There are certainly more than just two types of classes, but the two most common are “project classes” (build a chair, table, etc.) , and “technique classes” (learn to cut dovetails, etc.). Many classes combine a bit of each, and you learn some techniques as you build your project.
I’m teaching a class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking (www.marcadams.com) this July 8-12 called “From Woodworker to Craftsman” that may fit into a different category. It’s a class I’m pretty excited about, although it may not be immediately obvious why. There’s a fun project to build (a tool tote), but that isn’t really the focus of the class. And it’s not really a techniques class, either, although it’s got plenty of that as well (we’ll hand cut dovetails and mortise and tenon joints, deal with some curves, and more.
So what’s different about this class? I wanted to design a class where there was a little more emphasis on really improving skills, and developing a better sense of how to get the most out of your tools (and your body). This is obviously something I’ve been working on for quite some time now, and my most recent book – The Foundations of Better Woodworking – was a close look at this topic. This class puts it all into practice.
If you’re looking for more of a project based class, I’m also teaching a Slat-Back Chair class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking (www.schoolofwoodworking.com). This is a pretty intense week of building an exceptionally comfortable dining chair, and learning about chairs and how to make them. We’ll cover all kinds of chair related issues: curves, joinery with curves, angles and angled chair joinery, bent lamination, and much, much more.
Many of the best mechanics prefer the Wood Bench Planes to the Iron and combination iron and wood planes, but have been compelled to use the latter, owing to the poor quality of the wood bench planes commonly sold.
The fact is that the majority of Wood Plane makers for several years past have been trying so hard to find out how cheaply they could make planes, that they have forgotten all about what a good plane means, and the result is that 90 per cent of the wood planes sold in the stores are almost good for nothing, and the other 10 per cent are but little better. The wood is unseasoned and spongy, and the irons so poor that they hardly hold an edge from the oilstone to the work.
It is a positive fact that a first-class double Plane Iron cannot be made and sold at the price that many of the so-called first quality planes are sold at complete.
We have before us a catalogue just issued by a firm who deal quite extensively in mechanics’ tools. In this catalogue the net selling price of a so-called first-class Smooth Plane with 2 ¼ inch double iron, is $0.56. We quote from the description of these planes, “The irons are guaranteed to be the best in the world.” Turning over a page or two we come to Plane Irons priced separately, and find that 2 ¼ inch double plane irons are sold at $0.58. Quoting again from the description of the Plane Irons, “These Plane Irons are guaranteed to be the best made.” It seems a little funny that the “Best irons in the world” should sell at $0.56 with the balance of the plane thrown in, while the “best made” plane iron only, is held at a price of about 4 per cent higher.
The brand of Plane Irons referred to is of excellent quality; in past years we have sold quantities of them, but, in our judgment, they are very far from being the “Best made,” and will not compare favorably with the Plane Irons made by any of the better class of English makers—say Moulson Bros., I. Sorby, Spear & Jackson, or Ward & Payne, French plane irons made by Peugeot Freres, or American plane irons made by Buck Bros.
Our Bench Planes
As we could find no Bench Planes in the market that are suitable for our class of trade, we are compelled to have these planes made to our special order. All of our planes are made of well-seasoned Eastern Beech, are oiled, polished and shellaced; they have steel starts, and the jack, fore and jointer planes have bolted handles. The plane irons used are the Ward & Payne (Sheffield) brand, and if these irons are not the “Best in the world,”they are certainly equal to any, and are the best we have ever been able to find. Every plane is stamped with our name, and we do not believe that the equal of these planes can be found elsewhere.
Chas. A. Strelinger & Co. – Detroit, Michigan 1897
- Jeff Burks
Filed under: Handplanes, Historical Images
My trip to Winterthur greatly impacted my knowledge of Hannah’s Inlaid Chest (what others may know as the Darlington Chest) I built for the June 2013 issue (#204). I posted a few things that would tilt the chest toward being a closer reproduction. I also promised I would point out which drawer was the imposter … Read more
When I first mentioned the topic of my latest DVD, my e-mail inbox filled up with messages such as: “This project is beneath you. Beneath all of us. You traitor.” And that’s the G-rated version. The DVD, “A Traditional Tool Chest in Two Days,” takes a home-center approach to building an 18th-century-style tool chest with … Read more
Did you see the cameo by my oldest daughter/director/producer/video task-master? If you missed it try again.
Ratione et Passionis
Today was the fifth day of challenging work but progress brings new confidence, a few jokes, some kickback to absorb the changes and a sense of genuine wellbeing that’s hard to match on a computer keyboard. The days past fast now we all have the second project done we are ready to tackle the oak table. We dished out legs for surface planing and most everyone went straight to the diamond plates to sharpen up their number four Stanley planes. Some already have it. They have followed my training on the woodworkingmasterclasses.com coursework and have also followed this blog’s structured teaching that emphasis simple methods that really work. It’s really neat knowing that they understand the methods we teach and have incorporated them into their lives for better work and close-to-the-core elements of our Real Woodworking Campaign. Accuracy has always been key to what we teach and that goes along with the techniques that simplify what’s become more complicated year by year.
Today, seeing the shelving units come together, means we have crossed one more bridge toward true simplicity in that we can cut accurate housing dadoes as quickly as most machine methods and with an accuracy that parallel some very sophisticated equipment. Throughout these US courses we use the Veritas router for jobs like this. This tool knows no equal when it comes to dialling in the exact depths we need for dead accurate housings such as the ones we use in making bookshelves. Stanley and Record once held the market but now the more refined makers have become well established in just about every continent. I get emails from mainland Europe asking me which router to buy. Veritas has become my stock answer.
We have an awareness of family here in the classes as people often talk about their families and especially their children. Snoopy came along to supervise Richard’s work here a couple of days ago. We took the picture to show how inclusive family ties need to be when someone comes away from the family to take a course like this. This blog helps keep people informed and secure at some level and so I enjoy passing on the fact that every single one of those who came is really doing exceptionally well in their achievements no matter what they may say to you. The dovetails all came out. For some it was a breeze, for others a struggle. The important thing is that a box was made and so too a shelf replete with dovetail joints, mortise and tenons and housing dadoes and all of this using no more than my Three Joints and Ten Hand Tools methodology I first taught back in the late 1980′s. Not much has changed but we have all grown into woodworkers and that’s a great move forward.
Beyond the projects, tools like scrapers are front burner issues now that we’ve progressed to using oak. Sharpness is key to good work and accuracy is impossible without surgical sharpness at the cutting edge. By the time we are done they will understand sharpening saws to task, how scrapers overcome the wildest grain and that planes cannot plane some woods no matter what they tell you at woodworking show sales areas. At the end of the day they will know exactly what they need to know to work wood. The next few days are critical in my endeavour to change their lives and deindustrialise their lives to find new balance and self worth.we shut mass-manufacture out at this point in time. We all like that. Peace partners with hand tool methods and harmony reigns.
Here are a few answers to recent questions:
Which glue do use mostly?
Any PVA works well for me. I haven’t found a great deal of difference between the makers and they all certainly work fine. There are specialist glues for plastic laminate and such, but we are talking about glues for wood. No I don’t use polyurethane glues in general.
What’s the liquid in the spray bottle you use on your diamond plates?
I use inexpensive glass cleaner. That’s not window cleaner by the type of glass cleaner sold as auto-glass cleaner. I buy it from the Dollar Store in the US or the Pound Shop in the UK. It’s safe, keeps the stones from clogging guaranteed and usually costs no more than a dollar or a pound.
I was wondering when and how much will cost the 1 month course you’re making in UK. From your website I saw it’ll be somewhere in 2014?
Our dates are not set yet because we have an extensive three month program coming later in the year. We have put everything on hold to invest our efforts in a concentrated effort to change the way we apprentice people. Our 2014 dates in the UK are undecided but we will be working on that in the near future. We do have one major month long intensive course starting in July here in the USA and that seems to be gaining much interest so we are looking forward to that.
We will be adding more questions in the general blogs in future. We are also planning to make more comments on the magazine and catalog content by the different magazine publishers and catalog companies in the US and Europe. If you have issues you would like me to look at please feel free to send them on but make certain to give good reference details.
My trip to Winterthur greatly impacted my knowledge of the Hannah’s Inlaid Chest (what others may know as the Darlington Chest) I built in the June 2013 magazine (issue #204). I posted a few things that would tilt the chest toward being a closer reproduction. I also promised I would point out which drawer was … Read more
ON A BRIGHT SPRING MORNING in the spring of 1978, Chris and Sharon Bagby opened the doors at Highland Hardware for the first time. Now 35 years later, they’re still in business operating the store that grew to become Highland Woodworking as we know it today. It’s been a long journey that could not have been accomplished without the support of countless thousands of loyal customers, many of whom have shopped here almost from the beginning.
Throughout these 35 years there have been many exciting additions and changes, but one thing has always remained the same and is our mission to deliver fine tools to your door.
Here is a timeline history of some milestone events that have happened over the past 35 years!
May 15th, 1978: Owners Chris and Sharon Bagby open Highland Hardware at 1034 North Highland Ave (across the street from its current location), an ordinary hardware store in Midtown Atlanta.
1980: The company begins to offer a weekend seminar program in their basement, bringing in woodworking masters like Tage Frid, Sam Maloof, and Roy Underhill.
1984: The store moves to a larger retail space across the street at 1045 North Highland Ave (and its current home today). The seminar program moves to a warehouse located behind.
1992: Our product-oriented newsletter, Wood News, merges with our woodworking tool catalog, and comes out 2-3 times per year as a physical publication. Our catalog is still published to this day, which you can subscribe to receive by mail HERE.
1995: The building is renovated to add 8,000 square feet to the store, which includes a brand new seminar/classroom space, a larger shipping/receiving area including a loading dock, a larger back office space, and additional floor space for retail sales.
1996: Highland Hardware launches into the World Wide Web at www.highlandhardware.com.
2005: Wood News begins as a monthly email newsletter with tools, tips, and monthly features highlighting woodworkers from around the world. Subscribe to Wood News HERE.
2006: Highland Hardware becomes Highland Woodworking. Still under the same ownership and still offering the same great service, we wanted to present a truer reflection of the nature of our tool offering and our position in the woodworking industry.
2013 (Present Day): Chris and Sharon are still involved in the everyday operation of our store and with a highly knowledgeable staff we are continuing to deliver fine, quality tools to your door.
As always, with passing years comes even more additions and technology. We invite you to continue checking out all of our new and exciting offerings by continuing to follow our Blog, like us on Facebook, tweet us at Twitter, hang out with us on Google+, or pin your favorite tips and tools on Pinterest.
From the entire Highland Woodworking family, we thank you for your continued support!
Chris Bagby, Owner
A happy 35th anniversary to Highland Woodworking (nee Highland Hardware) in Atlanta, Ga., and congratulations to its founders, Chris and Sharon Bagby, for offering the best tool selection in the South for three+ decades. To celebrate, they’re offering special 1-day deals (May 15 only) both in the store and on the web; click here to … Read more
Guys, I’m in this hobby for the fun of it and your anal retentive attitudes towards it has quickly taken the fun out of it. If I wanted to produce perfect dovetails, or any other joint or cut for that matter, I’d be going to school to learn the craft, rather than looking for down and dirty tips so I can get to the job at hand – which is having fun.
To those that sell vintage woodworking tools…
Guys, I’m in this hobby for the kicks and your take-it-or-leave-it attitudes towards my purchases have caused me to stop buying. I’m not looking for a one-of-a-kind, $5k ultimate brace. I’m looking for usable tools and, as with any purchase of any antique, I’d like a little history about my purchase. I’m not a tool historian and I absolutely have no desire to be one.
This will be the first in a series covering the restoration of this late 19th century rocking chair that belonged to my friends grandmother. He remembers the chair as brown so we will be removing the white paint, repairing any broken parts and re-caning the seat and backs with factory woven cane.
The cane on the seat and lower back are secured by the standard spline, however the top back with its double curves is secured in a wooden framework, I have never seen this method of attaching cane in 40 years of doing repair work.
Here is a photograph of my ‘apprentice’ Woody working on removing the seat and spline. Boiling water was used to soften the spline. Today he will be learning how to strip off paint. It is good to have someone interested in learning and he likes the work.
Please join me in wishing the Chris and Sharon Bagby, the proud owners of Highland Woodworking, in wishing them a happy 35th Birthday today! It’s hard to imagine that a store that has been such a longtime resource for woodworkers not only in the Atlanta, Georgia area but around the country and even internationally.
To celebrate this momentous occasion please take a moment to read about a little bit about the history of the store by clicking on the picture below. And when you’re done, take advantage of some of the great ONE-DAY sales and discounts to celebrate the occasion.
(Originally written March 22, 2010)
The legs are connected to the top!
After several cycles of adjusting the tenons and/or mortises, test fitting the legs to the top, working the legs out of the top (the hardest part), and adjusting again, I had gotten the legs so that they were fitting to a point that when the leg tenons were inserted into the mortises, the shoulders of the leg tenons were about 3/8” from meeting up with the benchtop. But it seemed that I just needed to to the slightest bit of trimming to get it to fit. But I decided to go with brute force instead.
See the clamps in the pictures? Those are 36” Wetzlers. I placed the clamps across the bottom of the legs and the benchtop, and I used them to force the legs home. The net result is that at least some of those 8 M/T joints are an extremely tight friction fit — so tight that I decided to let gravity and friction to keep these joints in place. This assembly is not coming apart any time soon. If by chance it does, I’ll drawbore and glue the joint.
Next step: making the groove in the bottom of the benchtop for the deadman, and then I can turn this bench over. After begging my neighbors for help, that is.
The simplest, cleanest way I know to do this is to use small Ziploc freezer bags cut into quarters. Take one of the corners and open it up like a cup so that so can place equal parts of A and B into the pouch.
After they are dispensed, twist the bag right above the epoxy and begin to knead the two parts together. 10-20 seconds of regular kneading is about all you should need.
Now that you have a fully mixed epoxy, make a small hole at the tip of the pouch, and you can control the adhesive application easily without any mess.
Once you have the area glued and clamped, you can use this bag to refer back to feel if the mix is hardened yet. If it hardened in the bag, it’s hardened in the repair.
One caveat here: I do not recommend using non reversible adhesives like epoxy in joinery! Do not squirt epoxy or gorilla glue or super glue, etc where tenon meets mortise or the like. This has serious implications for the ability the object to be repaired in the future. For joinery in antique furniture, do yourself and the object a favor and go get a little brown bottle of Franklin’s liquid hide at the hardware store before you reglue your grandmother’s rocking chair.
Sometimes there are classic designs that somehow defy time. This is of course an Arts and Crafts design I make in my classes. I just saw a beautiful chair design on the back of the latest Fine Woodworking magazine and it made me conscious of just how many designs have come about through the decades and centuries. We were talking about the simplicity of Sam Maloof’s design today in class and indeed the simplicity of making what is essentially a simple design that’s as simple to make as the design itself. Why is that? Well, the design replaces the use of traditional mortise and tenon joinery with all of the complexities surrounding compound angles it takes to make shouldered tenons corresponding to tapered front-to-back seats and places the seat-to-leg joinery on the side in a neat arrangement that recesses the seat into the leg and the leg into the seat. This virtually eliminates the limits normally associated with tradition and allows a more free-flowing shape that defies that tradition altogether to allow a free-form expression in three dimensional beauty and grace. John Cameron, the maker-designer, shadows the work of other designers (as we often do, perhaps most times unconsciously) to develop his own distinctive lines and presents us all with the challenge of creativity.
A classic design chair, good or bad, can stand the test of time with and without joinery
In the flea markets and car boots of the world there are thousands of chairs that retain the structure of the most used joint in the world. I see them wherever I travel with hide seats and woven seats, solid wooden seats carved to shapes corresponding to the human form and as flat as a pancake. They can indeed be monotonously dull and uninteresting until you consider their origins and the work that went into these complex pieces that somehow defy the impossible stresses and strains we expect them to withstand in the day to day of life. The point in all of this is to say that there are still new designs that occasionally hit the streets from time to time that I predict may or may not be up there with Hepplewhite or Adams but will be recognisable as 20th century designs of note, with authors recognised for their awareness and distinctive approach to working wood.
I also thought another article worthy of note beside Jonathan Binzen’s above was Chuck Bender’s article on Wharton Esherick. Of course we can’t all travel to every venue supporting our inheritance of woodworking designers and so the articles are of real value to us. I thought that Chuck conveyed me right into the heart of this designer’s front room studio in the way he wrote the article. It was for me a lovely article and one I would like to keep and read over from time to time. Chuck is a working craftsman teacher and we shared a little time on the Woodworking Show’s circuit this past three months of winter. We chatted as he a carved a ball and claw foot one day and I will add some pictures when I find them. This article was in Popular Woodworking.
The candle arms required only the minimum of fettling prior to gold lacquering them to match the gilding on the frame.
A suspension wire was attached to the back of the girandole and the candle arm mounts were then screwed to the skirt.
Filed under: Mirrors & Girandoles Tagged: candle arms, girandole, gold lacquering
One of the “Rosetta Stones” of 18th-century tool forms is a book with the long-winded title “Explanation or Key, to the various manufactories of Sheffield: with engravings of each article designed for the utility of merchants, wholesale ironmongers and travellers.” Most people just call it “Smith’s Key” because the editor/engraver was Joseph Smith.
What is it? It’s collection of beautiful plates of all sorts of tools for woodworking, some other trades and a big section of cutlery, always a popular item in Sheffield, England.
The Early American Industries Association published a reprint of it in 1975 with a nice essay by John S. Kebabian and an important price list. According to the Kebabian essay, it is likely this “key” was used by salesmen who represented different manufacturers and needed to show the lines of several makers.
There are earlier tool catalogs than this circa 1816 example, but this one is particularly important because it might have been used extensively.
For us, the catalog is important because it shows tools in their new states, without any user modifications from sharpening, mishandling or simple use. Most significant is the page on saws, which shows backsaws with blades that get narrower at the toe. I wrote about this years ago, and saw wright Matt Cianci of the thesawblog.com has been crowing about it, too. (Yay Matt!)
If you’ve ever looked for a copy of “Smith’s Key,” you probably decided to instead spend the money on a mortgage payment or a trip to Europe. And that’s why I’m pleased to present this link, courtesy of Jeff Burks, that allows you to download “Smith’s Key” from Gallica.bnf.fr.
Click here to get started. The link to download the entire book is at the top right part of the screen. It’s a fantastic scan. And though it doesn’t include the essay or price list from the 1975 EAIA edition, it does offer some of the plates in color.
Check it out. Download it now.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Downloads, Historical Images
“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” — George Lucas
DSN: I am thrilled to be able to share this video with you. Here’s the back story…
The film below was part of the Portland Public School’s Film Depository in 1973. I ordered a copy to review for my woodworking students. I have seen this film over 50 times and watched two times today! Caveat, it is not about woodworking.
For a 22 year old teacher, this was a life changing experience. I freely admit that deep down, I wanted to be just like Dominick Calicchio, which of course is impossible – as you will soon see, he is one of a kind.
Today, I received permission to post this on this Totally Awesome and Worthless Blog for you, and all members of the Drivel Starved Nation. That said, I do hope you take the time to view it, it is approx 20 minutes long. Works well on an iPad if you have a wmv viewer like Azul.
As always, your comments are welcome.
Click below to view. This is a .wmv file and you may need to add extensions to your browser to view it. I do not have permission to post this movie to more standard viewers like Vimeo or YouTube. FYI
It has been two months since I had back surgery.
Recovery has not been as advertised and I have learned more about vertebrae, nerves, scar tissue and various bodily fluids than I ever wanted to know.
At the moment walking and standing are difficult but I have seen some improvement and a full recovery is expected.
I recently worked at the bench for the first time since surgery and it did my heart a world of good.
My personal dulcimer has long been in need of fretwork and this seemed like the ideal project to take on.
I soon realized my lower body has been more involved when doing fretwork than I had imagined. I never noticed I kneel in front of the bench when checking the frets and fingerboard with a straight edge. I also prefer standing when leveling, crowning and polishing frets.
I spent some of the time working while seated on a tall stool. For some tasks I felt more in control of tools while standing and this required taking several breaks before completing the job.
After finishing the fretwork I needed to lower the height of the bridge. I set my action to tight tolerances and on a job like this I often drop the action to compensate for the few hundredths of an inch of height the frets lose after being leveled.
This dulcimer has an ebony bridge and the height was quickly lowered with a pass or two of a finely set block plane.
After enjoying time working at the bench I got to enjoy playing a dulcimer that feels as good to play as when it was new.
Can’t wait. The more I look at the schedule of classes, the more it seems to be an embarrassment of riches.