I am starting to assemble the schedule for where and when I will be teaching in 2014. This list is partial; as of right now (Dec 2013) – I will update it as things get sorted out. Some of these places have their schedules posted, some are still in the works. I’ll also keep it as a separate page here on the blog for later access. Hope to see you out & about…
February 8 & 9, 2014 – Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, Manchester, CT. Carving 17th-century style. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes Bob Van Dyke runs a great place there. Fun will be had. Watch in horror as Bob loses it when we look at period carvings, “All I see is faces” says Bob. 2 days of learning the tools to use, how to work with them this way & that, and generate different patterns. Layout, execution – folks usually carve about 5 different patterns, including one full-size panel version.
May 11 & 12, 2 days of spoon carving instruction at Lie-Nielsen in Warren, ME. My first-ever attempt at teaching spoon carving. I am really excited to tackle this. If you read the blog, you know I have been carving spoons for many years, and every day for the past few. Axes, knives & more – what fun. They will have the details up on their website soon. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshops/
August 4-8, 2014 – The Woodwright’s School, Pittsboro, NC. – This time, Roy has been kind enough (or nuts enough) to agree to us trying to make a small joined chest in a week. A mix of riven oak and sawn boards (maybe pine – we have some details to work out…) – it will be much like the joined chest we did on his show this past season. (flat lid instead of panels though – enough joinery already) Riving, hewing, planing – mortise & tenon, then grooves & panels. If it works, it’ll be something. Well, it’ll be something anyway…
September 22-26 – Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts - http://www.heartwoodschool.com/coursefr.html WOW – I’ll teach right here in Massachusetts. I was a student at Heartwood back in 1984 – and now 30 years later I’ll be teaching the make-a-carved-box class there. Riving oak, planing, carving, assembly – another mix of riven oak & sawn pine. Assembly with hand-wrought nails, wooden pins, and a wooden hinge. I’m really looking forward to returning to Heartwood.
(Will Beemer was able to find a photo that had me in it from 1984 – I’m the skinny longhair sorta just behind/above the fellow in white overalls…head down, arms up.)
There are other things coming up, some museum lecture/demos; one at Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in NC – in March. Haven’t been there in ages. I’ll also add another class at CVSWW – this one a 3-day class in making a carved frame-and-panel. So some carving, and some joinery for those too smart to tackle 16 or more mortise & tenons! I’ll get that sorted soon, sorry Bob. The 2-day open house at Lie-Nielsen in July – I missed it in 2013, so cleared room in 2014.
I’ll flesh this listing out as it gets more details.
We’ve just about finished loading the “online extras” for the February 2014 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine – so take a look at what’s coming up. The issue will be sent to digital subscribers on or around Dec. 13, and begin showing up for print subscribers around December 20. Single issue sales will be available … Read more
The funny thing is that this adage is also true when it comes to hide glue in the rough.
In order for the future hide glue to keep warm during the cold months they are fitted with stable sheets. These take up an impressive amount of space in the saddle room, and when they are wet they take forever to dry if they are not hung upon something. In an attempt to keep SWMBO happy, I have offered to make an oversized peg board for this task.
Part of my reason for offering to make this project is that I rediscovered how much fun it can be to turn stuff on the lathe. So I wanted to turn some more.
The pegs are mostly made out of white thorn that I have salvaged from our own hedge once I cut it back quite drastically. A few of the pegs are made out of apple. White thorn is almost as easy to turn as apple, and I had a lot pieces lying around of an appropriate thickness.
The length of the pegs from end to the start of the tenon is approximately 6". The tenon is 1" except for the first peg I made, which I made it 11/8". I switched to 1" after testing the two drills and found that my 1" drill was superior.
The first frame for the foot board came together today and I was reminded of times past when I made field gates. What we call five-bar gates here in Britain. These gates are made from Oak and last about 50 years. This bed will not have weather to deal with and so it should last for about 150 years plus.
Cutting the tenons goes quickly enough and I know some of you in Germany have been mocked by your co workers because you want to use hand tools instead of machines. As I said in my response, there will always be co workers that mock you and peer pressure will always be with us. Ignore them and they will go away. Machinists take a different track and in some cases equate this to the whole of life because woodworking is about getting the job done and getting it done yesterday. The journey is of no significance and “never mind smelling roses.”
I enjoyed my day and wouldn’t trade a minute of it for the old tenoners I used to use all day. I used a combination of tools and here I can show you the strategy a little differently and more closely. I saw down the cheeks with my hand saw and that’s straightforward enough. I stay away from the line about half a mil. I cross cut the shoulders using the knifewall first and the use the tenon saw to cut through to the cheek. The surfaces have saw kerf in the cheeks. This is standard and par for the course, but the next steps give me a pristine surface that’s flawlessly smooth. Yesterday I showed you the adaptation of the router with the elongated plate to extend the sole for tenon surfacing. This method relies on the chisels and shoulder plane to trim down the inner corner and then the same use of the smoothing plane to level and smooth the whole cheek.
I lay the shoulder plane on its side to trim the shoulder. I push all the way up to about 1/4″ from the opposite side and stop. If I go all the way through, there will be blowout on the out-cut. Instead, I stop, and then I use the chisel to finish the cut from the face. It usually takes only a couple of strokes to perfect the shoulders using the shoulder plane.
I fit the tenon to the mortise and keep the end square until all shoulders are fitted. This top rail has an angled haunch so that the protruding tenon doesn’t go to the top of the post. The other details will unfold as we go. I don’t want to describe this feature now as one picture soon will reveal the whole.
This is the tenon entering the mortise hole. I Like this picture.
And you thought I was going to make a Wilbur Pan joke. Shame on you. I’m going to unsubscribe to your comments.
If you don’t use sanding sponges while finishing, you might want to give them a try. When I started at Popular Woodworking, we used stearated (lubricated) sandpaper (which is expensive) between coats of film finishes.
Ten years ago, contributor Troy Sexton showed me how he used sanding sponges with great results. And they cost much less money. I still have the first one I bought on the way home from Troy’s. It doesn’t cut as well as it used to, but it’s still got some life left in it.
I’ve also bought a couple new ones (spendthrift, I know), including this #320-grit 3M sponge, which I quite like. It is firm enough to handle flat surfaces. And it is thick enough and pliable enough to handle turnings (except the really tight areas).
Armed with these sponges, I can ignore the oft-repeated advice to work in a dust-proof and CDC microbe-free clean area.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites
Every time I purchase lacquer at a professional paint store, I have the following conversation. Me: “Could you put that gallon in the paint-mixing machine for a couple minutes? That will save me some time.” Employee: “I’ll do it, but you won’t like it. You’ll create bubbles in the finish.” Me: “I’ll risk it.” I’ve … Read more
Before. A Stanley 9 1/2 curca 1889-1898 (type 8a)
Since 1993, I’ve had pretty much the same set of bits – brad-points I inherited from my grandfather and a set of Forstners I bought from Lee Valley. I’ve tried to maintain these bits as best I could, but when building all these Roorkee chairs, I gave up on my bits.
So I bought two dream sets of bits.
I first got a taste of the Lee Valley HSS Brad-points when I started working at Kelly Mehler’s woodworking school. He keeps a special stash of them that has saved our collective bottoms on several occasions. I’ve wanted a set of these bits ever since. And last week I bought the set of 28. They are all still dipped in their protective flubber and I can’t stand to remove it. Joy!
While at Popular Woodworking we got to test out some of the Maxi-Cut Forstners after being wowed by them at a tool show. They are very well made and clear chips like nobody’s business. I bought a set of five and will add to it as I can afford it.
I know there are other great bits out there, these are the ones I’ve had the best experience with so far. I hope they last as long as my previous sets.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites
In Japanese practice a thin high carbon steel cutting edge is forge welded onto a soft steel body. It's the body where the decorative moves take place. As all the tools by a specific maker have the same cutting edge layer there is no functional reason to use a decorative chisel. But they look cool, are eminently collectible, and in many cases inspire one to do better work.
I don't actually collect decorative chisels so the pieces I have in my collection date from the early days of this company when we imported samples of Japanese tools.
From the left (in the top picture and the first detail shot) three suminagashi style chisels, starting from the left, by Tasai. Then comes an maker I don't recall, followed by a chisel by Iyoroi. The suminagashi style is made by welding two different kinds of iron and other metals together, then flattening,folding and rewelding the resultant billet. The English term for suminagashi is "Damascus steel". Finally the steel is etched to bring out the dissimilar layers in a visible pattern. By varying the folds, layers, and materials you can get different patterns. Tasai is considered the modern master of this technique and you can see how elegant and reserved his chisels can be. The chisel by Iyoroi is fairly recent. The father of the current Iyori did spectacular suminagashi work but on his retirement the skill was not passed on and this new interpretation, while interesting, doesn't really excite me. I don't know much about the maker in the middle, the over the top character of the layers suggests that some of the decoration might have been formed not by folding but by welding already punched steel into layer. I just don't know enough to be sure.
In the second detail picture (and on the right of the main picture) we have a plain chisel in the middle surrounded by two chisels made from kamaji iron. The chisel on the right is by Nishiki and has a twisted shank - an old style which Nishiki reintroduced. (As far as we know Nishiki is retired and we only have a limited amount of his non-decorative chisels available) This style is make by using kamaji iron - which is very old wrought iron from before 1850, before sulfurous coals were used in the refinement, for the body of the chisel. After welding the body to the bottom steel layer the kamaji iron is etched. Wrought iron has lots of impurities, and is also was originally formed formed by forging, so after etching the impurities away you get a tree bark like texture which is very elegant.
One important characteristic of Japanese chisels is that they have hollow backs. The hollow is usually ground in, but it also can get decorative treatment. Nishiki chemically accentuates the grind texture, some other makers try for a smooth dead matte surface.
While I plan an additional blog entry on decorative handles and hoops in the near future here are a few more pictures, showing some of the decorative details of the suminagashi chisels and a closeup of the twisted neck chisel by Nishiki.
So you want to cut down some Christmas trees? You’ll need some guys to help, a chainsaw, rope, and a truck.
Oh, I almost forgot. You’ll also need a helicopter.
You may also want to check out the pilot’s eye view of a Christmas tree harvest.
It appears from his videos that Paul Sellers uses something like this for assembly but a 4 oz. mallet like this one with replaceable nylon tips with his chisels, so maybe you'll want to ask for/get your favorite woodworker both:
If and when you make a woodworking bench, and you decide that it needs a tool tray, somehow it seems to draw people out of the…woodwork. Some of the people lurking in the woodwork may be completely normal, and some may be completely wacked. Either way, for whatever reason, when you combine a woodworking bench and a tool tray, it somehow, some way, gets other woodworkers all worked up. When I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was adding a tool tray to my workbench I got a little bit of backlash over it. I didn’t necessarily care. Once I make up my mind to do something, there are few people who can change it; so I went ahead and added the tool tray without regrets. According to my calculations, a tool tray would not affect my woodworking or the functionality of the workbench in any way, shape, or form, but that was all in theory. This past weekend was the first time I actually used the “new” bench.
Before I go on, I have to say that the tool tray I added to the bench probably represents the worst woodworking I’ve done in years. The tray is not truly square to the bench, the back sits lower than it should, making it worthless for support, and the boards I used were not all that great, meaning they were bowed and had slight warp. Another thing; the way I attached the tray to the bench is not all that great, either. Had I built the tray into the top when I first made the bench (like I should have done), it would have turned out much more nicely. My retrofit was not technically sound. At that, I have absolutely no fear of it becoming loose or unattached, or even “sinking”, but what I really should do is add another support board along the back to connect all three sections of the tray, that, however, is another story. Anyway, with all of the negative aspects of the tray out of the way, I am happy to say that the bench performed just fine.
Sunday morning I had a few simple things that needed to be done at the bench, which included sawing a board to length and boring two holes in it. The bench worked fine. I had no holding issues, no support issues, or no clamping issues. Like I said many times before, I woodwork almost exclusively on the front 12 inches of the bench. My new bench top is effectively 17 inches wide, that is more than enough for what I do. I do not assemble furniture on the bench, and if I may be so bold, I do not recommend anybody else doing it either. Workbenches are fine for assembling drawers, small boxes, frames, and certain sub-assemblies, but they suck for full scale work. Most workbenches are too tall to use for assembling larger furniture, that is unless you like working off of a step ladder; I don’t. If you are like me, and decide that you are not going to use your benchtop for assembly, you do not need the traditional 24-30 inch wide top, though at the same time it certainly can’t hurt having it. I sacrificed width for a tool tray, and on my first attempt at using it I was successful. For example, when I finished sawing the board to length, I placed the backsaw neatly in the middle tray, where it sat at arms length, yet completely out of the way of my work. The same thing can be said of the brace and bit I used, once I was finished with them they went right into the tray, out of the way but ready to be used at a moments notice. I call that a success.
The bench top still needs a little work. I currently have a row of just four dog holes; that row probably needs to be expanded to at least seven holes, or possibly nine. I also plan on once again adding the base to my Kreg Clamp. The Kreg clamp works great, and is easy to remove when not needed. Once those minor modifications are made, I will use the bench as normal and do a little more evaluating. At the moment I can’t see myself doing much more to the bench. I’ve had nearly four years to figure out what I like in a workbench, and I described those things in detail on several other blog posts. I went the tool tray route with my bench, though it seems that few other woodworkers use them anymore, just because that’s the trend I guess. I don’t like following trends to be honest; I like to think for myself, I like to discover things for myself. I like the road less traveled by, and so far that has made all the difference.
Moving is a good time to sort junk & throw out some stuff. Moving the shop is no exception. I got to the small bookcase & sifted through some magazines…I had long intended to go through the back issues of Antiques & Fine Art and snip out the photos and articles that might be useful, and ditch the rest. I can save 2 feet of shelf space by doing just that. I ran across this advertisement from a 2004 issue of the magazine:
I had never seen this box before it appeared in this ad…and I have never seen it otherwise for that matter. But to me, it resembles the work in the cupboard at the MFA that I worked on some years ago. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=MFA+cupboard
To review that project – the MFA owns a 1680s/90s cupboard base. They asked me to make a top to go with it, but worked to look “as new.” It was a great project, one in which I had lots of help from their conservation people and those at Winterthur Museum as well. Here’s my result, before it was installed at the MFA.
To get to that, we studied the related objects. In all, we only knew of 4 pieces from this un-identified shop. Here they are:
First is the MFA cupboard base. The top drawer is carved on a shaped drawer front applique – and the stiles are carved below this drawer. Plus false muntins on the 2nd & 3rd drawers. Highlighted w paint.
The chest wth drawers at Concord (MA) Museum is a great example of this guy’s work. It’s all kinds of weird in its construction, but the carving and paint are immediately recognized.
A detail of the carving:
This old photo of the cupboard head at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY shows what was left c. 1900 or so. They had the base too, but this one I cropped when I was studying the cupboard’s upper case.
The box at Winterthur is a fine example, I especially like its small size. It’s dated in paint on the side, I think it’s 1698.
You might remember one of my interpretations of this box just the other day:
When I ran across the photo at the top of this page in the shop today, I started to make out in my head how to lay it out…within a few minutes I figured it would be quicker & easier just to lay it out on wood & carve it. so I did.
I tilted the board a bit, to try to show the layout scribed w a compass…it’s a bit hard to pick out. But it’s there.
What fun! Once I got that out of my system, I went back to sorting & cleaning.
While getting ready for the big move of shop machinery this coming weekend — packing, sorting, throwing out, and disassembling — while packing I was reminded of this snazzy little ultra low-tech air scrubber I built for the basement shop several years ago. Since my shop is directly under the living space of the house, and I am a varnish and glue sorta guy, my need for odor control was pretty prominent. I came up with several solutions, ranging from dealing with small amounts of fumes through the need for spray finishing when the need arises.
This little beauty is one I built for the control of the nuisance fumes attendant to using hot hide glue and solvent based coatings systems. It took about fifteen minutes to make, and works so well that I have never received a complaint about basement stink.
Here is all you need to make this air scrubber, which can perform flawlessly for pretty much the rest of your life.
1 recycled computer fan
1 cardboard box about the size of a cube slightly larger than the fan frame
1 salvaged power cord (I routinely snip and salvage the power cords from EVERYTHING that gets tossed around here, it’s a circle of life thing)
1 piece of scrap plywood the size of the box
a jar of clean activated charcoal aquarium filter medium
a hot melt glue gun and a few screws and bolts, etc.
some scraps of metal window screen
First place the fan against the top or bottom of the box, mark and cut a hole the size of the fan blade.
Cut a piece of the metal window screen to fit over this opening, and glue it in place with the hot melt adhesive.
Since I wanted a down draft unit, I attached the fan to the box to cover the opening such that the fan is blowing into the box. I used small nuts-and-bolts from the box of miscellaneous fastners. Using a recycled power cord I wired it up. (my fan is a bit askew because I dropped the unit several years ago and the bolts pulled out, and I did not have another box the right size at the moment, hence the new orientation with new bolt holes)
Cut the scrap plywood to fit the opening of the box, and drill a series of holes to allow air flow. Glue a piece of the window screen to one side of the plywood so that all the holes are covered.
As my scrubbing medium I used aquarium filter activated charcoal purchased at a local pet store. I poured some of this into a pasta screen to allow the littlest pieces to fall out. The remaining charcoal, beginning with the size of rice grains and larger will be used as my air-scrubbing medium.
I turned the box over so that the fan was on the bottom and filled it with the activated charcoal. After shaking it gently a bit, I dropped the plywood square into place and pinned it there with some small screws. I cut out some openings to make four legs and four air channels for the downdraft flow, and the unit was finished.
The unit works well at scrubbing nuisance odors out of the air 24/7/365. this one has been providing yeoman’s service for almost ten years, although I swap out the charcoal every year or so. I especially like the fact that at about 1 pound I can pick it up and move it to wherever I am working with small amounts of solvents or the like. for example, when I am polishing metals or tortoiseshell I simply place the scrubber on the bench right next to where I am working, and don’t even need a fume mask.
Will it keep the living room from stinking if you are using gallons of paint remover in the basement? I’m guessing the answer would be a NO! But for ongoing odors from shellacking, gluing, polishing, and a little spot spraying with aerosol, it works fine for me. More intensive applications require a larger unit I will write about soon.
Raney Nelson, 44, a woodworker, toolmaker and father, was killed Saturday by a piece of flying debris in his Indiana workshop.
While medical authorities are still working out the details, Hancock County Coroner Tammy Vangundy told the Greenfield (Ind.) Daily Reporter that Nelson was struck by several jagged pieces of wood that looked like they came from his workbench area.
According to Hancock County EMS reports, when medics arrived on the scene, they called the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office because it appeared that the workbench had “exploded,” though the Daily Reporter said no explosives or accelerants were found at the scene.
Though I saw Nelson briefly at Woodworking in America, the last time I got to talk with him at length was during the French Oak Roubo Project in Barnesville, Ga. We built our workbenches side-by-side during the week, and it is a bit unnerving to think that Raney was killed by his own workbench.
We all knew the moisture content in our benchtops was high, but I had no idea that a bench could rip itself apart to the point where it would become a porcupine of deadly projectiles. I suppose this is why the slab-top workbench was abandoned more than a century ago. It’s just too risky to human life.
Remember kids: Sjöbergs save lives. It’s not just a marketing slogan.
— Christopher Schwarz
The following is my photo tribute to Raney and his bench.
Filed under: Personal Favorites, Uncategorized
I worked all day on the bed and made good progress. The large mortise holes in the footboard are done and I started the tenons and fitted the first one mid afternoon. These mortise and tenons are quite big for furniture at 3/4″, but they cut quickly and I had them done in quick time.
I do use bandsaws for larger stock cutting…
When you make beds it’s always the mattress and box spring that determine the dimensions. And you kind of work from the inside out using these dimensions to establish the positions of the rails in the posts. I am using oak because it’s indigenous and replenishable. It’s also strong and reliable, attractive and very workable. As the mortises deepened, the waste wood gets harder to lift from the holes but then the rhythm sets, my pace increases and the holes meet from each side in the centre.When the tenons begin I feel the awkwardness of large tenons under my saw. The carcass saw is too small and the teeth too. A 10ppi handsaw rips well down the tenon cheeks and I leave the tenons fat for slimming down with the chisel and the hand router. To plane down to dead width I use a couple of methods. Method one involves the use of a plate I devised and made to fit the Veritas router five years ago. The plate is a high-grade aluminium I salvaged from a scrap dealer for a few pence. It’s 6mm thick and the width of the router plane. Any router plane will work. I can also elongate the wooden block used in the poor-man’s router to do this. All I need is a 1/2″ chisel. You can see that I tapped the alluminium to receive the screw thread of one the router knobs. I remove the knob and relocate it in the plate. Two sets screws through the existing plane body secures the plate to the plane. I use method one to get close and then finish the work with a wide chisel, a Veritas shoulder plane and then a a #4 or 4 1/2 smoothing plane. The surfaces end up smooth and level and so they marry the insides of the mortises. Method two is to use the shoulder plane against the side of shoulder after ripping the cheeks and cross cutting the shoulder. Once down to the line I shift to the smoothing plane and plane across the grain until I reach the gauge lines and the face created by the shoulder plane. This and the other method makes for easy tenon cutting on large tenons.
I use loner paring chisels to ensure the mortise cheeks are level as the depth of cut defies flatness in places. I feel peace as I pare down the faces and see the fibres lift in the cuts I make. I want the walls to reflect my intent to have a perfect mortise and so I cut squarely and accurately.
When the tenon touched the rim of the mortise hole I first consider the outside face because this is what will be see. I try the tenon on the outside rim of the mortise hole and allow it to govern my decisions as I plane. Usually it’s close, but I’d rather be fat to start. I won’t patch gaps. I’d rather recut a new piece.
Soon the mortise begins to accept its tenon. The tenon pivots at the tight spots and causes the wood to shine a little where the friction is. I use this to locate high spots that I must remove. The shoulder plane works well, but so too the smoothing plane if it’s away from the shoulder. I work both sides of the tenon if shiny spots appear on both sides.
I mentioned before that the rounded tenon ends come from a Stanley smoother and a flat file. The corners come from a 1″ chisel but again followed by the flat file. Each tenon is fitted the same way. Tomorrow the foot board main frame will be concluded and I start the additional features.