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This is a collection of all the different blogs I (try to) read. A whole bunch! If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to use the CONTACT page to get a hold of me. Thanks!
Last time I posted I had glued down the boxes bodies with the inside already french polished
I worked on gluing the marquetry panels to the trimmed to size lid
My favorite moment is when you see it glued down right way up for the first time, it appears slowly while you remove the paper
This glueing of the marquetry on both side had to be...
A few weeks ago I stopped by the home office of Popular Woodworking to go to their Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event. It’s always fun to take a break out of my day to play around with their tools. While I was there, I tried their No 5 1/2 jack plane that cut such nice shavings it almost got me thinking of quitting restoring my old Stanley planes.
Along with Lie-Nielsen, Lost Art Press was there selling their books and apparel. I took a peek inside one of their newest offerings, “Chairmaker’s Notebook”, to see if it was something I wanted to open my wallet for. I love books about making chairs. I’ve read over a half-dozen of them over the years including John Alexander’s “Make a Chair from a Tree: An Introduction to Working Green Wood” as well as Drew Langsner’s “The Chairmaker’s Workshop”. In fact, if I was ever a professional woodworker, I’d probably be a chair maker. So, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase the book. Needless to say, I’m glad I did.
I read a few chapters a night as I wanted all the information to absorb. What I love about this book is that it takes you through all the aspects of building a chair. From buying a log at a sawmill, to setting up a chairmaker’s workshop, to modifying and sharpening your tools, to assembly and finish. Peter even gives you a scaled model of a “sightline ruler” so you can photocopy it and make one yourself. It’s by far the most complete woodworking book I’ve ever read. Absolutely nothing was missed when writing this book.
As an example of how well this book is written, in the beginning, Peter talks about buying a log from a sawmill and what to look for when picking a log. He tells you not to buy the veneer logs as they tend to be too expensive and go for a premium. He says you should ask for “veneer rejects” because those logs will work just fine for building chairs and will be a whole lot cheaper. He then goes on to recommend that you bring a chain with you to wrap around your log so that the guy on the forklift can gently lower it down on your trailer instead of slamming it down breaking your trailer in half. It’s first hand stories like this that really sets this book apart from other books I have read.
A few years ago I made a few Windsor chairs of my own, but I used kiln dried lumber because I had no idea how to go buy a log. Regretfully, had I owned this book at the time, I would have made my chairs a whole lot better.
Along with the excellent information in the book, Peter is also one hell of an artist as he drew all the pictures in the book. In fact, the pictures are so well drawn, that you know exactly what he is describing in his illustrations.
If you have ever been intrigued with building a chair, then I highly recommend that you add this book to your library. You can buy it from The Lost Art Press.
Last Thursday was spent setting up the show, or in the lexicon of museology, “installing the exhibit.” Several of the volunteer team for the exhibit had arrived the previous day and helped to unload both the dedicated fine arts transport truck and the cargo van I drove from The Barn. The remaining volunteers arrived through the morning and pitched in seamlessly. I will blog about these heroic volunteers next week.
The raucous good nature of the day was genuinely infectious and invigorating. There I was, watching the different continents of my life collide: friends from the museum world, an on-line restorer’s forum I have been with for many, many years, and the newer World of Schwarz. Not to fear, rather than volcanic activity as the tectonic plates collided, jocularity ensued. In a lot of respects it was just like our sessions in Studleyville where despite the grueling work there, Chris and Narayan and I spent just as much time laughing intensely, with sometimes ribald humor.
So while we started out that day with all the pieces of the puzzle I brought with me, the composition of the picture goes back a few days. The week prior I had spent several days in Cedar Rapids making sure everything was on track for the installation. Dedicated transport arrangements? Check. Host site? Check. Graphics? Check. Cabinetry? Check. Vitrine? Check. Lighting? Oh oh.
The lighting company was the last stop before departing for Studleyville, and it was clear immediately that there was trouble. Despite months of correspondence, in-person discussions, and repeated promises that, “Yes, 1) we know what you want and 2) we have what you need,” it was abundantly clear that 1) no they didn’t, and 2) no they didn’t. So I fired them and welked out the door with no lighting arrangements in hand. Frantically I called Jameel, who in short order found exactly the vendor for me. So, with less than a week before the exhibit opens — in other words, about two years behind schedule — the entire lighting scheme needed to be redesigned from a blank piece of paper. I did not sleep much that night, but by noon of the following day we had all the details worked out. I hit the road for Studleyville with a great sense of relief.
Six days later I returned with the exhibit in a box.
The first step in the installation was the receipt of the platforms and vitrine case. They were waiting for us when we arrived at the Scottish Rite Temple before 9AM. Those got hustled inside in short order. While a team of folks measured and laid out the room, the remaining volunteers carefully placed the exhibit furniture where I asked them. The layout resonated visually exactly as I had hoped.
At the same time the fellows from the graphics company arrived with the panels and banners for the exhibit.
Next came the unpacking of the Studley Collection. The packed tools were set on a work table for me to fill the tool cabinet later in the day. Each crate was re-closed exactly as they came apart. Losing pieces of the customized packing is not beneficial.
At the same time was the assembly of the base for the replica workbench top. Simultaneous with that was the placing and assembly of the vitrine case for the tool cabinet (see below).
The really heavy work came next, as around 500 pounds of cast iron was affixed to the approx. 250 pound replica top.
The photo of moving, flipping, and placing the elements of this ensemble was not taken as almost everyone in the room was doing lifting, flipping, moving, and exact placing of the multiple pieces.
First big piece down, two to go.
Next came placing the replica bench base for the original Studley bench top. This was not easy as the base was very heavy and the handholds few, but with care and muscle we got it done.
Yup, things were shaping up spatial composition-wise.
Up went Studley’s original bench top, on top of the replica base. O-o-o-oh yeah. We took a minute to stand back and admire our work.
At the other end of the room was the team joining the case and the vitrine. I had asked for a very snug fit, and boy did we get one.
It took almost everyone on the vitrine team to hang on to the top and press it down into the rabet of the base.
With a notable “thunk” it popped into place. Beeeyoooteeeful.
We were under some time pressure as we had to get the major elements of the exhibit in place before the lighting guys arrived, because they had to know where to point the lights. Makes sense, huh?
The bottom panel for the vitrine was cut, then lined with black felt for the plane underneath the tool cabinet. The fit had to be exact, and presented in such a way as to become completely unnoticeable once the exhibit was being viewed.
The lighting guys showed up exactly when they promised, with all the exact equipment they needed. What’s up with that? Just kidding. They were fabulous.
We killed the house lights and turned the guys loose.
The lighting units they had were slightly warm (2700K color temp) lithium battery light fixtures with magnetic bases, which the stuck on the ceiling fans!
Soon it was looking like an exhibit should.
Once the lighting was done, up went the black theatrical backdrop, setting off the entire space and establishing the respectful tone for the entire event.
I took a couple hours to load the tools in the cabinet, with the entire crew of volunteers watching with the same looks on their faces I would see throughout the weekend.
With several minutes to spare, were we done.
This question comes up fairly often and this is the how-to that works best. It works on the modern versions of blade-as-sole spokeshaves equally well. It’s not a difficult task but the tangs get in the way of conventional bevel-up sharpening, as you might with planes and chisels, so it’s is easiest to be done bevel up.
Making abrasive paddles
Typically sharpening work is the work of a narrow abrasive whetstone. Because the traditional spokeshave blade is not necessarily dead straight or flat but slightly curved along the length and slightly hollow on the flat underside face, a narrower stone works well. An inch or less works fine. Most likely you won’t have one and so it work well to use abrasive paper on a wooden paddle like the ones shown.
First you need to make the paddles, which are quickly made with strips of abrasive paper adhered to thin paddles of 6mm x 20mm x 175mm (1/4” by 3/4” by 7”) long scrap wood. I use double sided tape such as mounting tape to attach the abrasive and I do both sides of the paddle for economy. The yellow paddle is 120-grit. This is coarse enough for corrective work but for most work this may well be sufficient for establishing a cutting edge too. I keep one spokeshave with a blade with a coarser sharpening for the roughing out work. If you have only one spokeshave then you can simply hone to a more polished level as needed. You can use finer grits of paper to refine the bevel. In my case I used the EZE-Lap diamond hones in medium, fine and superfine grits. That’s somewhere around 400-1200.
To remove the cutting iron by tapping the tangs evenly alternating from one side to the other until it’s free.
How much the blade has already been sharpened affects the angle of presentation of the abrasive paddle to the blade. You must first establish the bevel angle for presenting the abrasive paddles to the steel and then grinding away is quick and simple. Place the blade on a support block as shown with the cutting edge aligned right on the corner edge of the block and then place the paddle of abrasive on the blade as shown and with the opposite end on the bench.
To determine the general angle of presentation move the paddle forwards or backwards against the cutting edge without abrading until the paddle hits both the back edge and the front edge of the blade simultaneously.
Now, by moving the paddle in short circular motions about 2 cm (3/4”) up or down and no more, with the opposite end of the paddle on the bench top, you can establish the correcting bevel to the steel.
Move across the bevel from one end of the cutting bevel to the other using these circular motions until the whole bevel is evenly abraded. This will establish a slight camber to the bevel and by carefully watching the bevel it should be nice and symmetrical too. Keep going until you feel a slight burr to the opposite, underside of the cutting iron, along the full length. Work as evenly as possible if the bevel is in good shape. If it’s way off, apply more strokes to even out discrepancy. Generally, even a bad iron takes only a few minutes to establish the bevel correction.
It’s worth mentioning here that so far the work done including making the paddles is not more than ten minutes.
Subsequent honing continues using finer grits of paper on paddles or the EZE-Lap diamond hone. Do both sides of the blade. On the underside keep the honing as flat as possible, spanning any hollow there is as shown below.
Further refining of the bevel can be done with a leather strip charged with buffing compound and hooked over the abrasive paddle like this. Or you can use a flat piece of wood instead. Just charge the surface of the wood with the buffing compound.
The opposite side of the blade, the flat face, often needs surfacing too. This usually means abrading through surface defections until the surface is clear of pitting and broken edges. Use the same sequence of paddles but not the leather strop.
This time use a piece of flat wood charged with buffing compound. Push the paddle flat across the blade in one direction only, otherwise the cutting edge will cut into the paddle.
Usually around 30 strokes works to polish out the blade. From here on it is unlikely you will need to do this again. It’s a one shot restoration process.
Tap the blade back into the spokeshave and start work.
Some time ago I wrote a post in which I bemoaned the fact that I had too many unfinished projects and I was getting quite tired of “tripping over them.” A reader asked if I’d show a few of them (probably to determine the depth of my procrastination). I was talking with Les and he agreed that, as we are now “men of leisure” (retired) and no longer driven by the profit motive, it’s very easy to concentrate on the aspects of woodworking that we really enjoy, while subordinating the more mundane, all at the expense of project completion. So in something of a “confession” we decided that we’d both show the world how easy it is for a couple of old guys to get distracted. (I’m secretly hoping that this will be the impetus for a renewal of the discipline required to get these project out of the shops, finally!)
Obviously, we’re not going to run out of work anytime soon. That said, I’ll leave you with two parting thoughts: Getting older is not for the faint hearted. Finish one thing before you start another.
We again have our hand-forged holdfasts in stock. Price is $189 plus shipping.
To order, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your shipping address. We'll send you an invoice to pay. Simple as that. For more info on our holdfasts, see this.
I haven’t had time to post for a while – lots going on – but I thought I should drop down a couple of lines on how the Biltong Slicer project is going.
This is the design I eventually came up with, and as you can see the design features that set it apart from the other one are: 1. the blade is integral to the handle, 2. the base is shaped, rather than oblong, 3. the cutting board is more rustic than the original, and 4. the base includes a bowl, for the slices to fall into.
I began by making templates for the component parts, first on tracing paper, then onto 6mm ply. This is so that I can reproduce the parts if I should make a mistake, or even if I want to build another one in the future – you never know!
I then cut the components from a raggedy piece of walnut on my new Sawyer’s Bench, resawed them where necessary using the Kerfing Plane and Frame Saw, and dimensioned them. I did the same with the zebrano and acacia until I had the five main components i needed.
Then, using a gouge, I carved out the depression for the bowl, scraping and sanding until I had a decent finish. My next job will be to chop out a thin mortise for the blade and drill holes for dowels to join all the pieces together.
Filed under: Projects Tagged: biltong slicer
Following from the last video, we’re looking at setting up a cap iron. This one’s in two parts and the second will be along on Sunday.
I've had the pleasure of being associated with the Hand Tool community since around 2007. During this time I've met most of the people that made up the majority of the presenters that were present at Handworks this past weekend. I made their acquaintance at the first several Woodworking in America events, Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events in several locations across the country or the last Handworks event in 2013. They are a special and unique group of people.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
Put a sheet pan in the oven on the middle rack and while the oven is preheating....
3 cups of rolled or old fashion oats - this is one thing you can't substitute
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp of kosher salt
3 tbsp of light brown sugar
1/4 cup of shredded coconut - if you use roasted coconut skip adding it here and add it with the fruit and nuts at the end. I like to bake/roast my coconut because I like the flavor/crunch of it over it being uncooked. This is optional.
Mix this together in a big bowl and set aside - you'll be adding the wet to this so make sure it's big enough for that and for the mixing to come.
1/4 cup of canola or veggie oil (corn oil would probably work too but I haven't tried that yet - I also want to try peanut oil and a flavored oil like walnut but they are expensive)
1/3 cup of honey
1 tsp of vanilla
1 tbsp of Grand Marnier (orange flavored liqueur) this is optional and there other liqueur flavors too
whisk these ingredients together until the honey and oil combine
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until the oats are evenly coated
Spread the mixture out on the sheet pan in a thin even layer
Cook for 15 minutes turning the the sheet pan at the half way mark
After 15 minutes take the pan out of the oven and turn/mix the granola and lay it out evenly and put it back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes. I cook it until it gets to the brownness I like which is closer to 20 minutes with my oven. It will continue to brown after you take it out so it may take a bit of experimenting with your oven to get it to the level you like. Browner = crunchier
After you take it out of the oven let it cool for about 20-30 minutes. I found that if I start mixing it up after about 5 minutes and do that a couple of more times that the granola doesn't stick as much to the sheet pan as it cools. The honey will stick to the pan like glue to wood if you wait till the very end to mix it.
After it is cool to the touch add the fruit and nuts of your choice. The original recipe I got this from called for a 1/2 cup each of nuts/seeds and fruit. Not enough for me and I go nutso here.
I like raisins - I don't measure this I just eyeball it
Dried cranberries - I use the ocean spray ones as I think they are the best. They are moist, chewy, and packed with flavor. I throw in a boatload.
Walnuts - I like these and I add a lot of them. I also like pecans and mix these two sometimes. Peanuts are another nut I like alone or mixed.
Roasted unsalted sunflower seeds. I don't like the salted ones as they tend to make the granola too salty for my taste.
You can also add other fruits, seeds, or nuts of your liking.
I usually end up with about 2 cups (eyeball measurement) of fruits and nuts. I mix this in with the granola on the pan and then add it to a air tight container. I am not sure how long this keeps as the longest it has ever lasted for me has been 4 days. This will make about 4-5 cups.
Enjoy and you'll find that it's cheaper to make and better tasting than the stuff you buy in the stores.
What year did Disneyland open?
answer - 1955
The next step in the construction of the Blacker table is to build the table top. I’ve already glued up the wood for the main section, but need to run to the lumberyard for some thicker Sapele for the breadboard ends. In my plans I originally made the top 3/4″ thick and the end caps 7/8″. When machining the stock I left it thicker, at .930″ because it looked better, but that’s thrown a monkey wrench into my plans. I need the end caps to be 1/8″ thicker than the top, which I can’t get out of 4/4/ material. It also complicates making the fixture to cut the slot for the spline. It seemed like a good idea at the time though, I like the extra visual weight of the thicker top.
I also decided to make the breadboard ends wider, going from 2″ to 2.5″. This was in part aesthetics, and in part wanting more “meat” for the attachment screws. The screws hide under the ebony plugs on the outside ends and drive into the tips of the tenons. Since the tenons protrude 1.375″ into the ends, and I’ll need about a 1/4″ mortise for the ebony plug that leaves me a 1/2″ of wood in between. Enough, but barely I think. I may shorten the tenons by another 1/8″ just to be sure.
And finally, I did the layout for the inlay that goes in the top. It is similar to the design on the legs, 1/16″ Silver wire for the main stem, 1/32″ wire for the smaller stems, silver and copper “buds” and Abalone leaves/petals. It’s slightly abstract, but I like it.
So my to-do list includes sourcing wood for the breadboard ends, figuring out the jig to make the spline slots, making the breadboard ends and doing the top inlay. I’m hoping to get the breadboard ends sorted out tomorrow and get on to the inlay by Sunday, but we have some family plans too so we’ll see how it goes.
Editor’s note: During his time design director for Herman Miller, George Nelson recruited a series of talented designers including Ray and Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Propst and Alexander Gerard. During Nelson’s tenure, Herman Miller produced numerous iconic designs including, the Eams Lounge Chair, Marshmallow Sofa and Noguchi coffee table. And, as the literal foundation for the modern cabinetry system featured in Herman Miller’s 1948 catalog, George Nelson’s own platform bench is […]
I’ve been trying to distance myself further and further away from product reviews. Since they consist entirely of opinions they can be a little tricky to pull off successfully.
This is especially true if you’ve had plenty of time to try the item out and can navigate your way around it like a seasoned pro, and forget to mention the number of times it took you to get to that point (I promise I’ve never done that on this show…tempted to do it, but never have!)
One tool in the wood shop that doesn’t typically have a built in dust collection system or necessarily a great way to capture dust at the source is the drill press. Sure there are different ways to go about pulling the chips and dust out of the way*, but one new option on the market is the Drillnado.
The Drillnado is a dust collection accessory for the drill press that slips right over the chuck, the bit** and clamps on to the quill. According to the folks at drillnado.com it’s designed for use with most floor-model drill presses, but can be easily adapted to many bench-top versions also thanks to the included components in the kit.
(**NOTE: After recording the video and sharing it with the folks at Drillnado.com I heard back from them that they’ve started manufacturing the sleeve that fits over the drill bit without the narrower nose at the bottom. They’re now pre-cut to work with the larger diameter forstner and spade bits you might be using.)
I haven’t used it for more than demonstrational purposes, but given the early success I’ve had with it, I don’t have a problem recommended it to anyone who’s looking for a great way to add dust collection to their drill press (there was one little hiccup involving my Festool dust extractor, but I’ll explain more about that in the video.)
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I recently sent some products to Raf Nathan for evaluation. He writes for the Australian Wood Review magazine AWR (it's amazing how so much time can be spent thinking up a title only to have it shortened to something meaningless!) Anyway the AWR magazine is excellent, I've been an overseas subscriber for nearly 10 years and although in only comes out 4 times a year is well worth waiting for.
This video by Raf shows the use of my 90 degree guide along with the Veritas versions and is nicely done. He'll be reviewing my dovetail guide shortly in the magazine (hopefully in a little more depth!).
I'll have had reviews done in all three UK magazines as well as Germany, Canada and now Australia. I think it's about time a US magazine does a review, especially as that's where most of my tools are sold. I'll have to work on it.
I have decided that I am going to do my bread boarding like Will Myers did on this table here. I could do this with a corded router but I want to try and do this by hand. I think if I take my time and leave myself a generous oops factor I'll be ok.
|attaching the drawer fronts|
|one use jig|
|cheap ^%!$#*(;@^#) 8-32 screws|
I had drilled the hole in the drawer box to be a snug fit for the screw. It bent from me tapping it home with my mallet. I could bend these screws with just finger pressure. Total pieces of crappola. I tossed both sets of these and replaced them with 8-32 screws from my stash. Those didn't bend.
|rethinking the handles|
|been thinking of this most of the day|
I wasn't sure what to expect here. I had built up the epoxy so that it was proud of the surface. I did that because I didn't want any craters. The block plane did a great job of shaving the epoxy flush. I couldn't tell a difference between planing this or wood. The feed back from the plane felt the same to me.
|planed and scraped|
|planed and scraped the second set of epoxy fills|
|the before shot of the two biggest ones|
|the biggest one flushed|
|#2 big knot hole done|
|making a practice dowel|
|5/16" on the left and 1/4" on the right|
The board is the same thickness as the bread boards I'll be using. I like the look of both of them but I think I'll be using the 5/16" ones. This isn't carved in stone yet so it may change.
|gluing on a stiffener|
|my drool book finally got here|
What are the most frequently landed on properties in the game of Monopoly?
answer - the four railroads
One great cause of the decrease in English exports is the conservatism among English manufacturers and their extreme dislike of innovations. They are inclined to stick to old processes and old styles, refusing to study the tastes of their customers.
They seek to impose their own notions and ideas upon the world. Hence, foreign buyers seek in America, in Germany, and in France, goods better suited to their taste and needs. French manufacturers are particularly ready and quick to suit their work to the tastes of their customers. They are especially apt in devising new styles and patterns, such as shall most readily meet the varying tastes of buyers.
They realize that variety is pleasing and fashion capricious, and never hesitate to change a machine, or a pattern, when the old one fails to suit; while the Englishman looks well at the cost, and prefers to continue “in the good old way,” with the hope that some day the fashion may come round again.
Another example of the conservatism of the English manufacturer is manifested in his preference for hand work over machine work. He refuses to believe that a machine can be made to do more perfect work than the hand. Hence, in the manufacture of watches, of sewing-machines, and of many classes of fire-arms, he utterly fails to compete with more progressive mechanics on this side of the Atlantic.
The more observing and thoughtful of Englishmen themselves are beginning to realize these facts, and have already raised the note of alarm. A British correspondent, who styles himself “A Skilled Workman,” who recently visited some of our manufacturing establishments, writes as follows to the Sheffield Telegraph:
“The use of files, rasps, and floats are superseded by other tools [machine tools] astonishing in their adaptability for perfect and rapid production. No written description could convey an idea of their great ability and method….. The skill of the engineer has taken the place of the skilled artisans; for mere boys are tending these operations, and yet quality is not ignored…..”
“The readiness of the employers to adopt any practical suggestion from any one of their hands is a notable feature in most American factories, whereas the cold shoulder is generally given such in England. We weakly waddle in the wake of America in the matter of inventions until a necessity is proved, when an earnest effort is made and progress is attained.”
“Old-fashioned methods of manufacture will have to be abandoned for newer and better ones, if ‘Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin,’ is not to be written across British commerce in the future. The individual skill and handicraft of the best Sheffield workmen I have not seen surpassed in the United States, but they are inadequate for all the requirements of the present age.”
The Californian: A Western Monthly Magazine – January, 1881
Filed under: Historical Images
Do not let artisans discourage you from learning this or that trade because they have not made a success of it. They may tell you that a certain trade is overcrowded. Investigate a little and you will find that only the botch workman and chronic kickers are out of work. The cheerful, enthusiastic workman is idle only when misfortune overtakes the whole country.
We have here hundreds of mechanics who have no real heart in their work, and no sort of interest in the welfare of their employers. To be discharged is considered no disgrace, and to be in debt is no cause for worry. They work while the eye of a boss is upon them, and kill time when it is not. They growl at the workingman’s condition, but are solely responsible that they are not better off.
You will find them in one shop this week and in another the next, and their sad tales of being oppressed by bosses will make you shed tears—if you are green enough. It is a certain and undeniable fact that the poorest workman is the one who does the most complaining.
If you take up a trade push it to perfection. As an apprentice be prepared for many unpleasant things. To begin at the foot means more or less drudgery. Your inexperience will provoke ridicule, contempt, and sometimes abuse. Because you are a boy any man in the shop may feel free to order you about.
Be obstinate, sulky, and dilatory, and none of them will care how long it takes you to reach a higher round in the ladder. Be cheerful, obliging, and civil, and you will find every man ready and willing to speak a good word for you and help along your skill.
When you have become a finished workman bear in mind the well-worn but truthful maxim that a rolling stone gathers no moss. Steady work at fair wages is what piles up the dollars. A large share of our workingmen are ready to listen to the glowing accounts of the high wages paid somewhere else, and they spend a good portion of the year looking for the place.
Next to being settled in your mind be economical. One of the chief causes for dissatisfaction among mechanics and labourers springs from the lack of good management and the fact that so many of them are spendthrifts. In every city in the lands’ large proportion of workingmen chew or smoke or drink. Tobacco injures the system and robs the wallet. Drinks could better be replaced by cold water. Ten shillings per-week are taken from their wages to maintain injurious and selfish habits, and yet those who squander the most are loudest in their complaints about hard times.
The Australian Journal – September 1888
Filed under: Historical Images
I’m interested in several crafts/hobbies some of which can be practiced inside the house. Drawing, knot tying, leather and canvas work being the primary examples. My wife enjoys crafting quilts and there is always some general sewing task that needs to performed as well. Each of those crafts involve tools and supplies of their own that need to be stored away and, hopefully, corralled together. To that end I have been searching for a suitable box design that can be pressed into service for holding these craft items. My intent is for each craft to have it’s own storage box.
Generally I wanted a medium-sized box that could be easily transported from room to room and that could be stored away on a shelf or atop a dresser/tansu. A drawer or two is always handy and of course it needed to have a Japanese flare to it.
In my search I came across several examples that came close to what I wanted. The problem was that the examples tended to be a little to specific to the task. They also tended to be purpose-built for a specific tool/material combination. Two examples being the Japanese sewing tansu and the Japanese calligraphy tansu.
I like both of these examples but they each fell short of what I was looking for. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for, but I was confident that I would know it once I saw it.
So I spent a good deal of time trolling websites that sell Japanese antiques looking for inspiration. Too big, too small, the search droned on. Still nothing jumped out as “the one”. Then I came across this merchant tansu. Bingo!
One large base drawer with a bank of smaller drawers tucked away behind a removable panel. The smaller drawer bank can also easily be configured as needed depending on the intended use of the box. Very reminiscent of a carpenter’s drop-front toolbox. In fact, I think this would make a great “fix it” toolbox for in the house.
The joinery is fairly simple (dados, rebates, laps) and I see no reason to change how this box is put together. I will, however, change the drawer construction to match my standard assembly method. Most of the details I can decipher from the photographs. Those that I cannot, can be readily guessed and have little structural importance.
I’m currently working on my usual proportional layout drawing as well as a couple of detail sheets that cover the joinery details. The seller of the above antique lists the dimensions as 19-1/2″(W) x 13-1/2″(D) x 12″(H). I’m scaling this first box to take advantage of a nominal 1×12 available at the big box store. Once the design work is complete I’ll begin the build process. The lumber for this project will be the same inexpensive Home Depot #2 pine that I built the Japanese Toolbox from. The specific species of pine is still a mystery, but it was pleasant to work with and half the cost of the clear pine. Win, win.