I haven’t woodworked in quite a while, therefore I haven’t written a blog post about woodworking for some time either. Yet, life can be strange sometimes, and a friend of mine I hadn’t spoken with in some time called me over the weekend. The first words out of his mouth were “Why are you reading the Anarchists Cookbook!?” I told him that I never read it. Long story short, his wife happened across a review I wrote on Amazon some time ago and misread the title. “It’s a woodworking book.” I said to him. His words after were to the effect “What the F#$% is it about?” I didn’t get into it because I didn’t care to, I had things to do.
Anyway, I don’t believe in Anarchy in any form, big or tiny. The way I look at it: I have a job; I pay taxes, I use the roads, my garbage is picked up once a week, my daughter goes to public school, I have a cell phone, my wife has a cell phone, I have internet service and cable television, I drive a car, my wife drives a car etc. Most anarchists in the woodworking sense, and maybe everywhere else, claim that they are only against big government and large corporations. I say to that: Do you send your kid to school, own a cell phone, own a computer, a car, a house, turn on a table lamp, been to a hospital, have insurance of any kind, put gas in your car, drive on a paved road, eat anything from a supermarket, turn on the water to take a shower or get a drink or cook with? Do you have internet service? Do you have cable television? Have you ever been to a library? Have you ever been to a shopping mall? Do you have electricity in your house? Do you brush your teeth? Do you wash your hair with shampoo? Have you ever taken an aspirin? Have you ever used a paper napkin? Do you drink coffee? Tea? Have you ever flown in an airplane? Have you ever called the fire department or the police department? Did you go to college? Do you own a pair of shoes? Socks? A watch? A hair brush? Have you ever purchased anything that was shipped by rail, plane, truck, or boat? Have you ever been to the Outback Steakhouse? Arby’s? Wendy’s? McDonalds? Have you ever bought dish detergent? Do you have a sink and toilet in your house? Windows? Do you have a furnace? Receptacles and wall plates? Light switches? Do you have band aids in your medicine cabinet? Do you wash your clothes in a washing machine? Do you sleep on a mattress? Have you ever eaten a banana???
I think the vast majority of Americans would answer yes to most of those questions, if not all of them. I think the vast amount of woodworkers, would-be anarchists or not, would likely answer yes to most of those questions, too. If you did answer yes to just about any one of those questions, you have either benefitted from a large government, or supported a large corporation. Now, the would-be anarchist may claim that even though he answers yes to a lot of those questions, it doesn’t mean he has to like it or agree with it, but he is forced to because big government and large corporations control everything. Maybe, but I contend that there is not one item on that short list of questions I put up that is absolutely needed for survival and nearly every one of them can be chalked up to creature comforts. You don’t need running water, or a cell phone or computer or internet service. You don’t need a washing machine or soap. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that just about every item on that list was virtually non existent and the human race managed to go on and survive. So if you answered yes to any one of those questions you aren’t an anarchist, not even a tiny little atom sized fraction of one. Because if you did answer yes you supported a large corporation and you benefitted from the very government that you think is way too bloated and evil to do you any good.
Do governments and large organizations do some rotten things? Sure, sometimes. But so do small groups. I can start that list off with the Nazi party, or how about the Manson Family? Does one man’s really horrible idea make it any less horrible because only one person thought of it? Are only large groups capable of messing up? Maybe the larger the group the larger the mess up? Possibly, but definitely not a guarantee. Governments can be messed up, and individuals can be messed up, because the largest corporation on Earth is made up of a lot of individual people, and people are flawed, and because people are flawed every political, or non political ideology is doomed to failure. If not failure, then at least doomed to never live up to its promises.
So that’s why I’m not an anarchist, and that’s why I believe the vast majority (99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999%) of the country aren’t anarchists either.
Window motif, found in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China.
Last week I taught a 5-day Introduction to Relief Carving class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking.
It was a full class of 18 students, and we worked through several beginning projects and progressing to quite challenging carvings. Everyone persevered and really did an amazing job. As one student commented “You really brought me out of my comfort zone”. I hope that is a good thing! If it was too easy, you wouldn’t learn anything!
Congratulations to everyone!
I once had a t-shirt I got at an Arlo Guthrie concert that read “we know it’s stupid, that’s why we’re here.” goodness only knows what it meant, but a similar notion must have run through the minds of these students -a very good-natured group of would-be joiners who came down to Roy Underhill’s school to attempt to make a joined chest in a week. 10 students means 10 chests. each chest with about 25 pieces of riven oak in it. Plus extras in case something goes wrong…
Roy & I dreamed up this idiotic course, “let’s make a joined chest in a week!” And we booked it & it filled up. well, it became a reality (of sorts) and on the first day, these students split, crosscut, & rived out over 200 piece of oak for said chests. That’s a lot of oak. Here’s the beginning of just one small pile of parts:
We tried to sort and count them as we went, but it was doomed.
We need over 70 panels; about 8″ wide by 12-14″ long. SEVENTY!
We scurried back to the woods to get more of this amazingly straight-grained oak. what a tree!
I don’t know who this is, but he was not alone.
Thankfully, we found that with proper supervision, it only took Kat a short while to bust out all the oak. it’s not that hard, really.
Next, they plane all the long rails, layout the joinery, chop mortises, plow grooves & cut tenons.
Tomorrow night will be Reddit night for me. I’m looking forward to three hours of Question and Answer time on reddit.com/r/woodworking so get your questions ready for tomorrow evening. I will be there answering your questions between 9 and 12 P.M. UK and so wherever you are in the world here is a link to set your time.
I am hoping that this will be a profitable time for everybody and that we will build more into the future of woodworking.
I finished the sunburst fireplace carving in poplar. Here are the photos.
I am pleased with the way it turned out. These sharp edged carvings, when the shadows fall on them, show such dramatic darks and lights. It reminds me of v-cut letter carving. I hope it doesn’t change once it is painted white.
I hope to have a photo of the actual fireplace within a month. Off to play in my workshop (I don’t get a chance to do this much these days).
I picked up some soft maple for the main body of the lingerie chest. The dimensions of the chest are 18″ wide by 12″ deep and 3.5 feet tall, based on the corner of the room in which it will stand.
I cross-cut the boards to length ensuring the less attractive faces were either on the inside of the carcass, or in the waste pile. The rough lumber was then face and edge planed in preparation for lamination – pairs of narrow boards are joined together to a width required for the dresser. Once laminated, the pieces are then face-planed once more.
Using hand tools to prepare boards for a project takes a lot of time, especially in the heat of summer. But the quicker it gets done, the quicker I reach the more interesting aspects of the build.
Filed under: Drawers & dressers, Projects Tagged: lumber, soft maple
Last month the entire staff of Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM) trekked off to Senco‘s manufacturing facility to take a tour with four of the five grand prize winners from our Senco Event held in the PWM shop in the Spring. The guy who missed the tour gave some lame excuse about his wife having a baby. Senco manufactures most of their nails and staples right here in Cincinnati – and the factory […]
My wife has been wanting a nice bookcase for the guest room for a long time. We recently redecorated that room with a wall cabinet, pair of stained glass sconces and a picture frame I made (plus paint), so the bookcase would finish the room off nicely.
My first thought was to build the Limbert 355 bookcase. I like the design, it’s got a unique style and would hold a fair number of books. The Limbert 356 was the same basic design, but with two doors. This would be fun to make, but it was a no-sale with the wife. She wanted something shorter and wider. Maybe five feet wide or so, and three to four feet tall.
I looked through all of my books and googled for images and plans to no avail. There were a couple of interesting hits, like this one by Kevin Rodel. I like this one a lot, but I don’t think I could pull off the inlay. I know I’ll be making this in quartered white oak and dying it to match the other furniture I built for the room, so that would make the inlay dicey anyway. But it was a no-sale too — apparently we need to see the books in the bookcase.
I did find one design my wife liked, although it doesn’t really work for me. It’s OK, just not enough visual excitement. It looks too close to some inexpensive plywood bookcases we want to get rid of.
So I fired up my copy of SolidWorks and started doodling. I had an idea for a larger central unit flanked by two smaller bookcases that were shorter, narrower and set back from the main unit. I’m imagining the side units having doors with stained glass panels, and the middle unit being open to show off the best looking books. The top of each section would have short sides and a backsplash like a lot of Stickley serving tables.
I started by blocking out the dimensions / proportions for the front view. This is just a simple 2D drawing at this point. I started by drawing a square 60″ wide and 42″ tall. I added lines to represent the major elements — center unit, side pods, shelves, backsplashes, and a door on one side for comparison. I tweaked the sizes and played with shapes until I had a sense of where I wanted to go with this.
I settled on 42″ tall because I could get three generously tall shelves and a backsplash — and it would fit under the picture that I already hung in the room. The height for the shorter shelves is just what looked good to me at this stage, it will change as I go. The way I design I get the big bits in place, then start solving fit/clearance problems.
So I started by modeling the case sides and and central shelves. SolidWorks (and other 3D CAD programs) generally start by making a 2D drawing that is then “extruded” or otherwise manipulated to make a solid object. So if I were to draw a 12″ by 12″ 2D square and extrude that sketch 1″ I have a one board foot CAD model. If instead I rotate it around one side of the square I have a 12″ thick by 24″ diameter hockey puck. Most furniture is simple rectilinear parts, if I was trying to model a 1940 Ford where everything is changing radius surfaces it would be a much different story. Modeling this piece is just a process of drawing rectangles and extruding them into solids or extruding cuts into existing solids to make mortises or rabbets.
Step one, I’ve modeled one side and created a mirrored part — this is an incredibly useful feature in SolidWorks. The two parts are linked, so if I add a dado or move a mortise on the original part the mirrored part stays in sync. I modeled the shelves, backsplash and toe kick too, all as separate parts. These individual parts are mated together into an assembly.
The top shelf has 1.375″ long tenons that protrude through the sides, the other shelves have .5″ tenons that fit into blind slots in the sides. I made the sides 1.125″ thick, and the shelves 1″ thick.
There are lots of details to play with in the design, but at this stage I’m more focussed on blocking out the main elements. Should the backsplash be shorter or taller than the sides? Should it be flat or arched across the top? It doesn’t matter at this point. I need to get far enough along to verify the proportions in 3D and verify the fit of all of the parts.
My next step is to model the outer sides and side shelves. The shelves in the main unit are 29″ wide right now. and I made the shelves in the sides 15″ wide. I set the depth of the sides at 10″ — that’s two inches shallower than the main unit. I wanted some set back on this, but as you’ll see this caused a problem as soon as I got a little further along.
I only added the left side pod for now, assuming there will be problems to sort out before I go any further. You can see the blind mortises for the side shelves in this view on the right side of the model. I also modeled a door to fit into the left side opening. This should give me enough information to start troubleshooting the layout.
So what are the problems I need to sort out?
First, the setback on the side makes the toe kick on the side units look too far back. I think it’s just too severe at two inches of setback. I’m also concerned about running out of room for books — with the sides at 10″, a rebate for the back of a half inch, an inset door at least .75″ thick (it really wants to be .850″ thick to hold the stained glass with a retaining strip) I’m running out of depth for larger books.
There is another problem with the depth of the sides — making the shelves shorter for the inset door runs into clearance problems with the through tenons in the side. It just barely works at this stage, meaning the front edge of the through tendon is still 1/8″ set back from the front edge of the shelf.
But if I zoom in to look at the fit of the door — with the door tight against the shelves — let’s see what we have. This is looking up from ground level at the lower left side of the case. You can see that the door is sticking out in front of the lower shelf. On the side pods I want the top and bottom shelves to be set back from the sides by about .25″, with a tiny radius on the case sides. I want the door set back maybe 1/8″ to 1/4″ from the edge of those shelves. So, something here has to change, because this actually doesn’t work!
There is also something wrong with the height of the toe kick, or at least the positioning of the toe kick on the left pod. I’ll need to investigate that. It should end at the floor level, but it short by maybe a quarter of an inch.
My approach to fixing the problems so far is fairly obvious. I’m going to make the case sides wider, probably going from 10″ to 11″ – which will still give me a full inch of set back. I’m also going to shorten the length of the through mortises in the sides. Right now they are set at 1″ from the front and back of the case sides, I’ll change them all to 1.5″. That means editing the models for the sides and all of the shelves to adjust the tenons to match. Not a huge deal, but this is exactly why I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself.
I’ll also make the door thicker, and leave some clearance between the interior shelves and the inside of the door – at least 3/8″.
There is another problem to sort out at this stage: the back.
What I’ve used for most cabinets I’ve made in the last year or so is a ship lapped back. I like being able to finish the back and case separately, and I like the visual interest from the grooves between the individual boards. When there are fixed shelves it also means I can screw through the back into the shelf to support the shelf and help keep the case from racking. I also prefer a solid wood back over thin plywood. If I’m building a plywood cabinet then that’s the natural choice for the back, but in a solid wood cabinet…
That meant that my starting position was a ship lapped back. I modeled rabbits into the back edges of the case sides and top and bottom shelves, but let’s take a look at the back of the unit at this stage.
The red areas are the rabbets I have in the model at this point. From experience I know I need about 1/2″ of width to attach the back to the case with screws. With the case sides at 1.125″ thick, if I put a 1/2″ wide rabbet in for the back on the side pod I’ve got a 1/8″ of waste left. Of course I could just completely cut away the back of the tall sides at that point. I’m also concerned about where the gap between the slats will end up, I don’t want a gap between slats right next to the side. And I don’t want a slat that spans the tall case side because then it has to have a dog leg cut at the end.
I think I can calculate the slat sizes properly so that they end up just right though.
Another option for the back would be to make a frame and panel back. The downside with that is I’ll need to make the rabbets a bit deeper, probably 3/4″ for the frame. I’d want cross bars in the frame where the shelves so I can screw the back to the shelves, because the panels will be set back from the face of the frame. I’m not sure what I’d use for the panels if I went with tis approach. Plywood would be the simplest, and I could glue it into the slots in the frame without worrying about wood movement — that would make for a pretty strong back. But I would lose the ship lapped look.
I think I will work out the first set of problems with the depth and door fitment, and then make two copies of the model. I’ll add a ship lapped back in one and try a frame and panel back in the other, and see what I prefer. I’ll post more on this as it develops.
Are you ever confused about which saw blade is the right one for your table saw or miter saw? With all the different tooth configurations, hook angles, or thin kerf versus wide it gets confusing right out-of-the-gate.
Personally I’m a fan of a 40 tooth combo blade on my table saw and preferably a 60 to 80 tooth blade on my miter saw. But even after using those styles for years I still look at all the blades on the market and find myself wondering if I could be using something different?
Because understanding and then choosing the right saw blade can be so difficult if you’re not already familiar with them, the folks over at Rockler posted a nice tutorial earlier this year.
Saw Blades 101 is an easy to understand guide and glossary of the most frequent terms you’ll run into when looking for the right saw blade for the task and tool you have.
The folks at Rockler have done a great job of breaking down the basics and helping you understand the terms you’ll see and hopefully help you make the right decision with the least amount of confusion.
My only question is, where was this when I started woodworking?
For more information and to read the post, visit Rockler.com/how-to/blades-101 by clicking here.
Based on comments, some will think this blog has too many picture. If you find that to be true, feel free to leave the blog and come back when you’re ready. We’ll be here.
You might remember this screen desk from the A Mystery Solved blog back in December:
It was at a local antique mall. I understand that the dealer died because the next time I saw it was at the local auction house:
Well, I just saw it back in the same antique mall in a different booth. It was so successful the first time there they brought it back.
Remember this one from the same auction last week:
It is now at the same mall, different booth. The new owner claims it’s a juicer.
And here’s the spout.
A few other interesting things from the same mall. One is this chest:
Then there is this other chest built from used packing crates:
From another shop in the area is this French mailbox:
And this equally French china:
The china is interesting but the pintle hings is fascinating:
Finally, saving the best for last:
Who wouldn’t want a set of poodle knife rests? For your mothers. Favorite aunts. Slightly odd fathers. Christmas is coming. At $475 for the set, that’s less than $40 per poodle.
It’s hard to believe that Woodworking in America 2014 is only a month away!
Once again I am honored to be a presenter. My main frustration is that there are so many great presenters that I will be unable to see nearly as much as I want.
On Friday afternoon I have the remarkable luxury of having four solid hours to talk about and demonstrate historic finishing. I have presented this at WIA several times before and it always seems to be a crowd-pleaser.
Last year the audience was especially enthusiastic; the facilities crew tossed us out sometime close to 7PM.
Then, mid-day Saturday will be a new WIA topic for me, Gilding. I don’t do much large scale gold leafing anymore, but I do use it a fair bit in my japanning work.
I hope to see you there.
A lot of people who try their hand at making a tobacco pipe do so because they want to make a special shape that they cannot afford to buy, such as a blowfish:
But pipe making is kind of like jazz–all the most innovative pipe makers are classically trained. Before you can make a blowfish, you have to be able to make a billiard. Consider the following, from Pipedia:
It seems like such a simple shape, and the description implies the same, but it’s actually somewhat difficult to make a good-looking billiard. Exactly how tall should the bowl be? How thick should the shank be? How long should the stem be? The bowl is 90-degrees to the shank, right? (Hint: it’s not.) Get just one of the proportions wrong, and your billiard will look wrong.
So, a couple weeks ago, I took some time off from making my usual pipes (Dublin churchwardens with natural tops) and set out to make a billiard. Instead of briar, I used some osage orange I had on hand, which I’m told makes a pretty good pipe, as domestic species go.
It took me every bit as long to make this pipe as it takes to make my regular churchwardens. In fact, I think it took longer–especially since I’m working without a lathe.
It’s not a perfect billiard, but I learned a lot while making it. Most of my pipes I make to sell, but I may keep this one. I’m not going to be making billiards all the time, but I think I will occasionally set my “creative” work aside to make a classic shape, if only to hone my skills. They say you have to walk before you can run, and walking is good exercise. So is making a billiard.
Tagged: billiard pipe, blowfish pipe, osage orange
Banks, Bank Managers and Your Personal Account Manager May Not be Able to Answer Your Future
I recently wrote on my FaceBook page that “He who frames the issue determines the outcome.”. I think that that is true. I have had dealings with banks and other enterprises handling business issues and money and for the main part always came away feeling like the apple I bit into looked good on the outside but was rotten inside. Banks have of course shown their true colours here in Britain over the past decade or so and that didn’t happen without some deep-rooted badness in the core essential at the heart of banking. If you are in the business of making money without actually making anything we should ask how can the outcome be any different? When someone starts to think about starting to own their own business it’s usually because they want is to take a measure of control in how their lives work into the future. For woodworkers and other crafting artisans they generally want to make things beautiful to grace their and others homes, give lovely hand made gifts, be creative with their children and friends and then make some income or a way of making a living in the future. I have a friend in Texas who paddles his own canoe, literally, around the shores of a massive lake to pick up driftwood of ashe juniper surrounding the shore line of the lake. He reshapes them into ducks and carves shaped toys from them and sells them at craft shows and he’s done that for 30 years. he also makes trains and trucks from other woods too, but the point is he framed his life, became a lifestyle woodworker and got off the corporate ladder early enough to carve out a life he liked to live. Now he’s retired and he still continues his work but now he has the control he wants and does what he does because he wants to.
Try to imagine walking into the bank ad asking for £20,000 to buy a canoe, some machines and have say 6 months working capital for such a project. They’d send you away first of all and say come up with a business plan, jump through a few hoops and see of you can rely on some other social media things, family money and work out an online marketing strategy like a website design and such. All stuff you could have manage without their input but you feel better because these are the experts in money matters. Well, woodworking is good DIY and so too are these things I speak of. It’s surprising how little it can really take to start your own woodworking business if you have a little vision for it.
There are many ways of starting a business, but they all take a little forethought and planning to ensure startup success as early as possible. Planning such things is both part of the process and, dare I say, very ENJOYABLE! Remember that success is measured by how much money you make only by other people. Don’t use that as the benchmark. Yes, you want to be financially responsible, but measure the success by more important things. Your sense of being in control. Your sense of wellbeing by spending carefully without money excess rather than borrowed excess you will be paying back for decades is payment enough. All too often I hear of people applying for some kind of funding to ‘get going‘ and especially do I see banks somehow declaring whether a model will work or not. Try to remember that banks don’t like risk and especially backing something they don’t understand. Banks do not understand crafting artisans and they can be demoralising when you have an idea that you might like working with your hands and making beautiful things. Banks do however understand that crafting artisans are rarely good business people if they, they banks, define what good business is. Remember banks are ONLY in the business of making money and they ALWAYS make money off people who actually have ideas, who work hard and need a way of exchanging money for goods they need and goods they are selling.
Can a Bank Understand This?
If you can finance your business yourself by continuing in income-producing work then that becomes a better business model until you have proven your income earning capacity by selling what you make. By then you won’t need a cash injection and in many cases I have seen people borrow money for equipment that will make more goods cheaper thinking making more for less is good business. That usually was not the goal in the beginning. they wanted to work for themselves and ended up working for the bank and the staff they feel obliged to care for. I don’t think that that’s what you were looking for. Be true to your original vision. If that’s not what you want, pick up a copy of Financial Times and read no further. Remember that, for some of us at least, making money is or at least can be secondary to the lifestyle we want to carve out for ourselves. Banks don’t understand that you will gladly work 80 hours a week over seven days making £10 an hour rather than £20 and hour for 40 if it’s the lifestyle you are working for first. I have often worked such long days and weeks to make my life happen the way I want it to and have no regrets at all because my workshop was important to my home life and I could be with my family.
This week I made some beautiful hand made picture frames and although I am not going to make this a business plan for me, it certainly could be for some of you. Hand made frames like this cannot be made by mass makers. Mass makers need to buy in stock, stamp out the goods and sell in mass quantities. Even custom framers rely on machine moulds and finishes and their skills might rest more in combining frames and mounts and sizing borders than actually creating the whole from from raw stock. That’s where you come in; to fill the niche for truly hand made, beautiful frames. There is a demand for the combined work of framers and the images and artwork installed in the frames. Creating frames as I have here means you can configure dozens of components to make highly desirable and distinctive frames for customers looking for the kind of quality money generally cannot find to buy. Exclusive work doesn’t necessarily mean exclusivity. You can make all kinds of frames using hand methods ranging from using paint to finish the wood and the actual wood itself. In the frames here I have used no machines at all. I have used standard moulds available in moulding planes and the grain I have planed and shaped has awkward wiry grain. In some cases I have used a scratch stock because of the awkward grain, but, regardless, all nine frames are made without any machine methods.
I have used basically one wood to make the frames from; sapele. One of the frames I inlaid with some figured maple and there are a dozens of other configurations I could use just for a change or to compliment my offering. Soon, in a matter of a few weeks, I will be showing all of the techniques I used to make these frames in a video series. I have chosen the unplugged methods because I feel that they give me a way of life that is quiet and gentle, peacefully manageable, clean and healthy and they give me peace of mind in my work. By now you will hopefully see that it’s the way I work I strive for and not merely money. This for me is wellbeing. You can learn to make frames like this in a few hours. You may already have the skills but have never used them for this application of the tools. Regardless, start working on a business plan that excludes your banker and borrowing is a great place to start. Read this blog post to your spouse, partner, parents, children and friends. Consider it. Go to a craft show. Host a party and invite family and friends to see your framing options. There is no comparison between a mass made frame and one you designed and made by hand. Frame the issue and take control of the outcome.