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I’ve been trying to finish off this chest with 2 drawers lately. I’m close, but have to go to North House Folk School soon, so the last bits will be in 2 weeks. Today I spent making the last 12′ of moldings – out of a total of over 45 feet! Rabbet plane first…
…followed by hollows & rounds….
Late in the day I still had some daylight. I have been using the last 30 or 45 minutes each day to hew some spoons for evening carving…but today I split some reject joinery-oak and started shaving the rear posts for some ladderback chairs. Must be because I’ve been thinking of Drew Langsner lately…
Here’s the inspiration – one of the last chairs from Jennie Alexander’s hand…and Drew’s book The Chairmaker’s Workshop. I had to look up a few things to remind me of what I was doing.
The last time I made these chairs was some shrunk-down versions for when the kids were small, December 2009. These chairs are put away in the loft now, outgrown…
I hope to bend the posts Friday, then leave them in the forms while I’m away. Hopefully there will be some chairmaking going on in March…
Last night at dinner I laid out the finances involved in printing the deluxe “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture,” and I think I saw the blood drain out of my wife’s face – just a little bit.
It’s like sending a child to college. It’s vitally important, and so you somehow find the money to make it happen. But when you stand back and count up all the dollars involved you wonder how the heck you did it.
We are pleased, thrilled and a little anxious to offer you “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture,” the largest, most expensive and most incredibly built book we’ve yet to offer. We think the investment is worth it. Don Williams, Michele Pietryka-Pagán and Philippe Lafargue dedicated years of their lives to translate A.J. Roubo’s 18th-century masterwork “l’art du Menuisier” and have done a magnificent job. Designer Wesley Tanner has captured the experience of reading an 18th-century book. And so we have decided to put all our chips on the table.
If you approach this book with an open heart and mind, I think you will find yourself challenged to become a better woodworker in everything you do. It is the most involved piece of woodworking writing I’ve ever encountered. It is for beginners, intermediates and the advanced.
Even if you have zero interest in building French furniture, I think this book will speak to you as a maker and give you insights into how things are made “with all the precision possible.”
The book is $550 and will ship this summer. You can place your pre-publication order here.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: To Make as Perfectly as Possible, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
Yesterday, when we arrived back at the studio, the first order of business was to get our leg stock into shape. I hewed my riven ash pieces into rounds with my single bevel hatchet. For this rounding work, I really love the single bevel and heavy head of my Collins hatchet as I can use the flat back (unbeveled side) to establish a flat plane on the stock. After a series of relief chops up the piece, I can swipe it all away to a single plane with one swipe.
To gauge my initial shaping, I bored a hole with the auger in scrap pine and traced it onto the end. That way I worked to the line with hatchet. For the last of the hatchet work, I pushed the head down the work, riding the flat back, using it almost like I was planing.
All the refinement of the tenons took place in the vise with a wide-mouthed spokeshave. I did most of the test fitting on a bench top offcut. By doing it this way, I could pound the tenon in without chewing up the mortises of the actual bench. Final fit was obviously done on the bench itself.
Mike spent a bit more time on his joinery than mine because he tapered his mortises the whole way through. This made fitting the tenons a bit more picky. He’s got something up his sleeve, I guess, because he left some crooks at the bottom of two of the legs. He says he’s cooking up some workholding situation. We’ll see what he comes up with. If Woodworking in Estonia is the precedent, it seems anything is fair game!
After shaping the wedges and sawing a kerf on the tenons, we pulled out the hide glue. We decided to use our “liquid” hide glue to buy ourselves more open time. This glue is made with the salt-depressed recipe that I’ve published previously.
It was interesting to find that although I friction fit those tenons by beating them in hard with a maul, when the glue was applied, they slipped though even further. Doh. Of course that would be the case. It should have occurred to me that hide glue would be a great lubricant. It didn’t prove to cause a problem but next time I know that I can fit it a bit shy of coming out the top and trust the glue to slip it the rest of the way through.
After both benches were legged-up, we shimmed each leg until the top was a consistent measurement from the floor. After marking the trim line with a pencil resting on a block, we sawed the legs to final length. Mine ended up at 19.25”.
Yesterday was fun. Our friend, Richard, came by for the day and shared his insights from building this form over the years at Leonard’s Mills Living History Days. He brought his Toshio Odate toolbox full of tools and let us try out a bunch of his favorite stuff.
Today, we’ll be cutting the tenons and wedges flush and fitting the benches out for workholding. Then we’ll play around with using them. I plan to make a small project on mine this afternoon because I’m curious to explore the viability of using this bench to complete a project. I want to know if I would like this for more than a glorified sawbench. I suspect it will be very different than working on my tall bench but I just don’t know how yet.
You’ll be sure to hear about it when I do.
If you're interested to learn more about this bench, check out the article by Chris Schwarz in Issue Two.
I’ll interrupt my jaunt through the CW confab to mention some new things in the mail.
Yesterday saw the arrival of the new Popular Woodworking with some intriguing contents.
In addition to an excellent article on bench chisels from The Schwarz Hisownself there is a wonderful piece by my pal Jameel Abraham on making and using plywood. Solid.
And immediately subsequent to Jameel is my latest article, which was about the most fun writing I have ever had.
To top it all off I received a sample of some shellac wax from the producer in India. It is excellent and I am going shortly to the bank to make the bank-to-bank transfer to order several hundred pounds. This steady supply will allow us to begin manufacturing Mel’s Wax shortly. Stay tuned.
It is very easy to install thin plywood splines in mitered corners of boxes and frames But, to do so successfully, you will have to design the placement pattern of the splines and spend some time carefully laying out your design on the corners. (Read part one of the micro splines story here) Design Above (in the lead image) you can see a few optional designs that can be easily […]
The post Thin, Good Looking & Strong – Micro Plywood Splines, Part 2 appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
This blog entry wass derailed - in a good way.
I was totally in the midst of working on a post about mitre plane geometry when I made a discovery that totally put me in another direction. In the picture above are 4 mitre planes. I had laid out four planes in what I thought was chronological order, using what I knew about the planes and their makers.
From left to right:
Spiers - Latter part of the 19th century.
I Smith - Mid 19th Century (1860's?)
??? - Very early 19th century - Unmarked, possibly by Gabriel.
Christopher Gabriel - late 18th century.
The maker's stamps on the Spiers and Smith planes are on the lever cap or bridge. This is sort of what we would expect from any iron plane after the 1820's. It was pretty easy to stamp the bridge, and it's a spot that didn't get a lot of wear.
In the very early iron planes - such as the first two on the right - the steel stamps used for stamping wooden planes weren't that hard and wouldn't last very long stamping wrought iron. They were designed for wood. So Christopher Gabriel stamped his name on the inside of the front infill. On wood. On the side of the front infill which is nearly is nearly impossible to stamp once the plane is assembled so it won't be over-stamped by owners over the years. This particular plane has some numbers stamped in the bridge, which was not unusual for a Gabriel plane, but number stamps were easier to replace than a custom-made name stamp. Why Gabriel stamped numbers on the planes has been a subject of much speculation over the years.
I pegged the second plane plane from the right as early because of its construction, and possibly by Gabriel, but it's unmarked where it should be - on the wood. There's also some discoloration on the bridge. Since the plane shared some styles with Gabriel, I thought it might have been one of his. The wedge is a replacement. The dealer who sold me the plane back in 2000 thought the same about all the dating.
Now, putting the planes in order for this blog entry shook everything up.
As I put the planes in order for the photograph, I saw a stamp that the dealer overlooked -- and I overlooked for nearly twenty years. The plane bears a stamp just under the hole in the front of the plane. The "WATER" part was pretty easy to read, but it took awhile to suss out the "BY" at the front. "BYWATER."
Richard Bywater made planes in London from 1790-1814. Christopher Gabriel owned a large firm that was also in London.
The chances of Bywater not knowing of Gabriel's iron planes would be zero. One characteristic of Gabriel's planes is the long toe. Like the Bywater plane. But why is the maker's name stamped on the toe?
Maybe it's not a maker's stamp but an owner's? It's possible, but I don't think so. I think the random chances of an unmarked early plane being stamped with the name of a planemaker isn't zero but it's small. (Even if the stamp doesn't exactly match any of the marks included in Goodman and Rees's "British Planemakers from 1700.") And if we are talking about Bywater the planemaker, it's more than possible he didn't make the plane himself as the tools of metalwork are different than the tools of woodwork. The reason the plane would have been marked on the toe is that there are very few planes on an assembled mitre plane where you can swing a hammer enough to mark the metal deeply without running the risk of bending something. I certainly wouldn't risk it.
If Bywater didn't make the plane, who did? Craftwork in 18th century London was done by small independent Little Meisters who either worked in their own small quarters or worked in a larger shop, working on their own but buying parts from the master, all paid on piecework. Did this plane come out of the Gabriel shops, wholesale, to be retailed by Bywater? Was it made by a Little Meister working for Gabriel, made on the sly to sell to Bywater?
I don't know: it's all speculation. Do you have any ideas?
|two coats on it|
|the bottom of the lid|
|one of three rabbets|
|right side stopped rabbet|
|closed throat router|
|finishing up the other side rabbet|
|clean and tight fitting joint|
|the failed bounce test with Mr Concrete Floor|
|the gallery rail|
Who was Grace Hooper?
answer - she wrote the first compiler for a computer programming language
From my journal Monday 20th February 2017 Just before the weekend I picked up another spokeshave but this time it was first under £5. At first glance you would say, “This’ll work, surely.” After all, all the component parts seemed to be there. The reason I picked this one out is because someone messaged me and …
Most importantly for me though, is that happy stamp of the nose of this thing...
Well as promised we have posted a new roubo workbench class! It is scheduled to start October 16th 2017. It will be a 10 day class and cost $3,850 including all the hardware. Here is the link to the website, Roubo Class. I am still working on developing the windsor chair class, and also hoping to have some […]
If you have never seen one of our deluxe versions of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry,” this tour will give you a small taste of the scale of the book and the quality of its components.
Since the release of this book (it’s long since sold out), people have come by the storefront or to shows to see a copy and it’s always a treat to see their reaction. First, they are amazed at the size – 12-1/4” wide x 17-1/4” tall. It’s uncommon to see a book of this size outside of a library’s rare book room.
But my favorite part is when they open the book. The printing and detail is so crisp that no matter how close you get, it holds up.
Oh, and the A.J. Roubo translations themselves are an incredibly important piece of woodworking history. Roubo’s “l’art d’Menuisier” is still the legal yardstick in many countries for what is good workmanship. And this is the first time his sections on furniture are being printed in English.
On Wednesday at noon we will begin taking pre-publication orders for the deluxe version of “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture.” Full details on the book are available here. We are printing 1,000 copies, which will ship this summer.
Also, I neglected to mention that everyone who purchases a deluxe copy of the book will receive a pdf download of the standard edition. It will be delivered after you checkout.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Roubo Translation, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Uncategorized
Like most amateurs in any craft, I rely heavily on my maestros and gurus, and for me, help comes in the form of YouTube videos more than anything else. When it comes to hand tool woodworking, I invariably turn to the likes of Paul Sellers and Tom Fidgen. When I need advice about woodturning, my ‘go to’ guys are Mike Waldt and Martin Saban-Smith.
The latter of these chaps is the developer of Hampshire Sheen, a woodturning finishing wax which I highly recommend, and he has recently opened a woodturning workshop at his family’s garden centre called The Black Dog Workshop. The workshop provides tuition for beginners, as well as a place to turn for those who may not have their own facilities. It is also designed to cater for people who suffer with depression and other mental health problems, focussing on the therapeutic benefits that any creative pastime can provide.
I have followed the progress of the workshop on its dedicated YouTube channel since it began, and I think it is a fantastic idea. I wanted to show my support for the project, as well as my gratitude to Mr Saban-Smith for the help his videos have given me, so I decided to make him a gift.
As he is an accomplished woodturner, there seemed little point in turning him something, so I decided to go down the hand tool route. In the past, I have made a fair few mallets, and I suppose they are the closest thing to a speciality that I’ve got. And, every workshop should have a mallet. The Black Dog Workshop mallet is made from walnut and beech, and I dabbled in some pyrography and added the workshop logo.
Here are a few photos of the build (click to embiggen):
I finished the mallet with three coats of my home-made varnish/linseed/turps blend, and packaged it off this afternoon.
I hope it goes down well.
Filed under: Uncategorized
A friend of mine sent me some pictures of some great looking knives that he purchased from a guy called Matt Cook. They are razor sharp and were very reasonably priced for a hand made tool.
If you are interested Matt can be contacted via Instagram
Today’s parable of the movement of wood concerns this George III Linen Press:
Description: Circa 1800, two-part form, high-grade burlwood mahogany veneers, mahogany, pine secondary, applied arched cornice with ebonized line inlay above a vertically veneered frieze, upper cabinet with two hinged doors, center with an applied reeded brass mount, each door featuring a rectangular panel with an inset square to each corner, interior with four pull-out linen drawers, base with two over two graduated cockbeaded drawers, raised on French bracket feet with a shaped skirt. (Thus sayeth the auction house.)
The maker of this press made an interesting choice when they made the doors. A large, wide board would have been a bad idea. The wide board would move and be highly unlikely to stay flat. A four-panel board would have been a common construction for a press in that era. Or any era. What is unusual is that they veneered over a four-panel door. A bad idea:
If you have ever read about, seen a video about or (God forbid) actually made a panelled door, you know that if you are using real wood for the panel, you don’t glue the panel to the frame. With our 20th/21st century sensibilities we know that the panels will move, expand across the width of the board. If glued, the frame may crack or glue joints may fail.
I have to believe that a 19th century cabinetmaker would have known about wood movement and the perils therein. Yet they choose to glue veneer to a panel that is guaranteed to (and did) move. With the expected results. To their credit, they did a really good job gluing the veneer down. No glue failures here. And the doors still exist in one plane, no warps. Impossible to say how long the veneer held it together.
Now, on to the drawers. I do like the pulls. They seem to be original:
The dovetails again are unique:
They seem to have left a pin off. Then again, symmetry is so overrated.
Well-known Japanese saw aficionado Ron Herman, at the Woodworking Show in New Jersey last weekend, explaining how he sets up saws and scrapers (!) differently for softwood and hardwood species, with an example of some of his crosscut saws.
And you thought only crazy Japanese woodworkers would go to that much trouble tweaking the setup of their tools.
I went to three different craft stores to get some gallery rail spindles. All three of the craft stores didn't have any and none of them knew what they were. One had an assembled gallery rail that I showed to him so he now knows what they are.
There is a wood item store in Greenville that sells them so I headed out to see them. But before I stopped there I went a wee bit further up the road to Stillwater Antique Mall. It's been a while since I've been there and they must be undergoing a inventory turnover. Pickings were sparse but there were two humongous 90° picture framers clamps. They must have had a 8-10 inch clamping width. I've never seen any that big before. For $45, I was tempted to take one home but I didn't.
On the way home I stopped at the wood store but it was closed. The sign said they would be closed from Feb 12th to the 21th. Today is the 20th and I was left standing at the door. Since I had no intention of driving back here, when I got home I ordered some on line.
I bought 20 maple spindles for $3.85 with $7.90 S/H. Ouch, I dislike paying more for shipping then the merchandise. The first site I looked at was selling one spindle for $2.35. I hope no one bought any of these from them and looked further.
|30 minutes past oh dark 45|
|artist linseed oil|
|using the 4:1 ration|
|brought it to a boil|
|took about 15 minutes to melt the wax into the linseed oil|
|about 10 minutes after taking it out the water|
|used two shooting boards|
|all 3 dead nuts even in length|
|marked the shelf width|
|left the line end to end|
|using the gauge line again|
|3/8 longer than the dado|
|I have my finish|
|it's solid looking and it feels solid too|
|left knife line|
|right one is just as clean|
|bottom back stretcher|
|I like this better already|
|left side done|
|right side had some hiccups|
|rubbed on one coat of the linseed oil and wax finish|
|unfinished big box|
Al Capone, the gangster, had an older brother who used the name Richard "two gun" Hart. What did he do for a living?
answer - he was lawman in Nebraska serving as a marshal and a state sheriff
Of all the thing I learned at the recent Working Wood in the 18th Century shindig, two come into clear focus: 1) Peter Galbert is a rock star, and 2) even though I am not a Windsor chair sorta guy I somehow have to figure out a way to budget the time and finances to attend a workshop he is teaching.
While I am not even a chair builder per se, Samuel Gragg chairs notwithstanding, I had been awaiting this presentation with great anticipation since I learned of it. Pete’s book on chair building was a thing of great beauty and erudition; the highest compliment I can give it is that I wish I had written a book this good. When reading it I found myself smacking my forehead with every new nugget of enlightenment, which meant every couple of minutes or so. In much the same way as Krenov’s original trilogy, Chairmaker’s Notebook is a snapshot of the craftsman’s soul.
And here he was on stage, unfolding his methods of work. As my friend MikeM remarked, Pete’s performance was perhaps the most amazing example of cogent non-stop talking and non-stop working either of us had witnessed. Next to both “peripatetic” and “loquacious” in the dictionary is a picture of Pete, and with great elan he walked us through the processes he uses to build his chairs, and his reasoning behind them. It was a beautiful thing to see.
Beginning with the splitting of the green stock needed for the fashioning of the steam bent pieces and finishing with the assembly of the chair’s elements, I found this to be as grand a learning experience as any I have encountered in furniture making.
Along the way he showed how he lays out the geometry of the chair spindles and legs, steam bent the continuous arm/crest rail (I was too engrossed in watching to remember to take pictures), and even turning the green wood legs on a treadle lathe, he did not miss a single note.
His assembled base with the arm attached was a great hit with the attendees as it was on display out in the vestibule of the auditorium.
Well done, and thanks Pete.
When I was about 11, my parents took a trip to Cancun and left us with Hazel, a Nurse Ratched type with a beehive hairdo, a messed-up back and a matching disposition. It was Halloween, and so we were carving pumpkins in the garage. I was using my Cub Scout knife – improperly. The knife slipped and slashed the web between the thumb and index finger on my left hand. […]
The Roman bench build is underway! Mike and I met this morning, gathered our tools and material (read: planks and firewood) and discussed features on period examples. We were primarily looking through Woodworking in Estonia for inspiration and design guidance. There are so many creative workholding solutions in there that we haven’t seen anywhere else. We can’t resist trying some of them out. If you haven’t ordered a copy of that book yet, what are you waiting for? Go order it now.
We each chose different versions based on our intended uses and materials available. I have a 200-year-old 2.75” thick pine plank that I am using for a benchtop. It’s 10.5” wide and cut to 5.5’ long. The top only had the slightest amount of twist so it needed little more than planing away the roughness. For the legs, I rived some ash firewood that has fully seasoned outdoors most of the year.
Mike’s bench is a half round of ash that he split, hewed, and planed flat. For the legs, he dug up a beaver-felled maple sapling from his woods. He will be using the sapling in the round as seen on many of these benches. Sure saves a lot of shaping! Come to think of it… why am I hewing a larger log into smaller pieces and then rounding them? Mike might be onto something here!
So after planing our tops, we got at boring the mortises. I have a t-handled auger just shy of 2” in diameter that I tuned up for my bench. Mike bored his mortises first with a 1” Irwin bit in a brace and tapered it with an awesome taper reamer that came out of some guy’s barn. It’s an all in one deal, bores the hole and reams along the way. Because Mike has a half round bottom, he had to bore his holes from the top so he couldn’t utilize the bore-and-ream-in-one feature. Too bad. That thing is cool.
Tomorrow, Richard Dort, our good friend from Leonard’s Mills Living History Days is coming over to help out. He’s been making staked benches for years so we should be in good hands.
Tomorrow we’ll start with fitting the legs into their mortises…