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Walt Quadrato of Brass City Records needs our help in his battle against cancer. Walt is an exceptional guy who has always done right by the hand tool community this web site serves. Family and friends are conducting a fundraiser for him they've dubbed "WaltFest". The following link is to their giveforward.com page.
Thank you for everything you have given so far. If you can help out, please do.
Vi har skrive tidlegare om seminaret vi hadde i Trondheim 15-18. november 2014. Som eg skreiv var vi delt inn i 4 grupper som kvar hadde sine oppgåver å arbeide med. På kvar gruppe var det ein av deltakarane, ein student på Teknisk bygningsvern og restaurering på HiST, som hadde i oppgåve å samordne og presentere dokumentasjon av arbeidet på gruppa. Dette vil vi presentere her på bloggen. Først ut er Ellev Steinsli som var dokumentasjonsansvarlig på gruppa som arbeidde med høvling av dør- og vindusomramming. Elles var Atle Østrem, Oddmund Aarø, Trond Eide og Roald Renmælmo på gruppa. Under føljer tekst og bilete av Ellev Steinsli.
I samla tropp ble det gjort en befaring i noen av bygningene på Sverresborg for å få inntrykk av lister og detaljer fra tiden det her er snakk om. Runden gav også alle deltagerne en god anledning til å diskuter lister, antatte måter å få disse fremstilt og få se hvor viktig det var med vakre og forseggjorte bygningsdetaljer.
Vi starta i verkstedet med klargjøring av arbeidsstasjon og diskusjon om hva og hvilke lister/produkter det skal fokuseres på. Atle hadde med en profilhøvel som det ble enighet om å fokusere på. Det ble diskutert hvor nøyaktig materialene må være ang. dimensjoner og kvalitet? Vi kom fram til at emnene er best å arbeide med når de er tilnærmet ferdig dimensjonert lik dimensjonen på ferdig listverk.Materialvalg og dimensjonering
Valget av material ble gjort ut fra lite kvist, lite tennar og riktig dimensjon er noen kriteriene. I hovedsak ønskes det en dimensjon som er så nærme ferdig emne og med så lite kvist som mulig for enklest mulig bearbeiding før profilhøvlingen. Vi snakket litt om dette med kvist i materialene, og dette er man ønsker seg tilnærmet kvistfri materialer er ett noe moderne fenomen og det er helt klart hvis man ser på gamle lister, dører og vinduer kan man konkludere med at snekkeren sjelden var redd for en kvist eller to, også relativt stor kvist. Arbeidet blir likevel enklere uten de store kvistene. Man kan nok med sikkerhet si at verktøyet som ble brukt var godt og skarpt, når man ser på hvor fint det kan være høvla over stor kvist. Materialene ble vurdert og klargjort for dimensjonering med forskjellige typer av verktøy på vanlig måte for å dimensjonere materialer til lister, vinduer, dører og annet.
Det som er mest effektivt er nok grindsaga og en god oppstilling i arbeidsbenken. Det gir ei god arbeidsstilling for klyving av materialene. Vi tok utgangspunkt i ukanta bord som var 5/4″ tjukke og så breie at vi fikk 2 bredder med list av hver. Materialen var levert av Oddmund Aarø på NDR som har handplukka furu til snekkermaterial i Klæbu, saga og lufttørka denne. Det var veldig fin material å arbeide med. Når emnet er kanta ned til bredde som er litt på overmål er det klart for å rette flasken av bordet.
Dimensjonering av emnene går raskt og greit i skottbenken med gode og egnede høvler. Materialene ble høvlet til riktig tykkelse på benken før bredden dimensjoneres i skottbenken. Her ble det diskutert hvordan man raskt og effektivt kunne spenne opp emnene i benken for så å høvle ned til riktig dimensjon (bredde) med skottokse med meier som lander på skottbenken når dimensjonen er riktig. Det ble forsøkt forskjellige innretninger for å teste dette. Vi landet på å lage to jigger for å holde emnet i rett høgde i benken under montering.Jigg for å feste emne i skottbenken. Skisse: Ellev Steinsli
Det varierer noe hvor nøye dimensjoneringen må være, men de fleste profilene er lettere å få jevne og rette, og ikke minst like, hvis man er nøyaktig i dimensjoneringen. Flaskhøvling, kanthøvling og dimensjonering er en stor del av arbeidet med listene så vi brukte mye tid på å finne fram til gode arbeidsmåter for dette arbeidet. Det som er utfordringen i arbeidet er å sitte igjen med rette flater og riktig dimensjon etter høvling.
Høvling av fals
Tre av listeprofilene vi høvla hadde utgangspunkt i en brei fals som tjente som referanse for profilhøvling. Fals kan høvles med en spesiell falshøvel som har fast land og dybdestopp. Slike falshøvler med stor nok bredde til våre profiler er sjeldne. VI prøvde derfor ut alternative metodar for høvling av fals. Den som fungerte best var å merke falsdybde med ripmot på kanten for å ha kontroll på den endelige dimensjonen. Videre ble det høvla ei not i det som blir kanten av falsen. Der ble det brukt en ploghøvel med ei list som fungerte som dybdestopp.
Videre i arbeidet ble overflødig material i falsen høvla bort. Etter en del prøving og instruksjon ble gjort både effektivt og nøyaktig med okshøvel ved å justere høveltanna skjevt i høvelen for å få den til å ta grovere i kanten. For å ikke høvle for djupt ble høveltanna justert tilbake mot slutten av høvlinga. Denne operasjonen gir også muligheten til å definere proporsjonen og utseende på listen siden vi står fritt til å variere dybde og bredde på falsen. I diskusjonen om hvilke lister som man ønsket å prøvehøvle ble det gjort en del refleksjoner om hvilke profiler og dimensjoner som skulle velges, både Roald og Atle hadde referanser og høvler til listprofiler fra Målselv og Bergen.Skisse over framgangsmåten på den eine lista. Øverst er det bare høvla not, så er falsen ferdig. På tredje skisse er det høvla profil på kanten av falsen og sist er det høvla en liten staff på innerkant av lista. Denne profillista finnes det ulike varianter av i Bergen. Denne listeprofilen er senere omtalt som list nr. 2. Skisse: Ellev Steinsli
Det ble klargjort materialer for 4 forskjellige lister med noe forskjellige profiler. To av listene har i utgangspunktet nesten lik utforming og utgangspunkt, men med noen forskjeller i hvordan man la opp til referansepunkter og anleggsflater for de forskjellige profilhøvlene. Det ble også brukt ulike profilhøvler på disse to. Ellers var det samme rekkefølge i arbeidet på disse to listene.Trond høvler profilen med profilhøvelen. Denne profilhøvelen har dybdestopp når heile profilen er høvla. Høvelen har et land som styrer etter kanten på falsen. Denne lista var den første vi prøvde å høvle og er omtalt som list nr. 1. Foto: Roald Renmælmo
I arbeidet med å høvle disse ble det klart at det ikke er store forskjeller på hvordan man legger opp rekkefølgen eller anleggene for de forskjellige profilhøvlene. List nr. 1 og 2. er dimensjonert likt og klargjort til profilhøvlingen men det som da fremsto som ett problem etterhvert var at den ene profilhøvelen til profil på list nr. 2. tydelig ikke styrte spesielt godt og krevde en tilpasning. Det ble prøvd med ett par småjusteringer i treverket i sålen på høvelen for å få denne til å gå godt, men det ble ganske raskt klart at det måtte til justeringer i høvelstålet. Etter justeringen høvlet denne høvelen en utmerket hovedprofil i list nr. 2. Forskjellen på å høvle profilen på disse listene er i hovedsak hvordan man starter å høvle. Det ble diskutert hva som er den beste metoden. Erfaring og prøving viste at på list nr. 1 er det å høvle med høvelen liggende på anleggsflaten og høvle rett ned mot den ferdige flaten fungerte best. På list nr. 2 ser det ut for at å bruke den samme anleggsflaten er en god måte å starte på, men det som ble best med en del prøver var å la høvelen arbeide seg ned i emnet mer på skrå for å til slutt lage ferdig profil med naturlig stopp i høvelen. Høvlingen av kvartstaffen på kantene er en operasjon som er mye enklere og som ikke ble diskutert nevneverdig, høvelen bruker kanten på listen som anlegg og stopper selv når hele profilen er høvlet.List nr. 3 i skjematisk framgangsmåte fra ferdig dimensjonert emne og til ferdig list. Skisse: Ellev Steinsli
List nr. 3 har en oppbygging som krever stor nøyaktighet for å ikke få halve profileringer på midtfeltet. List nr. 3 har en litt annen oppbygging med en karniss på begge kantene og ett ¨rille¨ felt på midten som gjør at dimensjonen helt styres av dette rillefeltet for å få riktig antall hele riller. På denne lista ble det klart at man måtte høvle karnissprofilen med kanten som anlegg og stoppen i høvelen fra begge kantene først for å bruke ryggen på karnissprofilen for å ha anlegg og start for rillehøvelen.
Hva er hensikten med ett slikt seminar og hvordan kan det bidra til å ta vare på tradisjonshåndverk? Det som er helt klart er at å jobbe på denne måten er det ikke mange i dag som kan. Det gjør det viktig å bruke kompetansen deltagerne har for å samle bitene og dele med hverandre. Det er en god måte å undersøke hvordan handverket kan ha vært gjort, diskusjoner i gruppen og mellom gruppene, muligheten med å kunne prøve å teste problemstillinger eller meninger i praksis er bra for å forstå lettare. Tilnærmingen til å forstå prosessen starter med å se på og undersøke tidligere arbeider. Verktøyspor, spor i veden etter høvelrettninger kan gi en pekepinn på rekkefølgen i høvlingen av de forskjellige profilene. Gruppen brukte mye tid på å diskutere og prøve ut hvordan man klargjorde emnene til profilhøvling. Det som var den store utfordringen ble hvordan lage nødvendige anleggsflater til de forskjellige profilhøvlene og samtidig få fjernet mye treverk på en enkel og rasjonell måte.
Det ble utprøvd en del teknikker, dybdestopp og anlegg på de forskjellige høvlene. Utfordringen viser seg ofte å ikke være høvlingen av profilene, (den gjør seg til dels ¨selv¨, misforstå rett) men å komme så langt at man kan gjøre denne operasjonen. Hvordan man dimensjonerer emnene, fjerner riktig og nok materiale til at det fremdeles er anlegg for profilen, og at dimensjonen består, er en mye større utfordring som krever at man tester og prøver ut dette i praksis etter hvordan listen skal se ut og hvilke høvler man ønsker å bruke. Her er mottoet ¨Øvelse gjør mester¨ og lære av egen og andres erfaring er det som skaper kunnskap og kompetanse som hver enkelt handverker kan benytte i daglig arbeide. For den som ikke har mye erfaring i høvling av listverk på denne måten er det meget viktig å kunne samle seg erfaring fra slike grupper og samlinger for å kunne tilegne seg kunnskapen som kreves. Ferdige produkter er ikke det sentrale, det viktige er å komme frem til kunnskap og få erfaring. Hvilke arbeidsmåter er sannsynlige? Listene som ble produsert, 3 komplette sett av dørlister med forskjellig profil gir en pekepinn på måten å jobbe seg frem til trolig metode og ferdig resultat er både rett og sannsynlig nærme det som er gjort i førindustriell tid.
Tekst av Ellev Steinsli, snekker og student på Teknisk bygningsvern og restaurering på HiST i Trondheim. Bilder av Ellev Steinsli og Roald Renmælmo.
Arkivert under:Bruk av høvelbenk, Handverksseminar, Listverkshøvling, Uncategorized
We’ve just released our December issue of The Highland Woodturner.
This month we’ve got some oldies but goodies including a popular tip from Phil Colson on how he is able to find FREE wood for his woodturning projects! We also included Aaron Cooley’s Wood News article on his organization, We Ride to Provide, which turns wooden urns for fallen K-9 teams.
Curtis Turner discusses Safety While Woodturning, including the important use of Face Shields and how they can help protect you from a looming accident. He also gets a start to the New Year by suggesting some helpful New Years Resolutions for your woodturning practice.
Rick Morris is back with an article on Creating a Turned Bandsaw Table Insert after he accidentally busted his old insert when he didn’t use a clamp on his bandsaw. He goes through the steps of turning your own insert and in the end you’ll have a suitable replacement!
We’ve also got the beautiful wood turnings of John Perrella who turns bowls made entirely out of Eastern hardwood trees.
And for all you last minute holiday shoppers, we’ve got our updated 2014 Woodturner’s Holiday Gift Guide!
All of this and more in our December 2014 issue of The Highland Woodturner!
Hilla Shamia’s work is among the most arresting marriages of wood and metal I’ve seen. Her pieces are made using a casting process Shamia developed while working toward a bachelor’s degree in industrial design at the Holon Institute of Technology in Holon, Israel. (She now has her own studio.) She calls it Wood Casting, and has trademarked the process. Shamia uses whole trunks of mostly local trees; they are cut […]
When Glen, Chuck and I decided to start 360 WoodWorking we went back to basics so that we could create great woodworking content in a format that made sense in the digital age. Paper, ink, newsstand sales and an issue arriving every other month in your mailbox were no longer constraints. You can read more on the topic at our “About Us” page.
Starting tomorrow, we’ll be rolling out the first “article” of our first “issue”, and you’ll see a new article every day until the entire issue is available. This premier release will be free, and will continue to be available for free as our way of introducing our content to the woodworking world. It’s a good representation of what our subscribers can expect to see.
After January 1, 2015 this type of content will only be available to subscribers. Next year, we will release six “issues”, about every 8 weeks. But we aren’t going to make you wait two months and then dump everything in your lap. Our subscribers will enjoy a fresh presentation (we don’t mind if you call it an article), video or online class every week. When we reach the end of the cycle, subscribers will see a “major release” of several project articles. In each issue cycle, there will be loads of content; articles on techniques, visits to interesting places, information from experienced and entertaining woodworkers and great project builds.
Our first “free issue” contains eight articles and more than 100 pages of advertising free content. Plus, we thought releasing it this way would make the point that there will be a constant stream of content for our subscribers. What you’ll see each day in the next week is typical of what you’ll see each week next year.
If you’re asking yourself “Okay, how do I subscribe?” CLICK HERE
If you’re not quite ready to sign up, that’s why we’re giving away an entire issue for free. We think you’ll enjoy what we (and our contributors) produce and the format in which we present it. If you’ve enjoyed our work in print magazines, books, videos, online and in classes you’ll find our unique combination of presenting solid woodworking information in a variety of formats a refreshing change and an excellent value.
All of our articles will be presented as as online versions that you can read anywhere you have an internet connection and as PDF files you can download (most have embedded video). You’ll have to check back to see exactly what’s coming, and the best way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to sign up for our newsletter, or become a paid subscriber. The following pictures will give you some clues.
Check back tomorrow, sign up for our newsletter and subscribe today.
It’s always exciting to see friends get featured and recognized for their woodworking projects, but it’s even more exciting when it’s something you they asked you for a little help with when they were first building it.
If you’re a subscriber to the Highland Woodworking Newsletter you probably already saw Dan’s Hockey Stick Bench, but if not, it’s a fun project to take a look at.
Dan originally sent a question into Wood Talk back in August 2013 asking for a little advice on attaching the goalie sticks (which were being used as the stretchers) to the sides of the bench. I can’t remember if we gave him the answer he was looking for, but regardless, the benches were so amazing that someone took notice and hired him to make quite a few more.
So congrats Dan! You did a great job and the benches look amazing. What’s next, one made from broken curling brooms?
I have written a few blogs about bodging and being bodged. My most favorite were My Mother was a Soviet Bodger and Teenaged Mutant Ninja Bodgers. Bodging as I use it means doing what must be done to make things work the best you can. Often modifying hardware to make it work.
The last blog was mostly about using bail or pull escutcheons for keyhole escutcheons. Like this:
Last week, I saw a chest that had escutcheons that seem to be designed to work either way. This is an escutcheon used with a bail.
And the keyhole version:
It works. Keeps down your escutcheon inventory.
And it looks better than just banging in a hole.
This video is another example of a blacksmith making chisels by forge-welding a harder piece of steel onto softer wrought iron using a charcoal fire, and who judges the temperature of the metal by observing the color and characteristics of the tool as he goes along. These videos are always have a bit of a freak show element, because everyone knows only Japanese blacksmiths would go to all this trouble and obsess over the changes in color that they see during this process.
Oh, wait. It’s Peter Ross. My bad.
It’s been a while since I last posted, but not for lack of material. I have no shortage of ideas and topics, but time has been in short supply over the last several months. Between moving to a new, dedicated shop, then moving to a new house and riding out some turbulence in my personal life, my time has been consumed by keeping up with orders. As things settle down, I will get back to writing.
I am taking a break next week to visit family, so all orders placed from this point forward will most likely ship out in January when I return and resume production. You will still be able to place orders, but shipping will be delayed until my return.
Bob Van Dyke sent some photos of the seventeenth-century chest we’ll be working from in the “one-weekend-a-month-for-five-months” joined chest class we’re holding at his Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking in 2015. The first session is in March, (these are the weekends we have booked: March 21 & 22, April 11 & 12, May 23 & 24, June 27 & 28, and August 8 & 9.)
The chest (above, peeking out of a tight spot) is at the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford. There will be a field trip sometime during the class to examine the chest in person; but Bob & I will go to measure and photograph it before the class begins. It’s not one I know well, but it has many relatives. Usually these chests have carved panels, and moldings and applied turnings on the framing parts, the drawer fronts are usually carved, with a surround of applied moldings. Here’s a center panel and the muntins of one of these creatures.
Here’s a two-drawer example, with applied decoration from the Yale University Art Gallery collection http://artgallery.yale.edu/
The CHS example has a vine motif all around the framing, like one that’s at Historic Deerfield, that I have copied before. Here’s my first version – I have another underway now.
One big difference that I see right off the bat is the vine’s layout. On the CHS chest it is a full-half-arc that then reverses direction every time it hits the centerline. So the centerpoints for these arcs are on the centerline. I used a compass, then wiggled when I darkened the lines with a pen. But you get the idea.
On the HD chest, the centerpoints for the arcs are not on the centerline; these are segments of arcs that flow into one another in a different way than the CHS examples. This one gives you a broader area for carving the various flowers/leaves. Either one works, no big deal. one requires a bit more thought in planning.
Here’s a detail showing this version:
The lid on the CHS chest with drawers is replaced in oak, the HD one is yellow pine if I remember right. We’re going to truncate the chest some, ours will have only one drawer below the chest instead of two. Our secondary wood will probably be white pine – floor boards, drawer bottoms, rear panel, & lid. All else is oak we’ll split from the log. Then plane each board – by hand. About 35-45 boards, somewhere in that range. Eat your wheaties. Sign up now, this is the one where you’ll learn and execute all the steps in making a joined chest from a log…
Bob has an article in the new SAPFM journal about his school’s collaboration with the Windsor Historical Society – this chest is a continuation of that collaboration. If you’re not a member, you didn’t get the journal – here’s their site: http://www.sapfm.org/
Small beads – 1/4”, 3/16” and 1/8” – are ideal for creating shadow lines and transitions between flat boards. The classic example is with tongue-and-groove backboards. If you add a bead on the face of every board with a tongue, the back will look finished, instead of something that has oddly spaced cracks.
But beads aren’t just decorative. They also protect corners. If I have an arris (a mid-falutin’ word for “corner”) that is vulnerable to damage, a bead can strengthen it.
Shown above is a classic example: These runners in this tool chest are going to get a lot of wear, and their corners are going to get whacked by tools and wood. By beading each corner, it is much less likely to splinter in service.
The beads also look nice.
And now that I have three beading plane sizes, I can even scale my beads – wider ones at the bottom and smaller ones at the top. Joy! Nerd!
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: The Anarchist's Tool Chest
Part one of 300. (Kidding…I hope)
I saw a comment on a recent Schwarzpost about purging your excess tools, complaining about how hard it is to find vintage / used backsaws. That’s true to a certain extent, but it occurred to me that it might actually be about the same amount of effort and cash outlay to build a saw from parts as to restore a vintage saw. Sure, the fresh-built saw won’t have the same vintage appeal (or rust pits) but it ought to work every bit as well. I restored a Diston backsaw a couple of years ago, and re-shaping the teeth with a file wasn’t any picnic. I didn’t get them perfect in the end, and my saw set was too coarse to get the set quite right. I’ll go back and tune that one up as part of this post.
There are a couple of places that sell saw nuts, slotted or folder backs and pre-punched plates, both ala-cart and as “kits”. Some you might want to check out are Two Guys In A Garage, Bontz Saw Works and Blackburn Tools. There are probably others. I purchased some parts from Isaac at Blackburn, he shipped the parts out quickly and has been very responsive to my naive questions.
The goal is to make a saw in the style of the 12″ carcase saw that is listed in Smith’s Key.
Unlike a typical carcase saw with crosscut teeth, this one will have fine rip teeth for dovetailing and small tenons. It also has somewhat less saw plate under the spine. I ordered a .025″ plate with 13 tpi. It should be a really handy all-around joinery saw.
As a side note, if you haven’t downloaded a copy of Smith’s Key it worth visiting the link above and downloading the whole thing. There are a number of interesting tools shown.
I also got a bronze slotted back and saw nuts from Blackburn Tools. The actual alloy of the nuts and saw back are different – Brass/Bronze ends up being a very loose definition of Copper-based alloys, and many different alloys are sold under similar sounding names. In this case the saw back is “Architectural Bronze” (57% copper, 3% lead, 40% zinc) and has a yellowish-white cast, looking more like Brass than (say) Copper. The saw nuts have a much redder cast and are probably Commercial Bronze (90% copper and 10% zinc). The higher copper percentage in the alloy is clear in the coloring.
Finding alloys that match in color and have the right properties for machining is no easy feat. I think the reddish nuts will look good against the Walnut I’m planning on for the handle.
Isaac has handle patterns for many different saws, in different sizes, on his website. Actually, “Two Guys” has a lot of interesting handle patterns on their site tool. I’m using the pattern Isaac drew up specifically for the Smith’s Key saw. I really like that he has each pattern scaled for different size hands.
I am actually going to cary several blanks through the handle making process. In part, because I’m concerned about getting the slot for the saw plate in the right place. I’m also thinking of making more than one of this saw eventually, so ending up with two or three handles would be just fine with me.
I have two handles going right now, one is a bit of figured Claro Walnut and another in a piece of Marbled Claro Walnut. I started by attaching a copy of the pattern to the wood with 3M Super 77. I drilled all of the holes as indicated in the pattern, then sawed the rest of the waste off on the bandsaw. I stayed off the pattern lines, so there was some hand work to do to get the handle down to the right shape.
I think for the second blank I’ll try cutting it on the scroll saw instead — I think I’ll be able to closer to the line and save some time filing and shaping. This handle looks kind of dicey in the pictures – partly because the pattern is fuzzy and obscuring what you can see. In person the contours are smooth and crisp. I filed everything, and worked most of the edges with a scraper.
It’s worth noting that I shouldn’t have have drilled the marker holed for the saw nuts — on this blank I’m now locked into putting the saw nuts there.
Next up I’ll bring the Marbled Claro Walnut blank up to this same point — and maybe one more blank just for good measure. Once that done I’ll cut the slot for the saw plate to make sure that goes properly.
The dressing table, or lowboy (and the terms are interchangeable in my book), is the perfect piece to study design. Much like a chair, it’s a complete microcosm of the elements that make up each style (and the transitions that take place between them). You not only get the basic flavor of the style, but there’s also tons to discover about regional variation.
In this country you don’t find dressing tables come into prominence until the William & Mary period. You also don’t find the highboy, or high chest (again, interchangeable), until the same basic time period, and lowboys tend to mimic the base of a highboy. Many lowboys were made as one half of a matching pair; a high chest and dressing table. But they are much more than just a highboy without the upper chest sitting on top. In fact, they are completely different than their grander counter-parts in many ways.
To begin with, their scale is smaller. A lowboy just doesn’t need to support as much weight, both physically and visually, as the base of a highboy. When you consider that most 18th century furniture design is based on the five classic orders of architecture, designing a low, horizontal piece of furniture that has both storage and visual lift is a challenge for any craftsman. How do you balance the desire for verticality with the need for drawer space? When you look at period examples, the answer is apparent – some with success and others, not so much.
While William & Mary (may or) may not be your favorite period, but it’s hard to deny the visual success of the Yale lowboy at the right. Compared to the base of the highboy at the top of the post (if we use the design as a baseline, even though the pieces were made in different regions by different cabinetmakers), the maker of the Yale lowboy achieved a lighter, more vertical look in several ways.
First, the reduction of the two center legs to finials helps reduce the visual weight of the piece. Six legs on such a small piece would have looked cluttered and bottom heavy. Opening up the space in the middle of the lowboy allows the outer legs to draw your eye upward from the floor making the piece appear taller.
The next change that modifies the look of the piece is a change in the proportions of the outer drawers. By narrowing them in width, the cabinetmaker continues to draw the eye upward from the legs. Putting more space between the drawers also makes them appear taller and narrows the overall look of the lowboy.
The final changes that help keep the piece from becoming a bloated box are the deep cutouts in the apron and the large overhanging top. By bringing the cutouts so close to the bottom of the drawers, the cabinetmaker again pushes your eye upward, whereas the apron on the highboy has more space giving the piece extra mass (necessary on a visual level given the weight it carries above). The generous overhang on the top makes the case appear narrower than it is, accentuating the tall, narrow legs.
Contrast the lowboy above to the Massachusetts example to the left. Although the cabinetmaker eliminated the two center legs, the heft of the remaining legs pulls the eye down and gives the lowboy more bottom weight. The space below the drawers to the bottom of the apron cutout adds even more visual weight to the piece. The broader drawers and smaller overhang all contribute to a piece that is less graceful overall.
That’s not to say the lowboy at the left isn’t a beautiful, well-made piece, it’s just that one is slightly more successful as an overall design than the other. I thought for my first “Design in Practice” post here on 360, I’d try to do a little comparison to get you looking at the various elements of a piece and how cabinetmakers combine them to achieve different looks. Essentially, both lowboys are made up of the same elements – a case, four legs, some drawers and a top. When you start working on your next piece, consider how all the parts play together and tell me which direction you’d rather go.
Something I've been involved with over the last year or so is the latest volume of "Working Wood" by Artisan Media. I bumped into Dave and Simon at the last "European Woodworking Show" and I obviously made the right impression on them. I've been involved with the chapters on wooden planes, it being my area of expertise, and as a general sounding board - it's been a real pleasure to have been a part of things in a small way.
Now I've finally got a copy of the book in my hands I'm extremely impressed with it - the photography is quite wonderful and the book is laid out gloriously. And Simon has done a wonderful job of putting over so much information in such an accessible way - the book is truly impressive!
This volume covers the workshop and the more advanced hand tools and jigs, as well as how to sharpen and maintain these. There is a huge amount of tricks and tips and the beautiful photography clearly compliments the text. Needless to say, I highly recommend this book!
As a final treat I was asked to right the foreword - there's even one or two photo's of me strategically placed throughout the book. You have been warned ;)
Available direct and from Classic Hand Tools in the UK.
Lester Griswold, Handicraft, 1951
I've noticed lately that there are several wood workers in the world of Internet wood work blogging that are bragging about being "vise-less".
Well, good for you!
I've used hold fasts almost exclusively on my bench for that last twenty years or so, hold fasts are cheap compared to a metal vise and I never got along well with leg vises. I don't make boxes or cut dovetails anymore, I make classical guitars which need much different clamping devices than say, oh, a Federal highboy.
Don't get me wrong, I do need to use a vise for some tasks.
One thing I enjoy about using holdfasts is how quickly you can hold a piece of wood and you don't have to use a pretty piece of wood as a clamping caul.
Hold fasts are efficient for most tasks, they are great for holding guitar necks!
I do own and use a Shop Fox brand vise that I bought from Grizzly some ten-eleven years because it was cheap and I needed a better way of holding certain objects. Personally, I think this vise is a piece of junk and isn't worthy of being a boat anchor-I have to use excess torque on the vise screw to hold the work piece and even after that the vise will turn on its tower, etc., etc. I am too cheap at the moment to replace it with something else.
Funny how deadlines can get in the way of doing things.
While carving the heel of a guitar neck the other day, I notice how the steep bevel of my one inch chisel kept bumping the chisel out of the cut. I was using the chisel with its belly down.
Most of my chisels are ground to a 30 degree bevel, this is left over from the days when I did chop dovetails and mortises, so I thought I would take one chisel and experiment with a 20 degree bevel.
I took my 7/8 inch Stanley No.720 chisel to the grinder and then locked it in my old Eclipse 36 Made in England honing guide.
The 20 degree bevel worked like a charm, now I want to experiment with a 15 degree bevel, but, again, the amount of time I have in the shop grows short.
I have two orders for custom classical guitars, a router table is waiting to be built so I can make muntin, rail and stile stock for eight sashes for the new porch enclosure which that also needs to be finish before winter really sets in.
Did I mention that our water heater developed a good leak the other day?
It's going to be a busy winter!
Another YouTube of Isabella Selder, enjoy!
Last year I had the wonderful opportunity to carve a half-size creche scene for Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, SC
It was carved in Paulownia wood – a very lightweight, but strong wood.
Mepkin Abbey has a yearly Creche festival where they collect 40+ Creche scenes from around the world – mostly hand made. If you ever have an opportunity to see the festival, it is really quite beautiful.
The carving was a real challenge because I only had about a month to complete all 3 figures. Grinders removed most of it. And then I used an electric carver to get closer to the final shape. Then I hand-carved the final details. I really enjoyed the challenge of the whole project. Since I do not carve figures much, that added to the adventure.
Here is a link to a recent newspaper article.
Recently three people e-mailed me to ask the same question, so it seemed like a worthy topic for a blog post. In essence there are two questions. Question number one is “why don’t the walnut pieces in the Gamble house bedroom look like walnut?” And the follow-up is “how can I get a piece I build out of walnut to look like that?”
Here is a snippet from Larry in North Carolina:
I recently purchased a bundle of books that included your book, Shop Drawings for Greene and Greene Furniture. I want to make a piece from black walnut and would like to achieve the color of the Gamble Chiffonier and Gamble bed, both shown in your book. These are described as black walnut, but with a very different color from the black walnut that I am accustomed to. I have a bunch of black walnut rescued from a barn in West Virginia, but it is very dark, almost black as the name implies. So, the first question is – can I achieve the color that I am looking for and if so, how? Did they use the process that you describe in your book for achieving the desired look for the mahogany pieces – the potassium dichromate and stain process – or some other process? Or, is the walnut used in the Gamble pieces different and I just will not be able to get there using the wood I have on hand?
My answer: The Gamble bedroom is 106 years old, and in my opinion that accounts for the color of the walnut. Where lighter woods tend to get darker over time, walnut tends to lighten in color. With old pieces it can be difficult to tell the exact species of wood as the colors tend to become similar. The primary wood in the Gamble bedroom is walnut and to the best of my knowledge, the finish on those pieces was either oil or shellac, possibly a combination, but I don’t think a stain was used.
So what can you do if you want the lighter color, other than wait a century for the wood to lighten up? Don’t use the potassium dichromate, it’s a strong oxidizer and will make the walnut darker. You could possibly bleach the walnut to make it lighter. With any of these chemical treatments you are rolling the dice as the color changes depend on a reaction with the bleach (or oxidizer) and the chemical composition of the wood. That’s the wild card as there is a lot of variation from tree to tree.
You might consider using butternut instead of walnut if you can find it. The grain is similar to walnut, but the color is lighter. Larry got back to me, and he decided to use cherry instead.
If you like Greene & Greene furniture, check out the online Greene & Greene Virtual Archives. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if you don’t get anything done for the rest of the day. Maintained by USC the archives contain thousands of images (both period and contemporary) of Greene & Greene projects. If you click “Search” from the home page, you can browse all the images project by project. This link leads to the Gamble house images.
I was feeling pretty good about myself. My son's desk had been in the corner of our warm, dry laundry room for a few weeks while I worked on other projects. The laundry room is small enough that I couldn't finish all of the pieces at once, so I did the base and the desktop first, with the gallery to come next. Finishing is frustrating for me, in part because you get to find all the defects you missed and in part because I have a real knack for runs and drips, but it went well and by Friday I was ready to move on to the gallery. I was putting it in place when, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a CRACK and no reindeer:
- Insert medium viscosity CA glue into the crack and then sand sawdust into it;
- Make a filler of 5 minute epoxy and sawdust, let it dry and sand it flush.
I mixed up some epoxy and folded in what seemed like the right amount of sawdust. Then I applied it to the crack, which I had masked off, and forced it in with a little spatula:
Five minutes later, this is what I had:
After about an hour (it would have been better to wait longer) I scraped and sanded it. After a coat of stain the next day, here is the result:
Hopefully this will never happen again but, if it does, I think I will try the CA glue and sawdust option. The thing that makes the epoxy show is its uniform color and smooth surface compared to the wood around it. I think the sawdust might be more like the wood surface.
Interestingly, it seems like expert finishers don't regard defects like this as particularly uncommon or serious. I have resisted learning about finishing, preferring instead to use the simplest, most foolproof finishes I can find. With this project, I tried and to a significant though not complete degree succeeded in crafting a piece of furniture that would meet high-end professional standards. This defect taught me that a part of the process of improvement is to learn more about finishing.
When I finally get to point where I’ve answered all my e-mail (sometime about July 2026), I might write a supplement or revision to the last bit of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” to include more construction information on different chests and the principles of their interiors.
When I wrote that book in 2010, I considered the chest in the book to be more of an idea than something that a reader would really build. I love (that’s the correct word) working out of a full-size floor chest and have since about 1997. But most people I talk to think it makes as much sense as using a gerbil to pull a plow.
This week I’m fitting out a traveling chest for an upcoming article in Popular Woodworking Magazine and am designing the interior to take advantage of every millimeter. Here are a few of the thought processes I use when designing the vertical space of a traveling chest (floor chests are different). Here’s a crude, shop-made sketch of the chest’s elevation in section.
The Bottom Well
With a typical traveling chest, you aren’t going to be able to store your moulding planes on their toes – that would take up about 10” of your vertical space. So you store them on their soles so they eat up less of the chest’s height.
If you use panels saws – which is typical if you use a traveling chest – you need to be able to accommodate the full height of the saw’s tote. The saw tills on my traveling chests grab the panel saws at their toes. The heel of the blade rests on the floor of the chest.
And you need to be able to put your bench planes on the floor of the chest with their soles on the floor of the chest. If you use tools with a high cutting angle (moulders or bench planes), you have to be careful and measure their heights.
So when I design the bottom well, I start with a height of 6-1/4”. Unless you have any unusually tall bench planes or panel saws, that’s a good starting measurement.
The Top Till
After drawing out the bottom well, the next step is to sketch the top sliding till. This is the till that usually gets all your small tools that you use constantly – layout tools, block planes a mallet, wax, knives etc. So this till is generally not very tall. I have found that a till that is 2-3/4” is a good overall height. When you figure that the till’s bottom will eat up 1/4” of that height it leaves you with an interior height of 2-1/2”. I really like this height.
When positioning the top till in the chest, I like to leave a 1/4” (or so) bit of airspace above the top till. This gap prevents damage to your tools or chest if you slam the lid and a couple of your tools are accidentally piled on top of each other.
Then you divvy up the space between the top till and the bottom well. If the overall chest isn’t tall, I might put in another 2-3/4”-tall till. But I’d rather have a deeper till that is good for storing tool rolls, boxes of augers, my brace, hand drill and the like. If I can get a till that is at least 5” tall in there, then I’m pretty happy. If I can get a slightly taller one in there, even better. Once you approach 7” deep, however, it becomes a junk drawer.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. Apologies for the crude sketch.
Filed under: The Anarchist's Tool Chest