Hand Tool Headlines

The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

 

Search

Headlines

Konrad and Riley Take the Torch

The Barn on White Run - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 8:14pm

 

Konrad Sauer blogged today about my passing a torch to himself and his son, the “torch” being the restoration of a classic 1968 Volvo P1800 (the “Saint” car) I bought more than thirty years ago with the intention of restoring it into my every day car.  Well, life intruded and it sat in my shed for all those years until I gave it to them last summer.

It should be an ultra-cool project, and Konrad promised me a visit to The Barn on White Run with his wife once the project is done.

Can’t wait to follow the tale and to welcome them to the mountains..

Nicholson Bench, Almost Finished

Brese Plane - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 8:08pm

Lots of progress on the Nicholson bench this week. In the picture below you can see that a stretcher across the center of the bench has been added and end caps have been fitted and installed as well. When the top boards are added this essentially makes this a solid maple torsion box of sorts.



The center stretcher has been lagged in place, however the end caps have a tenon that slips into a mortise at the ends of the bench.  I did not want to depend on a couple lags screws to hold everything in place when the leg vise applies outward pressure on the end cap. In this configuration the pressure is applied to the tenon that in turn presses against the side of the mortise. Note that I made the mortise slightly deeper than the length of the tenon. When the lag screw pulls the aprons against the shoulder of the end cap it establishes the width of the bench assembly. I wanted it to fit tight against the shoulder of the end cap and not bottom out in the mortise.



The lags I obtained to use for this bench are squared headed lags with a black oxide finish. I think it plays well with the finish on the vise hardware. I sunk the heads into counterbores on the front of the bench but left them on the surface on the rear apron.



The video below shows some of the other work that's taken place since the last post. Smoothing, making bench dogs and fitting the leg vise.




When making my first bench Jameel Abraham advised me to make dogs for every dog hole. This may seem a bit extravagant but not having to move bench dogs around to different holes saves an enormous amount of time over the course of several years of bench work. If you watch the video and wonder why my bench dogs are so long there is a reason. The Nicholson bench has a wide apron. Unless you have arms like an Orangoutang the dogs need to be at least as long as the apron is wide, otherwise they will be quite difficult to pop up for use.

I also opted to make my dogs from 1" diameter rock maple dowel stock. This extra diameter makes it possible to cut taller faces on the dogs and I've been amazed on how rigid they feel compared to 3/4" diameter bench dogs.

The next post should be the conclusion of the bench build,

Ron

I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end. Abraham Lincoln




Categories: Hand Tools

Guitar Capos/Cejillas for Classical and Flamenco Guitars

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 4:02pm
Any prejudice that may exist against the use of this device (capotasto) with the classical guitar should be dispelled by the knowledge that Giuliani's nickname given to him by a frivolous secret society to which he belonged was Vilax Umo Capodastro.

Frederick Noad, The Classical Guitar, 1976


I made eight capos/cejillas for classical or flamenco guitars.

These cejillas/capos are based on a traditional Spanish design that dates from the 18th century. The peg is made from rosewood, the center section of each capo (capodastre) is carved from either hard maple or East Indian rosewood and the sides of the capo are either curly maple or East Indian rosewood.

Current capo inventory consists of two with curly maple sides and four with East Indian rosewood sides. There are two capos made from solid Vermillion, a very gorgeous hard wood from Africa.

All pegs are attached to the capo with LaBella brand flamenco "G" string, the faces that go against the guitar strings are covered with neoprene and the peg string is covered with vinyl tubing to protect the guitar neck.

The laminated capos are $30 a piece, plus shipping.

The vermillion capos are $20 a piece, plus shipping.

I will not be making anymore capos until June or July of 2017.

Please contact me at highcountrylutherie@gmail.com if you would like to buy a capo!

Thanks!




Categories: Luthiery

Update on new class

Heritage School of Woodworking Blog - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 3:50pm

I just wanted to let everyone know we had quite a number of people interested in the roubo workbench class. So I am trying to have the class planned and scheduled before the end of this month. Jonathan

The post Update on new class appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

New Shirts in Stock! “Craftsmanship is Risk”

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 11:38am

 

We just launched our new “Craftsmanship is Risk” t-shirts in the store. We are offering this design in 3 new colors. Check all the colors out here. As a thank you for your support, we are offering free shipping on these shirts for the first week. Also note that we have now discounted our previous “Artisan” shirt to $18. We don’t have every size in stock but if you want one of these, just know we will not be doing another run. All our designs are a one-time deal. They will only be in our store as long as we have them in stock.

FREE SHIPPING ON THE NEW SHIRT UNTIL 
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11th! 

It’s not news that the term “workmanship of risk” has made David Pye famous in woodworking circles. The term was coined by Pye in the mid 20th century to describe workmanship that depends on the skill of the maker rather than complex jigs which ensure “perfection”. This is seen mostly clearly in tools like hatchets, chisels, and even to some degree hand planes.

This concept has been passed around woodworking circles for years but what is less known is that Pye developed the term as a definition for the word “craftsmanship”. On page 20 of his Nature and Art of Workmanship, he writes,

“If I must ascribe meaning to the word craftsmanship, I shall say as a first approximation that it means simply workmanship using any kind of technique or apparatus, in which the quality of the result is not predetermined, but depends on the judgment, dexterity, and care which the maker exercises as he works. The essential idea is that the quality of the result is continually at risk during the process of making; and so I shall call this kind of workmanship ‘The Workmanship of Risk’: an uncouth phrase, but at least descriptive.”

We think seeing the essence of craft bound up with the “riskiness” of working with unregulated tools is a dead on. There is a lot of skillful workmanship in the world but the one that we at M&T particularly want to celebrate is the one called “craftsmanship”.

This shirt is for those who want to celebrate handcraft and so we wear it with pride to know we are part of a rich tradition of woodworking passed down from our ancestors. We hope you wear this shirt along with us on this journey to relearn how to work with our hands by the sweat of our brow.

Front Design: Roman woodworker and M&T logo

Back Design: "CRAFTSMANSHIP IS RISK."

100% Combed fine jersey cotton. Incredibly comfortable and soft vintage feel.

Printed in Alabama by fellow woodworking enthusiast Shannon Brantley (http://flannelandfloral.com and @nubthumb). We are really impressed with the quality and feel of these shirts and think you will be too.

ORDER YOURS HERE.

 

P.s. We've got an exciting announcement next week for you international folks...

 

Categories: Hand Tools

New Shirts in Stock! “Craftsmanship is Risk”

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 11:38am

 

We just launched our new “Craftsmanship is Risk” t-shirts in the store. We are offering this design in 3 new colors. Check all the colors out here. As a thank you for your support, we are offering free shipping on these shirts for the first week. Also note that we have now discounted our previous “Artisan” shirt to $18. We don’t have every size in stock but if you want one of these, just know we will not be doing another run. All our designs are a one-time deal. They will only be in our store as long as we have them in stock.

FREE SHIPPING ON THE NEW SHIRT UNTIL 
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11th! 

It’s not news that the term “workmanship of risk” has made David Pye famous in woodworking circles. The term was coined by Pye in the mid 20th century to describe workmanship that depends on the skill of the maker rather than complex jigs which ensure “perfection”. This is seen mostly clearly in tools like hatchets, chisels, and even to some degree hand planes.

This concept has been passed around woodworking circles for years but what is less known is that Pye developed the term as a definition for the word “craftsmanship”. On page 20 of his Nature and Art of Workmanship, he writes,

“If I must ascribe meaning to the word craftsmanship, I shall say as a first approximation that it means simply workmanship using any kind of technique or apparatus, in which the quality of the result is not predetermined, but depends on the judgment, dexterity, and care which the maker exercises as he works. The essential idea is that the quality of the result is continually at risk during the process of making; and so I shall call this kind of workmanship ‘The Workmanship of Risk’: an uncouth phrase, but at least descriptive.”

We think seeing the essence of craft bound up with the “riskiness” of working with unregulated tools is a dead on. There is a lot of skillful workmanship in the world but the one that we at M&T particularly want to celebrate is the one called “craftsmanship”.

This shirt is for those who want to celebrate handcraft and so we wear it with pride to know we are part of a rich tradition of woodworking passed down from our ancestors. We hope you wear this shirt along with us on this journey to relearn how to work with our hands by the sweat of our brow.

Front Design: Roman woodworker and M&T logo

Back Design: "CRAFTSMANSHIP IS RISK."

100% Combed fine jersey cotton. Incredibly comfortable and soft vintage feel.

Printed in Alabama by fellow woodworking enthusiast Shannon Brantley (http://flannelandfloral.com and @nubthumb). We are really impressed with the quality and feel of these shirts and think you will be too.

ORDER YOURS HERE.

 

P.s. We've got an exciting announcement next week for you international folks...

 

Categories: Hand Tools

All day sharpening seminar

Alaska Creative Woodworkers Association - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 10:55am
Sunday, February 12th.  9:00am – 4:00pm at Anchorage Well and Pump Bring any sharpening gear you have but don’t worry if you don’t, we have some to learn on. Class will be $25 and includes lunch. We will try to cover several types of sharpening from water and oil stones to power sharpening and grinding. Bring a stool to sit on if you would like and plan on leaving with a few very sharp plane irons and chisels. You must […]

Tractor Seats for a Shaving Horse

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 10:00am

Bill Anderson’s “Knock-down Shaving Horse” in the February 2017 issue has prompted some inquiries about antique tractor seats. Would that we had a stash of them to offer, but … So, my best recommendation is to check out flea markets and antique stores (particularly in more rural areas, and areas with a rich history of agriculture), and, of course eBay (at which there are many styles and price points available at the […]

The post Tractor Seats for a Shaving Horse appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Lead times, Crubber and dealers

Benchcrafted - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 8:55am
First lead times.  Many of you may notice that in the past we have posted individual lead times for most of our products, especially vise products.  A short while back we changed this to nearly immediate shipping on all products because our production times have improved.  Most orders now ship within a couple days (and many of them ship the same day).

We tend to get a fair share of complaints when things aren't shipped immediately (like when we are closed for short breaks, which is fairly rare for us).  We apologize for these sometime delays.  On the other hand we rarely get any kudos for prompt order fulfillment.......that's ok though, we're used to it ;-)  We think the vast majority of our customers would give us high marks for the speed with which we not only fill orders but the lengths we often go to with special requests and responding to emails.

Crubber.  The demand for Crubber has been high.  That said, vise orders take priority for this stuff so that's where it goes first.  You will note that the ala cart Crubber now has a lead time.  We don't produce Crubber, so we have to wait just like you do.  We encourage anyone who needs to place a mixed order to make their Crubber order separate to speed up your order fulfillment, unless you are willing to wait, we won't ship other items in an order until the Crubber is in stock.

New dealers.  We have two new dealers, one for vise products the other for Mag-Bloks.

Vises.  Though they have actually been a dealer for about 2 years! we haven't added them to our dealer list merely out of stupid neglect.  Harvey is our China dealer and we're happy too say the dealer for MANY of our peers in tool making (Lie-Nielsen, Veritas, Bridge City, just to name a few).








Australia.  No specifics yet but we may be close to establishing a dealership in Australia.  We ship an inordinate amount of vise products to AUS/NZ and it's time we had a dealer there for our customers sake.

Mag-Bloks dealer.  We're happy to add The Cook's Edge of Prince Edward Sound to our Canadian dealer list for Mag-Bloks.  Quite a few dealers up North now so seeing a Blok in person is getting easier all the time.

Categories: Hand Tools

Shop Update LIVE: 2 Kinds of Tusk Tenons

The Renaissance Woodworker - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 7:40am

Wedge or Tusk or Whatever You Call It

I got an email a while back asking about knockdown joinery and specifically tusk tenons and how to go about making them in 4/4 stock. Using 4/4 stock is no different but you do have to put some thought into how long and thick the tenons are so you have enough wood surrounding the tusk or wedge once the mortise is cut. In this live broadcast I cut 2 types of tusk tenons and compare the merits of each.

Did You Enjoy this Live Show?

I’ll be doing one of these Shop Updates Live each month and hope to answer more questions and do some demonstrations. No talking head stuff, actual woodworking. Sometimes I may do open Q&A others I may have a specific demonstration like this time. Regardless I hope you will join me.

Now if I can just figure out why the live audio sucks so bad!!! AAAAAHHHHRRRGGG Tech Gremlins!!

vertical tusk tenon
horizontal tusk tenon

Categories: Hand Tools

Product Video: David Barron Dovetail Guide

Highland Woodworking - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 7:00am

davidbarronIf you are struggling to get a good fit on your dovetails with a handsaw, the Barron Magnetic Dovetail Saw Guide can help. Use the guide as an assist if you are just starting in your dovetailing, or keep it in your toolbox for foolproof angle cutting even when you have your technique down.

In the video below, Mike Morton takes a closer look at the Barron Guide, demonstrating how it works and showing us the best way to use it to cut pins and tails on your next set of dovetails. If you have been frustrated in your attempts to cut close-fitting dovetails, try the Barron Magnetic Dovetail Saw Guide, available at Highland Woodworking.

The post Product Video: David Barron Dovetail Guide appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

The Making of ‘Handplane Essentials, Revised Edition’

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 5:41am
handplane essentials

When Scott Francis at Popular Woodworking Books asked me to revise my 2009 book “Handplane Essentials,” I thought it would be a short job. The plan was to add a handful of articles I’d written on specialty planes and update the text to accurately reflect toolmakers who had entered or left the market since the book was first published. I started revising the book in May of 2016. And the […]

The post The Making of ‘Handplane Essentials, Revised Edition’ appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Final Finish a Dresser Coated

Paul Sellers - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 5:39am

This week I finally applied the closing coats of finish to my three-drawer chest. It’s quite a long process taking it from the early design stage through prototyping. It’s important that the final piece fits the plan and on a larger project like this one, one with many hidden complexities, that all the bugs are worked through. …

Read the full post Final Finish a Dresser Coated on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Vegans and woodworking.

Mulesaw - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 5:10am
My daughter has been a vegetarian for some time, to see what it is like. She is not fanatical in any way at all, so she eat meat when she is home, but at her boarding school they have a special vegetarians menu that she likes.

During the finishing of the travelling bookcases, she watched me apply some shellac. 

I have a hard time understanding vegans, but that might just be because I am not smart enough.
Laura knows more about that way of life than I do, so we ended up talking about that while I proceeded with the shellac.

Apparently vegans shouldn't eat or use anything that is made by an animal unless it is not supposed to be used by the animal itself.
I only thought that they weren't supposed to eat stuff, but Laura said that it was harder than that. 
So it made me wonder if vegans can use shellac as a finish at all?

If the beetle produce the shellac for a purpose, it means that they can't use that finish.
If the shellac in the other hand is a waste product that the beetle doesn't use for anything, it should be OK.

I guess bees wax as a finish is also ruled out if you are a vegan.

Technically it doesn't mean a lot to me, since I am not a vegan, but I found the subject a bit interesting.
A bit akin to imposing a 100% hand tool use on yourself, or Only to use domestic woods etc.

So does anyone know a vegan woodworker and perhaps through this know if they can use shellac and bees wax?




Categories: Hand Tools

Tapping Out a Japanese Plane Blade with Andrew Hunter

Giant Cypress - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 3:18am
Tapping Out a Japanese Plane Blade with Andrew Hunter:

Really nice video from Andrew Hunter and Ben Strano showing how to tap out a Japanese plane blade.

Here’s my take on this task. And here’s a video I made, albeit with far lower production standards.

Andrew’s giving some talks on Japanese tools at Fine Woodworking Live in April. He gives a great talk, and is a great guy. Go see him if you can.

Dovetail Markers Finished

David Barron Furniture - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 1:15am

In-between other jobs, I've managed to finish off a batch of dovetail markers. I enjoy this close miniature work but it takes a lot of concentration and care to get clean dovetails. Each leg is just 45 mm (1 3/4") but they are just the right size for the job.


These are a one off and I'll be bringing them to Handworks in May.


Categories: Hand Tools

got a new molding plane.......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 12:16am
Before I got to playing with the new plane, I did the finishing steps on Box #1. Without a finish, it is done. If I decide to put a finish on it, it isn't done. I'm staying in the without a finish camp for now. I have one more molding plane coming too but I'm not sure. I missed getting one and Josh emailed me saying he got another of the same but it's better. I told him to send it to me but I haven't gotten the confirmation email yet.

shaved the glue blocks
This flushing of the glue blocks is something I thought of today off and on. I planned on using a small block plane. The problem with that was trying to just shave the blocks flush and not plane anything off the bottom of the sides. If I came in at an angle and used the corner of the iron that would work. The visibility of where the iron was in relation to the glue block would be difficult to see.

I did the same plan with the chisel I had in mind for the block plane. I used the corner of the chisel in a sweeping motion starting on the bottom edge going into the glue block. I flushed them and took nothing off of the bottom of the sides. And it was quick and easy to do.

tap tap tap - even tighter than yesterday
knocked the corners off
I'll leave these as they are for now. I almost rounded them off after I sawed them and there is a high probability that may still happen.

glamour shot #1
last glamour shot
Examples of boxes made exactly like this had been found in a 2000 year old Roman shipwreck.  It's a very good design that hasn't changed for an awfully long time.

still brand new and unused
I bought these at the last Amana hand tool event in 2015. I have watched Don Williams finishing DVD 3 times where he extols a plain wax finish. I'm still not sure about it and how it would compete with shellac. I may find out if the finish itch needs to get scratched.

buying molding planes can be addictive
This is a 5/8" torus bead plane that Joshua at Hyperkitten said was an unusual small size. Small size is what made me buy the plane. I don't know what I'll use it for but I'll be adding it to the herd.

I had to try it out
I flattened and squared two faces on this piece of scrap for the test run. The grain is going right to left and I'm ready to make a torus bead.

both hands on the plane like this
The right hand is on the heel the same way the left hand is on the toe. You start at the far left end and progressively move backwards to the right.

this is what you end up with
Looks pretty close to what a astragal looks like except the left side wall is 'pointy' where an astragal leaves a groove.

looking down it from the end
Out of the box I got a clean profile end to end. This is douglas fir too which can be a royal PITA to mold edges cleanly on.

boxing was loose
I was able to pull both of these out with no coaxing at all. I scrapped off the old hide glue (I'm assuming it's hide glue based on the age of the plane) with a sheet rock knife.

lightly scraped the bottom of the boxwood grooves with a 1/8" chisel
gluing them back in with hide glue
boxing glued in
Killed a few minutes lightly sanding the iron's few rust spots to get a better look see at the business end. The more I use these planes, then more I feel like there isn't any need to go 21st century nutso sharpening these. On the other hand, I think the frequent readers of this dribble know that I do like shiny. And it doesn't necessarily have to be brass.

I'll leave the plane in the vise until it sets up tomorrow. I'll probably sharpen and hone the iron then too. Considering the age of this plane it is in pretty good shape. It will definitely be a good user.

box #2 tails
I chopped the tails on box #2 which puts me one step closer to having it done. This will be the inside of the box and it hasn't been touched with a plane or sandpaper.  These are the reference faces.

inside edges
The two reference faces lay up against each flat and straight, end to end.

the outside faces
These have been planed and I eyeballed everything doing it. I didn't use winding sticks to check for twist nor a straight edge to check for a hump or hollow. I am doing this box the same way I did box #1. The insides faces are just about 100%  perfect and the outside ones I can plane to make them look pretty.

two outsides faces laid up against each other
As you can see these faces don't look the same as the two inside ones did. It doesn't make any difference as long as I pay attention to my reference face and edge.

the box as it will go together
Making sure when I transfer the tails to the pin board that I keep the numbers aligned and the reference faces together is what matters. I will also scribe my baselines matching each corner so I won't have proud or shallow tails and pins. With this setup you can't gang cut the pins and tails because each corner is slightly different.

I'm 180 out
When I laid out my box and numbered my corners I did them wrong. I always make the bottom edge my reference. But this time I wasn't paying attention and the outside face was on the inside and the inside face on the outside. In order to straighten out that mistake (noticed it after I had sawn the tails), I had to put the reference edge as my top. It's not a deal breaker and I should end up with the same box as #1. But smaller.

 accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who was the first 7 foot tall professional basketball player?
answer - Ralph (Sky) Siewert

A Walk in the Woods in January

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 02/02/2017 - 8:47pm

In case you haven’t looked out your windows for a while, it’s the middle of winter. (Californians and South Floridians are exempted from noticing.) Everything is gray, the trees have no leaves, and no one in their right mind would go out into the woods to identify trees this time of year, right?

So what are we waiting for? Let’s go! I live in Athens County in southeastern Ohio, in the Appalachian foothills, so we’ll begin by taking a look at some of the trees in my yard.

First, I have to admit that I lied about the trees having no leaves. A few kinds of trees do hang onto their leaves until very late in the winter, which makes them easy to pick out. I managed to get three species into one photo:

leaves

In late fall and winter, the leaves of red oak (Quercus rubra) are a rich brown. White oak (Q. alba) has leaves that are paler and grayer. American beech (Fagus grandifolia) has very pale, almost yellow leaves, and as you walk through the forest in winter, the sapling beech trees are obvious.

The overall shape of a tree can be useful in identification, but it can also be misleading. A tree growing in isolation (in the middle of a pasture, say) has a characteristic shape that varies quite a bit from one species to another. Forest trees, on the other hand, are much more similar in shape. For that reason, features of the bark and morphological details (e.g., branching pattern) are much more useful in the forest.

Red oaks are some of the most common trees in my yard, and they invariably have a bark pattern that is both unique and easy to spot:

redoak

The bark consists of a smooth(ish) medium gray (sometimes slightly brownish) ground interrupted by ragged vertical grooves that are considerably darker. On larger individuals, the bark near ground level may be much rougher than this, but you can always find this pattern if you look at the upper limbs.

The bark of white oaks is very different, a very pale gray (hence the name), flaking off in scales:

whiteoak1

That particular tree has relatively small scales; here’s another (about the same diameter) whose scales are much larger:

whiteoak2

Both red and white oaks are generalists, found in a variety of habitats. There are many other species of oak in Ohio, but most of them have specific habitat requirements. One of these specialists is the chestnut oak (Q. montana):

chestnutoak

Chestnut oaks are found only near ridge tops, most often on the south-facing slope (which happens to be exactly where I live). The bark of the chestnut oak is dark and deeply furrowed. If you picture a cross section of the tree, the profile of the bark ridges would look something like the teeth of a gear.

Another very common tree in the yard is the red maple (Acer rubrum):

redmaple

Red maples have a split personality; the bark of young trees is pale gray and very smooth (much like American beech, which I don’t have a photo of here). As the tree grows, the bark starts to split and darken, becoming much craggier. In a large tree, there is no trace of the smooth gray on the bark near the ground, but you can still find it if you look up. The bark of the silver maple (A. saccarhinum) is similar, but silver maples are restricted primarily to bottomland, where the soil contains more moisture. (Red maples, like the two oaks above, are generalists.)

Sugar maple (A. saccharum) has a medium gray bark that flakes off to expose an orangeish background:

sugarmaple

The appearance of the bark is intermediate in all respects, so other than the orange background (which you sometimes see on white oaks, too) there really isn’t any one thing that tells you it’s a sugar maple. It’s kind of a process of elimination.

By the way, late January/early February is the time of year in this part of the country to tap sugar maples for making syrup and sugar. The best sap flow occurs when temperatures cycle above freezing during the day and back down below freezing at night. The prime tapping season is progressively later as you move north, as late as April in southern Canada.

There are two species of ash common in this area, white ash (Fraxinus americana), and green ash (F. pennsylvanica). (To confuse matters, green ash is also known as red ash.) White and green ash have very similar bark, fairly pale overall and consisting of narrow vertical ridges that often cross over each other, forming “X” patterns:

ashsp

I believe that this example is a green ash, but I can’t be sure without getting a close look at the leaves, and unfortunately the lowest leaves on this tree are about 50 ft. above the ground.

As you may be aware, most of the North American ash species are seriously threatened by the introduced emerald ash borer. It is expected that over 99% of green ash trees will die over the next several years. White ash fares slightly better, but populations of both species (along with black ash, a more northerly species) are being devastated. A small number of individual trees appear to be resistant to the borer, so there is some hope that they will eventually be able to recover.

One of the most important forest trees in this area (Liriodendron tulipfera) goes by many names. The name preferred by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is “tuliptree,” but woodworkers know it as “yellow poplar,” “tulip poplar,” or even just “poplar” (which is especially misleading, as it is unrelated to true poplars):

tuliptree

The bark of tuliptree is much like that of ash, with narrow vertical ridges, but is overall quite a bit darker, sometimes appearing almost black. This particular individual has a lot of the same sort of “X” pattern that ashes do, but not all tuliptrees show this. Tuliptree is one species where the overall shape of the tree is useful in identification, even in the forest: tuliptrees are arrow-straight (usually the straightest, most vertical trees in the forest), and the branches are restricted to the very top of the tree.

Here’s another tuliptree, with a big problem:

tuliptreedead

During the summer of 2015, we had a spell of very hot, dry weather. Many of the tuliptrees in this area and neighboring West Virginia were weakened and eventually killed by the drought. Some of these dead trees are now exhibiting this odd pattern of flaking bark.

Not every tree loses its leaves in the winter, of course. American holly (Ilex opaca) is primarily a tree of the southeastern forests, but there are a few scattered small hollies in my yard, such as this one, which is about 8 ft. tall:

amholly

I haven’t been able to figure out whether these individuals are native, at the very northern limit of their range, or escaped from cultivation. There is no record for Athens County for the species in the USDA PLANTS database, but there are records from some of the surrounding counties.

Incidentally, a good place to see much larger (and definitely native) American holly is along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Maryland.

The leaves of American holly make it easy to identify:

amhollyfoliage

The leaves are a dark, shiny green, about two inches long and with very sharp spines along the margins.

Another bit of green in the yard comes from a scattering of eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana):

eredcedar

Redcedars are normally more conically shaped than this, but this is what happens when your yard is overrun by deer. As the scientific name suggests, redcedar is not actually a cedar, but a kind of juniper. The wood that is sold as “aromatic cedar” comes from this species.

Interestingly, redcedars have two kinds of foliage. On the upper part of the tree, the foliage has a typical juniper-like appearance:

eredcedarfoliage1

But seedlings and the lower portion of trees that have been ravaged by deer have a much different foliage:

eredcedarfoliage2

This juvenile foliage is quite prickly, and is an apparent attempt by the tree to dissuade browsers. It seems to work for the seedlings, which don’t get munched too badly, but it obviously doesn’t for the larger trees.

In addition to the large trees that make up the forest canopy, there are smaller trees that form the understory. One of the more common understory trees in the yard is flowering dogwood (Cornus florida):

dogwood

The trees are small, usually less than 6″ in diameter, and the bark is broken up into numerous small roundish plates. But the easiest way to identify a dogwood in winter is the flower buds, which are usually plentiful and have a characteristic turban-like shape:

dogwoodbuds

That’s it for now. I hope this inspires you to take a walk in your own woods. (Did I mention that there’s going to be a test later?) If you do, a couple of cautions:

  • Remember that poison ivy (poison oak in the west) is plentiful in the forest, especially around openings, and like the trees, sheds its leaves. Be careful what you touch.
  • Before walking in the forest, check with your state wildlife agency to determine the deer season dates for your area, and be sure to wear appropriate orange clothing if there is any chance of being in the same forest at the same time as a hunter.

–Steve Schafer


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

chipping away at things

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Thu, 02/02/2017 - 6:21pm

 

Got a smattering of snow the other day.,..this was the view from my desk yesterday morning.

desk-window

I write blog posts around photographs, so when there’s no photos, there’s no blog. I’ve been splitting my time many different ways lately, some work (slowly) on the shop; installing cement board to shield the walls from the wood stove. Hardly worth a photo….pretty uninspiring.

One thing I have done lately is collecting some cherry crooks for spoon carving. A friend cut down a large cherry tree, and I swooped in for the upper branches. Lots of crooks there, some burls too. Those are mostly new for me, I turned a burl bowl once…but I’m going to try carving these.

crooks-hiding-in-the-snow

burl

I started two new versions of a spoon with a hook under its handle (a crook with a hook) – I dug out this one I never finished, it’s apple.

apple-hook

bark-in-bowl

A very exaggerated form here, but I was very happy with the profile. The hooks are usually/always a lot smaller than this…but I really liked the curves here. This one got abandoned because of a void in the bowl. You can see a crack with trapped bark and grit there. It’s quite deep, no way to salvage this one. So it stands as a sample…

I have two in cherry underway, (one very large one, one more sane-sized) but neither have the sinuous curve this one has. Where’s those other big crooks?

three-hooks

next-crook

In the mail a couple of weeks ago arrived two spoons – I was very pleased with the overall forms and carving, but the finial on the lighter (dogwood) spoon knocked me out…Micah Green is the carver, see his stuff on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/whittlerjoel/

two-spoons


mouse

 

This weekend I’m back in Connecticut to teach the continuing joined chest class…

better-chest-view

This time, drawers and lids. So next week, I should have a finished chest finally….it will ultimately go in the exhibition at Fuller Craft Museum – featuring the artisans from Plymouth Craft. This show will be up into June during Greenwood Fest… http://fullercraft.org/event/living-traditions-the-handwork-of-plymouth-craft/  There will be lots more about this exhibition as it comes together. One feature during the exhibition and the festival will be Jogge Sundqvist’s Rhythym & Slojd presentation. More details to come…

UPDATE – I forgot to tell you, Maureen has put some of her knitting & felted stuff on sale. Apparently spring will come at some point, so time to move some winter stuff along. Here’s the link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

Sale Hand knit hand dyed scarf, blue and periwinkle lace waves scarf, merino wool hand dyed yarn, woman's scarf, long

 


Axe Maintenance: Touching up an Edge

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Thu, 02/02/2017 - 2:39pm

 

Regular readers know my work philosophy is pretty laid back. I don’t sweat tear out on secondary surfaces, I think knots are fine for drawer parts and back boards, etc…

That’s why when it comes to axe edge maintenance, some might be surprised at how fastidious I am about keeping it tip top. Some folks don’t feel a need to keep up on their coarser tools but I don’t buy that distinction. When your coarse prep relies on human muscle rather than machines, a keen edge is your best friend. I’ve wasted too much time straining myself working with dull tools. Saving two minutes of sharpening only to grunt through 20 minutes of miserable work is dumb. It’s simply not worth ignoring your edges.

When I take out my axe, it’s because I need to remove a lot of wood. So if my edge isn’t awesome you bet I’m going to take the time to tune it up. If I’m in the shop I’ll use my water stones but if I’m outside or working in the barn at my house, I turn to my EZE-LAP diamond paddles. I picked these up based on the recommendation of my good friend, Tim Manney. I’m glad I did. The two grits: fine and super fine are all I need to get back to work in no time.

Axe sharpening eze-lap diamond stone

I never sharpen my axes holding them in midair. I hone the edges in one of two ways... The first way is by setting the axe head on edge on a stable surface like a bench. With the axe still, I can polish the very edge with both grits without things moving around on me.

Axe sharpening eze-lap diamond stone

The other (and better) way I do this is by hanging the bevel off the edge of a low bench. This provides the most rigidity. It’s as secure as honing on my stationary water stones.

Having either the tool or the sharpening medium stationary is the key to success for me. Most of my failures in sharpening have been when I’m hotdogging it in midair.

Axe sharpening eze-lap diamond stone

Besides picking up a pair of these EZE-LAP paddles, the best advice I can give you based on my failures is to make sure things are stationary. Not only is it more secure, but there is a whole lot less to think about.

 

Categories: Hand Tools

Pages

Subscribe to Norse Woodsmith aggregator