One hundred years ago, when my Grandfather was just finishing his apprenticeship, most of the world’s population still lived in rural surroundings. Unless the young craftsman was headed for the city, where specialization was common, he was likely to be engaged in all types of work that were based on working with wood.
On any given day the rural carpenter might lead a team of neighbors in building a barn or house, repair a wagon, build a gate, create a dower chest, spend time above or within the saw pit. He might build falsework to support the masonry on the new bridge across the creek. He might build a new sluice at the mill or provide a new bull gear. In short, the rural carpenter was a central figure in the community. His importance to rural life cannot be understated. The master carpenter was surely seen as a steward of arcane knowledge that was vital to the general well-being of the community. And as I heard more than once, “sure, wasn’t Jesus Christ, his’self, a carpenter? And St. Joseph, as well”.
Here are a few reminders of what a carpenter’s day might have included in years gone by.
We always enjoy coming across blog articles or reviews about Highland Woodworking, especially those where woodworkers young and old discuss their history with our 35 year old family business. We recently came across Paul Sellers’ website and blog, where he describes his days of receiving our woodworking catalog and dog-earring the pages, as well as his recent visit to our retail store in Atlanta. CLICK HERE TO READ HIS BLOG.
Mr. Sellers has been woodworking for over 45 years and is the Founder of the New Legacy School of Woodworking, which has two locations in both Penrhyn Castle, UK and Schuylerville, New York. To learn more about his woodworking school, The New Legacy School of Woodworking, visit their website.
The post ‘A Store Beyond All Others’: A long-time customer blogs about his history with Highland Woodworking appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
Well what do you know, it’s a Roubo! Here is part of the page in Andre Roubo’s work from the 18th century. Even shows the clamp extension which I first mentioned in Shepherds’ Compleat Early Nineteenth Century Woodworker originally published in 1981 and available in paperback here.
Here are the final iteration of the original with some ‘improvements’ made from the prototype. Not really improvements more like matching the original as closely as possible. These two are for the first order that has already been placed and shipped.
Slightly longer that the original prototype they just fit in a Medium Flat Rate postal shipping box. The slight increase in length allows for 12″ between the jaws of the clamp. The increase in the size of the short bar together with the increased size of the top tab makes loosening the clamp a breeze.
These clamps not only work great but look wonderful hanging on a shop wall. You can purchase yours here. Thanks to master blacksmith Mark Schramm for making these and redoing them until we got them right.
Q: The combo filing on the sash saw means one saw can both crosscut really well and rip cut really well. How come this filing isn't more popular?
A: My guess is the reason why the basic combo filing (which is really a fairly aggressive rip saw with a little fleam for cutting hardwood) isn't more popular is twofold. In the professional world of hand sawing most hand saws were used in construction and, since the 1840's at least, were mostly used for cross-cutting softwood. Ripping was done far less frequently. A saw tuned for cross cutting softwood is a lot more useful and will work faster for that type of work than one for hardwood. The second reason is that it's a really tricky filing. I don't think a regular machine filed saw would work nearly as well (cutting smooth and fast in both rip and cross-cut modes) as a properly hand filed saw. It also turns out that even by hand the combo sharpening requires lots of skill and has a far smaller window of success. So my historical guess is that most attempts at filing combo weren't consistently done well enough to merit specific documentation. That being said, from historical documents we can pretty much tell you that most 18th and early 19th century saws were used interchangeably for rip and crosscutting and it wasn't until the mid 19th century that so much negative rake and fleam was added for cutting softwood that a separate saw was needed for ripping.
The second question is:
Q: Why we don't offer a dovetail saw in a combo filing?
A: The reason for that is that our current 19 ppi rip dovetail saw is a lot finer in pitch than most of our competition, still cuts very fast in rip mode (even compared to thinner blade saws) and it works pretty darn good at crosscutting hardwood too. With our saw you don't need more pronounced fleam to to do a good job crosscutting small shoulders. And as it turned out with testing, with that fine pitch adding more fleam to such tiny teeth doesn't automatically improve the overall preformace of the saw. So my answer is that the saw works for ripping optimally as is, and for crosscutting pretty well, so why confuse the waters? If we did produce a courser saw at that size, it would combo file better. but you would lose some ripping ability and be harder to start. One other point: since we file by hand there always is a tiny bit of inconsistency that you just don't get with a machine filing. For example as the filer works on dovetails saws (which are fairly short), they don't imperceptibly slide in their seat for each tooth, consequently the fleam angle might change ever so slightly as they proceed. The result is that finished saw will work a tad smoother than if they did, or if they used a filed guide for each tooth. It's just one of those things.
A couple of comments on the photo. It's a picture of just the teeth of my personal sash saw which is a few years old. You can clearly see the very consistent dent on the side of ever other tooth from the setting. Note that the bend only goes as far as the tooth - not further, there is no ripple effect in the saw plate (and there should not be). The other teeth without the set marks are bent towards the camera so they look foreshortened. That, and what looks like very shallow gullets is largely an optical illusion caused by the teeth all bent towards and away from the camera position. You can't really see the cutting edges very well in the photo. The toe of the saw is off the screen at left.
If you no idea what I am talking about with fleam and rake. Click here- for our handy dandy saw guide that we published a few years ago.
While conducting a plane-tuning seminar on Wednesday with toolmaker extraordinaire Chris Vesper, I got the opportunity to pick through his tool collection. I had no idea he was a tool collector. He is. And he has devoted about one-third of his living space to his collection.
His collection of plane irons (and chipbreakers) is remarkable. I could have spent a week examining them. But the tool in his collection that blew my mind was a Lancashire rebate plane he had sharpened and tuned up.
This is a user-made plane. Words and photos really don’t do it justice.
In essence, it is a cast brass rebate plane with a skewed cutter (snecked!). Instead of having a fence below the cutter (like a moving fillister plane), this plane has a sole that extends above the cutter and cutting surface.
This remarkable feature allows you to do several things:
- Cut rabbets of any width by dropping into a gauge line. The more you plane, the more stable the tool becomes. So you can really bear down and remove some meat once you get the tool started.
- Easily alter the floor of a rabbet with a little wrist twist. This allows you to clean up rabbets with ease.
- The tote encourages you to push the sole into the corner of the rabbet and to remain square.
- The escapement/lever cap of the tool throws the shavings onto the bench and not into your hand.
- The brass sole gives you a sharp arris that lets you start in a gauge line.
Vesper was kind enough to let me try the plane out on some King William Pine. I used one of his marking gauges to lay out the rabbet. And within a couple strokes I was a rabbeting fool.
I surmise that this is a tough tool to make. It has a skew cutter, an unusual sole and a wild (but very comfortable tote). So I wouldn’t hold my breath in hopes that someone would make it for the modern market.
But if you see one, drop your small children and watermelons and grab the tool. Buy it. You won’t regret it.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Handplanes, Personal Favorites
Honestly, I’ve tuned so many dang metal planes in my lifetime that I’ll never worry about having enough iron in my diet. They might mine my carcass for the mineral when I’m dead. For me, it has always been an analog process: Do it by hand with inexpensive supplies. Today I spent the day tuning … Read more
In Four London Cabinet Founders and Ironmongers, I posted the trade advertisements of four of what must have been hundreds of specialist cabinet founders working in the hub of early eighteenth-century London’s furniture district – St. Paul’s Churchyard, and in neighbouring Aldermanbury, Cheapside, Farringdon, Holborn and Lothbury.
Like the goldsmiths and silversmiths who were obliged by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths to impress their mark on their wares, brass founders too, were similarly required to sign their goods by the Worshipful Company of Founders. The Founders’ edict wasn’t rigorously enforced though and many flouted it.
The early mark, ‘IG’ (it was common for the letter ‘I’ to be substituted for the letter ‘J’ at this period) and later mark ‘J*G’ of Aldermanbury cabinet founder, John Giles (fig.1) can occasionally be found on the reverse of backplates and escutcheons etc. dating from the first half of the eighteenth-century.
The Oriental inspired brass backplate in figs. 2 & 3 was sawn from beaten brass plate (not cast as many were) and decorated with a simple punched design.