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This is a collection of all the different blogs I (try to) read. A whole bunch! If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to use the CONTACT page to get a hold of me. Thanks!
you'd kinda be right about that.
But I'm also using my downtime from docent duty to focus in the laser on this little medieval book of mine. After all a few weeks ago I gathered some incredible research and I'm ready to start filling in the initial framework.
There is still more research to do along the way, but yesterday evening I had a small but satisfying break through.
The bed shown in the Morgan Bible has been an issue for me since just after identifying the thirteen instances it shows up. Why is it so problematic? The bed clothes hide most of the bed in nearly all the instances. The best you get to see is the feet.
It's a little maddening in the fact that it doesn't show anything much for me to work from. But research is magic. Tonight I was reviewing my notes and I found a trail to follow. Under my research on beds I'd written "Famous example from Chartres" Offhand I wasn't sure what Chartres was.
The power of the internet is great and soon I'd found that Chartres Cathedral is a medieval Gothic cathedral built near Paris France around 1194 and completed around 1220. It is nearly complete in it's original state, almost untouched by hardships. And the stained glass windows are exquisite. In a stained glass window panel called the Charlemagne panel. There I finally found a solid answer.
My research has concentrated on other illuminated manuscripts, now I'll have to spend some time with stained glass windows as well. It's a heavy burden. . .
Close in geographic proximity. Falling very close to the span of years in which the bible was made,
The bed without the bedclothes is fairly close to what I was picturing in my head and planned out on paper. Still, I wasn't close enough, I'll start the measured drawings again from scratch once I get back to my drafting table.
A lot of those who've studied the Morgan Bible note how the artistic interpretations inside are different from other manuscripts at the time. The popular speculation is they were actually mural painters, based on recollections of similar murals that had been painted at the time and preserved until the 20th century.
I have a different speculation. Not possessing the advantage of witnessing the murals, I see similar artistic quality and work in the stained glasses of Chartres Cathedral and Sainte Chapelle.. What does a stained glass artisan do when the work is light? or they cannot travel for a while to work on a new cathedral? Settle down for a bit and work for a Scriptorum creating manuscripts.
I wonder if the idea has been entertained.
I will have to leave it for the moment though. For the rest of the day I get to help pack up and wrap up the Studley Tool Cabinet, Workbench, and all the tools for it's return journey to the owner. Yet another burden. . . .
Ratione et Passionis
Donald Culross Peattie, A Natural History of Western Trees, 1953
Just arrived, two sets of Engelmann Spruce guitar tops!
I purchased these tops from Simeon Chambers out of Highlands Ranch, Colorado. I have heard good things about the tonewood his sells, so I decided to see that for myself.
Click here for his website and better yet, click here for his eBay store.
The order arrived within three days of placing it. Mr. Chambers did include four pieces of brace wood, enough I think for the transverse bars and fan bracing!
As you can see the wood is gorgeous, Mr. Chambers states that this wood is comes from trees that were killed in a forest fire back in the 1940's.
I want to pair one of these tops with curly hard maple back and sides...oh, so much work to do!
Scott Landis, The Workbench Book, 1987
A deadline is fast approaching and I have at least one more French polish session to do on the bearclaw Sitka spruce/granadillo guitar for Kyle Throw, an up and coming young classical guitarist in Denver, Colorado.
The trickiest part about French polishing a guitar is where the sides join the heel, you have to really smash down your polishing pad to get the shellac in the corner of the junction. And you can't work the area too much at a time or you will soften the shellac you just put down.
A bench mounted vise holds the guitar by the head stock or neck when I French polish, one problem with this is I have a limited view of that junction. Really, I can't the bench light just right to reflect off the shellac so I can see how much I am putting down.
I decided to remedy that problem today, I decided to make a guitar body holding box that can be mounted to the bench apron.
I got this idea from Scott Landis's The Workshop Book. Turn to page 31 of his book and you will see a photo of the workshop of Jeffery Elliot and Cyndy Burton. In the photo you see Jeff working on a guitar that is being held in a box.
There was a handful of ponderosa/lodgepole pine boards in my other workshop, just right to make the box. No plans needed, I figured two inches wider and deeper than the guitar box. The rest I "eagle eyed".
A battery powered drill, some screws and the box quickly went together...
I marked the location for the holdfast holes and drilled them with my trust Stanley brace and Irwin drill bit...
and the hold fasts, well, um, hold the box tightly to the bench apron.
In this above photo, the redwood/Indian rosewood copy of a 1961 Hernandez y Aguado guitar sits well in the box ready for more alcohol/pumice pore filling.
The beauty of holding the guitar in such a box is the quick access to the sides on either side of the heel joint. It means a better job of French polishing!
Now, get out to your workshop and make something!
Some day I will learn.
On to making drawer fronts and a small wall cabinet.
The first time we took our benches to see the public I was a bag of nerves. We took along a huge fancy Roubo type thing, but it was the other, simple bench we took that was my favourite. I hoped to focus on the idea that a good bench could be simple so the tail vice was absent, I never use tail vices.
Along with the benches I took a rough old stick with a notch cut in it, and a holdfast. I tried to demonstrate an old, clearly forgotten technique so that even a beginner could work well without a tail vice. A handful of people seemed intrigued, but for the most part this bench fell well in to the shadow of its bigger brother with its fancy spinning vices.
Simplicity was no match for the bling and commerce.
My first attempts at filming project videos a few years back were horrific. I couldn’t speak, not a word. After truly months of banging my head against the wall Helen came up with a new tactic; don’t woodwork, just do a quick tip to break the ice. Out came the batten again, and many takes later we finally had a video.
I’d hoped a couple of people would benefit, but the response to the video on the Holdfast and The Batten was considerably more. The internet, it would seem, is a fantastic place for simple ideas. Perhaps it’s because it finds us in the confines of our own space where the otherwise dull and mundane can be heard without the pull of more shiny surroundings.
The extreme stress of making that video has led to one of the most gratifying feelings of writing this blog. I started to see an idea which had previously been shrugged off being implemented in to numerous workshops. To me the batten had been a training aid, and I haven’t seen one on my bench since the filming. But by sharing, that simple stupid stick has found a use at many benches. It has been redesigned, reshaped and re-purposed, and I love it.
I’ve always found the human aspect of work methods fascinating. The way that ideas evolve in a kind of Chinese whispers effect as they get implemented to meet the specific needs of an individual. Making this video has allowed me to see this happen first hand to this, the most simple of ideas.
I’ve followed it’s journey through many applications and seen in turn the rediscovery of ‘The Doe’s Foot’. To me though it’ll always be the notched batten.
So the point of this post. If you have an idea, share it.
People will benefit. And if you think it’s so good you’d rather keep it locked up tightly in your own box of secrets, swallow your ego I tell you, because it’s far more gratifying watching it flourish.
This was a major milestone for me, in a couple of ways.
The most obvious was completing the inlay. This was a fair amount of work and a lot of risk to the end product. Every little twitch of the mini-router could have screwed up the end result. By the time I got to the 4th leg I was feeling reasonably confident of the process. On the first leg I didn’t feel in control routing accurately to the scribed line for the petals. As a result I had some gaps, and several petals required a lot of knife work to fit well. All things being equal, I’d prefer a perfect fit off the router, or at least a fit that ended up needing knife work to get a snug fit. By the last leg I was pretty close.
The non-obvious part here is that I didn’t get caught up in the mistakes, even when something went badly wrong I just fixed it as best I could and continued on. That’s a big deal for me, it’s all to easy to fall into the perfectionist trap where nothing is ever good enough.
So, here is the blow-by-blow without all of the analytical drivel.
The tracing is for routing the vines and general positioning of the petals. It’s not nearly accurately enough to route the petals directly. I used an awl to locate the dots, and traced a circle around the large 3/16″ copper dots to differentiate them from the 1/8″ silver dots.
Once the outline of the shell petals is knifed in I pop them off (that is the intent with using Duco — to provide a imperfect glue up so it can be taken apart). Then I go over the knife lines to deepen them. When I route the petal cavities I remove the waste to within maybe 1/32″ of the knife line (less than 1/16″ at least), then slowly sneak up to the line. As I get close to the line it tends to want to pull the last little bit off right up to the line. After the petals are excavated I route the stems freehand. It turns out that a little wiggle in the routed line isn’t visible once the silver is inlaid — it goes in straighter than the wobble in the line and looks fine. Finally I drill the holes.
I glue in the petals first, as they may require some tweaking of the opening to get the shell to fit. By the 4th leg I was either right-on or very close on all of them, only requiring a tiny bit of knife work on the tip of the opening where the router bit won’t reach. I bought a for-real scalpel and blades from Cincinnati Surgical, it works really well. The blade is much finer and more flexible than either an X-acto or Swann-Morton craft blades. I use “super glue” to glue the inlay into the cavities, then do a wash over all the parts with the same glue to fill any little gaps. I set the depth on the router to leave the inlay about .010″ above the surface of the wood. The hardest part of this is the short lengths of 1.32″ Silver wire, it is a little tricky to get it into the groove and cut to length. The dots end up being a little taller than the rest of the inlay at this point, which is not a big deal.
I leave the glue to dry for several hours, then use a Bastard file to level the inlay with the surface of the wood. Original G&G work would have been slightly proud of the surface I think, but with my glue-fill procedure that wasn’t an option. I filed until the surface was level, then sanded it through 220 grit.
The next step is to glue up the base, and then start on the table top. I guess I have a small boatload of Ebony plugs to prepare too. I should be able to get pretty close to having the construction done next weekend.
Last week I shared one of the many projects I built in the past that I wouldn’t mind if it was lost to the annals of time. )Missed the post? Here’s a link.)
This week I’m sharing what was probably my first attempt at a truly functional piece of furniture for the house.
Where we were going to use it I’m not sure, but it was built after watching hours and hours of The New Yankee Workshop that I videotaped from TV (that statement alone should tell you how long ago this was.).
The entire project was made from 1x pine boards I picked up at my local home center. I ended up using it as an excuse to expand my shop from just a small benchtop bandsaw and tablesaw to also including my very first router (a horrible 1/4″ collet Skil plunge router.)
Because I didn’t own a jointer or thickness planer at the time I can say with absolute certainty the surfaces of the components are probably anything but flat and square. Also as a result I didn’t make any attempt to use thinner stock for the drawer boxes.
So this means that absolutely every component of this project is built from 3/4″ thick material. The result of course is that it’s HEAVY AND BULKY!
As you can see in some of these pictures I made an attempt here and there to hide ugly joinery (and plenty of nail holes), but in hindsight, I don’t think it actually made it any better, how about you?
All-in-all it was a great lesson for myself in drawer frame, and drawer box construction which would payoff big time in experience in many more projects to come later on.
In case you’re wondering whatever happened to this project? It’s been used in a variety of functions over the years. Some out in the open and others tucked away in a dark corner of the basement.
Currently it resides in my son’s room as his bedside table. Not because it matches the bed we built on the show (click here to see that,) but because it’s tall enough to be useful alongside it (I’m thinking that might be a good excuse to build something more appropriate?)
Do you have a project that was your “next big step” in your woodworking path? If so, please share it here or on the show’s Facebook Page.
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Details on my other blog. It’s fantastic. Get one.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites
When cutting precision joinery by hand, sometimes a joint that’s off by a fraction of a degree is the difference between it seating or splitting apart. When diagnosing joinery problems of students, I use a vintage diemakers square (I wrote about this in 2013 here). It allows me to sneak into places no normal square can go and is more accurate than my eyeball. Diemakers squares can be expensive, so […]
The post The Dovetail Doctor: The Sterling Dovetailing Ruler appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
I like to be honest about sharing what works well for me, even if that view might be unpopular: I sometimes recommend saws of the disposable type. And this and my following post, I’ll justify that. It can be a hard sell; “disposable” is a big mental hurdle to overcome – so I’ll deal with that first. When these saws become blunt they cannot be sharpened. But when most of […]
As self-proclaimed leader in the field of woodworking haute couture, I would like to introduce the next frontier in menuisier fashion. Last week the four Gramercy Tools holdfasts that I ordered arrived after 5 weeks of traveling across time zones, an ocean and the equator. Holdfasts work like a charm, but tends to mar your work unless you stick a bit of scrap between it’s fangs and your stock. It can be a bit of a hassle so I thought of a way to address this particular issue.
I like to do leather work from time to time and it made sense to use this skill to alleviate the problem. As you can see in the pictures below, I custom-fitted these stunning Almond-toed leather booties to the business end of the holdfasts. I used two layers of Skeleton Coast seal skin for the sole and free range Namibian cow’s hide for the upper. It would not look out of place on a catwalk in Milan (says he), but I am not sure whether the common adage used to describe particularly sexy boots would necessarily apply. Apart from the obvious visual appeal, it has real functional advantages as well. It improves grip, protects your stock and cuts down the time spent fiddling with bits of scrap wood.
I also took to the shaft section of the holdfasts with a rasps to improve it’s grip. It works like magic.
Below you can find some examples of the boots in action. The pictures also provide ample evidence to support my decision to ignore Monsieur Schwarz’s Commandment to stick to very few dog/holdfast holes.
Here are a few examples of a saw bench modeling the trend-setting footwear.
My bench holdfasts live here.
So there you have it, once again the best of tres chic woodworking. Only at Je ne sais quoi Woodworking.
The flight was delayed about 20 minutes leaving Detroit due to baggage loading. But the pilot did make up for most of it and we touched down in Providence only 8 minutes late. It was good to finally be home and get a hug from my wife.
|same mess I left on thursday|
|table still looks flat|
|big wedge for a small boo-boo|
|sawed off the majority of the waste|
|I'll finish this tomorrow|
Who is the largest tobacco producer in the world?
answer - China the United States is a distant 4th
I went to a woodworking garage sale last weekend and came across a drum sander. It looked so lonely and in need of a new home, how could I say no? I really like my spiral cutter-head planer, but it can only take material down so thin. I’ve always heard good things about conveyor fed drum sanders and thought that this would be an interesting addition to the shop. Its potential for assisting with re-sawing veneers or for ensuring the uniform thickness for parts of a bent lamination seem, to me at least, to make it worth buying if the price was right.
The previous owner had built a very nice mobile base that used good quality casters. The guy also had about 20 rolls of sandpaper in various grits 60, 80, 100, 120, 150, 180, and 220 which were included with the machine.
I purchased the machine for $400, which seems to be a reasonably good deal. I was a little shocked to find out how much the sandpaper for the machine costs once I got home and started looking things up. Considering the paper that was included, the deal seems better still.
I am in the process of designing and installing a dust collection ducting system for my shop and thought that I had finalized my floor plan. This new tool has thrown a wrench to two into the mix and I’ll have to give some thought to where I am going to locate it and how I am going to add it in to the system.
I have had quite a lot of luck in piecing my wood-shop together through Craigslist adds or garage sales. The only big tool/machine that I have purchased brand new is my dust collector. Buying this way has enabled me to buy much better tools that I would have been able to if I was only buying new. The biggest additional cost to buying used tools is time. You have to be prepared to check Craigslist every day or two and also to go to many garage sales. I have had plenty of days when I came back empty-handed, but that’s how it goes.
You also can’t be in a hurry buying in this method. If you decide you must buy a table saw first, then you may find a good deal, but are limiting yourself. I have spent over four years slowly improving my shop and have acquired the tools as I came across them, not searching for a specific item or thing in a specific order (I still haven’t found a full-sized lathe at the right price). The best instance of this is when I responded to an ad for a Grizzly 10-inch wet grinder. I ended up buying a huge Grizzly table saw and an 8-inch spiral cutter-head jointer from the guy that day. This remains my largest tool purchase ever.
I save up some cash and wait until I “stumble” across the right tool at a good price. That brings me to the other main part of my buying strategy. I never pay more than half of the new retail price. Period. Most of the deals that I have come across have been in the 1/3 of new price range. Some a little more, some perhaps as low as 1/4. But 1/2 is my limit. If I can’t get it at that, I’m prepared to walk away. Most of the big tools I have bought have been between five and ten years old. Things depreciate (except for Lie-Nielsen planes, but that’s another story). As with any purchase, if you get attached and just have to have the item, you’re going to pay more.
Also, I enjoy cleaning up older tools. I’m quite happy to download the manual and go through a tool from top to bottom cleaning, lubing, and resetting or calibrating it to factory specs. Some might argue that this is not time spent woodworking, but I’m in my shop and enjoying myself, and after all that’s what this hobby is about, no?
Well, I have rambled on long enough. What do you think? How do you buy your big shop tools? New, used, auctions, estate sales? Or, do you have any experience or thoughts on the Jet drum sander? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
– Jonathan White
I find myself turning to plywood for many projects and given the poor surface finish of plywood I am always on the lookout for products that would make finishing easier.
Recently, I stumbled upon two products that promise to make life much easier when painting plywood or for that matter even natural wood. These products are not suitable if you wish to stain and polish high quality veneered plywood; they are useful if painting plywood.
|Dent Filler made by a small Haryana Company|
The first product I spotted on my local hardware dealer's shelves was a dent filler by a company called American Paints Corporation, which I later learnt has no association with the United States but is a small scale unit based in a village in Haryana's Sonepat district. I wonder if this product would be widely available in most parts of India.
At any rate, this dent filler, which is Acrylic based, is an excellent and low priced product. A 1 kg pack costs just about Rs 200 and this is enough for filling a lot of dents and holes.
The filler is a white with a thick creamlike consistency and is meant to be applied with a palette knife. I filled small holes, dents and screw bores easily; for deeper pocket holes, I applied the filler in two or three layers. After a few hours the filler was hard and impossible to chip away. It did however yield to sanding.
|Screw holes and other imperfections are quickly and easily filled. The filler does not drop off or shrink after drying.|
I was quite pleased with its consistency, ease of application and hardness. It was way cheaper and better than the widely advertised Australian product Timbermate. I prefer a filler that would dry hard and adhere well to wood unlike some that tend to become friable, crack with shrinkage or remain soft (like traditional putties).
I am not sure that this product would be appropriate for projects that require polish or staining even though the filler comes in two other colours (Walnut and Teak) as well. It takes primer and paint well but I have not tried it with stains and clear finishes.
RichFill Wood putty (website http://www.richfill.in/) is another good product but comes in powder form and has to be made into a paste and then applied. This product comes in various colours but does not take additional stain very well. However, it hardens well and can be very easily painted over.
|Dulux Acrylic Wall Putty|
The other product I tried was Acrylic wall putty made by Dulux paint for plaster walls. I came across this product when the painters were prepping the walls of my study prior to painting. They applied a fine coat of this putty on the plasterboard and cement walls prior to priming.
I liked the consistency and decided to try in on a piece of Pine. After a day or so the putty dried really hard and would not chip off or crumble. It was much better than applying a paint-water-chalk (Mitti) powder mixture. After one month I checked the putty and found it as hard as ever.
|Acrylic putty adhered well to wood and formed a permanent bond|
This is good stuff even though I am not sure it was designed for wood. I used it for my latest bookshelf project and I must say the putty is easy to apply and sands well after drying.
I would however suggest using a dust mask while sanding as the putty abrades into a fine powder which rises in the air and settles over everything. Sanding is best done outdoors. Once sanded use a blower or a slightly tacky cloth to remove the remaining layer of fine putty dust prior to applying primer.
|Putty base makes priming and painting easier, quicker and produces a great surface|
One coat of putty is more than enough, especially if holes and dents have already been filled.
These two products are timesavers and produce a very superior surface for painting.
18 May 2015
Many boys in the machine shop lose their opportunities of becoming skilled mechanics through waiting for a better job, just as men die waiting for something to turn up. There is no job to begin to do good work on like the one in hand, and no mistake greater than supposing that the very best mechanical skill cannot be shown on what would be called a very ordinary piece of work.
Nothing is more common than to hear complaints from apprentices that they don’t get an opportunity to learn the trade at which they are working, but generally speaking no one gets the opportunity; he makes it. There is no conspiracy to keep any one out of the position he ought to fill, but he must get into that position by his own exertions.
If a boy demonstrates that he is capable of doing a simple job of work better than anyone else, he is morally certain to get tried on a better one, if there is a better one. If he fails to do the present job right because there isn’t scope enough for his ambition, he makes it appear that it would be unsafe to trust him with better work. There is no other sure road to advancement than through present duties well performed.
American Machinist – November 10, 1883
Filed under: Historical Images
A motor furniture delivery truck, belonging to R. J. Horner & Co., New York, caught fire as it was being driven out to Hastings-on-the-Hudson last Saturday morning. The driver was apprized of the fire by people looking and pointing at the truck, till he realized something must be wrong. He was driving at about 12 miles per hour at the time.
The entire body back of the driver’s seat, and the contents, consisting of about $1,100 worth of furniture, were consumed, but the chassis was practically uninjured and was driven back to New York under its own power.
It is supposed that the driver or the helper was smoking, and that the sparks from the cigar ignited the inflammable material with which the furniture was packed, but the driver denies this, and says he has no idea how the fire originated. The fact that the gasoline tank was intact and the chassis uninjured would seem to prove that the fire was in no way due to gasoline or anything about the mechanism of the truck.
The Horseless Age – August 25, 1909
Filed under: Historical Images
The completion of my Japanese style toolbox gave me the opportunity to see how the uzukuri technique would respond to a linseed oil finish. All of the exterior surfaces, except the bottom, of the toolbox received the uzukuri treatment. The surface created by the uzukuri is a burnished surface and I wondered how it would respond to the oil.
I half expected the oil to just pool on the surface. Thankfully that is not what happened. The BLO was absorbed normally. What did happen was a little surprising though.
The burnished surface was quite glossy before the addition of the oil.
After the oil though, I was left with more of a satin finish. My guess is that the compressed fibers, from the burnishing process, swelled slightly as they absorbed the oil. Not expected, but not unwelcome either. In all I finished the toolbox with one coat of BLO and one coat of Tried & True Original. The Tried & True product contains linseed oil and beeswax and buffs to a nice sheen.
I really like the surface that is created by the uzukuri. It’s a simple process to complete and it’s quite easy to create as little or as much texture as desired. One thing to keep in mind is that the process is easier to perform on the individual parts than on the whole assembly. So it’s best to treat each piece as you go. A little blending after assembly brings everything together.
I wish there were someway for all of you reading this to touch the surface. I cannot adequately describe it. But it begs to be touched. Smooth and rough, but in a pleasing way. Another thing is, IMHO, that it elevated a marginal piece of timber to something interesting and beautiful. I will be employing this technique quite a bit on future projects. One downside, however, is that it’s unbelievably difficult to photograph. I did the best that I could, but these photos fall well short of the real thing.
Part 2 Greg Merritt