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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway!  Enjoy!

Thank you to everyone who contributed towards Walt Quadrato's battle against cancer!  Their fundraising goal was met.  Our prayers are with you, Walt!  

Headlines

The Acanthus Leaf – is it a Real Plant??

Mary May, Woodcarver - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 8:22pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

The acanthus leaf definitely is a real plant originally found in the Mediterranean. I have heard that this plant that inspired so many architects and designers thousands of years ago is considered an invasive plant today – sort of like our thistle in the US – and it even resembles the thistle in appearance. I tried to grow one in my garden, and it was really beautiful. I, however, am a woodcarver and not a gardener – so it did not last long in my hands. But I managed to take a photograph of one of the leaves before it met its demise.

So it started as this…

The real plant

The real plant

Then evolved to this…

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Acanthus detail in a Masonic building in Savannah, GA

Or maybe this…

This is an example of an acanthus leaf that is often carved on the knee of a cabriole leg.

This is an example of an acanthus leaf that is often carved on the knee of a cabriole leg.

You can see that the leaf evolved into designs that often have little resemblance to the original plant. But that’s what is so great about this design! There are certain specific design elements that carry through all leaves that identify it as an “acanthus leaf”, but it is the variety that intrigues me the most.

Here are several direct dictionary meanings of “acanthus” which I thought interesting. Hope you do too.

From the Oxford Dictionary:

NOUN

1A herbaceous plant or shrub with bold flower spikes and spiny decorative leaves, native to Mediterranean regions.

[via Latin from Greek akanthos, from akantha ‘thorn’, from akē ‘sharp point’]
  • Genus Acanthus, family Acanthaceae: many species
Architecture A conventionalized representation of an acanthus leaf, used especially as a decoration for Corinthian column capitals.
From Wikipedia:

In architecture, an ornament may be carved into stone or wood to resemble leaves from the Mediterranean species of the Acanthus genus of plants, which have deeply cut leaves with some similarity to those of the thistle and poppy. Both Acanthus mollis and the still more deeply cut Acanthus spinosus have been claimed as the main model, and particular examples of the motif may be closer in form to one or the other species; the leaves of both are in any case, rather variable in form. The motif is found in decoration in nearly every medium.

The relationship between acanthus ornament and the acanthus plant has been the subject of a long-standing controversy. Alois Riegl argued in his Stilfragen that acanthus ornament originated as a sculptural version of the palmette, and only later, began to resemble Acanthus spinosus.[2]

From Collins Dictionary:

acanthus (əˈkænθəs Pronunciation for acanthus or acanth (əˈkænθ)

noun

(plural) -thuses, -thi  (-θaɪ) 

  1. any shrub or herbaceous plant of the genus Acanthus, native to the Mediterranean region but widely cultivated as ornamental plants, having large spiny leaves and spikes of white or purplish flowers: family Acanthaceae See also bear’s-breech
  2. a carved ornament based on the leaves of the acanthus plant, esp as used on the capital of a Corinthian column

 

Just a reminder – please join my newsletter if you want to hear join me on my journey and progress of writing The Acanthus Book.book cover-190

Removing Paint and Grime with Soy Gel

MVFlaim Furnituremaker - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:32pm

Sometimes life gives you the answer so clearly you’re too blind to see. Just a few days ago I read on the “Working by Hand” blog a post about removing tool japanning with Soy Gel. https://workingbyhand.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/plane-body-finish-removal-soy-gel/

Soy Gel is a 100% soybean based paint remover that has no toxic fumes and is really safe for the environment. I bought a bottle of it for my wife about a year ago so she could remove the paint off a piece of furniture she bought. I don’t repaint planes so I never gave much thought about using it to remove the black japanning from a plane. Well apparently according to the post, it does the job quite well.

So this weekend while I was busting my knuckles cleaning up the bed of an old Stanley Liberty Bell plane with steel wool, I opened up my cabinet to grab another piece of wool when my bottle of Soy Gel was staring at me right in the face. I looked at the bottle, then looked at the plane bed and thought “I wonder if it would help”?

I grabbed the bottle, squirted some on the bed, and spread it around with my steel wool pad and let it sit there for a bit. Sure enough after just a few seconds, the dirt and grime just melted away when I rubbed it off with the steel wool.

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I was amazed it worked so well. Then I was angry at myself that I didn’t think of it any sooner. How could I be so blind? Here’s the before and after shot of the side of the plane.

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All these years of busting my knuckles trying to clean up the wood from old planes with nothing but steel wool and a whole bunch of elbow grease, and I could have just been using Soy Gel the whole time to make the job a whole lot easier. Oh well, I learn something new everyday. Here is a couple of shots of the plane all cleaned up. I guess someone liked my cleaning job as the plane sold within a few hours of being listed on eBay.

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Limited Edition North Bennet St. School Try Squares are Done!

Bridge City Tools - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 3:20pm

Drivel Starved Nation!

Next week I begin my annual work retreat, and I can’t wait to see what the muse will deliver this trip. This will be my 14th year of holing up somewhere and do nothing but think about tools for two weeks. And as long as Megan Fox leaves me alone, it is incredibly productive…

The real purpose of this post is to encourage you to consider adding a rare tool to your collection, and get a nice tax deduction as well. As you may know, a retrospective of my work from the past 37 years is currently on display at the Bellevue Arts Museum and it closes on February 1. It will be packed up and is moving to a new exhibition space in downtown Boston owned by the North Bennet Street School.

Exhibitions are expensive and when Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez, President of NBSS expressed interest to the Museum of Contemporary Craft (the sponsoring museum for “Quality is Contagious”) the costs involved were concerning. (Caveat: I have nothing to do with this exhibition, where it goes, or anything to do with finances.) When I met Miguel, we brainstormed a fund raising idea — I designed a tool for NBSS that we sold at cost to NBSS to be used as fund raiser to help offset the costs of the exhibition which is close to $20,000. There are 95 of these squares and you can learn more about the exhibition and how you can help here.

Here are a couple of cell phone pics, these squares came out great!


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I really like the split personality of this design…
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Thanks for considering this rare tool as a possible addition to your Bridge City collection. Now, one last thing…

Two weeks ago, William John Mosso entered this world. 9 lbs, 22 inches. I am officially a Grandpa!

Best-

John

The post Limited Edition North Bennet St. School Try Squares are Done! appeared first on John's Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Decorative Wire Inlay

The Barn on White Run - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 3:10pm

Last week I finished writing my latest article for Popular Woodworking, titled, I think, “Decorative Wire Inlay.”  Tomorrow morning I will finish the photography for it, then move on to the next projects in the shop, the list of which is formidable.

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I demonstrated the techniques of decorative wire inlay in my presentation to the Washington Woodworker’s Guild last autumn.

Don’t Forget To Make Stuff!

The Kilted Woodworker - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 2:32pm
Lately, it seems like a large percentage of my shop time has been spent either trying to work on projects for the shop or restoring hand tools. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing these things. I love the feeling when I finish a workshop task and I can see that I’m inching closer towards […]
Categories: General Woodworking

Closing Out On My Bench Fitments

Paul Sellers - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 1:57pm

To perhaps close out my workbench series on the bench I currently use I thought you might want some close ups of some things I particularly think makes my work easier. Many of you tell me that you want the inside jaw of your vise flush with the face edge of the bench and that seems fine to me, but I have never found a single advantage to this whereas there are several advantages to having the vise a step forward go the edge. DSC_0129I have answered the hundred or so questions asking on this and the simple answer is that I can grip my materials underhand or overhand with one hand and tighten and loosen the vise grip with full support to the work. More than that, I can hang my tenon saws where I want them and where they are the very handiest I have found them to be.

Notice the swivelling retainers. The lighter saws benefit from this and stop the saws from lifting of the wrapped screws. I don’t want hooks as such because of the lift and pull action. I want something that slips on and off and this works for me. The 14” brass backed saw is much heavier and never falls off through bounce from banging.

DSC_0134The tail vise is there. I still have found almost zero use for it, but people seem to feel there’s something missing and they trust me more if it’s there. I put it there to show that it could be put there if people feel it will benefit them. This vise was born in sheffield without the slide-up dog and I retrofitted the wooden liner with a groove that receives a 6mm by 30mm by 110mm long brass bar. DSC_0135This works as well as the factory fitted one so I no longer look for vises with dogs. DSC_0132I did do a blog on making wooden dogs with a spring wire fitted like the ones shown here. These work well; pity I don’t need them. The vise itself is of course another secondhand Record vise; one of those superior ones from the pre 1990’s.DSC_0141

I keep my most used planes on my benchtop on the far opposite corner from my main working vise. Here they line up well. Two jacks, and the remainder are smoothers with different setting depths or a simple scrub plane.

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Next to these I like a few daily use gauges of different types. I have one slitting gauge, three combination or mortise gauges and then i have common marking gauges.DSC_0125

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The old jam jar holds different pencils, rules, sticks, felt tip pens and so on. Next to that is a tin can filled with glue sticks. When I demo hand sawing I often cut several cuts next to one another and then I cut them to length and have 30 glue sticks ready to go as needed.

Around the vise

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The risk of damaging furniture by using a tape clipped to a belt is too high so we furniture makers generally don’t carry them as a carpenter might. I usually take the clip off and screw it to my bench and use it for a shop rag holder when filming.

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One of my better ideas is the insertion of hardwood blocks and chamfering out a recess to the corner. The recess gives me much more cutting depth with the tenon saw and i rarely ever catch it.

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The leather in one jaw of the vise works well to increase grip without over tightening or the need for too much cinching on the vise to hold the work.

The post Closing Out On My Bench Fitments appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Handy Andy Block Saw Set - Never seen one and have no idea how it works

Toolemera - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 12:53pm
A reader sent these two photos in about a saw set, the likes of which I have never seen. Which also means I have no clue how it works. His questions: "It has two patent dates shown on the tool, 1905 and 1906. I have not been successful so far in finding any information about this tool so I was wondering if you might be able to help. What I am looking for is the following information: a. How the tool was actually used in maintaining saw blades b. What kind of saw blades it was used on c. where...
Categories: Hand Tools

At least 8 reasons to own a wooden spoon

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 12:42pm
People are often surprised when I tell them I make wooden spoons and yet we’ve all got them in the kitchen and they’re our most direct contact with the food we’re cooking. Why make do with the same mass-produced spoon … Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

The Mallet Making Video Is On YouTube

Paul Sellers - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:06am

DSC_0125Here is the video we made on making my mallets. My old mallets follow a copied pattern I took from a true beauty I discovered in a box of tools I bought back in the 1970s. When I saw nestled amongst moulding planes and a couple of Norrises, it it just impacted me so much that, even lying alongside a very rare and beautifully made Howarth Rosewood Ultimatum brace, I would have left the brace, though worth over £1000, when the mallet was worth no more than say £5 maximum.

The blog I wrote on making your first mallet starts here and is a four part series if I remember rightly. The mallet you make does need to have good weight and density and especially so if using the traditional heavyweight variety like these. DSC_0113Even though for most of my work I use a Thorex 712, the Thorex will never replace the traditional mallet for a few simple reasons and not the least of which is aesthetics.DSC_0504

I do hope if you haven’t seen this that you will enjoy it as much as I did making the video. Yes, it is important for the preservation of the skills in making it, and also the detailed shaping of it and the careful deliberations of the man who thought through the dynamics of it, but more than that, it’s the passing on of another craftsman’s life in a very simply work of art. I don’t do it justice, I know that, but here it is, preserved in the lived lives of those woodworkers yet to be born. Make it by hand as he did. Stretch yourself and master the skills. Keep real woodworking alive for others, for your family, your children and grandchildren. This mallet takes me about an hour to make. Enjoy it and pass it on.

The post The Mallet Making Video Is On YouTube appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Why are We in Such a Hurry?

The Renaissance Woodworker - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 10:41am

“I don’t want to hurry it, that itself is a poisonous, 20th century attitude. When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things.

I just want to get at it slowly, but carefully and thoroughly.”
-Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig

I read this book back in high school when I was in my moody, teenage, angsty days. I read it again while in college during my deep and philosophical artsy days. Now I’m reading it again in my jaded, mortgage paying, corporate drone working days. It’s funny how the book still remains powerful to me but each time the message changes.

The quote above particularly grabbed me while the author was talking about a botched repair to his motorcycle from a “professional shop”. He is exasperated by how taking his bike to the experts resulted in not only his problems not getting fixed but made worse.

I can augment this story with literally hundreds from the lumber yard where contractors have called in claiming they got defective wood that moved on them or checked. Upon further investigation we find that flooring was not allowed to acclimate or decks were installed with no gaps between boards and without proper ventilation underneath. Invariably the excuse for skipping these essential points was “I don’t have time to wait for that” or “I just needed to get it done”

splitting away tenons

I posted this picture the other day saying, “stub tenons are quicker when you split them out”. Why is quicker necessarily a better thing?

Even more telling is the attitude we are faced with when we try to educate this contractor on how it could have been prevented or what should be done in the future. They don’t want to hear it, they just want us to fix it with new material…gratis of course. They just don’t care how to improve their work, they just want to get it done and move on to something else. Or using Pirsig’s words, they don’t care.

I’m purposely generalizing here and don’t mean to cast a wide net that says all contractors don’t care about their work.

I’m fortunate to also work with some truly exceptional craftsmen who build homes, furniture, and boats. But I’ll also state that stereotypes exist for reason and I feel bad for those quality contractors whose thoughtful and thorough work goes unappreciated amongst a sea of mediocre projects just waiting to fail when the seasons change.

I’m not innocent in this attitude either. There have been plenty of times when my best work has suffered when I have grown tired of a project and stopped caring about it. Fortunately I’m usually able to remedy that by walking away and coming back later. But I do have to remind myself to slow down from time to time and “care” about the details.

I read and hear from other woodworkers all the time about ways to speed up a task. I hear exasperation about how long a process is taking when done with hand tools. I want to know why we are in such a hurry? Why don’t we care enough about what we are making to “get at it slowly, but carefully and thoroughly”?

I understand that for many woodworkers time is money and paying the mortgage is a big deal to the professional furniture maker. But I think whether you are a hobbyist or a professional, we all got into woodworking with a desire to make something durable and beautiful and that requires great care.

And maybe that is what is most important, not how fast you get it done.

Categories: Hand Tools

The End

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 9:49am

The end. (quite a way to start a blog post, huh?)

cf chest end view

On a piece of case furniture, some call it the side. I think of them as ends, as in “help me move this chest, grab the other end.”

I’m not one for measured drawings, but I am working some up for this chest project. Today I was laying out the end view of the chest we’ll build at the CT Valley School of Woodworking this season. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes/29-speciality-weekend-classes/534-build-a-17th-century-joined-chest-with-peter-follansbee.html

In the class, we will delve deeply into the period chest we’re studying/copying, but will also look at numerous variations. These chests (Wethersfield/Windsor/Hartford area of CT) often have one large horizontal panel over 2 vertical panels. the upper panel is glued up in every one I’ve seen and made notes on… but the students will be making single-drawer versions. So that changes how we format the end view. I’ll offer them 2 versions & they can decide which to use.

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There is no typical arrangement – but there are several that we see over & over. Like these:

a joined chest, one large horizontal panel on the ends. This panel is about 14″ wide (top to bottom) It requires a tree in the range of 36″ in diameter, straight as can be.

WA Dedham chest

 

 

 

One way around that issue is to divide the end with a muntin, and use two narrower vertical panels. Two more joints, but not a big deal. I do this most commonly. Note here the side top rail and the front top rail are different dimensions.
guilford chest

 

This next one is a chest with a single drawer. So two side-by-side panels above a single horizontal panel. In some cases, these panels all end up the same width – nice & neat for stock preparation.

 

braintree chest w drawerHere’s a chest of drawers, and I have found this arrangement on chests with 2 drawers too – two sets of vertical side-by-side panels. or 2 over 2 if you want to phrase it that way. You can cover a lot of ground this way.

PEM chest of drawers Essex Co
How these side views relate to the front view and more interestingly, to the rear view is a study in itself. Come take the class – we’ll be able to really explore joined chests in excruciating detail. You’ll be well-versed in joined chests by the end. The End.

 

 

 


Magnificent

The Barn on White Run - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 8:48am

Last Friday on my way to the annual banquet of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers at Colonial Williamsburg I took the opportunity of my foray into “civilization” (or is it “out of civilization?”) to make a number of stops purchasing materials and supplies for ongoing and upcoming projects.

Perhaps the most important of these stops was at Virginia Frame and Builders Supply in Fishersville, just a hundred yards or so from I-64. Virginia Frame is renowned for having large, long, and lovely lumber in stock. I bought some 24-foot long southern yellow pine 2x12s, mostly clear and some even select. Since my pickup has a 6-foot bed, the folks at Virginia Frame cut the 24-footers into 8-foot sections and we stacked and strapped them into the bed for the long ride to Williamsburg then back to the mountains.

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This September I will be hosting ten members of the on-line forum Professional Refinishers Group, a treasured mostly-virtual community to which I have belonged for many years, for a week of workbench building. The lumber from Virginia Frame will serve as the raw stock from which I will make a Roubo prototype and a Nicholson prototype, to work out all the bugs in the fabrication process. Once I do I will order the same lumber as necessary for all the workbenches being built in September.

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There was rain on my trip, so when I got back Saturday afternoon I spread out the boards to let them dry, then yesterday morning I stacked them to allow them to sit properly before I build the benches in February and March. I love working with southern yellow pine, and these boards are magnificent.

But first I have to make a replica of the Henry O. Studley workbench top for the upcoming exhibit.

Build a Dovetail Desk with Hand Tools – Part 7: Cut Tenon Cheeks

Wood and Shop - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 8:32am

PART 7 OF “BUILD A DOVETAIL DESK WITH WOODWORKING HAND TOOLS”

In part 7 of this series of videos, I show how I cut the tenon cheeks on the desk’s apron, with a tenon saw.

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Click here to go back to part 1, if you want to follow me as I build a historic hinged-top desk for my sons. Below you’ll find photos and the list of tools that I used to build this desk.

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TOOLS THAT I USED:

Even though I have a helpful hand tool buying guide (here), I’m still often asked for a list of and links to the tools that I use in my videos, so here is a list of tools that I used in this series of video on desk building (I also included tools that I used in construction that wasn’t in the video):

WORKBENCH:

HAND PLANES:

SAWS:

CHISELS:

MARKING & MEASURING:

MALLETS & HAMMERS:

 

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO SEE ALL THE FOLLOWING VIDEOS OF THIS DESK CONSTRUCTION!

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Clamp it & Bead It

360 WoodWorking - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 7:39am

ClampedIn just over four weeks we are releasing the first projects for the 360 WoodWorking subscribers (if you aren’t a subscriber yet, there’s still time to join the fun before the first few projects start hitting the street…err, website. Click here to subscribe today.) Not only is my project a fun build, but it gives me a chance to address some questions that frequently come up from woodworkers.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “How many clamps does it take to glue up a case?” The answer to this one is pretty simple. If you’ve cut your dovetails to fit, you need exactly the number shown in the first photo in this post – none. That’s right. The case in the picture is freshly glued up (if you look close you might even be able to see some squeeze-out on the dovetails).

With properly cut dovetails on each corner, the joint and the glue should provide all you need. What would the clamps be doing anyway? The hold in a dovetail joint comes from the properly fit angles not the glue.

If your joints are so loose that you have to clamp them together, they’ll fall apart sooner or later (more likely sooner) anyway. If your joints are so tight you need the clamps to pull them together, you just need more practice sawing closer to the line. Besides, with joints that tight, you run the risk of splitting something or (once the water in the glue does its work on the wood) having the joint fetch up before it is tight. And do you really think that clamping side grain (of the tails) to end grain (of the pins) is going to make a dovetail joint stronger? So, cut your joints properly and lose the clamps.

Glued_up_beadYou might be wondering about squaring the case. Again, if you’ve cut your dovetails properly you should be pretty close to square once the joints are seated. If not, a gentle squeeze from corner to corner should be enough to bring the piece back to square. I try never to run clamps from corner to corner in order to square a case. Clamps give you a tremendous mechanical advantage, and running them from corner to corner across a case is just asking for trouble – you can do some serious damage to the joints very quickly by over-stressing them with the clamps. Just don’t do it unless you’ve run out of other options.

Another frequently asked question that came to mind while working on this project involves cock-beading. If you’re unsure what cock-beading is, it’s a thin strip of wood with one edge rounded over to a half-round. These strips can be applied around the faces of drawer fronts, drawer and door openings or door frames. Usually they cover the entire edge of a part or they are set into rabbets cut into the part or the case. Often they stand proud of the plane of the drawer front or case, but on my case they are set flush with the face of a frame.

Bead_close_upHistorically, cock-beading is often glued and nailed into place, but I opted to just glue and clamp it to my frame. I just didn’t want to deal with nails and nail holes. Besides, as I glued the beading to the frame I could make vertical adjustments without having to deal with nails restraining the movement. To ensure I got a good glue joint, I used some cauls, or sticks, to spread out the pressure from my clamps. This way I get good adhesion across the entire bead – stile/rail joint.

After the first section of this post you may have thought I was clamp averse, but I’m not. I’m all for using clamps when the only way to properly construct the joint or piece requires is. A side-grain-to-side-grain joint benefits from the added pressure of clamps and should last more than my lifetime. By adding the cauls to the mix, I ensure my beads are gap free.

Be sure you’re set for the upcoming projects at 360 WoodWorking by subscribing, and use clamps when you need them. And when you don’t, don’t.

—Chuck Bender

 

What A Well Fitted Post And Rung Chair Joint Looks Like

Caleb James Chairmaker Planemaker - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 7:24am
An important part of chairmaking is knowing how tight to make a joint in order to get a proper fit. How tight I make a joint will depend somewhat on the type of wood used but, essentially, I want it as tight as possible without splitting the joint - and having to use a little force to bring it together is not necessarily a bad thing.

A good rule of thumb for testing a windsor chairmaking mortise and tenon joint is if you can put the joint about half way together with only hand pressure then you are about perfect. Then during assembly you can force it togther with a few hammer blows.

In windsor chairmaking, you are not often putting multiple joints together at once so a tight fit like this is possible without complicating a smooth assembly. On the other hand, with a post and rung assembly, I will back it off just a hair so I can have a bit more control on an assembly. When you add up a lot of joints that have to come together at the same time on one of these chairs then the extra give can be the difference between success and a struggle or failure.

Here is a short (and very out of focus) video of how tight I try to make the joints for a post and rung chair joint.


Enjoy!


Categories: Hand Tools

Perils of Buying Tools from Abroad

The Indian DIY & Woodworker - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 7:02am


I occasionally order tools from abroad, particularly from the United States and Japan, two countries that make excellent and (somewhat) affordable hand tools. I have bought saws, specialist chisels and a host of jigs and accessories. 

Recently, however, I had a terrible experience importing a small consignment of sharpening tools from Japan. The items ordered were two diamond coated saw files, one coarse ceramic sharpening stone and one conical sharpening stones for honing gouges and other curved blades. Not a big deal. The total value of the consignment was about `4,000 plus `1200 for EMS or expedited shipping. 

The parcel should have arrived in 3 days. I waited and waited and no trace of the shipment. Finally filed a complaint on the IndiaPost website with the tracking number provided by the seller (toolsfromjapan.com) and discovered that for some reason it had been held up by customs.

Indiapost helpfully provided a phone number and email address to get in touch with the concerned customs officials. I sent several emails and tried calling the number which was either busy or never answered. Days passed and every day I duly sent an email and called.

One day the phone was answered and a very polite and helpful lady explained that I needed to come to the foreign post office in Delhi and meet the customs officials. When I told her that I lived in the suburbs, the lady laughed and said people came from all over north India, even distant Punjab, to have their parcels released.

One grey wintry morning I made my way to the foreign post office, which turned out to be a multi-storied affair, clean but cold and forbidding. I met the customs officer who made me verify the package, checked the items against the invoice and my identity and appeared satisfied.

He then took me downstairs to his office and shut the door, glumly announcing that the package would attract duty. I replied that it was fine with me and told him to charge whatever and release it. He said he would release it and I would have to pay the duty amount to the postman.

I went back home relieved to have sorted out the matter and again waited. Days passed nothing happened; so the next time I was in town I went and met the customs official again. He was most polite and said the matter had completely slipped his mind and that he would release the parcel that very day. I took his mobile number and departed.

Foreign Post Office Delhi. This photograph has been taken from https://constellationcafe.wordpress.com/tag/foreign/ which has an interesting article titled "One Bad Idea: Foreign Post Office"
Again I waited; days passed and I called the customs official every day. Every day he claimed that he had released the parcel. I then found out the number of the EMS in charge and called the lady who looked up the item in her computer and said it had not been released by customs. Again I called the customs official, who as usual said he would clear it.

Then one day, the postman arrived with the item; miraculously no customs duty was charged. However, instead of getting the package in 3 days (for which I had paid double shipping costs) I got it roughly after one and a half months! So much for expedited shipping to India.

Like many things in our country, the foreign post system appears to be broken. A clerk at the foreign post office told me that items could be tracked if they were sent by EMS or registered post. Items sent by regular post often disappeared into a huge black hole and could never be traced.

There appears to be no accountability regarding the receipt and despatch of unregistered letters, documents and parcels. The clerk told me never to order any item from abroad through regular post as it is a hit or miss affair. Many books ordered from abroad have never reached me and several vendors abroad including David Barron, a UK tools maker, told me he never ships to India. The items just do not arrive.

What is worse, even registered items can disappear down the hole since Indiapost does not intimate customers if their letters or packages are held up. When I was looking for solutions to my problem on the Internet, I found pathetic complaints from hundreds of people writing to different forums about their sad experience ordering items from abroad.

From what I could gather there is little or no accountability in the system. Even my complaints registered at the Indiapost website did not elicit any response. I had to find out the name and telephone number of the concerned person to find what was the problem.

The system stinks and if India is planning to go global it better fix its broken foreign post system, among other things.

Indranil Banerjie
27 January 2015
Categories: Hand Tools

Joshua Klein ‘The Workbench Diary’

Hackney Tools - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 6:58am

KleinLHGRecipe-2
One of the woodworking blogs I always make sure I check out is Joshua Klein’s ‘The Workbench Diary’. Joshua hails from Maine in the US and concentrates on historical furniture restoration. Just recently he has also started making his own furniture.
Joshua has posted a nice piece about making your own hide glue (and a cheap glue warmer too, if you’re interested). Anyone serious about making furniture that can be disassembled for repair should take note. Hide glue is definitely the way to go, as the joint can be taken apart with some heat and hot water at any time, (something not possible with modern PVA’s).
If you don’t want to go the full nine yards with dissolving and heating hide glue pellets, I would also recommend the excellent ‘Ol Brown Glue‘ from Patrick Edwards, another liquid hide glue but in a bottle that can be heated by putting the whole bottle into warm water. A lot of people also recommend Franklin Liquid Hide Glue. Main thing is, if you’ve spent a few months making a beautiful piece, you need it to be reversible.

Categories: Hand Tools

The Unpredictable Backstool

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 4:30am
A coarse phone shot of the chair before I trimmed the legs to final length. It's sittable, but needs a lot of clean-up before paint.

A coarse phone shot of the chair before I trimmed the legs to final length. It’s sittable, but needs a lot of clean-up before paint.

The three-legged form of backstool is ideal for uneven or dirt floors, though it looks wrong at first to modern eyes, like a Zap Xebra three-wheeled car. Though we all know in our heads that a three-legged stool is stable, adding a backrest to it throws our eyes off.

Even Victor Chinnery, the dean of English furniture, wrote the following warning in “Oak Furniture: The British Tradition” (Antique Collectors Club).

“Three feet will stand with greater stability on an irregular surface, but it nevertheless takes a certain amount of skill to sit comfortably in such a chair, since it is easily overbalanced.”

Judging from the number of extant three-legged backstools, that statement seemed like it was written with the eyes, not the buttocks. But the only way to test the statement was to build a three-legged critter and sit in it after a few beers. So I did.

As I designed this backstool, I followed the geometry I found in other three-legged backstools and chairs – usually the back leg rakes backward significantly. So I was careful to replicate that feature when I made models of three-legged stools before building one.

As my backstool came together I sat on it at every stage in construction. At first I expected to be tossed to the floor. That didn’t happen. And when I had my first formal sit-down in the completed backstool, here’s what I felt: stable.

My front legs were planted over the front legs of the backstool. My tailbone was on top of the back leg. I leaned back and my head hovered over the footprint of the rear leg. I cautiously creeped my buttocks left. Then right. I reached for my fourth beer.

And… nothing.

How does the backstool get its reputation as tippy as a drunken uncle? Part of the instability is an optical illusion, but part of it is real. It just has nothing to do with sitting on the chair.

We use chairs and stools for more than sitting. If you stand or kneel on this seat and the pressure is outside the triangle created by the feet, you’ll get a rude surprise. Or stand behind the chair and lean on the crest rail. If you lean on its center then nothing happens. But if you lean on one end of the crest rail, you might just bite the floor.

If you aren’t sold on the idea of a three-legged chair, that’s OK. It’s simple work to make this backstool with four legs instead of three. But consider this: If you do have the guts to make the three-legged version you’ll never have to yell at your kids for tipping backward in their backstool.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
Categories: Hand Tools

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by Dr. Radut