No matter what medium I am working – I love creating.
I especially enjoy things like woodworking and illustrating, because they are tangible and obvious. The plane takes a shaving. The pen leaves a line. You see everything you do, as you are doing it. Even when I’m doing graphic design in software where my tools are a mouse, and the arrow at its command, I get to see what I am doing and how it’s affecting the project.
Then there is the dark side of design work – namely the backend of websites, and their vast underworld that is code. It’s not something I particularly enjoy, but like sanding it is a necessary aspect of a project. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had times where code and I had fun together, but tonight I’m sitting in the aftermath of a 72-hour ordeal that’s left me worn and temporarily jaded.
This adventure actually began last month. After going live last summer, this website was stout and dependable. Sure there were a few tweaks here and there, and some added security as news of increased hacking activity spread last fall.
Then last month we started having issues with the server that hosts the website getting hung up on Apache scripts, causing the site to not load (believe me, you do not want me to explain that – unless you’re having trouble sleeping). After chasing that problem for several weeks and working with various support specialists at our hosting company, they finally moved everything to a new server and all seemed well – until Sunday evening.
As my family was finishing Easter dinner, I saw an email from Don pop up on my phone. The site wouldn’t load again, and this time there were two words you never want to see – fatal error.
Long story short, the problem that eluded us was ironically caused by that added security I mentioned. Last month’s update had a bad line of code, and it was not playing nice with others. To assure that the issues were completely eradicated, a colleague and I spent the last 72 hours rebuilding the website.
It is now running strong, and even faster than before. I’ll be doing better tomorrow too, as I’m putting down the mouse for the rest of the week – and picking up a plane.
Jason Weaver is the webmaster for the Barn on White Run. He is a graphic designer, woodworker and pastor, in Topeka, Kansas.
The guys over at Bell Forest were keeping us in the dark about something happening over at their Facebook page for the past week. But the lights have been turned on and they revealed what they’ve been up to yesterday, a contest to win a $100 Gift Card.
According to the post:
Contestants will receive one entry into our drawing after posting a picture of their finished product (using Bell Forest Products’ wood) in this thread – an example will be provided. If a picture is posted on anything other than this thread it will not be eligible to win. Only one picture will be valid per person, so pick your best one. Contestants who “share” this post will have one additional entry in the contest (for a maximum of 2 entries).
We want to allow people of varying backgrounds and skill levels to show off their work in a safe environment, so please be constructive with your comments. We encourage you to support the other artists by commenting on and/or liking their work.
The contest will begin Wednesday (4/23/14) at 8am EST and will go until 8am EST the following Wednesday (04/30/14) where the winner will be announced on Facebook.
As you’re already aware Bell Forest is a longtime supporter of Matt’s Basement Workshop, and one of our deals is that I can accept lumber as payment for the ad spot. $100 can go pretty far towards some insanely beautiful lumber from these guys, trust me I know!
You have a limited time though, so for those of you who have purchased from Bell Forest in the past this is your opportunity to show off those projects and maybe earn a gift card towards that next jaw-dropping creation.
To visit the Bell Forest Facebook page click here
Chairmaker Caleb James shared this amazing video on how skilled joiners used to construct sash windows. I loved it so much that I want to share it with my readers! So what did you think?
The beautiful traditional art of joinery, brought to life in the construction of a sash window frame from raw pine boards through completion using only hand tools.
Commissioned by the Arnold Zlotoff Tool Museum in South Hero, VT and featuring joiner Ted Ingraham.
Over the Easter weekend, my wife and I went out to Mid-Missouri for the holiday and to celebrate the significant birthday of a family member. I didn’t grow up in Missouri. My family moved there (via Denver) after I left for college. So, it’s not like going home when we visit. It’s just a nice, small Mid-Western town with no memories or emotional attachments. There was enough family coming to town that we had to stay at a hotel. What a shame.
On Saturday, my wife and I were looking for something to do to avoid the inevitable family drama. Been there, done that. Looking at a list of nearby towns, we settled on a road trip to Hermann, MO. It has antiques, museums, historic houses and food. And wineries. In Missouri! Who knew.
Hermann was founded 1837 by the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia to support the “almost utopian goals of a “heart of German-America” where it could perpetuate traditional German culture and establish a self-supporting colony built around farming, commerce, and industry.”
We visited the Historic Hermann Museum. It had a nice collection of antiques and other artifacts. One of the more interesting things there was this adjustable school chair and desk:
Unique adjustable seat:
We then went and sampled some of the many local antiques shops. Nothing too spectacular but a nice assortment of furniture you would expect to see in a Mid-Western town. Much of the furniture is oak and made in the late 19th century. There are a few older piece just to keep things interesting.
One of my favorites was this chest with a single small drawer on the top. I couldn’t get better picture because the shop owner and her friends kept congregating around it. Hard to ask them to move.
More stuff to see. Click HERE to see the rest of the photo set.
The latest video lesson that I have added to my online school is how to carve a Fleur De Lis. It will be a total of 2 episodes, and so far the first episode has been added to the school.
But WAIT! There’s more! This first episode can also be watched as a “sample” lesson for FREE if you go to the home page of my online school. Scroll down to “Try a Sample” and you can watch this 32 minute lesson in fabulous HD quality (probably won’t be able to view this in HD on your computer, but it still has improved the quality and clarity of the videos by leaps and bounds).
Check it out!
Now that Roubo 2 is winging its way to the desktops of the LAP magicians I wanted to take a minute to reprise our work thus far. That 5-inch thick stack of folders next to my laptop is the version Chris Schwarz will be working his way through in the coming days. Yes, it really is that big.
I hope to have a bound version of the submitted draft at the local chapter meetings of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers the next two Saturdays; the Virginia Chapter is meeting at the Leesburg, Virginia, the following Saturday is the Chesapeake Chapter at the Woodworker’s Club in Rockville, Maryland.
Even before Roubo on Marquetry was in the production pipeline in early 2013, we were hard at work on Roubo on Furniture Making. By May of 2011 we began assembling translated sections, with editing and rewriting as time allowed. Now we find ourselves on the cusp of the editorial phase, and for an abbreviated peek behind the curtain, here are the innings of labor for a project like this.
1st Inning – Michele creates a transliteration from the original text.
2nd Inning – Don chops up all the Plates into individual figures and plugs them into the transliteration; Don engages in in-depth review, editing, and rewriting of the transliteration to make it comprehensible to a contemporary world
3rd Inning – Philippe and Michele review Don’s edits and returns the sections to Don with copious edit tracking
4th Inning – Don reviews the edits and incorporates them into the manuscript, then forwards it on to external readers
5th Inning – Don and Michele sit together at the dining table and Don reads sections aloud while Michele follows along in the original French. These sessions, usually four hours because that is all the longer I can read out loud, have been astonishingly helpful in catching typesetting errors, syntax, word choice, and overall literary flow.
6th Inning – Don revises the manuscript sections based on the notes from our read-out-loud sessions combined with any comments from the outside readers, and sends them along to Lost Art Press
7th Inning - Lost Art Press edits the thing; Don reviews the edits
8th Inning – Wesley designs the books, Don reviews the galley proofs
9th Inning – the book gets manufatured and distributed
And that is where we are right now only thirty-six short months since beginning in earnest, in the bottom of the sixth.
Go ahead, write a book. I dare you.
We are happy to announce that we now have a UK dealer for our vise hardware. For many of you who send us so many emails asking for shipping quotes from overseas, this will come as welcome news.
Please head over to the CHT website and take a look.
Our next market is going to be down under. We're shooting for sometime in the fall.
During the last four months I’ve had some odd encounters with customers at shows, classes and the like.
Customer (holding a book): “I understand that you aren’t signing books anymore. But would you mind signing this one book for me?”
Me: “Huh? What? I’ll sign anything. Got a baby?”
I am happy to sign anything and with anyone’s name (I do a passable “Roy Underhill” and a crappy “Norm Abram”) on your books, DVDs, T-shirts and bare flesh when you see me. I’ve signed a man’s chest (and I have bad dreams still), and I’ve signed a dozen books in blood in Australia.
What I cannot do is personally sign every book we sell through the Lost Art Press web site. All of our inventory is two hours away, and it changes so rapidly that I would spend a significant amount of time driving, unpacking books and packing them again.
That is why I now sign books via a letterpress bookplate printed by Steamwhistle Press in Cincinnati, Ohio. These are printed on a treadle machine, one-by-one, on quality adhesive-backed paper. I have signed each one individually with an ink pen (non-treadle-powered).
These are not cheap. In fact, they cut into our profit significantly. But that’s OK because we like them.
So next time you see me, lift up your shirt and hand me a Sharpie.
Or, on second thought…. lift up your girlfriend’s shirt and…. Oh nevermind. I’m in so much trouble as it is.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites, Products We Sell
When you wake up in the fire wood pile with a nose bleed you know that something is going to have to give. I’d been having migraines for a little while which was odd as headaches are not something I’ve ever suffered with, and I’m rubbish at putting up with it. I’m not one to moan about feeling ill though and I’m very well looked after (Helen feeds me like a king!), my job keeps me active and when I think about it I can’t actually remember when I was last unwell, or Helen either.
It’s typical then, that our neighbour at the workshop has been gassing me out. It’s odd how things can creep up on you and catch you unaware. We’d started to keep a diary of the migraines to put some sense to them, but then within the space of a week I started to completely fall apart – rashes, nausea, dizziness.
It came to a head suddenly and on realising what the cause was, Helen banned me from work.
Our workshop neighbour is a fibre glasser. We’ve noticed his fumes in the past when passing by his door but felt sufficiently away to not be in danger when working. Maybe he’s changed the way he works, or perhaps my body has just had enough of a faint but daily dosing of chemicals? Either way, after Helen’s extensive digging we were certain of the cause and that these chemicals were not to be messed around with – there’s some horror stories when you get looking.
I’ve stayed away from the workshop for over a week now and feel perfectly well, to be honest I haven’t felt this well in a long time. Though I’m free from chemicals, I’m acutely aware of time creeping up on us. We’ve kept busy, since there’s so much to be done at the barns, but keeping to deadlines on workbenches for our customers is far more important.
Much digging, thinking and brainstorming later, it seems that there are many loop holes when in comes to health safety in the workplace. I probably couldn’t employ someone with that air pollution, but there seems to be nothing to protect me when it comes in from a neighbour. Though I’m sure we could get something sorted out, chances are it would take months at best, and it’s got to the point when as soon as I get a whiff of that place I’m as good as out cold. I popped the other night to pick a bag of fire wood up, and let’s start back at the beginning of the post. After a lot of thought we decided that we needed to make a positive move out of this situation rather than spending energy declaring war on the estate.
We’ve found in life, that if we allow things to get comfy for too long then something disruptive is probably about to happen. We’ve had half a year of feeling very settled with our business, and now it seems like life is telling us it’s time to move forward. This situation is causing us some massive stress and the only way we can face it without falling in a heap, is to let it push us in a positive direction.
We have a huge amount of work on at the moment which is certainly the biggest concern – along with being busier than ever with the workbenches and many vice orders, we also have ‘Project X’ in the pipe line – all I can say on this one is that it is not a simple job. Then there’s the videos which we’re also busy creating at the minute.
We’d love to take somebody on as an apprentice but it hasn’t really felt like the right thing to do just yet, and the situation that we’re in at the moment really highlights why we’ve been wise to hold off on that.
We’ve come up with what should be a very nice solution to this unfortunate situation. There’s going to be some hard graft to get us there, but this is one of those realities of being self employed. It’s the realisation that we’re not indestructible and that something small can tip the whole balance, in fact people can cause you grief and it’s simply your own problem to solve. We’ve done this for long enough to know that there’s no time to feel down about it, and if we plan things right we have a chance to push ourselves in to a more beneficial outcome.
All I ask is that you don’t worry… we’re pros and everything is in hand. Plus, Helen’s just bought me a tractor! (it’s like a Shetland pony… or hamster). We’ll brief you on the plan as soon as it’s confirmed.
Both are made in the classic style in oak with nice leather details.
What caught my eye were a couple of construction details. One that I like, and one that makes me say “Hmmmm.”
The one I like is the way they attach the arm straps to the back of the legs. I assume there is a threaded insert in the leg. Then the strap is secured by a brass thumbscrew. Even better: the maker has punched holes in the arm strap so you can take up the slack. After studying a bunch of old Roorkees, the arms always go slack.
I’m sure I’ll try this method out on a future chair.
The other detail is the way the maker adjusts the straps on the reclining back of the chair. The adjustable straps use Sam Browne buttons and punched holes. It creates a clean look and requires less hardware than a buckle, but the straps cannot be adjusted as finely as a result. Perhaps it’s no big deal.
All in all, very nice examples.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Campaign Furniture
In a foolish move executed to save $150 or so on my kitchen rehab, I initially purchased hinges and pulls from a mass-market supplier. Upon receiving that package, I opened it, and sighed over the fake screw heads on the bin pulls and the altogether lightweight feel of the pieces. I tried to convince myself that, for a house I’m planning to sell, it was silly to spend the extra […]
This first box is from Stuart in Queensland Australia who has appeared on this Blog before. He made it to store his dovetailing tools, a few tools that always get used for the task.
The woods are white cedar for the box and figured camphor laurel for the lid.
It's a very nice job and a very useful little box.
The next box was made by Sam from the UK with some nice crisp dovetails.
He didn't say what the woods were but at a guess it's ash, purpleheart and African blackwood, not sure about the panel.
Keep the pictures coming, it's great to see customers own work.
Brian and Phil with the finished chair
Hi Wilbur, I've got a couple of questions for you. If you had a 67-68 mm wide blade and you wanted to fit it in a dai that was made for a 65 mm blade, what would you do? Grind the sides of your blade on 80 grit sandpaper or widen the opening of your...
1. I’d widen the opening of the dai. That’s going to be a lot easier than grinding off a total of 2-3mm off the sides of the blade.
2. I have three mortise chisels: 6mm, 7.5mm, and 24mm. The smaller two have covered all the mortising jobs I’ve needed to do in furniture scale mortise and tenons up to this point. The larger one I bought to make the mortises for my workbench. I doubt that I will ever use it again, and there are certainly easier ways of making 1” wide mortises, but it makes for a great story.
I can’t speak to using a Japanese bench chisel with a trapezoid profile for mortising, since I’ve never tried one, but I don’t see why you couldn’t make it work. It just will be nicer to use a real mortise chisel.
We are almost ready for filming Rough Cut tomorrow. Perhaps the best thing to come of it is that we had a great excuse to clean out the shop! I haven't seen it this clear in years.
I am finishing the prototype for the set of chairs that I'm reproducing. It came out darn close to what I wanted, but I've made changes for the final design after seeing it in person. It's usually the case that a drawing of a chair looks different than the actual results, so the prototype is usually a necessary step before making the chairs for the client.
If you ever visit, you'll see that I always end up with the prototypes. This chair is a simple form, but as I've made my way through all the aesthetic choices, I've found it to be a finely tuned design. I'll show more about this soon. I'll have plenty of chances while finishing 6 more of them.
There have been many questions surrounding bevel ups and bevel downs for a decade and more. My experience tells me many things different than I read elsewhere and it’s on my experience I rely the most. My recent blog post on this subject has revealed some controversial issues surrounding the modern-day woodworker looking for answers in pursuit of real woodworking. When you can’t make your plane work well, woodworkers have difficulty knowing whether buying new might be the solution. In reality, for the main part, all they need is a sharp edge in a well-oiled well set plane. Not knowing whether to buy new, pursue old, add a bevel-up or down plane or two all seem to add to the confusing mishmash of modern-day misinformation. The reality is simple. More simple than most people realise.
My quest is not to promote rejection of more modern makers, except those who ended up reneging on their responsibilities and let the standards badly slip, but to ensure that woodworkers understand they can master just a few very basic skills to become masters of the plane.
Why did they make bevel up versus bevel down? What is the essential difference in performance they are trying to achieve? Is it that with the bevel is up the angle to the grain is greater and therefore better for cross-grain cutting? I use primarily Stanley/Record bench planes but I have a Veritas low angle that I just got but haven’t use much. I have a No. 40 scrub plane that is bevel down.
The new video launch will help you see at least some of what I see as I work in my everyday as a working man.
In our trialling of these two plane types, bevel-up and bevel-down, we will take no sponsorship because really there is no one to take sponsorship from. I do hope that in doing what I have done I have in some measure preserved the integrity of the designer engineers who designed and manufactured them. There can be no doubt, what Leonard Bailey designed in his Bailey-pattern range of bench planes stood in the face of mass opposition for half a century because woodworkers were content with the wooden bodied counterparts of the day that worked very well. Gradually his plane became accepted by craftsmen to the point that for the next century it was the industry standard. Why? Because it worked so well.
We enjoy working as free entities producing video that preserve the integrity of our craft. Answering these questions and making videos for instruction is key to securing the best of the past, uniting it with the present and using it for the future.
In my purview at the bench, when I stand and stare at the plane, look inside its internal gubbins, something tells me this low-angle plane is better equipped to the task and challenge because of its low angle, thickness of iron, weight-in-the-throat, inline support of mechanical adjuster mechanism, mass of steel because of low-angle presentation and so on. In other words I <em>want</em><strong> to believe that by its very appearance it <strong>will</strong><em> be vastly superior in performance. In reality however, at the bench, there is barely (if any at all) any difference between a low-angle bevel-up and a high-angle bevel-down, whether wood or metal, new or old, straight from the box or from eBay once you sharpen and fettle the planes. So my <em>wanting</em> to believe in it’s better presentation angle makes no difference except for me to put more effort into the ‘one-I-want-to-beleive-in’ plane, which I avoided for the sake of the tests we did. Remember it wasn’t just me that tried the planes but two other craftsmen too. So my loving the bevel-up Veritas makes little difference. I can’t alter the fact that a 30-degree bevel on a 12-degree bed incline plane is only 2-degrees difference between and 44-degree bevel on a bog-standard Stanley or Record plane. Having now proved unequivocally that 96.9% of all planes present the actual cutting face and edge at the same angle, we can focus more on the performance found if any in different planes. In the stroke the low-angle, bevel-up plane felt a little more hefty and whereas there was something a little less ‘absorbing’ in the low-cost alternatives, I did definitely get equal results of quality from the inexpensive planes and I felt that the #5 Stanley gave me the least resistance of all in the cut. It was also the lightest and easiest to use and I achieved excellent results consistently stroke after stroke. Of course none of this means you shouldn’t own a low-angle bevel-up plane. I think people should, as and if they can afford one, and even if they don’t need one but would like to own one. But I certainly would advise any of you reading this not to feel at all ill-equipped or less adequate if you don’t own such a tool as a low-angle block or bench plane. They are just nice planes with smooth handles and nicely engineered parts. This work is more for that massive percentage of woodworkers who might be led to believe it’s an essential piece of kit that takes care of stuff the basic planes can’t handle when they actually do it just as well. If you can’t afford a nice looking plane, don’t sweat it and certainly don’t feel inadequate. You don’t really need it. Working wood is not a dress parade where fashion dictates what you wear and how, when and where.
I think that one good reason wooden planes were challenged by cast metal type or even those very fancy dovetail jointed metal types was that the steel industry and engineering brought compactness and centralised weight surrounding the very cutting edge of the tools. They could also be mass manufactured in a few minutes, which really brought the cost and the wait time down. I doubt whether most many cast metal plane takes more than a few minutes of actual man hours to make. the rest is usually in the packaging. Beech bench planes when used for mitre work with shooting boards could be somewhat cumbersome and awkward because of size and especially if you are not used to them. On the other hand, small wooden smoothing planes were too light with less concentrated weight in the body at the point of thrust. The very compact low angle chariot and mitre planes out-performed the wooden ones as would say the Veritas small bevel-up smoothing plane today.
Oh, and we also weighed in the different planes to see what differences we were dealing with. The comparable weights were very similar. We checked every angle and that was a greater surprise to me in that few planes varied from the 45-degree pitch. Norrises and Baileys proved equally angled and so too wooden jacks.
Please watch the video if for nothing else to clear up ambiguity, but also just for entertainment. We did enjoy the few hours in trial and error researching and making it and hope you find it as interesting and informative as we all did.
The post Ups and Downs With Plane Irons – A Working Video Perspective appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.