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Mostly my working wood and my enjoyment of it still is the area surrounding joinery followed quickly by design. Generally, all designs are governed in great measure by the wood type, colour, grain configuration and wood strength. Wood density, flex, brittleness, porosity and other such wood characters pertinent to different wood types must also be …
Follow the link to see Ben Strano and Andrew Hunter’s video on Chinese furniture joints. It’s terrific.
I should also mention that Andrew also has an article in Fine Woodworking on how to construct a frame and panel, Chinese style. That’s also a terrific article.
This is an excerpt from “The Art of Joinery” by Joseph Moxon; commentary by Christopher Schwarz.
Now we get to the fun part: Putting the tools to use. Moxon’s first “exercise” is to plane a large piece of wood square to transform it from a rough pitsawn board to a piece of finished work. Below is my reading of Moxon’s method. There are some steps missing that might be familiar to modern hand-tool users, such as checking for twist with winding sticks. Moxon confirms the board is true by eye (just wink) and with a ruler that is anywhere from 2′ to 7′ long. Your eye (and a 7′ ruler) are powerful measuring devices, though I prefer winding sticks for high-tolerance work.
Step One: True One Face
You begin with the fore plane and set it so it will take a shaving that is the thickness “of an old coined shilling,” a bit more than 1∕ 32″ thick. If the grain is difficult, reduce the cut to “the thickness of an old groat,” or less than 1∕ 32″. If the board is warped or cupped, you need to plane across the grain – what Moxon calls “traversing” – to bring the high spots down to the low spots on your first face.
Moxon says you should check your work by sighting down the face of the board either with one eye, with a 2′-long ruler or with a piece of straight stock that is as long as the piece you are working.
When the first face is flat, you should refine the face a bit. First set the fore plane to a lighter shaving and plane the board. Then use a jointer plane. Traverse across the grain for wide panels or work at angles – corner to-corner – for narrow stock. Then finish that first face with a smoothing plane if necessary. Work with the grain; overlap your strokes.
Step Two: Straighten One Edge
Next you should straighten one long edge. Use a try square to find the high spots (called the “risings”) on the edge. Reduce these with a fore plane or (in extreme cases) with a hatchet, Moxon writes. (Some woodworkers might use a drawknife or scrub plane here.) Follow this up with a jointer plane and smoothing plane.
Step Three: Work the Other Edge
Now use a marking gauge or panel gauge to scribe the finished width of the board. The gauge’s head rides on the finished edge and marks a line parallel to it. You also should strike this same line on the rough face. Now work this edge down to your scribe line. Use a hatchet if you have lots of material to remove; or use a fore, jointer and smoothing plane if there isn’t much waste.
Step Four: The Final Face
With one face and two edges completed, use your marking gauge to scribe the finished thickness on your two completed edges. Press the gauge firmly against your first face to make these marks. Then use a fore, jointer and smoothing plane to dress the fourth face.
— Meghan Bates
Filed under: The Art of Joinery
If you enjoy using hand planes in your woodworking, then you may be considering adding specialty planes (like a filister) to your shop. Frank Klausz is a fan of filister planes, and in this short video he shows some of the details on adjusting and using a metal-bodied filister to make a ship-lapped joint. Just one more example of his impressive knowledge of woodworking joinery, and why we love learning from Frank. If […]
When I made my workbench some 40-odd years ago, there were no readily available workbench plans as there are today. I had been reading Tage Frid and James Krenov and those books did have pictures, so I laboriously starting trying to scale a workbench based on them. It has served me well.
Click to read how Forrest improved an already great workbench with his new Eclipse Quick Release Bench Vise.
Niels Henrik David Bohr, a Danish physicist who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 for his work on atomic structures once said, “An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.”
It reminded me of something Jennie Alexander said during a recent phone conversation for our Meet the Author series, something I didn’t use: “Isn’t this interesting? I’ve only made one type of stool. I’ve only made one type of one-slat chair. And I’ve only made one kind of two-slat post-and-rung chair. And that’s it! I’ve never made a rocking chair. I’ve never made a piece of furniture. I’ve done the same thing over and over and over and it changes, changes, changes—when it’s ready to change. And that’s kind of weird.”
Maybe. But maybe not.
In 2004, while working at Popular Woodworking magazine, I visited chairmaker Brian Boggs (who, by the way, was inspired by Alexander’s book “Make a Chair from a Tree”). At the time of my visit, Boggs’ primary focus was chairs, specifically Appalachian-style ladderback chairs with a contemporary flair. And by that point he had dedicated years of his life to not only building them, but improving them. Improvements came in the form of design, yes, but also tools (Lie-Nielsen still sells the Boggs Curved Spokeshave), joints (his “universal joint” features double offset tenons and housed shoulders) and machines (his hickory bark stripper took 12 years to develop). All of this, simply to make a better chair.
I’m all over the place. There was the Christmas I asked for embroidery supplies. Come Valentine’s Day I tried to embroider my husband a single heart on cardstock. There was a lot of cursing involved, some blood and I don’t think I’ve touched the supplies since.
I rowed for two quarters at college. I took a short evening class on astronomy and spent a few years volunteering at the Cincinnati Observatory until I came to the conclusion that I enjoyed the poetry of stars much more so than the math. Every time I run I think, I should run a marathon.
I find many things to be fascinating. One look at Half Dome and I want to climb it. One meditation class and I’m looking up ashrams in India. One world religion class and I want to enroll in seminary, become a Buddhist and define myself as atheist, all at once.
I suppose this is why I was drawn to writing. For a short while I get to live vicariously in the life of another. And not always, but often, that other is being written about because of their ability to narrow their focus so much that they become an expert, even if that wasn’t their intention. Perhaps this is behind all brilliance.
There’s validity in trying it all. But I’ve also learned that there’s validity in finding a niche. There’s validity in devoting a large part of your life to 17th century joinery. And Welsh stick chairs. And carving acanthus leaves. And making macaroons. And growing the perfect tomato.
Alexander may only have made one type of stool. And one type of one-slat chair. And one type of two-slat post-and-rung chair. But her dedication to doing the same thing “over and over and over,” while allowing it to change and improve while also studying and theorizing and, dare we say, obsessing, has benefitted all those who point to “Make a Chair from a Tree” as inspiration. That type of devotion is why we can buy copper tacks from John Wilson. And moulding planes from Matt Bickford. And letterpress printed books.
I think all experts see what Alexander calls “the flash.” The niche, for them, fulfills. “There is a spirit of shaving wood that fills a place in me that otherwise is not filled as a person, as a thinker, as a human being,” Alexander says.
Coupled with, of course, hard work, dedication and simply showing up at the bench, again and again and again. As Charles Hayward wrote in a 1936 issue of Good Woodworking magazine: “Continued application and perseverance do really bring mastery, and in these summer months, when practical work has been thrust into the background, we can still consolidate and even advance our work.”
— Kara Gebhart Uhl
Filed under: Honest Labour, Make a Joint Stool from a Tree, Uncategorized
In this episode of 360 with 360WoodWorking David Heim tells us about a 90-year-old woodturner who turns large, very large. His burls are hoisted up onto a custom-built lathe that can handle material as large as 48″ x 72″.
Join 360 Woodworking every Thursday for a lively discussion on everything from tools to techniques to wood selection (and more). Glen talks with various guests about all things woodworking and some things that are slightly off topic.
|my vise and it's parts|
|funny looking washer|
|wing nut side|
|back jaw's hole|
|the old bolt|
|from Blacksmith Bolt & Rivet|
|new on the left and old on the right|
|found a chipbreaker|
|not Damascus steel|
|primer coat first|
|my steel wire brushes|
|clean before painting|
|my fancy spray booth|
|this isn't ready yet|
|I haven't finished sanding and smoothing the face first|
I didn't do anything with the bookcase and I probably won't until the weekend. I only have about an hour each weekday night and I don't want to run into a snag that will involve any length of time to resolve. I will pick up the bookcase again this weekend.
Who was Fred Ott?
answer - Thomas Edison filmed him sneezing in the first copyrighted film in history
Since my last post I have managed to turn and fit the stretchers for the second chair. I truly do enjoy the spring pole lathe. Nothing like and hour at the lathe after work to rid the mind of the stresses of my day.
With the parts for both undercarriages fabricated it was time to turn my attention to shaping the seats. Given my whining about having to resort to using an electric router to round the edges of the back mortises and handle cutout, I really wasn’t looking forward to tackling the seats. Once I got started however I found that I could do all of the shaping with hand tools. So no electric router torture was needed.
To shape the seat I first sketched a few shapes directly onto the seat board. Once happy I used a combination of hand saws to hog off the waste. Then used a hand plane, spokeshave, rasp and files to refine the outline of the seat.
Here it is cut to the basic shape and very light shaping.
I had to hold back on the sculpting of the first seat so that I could use it as a pattern for the second. Once the outline was established on both seat boards I could begin the sculpting of the edges. That’s right sculpting. Just because I’m using plywood doesn’t mean I can’t go beyond the basic edge rounding.
If you look closely at chairs, especially Windsor chairs, you will note that the front corners of the seat are eased over. This easing prevents having a pressure point on the back of the sitter’s thigh. It also helps to visually lighten the chair. As a nod to this time proven design feature, I too eased the front corners of my seats. This was a simple exercise with the spokeshave, rasp and file. Sanding blended everything together.
I also gave the rear corners of the seat the same, albeit less pronounced, treatment.
The majority of the remaining edges were simply given a rounding over. The other area that was given a little more dramatic treatment was the outer ends of the front batten. At an inch and a half thick these looked pretty clunky and felt even worse. So I added a heavy chamfer to lighten the look and rounded all of the edges to create a pleasing surface to touch.
Tonight I came home from work and gave all of the parts for the first chair a thorough sanding and inspection. Satisfied with the parts, I cut some wedges and starting adding the glue. I’m happy to say that the glue up went smoothly.
Tomorrow after work I’ll go over the parts for the second chair and assemble its base.
The next task will be the upholstered panels for the backboards. Those still need holes drilled, hardware installed and upholstered.
Brian is also making good progress on his “June Chair Build“. He is wrapping up the eight legs that he needs for his two chairs. Be sure and check out his blog.
Part 2 Greg Merritt
I don’t get many custom orders as I’m usually too busy with my day job and restoring antique tools to do them anyway. However, my wife’s friend asked her if I could make him some American flag trees. She showed me a picture of what he wanted and it seemed simple enough, so I told her I could make them for him.
These trees were offered by Martha Stewart a few years ago on her website but, have since been discontinued. The only thing I had to go on was the fact that they were about 20″ tall. Assuming the whole tree was 20″ tall, I figured the largest diameter of the post was probably 1 1/2″ in diameter. I glued some maple together and created 2″ square stock to turn on my lathe. I then used my Peter Galbert calipers to turn the stock to 1 1/2″ in diameter down the whole shaft.
Studying the photo, I eyeballed the shape of the post, cutting the bottom of the vases to 1″ in diameter. I cut a little finial on the top and a cove and bead detail on the bottom that kind of looks like an old cast iron pot. Again, all eyeballing with no plans. Just imagining things in my head.
At the bottom, I turned a 3/4″ diameter tenon. This will fit in a hole I will drill in the base with my drill press. I use a 3/4″ open end wrench to turn the tenon the perfect size.
After about an hour on the lathe, I turned all four posts and pads for the trees. They are all similar but, none of them are an exact copy of one another.
The tree has four rows of flags with six flags on each row. In order to mark the holes in right spot, each hole would have to be 60 degrees away from each other (360 degrees / 6 = 60 degrees). Instead of grabbing my protractor and trying to mark every 60 degree angle, I took my compass and set it to the radius of the post. I then walked around the circumference of the circle marking it at every spot. That left me with six equal segments that were perfectly spaced from one another.
I did the same thing on the other end of the post starting at the same point. I then drew lines down the post and took a straight edge, lining up the lines on each end of the post marking where the holes would go on the top of the vases. I only marked on the first and third vase for those marks. On the second and fourth vases, I marked a line in between the first and third marks so that the flags on the tree were more spaced apart.
Even though I figured out where the holes went on the tree, I was still wasn’t comfortable drilling my holes in the final piece. I took a scrap post and did all the markings again and used a 1/4″ drill to drill holes in the post at a 60 degree angle. After I drilled all the holes and stuck the flags in, the sample turned out well.
When it was time for the real drilling, I took my time. Putting the post back on the lathe, I lined up the marks of the post so they were perpendicular to the lathe bed. This way I only had to worry about the angle of my drill bit as I knew I could sight down the bed of my lathe keeping the bit drilling straight down the shaft. I drilled about an inch in using a brad point drill bit.
After drilling all 24 holes and giving the piece a light sanding, I drilled a hole in my base and glued the post into it. This is a simple project that I can bang out in case my wife’s friend wants more than the four I made him.
3 Simple Finishes is a workshop coming up next week on June 16-18. If you have ever had a question about finishing, and who has not, then join us and learn some of the tricks.
Finishing is part chemistry and part magic. The great thing about this workshop over a lecture on the subject is that you get a chance to try out this stuff. Discover the approaches that will work in your shop. Learn the techniques and practice them.
You will walk away from this class with information, experience, and a great sample set of finishes. From oils to wiping varnishes and shellac, we’ll cover the range of hand applied finishes.
The BARN Workbench is named for a community group of woodworkers and other artisans. BARN is the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network located on Bainbridge Island. The island is directly across and a 35 minute ferry ride away from Seattle. Started by a group of enthusiastic woodworkers, the group has grown to include artisans with a number of interests, including fabric artists, metal workers, jewelers, writers, printers and more. After years […]
Since I knew the back was sawn square, I used that to square up the carcass. I nailed one corner together and put the plywood back on and clamped it to draw up the sides and top/bottom tight. I nailed the back into the carcass and there was much joy to behold. I plan on doing the same for this bookcase except I won't have the advantage of using the Navy woodshop saw.
|kitchen spice and book shelf|
|the paper towel holder|
|tannic acid solution|
|sizing the the back|
|getting awfully close|
|wee bit out of square|
|less than a 32nd off|
|7 foot bar clamp|
|this is why I made the gizmos|
|big red to the rescue|
What is the only river that flows north and south of the equator?
answer - the Congo River crosses the equator twice
This is a quick update to let you know where we’re at. The announcement of this magazine has sparked a lot of excitement amongst our craftsman worldwide, we have gained several contributing authors, among them are Brian Holcombe, Joshua Stevens aka Mr.Chickadee, Bob Rozaieski from the Logan Cabinet Shoppe, Bob has written several articles for various woodworking magazines, one of them being finewoodworking. Unfortunately Paul Sellers has declined to become a contributor at this time, but the door is always open should he reconsider time permitting.
I’m in talks with Colonial Williamsburg, they’re very positive about this magazine. I know I could do alot more had work not be in the way, but that’s how the cookie crumbles. So far there’s about 23 solid pages of great articles completed including projects.
So it’s all coming together slowly but surely, I didn’t realise just how much work goes into producing a quality magazine. Also in addition, an ePub version will become available in the near future for iPad’s. ePubs are an interactive eBook mag with video’s and so forth. So I’m hoping to have two versions, the standard PDF for those without an iPad and an ePub version for iPads. I’ll see if it’s possible to cover the android users.
Articles are being written up by our authors as we speak, mine are already done I just have a few other additions I would like to add. I’m not entirely sure just how many pages there will be in total, I’m doing this on the fly. Comparing to other magazines I’ve counted about 30 pages of advertising and about four actual pure woodworking articles. So I think I’m doing a pretty good job so far, no ads just pure woodworking.
Please help spread the word, help by contributing if you can, send your articles, projects pics, tips, ideas, discoveries, everyone is welcomed to contribute.
Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
This magazine is not about me but all about you, it’s for all of us combined. Articles are not reserved for the privileged, like you find with other magazines. I want the world to see craftsmen and women from all over the world, let the world see you and what you make and have to offer. This magazine again is not reserved for celebrity woodworkers, even though they are more than welcome to contribute, but I’m more interested in the unknown woodworker, the silent achiever. Not matter who you are, what part of the world you live in, you all have something valuable to offer. If language is a barrier, I will help you along as best I can. This is a community based magazine and therefore a community based effort. Let’s make this the best and most sought out hand tool woodworking magazine together.
On the way back from Handworks, editor Megan Fitzpatrick asked me a question I get a lot: “Does it irk you when people build your furniture designs and fail to credit you when they post them on social media?” Answer: Not at all. For me, the reward isn’t that someone praises my design. The reward is that they were inspired enough to pick up the tools and build something. Building […]
Before I travel, I make enormous lists of everything I need to do before I depart. At the end of each of these lists I should add this item: Get dumped on.
Less than 24 hours before getting on a plane for Germany, a huge task landed outside my front door in a FedEx box. Inside were the imposition proofs for the deluxe version of “Roubo on Furniture Making.” This was my last opportunity to comb the pages for mistakes before the printer cranks up the presses.
So I dropped everything and spent six hours reviewing all 440 pages. This morning I sent it to Wesley Tanner, the designer, so he could look it over for design errors. When Wesley completes his work, the book will go on press.
So when will you see this book? I talked to our printing representative yesterday, and he is hoping that the books will ship to our warehouse on or about July 17. The printing part is fast. Then the sheets have to be trucked to New Mexico to be bound (very few binderies can handle a book of this size). And they have to hand build the slipcases for each book.
If the schedule changes, I’ll let you know.
For those of you who clicked on the link for the deluxe version of “Roubo on Furniture Making” and felt your checkbook stroke out, here’s the deal. This book will be about as nice a modern book as can be purchased. It’s something that is difficult to describe on a web page or in words. When people see it in person (these volumes are 11” x 17”) and they see the quality, they understand the price tag.
John and I are taking a sizable financial risk with this book (the print run cost as much as our storefront building), but we are more than willing to stick our necks out to bring something into this world that is this special and rare.
We just have our fingers crossed that after the books come out, we don’t say: “Want fries with that?”
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Uncategorized, With All the Precision Possible
“According to my experience, one usually makes the best kind of plans during a holiday, and not only, I think, because mentally as well as physically we have a breathing space. We are told that the sunken lanes of England represent the old trackways along which men’s plodding footsteps for two thousand years or more battered down the soil till the banks rose high on either side, giving shelter and protection but cutting off the view. Almost inevitably our daily lives get like that, following the routine paths it seems endlessly, till suddenly we are in the clear again and can see the buttercups in the meadows, the kingfisher flashing across the stream and the wide vault of heaven above us. At holiday times, as we move about the countryside, passing through small country towns and villages which have hitherto only been names to us, perhaps made famous in history or perhaps not famous at all yet with some flavour of the past, some magic of a word in them to link them with the dawn of our race, then something stirs in us; something that knows its affinity with the men who cleared this good earth and who laboured and built and passed on the work of their hands to us, and within it the inherent beauty that showed it was good. They built with chalk and flint and stone and wood just where they found them so that the homes they built fit snugly into the countryside as if they grew there, and everywhere we find traces of very ancient craftsmanship which has lived on in one form or another to the present. There is the ancient craft of flint-knapping which goes back two thousand years or more to the time when flint was used by the huntsman before ever man began to build their homes with it; and there is the thatch, the traditional roofing for humble dwellings long before the Saxons came; and there are walls bonded with brick courses in the old Roman style which, like the Roman roads underlying some of our modern highways, are caught up in a living tradition. We get these sudden glimpses of a remote past sometimes when we are least looking for them and they take us back to our roots as nothing else can.
“… There was a time when men, working with their hands, achieved grace and truth as naturally as they breathed because they worked soundly in a sound tradition. To-day we have to relearn these things and make our own standards. If we are willing to keep a high heart, if we hold fast to those moments of vision which we have received outside the bustle of living, then the skill which we learn will wed itself to the skill we have inherited, something older than ourselves which we can pass on to our children and, till heaven and earth pass away, the price and the joy of good workmanship shall not fail.”
— “Ancestral Voices,” Charles Hayward, The Woodworker magazine, 1955
Filed under: Honest Labour, Uncategorized