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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...

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Roubo 2 as Baseball

The Barn on White Run - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 3:53pm

cIMG_5631

Now that Roubo 2 is winging its way to the desktops of the LAP magicians I wanted to take a minute to reprise our work thus far.  That 5-inch thick stack of folders next to my laptop is the version Chris Schwarz will be working his way through in the coming days.  Yes, it really is that big.

I hope to have a bound version of the submitted draft at the local chapter meetings of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers the next two Saturdays; the Virginia Chapter is meeting at the Leesburg, Virginia, the following Saturday is the Chesapeake Chapter at the Woodworker’s Club in Rockville, Maryland.

Even before Roubo on Marquetry was in the production pipeline in early 2013, we were hard at work on Roubo on Furniture Making.  By May of 2011 we began assembling translated sections, with editing and rewriting as time allowed.  Now we find ourselves on the cusp of the editorial phase, and for an abbreviated peek behind the curtain, here are the innings of labor for a project like this.

1st Inning – Michele creates a transliteration from the original text.

2nd Inning – Don chops up all the Plates into individual figures and plugs them into the transliteration; Don engages in in-depth review, editing, and rewriting of the transliteration to make it comprehensible to a contemporary world

3rd Inning – Philippe and Michele review Don’s edits and returns the sections to Don with copious edit tracking

4th Inning – Don reviews the edits and incorporates them into the manuscript, then forwards it on to external readers

5th Inning – Don and Michele sit together at the dining table and Don reads sections aloud while Michele follows along in the original French.  These sessions, usually four hours because that is all the longer I can read out loud, have been astonishingly helpful in catching typesetting errors, syntax, word choice, and overall literary flow.

6th Inning – Don revises the manuscript sections based on the notes from our read-out-loud sessions combined with any comments from the outside readers, and sends them along to Lost Art Press

7th Inning -  Lost Art Press edits the thing; Don reviews the edits

8th Inning  – Wesley designs the books, Don reviews the galley proofs

9th Inning – the book gets manufatured and distributed

And that is where we are right now only thirty-six short months since beginning in earnest, in the bottom of the sixth.

Go ahead, write a book.  I dare you.

 

Vise hardware outside the USA - another new dealer and future plans

Benchcrafted - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 2:40pm

We are happy to announce that we now have a UK dealer for our vise hardware.  For many of you who send us so many emails asking for shipping quotes from overseas, this will come as welcome news.  

Please head over to the CHT website and take a look.

http://www.classichandtools.com/acatalog/BenchCrafted-Hardware-new.html


Our next market is going to be down under.  We're shooting for sometime in the fall.  
Categories: Hand Tools

Misconceptions About Signatures

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 1:38pm

bookplates_IMG_9079

During the last four months I’ve had some odd encounters with customers at shows, classes and the like.

Customer (holding a book): “I understand that you aren’t signing books anymore. But would you mind signing this one book for me?”

Me: “Huh? What? I’ll sign anything. Got a baby?”

I am happy to sign anything and with anyone’s name (I do a passable “Roy Underhill” and a crappy “Norm Abram”) on your books, DVDs, T-shirts and bare flesh when you see me. I’ve signed a man’s chest (and I have bad dreams still), and I’ve signed a dozen books in blood in Australia.

What I cannot do is personally sign every book we sell through the Lost Art Press web site. All of our inventory is two hours away, and it changes so rapidly that I would spend a significant amount of time driving, unpacking books and packing them again.

That is why I now sign books via a letterpress bookplate printed by Steamwhistle Press in Cincinnati, Ohio. These are printed on a treadle machine, one-by-one, on quality adhesive-backed paper. I have signed each one individually with an ink pen (non-treadle-powered).

These are not cheap. In fact, they cut into our profit significantly. But that’s OK because we like them.

So next time you see me, lift up your shirt and hand me a Sharpie.

Or, on second thought…. lift up your girlfriend’s shirt and…. Oh nevermind. I’m in so much trouble as it is.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Personal Favorites, Products We Sell
Categories: Hand Tools

Allergic To Work

The English Woodworker - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 12:17pm

When you wake up in the fire wood pile with a nose bleed you know that something is going to have to give. I’d been having migraines for a little while which was odd as headaches are not something I’ve ever suffered with, and I’m rubbish at putting up with it. I’m not one to moan about feeling ill though and I’m very well looked after (Helen feeds me like a king!), my job keeps me active and when I think about it I can’t actually remember when I was last unwell, or Helen either.Firewood

It’s typical then, that our neighbour at the workshop has been gassing me out. It’s odd how things can creep up on you and catch you unaware. We’d started to keep a diary of the migraines to put some sense to them, but then within the space of a week I started to completely fall apart – rashes, nausea, dizziness.
It came to a head suddenly and on realising what the cause was, Helen banned me from work.

Our workshop neighbour is a fibre glasser. We’ve noticed his fumes in the past when passing by his door but felt sufficiently away to not be in danger when working. Maybe he’s changed the way he works, or perhaps my body has just had enough of a faint but daily dosing of chemicals? Either way, after Helen’s extensive digging we were certain of the cause and that these chemicals were not to be messed around with – there’s some horror stories when you get looking.

I’ve stayed away from the workshop for over a week now and feel perfectly well, to be honest I haven’t felt this well in a long time. Though I’m free from chemicals, I’m acutely aware of time creeping up on us. We’ve kept busy, since there’s so much to be done at the barns, but keeping to deadlines on workbenches for our customers is far more important.
Much digging, thinking and brainstorming later, it seems that there are many loop holes when in comes to health safety in the workplace. I probably couldn’t employ someone with that air pollution, but there seems to be nothing to protect me when it comes in from a neighbour. Though I’m sure we could get something sorted out, chances are it would take months at best, and it’s got to the point when as soon as I get a whiff of that place I’m as good as out cold. I popped the other night to pick a bag of fire wood up, and let’s start back at the beginning of the post. After a lot of thought we decided that we needed to make a positive move out of this situation rather than spending energy declaring war on the estate.

We’ve found in life, that if we allow things to get comfy for too long then something disruptive is probably about to happen. We’ve had half a year of feeling very settled with our business, and now it seems like life is telling us it’s time to move forward. This situation is causing us some massive stress and the only way we can face it without falling in a heap, is to let it push us in a positive direction.
We have a huge amount of work on at the moment which is certainly the biggest concern – along with being busier than ever with the workbenches and many vice orders, we also have ‘Project X’ in the pipe line – all I can say on this one is that it is not a simple job. Then there’s the videos which we’re also busy creating at the minute.
We’d love to take somebody on as an apprentice but it hasn’t really felt like the right thing to do just yet, and the situation that we’re in at the moment really highlights why we’ve been wise to hold off on that.

We’ve come up with what should be a very nice solution to this unfortunate situation. There’s going to be some hard graft to get us there, but this is one of those realities of being self employed. It’s the realisation that we’re not indestructible and that something small can tip the whole balance, in fact people can cause you grief and it’s simply your own problem to solve. We’ve done this for long enough to know that there’s no time to feel down about it, and if we plan things right we have a chance to push ourselves in to a more beneficial outcome.

All I ask is that you don’t worry… we’re pros and everything is in hand. Plus, Helen’s just bought me a tractor! (it’s like a Shetland pony… or hamster). We’ll brief you on the plan as soon as it’s confirmed.little tractor

Categories: Hand Tools

Some Roorkee Details to Ponder

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 12:09pm

ghurka_rear

Ghurka – the maker of fine leather goods – offers a couple of different Roorkee patterns for sale at its website: the officer’s lounger and the officer’s chair.

Both are made in the classic style in oak with nice leather details.

What caught my eye were a couple of construction details. One that I like, and one that makes me say “Hmmmm.”

The one I like is the way they attach the arm straps to the back of the legs. I assume there is a threaded insert in the leg. Then the strap is secured by a brass thumbscrew. Even better: the maker has punched holes in the arm strap so you can take up the slack. After studying a bunch of old Roorkees, the arms always go slack.

I’m sure I’ll try this method out on a future chair.

Ghurka_straps

The other detail is the way the maker adjusts the straps on the reclining back of the chair. The adjustable straps use Sam Browne buttons and punched holes. It creates a clean look and requires less hardware than a buckle, but the straps cannot be adjusted as finely as a result. Perhaps it’s no big deal.

All in all, very nice examples.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Campaign Furniture
Categories: Hand Tools

Do your handles hang low?

Fair Woodworking - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 11:21am
Do They Wobble to and Fro? Can You Tie Them in a Knot? Can You Tie Them in a Bow? Do your handles…  hang…  low………? Sing it along with me now! You know there has been a lot of talk lately about the future of woodworking. Some say it’s going to die, others say it’s […]
Categories: Hand Tools

Too Much Work for Quotidian Hardware

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 9:37am

Too Much Work for Quotidian Hardware

In a foolish move executed to save $150 or so on my kitchen rehab, I initially purchased hinges and pulls from a mass-market supplier. Upon receiving that package, I opened it, and sighed over the fake screw heads on the bin pulls and the altogether lightweight feel of the pieces. I tried to convince myself that, for a house I’m planning to sell, it was silly to spend the extra […]

The post Too Much Work for Quotidian Hardware appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Customer Dovetailed Boxes

David Barron Furniture - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 8:58am

This first box is from Stuart in Queensland Australia who has appeared on this Blog before. He made it to store his dovetailing tools, a few tools that always get used for the task.


The woods are white cedar for the box and figured camphor laurel for the lid.
It's a very nice job and a very useful little box.


The next box was made by Sam from the UK with some nice crisp dovetails.
He didn't say what the woods were but at a guess it's ash, purpleheart and African blackwood, not sure about the panel.

Keep the pictures coming, it's great to see customers own work.


Categories: Hand Tools

Diamond Willow Roorkee - Part IV: Dad's Experience

Toolerable - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 7:49am
Brian and Phil with the finished chair
Phil
 
Look at the above picture & you'll see  that  Brian has solved problem of where to drill the holes on crooked sticks with the diamond indentations and perfect fitting of the braces - and then  centered holes  and which stick went where - his explanations left me saying uh-huh  quite a  bit--  I call  the finished  chair   BRIANS CHAIR as I was the assistant and the confused helper--however I may get  some materials together to try one of my own since I have the pattern gracing the living room. 
 
I may have to slim down some in order to get out of the seat.
                                                                  POPSARELLIE....


Categories: Hand Tools

Hi Wilbur, I've got a couple of questions for you. If you had a 67-68 mm wide blade and you wanted to fit it in a dai that was made for a 65 mm blade, what would you do? Grind the sides of your blade on 80 grit sandpaper or widen the opening of your...

Giant Cypress - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 6:58am

1. I’d widen the opening of the dai. That’s going to be a lot easier than grinding off a total of 2-3mm off the sides of the blade.

2. I have three mortise chisels: 6mm, 7.5mm, and 24mm. The smaller two have covered all the mortising jobs I’ve needed to do in furniture scale mortise and tenons up to this point. The larger one I bought to make the mortises for my workbench. I doubt that I will ever use it again, and there are certainly easier ways of making 1” wide mortises, but it makes for a great story.

I can’t speak to using a Japanese bench chisel with a trapezoid profile for mortising, since I’ve never tried one, but I don’t see why you couldn’t make it work. It just will be nicer to use a real mortise chisel.

A little sample

Peter Galbert - Chair Notes - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 6:13am

The Lost Art Press blog featured a sample of the book yesterday. If you didn't see it already, check it out!

We are almost ready for filming Rough Cut tomorrow. Perhaps the best thing to come of it is that we had a great excuse to clean out the shop! I haven't seen it this clear in years.




I am finishing the prototype for the set of chairs that I'm reproducing. It came out darn close to what I wanted, but I've made changes for the final design after seeing it in person. It's usually the case that a drawing of a chair looks different than the actual results, so the prototype is usually a necessary step before making the chairs for the client.

The Original



If you ever visit, you'll see that I always end up with the prototypes. This chair is a simple form, but as I've made my way through all the aesthetic choices, I've found it to be a finely tuned design. I'll show more about this soon. I'll have plenty of chances while finishing 6 more of them.
Categories: Hand Tools

Ups and Downs With Plane Irons – A Working Video Perspective

Paul Sellers - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 5:30am

DSC_0217There have been many questions surrounding bevel ups and bevel downs for a decade and more. My experience tells me many things different than I read elsewhere and it’s on my experience I rely the most. My recent blog post on this subject has revealed some controversial issues surrounding the modern-day woodworker looking for answers in pursuit of real woodworking. When you can’t make your plane work well, woodworkers have difficulty knowing whether buying new might be the solution. In reality, for the main part, all they need is a sharp edge in a well-oiled well set plane. Not knowing whether to buy new, pursue old, add a bevel-up or down plane or two all seem to add to the confusing mishmash of modern-day misinformation. The reality is simple. More simple than most people realise.DSC_0573

My quest is not to promote rejection of more modern makers, except those who ended up reneging on their responsibilities and let the standards badly slip, but to ensure that woodworkers understand  they can master just a few very basic skills to become masters of the plane.

Question:

Paul:

Why did they make bevel up versus bevel down? What is the essential difference in performance they are trying to achieve? Is it that with the bevel is up the angle to the grain is greater and therefore better for cross-grain cutting? I use primarily Stanley/Record bench planes but I have a Veritas low angle that I just got but haven’t use much. I have a No. 40 scrub plane that is bevel down.

The new video  launch will help you see at least some of what I see as I work in my everyday as a working man.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10RPOPBTwZA

In our trialling of these two plane types, bevel-up and bevel-down, we will take no sponsorship because really there is no one to take sponsorship from. I do hope that in doing what I have done I have in some measure preserved the integrity of  the designer engineers who designed and manufactured them. There can be no doubt, what Leonard Bailey designed in his Bailey-pattern range of bench planes stood in the face of mass opposition for half a century because woodworkers were content with the wooden bodied counterparts of the day that worked very well. Gradually his plane became accepted by craftsmen to the point that for the next century it was the industry standard. Why? Because it worked so well.

We enjoy working as free entities producing video that preserve the integrity of our craft. Answering these questions and making videos for instruction is key to securing the best of the past, uniting it with the present and using it for the future.

Answer:

DSC_0130In my purview at the bench, when I stand and stare at the plane, look inside its internal gubbins, something tells me this low-angle plane is better equipped to the task and challenge because of its low angle, thickness of iron, weight-in-the-throat, inline support of mechanical adjuster mechanism, mass of steel because of low-angle presentation and so on. In other words I <em>want</em><strong> to believe that by its very appearance it <strong>will</strong><em> be vastly superior in performance. In reality however, at the bench, there is barely (if any at all) any difference between a low-angle bevel-up and a high-angle bevel-down, whether wood or metal, new or old, straight from the box or from eBay once you sharpen and fettle the planes. So my <em>wanting</em> to believe in it’s better presentation angle makes no difference except for me to put more effort into the ‘one-I-want-to-beleive-in’ plane, which I avoided for the sake of the tests we did. Remember it wasn’t just me that tried the planes but two other craftsmen too. So my loving the bevel-up Veritas makes little difference. I can’t alter the fact that a 30-degree bevel on a 12-degree bed incline plane is only 2-degrees difference between and 44-degree bevel on a bog-standard Stanley or Record plane. Having now proved unequivocally that 96.9% of all planes present the actual cutting face and edge at the same angle, we can focus more on the performance found if any in different planes. In the stroke the low-angle, bevel-up plane felt a little more hefty and whereas there was something a little less ‘absorbing’ in the low-cost alternatives, I did definitely get equal results of quality from the inexpensive planes and I felt that the #5 Stanley gave me the least resistance of all in the cut. It was also the lightest and easiest to use and I achieved excellent results consistently stroke after stroke. Of course none of this means you shouldn’t own a low-angle bevel-up plane. I think people should, as and if they can afford one, and even if they don’t need one but would like to own one. But I certainly would advise any of you reading this not to feel at all ill-equipped or less adequate if you don’t own such a tool as a low-angle block or bench plane. They are just nice planes with smooth handles and nicely engineered parts. This work is more for that massive percentage of woodworkers who might be led to believe it’s an essential piece of kit that takes care of stuff the basic planes can’t handle when they actually do it just as well. If you can’t afford a nice looking plane, don’t sweat it and certainly don’t feel inadequate. You don’t really need it. Working wood is not a dress parade where fashion dictates what you wear and how, when and where.

I think that one good reason wooden planes were challenged by cast metal type or even those very fancy dovetail jointed metal types was that the steel industry and engineering brought compactness and centralised weight surrounding the very cutting edge of the tools. They could also be mass manufactured in a few minutes, which really brought the cost and the wait time down. I doubt whether most many cast metal plane takes more than a few minutes of actual man hours to make. the rest is usually in the packaging. Beech bench planes when used for mitre work with shooting boards could be somewhat cumbersome and awkward because of size and especially if you are not used to them. On the other hand, small wooden smoothing planes were too light with less concentrated weight in the body at the point of thrust. The very compact low angle chariot and mitre planes out-performed the wooden ones as would say the Veritas small bevel-up smoothing plane today.

Oh, and we also weighed in the different planes to see what differences we were dealing with. The comparable weights were very similar. We checked every angle and that was a greater surprise to me in that few planes varied from the 45-degree pitch. Norrises and Baileys proved equally angled and so too wooden jacks.

Please watch the video if for nothing else to clear up ambiguity, but also just for entertainment. We did enjoy the few hours in trial and error researching and making it and hope you find it as interesting and informative as we all did.

The post Ups and Downs With Plane Irons – A Working Video Perspective appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Six Days in May

The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 4:21am
  Well here we are, almost the end of April and with that, about three weeks before I head to Rosewood Studio, in Perth, Ontario. If you haven’t heard, I’ll be there teaching a six-day course I’ve titled,  “It Starts with a Box“, beginning on...
Categories: Hand Tools

Automation and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 4:00am
In the good old days grinders would sit for 8-10 hours a day straddling a 4 foot diameter solid sandstone grinding wheel spinning at a surface speed of about 60 miles per hour. While wheel explosions were rare, early death from silicosis wasn't. It was a known occupational hazard, but in return for pretty good wages a grinder ran a known risk of early death, and at the very least some respiratory problems. Fortunately for the edge tool industry, most people don't think long term and there was no shortage of apprentice grinders.

Fast forward 150 years to present day Brooklyn. In the Gramercy Tools workshop we do what some might consider an excessive amount of hand filing. We hand sharpen all our saws, and used to file every last decorative detail on the Kings County Hammers. We do/did it that way because it's traditional, we love the old ways, and honestly the results speak for themselves. However in both cases we have found the learning curve for filers to be high and the people who have the skill for the work don't want to do it day in and day out - no matter the pay.

Nearly all of our top filers have experienced hand/elbow/wrist problems at one time or another. It's not the sort of thing that makes us feel good about hand work. Part of the issue is that we've grown. We simply make more saws now than ever before. In addition the files that are available today are of a significantly worse quality than a few years ago, and don't remove material as quickly. So, we have to file more. This raises our cost and in general makes it more work to get a consistent product we are proud of.

The issues raised by repetitive stress injury caused by following traditional manufacturing methods are substantial, and increasingly relevant as we see more and more folks interested in returning to traditional methods of manufacturing. Is grinding without proper dust collection "old timey" or simply stupid? Is repetitive stress injury an acceptable by-product of a world class saw or hammer? In both cases the answer is obvious. No product is worth endangering the well being of an employee, after all it's no longer the "good" old days.

As we see it a responsible company has the following possible solutions:
Stop making hand filed products.
Drastically reduce per filer-workload and raise prices accordingly.
Outsource the work so that it becomes someone else's problem.
Automate portions of our process, reducing the necessary hand work.

We are highly invested in growing as a company, in maintaining our reputation for the highest quality, and in the health and well being of our employees. For that reason we felt that automation is the only way forward.

With the Kings Country Hammers the reason we were hand filing the decoration was that our CNC Machine shop, whom we've worked with for years, didn't think they could machine the details - even if cost wasn't an issue. The slight asymmetry of the decoration (which makes it look right to the human eye) makes for exceptionally complicated cutter paths, fragile cutter geometries, and several tooling changes, not to mention complicated fixturing.

After the first batch of hammers were hand filed, we threw down the gauntlet, and asked the crew over at the machine shop to try again. It took them about a month to get back to us, and the conversation started out - I think we got it, but you're not going to like the cost.

But it wasn't the cost that was the big surprise - well not exactly. The HUGE surprise, was that our hammers cost as much to produce on a CNC mill as they do with a hand file. Almost to the dollar.

So the New Kings Country Hammers have decoration done entirely by CNC. We touch up the decoration after polishing if need be, but that's the only time they see the business end of a file. And were glad to say, that using CNC gives us a crisper. more consistent look, with a lot less wear and tear on our staff.

So what does this all mean? Are we giving in to computers and machines? We don't think so, to us, it feels a lot like pulling our head out of the sand. There will always be processes that require hand work. For instance, each hammer head still undergoes extensive hand processing. From patina, to differential tempering over a flame, to mirror polishing, and grinding, there is a ton of hand work in the New Kings County Hammer. What there isn't is the sinking feeling that we're asking the guys and gals in our shop to do something that could lead to injury. And we've also steadfastly kept production local, and in the hands of craftsmen and women who take pride in producing top quality work. The end result is a better product than we had before without the dumbing down of the design that automation sometimes brings. I think this combined result of hand and CNC puts us squarely in the modern craft tradition - one that dates back to tilt hammers and Jacquard looms.

Producing the Kings County Hammer has taught us a lot - and raised some very interesting questions for anyone engaged in craftsmanship at a high level. We've explored these issues before on this blog, most notably when I talked about our saw handles. We are firm believers, that tradition has shown that progress is a good thing. Gramercy Tools never has and never will make replicas, or period correct tools. It will continue to produce tools, and upgrade its production processes in such a way that the tool you buy tomorrow is a better tool than you can buy today, not only in its function, but in its form, and manufacture.

As of this writing I am working on motion control software to help us file saws. We plan to do the rough tooth forming on custom automated machinery that we are building and programming ourselves. Kris, our head saw filer, is counting the minutes - but it's not because a machine is about to take his job. It's because, it's a waste of his time to do anything but the final hand sharpening. Just about everyone agrees that hand filing produces a better saw than machine filing and our competitors seem to agree. They all either machine file to save money, or machine file then hand file over it. We have added a few programming tricks but the real test is coming.

"The Turing Test" Proposed by mathematician Alan Turing was an idea to place a human and a computer behind a screen and have people ask questions of them. If the audience couldn't tell which was the machine and which was the human, then we can say artificial intelligence works. Once our new system gets operational, we plan to have a little test - We call it "The Tim Test". We take two saws, one totally hand filed, one filed by machine with final sharpening done by hand. If Tim Corbett, our head designer or anyone else can't tell which is which - then we know we have something we can offer the public. Otherwise - it's back to the drawing board.

The new larger 9oz Kings County Hammers will be available again in limited starting this Friday. We currently have a few of the the small hand filed hammers in stock but we have no plans to reintroduce the smaller size when we run out.




Automation and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

Tools For Working Wood - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 4:00am
In the good old days grinders would sit for 8-10 hours a day straddling a 4 foot diameter solid sandstone grinding wheel spinning at a surface speed of about 60 miles per hour. While wheel explosions were rare, early death from silicosis wasn't. It was a known occupational hazard, but in return for pretty good wages a grinder ran a known risk of early death, and at the very least some respiratory problems. Fortunately for the edge tool industry, most people don't think long term and there was no shortage of apprentice grinders.

Fast forward 150 years to present day Brooklyn. In the Gramercy Tools workshop we do what some might consider an excessive amount of hand filing. We hand sharpen all our saws, and used to file every last decorative detail on the Kings County Hammers. We do/did it that way because it's traditional, we love the old ways, and honestly the results speak for themselves. However in both cases we have found the learning curve for filers to be high and the people who have the skill for the work don't want to do it day in and day out - no matter the pay.

Nearly all of our top filers have experienced hand/elbow/wrist problems at one time or another. It's not the sort of thing that makes us feel good about hand work. Part of the issue is that we've grown. We simply make more saws now than ever before. In addition the files that are available today are of a significantly worse quality than a few years ago, and don't remove material as quickly. So, we have to file more. This raises our cost and in general makes it more work to get a consistent product we are proud of.

The issues raised by repetitive stress injury caused by following traditional manufacturing methods are substantial, and increasingly relevant as we see more and more folks interested in returning to traditional methods of manufacturing. Is grinding without proper dust collection "old timey" or simply stupid? Is repetitive stress injury an acceptable by-product of a world class saw or hammer? In both cases the answer is obvious. No product is worth endangering the well being of an employee, after all it's no longer the "good" old days.

As we see it a responsible company has the following possible solutions:
Stop making hand filed products.
Drastically reduce per filer-workload and raise prices accordingly.
Outsource the work so that it becomes someone else's problem.
Automate portions of our process, reducing the necessary hand work.

We are highly invested in growing as a company, in maintaining our reputation for the highest quality, and in the health and well being of our employees. For that reason we felt that automation is the only way forward.

With the Kings Country Hammers the reason we were hand filing the decoration was that our CNC Machine shop, whom we've worked with for years, didn't think they could machine the details - even if cost wasn't an issue. The slight asymmetry of the decoration (which makes it look right to the human eye) makes for exceptionally complicated cutter paths, fragile cutter geometries, and several tooling changes, not to mention complicated fixturing.

After the first batch of hammers were hand filed, we threw down the gauntlet, and asked the crew over at the machine shop to try again. It took them about a month to get back to us, and the conversation started out - I think we got it, but you're not going to like the cost.

But it wasn't the cost that was the big surprise - well not exactly. The HUGE surprise, was that our hammers cost as much to produce on a CNC mill as they do with a hand file. Almost to the dollar.

So the New Kings Country Hammers have decoration done entirely by CNC. We touch up the decoration after polishing if need be, but that's the only time they see the business end of a file. And were glad to say, that using CNC gives us a crisper. more consistent look, with a lot less wear and tear on our staff.

So what does this all mean? Are we giving in to computers and machines? We don't think so, to us, it feels a lot like pulling our head out of the sand. There will always be processes that require hand work. For instance, each hammer head still undergoes extensive hand processing. From patina, to differential tempering over a flame, to mirror polishing, and grinding, there is a ton of hand work in the New Kings County Hammer. What there isn't is the sinking feeling that we're asking the guys and gals in our shop to do something that could lead to injury. And we've also steadfastly kept production local, and in the hands of craftsmen and women who take pride in producing top quality work. The end result is a better product than we had before without the dumbing down of the design that automation sometimes brings. I think this combined result of hand and CNC puts us squarely in the modern craft tradition - one that dates back to tilt hammers and Jacquard looms.

Producing the Kings County Hammer has taught us a lot - and raised some very interesting questions for anyone engaged in craftsmanship at a high level. We've explored these issues before on this blog, most notably when I talked about our saw handles. We are firm believers, that tradition has shown that progress is a good thing. Gramercy Tools never has and never will make replicas, or period correct tools. It will continue to produce tools, and upgrade its production processes in such a way that the tool you buy tomorrow is a better tool than you can buy today, not only in its function, but in its form, and manufacture.

As of this writing I am working on motion control software to help us file saws. We plan to do the rough tooth forming on custom automated machinery that we are building and programming ourselves. Kris, our head saw filer, is counting the minutes - but it's not because a machine is about to take his job. It's because, it's a waste of his time to do anything but the final hand sharpening. Just about everyone agrees that hand filing produces a better saw than machine filing and our competitors seem to agree. They all either machine file to save money, or machine file then hand file over it. We have added a few programming tricks but the real test is coming.

"The Turing Test" Proposed by mathematician Alan Turing was an idea to place a human and a computer behind a screen and have people ask questions of them. If the audience couldn't tell which was the machine and which was the human, then we can say artificial intelligence works. Once our new system gets operational, we plan to have a little test - We call it "The Tim Test". We take two saws, one totally hand filed, one filed by machine with final sharpening done by hand. If Tim Corbett, our head designer or anyone else can't tell which is which - then we know we have something we can offer the public. Otherwise - it's back to the drawing board.

The new larger 9oz Kings County Hammers will be available again in limited starting this Friday. We currently have a few of the the small hand filed hammers in stock but we have no plans to reintroduce the smaller size when we run out.




Tumblehome sea chest

Mulesaw - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 2:51am
During the building of the small fairy tale bed, I found myself dreaming of making something real again. I know that a doll bed is for real, but somehow I found myself constantly drawing small tumblehome sea chests on every scrap piece of paper lying around.

The other day we received some stainless steel tubes that came strapped to a nice wide board, so suddenly I had 18' of a 6" x 1" spruce board at my hands..

The board was transformed into some 12" wide panels that could be used for the build.

I have decided to try to make as quick a build as possible, so there will be no secret compartments or fancy metal working involved.
One of the reasons is that it is not easy to plan some regular woodworking out here, the other is that I would like to finish the chest before going home.

The chest will be smaller than original sea chests to make it easier for me to transport it home, and because I find it easier to find use for smaller chests in the household compared to large chests. The chest should end up being around 24" x 16" with a height of 13-14" depending on how deep I make the skirt and how thick the lid will be.

Today I cut the panels to length and started on the dovetails. Normally I prefer dovetailing with tails first, but due to the lack of decent work holding out here, I do it pins first. For this build I have chosen to use a ratio of 1:6 for the angle of the pins/tails.
The design will be a tumblehome sea chest with canted sides and canted ends.


Chopping out the waste between the pins

Test assembly of the first corner





Categories: Hand Tools

Moulding Planes and Associated Things....

Philsville: Philip Edwards - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 12:05am
Hi Folks


Been pretty crazy here at the Philly Planes Workshop - we took delivery of a trees worth of quarter sawn Beech last week! There are planks of it everywhere and I've spent hours breaking it down into plane sized billets. Every nook and cranny of the 'shop has blocks of Beech  pushed into it!
Why have I bought so much? It is extremely difficult to find quartered stock (which is vital for wooden planes as it means the stock expands and contracts side to side - this means the wedge angle never varies throughout the year so your plane performs happily). I spend an inordinate amount of time searching for timber and always have the "I don't have enough wood" feeling breathing down my neck. So we have bought a Beech tree and had it cut exactly how we wanted - problem solved!


I do get a lot of enquiries about buying blanks from customers who want to have a go at making their own planes. I am now in a position to be able to say "yes" to these requests, so drop me an email if you are interested - if there is enough interest I may offer them for sale on the website.

Back to the bench....

Philly
Categories: Hand Tools

Tools for curves team

Heartwood: Woodworking by Rob Porcaro - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 8:28pm
As I said, I’ll use whatever tool it takes to get the desired result for a particular curve in a particular wood. So let’s take a look at the available players and which make the cut (pun intended). Most of the game is won or lost on concave (inside) curves; the outside curves are easy. […]
Categories: Hand Tools

Diamond Willow Roorkee - Part III: Complete

Toolerable - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 7:21pm

Completed chair
The chair is done.  I told Dad it would be a two-day project we could do during my vacation at home.  It turned out to take a total of six days.

Well, some things are more important.  We put in two good days of work on the chair, and the next few days we snuck in time when when we could.  This morning, Dad pounded the rivets on the back, and we were done by 9:30 or so.

In the meantime, I got to go fishing with Dad and my brother, Chuck, went golfing, and we had a great Easter celebration with all of the family that was around.

Good times.


Another view
Most of what we have been working on the last couple days was leather work.  I showed Dad what to do, and he did good.  I think he thinks he didn't do much, but any help with these rivets is always welcome.  Plus, he did a great job touching up all of the edges with special leather edge paint.

I used two screws here, instead of three.  It was a decision mandated by the materials.
Dad also did all of the diamond willow work.  He is familiar with this particular medium, and used his usual finish for all of the wood.  Hopefully I will get him to write a bit about his thoughts on this build.


Dad in his chair.
I have to say, building one piece with a partner is much different than doing a build in the usual way.  I admit I have taken for granted many of the woodworking techniques and work methods that I use that aren't possible everywhere.  For example, Dad has no woodworking vice, or any traditional woodworking workholding.  We worked mostly on a welding table he has, while the wood we worked was held by the second person.


Just as comfortable as mine.
Working these sticks was a challenge, too.  Not having flat reference faces, or straight lumber presents challenges in layout, but also an element of freedom.  I think drilling and reaming the holes actually went faster this time than on my last Roorkee.  The results were amazing; every joint is dead-nuts perfect.  The chair sits great, and just works.
Partners in crime.
The material turns out to be fantastic.  We'll have to wait to see how it holds up, but I suspect that in many ways diamond willow could be a fantastic chair material.  It is light in weight, but strong.  I think the wood fibers must be interlocked or something, because it is tough.  I wouldn't recommend using pine or any other softwood, but this one seems to hold together so far.  A lot of people have sat in this chair today, and while they are told it is not a "plopping-in" chair, there were several big people (like me, my dad, and my brother) that the chair seemed not to stress holding. Time will tell.

The chair turned out to exceed all my expectations both aesthetically and structurally.  Not only beautiful, but strong.  Dad sure seems proud of the chair, and I hope he enjoys it for many years.

Most of all, I treasure the opportunity I had to spend time with my Dad working wood making something beautiful together.

Categories: Hand Tools

Full-size Leather Lips for Your Stool

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 6:31pm

6_stool_opener_1000_IMG_7791

The leather “lips” for the seat on the stool in “Campaign Furniture” have stymied a few readers. Their exact shape isn’t critical, but I should have provided a gridded diagram to make things easier.

Reader Glenn Frazee has made it super-easy to cut out your leather lips. He generated the following full-size pattern in pdf format for you to download. Simply print it out (with no scaling) and use it to make a wooden template for your lips.

folding_camp_stool_lips_cutting_pattern

Thanks Glenn!

I also have some interesting hardware options for the stool to share with you in the coming weeks. Think: “blacksmith-made tri-bolt” and “hidden nuts.”

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Campaign Furniture
Categories: Hand Tools

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