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The second half of my interview with Core77 was posted today (here’s the link), and I am deeply jealous of the lede that Rain Noe wrote at the top of the piece. It’s a nice piece of work, and it’s a connection – between Frankfort, Ky., and Frankfurt, Germany – that I wish I had made.
In the second installment, we discuss Crucible Tool, American anarchism and how to design outside the world of trends.
I am sincerely grateful to Rain and Core77 for showing an interest in my work, which at times feels like the drunken uncle to real and honest industrial design.
— Christopher Schwarz
This is an excerpt from “The Anarchist’s Design Book” by Christopher Schwarz.
There is a three-step process for how people – woodworkers or not – approach a typical table.
1. They run their hands over the top to feel how smooth the finish is.
2. They run their fingers on the underside of the tabletop, right at the front, to see if it is also smooth.
3. If there is a drawer, they pull it out to see if it opens smoothly, and to look for dovetails – the mark of quality mid-priced factory furniture.
What annoys me about this ritual – and I’ve witnessed it 100 times – is not the people who look for dovetails. Heck, I want dovetails, too. Instead, what bugs the bejebus out of me is how people are looking for plastic textures and plastic drawer motion in a piece of handmade wooden furniture.
We have been ruined by plastic and its inhumane smoothness. I’ve watched people on a train rub their smartphones like they were rosary beads or worry stones. I’ve seen people pull drawers out of a dresser and feel the underside.
The message is that “smooth” equals “quality.”
That is so wrong.
I refuse to equate quality with smoothness in a universal manner. The “show surfaces” of a piece should be smooth, though they don’t have to feel like a piece of melamine or Corian. Subtle ripples left by a smoothing plane are far more interesting than robotic flatness.
Secondary surfaces that can be touched – think the underside of a tabletop, the insides of drawers or the underside of shelves – can have a different and entirely wonderful texture.
When I dress these surfaces, I flatten them by traversing them with my jack plane, which has a significantly curved iron (an 8″ to 10″ radius, if you must know). This iron leaves scallops – what were called “dawks” in the 17th century – that are as interesting as a honeycomb and as delightful to touch as handmade paper.
That is what old furniture – real handmade furniture – feels like. I refuse to call it “sloppy” or “indifferent.” It’s correct and it adds to the experience of the curious observer.
But what about the surfaces that will almost never be touched? Historically, these surfaces were left with an even rougher texture than dawks left by a builder’s handplane. I’ve seen cabinet backs that had ugly reciprocating-saw marks left from the mill – even bark. To be honest, parts with saw marks and bark look to me more like firewood than furniture.
What should we do with these surfaces?
Here’s my approach: When these parts come out of a modern machine, they are covered in marks left from the jointer and the thickness planer. The boards are usually free of tear-out, bark and the nastiness you’ll see on the backs of historical pieces.
Should I rough these up with an adze and hatchet to imitate the look of the old pieces? Or perhaps just leave the machine marks?
Personally, I find machine marks ugly in all cases. I don’t ever want to see them. So I remove them with my jack plane or a coarsely set jointer plane. The result is that all the surfaces are touched with a plane of some sort – jack, jointer or smooth.
Those, I have decided, are the three textures I want to leave behind.
And none feel like my iPhone.
— Meghan Bates
When our School’s Fall fair is over, we have the opportunity to pick up some of the leftover forest decor materials and store them for future use in our Manhattan-based woodshop. One find from past years’ Fall Fair was a hollow branch of about 8 inches in diameter. A week after the Fair ended, a volunteer parent mentioned to me that she wanted to build a Gnome house for her […]
The post Woodworking Workshop for Parents and Fall Fair 2017 – Part 2: How Build a Gnome house appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Today we wanted to share a special #ThrowbackThursday to a blog written by Chris Schwarz exactly 5 years ago about Highland Woodworking, calling us the ‘Hand-tool Stalwarts of the South.‘
We also wanted to give a special thanks to Chris Schwarz, Megan Fitzpatrick and Lost Art Press for being some of our biggest advocates and supporters! If you haven’t read any of the beautiful books published by Lost Art Press, we suggest you get your hands on one (or a few). The quality, craftsmanship, and words that their books express about woodworking is bar none.
The post Throwback Thursday: Highland Woodworking: Hand-tool Stalwarts of the South appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
- I need to make further progress on precise, crisp marking out of the pin board but in a way that produces a line I can follow;
- Although I have made significant strides, there is always room for further improvement in sawing technique.
Here's the result:
Since seeing my first piece of antique furniture decorated with tarsia a incastro, or “Boulle work,” I have been captivated by both the art form and the technique.
This ancient method of using a minuscule blade in a frame saw, usually a jeweler’s saw in our time, for cutting patterns in two or three layers of material comprised of the shell of a sea turtle, a sheet of brass, and sometimes a sheet of pewter, remains captivating to this day. The result is the same number of completed compositions as the original number of layers in the stack.
Due to the prohibition of trade in turtle shells I invented my own very convincing replacement material I call Tordonshell.
So these three days will comprise of making your own piece of Tordonshell (I will have some pieces made in advance for the workshop) and sawing patterns from packets we will assemble for cutting.
Though we will be cutting them vertically to begin, there is a chevalet in the classroom and anyone who wants to give it try is welcome to do so.
The complete 2018 Barn workshop schedule:
Historic Finishing April 26-28, $375
Making A Petite Dovetail Saw June 8-10, $400
Boullework Marquetry July 13-15, $375
Knotwork Banding Inlay August 10-12, $375
Build A Classic Workbench September 3-7, $950
Today I changed the tyres on both wheels of my bandsaw and it was an all day event. I had to travel 70km to buy it, then I had a friend show me how to put one on, got home couldn’t get the bottom wheel off, posted a help request on a forum, told I needed a wheel puller or heat the rubber and wheel to 100° C and put it on that way.
I did neither of that and just slapped it on. I will write an article on this as it is a pain in the backside to put it on, but the way my friend showed me today it makes it a little less frustrating.
When I placed the tyre on there were a few bumps which I levelled out. So when I installed a brand new blade and saw it twisting like chubby checker I went back to re levelling any spots I may have missed on the tyre. Backwards and forwards for an hour until I was satisfied it wasn’t the tyre. Then I had a thought and reinstalled the old blade and presto she was running true again. So now I knew that the new blade was twisted. Luckily I had one brand new blade left and installed that one, I must admit I was a bit nervous that it too may be twisted but it wasn’t and ran true.
Btw that picture isn’t my twisted blade, but it had half the twist of that. There you go I learned two new things today; How to replace a tyre and bandsaw blades can have a twist in it.
Machinery absolutely without a shadow of a doubt SUCK. They are a pain in the pocket and in the backside. Most machinery and that’s not including Hammer or Laguna are made cheaply and carelessly made in China. You all know that you don’t need me to tell you this but what you may not probably know is it’s not China’s fault. They will make to the standards companies are willing to pay for and that’s not very much.
I use that bandsaw maybe twice a week for re sawing thicker stock into thinner ones and no more than 5mins for those two times combined. Both tyres snapped from wear and tear and I have to express my disappointment in that. Imagine I had a machine only wood shop. Imagine I relied on that machine to work all day everyday. Imagine I had to buy new tyres every month because they’re so poorly made under the direct instruction of companies to keep their costs down. I worked it out for the length of time I had to an average time I used it and it came 40mins. I used that bandsaw over the years of a total of 40mins and let’s be gracious and add another 20 mins to that in case I made a mistake. I think enough is enough and it really is time to fight back. If it’s made in China piss it off, walk away. Rather be without it than throw your money away.
As for me I will be in the near future building myself a Roubo saw. She will last as long as I last and will continue to work when the next person picks it up. Bugger machinery, they may work faster for a moment and then something will break down and she’ll go on strike bringing production to a grinding halt and put you out of pocket for a month. Remember it was the tortuous that won the race and not the hare.
As always, all subscription and pre-order copies ordered in our store will be wrapped in brown kraft paper affixed with the official Issue Four wax-sealed trade card (which just arrived from the printer today) and will be packed into mailers accompanied by pine plane shavings.
The pre-order window will be open through March 21st. After that window closes, the trade cards and wrapping will no longer be available.
Issue Four ships out March 23rd and 24th. (Stay tuned for packing party details very soon.)
This issue is full of incredible authors: Jim Tolpin, Vic Tesolin, Charles Hummel, Jarrod Dahl, Will Lisak, Peter Follansbee, as well as several of the M&T crew: Mike, Jim, and Joshua. You can read a blog post about each of these upcoming articles here.
Thank you again for your support! We’re ecstatic to bring you this newest issue!
The service guy filled the tire up and he could hear a low hiss of air once he was done. He ran his hand over the tire and found a bolt stuck in it. Cause of the flat found and then I got a real pleasant surprise. My pickup truck had a full sized spare tire. AAA changed the tire and I got the joy of driving home in the rush hour traffic. Will the fun just stop now and let me off the merry go round?
The tire problems started this morning when I left for work. All four tires were stuck and frozen to the driveway and I had to do some rocking back and forth to break them free. The skid indication on the dashboard went into overdrive and wouldn't shut off until I got to Warwick Ave. The truck was also making a funny noise and was pulling to the right. That was the tire that went flat - right front passenger side.
I thought I had thrown the truck's front alignment off breaking free of the ice. When I got to work I looked at all four tires and they looked ok so I went into work. I figured if I had the same problems going home, I would make an appointment and have the front end checked. With the spare tire on, the pulling to the right disappeared and the rubbing noise was gone too. I'll get the tire plugged and put back on the truck this weekend.
|the 10 1/2 frog|
|tarnished and not so shiny|
|kind of shiny|
|it's in there somewhere|
|5 1/2 frog is done|
Did you know that a 6 foot wide shuffleboard court is 52 feet long?
At a recent auction there was an unusually large number interesting seating units. There’s always a lot of chairs at an auction but this was the most interesting assortment I have seen locally. Too many for one blog so I will just start with the multi-user seats.
Large Antique Continental Paint Decorated Storage Bench
Description: 19th century, pine, two hinged seats, with bootjack feet, the whole retaining old painted surface featuring floral sprays.
Size: 28 x 118.5 x 18 in.
Condition: Insect damage; surface wear; paint loss; signs of outdoor use; shrinkage crack to one seat and left side.
French Provincial Style Double Back Settee
Description: Late 20th century, mahogany, shaped ladder backs , rush seat, curved arms, raised on six cabriole legs with turned stretcher base.
Size : 41 x 48 x 22 in.
Condition: Light surface wear; overall good estate condition.
Not much to say here so we move on to:
Dutch Marquetry Inlaid Double Back Settee
Description: Early 20th century, mahogany, mixed light wood inlays, shaped crest rail, upholstered back and seats, reticulated arm supports on a curule form base, the frame with barber pole and flowering vine inlays throughout.
Size: 36 x 41 x 18 in.
Condition: Later upholstery; some shrinkage cracks at base.
And finally, this is a single-seater but it is similar in nature to the above settee:
Dutch Marquetry Inlaid Arm Chair
Description: Early 20th century, mahogany, light and dark wood vine and floral inlays throughout, shaped crest rail, rolled arms, on paw feet.
Size: 35 x 30 x 25.5 in.
Condition: Later velvet upholstery; expected wear especially at feet
This is the last article of the Issue Four table of contents to be announced. Every weekday until the February 1st at 8 a.m. Eastern time (tomorrow!) opening of Issue Four pre-orders, we've been announcing one article from the table of contents here on the blog. If you have yet to sign up for a yearly subscription, you can do so here.
We all know there’s something special about handmade furniture. But how can we put it into words? To try to find an answer, Joshua Klein and I set out to study and measure a wide assortment of period pieces, made both by hand (pre-industrial) and by machine (Victorian), in the hopes of better understanding what makes them distinct from one another.
Handmade furniture is often characterized by a variety of textures and irregularities, which were completely determined by period sensibilities. In this article, I attempt to unpack the tolerances acceptable in the 18th and early 19th centuries. I examine the factors that might have affected the precision achieved by the furniture maker, why the ideas of “flat” and “smooth” have changed over time, and how the Industrial Revolution brought about greater exactness in furniture tolerances than ever before, but led to the near-demise of the handcraft signature of the individual maker.
This article took on a life of its own during our research. What seemed at first to be a simple compilation of facts and numbers, seeking trends and looking for averages, evolved into a challenging digression into what constitutes such abstract ideas as “grace” and “beauty” in handmade furniture. From learning how to better understand the pre-industrial artisan’s thought process, to being awed by the precise level of detail that a skilled craftsman can perceive by hand and eye, putting this piece together was a mind-blowing endeavor.
- Mike Updegraff
Editor’s Note: Pre-orders for Issue Four open tomorrow at 8 a.m. Eastern Time. If you’ve already signed up as an M&T subscriber, you don’t need to do a thing – you are all set to receive the new issue when it ships! If you’re not a subscriber, tomorrow is the time to place your order to receive Issue Four (with free U.S. shipping). Late March, we’ll be sending out all pre-order and subscription copies wrapped in brown paper, affixed with a special trade card and wax seal, and placed in a mailer with a handful of pine plane shavings. After pre-orders close on March 21st, the special wrapping for Issue Four will no longer be available. Don’t miss out! You can sign up for a subscription here.
Stephen in his Salt Lake shop, 1978. Photo courtesy of George Stapleford.
Stephen's obituary can be found at this location -- http://www.premierfuneral.com/obituaries/Stephen-Shepherd/#!/Obituary
The text of his obituary --
Stephen Arden Shepherd
Stephen Shepherd, was born April 20, 1948 in Salt Lake City, UT, to Arden Warren and Vida Johnson Shepherd. He passed away January 24, 2018, a kind release from the debilitating effects of a stroke. He leaves a sister Merrily Runyan, Clovis, CA, and nieces and nephews.
Stephen Shepherd was a unique individual. Whether known as Stephen Shepherd the author, lecturer, and expert in 19th-Century Woodworking, or as “Tater”, the Mountain Man and adventurer, he influenced many people and sometimes irritated others with his infallible knowledge. Arguing historic technology with Stephen was frustrating and pointless – his knowledge was vast. And he shared that knowledge with anyone genuinely interested.
He was always building, repairing, tinkering and inventing, very often simply to see if he could do it – if it could even be done. Many of his friends are proud owners of a “Tater-made” item, from furniture to walking-sticks to quill pens. He shared his knowledge by writing four authoritative books on woodworking, and re-published two more “rescued” books of great value to historians of 19th-Century crafts.
For the most part he lived a 19th-Century life. Almost all his furniture and re-created items were made and restored using only hand tools. He had no power tools in his shop. His careful craftsmanship, restoration and renown finishing techniques, including gorgeous “painting and graining”, gained him world-wide recognition. His clients over the years included many wealthy collectors and The LDS Church Historic Collections.
He dressed for most of his adult life in 19th-Century-style clothing, including when traveling to other states. In 1976, during the bicentennial re-tracing of the Domingues/Escalante journey to Utah, Stephen and companions met the party in the desert, dressed authentically as fur-traders. Their clothing and accoutrement authenticity far outshone that of the re-creators! For decades he attended Mountain Man rendezvous all over the west, and was always welcomed by everyone.
People loved Stephen Shepherd, and were proud to know him. Sometimes they were friends of Stephen, sometimes friends of Tater, some not even knowing they were one and the same! His cheerful demeanor, his willingness to laugh at society’s faults, and his dedication to his friends make the memory of Stephen “Tater” Shepherd precious to all of us who were close to him.
Per Stephen’s wishes, no services will be held, donations may be made to This Is the Place Heritage Park in his memory.
Stephen (left) and myself (right), Mill Creek Canyon, February 1975. We camped this way. We were much younger then.
George Stapleford (left) and Stephen (right) near Moab, Utah, March 1975. Better camping conditions, still cold.
L to R, myself, Stephen, LaMar Higbee, Taos, New Mexico, May 1975. Yet better camping conditions.
George, Stephen, and I, September 2016.
Once in a while I come across a Popular Woodworking inspired project on Reddit. It’s really interesting to see how people use the pages of our magazine to bring an idea to life. The user, bityard, came across Chad Stanton’s build article, Stacking Tool Caddy, from the December 2017 issue, while at his parent’s house. It sparked an idea for storing his rachets and sockets. The stacking caddy is an […]
The post Stacking Tool Caddy – Adapt a Project to Make it Yours! appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
With the legs in-hand it was time to build the writing box that went on top of them. Again using mostly southern yellow pine from my pile I set to work. It was straightforward but had to fit the legs precisely. I dispensed with making the bow-front drawer for the box as it would be predetermined by the box itself.
To get practice for the re-sawing that would come soon in prized vintage mahogany I did that with this tulip poplar stock.
The joinery for the box was mundane but a necessary exercise.
I established the curve of the drawer frame and the top with drawknife and spokeshave.
And put it together. The writing surface was simply tacked in place with finishing nails as I would need to remove it to check the internals once the real project was underway. On that version the top would be glued in place with glue blocks.
Up next: joining the legs, box and shelf to finish the prototype.
I'm old enough to remember when people didn't routinely buckle up when they got into cars. Years of laws, enforcement of laws, knowing people who were maimed or killed in car crashes and probably millions of dollars of advertising later, most people I know wear seat belts every time they get into a car. We wear seat belts and accept that that the chance of an accident might be small but it isn't zero. We know that the seat belts will offer a lot of protection relative to the inconvenience of using them. We generally don't think, "Hmmm, I'm drunk so I had better buckle up" or "Taylor just passed his road test so guess I'll wear the seat belt" or "Only in bad weather" or "Only with my parents/kids in the back seat" or "Only on New Year's Eve." The practice most people have is protecting themselves every time.
So why is it in a workshop - especially a home shop - do so many people only put on safety glasses only before a potentially hazardous operation, not wear them all the time?
It's true that when working with hand tools there is less chance of kickback from a saw, but there are plenty of other hazards - sawdust in the air, sharp edges, splinters, etc. - all of which can fly into your eye when you least expect it.
Here is what I insist upon with all my students and strongly recommend to all woodworkers: when you enter the workshop, get into the habit of putting on safety glasses right way. Any kind would work as long as they are comfortable enough so that you actually wear them. Get into the habit. You will be glad you did.
In the picture above we have four forms of eye protection. The ones in the lower right with the black frames are prescription safety classes. You get them from an optician. I like them because up until recently we didn't have any glasses that worked with googles (see below), and by using these glasses I save wear and tear on my regular glasses.
I also have an oversize pair of glasses OTS XL that fit over my regular glasses, seen here over my glasses on the upper right mannequin head. For people who truly need their glasses, this is a godsend. These are the only style of safety glasses that I have seen that really work well over a pair of eyeglasses. Highly recommended.
If you don't wear prescription glasses, you have a range of options that are comfortable and inexpensive. The pair with the black nose piece (lower left) fits almost all faces. You can also get safety glasses for kids and adults with small faces. We know adult woodworkers who have complained that nothing fits them -- until they tried the glasses worn by the picture's upper left mannequin. This is great for instilling good work habits if you kids hang out in the workshop with you (and we hope they do), and for giving small adults the routine protection others take for granted. Click here for more info.
The Capstone shield is great when you need more protection and don't want to swallow wood chips being thrown at you. Great for yard work too. The Shield opens and closes
With the exception of prescription glasses, safety glasses are also remarkably inexpensive, as a matter of fact if you click on the links and want to order one pair of glasses the shipping will be more than the glasses - so you might just want to add a pair to your next order and save shipping.
The title of this blog post comes from Harold Llyod's great film. The scene below is amazing - even with camera magic. Lloyd did his own stunt work, which is remarkable especially considering that his right hand was missing fingers due to an accident several years earlier. In the film he is wearing a glove designed by Hal Roach and movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, a former glove salesman.
Core77, a website for industrial designers, just published the first part of an interview with me on my research methods for my designs plus about 100 other little topics.
If you’re wondering what the next book in the “Anarchist” series is, that’s in the interview. My favorite museum? Yup. What breed of goat I prefer….
The interview was conducted by Senior Editor N. Rain Noe, and in the second half of the interview we’ll dive into the questions of anarchism, consumerism and the designer.
Core77 is a great place for woodworkers to wander about because it’s about the built world and filled with little tidbits such as this piece on vault lights. Definitely a better place to spend your lunch hour than that blog on sausage-making you’ve been reading.
— Christopher Schwarz
Had another problem that came up yesterday. My father-in-law slipped and fell in his kitchen and broke a vertebrae. He went to the ER(?) where an x-ray showed the break and he was sent home. I don't know anymore than that about it. Today he can't get out of bed so my wife is going there to have medicare get a home health aide to come in to help with his daily needs.
Normally my wife's sister, who lives down the street from her parents, would be doing it. But she has the flu and can't be around them. So my wife is leaving tomorrow to get the paperwork started but I think she is in for a surprise because she has never dealt with something like this before.
|changed lanes on the 10 1/2|
|I do like shiny|
|I think I can get away with one coat|
|typical Harbor Freight crappola|
|10 1/2 lever cap|
|sanded with 220|
|casting pits on this flat|
|got a bigger one on the opposite flat|
Another short night in the shop but I have to help my wife get ready for going to upstate New York tomorrow.
Did you know the standard width of a bowling alley is 41 1/2 inches plus or minus a 1/2 inch, excluding the gutters?
2 – This design of chest was used by peddlers to transport their goods on a mule. The chests were often used in pairs, one on each side of the mule, and the drawers were used for smaller items, while the trunks held cloth and larger items. The peddler could easily gain access to goods in the drawers without unloading the mule, and could thus accost potential customers even when on the move.
George III Oak Mule Chest
Description: Late 18th century, two-part form, top with hinged lid and applied molded edge, interior with two drawers and secret compartment, upper cabinet with two lipped drawers, lower chest with two cock beaded drawers, on straight bracket feet.
Size: 45 x 44 x 22 in.
Condition: Shrinkage cracks and staining to lid; no key; missing locks; later pulls; shrinkage crack to right side of lower case and small chip near waist drawer.
Kinda a mule chest on chest with bracket feet. The upper three drawers are just applied molding and pulls:
The drawers in the till were a bit stiff so I did not pursue the search for the hidden compartment as aggressively as I might have.
Then, there is the primitve nailed version:
New England Painted Mule Chest
Description: 19th century, white pine, red wash, remnants of old blue paint to molded lid, two lipped drawers, raised on bootjack feet.
Size: 37 x 37 x 18.5 in.
Condition: Later red wash; top missing hinges; later foot facing to front.
I would show you the inside but there are no hinges and the lid kept falling off. No till. I can show you this ingenious repair of a sort:
And the back:
Notice, as I have pointed out before, the back is unpainted. They really didn’t care what the wall saw. Of course, it could have been dipped, stripped and repainted.