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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway! Enjoy!
Thank you to everyone who contributed towards Walt Quadrato's battle against cancer! Their fundraising goal was met. Our prayers are with you, Walt!
In a shameful attempt to get published in Popular Woodworking Magazine, I’ve begun my own fictional woodworking tale. I’ve just finished a few paragraphs; so this is what I have thus far…
When I recently returned from a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon I noticed my cat ‘Puck’ lying atop the Othello board in my dining room. My cat greeted me knavishly, and as I reached to pet the barmy beast I pricked my thumb upon the buggered board. Old Puck had mischievously scratched the table, and by the pricking of my thumb I knew that it needed to be replaced.
My penchant for woodworking and cats lead me to devise a contraption that couldst both function as an Othello table and a place for kitty litter.
Every time I teach at Roy Underhill’s “The Woodwright’s School,” he gives me a rash of crap for two things: my waterstones and my plastic, pressurized plant sprayer that I use to moisten my stones.
He now begrudgingly ignores my waterstones, perhaps after I offered data that many early sharpening stones in the Western tradition were also lubricated with water. But the plastic plant sprayer just won’t cut it in the 1930s-era environment that Roy cultivates in his school.
And so this week I bought an old(ish) brass plant mister so that I can avoid the conversation about plastic this year. The mister isn’t particularly old, but it was cheap and works just fine. You can dispense water by tipping the mister forward (like a watering can) or press the top plunger to get some mist from the nozzle.
I’m mentioning this because I am indeed teaching a class in 2015 at The Woodwright’s School. Roy released the 2015 schedule last week and my name wasn’t on it. I got a few messages along the lines of: Did Roy catch you sleeping with his dog?
The answer is no, he did not catch me.
We haven’t set a date for the class yet because Roy is trying to coordinate it with shooting a couple of episodes of “The Woodwright’s Shop.” When we do settle on a date, I’ll announce it here. At this point, I think the class is going to be on how to make the collapsible bookshelves from “Campaign Furniture.” A fun project.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. The headline of this blog entry is in tribute to Megan Fitzpatrick (who also is supposed to be teaching at Roy’s in 2015). A reader complained to Megan’s boss that I was a “bad influence” on her. If you know Megan, you know how funny that is.
Filed under: Woodworking Classes
I talk dovetails with a lot of woodworkers. When I teach this subject, I notice that almost everyone makes the same common mistake. In the shop this week, I made the same mistake. As a result, I thought I’d write a “what to look for when your dovetails don’t fit as you planned” blog post. If you have this show up when you’re dovetailing, you’ll know what to check.
Far and away, I think the no. 1 problem in half-blind dovetails is the small gap where the tails fit into the sockets. In the pair of photos above, you see exactly what I mean. There’s a small gap at the top and that gap also shows at the front where the tails meet the socket. We know that this is not a layout problem because when the pins are transferred to the tail board, the drawer front (pin board) sits on or at the scribed line of the tail board. Also, if layout were wrong, the gap should be even along the entire front. Why, then, is there a gap?
In the left hand photo, you see where the problem is found – in the socket that the gap appears. The problem is the floor of the gap, as it’s seen laying on the bench, is not level from front to back. The floor actually slopes upward. What happens then is that you start the tails into the sockets and the fit is great, but as you drive the tail board farther in, the slope takes over and the board begins to push out away from the front of the socket. That also produces the small gap at the top.
If you’re sockets both had floors that were not level, then the entire tail board would be pushed back. Because the lower socket correctly fits, you know the problem is in the one socket.
The fix to bring this socket into shape is to pair away a bit of the floor so it slopes level to downward – I aim for downward, which is easier to hit than dead-level when working. Plus, it’s OK to have a downward-sloping socket because the glue surface at that point is end grain (tail board) to flat grain (pin board). While there is a small amount of strength at that spot, it’s not where the dovetail gains its best holding power.
Of course, it’s better to make sure you have the floors sloping prior to putting together the joint. The easiest way to do that is to hold the workpiece up to your eyes and level the piece looking down the board’s upper face. When that surface is level, check the floor for the proper slope. The reason you want to make sure of your floor prior to assembling the joint is that when the joint goes together with an ill-fitting socket, the tails board and socket are slightly misshapen as the two halves are driven tight. After that, the dovetail joint will never look as good (see below) as it would when the fit is perfect.
Build Something Great!
To keep this sale civil and smooth, please, please, please read this with care before sending me a note about buying any tools.
If you subscribe to our blog via e-mail, click through to the page to see if the tool you want has been sold. As soon as the tool is sold, I will mark it as such here on the blog.
All prices include domestic shipping. I apologize for this, but I don’t have time now to wait in the line at USPS for 30 minutes per order to ship international packages. If you have a U.S. address, we’re golden.
Ask me all the questions you like about an item. But the first one to say “I’ll take it” gets it. After I receive your your payment, I will ship the tool to you. If I don’t get your payment within two weeks, the piece goes back up for sale.
To buy an item, send an e-mail to email@example.com and in the subject line please put the name of the item you want. If you say “I’ll take it,” and I don’t know what item you want, confusion ensues.
Whew. I hate rules. But here we go.
All the tools sold.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Like many woodworkers it is exceedingly rare to walk into another’s shop. The chance to try tools is not one to pass up. While I was a The Bad Axe Tool Works Sharpening School the chance to try out different tools was too good to pass up. Some were new, but many had been around the block several times.
One of my favorite tools was this saw vise. It is exceptionally well made, clamps with an iron fist and is very attractive. I know, we pay little attention to how our tools look, but really take a second peak.
It was only after I had used the vise multiple times that I realized it was made by Texas Heritage Woodworks. Not sure if this is for sale or a proto-type, but it was very impressive. Contrary to my extroverted style, I went to the web site and told the owner Jason Thigpen what a great product it was. Which prompted a very quick response thanking me. While on the site I noticed some aprons and tool rolls and other products. They all looked great!
If you haven’t look around lately, there are many small businesses that are supporting our craft. These businesses often consist of one or two people following their dream. I try to support them when possible and at the very least let others know who’s out there….
|My petunias are beginning to bloom - December is a lovely month!|
I am aware that I have been neglecting my blog. That is partly because I am in the process of doing a whole lot of things, tending to my petunias for one.
My woodworking has been largely restricted to milling wood.
|Some Teak pieces planed painstakingly. I have to mill about a dozen such pieces.|
I have piles and piles of planks to go through and can manage one a day. I have been ripping, sizing and planing material for several projects that are in the making. I have also made mortise and tenons, cut dovetails and have practised how to saw straight.
|The space under my workbench is rapidly filling up with semi finished parts of ongoing projects.|
There is nothing much to write about planing wood and sawing. Hence the lack of posts.
I have also been visiting exhibitions and stores to learn about alternative materials like aluminium, steel, man-made boards, aluminium composite panels and so on. I need to do some DIY work around the house and wood is not always the best material to use.
In the meanwhile, I am learning a whole lot about wood, including the difference between and within species, how to handle difficult grain and how to select pieces for different projects.
|By working with different wood species, I am only beginning to appreciate the complex character of wood.|
Much of what I have picked up is subtle and difficult to describe. It is mainly about getting to know the feel of wood and developing an understanding of the variable nature of this wonderful resource.
There is so little time. December will end soon and so will the year. Winter will soon be gone. I must hurry.
14 December 2014
They saved quite a bit on wood. The also saved on the typical Dutch moulding plane decorations and wide chamfers. The iron isn't tapered anymore and the mouth is wide, wide open.
But still, it's a piece of beech with an iron, so it should be possible to make it work. The round wasn't too bad. I could restore it in the usual manner. The hollow was another story. The shape of the sole didn't even look like a hollow, more like a v-groove. The points of the hollow need to be quite sharp, but they weren't in this plane. And the sole was far from flat.
After planing the sole with the round, the sole became way too wide. I had to chamfer the side to make it a nice shape again.
But then, all the work wasn't for nothing. Even these very humble decendents of the moulding plane manage to create nice shapes. Here's an ogee made with these two planes. Doesn't look too bad for a beginner with some budget planes, doesn't it?
I decided to build a nail cabinet. The Schwarz got to me again. I had the pine I needed laying around the shop and I've been trying to do things that will use up some of my excess stock and unburden my garage shop a bit. Besides the new shop deserved a nice place to store nails, screws, and other errata.
Typically I'm not much of a "measured drawing and cut list" kind of guy. I try and follow where the piece takes me and this time would be no real exception, though I do have the look and over all dimensions within reason of the original. I started with some nice wide white pine stock and milled and flattened the base carcass to dimensions.
One of the things I wasn't anticipating was the over all size of this cabinet once it existed in space. It looks a little diminutive in the photos, hanging over Roy's and Chris's benches. Reading dimensions on paper and seeing dimensions sitting on your bench top are two different things.
Over this last summer I had the chance to kick in a few bucks for a Kickstarter campaign to support a woodworking school called Worth The Effort down in Austin Texas. Shawn Graham is a great guy to interact with on social media and I was happy to do my part, with or without a reward.
But one of the reward offerings was a dovetail marker made by the school. Now I've never used a dedicated dovetail marker before. I've always used a sliding bevel gauge if it mattered and just cut the slope by eye when it didn't, but I thought it'd be nice to try. (who knows it might lead to my purchase of one from Sterling Tool Works, those are very nice)
I have found the gauge useful for someone who cuts a lot of dovetails, and I am someone who cuts a lot of dovetails. I always thought owning one would be one more thing to knock around in the tool chest and not use, (more on that soon) but I've revised that thinking. The only complaint I have is the angle of the tails on this gauge is a a little standard and milk toast to my eyes. I guess I like my dovetail slopes extra slopey.
One other thing I've noticed in my photos lately is my hand position has changed when I'm sawing. I start in a finger out, proper technique hold, but once the kerf is set my hand shifts to this relaxed pose that puts more meat behind the handle.
I'm not sure if it's laziness moving towards sloppy technique or just a modified hold that's developed organically. It doesn't seem to be detrimental to the outcome so I should probably stop over-analyzing it.
Friday night I milled the sides, cut the dovetails and some rebates in the back and glued up the carcass. Saturday morning I trued the face to itself, removed the dried glue squeeze out, and planed the dovetails and trued the case a bit.
Scraping up dried squeeze out on the outside of the carcass is easy. It's those inner corners that drive me bonkers. I used to pare at them with a bench chisel (and still do sometimes) but on deep pieces I would end up bumping and scraping my knuckles (and that gets old fast) or ding up the front of the carcass with the chisel's socket or ferrule.
So I started using my slick. I know it's not a true slick with a four inch wide blade. Mine is around two inches wide with a socket that's offset to allow it to pare flat. I got a pair of these in an old tool chest given to me by my Father In Law and they work well.
I turned a couple long handles for them, They are each right about two foot long and that long handle gives an incredibly subtle amount of control. I flatten tenons with them and use them like you see above. I think the bevel of the cut is still a little obtuse yet but it's a lot of steel to remove to refine it quickly so I'm fixing it incrementally, sharpening by sharpening, and when I creep up on dialed in, I'll know it.
With the carcass done I took off out the the garage shop to break down and resaw some more pine for the next stages. I didn't bother take any photos because "yay, I can use a table saw!" (snore).
I made myself some 1/2" thick boards for the back and some 3/8" thick for the egg carton joined insert that holds all the drawers. I never think of egg crate joinery as being that sturdy or strong of a construct, but when you make the joints tight and the material is 3/8" thick solid wood, it feels a lot different. the only thing you have to be careful of is not breaking off one of the "tabs" along a grain line.
I pared down all the dividers to fit in the carcass and gang clamped them together to cut the slots with a brace and auger drill to establish the stop and a big backsaw to cut the walls. It wasn't until I was laying out the slots I realized my error.
I had only resawn five horizontal boards and by the measured drawing and the cut list, I should have sawn six. Dammit. I should probably start to use cut lists more so I have more practice.
I was not going out and repeating a lot of set up for one board, my cabinet would just have to have three less drawers. But how does one figure out the spacing once we've abandoned the measured drawing. We're off the map and headed towards the edge of the world.
Never fear, I made sectors.
They're a fantastic little shop tool that solves all kinds of problems for me, Two sticks, a hinge, and a dividers and you can change your world. Make a pair and play with them. I use mine all the time.
The sectors helped me divide the space into six equal parts. I also widened the central drawer by an inch to make it easier for my hand to dig out the hardware goodies I store inside.
The moment of truth was sliding the crosshatched construct into the carcass. Everything was reasonably tight and yet, with the judicious persuasion of a mallet, everything slid into place.
The dividers are toe nailed together in their crosshatching and the shelves are all nailed to the carcass wall from the outside. In the article Chris has a nice little jig to help translate the location of the shelves to the outside of the carcass. BUT there was no measured drawing or cut list for the jig so I had to figure out my own way of doing it.
I used a wooden clamp to transfer the mark. There's a little play in the clamp but once you tighten it up it snaps back into line and if I positioned the bottom jaw along the shelf, the top jaw provided reasonable guide for a pencil line. I used it all the way around, two nails in each place the divider touched the side of the carcass. didn't miss once.
I also ran some 2" wide boards for the battens around the carcass. It feels weird and kind of liberating to cover up your hard earned dovetail joints. No joints to this work, cut to length, glue and cut nails. But my guess at how much 2" wide stock I'd need came up short too, by one board.
That's it. I'm done for the night. We will simply have to reconvene on the cut list on the morrow.
Ratione et Passionis
P.S. There is no font option that can convey sarcasm. I find this to be a tragedy and I think we should stop all attempts at manned space flight and instead get our nations best and brightest minds settled down to solve this problem first.
P.S.S. What if Comic Sans was the font meant to stand for sarcasm and no one understands that. What can we do to raise awareness people.
P.S.S.S. If you cannot infer for yourself what above text in sarcasm, what is sincere, and what is pure insolence, I cannot help you.
Earlier today we received the first and only shipment of our new publication "The Book of Plates, Connoisseur Edition." It was delivered in a Bugatti Veyron, Sang Noir Edition by the mayor of Shueyville, IA.
What is this book you might ask? Well, it's a reprint of Roubo's original work, "l'Art du Menuisier". We went back in time to Paris, to when I was 3 years old in Iowa, and asked Leonce Laget in Paris to give a copy to his son Jacques in Paris, and then sign it and ship it to us, from Paris, in Iowa in 2011. That all really happened, well, except for the time travel part. I do have a flux capacitor though. And it lets me sweat copper joints like there's no tomorrow (literally.)
So why would you buy our version the Book of Plates instead of the one by the Lost Art Press? A few good reasons.
1. Our's comes with words. French ones. The Lost Art Press version is pictures only. That's fine if you is illiterate. Or have the patience of a 16-year old. Or you like to use Twitter.
2. Our's is almost a foot thick. The Lost Art Press version is only 1-3/4" thick. Schwarz calls this "a sizable chunk." I'd like to see Schwarz tell that to Jack Palance.
3. You have to store our's flat. Our's is so huge you can't stand it up on edge, like the puny LAP version. That one stands at attention, like a skinny soldier waiting for orders. Our's loafs around on its own dedicated bookshelf and gives orders.
4. Ours smells musty. Like something old, but good, and vintage too (but definitely not hipster, oh no) The Schwarz version smells like pansy-banana soy ink.
5. Our's is actually printed on a press. The Lost Art Press version was made with a Mac Book Air, tethered to an Apple Newton, on top a coffee table in a (flat screen tv-less!) living room, while Schwarz sipped warm Schlitz through a straw from a red Solo cup.
6. Our's costs ten times as much as the LAP version. Sure, you could have ten copies of Schwarz's version, but that's because it's 1/10 of what our version is. Our is ten times better, literally. Yeah, its pretty much the same, but still, its ten times (10x) better. It just is.
7. Our comes with a dust jacket. LAP doesn't even give you a wooden box. Neither do we, but our's does have a dust jacket, with Plate 11 on it. Three times.
8. Our's is in French. That's awesome-ique. The LAP version isn't even in English, because it's so lame IT DOESN'T EVEN HAVE WORDS (see #1)
9. Our's actually does come in a wooden box. (see picture above) We built a special marquetry cabinet embellished with Roubo's engravings just for this book. LAP gives you cardboard. I've never seen good marquetry done on cardboard before.
Satisfied? Contact me if you'd like to buy the one and only Benchcrafted Book Of Plates.
Seriously, this is still available. For more (totally honest) info on our copy of "l'Art du Menuisier" see here.
Also, needless to say, everything about LAP's Book of Plates (which is incredible) was offered tongue-in-cheek. I personally buy everything LAP produces. Well, except for the hoodie. I quit wearing those when I hung up my parachute pants for the last time. But the books are good! The best!
I had this grand plan to do the full write up on the clock, and then use this news as the punchline. But the truth of the matter is that I've been very much aware of all of the writing and woodworking that I haven't been doing for the past few months, and I felt the need to say something. At the end of the day, the clock wasn't the greatest business decision. It was a lot of work. It was both challenging, and rewarding. And I'm proud of the end product. But it won't be going into production. That's as much of the story as I'm going to publish. Shutting down was heart-breaking, and a relief.
Since mid-September, I've been at home, taking care of my son. He's almost 2. He's awesome. I've sold most of the big tools. A few will be in storage for a while. I have my small bench in the basement right now, with my North Bennet Street tool chest underneath it. And I have my Festool stuff down there, taunting me. I still love wood-work with a passion. My perfectionist streak dictates that I will still reserve my love for only the very best. But I'll have to find smaller-scale projects to build and blog about, that still stimulate me, and still satisfy my perfectionist urges. I'm excited to see how tht unfolds.
In the mean-time, the toddler does his work well, and I'm pretty wiped out when he finally goes down. So the write-ups on the clock remain slow in coming. I have a couple of other projects that got done in the waning days of my business, so there's plenty to write about while I marshal my energy to be creative again, and while I get my available space organized.
My heartfelt thanks go out to all who have been reading, responding, and offering support or feedback of every kind.
I made the last (I hope) part for the Chevy — just a knob for the saw frame. The main purpose of the knob is to provide a place to press your chest against when putting a blade in the saw. The process is to clamp one side of the blade, then slightly flex the saw frame by squeezing it against your chest and clamping the other side of the blade.
I don’t think I love the shape, but it will serve to assemble the saw once the finish dries. Which might be a while, since it’s cool here and I’m using an oil-based finish. I wiped a couple of additional thin coats of oil/poly mix on the parts today. I’d like to imagine that it will be cured tomorrow, but then I’d like to win the lottery tomorrow to. I don’t have high hopes of either coming to pass.
But it’s done. Fin. Críochnaithe as my ancestors would say.
Time to start the next project while I enjoy the sounds of finish drying…
A couple of months ago has arrived in our family Johnny, a four months old Beagle.
I always thought, if a new born was arrived a day, I should have to make a cradle but never I would have imagined I should have build a dog kennel!
The job was easy; I utilized mainly recycled wood and pine wood paneling (2 cm thick) for sides and roof.
Simple joinery by lap joints, some brass screws and dowels make this project really easy to realize.
The pitched sunroof (slightly asymmetric) helps to access to the internal zone. The panels are not glued and are stopped by a thin internal nailed frame. The rebates are obtained by gluing 30x10 mm elements to the external frame (6 mm dowels secure the frame in place).
This kennel has been built thinking for an external collocation. The roof is impermeable, being treated with a special plasticized varnish; a ridge avoids to the rain of penetrating between the two movable roof panels.
The entry door is decentralized, so the dog can find more repair from wind and cold. Some gum strips cover the opening, offering more repair but easy access.
I added wheels to the structure in order to move it easily.
Here in South of Italy the temperature is not too low, even in winter.
However, in the case it lowered overnight, a small fan heater and a thermostat avoid too much low values.
The wood has been treated with two coats of cementite and two coats of covering paint.
The flag is a tribute to Beagle origins.....
Here he is, shooted by camera....a little bit confused, but after awhile the kennel has become his preferred shelter.
Johnny, I am sure, you will sleep as a god, tonight!!
The project sketch up file can be downloaded here:
Like last year, I am ending this gift guide with a tool that is a little expensive but will change your work to the core. (Last year is was an EasyWood Full-Size Rougher turning tool.) This year it is the best mortising gauge ever made: the Veritas Dual Marking Gauge. Anyone who has worked with me knows that I am crazy in love with the Tite-Mark marking gauge, which is […]
Whether or not you purchase “l’Art du Menuisier: The Book of Plates” makes no difference to me personally. I have my copy, and it is making my woodworking life more interesting.
Today I finished up the first edit of the final bit of our forthcoming translation of A.J. Roubo’s writings on furniture and tools. (Don’t get too excited, it still has to travel a long way to arrive at the end of the goose – look for it in early summer.)
Today was devoted to plate 265, which describes “Autre Secretarie mobile Pupitre, et Petite Table a Ecrie.” AKA, an incredible unfolding, mechanical secretarie that I am hopelessly in love with. It is one part simple Creole-style side table, one part Transformer and two parts Jere Osgood’s Shell Desk.
As I edited the translated text, the words alone weren’t clear as to how the desk’s pigeonhole section pivots up. I had some detail drawings, but those weren’t enough to make the mechanism clear. Only when I opened “The Book of Plates” and took in the entire plate in full size did the scales fall from eyes. I immediately “got it” – like a Zen koan.
After that, the editing was a snap. I knew how the desk worked and could build it myself. My copy of “The Book of Plates” just paid for itself.
By the way, reader response to “The Book of Plates” has been incredibly positive (custom wooden box issues aside). It was a financial gamble that just might pay off. You can still get one before Christmas if you order it by Dec. 19 – all books are now shipping Priority mail, which will arrive in three business days.
Though it’s only 3:30 p.m., finishing plate 265 (and the other 87 plates) calls for a beer.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Roubo Translation, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
Our friends, Sarah and Tobyn have been meeting with some real success with knives they’ve crafted from Hock Tools’ kitchen knife blades, and their other wood works. We received this invitation and website announcement from them:
we want to let you know this saturday, december 13th we will be at heath ceramics in the mission peddling our wooden wares.
if you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by and see us :) if not… we’ll miss seeing your face and hope to meet up soon.
either way, check out or website, www.millionandclark.com at this point our website’s shop is selling the kitchen knives we’re doing with hock tools (which are lovely!), but we also have endgrain chopping blocks, breadboards, rosemary infused beeswax paste, and these smart looking geometric boxes that look super sweet with a staghorn fern poking out. we will have all of this with us at remodelista‘s marketplace hosted by heath ceramics this saturday AND we’re currently being sold at bernal cutlery on guerrero/17th and the perish trust on divisidero.
sarah ad Tobyn
So make some time, enjoy the break in the weather and meet them at Heath Ceramics in the Mission District to see their latest work. Say hi for Linda and me!
I thought these questions I asked John might be interesting as well as helpful and especially to any young and aspiring woodworkers around the world. I learned many years ago that when any young person captures a vision for his and her life, a unique mechanism engages and all the synapses somehow begin to form coordinates by which he and she can map out a course to achieve life as crafting artisan.
Some things have yet to happen for John, and to me he seems so well equipped for his age because he really gave himself to his work. We already miss him here in North Wales, but watching all the parts of his life past, present and future will I know prove rewarding.
How long have you known PS?
I’ve known Paul since 2007.
How did you get to know him?
My dad became quite close friends with him, and since both my dad and I love working with our hands, the opportunity arose for us to learn from Paul how to make a workbench.
How did you get an apprenticeship with Paul?
It was only in 2011, once I had finished school and didn’t know what next step I would take that I decided to accept Paul’s offer he had made some time back for me to learn the trade from him.
The duration of my apprenticeship was just under two years, which I completed in two ten month long stages.
What did you learn the most from your time in the apprenticeship?
I believe that out of everything I leaned during my apprenticeship, one of the most important things is to have a clear vision of what I want to do with my craft and why I’m doing it. Though there are some crucial elements in furniture making, including the sharpness of the tools and the precision required to achieve the desired level of craftsmanship, I realised that if I don’t know the reason to why I’m doing it, and if I have no clear direction to follow, then there’s not much point pursuing it as a career.
What work do you want to do in the future?
I’ve always liked teaching. Only when the person has a passion for learning of course, so in the future I would really like to teach woodworking. I don’t quite know exactly what specifically, what audience or even to what purpose, but there’s a lot for me to do for now, so I’ll be thinking all these things through this year and we shall see later on where I take my craft.
How do envisage your life unfolding as a craftsman?
I know that what I have to do now without a doubt is to put all my skills into practice, and over the course of the next few months, focus on designing and making various pieces of furniture to gain confidence and experience. I will also be trying out some of the different types of wood I can get hold of fairly locally, and find out a bit more about the materials available and also the styles of furniture common to this area.
What will you see as important now that you have skills?
Having learnt so many different skills and techniques, I will be spending more time concentrating on the designing aspect, which I’ve not really paid too much attention to. I feel like now is a good opportunity to experiment with different styles, and designs; you make a piece and then you want to change an aspect of it, make it in a different wood, try out different finishes…So this next stage will be a time to think, make, observe, push myself and not conform myself to ‘make a piece, sell a piece’. Even though I may have to do that to be able to continue in this challenge of a route I chose, which I don’t think ever ends.
There’s a significant advantage for me in Argentina, and that is that people pay a lot more attention to the quality of furniture in general, more so than I’ve noticed in the UK at least. People really do consider the durability of a piece of furniture. Therefore there’s a higher percentage of the population willing to pay more for a quality product, which works to my advantage. And in that sense, I think it’s very reasonable to plan on making a living from making and selling furniture, knowing of course that I will have to use some machine methods for most of the stock preparation, but practically the rest I’ll be using exclusively hand tools methods. Another thing I understood this year is that if I really want to make it as a furniture maker, I have to be willing to work many more hours and for less money. And I suppose that’s true of anyone who wants to work for themselves. But it’s so different to working for someone else that it’s not a burden, but a joy, so long as you love doing what you do.
What are your plans for the first year of your return?
For now I think the best way to start is to set myself short term targets so that by the end of 2015 I’ll have a good variety of pieces made and finished, both to acquire the practice and to have a portfolio of my work to start promoting my furniture.
Are there many woodworkers and furniture makers where you will be living?
I know, there are a lot of people doing general carpentry in the area, using nothing but machines, and those making furniture have also taken mass manufacturing methods. There are very few who know how to use hand tools, and obviously there is nowhere near the amount of quality hand tools like there is in the UK. So far I haven’t seen or heard of anyone making fine furniture, using traditional methods.
These pictures were sent in to me by Ronan, of some tool boxes he acquired, starting with a large one above. They belonged to an ex Vauxhall worker who was a keen woodworking (and metal worker by the looks of things!)
Below is a late Norris A5 with the engine turning clearly visible on the sides.
This looks like a steel soled gunmetal shoulder plane by Slater, very nice.
Lots of nice cast steel chisels.
The two shots to finish with are of an engineers chest which like the others was also crammed full of tools. All in all a very good find.
Walking into my shop you can see what is important. A band saw sits near the door, rust accumulates on the table, the blade wrapped around the adjustment knob and a spider seeks its next meal. Across the room is a jointer covered in dust and rust from lack of use. The metal cold, lifeless.
Before you is a bench, not a Nicholson or Roubo, but a bench built by a teenager and his father, modified and strengthened to fit a new purpose. Looking to the right is a large chest unfinished, but inside tools stand oiled and sharp anticipating the next task. On the left a smaller chest immediately at hand. Beneath the lid sit planes needed each day wood is worked. In the first drawer, chisels, marking knives and measuring tools. The second drawer contains saws, R.Groves from the 1790’s and Bad Axe Tools from LaCrosse. Across the shop,diamond plates ready to sharpen, unfinished projects and lumber unworked.
As a new project begins I reach for specific tools, some I put to use, others give me a sense of place. The mortise gage with is curved edges fits carefully in my hand, the Stanley number 7 brings to mind the many lives it has touched over 125 years. The R. Groves saw shows the marks of several lifetimes work. These tools hold secrets that are out of my grasp, but they pull me in. As the metal passes through the wood fibers, the tools speak, the handles warm and their soul shines.
Why do certain tools have a soul, while others sit cold and lifeless?
Spending the weekend sharpening saws with the team at Bad Axe Tools I had time to reflect on the art and science of tool making. Years seeking knowledge past and present, months finding the best steel and components and hours of sharpening, all for the birth of a saw. Watching the team I learned the steps of assembly, the areas of caution, I saw the precise movement of hands and eyes seeking perfection. I began to realize that components are only a small part of the soul, the majority comes from the passion of the saw maker.
Walking into Bad Axe Tool works you sense that passion is in abundance. Listening to the team build saws I feel my responsibility grow. The responsibility of the saw user to assemble the last piece of soul. As the the saw is worked and furniture built. Hands wear the handle, files shape and sharpen the blade, coats of wax and oil seep into the back and handle, scratches and dings appear. The saw becomes experienced and the soul strengthens and grows. When the time is right, and the saw passed forward, the soul becomes the responsibility of another and another. My Bad Axe Tool Works 15 ppi dovetail saw….
Perhaps you should consider tools with soul……..