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This excellent exhibition runs from 19th - 28th August at its usual venue in Cheltenham.
For all furniture lovers it is well worth the trip and a great day out.
I'm pleased to be showing a number of my boxes, including this jewellery box as well as the little walnut four drawer chest you can see in the background.
I'll also have a couple of planes there for sale including this small smoother in rippled ash and brown oak.
This week our new managing editor, Brendan Gaffney, posted his first project completed in the Pop Wood shop, a staked leg coffee table. Bob Flexner takes us inside a hide glue factory (you can thank me for deactivating the smell-o-vision on the post.) Chris Schwarz shares how a doe’s foot helps him avoid a tail vice. Nancy Hiller details her decorative gouging technique on a hayrake table. Be sure to catch up […]
|set up overnight|
|clamps off and step one in checking for square|
|checking the opposite diagonal|
|looks like 2-3 frog hairs out|
|it'll go but it is too snug|
|the drawer divider|
|checking for twist|
|the bottom was the problem|
|dado waste ready to go|
|most of it chiseled out|
|sawing out the drawer guide|
|set back 5/8"|
|swapped it out|
|now I can install the bottom shelf|
|had to use the side rabbet planes again|
|this is toast|
|securing the bottom shelf|
|making the notch for the vertical divider|
|vertical divider notches, an upside down look|
|vertical divider fitted and glued|
|two plane tag team|
|basic cabinet is done|
|loaded it up with a few goodies|
|drill guide for the shelf pins|
|put in 3 rows of shelf pins|
|oversized shelf just sawn to R/L length|
|the 2/3 shelf|
|ripped the full width shelf|
|notches for the shelf pins|
|checking the fit|
|making the big drawer front|
|just enough meat left to square up the width|
|one face flat|
|this board is in better shape|
|this will be sawn off|
|sawn to rough width of 4 3/4"|
|finally got the twist out|
|the rest of the drawer stock|
|ripped out the last drawer part|
|drawer and door parts stickered until tomorrow|
|got some 15 min hi test stripper|
|done for all intents and purposes|
Good progress today and hopefully I'll match it tomorrow.
She was the second woman to fly across the Atlantic solo and the first to do it from east to west. Who was she?
answer - Beryl Markham
I was making a rare visit to a local antiques mall recently when I came across a small desk similar to one I had seen and written about in November of 2015, (See Convertibles.)
The dealer called it a traveling desk:
The novel feature is that this desk like the previous one, opens to reveal the gallery hidden within:
This might be one of those times I disagree with the dealer. I don’t think it is a traveling desk. Among other things, the legs don’t fold are a bit on the delicate side to travel much.
I looked at the previous blog and realized it is the same desk. It had disappeared or been buried under other inventory for the past two years only to reappear and taunt me.
One new discovery made using the same technology is this bar unit:
And it opens to reveal:
While we are looking at recycled idea, I found this side locked piece that might properly be called side latching.
The side doesn’t really lock having only a ball catch and no lock.
Not that old. Phillips screws on the hinges. This desk was definely made after 1936.
A customer brought in this Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent without the original New York Pickups. Having rewound some in the past I have an understanding about how they are constructed. The owner wanted to try something different so I made a set of traditional single coil bar pickups in the same type of mounting rings as the originals. I milled delrin bobbins to surround the steel bars and used rare earth magnets. The covers are bent brass. Shaping the mounting rings was a challenge due to the curvature of the top.
The post Custom Pickups for Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent Varitone appeared first on James Roadman Instrument Repair.
During my days as a woodworking magazine editor I attended AWFS only once, even though the show happens every other year. At the event I attended, I have to say that I was blown away by the student exhibit, which is nowadays known as Fresh Wood. (It may have had the same name back then, too.) In fact, after the competition the magazine for which I worked included an article by one of the students selected to exhibit in Las Vegas at the show.
Read the other installments in the “Sharpen This” series via this link.
Let’s pretend I want to break one of your fingers. The job would be easy if you held up your fingers in the air with them spread apart.
It would be more difficult to harm you if you clenched your fingers in a fist. And it would be almost impossible if you stuck your fist inside a shiny and hard vase.
Violent fantasies aside, this exercise demonstrates one benefit of polishing your edges. A steel edge breaks down quickly when the iron atoms aren’t well connected to one another. So when there are deep abrasive scratches in your tool’s edge, those act like the space between your fingers. Without good support among the atoms (or your fingers) it’s easy to break them off – making a dull edge and a howling reader.
Clench your fingers in a fist, and you have created a durable structure that can keep your fingers intact. Sheathe your fist in something, and it’s going to take me a while to punish you for the naughty things you’ve done.
In sharpening, the act of polishing removes the deep scratches that separate the iron atoms, which are in a matrix with carbon. The fewer and shallower the scratches, the more durable the edge. This is, I think, easy to understand.
But what makes some people do silly things is the idea that they can create the ultimate cutting edge by polishing to finer and finer grits using particles that are less than 1 micron across.
In theory, sure. Polishing can refine an edge to an incredible degree. But it’s unlikely in the real world using real-world abrasives.
I’ve used sub-micron sharpening equipment (less than half a micron) that costs a stupid amount of money. I worked with these stones and slurries for months to get comfortable with them and improve both the sharpness of my edges and the finish on the wood. I concluded it was a fool’s errand.
In a real workshop, there are just too many abrasive particles on every surface to make this sort of crazy sharpening a practical thing. And the purity of the sharpening media itself – despite the manufacturer’s claims – play a big role in the results.
Also, these super-fine abrasives cut so slowly that you might want to have “Heaven’s Gate” on your shop’s TV while you polish that one holy edge.
So What is a Practical Polish?
Believe it or not, the cutting edges of woodworking tools haven’t gotten insanely better in the last 200 years. That’s because we have always had abrasives that get the steel to the same approximate level of sharpness and polish. The pre-Industrial craftsman might have had stones that were inferior to modern stones, but he or she also had a strop, which is the great leveler among the sharpening cultures.
Strops are charged with fine abrasives – a micron or so – that break down to even finer particles with use. And so a fine polish and a wicked edge have been available for many generations. We know this from books, of course, but also from the furniture record. Visit the Winterthur Museum some time and observe the pieces made using ribbon-stripe mahogany that are nicely planed. Those cutting edges were plenty sharp.
In my experience, the sharp edge that can handle anything in woodworking is made with an abrasive that is about 1 or 2 microns – give or take. After that point, the time and care required to take the edge to a noticeably higher level simply isn’t worth it (unless your hobby is sharpening or you participate in Japanese planing contests).
If you want to polish beyond 1 micron, you’re not hurting anyone. So feel free. But for people who want to get back to the work as soon as possible, 1 or 2 microns is the sweet spot for an edge that is sharp and durable.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Sharpen This
Upcoming in Issue Three: “On Perfection: Both Practical and Practiced” by Jim McConnell
An idea is like a rabbit. You can’t sneak up on it. You have to let it sneak up on you. Like most creative types, I feel like in some ways I’ve been chasing perfection for most of my life without ever asking what that might really mean. Lately I’ve had some questions.
I’ve started to wonder, what is so compelling about the idea of perfection? Is perfection a product or a process? Is it something that stands out there in the ether or something that can be actualized? Is it an idea or something you can stub your toe on in a dark room? Does it mean the absence of error or the evidence that a tangible object has been crafted by hand? When we say a thing is perfect, what do we mean and why?
Last year I decided to seek wise counsel on the topic and began asking other craftspeople to explain “perfection” with the only constraint being that they do so in one-thousand words or less. The answers I received were so diverse and interesting that I began publishing them each month as part of an ongoing project on my blog. Naturally, a conversation ensued. I’ve largely tried to stay on the periphery of that conversation until now, but in issue three of Mortise & Tenon Magazine, Joshua has asked me to finally weigh in on the subject. The generous soul that he is, he’s even given me an extra 1000 words. In those 2000 words I’ve tried to offer some thoughts on the matter of perfection that are both practical and honest.
I’ve come to believe that perfection is not so much a goal but a practiced habit. As craftspeople, perfection is in our heads, but also our hands and our hearts. It’s in the snick of the fore plane and in the quiet as the last coat of finish is wiped on. Perfection can drive us mad or it can drive us to a deeper understanding of who we are and why we do what we do. In my experience, the later seems like a better road to travel, and I hope you’ll join me.
- Jim McConnell
Stay tuned for Monday's announcement of the last article upcoming in M&T Issue Three...
My last attempt to escape my apparent fate as a cabinetmaker involved going back to school in the early 1990s. After graduating with a master’s degree in religious studies, I imagined it would be easier to find work that would bring me into contact with people instead of mute material, which I’d consistently found depressing in my woodworking career up to that time. Over a period of four months I sent out employment applications while taking any odd jobs I could get. It was a trying year for the would-be employed in south-central Indiana; listings in the “Help Wanted” section of the local paper included such enticements as “LOOKING FOR A CAREER WITH CHALLENGE? Parkland Pork Enterprises is seeking a Production Manager to oversee all aspects of pork production!” and “TRAIN TO BE A CHILDREN’S ETIQUETTE CONSULTANT: You will join over 600 consultants who are providing the highest quality programs in the United States and abroad.”*I had a couple of interviews for office work but still had not been hired when I was called to interview for a clerical position in one of the university’s academic departments. The pay was low, but the university offered some of the best working conditions in town. I would spend my days in one of the historic campus buildings, a limestone Tudor originally constructed as a dorm. I could already see myself walking the mile and a half to work each morning, the perfect distance for a pedestrian commute, and eating my lunch of leftovers on the lawn at the center of the quadrangle. I was certainly qualified for the position. All I had to do was show my interest and enthusiasm, which were sincere. I dressed in a nice skirt and blouse and walked to campus feeling confident that this job might well be mine.
When I arrived at the office, the administrative secretary took me into a meeting room and introduced me to the chair, Professor Jameson, who was seated at the head of the table. Standing up, he shook my hand and smiled warmly. “I just had to meet you after reading your résumé,” he began. Things were looking good.
“We’re not going to hire you,” he continued. “You’re seriously overqualified. But I called you here so that I could ask you in person: Why would such a talented and accomplished personal apply for a clerical job?”–Nancy Hiller, author of Making Things Work
*OK, so the real ad, shown above, said 500. This does nothing to minimize the surreal experience of finding such a gem among the job listings. And for those of you who have already read Making Things Work, I agree with you that Nancy Hiller could have learned a lot by attending that school.
Filed under: Uncategorized
The day after Veneer Repair came a session to create a pair of oval Federal inlays. The morning was spent creating a simple conch shell pattern patera about 2 inches by four inches, in an oval surround with multi-stringing border. I provided all of the tools and supplies for the students.
The first process is to make a packet of the veneers from which the patera will be cut. These are just stacked and wrapped with veneer tape.
Then the pattern is glued to one face of the packet, using stick glue.
Using a small eggbeater drill and a tiny bit, a hole is punched in an unobtrusive spot and a jeweler’s saw blade (0000 in this case) is fed through, hooked up the the saw frame, and the sawing begins.
Once the pieces are all cut out they are immersed into a bath of hot sand to scorch in the shading pattern.
The end result is a compelling one.
The pieces are all glued to a piece of kraft paper backing, and the stringing border also glued to the same paper with the help of a pile of straight pins. The proud wood would be trimmed with a sharp chisel and then it is ready to use.
Thus endeth the morning. Up next, the second patera.
In “Young Makers’ Bookshelves” (coming in the October 2017 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine), Rodney Wilson offers a brief profile on 10 of today’s rising woodworking stars, then asks them about the books that have influenced their lives and work. Below, you’ll find links to their personal websites and Intagrams accounts (where applicable.) – I encourage you to check out their work! Laura Zahn Personal website: http://offthesaw.com/ Allied Workshop website: https://alliedwoodshop.com/ Instagram: @alliedwoodshop Joshua Klein Personal […]
They used to sell 1x 12, 1x10, etc etc down to 1x4 clear pine in 6' lengths. That supplier went south and shut down too. The pickings were awfully slim today. 1x8, 1x6, and 1x4 was all they had for sale. The piles they had were the last of it and it looks like I won't be going to Pepin for 1x pine any more.
More and more sawmills are closing down and shutting their doors. A pallet sawmill where I used to live in Westerly shut down a few years ago. A sawmill I went to a few times in Griswold Ct went bankrupt. Parlee sawmill recently went out of business and the one reply I got from sawmill sawing 5/4 pine was one in north western Mass. He only has 5/4 in 6" widths but he is a lot closer than driving up to New Hampshire or Maine. I really don't want to buy my 1x or 5/4 lumber from a big box store.
|got some parts in|
|knob and tote done|
|panel glued back together|
|had to scrape some glue off this side|
|checking my back panel again|
|top to bottom is parallel along it's length|
|all four corners are dead nuts square now|
|did a dry fit and I had to shave a wee bit more|
|a little work with a Japanese rasp fixed it|
|dry fitted and it's square|
|two more clamps and it's no longer square|
|aggravation setting in|
Tried a different 3 clamp set up on both ends and it threw the cabinet out of square by a 1/2". I tried everything I could think of to square it up and got nowhere. I could only square it up by applying a clamp across the corners. That squared it up but it also introduced twist to the cabinet. I had to go back to the first dry clamping sequence to order to get square after all the clamps were on. Two more practice runs and I felt comfortable about how to clamp it up square.
|ready to strip the the body and the frog|
|marking for the bottom of the dado|
|my haul from Pepin Lumber today|
|ready to chop out the waste|
|wee bit too tight|
|snug but not too snug|
|3 applications of stripper|
|nothing touched this back|
|the frog wasn't much better|
|glue up time|
|I didn't panic|
I tried to clamp up the cabinet the way I rehearsed it dry but it wasn't square. Since I used yellow glue on this my window for getting this clamped was rapidly closing. And it was happening much faster because of the heat and humidity levels. I clamped some home made and store bought 90° corner helpers to square up the cabinet. I'll have to wait until tomorrow to see if there will be any joy in Mudville. I've used these before and they don't always work 100%.
I used the black 90° first in opposing corners and checked the other two for square and they were. I checked for square in the middle of the cabinet with the pinch rods and they said the cabinet was square also. I put on the last two plywood corner clamps and called it done for now.
|squared up the bottom shelf|
|one end of the bottom shelf|
|the other end|
|getting some poly|
|these are getting poly today too|
In spite of taking the day off I didn't get much accomplished. I had a bit of a struggle in the morning getting my butt out of my chair to get doing anything. I felt so tired that I just sat and vegged for two hours. I did the same thing after lunch except then I nodded off for an hour. Tomorrow I plan on getting the drawers and door started on the cabinet.
Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927 and it took him 33 1/2 hours. Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic Ocean exactly 5 years later. How long did it take her?
answer - 15 hours and 56 minutes
Upcoming in Issue Three: “Through a Wilderness of Ornament: Making Sense of 18th-Century Pattern Books” by Bill Pavlak
This past February I began my presentation to a group of 250 period furniture making enthusiasts at Colonial Williamsburg with a simple question: how many of you own a copy of Thomas Chippendale’s The Gentleman and Cabinetmaker’s Director? Not surprisingly, most raised their hands. When I followed that with “how many of you actually refer to this book regularly,” I got a very different response – perhaps fewer than ten raised hands. This is exactly what I expected. Why? Because at first blush Chippendale’s plates, like those in other 18th century pattern books, only bear a slight resemblance to the Colonial American furniture so revered and familiar today. Wildly ornate and aristocratic, these designs can be off-putting to modern eyes. While we sense the historical significance of such books and detect their influence, we struggle to come to terms with them ourselves. After all, we like our woodworking books full of tools, joinery details, and measured drawings. Chippendale and his contemporaries give us fashion plates overgrown with foliage and teeming with putti, nymphs, and sea creatures. The books stay on our shelves, closed.
Can we ignore the angry looking baby about to strangle a large bird on top of that bed? Probably not, but there are ways to demystify these high style designs and see them with new eyes. Likewise, we can recover some of how our predecessors may have utilized published patterns. Let’s give ornamental design a rethinking similar to what we’ve done with traditional artisan geometry and classical proportioning systems in recent years. While more difficult to codify, we can study and learn techniques of ornamental composition as both an analytical tool for existing furniture and a creative tool for new designs in historic styles.
Drawing isolated ornamental elements from pattern books for the past ten years has helped me learn historic design languages. Since many details are a bit vague in the engravings, I often find clarity and gauge my success by observing and drawing similar elements on surviving furniture. The back and forth process of drawing and looking has not only increased my fluency in the language, but has also allowed me to build up a library of design that I can use in my own work. I’m excited to share some of this thinking in Mortise & Tenon Magazine. Rather than explain how to draw, I will offer some thoughts on what to draw and how to develop an eye for period detail.
As a case study, I tell the story of my experience with the pattern for a music stand published by the English designers William Ince and John Mayhew in their Universal System of Household Furniture (1762). Though the plate looks remarkably detailed at first, it actually leaves a lot to the imagination. This is most evident in the design for the knee carving on the leg (see the detail below) where the pattern is shown from only one perspective and its details are fairly sketchy. This was all the information an experienced carver needed to carry out his work in the period – the engraved ornament functioning as a kind of shorthand. Without a seven year apprenticeship in the eighteenth century, that shorthand is a real challenge for modern eyes to decipher. However, by pulling from the library of ornament that I’ve been building through drawings and photography over the past decade, I fleshed out the design and came up with something reasonable. In the article I illustrate this process and offer some ideas on how we can attune our eyes to this seemingly foreign aesthetic. This, in turn, deepens our understanding of the streamlined variations on these ornaments more typical in American work. By opening these pattern books and using our eyes and pencils together, we can begin to cut a trail through this rococo wilderness.
- Bill Pavlak
Stay tuned for Monday's announcement of the last article upcoming in M&T Issue Three...
Tenons can simply be glued. We do it all the time and gluing them lasts just fine. Mostly we rely on clamps to seat shoulder lines and and keep the two parts married until the glue dries. When this has taken place it is unlikely you will ever be able to part the union without …
During the last few years, the doe’s foot has become one of my most important workbench appliances. Paired with a holdfast, the doe’s foot can eliminate the need for a tail vise on a workbench. I have about four of these doe’s feet at my bench, and I’ve found some surprising ways to use them. I’ve just finished an article for Popular Woodworking Magazine on the topic for a future […]
Having a Beer and Talking Hand Tool Techniques
I had so much fun with the last open question live session that I decided to do it again. A bit shorter this time and I think I will definitely do this more often since there seems to be no end to the questions. Again I’m sorry if we ran out of time before I got to your question but I’ll be going live again in 2 weeks. I did have some sound trouble at the beginning thanks to my own hubris and not checking my settings. Sorry about that and you can use the time stamp below to skip past it.
The Questions You Asked
- 9:58 Skip to the good quality sound
- 10:55 What screwdrivers do I use?
- 13:04 How to cut fretwork?
- 20:13 What screws do I use?
- 24:18 Favorite and worst woods to work?
- 28:48 and 42:43 Where to get center bits?
- 29:37 How to cut a curved, gooseneck style moulding and scratch stocks?
- 32:56 Clamps & Clamping
- 38:07 What Song plays at the beginning of this video?
- 39:32 What is in my apron pockets?
- 44:05 Have you ever become disillusioned with hand tools?
- 46:35 Hollows & Rounds and their irons?
- 48:43 Do I use hollows & rounds to make custom mouldings?
Read the other installments in the “Sharpen This” series via this link.
I roll my eyes when people talk about the superiority of their chosen sharpening media, whether it’s waterstones, oilstones, diamonds or cinderblocks. To my ears, it’s like you’re boasting about the superiority of the oxygen molecules that you breathe compared to those in your neighbor’s lungs.
Sharpening comes down to abrasion with small rocks. Some rocks cut steel faster but break down faster. Other rocks cut steel slower but are sturdier. Some rocks are expensive; others are cheap.
The practical differences among the systems are minimal. As a result, there is no clear winner among the rocks. Anyone who tells you different is either an evangelist or sells little rocks for a living.
I can say this with confidence because I wallowed in every sharpening system for about 15 years. I used them to sharpen tons of chisels and plane blades for tool tests at Popular Woodworking Magazine. And I listened to every snake oil salesman’s speech and put their assertions to the test.
We all want to believe that there is a superior system out there. It’s human nature to compare, contrast, contest and cajole. But the truth is that the best system is the one you have mastered.
So when I talk about sharpening media, I don’t give two figs about the type of media – oilstone, sandpaper, diamond, gallstone. Instead, what is far more important is the actual size of the little rocks you are using (which are best measured in microns when talking about sharpening).
Big rocks remove material quickly and leave deep scratches. Little rocks remove less material but leave smaller scratches. Tiny rocks remove little baby mousy bites of material and leave scratches the naked eye cannot see.
So the competent sharpener uses big rocks to create the zero-radius intersection. Then he or she uses the little rocks and then the tiny rocks to refine and polish the edge so it’s more durable.
That’s why the most important questions when it comes to sharpening media are: How big are my big rocks? And how tiny are my little ones?
Here’s the useful information: The world of practical sharpening media ranges from rocks that are about 200 microns in size down to rocks that are 1 micron (or smaller). A rock that is 200 microns is about .008” – that’s about the size of a thick plane shaving. A rock that is 1 micron across is about .00004”. By way of comparison, a human blood cell is about 5 microns across.
I separate the rocks into three different sizes, each with a different job in sharpening. The biggest rocks (200 to 40 micron) are used for grinding edges. Grinding is for fixing damaged edges or changing the shape or angle of the edge.
In my shop, this job is handled by an #80-grit grinding wheel, which has 192-micron rocks.
The next size rock is what I use to sharpen an edge that has become dull from normal work (not abuse). This rock is usually between 20 microns and 7 microns in size. This rock removes metal quickly and leaves scratches that are easy to polish out with smaller rocks.
You need only one grit in this size (unless you love to fund the sharpening stone industry). In my shop, this is a #1,000-grit waterstone, which has 15-micron rocks in it.
Lastly there are the rocks used for polishing. These are from 6 microns down to a fraction of a micron. Polishing an edge helps make it more durable (more on that in a future post). Deciding on your polishing rocks is all about how much patience you have. Some people have three or four grits for polishing. Others have one polishing grit. Neither choice is superior to the other.
The more polishing you do the longer your edge will last. But there is definitely a point of diminishing returns. Finding that point is up to you.
In my shop, I use two polishing grits. A #4,000-grit waterstone (4 microns) and an #8,000-grit waterstone (2 microns).
Those are my rocks – 192, 15, 4 and 2 – and they are no better than yours.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. You are going to hear people challenge the above information with words such as “mesh,” “polycrystalline” and “binder.” When they do this, let your eyes glaze over and build a motorcycle in your frontal lobe. Then, when they are out of breath, ask to see their edges. I haven’t found that high-level abrasive knowledge leads to superior edges. If they won’t show you, then ask them to “sharpen this.”
Filed under: Sharpen This