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Before heading out for Charleston, S.C., to visit my dad, I added a couple face vises to my circa 1505 Holy Roman Workbench. These vises have no screws and no real jaws. Instead they clamp the work with a wedge.
The vises are merely large notches in the benchtop, so “installing” them took about an hour of time.
These “vises” – if you can call them that – are based on paintings and drawings of workbenches that Suzanne “Saucy Indexer” Ellison and I have dug up during the last 18 months for my next book. In this case, I’ve made a notch in the end grain of the benchtop and in the edge of the benchtop. Both sorts of notches are shown in paintings and I want to sort out if there’s any difference between them.
I cannot say yet if they work differently, but I can say the notch on the edge grain was much easier to saw and bash out. When I return home on Sunday, I’ll get to work installing a wide variety of other long-forgotten bench accessories that Suzanne and I have unearthed.
As I mentioned earlier, the scope of this book has expanded far beyond where it began, with Roman workbenches. The workholding schemes we have found are ideal for both low benches and high benches. And both sorts of benches – high and low – have always existed side-by-side, as they do today.
I’m also exploring how low benches developed lots of accessories for building chairs (both shaved and turned), boats, baskets and all sorts of items that require steam-bent wood. I think I’ve also convinced Suzanne to write a chapter of the book that will detail the paintings we’re exploring and the socio-economic conditions in which they were made.
Oh, and the book is also part travelogue. It begins at the summit of Mount Vesuvius and ends below the ground in a German forest.
Believe it or not, all these disparate elements are stitched together without any Kierkegaardian leaps.
So, after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to title the book: “Ingenious Mechanicks: Early Workbenches & Workholding.” We’re on track to finish writing it by the end of 2017. So we should have it released by March 2018.
— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com
Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized
The saw handle on my R Groves rip had been damaged and poorly repaired. It happens and it’s not uncommon at all to find a saw horn damaged. The repair popped off at some time and I have put off the repair proper until I found the right time; that’s something I rarely do because […]
I read a bit up on the various ideas behind it on the Internet, and it seems as there are a two models normally employed, both tapered along the length of the protruding part of the steel:
One version has a cylindrical shape of the tapered part all the way.
The other version has got a not completely rounded shape of the tapered part. (popular called eccentric)
I guess that the eccentric model can either be of an elliptic shape, or it could just be a circular shape with part of the perimeter moved inwards.
I am going to try to make a set of drawbore pins based on the last idea. I can't really see any advantages of a pure elliptical shape over the flattened circular shape, but there is a lot more work involved in making a tapered elliptic piece of steel compared to the flattened model.
After a bit of testing to try our some ideas I had regarding how to do it, I ended up with this way of getting the wanted result:
First a piece of steel is mounted as usual in the 3 jaw chuck, and the far end is supported by the live center.
I adjust the compound rest to a 1 degree taper, meaning that the including taper will be 2 degrees.
I then take some passes only using the compound rest, to make a tapered section. I stop when the thin end is approximately half the diameter of the steel rod.
I then have to move the main apron to continue the taper. That is because the travel distance of the compound rest is only 2.75". Once I have completed the taper to its final length, I stop.
The next step is to remove the old hole for the live center, so I can make a new one.
The new hole is made eccentric by adding a distance piece under one of the jaws in the chuck. In this case the distance piece is an old washer.
I leave the washer in place and make sure to orient the steel bar in the same way, and again use the chuck and the live center.
The eccentric mounting of the live center and the washer between the steel bar and the jaw now causes the entire piece to be wobbling in the lathe. Or more correctly it is eccentric mounted with a throw equal to the thickness of the washer.
I bring the turning tool into contact with the piece and repeat the process of making a small taper. I removed 0.6 mm (3/128") while making this second taper.
The result is a nice and shallow taper and if the piece is rotated there is a slight difference of the aforementioned 3/128".
As far as I have understood the idea of this is that you insert the flattened part into the drawbored holes, and then you twist the tool to tighten up the joint.
I am going to try to harden the drawbore pins before making some octagonal handles for them.
So far I have made two sets, 4 - 8 mm (5/32" - 5/16") and 5 - 10 mm(25/128" - 25/64")
Glue-ups are always a stressful moment – you have a short timeframe to correctly align the parts you’ve been working on for some time, and failure to do so can compromise your results. So, I figured I’d share some tips that I’ve learned over time, through many a stressful and suspenseful glue-up. 1. Do a dry-run. You can set aside all the clamps, look at your project and feel good […]
|for the people from Missouri|
|I'm not liking this corner|
|maybe this is the problem|
|diagonals are the same so it's square|
|found a piano hinge|
|using hide glue and sized the miters first|
|while the glue sets some|
|it's a Spears & Jackson which I think was good saw maker|
|made some test tails|
|more test cuts on the opposite end - there were dovetails here too|
|it's loose here|
|see the line under the spine|
|how I got the canted blade back.|
|handle still has square holes for the nuts|
|the saw nuts and bolts are in good shape|
|left side of the plate|
|right side has some rust|
|successful glue up|
|had enough scraps for all the squares except one|
|I'll french fit this one|
Who was the first US President born in the 20th century?
answer - John F Kennedy
What has happened to get to this point? Form selected. Blocks squared and installed. Outline traced onto the blocks. C-bout curves cut into the corner blocks. Curves cut on the neck and end blocks. Ribs thinned to proper thickness and trimmed to starting height. Bending iron fired up and curly maple bent into shape. Glued and clamped into place.
Not shown -- the top and back plates are joined (individually, that is).
I find the other ribs much easier to deal with, so basically this fiddle is moving along into its second trimester. Once the ribs and linings are in place, the outline can be traced onto the plates, and serious carving begins.
This is my Hardanger, so it will have typical Hardanger f-holes -- a new adventure for me.
Note also in the photo, just right of center at the top, the plastic handle of a cheap chisel. Even so, probably older than many of you reading this. I bought it in the 1970s, just out of high school, working as a carpenter. It is not what one would call a good chisel. I had a good friend who would chastise me, if he could, for including such a piece of sh*t in my photo here, but he can't.
And I use this cheap thing all the time. Need to slice some old, gnarly glue out of a mortise? Here you go. Works as an old-glue scraper, too. Split some wood into blocks? Whack! Won't stay sharp for a long, long time, but takes a good edge quickly and is just dandy, in this instance, for working blocks down to the point where my good gouges and scrapers can take over.
What works, works.
On December 9, two Popular Woodworking Magazine authors – woodcarver Mary May and Design Matters columnist George Walker – will be in Covington, Ky., to give presentations and sign copies of their new books, at a free event at Lost Art Press (7-10 p.m.). Don’t wait to reserve your tickets – space is limited. And while this is not nearly as exciting as meeting Mary and George, I’ll be there, too […]
A video version of this post has been added to our sharpening series.
All ‘Get Sharp’ customers can LOGIN to watch now.
Or You can Learn More about the Series here.
We’ve all done it.
Turned a smashing chisel into a left-handed skew.
Getting a 90 degree edge on narrow chisels can be troublesome.
Particularly if you’re free handing the job.
So I thought I’d give you a couple of tips that may help with sharpening narrow chisels squarely, (ish) freehand….
You can claim your free tickets for the Dec. 9 book release party with Mary May and George Walker using this link. The event is 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at our storefront: 837 Willard St., Covington, KY 41011.
Each author will give a short presentation on their work, answer questions and sign books. Drinks and snacks will be provided by Lost Art Press.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
I love to look at websites of woodworkers – amateurs and professionals – and see photos of their work. But when they describe their work using the following words, I think: This person is a pompous wee-wee head with a fake underbite and who walks like they are carrying a corncob without using their hands. You might disagree – that’s what the comments are for. But here is my list […]
Size the Stretchers from Your Assembled Stool
In this video I figured out the sizes and turning profile for my 2 stretcher and I even lay those dimensions onto my template board for easier turning. However, I say this in the video and I’ll say it again. You must capture the dimensions for the stretchers from your own stool as they will mostly certainly be different. For that matter they will probably be different with every one of these stools that you build. So laying out the template once shouldn’t be an excuse to turn everything to that same size.
Let's Finish the Perch
Next Live Broadcast will be 2 PM on Saturday 11/18/17
I’ll be boring the holes for the stretchers, assembling the whole thing and cleaning up in preparation for finish.
When your life’s work becomes a reflection in the lives of others – when you see others learning your craft from you and you can watch from a distance as they grow – there is something unique taking place that defies the status quo. Leaving North Wales two years ago seemed yet another big step […]
In 2015, I closed my public email address to preserve my sanity, though some would question whether I succeeded in my goal.
Lately, a lot of people have attempted to seek advice, feedback or whatever through my personal site: christophermschwarz.com and through firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m up to about five messages a day now.
Please don’t waste your breath, your fingers or your 1s and 0s. These messages are all simply deleted.
I know deleting them might seem rude. And some of you have told us how rude you think it is in long rants… which get deleted.
Trust me. It’s not you. It’s me. I had multiple public email addresses for 17 years and answered every damn question sent to me – no matter how odd or how much research it required. I helped lazy students with their papers on hand craft. I found links for people too lazy to use a thing called Google. I answered sincere but incredibly time-consuming emails from people who wanted to tell me their life story and get detailed advice on the steps they should take to become a woodworker.
And those weren’t even the ridiculous requests. It’s too early in the morning for me to even think of those.
It was all too much. I was spending hours each day answering emails. It cut into my time researching, building, editing and writing (not to mention time with my family). And then one message snapped my head in two. Out of respect for the individual who sent it, I won’t go into detail because he would be identifiable.
The email he sent was longer than my arm. It was going to take me hours to formulate even a half-a$%ed reply.
I deleted it. Then I deleted my inbox and my old email address.
So now I’m half-sane.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. If you really want to ask me detailed questions, the best way to do that is to visit our Covington storefront on the second Saturday of every month. I’m happy to talk to anyone about anything. I know some of you will whine that you are too poor to travel (while typing on your $2,000 computer…), but people have made the trip from almost every state in the country.
Filed under: Uncategorized
This week’s book giveaway is for a copy of “Mackintosh Furniture” by Michael Crow. Filled with shop drawings for 30 furniture designs by architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, it’s a must-have for fans of his work. Furniture forms include chairs, tables, bookcases, dressers, sideboards and more. You’ll also find 2 complete step-by-step projects that showcase some of Mackintosh’s signature furniture details. One copy is up for grabs. Simply post […]
The year was 1890 and the first ever dovetailing machine was patented by the Britannia Company, Colchester for £2 2s. It’s a dovetailing jig as we would understand it which is used on a foot powered table saw.
It was an unfortunate year, the beginning of the end of yet one more skill, but in the interest of gaining historical woodworking knowledge we shall read more about it and how it’s used.
A pine board 24”x 18”x 3/8” is clamped at each end on the table saw. A spline fitting the groove in the table saw ensures accurate movement, with a slot exactly in the centre of the two frames when in their places, for the saw to work through as shown in Fig.1.
Fix on the gauge, (Fig.3) which is a piece of wood with slots at intervals, according to the size of dovetails required- upon platform, (Fig.2), of frames, as shown. These gauges are generally fixed upon the lower ledge, but for some work the upper ledge may be more convenient. These gauges can be easily made by an amateur, or are supplied with the dovetailer.
The appliance in Fig.2 is to be fixed upon the board as shown, so that the saw may run clear when the movable frame is at either end of the segment.Put in the screw through the frame Fig. 2 and screw down so as to allow the frame to move backwards and forward. The frame is to be fixed as shown 2 ¾” from square line of saw. To cut the mortises, place the wood upon the inclined plane, having adjusted the table so that the saw will cut the correct depth. Bring the front edge of the wood up to the end of the gauge, holding the marker in the left hand so that it falls into the various slots s the wood passes up the incline. The positions of the operator, the movable table, the frames, gauges, inclined plane, wood, marker and saw are all very clearly indicated in Fig.1
When one row has been made, turn the wood round and take the marker in the right hand and follow each cut up the incline until the cuts are completed. To cut the tenons or pins, adjust the saw table so that the saw cuts the required depth. Fix the gauge on the lower ledge of platform, the inner end of gauge forming the distance for the first cut.
Of course, it will be understood that the cuts only are made by the saw. The clearances of the mortises and the wood intervening between the pins must be affected in the usual manner with a chisel. The merit of the entire appliance lies in the presentation of the edges of the wood to the saw in such a manner and in such a position that the saw kerfs, first in one direction and then in the other, are made with such sure and certain regularity of distance and direction, and perfect parallelism, that an operator who is comparatively an unskilled hand can be enabled to perform work which, if done by the hand, must be the outcome of long practice combined with the utmost care in execution.
England has been at the forefront of invention of engineering marvels since their creation of the Industrial revolution in 1830. I’m in midst of writing an article on the industrial revolution and its effect it had and still has on human lives. All I’m going to add is that this machine or appliance eliminates the need for a skilled dovetailer. I’m sure it would only take two minutes to train anybody to operate it and produce flawless dovetails.
For the sake of skill and of course profits, we have traded something more valuable in fact something priceless; skill.
Something to ponder, we marvel at how skilled they were, but how many of these skills were actual hand work or machine work. I think it’s safe to bet that our craftsmen in the 18th century were machine free and therefore truly skilled at their jobs. It would be grossly unfair if I said the opposite about craftsmen in the 19th century, but how many of those dovetails we see in antique furniture of that period were made by hand or by the patented dovetailing machine.
It made for a short night in the shop tonight but I was able to decompress. It seems that there are a lot of vets going on to the final resting place lately. I like knowing that what I do helps my fellow vets but I don't like reading the obits on them.
|one day later|
|time to see if the lid fits|
|cleaned the inside|
|just need to remove a sliver of air on this side|
|same on this side|
|planed most of the proud off and finished by sanding it|
|evened the top of the banding with the bullnose plane|
|planing at the top only|
|stopped once the pencil lines were gone|
|used a sanding stick to round over the edges|
|might have to go sans the lid|
|short sides done|
|dry fit looks good - one more tap closed this corner|
|I didn't want to chance gluing this up tonight|
What do you have if someone gives you a clew?
answer - a ball of yarn or string
Our new podcast episode is up and can be listened to above. In this episode, Mike and I discuss the relationship between tradition and innovation in our woodworking culture. This topic is near to our hearts and something we talk about often. Based on our interactions with readers about this over the past few years, this conversation touches on defining “tradition” and “innovation”, the advantages to one over the other, and how our individual and personal motivations for woodworking inform the way that balance plays out in our lives.
Theme Music by: Austin V. Papp and Jesse Thompson
Comments, Questions? Leave your thoughts below!
Took the kids for a walk in Burial Hill, Plymouth recently. Was a great sunny morning, perfect raking light. Cold though, up on top of that hill.
This is a well-known gravestone, among those who talk about such things. Patience Watson, d. 1767. Very nice carving, in fabulous shape.
These days Daniel is five-feet and change; so that’s a large stone above ground there. I wonder how deep it is below ground to be standing so long…
I went there for a decorative arts outing; but you end up reading the stones & get another angle too. This one is a sad story, a 2-week old child…
But the lettering! We owe Dave Fisher a trip to this cemetery when he comes up in June… https://davidffisherblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/learning-from-lettering/
This one is a family – husband, wife and child, all died within 3 weeks of each other. Has a great skull, with wavy hair/feathering/what-have-you behind it. Scrolling leaves along the sides. 1730.
Here’s the same carver – better condition. Better lighting…same year.
This one’s 1715, it and the one above were encased in new stone at some point. Being the home of ancestor worship means Plymouth’s graveyard gets some attention over the years. So many old graveyards suffer from neglect…
I dug out a couple stones from elsewhere – Henry Messenger, 1686. He was a Boston joiner, this stone is in the Granary Burying Ground, a famous cemetery in Boston
This one I’ve never seen, photo was given to me by my friend Rob Tarule. Thomas Dennis, joiner of Ipswich. Died 1706.
Here’s an ancestor of ours; Ebenezer Fisk of Lexington Massachusetts. Died 1775. Yup, that Lexington. One of the battles was on his farm, but he was pretty old and apparently dying. so probably of no concern to him…other things on his mind I bet.
I haven’t read too much about gravestones, but there is an excellent book I recommend “Graven Images: New England Stonecarving and its Symbols, 1650-1815, by Allan I. Ludwig. Wesleyan Univ Press, 1966. My copy is dated 1999, so reprinted at that point.
Drivel Starved Nation-
My latest trip to China was my favorite to date. When you are on an informative trip, fun is easy to find. When the weather is perfect, trips like this become magical.
The highlight for me was the gift Mr. Yang, the Hong Mu Master presented to me. It is a sample of the joinery used in his masterpiece pictured below;
Incredibly, mastering this joint can take up to a year. The rosewood supply he has is finite, so there is no tolerance for waste when it comes time to make a chair. And because there is no finish, the joints need to be perfect to become invisible. It truly is an amazing display of craftsmanship. The joint itself (I wish I would have asked if it had a name) is a thousand years old I am told.
Here is a short video by Academy Award Winning Cinematographer Wanna Be Consuelo;
Each chair arm has 6-8 of these joints. They are incredibly strong and could be completely functional without adhesive… they are that strong.
Pretty cool yes/no?
The post The Woodworking Joint Used in the Arms of Ming Dynasty Chairs… appeared first on John's Blog.