When I first began this blog I posted about the acquisition of a 1959 Covel #10 surface grinder. The old grinder has been a great machine. The cost associated with purchasing, moving the machine, and upgrading this machine are to a point where I really have more invested in the machine than it's relative market value. However as a result of this investment I know what I have, a machine that grinds accurately and flat over the length of it's capacity which is always a question mark with any used surface grinder.
However the Covel came as a manual grinder which means all the moving parts have to be activated and run with physical action on the part of a human operator and the worst of these activities is traversing the table left to right constantly. This requires many repetitions just to grind the surfaces of one part. This finally took a toll on my left shoulder. One Friday morning several weeks ago I began experiencing a stabbing pain under my left shoulder blade. I figured a bit of rest and some over the counter pain medications would fix this.....no such luck. In fact things got worse and it became evident that I would not be doing any grinding for while. I needed to give my shoulder time to heal.
Being persistent I starting teaching myself how to grind with my right arm only. I could do this but it was a slow process, futile really. I decided that while my shoulder was recuperating that maybe it was time to shop for an automatic surface grinder. A quick bit of research revealed that an automatic surface grinder with any chance of reliability was going to cost something close to automobile purchase type money.
Given the time commitment required to move one machine out and another machine in, and considering the investment I had in the Covel grinder I decided it might be worth an attempt at automating the Covel.
I read on many of the online metal working forums a lot of speculation about how one would go about automating the long axis of a surface grinder, however there was no documentation from anyone that had actually pursued and accomplish this to any degree of reasonable use so I contacted an automation company and proposed my plan for accomplishing this task and ask them if they thought it was a feasible idea.
They agreed that it was feasible, recommended a few changes to my plan and also informed me of other information I needed to gather in order to make reasonably informed decisions as to what components would need to specified and purchased. It seemed my gamble was going to cost somewhere around $1000.00 and there was no guarantee of success. Considering the price of an automatic grinder or worse yet, a new shoulder, I decided I would take the gamble and began the research required to fill in the blanks of how to undertake this transformation. The picture below shows all the major components required.
A 1/2hp 3 phase inverter rated induction motor, a 40 to 1 gear box (speed reducer), GS2 Variable Frequency Drive, not shown are the miscellaneous wiring devices, various pulleys and belt required.
The motor control configuration was sorted out after a study of the VFD manual....actually an extensive study. I have two other 3 phase motors in my shop powered by VFDs, however I would be asking this one to perform more complex motor control than anything required on the other machines. The picture below shows all the components mounted to the machine and also a belt/pulley guard fabricated for safety sake.
I received a couple of emails from readers following a remark I made in Drawer Front Dovetail Evolution: “… by the mid-eighteenth-century; English cabinetmaking was of a far higher standard than anywhere else in Europe.”
One reader was surprised by my comment, based, he said, on “the French’s reputation and generally, the highly decorative nature of Continental furniture”. Another reader simply repudiated my argument with a few succinct words that I’m not entirely conversant with.
There’s no argument; French tastes gave birth to much of eighteenth-century England’s style (Chippendale launched his career on rococo, borrowed from the French), but French furniture was all blouse and no trousers.
The veneering, marquetry and parquetry performed by the ébénistes’ was highly skilled ebullient work and the ormolu produced by the fondeurs-ciseleurs was unparalleled during the first half of the eighteenth-century (fig. 1).
Outwardly, French eighteenth-century furniture was indeed highly decorative and imaginative too: Chairs with multiple compound curves and three-dimensional bombe carcases with ever more outrageous foliate ormolu mounts predominated. Appearances were superficial though and virtually everything beneath the gaudy veneer was a bit half-hearted. Unlike the ébénistes’, the menuisiers (the actual cabinetmakers) didn’t strive for perfection, with cabinetmaking achievements being more or less stagnant since the seventeenth-century.
France’s great loss were the thousands of skilled Huguenot craftsmen who fled the country’s religious policies towards the end of the seventeenth-century, settling in Britain, the Dutch Republic (some of the elite subsequently coming to England under the patronage of William III) and other non-Catholic areas of Europe.
I have had opportunities in the past to examine ‘nonpareil’ eighteenth-century French furniture in public and private collections and the internal surfaces of many panels often exhibit riven rather than sawn surfaces. Rails and stiles too regularly look more like recycled bridge timbers with malformed tennons barely touching the interiors of the associated mortices; and which, without being drawbored-and-pegged, would have no integrity or hope of longevity whatsoever.
In England, drawbored-and-pegged frame-and-panel carcase construction fell from use in all but bucolic furniture by the last quarter of the seventeenth-century, but it persisted in French furniture throughout the eighteenth-century (figs. 2, 3 & 4), and indeed, well into the nineteenth-century too.
Continental drawers were often so crudely made they required supplementary nailing to retain some degree of cohesion (the French being amongst the worst offenders – figs. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10).
The menuisiers – a more appropriate name might have been bouchers de bois – were on the whole, an unenlightened coterie who most certainly didn’t cut the mustard.
Filed under: Furniture Making Tagged: ébénistes, drawbored-and-pegged, English cabinetmaking, fondeurs-ciseleurs, frame-and-panel, menuisiers
Is there such a thing as a campaign bench?
That's the question I found myself asking when an email dropped into our inbox a few months ago. There was no text, no greeting, nothing. Just pictures of a gorgeous piece of mahogany furniture glowing with a first-class finish.
But what was it?
I'll let customer Steven Decker do the explaining. After some light prodding, he eagerly sent us an explanation of his creation. Steven is active duty military, so maybe this is a campaign bench after all?
Fair warning: Steven's description contains colorful language.
Pictured at left is the antique crib in which I slept until I was six months old or so. (I’m guessing – but that’s the age at which most of my friends’ babies could roll over and begin to pull themselves up; I can only assume my mother wouldn’t have knowingly left me in what … Read more
It was a bit of a contrast to the rest of the day the Heritage Crafts Association held our annual conference at the V&A in London. There was me in my best suit and Jeremy West shoes on the podium, after a long but inspiring day I took the train homewards to Macclesfield where there was no snow at all. As I climbed further into the hills the snow got deeper and deeper.
There was no turning back by this point and I finally got stuck for the night. Handy to have a camper van, shame I didn't have a sleeping bag. I was woken at 10.30pm by some police who were very keen that I should not spend the night there in case I died, not only did I have half a tank of diesel and a heater, I had gas and cooker, there was also a house 250 yards away, when they had gone I brewed up hot chocolate before crashing out again. It was cold and I didn't have enough insulating material so I slept 2 hours, ran the engine for 20 minutes to warm up then slept 2 hours all night. At 9 in the morning a JCB and snowplough arrived digging the road out. I have to confess to being slightly disappointed the night before I had been told there had been a JCB fast track with a snow blower on the front clearing the road and I was really looking forward to seeing it blast it's way through.
Backing out, it was pretty deep by UK in late March standards.
What I find interesting is that having heard about this most folks reaction is "Oh no how terrible". Yet to me direct experience of the natural environment is one of the things I crave and miss most, the whole thing was a wonderful adventure, at no stage was I ever in the slightest danger and only marginal discomfort.
I have one for my small set of Tombstone Scrapers out of some nice brown pig hair cell leather I picked up from the local leather supply store. I also made a wallet for my graining combs. This stuff is very durable, I have a tobacco wallet that has lasted very well, although I will need to repair some of the linen thread that has worn away.
I did the pattern with a piece of paper 8 1/2″ by 11″ then added another piece 4 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ to provide space for a half a dozen assorted card scrapers. The goose-neck scraper determined the size of the center pocket. I used a ponce wheel with 10 teeth per inch to layout the stitching spacing, using every other mark and an awl to make holes. I had the awl backed up with a scrap piece of soft wood. I temporarily clipped the leather together to insure good alignment before making the stitching holes.
Using waxed linen thread I double stitched with two needles, pulling the thread tight and pounding the thread flat as I progressed. The stitching between the pockets is spaced every 3/8″ apart. I cut out wedges of leather between the three flaps so they lay flat when closed.
It was a fun project that I should have done much earlier. My appologies to Tom.
鋸-鉋-鑿 is a blog about Japanese tools that is written by a woodworker living in Taiwan. I could be mistaken, but I remember reading at one point that the author of this blog is originally from Yugoslavia.
It’s been on a five year hiatus, but I’m glad it’s back. With a terrific photo of Yokosaka Masato, a famous Japanese blacksmith of plane blades, no less.
Christopher Schwarz hits a gold mine of used Japanese tools on his trip to Australia, and sees this:
But the best part was an item that wasn’t for sale.
Underneath the selling tables was an old Japanese tool chest that Izumitani had brought back from Japan. It was simple, of course, but striking in its form, utility and hardware.
Chris provides a Sketchup diagram of the Japanese tool chest he saw, but if you’re interested in making one, I would size it to the tools you have instead of following the dimensions of the Sketchup diagram exactly.