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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!

Do you have a suggestion for a hand-tool woodworking blog you would like to see here?  Tell me via the CONTACT page.  Thanks!

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You Keep Using that Word. I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 9:05am

frieda1_IMG_2423

In North America, we are too cavalier in using the word “master” to describe an artisan. Many times, it’s simply BS advertising copy when a publisher tries to puff up one of its authors: “Mr. Shinkle Gymnosperm is a master cabinetmaker.”

I think we can pretty much ignore that as over-heated hyperbole. But when I see a woodworker describe himself or herself as a “master carpenter,” “master turner” or “master carver” I have one reaction.

Show me your papers.

Today I stopped by Frieda’s Desserts to get some croissants after picking up a plank of hard maple. I’ve eaten at a lot of bakeries; Frieda’s is the best I’ve had in North America. It’s run by Armin Hack, a tremendous and friendly German baker. His “Meisterbrief” – or master’s certificate – hangs above the cash register for all to inspect.

He earned his certificate in konditoren-handwerk – confections – on 23 Jan. 1986.

As I said above, his pastry is amazing, but the paper does not make it so.

The term “master” in Germany and many other European countries means you have studied a curriculum for several years in both your craft and in business. You have passed a series of official state-sanctioned tests and are therefore permitted to set up shop and sell your wares. There are also obligations that come with the title – you must be willing to teach journeymen and apprentices what you know.

The certificate typically applies to an area of the craft that is quite narrow. For example, I have met many German joiners who know nothing about carving or turning. Those are other crafts. So applying the term “master woodworker,” to someone who has mastered all aspects of the craft is also a bit odd to my ears.

Plus in North America, the terms such as “apprentices,” “journeymen” and “master” never really had much weight here. While there were attempts to set up a formal European system here, they failed for the most part. There was simply too much work and not enough bodies.

We’re Americans. We don’t use those terms.

Yes, I know that some of our trade unions have a formal system that mimics the European system. They have titles. They also have coursework, a series of tests and – in the end – a piece of paper you receive that means something.

So the next time you see that term “master” before someone’s name or their trade, ask to see their “Meisterbrief.” It should be right above the cash register.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

The Journeyman

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 6:06am

coach-makers_shop

The Journeyman Smith

What is a journeyman smith?

The first time that I remember hearing the term journeyman applied to any particular trade was about twenty-nine years ago, at which time I was quite a youth. The word was employed at the end of every verse of a somewhat lengthy song, called the “Journeyman Tailor.” The real meaning of the word, or why it was applied to trades, became to me a vast and not over lucid problem.

Feeling anxious to learn its exact meaning, I applied to my maternal author for a definition of the term. After receiving the answer, that it applied to all tradesmen or mechanics that had finished their apprenticeship, I felt as much enlightened as before.

The word journey, I knew, related to travel; the combination only was a puzzle. How a carpenter, or smith, or tailor, with steady employment and a permanent domicil, should be styled or called a traveling mechanic, was more than my comprehension could fathom. To arrive at the solution of this problem was ever my great aim. Numberless times have I asked of master mechanics its true meaning, and in the end invariably found myself no wiser than before.

In 1852, after having entered upon the third year of my apprenticeship, it became my duty to help a German smith, and excellent mechanic, but unable to utter a word of English, or to comprehend anything mentioned to him in the same language. In order to be able to understand each other, we commenced the task of teaching each other our native languages, and in a measure we succeeded.

While conversing with him in German upon the German method of constructing vehicles, the German apprenticeship system, and other matters relating to the trade, I was successful in finding a clue which I felt quite certain would lead me to the proper solution of the great apprenticeship problem.

He mentioned that, while he was a “Handwerks-Bursch,” of having stopped a certain length of time in Berlin. Handwerks-Bursch was to me so much Greek. After giving my friend to understand that I would like to know the literal meaning of the term, he told me that it meant a traveling mechanic. Following up on my clue, I finally came to the solution of the problem that had troubled my brain for the preceding eleven years, which is about as follows:

Until the last few years, it was imperative, in German countries, and in the majority of other European countries, upon every person, after he had finished his apprenticeship and before entering into business on his own account, to spend a certain number of years in traveling in other countries, or in different sections of his own country, that he might become acquainted with the different methods of working, and thereby perfect himself and become competent to enter into business on his own account.

The term applies to single men only, working for other persons. As soon as he enters into business he is termed (in German parlance) “Meister,” or “Werke-Meister.” If he becomes married and does not establish himself in business, but works for another person, the term “Handwerks-Bursch,” or traveling mechanic, does not apply to his calling any longer. He is looked upon as an inferior workman, and is termed a “Sack-Reise” [the literal translation of “sack” in this case applies to household effects], or in English, “a botch,” a man that is encumbered, etc. The meaning of the term may be measurably altered by emphasizing or taking from.

The foregoing system, once in vogue throughout all European countries, is fast dying out, and at present exists in but one or two German Provinces. The old terms all falling into disuse, and in some of the German States have become obsolete—the terms used at present signify a learned smith, carpenter, or tailor, having a greater amount of significance, and are in the ascendency.

In conclusion, your humble servant would say, that until the term “journeyman” becomes obsolete (that is, so far as relates to the mechanic of this enlightened country), and the proper term, Master Mechanic, supersedes it, that the writer will remain as equally dissatisfied as he was prior to his learning the exact or literal meaning of the word journeyman in its present application.
                                                                                                                                            J.L.H.M.
New York, Oct. 31, 1870.

We were glad to receive this article, because it contains some interesting remarks about the life of European mechanics, and we wish that our contributor would tell us something more about it. But we cannot agree with him in his explanations of the origin of the word journeyman. According to Webster, journeyman signifies a man hired to work by the day, a day-laborer, and this is, no doubt, the correct meaning. The common word journey, from the French word jour, a day, signified, originally, not travel, but the travel of a day, or all that was done in one day, and thus journeyman has nothing to do with the modern signification of journey, travel, but only with the primitive one, day-work. Originally, thersfore, a journeyman smith was one who labored, and was paid, by the day.                                                                                                                         Ed.

The New York Coach-Maker’s Magazine – December, 1870

 

Journeyman

Its Continuation and Conclusion

“Those that are bound must obey.”

The writer, fortunately, belongs to that class that is generally favored with constant employment, and in consequence he is bound to obey the injunctions of his employers, and to render to them sufficient duties in office, that they may be satisfied that they are not paying him for services not performed. And on the other hand, the duties of your humble servant are such that much of his time beyond the regular ten hours per diem has to be devoted to the furtherance of the interests of his employers, and moreover, from the rapid strides of progress and improvement which are every day taking place in the art of Coach-making, some little time must be spent in his own culture, in order that he may keep pace with the present age of progress.

Therefore he has no time to devote to controversies, and furthermore, his chances of obtaining an education sufficient to enable him to enter into any controversy have ever been too limited; but in all his pen and ink sketches he will endeavor to use as pure English as possible, and will spare no pains to make all his problems as lucid as possible, in order that those, who may have labored under the same disadvantages that he has, may be able to understand his exact meaning.

In writing a previous article, termed “Journeyman Smith,” I sought, by brevity and as plain language as I could use, to find why the term journeyman was applied to mechanics that had served their regular term of apprenticeship—not the modern application, but the primitive one.

My esteemed and good friend, the Editor, fails to agree with me, and requests by particular favor to hear from me again on the subject. In compliance with the request I now embrace the few moments that are lying about loose to continue and conclude all that I have to say on the subject.

I have known for years that the French word jour (pronounced zhoor), translated to English, means day or light; that journée (pronounced zhoorna), means all that transpires in a day, viz., the day’ s light, the day’ s heat, the day’s toil, the day’s profit, the day’s travel, etc. And I have every reason to believe that the English word journey is taken from the French word journée.

But all this in no way tends towards telling us why the term journeyman was first applied to the mechanics.

Farm laborers, clerks, drivers, etc., have never been complimented with the term. Their labor is done in the day; then why not employ the same term in speaking of them? Because their duties being ever the same, there was nothing to be learned that could not be learned at home, hence what use had they in “journeying, strange lands and things to see.”

The writer has frequently heard, in by-gone days, many and different ballads, all having for their theme the “journeyman.” One verse was about as follows.

“East and West I did journey,
Strange towns and cities for to see,
I journeyed up, I journeyed down
Until I came to fair Lunnun town.”

As mentioned in the preceding article, it was the custom in all European countries for the young mechanic, after he had completed his apprenticeship, to spend a certain number of years in traveling in other or foreign parts. The terms applied in the different countries to these persons are about as follows.

In England, on his first round, he is called a journeyman, or young tramp, or tramp, or stager, from the fact of his having to move so far in each day. The whole country being laid out in stages or day’s journeys, at certain towns he has the privilege of remaining longer than at others. He has the privilege of making two or three stages or journeys in a day, and receives a competence from each one. If he obtains or takes employment, he is considered as being done for the present with journeying or tramping, and is called a smith, tailor, etc., according to his profession, which he enjoys until he again starts on his meanderings, the term journeyman being rarely if ever applied while in constant employment.

Some mechanics rarely perform more than twelve weeks’ work in the year, and are always on the move, and are termed old tramps or old stagers, and such is their knowledge of the country that they can travel two years without visiting the same place twice.

In France the custom was the same, but has of late years been dying out. The terms applied there are, when traveling, ouvrier voyageur: a traveling workman or a young mechanic on his tour of learning or perfecting himself in his trade. When in employment, he is called compagnonnage forgeron (smith), or if a carriage-maker or wheeler, compagnonnage charron.

In German countries, he is first called ein Handwerksbursch auf Reise: a young Handwerker on his travels, or a young mechanic traveling to finish his trade. When spoken of by those at home, it is said, er reist in der Fremde: he is traveling among stranger, or is journeying to finish his trade. While he is in employment he is called Geselle: companion, or smith companion, or body-maker companion, etc. After he is done with traveling, and is about or contemplates establishing himself in business, he is called ein reisender Geselle, and reisender Arbeiter: traveled companion, or learned companion, or traveled workman, or learned workman, smith, etc.

Believing that I have quoted enough to make myself directly understood, I will now conclude the subject by saying that I believe, from what has been set forth, that the term journeyman was first applied to mechanics because of their having to travel or journey after having finished their apprenticeship.

What the modern meaning of the term may be is no concern of mine, nor do I question Messrs. Webster, Walker, or Johnson, as to whether they are right or wrong; but since writing my first essay upon the subject, I have convened a number of learned mechanics of the art of Coach-Making, and after conversing upon the different terms in use in Europe, reading the article appearing in the December number of the Magazine, and the editor’s note attached, I asked them their views as to which was correct.

After an hour’s controversy upon the subject, during which English, French, and German Dictionaries were examined and quoted, it was voted that the author of Journeyman was correct, as was also the esteemed editor, so far as related to his quotation from Webster.

Then, if both are right, why should the subject be continued any longer, when it will more materially enhance the value of the Magazine, and increase the knowledge of the craft, to devote valuable space to direct practical articles.

At some future time I shall endeavor to place before the patrons of my good friend, the editor, a full and complete statement of the customs of European Mechanics, which I believe will well pay for the reading.

                                                                                                                                            J.L.H.M.

The foregoing article is a most interesting one. The derivation of the word journeyman, as suggested by our correspondent, is argued by him most ingeniously, and he has brought forward in its support many facts with which we were unacquainted. If the facts mentioned by Mr. M. be correct (and at present we have no reason to doubt them), then the derivation mentioned by Webster is incorrect. The writer of the following verses, which we picked up the other day, seems, however, to hold Webster’s idea of the primitive meaning of the word:

The Journeyman.

Working, working, hour by hour,
Through the morning’s chill and dew,
Through the sunshine and the shower,
Through the evening’s dusky blue.

Stone by stone is laid with care
In the river’s flowing tide;
Night comes on, the day is dead,
Labor must be laid aside.

Still no vision of the work
Peers to cheer the worker’s face;
Still the river darkly flows,
Not a ripple points the place.

Journeymen we are, and each
Has his portion in a day;
We must stop, and others come
When the hours have flown away.

What though some do all unseen,
There the depth may darker be,
There the sand may run less bright,
Or the tide more forcibly.

Working, working, hour by hour,
One shall see his labor done;
Working, working, just as nobly,
Many see it just begun.

The New York Coach-Maker’s Magazine – February 1871

—Jeff Burks


Filed under: Historical Images
Categories: Hand Tools

Alcohol In The Workshop

Rainford Restorations - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 5:32am

The use of personal safety gear is important in the workshop, in the classroom at on the job-site. The proper maintenance of this equipment equally important if it is going to do its job. An often overlooked bit of maintenance is cleaning your face mask/respirator.

Alcohol Swabs Are Great For Cleaning Your Respirator

Alcohol Swabs Are Great For Cleaning Your Respirator

After a few hours of using a respirator moisture, skin oils, dust, sweat etc all get into the mask housing and on the surface that is in contact with your face. If not properly cared for this can cause skin irritation, breed harmful bacteria or possibly even make you sick. To prevent this situation it is advisable to clean your mask before and after every use.

PRO-TIP

Several years ago I was in a bad subway accident that resulted in a hospital stay, surgery and a long recovery time. During the recovery I had to take some serious antibiotics that were administered via syringe. Part of the care package from the doctors was a pack of small isopropyl alcohol swabs that are individually packaged as ~1 inch squares used to clean the injection site before using a needle. After I was all better I had some swabs left over it dawned up me that these little swabs might be great for cleaning my dust mask. They worked great.

When I need to use my dust mask I grab a sterile alcohol swab, clean out the inside of the mask and the surface that touches my face. If that wipe is still looking clean after cleaning the inside I use it to clean some of the hard surfaces on the outside of the mask. If the wipe is dirty I will grab a second.

At this point I buy a box of 100 wipes for about $2.49 in the local Walgreens and get several months out of the box. I keep the box out in the shop in a shelf next to my respirator so they are always ready to go. They generate little waste, are cheap, fast and reliable. I highly recommend giving it a try in your own shop.

Take care,
-Bill


Filed under: Safety, Woodworking Techniques Tagged: Alcohol Swab, Alcohol Wipes, Cleaning your respirator, Dust Mask, Isopropyl Alcohol, Personal Safety Gear, Respirator, Safety
Categories: General Woodworking

Alcohol In The Workshop

Rainford Restorations - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 5:32am

The use of personal safety gear is important in the workshop, in the classroom at on the job-site. The proper maintenance of this equipment equally important if it is going to do its job. An often overlooked bit of maintenance is cleaning your face mask/respirator.

Alcohol Swabs Are Great For Cleaning Your Respirator

Alcohol Swabs Are Great For Cleaning Your Respirator

After a few hours of using a respirator moisture, skin oils, dust, sweat etc all get into the mask housing and on the surface that is in contact with your face. If not properly cared for this can cause skin irritation, breed harmful bacteria or possibly even make you sick. To prevent this situation it is advisable to clean your mask before and after every use.

PRO-TIP

Several years ago I was in a bad subway accident that resulted in a hospital stay, surgery and a long recovery time. During the recovery I had to take some serious antibiotics that were administered via syringe. Part of the care package from the doctors was a pack of small isopropyl alcohol swabs that are individually packaged as ~1 inch squares used to clean the injection site before using a needle. After I was all better I had some swabs left over it dawned up me that these little swabs might be great for cleaning my dust mask. They worked great.

When I need to use my dust mask I grab a sterile alcohol swab, clean out the inside of the mask and the surface that touches my face. If that wipe is still looking clean after cleaning the inside I use it to clean some of the hard surfaces on the outside of the mask. If the wipe is dirty I will grab a second.

At this point I buy a box of 100 wipes for about $2.49 in the local Walgreens and get several months out of the box. I keep the box out in the shop in a shelf next to my respirator so they are always ready to go. They generate little waste, are cheap, fast and reliable. I highly recommend giving it a try in your own shop.

Take care,
-Bill


Filed under: Safety, Woodworking Techniques Tagged: Alcohol Swab, Alcohol Wipes, Cleaning your respirator, Dust Mask, Isopropyl Alcohol, Personal Safety Gear, Respirator, Safety
Categories: General Woodworking

Hand Plane Rant – VIDEO

The English Woodworker - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 4:53am

In this rant I go through some of my thoughts when choosing and using bench planes. This is a topic I could talk about all week, so to stop me rambling on I’d love to hear any particular questions you have and I’ll look at coming back to this in a future video.

Categories: Hand Tools

Pennsylvania Spice Cabinet – Part Seven

The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 4:46am
Leaving off entry #6, I finished dry fitting the drawer blades/dividers using poplar as the secondary wood. I used poplar as my supply of the figured maple was limited and I did not want to use it up making parts that were almost never going...
Categories: Hand Tools

‘Workshop Companion’ Series Available Again

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 4:42am

In the early 1990s, Nick Engler and a team of woodworkers and designers took on an incredibly ambitious task: Create a series of how-to books that encompass all of woodworking, from the router to the router plane, table saw to scroll saw. Called the “Workshop Companion” series and first published by Rodale Press, the 21 volumes were a huge hit with woodworkers. The books were, clear, concise, easy to read […]

The post ‘Workshop Companion’ Series Available Again appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Today’s Article – From Stacks & Strips to Spectacular

360 WoodWorking - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 4:10am
To those unfamiliar with inlay bandings, making them appears tedious and time consuming. But for a few exceptions, this is not the case. Bandings do require precise and accurate component preparation (the two are not the same), a lot of clamps and only a little patience. Put simply, most inlay begin as stacks of contrasting […]

Rob Millard

360 WoodWorking - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 4:05am
Rob Millard’s journey to woodworking and furniture making was not a clear path. What began as an interest in a seventh-grade industrial arts class – an interest so strong that he purchased a Stanley #7 Jointer plane as his first tool – was almost derailed with a poor grade on a project three years later. […]

543 Madison’s Dresser Pt 7 “Standing on her own”

Matt's Basement Workshop - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 3:30am
dresser on tapered feet

She’s light on her feet

When I first came up with the basic design for Madison’s dresser I knew I wanted to incorporate turned feet into it. I’m still as novice a woodturner as anyone can be, but as I’ve learned over the years the quickest way to becoming better is to be at the tool rest as frequent as possible. So for today’s episode it’s all about my time in front of the lathe turning and shaping the four tapered feet that support the entirety of the dresser.

Originally I tried to convince myself that a much simpler form would suffice, but once we had the plans together there was no doubt in my mind a tapered turned foot was a must. I’m sure this style of design has a given name (they all do,) but whatever it is, it just appealed to me as I thought about what my daughter would like for her own piece of furniture.

The turning and tapering process is really simple, as you’ll see when you watch, but it wasn’t until I started the fourth foot that I finally found I had been way overcomplicating the process. I obviously spent way to much time overthinking, and being overcautious (don’t confuse this with being flippant and cavalier about my safety, because I always try to stay vigilant) in how I was approaching it.

The difference in time to accomplish the same task from the very first foot to that last one dropped dramatically. Too bad I didn’t film that last one though. Still, the technique I demonstrate achieved the same result and was only about 1-2 minutes longer in overall time.

My take away lesson in all of this? “Don’t be shy with hogging away the material.” Get right in there and get to work removing the waste quickly (and safely) so you can start finessing the final shape quicker.

A full set of detailed plans are available for sale on my website, thanks to Brian Benham of Benham Design Concepts.

You can find them by visiting our new “Digital Downloads Store” by clicking here.

Episode available for download in the following formats:
|SD Video||720HD Video||Audio only|

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers


Shop Woodworking - 20,000 Pages of Woodworking Ultimate Collection

Categories: Hand Tools

short shop day.......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 1:21am
Today I spent more time staring at my project thinking about it than I did doing any work on it. I knew today would be short but not this short. I was in and out in less then 15 minutes. I knew this before hand and I had planned for it. That grand plan was to do this and then try out the new Grobet files. That didn't happen.

layout lines
I made these layout lines so that I didn't have to erase them all. The 1/2 x 1/2 walnut bearer on the edge will hide the slanted line. The top, middle, and bottom layout lines will be hidden also. I just have to remove any stray pencil marks and lines to the left of the slanted layout line.

glue up is next
I glued the walnut to the maple and that was the extent of my woodworking tonight.  This piece has to be cooked before I can do the ribs and the top and bottom.

ribs will be done tomorrow
I ran a gauge line down the back edge of the side. The plan is to square each rib in place and knife where the gauge line falls on the rib. I'll saw these proud and shoot them square on my shooting board right to the knife line. I should get the three ribs to have their lengths ending right on the gauge line. The 1/8" plywood will cover the gauge line and if it doesn't I'll glue a small strip of wood there.

normal looking thumb
I have a pain in my thumb that runs radially down the right side up into my wrist. I could barely squeeze the clamps shut on the walnut. The pain I can handle and that is a PITA annoyance, but the loss of strength I can't ignore. This is why I didn't try the Grobet files. I spent the remainder of my usual shop time going through my Fine Woodworking Magazine DVD.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What are the diameters of the two main cables on the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge?
answer - each has a diameter of 36.5 inches and each one contains 25,572 wires

Another tool ensemble from Jim Bode

Je ne sai quoi Woodworking - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 12:09am

20/3/2015

Last week I received a package from Jim Bode. This one only took 3 weeks to reach me as apposed to the previous (and first) one that took three months. If you are keen to find out what happened to that package read this post http://wp.me/p5S0Ig-1W3

You can check out Jim’s website, there is a link on my home page. I have only good things to say about their service. He usually hangs on to the stuff I buy until we have enough to justify a shipment across the Atlantic.

From right to left:

Yankee no. 135 quick-return screwdriver with 5 bits, I. Sorby pigsticker mortice chisel, Japanese carving axe, and a Yankee no. 41 push drill with 8 bits.

IMG_3465

A perfect user ensemble of hollows and round by Sims (ca 1816-1834). These are incredibly well made and as good today as 200 years ago.

IMG_3462IMG_3463IMG_3464

Corner blocks

Heartwood: Woodworking by Rob Porcaro - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 10:40pm
Corner blocks (corner braces) are a practical, effective way to strengthen furniture, particularly post and rail assemblies. As previously discussed here, a properly designed and executed mortise and tenon joint will itself rarely fail but the wood around the mortise still can break. Two feet of leg extending below a table apron can impose huge […]
Categories: Hand Tools

3/4 Rabbet Plane with Rosewood Boxing and Spoons

TW Design Shop - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 7:21pm

First off, I listed two very large, very cherry spoons I carved from some fallen wood at school. They can be found on the Store page.

On to the real stuff.


Here's some progress on a 3/4 boxed rabbet, it's black birch, which I kind of love and has East Indian Rosewood boxing. I'm thinking about channeling E.W. Carpenter, a planemaker from nearby (spatially) Lancaster, PA who often make planes with contrasting wooden parts and putting an ebony or bubinga wedge or something. I'll probably wind up with maple or beech though. Though I may have a little piece of black birch around to cut a wedge from.
 

Here is a small toothing plane I've begun to think on. It measures four inches long, with probably a one inch wide iron. I have to machine some parts to cut the iron, tapered and with the grooves at 20ppi. I will be making several of these as well.

In other plane news, I've got a few really interesting basket cases coming my way to rehabilitate, some need irons, some need bodywork, and I've sourced irons for the Mathieson drawer planes so that can move forward as well.
Categories: Hand Tools

French Wooden Spoon Carving, c. 1930

The Literary Workshop Blog - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:42pm

I recently ran across this fascinating, seven-minute film reel from the 1930s.  The first two minutes show French artisans making wooden spoons using traditional methods.

But what, you may ask, takes up the other five minutes?  If you watch the whole thing, it appears to be a montage of footage from a festival.  What’s the connection with spoon making?

It’s not obvious from the film, but this is a wooden spoon festival. Or, to be more precise, it is a French festival in the city of Comines called La Fete des Louches, or ladle feast, and it features people dressing up in red costumes and throwing wooden ladles out of castle windows while a crowd below tries to catch them.

There is, of course, a legend about the origin of the practice: a medieval nobleman locked in the top of the tower decides to toss his spoon out of the window to alert the people to his plight, and they eventually storm the castle and free the nobleman.  Or something like that.  (My college French is a little rusty.)  It was formalized as an official festival in the late 19th century.  The point is that this is a real festival that still goes on today.

Or maybe the point is that one way to keep traditional handicrafts alive is to throw handcrafted items into crowds of excited people.


Caught Sleeping While on Duty

The Barn on White Run - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 5:08pm

I’ was looking through the 5.500 photos in my “Studley” file and came across this amusing one.  Evidently I was waiting for the videotaping setup to get ready when we were making the documentary, and just… dozed…  off…

cIMG_2540

Lie-Nielsen Show in Charleston with Roy Underhill

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 4:27pm

drayton_IMG_0333

Charleston, S.C., is my favorite city, and so it pains me that I’m not going to be able to attend the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event there next month. My liver and cholesterol, however, are well-pleased by this unfortunate turn of events.

This year, the Lie-Nielsen staff has arranged a pre-show event to visit Drayton Hall, which offers a period rush like no other place I’ve been. It’s an 18th-century plantation that is unrestored. No modernization. No electricity. No horrible 1970s “reconstructions.”

I’ve been to Drayton many times (once during a hurricane), and never get tired of it as a woodworker. Every plaster and wooden detail has been left alone for you to discover, even the marks on a door frame that record the heights of the family’s children.

I wish I had more inspiring words other than: You need to see this. It will open your eyes to the 18th-century way of making things.

To add even more fun to the mix, Roy Underhill will be on hand during the tour to offer commentary and interpretation.

The special tour is 11 a.m. Thursday April 9. Call 1-800-327-2520 to reserve your place at $32 per person.

Then the whole crew will head to the American College of the Building Arts for a presentation by Roy Underhill and dinner at the Craftsman Tap House. In my mind, it’s a perfect day.

Oh, and there’s two more days of a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at the American College of the Building Arts on April 10-11. And it’s all in the most gorgeous city in the world with amazing food and great, great architecture.

Sigh.

Maybe next year.

Read more details on the Lie-Nielsen site here. And hoist a few beers for me at the Craftsman Tap House.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

For the times they are a changin’

Paul Sellers - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 4:06pm

I write about hand methods of woodworking and have done so for two decades and more. I started to write about it because it seemed to me something in that era lacked the dynamism I experienced in my daily work and life designing and making. Change to me seemed a long way off, dauntingly impossible if I’m truthful. It seemed then that all of the magazines I wrote for advertised machines on every other page and my articles were lost. Little did I know people would like the counterculture. Other articles used mostly machines for the work. Routed dovetails and dadoes, jigs to guide wood over cutterheads and blades took up most pages and there I was again sandwiched somewhere I had no control over. Things have changed a little. I thought this might give some background to help those more recent to woodworking understand the demise I saw facing my craft. The internet for me was still a decade away. Magazines dominated back then. There wasn’t much of an alternative at all. I started to teach workshops at Woodcraft in San Antonio Texas, to expand the work and reach out to others. Some of you were there. Tool swap meets were another outlet to reach through and of course the New Legacy School of Woodworking is thriving now. The schedule is mostly up and we have but 50-60 spaces only this year. They are going quite quickly already.

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When others draw comparisons with what I teach and write about with machine work, I like it. I like to look and think through what they say because it stimulates thought, yes, but it’s also good to get their take on things. I think other perspectives broaden our horizons. When it comes to machine versus hand tool methods I think I’ve thought long enough and hard enough to know what I really feel these days. If you haven’t really mastered woodworking hand skill, I think it might be less likely that everyone can fully understand the feelings I might speak of in blog posts, articles and videos. Some will, not everyone though.

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In my work I use machines a little, much less than most full-time woodworkers. The smallest fraction of time if I’m honest. I think it’s always been that way. I know hand tools of every type inside out. I know machines just as well too. I’ve stripped both down to the bare bones and rebuilt them throughout my life. I like both, but hand tools I have found to be the most freeing in my work. It’s unlikely now that I would ever use a router to make a dovetail. never have and never will. I know, never say never. I doubt I will ever use a tablesaw and dado stack to cut housing dadoes either. These methods seem a bit primitive to me now for some reason. Overkill too. You see this is how I feel and not everyone feels the same way. This has nothing to do with my age. It’s to do with my choices.

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People see some of my writings and miss my emphasis to dismantle the decades I might consider more an abuse my craft has suffered.

Three times this week people told to me that machine woodworking and hand tool woodworking were just different ways for working wood; two opposite sides of the same coin, if you will. I’m not altogether sure whether they or I understand what that means, but generally this means that two things are so closely aligned or similar to one another with only minimal difference. Often I have heard this through the years and people actually mean something quite different when they say it. Perhaps more that one way is as good as another and we’re really talking about the same thing at the end of the day. I think to myself, quietly, we’re actually not closely allied or aligned at all. I think that maybe some want to believe that a 12” circular saw blade with 80 tungsten carbide tips replete with expansion relief cuts spinning at 3,000 rpm is the same as a handsaw with 200 teeth, but for the life of me I see these as complete opposites entirely. So too that a Stanley hand plane is the same as 20” planer-jointer with a 3-HP motor. They may feel that they are as safe with these pieces of equipment as I am with the saw and plane, but they’re not. No matter how you slice it, they are not flip sides of the same coin.

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I don’t think I have ever said that machines are bad, useless, unnecessary or should never be used. I have said that for certain groups, massive groups, the majority of people wanting to work with wood in fact, they are intimidating and should be intimidating and that they are highly invasive, intrusive, noisy, dirty and most often for most woodworkers, unseemly and generally totally unnecessary. Not only that, I’ve proved it.

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First of all I think it’s important to identify who woodworkers are and what woodworkers are. Often enough I read and hear that these two coin faces are the same as a journey and the thought is quite nice although rather simplistic to me. On the one hand you drive from A to B  by car and arrive there in quick time, dry, comfortably warm and fresh. On the other hand you can walk, smell the flowers, stop when you want and take in the views. You may get wet or cold, ache from time to time but of course that’s all part of the experience. You will also take 20 to 30 time longer to cover the same ground but, hey, more experience is good. But the two are not the same journey even if they go on the same roads and pass the same scenes.

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I thought about this seriously and wanted to get back to anyone who has expressed these differences in this way about working wood versus machine operating. I concluded this. Professional carpenters and even furniture makers must mostly use machines and work within the limits of those machines to be efficient and constructive with parameters surrounding costs. They gotta pay the bills. That’s a group we generally call professional woodworkers. On another sphere are people who do not work wood for a living. This is the majority shareholder in the world of woodworking in the west at least. This group massively outnumbers the professional group hundreds to one. This group actually wants to work wood because it finds the whole experience fulfilling, uplifting, rewarding aspirational, inspirational. This is the group I reached out to decades ago and today see emerging as the core element of who I personally do what I do for. This massive group wants to understand the traditions of hand work in woodworking and is prepared to fully invest immersively in everything to make that happen. I love that this is happening and an increasing level every day. It’s an amazing thing that today we are able to help woodworkers learn to master skills not just by the handful any more but by the thousands if not the hundreds of thousands. I love the fact that it matters so much to so many who now feel  just the same way I have throughout my life.

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When I first started to express my concerns about the demise I saw, magazines were the only outlets by which to make change. The magazines were somewhat hamstrung and unable to truly express any views with much real potency because they were paid by the advertisers and advertisers then and now are predominantly selling machines. Thankfully the articles on hand woodworking gained more and more ground and a steady number of people started to seek out what we were declaring and proving worked. It wasn’t just me, lots of others got on board too. Today, judging by the hundreds upon hundreds of emails and comments and messages I get, people now understand fully that when we talk about machine woodworking we are identifying a highly sophisticated industrial process developed for mass manufacturing. We identify a strategy that’s intended to present machine woodworking as a modern and safe system for domestic use. There isn’t too much focus on the dangers that the processing of material is in the scheme of things.

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On another front, it has been refreshing to see how the internet has opened new horizons for the little fish to replace magazines to become the discussion groups and forums on each continent and in each language around the world. Now we get the real philosophy surrounding these diversely different worlds. Yes you must pick through the advertising and such, but then you find a gem and you follow it.

Trying to draw a parallel between the two worlds often shows a more modern view but rarely shows just how distorted perspectives have become. As I said, when I started out on this path it wasn’t really intentional until I saw the intent of the machine makers and mags and then I made it my intentional path to redress those imbalances I encountered. To do that I decided to speak one language only until others learned the language too. Hand tools became my way of connecting with those lost in the more of machine speak. It worked, it’s working and it will always work. Now i am not on my own (I never was really, it just felt like it most of the time). This secured my tenure and people that once wrongly thought my views were against machines started to listen and listen all the more. When people come to the school and see a machined stack of wood they are surprised to hear I have a full machine shop to machine the 500 pieces they see on the bench tops. If I turn on a bandsaw or use a drill driver they make noises as though I have some hidden closet issues, but that’s more because they don’t really associate me with machines. A brief explanation of finding the balance clears everything.

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Back to something I said a little earlier. Through the years I discovered that there are indeed different camps, different perspectives and different intentions. Through the early decades of the last century amateurs were distinguished from professionals by the fact that amateurs used more hand tools and took their time to work the wood at weekends because the process was therapeutic, relaxing and an alternative to an otherwise stressful or boring life. Machines were made for industry and workers on machines were known as machinists back then. Something started happening in the 60s where machine manufacturers came out with scaled down models of industrial machines that suited the new home workshops. Mostly this was an American thing, but still highly influential. TV workshops came on the scene and increased people’s confidence enough to take up machine only methods of working wood. They saw now that they could create things without developing the kind of skills necessary for hand work. TV once again had a powerful influence that for decades showed the more modern way and people embraced the machines fully. This then left young people out of the workshop, but we are seeing change come. Suddenly machines had space allocated to them. A massive footprint not commonly available to most living in apartments and small houses, inner cities and high rises. These people too had a penchant to learn woodworking and of course what was available mostly was the New Yankee Workshop with PBS. Did it damage the face of woodworking. Well, perhaps it did and perhaps it didn’t. What it did was whet the appetite for people to get out there and do it themselves. It became something of a stepping stone. Yes, the big machine names were the backers but at least people saw wood being worked. Through the last two decades we saw new doors opening whereby people like myself could reach the new audience previously unattainable. Today we are seeing the resurgence I at one time could only dreamed might happen. I think it’s reaching out like this that we take back lost ground bit by bit. Please join us and tell your friends what you’ve discovered for today’s woodworker. get the youngsters out there with you. Let them join you in becoming a real woodworker in a real woodworking world doing real woodworking with your hands. You will never regret it. Its progressive, it’s real and it’s real power-tool woodworking at its best when you use your own hands, your own renewable energy custom matched to your own energy needs.   

The post For the times they are a changin’ appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Float Expectations

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 2:11pm

I never thought a float would provoke the level of interest it did when I mentioned in my last post that I would need to sharpen it. I was interested to note how different people had contrasting opinions on how they would expect it to arrive. So here’s what you can expect: “Additional sharpening will improve performance” (so says the manufacturer). This is a bed float so it needs to […]

The post Float Expectations appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

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