We try to do a Christmas Wish List every year along with a New Year’s Resolution List. A time for reflection on the old year and plans for the new, I always find it a bittersweet time. I have never been one for changes, but this year brought some big ones and the next will bring even more. I’m that guy who just wants to get it all fixed right and then freeze it in place and never have to worry about it again. But alas, that is not always a good thing as the wallpaper in the master bath at my house will attest.
From last year’s resolutions, I did learn to carve last year. I went to the class with Mary May at Roy Underhill’s School and enjoyed it thoroughly. The woman is good! I also went to the John Campbell Folk School and carved a Carousel Horse Head. I learned how to do it fairly well, but I think I have filled my quota for carving for the next few years.
I went back to New Hampshire in the spring and made another Windsor Chair with Mike Dunbar. One of my favorite “Chair”-rities benefited from that one and they were able to sell it at a silent auction for the benefit of some kids.
In August, I went on a two week construction trip (not on the resolution list) back to Vietnam after 45 years. About 40 Vietnam Vets and family went with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for families in the Mekong Delta of what used to be South Vietnam. I recommend it highly — it was a great trip.
Some of the old resolutions from a couple of years ago are still hanging fire. Do they ever expire or do I have to agonize over them from now on? How do you kill them off? So for this New Year, I will make a few new resolutions and try to finish up some of those old ones which are still valid. Here goes:
I will pick out at least two more classes this year. I really like the classes so I can spend a week out of town, learn something new, and be forced into completing a project. I don’t take vacations, I take classes. The High has many classes scheduled this year and they are easy to get to, whether or not you live in Atlanta. For instance, Peter Galbert is coming back to Atlanta in March for another one of his wonderful classes on chair building. Check the web site for a complete list.
I will try to read all the woodworking books lying around the house. I have a beautiful handmade Windsor Chair (backdoor brag!) full of woodworking books and I need to get through them. Hate to buy books and not read them, but even worst is to buy a new magazine and then come home and realize I bought it before.
I want to continue to volunteer in the New Year and I would urge you to do so. Lots of the people reading this will have skills useful to many volunteer organizations. You know I build with my local Habitat affiliate, but there are over 1600 affiliates in the U.S. There is an affiliate close to you run by good people that you would enjoy being around. Call them up and offer your services.
And one more left over from last year — Remember the newlywed wife on the flight home to Atlanta on Christmas night 2012? Her six month husband had left just two weeks before Christmas for deployment to Afghanistan. She was headed back to their house on a naval base in the Carolinas, by herself, late on Christmas night, to a dark, cold and very lonely place. He was due home this Christmas 2013. His name is Wade and he’s a Navy Corpsman. I’ve thought about him often this year and I hope and pray and wish I knew that he made it home safely to that lovely young woman. I resolve to honor and remember our military at every opportunity.
Happy New Year!!
To be able to create a flat wooden surface, the sole needs to be flat. The skill of the user plays a part in this too of course, but it is difficult to create a straight edge with a concave jointer for example.
To be able to set the plane to a fine shaving, the sole needs to be flat too. This is particularly obvious in a wooden plane, which tends to develop a bump in the sole behind the mouth. This lifts the edge up from the wood and you need to adjust the blade deeper to get a cut. When the plane only wants to take thick shavings or nothing at all, this is something to look at.
The third reason is reducing tearout. The front of the mouth pushes down the shaving before it gets cut, so it can't lever out a splinter ahead of the cutting edge.
How flat does the sole need to be? According to Clifton, the premier British plane maker, the sole needs to be flat within 0.075 mm. Here is how they check this: Clifton sole flatness. For the first two reasons mentioned above this is plenty flat enough. Wooden surfaces rarely need to be flat to machine room specs. But it stands to reason that the third reason asks for more precision. How can the plane sole prevent tearout if it isn't pressing down on the shaving? And 0.075 mm is about three times as much as a thin smooter shaving.
When I first did my tests as mentioned in the previous blog, the mouth size test was very disapointing. There was almost no difference between an open and a very tight mouth of only 0.05 mm. The measured results are in this diagram:
On close inspection with my straightedges, I finally found a gap between straightedge and plane sole, in front of the mouth. I really had to look just right, have a light behind the straightedge. My straightedge is manufactured according to ISO 874/2, acurate to at least 0.02 mm over 50 cm. Not quite good enough for Clifton, but I double checked the measurement with a beveled edge straight edge which should be more precise. Mine is Russian though, so I can't verify the standard it was made too. Anyway, my measuring equipement exceeds what is generally available in a woodworking shop.
This is the gap I was looking at. Clicking on the image will enlarge it. I couldn't measure it with any of my feeler gauges, it certainly passed the 0.075 mm test easilly. A piece of aluminium foil is about 0.015 mm thick and barely squeezed through the gap between straight edge and plane sole. For the American readers, one thousands of an inch is 0.025 mm.
After filing away the bump behind the mouth and a few swipes on sanding paper on a surface plate, the plane sole was repaired and no light gap could be seen anymore. I repeated the tests.
As can be seen (click on the images to enlarge them) the results are a bit better now, but certainly no where near as good as could be produced with a close set capiron. A mouth size of 0.3 mm is ineffective. In the curly wallnut only the 0.05 mouth improved the performance, and 0.05 is really tight! Maybe you can get better results with the Japanese plane sole configuration, where all pressure on the plane is concentrated just in front of the mouth, but my first efforts in this direction didn't improve anything, so I abandoned further attempts.
Conclusion of this experiment? A plane sole needs to be pretty flat, but to be able to control tearout with the size of the mouth of the plane, the sole needs to be absolutely flat with the front of the mouth pressing down on the wood. And even then the results aren't great. But a tight mouth can still be helpfull in combination with a higher cutting angle or a close set capiron.
Several of you have emailed to ask about your socketed chisels made by Stanley and Lie Nielsen, what I feel about them and why the handles come loose from the steel sockets. First of all, the early Stanley models were are good chisels made with good steel and wood. Everything that Lie Nielsen makes is top quality and that really goes without saying. So, there is no question of quality.
With regards to the currently-made Stanley sweetheart 750 range of chisels supposedly made in Sheffield UK, I doubt that they are, but we don’t really know. The last time I contacted Stanley to see if I could see where their, “Stanley of Sheffield UK Making High-end Planes again” planes were made, they said that, “They are not made in the UK, they are made in our plant in Mexico.” When I pointed out the dishonest presentation in the magazine press releases going viral they responded, “Stanley has an office in Sheffield, nothing is made here any more.” Now I don’t know if this still holds true but perhaps if anyone does know they can let me know.
Things you should know about socketed chisels regardless of the maker
Socketed chisels didn’t start with Stanley and it doesn’t seem they will end with them. Blacksmiths of old made them back in the 1600’s and on through to the early 1900’s. Here the core essentials:
This socketed chisel was made by Marples
- The thing they rely on is that the conical end of the handle that fits into the socket should not bottom out in the bottom of the socket housing it. In other words, the point of the cone shouldn’t reach to far down and thus stop the tapered mating to the walls of the steel socket. If it does, or you suspect it does, take of 2mm or so from the point.
- The tapered fit should be like a morse taper on a drill chuck or lathe drive. Any wobble gives sway to wear and a loose fit will worsen. You can rechuck the handle for corrective work if needed or fare it as best you can with a flat file, carefully.
- It’s important that the shoulder line between the chisel handle and the opening end of the socket remains separated by a margin great or small. 2mm is good but more works too. You can return the handle to the lathe and remove more of the shoulder if needed. Stay away from the cone shaping if it seems to match the inside of the chisel cone.
- The cone relies on a good initial whack to ‘seat’ the cone. usually they stay, but they can come loose at times.
- Wood is a breathing material and expands with moisture. If the cone is shaped when the wood has higher moisture content it will turn loose as it shrinks. This can a be difficult to control. Ideally moisture content should be low during manufacture, but that still doesn’t stop exchanges taking place after purchase and therein lies the real reason we have an ongoing problem with this chisel type. Buying a set of chisels in Washington state and taking them to west texas and Arizona means the handles will fall loose from the socket. Not much you can do about that, but they should reseat with a good whack if the above criteria are looked at in your analysis.
After a short period of being a tad low on stock, we've got a new batch of Drawsharps finished, packaged, and nearly ready to ship.
We've made a couple small changes to the way customers receive their Drawsharp. First, instead of gluing the diamond abrasive pads directly to the sleeves, we're now including two pieces of 3m brand double faced adhesive strips for that purpose. This isn't hardware-store variety tape. It's industrial stuff that we chose from a long list of specific parameters that would suit the Drawsharp. And it wasn't cheap. But it offers the distinct advantage of allowing us to get Drawsharps packaged and shipped quicker than before. The other change is to the stud at the bottom of each post. Customers will now assemble this part. We shot this little video to show the process.
Drawsharps are $84 and available on our store page as well as through several of our dealers.
One year ago Jim Tolpin and I were axehandles and elbows in final edit mode for our manuscript BH&E (By Hand & Eye). I was struck by how much work is involved down that final stretch and I just wanted it over with. Sort of like a large furniture project. It starts with the excitement of picking just the right figured boards to unleash something beautiful. That excitement gives way to a different kind of pleasure when the shaping and joinery begins, more like a long hike in the woods. Every good hike has a few brambles to muddle through, but the pleasure of building makes up for the hilly spots. Yet, near the end I always just want to get it done, shed the saddle and roll in some clover.
But this was different. After Jim and I high fived and broke some glass, we went right back to the fun of sending each other articles, links to historic engravings, and random thoughts about how our craft might have solved a problem. Rather than moving on, we continued to moving in. We’ve only scratched the surface as much of this knowledge can only be pried loose at the point of a tool. Jim’s still eager to test out every idea at the bench, and I can’t resist flipping over stones in the creek bed. A year later, actually three years later for the two of us, we are more convinced that the tradition has so much to teach us about how to see. And with each piece of knowledge we become more convinced that the traditional tool set is the key to breathe life into it.
I’m headed out to Port Townsend in March to share this knowledge in a design workshop. There are still a few spots left, so if you are game for a week of eye opening discovery, sign up.
George R. Walker
My first Bench On Bench was delightful. It brought carving and joinery tasks to a very comfortable height. Two and a half years later, I still appreciate it, but know of ways to improve it. The most wanted improvement is better work holding capability for carving work. Pinching stuff between dogs in the front vise and the “floating planing stops” just wasn’t working well enough. Shims of various sizes were almost always needed. The front vise itself grew to be a bit floppy, the result of installing the vise screw nuts loosely in softwood sockets. As they floated and wiggled around, they also wallowed the sockets. The best part about the bench was the vise screws, 1/2 inch veneer press screws that were available several years ago from Tools for Working Wood, but are not to be found anywhere today. The handles on those screws can be pulled out and rotated, very convenient for moving them when “tight” leaves them sticking up in the way. Those are keepers! Lastly, the excellent Gramercy holdfasts were rarely useful due to the smaller size of most of my work pieces.
Along comes Chris Schwarz with the “Milkman’s Workbench.” Intended as a portable bench, it has a few features I like and thought would be useful. In the end, I borrowed a few ideas from that bench. The first was lamination from maple instead of fir. This is the last workbench I’m going to build; I might as well use hardwood. The next feature was the wagon vise. However, I’ll use another veneer press screw instead of the wooden screws. I can’t justify the tooling cost for making just one of those wooden screws, and for what it costs to buy one ready made, I can buy a couple of top of the line carving gouges. The last feature was square dogs and their recessed self-storage. I’ll keep the full width front vise and the excellent screws with adjustable handles. I find that vise better suited for the way I work.
One of the nearby home centers actually carries maple. It’s “mystery maple” since the specific variety isn’t identified. There was some minor spalting in two of the three best boards. My right thumbnail Janka gauge determined the stuff was OK. That’s the discoloration seen in a few spots. Even though the specific type is unknown, it was straight, free of knots and a joy to work.
Yes, it is a lot harder than most stuff I work with, and yes the Record 044 didn’t want to plow a 1/2 inch groove without a bit of help, and yes, cranking a 1 inch auger through it with an 8 inch brace was a bit of work. Yet, it is remarkably predictable and finish planing leaves a glass like surface.
The new veneer press screw doesn’t deserve nearly as much praise. It is advertised at most all woodworking supply sources and out of stock in almost all. Once acquired, the threaded socket that is advertised as a “1 inch press fit” is found to be an elliptical shape with ribs on the side and must have been the seventieth son of the seventieth son to be so asymmetrical. There’s enough play in the threads to never have to worry about them seizing, but maybe that’s why they hold a setting so well. Fitting something like this is when one learns to really appreciate how well Michel Auriou’s rasps perform (the one on the right, not the rat tail).
About 3/4 of the way through gluing up the pairs of strips that accommodate dog holes, I remembered that some of my working methods really want clear space on the right end of the bench. Actually, I find myself doing several operations that overhang the right side. Oooops, that vise screw is going to be in the way. OK — Plan B! Just flip it over … and smooth finish the bottom side … and make some more dog recesses.
The rest is a matter of careful assembly, lots of gluing and clamping, lots of planing, a bit of drilling and fitting. By the way, the entire project was done with only hand tools. No electrons murdered. No sandpaper martyred. Very sharp plane blades, and well groomed card scrapers gave excellent results. There’s only one area not completely finished. I did not glue the end block for the vise. It is temporarily fixed with press fit Miller Dowels. It is the dry season now, about 25% humidity. In late summer humidity goes to 90%. I’ve left this area free of glue in case it needs to be disassembled and adjusted.
The work holding capability is better than I aimed for, and the fit and finish is a big step above the previous version. All of the methods I practice can now be done easier and more reliably with this bench. There’s a slideshow below this last group of photos. It has a few more photos with explanations. As always, click on any photo to see a larger version.
The first Bench On Bench worked well and taught me what improvements it needed.
Start with 3 boards 1x6 by 8 feet. Rip each into thirds. Then, crosscut into thirds. The color streaks are from spalting.
Plowing 1/2 inch grooves used more than one tool, and a good bit of patience. The 044 plow plane was good at removing waste, but only after the groove sides were cut ahead. Maple is hard.
Checking the layout. Yep, that'll work.
Turning a 1 inch auger, in maple, with an 8 inch brace is near insanity. My 10, 12, and 14 inch braces are still on the 'buy someday' list.
All parts catalogs say this is a 1 inch force fit. Yeah right! Asymmetrical, winged, and tapered. Lots of fussing... The Auriou rasp is superb!
Vise dry fit #1
Ahhhh. Vise dry fit #2. Now, it looks like a vice. Those walnut pins are the garter, temporary for now.
All the parts ready for assembly ... in 'Plan A' configuration.
Do this 6 times over the next few days, or go buy 50 more clamps. :)
Nuts for the front vise screws are mortised in very snugly, and then epoxied to prevent any wiggle.
Plan A - Traditional, with wagon vise on the right.
Plan B - Flip it over. Wagon vise on the left and better use of the right end of the bench.
Scrub baby, scrub! I have an alternate curved iron for the #5. Maple is hard, but predictable, and finishes very nicely.
Miller dowels through the bridle joints make the vise strong enough. Nothing here was glued for now. It's the dry season and may need disassembly when the humid season arrives.
Work holding - a typical relief carving
Work holding - a larger and scarier relief carving - space for much larger...
Work holding - This one is hard to hold well, but this works, a good test for moderate sized 'in the round' carvings.
Work holding - typical joinery cutting - 22 inches between vise screws gives lots of capability.
Work holding - on the bench surface - plenty of capability for my scale of box making
Work holding - Needed a slight overhang. Easy. Drop the left end of the front chop and use the wagon vise. Easiest grooving ever.
There are lots of ways to achieve a cracked paint finish, and I don’t pretend to be an expert on all the different products and methods out there. But I do know what works for me every time, is completely controllable and is done with stuff I always have on hand.
I use a coat of slightly thinned liquid hide glue that I brush on between the base coat and the top coat of paint. As the top coat of paint dries, it cracks to reveal the color of the base coat.
I decided to use this finish on one of the many six-board chests I’m building for “The Furniture of Necessity” book. This chest features an enclosed base and a suite of iron hardware. The finish on this piece is a base coat of flat black latex paint with a topcoat of a flat acrylic blue paint.
Between these two coats is the hide glue, which is the big question in the minds of newcomers to this technique. Here’s how I do it and how I control the crazing effect.
1. Paint the case with your base coat of color. Flat sheens work better than gloss sheens. After the paint is dry, level it with a fine sanding sponge.
2. Get some liquid hide glue. Make sure it hasn’t expired, or the glue will dry slowly or not at all. Pour some glue into a bowl or cup and thin it with a little warm water. You want to get it the viscosity of latex paint – thin enough to brush on but thick enough to cover the base coat of paint.
The thickness of the glue/water mixture controls how much cracking you will get in your top coat of paint. A thick mixture will promote lots of cracks. A thin coat will produce fewer and smaller cracks. If your glue/water mixture is as thin as water, it is too thin. It won’t do much cracking to the top coat. So add more glue to your mixture. Or add a second coat of glue to your project.
I apply the glue with a chip brush and let it dry until I can touch it without removing glue from the surface.
3. Apply your topcoat of water-base paint and use all the same care you would use when applying any finish. Don’t get sloppy. Let the glue do that work for you.
The cracks should start to appear as the paint starts to “flash,” which is the point where it goes from wet to dry. Don’t muck with the finish as it dries. That’s a bad idea, like picking at a scab.
4. If you want to go a step further in adding age to your piece, apply a coat of black wax over the crazed finish after all the paint has dried. The color in the wax will lodge in the cracks and make the piece look both dirty and old.
For the piece shown in this article, I applied a heavy coat of glue to the top to create big cracks. I wanted the base to have more subtle cracks, so I added some warm water to my glue/water mixture before brushing the base.
This chest is complete except for the escutcheon plate. I’ve ordered a few iron German and French ones from Whitechapel Ltd.
If you want to dive deeper into this technique, here are resources I trust (there are some dumb, dumber and stupider methods on the Internet.)
• Glen Huey wrote an excellent article on this technique for the Summer 2008 issue of Woodworking Magazine. He compares hide glue to commercial crackling glazes and barriers formed by white and yellow glues. For a few dollars more, you can order the entire 2008 annual – a very good year.
• Troy Sexton uses this technique all the time on his pieces. He calls it a “barn finish.” He uses a heat gun instead of glue and gets amazing results. His article is in the June 2007 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. But really, do what I did: Get the DVD that has all the issues on it from 1995 to 2013 for $97.57. Watch for sales, because ShopWoodworking.com runs them all the time.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Finishing, Furniture of Necessity
Thank you for all your responses to the previous blog. I often feel a little hesitant to post blogs like this because I know so many of you work in mundane commercialism and difficult soul-destroying jobs without the option to change your circumstances. I understand this and hope I can make a difference long term. Don’t give up. The important thing is to see the manipulation of life by people like Henry Ford, politicians (some of whom never did a lick of real work in their lives but talk a lot about it), economic strategists, educationalists and so on. The interconnection between them all gives understanding as to the powers they hold to progress agendas without any real accountability. It may seem a little paranoid but when we don’t see the cross-pollination between these areas we get caught up in the games and are always chess pieces being moved from one square to another. The dynamic that drives people in their pursuit of so called happiness is often illusionary; little more than a few greenbacks dangling just far enough away to walk us into utopia – literally ‘no place’. If what I have had these past decades is no place then that’s great. Many are driven by a vain hope of high wages, more power, social standing and recognition. Finding contentment at the end of a chisel seems stupid to some, “Get a life!” some might say, yet to me, seeing a piece of furniture emerge from a handful of rough-sawn planks by my workbench somehow carries deep, enriching meaning. I have put food on my table and raised my children from a one-wage income family throughout my married life. Times can be lean, but the outcome is a lived life. My workshop is my classroom. Working with my hands I learn about life, the relationships life working brings to me and passes to others. When I worry about working for a living I have put the cart before the horse. I live to work not work to live. If I feel down, it is always when I am not working with my hands. As soon as I feel down, which is very rare, I walk through the woods to my workshop, pull out the tools and the project I am working on, and suddenly life makes much sense. I think of the problems I need to resolve while I am working and suddenly, as a joint comes together, I find answers that resolve what bothered me outside the work I am doing. Now I can deal with that too.
This is a desk of mine. I designed in 2008, just before I designed two unique designs for the Permanent Collection of the White House
Today we worked in our various spheres of creativity. I am done with bookshelves, Phil is done with his stool and John is making the handles for his tool chest. Next week we all start anew on fresh projects I suppose. Phil already started his. We have some clean up to do but that doesn’t take long and John already has the tools ready for the next class starting on the 15 March. Besides the work we must do in making and building, filming, writing, drawing, planning designing, we all found time for tool restoration. repairing split nuts on old tenon saws, recutting saw teeth, fettling different planes and so on. I think many people would like to live close to a workbench and do this kind of work.
I hope that one day we will indeed see a revival where people local to us will say I’ll save up for having my next computer desk or dining table made by hand by a local craftsman using real tools, real skills from real wood.
That they will say, “Forget IKEA and Walmart, I want something that will last a hundred years.” I think that is is more a question of getting people to think differently. Spending time with people, customers or not, and explaining what the difficulties are and showing why it makes sense to by solid stuff.
Look beyond the superficial, underneath the smooth and shiny veneer of melamine ( can’t believe that stuff has been around as long as it has) to see what you are really buying. What good is a 1 year warranty on a fiberboard computer desk. Yes, if you don’t move it for a year, it will stay together. It’s after that that people should be looking at. I made a computer desk five years ago (the one third down from the top above) It will last for a hundred years because of the solid wood and the methods of joinery I used. it can be refinished in a few minutes and without stripping it.
We had some heavy wet snow a week or so back. I found a broken cherry limb down by the river & made some spoons from it. Then the other day I found 2 more, but way up high. I borrowed a pole saw & cut them down. Then started to cut them up.
Around here cherry is the most common wood useful for spoons. It’s quite hard though, comparatively speaking. Birch for instance is much softer & more cooperative. but I love the cherry spoons. They are worth the extra work. I cut a few crooks out of this stuff to get started; but left lots in the limbs, to be dealt with later.
Here’s a whole mess of pictures; not the whole spoon – I didn’t finish it yet. Started some others instead. To really see where the spoons are in crooked timber like this, you have to view them from all around. More than once. This is 2 limbs, twined around each other in this heap.
I started here; there’s one good sized ladle/serving spoon between that end grain & the small branch in the bottom of the photo.
After cross-cutting, I hew away the bark to see where the piece wants to split.
The bottom of this crook is trash; it has a large broken-off limb, & resulting knot.
After some initial hewing, I like to start these large deep bowls with a gouge & (borrowed) mallet. Borrowed shop too.
The gouge can also be “hand” pressure, but it’s much more than my hands driving it. Here’s the top of the stroke, then my whole body moves to bring the gouge across the spoon’s bowl.
(hat courtesy of Maureen. She’s working on her 2nd custom hat-knitting project. Contact her for next year’s winter hats… https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts )
More hatchet work.
Then knives from there. I’ll get it on the blog at some point.
Went walking at one point – going to leave this one alone for a while, I’ll stop back when the eggs hatch, then we’ll see some owl action.
Out to the beach in a bracing wind. Dunlin & sanderlings in flight.
Took one last haul out to the end of the beach to see the snowies; only found one, but didn’t look hard. Soon, they will head north again.
Back home, the local redtails are keeping company. Time for them to nest too.
I recently aquired a limited edition Lie Nielsen No 2, or in this case, an LN 2000 bench plane. It is cast in white bronze with rosewood handles. They have become very collectable which seems a little strange considering how relatively recently they were produced.
Here is an original Stanley Bedrock 602 from which the Lie Nielsen was copied. The metal work on the Lie Nielsen is finished to a much higher standard, although the same is not true of the handles. The original handles are from Brazilian Rosewood whilst the LN is from farmed Indian Rosewood. Now I know Rio rosewood is no longer commercially available but there are much nicer rosewoods than the Indian one which could have been used for a limited edition. The shaping of the LN is all by machine and there is a clear line between the rounded and flat parts, two minutes of hand sanding would have sorted that out, shame. There is also less room to get your fingers around the handle on the LN.
Side by side they look very similar although the LN does have a slightly thicker sole. The real difference is when you pick them up, the white bronze makes the LN 35% heavier at 1.56 kg which is nice.
The LN is unused and the Bedrock has seen very little use, which gives a clue as to their usefulness, not much! A good sized block plane is similar in size but a lot easier and more comfortable to use.
The logo on the blade of the Bedrock has the Sweetheart logo where the heart pushes up into the Stanley symbol. This was only produced in 1923 so dates the plane very specifically to that year.
The certificate for the LN states that it was 202 of a limited edition of 500 planes and that all plates and patterns used in the production of this planes were permanently altered or destroyed upon completion of plane 500. I've had strong suspicions about the veracity of limited edition artworks and prints in the past, but this time I believe the certificate tells the truth!
On our Twitter feed (@pweditors) and my Twitter feed (@1snugthejoiner) I’ve been slowly leaking the names of some of the instructors who will be at Woodworking in America 2014. But I know not everyone is on Twitter, so for those of you who eschew writing and reading in chunks of but 140 characters, thus far, we’ve revealed: Roy “the Woodwright” Underhill Wilbur Pan Matt Cianci Phil Lowe Drew Langser Frank […]
The problem with being on a quest for knowledge is the endless circles you often get stuck in, and the off roads that follow. I’m always looking for information on older Sargent hand planes. So recently I bought a hand plane off ebay that is an obvious early Sargent 409. It’s got Rosewood, a type 4 base, with a type 3 frog, and a “Fulton Tool Co” cutter.
The type 4 base dates it to 1911 to 1918.
I know Sargent made most of the Fulton planes for Sears, so I wanted to see what they were.
So off I go to find out what “Fulton Tool Co” is. My original research brought me to one of 2 conclusions. The first possibility was the Fulton Tool Company was a steel manufacture that made tools and accessories along with plane irons. The second was Fulton Tool Com were early Fulton planes.
Further research showed all of the planes I could find with Fulton Tool Co cutters seemed to be early Sargent’s. So could these just be Fulton? Was the Sears branded Fulton and Fulton Tool Company the same?
Even further research shows that the Craftsman brand came about in 1927, whereas Sears started selling Fulton in either 1905 or 1908. This lead me to believe it was possible that Fulton Tool Company could have been the early branding, and after Sears started to market Craftsman, Fulton became a secondary line.
This theory was further complicated when I bought a United Hardware and Tool Company catalog reprint from 1925. This shows the following photos.
And the hand planes
So its fairly obvious that in 1925 these planes were NOT Sargent made. But could they still be the Sears rebranded?
So do I need to start finding early Craftsman catalogs to work this out? According to this site, (http://home.comcast.net/~alloy-artifacts/craftsman-early-tools.html#fulton) In the pre-Craftsman days, Fulton appeared to be the most popular brand offered by the Sears for tools such as saws, axes, planes, chisels, hammers, pliers, and many other items. References to Fulton tools appear in Sears catalogs at least as early as 1908, with illustrations showing either "Fulton" or "Fulton Tool Co." on the tools.
There is some further interesting history (http://www.searsarchives.com/history/index.htm) about Sears.
So at least for right now, I’m going to go on the assumption that either "Fulton Tool Co." or "Fulton" Branded tools where marketed rebranded tools for Sears. "Fulton Tool Co." probably existed prior to 1927. To be determined will be when Sargent stopped manufacturing them. Since later model Fulton’s are made by Sargent as well, they must have won the contract back at some point.
It’s known that Sears put the contract out to bid for the tools, I don’t know the details or derations of the contracts, so that’s some more information to be gathered.
I hope you found this interesting, and please contact me if you have ANY information regarding anything about Sargent hand planes.
Here are some other examples I’ve managed to dig up. The are just internet found pictures.
Today, we’re featuring two more woodworkers for Follow Friday and they are Don Schneider (Carving) and Paul Bucca (Woodturning).
Carving: Don Schneider
Don Schneider is a woodworker living in the northern woods of Havana, FL. He first got interested in carving after he used only an exacto knife and two wood files to carve a claw and ball foot, and was able to teach himself all of the carving techniques he needed to turn it into a regular hobby.
Don’s main focus in woodcarving is bas-relief carving, which he often does in a surrealist style. Another one of his carving interests is ornate masks. You can see several of his pieces below.
Woodturning: Paul Bucca
Paul Bucca is a former Oceanographer who now enjoys creating segmented bowl turnings. Over the past 9 years that he has been turning, his segmented bowls have been getting more and more elaborate as he has gained skills in marquetry, and better tools.
One of his biggest pieces was featured in the Show Us Your Woodturning section of our February issue of The Highland Woodturner. The turning consists of 685 pieces making up two hemispheres that were finished and mated together to create a beautiful and elaborate porthole bowl seen below:
Fridays on the Highland Woodworking Blog are dedicated to #FollowFriday, where we use this space to further highlight a woodworker or turner who we have featured in our monthly e-publications Wood News and The Highland Woodturner. Would you like for your shop or woodworking to appear in our publications? We invite you to SEND US PHOTOS of your shop or work along with captions and a brief history and description of your woodworking (Email photos at 800×600 resolution.) Receive a $50 store credit redeemable towards merchandise if we show your shop in a future issue.
The post Follow Friday: Carving and Woodturning with Don Schneider and Paul Bucca appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
I’ve had a link available at the top of the homepage to this project from the minds at the Steel City Tool Works blog but just in case you haven’t seen it yet here’s an opportunity for you to check it out.
I had heard a while ago that Callum had been working on something for dust collection at the drill press but I assumed it would be another version of a dust port built into a fence on the table top.
Instead, it turns out to be a full down-draft table top. A great idea for a whole bunch of reasons, especially those that have to do with just wanting to get chips and sawdust out of the way for better drilling.
When you have a moment check it out, I’m sure there’s plenty of ideas that can be used for other projects elsewhere in the shop.
Roald Renmælmo posted this photo today on Norsk Skottbenk Union, and graciously allowed me to re-use it. Roald and his associates are doing great research into traditional work methods from Northern Europe, especially Norway. His post describes the skottbenk as a Jointing Bench, Shooting Bench or Sticking Board. Ah! The light went off in my head – Sticking board! That immediately explains it’s use to anyone coming from the English-American tradition. It is one big sticking board. I’m surprised that these benches were not commonly used in the U.S., especially in the Upper Midwest, in the large Scandinavian American Communities. Maybe they were and there simply isn’t much about them in current woodworking literature. If anyone can enlighten me, I’d appreciate it.
Roald and his associates also provide more general information about workholding methods at Hyvelbenk.Wordpress.com. I’m looking forward to following their research. And I’ll try to get Roald to share more information about the specialized “two man” planes used in his part of the world. Thanks for the Internet, so we can learn more about the past. How ironic.
I almost titled this post ‘Pardon My French’ in dedication of a recent hair-pulling project I completed. This French bergere was a bugger to get right. The client has a local upholsterer they were going to have recover this chair. Knowing it was very loose, they called me to reglue the frame first. Deupholster and reglue. Easy enough, right? Wowie. I wish.
Sometimes the seemingly simplest projects end up with the most unforeseen issues and complicated looking ones turn out really straightforward. I can’t even tell you what was so frustrating but it did revolve around three issues: 1. The seat rails are not perpendicular to one another, making clamping AND spreading a difficulty. 2. I believe the last person to work on this chair used something other than hide glue. 3. The “joinery” was delicate little dowels. Needless to say, some dowels needed to be replaced and the chair was assembled in stages. This brings me to my point...
|These tenons were not part of the bergere. I wish they had been.|
Hide glue. It has dawned on me that my level of satisfaction and feeling that all is well in the studio is directly proportional to the amount of hide glue I encounter. When a piece has been glued with hide glue and I am regluing with hide glue, things generally go very smooth. The working properties, clean-up, self-clamping, and lack of toxins in the glue all make me a happy camper.
So without further ado, let me persuade you to use hide glue in your furniture. Here’s a quick, off-the-cuff list of reasons for you to consider. For sake of the next guy to work on it, please dump the synthetic glues and convert to collagen.
1. It’s reversible.
This is critical to safe repair in the future. Adhesives that are insoluble after drying present great danger to joinery when a piece needs to be disassembled for treatment later on down the road. All adhesives fail after a while. So if you want this piece to last longer than twenty years, use hide glue.
2. It adheres well to old glue.
Because the glue softens when introduced to warm water, a fresh application of hide glue will soften the old for proper adhesion. This is important when regluing something because glue penetrate the surface of the wood and if an incompatible glue has “sealed” the surface, you will have a hard time getting full adhesion.
3. It’s easy to modify/manipulate working properties.
Hot Hide Glue (totally unmodified), when heated to 140* and ready for use can have a very short open time. We’re talking a minute or two. Because the glue gels before drying, everything needs to be set in short order. There are so many factors that change hide glue’s working properties. Ambient temperature helps (the hotter your room, the longer you got), preheating the adherends with a hairdryer or heat gun helps, adding canning salt or urea to your mix can slow it down to give you 30 – 60 minutes of working time, glycerin reduces fracturability of the glue, alum makes it water proof, etc. The list goes on.
4. It’s inexpensive.
I bought 50 lbs of granules from Eugene Thordahl for $5.00 a pound. I am able to mix it fresh whenever I need it and this should last me at least twenty years working professionally.
5. It is self-clamping.
As the glue dries, it actually draws the adherends together making clamping unnecessary in some cases. This is very handy with small bits that need to be repaired (ie. veneer chips, carvings, etc.) This is how boards were edge glued in days past. They would plane the edges straight and square, apply the hide glue to both sides and rub them together for a few moments until the gel action set in. They would then just set these pieces aside to let it self-clamp. I do this occasionally. It’s amazing.
6. It is easy to clean up after it dries.
Glue covered fingers, glue splattered pants, and drops and drips on your shoes are easily taken care of even after it dried. Know how? You guessed it: warm water. (Or saliva!) I think the value of this property is way underestimated.
7. It’s incredibly strong.
Depending on your mixture and gram strength, hide glue is one of the strongest glues, very close to epoxy.
8. It’s not too strong.
You don’t want glue in joinery too strong because if something crashes down and is going to break, you want it to be the glue line and not the tenon snapping off. Please ignore all marketing claims of glue being “stronger than wood”. That’s not what you want in antique furniture joinery. Hide glue is just the right amount of strength for fine and antique furniture.
9. It’s a renewable resource.
Cows always make more cows. That ain’t changing anytime soon.
10. It’s safe for your health.
Cow protein is safe for human consumption. I’ve tasted it. A little weird but when the set time is depressed with salt it really brings out the complexity of the flavors. (wink.) Bovine collagen + h2o = safe for people.
11. It’s historically accurate.
This stuff has been used in the furniture of Egyptian tombs (30 centuries ago) and it was standard “glue” until the advent of synthetic glues (mid 20th century). Used all over the world for most of recorded history, I’d say it’s got historic street cred.
|Projects like this bergere necessitate a 'clear your head' walk no matter what the weather.|
I'm interested in giving Japanese saws a try. I know next to nothing about them. What saws (type and quantity) should I consider purchasing for typical hand tool situations such as ripping, crosscutting, and joinery work? Thanks!
If you’re starting out, I like the combination of a 210 mm ryoba, which will cover most furniture scale joinery tasks (dovetails, tenons), and a 270mm saw for making bigger cuts. I wrote a post a while ago explaining why here.
Yesterday Phil finished his workbench stool and it looks very nice now he’s done. I was just about to finish the last of five bookshelves as a medley of useful shelves scaleable as options for people to build and John hinged the lid to the tool chest he has been building. All of this was yesterday and all of this is to say completion is critical to our wellbeing and its something Henry Ford deprived his workforce of as he introduced methods of production line manufacturing that destroyed the reward of being skilled and honest engineers, farmers and craftsmen. This all happened exactly 10o years ago. I know the ten million model T Fords that became possible from his conveyor belt mechanics meant “about everyone (would) have one.”; it remains to be evaluated whether we or our children will pay far more than we ever though possible for four wheels and a box, but for the factory mechanics he employed as wage slaves, their skills had to be dumbed down to an assembly line moving at six feet per minute so that they were specialised for speed assembly. That’s what everything you own right now is based on and that’s why people pursue fulfillment outside of work. Conveyor belts reign in every walk of life today. Hospital beds and bus queues, carpenters in construction and check out counters and checkers, Big Mac stuff and everything else is about quantity and down time so we can live cheap in cheapened life, but, in tiny clusters around the globe, are individuals who stopped, ask themselves a handful of questions, pushed the red emergency stop button and reevaluated what they felt was important enough to push, stop and get off.
This blog is about the completion most people rarely find but can have in some measure if they pursue it
I have never wholly understood what it is about the words, “It is finished.” that I always say at the end of a project, and that seems such a reward in and of itself, but somehow there comes with it a sense of joy-filled completion when nothing is to be added to it or taken away from it. It’s that quality completion you feel when you have put all of your efforts into the work and the final effort stands in bright light before you.
Fixing your mistakes
Many people say to me that the art of being a craftsman is “knowing how to fix your mistakes.” That’s not true, yet it’s common enough that I think many find comfort not being on their own in their mistakes. So, if it consoles them, let it be. Of course we all do make mistakes, but the art in being a craftsman is to learn from earlier mistakes and not repeat them. the art of being a craftsman is to anticipate what might go wrong, think critically throughout the work and conclude the work well.
When I work on a piece things do happen that go wrong. You plane a piece of wood and the grain tears even though you were indeed careful to look at the grain direction, followed the “cathedral lines” and such. Life is like wood, it comes with knots in it. Wood splits unintentionally and in the wrong direction, again not a mistake. Woodworking is more about fixing natural occurrences and knowing wood well enough to anticipate happenings that can impair the quality of what we are making. I think that the art of being a craftsman is working through critical problems and knowing what to do with a material that changes as you are working it. It’s about constraining it, reducing it and minimizing its ability to distort after the project is completed. It’s not about resorting to using materials like MDF and engineered boards that substitute for that which makes wood wood.
Phil has many other responsibilities as well as woodworking, but it is critical his wellbeing to make and complete all that he does. We do not mass-make anything in our workshop. That means sanity and enjoyment, peace and fulfillment. As he pulled his stool to the bench and sat to work on his computer yesterday I sensed his sense of fulfillment as he smiled across the shop floor at me sitting on my workbench stool. John was fitting his lid to the tool chest ready for the hinge recessing he was about to do. He set his new I Sorby plane carefully to level the box rims. There too was another completion in that his plane was fully restored and functioning. All of these completions mean wellbeing and fulfillment as we banter back and forth throughout the day. For me it was snugging up the last back panel with the vee-jointed T&G boards installed within the framework and turning the last twist on the clamp before I left the shop. I glanced back as we turned off the lights and caught a quick glimpse of the panel in the evening light from the castle workshop window. I wanted to take picture of what I felt, but I knew it couldn’t capture that swell of completion in my chest. Imagine feeling that way after fifty years of making things out of wood!