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Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz
I was by Lesley Caudle’s sawmill last week and observed his latest Alaskan sawmill setup in action.
Lesley was our source for the workbench kit Chris and I used in Roubo Workbench: by Hand & Power. He is also the source for the materials for the Moravian workbench classes I teach. Lesley sells Roubo workbench kits and will ship them as well (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lesley processes a lot of big logs that most mills can’t handle; the better ones become workbench tops and parts. The lesser quality logs will be sawn into railroad ties and pallet lumber. Some are live sawn into slabs for customers.
Lesley uses a band saw mill that does most of the work but for the really big logs to fit on the band mill he has to first saw them in half with an Alaskan mill powered by two chainsaws. This ain’t a kiddy set up either, the two power heads are Stihl MS 880’s, the largest saws Stihl makes (9 hp each). A 66″ double end saw bar connects the two.
I shot this short video of mill in action on a 48″ white oak, it’s quite a trick.
— Will Myers
There is a point with every new house when it finally feels like home. Today is that day at 837 Willard St. in Covington, Ky.
Thanks to the help of countless friends, our storefront is officially a nice place to work. The clamps hang on the walls (thanks Brendan). The garage out back holds our few machines (thanks 347 people who helped with this project). And we have a coffee maker (thanks Nespresso).
On Saturday morning, we are launching the first woodworking class here at our storefront. We are vehemently not a school – we don’t have a name for it or a formal organization. This is just one of the many small things that we hope to do to give back to the woodworking community and Covington.
Interestingly, the tipping point that made the storefront feel like home had nothing to do with restoring the building, adding electrical service or draining my savings for two new roofs. Instead, it was the arrival of Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney as everyday co-workers.
In general, group shops can be tricky. There’s always a turd or 10 who ruin it for everyone else. Someone who clogs the dust collector and walks away. Someone who tilts the table saw blade 2° and walks away. Someone who dulls all your chisels. Or puts a cold drink on your finished project parts. Or…. I could go on.
I’ve been working with Megan for about 20 years. She’s a slob, but a thoughtful, empathetic rule-following slob. And so she is easy to work with in the shop. I’ve only been working with Brendan for about six months, and he’s an energetic woodworker who is – like Megan – simply a totally decent person.
Each of us has different way of making a living. I publish books and make furniture and tools. Megan is doing a lot of editing (for me and others), teaching and furniture making. Brendan is making furniture, tools and is working for Lost Art Press, helping with maps and technical illustrations.
In six months, this could all be different, but that’s OK. What I can say is that there will definitely be woodworking going on here, much to the bemusement of the 9th Street streetwalkers and the delight of the elementary kids who watch us everyday after school.
We’re also glad that our readers are part of this, whether they take a class, visit us on our open days (the second Saturday of every month) or commission a piece of furniture. Though furniture making is usually a solitary pursuit these days, it doesn’t have to be.
You just need the right people.
— Christopher Schwarz
We’ll start taking orders for the Lost Art Press chore coat at noon (Eastern time) on Monday, Feb. 19. There are lots of important things to know about our chore coat, so we want to give you detailed information so that you can decide if this jacket is for you.
- We have ordered enough fabric for about 300 jackets. The price will be $185 delivered in the United States. For this first run, we are going to ship only to the United States so we can exterminate all the bugs in our system. I promise there are bugs.
- The price of $185 might seem high to some of you. Actually, it’s ridiculously low for this jacket. And this is the lowest price we’ll ever offer it. The fabric is soft and strong. The craftsmanship and the stitching is superb (from Portland, Ore.). And the design is 100-percent Tom Bonamici. Tom is a woodworker and designer who loves this coat form as much as I do. You’ll never find a better-tailored example.
- We are not a clothing company. We are making this coat the way we make furniture. Custom buttons. Custom embroidered label. Lots of handwork. So we want to discourage the unfortunate activity of customers who use clothing companies like a virtual dressing room. We will accept returns on the coat for 30 days. After that, we will accept returns only for a defect in the making.
- The jackets will be stitched in March 2018. We are ordering each jacket based on what you order. This is short-run, custom stuff.
- As a result, we can only afford to offer a limited number of sizes. If this run is a success, we might be able to expand the sizes we offer in the future.
- This is important: Before you order, you need to measure one of your favorite garments and compare it with our chart below to figure out what size is right for you. These jackets run a little lean, but they aren’t “mustache wax hipster lean.” I usually wear a size large, and I easily fit into a size medium for the photos for this jacket.
I know we cannot please everyone with this jacket. I also know that I do not want to run a clothing empire. As a result, we’re going to offer the sizes we can with the quality that makes us happy. I have said many times that I want to be buried with my Lie-Nielsen No. 8. Know that I’ll be wearing this jacket as I clutch my jointer plane.
So let’s get started. This is going to be fun.
Grab Your Favorite Garment
Don’t be intimidated. As a woodworker, you are eminently qualified to take a few measurements. It’s critical to measure a garment that you already own before you order your work coat. Take a heavy overshirt or light jacket (unlined, please), button or zip it up, lay it down flat on a flat surface and take the four measurements below.
SLEEVE: Measure from the shoulder seam to the end of the cuff.
SHOULDER-SHOULDER: Measure from shoulder seam to shoulder seam.
PIT-PIT: Measure from the armpit to the armpit. Don’t inhale.
LENGTH: Measure from the collar seam to the bottom back hem.
Now, think critically. Do you like how your garment fits? How do you layer other clothes with it, and how do you think you’ll wear your work coat? Chris likes to fit a sweater under his work coat, while Tom usually wears it with only a light shirt underneath and layers over the top. Compare your results to the chart (below) showing the measurements of our work coat, and make an educated decision.
A Note on Fit
Garments have to have a base pattern of “something-or-another.” We chose a “regular” fit, akin to a pair of Levi 501s – not too tight, not too loose. If you usually buy your clothes at Walmart, this is going to feel slimmer than normal. If you usually buy from Zara, then this will feel like a circus tent. The lesson? Measure and compare! Our base pattern was taken from a vintage 1960s-era French chore coat, and we tweaked it until we liked it.
A Note on Extended Sizes
If, after measuring and comparing as described above, you learn that you’re too big or small to fit this coat, please don’t order one anyway and hope that it will magically work out. If you’re tempted to email and ask why we’re not producing a XXXL Extra Short, or a Super Tall Super Skinny size, just know that we’re a tiny company with limited bandwidth.
Any time another size is added to a garment run, it adds a disproportionate amount of cost and complexity. So we’re starting with five sizes that are in the middle of the usual spectrum. And honestly, it’s unlikely we’ll get to doing “tall” sizes or “short” sizes anytime soon – the cost of pattern adjustments and inventorying unusual sizes is just beyond our means.
— Christopher Schwarz & Tom Bonamici
I met Chris in person during the Young Anarchist class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in 2015. Most of the week was spent in sharpening donated tools, hammering cut nails and trying not to drink too many of the Old Rasputins that a fellow student kept buying by the case. But at some point, Chris and I walked into the shop wearing matching blue French chore coats. After the requisite double-take, we geeked out for a while about the utility of these garments.
This guy liked to kill snakes.
Chris and I like chore coats for a few reasons. They’re simple, affordable, comfortable and practical. It’s a light jacket or a heavy shirt, making it great for wearing in all but the hottest weather. They’re made in sturdy, straightforward natural materials. They look about the same they did 100 years ago. All this adds up to the clothing equivalent of the Furniture of Necessity.
This kind of coat has been found throughout Europe for the past 200 years, with lots of tweaks and variation in different times and places. But the basics are the same: square hem, three outside patch pockets, one inside pocket with a logo, a point collar and heavy fabric. The color means a great deal: A French compagnon friend told me that painters and masons wore white, farmers and general laborers (and Bill Cunningham) wore blue, and carpenters – after becoming journeymen – wore black. Yes, I’m sure that there were lots of variations on that, but it seems like the woodworkers always wore black.
When Chris mentioned interest in making a Lost Art Press version, I just about fell over. Hell yeah! I wanted to keep it simple, avoiding the pitfall of “new twists on a classic,” which usually means taking a classic and making it dated. I wasn’t about to add an iPhone pocket, a hammer loop, or make the whole thing out of Cordura – nothing against those features, but you can get that stuff elsewhere. We needed good fabric more than anything else, and so I called my source for the best Japanese fabrics. She found a gorgeous double-woven cotton sateen from a mill in Osaka, and comparing it to the old French stuff, I think ours comes out on top. It’s thick, sturdy and comfortable, and it’ll contour to its wearer over the long years of its life.
The only other tweak I made was to add a double layer of fabric to the bottom of the front pockets – that’ll help reinforce against the handfuls of Clouterie Rivierre nails that get tossed in there. You see this on some of the nicer vintage jackets, but it’s not common. Similar reinforcements used to be put on the back pockets of blue jeans, which is the origin of the decorative stitch lines on the back of your 501s.
We’re proud to be working with Dehen Jacket, a garment factory in Portland, Ore. They’ve been around for almost 100 years, and have their own line of incredible outwear (as well as a roaring business in cheerleading uniforms). They’re not cheap, but the quality is impeccable and their sewers are paid well. To get a lower sewing price in the USA, we’d have to cut worker pay or garment quality. Not gonna happen.
There’s the background. The fabric has made it to the U.S. from Japan. The tags are done. The buttons are on their way. We’ll have a pre-sale going up soon. Complaints about pricing and sizing can be directed to our customer service line.
This is an excerpt from “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry” by André-Jacob Roubo; translation by Donald C. Williams, Michele Pietryka-Pagán & Philippe Lafargue.
If a perfect knowledge of the different colors of wood is essential to a cabinetmaker, he must also distinguish these same woods by means of their nuances, or better said, by the different shapes that the tints of the fibers represent, in order not to use them without choice nor knowledge of their character.
Woods, with regards to the conformation of tints of their fibers, can be considered as making four distinct species, one from the other. They are: those of which the concentric layers are alternately tinted in diverse colors but of a large and irregular manner, as you can see in Figs. 1, 2 and 3. The first one represents a piece of wood of which the concentric layers are tinted at unequal distances, which produces similar stripes on the grain line, Fig. 2, split according to the direction of the stripes of the tree. If on the contrary, one splits them parallel to the concentric layers, like in Fig. 3, this wood is only a single color more or less dark, according to which the split is made in a vein more or less light, which makes these sorts of wood not normally used except on the quarter-round cut, as in Fig. 2, or cut diagonally, as indicated with line A–B, same figure.
The second type of wood, with regard to their grain patterns, are those of which the concentric layers, although distinguished by color at the end grain, like in Fig. 4, produce no stripes along the grain, but simply singed veins or spots, like those in Figs. 5 and 6. These sorts of woods are very nice when they are well chosen and used with discernment, by reason of the size they will occupy and a comparison being made with that of their nuances or their spots, which are always more abundant on the radial cut than on the concentric layer.
The third type of wood is those of which the end is veined irregularly in all ways, like Fig. 7. These species of woods are most likely being used on end grain or diagonally, as I observed in Figs. 8 and 9. As to the grain line, it is hardly an effect except on the quartersawn, where the colors must be vivid, which is quite rare in these sorts of wood.
The fourth type of wood is that where the concentric layers are regular and alternating in various colors, like that of Fig. 10. These sorts of wood are those where one uses with the best advantage, because not only are they beautiful on end grain, but also along the grain line, whether they are split parallel to the concentric layers, as in Fig. 11, or according to the direction of the rays, like in Fig. 12. In the first case, they present a wavy surface, where the spots or singes [area of lightness or of disorder, representing a flame] are more or less large according to the split being made closer to the circumference of the tree. In the second case, that is to say, when the split is made on grain, as in Fig. 12, the wood presents stripes almost regular, which are more or less perfect according to the split being directly made when in the center of the tree.
These four types of differences, which concern the tints of the wood, are those that are the most striking, because there is an infinite number that are but variations between those which they resemble in some areas.
— Meghan Bates
When I post photos of my work, a frequent comment is about how my shop is clean. “Sterile,” some might say. “Unrealistic,” others have said. But a few people like it that way, I guess.
The implication is that I don’t do any real work. Or that I stage photos like a magazine art director – arranging the few shavings and dust on the floor with artistry.
A real shop is supposed to be chaotic and messy. A beehive of activity with projects, parts, clamps and tools everywhere. Messy people are the people who do real work.
I’ve worked in messy shops, and I’ve worked in tidy shops. Both have their own twisted logic that works. I cannot fathom the mindset of the person who runs a cluttered shop. I might as well try to imagine what it’s like to be a single-celled organism. It’s just not in my nature.
Every place I’ve worked since age 11 has had strict rules that prevented bad consequences.
The Anal Slog (Can I Say That?)
At This Can’t Be Yogurt (TCBY), we had hygiene protocols so customers didn’t get sick and we didn’t get shut down. Every machine had to be broken down, scrubbed and lubricated nightly. Temperatures had to be monitored. Floors had to be scrubbed. Leaving a cleaning supply in the wrong area of the shop could get you dinged by the health department.
At the Great San Francisco Seafood Co. (where I worked for four years), we had even stricter rules. Fish loves to go bad. Selling your customer a dead oyster or mussel will make her very sick. And washing your hands 20 times in a shift was typical.
As a production assistant at a publishing company (for four years), health and safety wasn’t an issue – time was. That publishing shop was like a submarine. Every object had a place. When you needed 2-point. tape at 2 a.m. to get a newspaper to the printer, you could find it – even if the lights were out.
I worked a series of factory furniture jobs. At one table-making company, everything was chaos. Even after working there a week I didn’t know who was in charge or what my job was. Table parts came flying out. You put them together. Lots of yelling.
At a door factory, things were different. Every operation had a procedure to follow. The stain sat for this long. You rubbed it with this rag. You monitored humidity ever 30 minutes. And on and on.
By the time I was 21, I knew what kind of worker I was. And I have fought chaos ever since.
You might say that I’m a neat-nick or anal retentive. I don’t care. All I know is that I know where every tool is. I know where all the hardware is. And it’s arranged by size. When I need a hammer or a 1/2” chisel I don’t even need to look in my tool chest to get it.
And when I take a moment to ponder my next step in a project, I do it with a broom in my hand. I pick up shavings on the ground when I pass through the bench room. I impulsively put away tools, even if I know I’ll need them in the next day or so.
This level of organization allows me to work like a demon without any pauses. I don’t need to think about where I left a part or a tool. They are where they are supposed to be. All I have to do is put things back where they belong and I can move on to the next task.
I do not encourage you to do this in your own shop. I have precisely zero emotions whatsoever about other people’s workshops. I just care about my own.
— Christopher Schwarz
The text and images below are excerpted from Christian Becksvoort’s forthcoming book…for which we don’t yet have a title. So for now, I’m thinking of it as “Becksvoort’s Builds, Business & Inspiration” – until something catchier comes to mind. Consider this an amuse-bouche; the main meal will arrive probably in the late spring/early summer.
— Megan Fitzpatrick
There are several options when it comes to stopping drawers. If you’re making lipped drawers, your problem is solved. The lips (usually only on three sides – the bottom will have the moulding profile, but no lip) not only stop the drawer, but also cover the small gap on the sides and the somewhat larger gap on top.
Flush drawers, sans lips, are another story. My favorite method is the front underside stop. It keeps the drawer front flush with the cabinet, no matter how the cabinet side moves. In order for the drawer bottom not to get hung up on any part of the web frame, there is usually about 1/4″ to 5/16″ (6.4 to 7.9 mm) clearance below the underside of the drawer bottom. Obviously, that wood under the groove is what supports the drawer bottom. That space allows for 1/4″ (6.4 mm) stops to be routed and glued into the divider (one for small drawers and two stops for wider drawers). I usually rout a groove into the divider, close to both sides, but with enough clearance to allow the drawer side to pass. The groove is a bit more than the thickness of the drawer front away from the front of the divider. Once the stop is glued into the groove, I like to add a finishing touch. On all my flush drawers and doors, I add a leather bumper to quiet the sound of the drawer or door closing. That’s the sound of quality.
If, instead of using web frames, you’re making side-hung drawers, the slot on which the drawer rides acts as a stop. Here, too, you can add a bit of leather or even a self-adhesive rubber or silicone bumper.
Another, more traditional, method is to let the drawer bottom protrude beyond the drawer back. This works best if your primary and secondary wood is of the same species. Because solid-wood drawer bottoms have the grain running side to side, the drawer bottom will move in conjunction with the cabinet side. The drawer stays close to flush year-round. Obviously this doesn’t work with a plywood bottom.
What about drawers in a frame-and-panel cabinet? Because those cabinets don’t change in depth, that’s pretty easy and straightforward. The drawer can butt right up against the back. However, when I make frame-and-panel cabinets, I like to make the drawers a bit shorter than the inside front-to-back opening. That allows me to add a small block or a thick bumper to the back of the drawer for a perfectly flush front, as well as a quiet closing drawer.
On a few antiques, I’ve seen flathead screws driven into the drawer back as adjustable stops. Not all that classy, but it works.
— Christian Becksvoort
Thanks/no thanks to the turmoil in the world of woodworking publishing, we have acquired another editor to work on our books, blogs, videos and other projects.
This announcement should be no surprise.
All of you know Megan Fitzpatrick, the former editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. During the last 11 years, she’s always been happy to help Lost Art Press with editing, which she did on the side whenever she could spare the time.
Today, Megan joins Lost Art Press as a managing editor. Like Kara Gebhart Uhl, Megan will work on all of our titles on a daily basis. This addition to our staff will have profound implications for you, the reader.
Here’s why. Kara and Megan can already read my mind, and they were both an important part of creating the ethos that guides Lost Art Press: 1) Treat everyone with the same respect. 2) Give away as much content as possible.
With both of them on board, I can step away from doing every single task involved with publishing our books. Kara and Megan will manage the day-to-day tasks of book publishing. This frees me to research and write more books for Lost Art Press. This has always been my greatest (and perhaps only) strength.
Please don’t think that this means that I am stepping away from Lost Art Press. I work seven days a week (by choice and by joy), and Lost Art Press is my baby. Bringing Megan on as a regular ensures that I can continue to explore the unknown, while she and Kara ensure our books are of the highest editorial quality.
Don’t believe me? Just wait.
— Christopher Schwarz
Jögge Sundqvist’s “Slöjd in Wood” is in the final editing/design stages, and will be off to Suzanne Ellison in the next day or two for the index, and to Kara Uhl for a copy edit. In other words, it’s just a couple weeks away from going to the printer. (Look for another post when it does.)
As I was editing the translation, I was charmed by almost every project – but what I find most intriguing about slöjd is its bedrock foundation in self-sufficiency and using the materials at hand.
But Jogge says it much better than can I, so I’ve shared part of his introduction below. The images at the top and bottom here are the end papers of the sumptuously photographed and illustrated book, and show the tools and supplies he uses throughout.
There are many different ways of working and joining wood. In this book I will tell you how to work wood using hand tools. I’m dedicated to slöjd because of the tool marks and carved bevels, the worn colors, the idiosyncratic design and the self-confidence of the unschooled folk art expression.
Slöjd is part of the self-sufficient household, how people survived before industrialization. Slöjd is the work method farmers used when they made tools for house building, farming and fishing, and objects for their household needs. For thousands of years, the knowledge of the material has deepened, and the use of the tools has evolved along with the understanding of how function, composition and form combine to make objects strong and useful.
The word slöjd derives from the word stem slog, which dates to the 9th century. Slög means ingenious, clever and artful. It reflects the farmers’ struggle for survival and how it made them skilled in using the natural materials surrounding the farm: wood, flax, hide, fur, horn and metal. I have picked up a dialect expression from my home county, Västerbotten, that has become a personal motto. We say Int’ oslög, “not uncrafty,” about a person who is handy and practical.
In slöjd, choice of material and work methods are deeply connected to quality and expression. To get strong, durable objects, the material must be carefully chosen so the fiber direction follows the form. This traditional knowledge makes it easy to split and work the wood with edge tools. Slöjd also gives you the satisfaction of making functional objects with simple tools. When a wooden spoon you made yourself feels smooth in your mouth, you have completed the circle of being both producer and consumer.
My intention with this book is to give an inspiring and instructive introduction to working with wood the slöjd way: using a simple set of tools without electricity. There are many advantages to this. You can make the most wonderful slöjd in the kitchen, on the train or in your summer cottage. Simple hand tools make you flexible, free and versatile. And the financial investment compared to power tools is very low!
Traditional slöjd knowledge is vast, and requires many years of experience before you can easily make your ideas come to life. It also takes time to master the knife grips, essentials of sharpening and specific working knowledge of individual wood species.
As you work with slöjd, the learning enters your body. Through repetition, you will gain muscle memory for different tool grips. The ergonomic relationship between your body and the power needed for efficient use emerges over time. “Making is thinking,” said Richard Sennet, professor of sociology. In slöjd, the process never ends.
Because slöjd is inherently sustainable, it feels genuine and authentic. In an increasingly complex and global society, it is important for an individual to experience an integrated work process from raw material to finished product.
People from all walks of life benefit from the interaction between mind and hand. Slöjd affects us by satisfying the body and in turn, the soul. There is a kind of practical contemplation where there is time for thought – a certain focused calm, which is an antidote to today’s media-centered society.
I think we can use the knowledge of slöjd to find that brilliant combination of a small-scale approach to a sustainable society that doesn’t exclude the necessities of modern technology. Traditional slöjd is a survival kit for the future.
— Jögge Sundqvist, August 2017
You can now register for the “Build a Traditionally Styled Fore Plane” class via this link.
Note: Registering for the class or the waiting list is free – they won’t ask you for a credit card to register. After the dust settles, Jim McConnell will invoice the six attendees.
If the six slots are filled, please consider signing up for the waiting list. That way, if someone is unable to make it, Jim will have a list of other interested parties – and we’ll know that if the wait list is robust, it might be good to offer the same class again at a later date.
— Megan Fitzpatrick
We are in the final stages of editing two books and getting them ready for press by the end of February.
“Ingenious Mechanicks: Early Workbenches & Workholding” is being indexed right now by Suzanne Ellison. Megan Fitzpatrick and Kara Gebhart Uhl are giving it a final edit for typographical problems.
This will be my first book with a dust jacket (see above). I hope this book justifies it. The gorgeous photos from Narayan Nayar and the paintings from the last 2,000 of human history make this book visually interesting – as well as educational (I hope). The book will be 172 pages, hardbound, on heavy and coated 8-1/2” x 11” paper. Full color throughout.
I don’t have any information on pricing, yet. My guess is it will be about $45 retail. This book was crazy expensive to write thanks to all the expense of acquiring permissions to reprint images from all over the world, trips to Italy and Germany to inspect artifacts and the professional illustrations. Heck, the wood to make the workbenches was the cheapest part of the endeavor.
The second book at the ready is “Cut & Dried: A Woodworker’s Guide to Timber Technology” by Richard Jones. I finished my edit of the book this week. Megan, Kara and Suzanne are now making a final sweep through the book for errors and consistency.
We spent a long time coming up with the title for this book and are quite pleased with it. While Richard’s text covers every aspect of how the world of trees and woodworkers intersect, just about every detail that is important to woodworkers is how the wood was cut and how it was dried. This influences its appearance, its stability, the defects and even whether it will be susceptible to attack by pests or mold.
I am working on the cover for this book right now, and it involves a little woodworking, a little fire and some hand-printing. I’ll be covering the process here on the blog in the coming week.
“Cut & Dried” will be a sizable hardbound book at 320 pages on heavy 9” x 12” paper. I suspect the price will be about $50 to $60. We are waiting on quotes from the printer.
We will open the ordering process later this month and both books should ship from the printer in early April. More details on pricing and who will be carrying these books will come soon.
Waiting in the Womb
Soon after the above books go to press, we’ll have two more almost immediately. It’s going to be a busy year. Joshua Klein’s book “With Hands Employed Aright” will be back from the designer shortly. And Jögge Sundqvist’s “Slöjd in Wood” is almost ready to go to press.
And shortly behind those two books are new titles from Christian Becksvoort and Marc Adams. Oh, and Peter Follansbee.
— Christopher Schwarz
If you are in the market for live-edge slabs that are dry and ready to go, read on.
The tree service I use outside Cincinnati has seven beautiful walnut slabs available that they have cut, dried in a vacuum kiln and are stacked and ready to go. I got to inspect the slabs last week during a visit and they are sweet. I didn’t have my moisture meter with me, but they felt dry and ready to use.
Here are some details:
- They have two slabs that measure 3” thick and 12’2” long. These are 45” wide (!!) at the crotch end and 27” to 34” wide on the bole.
- They have four slabs that measure 3” thick and 12’2” long. These are 47” wide at the crotch end and 34” wide on the bole.
- They have one slab with bark on one face that is 136” long at the crotch end and 20” at the bole end. The thickness varies because of the bark surface, but the middle bit is almost 6” thick.
I’m listing these here as a favor to the seller and you. I don’t get a commission and have no interest in the deal.
This was one impressive walnut tree, and I’m happy these guys were able to save it from the chipper so it can live on.
For information on pricing and availability, contact Jay Butcher at 513-616-8873 (voice or text) or via email.
— Christopher Schwarz
James McConnell, of The Daily Skep, will teach a weekend class on making a fore plane July 21-22 at the storefront in Covington, Ky. Registration opens at 9 a.m. Monday, Feb. 12.
Just like the other classes at Lost Art Press, it is limited to six students, and proceeds go directly to the instructor; they are not a money-making enterprise for Christopher Schwarz or Lost Art Press. He’s let those of us who are teaching use the space for free (he’ll likely edit this out, but: Chris is incredibly generous and kind) as a way to help build and get the word out on the local woodworking community in Covington. (And to help feed the cats/children/iguanas of the instructors.)
Here are the details:
Build a Traditionally Styled Laminated Fore Plane with James McConnell
July 21-22, 2018
Cost: $250, plus a $115 materials fee for the wood & iron
Build your own a traditionally styled wooden fore plane in a weekend with Jim McConnell. Using simple laminated construction, this wedge-and-pin-style plane works, looks and feels like a traditional fore plane, but it requires no specialized planemaking tools. This is a great way to get into the world of wooden handplanes – and the skills you learn in this class can be applied across the board to build planes of other sizes as well. We’ll focus on getting the bed angles right and fitting each plane to the user, so the plane you take home will be as individual as you are.
— Megan Fitzpatrick
This is an excerpt from “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years” published by Lost Art Press.
Of course, you realize that the feature that makes this work awkward is the fact that the moulding which forms the pediment slopes upwards towards the middle. It necessitates a different section from that at the sides, and introduces an interesting problem in mitreing. The pediments of doorways, windows, and mantelpieces often had this feature.
A little reflection will show you that the moulding which runs around the side of the cabinet, the return mould as it is called, must necessarily be different in section from the sloping mould at the front (raking mould, to give it its technical title). Apart from anything else, the top surface cannot be square but must obviously slope to agree with the raking mould, and its top square member must be vertical. The whole contour, however, is quite different because it would otherwise be impossible to make the members meet on a true mitre line. These points are at once clear from a glance at Fig. 2 (A and B).
Before proceeding farther, it will be as well to explain that so far as the centres of these broken pediments* are concerned there are two distinct methods that can be employed. In the one the same section is used for the return as the raking mould, so that the square members of the moulding which would normally be vertical lean over at right angles with the raking mould. The pediment in Fig. 1 is of this kind; also that shown at C in Fig. 2. In the second method the section of the return is different, and is arranged so that all normally vertical members remain vertical as at D, Fig. 2. This latter method naturally involves considerably more work but has a better appearance. Both methods were used in old woodwork.
To return to the outer corners, the first step is to fix the contour of the return moulding since this is the one which is seen the more when the cabinet is viewed from the front. Draw in this as shown at A, Fig. 2, and along the length of the raking mould draw in any convenient number of parallel lines, a, b, c, d, e. Where these cross the line of the moulding erect the perpendicular lines 1-7. From the point x draw a horizontal line. With centre x draw in the series of semicircles to strike the top line of the raking moulding, and then continue them right across the latter in straight lines at right angles with it. The points at which they cut the lines a-e are points marking the correct section of the raking mould, and it is only necessary to sketch in a curve which will join them (see B). The same principle is followed in marking the centre return D, but, instead of drawing the semi-circles, the vertical lines 1-7 are drawn in the same spacing as at A (the reverse way round, of course).
Having worked the sections the problem arises of finding and cutting the mitre. This is explained in Fig. 3. The return mould presents no difficulty, and it is usual to cut and fit this first. It is just cut in the mitre box using the 45 deg. cut. Note that the back of the moulding is kept flat up against the side of the mitre box, the sloping top edge being ignored. Now for the raking mould. Square a line across the top edge far enough from the end to allow for the mitre, and from it mark the distance T R along the outer edge. This T R distance, of course, is the width of the return moulding measured square across the sloping top edge. This enables the top mitre line to be drawn in. The depth line is naturally vertical when the raking mould is in position. You can therefore set the adjustable bevel to the angle indicated at U and mark the moulding accordingly.
Worked and cut in this way the mouldings should fit perfectly. We may mention, however, that you can get out of the trouble of having different sections by allowing a break in the raking mould as at Z, Fig. 2. The mitre at the break runs across the width, and the one at the corner across the thickness.
The method of ascertaining the sections of mouldings should be used for all large, important work. If, however, you have a simple job to do requiring just one small length you can eliminate the setting out altogether. First work the return mould and cut its mitre. As already mentioned this is at 45 deg. and is cut straight down square. Fix it in position temporarily and prepare a piece of stuff for the raking mould. Its thickness will be the same as that of the return mould, but it will be rather narrower. Mark out and cut the mitre as described in Fig. 3. If preferred the adjustable bevel can be used entirely as in Fig. 4. The tool is placed so that it lines up with the slope of the raking mould, and the blade adjusted to line up with the mitre (see A). This gives the top marking.
Now set the bevel to the slope of the raking mould as at B. Mark the back of the mould and cut the mitre. Offer it up in position and with a pencil draw a line around the profile of the return mould as in Fig. 4. Work the moulding to the section thus produced.
— Meghan Bates
*A broken pediment is one in which the raking moulds, instead of meeting at the centre, are stopped short and are returned as in Fig. 1.
The Lost Art Press storefront in Covington, Ky., will be open this Saturday with lots of interesting stuff to try and to see. Here’s what you’ll find if you pay us a visit.
- An authentic Douro chair. I’m studying this chair and its transit case for an upcoming commission. This chair is great fun. It fits inside its case. The case turns into a side table.
- Lots of blemished books for 50 percent off retail. (Cash only, on these, please.) I’m picking up a sizable load of returned orders and books with dinged corners from our warehouse for the Saturday event.
- Megan Fitzpatrick is finishing up a Dutch tool chest.
- Brendan Gaffney is building a beguiling bookcase using persimmon panels that use “recording.”
- The Electric Horse Garage is complete. We have HVAC, electricity, machines and no leaks. Our machine room is simple, but if you saw what we started with in September you might be impressed.
The storefront is at 837 Willard St. in Covington, Ky., and our hours Saturday are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If you are looking for other fun stuff to do in the area this weekend.
- Go on a tour of the New Riff Distillery (in Newport next door to Covington). It’s a gorgeous facility. Plus you should stop at Braxton Labs, next door to the distillery, and try some of the unusual beers they are cooking up.
- Sunday is the final day for the Durer exhibit at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Totally free and totally awesome.
- Get a cinnamon roll or brioche tart at Brown Bear Bakery in Over the Rhine, my new obsession.
- Lil’s Bagels (the best bagels I’ve had outside New York) have opened a window on Greenup Street in Covington. Get there early because they sell out almost every day.
— Christopher Schwarz
Lee Carmichael of Chattanooga, Tenn., sent me a link to a video yesterday. Lee purchased the Hancock Candle Stand video I did last year and has built several of these tables since.
Lee has been woodworking as a hobby for the past fives years with the goal of building all of the furniture in his home. He and a friend made a short video of one of his table builds; it’s way cool.
— Will Myers
For many years, I have been an undying fan of the work of Chester Cornett (1913-1981), a traditional Eastern Kentucky chairmaker who crossed over to become an artist who lived out his last years in Cincinnati, just a few miles from where I am right now.
Cornett’s story is long, tragic and documented in the book “Craftsman of the Cumberlands” (University Press of Kentucky) by Michael Owen Jones. My personal copy of the book is dog-eared and always within grasp.
For years I’ve known that the Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead, Ky., had some of Cornett’s work, which it acquired for an exhibition and its permanent collection. But despite my long love of folk art and woodworking, I’d never made it down to the Folk Art Center until Wednesday.
It was a bittersweet journey.
Kentucky’s state budget is in turmoil. And though I try to steer clear of politics, I am deeply saddened and angered at our governor’s proposed budget cuts, which would shutter both the Kentucky Folk Art Center and the University Press of Kentucky, which published the book on Cornett. (And has a 75-year history of publishing fantastic books about the Commonwealth.)
If you dislike funding for cultural institutions, don’t bother leaving a comment. I don’t want to hear it. We’re talking about pennies.
Anyway, we arrived at the Kentucky Folk Art Center on Wednesday and spent a couple hours with the director, Matt Collingsworth. We arrived unannounced and unheralded. But Collingsworth enthusiastically gave us full access to all the pieces and all the paperwork the museum owns on Cornett – including the only known drawings and descriptions Cornett made of his pieces.
Side note: Some of you know that I have been collecting folk art/outsider art for as long as I have been a woodworker. My home is full of it. The Kentucky Folk Art Center is – hands down – the best folk art museum I’ve ever visited. (Yes, I spent a day at the American Folk Art Museum in New York. I went to the Garden of Earthly Delights in Georgia while Howard Finster was still alive. I’ve been to every folk art museum in every town I’ve ever visited.)
In fact, when I arrived home on Wednesday night I spent the next hour showing my family all the photos from my trip, and I cannot wait to take them there as soon as possible.
OK, back to the woodworking.
The Kentucky Folk Art Center has three of Cornett’s pieces on display: an early side chair that resembles a heavier version of Jennie Alexander’s chair from “Make a Chair from a Tree” (Taunton). There’s a standard rocking chair that looked to be a “sample” chair because the slats were scrawled with Cornett’s sales pitch on the slats.
And there was one of Cornett’s “chair-and-a-half” rockers in walnut, ash and hickory bark. This chair, which Cornett also called his “fat man’s rocker,” was stunning. Octagonal seat. Four rockers. An astounding amount of drawknife work. Pictures do not do the piece justice.
Brendan Gaffney and I were stunned by it. Brendan took lots of measurements and vowed to produce a version of it. I tried to capture its essence in photos (and failed).
We also got to see one of Cornett’s tables, which is eight-sided and has octagonal legs with a most unusual taper. And the table broke down into two pieces.
As I made the drive back home up the AA highway, my head spun with the joy of seeing Cornett’s pieces (and getting to sit in one of his rockers) and the foreboding feeling that I wasn’t going to be able to make many more of these visits in the future.
If you have a free weekend, please make the trip to the Kentucky Folk Art Center, which is deep in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, before the axe falls. And know that we’ll do our best to keep writing about Chester Cornett and his unusual and incredibly well-made chairs.
— Christopher Schwarz
This is one image you won’t see in Chris’ new book “Ingenious Mechanicks: Early Workbenches & Workholding.”
The second half of my interview with Core77 was posted today (here’s the link), and I am deeply jealous of the lede that Rain Noe wrote at the top of the piece. It’s a nice piece of work, and it’s a connection – between Frankfort, Ky., and Frankfurt, Germany – that I wish I had made.
In the second installment, we discuss Crucible Tool, American anarchism and how to design outside the world of trends.
I am sincerely grateful to Rain and Core77 for showing an interest in my work, which at times feels like the drunken uncle to real and honest industrial design.
— Christopher Schwarz
This is an excerpt from “The Anarchist’s Design Book” by Christopher Schwarz.
There is a three-step process for how people – woodworkers or not – approach a typical table.
1. They run their hands over the top to feel how smooth the finish is.
2. They run their fingers on the underside of the tabletop, right at the front, to see if it is also smooth.
3. If there is a drawer, they pull it out to see if it opens smoothly, and to look for dovetails – the mark of quality mid-priced factory furniture.
What annoys me about this ritual – and I’ve witnessed it 100 times – is not the people who look for dovetails. Heck, I want dovetails, too. Instead, what bugs the bejebus out of me is how people are looking for plastic textures and plastic drawer motion in a piece of handmade wooden furniture.
We have been ruined by plastic and its inhumane smoothness. I’ve watched people on a train rub their smartphones like they were rosary beads or worry stones. I’ve seen people pull drawers out of a dresser and feel the underside.
The message is that “smooth” equals “quality.”
That is so wrong.
I refuse to equate quality with smoothness in a universal manner. The “show surfaces” of a piece should be smooth, though they don’t have to feel like a piece of melamine or Corian. Subtle ripples left by a smoothing plane are far more interesting than robotic flatness.
Secondary surfaces that can be touched – think the underside of a tabletop, the insides of drawers or the underside of shelves – can have a different and entirely wonderful texture.
When I dress these surfaces, I flatten them by traversing them with my jack plane, which has a significantly curved iron (an 8″ to 10″ radius, if you must know). This iron leaves scallops – what were called “dawks” in the 17th century – that are as interesting as a honeycomb and as delightful to touch as handmade paper.
That is what old furniture – real handmade furniture – feels like. I refuse to call it “sloppy” or “indifferent.” It’s correct and it adds to the experience of the curious observer.
But what about the surfaces that will almost never be touched? Historically, these surfaces were left with an even rougher texture than dawks left by a builder’s handplane. I’ve seen cabinet backs that had ugly reciprocating-saw marks left from the mill – even bark. To be honest, parts with saw marks and bark look to me more like firewood than furniture.
What should we do with these surfaces?
Here’s my approach: When these parts come out of a modern machine, they are covered in marks left from the jointer and the thickness planer. The boards are usually free of tear-out, bark and the nastiness you’ll see on the backs of historical pieces.
Should I rough these up with an adze and hatchet to imitate the look of the old pieces? Or perhaps just leave the machine marks?
Personally, I find machine marks ugly in all cases. I don’t ever want to see them. So I remove them with my jack plane or a coarsely set jointer plane. The result is that all the surfaces are touched with a plane of some sort – jack, jointer or smooth.
Those, I have decided, are the three textures I want to leave behind.
And none feel like my iPhone.
— Meghan Bates