Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
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!
Good evening and welcome to Monday. After you order your copy of the “Stanley Catalogue No. 34” it is time to read the forum. Remember, if you have a question about our products, procedures in our books or anything related to Lost Art Press, the fastest way to get an answer is our forum. Check it out here.
Dealing with a Water Stain
How does one remove a water stain from untreated European oak? Or can you? If this is an area you have expertise in, here is the place to leave some advise.
Kevin is trying to figure out in what order he wants to paint, glue and nail his bookshelf. He asked if anyone had pictures of their projects showing these steps done in different orders. A few people have responded and this bookshelf by Michael gets my vote! (above) You can give your feedback here.
Project Ideas for k5-2nd Grade
Mark is going to be teaching kiddos a little something about woodworking and is looking for project ideas. They will be using cedar, leather, and copper tacks, nails or rivets. If you have ideas for him, let him know here.
Moravian Workbench: Does it Stand up to Hand Planing?
This question is pretty straightforward. Robert just wants to know if this bench can handle dimensioning boards cross grain with a scrub plane. Help him out here.
Panel Saw for Bench Work
Shannon is in the market for a panel saw and is looking for recommendations. Right now she is looking at the BT&C Hardware Store saw and curious to know if anyone has feedback on it. If you do, or have another panel saw you would like to vote for, here is the place to comment.
Dutch Tool Chest with Leather Hinges
I have seen many people on the forum looking for cheaper alternatives for hinges that still give personality to their projects. I like Mark’s solution for his dutch tool chest. The leather hinges added turned out to be a great addition. More pictures here.
— Meghan Bates
Filed under: Forum, Uncategorized
While the jaw of the face vise of this Roman workbench is unusual enough (it’s inset into the benchtop), the screws that operate the vise work unlike most modern vises.
In a modern face vise, the screw turns inside a nut to advance or retract the jaw of the vise. With this vise, the screw is fixed and it’s the nut that moves. This is a very typical construction found in benches from the 1500s up through the late 1700s (and perhaps later).
After weighing all the options for making and installing the screws, here’s how I did it. It might not be the way they did it in 1505 or even the best way, but it was the best method for my tools and the way my mind works.
To make the screws, first I made a 28mm maple dowel on the lathe and left one end square so I could clamp it in the vise. The maple blank was about 12” long, and after threading it I ended up with about 9” of thread.
After threading the dowel with a German-made threader, I cut off the square section.
Then I drilled two deep 25mm holes in the benchtop. With my threadbox, you are supposed to bore a 23mm hole. But I used 25mm so I could adjust the screw so it protruded dead square from the benchtop. That 2mm of slop gave me just enough wiggle.
Then I threaded the 25mm holes.
To assemble things, I coated 3” of the threads with epoxy and coated the interior of the holes with epoxy. I screwed in each screw until 6” protruded from the benchtop. Finally, I adjusted the screws so they were dead square with a clamp.
The epoxy filled in the 1mm gap all around the screws, producing a very sound joint.
Why use a modern glue and not hide glue (my favorite glue)? Epoxy has more gap-filling properties than hide glue in my experience. And filling gaps is what I was after. Part of me thought: Wait, don’t I want the joint to be reversible in case I wanted to repair the screws?
Then the other lobe of my brain answered: How would you repair a damaged 28mm threaded rod? That’s like taking a gerbil to the oncologist. You’d cut off the damaged screw and install a new screw. Duh, other lobe.
So epoxy it was.
Today I also received the hardware for the end vise from blacksmith Peter Ross (it’s gorgeous). I hope to get started installing that stuff tomorrow.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized
(Enjoy the 360 Woodworking Podcast for the last week of August 2016 as we discuss the two above topics. Please give them a listen and leave a review and/or five-start rating on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.)
What a blast doing this project. I love it!
After finishing up the William & Mary lowboy for last Friday’s article, I felt like there was still something missing. Sure, I had nicely figured material for the top and drawer fronts. The moldings and turnings were all crispy clean and everything was looking shiny and new. And that was the problem.
There are some pieces that need a bit of age and, to me, this is one. Personally, I’m not even sure when the originals were new, the cabinetmakers didn’t soften the edges and add a few bumps and dings.
Our managing editor, Rodney Wilson, recently wrote about his experience of IWF 2016 (which you can read here). So I thought I would let our readers hear about my experience. We went to IWF to introduce ourselves, hand out business cards, sign autographs and kiss babies (OK, we didn’t do those last two). It was a new experience for me and it was really surreal to meet the men and women […]
Zach Dillinger specializes in building 18th century American furniture with hand tools and period appropriate techniques. He is a member of the Great Lakes Chapter of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers, and the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association. He’s written for numerous publications and websites including his own, The Eaton County Woodworker. His work has been adjudged to be Museum Quality by Early American Life and has been juried into […]
The post Woodworking in America: An Interview with Zachary Dillinger appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
One of the very special moments in the recent Parquetry workshop at the barn was when we were walking past Jim’s car and he said, “I have something for you.” He opened the trunk and handed me a package that was Irish Whiskey. I mentioned that I was not much of a drinker but knew this to be very good stuff. “Well, open it to make sure you like it,” he replied.
I did and my eyes bugged out and my heart went a-flutter. It was a replica of the mallet from the HO Studley Tool Cabinet, identical to the one Jim made for himself as he was assembling the contents for his Studley 2.0 unit.
“I couldn’t sleep one night so I made this for you.” I wish that my sleepless nights were as productive as his. He machined the brass shell and fashioned the beech infill from the salvage of a transitional plane, and the handle is magnificent Brazilian rosewood. It is simply exquisite and becomes part of my treasures in the HO Studleyana Menagerie.
That collection started with Narayan’s gift of a hand-processed image that began as a lark and ended up as one of the most popular images in Virtuoso. Soon it was joined by the remarkable Studleyesque hammer-and-caliper holder fashioned by OldWolf himself, DerekO, complete with period-appropriate ebony-handled hammers and the Veritas replica of the caliper used by Studley.
The collection occupies the most prominent location in our home, namely the center of the solid chestnut mantle above the wood stove in the living room.
Every now and then, we like to release a book without a long preamble. Something beautiful, useful and inexpensive.
Today we are accepting pre-publication orders for a reprint of the Stanley Tools No. 34 Catalogue, a project that has been a technical challenge for the last few months. It is $25, which includes shipping in the United States and Canada. It is available for ordering in our store. It will ship out in mid-September (it also will be offered for sale at Woodworking in America).
You can place your pre-publication order here. Orders received before Sept. 15 will also receive a free high-resolution scan of the catalog in pdf format.
This 1914 catalog shows nearly every tool needed in a hand-tool shop, from the chisels to the butt gauges to every sort of plane in the company’s line. The catalog’s text explains what each one is used for and how it functions differently from other similar tools.
The catalog also has fantastic exploded views of many of the complex tools, such as the company’s miter boxes, the multi-planes and handplanes.
When I was a beginning woodworker, I often read through catalogs such as this before I headed out to the local antique markets so I could identify what I was seeing and know if it was something useful (do I need a clapboard gauge, a wantage rod or a board stick?). Thanks to vintage catalogs I also could easily figure out when tools that I spotted for sale had parts that were missing. And I even learned how to adjust my grandfather’s level with the help of the old catalogs..While there are some poor-quality scans available of early catalogs on the Internet, we wanted to do better than that. For a long time, we have sought to publish a crisp and classy catalog from the heyday of Stanley Tools’ production of woodworking tools. So we collected a bunch of catalogs and finally settled on one produced in 1914 – one of our favorite eras of Stanley’s output.
This catalog contains all the planes, hand drills, measuring tools, chisels and hundreds more that are critical to a furniture shop, but without a lot of the oddball stuff that came later.
After selecting the catalog we liked the best, the next challenge was printing it. We wanted to capture and reproduce the crisp drawings from the 1914 original and produce it on the smooth and hard paper that was common at the time.
Without getting too geeky, we worked with our pre-press people to figure out a way to scan and print this catalog so it looked identical to the original. We had to develop a new scanning and image-processing routine to make the scans. Then we made a sample catalog using the scans on a modern offset press. We crossed our fingers. Many reproduction catalogs look muddy and display “moire” because of the screens used in the day.
Our pre-press manager came back with this happy news: “It looks clean enough to eat off of.”
We are pleased to offer this 144-page catalog, which looks and feels like the 1914 original. The only “improvements” we made to the vintage catalog is that we spent the extra money to sew and glue the signatures for extra durability. And we used acid-free paper to prevent the pages from yellowing over time.
If you are just getting into hand tools, we think you will find this catalog a delight to read, hold and learn from. The information in it is factual and straightforward – not the puffery you get from many modern catalogs. And if you collect or appreciate vintage hand tools, we think you love this catalog, which reproduces the vintage drawings with remarkable clarity.
Like all Lost Art Press books, this is produced entirely in the United States using domestic materials. Softcover. 144 pages. Color cover with black & white interior.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Stanley Catalogue No. 34, Uncategorized
|from last night (saturday)|
|straight, square, and parallel|
|gave my last two AAA batteries to my wife for her mouse|
|I lose one of the shop lights in order power the lamp|
|made a left turn with an empty soda can|
|cuts easily with a sheet rock knife|
|scissors cut it like it's paper|
|made a Pepsi shoe for my Cullen gauge|
|set for 1/2"|
|moved a little but this is encouraging|
|roughed up what the screw will bear down on|
|repeated the test - even less movement|
|dimpled the back and front of the hold fast|
|new way of chopping the tails|
|remove the chip from that|
|now chop on the knife line|
|sliding box I just made - my best inside corners|
|the other end is just as good|
|seemed to hold better - I didn't have to go caveman on it and club it to death|
|this is what causes it to move|
|scribe lines from the tail layout|
|always an exciting moment|
|off the saw and it was bit snug|
|checked the fit|
|flushed the bottom and checked for twist|
|checked it again out of the vise|
|came awfully close|
|setting up for the bottom groove|
|only ran a partial groove|
|two tite marks and the japanese saw|
|walls sawn, chiseling the waste is next|
|checking the fit with a piece of 1/8" plywood|
|ugly looking groove|
|groove #2 looks better (bottom one)|
|what I used to do the first groove|
|what I used on groove #2|
|grooves lined up and the corners are deep enough for the plywood to stay square in the corners too|
|crosscutting and ripping out the bottom|
|the fit is good|
|cleaned up the inside and glued it up|
|I roughly sized the sliding lid - I'll finish it after the box has cooked|
|I want to keep these 3 things in the box too|
|the knobs will be stowed somewhere else - no room in the box for them|
|story pole for the cradle rails|
|dividers still set from my layout two weeks ago|
|changed it to an odd number layout|
|nine slats on the right side of center|
|center slat will be cherry|
|ripping out two cherry center slats|
|I can get two more if I need them|
|one inch wide cherry|
|ten strokes and I flipped it|
|the kerfs are on opposite sides|
|came out pretty clean|
|reasonably straight and the same thickness|
|bit of a hollow|
|french fit insert is the last thing on the hit parade|
|first time use of the coping saw|
|third cut on the right and 4th cut on the left|
|filing and rasping to the lines is the next batter|
|tight in the corners|
|it's a loose snug fit|
|had to plane the sides to get it to fit the box|
What was the last name of the famous dutch painter, Rembrandt?
answer - Van Ryn (or Van Rijn)
I just had a chance to talk about WunderWoods at the monthly meeting of the St. Louis Woodworkers Guild as a featured speaker. It was billed as “The WunderWoods Way”, where I was going to talk about what I do related to milling and drying lumber and whatever else I wanted to talk about. I talked a lot about the milling part, showed a bunch of photos of big logs and finished woodworking projects, and realized when I was done that I had really covered the history of WunderWoods sawmilling. One of my favorite things to read on other websites is a history of the company, and though I don’t really feel old enough to have a “history” page, I decided to put one together for the other two people out there that like to read about history. I have been doing this for a while now, have been through a few sawmills and I thought, if nothing else, that others traveling down a similar path might find my history helpful or even a bit entertaining.
One of the questions I get from almost every new visitor to the shop is, “How did you get into this?” They go on to ask, “Is it a family business? Did your dad own a sawmill or work at a sawmill?” The answer is no, it is not a family business and my dad has never worked at a sawmill. The closest I can come up with is that my Grandpa Wunder, who died when I was pretty young and probably didn’t influence my life direction much, worked in Springfield, OH for several different companies in the lumber and woodworking field.
The inspiration I did get from my family came from my dad and his willingness to work on and fix anything mechanical and from my mom’s dad, Grandpa Moore, that also liked to build and work on things. Overall, I grew up breaking things, fixing them and breaking them again. The best example I can think of, is when I turned sixteen and my mom found an old truck for me to restore. After it was towed to the house, my dad asked, “Do you want to start working on it?” Of course, I enthusiastically said, “Yes!” Then he said, “Well, go ahead and take out every bolt, so we can work on it.” That through me for a loop. After all, it was a machine with a lot of parts and not something that you just completely tear apart. How would we know how it all went back together? In all fairness to the story, my dad worked a lot on cars and had even owned a garage before, so we had a better chance than others of getting it back together, but it was still shocking. It was, however, not as dramatic as I thought because after only a little bit of time working on it, I realized that most of the rusted bolts weren’t going to come out anyway. I would have plenty of time to get to know the truck as I struggled to get at least one bolt out without breaking it. Still, that one conversation stands out in my mind and replays in my head every time I am about to work on something, and it reassures me that it probably won’t be as scary as it first sounds and that there is a good chance that I will get it back together without too many extra bolts. That hands on approach to working on the truck has carried over to almost everything I do and is what keeps me at it on a regular basis.
The answer to, “How did you get into this?” is also a bit murky, but I very vividly remember what I call the beginning of my sawing career. I was reading a woodworking magazine (I think it was Fine Woodworking, even though I haven’t been able to find the original), and I came across an article about a father and son that traveled into the woods with a big chainsaw and cut big slabs to make table tops. At the time big slabs weren’t in style as much as they are today, but I remember being surprised that you could cut your own lumber. If you asked me, I could tell you that lumber came from trees, but I still associated lumber with the lumberyard, not trees. This is where things changed.
I fancied myself as an artist, winning outstanding artist in high school, getting a degree in graphic design and working as an art director for a nine-year stint, near the end of which I read that chainsawing article. Even though I liked to do woodworking when I wasn’t at my real job, I didn’t build much because lumber was expensive. I was buying expensive lumber from the big box store because I didn’t know at the time that there where stores specifically selling hardwoods (I had a lot to learn).
Not long after I read the chainsawing article, my boss at the ad agency offered me a raise. I didn’t take it because I always pictured myself having my own business, and though I liked my job, I didn’t want to make so much money that Chris (my wife) wouldn’t let me quit. He still wanted and tried to give me a raise, so I came up with a great plan. Instead of a raise, he could buy me a chainsaw. He, or any other boss, has never had such an odd request, and he gave me a slight look of bewilderment as he told me he would try to figure out how to make that happen. Well, he made it happen and my milling career started.
I purchased an Alaskan sawmill, which is an attachment that bolts on to the bar of the chainsaw. It basically works like a cheese slicer and controls how deep the chainsaw cut is from the previous cut. The Alaskan works fine and produces flat and straight lumber. However, the drawbacks are that it is physically demanding and very slow. It was so slow that I would plan on milling just one 20” diameter log per day, including travel and cleanup. If things went well I might be able to cut more, but I never planned on it.
At that point I didn’t really have any source for logs, and I would find them one at a time from homeowners. Still, I found logs on a regular basis and quickly got to the point that I was finding them faster than I could mill them. While I was using the chainsaw mill, I also started drying lumber, first outside and then moving it inside to finish up the process. I was worried that the drying would cause problems since I didn’t know what I was doing, but the lumber that I milled came out great and went into all of the projects that I built from then on.
I began milling wood that I had never used and had never seen for sale, like American elm and silver maple. The elm dried a little crooked (elm always dries a little crooked), but it was beautiful. I am still an elm advocate, even though it can be a bit cantankerous. I had never seen silver maple anywhere and worried non-stop that I must be missing something, and milling and drying a wood that was completely useless or bad for some reason that I would probably only find out later. Turns out that silver maple is one of my current favorites, and I use it for everything from a showy primary wood to a low-class secondary or utilitarian wood.
I continued to cut woods that I knew, like oak, poplar and walnut, and also cut many other new species like osage orange and black locust. Milling just one tree per day and being able to really focus on it helped me to quickly learn how each species of wood milled, smelled, dried and worked.
The Alaskan mill phase didn’t last long (it was so short that I don’t have any photos of it). As soon as I started getting finished lumber for free, I started looking for a faster mill. I wanted to mill every tree in St. Louis and the Alaskan wasn’t going to get the job done. So, I spent my lunch hour at my art director job looking at different sawmills on the internet and sending off for sales literature. I liked the bandmills, but I was looking at lower-cost units that were all manual, and I concluded that they wouldn’t work for me because I didn’t have a way to move logs at the time. While looking at mills in the $5,000 – $10,000 range I came across the Lucas Mill, a crazy new mill from Australia that looked perfect for me, even though it was a little out of my price range.
I was worried when I first found the Lucas because it seemed so new and untested, and I was sure they would go out of business the second I ordered mine, leaving me with no way to buy replacement parts. However, my worries were completely unfounded (and still are today). When the mill showed up, I felt like I overpaid because there wasn’t much to it, but the lacking parts are just a byproduct of good design. The Lucas sawmill is simple to set up and simple to use. It transports easily in a pickup truck, mills accurate lumber at a good pace and can mill big logs where they lay.
I started off with the 6” Lucas because it was the cheapest. The mill came standard with a circle blade that could cut up to 6” x 6” lumber, unless you flipped the saw head around to cut 12” wide. It also had a slab attachment as an option, but slabs were not in style at the time, so I never bought one. I used the Lucas to cut a lot of 6” lumber. It was great on big logs because I could work by myself and knock out 1,000 bf., if I had a big enough tree. If not, I could still mill several logs in a day and get in the 800 bf. range by myself. These numbers are based on milling only and nothing extra, like clean-up and stacking.
After having the Lucas mill for a few years, we moved to a new house in Hazelwood, MO. I picked it out because it had a big, detached shop on a one acre lot. It looked clean from the outside, and I told my wife that if the house didn’t suck on the inside, we were buying it. Well, it didn’t, so we did.
I first set up the Lucas in the 24’ x 40’ pole barn and ran it with the doors open. It worked fine since I was only bringing home little logs that could be moved by hand into the barn. I was still milling all of the larger logs on site because I still had no way to move them. That all changed when I found and purchased my 1977 Chevy C60 flatbed truck with a crane and dump bed, affectionately named “The Creampuff” by my favorite mechanic Roger, at Roger’s Truck Repair. I bought if for $3,000 and have done nothing to make it look better, while still spending plenty of money to keep it running. It basically looks the same as it did when I bought it, just with bigger rust holes and more cab ventilation. I used to think I would make it look better cosmetically, but then I would just feel bad when I dinged it up. Now, I can drop trees on it and it doesn’t bother me too much. I must admit, however, that I have recently dolled up the crane a bit with new paint and hoses. I figure if I ever do get a new truck I will have a crane to put on it, as long as I take care of this one. Plus, I need the crane to work pretty much all of the time, so it is a good place to put my money.
Once I got the log truck, I started getting logs, lots of logs, lots of big logs. I moved the mill to the back edge of the yard and began to transform the pole barn into an actual shop with spray foam insulation, lots of electric and finished floors and walls. At the same time, I built a kiln on my side of our two-car garage, which was already full of lumber, figuring it should be full of drying lumber. It was a Nyle dehumidification kiln, which I still own and use today. It comes as a mechanical package minus the kiln structure, so I was able to build the box to fit snuggly in my available space.
As I got deeper and deeper into this milling thing and started driving my log truck to the back yard and began to use the shop for more serious production, my already cranky neighbor got more cranky. He complained to the city about the noise, but later admitted it wasn’t a noise thing, I was just getting a little out of control.
Since I don’t like cranky neighbors, and I agreed that I needed to get the sawmill away from the house, I started shopping for the new future home of WunderWoods. I located it quickly and easily, just a few streets away, on the property of T&L tree service. When I found the place, I couldn’t believe how close it was, how perfect the site was and how many logs were piled up that I didn’t know about. I was flabbergasted by my incredible lack of log hounding abilities.
I started out just renting a spot in the open to run the Lucas sawmill. They have a pretty large property with trucks, equipment sheds and wood in different states from logs to chips and mulch, so I found it easy to fit in. Tim, the owner, was also nice enough to let me use his Bobcat when it wasn’t out on a job. That along with my logging truck really put my milling into full swing. I continued to mill at the tree service while I set up my shop at the house to do woodworking and to store all of the new lumber I was producing with the Lucas, all while still working full time at the ad agency.
I loved the Lucas. I thought it worked great. The only shortfall I found with it was the inability to cut wider than 6” lumber. Even the wider saw kerf (3/8” with the circle saw compared to 1/8” on a bandsaw) didn’t bother me that much, but cutting 24” clear white oak logs into 6” wide boards just started to get stupid after a while. They were perfect 6” wide boards, but they were only 6”, and I knew I could do better.
While I had the Lucas, I started using kiln services from Oak Leaf Wood and Supplies in Moweaqua, IL. The owner, Paul Easley, ran an operation like mine, though he was a few years ahead of me. He had built a nice little business in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, using a Kasco bandsaw mill. Paul also happened to sell the mills that he used, and it didn’t take long for Paul’s infectious love of cutting wood to inspire me to purchase a fancy new Kasco bandsaw mill with power feed and power height adjustment.
After that, the world was my oyster. I could cut any size log to any dimension and pick the best mill for the job. Giant logs went to the Lucas and logs under 30” went to the bandsaw. Or, if I just wanted really straight dimensional lumber, I would send it to the Lucas, no matter the size. Sometimes, I would start on the Lucas and finish on the bandsaw – I had all of the bases covered.
While I was at the tree service the logs kept piling up. The piles grew because I had plenty of storage room and the equipment to move the logs, but my mills weren’t fast enough. I did (and still do) want to mill every log in St. Louis and I knew that there was no way I was going to do that with the mills I had. They both worked alright, but a full day of milling, stacking and cleaning up a little would, on average, yield about 500 bf. If you read the literature on similar bandsaw mills, they will tout higher numbers, but they are based only on milling and nothing more – every now and then, even I have to clean up. On a personal level, 500 bf. is a lot, and doing all of the work to produce that 500 bf. is a lot, but it is nothing compared to the fact that I can haul about 1,000 bf. on my truck in log form and I could probably get a load a day if I pushed for it. There were plenty of days, especially if I was working at a land clearing site, that I would get a few loads a day and still lose logs to the grinder because I couldn’t get them out fast enough.
Knowing that faster mills existed, I became more serious about getting one and spent a lot of time shopping. The fastest mills by far are high-horsepower circular sawmills that just rip through logs. They have a wider saw kerf, which wastes more wood, but I decided it was worth the trade-off because I was already losing lumber that I wasn’t able to process since the milling was so slow. After all, I wasn’t paying for logs, so it really didn’t matter how much I wasted, I just needed to get it cut.
The other reason I was excited about a circular mill was the ability to cut straighter lumber. Band saws, especially ones with narrow blades like those found on portable mills, notoriously cut wavy lumber once they start to get dull, and if you cut low-grade hardwood logs with lots of knots there is virtually no way to cut quickly without producing some wavy boards in the process. On bigger and tougher logs it isn’t uncommon to need to put on a new band saw blade after just one log to keep things straight. I had seen plenty of videos, especially from Hurdle, that showed their circular mills chewing through those same pain-in-the-ass logs in just a couple of minutes and not even breaking a sweat.
I specifically was attracted to industrial mills and mill manufacturers like Hurdle, Cleerman and Corley. All of these manufacturers make mills found at large producers. New models were way out of my budget, so I turned to looking for used mills. I said looking, but I was mostly dreaming. I had no real reason to push for another sawmill except for my own hunger to process more logs.
I finally got the push I needed to buy a circular mill when I met a customer that was looking for a supplier of grading stakes. He was having trouble securing the stakes consistently and at a reasonable price and he said that he would take all I could produce. I teamed up with Tim from T&L Tree Service to make the stakes. I produced the rough lumber and Tim had his employees do the secondary processing of cutting the points, resawing and packaging.
As part of our partnership, Tim agreed to help me set up a circular mill on his property, which we did after I sold my Lucas and Kasco mills. I looked at several automatic circular mills, which are more expensive and operated with the sawyer just pushing buttons to make everything happen, all from the comfort of an air-conditioned cab. The automatic mills I found in my budget where in pretty bad shape, so I settled for an older handset mill that was better cared for and less expensive. A handset mill cuts the same, but the carriage is more mechanical with a lever to advance the log for the next cut.
The mill I found was a Corley from the 1950’s, however the carriage was upgraded in the 1970’s to include air dogs (they hold the log) and tapers (they adjust the log on the ends). Those upgrades really sped up the mill and made it sound super cool. It reminded me of a roller coaster getting ready to launch with puffs of air and loud, clunky clanks as everything engaged. The rest of the mill was 100% antique, but it worked great. Even the prehistoric log turner and the carriage drive, both of which worked with friction feed, were super smooth and a pleasure to operate.
The plan was to take all of the low-grade logs from the tree service, especially pin oaks, cottonwood and sweetgum and make them into stakes. I wasn’t milling those into lumber, so it seemed like a great outlet for the logs that needed to be disposed of anyway.
After about a year of building the barn and setting up the mill, we jumped into it and started cutting lots of stakes. Even with the circular mill I had trouble keeping up because I was cutting logs that were knotty and had a hard time producing clean stakes. I originally thought that we could produce the stakes, many of which are short, between the knots. But, it became clear that to produce efficiently we really needed clear logs, which is where things began to fall apart. It wasn’t part of the plan to pay for high-grade logs for stakes. High-grade logs should go into high-grade lumber and low-grade logs should go into stakes, at least as far as I am concerned. We stuck with it for a while, but we never made it very profitable. Besides the log issues, it also ended up being more work than we imagined on the back end to process the stakes. Tim put a lot of manpower on it to give it a fair shot, but at the end of the day it was too much work for the money, and we decided to move on.
I kept running the Corley for my own needs after we shut down the stake production, mostly working by myself. From time to time, I would employ some extra help to tail for me (pull boards off of the mill), but I didn’t pay that much and tailing is hard labor. Every one that offered to tail just because they thought the mill was cool and wanted to see it run, only tailed once, and many times even the people I was paying only tailed once. There were a few hot days when I came close to killing the guys tailing for me because I was working them too hard. No one on the back side of the mill was as excited as me to be there, so I started working more and more by myself.
The mill could be run with only one person, but not as quickly. Cut a few boards, walk around and unload, cut a few boards, walk around and unload is how it went. Even running the mill inefficiently by myself was still faster than the bandsaw, so I stuck with it. The Corley mill was fun to use and I thought it was quite cool, but the more I used it the more I realized just how potentially lethal it was. It wasn’t the type of tool that was just going to remove a finger, it would cut you in half and not care. And, since I had a handset mill, which put me working even closer to the blade, I began to feel like my time on earth might be more limited by using the Corley.
There was one time specifically, that I was milling 2″ x 12″ x 12′ white oak for dump truck sides and I made a slight, but potentially deadly error. I was working by myself, cutting a few boards and then walking around to unload, and getting in a nice rhythm. Usually, I would cut a board, then it would drop down and fall over away from the blade. This time, I made the cut, the board dropped down and looked like it was going to fall over, so I backed the carriage up. However, the board stayed standing up and then the back end started to pivot around towards the blade. Normally, if I was doing things correctly, this wouldn’t happen because I would leave the carriage in place until the board was removed or fell over, while the log on the carriage kept the board from swinging around on to the back of the blade.
I had just enough time, once I realized what was about to happen, to throttle the engine down and jump out of the way. The back of the blade grabbed that white oak board and hurled it right where my head was just seconds before. The 100-pound board blasted through a metal safety shield and lodged itself against the end of the building 30 feet away. I wasn’t hurt, but that is not the type of thing that you want flying at you – ever. After that incident and realizing that a faster mill didn’t necessarily translate to more lumber when working by myself, coupled with rising rent and a need to reduce overhead, I sold the Corley and moved out of T&L tree service.
A friend, whose family owns many parcels of land about 5 miles away in Florissant, offered to let me rent an open space with a couple of old buildings hidden in the woods for a fair price (free at first), so I took him up on it, planning to use the property the same way I did when I started at T&L. I bought a used Timberking 1220 bandsaw mill on eBay and started using it outside. Even though it wasn’t too expensive, I split the cost of the mill with a friend of mine that used the mill on the weekend when I wasn’t there.
It was a nice little setup. Things were simplified. I still had my woodworking shop behind my house, and now I had, what felt like my own little place in the country. There wasn’t anywhere inside or covered to run the mill, so we set it up outside. That left me running the mill only when the weather was decent, but since I do an equal amount of milling and woodworking it wasn’t much of an inconvenience. I just stayed home and worked in the shop if the weather wasn’t cooperating.
After a few years and the birth of my daughter Mira, we decided to move back to St. Charles, where both my wife and I grew up. I wasn’t eager to move from my big yard and shop at my house in Hazelwood, but I did have nine acres and a couple of old building to work with in Florissant, and since I like improving things, I thought it sounded like a fun new adventure. My plan was to fix up the old buildings and then consolidate my shop and sawmill. It wasn’t as convenient as having the shop at my house, but it did make sense to have everything in one spot.
The building that I was using as my shop was basically a four bay garage and I kept my lumber and kiln in a cobbled together pole barn that was within 75 feet. The shop building was in poor shape with a fading foundation. I often thought about improving the structure, but the foundation was so bad and everything was so crooked that I was only able to summon enough excitement to reshingle the roof. It pained me to spend even a little bit of money on a roof that was so unstraight, but I had to do it to keep my tools dry.
I don’t need much to be content, and since my shop was hidden from view and I had almost no visitors, the condition of the buildings wasn’t a big deal. I imagined that I would improve things as necessary and maybe even put up a new building if things worked out and I stayed for a while. This work-on-it-as-you-go plan quickly changed into a better-do-something-now plan, when the shop building burned down on the night of November 20, 2011. (Click here to read the long version of the fire story and how it happened).
In the fire, I lost all of my tools except the one bucket of on-site tools that I usually keep in my truck and a chop saw, which just happened to be in my truck from an earlier install job. The fire also burned up my sawmill and a lot of lumber that was on sticks around the outside of the shop. The fire was stopped by the fire department before it moved to the other barn with my dry lumber and kiln.
After the fire, I didn’t have any electrical service at the burned shop, so I couldn’t just start rebuilding right away. And, since I don’t own the property that burned I was leery to sink money into a project that someone else would officially own. It was one thing to slowly improve what was there knowing it wasn’t mine, it was another to build a new building from scratch for a landowner that didn’t want to sign a lease.
While I started my search for a new shop space, I took over our three car garage at home, bought a few homeowner caliber tools and got back to work. Luckily, I didn’t have any major projects half-built at the time, so I didn’t lose any in the fire. My next project, which was the first to be built in the garage, was a large set of kitchen cabinets. Though it was a big project, it was a perfect one to build with only a few tools and a table saw.
I looked at a lot of options for shop space. Most of them were what I would call incredibly overpriced. The going rate was $1,200 per month for about 1,000 sq. ft. Now, keep in mind that at my house in Hazelwood I had a 1,000 sq. ft. shop for free. Granted, it was rolled in to my house payment, but it felt very free and way less than $1,200 per month. Plus, once I got looking, 1000 sq. ft. felt small. I could make it work, but I would be tucked in some strip industrial center with neighbors on both sides and no room to breathe or make sawdust. It just didn’t feel right, so I didn’t rent anything for a while.
During the year or so that we had lived in the new house, I drove past a large building everyday that looked perfect for me in my rule-the-world scenario, where I am the proud owner of a giant industrial shop. It was very big, appeared to be very well kept, and most notably, had been very vacant for as long as I was paying attention. This was during the great recession and companies were going out of business, not looking to expand, so it stayed vacant. I drove by all of the time, never even considering it as a space for the new shop because of the size, until one day, for no special reason, I decided to stop by and write down the phone number on the “For Rent” sign. I called the number, and since it was my lucky day, the owner, who was already there for another reason, showed me around.
I didn’t realize it, but the building, which features plenty of additions, was broken into several smaller areas. In total, the building is 75,000 sq. ft., but there was one spot in the back which was the smallest at about 5,500 sq. ft. Now that I have been in the building for a few years it is obvious that it was the least desirable of the available spaces, but at the time, all I could see was that I almost couldn’t see the other end of the shop, about 200′ away. It seemed to be never-ending, and all I could imagine was having lots of room to put lots of wood (and a few tools).
The rent was higher than I had budgeted, but I was getting lots more room with the deal, which I considered room to grow. The other benefits that made it worth the extra rent was that it was close to my house, it had three-phase power, and it had good access to the highway. My other property was not close to home, it only had single-phase power, and it was miles away from the highway (customers often complained about the long drive).
After a month or so back and forth with lease papers, I started moving in to the new shop in January 2012, a couple of months after the fire. The fact that the recession hit other woodworking shops hard benefited me with plenty of tools available locally at good prices. I was able to outfit the new shop with almost all of the necessary big tools from one going-out-of-business sale for around $5,000.
It was at that same sale that I picked up my first set of factory carts, which started a period of cart restorations to sell as coffee tables. I was still doing custom woodworking, but the carts really started to take over for a while. Currently, I am pretty much done making carts into coffee tables, mostly because I think the trend is fading, and I don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of carts that I can’t use.
After I settled in and got the woodworking side of the business going in the new shop, I rebuilt the Timberking sawmill that was damaged in the fire. I converted it to three-phase power from a gas engine and moved it inside, so I could mill with a roof over my head. Around that same time, a friend of mine that owns an 8″ Lucas mill with a slabbing attachment started letting me use his mill. He never uses it, but he doesn’t want to sell it, so I am it’s current guardian. That works out fine for me because the current trend is towards large pieces of natural-edged wood, which is right in the Lucas mills wheelhouse.
It seems like almost everyone has discovered the natural beauty of wood and wants some of it in their house or office. I am still doing other custom jobs, including the occasional wine cellar and other built-ins or furniture, but more than half of my business now is custom wood for tops, usually on a metal base. There is also a calling for the same type of rustic look in mantels, shelving and seating.
To fill the need for more natural looking wood, I am cutting lots of big logs into slabs with the Lucas mill and leaving edges on everything, even the smaller slabs from the Timberking bandsaw mill. Almost all of the wood is in the 2″-3″ thick range, assuming that it will become some type of top. The crazy thing is that I remember not too long ago when even my very best looking slabs would spend a long, long time waiting for a buyer, and now they are selling as quick as I can process them. As of yet, I don’t see this trend slowing down, so I am going to stick with cutting natural-edged wood, while at the same time keeping my eyes open for the next trend. The good news is that even if I cut all of my logs into slabs, I will still have a lot of 8/4 thick lumber, and I have always been able to sell that.
Currently, I am doing most of my work and selling lumber and slabs out of the shop in St. Charles, although I still rent the property in Florissant to store logs and to house my original kiln. I like having the option to use the extra space if and when I need it, and sometimes it is nice to work outside and feel like I am in the country. I imagine that I will continue to rent both spaces for the foreseeable future, mostly to make sure that I always have somewhere to store and mill logs. After all, I still want to cut every log in St. Louis.
Katy has just finished up a batch of 30 tins of soft wax and listed them in her etsy store. It’s been a crazy summer for her. She’s been working (a lot) as a bagger at the local grocery, and she had (a lot of) summer homework to complete before starting school.
Each 4 oz. tin is $12 plus a modest shipping charge. All the wax is handmade by her in our workshop here in Kentucky. No slave labor (other than her father) was involved.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Uncategorized
I left Spoonfest as soon as the dust settled – off to the airport to get over to Sweden so we could start all over again. Täljfest featured a similar format; 3-day “pre-fest” courses, then an influx of more carvers and instructors for the actual festival itself. My first trip to Sweden – it was pretty exciting.
Sätergläntan http://www.saterglantan.com/ is a magical place Beautifully inspiring buildings, contents and people, nestled into the woodsy hillsides. When I left home, temperatures had been in the low 90s (around 32/33C) and in Sweden, I could have used a sweater at times. When I spoke to the kids back home, I told them it was nice October weather!Sätergläntan
There were several courses running at once; I saw next to nothing of them, being busy with mine. JoJo Wood was doing her masterclass on eating spoons; Beth Moen worked a group through her bowl carving; I did the 17th-century carving designs, and the other class was figure carving with Joohyun Im & Hyungjun Yong of South Korea.
In the festival itself – it was, like Spoonfest, an embarrassment of riches – inspiring craftsmen & women everywhere you turned. Also like Spoonfest, I know I’ll miss some names. Magnus Sundelin again, Fritiof Runhall carving spoons, Del Stubbs http://www.pinewoodforge.com/index.html all over the place!, Jonas Als http://www.woodcraftbyjonasals.dk/ Jarrod Stone Dahl https://www.instagram.com/jarrodstonedahl/; Barn Carder https://www.instagram.com/barnthespoon/ ; Masashi Kutsuwa https://www.instagram.com/masashi_kutsuwa/ with his green woodworking in Japan, also his wife Madoka with her Urushi lacquer work; Jane Mickelborough https://www.instagram.com/janespoons/ presented some of her research into Breton spoon history, Niklas Karlsson https://www.instagram.com/_ahardslojdlife/ on spoon carving; Vesa Jussila, carving birds, but more importantly, showing me local birds https://www.facebook.com/Vesa-Jussila-Naturdiorama ;
It was crazy – I saw very little of it. I did wander around some, seeing people carving everywhere. On the last afternoon, there was a panel discussion, led by Jögge Sundqvist, about craft in our respective countries – we had Denmark, Japan, US, UK, Sweden all represented. JoJo’s biggest challenge was to speak without profanity, and she aced it.
Lots of pictures, I’ll just add captions.Del Stubbs presenting his fan bird demo Del’s bird – mind bogglingly good each tool has a number, and each slot a corresponding number JoJo with a spoon carving demo on the windowsill in my bedroom from the woods, looking back to the woodshop one of the tool cabinets Fritiof’s spoon class
This one gets a sentence of its own – this man is Claude Veuillet, one of the co-authors of a great study of Swiss chests & boxes. One of my students from Spoonfest, Helen, came to Taljfest too, and spoke fluent French. So she helped Claude & I get acquainted. Thanks, Helen.
Here’s the book – and a post I wrote about it way back https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/i-havent-forgotten-about-furniture/
The dining hall is particularly inspiring.birch cannister. I don’t even drink tea, but had to look at it in detail Bengt Lidstrom bowl the place is headquarters for woodenware
nice blue chair outside the room I taught in
Bla Salen, door frame also by Bengt Lidstrom, painted door by another hand
My thanks to all those who worked & attended the event. And to Jogge Sundqvist & Beth Moen for including me.
Here’s a link to some photos from Saterglantan:
In this image, I have laid the old handle on top of the new to show how much larger the new handle is, the difference in their hang angles, and the overall shape of the two...
This last image shows the pair of saws, one with its old handle and one with its new...
|Walke Moore 2500 box parts|
What I did do was run a gauge line on the boards with the tite mark. This is a nice gauge but I already miss my Cullen gauge. The gauge line from the Cullen is wider, deeper, and a lot easier for me to see. The gauge line from the tite mark is thin and without an assist from a pencil, it is impossible for me to see when it is laying down on the bench. When I did plane these, I had pick them up and look at them to see where I was.
Steve left a comment about The Best Things posting a blurb about the Cullen gauges here. That is encouraging news and maybe he fixed the looseness problem I'm having. Bob E. left a comment that he made a marking gauge and that he bought a Stanley 65 from Patrick Leach. Jim B left a comment about friction is what holds the head in place.
I looked up the Stanley 65 and it has a 'shoe' for lack of better word between the bottom of the screw and the stem. Jim had made a comment about a 'shoe' too and this got me thinking again. I don't want to toss aside my Cullen gauges so I'm going to try and make a shoe for them. Or at least my favorite one. I just have to remember where I saw thin sheet brass for sale as shim stock.
|something learned the hard way|
|3 small boards planed to thickness|
|hardboard back from one of the kitchen cabinets|
|my latest sliding lid box|
|promised my wife|
|I installed them so this should be easy for me to reverse|
|had to swap glasses|
|repair coming up|
|back to the biggest board|
This part of the board has a lot of what I call 'washboard'. It comes in from the end over 12" and years ago I wouldn't have taken a board like this. I didn't know how to plane boards to thickness back then. Today I made sure that it was above the gauge line.
|another reason to hate sweating|
|my new stuff|
|I was using this|
|downside to Pitch Rx|
|old box on the left the latest one on the right|
|this is the look I want for the WM 2500 box|
|what I did differently|
|the sliding lid|
|stickered for the night|
Who was Clark Kent's (Superman) high school sweetheart?
answer - Lana Lang
After the sub roof was installed, I spent some time installing some cement boards as a rodent barrier. I placed them a little distance apart and installed something called a mouse-band in between. this allows for ventilation of the lower part of the frame and hopefully it will keep mice out.
The next thing was to wrap the barn in wind proof tarred paper. Suddenly the house looked a lot more like a complete barn and not like a timber frame structure.
The tarred paper was followed by some 1" thick boards running vertical, to ensure a bit of distance between the external boards and the paper allowing for a bit of ventilation. These distance boards will also help to keep the paper in place once I start insulating from the inside, so it will not bulge out and touch the external boards.
Given that the timber frame has a lot of vertical posts, I decided to do something radical (for me at least): To install the boards horizontal.
I normally like to follow Swedish traditions regarding building practices, and they call for vertical boards, but since this design is inspired by an American barn, I thought that I would give it a try to install the boards the other way. It also means that I can nail them to the existing posts.
I managed to complete the front of the barn. The two sides are some 80% complete and the back is maybe 30% complete.
To protect a bit from rain I have covered the window openings with plastic, and I have mounted an old door as a temporary installation.
I would like to thank The Louisiana State University Agricultural Center for kindly making an incredibly interesting array of different plans available on the Internet.
I have no idea how that university is doing in playing football, but based on their building plans alone, they ought to win the national championship in football.
GO LSU footbal team!!
I found these saws recently, via ebay of course. They generally sell between £6-12 but they can go for more too. The one at the forefront is a split nut S&J and that was a good saw for the price I paid and it is a lovely saw comparable to the very best I have I would say. I almost felt guilty at the price. A modern day equivalent maker would be selling around £100 for such a saw.
I don’t know when I will restore my last saw. I see them and wonder how they will be after I’m done. Restoring most back saws takes me less than half an hour usually, no longer. People feel less about steel backs but the only difference really is that they are a little lighter than the brass cousins. As far as cut goes you just add a little extra hand weight to the strokes and you have good saw. Most older saw handles are coated with shellac. When they become grubby, a few strokes with 0000 steel wool removes both grime and a layer of shellac. Applying another coat or two of the same shellac restores the gentle lustre needed for good protection. Steel wool and furniture polish softens the feel but is more pleasant than essential. Removing rust and surface grime requires the same operation and I use old 250-grit sandpaper for this. I’ve grown a dislike for the brown packing tape everyone sticks to the steel of saws and planes. You know how the sticky brown part sticks to the tool and the clear comes away. Meths works well to remove the residue from the steel. A few rubs dissolves everything and a wipe with a meths-soaked pad gives you clear steel again. Coat the surfaces of steel with furniture polish or light machine oil and then just use the saw and keep it clean from here on.
One of the odd things about the face vise I’m building into this Holy Roman Empire Bench is the twin-screw face vise. Unlike every other face vise I’ve seen in the wild, this one is inset into the benchtop instead of proud of it.
Why? On its surface this plan seems less than ideal. Because the jaw of the vise will be sitting in a notch in the benchtop, it won’t be useful for edge-jointing long boards. If the jaw were proud of the benchtop, it would be ideal for edge-jointing.
I’ve been scratching my head about this for months (maybe longer). The best explanation I can come up with at this point is that this assembly allows you to save a little wood. You can cut the jaw away from the benchtop and then use the off-fall as the vise’s jaw.
So that’s exactly what I am doing today.
The jaw is 1-3/4” thick x 26” long. I laid out my cuts and then used my circular saw to kerf the benchtop, giving me a nice guide for my rip saw. After ripping the jaw with a handsaw, I clamped the jaw and benchtop together so I could crosscut the jaw free from the benchtop without it falling or splintering away from the work.
The resulting surface from this operation is pretty clean, though it is a little in wind (less than 1/16”), which I’ll address after the bench dries a bit more (did I mention the top was at 60 percent moisture content?).
Next up I’ll dress the jaw cautiously so I don’t lose too much thickness. Then I’ll turn the threaded screws and nuts for the vise and line the jaw with adhesive cork.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. I think I’ll scratch my head bald about the end vise. More on that in the coming week.
Filed under: Roman Workbenches