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Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz

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Updated: 1 hour 31 min ago

It Ain’t Done Until the Antlers are On

Sun, 11/12/2017 - 4:32am

dugout_antlers_IMG_9693

Note: No deer were harmed in the making of this project. These antlers were shed by a buck and retrieved from the woods by a so-called “shed collector.”

Getting the antlers fastened to the chair was straightforward in the end. But I’ve spent many nights pondering the possibilities. Rejected ideas:

  • Bore a hole for the irregular antler and pack epoxy and maple shavings around the antler.
  • Use a staked furniture joint: Use a tapered tenon cutter to shape the antler. Ream a matching hole in the chair.
  • Build a mounting board – like a taxidermist would – that would be fastened to the chair.

In the end, I decided to use hanger bolts. One end is threaded like a machine screw – that goes into the antler side. The other end is a wood screw and goes into the chair.

antler_detail_IMG_9690

We also decided to cut a shallow counterbore in the chair to obscure the joint between the antler and the chair. This worked brilliantly.

Because you’ll never see a project such as this in a woodworking (or deerworking) magazine, here are a couple tips.

  • If you don’t own a tap for the machine screw, the hanger bolt is strong enough to form threads in the hole in the antler.
  • A dab of quick-set epoxy on the machine threads is a good idea.
  • Have a spotter (or two) help you drill the holes in the irregular chair and antler. It’s more difficult to do alone and make it look right.

After we installed the antlers, most of our customers that day asked to sit in the chair and have their picture taken with it. So either the project is a success, or I’ve created something so ugly that people want a photo to warn others not to do this.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

reading_IMG_9698


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

It’s not about the drawings

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 11:34am

250_Nov_2017_PWM_Cover

Writing for woodworking magazines is a strange experience in many ways. You never know what readers will make of your work — the artistry, thinking, writing, building, calculating, drawing, and editing that go into a project article. Will they love it? Hate it? Discover some hideously embarrassing error in the cutting list even after three eagle-eyed editors have gone through it with a fine-tooth comb? Odds are, many people won’t even venture beyond the title. But the one thing of which you can be certain is that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Sometimes I hear nothing after an article is published. Every so often I get a super enthusiastic message that makes my day, such as one I recently received from Larry Nottingham:

“I knew the sideboard on the cover of Popular Woodworking was yours even before I saw your name. All I can say is WOW. I recently purchased a bunch of quarter sawn white oak and, even though I’m just an amateur, I’m gonna give that one a try. Your work inspires me.”

The most common response is a request for more detailed plans. I write back, explaining that I have no more detailed plans and that the drawings in any article I write for Popular Woodworking or Fine Woodworking show far more detail than anything I use in my own work or have ever been given in the shops where I worked for others. The fact is, unless you’re working side by side with the person who wrote an article, you’re going to be interpreting and extrapolating from the instructions and plans, no matter how much detail an article contains. Add to this the reality that publishers today are working with fewer staff and lower budgets than before the Great Recession, and I think it becomes easier to understand that for authors and editors both, selecting what to include is a risky business virtually guaranteed to tick someone off. “I’m not subscribing to xyz for spoon feeding,” some will say, while others lament the lack of exactly that level of instruction.

Let me offer some insight based on my experience.

When doing small-scale custom work (as distinct from production work, whether in a one-person shop or a factory setting where every step of the process has to be just-so in order for the next parts to fit the ones that have already been made*) there’s typically some allowance for the craftsperson to interpret a drawing and build it in whichever way will best suit the job in question. A good example is the Voysey two heart chair in my book about English Arts & Crafts furniture for Popular Woodworking (forthcoming in June 2018). As I explain in the introduction to the chair build, real-life chairs made during Voysey’s lifetime based on his drawings diverge from those plans in multiple ways. Some of the variations were probably requested by customers when they commissioned their seats; others were undoubtedly decided on by the craftsmen who built them, in an effort to make the work affordable.

The drawings I use for my own work are meant to convey to clients how a piece will look and function, as well as provide the basic information I need to build it.

IMG_2474[1]

Drawing for a recent commission. This is the original drawing I showed the client, explaining that I might make changes to dimensions if the mock-up indicated that they were warranted for comfort’s sake. In the end, I made the seat a few inches deeper — night and day in terms of comfort — and changed a few other details, some of them scribbled on the drawing as I worked. I also omitted the back stretcher once I realized that the T-bridle joints at the front provided excellent racking resistance.

IMG_2468[1]

The completed bench

Even my bare-bones drawings are head and shoulders above those I often got from my employers in the past, such as this delight:

IMG_2473[1]

My employer’s drawing for a three-part dining table to be built in ash, circa 1986. The idea was that the table could be used as one large piece, a square and two half-circles, or a square and a circle. The legs and top(s) had to fit together just-so, in every configuration.

Of course, when you’re building something from an article in a magazine you don’t have the luxury of checking in with the person who designed it as you work your way through the structure. Having made a couple of pieces from articles in magazines over the years (a benchtop bench and some leaded glass panels), I can say I’ve found that even in simple cases such as these, I’ve wished there were more detail. Each time I was stumped, I stopped, thought through the logic of the process, and moved ahead when I thought I had it figured out. I have had to redo a few parts — a drag that might have been unnecessary, had the articles contained more detail. But I chalk such things up to learning, whether a new skill (such as making leaded glass panels) or how to use unfamiliar hardware (as in the benchtop bench). Some readers, such as my friend Bill Heidt, construct a piece on the screen before digging into material in the shop; this is another way to work through the ins and outs of a build beyond an article’s text and illustrations.

So while the basic information should be in the article, it may require clarification. Apparently one or two aspects of the recently published sideboard in Popular Woodworking have had some readers scratching their heads, for which I apologize. Thanks to Megan Fitzpatrick, you can find SketchUp plans with additional information here.–Nancy R. Hiller, author of Making Things Work

*In the shops where I’ve worked, every step of the build is adjusted for the parts that have been made. Flexibility is part of the m.o. You start with a few basic dimensions on a drawing, but the rest are based on direct measurement of the piece in progress.


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

‘Carving the Acanthus Leaf’ Available at our Storefront

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 4:59am

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Thanks to a stroke of good timing, we have two cases of Mary May’s book “Carving the Acanthus Leaf,” which will be for sale at our storefront this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As always, our Tennessee printing plant did a fine job with this book. And they delivered it two weeks ahead of schedule.

We’ve got lots going on at the storefront on Saturday. In addition to the arrival of “Carving the Acanthus” and “From Truths to Tools,” Brendan Gaffney will be showing off his newly constructed shaving horse and making spindles. I’ll be there trying to affix antlers to the dugout chair. And Megan Fitzpatrick will be demonstrating any hand skill you’d like to see – sharpening? Dovetailing? Hand-cut mouldings?

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com


Filed under: Carve the Acanthus with Mary May, Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Don’t Blow it on the Lid

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 11:21am
Lid-1

Miters and mayhem. The flat panel lid warped and shrank. The miters lost their hold. This lid is a mess.


This is an excerpt from “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” by Christopher Schwarz. 

There are several ways to make the lid. Some work great. Some are quite stupid. Let’s start with the stupid ways first. When I built my first tool chest, I copied the construction of the lid from an original. It was a single flat panel of wood trimmed on three of its edges with narrow stock that would interlock with the dust seal attached to the shell.

If I remember correctly, I think the lid worked as intended for about a week, and it has been bockety ever since. The first problem was with the lock strike, the brass plate mortised into the underside of the lid. Because the lid was a simple flat panel, the top shrank a bit, which moved the lock strike.

One day I tried to lock the chest, and the mechanism wouldn’t engage. In fact, it just pushed the lid up off the dust seal. So I filed the opening in the strike until the lock worked again. About six months later the top expanded and the lock wouldn’t work anymore. This time, filing wasn’t going to fix the problem – I would have filed away one wall off the strike. So I resigned myself to having a chest that would lock only during the dry season.

Then the top warped.

Because the top of the lid was the bark side of the tree, the warping made things worse. The front and back edges of the top curled up. And the movement was enough that the strike couldn’t be struck by the lock mechanism.

But my troubles didn’t end there. When I built the chest, I wasn’t a total doofus on the topic of wood movement. I knew the lid was going to move, so I selected a species that didn’t move a lot once it was dry. I used white pine. And when I applied the trim around the lid, I did everything I could to minimize the problem of cross-grain construction. The trim pieces on the ends of the lid were the problem. They had to be nailed onto the end grain.

This is a problem. Nails and screws don’t hold as tightly into end grain as they do into face grain. So I wanted to introduce some glue into the joint to help things along. of course, glue doesn’t want to stick to end grain. And when you glue long grain to end grain, the end grain will try to bust apart the joint as it expands and contracts with the seasons.

There are several solutions to this problem. Some involve a sliding dovetail. others involve screws in elongated slots. The simplest solution is to glue and nail the trim on at the front of the lid and use nails only at the back part of the lid. This was the technique that the original builder had used. The theory here is that the glue and nails will keep the trim secure and tight up at the miters, and the nails at the back of the lid will bend to allow the lid to move.

It’s an interesting theory and one that sometimes works. It sure didn’t work for me, however.

The trim is barely holding on to the lid. The miters are open and flopping around like a broken finger. And the lid’s joints look like crap. I want to remove the lid and rebuild it. I should remove it and rebuild it. But I really like the way the paint has aged on the lid, and the broken joints are a constant reminder about the wily ways of wood.

So when I set out to build a new chest, I looked for other historical examples that would be more durable. The vintage pine chest I bought had the trim glued and pinned to the underside of the lid. This had the advantage of removing the end grain from the equation. All the joints were long-grainto-long-grain. But this is still a bad way to build a lid. Instead of the trim coming loose, this lid is designed to split. And boy did the lid split. There is a 3/8″-wide canyon right up the middle of the lid, which invites dust inside. It’s such a problem that the best solution was to cover the split with tape to keep the dust out.

So don’t build your lid like that.

I took a look at other chests. Duncan Phyfe (1768-1854) was a smart guy, one of the most celebrated 19th-century cabinetmakers. And his tool chest, now at the New-York Historical Society, is filled with all manner of amazing tools. But the lid is curious. It’s a flat panel with breadboard ends. While the lid worked out for Duncan, it might not work out for you. Breadboard ends definitely can help things and improve the way a dust seal will attach to it. But it still won’t help things when you add lock hardware. It’s going to move forward and back as the panel expands and contracts.

Lid-2

Better lid. A frame-and-panel lid with a raised panel is about as robust as you can get without adding lots of weight.

Really, the best solution is to build the lid as a frame-and-panel assembly (or use a slab of Formica). This confines almost all of the wood movement to the panel that floats harmlessly in the middle of the rails and stiles. And if you choose quartersawn wood for the rails and stiles, they will barely move at all.

So you could build the lid in the same way you would build a raised panel door. I would recommend using through-tenons on the rails. But what about the panel? You want the panel to be thick and stout because it will take a beating. So the joint between the panel and the lid frame is critical. You don’t really want to thin down the edges of the panel as you would when making a door panel. Thin edges will weaken the panel.

The old-school solution here is to plow a groove in the edges of the panel so the panel will interlock with the rails and stiles. This will keep the joint between the panel and frame as stout as possible, and the panel will be raised above the frame of the lid.

There is no downside to this approach. There are no weak spots on the lid. There is no significant wood movement along the edges or ends of the lid. So the trim around it will stay put. It is as permanent as can be.

Meghan Bates


Filed under: The Anarchist's Tool Chest
Categories: Hand Tools

A New Batch of Soft Wax

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 6:43am

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My daughter Katy has just finished making up a new batch of 46 jars of soft wax, which are available in her etsy.com store. The tins are $12 each.

I am one of her biggest customers – I love using the wax on my chairs, tools and vise screws. It has a strong piney smell and, because of the amount of solvent she uses, it is easy to apply and requires no buffing to get a low lustre.

Katy has been taking a break from making the wax lately at my insistence. There have been some really nasty things thrown around on social media – mostly that I’m exploiting our customers by mentioning her wax business on this blog. I hate for her to get dragged into my mud.

But last week I decided not to care about the wankers.

So if you don’t like it, don’t click here. And I have something – it’s around here somewhere – that you can sharpen instead….

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

The Storefront is Open this Saturday

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 9:07am

truths_IMG_9605

The Lost Art Press storefront in Covington, Ky., will be open this Saturday (Nov. 11) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for visitors, customers and the curious.

We just received our copies of “From Truths to Tools” and you can come browser through this very interesting and fun book (and buy one if you like). Also, we’ll have blemished copies of other Lost Art Press titles to sell for 50 percent off (cash only). And, as always, our complete line of woodworking books (cash, check or credit welcome for those).

We have some blemished Crucible dividers for sale at a significant discount, as well. Plus Crucible holdfasts and design curves.

Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney will be running the store in the morning while I give a presentation to our local woodworking club. I’ll be at the store in the afternoon if you want to abuse me in particular.

Warning: If you are a professional carpenter you might want to keep your mouth shut about that. I’m in the middle of replacing the main beam in the Horse Garage and might just press you into service.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Our storefront is located at 837 Willard St., Covington, Ky., 41017. There are lots of good places to eat and drink around us. Try Saturday brunch at Otto’s or Hotel Covington.


Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

A Walk in the Woods in August

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 6:15pm

Meanwhile, back in Ohio…

I was walking in the woods one day, as I am wont to do, when I came across this fruit on the ground:

unusualMockernutFruit

I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve never seen a butternut tree around here, but this looks suspiciously like a butternut (Juglans cinerea). I looked up at the trees over the spot where I found the nut, but there were definitely no butternuts (or black walnuts, either), although there were several hickories.

A typical hickory fruit is more spherical, such as this shagbark hickory (Carya ovata):

shagbarkFruit

Mockernut (C. tomentosa) fruit are similar, but they’re distinguishable when you open them up:

hickoryKernels

The mockernut, on the left, has a large kernel surrounded by thin flesh, while the shagbark on the right has a small kernel and very thick flesh.

I opened up the mystery nut, and on the inside it looks very much like a mockernut, albeit aberrantly shaped:

unusualMockernutKernel

It’s definitely not a butternut, as the shell of a butternut is deeply grooved, much like this black walnut (J. nigra):

blackWalnutKernel

 

Here’s another hickory; I believe that it is a bitternut (C. cordiformis), but I can’t get near enough to the tree to pick one off and look at it closely:

bitternutHickory

There’s another kind of hickory around here that I didn’t mention back in the June installment, because I hadn’t come across an example. But now I have:

shellbarkBark

The shellbark hickory (C. laciniosa) has bark that’s peely like shagbark, but in smaller pieces. I probably would have passed right by this tree had I not noticed the fruit. The fruit of the shellbark is round and huge, almost the size of a tennis ball. Unfortunately, this one was standing in a swamp, and I was not willing to search for a fallen nut in the fetid water. (I will only go so far for you, dear reader.)

Other trees setting fruit in August are black cherries (Prunus serotina):

blackCherryFruit

And yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava):

buckeyeFruit

The fruit of Ohio buckeye (A. glabra) is more spherical, and sparsely covered with short spines.

Late summer is mushroom season in the Appalachian forests. There are mushrooms at other times of year, too, but the peak is in July and August. One of the most sought after is the golden chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius):

goldenChanterelle

This is one of the few wild mushrooms that I’m willing to pick and eat. There are a few inedible and even poisonous species that are vaguely similar, but a telltale identifying characteristic of the chanterelle is the presence of small ridges, in place of true gills, on the underside of the cap:

goldenChanterelleUnderside

This is a destroying angel (Amanita virosa):

destroyingAngel1

You can probably guess from the name that it’s one you shouldn’t eat. It and its close relatives are the species most often responsible for mushroom-related fatalities. Its toxicity is especially insidious because by the time you experience any symptoms, your liver and kidneys are pretty much gone.

The destroying angel is pure white, but other Amanita mushrooms are not. Like the other members of its genus, there is a distinct “veil” on the stem, and the base of the mushroom appears to emerge from an egg:

destroyingAngel2

Here’s another veiled mushroom:

amanitaOrLepiota

I wasn’t able to figure this one out; maybe Amanita or Lepiota. I don’t think I’ll eat it.

This one is a bolete; I believe that it is Gyroporus castaneus, the chestnut bolete, but I’m not 100% sure:

boletus

I didn’t get a good photo of the underside, but in place of gills, boletes are covered with tiny, close-packed pores.

Many Russula mushrooms, such as this short-stemmed russula (R. brevipes), won’t kill you but are not particularly good to eat:

russullaBrevipes

Interestingly, they can become infected by a parasitic fungus, Hypomyces lactifluorum, which causes them to turn bright red, whereupon they’re known as lobster mushrooms. Apparently, in this form they are much better tasting (I’ve never tried), with a seafood-like taste (appropriately enough). I’ve seen lobster mushrooms in these woods before, but couldn’t find any this year.

The stalked scarlet cup (Sarcoscypha occidentalis) is tiny, but is so brightly colored that it’s easy to pick out, growing on fallen twigs on the forest floor:

stalkedScarletCup

Not all mushrooms look like mushrooms. The jellied false coral (Tremellodendron pallidum) is closely associated with oak trees:

tremellodendronPallidus

We can’t have a false coral mushroom without also having a true coral mushroom, so here’s a crested coral (Clavulina cristata):

calvulinaCristata

I found these mushrooms growing on some hardwood mulch in my front yard:

hohenbueheliaMastrucata

It took quite a bit of research, but I think I’ve correctly identified them as Hohenbuehelia mastrucata, the wooly oyster mushroom.

I’ve avoided writing about grasses, mostly because there just aren’t that many that grow in the woods. They’re also usually pretty hard to tell apart. But one common grass that grows deep in the shade and is easy to identify is eastern bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix):

bottlebrushGrass

I found this flower growing in my yard:

ladiesTresses

It’s an orchid, spring lady’s tresses (Spiranthes vernalis). Despite the name, it often blooms in late summer. While researching it online, I discovered that there was no record for this species for Athens County in the USDA PLANTS database, so I submitted photos and other documentation, and now there is.

I took the above photo ten years ago, and I haven’t seen it blooming since. I don’t know if the plant is still around or not. It’s very inconspicuous when it’s not blooming.

After a couple of slow wildflower months, activity begins to pick up again in August. Because it’s still pretty dark in the woods, most woodland-associated wildflowers are found either in open spaces within the woods, or along the margins.

There are many, many species of goldenrod (Solidago), and they can be very tricky to tell apart. One of the earliest to bloom is the aptly-named early goldenrod (S. juncea):

earlyGoldenrod

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but this one is easy to identify by its narrow leaves without toothed margins, along with small offshoot leaves that grow out from the bases of the main leaves.

The widespread goldenrod that we see along roadsides and in open fields is tall goldenrod (S. altissima). It’s sometimes called Canada goldenrod, but that name is also used for S. canadensis. You’re probably aware that there are many plants that have been imported from elsewhere into North America, and that have turned out to be extremely invasive. It works both ways, as Canada goldenrod has wreaked havoc in Europe and Asia, even leading to the extinction of several species in China.

The common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) grows in grassy openings in the woods:

commonEveningPrimrose

The Carolina horsenettle (Solanum carolinense) is a member of the nightshade family, and shares the same five-petaled “beaked” flowers that all nightshades have:

horseNettle

Look closely, and you can see the thorns covering its stems and the undersides of its leaves. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the tomato-like fruits are the only part that might kill you.

I’ve mostly let nature take over the yard, and as a result, tall ironweed (Vernonia altissima) has started showing up:

tallIronweed

At first, the deer would munch off the leaves before the plants got very far along, but now there are enough of the plants that I get lots of flowers. And it really is tall; this particular plant reaches well above my head.

It’s a stretch to call butterfly milkweed (Aclepias tuberosa) a woodland wildflower, but it’s one of my favorites, so you get a photo anyway:

butterflyWeed

– Steve Schafer


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Collapsible Trestle Table

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 1:03pm

About two years ago, my wife was planning a family get together at our home. She asked me if I had anything to use as a table for extra seating. I mentioned we could get two sawhorses, a sheet of plywood and throw a table cloth on it. I am from rural North Carolina so this is a more than adequate type of table. Of course if you have any faith in Mr. Schwarz’s research, it has been an acceptable form of table for may other folks as well for centuries.

My wife would have none of it; a couple days later she came in with a blow-molded plastic table with metal legs from one of the big box stores. It was an abomination. The folding legs worked OK, it was not terribly heavy, but it was just wrong. It looked like very-near future landfill material. It made it through the family gathering but did get me to thinking about something that would serve the same purpose but made of wood.

IMG_1290

After after some thought, I came up with a trestle table that is assembled with wedges. The base is held together with four wedged tusk tenons and the top is attached to the base with four tapered dowels that work like removable drawbores. It can be assemble or broken down in a minute or so, with no tools other than a mallet or hammer and can be stored in a closet.

IMG_1160

IMG_1249

The base is made of yellow pine construction lumber with oak feet. The top is of white pine with breadboard ends. It’s strong, stable, not too heavy and can be set up quickly when needed. Or, it can be left assembled and used daily as this one is.

 

trestle-table-will-myers-500px

I filmed a video on making this table, “Building the Collapsible Trestle Table” that is available at Wood and Shop’s store (here) as a digital download or DVD, preview (here). The video was filmed and edited by Joshua Farnsworth (considering the substandard talent he had to work with on these projects, he works miracles with video) who I also filmed two previous projects, “Building the Portable Moravian Workbench” and “Building the Shaker Candle Stand”.

— Will Myers

 

 

 

 


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

The Secrets of the Back Iron

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 12:14pm
Fig-1

FIG. 1. DIAGRAMMATIC ILLUSTRATION OF HOW BACK IRON BREAKS SHAVINGS AND PREVENTS SPLITTING


This is an excerpt from “The Wordworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years: Volume I” published by Lost Art Press.

The back iron of the plane is of the utmost importance. It will often happen that, because it has not been given proper attention, the plane will not work properly, or possibly not work at all.

Fig-2

FIG. 2. SINGLE IRON WORKING ON PARALLEL GRAIN

The function of the back iron is to control the condition of the shaving that the plane makes. Not that one minds what happens to the shavings, but that, in being removed, they have their effect on the surface of the wood. The power of the arms expended in making shavings is shared between cleaving off the part of the wood from the solid mass and in destroying its stiffness as it passes up into the mouth of the plane. A shaving would not pass comfortably up into the mouth of the plane if it were not fractured on its outside at fairly regular intervals, and it is the function of the back iron to do the fracturing.

Fig-3

FIG. 3. HOW SINGLE IRON TEARS GRAIN WHEN LATTER SLOPES DOWNWARDS
If all grain were parallel with the surface a back iron would never be needed (see Fig. 2). It is its slope that causes it to tear out

The breaking off of the shaving not only facilitates the removal of the shaving from the plane, but it does something that is even more important; it destroys the strength of the grain of the shaving, so that the natural tendency for the part that is removed to split off cleanly is checked.

To explain this by analogy, if a slice of a length of deal were chopped with an axe, the fact of the axe acting as a wedge would largely cleave off the piece as at A, Fig. 1. If the part already separated were snapped across by the introduction of a sort of back iron, the liability to split would be greatly lessened, as at B, Fig. 1. If we apply this illustration to the cutting iron and back iron of a plane, we shall see that the work of the back iron is to reduce the tendency to split.

 

This fracturing takes up a larger percentage of the energy expended than will at first be appreciated. As a consequence, the back iron is set close to the cutting edge only when the mixed nature of the grain renders it specially liable to tear out. Thus, quite a lot depends upon so arranging the back iron that it will give the results required with the most economical expenditure of time and labour. Time spent in planing can be very wasteful.

In planing off stout shavings of deal, the back iron is set well back, say, a full 1∕16 in. If the back iron were 1∕4 in. up, the curl in the shaving would not be sufficient and the grain might split out; probably a bare 1∕8 in. will be the utmost at any time that it will pay to keep the back iron up. One-sixteenth in. will, in practice, be satisfactory for an average run of work, especially so far as the jack plane is concerned. This distance will, however, be too much for material that is inclined to tear out, especially as the finishing stages are approaching. In fact, for a piece of curly grained mahogany, the back iron should be about 1∕64 in. only from the cutting edge.

A further important point regarding the back iron will be that there must be no flaws in it, for in the course of time the impact of the shavings against it is liable to cause this defect. With planes that are finely set, a certain slight jaggedness will at length appear along the edge of the back iron. This should be corrected with a fine file.

The back iron must also fit close down to its cutting iron when it is screwed in place; if there is the slightest space anywhere shavings will clog so that the plane will work both slowly and badly. Another point to remember is that the back iron should be a trifle round, so that the distance back from the cutting edge is parallel (for the edges of all cutting irons must also be slightly round).

Meghan Bates


Filed under: Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker
Categories: Hand Tools

3 Campaign Pieces for Sale

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 10:53am

I’ve recently completed a handful of campaign pieces and have some extras I can sell. All three pieces were built as part of articles I wrote for Popular Woodworking Magazine, and so I am selling them at a discount. I don’t want these sitting around.

As always, all pieces are made and finished entirely by me. No subcontractors. Even the leatherwork. All prices include shipping in the United States. International customers are welcome, but shipping will be quite expensive.

All pieces are first-come. If you want one, send me a message through my personal site. Ask all the questions you like. But the first person to say “I want it,” gets it. I take PayPal, checks and mutant chickens as payment.

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Walnut Campaign Stool, SOLD
This is about as nice a campaign stool as I’ve made. The legs are turned from air-dried Tennessee walnut. The black leather is English-made bridle leather. The tri-bolt is from Lee Valley. This stool includes a black leather carrying strap, which cinches the legs when the stool is folded up. Approximately 17” high. Shellac finish.

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Maple Campaign Stool, PENDING
This campaign stool was made in the flavor of my pieces from “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” It features hard maple legs that are tapered octagons. The black leather is English-made bridle leather. The tri-bolt is raw steel made from off-the-rack components. Approximately 17” high. Shellac finish.

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Curly Oak Bookstand, PENDING
This clever campaign bookstand fold flat and telescopes open. It features solid brass hand-filed hinges and locks. The leather is brown latigo from Pennsylvania. This is based on an original 19th century piece from Mascart & Cie in England. The piece folds from about 14” wide to more than 20”. Height (unfolded) is 14”. Finish is shellac.

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You can complain about my prices (too high/too low), using this link.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Campaign Furniture, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

‘Carving the Acanthus’ Will Ship Early

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 5:41am

CTA_mockup_1000We just received word from our printer that “Carving the Acanthus Leaf” by Mary May shipped to our warehouse yesterday, two weeks ahead of schedule.

That means our warehouse will receive the books next week and we should be able to start shipping out pre-publication orders at the end of next week or so. As a result, the special pre-publication offer will end on Nov. 13. So if you want a free pdf of the book in addition to the hardcover copy, order before then. After Nov. 13, the pdf will cost extra.

Double Book-release Party
We are holding a special book-release party for “Carving the Acanthus” and “From Truths to Tools” on Dec. 9 at the Lost Art Press storefront in Covington, Ky. Mary May and George Walker will be there to sign books, give presentations on their work and answer your questions. We’ll post details on this free and fun event in the next couple weeks. So save the date.

Next up for Lost Art Press
We have two books that are now being designed: Richard Jones’s opus on wood technology (still wrestling with the title on that one) and Joshua Klein’s book on Jonathan Fisher, “With Hands Employed Aright.” We hope to have both of these books sent to the printer by the end of the year.

A little farther down the pipeline: Jögge Sundqvist’s “Sloyd in Wood” and my greatly expanded edition of “Roman Workbenches.” Both are almost ready for the designer. It looks like 2018 is going to be busy.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Carve the Acanthus with Mary May, From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Divide This!

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 4:03am

galileogalilei

…says the Italian renaissance astronomer Galileo Galilei to a young student as he demonstrates a pair of proportional dividers. So how do these ingenious scaling devices work? The answer is embedded in the geometry of the sectioning of a circle. Here’s an excerpt from “From Truths to Tools” (shipping now) that presents an intuitive understanding:

Dividers 1

Dividers 2

Dividers 3

 


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

The Horse Garage Chronicles

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 3:50pm

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With a bruised right rib and something seriously wrong with my elbow today, I thought about titling this blog entry: “Burn Horse Garage, You Sputum of Satan – Ptttttth, I Hate You – Love Chris.” Instead I decided to focus on the ridiculous aspect of this project: What I will do to create my workshop.

During the last 12 months I have failed to install the new screen door for the front of our house. It’s an easy job – probably only half a day. But apparently I’d rather spend weeks mired in rebuilding concrete block walls, heaving old mattresses to their doom and ripping out 40 square yards of disgusting detritus all for a 25’ x 30’ bunker to hold a few machines and a wood pile.

For the last three years I have neglected to make and install 5’ of moulding on the stairway of our home. It’s an insanely easy bit of work. I could do it with moulding planes or a router in an hour or two. Lucy would be so happy. But no, I’d rather rip out weird tile and ceiling boards for four days straight. (Asbestos? I hope not.) All for a dark cave that is as inspiring as a Communist debriefing room.

Our house’s lamppost and doorbell haven’t worked since the Clinton Administration. The risers of our stairs need a quick coat of paint. My office walls need to be painted after a plaster repair five years ago.

I’m a horrible person. And apparently I am also a sociopath because I don’t care. Today we spent hours restoring the jambs of the Horse Garage – resetting them to their original place in 1906. We filled all the nail holes with an all-weather putty. We sanded. Scraped. Primed and painted.

Honestly, this blog entry could be entered into evidence in a divorce proceeding.

And that’s fine. I deserve it.

As long as I get to keep the shop.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Last Chance for ‘Sharpen This’ Sticker

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 1:14pm

My daughter Maddy reports she has fewer than 50 sets of stickers left, a set that includes the “Sharpen This” sticker that is showing up on the boxes for sharpening stones everywhere. (Wish I had thought of that.)

If you want a set of these high-quality stickers, here are the details. You can order a set of three from her etsy store here. A set is $6 delivered ($10 for international orders).

Or, for customers in the United States, you can send a $5 bill and a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to by daughter Maddy at:

Stick it to the Man
P.O. Box 3284
Columbus, OH 43210

As always, this is not a money-making venture for me or Lost Art Press. All profits help Maddy through college. (Only one more college payment due!)

After this set is exhausted, we’ll be printing three new stickers. I’m working on the new designs now.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

In Stock: Limited Edition LAP Hats

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 7:48am

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You can now purchase our limited edition “marriage mark” hats in the online store. The hats are $27, and that price includes shipping in the United States (sorry these hats are not available to international customers).

You can purchase your hat via this link. You might want to hurry as there are only 100 available.

These are hats were embroidered and stamped by Texas Heritage Woodworks, so the work is crisp and perfect. These hats are made in China by Adams. But they are the best hat we could find before getting into the $100 baseball cap territory.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Additional Tip Shapes for Dividers

Sun, 10/29/2017 - 4:56pm

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We’ve just posted a new video at Crucible Tool’s blog on how to create two additional (and useful) tip shapes for your dividers. One tip is designed specifically for scribing arcs. The other is for cutting inlay or recesses.

While we show these tips on our Improved Pattern Dividers, they can be created on any pair of dividers.

Also in the short video, Raney demonstrates a down-and-dirty way to harden and temper the tips with a torch.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

The Acanthus is Coming

Sun, 10/29/2017 - 9:19am

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Our printing plant is in the final stages of work on “Carving the Acanthus Leaf” by Mary May. And, as always, our books are a creative struggle to the end.

This week we’ve been working on the “diestamp,” the debossed image on the inside of the dust jacket. We take great pains with our diestamps because they will live on longer than our dustjackets. (If you want to see my favorite diestamp, check out the one for “Calvin Cobb – Radio Woodworker!” and see if you can figure out the Easter egg.)

Diestamps are old technology. And though many printing plants can produce amazing covers with holograms, laser cutouts and unusual leather finishes, getting a diestamp with fine detail is a struggle. Almost every time I send our diestamp to the nice people at our prepress service, I am sure they smack their collective foreheads.

Their response is usually: I don’t think we can hold that level of detail without the image blurring.

To their credit, they are willing to try different approaches. Lately, we’ve been using a stamp made from magnesium and some different foils to see if we can achieve the fine lines shown in the samples above. In this case, we found the correct combination of a magnesium die and a cream foil that gave us the effect we’re looking for.

With the diestamp complete, our job is over. It’s up to the printing plant to bring all the different parts – the book block, boards, endsheets, cover cloth and dustjacket – together to complete the book. We haven’t been told when the book will ship, but history suggests it will be in within the next three weeks.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Carve the Acanthus with Mary May, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Campaign Chests

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 11:14am


This is an excerpt from “Campaign Furniture” by Christopher Schwarz.

Brass-bound campaign chests that can be split into two parts are likely the most iconic pieces of the style – like the Morris chair of the Arts & Crafts movement. The archetypal British-made chest is mahogany with four rows of drawers, brass corner guards and flush brass pulls. Most chests would fit nicely into a box that is 40″ H x 40″ W x 22″ D.

However, there are lots of variants of campaign chests and details about their construction that you should consider as a maker when you plan to build your own. The following details apply to British-made chests. Campaign chests made in China or India are outside the scope of this book.

As far as dating the chests, a good rule of thumb is that earlier chests had fewer brass corner guards and used pulls that are “skeletonized.” That is, the early pulls look more like the classic swan’s neck type. In addition to the skeletonized pulls, there are also some early pulls that have pointed ends and other shapes. Early chests are also more likely to have moulding than a later chest, though the ornament is usually is more subdued than that on a high-style chest for domestic use.

Because early chests were more likely made as one-off pieces (and not in a manufactory), you are apt to see more variation in their design and construction. So you can encounter (or use) almost any joinery variant of the dovetail family.

Later chests in the mid-19th century became more standardized. More brass was added. The pulls became rectangular and fairly uniform among the manufacturers. From a builder’s perspective, these later chests are well built and are worth studying and reproducing.

Here are some other construction details of the chests, both early and late.

 

Campaign-Furniture3

Fig. 1.21 Paneled back. The frame of this back stiffens the carcases. The thin interior panels reduce the weight. These backs are more work to construct than a simple boarded back.


Backs of Campaign Chests
The backs of campaign chests can run the full gamut of techniques. I’ve seen frame-and-panel backs all the way down to backs that were simply nailed into a rabbet in the rear of the carcase.

A frame-and-panel back is by far the lightest in weight (because of the thin panels) and adds the most rigidity to the carcase, which is a frameless cabinet that benefits from the rigidity. You’ll also see backs that were paneled (usually via tongue-and-groove) and simple full panels that are inset into a rabbet or a groove. These options are preferred to a simple nailed- or screwed-on back.

Campaign-Furniture4

Fig. 1.22 Boarded back. This common form of back has the panels screwed into rabbets in the carcases. It is not as robust as a typical frame-and-panel assembly, but it is quick to execute. The grain typically runs horizontal on the backboards.

 

Corner Joinery
When it comes to the joinery, most of these chests were dovetailed at the corners. Except for the very top board of the cases (which were joined with full-blind dovetails), the remaining tops and bottoms were typically joined to the ends with half-blind (also called lap) dovetails.

On all the examples I’ve examined so far, the tail boards have been on the tops and bottoms, and the pin boards are on the ends of the carcases. This violates the typical practice of putting the tails on the end boards, which makes the joints stronger for lifting.

My guess is that this is for simplicity’s sake. With the tails on the tops and bottoms, these joints are laid out and executed exactly like cutting the joints for a drawer. If you put the tails on the end boards, removing the waste in the blind tails would be a little more difficult. But most of all, it would be a less-common way of cutting the joint.

The tops of campaign chests were typically joined to the ends with rabbeted full-blind dovetails. Details of this joint are covered in the chapter on building campaign chests. After pulling the drawers out of a number of these chests and poking around with a flashlight, I’ve found that for this joint, it was typical to put the tails on the end boards and the pins on the top. (You can easily discern this in a glued-up joint by paying attention to the overcuts from the dovetail saw and if they are angled or vertical.)

Sometimes the corners of the carcases will be joined with through-dovetails, though I haven’t seen many of these in the wild or in auction catalogs. There are also a few chests where all the joints are half-blind dovetails and you can see the tails on the top.

Campaign-Furniture5

Fig. 1.26 Inside a chest. You can see the web frame and dust panel inside this vintage campaign chest. Also, note the locations of the drawer stops, which keep the drawer front flush to the frame of the carcase.


Interior Joinery
Because these chests have to be strong, the interiors are usually mortise-and-tenon web frames with dust panels – again, first-class joinery. I’ve seen a few chests where the interior dividers are solid slab panels. These are simpler to build, but the slabs add weight.

The web frames are usually attached to the end boards with dados or, in some cases, sliding dovetails. You can tell which joint the maker used by removing the brass corner guards covering them.

As far as attaching the top case to the bottom case, it is typically done with two to four dowels that stick up on one of the cases and slide into matching holes in the other case. There are other methods of registering the top case on the bottom, including brass hardware that is incorporated into the corner guards, but I haven’t seen enough of these to know which other methods are typical and which are not.

Meghan Bates


Filed under: Campaign Furniture
Categories: Hand Tools

Solving Spans with Sticks, Strings, Sightlines & Stones

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 4:38am

Capture1

In this excerpt from our book, “From Truths to Tools,” we show how the carpenter/geometers of antiquity used the simplest of tools – those mentioned with almost annoying alliteration in the title – to solve for an unknown distance.   

Note that the solution does not necessarily require a number as it physically reveals the length of rope or timber needed to reach the span point. Here’s the excerpt:

Capture2

Capture3

Capture4

 


Filed under: From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Backwards Hinge?

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 6:47pm

A few weeks ago I ran across an old tool chest at an antique store and it managed to follow me home. It is not particularly unique in its construction; I was mostly taken by the old red paint job on the inside.

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When I got home with my find, I took the tills out and had a close look at the inside to see what kind of tool marks there were. Also, looking for the almost-always nonexistent signature or possible date. It is not signed anywhere other than red paint fingerprints on the undersides of the tills.

One thing I did notice when I was looking it over in the store is that the lid had an extra hinge on the outside of the chest. I assumed it was a repair, that maybe the center hinge on the inside had pulled loose at some point and it would have been easier to add another hinge on the outside.

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On closer inspection the outside hinge was the same size and type as the inside three. It looked to be original. The outside hinge also has two carefully made spacers so the barrel of the outside hinge and the inside hinges align. After thinking about it and wondering why the maker did not just space the four hinges on the inside I happened to open the lid up while standing behind the chest. Ah ha! The outside hinge is the stop for the lid.

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Most box hinges the leaves of the hinge will close completely on one another in one direction and won’t in the other direction. When I realized how it worked I felt like a total dumb-ass (a regular occurrence) for not figuring it out sooner.

– Will Myers

 


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

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