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This is a collection of all the different blogs I (try to) read. A whole bunch! If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to use the CONTACT page to get a hold of me. Thanks!
Lost Art Press will be at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Popular Woodworking Magazine this weekend (April 17-18), with books, T-shirts and even some furniture to show.
We’ll be bringing the just-released “Chairmaker’s Notebook,” plus all the other titles in our catalog.
In addition, I’m bringing a finished three-legged backstool and trestle table from my forthcoming book “Furniture of Necessity.” So come take a look at these designs and sit in the chair to see if it’s stable or not (drunkards welcome). We’re also happy to sign any books while we’re there – even if we didn’t write them.
This year, we’re planning a meet-up for Friday night at one of the local breweries. We’ll have details at the show on Friday (we haven’t finalized them, yet, or I’d post them here).
As always, the Lie-Nielsen show at Popular Woodworking has a good stable of exhibitors:
And, of course, the staff of the magazine. They usually sell a whole bunch of books and DVDs at great prices at this show, so be sure to check that out.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Woodworking Classes
I have made a couple of marking gauges recently, both out of walnut offcuts. The one on the left is a centre gauge, for marking the centre line down the length of narrow stock of varying widths. One simply twists the gauge until both pins are in contact with the side of the work piece, and then by dragging the tool down the length of the wood, the marking pin scribes a centre line.
The gauge on the right is for marking out very close to the edge of the workpiece, for instance when marking out for hinge recesses. Both gauges are very simple to make and consist of nothing more than what was lying around the shed.
The centre gauge consists of a wooden body, two brass pins, a threaded insert and a marking pin. The marking pin is simply a machine screw, ground to a point by offering it to a grindstone at an angle whilst spinning in the chuck of a cordless drill. The brass pins are superglued into the body, ensuring that they are perpendicular to the wood, and parallel with each other. The marking pin and the insert go right through the body, so that the amount the pin protrudes is adjustable by turning the screw head with a screwdriver. Needless to say, the marking pin must be exactly midway between the two brass pins for the gauge to work correctly.
The circular marking gauge is even simpler. It consists of a circular lump of wood, shaped to fit the hand, and an old wood screw, filed down so that it has sharp edges. The wood is drilled in the centre to take the screw, and the gauge is adjusted by turn the screw with a screwdriver. With the head filed down, the screw acts as kind of cutting wheel.
Both gauges are finished with a coat of boiled linseed oil to seal them, and they just about fit into the box I made for my layout tools.
I’m going to need a bigger box at this rate.
Filed under: Projects, Tools Tagged: boiled linseed oil, brass, gauges, walnut
|major distraction arrived via the USPS|
|honed and making shavings|
|it's still flat|
|planning my planing|
|two pieces from different boards|
|I'll let it do stupid wood tricks if it has to|
Day 5 is done with 37 left to complete the table. It's almost 1700 and time to go and fill up the pie hole.
What constellation is the archer Sagittarius aiming his arrow at?
answer - Scorpius - to avenge the death of fellow hunter Orion
For the last couple months, I’ve been working on a new T-shirt design that combines the skep – a traditional beehive – with the tools of the woodworking artisan.
For many years, the skep was the symbol of the industrious joiner or cabinet-maker, and it shows up in woodworking books and on documents throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. (Read more about that here.) After fleshing out the idea with some preliminary sketches, I sent my ideas to Ohio artist Joshua Minnich, who designed our most recent shirt.
Joshua produced the fantastic logo you see above. In the coming weeks, we will offer this logo printed on T-shirts in a full range of sizes (XS to 3XL) and colors (gray, blue, red, black and orange). These will be available worldwide at a very reasonable shipping cost.
We are using American Apparel shirts, which are made in California, and the shirts will be printed in California. These shirts run a little tight, so we strongly recommend you order one size larger than typical. (Doing this does not mean you are fat; it just means you aren’t a skinny hipster.)
We’ll start selling these shirts as soon as we have our final printed samples in hand for photography.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Products We Sell
Here’s a model one:
And, if you’ve got time, check out this episode of The Woodwright’s Shop, where Roy Underhill goes through all of the machines at a steam powered saw mill.
Filed under: YouTube Tagged: steam power
|There is about one week in the year when the tree in the backyard is in bloom.|
|I started from a nice piece of 5/4 cherry.|
|I had a little trouble with my panel gauge. It took a bit too much effort to lock the wedges in. Perhaps this tool needs a bit more work.|
|That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.|
|Mongo the holdfast in action.|
|This small cross grain rabbet was easy to do with a chisel.|
|I am really getting to like this holdfast. Have I said that already?|
|I used a block plane for the last step of my profile.|
|This picture probably explains better what I am doing than my writing.|
|Laying out the holes.|
|What can I say. I'm drilling holes.|
|I used my Swedish (or English) egg beater drill.|
|Not quite square, but it will work.|
|With threaded plug,|
...shaping wood and metal in a way that machines cannot.
It is also designing and making in a way that is not hampered by the limited capabilities of machines or mechanical processes - or ones understanding of them.
Design first, then figure out how to do it.
This was a fundamental idea when I was in school. We were taught how to design first and then educated on the various tools we had at our disposal to see that design come to life. At the time, there were no computers used in design - we did everything ‘by hand‘ (with the exception of the darkroom and other photo-mechanical tools). We made scale drawings, scale mock-ups to test if our ideas on paper would fit with the real world. We would go back to the drawing board and tear pieces off our mock-ups to make changes. It was an incredibly tactile experience - and I think a tremendous amount of exploration and learning happened during that process. There is something about feeling the materials with your hands, the texture, the weight (visual or physical), and the interplay of the various pieces as you tried to coax them to work together. It was pure heaven.
And all that is missing from the computer.
I spent an hour this morning shaping some African Blackwood. I drew some layout lines, grabbed my favourite files and rasps and started shaping. Watching the scratches and shadows told me when my curves were right. Flip the piece around and do the same thing to the other side - then compare the two sides to make sure they are symmetrical. Not mathematically symmetrical - visually symmetrical. Reach for a finer file once the coarse shaping is done and refine it down further - checking the highlights, shadows and negative spaces often.
It was an hour of pure happiness.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that spring is finally here, the sun is out, the shop door is open for some fresh air, and Schism is turned up to eleven on the stereo.
Life is good.
I like the idea of a wall-hanging chess set – it doesn’t take up space on your tables so you can take your time to play a game. It also has the secondary function of wall art/decoration.
There are some commercial examples that make use of regular chess pieces that rest on shelves (like this from Straight Up Chess), but as pieces are taller than they are wide, the squares (and therefore the board) are more rectangular in shape. It isn’t the end of the world but I find it a slight distraction.
So for my take on wall-chess, I’ve opted for a square, shelf-less board. This means the pieces need to be custom made to square proportions. Avoiding shelves means either using magnets or drilling holes in the board that the pieces can peg into. I’ve opted for pegs in this case, but might try magnets in the future.
I made my board the same way as my previous one (see this post for further information) with the additional step of drilling holes in the centre of each square. A simple mitered frame was glued to the back of the board to act as a hook for wall-mounting and to counter warping of the board. Against this effort, the board has still curved slightly over time, so I would make a thicker board in the future.
Another point to note: it is hard to see the pieces because they are the exact same colour as the board’s squares. A wall set is less forgiving than a regular table set in this regard because the pieces are completely enclosed by the squares from a player’s perspective. I think either using different woods for the pieces or using some stain would solve the problem.
The pieces are modeled after the 2D depictions often seen in newspapers and books. I drilled shallow holes in the back of each piece and glued in small lengths of dowel to form pegs. They have a friction fit in the board.
Now this hanging set is complete, I’m already filling pages in my notebook designing my next set of turned chessmen.
Filed under: Chess Set, Projects Tagged: chess pieces, design
I’ve never been a big jigger in my workshop. I’m stumped to find a value for anything more than my simple shooting board/ bench hook combo. And the odd stick.
I think the reason is because I’ve never been precious about my bench top and there’s no problem which can’t be solved with a few nails banged into it.
There are jigs which I know I could benefit from, a sticking board for mouldings is a smashing example. I’ve considered making one many times, but once I’ve pondered the best approach I’ve finished the mouldings and moved on to the next job.
If we stumble back in to the past even the small workshop found a place for all manner of jigs, many of which were so individual we can’t be certain what they were for. With a thorough knowledge of woodworking we can apply some practical thinking along with a light garnishing of speculation and may come up with a feasible answer, but whilst intriguing this would likely be of little relevance to our work today. Something we can be sure of is that little woodworking was done as a hobby, and so a good majority of jigs would be borne from a necessity to repeat. But do any of us want to batch hand work now?
When building workbenches I use simple machines mixed with my hand tools, and this is work which I do repeat. I have made the same model many times over and yet I barely have drawings, let alone templates or jigs. The word I might be looking for here is lazy, but I like to think I get my efficiency through technique and a good understanding of my processes. I consider the set up time for a jig and know that I could be on the way to having the job done.
Is a dovetail guide a jig?
I wouldn’t typically give away free on our site an article that hasn’t yet been seen by magazine subscribers. But this is not a typical situation, and time is of the essence. Don Williams, whose latest book, “Virtuouso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley” (with photographs by Narayan Nayar) will shipping in just few weeks from Lost Art Press. But the book will be available for the […]
With the seat made and attached to the seat post--a scrap 1 1/4" dowel 16" long--I had to figure out a base. Since I wanted the stool to be 34" tall, I obviously had to attach the seatpost to a platform and add legs for this prototype. I had two ideas for the platform: a triangle with three legs or a square with four legs. I tried the triangle first and it worked fairly well. I splayed the legs slightly and put the middle leg in the back so I wouldn't fall over backward. There is no need for forward stability when the stool is in use because my feet are flat on the floor in front and I am nearly standing up anyway. Any force I apply with tools will push me backward. Dry fit, it was very stable to sit on but it tipped over easily if I bumped it when not in use. The center of gravity of the seat was too high and too far forward because of where I attached the seatpost to the platform.
The next option I tried was a square with the seatpost in the exact center, four legs and the seat oriented on the diagonal. My reasoning was that then the platform wouldn't interfere with my legs and it would be very stable when I am on or off the stool. Here it is:
It was very functional and stable, both when I was on the stool and when I wasn't. The platform is 1 1/2" thick to allow for strong attachments of the seatpost and legs. I didn't like the way it looked very much though, to me like a giraffe. I think the triangle looked better for some reason--maybe because the seat is triangular--and I have a preference for three legs. Looking back, I wish I had made the platform an equilateral triangle to increase its depth and allow the seatpost to attach further back. Hmmmm, might have to make another version from scratch. What to do.
Then a brain shower happened (a brain shower is to a brainstorm as a rain shower is to a rainstorm--a passing event that may or may not amount to anything much). A problem with my first version was that the height isn't adjustable, which is OK for me because I know the exact height I want, but not OK for most. A bicycle seat is adjusted by sliding the seatpost up and down inside the downtube and gets locked in place. I could modify my prototype and still use only scraps by creating a "downtube." So, I decapitated the giraffe and cut off its legs:
Then I laminated a down column and inserted it between the platform and the seatpost:
I like this much better but I think the way to go for appearance sake is to lower the platform to be just off the floor, shorten the seatpost and have a longer column. Functionally, this one is fine so I am going to use it awhile before making another version.
The two main ideas in my design that I very strongly urge you to consider if you want to make a shop stool are to make the seat shaped like a bicycle seat and make the stool very high, just low enough to keep a very slight bend in your knees. I think you will be surprised at how well this works. It does take some getting used to but you'll quickly get accustomed to it. Don't be concerned about falling: straighten your legs slightly and you are standing up. I suppose this is more familiar to a bicycle rider though and this certainly isn't a stool for everyone. I concede that it doesn't push the upper bound of the woodworking aesthetic. :( I have an idea for the next version that I think would look fantastic while retaining the functionality of this one.
It might be nice if I could sit down at my desk, create a well-thought-out design and then go into the shop to execute it. Can't do it and not really sure I would enjoy it as much as what I can do. This was fun.
While walking through the ridiculously tidy racks at Northwest Timber in Jefferson, Ore., I realized at that moment something that hadn’t fully occurred to me during the last 20 years. I am buying, transporting and storing a lot of garbage. Not “garbage” in the sense that the wood is of poor quality. But garbage in the sense that a good deal of rough stock goes into the dust collector, scrap […]
One of my key projects for 2015 will be to build a working collection of bow saws. I bought the big blades (700mm in length) below from Dieter Schmid in Germany. The plan is to build a Frame saw using the rip blade and a Roubo-esque crosscut bow saw with the crosscut blade.
A few pictures of the crosscut saw I want to replicate loosely. It can be found in Lost Art Press’ “Book of Plates”. I cannot say enough good thinks about Lost Art and their books. Every book is a seminal work in itself, which makes it impossible to decide on a favourite. Surgeons in my part of the world have a motto: “If in doubt, cut it out”. My motto with Lost Art Press books is: “If in doubt, buy it”.
These little beauties came from Gramercy Tools. I plan to build a smaller (12″) bow saw using their design. I plan to use it mainly from removing waste material between dovetails.
The wood for these saws is the pile on the right hand side. I chose Witpeer (Apodytes dimidiata or White pear in English) and Assegaai (Curtisia dentata). Both these woods are extremely tough, hard and durable, which made it some of the favourites for Wagon building in the early Cape Colony. My supply comes from the Knysna evergreen forest, where I bought it more than 14 years ago.
I will write separate posts on the construction of each saw, so watch this space.
Tom in Florida has posted about the temps there are in the 90's already. Jonathan in Alaska has posted a few times about the temps being unusually high for this time of the year. Poor old Bob up in Canada is still having to deal with snow. Things don't look or feel right yet with the weather and the seasonal changes.
Yesterday I got a lot done but still not as much as I thought I would. I expected to have the base fully done joinery wise, and ready to glue up today. Hit a tiny snag that is keeping me tied up to the pier momentarily. I thought had some clamps that were long enough to do this but they are about 4" shy. I had bought these pipe clamps over 20 years made I made my Douglas Fir bed. I think I figured out a work around for this shortcoming. When I do the glue up, I'll find out for sure when I do the dry clamp first.
|got my replacement broom and it was on sale|
|4 extra mortises to accommodate a change in design|
|cross rail stock|
|The end apron buttons|
|the long apron buttons need room to move in/out as the top moves - another reason why I put in the middle cross rails|
|first batter up for removing twist - laying flat on this end|
|this end isn't laying flat - up on this corner almost a 1/4"|
|bad pic of the twist|
|first pass with the #6|
|2 more criss crosses with the #6|
|I got a helicopter|
It's a little less then 7/8" thick at it's thinnest spot. If it doesn't do any stupid wood tricks I'll have my target thickness of 3/4" with some extra to play with.
|the other half of the twisted board|
|criss crossed it with the jack|
|still flat and straight|
|need a sharpening pit stop|
accidental woodworker 39 days left to finish the table
What life saving device did Phillip Drinker and Louis Agassiz Shaw build with two vacuum cleaners in 1927?
answer - the first iron lung
Many moons ago, my wife and I bought the house we live in now, from the estate of my great-aunt. It is a house that I have known all my life, although the old girl probably wouldn’t recognise it now.
Anyway, at the time, I wasn’t a hand tool kind of person, and I had so much else on my plate that I wasn’t even really a woodworking kind of person. Nevertheless, when we ripped out an old fireplace, I decided to save the mantelpiece. I’m not sure why, but I did. Ever since it has been quietly sitting in my shed, my old shed mostly, and now my new one. It’s time to put it to good use.
It must be quite stable by now, having seasoned for over ten years in the shed – just the thing for some winding sticks. I began by ripping the rough dimension from the main board, which can then go away for another day. Then I planed down to a reference face, then a reference edge, then an opposite edge and final thickness.
Finally, I ripped diagonally down the length to get my two sticks. Once I had planed up the sawn faces smooth, I had my blanks, ready to start the inlay.
This design is based heavily on one from Paul Sellers. I cannot link to the design because it is part of his Masterclasses website, and there are strict instructions not to share resources without prior permission. However, the winding sticks project is part of the free section, so all one needs to do is join in order to have access. Just follow the link and fill in your details. There are downloadable plans and instructional videos, as well as lots of other projects. Well worth a look.
The next post for this project will cover the inlay.
Filed under: Projects Tagged: Paul Sellers, winding sticks
In preparation for a recent trade show in China, John Economaki of Bridge City Toolworks had a nutty idea for a gimmick in his booth: a planing jig for making chopsticks.
As it turned out, people lined up at the show for a chance to make perfectly planed chopsticks at the show.
“I hit on something very deep in the Chinese culture,” John says during a chat in his office. “I have never seen so much joy in my entire life.”
Kids, women and adults of all ages used his little tabletop jigs to make the perfect tapering sticks that end in a petite tapered octagon. Then they used one of the Bridge City Jointmaker Pros to saw a pyramid shape at the top.
What started as a fun idea – almost a bit of a joke – is headed into production. The Chopstick Master is, like all Bridge City tools, a cunning invention from Economaki’s restless mind. And after he told me about the jig over dinner last week, I knew I had to stop at his Portland, Ore., office on my way to the airport to make a pair of chopsticks.
The chopsticks start as a pair of straight, square-section sticks, padauk in this case. Then they are wedged into the jig to bend the wood on a diagonal into a shallow S-shape.
Why? Because of the block plane used in the jig. Thanks to the skewed, slightly bent chopstick you can use the entire width of the iron while planing the chopstick to its initial tapered shape. That reduces sharpening.
Also cool are the plane’s two depth skids that poke out from the side of the plane like a catamaran. The skids capture the plane on a track and control the cutting action. When the plane stops cutting, you are done with that operation.
It is very difficult to mess up the process. Here’s what it’s like:
You number each face of the stick one through four and wedge the stick in the jig with No. 1 facing up. Plane face No. 1 and then plane face No. 2 in the same manner.
Then you turn a knob on the side of the jig to change the pitch of its bed and plane sides No. 3 and 4. You have just created a perfect tapered stick.
Then you drop the stick into the V-shaped notch in the jig, which then shows the four corners of the chopstick to the plane. Then you plane away and create a tiny, perfect octagon on the last four inches or so of the chopstick.
You are done. Time elapsed (with instruction from the maker) about 5 minutes. I then cut a small pyramid shape on the top of each chopstick using the Jointmaker Pro and broke the edges with a small piece of fine sandpaper.
If you are interested in being notified about the development of the Chopstick Master, go to ChopstickMaster.com. Economaki is working out the details of manufacturing and pricing – but I think you are going to be amazed at the price (including the plane). I’ll get one –to have it at my next dinner party and try to hook a few people into woodworking.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites
Yes, I am “all Studley exhibit, all the time” for the next month, but that tedium (?) was punctuated by a banner week at the Post Office box.
First came the brilliant Chairmaker’s Notebook from Peter Galbert. It arrived just in time for one of my periodic days at the ophthalmologist’s office (the periodicity depends on which of my eye diseases is acting up, and how severely) during which I had time to read a good part of it carefully and browse all of it to the end. The book is only partly about making Windsor chairs. In truth it is really about the way to think about, and the way to do almost anything of real consequence.
I am not a Windsor chairmaker and unlikely to become one other than as an amusement, my chairmaking runs from Point A, Gragg chairs, to Point A’, making slightly different Gragg chairs. Still, Peter’s eloquence and deep understanding, and the exasperatingly skillful manner of conveying them, made me smack my forehead repeatedly with the silent exclamation,”But of course!” while simultaneously silently muttering, “Man, I wish I had written this.”
I also received the printer’s proofs from Virtuoso, and to tell you the truth, the combination of the sumptuous imagery contained therein combined with the realization that almost five years of work are nearing the end made a sizable lump in my throat. It has been a project of passions — sometimes love, sometimes hate — as are most such undertakings, but it it noteworthy to celebrate its conclusion.
Finally, my good friend of three decades Dr. Walter Williams just send me a signed copy of his latest book. A collection of scores of columns, it will make for enticing bite sized bits of common sense wisdom.
All in all, a good week at the post office.