Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway! Enjoy!
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One of the joys of taking a woodworking class is getting to do or see some technique you have read about and think you know, but have never actually done.
A good example was in the class I took at Highland a few weeks ago to build a Shaker Style End Table with instructor Jim Dillon. Jim works at the carpentry shop at Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta and teaches classes in the evenings at Highland. I don’t know if they let him work on the dinosaurs at Fernbank, but they probably should.
There are three big things I learned at the class with Jim :
The first is the hand planes. Now intellectually, I am very familiar with hand planes. You may think the same thing, in that you have read lots of books, and seen lots of videos, and watched Roy Underhill for years, but until you have seen and HEARD! someone use a sharp plane on a piece of wood, let me tell you, Buford, you have no idea. Most of us think the way you get a good finish on a piece of wood is to feed it through the electric thickness planer and then hit it with 320 sandpaper in the random orbit sander. You really need to get in a class with someone who has a properly sharpened hand plane and see the shimmering sheen left by a hand plane and those read-a-newspaper-through-it shavings. Once you can do that, there will be no sandpaper on your projects. One and done as they say.
The second thing was the tapering jig we used to taper the table legs. I have tapered legs before on the table saw with a tapering jig and it is not a comfortable situation. My hands are a little too close to the blade and I always felt like it was one step from total disaster. I wanted to call someone and say if you don’t get a call back from me in ten minutes, send the ambulance and the PortaJohn. As you can see in the photo, we had a tapering platform we ran through the thickness planer. It worked beautifully and is easily made. Simply double sticky tape the legs to the jig and keep running the jig through until the cutter head reaches the flat where the side aprons land. I think I remember it being 7/16” per foot taper. I like this tapering jig. No ambulance. No PortaJohn.
The third thing was the bevel on the edge of the table. We set this up so that the remainder edge on the table top was a quarter of an inch and then we wanted the bevel to be four inches wide. Since we had all planed our table tops by hand, none of them were the same thickness. There followed a pretty good discussion of how to make that work and the answer is the angle of the saw blade has to change slightly. If you hold the quarter inch remainder plus the four inch bevel on different thicknesses, then the angle is the only variable. You can see in the pictures that we set the table top on edge and clamped it to a fence riding jig for safety. (And I am truly deeply sorry for that fleeting one hundredth of a second when I thought what a great blog entry if someone tripped the SawStop.)
It was a real pleasure to use the SawStop Table Saw and the Festool DF 500 Q Domino Joiner, neither one of which I own or use. If I ever trade my table saw, the SawStop is top of my list. The Festool Joiner is more tool than I need in my little shop, but what a well-thought out, professional quality tool. It has every adjustment you could ever need and the Dominos were almost a drive fit when we installed them. The eighth inch reveal at the legs where the apron meets was a dial-in on the Festool and it worked perfectly.
Good class, well taught with good tools and techniques and well worth your money. Watch the class schedule for the next one and join in.
Check out what my staff came up with this morning. Pretty impressive hey! A birthday cake for a Psychiatrist (note the pictures of brain matter in the background) who works wood. I think those nails look very traditional, don’t you?
Anything look different to you? I sure hope so!
If you haven’t been to this site before, there is a rather dramatic change in the “look” of The Sharpening Blog. The Hock Tools website has also been updated with this same graphic feel – our new look – it’s a project I’ve been wanting to complete for some time.
I hope you find the website and blog attractive and easy to navigate, whether you are viewing them on a desk or laptop, tablet or cell. The plan has been to get “mobilized” (read “mobile device responsive”). And now, it is easier than ever to check us out wherever you go.
We haven’t changed anything else, though. Both sites provide the same help and info about planes, steel, sharpening and, of course, Hock Tools products. And, for anyone at the beginning of the update-your-website journey — and like the changes you see here – I searched about for software to help me with the site build. Even last year, my copy of Dreamweaver was way too old. Although I could have benefited from one of the full-featured WYSIWYG HTML editors, I just didn’t (and still don’t) have that kind of time! I wanted a leg up with a ready-to-use template and the convenience these new packages provide. So, after trying several versions I decided to use Artisteer, and I’m quite happy with it. It gave me the boost I needed to get started, and filled my needs for customization along the way. One drawback is that the trial version does not let you save anything. However, after testing it I made the leap. What you see at Hock Tools is the results of that.
Please take a minute to click around on the new site. Feel free to let me know if you find anything amiss, that doesn’t make sense, or whatever. Just use our contact page to let me know. Thanks – I appreciate your time!
The plan tonight was to dry clamp the base, get my shoulder length measurement, and bang out some tenons. The dry clamp of the base was ok, check mark #1. I got my shoulder length measurement, check #2. Check #3 for making tenons didn't happen.
|almost dry clamped|
|the haste and waste part|
|it's a bit snug|
|quick work with a chisel and the tenon slid into the mortise|
|rearranged the shop|
|dry clamp looks good - all the shoulders have closed up|
|my shoulder length stick|
Both the front and rear aprons have a bit of dip and doodle in them that makes the measurements different up and down the length. But at the ends where the go into the legs there are no humps or hollows. I'll use that measurement and that should straighten out the aprons and help to square up the whole base.
|L to R - center rails, drawer runner rails, and the tilt rails|
|double triple checking my mortise gauges|
|I did something right - one point for me|
|marking the shoulder length|
Mike left me a comment about getting the table out of the cellar and it got me thinking about it again. I had already measured all the doorways I have to maneuver the table through and I did it again. The table will be leaving the cellar in two pieces. The base and the top will exit separately.
The base is 29 1/4" high and all the door and openings (4 of them) are 31" or 32" wide. I think it's doable and if not I'll have a sharpening station bench.
accidental woodworker day 11 done 25 more to finish the table
What was the first name of Lt Colombo from the TV series Colombo starring Peter Falk?
answer - Phillip
The last step in my work bench build has finally arrived. It has been quite a journey, and I can certainly say that I never thought it would take me this long. But I have greatly enjoyed the process and have learned much along the way.
The last remaining part of the project is to line the vise chops with leather. I mentioned in an earlier post, How to Make Round Benchdogs – A Pictorial, that I had purchased a half hide of leather from Brettun’s Village. My original plan was to line both the vise chop and the inner jaw (edge of the bench). After some consideration, I revised that plan to only line the vise chop. This will keep the edge of the bench in a single plane a not have a piece of leather glued to it.
To get started, I removed the chops from all four vises and placed them on the leather. I spent a little time trying to find an arrangement that would waste the least amount of leather.
Once I had the layout that I wanted, I went in search of my white china marker. No luck, it must have grown legs and walked out of the shop. Or more likely, the kids took it. So, I went a raided the kids crayons. No white, but I did find a yellow. It’s not ideal, but it does show up on the dark brown leather… just.
I cut out the leather with scissors and placed each piece over the vise chops to confirm they were the right size.
The next step was to glue the leather to the vise chop. I have read a few online opinions about what glue to use for this task and either hide glue or common PVA seems to be the most frequently mentioned. I had planned to use one of these myself, but my recent success using contact adhesive while making my benchdogs had me rethinking this plan. I decided to try attaching leather to just one of the vise chops to see how well it worked. I applied the glue to both surfaces and waited for it to start drying.
Once the glue had just turned dry to a light touch, I attached the leather and went over it with a pressure roller to make sure I got a good bond. I then trimmed the leather flush with the wooden chop and from the holes.
I was very happy with the bond and repeated the process for the other three vise chops.
The holdfasts also got some contact adhesive and leather.
After gluing the leather to all four chops, I reassembled the vise hardware. Up until this point, I have never installed the screws that hold the vise face plate tight against the chop. This is mainly due to the way I drilled the holes for the main screw and guide rods. There is no slop in these holes and they fit the metal parts with very tight tolerances. When you unscrew the vise, the chop stays against the face plate and doesn’t sag or move. This is caused by the thickness of the chop and these tight tolerances. I have had to assemble, disassemble, and reassemble the vises several times in the building of this bench, and saw no need to install the face plate screws until the very end.
Now that I see no further need to disassemble the vises, it is time for the screws to be installed.
I mounted a center finding bit in my drill and drilled pilot holes in the three holes in the face plate.
I bought some brass screws (to match the gold paint on vise hardware) but these can be softer than you might be expecting depending upon the alloy blend used in the particular batch of screws you bought. When using brass screws, it is advisable to first install a steel screw that is the same size, length, and pitch. This will cut threads into the wood that the brass screw will then follow.
My son came out to the shop and installed the last screw.
So…. That’s it… It’s done. One year and one month from start to finish.
It feels a little anti-climatic actually. Not that I was expecting the heavens to open or a fireworks show to ensue, but I sat back and thought, “Wow, it’s done!”
I took a load of pictures of the finished bench and I’ll try to publish that post in the next day or two.
– Jonathan White
Keeping up my routine, I visited the two local auction houses at the end of last week. Nothing spectacular but a reasonable assortment of interesting inventory. Like this item billed as a “campaign bed”:
This brass medallion identifies this as being made by W & S Wales of the UK:
I found this bit of information on several web sites:
“Cabinetta” campaign bed by maker W & S Wales. Used by high-ranking British officers in WWI and the Boer War. Solid mahogany bench and frame easily converts to canvas cot and includes cotton batting sleeping pad. Sturdy and easily transportable, has canvas carrying handles & folds down to form a small seat or table.
If it’s on the internet, it must be true…
I heard some other blog out there has been all about three legged furniture. I found this “Spanish” birthing chair at the same auction:
The cross-town auction house had stuff, too. This one confused me a bit. Is it a piano converted into a desk or a slant front desk built to look like an Eastlake, upright piano?
Drawers are NOT dovetailed.
Sure looks like it was a piano:
Another great old tube radio:
This last piece gives the column its name:
by the Enterprise Mfg. Co. of Philadelphia, PA, USA.
It was a multiuse device before Ron Popeil or Ronco.
Three machines in one. Fast and Easy to Use For…
Stuffing Sausage or other Meats into Casings
Pressing Lard from Cracklings
Pressing Juice from Grapes, Berries, Tomatoes and other Fruits and Vegetables.
To see more pictures of these items and the rest of the auctions, click HERE.
We received the first samples of our latest T-shirt from the printer and are quite happy with the logo and the crisp way it printed on the short-sleeve shirts.
The shirts are $25 and are available worldwide (shipping is quite reasonable). They are printed on 100-percent cotton on an American Apparel fine-gauge T-shirt.
Because these shirts are cut slim and will shrink in the wash, we recommend you order one size larger than usual. After years of wearing these shirts ourselves, we think you’ll be happy with the way they break in and last – they are the softest shirt we have found.
The logo on these shirts was designed by Ohio artist Joshua Minnich and features a skep – an old-school beehive – which has long been the symbol of the industrious joiner and carpenter.
The shirts are available in seven colors and the full range of sizes from XS to 3XL. All our shirts are made, sewn and printed in the United States.
You can order your shirt from our store here.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Products We Sell
I’ve been a reader of Popular Woodworking for several years, and in recent times have enjoyed a very congenial working relationship with them. I just got the latest PW Issue 218, which is a terrific and not just because I have two things in it. There are several great articles including the cover project and a long insert.
The magazine features my article on decorative wire inlay (bisected by the aforementioned insert) and the End Grain column about the Studley Tool Cabinet that ran on the Popular Woodworking web site a few days ago.
Mrs. Barn glanced through the issue and said, “Very nice article. (I think she was talking about the Studley piece — DCW) But when are you going to start making furniture for me?”
Ouch. I guess I know what I’m doing after the Studley exhibit.
These days, I tend to be out ahead of myself a bit. While teaching the chest class in Connecticut a week or so ago, I was thinking of preparing the next class(es), in Alaska. Those are coming right up (still room) and while I’m planning, preparing & packing for that, I’m thinking ahead to a spoon class at Lie-Nielsen and then the video shoot after it. Those are in early May, so right in time for spring migration in Maine.
THEN – comes the next of my offerings with my friends in Plymouth CRAFT. Rick McKee and I are teaming up to show how to split apart logs for various projects. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=splitting-a-log-into-boards This is a technique class, not a project. Rick has rived many thousands of clapboards over the years,and numerous other oak materials. We’ll look at how to “read” the log, what to look for, and what to look out for. Use of the wedges, mauls, froe & club – the riving brakes. It should be great. This is a one-day class, hosted at the Harlow Old Fort House, near downtown Plymouth Massachusetts. A rare chance to get together with Rick, you could even end up on one of his memorable blog posts at Blue Oak. https://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/riving stiles with a froe
I’m off tomorrow to scout out some wood for this class. If I find a suitable ash log, I might add splint pounding to the lineup. That’s more fun than you can stand.
The Plymouth CRAFT scene usually is a multi-ring circus,and this one’s no exception. While we’re busting logs open, Charlotte Russell and Denise Lebica will be teaching drop-spinning.
“In this class, you will learn to use a simple tool — the drop-spindle — to convert fiber into yarn. Spinning is at the foundation of most of the textile arts. The ancient, inexpensive, portable, drop-spindle allows you to spin almost anywhere.
This workshop with long-time spinner and teacher Charlotte Russell will focus on developing a feel for creating quality yarn, and will feature hands-on evaluation of fibers such as wool, alpaca, flax, cotton, angora, quiviut and silk. Participants will gain an understanding of which of the various types of spindles are appropriate to spin which fiber.” – whole story here: http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=spinning-fiber-into-yarn
for me, having other classes under the same umbrella adds a lot to the fun, it’s great being surrounded by more crafty people and we usually have some time to spend seeing what the other half is up to…it’s sure to be interesting. Come join us, Rick & I will bring the tools & wood, you just come show up. the lunch alone is worth it.
Even sooner than that is a weekend class that I wish I was taking – make a wood-fired oven with Paula Marcoux. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=build-an-earthen-oven Paula knows ovens like I know oak. Coming right up, May 2 & 3, 2015. This will be a life-changing class – really.
My next project will be a “Japanese” toolbox. I know, I know Chris Schwarz is building one too. I feel like a Johnny-come-lately or a bandwagon jumper with this, but I assure you that I am not. I have been kicking this one around a while and I’m now getting to the point where I’m just about ready to start it.
If you are hoping for intricate joinery, expensive wood and custom hardware, you might as well stop reading now. There won’t be any of that. I’ll be closely adhering to the design that Toshio Odate outlined in his book and a subsequent magazine article. These style toolboxes were never intended to be works of art that advertised the ability of the workman that built them. They were made with readily available material and nailed together. Essentially a crate with a sliding lid meant to store, protect and transport tools.
In his book “Japanese Woodworking Tools:Their Tradition, Spirit and Use”, Odate describes the toolbox that was typical of the craftsman that he knew. It’s a simple thing, nailed together. It does however have an elegance to it. Odate goes on to explain that
“…I believe that the sight of a shokunin carrying on his shoulder a beautifully painted and carefully joined toolbox would provoke me to an overwhelming sense of awkwardness.”
I find that statement to be quite poignant. The Japanese craftsman is more than capable of extremely complex joinery, but they see no reason to employ any of it when building their toolboxes. It would be out of place if they did so.
In the current woodworking world it seems the three most popular topics are tools, workbenches and tool storage. Vast quantities of ink and electrons have been and continue to be devoted to this “holy” trinity. I believe that latter two are a direct result of the rise in popularity of hand tools. If you are going to work with hand tools a workbench suddenly becomes important. As you acquire hand tools you need a place to store and protect them.
Personally I think we have become a little too romantic in the way that we look at hand tools and how we sore them. I fully appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into a traditional joiners chest with inlay and fitted compartments, I just don’t feel the need or desire to build one. I don’t read any power tool blogs, but I doubt that you will find many, if any, posts on mahogany, raised panel boxes for storing circular saws. Why then do we go to such extremes for storing our hand tools? I’m not saying one way is right and the other is wrong. I’m just trying to take a practical approach. All I need is a sturdy, functional box for storing, protecting and transporting a few tools. The last thing I want is to build a box that is so precious that I am afraid to use it for its intended purpose.
In the coming weeks I’ll post a general design drawing that covers the basic construction of the tool box. I say general because this box is designed to be sized as required. I’ll then cover how I go about arriving at the size for this particular toolbox. Once the size is established, I’ll make a trip to the local big box store and buy the cheapest wood that will fit the bill and a couple of boxes of screws. Yep, I said screws. I’ll not be picky about what type of drive they are either, phillips, square or slotted. I’m sure these boxes were originally put together with cut nails. Cut nails used to be the standard. They can still be had, but are expensive. The standard today is wire nails and they are worthless for holding wood together. Their smooth shanks have no gripping power. They may be fine for the construction trades but not for this type of application. So I’ll be using screws. They are readily available, hold well and are reasonably inexpensive.
So the wood is cheap and it will be screwed together. However, each piece, as well as the whole, will be built with all the skill that I can muster. There is never an excuse for shoddy work. Surfaces will be planed, ends squared on a shooting board and hard edges chamfered. Pieces will be fit together to the best of my ability. I fully intend for this toolbox to last a very long time and I will take pride in its construction…..
even if it is just a box.
Ok, so not that kind of maker’s mark.
I need one like this…
More than that though, I need some kind of logo. Something simple that can be made into a brand. If anyone has any bright ideas, or has any brand making experience they’d like to share, then fill your boots in the comments.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Eg held fram med gjennomgangen av svarmaterialet frå spørjelista om snikkarhandverket i Ord og Sed i Norsk Folkeminnesmling. Eg har frå før posta del 1, del 2 og del 3 med gjennomgang av dei andre fylka i Noreg. Dette er siste delen i denne serien og med den har eg presentert alle svara på spørjelista som har med noko om skottbenk. Den generelle innleiinga som beskriv materialet og arbeidsmåten min er med i del 1.Vest-Agder
Knut Lauvdal i Laudal (i dag Marnadal kommune) skriv: For lang stykke bruka dei skottbenk, og stykki vart festa med klamrer og bløygar.
Frå Vest-Agder var det totalt 10 svar på spørjelista. Berre eitt av svara går inn på skottbenk og brukar det som nemning.Aust-Agder
Helga Løvland i Froland skriv: For å høvle lange bord eller planker sette dei op plankekrakk.
Magnild Hagelia i Gjerstad skriv: Til retteleg lange ting vart bruka “strykebenk“. Den sette dei op for kvart høve, t. d. når dei høvla golvplank.
Knut Homme i Valle skriv: Strøbenk bruka dei når ein ting var for lang på vanleg høvelbenk. D.v.s. tvo plankar som stend jamsides på smalkantene, den eine fast og den andre laus, som fær bløyga ho innåt emnet.
Frå Aust-Agder var det totalt 9 svar på spørjelista og 3 av dei har med strykebenk. Nemninga plankekrakk kan ha ei anna meining enn skottbenk. Nemninga strøbenk kan vere skrivefeil og kan ha vore meint strøkbenk? Det kan og vere at ordet vert uttala strøbenk i Setesdalen?Telemark
Steinar Kollkjen i Mo (i dag Tokke kommune) skriv: I gamal tid er bruka 2 upptømra tverrtre. Yver desse var lagd 2 plankar hell liknande. I millom desse var so det som skulde høvlast sett. I tverrtreene var bløygar på utsida. Når desse var slegne til var det som skulde høvlast klemd godt til. Det var helst til pløying – not og fjær – dette var brukt. Til å jamne hadde dei ein høvl som gjekk på meiar, ein på kvar side. Denne kalla dei “lokårn“.
Frå Telemark var det totalt 10 svar på spørjelista og berre eitt av desse går inn på noko som eg tolkar som skottbenk. Her kalla han høvelen med meiar for “lokårn”. Lokar er elles ei vanleg nemning på ein langhøvel, gjerne brukt til lagging. Det er ein del likskapstrekk mellom skyting av stavar til lagging og skyting av lange bord på skottbenk så her kan det vere samband.Vestfold
Ole Bråvoll i Andebu skriv: Hussnikkern bruke føibænk å tømmermannsbænk.
Lars M. Ramberg i Botne (i dag Holmestrand kommune) skriv: Til høvling av lange bord og planker hadde de et par bokker (krakker) som de satte opp ved siden av en veg(g?). De la da planken oppå og slog den fast med kile.
I Vestfold var det berre 2 svar totalt på spørjelista og båe desse har med noko som eg tolkar som ein skottbenk. Berre ein av dei har med nemninga føibænk som då er einaste døme på nemning frå fylket. Sidan 100% av svara frå Vestfold har med skottbenken så bør det vere mogleg å finne gamle benkar rundt på gardane. Så langt har vi ikkje eit einaste døme på gamle benkar frå dette fylket.Østfold
Hans Stumberg i Idd (i dag Halden kommune) skriv: Foruten høvelbenken hadde man en lang planke påheftet en kloss, så det man skulde bearbeide blev festet omtrent slik: (ufullstendig skisse, ikkje attgjeve her) Dette kaldes en “strøkbenk“. Sansynligvis var denne kjent før høvelbenken. (…..) De brukte strøkbenken når det gjaldt å feste lange stykker som ikke fikk plass på høvelbenken.
Arne Sandem i Spydeberg skriv: “Feibænk” bruktes for retning av gulvbord.
Båstad i Trøgstad skriv: Jeg kan ikke huske andet i min tid end Høvelbenken blev benyttet. Kun naar store stykker skulde okses, saa var der sat op en benk av planker som var indrettet slik at man baade okset og brukte ploughøvlen (oksebenk).
Frå Østfold var det 7 svar totalt på spørjelista, 3 av desse har med skottbenken. Nemningane er strøkbenk, feibænk og oksebenk. Feibænk er ganske nær opp til føibænk som Ole Bråvoll i Andebu i Vestfold skriv. Eg er usikker på kva ordet skriv seg frå? Kan det ha samband med fuge slik som svenske fogbock og danske fugbænk? Eller kan det ha samband med å pløye slik som pløybenk? Det er vel nærliggande å tenkje seg at ein har hatt utveksling med Sverige og Danmark og at nemningane kan ha gått begge vegar over grensene. Vi har ikkje kunne spora opp gamle skottbenkar i Østfold så langt. Medlemmane av Norsk Skottbenk Union i Østfold bør undersøkje i om det kan finnast noko i heimfylket sitt.Skottbenken på De Samiske Samlinger i Karasjok i Finnmark. Kanskje finnast det skottbenk, feibænk, strøkbenk, oksebenk eller strykebenk i samlingane til eit av musea i desse fylka som vi ikkje har døme på benkar frå? Foto: Roald Renmælmo
I Oslo, Akershus og Buskerud er det ikkje med noko om skottbenk i svara. I Akershus var det 6 svar og i Buskerud var det også 6 svar. Frå Oslo var det derimot ingen svar på spørjelista. Om vi då legg til Finnmark som hadde berre eitt svar på spørjelista, men utan opplysningar om skottbenk, så har vi totalt 4 fylke som vi ikkje har opplysningar om skottbenk i svara på spørjelista.
Frå Vest-Agder, Aust-Agder, Telemark, Vestfold og Østfold var det totalt 38 svar på spørjelista om snikkarhandverket. 10 av svara har med skottbenken i ei eller anna form. Det er ingen som har teikningar eller detaljerte forklaringar på utforminga av benken. Knut Homme frå Valle og Steinar Kollkjen frå Tokke har forklaringar som er i tråd med utforminga på skottbenkar vi kjenner frå før her på bloggen. Felles for alle desse fylka er at vi ikkje har døme på gamle originale skottbenkar i dette området. Det er også sparsamt med skriftlege kjelder om skottbenken frå dette området. Vi har aktive skottbenkbrukarar både i Østfold og Telemark. Det er soleis håp om at det kan dukke opp benkar i desse områda.
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I like McDonald’s. It’s not haute cuisine, but I like it. One of the things that makes me like McDonald’s is that whether I order my Sausage McMuffin with Egg and an extra hash brown in Ohio, Texas, Florida or anywhere else, I know how it’ll taste (delicious). The brilliance of Ray Kroc, the man who made McDonald’s what it is, was his insistence on consistency. Billions of burgers later, the golden […]
I’m just making the trek back to Seattle from a whirlwind trip to Texas during which time I was a guest demonstrator for the Lie-Nielsen Dallas event, spent some quality time with my good friends Jason and Sarah Thigpen and family, and continued the wild ride that has been dubbed (not by me) my “Instagram World Tour.”
My first trip to "Bucee's" was full of culture shock. I was HARSHLY reprimanded for thinking this was a giant chipmunk.
Some of the highlights from the Lie-Nielsen show were seeing old friends and making new ones, sharing my passion for handtools and the Community Toolchest Project, and getting two straight days to dink around at a workbench with fancy hand tools and no agenda. Jason and I got to eat absolutely phenomenal Greek food two nights in a row with great people, the Lie-Nielsen crew and Mr. and Mrs. Dowd of Dowd’s tools came out the first night, and the second night, Frank Strazza and his daughter Katilee joined us as well.
A side note on Katilee here, she is probably the coolest, smartest, most responsible and mature 14 year old I’ve ever met. At 14, she already has more knowledge about farming, animal husbandry, country living, and craft than I can hope to learn in a lifetime. We talked for quite a spell about raising goats, chickens, gardening and her passion for cooking. Every Thursday, she cooks a gourmet, many course, from scratch meal for her whole family. And all this amidst juggling her homeschool studies, farm chores, weaving classes, studying violin, and babysitting duties for her five younger brothers.
Mrs. Dowd managing Dowd Tools' social media reclining in Jason's Roorkhee chair
After hearing about Mrs. Dowd’s famous pies all the way in Seattle, I had no complaints when our bench was placed right across from theirs for the weekend. Usually a pie purist, I was shocked about the heaven that was each bite of her Jalapeno Cherry pie, her apple crumb pie, and her chocolate espresso pecan pie. You should know the weight a pie endorsement from me comes with: up till now, I refused to eat any pie that was not: Plain Apple, Plain Huckleberry or Rhubarb Custard (NO STRAWBERRIES), and hand made from scratch by myself, my mother, my sister, my grandmother. I had the time of my life talking pies with Mrs. Dowd and sitting in Jason’s Roorkhee chair talking to Mr. Dowd about vintage tools during the show lulls.
I was excited to reconnect with John Parkinson, who I’d met at the LN show in Seattle and hear about his upcoming move. I was also pretty excited I finally convinced him to join Instagram- give him a follow @parkinsonfurniture.
Of COURSE Curtis' dog Fenway eats out of a turned bowl
I finally got to meet Curtis Turner in real life, an Instagram favorite of mine and turning legend. He later invited Jason and I to his shop for a private lesson- but more on that later. I also got to watch Frank Strazza from the Heritage School of Woodworking make the dovetail marker I’ve watched him make so many times in his videos. He autographed it and donated it to the Community Toolchest, then invited Jason and I for a private after hours tour of the Heritage School of Woodworking. I’m still pretty giddy about that one.
Dan Phillips himself showed us some 5 star Texas hospitality
Charlie Simpson remembered that I had really loved a painting his wife made of our mutual friend Roy Shack’s horse a few months back. He brought me a print that I cannot wait to build frame for and put up in my shop. Dan Phillips, an insanely talented woodworker out of Dallas brought me a vintage chisel I’ve been looking for to complete a set for months, then invited us to come hang out at his AWESOME space in an old Ford Manufacturing plant after the show. We had a great time talking woodwork and hanging out with his super cute kids.
Photo stolen from @doncjohnson on IG
Jason and I were floored at the steady stream of people throughout the weekend who came up and introduced themselves, saying that they’d come out to meet us in person after they’d seen our post on Instagram. One of the most memorable conversations we had was with Jim from Alaska who had no shortage of encouragement for the two of us getting a young start in the Handtool Woodworking world.
I still feel bad about the carving mess we left behind.
Another thing I’m not soon to forget was the spoon carving session of epic proportions Jason and I had in his hotel room Friday night. I don’t quite understand how the few branches we brought along with us turned into the colossal mess of shavings we sheepishly left for the maid service when he checked out, but even after a concerted effort to clean up, it looked like a tree had literally exploded in his room. We talked about life and family and beliefs as we laughed a lot and carved a little. Jason’s first spoon broke and I gave up on mine around 3am, but I’ll try to get it finished at home before it dries out.
The handcrafted products the Heritage Village is putting out are absolutely unbelievable. Here are some handtools forged by local blacksmith Caleb.
Packing up after the show was just the beginning of our wild adventure though, because we drove straight to the Homestead Heritage Village for a private tour with Frank and his daughter Katilee. They took us in the gift barn where we were able to get up close and personal with several pieces of furniture Frank and his students had made. We looked at gorgeous examples of the type of weaving Katilee is studying, caressed smooth hand carved spoons and hand thrown pottery, and saw some of the work of Caleb, the Community’s resident blacksmith. Then we headed to the woodworking shop and saw the facilities that are turning out the next generation of handtool woodworkers. Frank convinced us (no hard task) to make the 1.5 hour drive back a few days later so we could see the whole facility in operation during working hours. We bade them both goodbye and drove the rest of the way home to Austin.
Turner Guthrie stole my heart
We spent the next three days hanging out with Jason and Sarah’s three precious kiddos Jackson, Barrett, and Turner. Amidst tickle fights with the kids, Jason and Sarah taught me how to stitch leather and I gave Jason a few tips on turning on the lathe.
World's fanciest fly swatters- proof that working together, sharing knowledge and skill produces great results.
Jason and I had been talking about collaborating on a project together while I was visiting, and we were able to churn out three super fancy fly swatters, one for each of us, and one to give away as a thanks to the Instagram community that kindled our friendship and opened doors for relationships that have literally changed both of our lives forever.
Jason practicing his newfound lathe knowledge on our fly swatters
Tuesday came, and that meant it was time to head over to Curtis Turner’s shop for a celebrity turning lesson. He taught me that I’ve been turning bowls all wrong and that my face shield should no longer be a decoration on my wall, but a fixture on my lathe so I never forget to wear it. He explained when to use a bowl gouge and when to use a scraper (it was also nice to learn the proper names for those two tools, I am not quite sure how I missed those bits of information in my many prior lathe instructionals. He and Jason worked on leaving a smooth edge and the ABC’s of lathe chisel safety, Angle, Bevel, Cut. After leaving half a tree in the hotel in Dallas, I was excited about having a nice, light suitcase on my return flight to Seattle, but alas, Curtis sent me home with a half finished bowl (homework) and a nice big chunk of Texas Osage Orange (and I’m not complaining one bit!).
The Gristmill, a water powered stone flour mill is only one of many amazing traditional processes that can be seen at the Village
We then headed back out to Waco to take in the rest of the Homestead Heritage Village. Since we had Jason’s wife Sarah with us this trip, we started back in the gift barn, a hand hewn structure the Heritage community saved from being demolished on the East Coast, then brought back to Texas and re-assembled. As it turns out, many of the structures in the Heritage village have a similar story- including a fully functional water powered stone grist mill for grinding flower! We showed Sarah the furniture, crafts, and quilts, the local honeys and jams, and all the other awesome things the Gift Barn offered.
Caleb made Jason a pretty BA keyring before our eyes
We went from the Gift Barn to the woodshop ogled the handtools and watched a class on building a rocking chair taking place, then moved on to the blacksmith shop, where we got to meet Caleb, the Community’s resident blacksmith.
Caleb spent the better part of an hour explaining his work, his training, and some future plans. He showed us his hand forged dividers he hopes to have ready for Handworks. He then forged a leaf shaped key ring for Jason right before our eyes. I’ve often heard it said that an expert will make the most difficult of tasks look easy. Let’s just say I walked out of there thinking I should take up blacksmithing.
The view from the outlook at the Heritage Village
Frank shared an outstanding meal with Jason, Sarah and I at the Village café. Many (perhaps all, but I’d need to confirm that) of the ingredients in our meal were grown right on the Community property. The grassfed beef burger and sweet potato fries were hands down the best I’ve ever eaten. Jason and Sarah had similar sentiments about their meals as well. Frank then took us to an outlook from which we could see much of the Community’s farming property. I looked out at the old style windmills, turning in the breeze, the quiet fields, the gentle mooing of distant cows, watched two kittens chasing each other below, and thought “this is the kind of life I want.”
Having recently purchased a small farm and started a woodworking business, I know the amount of work a life like that entails. Making a living building things and farming is no walk in the park, but eating food you grew on a table you built with people you love is a fairy tale I can stand behind. The time I spent at the Homestead Heritage Village left me feeling inspired, energized, and excited to jump into the busy spring season at my farm with both feet upon my return. And the great thing is, I now know a 14 year old I can call and ask for advice the first time my goats have kids and the next time I try to tan a hide.
The drive home from Waco was a somber one, because it also indicated the end of my visit to Texas. Our “real” lives being spread across the country, Jason and Sarah and I decided early in our friendships to dig deep and make our times together count. In a world full of nodding acquaintances and surface level friendships, we wanted to share something real and not waste a single moment; to encourage, to support, and to share life, knowledge, joys and hurts with one another. I’m honored to call these Internet buddies some of my most beloved friends, and I cannot thank Instagram enough for connecting us. We most certainly did not waste a single moment this trip, and I’m liable to sleep for a week when I finally get home, but WOW. What a ride.
I bought these mortise chisels on ebay for £6 each. Hard to imagine, but they are all Marples, virtually unused if used at all, and all top of the Marples-of-old mortising chisel line. Three of them are 5/8” and the other four 1/2”. Unbelievably good value and all with brass ferrules, leather washers, trapezoidal blades and boxwood handles. I want students to experience these and the heavier mortise chisels to assess for themselves how these chisels work. The main advantage of heavyweight chisels is mostly when you dig out deep mortises deeper than say 1 1/2″ or so. The need for deep leverage and enough steel mass to hold up to pressure becomes more important the deeper you go.
Working on the woodworking masterclasses videos build this last week we had sixteen 1/2” mortise holes to chop, four are small but the others are quite large at 4” and 6” long by 1 1/2 deep. You can see my 1/2” bevel-edged chisel alongside the seven I bought for size comparison but there’s more. I chopped some mortises with the larger 1/2” Marples and some with the 1/2” Marples bevel edged one. I chopped some with my Thor 712 38mm driving the chisels and then some using my mallet, which is half as heavy again as my trusted Thor. Have you noticed now how many people are using the Thor hammers for woodworking these days since my blog began? Here is what happened.
The mortise chisel took 17 chisel hammer blows to deliver the depth. The next cut adjacent to the one just made with the large mortise chisel was done with the 1/2” bevel-edged chisel and that took just 6 chisel hammer blows. The bevel-edged chisel was indeed far more effective, efficient and much easier throughout. Just worth considering. No one else will tell you these things.
Much of this of course has to do with Newtons law of equal and opposite forces. Briefly, and from a novice, Newton’s Third Law talks about action and reaction, which basically means that for ever action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
At long last, there is a fantastic and reasonably priced tri-bolt available so you can make your own campaign stool. The hardware is beautifully machined from solid brass and stainless steel, made in Canada and is only $34.50 (U.S.). You can order it directly from Lee Valley here. I’ve made at least 20 of these folding stools using a variety of bolts and the Lee Valley version is by far […]