Now that spoon carving has supplanted pen turning as the latest woodworking craze (and it’s about time), you might enjoy this article from The Woodworker magazine, which was likely written and illustrated by Charles H. Hayward.
Hayward had excellent contacts among British museums, especially the Victoria and Albert Museum. So the magazine is peppered with his drawings of early work, including this collection of interesting wooden spoons.
I’ve not been bitten by the spoon-carving bug, likely because of a psychic scar.
During my first few months at Popular Woodworking in 1996, one of the other editors was carving Celtic love spoons; I decided I would like to learn to make one, too. After half a day of work on my love spoon, I showed it to him to get some feedback and tips.
“Oh wow,” he said, holding my spoon. “I really am a good carver. Your spoon sucks. You’re fired.”
He gave the spoon back to me and walked away. I threw my spoon in the garbage.
You can download the one-page article in pdf format using the link below.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Historical Images
I just got home from WIA and I’m tired, but because I have low self-esteem and don’t want Bob Van Dyke to not like me, I have committed myself to attending this Saturday’s Annual Open House at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. If you’ve never been, then you should lay your head down flat on your SawStop and slide it gingerly into the spinning blade as punishment. Once the blood clots and you’ve placed an order for your new blade and cartridge on-line, you can get yourself over to Manchester, CT this Saturday September 20th for the best damn time you can possibly have with a bunch of old dudes and their bored but tolerant wives.
Here are the details…
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough to entice you, then I should also point out that the Open House is combined with the annual Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event….and those slippery capitalists from Warren, ME have never made going into crippling debt so much fun…
So drop the kids off at the homeless shelter, tell your wife you have to “work” and sell whatever body fluids are required to get yourself to Manchester, CT this Saturday. You can thank me when you get there.
Feel free to bring along any saws that need a tune up, as I’ll be collecting work for my insultingly short 3 to 4 week turn-around time.
See you there!
I got a couple of hours in the shop before it got too hot to work today (when is the weather going to break anyway?), and made good progress on the stained glass for the Thorsen cabinet door. If I could get a solid day in the shop I’d be long since done I think.
Anyway, I started by re-making two pieces of the top pane with a different color for more contrast. I think it will look better this way. So it changes from this:
Once the seams were soldered the first one would have looked less uniform, but I like having the purple there. It’s hard to get the final effect looking at just the pieces, so I’m going on faith a little . If it looks horrible when I’m done I can always hurl it across the shop after all.
Then I started on the small panels on the right, I laid out the clear, cut and found all there panels. I followed the same sequence as I showed in my last post, I cut and ground the full sized pane to fit the opening in my copper framework, then I cut and ground the areas the needed to be removed for the colored areas. With some nice music on the stereo this goes really quickly.
Then I started cutting and fitting the colored glass. I laid out which colors I wanted to use in which spots on my master pattern to keep it straight. Where I cloud shape should span two panes I made them the same color. Again, that effect is lost when you’re just looking at the pieces, so it important to have a master pattern with this information.
So that just leaves the large pane on the bottom left. The larger panes are trickier for me, especially with glass glass like this that has inclusions and irregularities. It’s really prone to having the crack propagate away from the scored line, but I have three sheets, so I should be able to get it done.
In my above video I share how I apply a finish to a new or antique saw handle, including a trick for keeping fingers off of the finish! This will be very useful for people who like to refurbish old saw handles.
What are some of your tricks for applying a finish to a woodworking saw handle? My trick involves having fishing line from the ceiling and looping both ends around a bolt that protrudes through the saw handle hole.
It helps me to keep my hands off the finish as much as possible, and allows the wet handle to air dry without any part resting on a surface. You could also run a slim dowel through the saw handle and place it on top of a box.
What finish do I now use on my handsaw and handplane handles? A few months ago my friend Bill Anderson encouraged me to try Minwax Antique Oil Finish (best price here) followed by a coat of Mylands Traditional Wax Polish (best price here). Bill’s friend Larry Preuss, a planemaker from Michigan, introduced him to this finishing combo. Now I love this high-build finish, because of its ease in application and it’s lovely finish. I’ve even used it as a top coat over milk paint, and it works great.
I just apply 2-3 coats of the Minwax oil, according to the directions on the can. Then when the final coat has dried for 24 hours I apply the furniture wax and again buff it until it has a nice sheen.
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As I work on finishing the Anarchist Tool Chest project, I needed to finish the carving for the sides of the tills. Now, I wouldn’t ordinarily carve Poplar if I can avoid it, but this is the wood that was supplied as part of the class. In parts it was fine, in other is crushed like paper, ugh.
Anyway, I tried a variation of the Fleur pattern I found on an old chest that is at the Met. I like the little Fleur pattern to fill in the triangle left by the arc. Pretty cool looking.
That should be all the sliding till sides, so now it’s time to start putting them together and finding a while to fit them into the chest.
Yesterday we made a 100 mile trip up into the mountains to visit David Finck, highly talented woodworker and author of Making and Mastering Wood Hand Planes, one of the best woodworking books written.
David owns the last cabinet ever made by the late great James Krenov, I never thought I would ever see one of these in the flesh so this was a great privilege.
The scale of his work can be very deceiving, so the shot below next to David gives you some idea.
Inside the cabinet.
The tiny little dovetailed drawers with hand cut dovetails and pillowed fronts with hand carved knobs
With James Krenov's eyesight failing, he was unable to make the base and this came down to David to complete. His training at the College of the Redwoods and his many years cabinetmaking showed in the result which was delicately designed and crafted. He used doussie, one of Krenov's favourites, better known in the UK as Afzelia.
After a very nice home made lunch we descended to his basement workshop where I recognised many shots from his book including this fine old band saw from the 1930's. It weighs a ton and was built like a battleship. Not surprisingly it works very well, makes my Startrite look like a toy!
Whenever I see a workshop with no free wallspace I know it's a serious place.
David has recently turned his skilled hand to violin making and was leaving for a show the next day. I hope it goes well.
I'll leave this post with an iconic shot from the book showing his rack of krenov style hand planes, made for a multitude of tasks. The plane on the bottom left made from Cocobolo is my favourite and was made while David was at the College of the Redwoods.
I'm very grateful for the hospitality shown by David and his wife Marie, this alone made the trip to the US worthwhile.
Tomorrow morning, I depart Winston-Salem for a long and lonely drive to Cincinnati in the slow, loud and uncomfortable 24′-long truck (I can’t believe I’m allowed to operate this thing without a CDL license!). So I have a little time to kill. After four days of fun, frivolity and being on my feet nonstop, I just don’t think I have it in me to walk any farther than the room […]
I picked up the tool chest yesterday and slipped it in place by my workbench. I own so many chests it could be embarrassing were I not using them to store the tools we do our research and revision in. Many of the ones I own now are still stateside USA, but one day we will auction them off I am sure. I have decided to replicate this one as a pattern for making one because it seems like a practical size as a smaller chest for modern woodworkers without a bunch of bulky wooden planes to house. Those that do have can simply scale up. When craftsmen traveled they used chests like this one to traverse the seas and the continents. Especially those from the Britain and that includes Scotland and the Scots carpenters and joiners well famed for fine workmanship. Speaking of which.
I did the deal with Bill, the canny Scot that always gets more out of me than any of the other dealers I deal with but we still parted friends. He looks out for things for me and of course I think I showed you these two panel gauges before some time. Yesterday I cut up some of the tabletops for the new replication series I am doing on the table build and it was a joy to use something made by a man 80 or 90 years ago as a special tool for his kit. Sometimes using something like this is viscerally sensing in that his fingerprint is all over the design. It’s so well thought through and balanced. I picture him staring like me at a lump of partially shaped rosewood and thinking how this thing can be enhanced. Pulling the gauge line along the tabletop created a good line to cut to and soon I was gluing up the new tabletop ready for the next stage of filming.
There has been something about this table that has really made me look differently at life as a whole. Abandonment seems always a negative anyway but this piece wasn’t just abandoning something because t wasn’t functioning or nicely made with quality joints. I imagine it being discarded because “people don’t like brown furniture these days.” How sick is that. “and they like the nice stuff they can buy in packs from IKEA.” Sicker still. A CNC machine cuts everything out and a robot creates the rest and a person in a lab designs it on a computer somewhere in a different country and then I buy a “brown furniture” piece for £3 after is served for 140 years. Unlocking past methods and techniques is one of the most enriching experiences there is. Interpreting chatter marks from a spokeshave and knowing by experience that the marks only come from wooden ones is my reward to express for others. How do you expelling so valuable a thing?
The videos are very different than our usual work. Tomorrow I should be done with the series but the experience of buying the tables, transforming issues and recreating pieces that are now influencing my next years modern designs is priceless. I so love not working for money everyone. I so have loved my life living and being a lifestyle woodworker. No flat packs and no flat screens, no flat bed delivery trucks but multidimensional three-dimensional lifestyle woodworking I can live with until I pass.
Using recycled wood like this I don’t feel guilty working with real mahogany. I am glad I do and can. I sense the same my forebears did in working such fine wood and it really is a good resource for us. I just imagine how the Victorian joiners felt when they chopped and planed and chiselled such sweet wood with such even grain in wide boards. It has been a privilege all the way.
I got some responses about the 0.1 mm setting of the chipbreaker. For me personally that's nothing extraordinary. Usually I have it set a bit further away in my smoother, but when the need arises, there is no problem to set it that close. But I understand it is not easy for everyone. Here is a tip I read on UKworkshop.co.uk allthough I have seen it before.
I use a piece of softwood, Set the blade upright and push it down into the wood. Then I slide the chipbreaker down and tighten the screw.
The result when looking on the microscope is a very usefull 0.13 mm distance:
The greatest time and labor saving combination of tools ever invented. Universally endorsed by carpenters.
Otis. A Smith advertisement in Carpentry and Building Magazine, December 1888
This plane has been in my mother's family for years. I used it once, when I was a teenager, to cut the groove in the bottoms of some "long board" skis that I attempted to make. I think it had two cutters then, I used the widest one to plow with, both cutters have since disappeared.
Just the other day I was surfing eBay looking for a plow plane and I was a little shocked to find that this plane with most of its parts was up for auction! I think the bidding was at $1200 when I saw it, I have no idea what the final price was.
I was pretty happy to discover that I owned an Otis A. Smith Variable bench planer, Fales' Patent 1884, and to find out that Amos Fales was living in Denver, Colorado (just down the hill from me) when he received the first patent.
I pulled it out of a tool chest and cleaned it a little this morning. As I was wiping off some of the grime, I thought that maybe some of its parts once resided in an old Fordson tractor tool box that was in my grandfather's garage. I am pretty confident that those parts and cutters where thrown away by my grandmother and mother during different cleaning episodes, plus it would been hard for those parts to survive the mauling they must have received from my older cousins who ransacked the garage whenever they went to visit our grandmother.
There's the patent dates.
After some research on the internet, I realize now how rare this plane is and that it will cost me some really shiny pennies to start buying parts for it. I have a few contacts with a local tool collectors club, maybe I will start my search there.
I do have four nice Disston saw handles with screws and medallions that I would be willing to part with for some parts or even a reprint of the owners manual for this plane.
I am not selling this plane!
My mother always told me that this plane belonged to my great grandfather, John M. Wilson (1847-1906) and that my grandfather, Rufus Wilson (1881-1952), used it in his carpentry work. My great grand father was a photographer and farmer, but my grand father was known for his carpentry skills, I suspect that he was the one who acquired it.
While cleaning the handle I discovered the name of someone who once owned this plane - R.C. Jensen. I wonder who he was.
In every life there comes a time to cast off most of the material things that we labor to gain and maintain, those possessions that, ultimately, possess us.
Pretty philosophical, right? Well, the truth of the matter is that I need space. Anyone who has walked into my little shop in recent months has found it more cramped than ever. I’ve just got too much stuff in there. So I decided to take an inventory and get rid of things that I hadn’t used in the last year or items that I possessed in multiples. It didn’t take long for me to realize that gaining some much needed space would not, necessarily, be that difficult. If reality could talk, it would have said something like, “Hey! Dumb Ass, you’ve got three full size lathes here! Why? Who needs three lathes in a one man, 400 square foot shop? What are you thinking? You’re not thinking! One of them has to go!” There it was. Cold. Hard. Reality. Ugh….
The main lathe is a Nova 16-24-44 that I bought several years ago. Couldn’t get rid of that. Then there’s a Powermatic 45 that’s next on the list for restoration. It’s the lathe I’ve always lusted after. That one’s staying put. So. There it was. It had to be the Treadle Lathe. What? The Treadle Lathe? The heavy duty, double spring, spring pole lathe that could swing 20″ and center 48″? That lathe? The one I built with my own two hands? That lathe? Yep.
I’m a great believer in the notion that a true craftsman finds his joy in the process, not the product. But still, this was my baby. I was more than a little attached. But after thinking about it awhile, I decided to call a friend of mine. This particular friend is a hand tool aficionado, collector, student of woodworking history and a guy who, along with his family and friends, is building a log cabin with hand tools (non-powered). So I called him, explained the situation and, to my relief, he agreed to “adopt” the lathe. There it was, the lathe would have a new home. It would be well cared for, appreciated and I could visit occasionally. Several days ago we loaded it up into his truck. I suppose the feeling that I had, as the truck pulled out of the drive, was like the guy just gave his dog away (right after the dog had chewed up his new $500.00 Italian loafers). It was a mixture of emotions.
So now I have desperately needed space that I can use for assembly and finishing. But it is an unusual feeling. The shop seems to have lost some of its intimacy. Hmm? I wonder… Could there be some other unique project out there? I mean, hey, now I’ve got some room…
If you’re looking to cut those ‘disposable’ B&Q hardpoints out of your life and go with the greener and much more wholesome idea of sharpening your own saw, you need to start out with a good quality tool. I have some great saws coming up for sale on the ‘For Sale‘ page tonight, so bid in confidence, (they will be up around 8pm GMT). They all come courtesy of a gentleman who was down-sizing his house, so needed to move his collection on. It would be great if these saws went to people who aim to use them and sharpen them.
The eight- and five year-old girls living next door love to play make believe. True to their art, they make several costume changes during each “show.” From princess dresses to butterfly wings, their theatrical wardrobe is extensive. So much so, that their Mommy asked me to build something to organize their apparel. Considering the number of times our household has benefited from Mommies’ cake-baking skills—mmmmm, yummy Mommy birthday cake—I was only too happy to return the favor.
Here’s what Mommy was dealing with:
When it came to materials, my watch words were “inexpensive,” “functional” and “attractive.” So I picked up two (one for each girl) pine 1” x 4” x 6’s along with a length of ¾ oak doweling to serve as pegs for duds.
Square boards are boring, so I created some edge profile options and had Mommy choose the one she liked best.
With the panels shaped, I turned my attention to cutting ¾” holes to accommodate the pegs. My prototype used a ¾” Forstner bit to cut the hole clean through. That approach, however, meant that seating the peg left a portion that protruded beyond the back face. So rather than sawing and chiseling 12 pegs flush—that’s just too much, no-fun work—I chose to drill stopped holes instead. Problem solved.
I cut the 12 pegs to 3” lengths using a piece of pine as a stop.
Now before finishing the panels, I dropped by Mommies’ place to mark the placement of the wall studs. As for height, I was looking for a Goldilocks placement—not too low (the kiddies are still growing) and not too high (both the munchkins need to reach the pegs.)
After transferring the markings to the panels, I took them to the drill press to make holes for the screws. Then countersunk them to accommodate the 3/8” plugs to cover the screw heads.
A quick sanding and two coats of wipe-on poly later the panels were ready to mount.
That done, they were ready for service.
A free-standing mirror fits between the two panels so that the girls can check themselves before going out to play.
So far, the kiddies are using it faithfully. And Mommy is happy to have a bit less clutter in a kid-cluttered house. But is she happy enough to bake a cake? Well. Shakespeare said it best. “To bake, or not to bake? That is the question.”
© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.
Before it got too hot yesterday and I abandoned ship to go buy a new TV (and ultimately returned to the shop to knock together a kludge to hold the TV and related paraphernalia) I made a credible start on the stained glass for the door of the Thorsen Cabinet.
I started by setting up a wood frame to hold the two copper surrounds I made earlier. The intent with the pattern board is to hold the two copper frames in orientation as they will be in the door, and to keep from springing the sides and messing up the fit.
I fit some paper into the wood frame, and started developing the pattern for the glass. I traces the inside edge of the copper frame, then sketched the “cloud” design in pencil, tweaking it until I was happy with it, then I inked in with a fine point sharpie.
The process for cutting the glass is pretty simple in concept, score and snap, but the reality is that curves add complexity. And the uneven texture of the glass gives it a mind of it’s own. I cut the pieces of glass for the left side first, but got a crack in the big one. That’s life, I bought extra expecting that nibbling out little pieces in a big sheet was going to be tricky.
I really love this clear glass. It has a few bubbles and an irregular hand-made appearance. It’s “iridized”, which means it has a thin metallic coating that gives it a purplish cast. Part of why this piece got away from me is that I scored it on the front instead of the back. The back is smoother. Also the glass needs to be well-supported when scoring, otherwise the pressure from scoring will start a crack.
So I ignored the bottom section and focused on finishing the top section first. I used grozing pliers to snap off any little pieces that didn’t come off and the score, then I ground the edge so it was a slightly loose fit in the opening in the copper.
Then I laid it over my pattern and traced the cut lines for the cloud design. I flipped the glass face down and scored it in stages. First a straight or sweeping cut to get close to the layout line. This can be snapped by hand or with “running pliers”. I’ll have to do a separate post on the tools as I don’t have pictures handy.
Once the first cut is snapped, I scored a service of shallow arcs into the inside curves. These will be snapped off using the grozing pliers. I’m not really very good at this, but it seems to work. If I can get within a 1/16″ of my line I’m happy.
After snapping all the little bits, and repeating the cuts on the other end of this piece, I’m ready to take it to the glass grinder.
These are the three pieces of glass I got to use for the cloud shapes. I’m starting out with the one on the bottom left, which is spear, white, pink and champagne. I suspect I’ll make a few pieces in more than one color as I go through this and decide what looks best. All of these have an iridized coating like the clear that I’m using.
Same process for the little pieces, with a slight twist. Since the glass isn’t clear I have to use a light box to see the pattern through the glass. I ink it onto the front of the glass, then flip the glass over on the light box and ink it onto the back. The difference in color between the two sides is surprising.
I score and break from the back, and grind from the front. I am aiming for a slightly loose fit between the pieces — not gaps (there will be some, and that’s OK) — but enough clearance for the copper foil that will wrap all the bits. Without the lead boarder the design looks a little anemic at this point. I’m also going to re-make one or two of the parts in different colors for more variety. But this is where I left off before my son convinced me to stop so we could go TV shopping.
For, at least the last year I have been seriously weighing my options when it comes to building a new work bench. I built my current bench at a transition point in my life. Tired of tooling around learning how to do a little of this and a little of that, I decided I would focus my creative endeavors on woodworking, something I had played with and enjoyed, but now set forth to attempt to master.
|The inspiration, Chris Schwarz's take on the Nicholson Bench|
At this time I also started blogging about my work and time in the shop. At the time I thought this was a unique idea (little did I know what I was getting myself into) My current bench, a hybrid idea between the Nicholson Workbench Chris Schwarz shows in his original blue workbench book and a bench he built called "The $175 Workbench". Made from pine with a laminated 2X4 top.
|The original, just finished circa summer 2009.|
|My bench as it sits today, in my perfect little corner of the world.|
I knew we were going to move after I built the bench, so in my naivete I didn't make the connection between the legs and the bench top very solid. In fact the legs are slanted boxes that attach to the top with lag bolts and the bottom shelf with carriage bolts. Not exactly bomb proof joinery. So the bench racks a bit when planing. I solved that by screwing it to the wall!
The second and larger problem. The top has warped over time and not just a little bit. Enough so planing it flat is less than feasible to it's survival. It's not that I can't work on it, and can't work around it. handling long stock is the only real time its a big issue. Mostly I'm just tired of settling and working around the issues included in something I could have, should have done better.
So I've been pining for a second chance, a new bench with no compromises, but finding the right materials is the tricky part. The combination of patience and fate has delivered the materials to my doorstep.
|The new workbench in its infancy.|
A week and a half ago, some folks I know dropped me a line, they had an old barn they had to burn down because they were selling the property it was on. As an after thought they thought I might like to salvage some material from it. If I'd had a few months time I'd have salvaged every usable stick, as it stood I had a one day window. I called a buddy and we went and got some beams.
I believe they are some softwood variety, which is fine with me. The big beam in front is a little more than 8x8 square. It will be the legs. The three thinner beams are around 4x8. Those will be edge joined together to make the top. They all come out to about 12 foot 4 inches long.
That means when I'm finished, unless I find something punky or bad. I have a chance at a workbench 12 feet in length and a little less than 24 inches wide.
|A close up of the row of benches show in Roubo's infamous plate 11 etching.|
That should work just fine. It'll mean rearranging the shop something fierce, but it will be a nice problem to have.
I've got a lot of nails to pull today and then the beams are going to have to wait for a little while. Maybe even the whole winter long, but soon I'll be starting and there will be no compromises this time.
Ratione et Passionis
As a crowd gathered ’round the Lee Valley Tools booth at high noon on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Woodworking in America 2014, Robin Lee, president, unlocked the chains and opened the cases to reveal a project the company has been working on for more than two years: five new Veritas “customizable” bevel-down planes (Nos. 4, 41⁄2, 5, 51⁄2 and 7 in the Stanley numbering system). I got a preview of […]