I will be teaching a week-long SketchUp class September 8-12, 2014 at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine. If you want to get a better understanding of the 3D modeling program we use here at Popular Woodworking Magazine, this is your opportunity. As in all my SketchUp classes, we start with a thorough understanding of the basics of how the program works, and by the end of the […]
“Furniture, created for utilitarian purposes in a living environment, predictably undergoes strains, dents, burns, and assorted abrasions, and each such occurrence is a record of the object’s use. The eighteenth-century infant who pounds his spoon on a tabletop and the mother who, trying to keep warm, moves her chair too close to the fireplace are adding to the surface of that furniture an interpretable record of its use. I believe that sanding or scraping away such dents and burns destroys forever an important part of any wooden artifact; and from a baldly economic point of view, a zealous finisher intent on removing clear evidence of a family's usage is also reducing the monetary value of the object, as well as destroying palpable history.”
- Robert F McGiffin, Furniture Care and Conservation p.6
I often look at our supporters following our various ways of reaching out to woodworkers worldwide and at one time only two or three countries were following our work. That’s massively changed; exponentially. Over the last two years we have seen an incredible increase to every continent and in the remotest of parts at that. The world seems suddenly to have become quite small as people interested in the simplicities and complexities of hand craft work are seeking international input to help them discover ways for working wood that are simple but relational, sustainable and skilful.
I have always been concerned when I write about inexpensive tools available to me and feel guilty that we in the UK are so privileged to have such a wealth of tools available to us for almost no money compared to others. I don’t have an proper working knowledge of eBay and secondhand markets in the rest of Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America, North America and Africa. I am fully conversant with what goes on in the USA having lived there since 1987 but I want we teach to go to the wide audience of followers we have seen grow over the past five years around the world. I do truly care about all of you and the principles of what we are teaching that and is being adopted and adapted everywhere else. What tools do you use and have access to, what could I teach that would be adaptable. So many of you keep a piece of wire drill holes with or recut steel plate to make a saw from. You are all important and what can I do to help you if you are Sommieres-du-Clain, Kuala Lumpur, Genoa, Melbourne or Bucharest and everywhere. I mean to say I would love to hear from you all wherever you are so that we can be more inclusive. What makes woodworking difficult to you and what’s available or not available to you. I talk about planes and saws you may never have heard of and that seems something we might be ably to adapt our teaching to or look at at least. More than that though, I have learned so much from friends in Japan and Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. What you tell me inspires my work and spreads the good news of working wood with your hands and other methods too.
A few days ago I returned to Mordor on the Potomac for the completion and assembly of the c.1900 gigantic portrait of the Chinese Dowager Empress. I was astounded at the change in the painting by my colleagues Jia-sun and Ines who, along with a legion of others, transformed it into a sparkling image.
My role in the day’s festivities was to affix the locking corner cleats I had fabricated for the frame.
I used double tapered cross battened cleats to make sure the corners do not come apart unless you want them to.
I beat a retreat as fast as I could back the the mountains. It was a great project, and it is unlikely that I will ever be conserving a painting frame quite like this one again.
My post the other day about my recent experience with case hardened wood and the bandsaw got me to thinking about my own tool’s setup. I know I get a little lazy sometimes when it comes to readjusting the settings for a new blade, but I’ve learned to overcome my urge to be slothy and do the setup work anyways.
I’ve learned to never assume that just because I’m swapping one blade for another of the same size and configuration that the adjustments don’t need to be tweaked. I assume every blade is different and therefore needs to be adjusted.
Typically this means unplugging the saw (which will have already been unplugged anyways for the blade change,) loosening all the guides (top and bottom,) followed by adjusting the tracking mechanism to ensure the blade is centered on the top wheel.
Once it’s tracked and I can see it’s centered, I’ll then take the time to adjust the blade guides and shortly afterwards it’s back to work.
Not sure what I’m talking about when it comes to adjusting for the tracking? Checkout this video from the folks at Steel City Tool Works.
Yann Giguère is hosting a Kezurou-Kai at his shop, Mokuchi Studio, in Brooklyn on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. You may think of a Kezurou-Kai as simply a planing contest, or a demonstration of freakishly large Japanese planes, but it’s much more than that. It’s an opportunity for woodworkers to get together, talk about woodworking and tools, and to have a great time.
I’ll be giving a talk on Japanese and western planes, sort of a condensed version of my classes at Woodworking in America.
Yann calls this a Kezurou-Kai Mini, but given that it’s an all day affair, I don’t think there’s anything mini about this. Tickets are available through the link above. Hope to see you there.
I can and do own a root burl war club, I own a Pueblo rabbit stick, I own a tomahawk, I own a bow and arrows, I own a 1842 Springfield musket, I own a 1848 Colt pocket pistol, I own a 1860 English double barrel 12 gauge shotgun, but I Can Not own a slingshot [county law]. Not sure about my David/Goliath sling?
I made this from maple to match the tapered octagonal handles of the rest of my shop tools, oak dowels are glued [fish glue] in to the ends of the forks. Natural gum rubber tubing, a piece of leather and linen thread to secure all the parts. It is finished with Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish.
However because it is illegal, I have not weaponized the flipper.
We have red clay soil where I live and frankly the white floor looked pretty terrible. On Friday afternoon I looked around and estimated it would take me about 45 minutes to move everything out of the way and clean the floor in preparation of painting. Having tool chest on wheels greatly facilitated the process, even though it actually took an hour and a half, however before I quit for the day I had the edges cut in and one coat of paint on the floor.
Friday night the monsoon set in. It had not rained here in quite some time so I wasn't complaining about the rain, however it did put adding a second coat of paint in question. I decided to cut in the edges and see if that would dry. I was running the air conditioner to help dry out the air. Given the amount of rain that was falling outside I didn't know if this would make a difference. When finished with the second cut in I was off to the store for another gallon of paint. When I returned the cut in areas had indeed dried so I commenced to rolling on a second coat of paint.
The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.
Last week while teaching a class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking on building the Connecticut lowboy from the February 2014 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine (#209) to seven excellent woodworkers (read more about the class here), I was asked to take a trip into New York city to the Metropolitan Museum (the Met for short). Of course, it took only minutes for me to say, “Hell yes.” To […]
In my above video I share my recent tour of Elia Bizzari’s traditional Windsor chair workshop in Hillsboro, North Carolina. I found Elia to not only be warm & welcoming, but incredibly hilarious. We had some great laughs together in his workshop and will be working on filming a DVD together in the near future. Please contact me if a Windsor chair tutorial DVD interests you.
Elia started traditional woodworking as a teenager, and eventually discovered his passion for making traditional Windsor chairs. Curtis Buchanan welcomed Elia as an apprentice, and Elia has gone on to become one of the world’s most well-known Windsor chair makers. He has even been featured a couple times on Roy Underhill’s The Woodwright’s Shop television show. You can view those episodes here.
I cracked up when Elia told me how, when he was younger, he obtained permission to use his college fund for some more advanced Windsor chair courses. This young guy loves what he does and especially finds joy in life’s simple pleasures. I call that true success.
You can contact Elia and place orders for custom Windsor chairs at his website here.
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The cupboards over at Hackney Tools Towers are getting a bit full and so I’ll be loading up the For Sale page over the next few days. Please head on over to see the first batch of tools I have for sale. More coming soon…
Life has been busy. So here is a guy that “turned” a bowl on his table saw. Quite impressive.
I’ll be back soon.
Spicing up your build
The chest is pretty plain Jane as far as designs go. To spice it up, I used a few techniques that others around the Net have turned to.
Bead details break up monolithic panels. To make the fall-front door stand out, I used my 3/8” side-bead plane to put a bead on the panels adjacent to it.
The chest’s back panel also got the beading treatment. It consists of three panels joined via tongue and groove joints. The bead detail helps disguise uneven edge joints.
To break up the boredom of the as-is lid, I did a couple of things. First, I used breadboard ends. In addition to visual interest, this added strength to the lid, obviating the need for battens to keep it flat. I hope. Second, I used a round-over bit set to also add 1/8” deep rabbet along three edges. I really like how this came out.
Finally, I made my own handles. For these, I mimicked the pattern that Schwarz did on his large chest.
I didn’t do this because I worship the guy, or want to be just like him. But rather, I recognize that he’s a woodworking master and I believe that I can learn a hell of a lot by modeling his practices and design elements. And that’s in fact the case here. It was a fun intellectual challenge to reverse-engineer his design. I particularly like the small rabbet along the edges of the handles. That adds a lot of visual interest to them in my opinion.
Once loaded, the chest will weight over 100 pounds. So I used some 4/4 hard maple I had lying around along with ¾” oak dowels for the handle portion.
After measuring my hand, determining desired clearances from the side of the chest and tweaking for what “looked right” I came up with these handle dimensions. 1” thick x 4” long x 2 ½” high. I allowed ½” of “space” minimum all around each dowel to prevent the dowel from tearing out. I drilled a stopped hole ½” deep by ¾” wide to accept the ends of the dowel. The dowel handle is 5 ¼” long.
I chose to use bolts to affix the handle assemblies fearing that screws would eventually tear out. I centered the handle assemblies, marked them and drilled holes. Then I countersunk the inside holes to accept the washer/lockwasher/nut assemblies. After snugging them down they hold firmly.
To make the chest very mobile I added 3” casters. For those of you that prefer to do things the easy way, I suggest that you do what I did and drill and countersink the caster mounting holes in the bottom before gluing it to the sides.
Now, had I attached the casters directly to the bottom, the caster bolt ends would have protruded above the bottom shelf and scratched every tool housed there. To prevent this, I used the bottom skids as the “base” for the casters, and selected some oak stock for strength. That put the caster bolts shy of the top of the bottom shelf. That required me to countersink the bottom shelf sufficiently deep to accept, and tighten, the washers and nuts.
Keep in mind that the open lid moves the chest’s center of gravity toward the back. And by affixing my panel saws on the inside of the lid, I moved the cg back even further. Be sure to take this into account when laying out the holes for your casters. You’ll want to space them as close to the edges, and as far apart from each other, as you’re able.
I shellacked the interior to help keep my tools ship-shape once I arrive in a humid climate like the Sunshine State—that’s Florida, not South Dakota. Finishing the interior also fit my preference for clean storage. Otherwise it would have accumulated dirt and grime over time.
One pint of General Finishes Klein Blue milk paint from Woodcraft was plenty to give the exterior two full coats. Some people put a coat of BLO or poly over that because they don’t like the flat look of the paint. I, however do like the flat look so I didn’t bother with a clear coat.
Now that you’ve seasoned your build with some interesting eye candy, it’s time to deck out the interior to house your precious tools.
In my remaining posts in this series, I’ll give you all the details I didn’t have when I finished my chest. Those, plus oodles of pictures and diagrams should make it easy, peasy for you to finish your chest.
© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.
The day began with the excitement of seeing the glued-up panels. We had slightly oversized 1/2 baltic birch plywood for each of the panels so that they could be trimmed precisely to size one the project is complete.
The first step to getting finished from this point was to moisten and peel off the kraft paper that served as the support for the assembling of the pattern, banding, and border.
It was a delicate balancing act, moistening the surface enough to remove the glued-down paper, but not so wet as to lift the veneers. Once the paper is removed begins the tiresome task of dampening and scraping off all the glue left behind.
A quick stint on front of the fan to dry them, and then we brought out the toothing planes, scrapers, and small planes to get everything flat and smooth.
The conditions of the panels,
and the floor indicated we were making great progress.
In a normal 3-day parquetry workshop this would have been the final process,
but these guys were working so efficiently we made it all the way through a finished project by the time they left.
Using one of my panels, I demonstrated the simplest finishing approach to the parquetry, and they charged ahead.
Burnishing with polissoirs came next,
and then the molten wax treatment for the final finish. The wax was first dripped on the surface, then trowelled around with the tacking iron. Again it was important to use the iron delicately to melt the wax enough to impregnate the surface, but not to heat the surface enough to lift the veneer.
Once the surface was fully impregnated the panel was set aside to let cool and harden, then the excess was scraped off,
and the remaining surface was buffed with a linen rag.
The results were eye popping, and demonstrated what can be done with very little wood in a short while. If you snoozed on this one, you loozed. Joe and Joshua now possess another important tool for their design and fabrication toolkit for the future, and when they get home they both plan to trim their panels and build a small table around them.
Great job, guys!
Think about how you look at others’ work. You don’t look for every mistake. You look at the scope of the project, the effort required. You consider the time spent on design. You see the form, the choice of wood and think about the time taken to mill the lumber. The hours spent on joining pieces together and the detail in the joinery and the weeks spent on shaping and sanding and how the hardware is hung. You step back and look at the whole piece and you know in your heart how much it took. You congratulate the builder.
Well, do the same to your own self. Congratulate yourself on work well done. Yes do better next time. Always strive to do better, but give yourself a break every now and then. We all make mistakes.
Just back from Maine – the class was great. Lie-Nielsen is right up there as one of my favorite places to be. here’s a bunch 0′ carvers hunched down at work.
I’m home now til Roy’s in 2 weeks. Lots to report, but first I must un-pack, then get to work on spoons & bowls & more. In the meantime, I posted most of what spoons I have left on the etsy site – and Maureen posted more felted stuff on hers as well. the whole house is a little crafty rabbit warren…I think I have the Is crossed, and the Ts dotted, or something like that. If you have a problem with the etsy stuff, let me know. it’s all new to me.