Here’s what I like to see when I look at something I’ve built, something someone else has built or someone in the process of building. Ease. I like to see the simplified result – in form, product or technique – of what I know is not so simple. I don’t mean it has to be … Read more
Well, now it’s April, which means it’s practically May. Might as well be June, which makes me wonder what you’re doing this summer.
What you could do is come to Pittsboro, North Carolina to make a joint stool at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/elizabethian-joint-stool-w-pet/
Out at the mill, we’ll split out an oak, and get to use a lot of wedges, hatchets and other big tools.
Maybe the owls will come out to watch.
Next, we’ll take the pieces into the school’s bench-room in town and get to planing.
If we make enough shavings, the Bag Man appears.
Mortise & tenon joinery, drawboring, chamfering (turning for those full-tilt crazies) – it’ll be like the book come to life. I don’t remember what’s in the book, so I’ll be making it up as I go along.
There’ll be tools galore, I’ll bring mine, Roy’s school has tons, then there’s Ed’s store upstairs!
If you wanted to know about green woodworking, then a week with me & Roy ought to do it. It reminds me of Twain’s quote about Kipling: “Between us, we cover all knowledge; he knows all that can be known, and I know the rest.”
Seriously, it’s a great week there. if you are interested in learning the craft of oak joinery with old-style tools, here’s your chance. My box-carving class at Drew Langsner’s is full, with a waiting list – so this is the only other week-long class I have this summer. Unless you’re in Germany in June! http://www.mehr-als-werkzeug.de/course/KU1631301/Carved-Box.htm
So get going. Get over to Roy’s website: http://www.woodwrightschool.com/elizabethian-joint-stool-w-pet/
Japanese hammers get little love compared to saws, chisels, and planes. But they are a vital part of any woodworkers’ tool arsenal. Without a hammer, you can’t chop out waste with a chisel, you can’t adjust the blade in a plane, you can’t drive a nail, and you can’t persuade a tight joint to go together.
Unlike western hammers, some Japanese hammers have a slight curve to the handle. This serves two purposes. First, having a slight angle to the handle helps ergonomically when using the hammer to hit something. Japanese carpentry hammers have a slight angle to the head, so that the head makes an angle with the handle that is not quite square.
Second, Japanese hammers have two faces. One face is flat, which is used for most purposes, and the second face is slightly convex. This side is used for hammering nails so that the head of the nail can be driven very close to the surface of the wood without denting the wood itself. If a Japanese hammer is going to have an angle to the handle, the handle angles towards the flat face. This makes it very easy to know which face is which when you pick up the hammer.
In addition to the flat and convex faces of the hammer, the hammer head also has an orientation in relation to the handle. The blacksmith’s mark should face the handle. For my hammer, the blacksmith mark is fainlty visible below the mortise in the above picture.
The mortise through the head that the handle is fitted to is not exactly rectangular. It has a slight hourglass shape, which is important in fitting and securing the handle to the head. If I put a straightedge through the mortise, it will rock back and forth on the narrow part of the hourglass.
The next step is to lay out how the handle should be inserted into the head. Overall, I wanted the hammer to be 13½” long. I drew a line across the handle representing the length of the hammer, and another one about 1/8” above that.
The second part of the layout involves figuring the proper angle of the insertion of the handle. Ideally, the handle should be inserted so that a line through the center of the mortise touches the corner of the handle. (Picture courtesy of Jim Blauvelt.)
I lined up the head of the hammer on the handle, and lined up the mortise with the corner of the handle by eye, and transferred marks corresponding to the walls of the mortise to the handle.
Here the lines that represent the length of the hammer, the line 1/8” longer than that, and the mortise walls can be seen.
I started to saw away the waste, staying to the outside of the marks. You can see the additional line I sketched in on the left side to allow that side of the handle to flow into the part of the handle that inserts into the head.
At this point the handle needs to be fitted to the mortise. The handle is also too thick, so that needs to be trimmed down. Here are the tools I used for the fitting process. I used the files more than any of the other tools.
Once the handle can be barely inserted into the handle, stop. At this point the handle can be driven into the head of the hammer. Because of the hourglass shape of the mortise, the fibers of the handle will be compressed as it works its way through. To drive the handle into the head of the hammer, all that needs to be done is to hit the end of the handle with a mallet.
It may be the case that as the handle works its way through the head, some fibers may get caught up on the edge of the mortise. They can be trimmed off with a sharp chisel, and continue with the pounding.
After enough pounding, the end of the handle will protrude past the top of the head. The protruding wood can be peened down, filling up the top part of the hourglass. Between the narrowing of the hourglass and the mushrooming of the top part, the head will be held onto the handle very securely.
And now I can pick up my hammer and instantly know exactly which face I’m using.
This afternoon, I was reading William Goldring’s The Pipe Book: A History and How to (1973), which briefly recounts the history of each historical type of pipe and explains how to make a similar one using a few, simple tools.
In the section on making a briar pipe, the author suggests using a saw to remove the initial waste from the briar block. He remarks:
Briar is a very hard wood, as you have undoubtedly discovered, and this precludes the use of an ordinary wood saw. Instead, a hacksaw must be used to make these and all subsequent cuts.
If by “ordinary wood saw,” he means a dull one, he is undoubtedly right. However, briar is no harder than some of our native hardwoods, and is often softer than hard maple or hickory. It seems Goldring had no idea that hand saws could be–or should be–sharpened, so he found the disposable blades of the hack saw more effective on the briar.
A sharp hand saw cuts briar very easily, in fact. It’s a pity that misinformation like this got into print, but it’s doubly a pity that Goldring evidently never had the pleasure of using a sharpened hand saw. I think he would have enjoyed it.
Filed under: Musings, Tobacco Pipes, Woodworking Literature
Day four goes well again!
Today passed quickly yet again and before we knew it we were sweeping masses of shavings from the workshop floor and benches. It’s amazing how many shavings you get from a few guys using a hand plane.
My day was a little easier today as I decided not to make anything, but catch up on some sketching for my next books. I have a series planned and pretty much written reflecting my life’s work as a craftsman I want to use as instructional books as a mentoring craftsman teacher. When I finally stop traveling the globe (soon) I will settle down and get them completed.
Today I watched from my bench and listened. I watched the men working, rarely stopping, but not at all exclusive to talking or saying something to another. They commit their entirety to a chisel edge on a section of wood 1” wide, cut, and then cut again. They, their eyes and hands, connect to concentrate effort, and there, in a world united by the swoosh of a plane or a hammer-striking blow passing through the air, a common unity exists and shavings from shaved wood spills in silence at their feet. Do shavings unite? Chips from a chisel edge and sawn chips of waste and unwanted wood? I think that they do. As do tools on the bench and in the hands that work them. Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste too become a shared presence of their work; they become simultaneously absorbed and no invasive machines invade the union of heart and mind and soul and strength. They talk of stubborn grain encountered at the tool’s edge and tools they tame it with, or, sometimes, they yield to its stubborn awkwardness. I listen to their decision to sharpen the dull edge of a tool – I hear what they do right and what they do wrong. I pass a comment, the chisel shifts, the tool cuts more equal to the task by just one word – perhaps two or three.
It’s different with woodworking tools
Working with woodworking tools demands every ounce of a craftsman’s attention, yet, as I say, not exclusively, but in an inclusive way. His attentiveness isn’t so much private to him, the individual, but shared by the whole.
When someone leaves the shop no one looks up, but we all sense the missing person in the same way a cat walks by inconspicuous in itself, but you feel its presence there and then you feel its disappearance when it leaves silently, unobtrusively. No one really leaves somehow. Bathroom breaks are minimally infrequent; only by necessity. Money? That can be wasted, paid out, exhausted, but it’s not good to waste time, and no one does. This is singularly our most precious commodity. We share it with one another. Memories are created and lived and kept in tact. My most vivid memories with machine woodworking are memories of near misses and I am thankful for them because they make me conscious, ever conscious, that they are highly invasive and extremely dangerous. When I am in my machine shop I must do everything I can to protect myself from the possible harm they can do to me and to others around me. When I am in my hand tool shop, I find myself at rest. I breath clean, unfiltered air and hear the birds outside in between my mallet blows. We talk back and forth and we share precious accounts that make the memories that will go to five different countries on three or four continents. I find this concept wholly stimulating. Simple, but stimulating. I see my chisels and my new mallet resting on the bench and waiting for my hands to work them. This inspires me to work in my creative workspace. It’s therapeutic in an uncomfortable and difficult world that can at times be very senseless. I was so saddened by the Boston bomb that shattered peoples’s lives with the shrapnel and futility of bitter hate. I can’t make sense of that. It makes me very sad and sorry that this happened.
When in Canada, you do need to be careful about what you use your toothbrush for. At woodworking schools in the United States, a lot of them use a wet toothbrush to remove wet glue squeeze-out from the inside corners of a carcase. But when teaching a tool chest class at Rosewood Studio in Perth, … Read more
To finish off the corners of the mallet I created an all-around chamfer with the spokeshave. I also used a flat file to crispen up some more awkward grain as needed. You could use a flat file for all of this if you want to or you don’t have a spokeshave. The spokeshave and file are easier to work the rounded parts of the head. If you don’t have either, wrap sandpaper around a flat stick and make your own abrasive file.
On the inside corners nearest the handle, the original mallet had a corner scallop, not dissimilar to what we call a stopped chamfer of sorts, only short. I drew this on with a pencil to guide me as shown.
On the other hand, you can make a saw cut in the centre, across the corner, and then chisel in from each end toward the mid section. This works well and eliminates the need for the spokeshave. Any unevenness can be sanded with a stick wrapped again with sandpaper as before.
That concludes the shaping of the mallet head; now we start on the shaft itself.
Fitting the shaft
The shaft needs to fit to the hole on both inside and outside faces of the head so that there is no gap. A gap will lead to slop and the head will not feel solid in use and with strikes. Fit by planing as needed, until the gap is closed.
Strike the wide end of the shaft with the hammer until it seats fully into the mortise. The wood will compress and tighten in the hole, but can be loosened again by tapping the other end to remove the shaft.
Once the handle is fitted, it’s time to shape the shaft. I rounded both ends to match the original. The shape is as shown. You can use anything to round the narrow end of the shaft. I tried both a radius from the Veritas apron plane and also a tea mug. Both worked fine. At the wider end, I freehanded the shape I wanted.
I find the shaft works better for me with the corners chamfered. I marked the same distance to all of the corners, on each adjacent face. I made certain the distance was the same on all four corners and measured 1” from the inside of the head end to the start of the chamfer and 2” from the opposite end.
I applied a paste wax to the overall mallet. It needs nothing really to protect it or enrich the wood to make it last longer. All finishes such as boiled linseed oil (BLO) were to seal the wood and keep it clean, that’s all.
Here are a few shots that I took while wandering around the town.
On clear days, you could see snow capped mountains across the Sound. But alas, my ailing camera couldn't capture them.
The school itself is located in Fort Worden State Park which has a huge array of cool old buildings that all sorts of businesses and schools.
And the photos above only show the shelves. Each bench has a full set of layout tools and just about everything you need. They even had an array of drawknives and spokeshaves. I wish we had talked more before I went or I wouldn't have shipped my froe out there, they had plenty.
Here is Tim warming up while we built the kiln on Sunday before the class.
And here are the students shaving away. They recently built the shavehorses and they performed beautifully. I love it when the students work on good shavehorses because the quickly come to appreciate how efficient they are.
The last item worth mentioning is the food. Everywhere I went there was a new place to get great coffee, food or beer, my kind of town. I've discussed returning with Tim and have already started plotting to get Sue out there for a well deserved vacation.
I’ve long been looking for the perfect rug for my dining room (which may become my shop if I can’t soon find the perfect house in my price range, but that’s a story for another day), so I regularly troll a local online auction site, on which I can’t seem to keep from looking at … Read more
Gil Gilpatrick, Building Wooden Snowshoes & Snowshoe Furniture, 2001
Remember these snowshoes? I re-laced them with 1/8 inch nylon cord and mason's line last November and today was the first day I could really try them out! We received over 20inches of snow yesterday and last night, some times the snowfall rate was 4 inches an hour!
These snowshoes are a dream! They are about 2 pounds lighter per shoe, as compared to when they were laced with rawhide, now it's like walking air! Click here or on the book title above to learn more about Gil Gilpatrick's book on how to make snowshoes!
Our place this morning. I might try to get the Wrangler out this afternoon!
The gulch behind our house.
Our Australian shepherd, Josey, coming up the road.
In case you hadn't worked it out, one of these joints is difficult to make...four of the things linked together is well nigh bloody impossible! But the impossible becomes simple if Domino jointing is used but its absolutely critical that all the component parts meet and match. Any little 'step' is going to stick out like the proverbial...
Firstly, I decided to use a couple of 30mm boards of American Cherry, which were machined to 22 plus a 'gnats todger' and then hand planed to exactly 22mm square, which is just about the smallest size you can comfortably use in a Domino, bearing in mind that the doms themselves are only 20mm wide.
Having marked out the centre line of each slot, positioned with a pencil line....
...I then marked out each Dom mortise with a big 'D' (shown above).
Unusually for me, I realised the application of a bit of brain power (ha!) could result in a way to exactly register the machine on any face, so I built a tight fitting box to ensure that the edge the Domino rested against it.
All I needed to do was to cut the first mortise...
...spin the wood through 90deg to reveal another 'D' and the new slot would correspond exactly with the original.
What wasn't quite so clever was that the mortises weren't in the centre of the timber as they were 'out' by a mm, which caused a little bit of re-jiggling to be done when the joining rails and their mortises were cut. Once I got that sorted out, it was reasonably straight forward to cut all the other bits.
The other day I was looking at all the turning tools I have. Over the years, I have tried a lot of turning tools and I don’t care for most of them.
Look at the picture and you will see around 22 tools and I had to wipe a lot of dust off some of them to make the picture. There are all kind of tools from old Craftsman tools to some really modern stuff to the Elbo Hollowing Tool lying on the stool. In fact, I do about 90% of my work with one tool and that is the one on the far end of the lathe bed. I really like the 5/8” bowl gouge set in a changeable handle. I use Oneway’s Sure Grip Hosaluk 17-1/2″ Tool Handle from the High and I love the thing. I put the Oneway Mastercut 5/8” Bowl Gouge in the Handle and the whole rig weighs close to three pounds. That solid weight makes it very easy to hold steady and almost all vibration from the cut is eliminated. I can knock out a bowl in short order with this tool and I recently bought a new gouge since I have about ground the length off my old one.
A few years ago when I went to the Master Class on bowl turning with Mike Mahoney at the High, I took some of my turning tools to the class. Mike scoffed at the cutting edge I had on my bowl gouge. I had learned to make that “fingernail grind” shape from the instructions that came with the Oneway Wolverine sharpening jig. Mike has a way of sharpening which uses the grinder platform set at the angle he likes and which I have adopted. He adjusts the platform to about 15 degrees and then sharpens freehand from the platform. Once you learn how, the process is quick and easy and I have gotten where I can do it in less than a minute. What I see many beginners do is buy all the sharpening jigs and fixtures they can get their hands on. That collecting process is good for Highland, but makes your sharpening life more difficult in the long run. How much simpler to start the grinder, put the gouge on the grinder table freehand and in a short time be done. For you beginners, if you have never turned with a sharp tool you have no idea what you are missing. Find somebody who has a sharp gouge you can borrow so you can see what it feels like. Come on down to the shop and I will be happy to loan you one of my gouges for a bit. Here’s a hint: If all you see are small chips and sawdust coming off the gouge, you need to sharpen. If you are turning green wood, you should be seeing a continuous stream of beautiful long curls flying up into the air. In fact, look back at the top picture and note the long shavings on top of the box behind the lathe. That is the joy of turning and what turners live for.
How many turning tools do you have and which is your favorite?
Part of the beauty and efficiency of the Festool system is that all the the tools come in standardized, stackable boxes called "Systainers". Systainers lock together in stacks and last year a new style of Systainer made it possible to access Systainers in the middle of a stack without unbolting the whole stack.
This year we see the introduction of three new accessories that make the Systainer system more productive than ever. First up is a re-engineered Sys-Cart. You have always been able to bolt a stack of systainers on top of any of the Festool Vacs, but if you have a lot of tools, or extra storage systainer, the extra set of wheels is pretty useful. The old Sys-Cart was pretty popular, the new one is stronger, takes more weight, and has a more positive locking mechanism for Systainer than before. The wheels are well made, and lock if needed.
In addition to the cart, I think the new Sys-Roll will be really popular in New York. The major difference between the cart and roll is the rool has long handles and the large wheels. This will make it far easier to transport tools up and down stairs. Even a short run of entry stairs can be a bear to get up and down if you have fully
loaded carts. We have all the new tools in the showroom and the Sys-Roll is generating a LOT of enthusiasm.
The third new expansion on the Systainer line is a new Toolbox. Basically a 6" deep Systainer bottom with a handle it can easily bolt on top of your stack of systainers as a catchall for all the miscellaneous tools you don't know where to put. My initial reaction to the toolbox was pretty ho-hum, but in the showroom, it's met with some customer enthusiasm. Both the Sys-Roll and the Toolbox are priced pretty aggressively by Festool, and I think people are both surprised at how inexpensive they are (compared to other Festool Stuff) and the productivity gain is pretty obvious for everyone to understand.
Finally the flagship of the new releases is an upgrade to the TS55 REQ. The new version is just as superb as the old model with some interesting tweaks. You can now cut to within a 1/2" of a wall. The depth adjuster is now in both Metric and English (about bloody time too!) and has a micro-adjust feature. The micro-adjust feature is interesting because it give you the option of cutting to a precise depth, a feature you don't need often but when you do it's a lifesaver. There are a bunch of other tweaks but the only other major one that comes to mind is that the outer splinter guard don't have to be removed for angled cuts. You can read about the machine and also view a video here.
All the new Festool stuff will ship from our warehouse or you can pick it up on May 1, 2013. Not before. But you can pre-order anytime. As always there is free shipping on all Festool orders over $50 to anywhere in the continental US, and of course free returns for anything you don't like ( URLhttp://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/store/more/festool_freeship.html, restrictions apply).
I have known Ruth Goodman for many years from doing demonstrations for The Mary Rose Trust, Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust and others. She and husband Mark run the Tudor Group one of the best historical re enactment/interpretation societies. The crew were a great fun team too, I guess you have to be when you work such long hard hours together. On the day filming with me they had a 4 1/2 hour drive, 5 hours filming then 4 1/2 hours back home. Anyway here are some snaps of the day. The whole thing is made on a remarkably tight budget and what has made it a hit is the passion and dedication of the small team involved. In a world of reality TV programes and competitive game shows it is a breath of fresh air.
So it was time to paint the "One Hour Stool". I had already decided to paint it blue, but just to be sure I brought out the milk paint sticks. Yup, it still wanted to be blue.
I broke out the Real Milk Paint and mixed up a batch of sky blue. I wanted the paint to be somewhat transparent, so I adjusted the proportions to make it more of a wash.
After letting it sit for a bit, I painted up some scraps - Hey, those look like busted up legs from a small stool! Huh, wonder how that happened? Anyway, after they dried, I tested some various oil/wax combinations to see how they would change the appearance.
On the left, is my own beeswax/mineral oil mix. In the center, is Tried & True Varnish Oil. On the right, is Dark Tung Oil. I decided on one coat of the T&T Varnish Oil, and one coat of my own mix.
On to the stool.
First the paint.
Then the oil.
And it's done! I didn't keep track of time during this stage of the stool build. I'd have to estimate that the painting and oiling took about 45 minutes total shop time.
So I guess that would make this one hour stool a two hour stool...
Please donate, even if it’s locally. Someone will need blood today.
I was about five minutes into staining the second chair when light rain began falling which, annoyingly, forced me to revise the whole colouring and polishing procedure. The chairs were in and out of the shed a dozen times that day, but once I had the first coat of varnish on all six chairs I was able to relax as the weather had little or no effect on them then.
I left the varnish to harden for a couple of days before giving the chairs a good waxing.
First to rive the stock with the froe...
He loves working with Papa.
Roughly round it out with a hatchet
Finish the rough rounding with the drawknife on my shaving horse
Now for the lathe
I am turning two pulleys out of a single piece
Don't forget the wheels!
Stained and oiled
I think my wife is happy.
If she's happy, I'm happy.