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An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place! These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...
I had planned on doing that at one point, until I was fortunate and lucky enough for this to happen.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in the small village of Mvezo, on the Mbashe River, district of Umtata in Transkei, South Africa. His Father named him Rolihlahla, which means “pulling the branch of the tree”, or more colloquially “troublemaker.”
(Photo from the Nelson Mandela Foundation.)
Wilbur, do you use saws that are disposable or only the expensive ones that can be resharpened? I love my cheap saw but can't bring myself to spend $250 for a saw I might or might not be able to resharpen. Thanks. Tim
Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.
I use both. There is an advantage to using the more expensive Japanese saws in that those saws have plates that taper down as you move from the handle to the end of the saw, and as you move away from the tooth line towards the center if the saw is a ryoba. Vintage western saws were often made with a similarly tapered plate as well.
This taper gives more clearance for the saw as it advances in the kerf, and results in the saw being slightly smoother to use. It’s a hard thing to describe if you’ve never had the chance to use a saw with a tapered plate, Japanese or western, but the best I can compare it to is the difference between using a rehabbed and well-tuned Stanley #4 that you found at a flea market and using a Veritas or Lie-Nielsen plane.
$250 for a Japanese saw is a lot of money. But consider this: if you get a ryoba for that price, which is easily achievable, you are getting two saws for the price of one. And at $125 per saw, that’s a bargain considering the amount of handwork that goes into these saws.
Having said that, you can do a lot of really good work with the replaceable blade Japanese saws as well. I can appreciate the difference between using a high quality handmade Japanese saw and the machine-made replaceable blade Japanese saws. But I’d be hard pressed to say that there is a project that I couldn’t make if I only had the machine-made saws.
Hi, just recently user 'mafe' on lumberjocks created the dai for a japanese jointer plane from several pieces (like a Krenov style plane). This seems a lot easier for an amateur to do than from a single piece of oak. Do you see any cons to this?
For reference, here’s the writeup on Lumberjocks by mafe on making a Japanese plane by gluing up the body.
As a caveat, I haven’t tried to make a Japanese plane myself as of yet. The traditional way is to chop out the throat and the mouth of the plane from a solid block of wood. There are a few issues that I see with laminating the body.
First, if there is going to be a point where a Japanese plane fails over time, it’s usually by developing a split in the body by the mouth of the plane, as can be seen in the picture below. This is due to the body shrinking over time and running into the sides of the plane blade. A Japanese plane blade is wedge-shaped across its width, which may exacerbate this splitting issue.
Laminating a Japanese plane body together puts a glue line right where this potential crack can form. And although joint stress tests usually show that a glue line is stronger than the wood around it, if for some reason the glue line is less than ideal, this could lead to a greater chance of failure.
Having said that, I’ve talked with Scott Meek and Rhett Fulkerson, who both make excellent wooden planes using a laminated body construction, and neither one of them have had issues with this sort of failure with their planes. It should be noted that they both use western plane blades, which have parallel sides, and that the gap between their blades and the sides of the throat seems to be wider than what is typically seen in a Japanese plane, which gives more room for potential shrinkage.
Second, like all wooden planes, this type of Japanese plane will move over time with humidity changes. It’s not clear what a glue line running the length of the plane will do to the usual movement of water through the body of the plane. Larry Williams and Don McConnell have similar reservations about laminated plane construction and moisture movement.
Finally, aligning the various parts for the glue up seems to be enough trouble that I’m not sure how much benefit is gained by going through this process. If you wanted to make a smoothing plane by this process, you want to have the mouth as tight as possible. There seem to be enough pieces going together at the glue up stage that precisely placing the mouth seems problematic. I suppose you could glue the body together so that the mouth was deliberately too tight, and tweak it later, but then you might as well cut a mouth the traditional way.
As I mentioned before, I haven’t made a Japanese plane yet, so all of this is conjecture. But for grins, I took a piece of 8/4 oak and a 15mm chisel, and tried to see how much time it would take to chop out enough wood to make the throat of a Japanese plane. It was a lot less time than I thought it would be. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not that much time to be saved by going the lamination route.
"The history of mankind is in woodworking; all cultures have a story of how wood has been used both..."
- Nicholas Phillips, in an interview with the Silver Spring Patch.
Here’s a terrific story for the holiday, from Matt Schiavenza:
It was Thanksgiving, damn it. I needed to have a proper Thanksgiving dinner.
There was only one problem. In Lianyungang, as in most small Chinese cities, there’s no turkey. Or cranberry sauce. Or stuffing, yams, pumpkin pie, or anything else. In fact, in the entire city of 700,000 people, there was exactly one restaurant whose food even resembled, at a distance, Thanksgiving fare.
Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Happy Thanksgiving from giant Cypress.
(Originally written Apr. 4, 2010)
Right now the top is completed, and I have the base glued up and attached to the top. One of the last things I needed to do before flipping my workbench over is to make the groove to receive the upper tenon on the sliding deadman. Originally I thought about this in terms of being a deep groove, as it is 5/8” wide and needs to be 1-1/2” deep. So I thought about using some sort of plow plane, except that none of the planes that I have that would be suitable for this task will make a groove that deep. Then I started thinking of this less as a groove, and more like a really long mortise.
I used my Japanese plow plane to establish the sides of the groove. The groove is 5/8” wide, and the plane cuts a groove 1/4” wide, so I did one side and then the other. You can see a video of the plane in action here.
After the sides were established, the groove was about 1/4” deep. It needs to be 1-1/2” deep when its done. To do the rest, I tried a few approaches, but the most efficient seemed to be to use a 1/4” mortise chisel to continue the grooves that the plane left. I chopped down at the far end of the groove so that it was at final width and depth, and then started working back along the tracks left by the Japanese plow plane, first one side, and then the other. There was one section of the groove where I tried drilling out the waste with a 1/2” brad point bit and cleaning up the sides, but this seemed to be easier overall, and not much slower.
Here’s an in-progress shot of the groove.
This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s actually not as bad as it may seem. The key, I think, is that by establishing the end of the groove, I gave the chips someplace to go as I chopped, which makes mortising go much faster. As a result, I can work back going about 1/4” at a time, and it takes me about 5-10 seconds of chopping to drive the mortise chisel down to the depth that I want. This goes by much more quickly than it sounds.
Of course, a router would be faster, but what’s the fun in using that? In the end, it will be way cooler to say that I made this groove by hand. Stupider, maybe, but still cooler.
Plus, I don’t have a router. Not the electric kind, anyway.
After finishing the chopping. I used a router plane to finish leveling out the bottom of the groove, checked the groove with a straightedge and square, and pared the sides of the groove to make sure that they are the correct width and square.
Here’s the final result, along with the tools that I used during this process.
Between this and making the 1” wide mortise and tenon joints for the stretchers and leg-to-benchtop joints, I’ve done a lot of mortise making. This is what I learned while doing all this chopping:
- Again, I think the key to making the mortise chopping easy is to first give the waste somewhere to go. Either work on one end and make it full width and depth, or simply drill out a hole at the end of the mortise to give you clearance. It’s surprising how much faster the chopping goes once you’ve done that.
- When chopping, many light hammer blows is easier, and not really that much slower, than a few big hammer blows.
- It seems that the conventional wisdom is that chopping the mortise takes a lot of time. Actually, the final paring and checking the sides of the mortise for square probably takes up just as much time.
- Whenever I was having trouble with making the mortise, without a doubt the problem was either a tool that could be sharper, or I thought something is square when it really was not.
- It’s unbelievable how useful a big wide 2” chisel is. I’ve put a 2” wide paring chisel on my shopping list.
Nice Odate-style Japanese toolbox by chiisai-fukurou, who makes this clever observation:
The advantage is that I can use the lid like a small workbench which is quite handy from time to time
I did not think of that, even though I’ve used my toolbox as a work surface before. Just click through to see the photos.
Then, there’s this:
I want to make a second smaller toolbox from Kiri/Paulownia soon to accommodate my saws and some small stuff because this toolbox is too heavy to take my tools to friends and because I have too many tools
Seriously, who ever has too many tools?
Zheng Chunhui, a famous wood carver, spent four years creating the artwork which is over 40ft long and made from a single tree trunk.
The detail in this piece is staggering. Click through for more pictures. It will be worth the time.
My younger boy only wants to sit in the best chairs, at the best tables.
(At the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
Interesting list from Kelly Clay, in Forbes. Plus, there’s this bonus:
And for those looking to potentially avoid working with the least number of psychopaths, here’s the list of occupations with the lowest rates of psychopathy:
Just check out the list. I have a feeling most readers of this blog will be happy with #4 and #8.
(Thanks to my sister for the link.)
This is all kinds of awesome, and looks like a great way to get kids (not just girls, although that is the focus of Goldieblox, the company behind this ad) into building things.
Girls to build the spaceship,
Girls to code the new app,
Girls to grow up knowing
they can engineer that.
Build stuff. Don’t worry so much about the method. There are many ways to accomplish the same task, and what works for one person may not work for another. That doesn’t mean that one is right and one is wrong, as long as the task is accomplished. And the best way to figure out what works for you is to build something, and see how it goes.
I certainly have spent a lot of time watching videos, taking classes, and surfing the internet learning about woodworking, but making projects probably has taught me more than any of the above.
hi Wilbur am trying to contact Suehiro abrasives company in Japan, producers of Cerax waterstones, can you please help me with this, all the best, Mishael
(Thanks to Ben Lowery.)
— Captain Pants (@blowery)
On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall over the Central Philippines. It was one of the strongest storms ever recorded, and may be more powerful than any Atlantic hurricane, including Sandy and Katrina. Thousands are dead from the typhoon, and hundreds of thousands more are displaced.
Please help those desperate for clean water and food by donating to the UN World Food Programme. I already did. Thanks for your help.
- USA: Text AID to 27722 to donate $10
- UK: Text AID to 70303 to donate £3
- Canada: Text RELIEF to 45678 to donate $5
- Donate online
In a previous post, I described a Japanese round plane that I had picked up, and how Japanese hollow and round planes differ from their western equivalents. To recap, the main differences lie in that the blade of Japanese hollow and rounds do not go all the way to the side of the sole of the plane, which makes them limited in forming the types of moldings that are often seen in western furniture styles. Then again, that sort of detail is not found in Asian furniture styles.
Recently, on the Iida Tool website, a listing for a different type of Japanese hollow and round plane was posted. These planes are based on the Japanese equivalent of a shoulder plane (a shakuri-kanna), but with blades and soles that are profiled to provide the same sort of shape that is seen in western hollow and round planes. I can’t find a description of this type of plane in Toshio Odate’s book.
Like western hollow and round planes, the blades do come all the way to the side of the plane.
Also like western hollow and rounds, the shaving is ejected to the side. The shape of the roundish cutout above the blade directs the shaving to the left relative to the direction of travel. In the typical Japanese hollow or round plane, the shaving comes up through the body of the plane and out the top, much like a bench plane. Unlike western hollow and round planes, the blade is held in place by a steel wedge that has a cap iron formed at the end of it. The cap iron would be placed much closer to the edge in use. And in the typical construction of Japanese plane blades, you can see the lamination of the hard and soft layers of the blade in the picture above, and the hollow that is shaped on the back side of the blade in the picture below. The cap iron also is laminated, and although there isn’t a picture of the back of the cap iron, I would bet that it has a hollow as well.
(All photos from Iida Tool.)
This has become a bit of a tradition here at giant Cypress.
One of the best Veteran’s Day songs, ever, even if it was written for Australia’s version of today.
God bless our vets, all of them.
I love your blog & all the interests (even not woodworking-related!) you post on it. I've always wondered, however, why you decided to build a FRENCH woodworking bench when you use primarily JAPANESE tools. What prompted this instead of the more...
Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.
When I was looking for ideas for my workbench, I initially read Scott Landis’ The Workbench Book, and that’s where I first encountered the Roubo bench. It appealed to me, but my situation was such that I was still a ways away from being able to set up a workshop, much less building a workbench.
During the intervening time, Christopher Schwarz came out with his series of workbench articles and his book, Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use. In that book, I was reacquainted with the Roubo bench, as well as the Nicholson bench and the German bench.
I decided to make a Roubo bench for two reasons, one good, one stupid. The good reason was that I thought that the thick top was the most like a Japanese planing beam, and so that the Roubo was the western workbench style that was most appropriate for Japanese tools. The stupid reason was that this was the only workbench without an end vise, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be using an end vise. The reason this is a stupid reason was because I could have easily left the end vise off of the other two benches, but I was too dumb to figure that out at the time.
The advantage that the Japanese beam-on-trestles workbench has is portability. It’s easy to carry two oversized sawhorses and a planing beam to a worksite. Not so with a Roubo. But overall, I do think the Roubo gives me more work holding options, such as working the edge of a wide panel. It’s not impossible to do so on a Japanese beam-on-trestles workbench, but it would be more difficult.
I should mention that my first temporary workbench was a beam-on-trestles set up. It worked surprisingly well.
The other advantage of a Roubo is that despite the size of the top and legs, it’s really a very straightforward workbench to build. When I built my workbench, it was the second major woodworking project that I made, and overall I had very little difficulty with it.
If I had to start over again, I’d build another Roubo in a heartbeat. The only thing I would change about my workbench is that I would make it longer, but that would mean I’d have to get a new workshop, as my workbench is already as long as I could possibly make it.