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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway! Enjoy!
Thank you to everyone who contributed towards Walt Quadrato's battle against cancer! Their fundraising goal was met. Our prayers are with you, Walt!
I got a lot of furniture pictures. It seems I’ve forgotten or chosen to ignore all the pictures I took before I started the blog. I had been taking pictures for some time before Chris Schwarz badgered me into starting the blog. Before the blog I had been sharing them with a small group. I would say select, but that’s not entirely true. It was only select in the sense that I didn’t know that many furniture types.
This set goes back to September 26th of 2013. It consists of furniture from the high-end antiques shop and high-end auction house. What a day it must have been.
All sorts of furniture. Tall stuff:
Small things, in this case, tea caddies:
Some interesting pieces:
And some fancy pieces:
Click HERE to see the other 108 pictures.
Walk onto any North American job site where carpenters are working and ask if anyone is carrying a fixed blade knife. It’s very unlikely that you’ll find one. Most will carry some type of utility knife, more often than not something fitted with “break-away”, disposable blades. But it’s rare that someone will be carrying a knife that requires regular sharpening. Some older types may carry a small penknife that is kept sharp, like my Grandfather who regularly used his knife for “surgically” removing splinters and slivers, a grisly task that I could never get used to (I, always preferring to “dig ‘em out” with a set of tweezers.) Of course many woodworkers prefer to use knives for marking and for carvers, fixed blade knives are essential. But, whether it’s due to work methods or job site rules, fixed blade knives are not that popular as a working tool for general use. And that is a shame, because while being one of the simplest tools, a good quality, properly prepared and maintained fixed blade knife is an incredibly useful tool.
The situation changes dramatically when one looks at job site or shops in Norway,Sweden or Finland. Everyone has a sheathed knife attached to their belt and for good purpose. Because Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish carpenters use their knives to accomplish a host of tasks.
Roald Renmaelmo told me in a recent correspondence that the ideal tollekniv should be at least 3mm thick and ground with a single bevel at an included angle of 22-25 degrees. He suggested that an angle of up to 30 degrees was still workable, but any angle higher than thirty degrees would necessitate regrinding the blade. He also suggested sticking with a carbon steel blade at a Rockwell C hardness of between 52 and 55. Remember, any alloy that is promoted as extraordinarily durable or resistant to rust will not take a keen edge. And when working with a knife, a keen edge is what it’s all about. Honing a single bevel requires a little practice but makes for superior performance. Of course regular stropping is a must.
There are a number of good suppliers in the US. But I’ve done business with two whom I have found to be very helpful. Ben’s Backwoods inventories a number of Swedish and Finnish knives and his prices and service are very good. Ragwood Forge has a large selection of Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian knives and Ragnar (the owner) offers finished knives from the very economical to some extraordinary custom knives (with attendant pricing.) Ragnar also has a large stock of blades (I mean a really large stock) for those who prefer to make up their own handles (apparently most Scandinavian carpenters.)
I’ve asked Roald if he and his associates might put up a post or two on traditional knife work. Perhaps, with a little cajoling, he can be persuaded. You’ll find out a lot more about Scandinavian traditional carpentry and joinery on Roald’s blog, hyvelbenk.wordpress.com. And if you copy/paste his name to Youtube, you’ll find an ever expanding series of videos about traditional woodworking and the work that is being done by the Traditional Culture Faculty and Student Body at the University of Gothenburg. It’s well worth investigating.
The past eight weeks has been a trying time for my family, and of that I will say no more for the time being. It is times like these that many people question what they believe in, and that includes what we do in our leisure. So for the past months woodworking was rightly put on the back burner, though I did complete a project during that time, there were still many more important matters that had to be dealt with.
Now that we are in the heart of winter, the weather has turned against me. We’ve had little good weather to enjoy here, and it has mostly been rainy or snowy, and always very cold. The temperature rarely stays above freezing this time of year. I’ve vowed to never again make furniture during the winter as long as I am doing it in an unheated work area, and at this time I see no cause to break that vow. Still, there are a few things that can be, and need to be done.
Yesterday afternoon was the first time I had been home in a few days. My Enfield cupboard for all intents and purposes is completed, except for the paint, which will unfortunately have to wait until the weather improves. The only thing I had left to do on the cupboard was to even the gap between the top of the door and the face frame, which thankfully was nearly even to begin with. I simply marked the gap with a set of scribes, wet the endgrain with mineral spirits, and trimmed it off with a block plane. I then lightly sanded it and it was finished. All in all the task took less than 5 minutes.Speaking of block planes. Back during the summer I purchased some maple and bubinga that I hoped to turn into a block plane or two. Now that winter is in full swing, and all furniture projects are on hold, I think I may just do that. I have all of the material I need here already in which I should be able to make two planes, and I could always pick up some more bubinga to build others. I’ve thought about the dimensions and I would like to build a plane a bit larger than other wood blocks I’ve seen. I’m thinking of one 7 inches long X 2 1/2 inches wide, so it will be a bit larger than a regular block but still smaller than a smoother. My idea is a plane that is a bit heavier than normal, but still small enough to grip with one hand. I think it would be a perfect tool for raising panels among other things. It will be a bevel down plane, but I don’t think I will use a chipbreaker. However it turns out, it should be an interesting experiment.
My next furniture project will with out a doubt be a traditional 6-board blanket chest. I am going to start drawing up the plans soon, and I hope to pick up the material some time after Valentine’s Day. I’m not going to plan too far ahead after that, though I do have a few ideas. For now, my furniture building will be restricted to volunteering at Valley Forge Park. I’m thinking that the blacksmith’s cabin needs a new workbench, and if everything goes as planned I may be just the guy to build it.
The problem with those days is that the person receiving the flowers know that you didn't think of this yourself.
If on the other hand, you suddenly out of the blue presents your loved one with flowers on some ordinary day, the effect is often quite remarkable.
Since it is unlikely that your wife or girlfriend regularly visits woodworking blogs, I figured that this would be a good place for advocating the idea.
So please consider giving your wife some flowers today or tomorrow. You don't have to buy them, if you can find some flowers in a field or someone else's garden it will be fine too (provided that you are allowed to pick those flowers!).
It doesn't have to be a super fancy bouquet, just some flowers to make her happy. If you are in doubt, I am sure the florist at the shop can help you with a suggestion.
If you are not near your home at the moment, consider getting flowers delivered to your wife via Interflora or some other long distance flower delivery system.
I am in no way economic connected to any flower programme, so I don't make any money on you buying any flowers.
Have a nice day :-)
A whole blog post about hinges? Boring! Perhaps so, but I learned a lot about hinges making this box. I had never really given hinges much thought before. I knew they should be strong enough, do the right job and look decent, but didn’t think much beyond that. I did want to get the the correct hinges before starting the box. I didn’t want to realise too late into the project that I would need to change the design to accommodate whatever hinges I could get. Little did I know that the internet is flooded with hinges of all kinds and that it would take ages to choose the right ones.
After a long search, I settled for quadrant hinges with a ‘lid stay’. I thought these would be better able to support the lid than regular hinges. I chose the ‘lid stay’ variety since I didn’t want to use a chain to stop the lid from dropping back to far. One thing I discovered is how few websites provide all the dimensions of their hinges. The wood I was using was quite thin (around 12mm) so I had to be sure the hinge would fit. I needed to go the shop and see them for myself before buying. The shop I eventually got them from had a ‘cheap’ and ‘expensive’ variety. I settled for the more expensive ones. They were a lot better: they opened and closed much more smoothly and had a nicer finish.
I was nervous about getting this right. The hinges not only needed to fit perfectly, but I also needed to chop mortise holes in the sides and lid to give the lid stays somewhere to go when the box was closed. In the end it wasn’t much more complicated than installing regular hinges, just a bit more fiddly and time consuming.
Chiselling out the hinge recesses to an exact fit was painstaking work, not the least because of the thin wall between the hinge recess and the edge of the wood. The wood did break off once or twice, but that was easily fixed with some glue. After fitting the hinges into the recesses I chopped the mortise holes in the box and lid with a 2mm(!) chisel.
After a bit of fiddling I got the lid to fit (more or less) seamlessly onto the box. It was a lot of work, but I think it was well worth the extra effort.
Next month I’m conducting a two-day seminar on building a Dutch tool chest for the Alabama Woodworkers Guild in Maylene, Ala. During Feb. 14-15, I’ll build a Dutch tool chest and demonstrate all the hand-tool techniques so you can make one for yourself.
And if you are lucky, you might just win the tool chest and not have to make one. All the attendees to the two-day seminar get a raffle ticket to win the chest. But more importantly, they get to eat some really amazing food while some sasquatch shows them how to cut dovetails, dados and mouldings by hand.
The Alabama Woodworkers Guild is a special organization in a special place. Located in an historic old schoolhouse, the club could not ask for a more beautiful place to build stuff. Last year I did a two-day seminar on building a six-board tool chest there and had a fantastic time. The food (and I am crazy for good food) is crazy good.
If you live in the deep South, it’s totally worth the drive. I’ll also bring along some Lost Art Press books, postcards and who knows what else?
Registration for one day of the class is $100. Both days is $175. To register, contact Chris Mazur at 205-979-1593 or email@example.com. Or Preston Lawly at 205-982-2828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Woodworking Classes
We’re traveling the show circuit with The Woodworking Shows. This weekend we’re in Indianapolis and next weekend it’s Kansas City. While at the shows, we’re building a Shaker Stand. Throughout the weekend, we have seven sessions during which we discuss and demonstrate a few ways to do each step in the building process.
We show three ways to taper legs, three methods to cut mortises and three different techniques to produce tenons. One of those techniques is to cut the tenons using a handsaw. This method is easy to do if you’re working on the front rail, which is about an inch in width. But if you were working on the 4-1/2″-wide Shaker stand sides, or panels for another project, would you attempt to cut the tenons by hand? You can, of course, but I wouldn’t.
There are two other methods that we demonstrate, both involve a table saw. Method one is a two-step technique where the first cut is with the rail or panel flat to the tabletop, and a second cut is made with the rail or panel standing vertical. This method allows you dial-in the exact thickness for your tenon.
The second method is to use a dado stack to make the cut, then fine-tune the fit using a shoulder plane, chisel or rasp. If you work with this technique, you need to fit each tenon individually. This is a perfect method if you hand-cut your mortises (I doubt each mortise would be identical in width). It’s also a great technique if your wood varies in thickness (maybe your planer blades are not set parallel to the table).
And if you’re in or around the Kansas City show, drop by The Woodworking Show next weekend and say hello.
Build Something Great!
Quick quiz. There are no right answers. What do you see?
Women baking bread?
A drinking party?
Doctors consulting with one another?
Or do you see a forgotten way of making furniture?
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
This weekend I am experimenting on guinea pigs. Scratch that. I’m experimenting on American pigs. Wow. That’s doesn’t sound good, either. OK, I’m teaching a new class on a new topic that has been bottled up inside me for four years now. You’ve probably never heard the term “staked furniture,” but that’s because the term and the joinery technology behind the furniture has largely been shoved to the side or […]
The post Building Staked Sawbenches at Highland Woodworking appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
In times past I made some of my income from hand carving wooden spoons. I made many hundreds each year and sold them from anywhere between $20-80 depending on the shape, size, wood and other detailing such as carving, turning and such. Our workshop opened to the public from 10am until 4pm each day and people dropped in to watch me work and I would carve a spoon as they relaxed on stools and watched me gouge out the bowls and shape the handles. My day started at 6am and finished somewhere around 10pm. It wasn’t all work. It flexed and turned according to need and this living for me was a self-employed life with minimal ties to any systems beyond responsibly paying taxes as a woodworker of moderate income making my designs. In my life back then the tax man was the least invasive of any entity and left me alone the most. So much so I really didn’t know that they existed. Had I not paid my taxes I am sure I would have got to know them more.
I liked my work and worked long days taking wood from mesquite trees and carving them from standing-dead stems and limbs I’d cut from dessert wastes or along the Nueces river banks to turn into a hand-carved cash crop. At different times I’d switch rivers for the Frio or the Dry Frio and then on to the Sabinal too. It wasn’t a mood swing or something mere like that. The gentleness of the Comanche trail followed the Sabinal, once called the Arroyo de la Solidad—River of Solitude, and I’d feel rest there even though I always worked hard. The weather determined where I cropped my supply and also where I found a tree downed or dead for a few years. There are segments of life you can’t bottle, but I will always know it smelt, felt, sounded, and tasted, yes, tasted and looked raw-real because I lived it.
No one taught me to carve spoons. It was an obvious process and there wasn’t too much to learn, so it wasn’t really a passed down tradition so much as one I developed. Looking at old spoons through the years (like the one above) it becomes obvious that most of them were formed using gouges to carve out the bowls and then a lathe to shape the handles and the back. The lathe was for speed and standardisation. It takes only a few minutes to do with the right tools and skills. Carving the whole takes longer and the advantage of using standing dead wood or wood already dried is that they go from start to finish in one go. The woods I carved spoons from, even when green, were too hard to carve with a knife. Mesquite and pecan, live oak, it wouldn’t really work. But there is something about knife carving anything that is appealing. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of using something anyone can make to work the wood with. Perhaps it’s keeping it within a sphere of simplicity that needs no batteries or machines or even a mechanism of guaranteed symmetry. I think it’s just an enjoyable thing to take a green piece of birch and convert it with a knife into a spoon someone will use for years and decades. It’s certainly nothing to do with cost. You can buy a very nice and well made spoon for under £5 that will last the same lifetime. The difference is the anonymity you see. When you are given a wooden spoon by a friend and a legend goes with it, you know it was made by hand, you step outside the anonymous vagaries and unknowns and enter the realms of a man, or a woman, or a child, and you say to yourself, I’m using something made by someone I know made it. It stirs the hot mixes and whips cream and eggs and separates one ingredient from another and then ot rests by the side of the cooker until the owner needs it to serve with.
The plane looks like a copy of a Stanley No 78.
As far as I have found out on the Internet, the company Ståhls was a large retailer that branded tools made by other companies. Therefore the plane is most likely manufactured by Järnbolaget Eskilstuna (Sweden).
A couple of things on this plane are peculiar:
There are both inch based threads and metric threads present on the plane. And it doesn't look like the metric threads have been added later on as a repair job.
The screws for holding the iron and the lever cap look a lot like 3/16" threads, but the thread for the rod holding the fence and also the screw to tighten the lever cap are M6. The thumb screws are both M5 and the screw for holding the nicker is M4.
The best suggestion I have as to why the manufacturer didn't stick to either imperial or metric threads, is that the setup for the drilling and tapping of the two diagonally placed holes were a dedicated machine that was difficult to change, hence they continued with the imperial threads in those places. The rest of the holes are all square to the cast and ground body, so they could be made on any drill press. But this is just my guess.
The spelling of Sweden is wrong.
Apparently they must have decided that the function of the plane was more important than any misspelling, so they finished the run of planes.
Now this is the only plane that I have from Ståhls, so I don't know if this is a mistake that is on all their planes, but I doubt it.
The misspelling must have started out somewhere, perhaps it was drawn correctly on the drawing that was sent to the die maker (I am not sure if that is the correct name for that trade?), but the die maker routinely corrected the spelling to suit the name Sweden is spelled in Swedish (Sverige). If anyone had to check the model before starting to cast the iron, either they didn't notice or didn't know it was not correct, or they just didn't want to take the trouble to make a new model.
Whatever the reason, the spelling is as you can see SVEDEN.
I think that whenever I will use the plane, I will always know that whatever mistake I make in the project, It will be easier to conceal than a misspelling in cast iron. That is a comfort.
I cleaned the plane and checked the sole for flatness. It was dead flat. The fence was square to the sole and also flat. The only thing that was a bit out of square was the depth stop. I fixed that with a file and some emery paper. After that I honed the blade and cleaned the plane a bit.
I filed the knicker at the same time, so it didn't protrude quite as far.
The only part missing was the thumbscrew for the depth stop. I made a new one out of brass on the lathe followed by a bit of sawing with a hacksaw and some filing.
I have tried a lot of CAD applications over the years, but never found one that I really liked. Some years ago I tried SketchUp’s free version. With no instruction It was a real struggle so I eventually abandoned it and went back to hand sketching my projects.
Recently I bought a laptop to allow me to work in the comfort of my easy chair. At last weekends Woodworking Show I sat in on a couple of SketchUp seminars and learned quite a bit about the software. So I decided to give the free version of SketchUp another try. What I learned in the seminars is that you have to forget what you know about CAD software. SketchUp is a 3D modeling program not a CAD program. You build your model (whatever project you want drawings for) in a 3D environment. Then you work out from there.
It is a fairly simple application but because it is so powerful and can do so much the learning curve is pretty steep. Without some instruction you will most likely get frustrated and give up like I did the first time I tried it. There is a lot of instruction available on line where you will find many video tutorials that will get you going in the right direction. You can also buy an instructional video like I did. There are also many of these available at very inexpensive prices. Here is the one I bought. There are so many resources available to help you learn this application that as long as you are patient and keep trying you will master this software.
I am still climbing the leaning curve, but this time I am making progress and can see some light at the end of the tunnel. To download SketchUp MAKE, the free version, look here.
As always, thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment.
This is a K13 infilled with another ‘mystery Rosewood’. I cannot identify it through my usual methods. Everyone who sees it thinks it is Brazilian - but it is not - it does not smell right. Anyone who has had the pleasure of working with Brazilian knows the smell I am talking about. This is very different - not sweet at all. If I were to guess, it is more likely an odd variant of Kingwood or Cocobolo... but that is just a guess. And, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter anyway - it looks sensational regardless of what it is.
It is a fairly standard cut of wood - no curl, no burl, no figure at all - just long, straight grain, almost pedestrian when compared with some of the woods I use. But the color and texture of it is incredible, and, in my opinion, more than make up for it. There are a few of those tell-tale black ink lines that show up in Rosewoods from time to time - three of them running through the front pad and two through the handle.
In time, the wood will oxidize further and darken down a bit more. It is hard to imagine this material looking even richer than it already does, but I know it will. I used some of this material for my K6 prototype and it looks amazing. The orange coloration darkens to a deep red tone - like the red in the photo below.
The customer who commissioned the plane described it best when he said it was a ‘very masculine wood’. It is - and if it were at all possible to wear a smoking jacket while planing - this would be the plane to use.
This plane also confirms something I firmly believe - that old wood (30+ years) really is different from the material we have available today. I know there are a lot of people who think I am nuts and that I have bought into all the hype about old wood (bring this up on a luthier discussion forum and just sit back and watch the show!). But I truly do believe there is something different about it. Just go to your local big box store and buy a piece of white pine. Then find a piece of old growth white pine and compare them. They may as well be different species. Or go to an exotic wood store and find a piece of plantation grown Indian Rosewood and then go into the instrument department and find a set of non-plantation grown Indian Rosewood backs and sides and compare them (and if you are remotely inclined to ever build an acoustic guitar, buy a few old East Indian Rosewood guitar sets now, because in ten years, you won’t be able to find them). Night and day difference - and I am not just talking about tonal qualities. The color is different, the texture, the density, workability - everything.
We are seeing the end the truly remarkable woods in the world - good wood does not grow on trees anymore.
The question of inspiration has come up several times lately (vintage Porsche’s anyone?), and having the privilege (and responsibility) to work with these fine materials is inspirational. Knowing how rare and unique they are inspires me to use them to the best of my ability. To not waste them on something stupid, and to use them for something that will have meaning and a life beyond my own lifetime. Maybe I am just trying to justify it to myself, but I think that using them in planes is a worthy use.
Another worthy use is musical instruments. I have started setting aside pieces for instruments - whether it is something I make, or I save it for someone else to use down the road - I am not entirely sure, but I have recognized that there are pieces that are best suited for instruments.
The next blog post will likely be another example of inspiration - in a different form. The cryptic clue - ‘Nathan Green’.
Since 1996 I have had a public e-mail address for all things woodworking. I have – to the best of my knowledge – answered every e-mail people have sent me (except a few from Nigerian princes).
Today I shut down my public e-mail address: email@example.com. Here’s why.
During the last few years, my e-mail volume has ballooned to the point where I spend two to four hours every day answering mail. This is interfering with my writing, editing, building and (apologies) sanity.
If you have a question related to my writing, I encourage you to search my two blogs, which have more than 4,000 articles on all-things woodworking, plus jokes about animal flatulence.
On this blog, use the search box at the top right of the page. On my Popular Woodworking Magazine blog, the search function is right above the most recent entry.
Plus, you can always query me by leaving a comment on my blog that relates to a recent entry.
I ask that you do not bombard John with questions related to woodworking or about getting in touch with me. He has his hands full with customer service for Lost Art Press and keeping fulfillment running smoothly.
I have enjoyed corresponding with readers during the last 19 years. But I have reached a point where I need more time to think, build, read, research, edit and write.
Thank you all for your understanding in this matter.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Uncategorized