed together plywood boxes. I wanted to make something reminiscent of period cradles that used real joinery. Most period cradles were freestanding units with four sides but a friend of ours sent us pictures of three-walled co-sleepers attached to the beds in Monticello. I guess nothing is new under the sun.

The sides of our co-sleeper are joined with compound through dovetails and are decorated with curves adapted from a Fisher piece. The rails are drawbored tenoned into the 2 legs. After painting it with the same milk paint I used on our bed, it looked like an intentional set. We used this cradle all throughout Asher’s infancy and loved it. Having him sleep next to our bed was handy for midnight nursing.

With our new little one just born last weekend, I pulled it out of storage and set it up again. It is attached over the bed rail with a piece of angle iron which is screwed to the inside. The end rails are notched to bring the height of this bed such that the baby mattress sits flush with our mattress. It is a simple but sturdy connection.

Asher’s enthusiasm to help install it the other day was sweet. He had his own screwdriver and drove invisible screws next to mine. After everything was installed, he had to try it out to make sure it was sturdy. My, how they grow up fast.

-Joshua

 

 

Categories: Hand Tools

Farewell to Amana

Sat, 05/20/2017 - 9:16pm

Today started out much like yesterday (rainy, cold, and windy), but that didn't stop the crowds from gathering outside the Festhalle Barn quite early to await Roy Underhill's presentation. Once the doors opened, the atmosphere was electric and excited. And damp.

As I started in to find a place to listen, I received a text from Joshua announcing the birth of their third son, Wyeth Day! What awesome news to receive. Everyone agreed: even though we missed Joshua at Handworks, we were extremely glad he wasn't here! Congrats, Klein family!

The talk was wonderful and hilarious, as usual. I can't think of a more amicable presence than Roy. He really does light up a room.

The day flowed by, filled with wonderful encounters with folks I've only "met" through social media. I found myself asking several times for Instagram names so I could associate a face and "real" name with a familiar person. Time and time again I was encouraged and humbled by the positive and enthusiastic support from readers of the magazine. Folks from all over sought us out to let us know how much they have gotten out of M&T, and how much it has inspired them in their creative pursuits. That is exactly what we love to hear, and it's why we do what we do. Thank you, everybody. Really.

Roy came by again to hang out for a bit, to sing some "lusty working songs" with my kiddos as they did a serious bit of chamfering on a piece of pine, and to take a look at my Underhill hatchet. No relation whatsoever...

It was great to spend a big chunk of the day hanging out with Jim McConnell in the booth. We've done all of our correspondence for "magazine stuff" virtually, and it's been a real pleasure to meet him in person and catch up with normal life things. We also found some ridiculously similar parallels in our lives and backgrounds, including living just a few miles apart in our younger years and sharing weird German family traditions. Hooray for fasnachts!

With feelings of satisfaction, exhaustion, and introspection, we began the process of packing up and prepping the load for the 1,700-mile return drive to Maine. Everything was packed up, bundled up, lashed down, and otherwise secured for the journey. I hope to have some more photos of Handworks 2017 up in a few days. We had a wonderful time, and will be counting down the days until the next gathering in Amana!

~Mike Updegraff

Categories: Hand Tools

Handworks 2017: Ready, Set, GO!

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 4:14am

We set out early yesterday morning for the last leg of our 1700-mile journey to Iowa for Handworks 2017. After passing through endless fields of newly-sprouted corn, crossing the mighty Mississippi, entering another time zone, and being awed by The World's Largest Truck Stop, we made it to the Amana Colonies. It's a good thing, too - the game of "Spot a Windmill, Win a Quarter" was losing hold on our three kids. 

After driving slowly and rubbernecking past many beautiful stone and brick buildings, we found our spot in the Millwright Shop. My wife, Megan, and our kids helped me lug the benches, display, magazines, tools, DVDs, 19th-century​ chest-over-drawers, etc. into the shop as our poor van gave an audible sigh of relief. Setup went quickly with so many helpers, and folks dropped by to say "hello" as we got everything arranged. The kids were absolutely delighted to meet their hero, Roy Underhill.

We ran to Cedar Rapids to check in to our hotel and grab some groceries, then returned to Amana for the big barbecue cookout. The who's-who of handtool woodworking, all gathered together in a barn eating pulled pork and cole slaw. What more could you ask for? It's going to be a terrific show! 

-Mike

 

Categories: Hand Tools

New eBooks Now Available!

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 1:32pm

 

At long last, the new eBooks are now available!

Over and over we’ve heard from readers that being able to see the guts of the pieces that are only ever displayed behind velvet ropes has been revolutionary to their shop practice. Seeing what historic hand-tool work looks like is inspiring and empowering because you quickly realize which parts are important to fettle and which aren’t. The feedback we’ve got about the photo essays in each issue of M&T has been encouraging. People said they loved the Federal Boston secretary in Issue One and the New England Queen Anne drop-leaf table in Issue Two.

These new books of photography showcase the hundreds of other photographs we couldn’t fit in print. There is so much more to learn from these pieces and this is our way of bringing it to you. These will never be available in print because they are intended to be a compliment to the print-only magazine.

Our goal with these eBooks is to make them as easy to use and instructive as we can. To that end, we are selling them in a DRM-free PDF format. This makes it easy to download the books onto your tablet, phone, computer, or whatever. You can put them on as many of your own devices as you wish and you can even print it out!

The other benefit to having these offered as eBooks is the ability to enlarge the photographs to see more detail, something you can’t do with print. Without DRM to secure the books, these are theoretically left vulnerable to theft by unscrupulous people. We’re not worried about that. Mike and I pour ourselves into M&T and feed our families with your support. We trust our customers not to steal these books from us.

As we were designing these books, I commented to Mike how I wished I had this kind of thing years ago. It is a shame that the comprehensiveness of this photography is available nowhere else because seeing period work for ourselves is the key to unlocking the efficiencies of hand-tool woodworking. M&T exists to make that kind of knowledge accessible.

The books are $8 each and feature a ton of photographs. You can order yours here.

-Joshua

 

Categories: Hand Tools

Wabi-sabi Hand Tool Woodworking

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 7:05am

Jim over at The Daily Skep has kindly published a blog post I wrote for his "Perfect in 1000 words or less" series. In it, I talk about how the tolerance for perfection is different for each context. Not everyone works for NASA.  

You can read it here: https://thedailyskep.com/2017/05/16/joshua-klein-perfect-in-1000-words-or-less/

-Joshua

 

Categories: Hand Tools

Mortise & Tenon Magazine at Handworks 2017

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 8:13am

  

At the end of this week, the biggest hand tool woodworking event in the world is happening in Amana, Iowa. If you don’t know already, Handworks is legendary. Woodworkers and tool makers are traveling from all over the world to convene in a barn (and various outbuildings) at the Amana Colonies in Iowa. These folks are serious, passionate tool nerds.

Every boutique tool maker and their mother is going to be there. When the organizer, Jameel Abraham, emailed us to ask if we wanted to participate, Mike and I were stoked. Yes. Yes. Yes. No matter what hurdles we had to jump over, we would be there. We started making arrangements for the big journey a long time ago.

Then my wife and I started doing some math and realized our third baby is due May 29th, one week after Handworks. Well, crap. That was some unfortunate double-booking. Mike and I spent some time trying to figure out the best way to make sure M&T had a presence there and ultimately decided Mike would manage the booth alone. He is a brave man. From all accounts, Handworks is nuts - a sea of voracious woodworkers desperate to get to the vendors’ booths before items sell out.

So he’s making a family vacation out of the trip. Mike and company began their journey yesterday in order to do some sight-seeing on the way down to the Midwest. He’s got a van full of booth gear and merchandise packed around his dear wife and three children. Whoever has the back seat has an awesome little cave. It’s the kind of hideout every young boy dreams about.

If your wife isn’t delivering a baby, you are crazy not to be there. Mike will be set up in the Millwright shop along with Voigt Planes, Bad Axe Tool Works, Walke Moore Tools, J. Wilding, Planemaker, and Fine Tool Journal. As always, Mike is ready to hand out free stickers to anyone wearing an M&T t-shirt at the event.

I have (obviously) no disappointment about being home for the birth. At the same time, however, I know I will be jealously watching my Instagram feed fill up with photos of my friends playing with hand tools and having a good time. That is, when I’m not busy catching my new little baby. 

-Joshua

 

 

Categories: Hand Tools

The Whetstone Quarry

Sat, 05/13/2017 - 2:59pm

Roy Underhill's books, I believe, are vastly underrated. It seems that every page contains not only loads of useful information about hand-tool woodworking, but historical context, interesting anecdotes, folklore, and typical Roy hilarity. Really, stuff that you can't find anywhere else.

whetstone quarry

Paging through one of his books (The Woodwright's Companion) recently, I stumbled upon a short chapter about whetstones. The popular opinion of today is that we need a wide array of dead-flat, precisely-graded sharpening stones in order to keep our tools sharp and usable, but this isn't the case historically. Roy mentions that in many old towns in Europe, the stone step of the stairway of a certain house was often discovered incidentally to be a good whetstone, and you can still see the wear of generations of tradesmen bringing their tools to sharpen on their neighbor's front step. Whetstones were found, not bought, until very recently. Identifying a decent stone, with a propensity to wear away and prevent glazing but hard enough to cut chisel steel and finely-grained enough to polish a shaving edge, is a high art.

Fortunately, Roy does some of the homework for us. There's a list in this chapter of whetstone localities, and one of them happens to be right up the road from the furniture studio. It's called "Huronian serpentine novaculite", no exact location given but fortunately I'm a bit of a geology geek. Serpentinite is often a modified peridotite, and I know all about the local metamorphic peridotite location because, well, peridotite happens to be my favorite variety of intrusive ultramafic igneous rock (doesn't everyone have a favorite intrusive igneous rock?). Joshua and I were dropping off a table a few miles past this locality, so we stopped by on the way back through.

We gathered a few samples of the weird greenish rock from the old quarry and brought them back to the studio. After mulling over the best way to flatten the rocks, we decided on using sticky-back 80-grit sandpaper on the bench. After a bit of elbow grease (and a few finer grits), we had two nicely flattened and quite beautiful stones ready for a test run.

polished whetstone

The traditional "honing oil" for the hand-cut whetstone is, of course, spit. This works fine, but it can get kind of gross when 2 people are using the same stones. So I recommend a light oil. I found that the stones we'd worked are perfectly capable of putting on a shaving edge on both a chisel and on my whittling knife. Although a bit slower-cutting than a synthetic waterstone, there's something compelling, even magical, about sharpening your tools on a stone that you yourself found in the woods. I really recommend it! And buy Roy's books. They are terrific.

sharpened chisel

~Mike Updegraff

 

Categories: Hand Tools

Building Boxes at Haystack

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 4:43am

Saturday’s ‘Build a Box’ workshop at Haystack was fun. If you haven’t been there, the campus is gorgeous in its tucked-away water-front location. The story goes that, back in the 60s, they chose this location based on its remoteness and solitude. They wanted to find a place where no highway would ever be built. I would say this little island off the coast of Maine was the perfect choice. Off the beaten path is an understatement.

 

I had a great variety of students: male and female, young and old. There were 10 students, most of whom had little no experience using hand tools. We started the day off discussing proportional design with dividers and then decided on dimensions for the boxes before breaking down the boards to length in teams. While everyone took turns sawing, I set up the school’s handplanes putting a slight camber on the irons.

 It was great to be able to hand each student a properly set up handplane from the first moment. With only minor instruction, everyone was making beautiful wispy shavings in the first few minutes. It wasn’t long before folks encountered the frustration of reversing grain and tear out. I coached each student through those tricky spots. This kind of experience always makes a big impression on people. To experience first-hand how the iron’s edge and the wood interact is worth more than reading all the books in the world.

 

After lunch, we moved to cutting the joinery. I demonstrated how to layout the rabbets on the front and back together so that they perfectly match. We gauged the rabbets’ depth, scribed the shoulders with a knife, used a chisel to create a V-groove for the saw to rest in, and sawed the shoulder to the gauge lines. To remove the waste, I taught them how to split it off with the chisel and pare to the line. They were pretty impressed with how easy that was!

 

By the end of this crash-course day most everyone had their boxes assembled and some had their bottoms installed. Although we didn’t complete the boxes, I accomplished my goal of introducing everyone to hand tools by diving right in. Considering the limited time, I was proud of everyone. It was amazing to see piles of shavings at everyone’s feet.

 

Categories: Hand Tools

One-day Workshop at Haystack Tomorrow

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 2:13pm

I will be spending all of tomorrow at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine teaching a one-day workshop. The class is an intro to hand tools class in which we will be building a small pine box. Depending on experience and comfort level, the students will be joining it with either rabbets and nails or dovetails. 

I truly believe that taking on small projects in inexpensive wood is the best way to learn. I’ve probably only ever made a dozen “practice” joints in my life. It always seemed like a better use of my time to make a “practice” project. Small boxes and tables are great for developing your marking, sawing, and planing skills in the context of an actual build.

As a one-day class, it’ll be interested to see how it goes. It’ll be crash course, for sure. 

 

Categories: Hand Tools

The Blogroll Lives Again!

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 11:53am

I am working to make sure Peter Follansbee is proven wrong. When he and I were chatting at Fine Woodworking Live, Peter told me he was sad to see blogs beginning to fade away from the woodworking community. I agree with his assessment but hope we’re just being pessimistic. Although I think social media is useful for its regularity, the snapshots and one-liners will never compare to fully developed thoughts, even if they are only 500-1,000 words long. (Blogs used to be criticized for their flippancy and brevity! Go figure!)

When I migrated my blogging activity from my old blog to here, I began a gradual process of fine tuning the features so that everything functioned as I wanted. Although the transition was relatively smooth, the one feature (my favorite) that didn’t make it was the newsfeed-style Blogroll sidebar that is automatically updated. It listed my favorite blogs chronologically with the most recent posts at the top of the list. I really missed this feature over the past year and continued to go back to check on what people have been up to. It has functioned for me (and other readers) like a public RSS feed. I’ve been looking into different ways of bringing this feature to the new blog for over a year here but until this past week, couldn’t solve the issue.

Enter Spencer Nelson. Spencer is a passionate hand tool woodworker and tech geek master that we connected with to see if we could add this feature. I went to his tech blog and when I realized I couldn’t understand anything of what he was talking about, knew he was the man for the job. Spencer did a bit of digging into the blogroll issue and couldn’t find any app that would work as we needed. So he wrote his own from scratch. As one does, of course.

Spencer had the new feature live after only a couple of days. Check it out on the sidebar under “Blogs We Follow” on the right (desktop) or below (on mobile). It’s wonderfully simple. These are most of the blogs we follow. (More coming soon.) Because of Spencer’s generous help, I will be checking this blog everyday to see what my friends have been up to in their shops. We invite you to do the same because keeping up with everyone’s blogs is hard and having them all here in one place is incredibly helpful.

I hope woodworking blogs don’t die. Here’s our effort to prove Peter and me wrong. We want to highlight the people we think are doing great work. Keep blogging and keep commenting on all the blogs you love. It encourages more incredible content.

Thank you, Spencer! You are the man!

 

Categories: Hand Tools

Last Chance for Hooded Sweatshirts

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 10:26am

We’ve heard back from all our customers that ordered a “Craftsmanship is Risk” sweatshirt and everyone said they are delighted with their purchase. That means the extras we have from the print run are up for sale now. We don’t have many: 2 L, 2 XL, and 2 XXL. We will not be doing another run of these so if you were bummed you missed it the first time, this is your last opportunity.

You can order yours here.

 

Categories: Hand Tools

Fellowship at Fine Woodworking Live

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 11:44am

Mike and I got back last night from Fine Woodworking Live 2017 in Southbridge, Mass. We had such an amazing time catching up with and meeting a few new woodworkers that we look up to so much. The show was Friday through Sunday with several presentations each day.

With the possibility of my wife delivering our third baby in the next few weeks, Mike and I decided to take separate cars in case I needed to head home early. The drive down was a nice quiet before the storm of endless faces and fellowship. We arrived Thursday night at our super sketchy Days Inn hotel so that we’d be ready to set up at the conference center the next morning. Fortunately, that first night was relatively quiet, unlike the drinking parties and rampaging woman in the hallway the other two nights. For the record, I would not recommend the Days Inn in Sturbridge, Mass.

 

Friday morning, we set up our usual booth display with the portable Nicholson bench, chests of tools, and the barn board backdrop. We always get comments about how elaborate it all is. Truth is, although it is a full display, we’ve got it down to a science and can pretty quickly take it down when we need to thanks to the cordless drill and Torx screws that hold it together. Ben Strano at FWW took great delight in busting us using a (gasp!) power tool to assemble the display! It caused quite a stir on their Instagram account. “The industrial revolution consumes another soul”, one reader commented! Ha! We woodworkers have a zany sense of humor. Good catch, Ben!

In all honesty, just like at Woodworking in America, I was a bit nervous about bringing my atrociously utilitarian Nicholson bench to such a high-class woodworking event. I mean this is “FINE Woodworking” after all! I’m comfortable with the bench because it looks like (and I treat it like) all the surviving pre-industrial benches I’ve seen. Your workbenches are tools meant to be worked at. If you need to nail something down, do it. If your saw nicks the edge, so be it. If you’re planing boards, it should be rough (toothed), not smooth. (I’ve never understood why anyone would want to try to plane a board on a bowling alley benchtop.)

Almost no one gave me crap about it. Everyone I talked to seemed to appreciate the logic and at least respected it as practical and having historical precedent. My friend, Garret Hack, did razz me a bit, though. He told me I should lightly break the front edge of the bench for our visitors because that would be a lot nicer. I laughed at the idea of the broken edge improving the bench and warned him not to look at the underside because it was a little rough. There was a lot of friendly banter all weekend - the exact kind of humor Mike and I appreciate.

 

Vic Tesolin's presentation

There were a lot of woodworkers to interact with. We got to spend an especially long amount of time talking with Vic Tesolin and Peter Follansbee over the weekend. I look up to these guys so much and so it was an honor to spend all that time visiting and comparing notes. We chatted with Vic about tool texture and about not being precious about your work. We talked pole lathes, wooden planes, homeschooling, and a lot more with Peter. This event was exactly what editor Tom McKenna envisioned for us all: fellowship around woodworking.

 

One of Peter Follansbee's presentations

Al Breed trying out Mike's crooked turning saw

Everyone was super busy and there were so many people to see and visit with. There were many people I got to chat with but wish I had more time. It was great catching up with Al Breed, Wilbur Pan, and Andrew Hunter. Al even tried Mike’s maple crook turning saw and said he was impressed! That is high praise, indeed! It was wonderful to finally meet Tom McKenna, Mike Pekovich, Ben Strano of the FWW crew. Tom told us they definitely plan on doing it again next year.  We are both looking forward to it.

 

Thank you again for inviting us, Fine Woodworking! We were honored to be there!

- Joshua

 

Categories: Hand Tools

Trouble Brewing

Sat, 04/01/2017 - 12:38pm

It began innocently enough one ordinary weekday. It was quiet in the studio - I was planing some stock while Joshua sharpened a few chisels. I’d sat my plane on the bench and walked away for a moment to grab a pencil, but when I turned back I found that my plane was sitting on its sole. I always lay my planes down on their sides, the CORRECT way. Carefully-constructed and articulated arguments to the contrary aside, placing a plane on its side while not in use at the bench is the historically approved and most advantageous practice. But clearly, somebody in the room disagreed.

               Exhibit A. The defense rests, Your Honor.

The tension in the air was thick as I resumed smoothing the piece of pine. Joshua tried to lightly discuss some detail about an upcoming build but I wasn’t really listening. We made it through that day, but the simmerings of discontent had begun. Through subsequent weeks, there were uncomfortable conversations about the proper sequence involved in cutting dovetails – pins first vs. tails first. I had to step outside to cool off. Then it was bevel angles and tearout. The nature of “craft”. Sharpening stones (this one got ugly). Plane tote profiles.   I was realizing that hand-tool woodworking is simply too controversial to be enjoyable.

Fortunately, Joshua had been thinking along the same lines. He’d finally snapped when he considered how much easier and more relaxing it would be to set up and use a dovetail jig with special bits and collets and collars and clamps and routers and protective eyewear and earplugs and dust collection, rather than, you know, just cutting dovetails by hand.

Some big changes are in store around here.

Readers, we know that you will agree with us. Our new magazine format will reflect these exciting truths. The age of the power-tool-only purist is here. To showcase this new focus, we are changing the name of the magazine from “Mortise & Tenon” to something much more, shall we say, relevant. “Biscuit & Epoxy” is my current favorite, although that remains a work in progress. In Issue #3 we will be examining the complete and refreshing lack of toolmarks in the carcase of a 20th-century IKEA cabinet, asking the question “Can Your Table Saw Top Ever Truly Be Flat Enough?”, and will be travelling to Asia to visit a factory that winds electric motors for 8 different router manufacturers! So stay tuned – the future is now.

Incidentally, as we are starting small in making our shop upgrades, we’re looking for a lightly-used 20” jointer that someone might have for sale. Anybody looking to dump last year’s model for the latest and greatest? Let us know!

~Mike Updegraff

 

Categories: Hand Tools

A Slice of Pye

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 4:29am

Note: In celebration of “PYE” Day today (3/14), we’ve decided to offer Free US Shipping on all our “Craftsmanship is Risk” merchandise (i.e. Shirts and Stickers). Today and today only.

I must admit that I am a latecomer to the “Real Craft” conversation. Many words have been written and many ideas exchanged over what exactly constitutes craftsmanship. Is it simply the act of making an object “by hand” (whatever that means…)? Is it running a CNC router from your laptop? Is it the practice of only recreating traditional forms with traditional tools? It seems folks have some strong opinions on every side of this debate.

The term “craft” has always carried me back to my childhood. Back then, my mom and grandmother would occasionally engage in bursts of productivity on their sewing machines, creating a wide variety of marketable items: baby quilts, dolls, and Christmas decorations. We would gather them up and bring them to what were called, in central Pennsylvania, “craft fairs”. As I got older, I helped a bit with our product diversity, making painted wooden animals or cute little pine snowmen with twig arms. We often did quite well, and my portion of the sales was generally spent on baseball cards. Because of these experiences, I’ve long associated the term “craft” with sweet little old ladies in extravagantly embroidered sweatshirts and copious amounts of Spanish moss hot glued to bric-a-brac. That, and the smell of cinnamon. Of course, this is a very incomplete (and likely inaccurate) picture that illustrates the importance of defining our terms properly.

David Pye has long been THE go-to resource for defining terms when it comes to craftsmanship. Since he first published The Nature and Art of Workmanship back in 1968, Pye’s nuanced argument has been the foundation for any deep discussion on the philosophy of workmanship. He writes as a maker himself, a true master of turning and carving. Even coming from this pragmatic standpoint, Pye considers terminology and definitions to be of vast importance in this conversation. He relates this story:

“Tzu-lu said, If the prince of Wei were waiting for you to come and administer his country for him, what would be your first measure? The Master [i.e. Confucius] said, It would certainly be to correct language.” After Tzu-lu argues vehemently that this is a secondary issue in running a nation, Confucius comes back bluntly: “Yu! How boorish you are!” He then describes the importance of accuracy in defining terms. “If language is incorrect, then what is said does not concord with what was meant; and if what is said does not concord with what was meant, what is to be done cannot be effected…”

In short, if you and I don’t understand what our words mean, all conversation is essentially pointless. The Nature and Art of Workmanship, then, is Pye’s dictionary for craftsmanship and, in the words of John Kelsey, it “remains the only useful framework we have.”

So how did Pye define “craftsmanship”? Readers of M&T are probably familiar with the term “Craftsmanship Is Risk” – the reference to Pye emblazoned on the back of our new t-shirt and stickers. Let me say first what it doesn’t mean. The “risk” involved isn’t to the maker – you know, sharp edges are dangerous and all. Hand-tool woodworking is not some thrill-seeking extreme sport, like BASE jumping or Skyrunning (though that’s an interesting angle to think about…). Hewing a log barefoot isn’t considered “workmanship of risk” because you could lose a toe, but because “the quality of the result is continually at risk during the process of making.”  This is Pye’s definition of craftsmanship. It is inherently risky, because the end product can be destroyed at pretty much any time by the misuse of the unregulated tools of the craftsman.

This “workmanship of risk” is contrasted with the “workmanship of certainty”. Pye cites examples of mass production and full automation as the purest state of this form of making. “The result is exactly predetermined before a single salable thing is made.” The more predictable the outcome of a woodworking operation (i.e. working wood vs. machining wood), the farther we get from “craft”. “All the works of men which have been most admired since the beginning of history have been made by the workmanship of risk, the last three or four generations only excepted.”  Here is where craftsmanship implies tradition, as Joshua has postulated before in this post and in his follow-up clarification. Our forebears produced everything with simple tools and the skill of their hands.

In summary, I offer this advice: read Pye for yourself (he is worth the effort). Keep your edge tools sharp, take care in your work, and enjoy the relationship between yourself, your tools, and your materials.

And keep telling folks about the inherent risk of craftsmanship – they might drop by for a visit to your shop to see what you’re talking about.

~Mike Updegraff

 

Categories: Hand Tools

2017 Schedule of Events

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 7:42am

 

Below are the events we have scheduled for 2017. If you’d like to take a workshop we’re teaching or chat with us in person, look below to see if you can make it out to any of these events. We hope to see you this year!

 

Center for Furniture Craftsmanship – March 10th Presentation: “Why I Cut the Cord” 

I’ve been invited to present this coming Friday to the Furniture Intensive students at CFC about how pre-industrial methods has informed my furniture making. Read about the school here.

 

Fine Woodworking Live 2017 – April 21st - 23rd – Southbridge, Mass.

Fine Woodworking’s live event. We’ll be there as a vendor. Looks like a great show with top-notch presenters. Visit the official website here.

 

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts – May 6th Workshop: “Introduction to Hand Tool Woodworking”

This is a class offered for local residents to introduce students to the fundamentals of hand tool woodworking. I count it an honor to give back to the community in this way. Read about it here.

 

Handworks 2017 – May 19th - 20th

Handworks needs no introduction. Mike will be there with the entire M&T booth. You can buy mags, DVDs, t-shirts, etc and chat about hand tool woodworking. Unfortunately, I am quite sure I won’t be able to make this one because my third baby will be born right around the event. Talk about bad planning! Visit the website here.

 

Lie-Nielsen Workshop - June 17th - 18th Workshop: “Cut the Cord: Build a Table with Hand Tools”

This is a hand tools meat-and-potatoes kind of class - an introduction to the hand-tool-only approach to building a table. I’ll bring period originals along for students to examine to help inform their working tolerances. The goal is to show how to work with pre-industrial efficiency. Sign-up for the workshop here.

 

Lie-Nielsen Open House – July 7th - 8th

Always a highlight of the year. Come hang out with like-minded hand tool fanatics. Hand tools, Maine, lobster and beer. No cover charge. What more could you ask for? More info here.

 

Pre-orders for Issue Three Open! – September 1st 

We are shifting the schedule of M&T #3 a bit earlier so that as we begin our twice-a-year schedule, it will be at convenient times of the year. Yes, you heard that right… starting with #3, M&T will be biannual. (Yes, biannual is the right word. You’re thinking of “biennial”.)

 

Issue Three Packing Party – Last Week of September or First Week of October

Come join us for the big packing party for Issue Three! We will be wrapping mags, filling ourselves with delicious food, and communing over craftsmanship. Read about the Issue Two party here. It was such a blast and went off so smooth that we’re doing it again!

 

Fall – The Big “Mystery” Project Yet to be Announced...

Mike and I will be consumed with this project through the fall. We will be talking much about it in the near future.

 

Categories: Hand Tools

2017 Schedule of Events

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 7:42am

 

Below are the events we have scheduled for 2017. If you’d like to take a workshop we’re teaching or chat with us in person, look below to see if you can make it out to any of these events. We hope to see you this year!

 

Center for Furniture Craftsmanship – March 10th Presentation: “Why I Cut the Cord” 

I’ve been invited to present this coming Friday to the Furniture Intensive students at CFC about how pre-industrial methods has informed my furniture making. Read about the school here.

 

Fine Woodworking Live 2017 – April 21st - 23rd – Southbridge, Mass.

Fine Woodworking’s live event. We’ll be there as a vendor. Looks like a great show with top-notch presenters. Visit the official website here.

 

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts – May 6th Workshop: “Introduction to Hand Tool Woodworking”

This is a class offered for local residents to introduce students to the fundamentals of hand tool woodworking. I count it an honor to give back to the community in this way. Read about it here.

 

Handworks 2017 – May 19th - 20th

Handworks needs no introduction. Mike will be there with the entire M&T booth. You can buy mags, DVDs, t-shirts, etc and chat about hand tool woodworking. Unfortunately, I am quite sure I won’t be able to make this one because my third baby will be born right around the event. Talk about bad planning! Visit the website here.

 

Lie-Nielsen Workshop - June 17th - 18th Workshop: “Cut the Cord: Build a Table with Hand Tools”

This is a hand tools meat-and-potatoes kind of class - an introduction to the hand-tool-only approach to building a table. I’ll bring period originals along for students to examine to help inform their working tolerances. The goal is to show how to work with pre-industrial efficiency. Sign-up for the workshop here.

 

Lie-Nielsen Open House – July 7th - 8th

Always a highlight of the year. Come hang out with like-minded hand tool fanatics. Hand tools, Maine, lobster and beer. No cover charge. What more could you ask for? More info here.

 

Pre-orders for Issue Three Open! – September 1st 

We are shifting the schedule of M&T #3 a bit earlier so that as we begin our twice-a-year schedule, it will be at convenient times of the year. Yes, you heard that right… starting with #3, M&T will be biannual. (Yes, biannual is the right word. You’re thinking of “biennial”.)

 

Issue Three Packing Party – Last Week of September or First Week of October

Come join us for the big packing party for Issue Three! We will be wrapping mags, filling ourselves with delicious food, and communing over craftsmanship. Read about the Issue Two party here. It was such a blast and went off so smooth that we’re doing it again!

 

Fall – The Big “Mystery” Project Yet to be Announced...

Mike and I will be consumed with this project through the fall. We will be talking much about it in the near future.

 

Categories: Hand Tools

A Trip to Liberty Tool Company

Sat, 03/04/2017 - 3:26pm

The thermometer read 1F when I started the car before dawn, and the wind had been rattling the house all night. These minor details didn’t matter one bit, however, as today was the annual Grand Re-Opening of the Liberty Tool Company in Liberty, Maine. Tool pilgrims from all over flock to this place for its reliably well-stocked supply of hand tools, from the common to the esoteric. And every year, after a long winter’s slumber and limited hours, the store re-opens with all-new inventory of picked and reasonably-priced antique goodies. Incredibly, neither Joshua nor I had ever ventured down for this event, but today would change that. Each of us roused our respective eldest boys out of bed (this is a rite-of-passage, after all) and we rendezvoused at a central location to make the drive together just as the sky was getting brighter.

We arrived over an hour before opening, and there were already cars and trucks lining both sides of the road. The system is very simple – there is a clipboard on the door. Arrive early. Write your name down. You get a number. At 8 o’clock, everyone enters in the order that they’ve signed up. However, we were there to document the event, so all we had to do was track down proprietor Skip Brack (who is featured in M&T Issue Two) to let us in. The power of “press credentials”, right?

We strolled the eerily quiet store for a few minutes, nearly overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of… well, just about everything. Hewing axes, cooper’s adzes, dividers, scythes, anvils, auger bits, swords (the boys practically begged to bring home a sword apiece), ceremonial spears (wait, maybe a sword AND a spear!) – you name it, and it could probably be found tucked back in some shelf or drawer. I had my eye on an old French pattern axe, but it wouldn’t have been fair game to grab something before the rightful first customers came through. Gotta play by the rules.

The boys and I moved back to a warm corner, near the big woodstove, where we’d set up a display of Mortise & Tenon Magazine Issues One and Two. Joshua had been busy taking video and photos of the gathering crowd outside. Suddenly, it was time! The doors opened, and in an orderly but very rapid manner the place was packed. Carhartts and wool flannel everywhere, beards and game faces. These folks were on a mission. I was surprised by just how quiet everyone was – the sound of shuffling boots and clinking tools and inaudible mutterings as an item was handled, evaluated, and either tucked into a bag or placed back for the next customer. Men and women began lugging armloads through the aisles. The excitement was thick, and smiles were big. We heard that some folks make the trip from states away to be there for this event – that doesn’t surprise me a bit.

We headed out after many in the initial crowd had made their purchases. It was still hard to move around in there, though! My French axe was gone, no doubt to a happy home, and the shelves were looking just a bit less overloaded. Despite the bitter cold, another Liberty Tool reopening came off as a success – and hopefully, many of those tools that found new owners will be receiving a good honing and tune-up this weekend!

~Mike Updegraff

 

Categories: Hand Tools

A Trip to Liberty Tool Company

Sat, 03/04/2017 - 3:26pm

The thermometer read 1F when I started the car before dawn, and the wind had been rattling the house all night. These minor details didn’t matter one bit, however, as today was the annual Grand Re-Opening of the Liberty Tool Company in Liberty, Maine. Tool pilgrims from all over flock to this place for its reliably well-stocked supply of hand tools, from the common to the esoteric. And every year, after a long winter’s slumber and limited hours, the store re-opens with all-new inventory of picked and reasonably-priced antique goodies. Incredibly, neither Joshua nor I had ever ventured down for this event, but today would change that. Each of us roused our respective eldest boys out of bed (this is a rite-of-passage, after all) and we rendezvoused at a central location to make the drive together just as the sky was getting brighter.

We arrived over an hour before opening, and there were already cars and trucks lining both sides of the road. The system is very simple – there is a clipboard on the door. Arrive early. Write your name down. You get a number. At 8 o’clock, everyone enters in the order that they’ve signed up. However, we were there to document the event, so all we had to do was track down proprietor Skip Brack (who is featured in M&T Issue Two) to let us in. The power of “press credentials”, right?

We strolled the eerily quiet store for a few minutes, nearly overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of… well, just about everything. Hewing axes, cooper’s adzes, dividers, scythes, anvils, auger bits, swords (the boys practically begged to bring home a sword apiece), ceremonial spears (wait, maybe a sword AND a spear!) – you name it, and it could probably be found tucked back in some shelf or drawer. I had my eye on an old French pattern axe, but it wouldn’t have been fair game to grab something before the rightful first customers came through. Gotta play by the rules.

The boys and I moved back to a warm corner, near the big woodstove, where we’d set up a display of Mortise & Tenon Magazine Issues One and Two. Joshua had been busy taking video and photos of the gathering crowd outside. Suddenly, it was time! The doors opened, and in an orderly but very rapid manner the place was packed. Carhartts and wool flannel everywhere, beards and game faces. These folks were on a mission. I was surprised by just how quiet everyone was – the sound of shuffling boots and clinking tools and inaudible mutterings as an item was handled, evaluated, and either tucked into a bag or placed back for the next customer. Men and women began lugging armloads through the aisles. The excitement was thick, and smiles were big. We heard that some folks make the trip from states away to be there for this event – that doesn’t surprise me a bit.

We headed out after many in the initial crowd had made their purchases. It was still hard to move around in there, though! My French axe was gone, no doubt to a happy home, and the shelves were looking just a bit less overloaded. Despite the bitter cold, another Liberty Tool reopening came off as a success – and hopefully, many of those tools that found new owners will be receiving a good honing and tune-up this weekend!

~Mike Updegraff

 

Categories: Hand Tools

Video: Building the Roman Workbench

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 7:02am
This video shows the build process for our Roman workbenches. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos.


Categories: Hand Tools

Video: Building the Roman Workbench

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 7:02am
This video shows the build process for our Roman workbenches. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos.


Categories: Hand Tools

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