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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway! Enjoy!
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|Granules and Salt|
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One of the barriers to making a Windsor chair are all the specialty tools, including the adze, scorp and travisher to scoop out the seat. Though I own all these tools and have used them for more than a decade, I sometimes wonder if they are all necessary. How would you make a comfortable and sturdy chair if you didn’t own specialty tools? This week I’m building a primitive three-legged […]
For the past couple of years as I have been struggling to move into and assemble the new workshop in the barn, I have been plagued by one corner, right inside the entrance to my studio. I am not by nature a neatnik, and the corner wound up being the repository for odds and ends that I didn’t know what to do with. It wasn’t situated well, nor was it large enough for a “real” workbench as the total space was about five feet square. About the only good feature of the corner is that it was a natural home for a large trash can.
Thanks in part to the inspiration of Jonas Jensen, whose blog is one of my favorites and often features immensely ingenious and impressive projects he makes from scrap materials in his spare time in the mechanical workroom of the ships on which he works in the North Sea, I realized there was no excuse for this state of affairs. Combining Jonas’ creativity with both a very limited improvised space and salvaged materials, along the impetus resulting from a recent visit to my friend Bob’s cozy gunsmithing shop, I was spurred on to action so that this very valuable real estate was reclaimed from being consigned to be nothing more than a junk-catching corner.
This new initiative, combined with a little salvaged Sjobergs workbench, resulted in a work space that is destined to become a favorite. I had originally deposited the tiny workbench in the barn’s classroom because even though it was wholly inadequate for full-scale furniture making, I had worked it over enough that it was now a pretty good little bench (after my rescuing it from the trash many years ago). Guess what? I measured it and it fit into the corner as if it had been made for it.
After finding new homes for the stuff in the corner, and acquiring a new rectangular trash can to fit in with the newly positioned workbench, I now have a delightful work station for doing my “fussy” work that is so frequently part of my projects, including carving, jewelry-type fabrication, filing, sawing and the like. My two bowling-ball-and-toilet-flange vises used for carving, engraving, and checkering are now there, along with my stereomicroscope, myriad dental tools, die maker’s files and rifflers, checkering tools and carving chisels. There was even space for a few books overhead, and a permanent (read: rememberable) location for the First Aid kit.
Congratulations to “amvolk” (a.k.a. Andrew Volk). He’s the winner of a print copy of the second edition of “Popular Woodworking’s Arts & Crafts Furniture Projects,” now with 17 new projects (42 in all). The new edition is available now to order in both paperback (the book is expected to be in house and shipping in three weeks) and as a PDF download (“shipping” right away) at shopwoodworking.com. — Megan Fitzpatrick
It’s funny seeing how manufacturers change the art of what we crafting artisans are looking for by taking what exists and then manufacturing their translation of it rather than trying to understand the essence of something we really need. In the demise of British makers producing true quality goods, a void existed and an opportunity too. I say that because yet another venerated manufacturer I once recommended reduced its standards and chose a different maker to make its square awl. The new awls were shabby replicas that started snapping under even mild pressure in softwoods let alone the more resilient hardwood like oak. The end result is that yet another British-made product bites the dust and another interpretation comes in to fill the void from Asia. People that relied on C.K. for a quality product will disappointingly find that C.K awls are now ranked amongst the junkers.
That said, I took a second look at the imported Silverline square awl (above). It was really a mistake on the part of the manufacturer and of course the importer (known for cheap imports rather than a quality product) too misunderstand the key issues. They must have thought that the point of the original square awl was flawed and in need of finessing. I suppose they decided then to correct the mistake, thinking they were doing us a favour, and rounded the point like a round-pointed awl and never realised we wanted square edges not conical. To add insult to injury, they then took off the corners to the stem of the awl with a chamber to each corner when we wanted sharp, angular corners. You see we rely on the sharp corners of the point and length of the stem because the work as a reamer to actually ream out a conical hole for screws or to make a hole all the way through. All this awl will do is split wood rather than cut the hole, which is what the original was designed for as a bird-cage awl.
With the flawed perspectives dealt with I took the awl and started filing the steel blade square with a flat, single-cut file. The steel was hard enough so that was good. The wood is an Asian hardwood, stained and nicely shaped. I confess feeling glad that someone in Asian was earning a living making them but I’m not under any illusion that he or she is getting near to nothing for the work. I reckon that if I were to start a business just making square awls to a good quality I could turn the handle by hand, fit the brass ferrule and cut and shape the steel awl part from O1 in under five minutes or so. Materials for the whole would be about 15-20 pence sterling max. This awl cost me £4.96 with free shipping and handling. so at that rate, after costs and shipping, I would be earning about £48 an hour and that’s for true hand work, which is not what’s taken place here. All I have to do now is sell them. Oh, and that would be with a nicely made figured maple handle to boot.
OK, the brass ferrule was thick-walled and nice quality. Better than most ferrules on high-dollar awls. But somewhere in the production run someone was sloppy and left the ferrule looking ugly with finish badly applied. I polished this out and worked on the ferrule to polish it out on a mop in 8 seconds flat. The difference to the appearance and feel is staggering. I lightly buffed out the existing finish on the wood and applied an extra coat of shellac. Tell me someone can’t start a business in today’s economy and I’ll show you how she can. You should see the photographs someone sent me as a result of the walking cane blogs and videos we did last year. Just stunning work.
I wanted to see how the awl fitted into the handle. Simple and effective really.
Refining and strengthening the tip of the awl with a pyramid point is all that remained and the awl motored through wood like a torpedo. You may want to experiment with shapes like triangles and diamonds, but square is really fine and very strong.
Before and after side by side. This is how the awl should have looked.
I've taken some time away from nose to the grindstone tool production lately to set up a small blacksmith shop that can wheel in and out of my workshop. While a dedicated space for metal work would be ideal, this mobile arrangement beats the pants off of hitting the road every time I need to heat up and pound some steel.
|My parking lot smithy.|
The forge and anvil live in a corner of my workshop and I hand truck them down a small flight of stairs into the parking lot as needed. At the end of the day, after everything cools down, they roll back up the steps and into the workshop until the next time their services are required.
|Adze blade coming up to critical temperature.|
I opted for a vertical tube forge design with a blown burner. Blown burners use a fan to supply the air to mix with the gas. The gas and air mixture come in on the bottom of the forge and the doors are at the top. This arrangement gives a nice, even heat with no hot spots which makes heat treatment a breeze.
There are a storm of new tool ideas on the horizon that this forge makes possible. Expect to see some of them soon and some of them much later. It also means that the adze production, while slightly dependent on the weather, will flow a little faster now.
If French Marquetry stands at the pinnacle of labor intensive and complex woodworking techniques, this shop cabinet surely occupies the opposite position.
For a while I’ve had a collection of corded tools that didn’t have a home. My router, D/A sander, finish nailer, and others that clustered in a “pile” next to the jointer. With the marquetry I’ve acquired a few more interesting accessories. Two hot plates, a frying pan of sand, hot water kettle, and more.None of these tools had a “forever home”, so I decided to do something about it.
I dragged a couple of sheets of Home Depot Birch plywood back to the shop. I don’t like this stuff. It warps as you cut it, has lots voids and is only 5 layers of material. Next time I’ll get the real stuff. But me and my tablesaw cut it down to size quickly, and with the aid of my Kreg jig I had pocket holes drilled the the outsides clamped up in no time. These clamps are the best thing ever.
I’m pretty lukewarm on pocket hole joinery. At least with home center plywood. It’s really easy to overdrive the screws and either strip them out or have the tip tear through the side while the end of the adjoining piece splits while the head wedges it apart. It’s certainly a fast way to assemble something though.
No dados, no glue, just pocket hole screws for the outer shell and Spax screws through the outer face into the edges to affix the back and shelves. The back is just overlapped. Yeah, cheesy construction, but I was curious if it would be strong enough. I hate not having the shelves in dados, and not having the back clued into a groove. But this went together so quickly, maybe two hours from when I started to cut the plywood until I had the cabinet built.
I added a french cleat to the back, and loaded my spray gun with Amber Shellac. Three coats with the shellac reduced 100% out of the can, and the cabinet was ready to hang on the wall.
The shelves seem strong enough to support the tools, although I wouldn’t want to overload them with (say) 10 years of Fine Woodworking back issues. That would be wrong on several levels. I was able to put all of my homeless tool away, with room for the few that I’m actively using left over.
I’ve got a couple of additional organizational projects that I want to do, but this has made a big improvement in shop clutter.
Peter Follansbee, one of the authors of “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree,” dug up some photos of historical examples of chairs that Randle Holme drew in the 17th century.
Also, since Peter left Plimoth last year he now has even more items that he sells on his blog – spoons, beautiful bowls and even some carved panels. If you like Peter’s stuff, this is a direct way to support his pioneering work. His current batch of items for sale is here.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Furniture of Necessity, Make a Joint Stool from a Tree
To try and inspire you to give wooden planes a try I have endeavored to keep things within this post as simple as possible, but before we get started a bit of preamble. I’m going to avoid waxing lyrical about these planes and try to let history give you a nudge. Although wooden planes across the board may look different than many of the excellent metal offerings of today, this […]
- Eddie Huang, producer of the new sitcom Fresh Off the Boat at the ABC TCAs, fielding this unbelievable question from a reporter: “I love the Asian culture. And I was just talking about the chopsticks, and I just love all that. Will I get to see that, or will it be more Americanized?”
If it wasn’t for the fact that I hate applying a finish MORE than I hate sanding, sanding would be hands down the one step in the building process that I’d loathe the most. The more I think about it, maybe the reason I despise finishing more is BECAUSE there’s sanding involved between coats?
But regardless of my dislike for sanding it’s a necessary evil for amazing results. Especially after the finish dries and you step back to look at the masterpiece you’ve created.
Of course the fastest way to avoid sanding is to master hand planing, but even then, sometimes there’s a little touch up work to do with some fine grit sandpaper to blend everything together for that flawless surface.
If you’ve been wondering what you’re doing wrong with your random orbit sanding technique, or you just want to reassure yourself you’re on the right track, back in July Mallory Kramer wrote a 5 point article for the folks over at M&M Tool Parts’ blog titled “Wood Sanding: 5 Ways to Get Better Results with Your Random Orbit Sander”.
It’s well worth a read to pick up some great pointers. For example: Tip No. 2 “Turn-on the Sander While On the Material, Turn-off the Sander While Off the Material”
Thanks Mallory and M&M for providing a little reminder that the best results are worth spending a little extra time working on, and if the only thing between you and them is a step you hate, all the more reason to get right in the first place.
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I love my job!
I get to work with amazing furniture makers, and at the same time, I get to experience lovely and historical parts of the country.
I have been working with Greg Guenther, a highly skilled furniture maker and restorer out of Savannah, GA for nearly 17 years now. He often calls me in to help him with the carved elements of period furniture projects he is either reproducing or restoring. Some of the jobs we have worked on are reproducing a Goddard-Townsend 6-shell secretary, several carved 4-post beds, a beautiful shell niche, numerous repairs on period pieces, and currently a 1830’s peer mirror reproduction. I have several photos of work we have done together in my gallery.
Here are some photos of the first corner I carved on Friday – it is a very 3-dimensional fluer de lis design. I only have 3 more to carve!
Then I had the opportunity to walk around Savannah as a tourist and see some beautiful examples of acanthus leaves in architecture and wrought iron (I have acanthus leaves on the brain because of my book I’m writing). I hope to use several of these photos as reference and examples for the book.
Once you start looking for acanthus leaves, you see them everywhere!
Also, please sign up for my acanthus book newsletter. As I complete chapters, there will be free things to win!
The final steps to the conservation of the chairs was the reassembly, which first required me to replace most of the screws that were in the chair when it arrived on my door step.
I’ve got a can of miscellaneous screws that accumulate over the years. You’ve probably got one too. I know the guy who worked on these chairs before had one too, because it looks like he just poured it out on the bench and used the first few dozen screws that were within reach with no effort to match screws to each other or to the tasks involved.
I tried to carefully match the screws to the tasks they were executing, and within that function, matched the screws to each other. It was not much of a problem really, as I am the kind of guy who, when he needs a screw or two, goes to the hardware store and buys a box of the size he needs. Because of that I have a pretty good hardware store shelf under the shop stairs.
One of the problems I found in a handful of locations, and which I encounter with some regularity since I spend so much time working on old furniture, is the wallowed out screw hole, where the damage is such that any reasonable sized screw will be ineffectual. To solve that problem I use the following strategy.
First, I establish the depth of the screw hole, usually with a bamboo skewer, then cut a strip of 100% linen rag stationary paper so that the width of the strip of paper is equal to the depth of the existing hole. The I roll up the strip into a curl, so that it fits snugly into the wallowed out hole. I press the rolled fill into the hole, then wick dilute hide glue onto the rolled up paper fill so that it becomes pretty well saturated, then I set the piece aside overnight to let the glue penetrate and harden. When I return to the task the next day, I find that the proper sized screw fits and bites perfectly. If anything goes wrong, I just dampen the fill and gently remove it all with the pointed end of the skewer or a dental pick and start it all over again. It’s a high strength, high utility archival repair. What’s not to like about it?
I returned the chairs to the client’s home where they were placed alongside her exquisite Breuer leather and chrome chairs, where they complete the living room ensemble with real class.
Though I had a busy day planned today, in particular with a blizzard impending, I managed to get in just a few more minutes with my beading plane, and it was well worth it.
To sharpen the actual bead on the plane iron I decided to give the sandpaper a try. I wrapped a piece of 220 grit around a 3/8 dowel and proceeded to hone. In roughly 5 minutes, I managed to get a nice looking iron. I proceeded to give another practice bead a go, and the results were impressive. The shavings were a lot more even and the bead more crisp. When I get more time, I will hone to a higher grit as well as use the slip stone. All in all, this rehab seems to be going very well.
some pictures, spurred on by Chris Schwarz’ last 2 posts on his blog, and my earlier one from today.
A stool. common as can be, but early ones (16th/17th centuries) are less common than hen’s teeth. This one’s from the Mary Rose (1545)
Joined stool. simple, you’ve seen this sort of thing here hundreds of times.
Its cousin – the joined form. same thing, just stretched out.
While we’re at it, let’s get the wainscot chair out of the way.
a variant – the “close” chair, “settle chair” of Randle Holme, although his illustration might be a different version.
This is what Holme illustrated, I can’t imagine a more difficult way to build a chair.
Turned chairs. Ugh. these get weird. First, the “turned chair” “great (meaning large) chair” “rush chair” – lots of names could mean this item.
This is the one Holme said made by turners or wheelwrights, “wrought with Knops, and rings ouer the feete, these and the chaires, are generally made with three feete.’ = I would say, except when the have four feet.
Like this one: the real kicker here is that these chairs have beveled panels for seats, captured in grooves in the seat rails. Thus, sometimes called: a “wooden chair” = chairs often being categorized by their seating materials.
Now we have a “wrought” chair, “turkey-work chair” – and so forth. I mentioned in a comment on Chris’ blog the other day, forget the construction here, (joiner’s work, w turned, and in this case, twist-carved bits) it’s the upholstery that makes the splash. These were top-flight items in the 17th century.
Same gig, only leather. (this photo is I think from Marhamchurch Antiques)
Randle Holme’s turner’s chopping block looks a lot like Chris’ image today from Van Ostade, of a “country stool” – I’d have a chopping block in my kitchen if I could…but we’re out of space.
That was fun, I never get to use much of that research these days.
Back to spoon stuff tomorrow…there’s a mess of them available here = https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-a-bowl-or-two-jan-2015/