Blue Spruce Toolworks has moved into a new shop! After 8 years in a one and then two ...
The village joiners outside their shop in Eschelbronn, Germany – May 1911.
Which tool will you choose to identify with for your next group portrait? Will it be the try square or the jointer plane? Or will you be in the bathroom when the photographer arrives and wind up holding the glue pot because all the cool tools were taken?
Adam Kaiser and his Journeymen – Joiners from Eschelbronn, Germany – 1882
(from left to right starting with the back row)
Konrad Grab, Johann Rumig, ? Kirsch, Adam Kaltenbrunner, Christian Wolff, Adam Lenz, Jacob Steiß, Christoph Canz, Adam Kaiser junior, Adam Kaiser senior, Georg Wilhlm Kirsch, Wilhelm Echner, Johannes Filsinger.
- Jeff Burks
Filed under: Historical Images, Workbenches
A reader enquired if I tidied up the sawn surfaces of the fretted sides of the Chippendale hanging shelves I made last year. I replied that I performed the minimum of cleaning up as that was how equivalent surfaces appear on period work.
The image of the Chinese hanging shelves below clearly illustrates the typical degree to which mid-eighteenth-century fretwork was finished. The image is quite large (1815 x 2180 pixels), so you can zoom in and have a close look at the surfaces.
Filed under: Distractions, Furniture Making Tagged: Chippendale, fretwork, hanging shelves
I have yet to see a wall-hung tool chest that gives me a tingling feeling in my no-no square. (That is the mark of good design.)
But this chest comes the closest.
This is a page from the 1907 tool catalog of Tiersot, a French ironmonger founded in 1865. The catalog itself is a wonderful trip to a time when hand tools and machines occupied equal space in the pages of catalogs. You can download the enormous catalog here, courtesy of Jeff Burks.
This tool cabinet, which cost the impressive sum of 400 Francs, is fairly well-equipped and organized. I wish I had a better scan to share.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Historical Images
I am wed and bred to the traditional tool chest. I’ve been working out of one since 1996 and have no plans to suddenly switch to storing my tools in stacking rubber boxes.
Sure, I’ve experimented with other systems (like when I experimented with lesbianism in college). But after giving them a year or two in parallel with my tool chest, I always went back to the warm embrace of of the big floor chest by my workbench.
If you hate tool chests, that’s cool with me. But you need to come up with a way to hold your tools that makes it easy to work at the bench. Since publishing “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” I’ve been asked about once a month to please, please, please design a wall-hung tool cabinet that is the equal of a floor chest.
Now that I’m juggling two book projects, I’m really not equipped to design a complicated piece of tool storage and give it a real-world test. But perhaps you are.
When I consider tool storage, here is a list of the things that are important to me. Other woodworkers at the extremes (French-fitting neat-nicks and those who are casual about tool care) will disagree. That’s cool. Write your own book.
1. Tools protected from rust, dust and damage. I spent a lot of time fixing up tools or saving up the money to buy my tools. So I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them rust or get cruddy. Good tool storage should keep the tools protected. Period. This is why I don’t like open tool racks (which I’ve experimented with a lot). The tools on the open racks are more likely to get rusty or (more important) go missing.
2. All tool can be grabbed instantly or by moving one sliding/swinging layer in front. Your tool system should not be a Chinese puzzle box. H.O. Studley’s toolbox is cool, but it is a tool-storage nightmare.
3. Tools aren’t obscured from view in drawers. When tools go into drawers, they seem to disappear from memory. I like tools in the open because of this simple fact: When you can see all your tools your memory about their location is much improved. I have to nudge my marking knife to grab my carpenter’s pencil, so it’s easy for me to remember where the knife is – I’ve seen it 100 times that day.
4. The storage is flexible without distinct spots for everything. I tried French-fitting my tools. It was a chore to make all the little racks and holder bits. Then I decided I wanted the shoulder plane somewhere else and so I had to change it all.
5. The tools should be in smallest space possible. When your tools are in a compact area you won’t have to walk across the shop to pick them off the rack across the room. It’s all right there, just within arm’s reach.
6. The storage should be inexpensive and movable. I’d rather buy more wood for furniture. And someday I might have a cooler shop on Russell Street.
This is a quick back-of-the-napkin list. But I think it’s pretty good.
Oh, and it should be black.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Books in Print, The Anarchist's Tool Chest
Of Course They Do – and Exceptionally Well Too.
Today I read an article that stated that, “We invented iron quick-release vises, which won’t hold much of anything relating to woodworking.” Bemused by this, I wondered why it was said and then I wondered why hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of woodworkers used something that didn’t, according to the author, “hold anything relating to woodworking”. The quick release vise has indeed stood the rigours of testing for a century now and has sold over any other vise ever invented. One of the most noted was of course the Record quick-release vise.
So, I too have used quick release vises for 50 years now, and one of them was almost 50 years old when I got it. My Woden vise opens to a massive 16″ and it too is about 80 plus years old.
I simply don’t want anyone to be put off using cast iron vises that offer quick release options, absolute dependability, functionality and solid safe holding through and through. All of the ones I have used lasted, work effectively, save much time and can be installed in under an hour for a lifetime of use.
I arrived back from Sweden last thursday and was straight off to the Woodland Skills Centre in North Wales to teach a spoon carving course for the weekend.
They were a lovely bunch of folk and it’s always a pleasure to teach a group who are so keen to learn. As always we focused on developing and practising the different carving techniques using the axe and knives and made small projects along the way to the spoon carving on sunday. My skills with my left hand have been improving over the last year which came in useful for demonstrating as both Justin and Simon were working left-handed. It’s much easier for beginners to see and understand how the grips are used when it’s presented in the same orientation that they’re using.
Sunday afternoon is my favourite part when the group teaching ends and everyone has time to work on their own spoons. The silence was deafening as they all concentrated on the work and I kept an eye on things, offering advice or reminding them of a technique as required. We also looked at various sharpening equipment and methods specific to spoon carving tools.
Everyone did a great job and went home very proud of their new spoon.
…determines the outcome
It’s said that the one who frames the issues determines the outcome. With frame saws that may not be so predictable and so I found myself drifting with thoughts of frame saws these past few weeks and the thought crossed my mind that rigid plate steel saws like the ones developed in Britain and further developed in the USA by people like Henry Disston might seem to be a more advanced methodology than say the mainland European frame saw. It struck me then that thin plate was the demand of craftsmen for finer work such as dovetailing and small tenons used in furniture making and so on, but that the plate envisaged was actually too thin for a push-stroke saw without some way of keeping the saw plate from buckling under the forward thrust between hand and wood. Hence the addition of brass or steel splines that allow thinness and rigidity in the same tool.
Thick and thin plate
Thicker plate seemed to be preferred in Western makes of ‘freestyle’ saws as the saws were not pulled into the stroke but pushed, and that then required slightly thicker steel plate. To counter some of the weight and retain strength, Western makers came up with the taper-grind that removed about one third of the weight without compromising rigidity. This also enabled a change in direction for alignment if needed and even a curved cut to a certain degree. Of course thicker plate stock meant more effort and energy in the cut. Adding a rigid back, be it steel or brass, gave rigidity to thin stock and so the Western-style tenon saw was born for finer joinery and furniture making work. In recent years we have seen the Western world adopt Japanese saws and so there has been another trend toward pull-strokes. these saws work well too, but because they are more difficult to sharpen, over time we have seen yet again another substitute with the arrival of the disposable pull-stoke saws mass-made by various giant tool companies. And that’s the kind of saw most people buy today.
Differences do exist between types
A huge difference between push and pull stokes is that the pull-stroke saw almost demands a vise and bench to pull against, and whereas the push strokes work really well on saw horses, pull strokes are indeed more problematic; having the whole earth countering downward pressure from above is a whole lot easier than pulling against your own strength in the same motion. Accuracy too becomes an issue between the two. Which one is backwards seems to me a matter of the culture you are raised in and programmed by.
Mainland Europe’s frame saw
Though of course Britain has long since had a variety of frame saws, most of those in the furniture maker’s arsenal are turning saws. Isambard Kindom Brunel and Samuel Bentham were indeed the first ones to create the vertical frame saw for slabbing trees into boards and this method was used up into the early 1900‘s in some regions of Britain. The frames were huge and so too the blades. It wasn’t so very long before we saw the continuous bandsaw blade we know today.
Frame saws old and new
In mainland Europe and later on in North America, frame saws of every size were used for everything from limbing and logging to fine dovetailing and shaping for violin necks and so on. Many modern-day woodworkers like Frank Klaus use frame saws in their everyday work and on an added note Joel Moscowitz of Tools for Working Wood came up with a most stunning development by simply extending the length of a common coping saw blade, refining the cut, and adding the components for making your own turning frame or bow saw. Joseph uses one he made from the kit parts for all of his shaping work in making violin necks and bodies. It makes a really fine tool. Made using the same cross-beam and stem structure, with tourniquet tensioning to a thin blade pulled taut by the pressure on strings traversing the length of the saw, the saw has a handle and pinion that allows the user to turn the actual blade during a cut, so that the blade can readily follow curved sections in similar fashion to a coping saw.
The advantage of the frame or bow saw is that push and pull stroke both work as and if necessary and for some applications this can prove greatly advantageous. The steel can be super-thin and you don’t need a whole lot of width to the plate for most work. For this frame saw I used a very functional metal cutting bandsaw blade generally used in a hand held power metal-cutting bandsaw. The bimetal steel quality is really excellent and the aggressive non- or negative-rake to the front of the teeth cuts wood along the grain quickly and effectively. Because of the size of the teeth, I can also cut cross-grain with smooth efficient cutting too and so I found that this bow saw can cut small tree limbs and dovetails with equal alacrity and leaves a very smooth cut. I also found that I could rip along the grain or at a tangent, so this answered my quest for a saw that could be used for a range of tasks far beyond those that I could get with a regular handsaw or tenon saw. Of course I am not suggesting that it replaces either. I think that the frame hinders certain tasks that are easier with the British-style saws, but for under $5 I have a saw that adds new dimension to my woodworking and also gives me a saw I can hand to a young woodworker that will give a measure of bandsaw capability without the dangers of a bandsaw machine.
Simply made in half a day
Making the saw is not complicated, even though my two jointed intersections may at first seem intimidating. This is a functional saw and making one is constructive and enjoyable. On Monday evening this week we had a hands-on workshop making this saw with friends and staff at the Maplewood Center woodshop. I made one complete in about four hours, but I also taught it and took two hundred pictures for my how-too as well. By the time the evening was over we had made eight bona fide frame saws that not only worked but worked exceptionally well. Here are the first dovetails I ever cut with this particular frame saw using a metal-cutting bandsaw blade as the blade. Eleven year old Isaac made one too, alongside his dad, David Ashdown. This is just another step toward getting children back into the woodshop. I think too that this is a good step for others who might be intimidated by machine bandsaws. It’s not exactly the same purpose or intent, but it means people are equipped for certain types of work without the inherent dangers machines inevitably bring.
Evidence of work and functionality
Here are my finished dovetails. I also cut a mitered haunched tenon that followed the gauge lines perfectly. You may take an hour to get used to the lightness of the saw and the nuances of flexing to task rather than forcing the saw.
A new series
I am about to do a series on spoons, spatulas and other shaped items and this saw helps me span the huge crevasse between hand and machine methods for those who prefer not to use machines and those who simply cannot use them.
We’ve made it to Friday! Today’s #FollowFriday is WinterHawk, who was featured in our May 2013 Wood News Show Us Your Shop column. WinterHawk lives and has his shop in the country woods of Templeton, PA, about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh.
WinterHawk specializes in creating Native American Style Flutes. He became inspired to start making the flutes after spending many years of teaching Lakota drumming and holding Native American Gatherings, where the flutes and drums would often be played, along with rattles and shells.
To find out more about WinterHawk’s woodworking methods and to view more pictures of his work, please visit his website HERE.
Friday’s on the Highland Woodworking Blog are dedicated to #Follow Friday, where we use this space to further highlight a woodworker or turner who we have featured in our monthly e-publications Wood News or The Highland Woodturner. Would you like for your shop to appear in our publications? We invite you to SEND US PHOTOS of your woodworking shop 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.
Sila Kopf, renowned marquetarian will be one of the featured speakers at this year's Woodworking in America conference, held October 18-20, 2013 in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. Read more
The post New This Year at Woodworking in America–Silas Kopf appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Following my post about building your own saw, a couple of people asked about instruction. Here’s one inquiry and my snarky, self-promoting response…
Andrew from Germany asked:
I have been considering making a back saw for some time, but have been a little intimidated by the process. Do you know of any good video resources or books that detail the process? I like videos for the simple fact that I am a visual learner.
Funny you should ask, but yes, I do know of a resource. Me!
I just completed filming two projects with Popular Woodworking Magazine, one of which is two hours of video instruction for an on-line class on how to build your own backsaw from the very kits I spoke of yesterday. In addition to the videos, students who sign up for class (hosted by PopWood, of course) will be able to ask questions and get assistance through live video interaction with yours truly, and post questions with other students in an online forum.
Class size is limited (to about 25 I think), but after the launch, anyone will be able to purchase/stream/download the videos anytime and build their saw. Plus, you can email me questions at your leisure.
The PopWood video team is editing the videos now, and we’re negotiating a launch date for the class, but it looks like sometime in June. Stay tuned for more details.
I’m only a few days away from heading to Des Moines for the first ever “Weekend With WOOD“. I love the idea that a magazine I’m already a fan of is opening their doors and welcoming attendees to a jam-packed event where you’ll learn so much from some amazing instructors.
I’ll definitely be sharing as much of my experience as possible with everyone. For sure there will be full-length posts when I get back, but there will also most likely be plenty of Tweets, Facebook & Google+ posts all weekend long live from the event.
One event that may not sound like the type of thing you can’t wait to sign up for is the WOOD editors panel discussion on Saturday afternoon. This is an opportunity to ask the editors whatever is on your mind about the magazine.
I imagine there will be plenty of questions about what it takes to put the magazine together each month, but I’m curious to see what you might ask if you had an opportunity. IN FACT…I could be that opportunity FOR YOU?! Do you have a question you’d like to ask the editors of WOOD Magazine? Send it my way and I’ll share it with them and then report back what I find out.
Either leave a comment on today’s post or EMAIL ME.
While helpfull, this was not precise enough, especially not in between the lines. And it was difficult to see while planing,how deep I was going to be. So, I decided to make a special marking gauge. A block of wood, cut out at the desired depth with an old planer blade on top for a marking knife.
I could even move the blade for two different reach settings. Shorter reach is more precise of course, because the blade tends to curve under pressure. But despite this shortcomming it works pretty well.
You'll have to visit the BBC site to see it, I hope it works outside the UK too here is the link
Portrait presumed to be Alfred de La Chaussee
Musée du Berry – Bourges, France
19th century oil on canvas
Roubo bench in the dining room?
Anything is possible if you dress the part.
Filed under: Historical Images, Workbenches
|A picture of the original tool rack borrowed from the PW website.|
|A layout of the sides, This picture also borrowed from the PW web site.|
I mostly use them for dividing up spaces and laying out carvings. I knew they could be used to scale up drawings and dimensions, that's the best reason to have a pair of different sizes, I just hadn't actually exercised that knowledge yet. The process turned out pretty simple. Tool wise it took two sector's of different sizes, two dividers of different size, a try-square and a pencil.
Then I set the smaller sector on the page and line up the markings from two of the same number to bracket the outer corners of the drawing. It doesn't matter which of the 13 numbers I line up, I chose 10 at a whim. The perspective of the photo makes it look funny but the outer corners of the drawing are in line with the inner lines of the 10.
Then I take the measurement I locked on my small dividers and find where it measures out on the sector. The tips fell just inside the lines for the number 1.
Now I take my larger sector and set it up with the stock. Since I chose to use the number 10 on the smaller, I repeated that on the larger. I also made sure to take into account the amount of board that would disappear into the eventual dado joint.
Once I had the larger sector set and stable, I took my larger dividers and repeated the reading I took with the smaller, just a little inside the number 1's lines. Since everything is spaced out equally on the sectors, the spacing will be proportionally identical, within a slight factor of human error. This isn't a C&C machine I'm running and a few millimeters matters little when it's the over all look I'm after. In the end it will look right or it won't and that will be the ultimate determination of success.
Then I use the new set dividers to transfer the spacing to the board. repeat the action over for the other measurements and you'll work out the spacing and pattern. I drew the curves between the hard line elements freehand, but mostly because it was quicker. You could use the same method to plot out a few points to follow if you need to. I suggest trusting your eyes and instincts though.
With the lines all set down in pencil I went back over where I wanted the hard line to fall with a sharpie so it would stand out across the room. I also shaded in the space to be removed to help from a distance.
I picked up the book, and from across the room held the image out at arms length and judged the job I had done.
I ended up a little narrow in the top, front of the board to back, but the shape was there and it was pleasing to my eye from a distance. I decided to keep it.
I hope I explained how I made the process work well enough. If not I may consider shooting a video to help explain, however I don't want to step on Jim Toplin and George Walker's toes as I suspect sectors may be something well covered in their new book "By Hand & Eye" from Lost Art Press. I've ordered my copy and I cannot wait to read it. You may want to consider it too.
If there are a bunch of questions, please comment, email, open your back door and scream them to the stars. I'll be able to try and answer two of those three instances.
Ratione et Passionis
I am in need of some scorching sand for heat shading veneer and for hardening goose writing quills. I got a couple of cups of sand from a friend, it was left over from an out door cook oven. It is coarse construction sand and was in need of cleaning.
I first ran it through a coarse sieve [12 wires per inch], the stuff that didn’t make it through went into the garden. I then ran the sand through fine brass screen [20 wires per inch]. The stuff that didn’t make it through I separated out and saved it for future use, thinking I would still need to wash it when I was done.
Everything that fell through the fine brass wire screen contained all of the fines and dust, which I assumed I would have to wash it and dry it out. As I was pouring the sand from one container to another the wind blew some of the fine dust away. Now I was winnowing the sand and in about 15 minutes it was very clean. I didn’t have to wash it after all.
The size of the sand really does not matter for scortching wood or hardening quills, but it is nice to have two different sizes of winnowed sand.