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Like nearly every other woodworker on the planet, I built a “Dutch” tool chest a few years back; in fact, I built two. I enjoyed both projects, and it was a good chance to work on several different skills: dovetail joinery, dado joinery, mortise and tenon joinery, joinery, joinery, joinery.
One of those chests I gave to my dad, the other I kept. For quite a while my chest was in my garage with most of my woodworking tools placed inside it. It sometimes sat on my bench, or under it, or under my feet. I bumped into it quite often, every now and again I would trip over it; I bent over countless times to get stuff out of it. Eventually, I smartened up, hung a cabinet and some tool racks on the walls near my work area, and put my Dutch tool chest in the attic.
Here is the plain truth that nobody wants to hear: working out of that chests sucked. It wasn’t a size issue; the chest was easily large enough to hold the bulk of my woodworking tools. It is a simple matter of logistics, too much bending over, reaching, stretching, dropping, knuckle banging nonsense.
I found the best way to work out of the chest was to put it on my workbench so that everything was at eye level. The problem there was it got in the way too much. Of course, I could put it back on the floor after I got everything out, but then all of that stuff was on the bench too. And who feels like picking up and putting down a 100 pound + tool chest four or five times? Not me.
I’ve seen videos where the woodworker removed all of the tools he/or she needed at the beginning of the project and put them on the bench. I suppose that works, but then all of the stuff is on the bench and in the way (unless you have a recessed tool tray, but they are bad news, right?)
Okay, I’m complaining, so what solution am I offering? The same one that has been around forever: mount your tools on a wall rack and store them in a wall hung cabinet.
Everything is at eye level, out of the way, easy to see and easy to reach. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: since I’ve mounted my tools on the wall I’ve become a more efficient woodworker. AND, my back feels a whole lot better.
So here is my expert advice: If, for some reason, you travel a lot with your woodworking tools, make a tool chest for transportation. And if you are like the overwhelming majority of amateur woodworkers with tools that very rarely leave your work area, mount your stuff on the wall over your bench. Nothing bad is going to happen to your stuff if it’s out in the open. I live in a high humidity area and I’ve had very few rust issues. Keep your tools oiled (as you should be doing anyway) and they’ll be just fine.
So why rehash a topic I know I’ve already covered? Well, a few weeks ago I was getting some things out of the attic and I saw my tool chest sitting on the floor. It still looked pretty good, and it will certainly still hold tools, so I brought it down the stairs, dusted it off, and sold it for a few bucks.
I mentioned a few posts back that I had sold off some tools (mostly duplicates) and how I surprisingly had no sentimental attachment to any of them. But when I sold my Dutch tool chest I very nearly backed out of the deal. My second thoughts didn’t stem from the sell cost, I was just very reluctant to let go of something I had built myself.
I’m hardly a great woodworker, but I put a lot of time and effort into my projects. For whatever it’s worth, and for all of it’s shortcomings, I thought that my tool chest looked great when I finished it. When I brought it down the attic stairs and briefly back into my garage, it seemed to “fit the scene”. But then I remembered why I put it into the attic in the first place, so I put sentimentality aside and did what I know was the right thing to do. And though I pride myself on being a person who makes the right decisions, the right decision in this instance wasn’t an easy one to make.
This post is in great part my celebration of a grand circle of friends who provided me with the wood I needed for the project.
In correspondence with the client for interpreting the c.1820 writing desk, it was clear that he wanted something made in the manner of craft technology of the period, and if at all possible, using wood of the period, or at least very old wood. Since the task of acquiring verifiable 200 year-old mahogany was at best an iffy proposition I simply determined to find the oldest, best wood I could find. In fact I already owned about half the wood necessary for the project thanks to my own acquisitional proclivities.
Among my inventory was a superb piece of dense, lightly figured mahogany I needed for the veneers that would wrap the box of the desk. It was one of the three critical pieces I needed.
The desk writing surface was a second vital component and I sent out requests to everyone I knew who might be able to supply my needs. Before long a UPS truck bearing the piece I needed showed up in the driveway. Then a second. And a third. And a fourth. Sean, Ben, and Alf all contributed spectacular pieces to the venture.
One last look through my inventory uncovered the final piece of this particular puzzle, a wildly figure slab of flame crotch that was needed for the veneers on the outer leg elements.
But that was not the end of it. My friend John brought a small pile of vintage mahogany with him to the next MWTCA gathering, and I took it off his hands. Josh emailed me about a stash he had, and delivered it to me.
Then my orthopedic surgeon told me he had a storage unit full of pre-WWI era lumber including some prized mahogany. I loaded all that was there and headed for home.
In the end I would up with enough vintage, unused dense swietenia to make at least two additional desks and, thanks to the willingness to part with some of their holdings by my circle of friends, I probably will.
Plans done? Check. Wood in-hand? Check. Ready to dive in? Uh-h-h-h-h.
All photographs by Jessica Smolinksi. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery.
Last Friday’s visit to the Yale Furniture Study went off without a hitch. The seven-hour drive was pleasant and quiet, bringing me into New Haven 45 minutes ahead of schedule. I hauled my tools and sample table parts down into the Study’s workshop and got things set up.
I began the presentation by exploring three table examples from Yale’s collection. We had the tables upside down so that everyone could take a turn looking at the joinery under the table. I had the attendees specifically examine the tenon layout lines and the tenons’ pins protruding to the inside. To illustrate that these tables are constructed in the same way, we chose two vernacular painted tavern tables as early as 1730 to compare to a mahogany inlaid drop-leaf table made somewhere around 1810. The construction was the same: drawbored rails into four legs with a top.
Then we went into the shop and I showed them how that is done. I had a small table under construction and demonstrated each stage of preparing legs, chopping a mortise, planing the taper, prepping the rails, cutting the tenons, fitting the joint, and drawboring it together.
It was fun to hear feedback after it was over (I went well beyond the allotted time). The attendees expressed how seeing these originals and then watching the process was eye-opening for them. I trust that the speed of this handwork was conveyed. One of the biggest disservices these kinds of presentations can give is to feed the myth that craftsmen were slow and careful artists or that hand tools are slow. Nothing could be further from the truth and so I think it’s important that anyone demonstrating these skills should have sweat on their brow. It’s only when people see this kind of hustling shop practice that they can begin to get a picture of how period artisans worked.
I was honored to be invited back to this place for demonstration and look forward to next time. If you haven’t been to the study yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. Prioritize a visit. My interview with museum assistant, Eric Litke, in Issue One discusses this place in depth. 800 items of furniture all arranged by form chronologically. You’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Over the recent season of political and social angst I’ve been finding solace in research and development work with my co-author George Walker. While our fellow countrymen argue the gray areas of morality and policy, George and I have immersed ourselves in the immutable truths that underlie the first principles of geometry. While there might be some gray areas in a few of the tradesmens’ layout shortcuts (which we explore at length along with the fundamentals in our forthcoming book “From Truths to Tools”), the core geometric constructions of reality that flow from the intersection of line and circle not only represent perfection – they are perfection.
For example, two intersecting circles that share a common radius will present us with two rim intersection points to which we can connect a line that automatically – and unequivocally – “bi secare” (cuts in two) the shared radius line.
The intersection of the lines at the bisection point form a “rectus” (right) angle with the radius line. We know it’s a right angle because the other angles are “co-rectus” with one another and any two of them form a straight line.
A further “proof” of the correctness of the four angles can be had by using dividers to “demetiri” (measure-out) between one circle’s focal point and a rim intersection point. This dimension will be exactly, precisely, perfectly the same at each of the other three point spans. This immutable truth provides us with the geometric construction we need to make a try square as well as the key to testing the tool for true. We now have in hand the ability to accurately lay out everything from a cradle to a coffer to a cathedral with little more than a bunch of sticks.
— Jim Tolpin, ByHandandEye.com
Filed under: From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized
There comes a time in every project with doors and drawers called “pull-gatory,” when the struggle of sticking something onto the front of the beautiful piece you’ve just made grinds progress to a halt. I’ve been there a few times, and I’m there now with a little wall cabinet that I’m in the process of finishing. Time to think about drawer pulls. When I get to this point, I try […]
The fitting of the till went off without any hiccups in spite of me soaking my T-shirt. I'm regretting now that I didn't stop and get the 1/4" birch plywood for the bottom. I could have glued it on tonight and moved on to making the moving tills to put into it. I'll get the plywood first thing in the AM. What kind of sucks is I have three 4' x 4' pieces of underlayment plywood. But this stuff isn't meant to be used for drawer/box bottoms. They will do for cabinet backs but not for my till bottom.
|solid wood bottom|
|cleaning the long sides|
|new piece of plywood|
|left side of the toolbox|
|used my grandson's #3|
|labeled the bottom|
|I planed both sides of the long sides of the toolbox|
|got it fitted|
The size of an egg tells you the minimum required net weight per dozen eggs. It does not refer to the dimensions of an egg or how big it looks. How much does a dozen large eggs weigh?
answer - 24 ounces
I’ve recently come across some more furniture that is similar/the same as in some previous blogs. No one piece is worthy of its own blog but taken as a whole, it’ll do.
In April in There are No Rules, I wrote of this chair with this unique leg layout:
In the past two weeks, I have come across the following:
And in Georgia, I found:
In the metal-for-wood category we have:
Two more Wooton rotary desks:
Another in Monroe, Georgia:
A Hitchcock chair:
A Hitchcock settee?
And a gout rocker:
I take copyright and permissions protocols seriously. It’s a simple matter of the Golden Rule: I write and design stuff, and if someone’s going to use my words or designs, I’d like my part in the process to be acknowledged. I have no right to expect this consideration from others if I’m not willing to give it myself.
So I paid attention to what the museum staff told me when I visited the marvelous Wilson Museum in Cheltenham last winter to measure one of their Voysey chairs. I signed a bunch of forms agreeing to their terms, which require written permission to publish photographs of their holdings, even in a blog post.
In early July, as I neared completion of my manuscript for a book on English Arts and Crafts furniture*, I thought readers might be interested in seeing some of the details I found while peering under aprons, stretchers, and such in the course of my research – you know, stuff like through tenons, decorative gouging, and artfully chamfered rails…but also the occasional cupped table top, gap at a tenon shoulder, or split stile. It’s tempting to attribute perfection to our craftsperson-heroes, but one of the things I love most about furniture is its decidedly human imperfection; I’m intrigued by the question of what we’re willing (or not) to live with.
So I dutifully wrote to my museum contact, requesting the necessary permission.
“Dear Nancy,” he wrote back. “Thank you for your email. Permission would need to come from our decorative arts curator, however she is currently away from the office until [a date ten days later], so I will be unable to get a response to you before then. I shall pass your message on to [her] and bring it to her attention when she returns. I hope that this helps.
Ten days later I received another missive. “Hi Nancy,” he wrote. “Thank you for your patience whilst the decorative arts curator was away. For using images of our collections in blog posts there is a small charge of £16.70 per article/blog post. We also request that you would send us a link to the blog post so we can have a record of how the collections are being used.
Please let me know if you are still interested in proceeding. If you are interested in proceeding please let me know and I will send the relevant forms and arrange payment.
I hope that this helps.
I wrote back immediately. Of course I was happy to pay to use the images. Museums — especially those, such as The Wilson, which don’t charge visitors an entrance fee — depend on this kind of revenue. A few days later I received the form by email, which I completed and signed. A week went by. Then:
Apologies for not getting back to you… We are currently experiencing issues with our payment facilities so we cannot accept payment just yet. How soon do you need to use the images?
Many thanks for your patience whilst we are working on resolving the payment issues.
I told him that I wouldn’t need to use the images for at least the next three weeks. “Hopefully we shall have this rectified before 31st August,” he wrote back. I hated to think of a museum not being able to take credit card payments over the phone in this day when plastic is the coin of the realm.
A month later B wrote back. The problems were ongoing. “We can accept cheques if all else [should] fail, although I understand the postage from America would inflate the real price at your end.” It wasn’t the postage that troubled me, but the fee a bank would charge for any form of payment other than a credit card. I’d already called my bank. They no longer issue checks in foreign currency but said they could wire the money for a $50 fee. Screw that.
The next week the ever-charming (truly) B wrote again.
The cost…was £16.70 plus VAT so that would be £20.04 overall [about $27]. I have been talking to the finance department and they believe they have resolved the issue, they are checking one final thing and have assured me that we should be able to take card payment over the phone by Monday. I shall email you again on Monday with the hopefully happy news. Again, please accept my apologies for the ongoing delays.
Just to be on the safe side I gave it a few more days. On Thursday morning I was ready to call. The landline seemed a better bet than a cell phone. I dialed the number but got a sound that clearly signified a problem. I repeated the process several times, omitting various prefix digits in case they were unnecessary. Still no joy. I called the phone company again.
“All calls to international numbers are blocked at present,” the clerk informed me. Can this really be happening? I wondered. It seems that fraudsters overseas have been calling US households and threatening the vulnerable among us with harm to their relatives if they don’t return the call and fork over thousands of dollars. “So you’re blocking ALL international calls because a few people have fallen for this kind of scam?” I asked. Apparently so. “Is this just you, or all phone companies? Because this seems like serious overkill. I am just trying to make a business call to England.” She couldn’t say whether our phone company was alone in taking this paternalistic tack.
“You can bypass the call block by using this code,” said the clerk, reading out a symbol and three numbers. I thanked her and tried the call again, this time with the code. The call dropped as soon as I dialed. I tried again. Same thing.
I called the phone company back. Another clerk this time; he said I’d have to make some kind of different arrangement, aside from the code, to call overseas. “I am trying really hard not to pepper your eardrum with expletives,” I answered, taking a deep breath. “I just want to make a simple business call to England. England! Not Nigeria. Not Myanmar. I just need to make a credit card payment to a museum. In the past, all I had to do was dial the number. I’m not willing to go through yet more steps. I’ll use my cell phone.”
So I dialed the museum’s number on my cell. The call was answered by a woman whose first language was clearly not English. “I need your name,” she said after the usual pleasantries. I stated my first name and she proceeded to type, reading the letters back – incorrectly. I corrected her, knowing that the charge would be declined by the credit company, were the merest detail garbled. Then we got to the address. Between the spotty quality of the audio (even with Wi Fi calling) and our linguistic disjunct, it was taking forever. We got through the four digits of the street address, but the word “South” caused a problem. “Was that ‘ah‘?” she checked. “No, SOUTH,” I said. At this point I was not prepared to attempt the Himalayan peak of the next word, “Garrison.”
“Can I just email you this information, then call back?” I asked.
“Sure. That would be good. Thank you.”
So I sent the email, and she replied that she was ready to take my credit card information in a second call. I called her back at once. The phone was answered by a machine informing me that no one was available but I could leave a message if I would like.
I checked the time. 4 p.m. GMT. Perhaps they had just closed? I wrote back to her straight away, dreading the prospect of having to repeat the process with someone new the next day. But lo! Five minutes later I got a reply. The long-suffering staff person had been busy with a visitor, and so, unable to take my call. I called back.
Miraculously, we get the job done. I have the receipt to prove it:
All of which is to request that you refrain from blithely copying and reusing the images you will find in my post about the museum visit, which will arrive in your inbox a few days from now.
Please note: Although this post concerns one particular institution, I have enjoyed remarkably similar experiences with several others. I am a huge fan of The Wilson and highly recommend a visit.
*scheduled for publication by Popular Woodworking in May 2018. In the meantime, you can read Making Things Work
Filed under: Uncategorized
I am building both the prototype and the first edition bedside nightstand for our next new masterclasses project. This one follows the stepladders and the fly swatter. It’s been a busy enough week with developing the idea and then the construction of both the prototype and building the piece for filming. Hannah went with me …
A Visit to Takuji Matsuda’s Kiribako Shop: Part 2 – Planing and Shooting Platform for Japanese Planes
My friend and neighbor, Takuji Matsuda, enjoys the advantages of a western workbench. You read part one of my workshop tour here. But when it comes to planes, Takuji prefers traditional Japanese planes which are pulled towards the body, whereas the Western plane is pushed away from the user. To help Takuji plane surfaces and true up crosscut end grain while working on a simple table that is devoid of a vise, Mr. […]
When I joined the woodworking team a few of years ago I found myself thumbing through a couple of books in the Furniture Fundamentals series. Exploring those two books,“Chairs & Benches” and “Tables,” – as well as a book that I edited as an addition to the series, “Casework” – made for a great jumping off point for my work with Popular Woodworking. The series offers a lot of great information on how to build some of […]
My recently scheduled barn workshop, “Make A Traditional Workbench,” was mercifully “cancelled” due to the fact that all four of the scheduled registrants notified me they were not coming. No students, no workshop. I say “mercifully” because it would have started the day after Barndaughter’s wedding weekend, and I was already worn to a nub. Nevertheless, my friend John, who participated in the workshop last year and was scheduled to be my teaching assistant for the week, decided to join me anyway for a grand week of man-time in the man cave, a/k/a The Barn.
We had a delightful week of fellowship and working on projects; John concentrated on modifying and tuning up the Moxon-style ripple molding cutting machine while I emphasized bringing my FORP workbench from many years ago closer to completion. In addition, John being a trained theologian and well-engaged citizen of The Republic, our conversations were vibrant and varied, and by the end of the week we were almost sentimental about our shared experiences.
The success of the week can be summarized in the observation that by Friday afternoon it looked like a tool-and-shavings bomb had been detonated there. I’ll recount our adventures in greater detail in coming posts. Stay tuned.
Wood, What is it Good For?
At last I’m finally getting around to releasing the second class I recorded at Woodworking in America in 2016. This was a 2 hour class that I really enjoyed teaching. I had a great group (full house actually) who really participated and asked great questions. It turns out woodworkers want to know more about wood. Who knew?!
This class isn’t about identifying unknown wood species, it is about using your existing species knowledge to identify the working properties of other woods. It allows you to branch out (hah, branch!) and use different woods while not walking into the purchase and ensuing project totally blind on how that wood will work. It all comes down to understanding the technical specifications that can be found on just about any species over the Internet. But really focusing on 3 specifications can get you really close to understanding a wood you have never worked.
I hope you enjoy, Wood, (good God) What is it Good For? I had a blast teaching it.
I am making one big till that won't slide even a frog hair. In that big till I am thinking of putting two sliding tills. These will both be about 1/3 the size of the big one. I will experiment with this build as it is virgin territory for me. I can't do anything wrong because it is for my grandson and it will be his first exposure to it.
|my two dovetail saws|
|not a good choice|
Another point I point I thought about was the size of the plate. Most dovetail saws I see have much smaller plates. This was originally a crosscut tenon saw I got in my late 20's that sat around unloved. Turning it into a dovetail saw to use on small stock didn't up it getting more love. Maybe I'll try it to saw a tenon with it which I've not done yet.
I've read that the thinner the stock, one should use a smaller saw with finer teeth. What I found is that I can at least saw dovetails with stock down to 3/8" thick with the LN saw. These aren't the thinnest dovetails I've done neither. That honor goes to a 1/4" thick box that I sawed the dovetails with a Zona saw. Another point I learned is that dovetails are dovetails and the size of them doesn't matter. You still do them all the same way regardless of the size.
|dry looks good|
I got two choices on that. The first is to put it in the interior or apply it to the plywood bottom. If I put it on the bottom I'll have to put at least two so the till won't rock when it is taken out. If it is in the interior it will divide the big till in two. I'm not fond of either choice but I'm not liking the size of that bottom being unsupported further somehow.
|two hairs too long|
|glued up with hide glue|
|this was a PITA|
In target archery, what is the bull's eye worth?
answer - 10 points
The heading is a little misleading as I don’t know the correct word for it, but the picture will put you in the know as to what I’m referring too.
I’ve been cleaning up my bench top, you know flattening it and taking out as many scores as I could. This morning I decided to replace the timber on my vice and locating the holes with the vice installed got me stumped for a good 5 mins. Measuring in from the side and top was an option, but then I remembered I had these dowel centre finders, but they were a little too small and kept falling out. So I used masking tape to temporarily hold them in place while I pricked the board. It takes the guess work out of locating the holes which may lead to potential misalignment.
Now isn’t she pretty. I couldn’t take out all the knife marks, chisel marks and drill holes and but she looks better than what she was before. I’m such a pig of a woodworker.
Time for a new decent workbench is long overdue and I’m going to start saving up for it. I know it’s going to be close to 2 metres long, space permitting. I also know I want a tail vice and since I’ve never built one I rightly don’t know if I should attempt it or just buy this neat little one from HNT Gordon.
It looks OK and I reckon it will do the trick, but I think a traditional vice would suit me better. To make moulding planes I can clamp them them vertically, also if I needed to bore a hole in the end grain I can clamp them vertically. For carving they also work like a dream and I’m sure I would find many more uses for it. But there’s a catch I won’t be able to install another face vice as the tail vice will be in the way for re sawing or clamping large panels. Having a bandsaw suffices 99% of my re sawing needs, but what about those wide panels where it’s too wide for a bandsaw? I may have to make a small bench just for that like the one Roubo shows, but that also means eating up precious shop space for something that won’t be used on a regular basis unless I sell my bandsaw which I don’t foresee that happening in this life or the next. In fact, I’ll take it with me to the afterlife, that’s how useful that machine is. The only two useful machines I have in my shop is my lathe and bandsaw. I don’t ever use my portable thicknesser and I don’t know why I still have it.
I will keep the current going through the lathe until I can figure out how to make a treadle lathe spin 2000 rpm. I’ve seen many foot powered lathes work and I don’t how people are not frustrated with it. Greg Merritt recently built his and he’s having a ball with it, but who knows maybe if I tried one I too would like it.
Here is a picture of a model bench I found on the net I would like to base mine on.
Lastly on vices, I still haven’t decided if I should make one or buy one with a quick release. My current vice is a quick release dawn, but it’s making a clicking sound since I did that glue test of trying to snap the board with it. Amazing isn’t it how strong this glue is. Ever since I figured out that it needs thinning it’s been my go to glue.
I’ve been blogging a lot lately and that’s because I’ve had three weeks off work. Sadly I haven’t won the lottery to make it permanent so I’m back on this weekend. I won’t be as active as I was but that’s life ain’t it.
Just to let you know I still have a fair way to go in finishing Issue III. I’m going to include the moulding planes build which I hope you will enjoy. I’ve been reading some of the comments people are writing about the magazine on other forums. Many people like it, but there are some who want a magazine that’s written for advanced woodworkers. I have always stated from the very beginning at opening this blog that I’m not catering towards the beginners. However, I do realize that we were all beginners at one stage and I should and will cater for all. In truth, there is only so much one can write about the craft before you end up repeating yourself. What I don’t want to do is write about how to saw, or using reference edges for your squares.
I have included many useful articles in the magazine about various topics. I understand not every topic would be of interest to everyone and advanced or not you will learn something new. I know I have and still do everyday. The topics written by me are my own experiences and findings I have learned and discovered over the years through use, the topics written by others are their own and the topics written by our ancients are the most experienced and most beneficial to us. I have said this in the past, who can know more about working with their hands than those guys who worked it everyday 150 years and more ago. That’s why I put them in and will continue to do so as long as this magazine is active.
I will include many projects from clock making to building furniture. I’m not a wonder boy but I will do the best I can. However, finding new contributing authors has proven to be more difficult than I had previously thought. I thank Greg, Brian and Josh for their contributions and I also thank Matt for his contributions. These guys really gave it all they had for the love of the craft. “Give and you shall receive.” I would love women to also contribute articles, I know according to the statistics on this blog and my YouTube account that it’s only 3% that are actively viewing. I’m sure this percentage is probably larger elsewhere and if it is why not showoff your skills and contribute.
One last final point I really need to make clear. I’m not interested in portraying myself as a know it all. I know people on YouTube and other blogs where they are deriving an income from it, have to make themselves appear that they are flawless and a walking encyclopedia of woodworking knowledge. I never want to head down that road irrespective I’m making money from the craft or not. I think that image portrayal is bullshit, it’s the biggest load of crock and I don’t want it. I’m me, I’m down to earth, I’m honest, hard working and fallible. I make mistakes like everyone else and I certainly don’t know everything, but I learn something new everyday. I want to be the best I can be and genuinely want the same for you.
So there it is in a nutshell, nothing is perfect, no one is perfect and this magazine is not perfect, but I did pour my heart and soul into it. If given the financial resources and time to put into it, I know I could make it better.
Is that wishful thinking, I wonder.
Our warehouse has almost finished packing up all the domestic pre-publication orders for the deluxe version of “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture Making.” The packaged books should be picked up and head out to their final destinations in the United States tomorrow.
For international customers, you should have received an email that indicates the extra amount of money we require in order to ship your book. This book weighs 17 lbs. – two healthy infants. Once you pay the invoice, we’ll ship your book to you.
The book is extraordinary. I have my copy exactly 6” away from me and marvel at its beauty, heft and readability. I hope you will be pleased.
I expect this will be our last deluxe edition until we dig up Noah’s treatise on ark-building. The press run for this deluxe book cost more than $170,000. So this is going to be a lean year for us as we work to rebuild our bank account.
Of course, I’m not supposed to talk about things like this – it makes us seem weak. But so be it. We are two guys with laptops running a publishing company. So this stuff is going to happen sometimes.
But even if we take a bath on this book in the end – even if we end up stuffing pages from it in our sweatshirts under the highway overpass – it was worth it. Roubo is bloody awesome. His books were a labor of love and they deserve this sort of insane risk.
So a toast to you, M. Roubo.
— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com
Filed under: Roubo Translation
This is an excerpt from “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years: Volume I” published by Lost Art Press.
One sometimes gets in an indirect sort of way, a remarkable light on the things that people used to make and use. A man may explore all the usual channels in an endeavour to investigate a subject with little result, and then tumble across a piece of information entirely by accident.
The writer recently experienced something of the sort when visiting the Royal Academy Exhibition of 17th century art still on view at Burlington House. One of the pictures is the famous “Christ in the Carpenter’s shop,’’ by Carracci, and it shows Christ as a boy watching Joseph at work at his bench.
The point of interest is that Carracci painted in his picture the sort of bench and tools with which he himself was familiar in his age. In other words, the tools shown are the sort that carpenters used during the 17th century in Italy.
Some of them are extraordinarily like the tools we have in use at the present time. There is a frame saw identical with the kind still used by German woodworkers to-day. It is rather like a large bowsaw, but has a much wider blade. It is used for much the same purpose as the handsaw with which we are familiar. Then there is a claw hammer that might have been bought at a modem tool store, except that the head is square instead of rounded; also the handle. Passing through the bench is a holdfast, similar in principle to the modern type but without the screw arrangement. The carpenter placed the end over the wood to be held, and struck the pillar passing through the bench, so that it wedged itself in. A sort of small adze intended for use with one hand is interesting. It is rather like a small axe, but with the blade turned at right angles with the shaft. The latter is curved, and finishes with a curved scroll which would prevent it from flying out of the hand. Joseph himself is engaged in marking out a board, and is using a chalked line to mark a straight line.
Most interesting of all, however, is a trying plane which lies propped up on a box beneath the bench. It would be about 22 ins. long with a cutter of, say, 2-1∕ 2 ins. Its depth appears to be certainly no more than 2-1∕4 ins. Probably it may have been deeper originally, and became thinner from having been planed true many times.
One feature that immediately arrests the attention is the pitch of the cutter. It is extremely high; so much so that its action must have been almost that of a scraper. Yet there are scrolled shavings lying on the ground such as one might expect to take off with a plane of normal pitch. It is, of course, possible that the artist has gone astray in this respect, and that the cutter was set lower, but, as shown, it is not more than 15 degrees out of the vertical. It must have been extremely hard work using such a plane, and the shaving can only have been thin.
There is just this in it; planes in those days had no back irons, and the tendency would be to make the pitch as high as would be practical to minimise any tendency to tear out. So high an angle, however, seems an exaggeration.
There is one point which has puzzled us a good deal; that is the rounded piece immediately in front of the cutter. When, in the first place, we saw a black and white photograph of the picture, we immediately assumed it to be a shaving. On examining the actual picture, however, there were several things to suggest that this was not the case, but that it was in reality a handle formed out of the wedge. The detail is admittedly not clear, but whereas all the shavings on the floor are light, the detail in question is of the same colour as the rest of the plane. Many old trying planes had handles at the front, though in front of the escapement. One would imagine that a handle just in front of the wedge would be liable to cause the shavings to choke, but, there it is. Readers may like to consider the matter for themselves and draw their own conclusions.
— Meghan Bates
Filed under: Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker
My last several posts have been about how the BARN workbench vise chops were designed. In this post, I’ll show you how the CNC was programmed for machining with CAM software. I use RhinoCAM software from MecSoft, but most CAM software programs that can handle basic 3D milling will have similar machining operations. This post is not a primary on CAM or a full explanation of all the settings that […]
The post CAD to CAM to CNC: Part Seven — Programming a CNC for 3D Carving appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Push sticks? Yes, that is the topic of today’s blog, and it’s also the answer – Yes! Every woodworker has had a close call (or worse) or knows someone who has. Table saws are dangerous and even the experienced get hurt. But before this devolves into a diatribe about table saw injuries, let’s just agree that it’s better and safer to use push sticks when using a table saw. Two […]
The post Video: How to Choose a Push Stick – Table Saw Safety appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
As an Atlanta resident and associate at Highland Woodworking, I have the privilege of meeting a lot of woodworker-customer-friends, both hobbyist and professional alike, who are making wonderful things. I’m pleased to introduce you to some of our fellow enthusiasts through this semi-regular dispatch of who’s who in the Highland community. -AH
I met Char in the store when she was signing up for Sabiha Mujtaba’s Fundamentals of Woodworking class, a perennial favorite among woodworkers of all stripes. She told me about some of the projects she had finished for her family and fitting in her woodworking into an already full schedule. She invited me to check out her blog, the Wooden Maven, where I encountered not only an avid woodworker, but an inspiration.
How did you get into woodworking?
I began woodworking soon after undergrad when I moved into my first apartment. There was a platform bed I was interested in purchasing, at the time I could not afford it. I thought, perhaps I could build it. I didn’t have much direction to go on, YouTube was still in its developmental stage. After a few trips back to the furniture store to further inspect the bed, I drew my own plans, borrowed a drill, and purchased a ten dollar battery-powered screwdriver. It took me approximately three months to complete the bed… I believe that experience was the beginning of my love for building furniture. The gratification that came from producing something with my own hands was invigorating. That was back in 2003, since then I’ve been learning everything I can about my hobby-turned-passion.
What are you working on now?
I always like to keep a few projects going at once. Right now I am working on two identical beds. They are twin beds that extend to king size beds. In addition [they have] accessible storage and non-accessible storage underneath. I needed the beds to serve several purposes: a place for my children, room for guests, toy storage, and of course storage for toys that shouldn’t be brought out every day. This was the largest project I constructed from only plywood. I used three-quarter inch PureBond plywood and a Kreg circular saw jig for rip and cross cuts. To give the bed a modern look, I used beadboard wallpaper on the headboard and footboard. To keep the beds as low as possible, I opted for furniture movers strategically placed on the bottom for easy gliding.
Along with the beds, I am putting the finishing touches on a matching children’s fold down desk. I chose pine for this project since it is lighter in weight and an affordable option for a place that will see a lot of use. The tabletop of the desk is covered with a thin polyethylene sheet to make for easy clean-up of paint, markers, or pencil marks. Both projects are paint sprayed with semi-gloss paint and a coat of polyacrylic, a touch of blue paint is used to accent the desk and tie in the bedding colors.
Lastly, I am working on a display case, in which I am using all the skills I learned in Sabiha’s woodworking fundamentals class. The case includes dadoes and the use of an ogee bit. It is made from oak and instead of glass to enclose any special object, I am using plexiglass. It will sit nicely on a mantle for many years to come.
What are your favorite tools? (do you prefer hand tools over power tools, or Japanese saws vs. Western style saws, or an old drill that has been passed down, or a brad nailer that’s just super handy)
I know that I truly enjoy woodworking because I fall in love with almost every new tool I experience. The versatility of each of them and the possibilities are all endless. I recently took a hand plane class at Highland after purchasing my first block plane. I never knew that hand tools could be so involved, it was an eye-opening experience. Hand tools allow you to interact with the wood and have a closeness to it, that you don’t get with power tools. I have to say that hand planes are my favorite for now.
Recently, I started turning and for someone who wants a finished project quickly, turning pens [is] the perfect answer. I do enjoy working with lathes and hope to get more involved in the world of woodturning.
For sentiment’s sake, I still have the little Black+Decker screwdriver I built my very first project with, it no longer works. It is a small reminder from whence I came and a nod to staying humble in my craft.
Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the staff writer at Highland Woodworking. In 2015 she and her dad co-founded Coywolf Woodworks, their hobby shop in North Florida.