Yesterday I had to make a tool run up to my backyard antique tool shop. Since Eden had plans to be watched, we decided that Julia and I would make a date out of it. I don’t know if it’s because we haven’t had an official date for months now or if she really is coming around to be a tool lover, but she remarked several times during the shopping trip, “This place is awesome!” Oh my. I am a blessed man. I never thought I would hear my wife sing the praise of antique tool shopping!
But she’s right. This place is awesome. Owned by the same owner of the legendary Liberty Tool Company, the Hull’s Cove Tool Barn is not to be missed. I’ve been coming here for the past years to purchase most all of my tools. The condition of the tools varies but most are usable after a quick sharpening. The prices are amazing and the inventory turnover is regular. This shop is smaller than the three story 19th century Liberty Tool company building, but the items in stock in Hull’s Cove are all high quality.
Julia and I really scored this time. We got some great garden tools and a load of woodworking tools for a few dollars apiece. To cap off the morning date, Julia and I continued down the road a few minutes into downtown Bar Harbor and got lunch at Geddy’s, always a good stop.
In homestead news, we have been hard at work on seed planting, mud oven and beehive constructing, and we have been working out the kinks in our sourdough baking. We spent the other day over at our friends’ place, Tinder Hearth Bakery. Tim and Lydia were gracious to help us fine tune our recipe for our soon-to-be-built mud oven.
Finally, we planted a Winter Gravenstein apple tree from Five Star Nursery this week. We had been planning to plant a fruit tree in commemoration God’s faithfulness and goodness to us during that rollercoaster of a pregnancy four and a half years ago.
We dug the hole, filled in the fish emulsion and compost and followed the planting recommendations from Five Star. We also were happy to thaw the placenta from Eden’s birth, patiently waiting in the freezer for four years. Many cultures have used the placenta rather than discard it: everything from planting it under a fruit tree to indigenous peoples eating it. Since we are weak-stomached westerners, we left the place settings in the cupboard and opted for the spade shovel.
Okay… so maybe you suspected we were hippies. Consider your suspicions confirmed.
well. I’ve been swamped lately. Just back last Sunday night from a week in Maine at Lie-Nielsen,
Here’s their tiny blurb about it:
“Just finished shooting our fourth DVD with Peter Follansbee, “17th Century Great Chair.” Details coming soon…”
Because it is May, I got some osprey shots in Damariscotta.
Then finished up there with a two-day class in riving, planing & carving. First thing Monday morning it was off to work, trying to get the shop organized, then jumped right into prepping for a talk I gave today to EAIA whose annual meeting was at Plimoth. It was simple enough to do the lecture; but then all day in the shop there were toolies who stuck around and asked questions that were more in-depth than some of my usual fare. It was great, but now the lawn needs mowing, we’re trying to fence out some groundhogs; the kids’ weekend activities – (horse-back riding & baseball) are coming up and the ordinary dump run, etc.
Oh, and it’s been still almost sweater weather at some recent points, but now it’s hot. so out with the woolens, find the window screens, etc.
so that’s why no blog lately. I hope to get back to it pronto.
here’s photos from the class at Lie-Nielsen, it was a great group of people – I always have a good time there. Also a link to their facebook page about it. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151424181563016.1073741844.100708343015&type=1
New-York, February 12th, 1842.
Sir – I have the honor of being in the receipt of your circular requesting information in relation to the effect which the introduction of the manufacturing of planes, in the prisons at Auburn and Sing-Sing, has had upon our business. In reply to which, it may not be deemed improper to state something of the rise and progress of this branch of business in this country.
At the close of the last war, the manufacture of planes was carried on to a very trifling extent in this country, we being chiefly supplied by those of foreign importation; about which time my father (our predecessor,) established this branch of business in the city of Albany; but the strong prejudice in favor of imported planes rendered it necessary to make very considerable sacrifices, to sustain the establishment of the business during its infancy; and for several years it was carried on with scarcely sufficient profit to cover expenses, and afford a livelihood. But, by patient perseverance, he was at last enabled to compete with planes from abroad, both in price and quality; and having gained an enviable reputation for his American planes, for a few years he was enabled to do a very good business, and gave employment to 20 or 30 hands, at good wages; and he looked forward to a reward for the toil and anxiety he had undergone, in aiding to establish a home manufacture for this important article of merchandise.
This business, however, having become known, and from its being in but few hands, considered as somewhat better than the ordinary occupation by which mechanics and manufacturers obtained a livelihood; I presume it excited the attention of that class of grasping, avaricious men, who are even now constantly on the watch to find victims to the system of State prison labor, or to procure a knowledge of some business upon which the cheap labor of prison convicts, can be most profitably employed; utterly regardless of the ruinous consequences which may result to those who may have their all invested in the same branch of business; who have depended upon it for a support to themselves and families, as well as those in their employment; and, perhaps from the very fact of the ease with which it was supposed that the few engaged in manufacturing planes, could be prostrated by this unfair but powerful competition, it was largely introduced in the State Prison at Auburn, as I have been informed, under the superintendence of a foreigner.
During the infancy of this establishment, while the convict journeymen were but raw hands, and of course the work of but a very inferior quality, we did not at once feel any very serious inconvenience from this competition although they soon began to supply orders for the coarse and leading articles in our line; but, after a few years, when the “felons” had acquired a knowledge of the trade, and the prison factory became better established, we found the heaviest and most profitable portion of our business leaving us, on account of the ability of our customers to furnish themselves at a less rate than we could possibly afford, we were therefore under the necessity of lessening the cost of our planes, by a heavy reduction of wages; this being followed by a corresponding reduction of the prison planes, we were compelled still further to reduce the wages of our journeymen to such rates as to afford the most of them barely a comfortable subsistence, and to commence the introduction of machinery in our factory as far as practicable; these advantages, and the acknowledged superiority of our goods, enabled us for a time, while all kinds of business were good, to progress in our operations, and to make a living, giving employment to 40 hands, including 16 apprentices.
However, our ruin appears to have been determined upon, and machinery was introduced into the prison, to assist and facilitate labor at from 30 to 37 ½ cents per day, and a branch of the prison plane-factory was established at Sing-Sing, to give them at all seasons a better command of this market. This made a corresponding move necessary on our part; the high price of living, in New-York rendered it impossible for us to continue our entire establishment in this city, oppressed by such a competition; and we were driven to the necessity to removing a portion of our hands to the country, where we should be enabled to take advantage of water power, and the cheaper subsistence of a country life, by which means we hoped to be able to produce the leading articles in our trade, at such a rate as would enable us to compete with the products of the State prisons; but, being convinced that no reduction which we can make would not meet with a corresponding reduction on the part of the prison contractors, we have discharged the principal portion of our hands, the most of whom have been driven from their legitimate pursuits, to some other for a living; some having enlisted, some driving carts, others attempting to earn their bread in occupations foreign to their own, are considered as unwelcome intruders in the branches they have adopted. Our entire concern both in and out of the city, being now reduced to 11 journeymen, and one apprentice; we have from year to year been dragging our business along, looking forward with the greatest anxiety to the Legislature, for relief from this unjust and ruinous competition.
We feel that there is a peculiar hardship in our case, inasmuch as if any thing is due to the untiring perseverance and great sacrifices, with which our business has been established in this country, and the growth of our soil converted into valuable merchandise, giving labor to the mechanics of our own country, and rendering us independent for a supply of articles so necessary in an increasing country like ours; that we, as among the foremost pioneers in the establishment of this business, should be protected from certain destruction by the reckless course pursued by the contractors for felon labor. We ask Legislative interference not only for ourselves as manufacturers, but for those whose trades, for which they have sacrificed the term of an apprenticeship, have been rendered worthless by the employment of the prisoners in the performance of that labor to which they have a right to look upon as affording the means of a subsistence.
We are of an opinion that the last contract for plane-makers in the prison, was made in direct violation of the law (passed, I think, in 1834,) and, that a strict construction of that law, would at once put a stop to our business, in both prisons; also that the agents receiving $10,000 worth of planes for the State, to pay the debts of the contractors at Auburn, was an exceedingly liberal construction of his powers, and we know that the thrusting them at once upon the market, has been disastrous to us.
As chairman of the committee upon State prisons, we would most earnestly commend our business to your especial attention; and for any further information you may desire, I would refer you to my brother, (your colleague,) who is abundantly capable of stating the effect upon our business for many years past, of this detestable competition. I feel well assured that you are desirous of advancing the interests of the mechanics and laboring men, and as far as lies in your power, to protect the honest man from the effects of this unrighteous system of converting our State prisons into manufacturing establishments, and bringing his labor to a level with that of the very refuse of society. I therefore, flatter myself that the subject may be brought at this session before the Legislature of our State, in such manner as to be productive to us, who have severely suffered for many years, of the most beneficial results.
I have the honor to be,
Yours very respectfully,
Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York – 1842
- Jeff Burks
Filed under: Handplanes, Historical Images
You can see more of Sharif's work on his blog here
I have amused myself thinking about how I want to make the drawers for my tool chest. Books have been written on the subject and I have little to add save my own preferences and some practical considerations.
As I've written, somehow the traditional half-blind dovetails on the drawers for a tool chest don't feel right to me, sort of like wearing a tuxedo into the shop. I am not arguing that this makes sense, only that it's my feeling.
A comment suggests through dovetails which would obviously show through the front of the drawer and this appeals to me. There is a complication in that the dovetails would have to be laid out very carefully or the dados for the runners in the sides would have to be stopped. I decided to pass.
I could of course make the drawers in the modern fashion--a box with butt joints and a false front. Based on experience with the custom cabinets in our house, they hold up better than you might expect and I could pin them for strength. Don't like them.
I went on in this vein for some time and finally came back to where I started with a twist. What if I used half-blind dovetails with a single tail and pinned the tails in addition? For whatever reason, this just seems more like what I want to see on a tool chest. The extreme case is the 3" drawers which, with 1/2" pins will have a tail 2" wide, so I decided to see what they would look like:
These look right to me and I think a couple of 1/8" pins in the tail will look fine, so this is what I am going with. I think they will have sufficient strength for shallow drawers like this. A 1/4" dado will run down the middle of the tail. You may also notice that I am using oak rather than a secondary wood. I have a lot of alder but I am not sure how it would wear on the runners. I also intend to take these drawers out a lot and put them on my bench, so they will look nice completed in oak. There just isn't the cost saving there would be on a large piece.
I happened to stumble across some 24"x30" baltic birch plywood panels on sale so that is what I am going to use for the bottoms, glued solid in slips (Surprisingly, the plywood is actually 1/4" thick, so I can make the groove with my plow plane.). I know that many of you don't like this, but I think plywood has substantial advantages in this application--these drawers will be very solid.
Here is a sneak peak at the cover project for the August 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. This project is also the subject of a video from Robert W. Lang that will be available soon. Subscribe now, and you won't miss out. Read more
The post Sneak Peek at August Popular Woodworking Magazine Cover Project appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
“By Hand & Eye” will ship from our printer on Wednesday, May 21. So if you would like to order the book with free domestic shipping, you should place your order before midnight Wednesday. After Wednesday, domestic shipping will be $7.
“By Hand & Eye” by George R. Walker and Jim Tolpin is $34 and can be ordered here.
We never discount our books, nor do our retailers. So this is the only special offer we will make on this title.
The book will be carried by Lee Valley Tools, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and Tools for Working Wood. If other retailers agree to carry to title, we will announce it here.
As I mentioned earlier, we will offer 26 copies of “By Hand & Eye” bound in leather for $185 each. We will have details on those copies in June. We also will offer the book in ePub and Kindle format.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Books in the Works, By Hand & Eye
I’m sure you’ve heard this: What separates a good woodworker from a great one is his or her ability to hide mistakes.
Which is complete and utter crap in my opinion.
The really fantastic woodworkers I have worked with don’t make many mistakes at all. What they do encounter – like all of us – are times when the material fails. A weak spot in the grain breaks off or a tool encounters something unexpected in the wood.
These problems do require repair, and that is a good skill to have.
While there have been books and articles written about repairing woodwork, I’ve found them lacking. Usually the “mistake” was created by the person writing the article. So it usually requires a simple and straightforward fix.
And that is rare in the world of woodworking.
So here is a real-world repair I had to make last night on the campaign chest I’m building. After about 160 dovetails in the case and drawers, I was assembling the final joint when a corner of one of the tails disintegrated.
The joint was perfect enough. The wood was unexpectedly weak because of a resin pocket in the pine.
The bad news was that the part that crumbled went missing into the shavings. The good news is that I wouldn’t have wanted to use it anyway.
Step. 1. Stabilize the existing wood. I cut away anything that seemed loose or could be crumbled away with my thumb.
Step 2. Make a surface for joinery. Using a chisel, I cut the wounded wood until it was a regular rabbet. I measured the width of the rabbet at both its wide and narrow ends.
Step 3. Make a patch. Using the drawer’s pin board as a template, I drew in the shape of the patch I needed on a piece of scrap pine. Then I sawed out the patch and smoothed the part with a block plane.
Step 4. I glued up the drawer without the patch. Then I glued the patched in place, driving it in with a mallet. Finally I sawed and planed the patch flush. Right before I finish the piece I’ll draw in some grain lines to imitate the pitch – probably with a sharp permanent marker (orange ink).
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Techniques
Robin Wood posted this wonderful old film about bodging in the Chilterns and I had to share it.
Filed under: Seating Tagged: bodgers, Chilterns, Windsor chairs
I read Christopher Schwarz’s write up of his new “A Traditional Tool Chest in Two Days” DVD, aka “The Traitor’s Tool Chest”.
When I go to Woodworking in America, I’m going to go to his talk on building tool chests and workbenches out of home center materials, and I’m going to yell, “Judas!” And he can retort, “I don’t beLIEVE you. You’re a LIAR.”
On today’s show, we’re talking about die grinders and burrs, PVC pipe, Forrest vs Freud, scraping after tearout, jointer bed length, granite top retrofits, back bevels, blade height, effects of finish on wood movement, and buying wood just because.
Around the Web
1. Plane the board with your smoother and then scrape the areas of tear out only?
2. Scrape the whole thing so you have the same surface?
3. Something else? — Marilyn
Comments, questions or topic suggestions?
- SKYPE – Woodtalkonline.
- Voicemail – (623) 242-5180.
- Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
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For the rest of the shownotes including any links, voicemails, and emails; along with contact information and downloads for today’s episode, visit www.woodtalkshow.com.
And this one feels even more dated I grew up watching this stuff, the Generation game from 1974, with my mate Stuart King doing chairmaking unbelievable that Bruce Forsythe is still presenting today.
1. Ty Black, my shop assistant, is moving to Jacksonville, Fla., with his wife and kids. They’ll be setting up shop down there is due time, and I hope that Ty will still be able to contribute to what we do here in the Midwest.
Ty’s been working in my shop three days a week since August and has made himself quite valuable. He volunteered to work here unpaid and could come and go as he pleased. As I never – ever – want to manage any employees, that’s the only arrangement I could bear.
However, I did hire him as a freelancer to work on several Lost Art Press projects. The biggest one – the one I cannot talk about – took him months of scanning and coding. When we announce that project (soon!), you will fully appreciate his skills and his time served here.
2. John Hoffman, my business partner at Lost Art Press, is leaving his day job with the government at the end of May to work full time for Lost Art Press.
I could not be more excited about this.
Though I am frequently the face and the name that goes with Lost Art Press, John is an equal partner in this business. Without his behind-the-scenes work on the business, Lost Art Press would still be puny. As it stands, we are growing fast enough to support our families and continue to publish four titles (or more) a year.
While I am sad to see Ty move (who will eat at Eli’s with me?), I cannot overstate how important it is that John is going to be working on Lost Art Press all day, every day.
So stay tuned.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites
There are certainly more than just two types of classes, but the two most common are “project classes” (build a chair, table, etc.) , and “technique classes” (learn to cut dovetails, etc.). Many classes combine a bit of each, and you learn some techniques as you build your project.
I’m teaching a class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking (www.marcadams.com) this July 8-12 called “From Woodworker to Craftsman” that may fit into a different category. It’s a class I’m pretty excited about, although it may not be immediately obvious why. There’s a fun project to build (a tool tote), but that isn’t really the focus of the class. And it’s not really a techniques class, either, although it’s got plenty of that as well (we’ll hand cut dovetails and mortise and tenon joints, deal with some curves, and more.
So what’s different about this class? I wanted to design a class where there was a little more emphasis on really improving skills, and developing a better sense of how to get the most out of your tools (and your body). This is obviously something I’ve been working on for quite some time now, and my most recent book – The Foundations of Better Woodworking – was a close look at this topic. This class puts it all into practice.
If you’re looking for more of a project based class, I’m also teaching a Slat-Back Chair class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking (www.schoolofwoodworking.com). This is a pretty intense week of building an exceptionally comfortable dining chair, and learning about chairs and how to make them. We’ll cover all kinds of chair related issues: curves, joinery with curves, angles and angled chair joinery, bent lamination, and much, much more.
Many of the best mechanics prefer the Wood Bench Planes to the Iron and combination iron and wood planes, but have been compelled to use the latter, owing to the poor quality of the wood bench planes commonly sold.
The fact is that the majority of Wood Plane makers for several years past have been trying so hard to find out how cheaply they could make planes, that they have forgotten all about what a good plane means, and the result is that 90 per cent of the wood planes sold in the stores are almost good for nothing, and the other 10 per cent are but little better. The wood is unseasoned and spongy, and the irons so poor that they hardly hold an edge from the oilstone to the work.
It is a positive fact that a first-class double Plane Iron cannot be made and sold at the price that many of the so-called first quality planes are sold at complete.
We have before us a catalogue just issued by a firm who deal quite extensively in mechanics’ tools. In this catalogue the net selling price of a so-called first-class Smooth Plane with 2 ¼ inch double iron, is $0.56. We quote from the description of these planes, “The irons are guaranteed to be the best in the world.” Turning over a page or two we come to Plane Irons priced separately, and find that 2 ¼ inch double plane irons are sold at $0.58. Quoting again from the description of the Plane Irons, “These Plane Irons are guaranteed to be the best made.” It seems a little funny that the “Best irons in the world” should sell at $0.56 with the balance of the plane thrown in, while the “best made” plane iron only, is held at a price of about 4 per cent higher.
The brand of Plane Irons referred to is of excellent quality; in past years we have sold quantities of them, but, in our judgment, they are very far from being the “Best made,” and will not compare favorably with the Plane Irons made by any of the better class of English makers—say Moulson Bros., I. Sorby, Spear & Jackson, or Ward & Payne, French plane irons made by Peugeot Freres, or American plane irons made by Buck Bros.
Our Bench Planes
As we could find no Bench Planes in the market that are suitable for our class of trade, we are compelled to have these planes made to our special order. All of our planes are made of well-seasoned Eastern Beech, are oiled, polished and shellaced; they have steel starts, and the jack, fore and jointer planes have bolted handles. The plane irons used are the Ward & Payne (Sheffield) brand, and if these irons are not the “Best in the world,”they are certainly equal to any, and are the best we have ever been able to find. Every plane is stamped with our name, and we do not believe that the equal of these planes can be found elsewhere.
Chas. A. Strelinger & Co. – Detroit, Michigan 1897
- Jeff Burks
Filed under: Handplanes, Historical Images