I have concluded that the surface-mounted tee-nuts (item 94122A200 from McMaster-Carr) are difficult to break, but they do break at the collar if you tighten their mating bolts too much.
So I removed these 14 tee-nuts from my knockdown Nicholson bench. When it comes to a workbench, nothing should be light- or medium-duty. I replaced them with an old standby for me: the six-prong steel tee-nut for wood, also from McMaster-Carr (90975A163).
These are less expensive – $13.72 for a pack of 50 – and can be tightened with prejudice. You’ll crush the wood before you strip or break these tee-nuts. The downside? They will sometimes fall out when your parts are disassembled.
And here ends the great surface-mounted tee-nut experiment of 2014.
Tomorrow I’ll finish up this workbench – flatten the benchtop and install the crochet. I’ll also shoot a video of how the bench knocks down for travel. I am pleased with the way it goes together.
Then I’ll get back on a pair of Roorkee chair commissions.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Workbenches
Here’s the good news: The bench is assembled and works well. I’ll explain the construction details in the coming days.
And the bad: I destroyed one of the knockdown fasteners tonight. I tightened one of the 3/8” hex-head bolts that fastens the top, and the head of the bolt began to spin freely. Nuts on the tee-nut. The collar of the tee-nut had ripped free from its mounting plate. The broken metal looks porous and weak. I am not happy.
I am going to torture-test a few of these tee-nut fasteners from McMaster-Carr and see if they all break or if that one is an outlier.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Workbenches
Before we launch into part 2 of this series, allow me to ask a question. Do you enjoy looking for a tool that you cannot find, but you saw just a couple days ago and you have looked for everywhere? If you answered “yes,” then you don’t need to read this article and can return to the eternal game of Where is My Tapered Bung-hole Reamer? For the rest of […]
There are certain things in life that are exciting just because they are taboo, from tobacco, to alcohol, to women. I never thought that woodworking would make that list, but for me it has. A few months back I had picked up a few Ash and Bubinga boards with the intention of turning them into a smoothing plane over the summer. Of course, my woodworking plans were hijacked by an angry wife waging her own jihad against me and my hobby. But, over the course of an hour or so this past Sunday morning I managed to sneak in a little clandestine woodworking while my wife was out.
Like a member of the French Resistance, I kept up the front of being a fully capitulated citizen of my house, completely accepting the loss of my freedom, and fully okay with the enemy occupation of my dreams. Secretly I raged inside, ready to woodwork at the first given opportunity, and to remind myself that even though I was a prisoner, my heart could not be swayed. So when the opportunity arose I seized it!
Unfortunately there isn’t much else to tell as I did not get much accomplished. The Ash board I am working with is remarkably straight-grained, flat, and square, and there was very little I needed to do in order to prepare the wood. I sawed the “frog” board at 45 degrees, and the ramp board at around 60 degrees using my table saw. Because the wood is in such good condition, the saw cuts came out perfectly, and I needed to do nothing else but lightly sand both ramps using a sheet of 150 grit sand paper on my table saw bed. I then took the Bubinga board which I am using for the cheeks and cut it in half with a backsaw. I decided to end it at that, as I want the newly sawn wood to sit for at least a few more days before I mess with it again.
It’s surprisingly easy to make a functioning hand plane out of wood. Of course there are levels to how highly functioning that plane will be, and that part lies in the skill of the maker. But just about anybody can make a jack or scrub plane. The most difficult part for me will be making the recess for the cap iron nut. On the last plane I made I did it with a chisel and a router plane, and though it turned out just fine it took quite a while to fine tune the recess to where I wanted it to be. This time I think I will define the rebate with a chisel, remove the bulk of the waste with an electric router, and clean it up once again using a chisel.
I also plan on attempting some fancy curves. The last two planes I made work just fine, but they have a utilitarian look to them. I think this time I would like to try something new. As of now the plane sits at just over a foot long. After all is said and done I’m hoping for a plane 9 inches in length. If all goes well I should have the recess cut out and the plane glued up this coming Sunday. The fancy curves will have to wait until the following week. That is unless the gestapo my wife finds out.
Drivel Starved Nation!
I recently had one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. From July 30th thru August 8th I was invited to attend EMMA International Collaboration 2014.
This event occurs every two years and is held at Ness Creek located at the edge of the boreal forest approximately 2 hours dead north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Artists from all over the world are represented, many of which are preeminent in there field. I think it is safe to say I was the least qualified of the 100 selected and I am in awe of the creativity displayed over the week.
Bohemian is the best word to describe the location, most people camped in tents and the facility was the bare minimum required for working in metal, mixed media, jewelery, painting, and of course wood. Artists show up, and the rest is magic. There is no agenda, no meetings, you can work as late as you want, sleep in if you like (that is next to impossible, not that I tried…). All you do is create day and night for a week. If you are a fan of jazz, this is a jam session for the visual arts.
I am going to share my experience through imagery over the next couple of weeks culminating in the images of the finished pieces which were ALL auctioned off in Saskatoon. I think you will find this all rather interesting if not incredibly fascinating. And no way is this comprehensive! My first tour of the grounds began at the metals area…
Many of the pieces made used material found on the site. This is an axe head and forged between the two halves is a piece of high carbon steel that was once a file.
The craftsman behind this axe is Al Bakke who is in his 80′s – quite an inspirational guy.
Like you, I wondered what this piece was going to be… if you guessed “a chair” YOU WIN!
An old stump, a hammer and a bit of motivation…
And lastly, the view inside my tent…
I hope you like this little teaser!
For the last couple days, there’s been an odd and slightly offputting scent lingering in the air wherever I go (and yes, I’ve showered). I’m pretty sure it’s the ripe smell of panic. It just hit me that Woodworking in America is less than three weeks away (Sept. 12-14 in Winston-Salem, N.C.). In my brain, the conference is still months from now. In reality, it is fast upon us. I […]
Ever wish that you could chat with expert woodworkers and get advice from their experiences? How about take classes to hone your woodworking skills? Do you wish that you could hold the tools that you are considering purchasing? You’re in luck! I am pleased to announce not one, but two tool shows coming up this fall to give you the opportunity for all of these and more! Regardless of which side of the country you are located on, there is a show coming near you soon.
The first show is Woodworking in America or WIA. WIA will be held this year in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on September 12-14. If you were hoping to see Blue Spruce Toolworks there, come either Friday or Saturday. I look forward to talking to some of you face to face. Please stop by my booth to test out our chisels, mallets, and marking tools. There will be many great speakers and classes offered, so register soon!
The second show, on the other side of the country in Oakland, California, is the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event held at The Crucible. It will be held the next weekend, September 19-20. This is a smaller show, so there will be more individual attention for questions and conversation. This event is free to attend, so I hope to see many of you there.
I always look forward to tool shows because I get to meet all of you in person. It is a privilege to be able to shake your hand and hear about your woodworking endeavors. If you know that you are coming, I would love to know! Feel free to comment what show(s) you hope to attend and what you are most excited about. And, as always, make sure to subscribe to keep up to date on all things about Your Finest Work.
Periodically to take a break from sitting and writing, I get out of the recliner and hike up the hill to spend a little time puttering in the barn. I am getting much faster at writing over time — I penned the thousand-word introductory essay for the new l’Art du Menuisier: The Book of Plates in about two hours, but still it is simltaneously exhilarating and tedious. Since I know I have to get back to work to stay on track, my times in the barn are short and the activities brief and episodic for several more days.
In addition to periodically loading the solar wax melter to purify more beeswax I grab a scrub plane to continue the flattening of a maple slab I glued up several winters ago. It is destined in short order to become a Roubo-hybrid bench in my barn studio, perhaps even under the east bank of windows. The “hybridization” of the bench will be in the form of another Emmert K1 vise, a tool I consider unsurpassed in the bench world.
The 18″-wide maple slab was out-of-flat by more than a quarter inch and I do not own a power planer that large and the darned thing is just too heavy to take to a friend’s shop where a planer that large sits. A few minutes of scrubbing here and a few minutes of scrubbing there adds up, and now the slab is flat enough to start laying out the legs.
Ten feet away my old Roubo bench I built for my conservation studio at the Smithsonian, where the climate control was perfect all theim time, developed a 1/2″(!) crown once I moved it to the unregulated environment on the south side of the barn. I will also will be taking a whack at that as a vigorously physical respite from writing.
Another fortnight or less and the first draft of VIRTUOSO will be done.
This Monday we began a workbench class! We started the day by gluing up the tops. I spent over a week pre-milling all the wood to save time during the class. We then marked all the mortises that hold the base together. We began by using the brace and bit, but that only lasted for […]
After many customer requests, we have made a run of our Bayside hats in black with khaki piping and khaki embroidery of our logo.
These hats are unstructured, cotton, made in the United States and adjustable with a steel clasp. They are $17 and are available in our store here.
Dark hats such as these are ideal for hiding sweat stains (eww). Of course, they also absorb heat and make some people sweat a bit more – so they are great for the fall and winter. (Boy, I really know how to sell stuff don’t I?)
Anyway: New hats! I like them!
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Products We Sell
I have found out that this beautiful plane was indeed engraved by Catherine C. Kennedy. A true artisan.
Last weekend I worked through most of the design for an Arts & Crafts bookcase, to the point where I’m pretty comfortable with the scale, style and proportions. I think the joinery is going to be rock solid. I have some concerns about getting the sliding dovetail to work properly, and about getting clean through mortises, but otherwise the construction is relatively straightforward.
What’s missing? Aside from some spectacular and unusually wide Quartersawn White Oak planks, I need to sort out the accents that will make this piece “pop”. I want to have inlay on the back splashes (at least) and a subtle but coordinated stained glass design for the doors.
Most craftsman furniture had relatively simple, abstract geometric inlay designs. My understanding is that these are generally attributed to Harvey Ellis. There is even a place (Mission Furnishings) that reproduces these designs in veneer sheets to glue down to a substrate.
Many of these designs were vertically oriented, fitting onto door stiles, table legs or chair slats. That’s a small conundrum, as the area I want to decorate is horizontal. There are a couple of “textbook” Ellis designs for horizontal areas, like this one:
And others that could certainly be adapted. The veneered panel seems like a simple approach, especially if I could click on a web page and have a canned design delivered that I just need to glue down — but it’s not as satisfying. I also want a design that will coordinate with whatever I do in the stained glass for the doors. I also know that I’ll be dying this piece, and the idea of masking the inlay to keep it from getting colored isn’t a satisfying feeling. I can just see the dye leaching under the masking stencil and ruining the inlay. Ick.
There is another factor, which is that a lot of Greene & Greene furniture had delicate inlay designs using wood, shell and metal, and I want to learn how to do that myself. I’ve been greedily gathering videos, images and articles for a while, and I’m eager to try this out. William Ng has taught a class on G&G Inlay in the past, but I don’t see it on his 2015 schedule (rats!).
Some of the G&G inlay was silver wire and shell and relatively simple design, like on this table and chair from the blacker house. The weaving vine and petals on the leg are obvious (if not completely clear), but you will need to look closer to see the matching detail on the table top. In fact, I want to make this exact table as a practice project to learn inlay. (I wonder if my wife will let me get away with that before the bookcase?)
Other Greene & Greene inlay was significantly more complex, like this example from a desk done for the Pratt house in Ojai, Ca. The tree was inlaid in different species of wood, left proud of the surface and carved. I love the organic feel and the Japanese influence of the design.
My understanding of the process is the the individual pieces are cut out and then either singly or as a unit scribed onto the surface which is then excavated with a tiny router bit and chisels. The inlay is then glue into place, and either sanded flush or textured. Obviously any dying would have to be done before wood was inlaid, although metal and shell could be done before dying.
I found a video that demonstrated the process of doing a flush inlay nicely. I’m definitely going to buy a tiny router base for my Foredom tool and give this a try soon.
I still don’t have a handle on the inlay design to use on the bookcase, but I’m staring at lots of stained glass and inlay designs (and pottery, tile and textile patterns) looking for inspiration. Once I get a better bead on where I’m headed I’ll add some designs to my CAD model and see how it feels. For now I’m going to watch that video again…
Are we drunk? Well, yes, but that’s not what is hampering productivity. We have been working on projects that have a long gestation period. Longer than a constipated elephant, apparently. Here is a quick update on stuff that is on the immediate horizon – before the end of the year.
1. “l’Art du Menuisier: The Book of Plates.” We haven’t discussed this project publicly, and I’ll write about it more in the next couple weeks. “The Book of Plates” contains all 383 plates from all of Andre Roubo’s masterwork printed full-size and on super-sexy #100 Mohawk Superfine paper, hardbound and beautiful. This huge book has been a technical challenge because we want it to have a $100 retail price and still be American-made and extremely high-quality. We have succeeded. Details to come. This book is in the capable design hands of Wesley Tanner (“To Make as Perfectly as Possible” deluxe and standard) right now.
2. “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! A Novel with Measured Drawings” by Roy Underhill. The book is complete and being designed by Linda Watts (“By Hand & Eye” and “The Art of Joinery”) right now. Look for this book in November and somewhere in the $27 price range.
3. “Windsor Fundamentals” (working title) by Peter Galbert. The text is complete. Pete is finishing up some drawings and photos. This book will go to the designer in about five weeks. We are going to try to get this out before the end of the year.
4. “The Woodworker – The Charles Hayward Years.” Work on this book began in 2007 and is finally coming to the end. This will be an enormous compilation of the writings and drawings of Charles Hayward, the single-best woodworking author of the 20th century. Much of this material was collected into his classic books (“Woodwork Joints,” “Cabinet Making for Beginners”). A lot of this work hasn’t been seen since the 1930s. We are scanning a few missing articles and then this book will go into design. We don’t have a release date.
There are lots of other books we are working on actively every day, from the second volume of Roubo, the book on H.O. Studley to “The Furniture of Necessity.” But the above titles are the next four in the pipeline.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!, Chairmaking by Peter Galbert, Furniture of Necessity, Products We Sell
Between now and August 27, 2014 you can save up to 75% on purchases at Shop Woodworking. This is a great opportunity to start stocking up for the long cold winter ahead or even to get an early jump on the holidays (yes I said holidays!)
Don’t miss out on this chance to get something for your shop while helping to support the show.
|Painted ash chair with sycamore seat, ca. 1800.|
Courtesy Paul Dunn Antiques
|A great read if you are interested in chairs or not.|
|Drew Langsner's book should be a big help.|
|From the Museum of Welsh Life|
|A nice three-legged version of ash and sycamore, 18th century.|
Courtesy Welsh Vernacular Furniture.
|Fantastic splay to the legs on this oak and sycamore chair from the early 18th century.|
Courtesy Welsh Vernacular Furniture.
|An ash chair again from the early 1800s. I love the tapered legs.|
Courtesy Paul Dunn Antiques.
As far as the arms go, there seems to be mainly three methods for the curved arm rail: laminated from two or three pieces, steam bent, or carved from a single block of wood, such as a bent tree branch.
|Ash and elm chair from the late 1800s or early 1900. You can clearly see the different pieces of wood making the curved arm rail on this chair.|
Courtesy Welsh Vernacular Furniture.
|Solid oak chair from the early 18th century. It's hard to tell, but I think this arm is steam bent.|
Courtesy Welsh Vernacular Furniture.
|Ash chair with a cool one-piece carved arm ca. 1760.|
Courtesy Richard Bebb of WelshAntiques.com.
Find Richard's book on antique Welsh furniture at welshfurniture.com.
Already I feel like I am doing it wrong, as I have collected an array of chair makers' tools over the last weeks in preparation for this class. On the other hand, not having made one before, I think it might not be a bad idea to work with tools that will give us all a reasonable chance for success.
I am totally stoked to do this build with a group of like-minded people. It will be a great experience, even if my chair fails. Keep an eye on this blog as well as Mulesaw, as I'm sure this project will be one for the history books. OK, perhaps a bit more exaggeration, but it should at least be entertaining.
The Frau isn't too crazy about this form of chair, so I may try to modernize my design a bit to make something that she will be crazy about. If that doesn't work, I could always use a new chair in my office at work!
Thanks to Paul Dunn, Jonathon Holder and Richard Bebb for being kind enough to allow me to use photos from their respective antique businesses for this post. Please check out their websites for pics of some fantastic furniture.
For other examples of Welsh stick chairs (inluding some neat modern ones), check out this link on Pinterest.
For decades and through over a century we’ve seen disparity in thinking through what educationalists, economists and of course politicians present to us through media we have no real understanding of whether they present truth or bias toward things we might not understand the bias of. Through these long decades the people I speak of together with unions, local councillors, governors and so on some how manage more to split society and categorise determinate courses for people without recognising them as much more than statistics. This in turn directly affects the art of real craft and apprenticing and training future craftspeople for worklife outside of anything they control. In recent months I pointed out that people ask me how much I sell my this or that piece of work for. I say the rocking chair costs $6500 and the next question is, “How long does it take to make?” I say I can make one comfortably in two six-day weeks. Immediately I get locked into their only way of evaluating who and what I am and why I do what i do. They have no sense of how long a design takes to develop or how skilled I am or, really, economy and I am evaluated as to whether I am worth knowing or not. Bit like someone asking the same question and receiving the answer, “I’m a doctor.” or, “I am an architect.” Again, two occupations accepted as worthy of note and evaluated as worth knowing. “I work a fork lift.” Doesn’t really grab you as much and so to many other spheres of life. Rethinking things through these past weeks I thought you might like to see a piece I used in a blog I posted 4 1/2 years ago here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4UI think it’s worthy of resurrecting because the message says so much. Let me know what you think.
I visited the annual show at Cheltenham yesterday and the standard of the work was probably the best I've seen in all my years of coming here. It runs to 25th August and I would highly recommend a visit.
Jason Heap, the organiser, very kindly let me take these pictures, they are the pieces that caught my eye.
Above is a beautiful cabinet by Derek Elliot priced at £5,750.
Below is a wonderful use of a piece of warped burr elm by Suzanne Hodgson, £2,450.
The next two pieces were finely crafted by Steven Hampson who I met at the show. Both pieces took around two months of dedicated work to make and are priced at £7,000 and £6,000 respectively.
These two above and below are by Christine Meyer-Eaglestone. I find her marquetry work just stunning, a true artist. The large wall panel above is priced at £800 and was the only piece at the show that tempted me to get my wallet out, I resisted! The cabinet below was £2,100.
The simple but very effective chair is by Robin Furlong £1,150.
The chair below is by Waywood at £2,350.
This sideboard is immaculately crafted by Kevin Stamper and again I was totally taken by the artistic marquetry.
A shot with doors open. Priced at £10,800.
Below is a lovely steam bent ash chair by Andrew Lane priced at £2,000.
A nice chest of drawers By Sue Hyslop in oak and burr oak. The drawers fronts have been shaped and they have discreet finger pulls running down each side. £3,450
A very grand an imposing chair by Designer Creations, £2,800.
A very unusual wall mounted storage unit with intricate carving by Stephen O' Brien £3,000
And here is the star of the show, immaculately made by Cimitree and a real head turner.
It stands 7 or 8 feet tall and never mind the £60,000 price tag I'd like to see the house that could take this piece!
Well there we go, a snapshot of the show. My pictures don't do the pieces justice you really need to see them in the flesh, you have until the 25th August, you won't regret it!