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Thanks to Jim Heavey’s class on Spray Finishing at Weekend with WOOD this past weekend, I’m really looking forward to breaking out my Earlex Spray Station and finally letting it do what it does best…allow me to spray on a finish in half the time it would normally take by hand.
If you’ve ever thought about getting into spray finishing for your projects and wondered where to get started without breaking the bank or having to buy a lot of equipment and piece it together yourself, a system like the Earlex 5500 HVLP Spray Station is a nice way to go because everything you need is pretty much included.
You’ll need to provide your own finish, but at the current sale price for this Earlex model at Highland Woodworking (please check availability and dates) you’ll be able to afford MORE of it.
Purchase an Earlex 5500 HVLP Spray Station by clicking on this link and help support the show!
If you read Chris Schwarz’ recent post about a possible 17th-century image of a shaving horse http://blog.lostartpress.com/2013/05/21/a-17th-century-shavehorse/
Here’s how it came about. When talking with the EAIA crowd last week at Plimoth, part of what I discussed was our research over the years. Way back when, Plimoth had many shaving horses in the 1627 village. I first visited there in 1989 or so, and it looked like they all rode in on them.
By the time I got to working there (1994) they were gone. All gone. They had done some re-evaluation of the research behind that, and came up empty with 17th-century references. The best-known early images are the 15th-century German ones from the Mendel Hausbuch, etc. (these portraits are now online, Chris Schwarz recently posted the link to them, here it is again: http://www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de/
There is a well-known 16th century one, also German, from a book on mining, De Re Metallica. (the only time you will see the word “Metallica” on my blog) – I think 1566 is the date, or thereabouts.
18th-century versions are well represented; Roubo, (copied here from one of Roy Underhill’s books) and Hulot…maybe even Plummier. Hulot as I recall isn’t properly a horse/vise arrangement, but a low bench with a notch to brace the far end of the workpiece against, and the near end bumps into a breast bib. ( I can’t find my picture of that right now…)
For the 17th century, what do we have? Moxon’s uncomfortable description of how to use a drawknife:
“…When they use it, they set one end of their Work against their Breast, and the other end against their Work-Bench, or some hollow Angle that may keep it from slipping, and so pressing the Work a little hard with their Breast against the Bench, to keep it steddy in its Position, they with the handles of the Draw knife in both their Hands, enter the edge of the Draw-knife into their work, and draw Chips almost the length of their Work, and so smoothen it quickly. “
Years later, I found an Essex County, Massachusetts court record that mentions an accident in which a ship’s mate injures himself while shaving or drawing hoops.
“Unice Maverick, aged about forty‑three years, deposed that riding to Boston with her son Timothy Roberts, they met with Richard Hollingworth upon the road, who inquired for a man to go to sea with him. Her son told him he would go and thereupon Hollingsworth shipped him at 35s per month. The voyage was to Barbados, thence to Virginea, thence to England and home to New England, and in case he received any of his wages in England, then he was to be allowed part of his wages for his payment there. He was upon the voyage about eleven months. She further testified that Hollingsworth only desired him to carry his adze with him, which he yielded to, but utterly refused to be shipped cooper. Sworn in court.
Moses Maverick, aged about sixty years, deposed that upon Hollingsworth’s return from Barbados, he met him at Boston and told him he was sorry for what had befallen Timothy Roberts on his voyage…
John Cromwell, aged about thirty‑five years, deposed that on the voyage “one morning Timothy Roberts comeing Auft upon the house Mr Hollingsworth asked him why he did not draw the hoops or shaue some hoops. Timothy told him he could not the vessel did roule soe. Mr Hollingsworth spoke Angerly to him and bid him make a horke or a galloss or some such like word he spake and timothy went forward againe and a little while after came Auft upon the house crying and sed O lord I am undone I have cutt my kne.” Sworn, 24:4:1671″
So the boy tore open his knee. If only he had a “horke or galloss or some such word” – so not only do we have what might be a weird case of transcription, but even the man making the deposition says “some such word” – so not a term known to him. Ahh, well.
Randle Holme discussed a wooden rig for coopers to shave stock with, the paring ladder. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=paring+ladder
1688 or so:
Early 20th century:
a couple of years ago, Plimoth
I know of one documentary reference from the 18th century, there must be many more. “a coopers horse” is listed in a 1773 inventory from New York. No drawknife interestingly. I saw this in New World Dutch Studies: Dutch Arts and Culture in Colonial America, 1609-1776 (Albany Institute of Art, 1987)
Nineteenth century is beyond me, but there are images and documentary references. This one’s from Nancy Goyne Evans’ book Windsor Chair Making in America: From Craft Shop to Consumer
So there’s the background. Jeff Burks came up with a possible 1690s French one, but it might be 1720s too. So if anybody can find it, Jeff can. We’ll see.
Then, when did the English style come in? The only images I know of this one historically are photographs, not very old then! Here’s Daniel years ago using mine…
When reading up on species of wood, have you ever wondered what the ‘L’ signifies following a tree’s binomial name? Take that of English walnut for example – Juglans regia L. – the ‘L’ signifies the tree was classified by Linnaeus.
The great naturalist Carl Linnaeus was born in Råshult, Smâland, Sweden on the 23rd of May, 1707, the eldest son of a Lutheran pastor, and amateur botanist, Nils Linnaeus. Linnaeus developed the binomial system of nomenclature, systematising the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms. Linnaeus received a title in 1761 and took the name Carl von Linné.
Strangely (for someone of Linnaeus’ enlightenment), Linnaeus was not conversant in our language, though his Systema Naturae (1735), Fundamenta Botanica (1736), and Species Plantarum (1753) were published in English.
Following his death in 1778, Linnaeus’ library formed the heart of the Linnaean Society of London , founded on the 26th of February 1788 at the Marlborough Coffee House.
Filed under: Distractions Tagged: A General System of Nature, binomial name, binomial system of nomenclature, Carl Linnaeus, Linnaean Society of London
When I teach a woodworking class, I give my students free reign with my tools. It’s a great way for them to get a feel for tools that are sharp and in order. It’s also a great way to get a broken turning saw. During the last few years, students have destroyed my turning saws … Read more
Early tomorrow morning, I’m traveling to Amana, Iowa, with Christopher Schwarz, John Hoffman, Ty Black and Andrew Lunn for the May 24-25 HandWorks: Woodworking Tools and Traditions event. But first, I’m upending all the couch cushions, checking my old purses and scrabbling under the car seat to see how much loose change I can dig … Read more
One of the greatest things we can do as woodworkers and hobbyists is to share our passions with others. There are many organizations throughout the world that provide the opportunity to get started in woodworking and are geared toward people who either don’t have the resources to be able to get started, or who may have never thought to give it a try.
Two of these organizations are The Work of Our Hands and The Mikell Folk School, both based in Georgia and founded by Frank Allan, a former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and longtime woodworker and customer of Highland Woodworking. A few weeks ago, Frank stopped by our store and I had the opportunity to chat with him and find out a little more information about his wonderful organizations dedicated to furthering the art and love of woodworking within the community. Below is Part 1 of our conversation, where Frank discusses his start in woodworking and his first organization, The Work of Our Hands:
Highland Woodworking: How long have you been in GA?
Frank Allan: I was born outside of Chicago and lived some in Miami. We came to GA when I was about 9 years old during World War II. My Father was stationed at Oak Ridge and we came here to be closer to him. When the war ended he came back to Atlanta and worked as the Director of Operations at Emory, and so we stayed here.
HW: When did you first become interested in woodworking and how did you get started?
FA: I have always been interested in woodworking. My father had an old Sears scroll-saw sitting down in the basement so I got it and started doing things with it, like making toys for my grandchildren. Later I went off to the John Campbell Folk School where their wood turning staff gave me a jet-lathe for Christmas and so I then got started with wood turning. I have been doing that for about 15 years. I thought I was too old to do that and then I met Ed Moulthrop who was 80 years old and still wood turning. I asked him “how much of the day do you do this?” He said “well 8 hours a day.” He has a son named Phillip, who is one of the really great wood turners. They have a lot of their wood turning in the Smithsonian and the Museum of Art in NY. They make things you can fit a human being into. For these projects he had to make his own lathe and own tools because what they were doing was too big for the normal size tools. They also have a secret finish that they use. It is very expensive stuff.
HW: What is your favorite piece that you have made?
FA: When I was younger I built a classic sailboat and I could not get it out of the basement. We had to tear out the storm shutter to get it out.
In terms of wood turning I made a chess set and turned all the pieces. I think my greatest accomplishment was the chessboard. There is a way to make it where everything fits together perfectly. My grandchildren all play with it whenever they come over. I have 9 grandchildren and will have to decide who gets it. We might have to draw straws for it. I have done some shaker projects too.
HW: How did The Work of Our Hands get started?
FA: After I retired, I thought about what I wanted to do with my woodworking hobby. I thought about my John Campbell experience and I wanted to build upon that experience. The folk school experience comes out of the Danish folk school from the 19th century. It transformed the countryside of Denmark, which was very poor at the time, and the concept brought the skills of these rural people together and they trained. And lots of people did it and people made money and so forth. So that was what I was interested in and I thought how can you translate that into an urban setting so we can deal with inner-city poor people? And so I helped start The Work of Our Hands, which consisted of two arts and craft centers. The first is The Friendship Center at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in the Ormewood neighborhood of Atlanta and the other is at Emmaus House near Turner Field in Atlanta.
At Holy Comforter we work primarily with people with mental disabilities. People who have addictions and so forth. And then we have some neighborhood people who come as well. And at Emmaus House we work primarily with inner-city families and children. To start the programs we raised money and then bought all of the lathes from Highland Woodworking and then equipped the centers with the lathes, band saws, and a lot of other tools
My goal has been to allow these people to gain skills that are marketable. Some of them get good enough to be able to make bowls and sell them. The Work of Our Hands used to run a gallery in Buckhead where we sold the pieces that people made on consignment, and the artists were able to make money when their pieces sold.
Later instead of the gallery, some of us figured there was a better way to get exposure and sell these pieces. We started a craft show/artist market at the Cathedral of St. Phillip, which runs the week before Thanksgiving. We make more money in four days than we ever made doing our gallery. Half of it goes to The Work of Our Hands and the other half goes to the artists who submitted their work.
To make a tax-deductible donation to the Work of Our Hands, please visit the following link HERE. And don’t forget to be on the look out for the continuation of our interview with Frank Allan next week, where we discuss the Mikell Folk School.
The post Woodworking in the Community Spotlight: Bishop Frank Allan and The Work Of Our Hands Part 1 appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
It has been said that “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” This is an axiom and does not need demonstration to prove the truth of it, but we may go a little further and say, that when applied to shops and mills that it is necessary to prosperity, for wherever you may go, or whatever mill, or yard, or shop you may go into and find everything at loose ends, and tools laying around promiscuously and many of them hung up on the floor or shied away under the benches, or if you go through the lumber yard and find piles of boards or plank or nice timber uncovered, and piles of boards left with part of them thrown down where they ought to be piled up nicely and covered, I say that where these conditions exist, you can take your note book out and write down. “This concern will eventually go to the bad, unless it becomes converted to the gospel cleanliness and order.” “Order is Heaven’s first law ” and unless we obey that law to the letter, we shall surely have to suffer the penalty for disobedience to its demands. Order and cleanliness about any place of business, is just as necessary as sunlight to the growth of vegetation.
The loss of time spent in hunting for mislaid tools amounts in the course of a year to hundreds of dollars in shops where everything is left to take care of itself which somebody has got to pay for, and in lumber manufacturing places it comes on the owners because all the work is done at the owners expense unless you are sawing or turning or planing for your customer by the hour which happens only once in a while, and then if your bill amounts to more than he thinks it ought to, next time he will go some where else with his work and indirectly you are a loser because you do not have the work to do.
There should always be a well regulated system for keeping tools and appliances about a mill in their places. Have a place for everything and have everything in its proper place. When you are through using a wrench or hammer or file, or any other tool or thing, even to a broom, have a place for it, and return it to its place, immediately after you have done using it. Don’t lay it down and say, well, when I get things agoing I will put it where it belongs. Perhaps while you are getting agoing your tool has been going too, for any tool lying around loose offers a great temptation to those who are always ready to pick up tools and put them in any place, but your thousands of dollars worth of tools find themselves put up in some pawn broker’s shop, when, if the one using them had put them up in their proper place they would have been saved the journey to the P. B. S., even though it was a free ride. Saws are great tools to ride in that direction, while wrenches and hammers are invited home like the Frenchman’s pig, to stay a week, and never come back.
To a certain extent employees ought to be rigidly held responsible for tools of whatever kind in their care. If they were so held, I am sure there would be fewer tools lost. I know of one large mill that lost 30 cant dogs in much less than a year’s time, and no one knew which way they traveled or where they stopped. Now, had there been some one to look after and account for these tools, and put them in some place out of the way of those who make it a business to pick up everything, no matter whether it is a tool or a horse, they would have been saved, and the price paid for new ones would have gone to the profit account on the owner’s books. Had this company held the man in charge of this gang strictly responsible for those cant dogs, I very much doubt if a single one of them would have been lost.
The habit of going to a pile of any kind of lumber and taking some and throwing down some and leaving it, is a terrible source of loss to those who allow their men to get in the habit of doing it. Nice boards and planks are often ruined by being left helter skelter and pitch poled every which way, and left to warp and get out of shape so no person will buy them, and if you use them yourself to fill an order, you have to plane them down, and you must lose quite a large percentage on the thickness in order to make it of any value to you, or if you put it through a cylinder planer, ten to one you do not split it, and the trimming to make it salable, wastes a great deal.
Every owner is responsible for everything being at loose ends about the yard and mill. He should not only see to it himself, but hold the foreman of the yard responsible for stock broken up and wasted without sufficient cause. Tornadoes may come and scatter your lumber around, but careless and irresponsible foremen are worse than tornadoes for the waste is constant the whole year through.
Just as soon as you are through overhauling a pile or lot of lumber, it should be piled up at once and never left till a better opportunity comes, for it never will come, and every day a lot of lumber lies, that is thrown into a helter skelter pile, it will deteriorate in value, and you actually lose more by letting it lie, than the time you would use in piling it up properly would amount to. Every owner of lumber yard or mill, or more generally where both are connected, should have an eye out for these little leaks, for these little leaks cause many a staunch and able vessel to go to the bottom.
Every piece of board or plank or timber, should be made to count for something, for each piece has a value, and is worth, and will bring you something if you look out for it, and this little something saved, you will find helps you out a great deal when you get pinched a little, and a few hundred dollars would just even things up, and put you fair and square on your feet again. I wish I might specify some particular kind of business where this careful looking after these little bits of waste would not be needed. If we take the regular cabinet business, how many thousands of the little pieces can be put to a good use, and save cutting out of whole stock, what could be easily picked out of cuttings that come from jobs where we must cut from whole stock.
Each kind of cuttings should have its own place for waste pieces, so when we want a piece of black walnut we will not have to hunt long enough among a lot of oak, and ash, and maple, and mahogany, to pay for a good plank in the time spent in hunting. There are those who are sharp and clear headed enough to see where these little pennies saved in this way amount to dollars when they come to take account of stock, and foot up a year’s work. Cabinet making and house finishing, which, in the costlier style of houses is another branch of cabinet work use up in the aggregate an enormous number of small pieces of wood, especially the costlier kinds of wood and a sharp look out for the waste pieces around cutting up saws, not only keeps things in order, but also saves buying good high priced stock, And makes the dividends very much larger.
Now in common lumber yards, how common it is to see sticking pickets lying around just where the piles were taken down, and not the least care taken of them, everywhere you go around the yard you stumble over a lot of these pickets always in the way, and never taken care of. When lumber begins to come in for sticking, hurrah boys, we must have a big lot of pickets sawed. But where are the ones used last year? Lots of boys who make it a business to gather in just this kind of stock have had a watchful eye on these things, and thousands of them have taken a free ride, and will never come back to tell who gave them the ride. One man said to me a few days ago, I have seen more sticking pickets go by my house this winter than ten horses could draw at one time, and considering the hard times of the winter just past, no doubt but that he came very near the truth. These ten loads of pickets will have to be replaced and somebody or bodies will have to pay the cost of making new ones.
Boards and plank by the load, taken one by one from these helter skelter piles go to new homes, and, like the pickets, never come back to tell who carried them away. The only way to save and have all these things show in the time when you take account of stock, is to have order on the BRAIN. We know it is more comfortable to sit in the office in the cold winter days, but if your yard or mill is suffering for want of care it is for the owner’s interest that he makes a tour of inspection over his premises at least once a day, and see that everything is close reefed and snug.
Builder and Woodworker – May, 1885
- Jeff Burks
Filed under: Historical Images
In my last post I discussed the difficulty of trying to carve ash. Hey, don’t get me wrong. Ash is a wonderful material. Right now it’s plentiful and it’s cheap. It turns very well. And, properly finished, it is a very attractive wood that can be used (nearly) interchangeably with other ring porous species. But, as I recently testified, you’d have to be real masochist to want to carve it on a regular basis. Walnut or mahogany, it is not! You’re probably not going to see many highly carved pieces in ash.
Another real challenge with ash, is ebonizing it. Anyone who is familiar with this blog knows that I am keenly interested in traditional finishing methods. My ebonizing method of choice is iron and tannin. While this method gives absolutely beautiful results on walnut, mahogany, cherry and a host of other woods, using it on ash has always been a real challenge. In fact, I have “stooped” to the use of aniline dye and the “wiped, thinned paint” method on more than one occasion in the past. But after stumbling across an article by Brian Boggs on the subject, I decided I’d try it one more time; ergo: Preserverare autem diabolicum. (This is very similar to the definition of insanity being the act of repeating a behavior with the expectation of a different result.) The subject product is the coffee table I’m building for our living room. Hope it works (remembering that ash offers pretty good heating value).
Ash is not high in tannin so, following Boggs’ suggestion, I mixed up a batch of “oak bark tea”, 1 tbs/pint water. In this case, I used a bark powder product used in leather tanning. In the past, I’ve used oak bark, leaves and oak galls (which, I believe, have the highest concentration of tannin) to brew the tea. (I have heard of folks brewing a very “thick” tea from regular black tea, as well.) I brushed the surface of the table, liberally. The “tea” deepened the color of the ash after drying.
Next, I prepared a solution of iron acetate. This was made by simply soaking some steel wood in white vinegar for a couple of days. (Note: a gas is produced in this process, so don’t cork up the jar too tightly, lest you be injured by potential flying shards of glass. Put a rubber glove over the jar, or use a plastic container.) I’ve heard of other folks using iron (ferrous) sulfate which can probably be found in garden stores. What you’re looking for is iron to react with the tannic acid provided by the tannin tea.
I “decanted” the iron acetate mixture, through some cheese cloth and was left with a grayish, yellowish, greenish fluid, rich in iron.
Then I brushed the surface with the iron acetate solution, liberally. This is a messy process. So, unless you want black marks all over the floor, put down a dropcloth.
After this application had dried completely, I noticed the chemical process had not taken effect in certain areas of the surface. This was in the areas of the porous rings. (This is the problem when trying to ebonize ash.) I remembered that Boggs had said that he had put another coat of the “tea” on in order to get more tannin on the surface to react with any free iron. So, I figured that if one coat would help, two coats would work even better. I was sure that there would be plenty of tannin. After the second coat of tea was dry, I hit the table with another coat of iron acetate. I had my evening scotch, then went off to bed. When the morning arrived, I was startled by what I encountered. A deep brown precipitate had formed. (A light precipitate is normal, but grey or black not brown.)
It turns out that this was not a huge problem. After some light buffing with a “scotchbrite” pad, a lovely “warm” black color appeared. However, the area of the porous rings still had not been uniformly affected by the process. But with the judicious use of some “black oil” (lamp black in boiled linseed oil) a uniform look was achieved.
Three or four coats of rubbing varnish will produce a finish of incredible depth and durability.
So…what is the upshot of all this Alchemy? If you’re “into” historic finishing techniques, you’ll enjoy using this one. But as a commercial finish for anything made from ash, I’d have to recommend against it. What you’d save in product cost, is more than offset by the amount of labor involved. Any client who wants something built from ash will, very likely, not see the value of this finishing method. Use a thinned alkyd enamel or black milk paint, throw a couple of coats of oil or spirit varnish on it, and collect your payment. However…if you’re working with cherry or walnut and you need some ebonized surfaces…
I haven’t abandoned my “Furniture of Necessity” book. Suzanne “the Saucy Indexer” Ellison, simply won’t allow it.
While my days are spent in teak and mahogany making campaign furniture, Suzanne has been feeding me a steady diet of vernacular forms that I browse late at night when I’m too pooped to work in the shop.
Her latest missive is an exhibition book from 1982 for an exhibit titled “Common Furniture” at the Stable Court Exhibition Galleries. The book is a gold mine.
My favorite piece – one I should build for the book – is a Welsh stick chair that I haven’t seen before. I fell hard for Welsh stick chairs thanks to the late John Brown. This particular example isn’t in his book, though some similar chairs are.
From the exhibition book:
Welsh, probably 18th century, second half, Ht. 32 in.
Hewn elm seat, whittled ash legs and splats, the armbow cut from a naturally curved elm branch. The seat and upper frame betray traces of three paint layers – red, light and dark green. At one time there were two (or possibly 3) rear legs. Rugged chairs of this type are commonly found in Wales, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Ireland (where they are today quaintly called ‘famine’ chairs) and could fairly be described as a native ‘Celtic’ pattern. No documented or dated examples are known and they probably developed independently of the Windsor chair tradition, being produced well into the 19th century. This one was acquired in the Cwm Tudu area of Cardiganshire.
Lent by Crispin.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. The title of this post is the name of a great song by Rhett Miller, the lead singer of the Old 97s.
Filed under: Books in the Works, Furniture of Necessity
Gary Rogowski, Director of The Northwest Woodworking Studio – www.northwestwoodworking.com, gives a quick demonstration of how he preps and sharpens a card scraper for a finish quality edge as part of his class titled “Three Simple Finishes” at Weekend with WOOD.
Please forgive the poor audio quality and background noise. The rooms were heating up and numerous fans were brought in to help keep the temperature down.
More of Gary’s tidbits and finishing information is coming up soon with the release of more footage from Weekend with WOOD 2013.
A very short bit of writing here, unusual but it’s all I can spare.
At the end of June there will be a woodworker’s/carpenter’s event in Miki city, and if you have the means to attend, I highly recommend making the effort.
I don’t think it’s worth jumping on an airplane/boat/swimming to attend, but if it’ll be a small detour or short road trip, then by all means make the effort.
I will be there again this year, showing the locals what a hand plane looks like and how it works. Last year I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, but still had a great time. I’m more familiar with things now, so should be far less stressed and should be able to enjoy things more.
The event’s website is here; http://www.miki-kanamono.or.jp/kajidesse/
One last suggestion.
If you can make it, bring lots of cash. Every tool maker from Miki will be there, and they’re all selling their wares. More tools per square metre than most people will see in their life, and it’s a pretty big hall.
(If you’re looking for me there, I’m “Yoi-kanna-san”.)
A few months ago I was planning to take a Wednesday off to see the Roentgens exhibit at the met before it closed. As it happened I got an email from a Randy Beranek, who reads my blog, about a week long exhibit of work by carver David Esterly which was at the W. M. Brady Gallery on 80th Street down the block from the Met. I had seen pictures David's work many times in Woodcarving Magazine so naturally I jumped at the chance.
My friend Jeff Peachey and I were scheduled to have lunch that day at Mile End and he had just finished reading David's new book so he wanted to come too.
The exhibit was carefully and leisurely laid out in several rooms so that you can enjoy the pieces without distraction.
The pictures I have seen of David's work just don't do his work justice. The carvings are generally bigger than what I expected and all the carvings have a sense of hyper realism. It's not a real bouquet of flowers, it is a perfect bouquet of flowers. In his sculpture of vegetables, the arrangement of everything is perfect. Even imperfections like a caterpillar eating a leaf is done elegantly.
By coincidence the artist himself happened to be in the gallery when we visited, so chatted about this and that. I asked David if he worked from actual flowers, fruits, and if he mocked up the pieces before he actually carved them. He doesn't. He draws them in illustrator and once he is happy with his design he goes from the drawings directly to carving wood. Not being constrained by the reality of a mock-up, David has the freedom to do with carving what artist can do with drawings. He is freed from the physical constraints of how actual reality looks like.
His approach to realism is also very much grounded in the physical limitations of the detail limewood (which is what he primarily carves) can take and the sense of what detail we can see. The gallery hung the pieces at normal "gallery height" but most of David's work was borrowed for this exhibition from various private collections and many of the works are designed to mounted higher on a wall and viewed from below. In general the detail of a lot of the pieces are meant to be absorbed from a few feet away, not examined under a magnifying glass. There are a few carved carving tools mounted in a few pieces which have handles that are stippled to emulate ash. It's a very convincing look, and from a few feet away the tool handles all look like ash. The carved drapery of one piece has that fuzziness to it that you get on fabric. But the leaves are mostly plain with very few if any veins or texture to them. I think this is because from a few feet away you would not really seem them, and what you register is the leafiness of them and the delicacy of plain flower petals. Fabric and tools have the detailing of texture so we register it as fabric.
This approach to carving in itself is very interesting. One of the absolute benchmarks of modern sculpture is that it isn't realistic at all. And of course at first glance at Esterly's works it is realistic and can be easily dismissed by a lot of modern art critics as "craft" rather than "art". And then of course there is the school of criticism that dismisses this type of work as "decorative art". And of course in the modern world of art schools by and large craft isn't taught which immediately puts this sort of work as "outsider art" even if most of the time that term is used to describe more primitive works. It's pretty obvious and I think we can all agree that the level of carving skill needed to create these works is pretty high and I think lots of people get blinded by the level of craft and miss the art. You see my reaction and I think the reaction of just everyone who sees David's pieces for the first time is "OMG how amazing is that". it's the same feeling you get when you look at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or some finely engraved suit of armor at the MET. It's easy to be blindsided by the craft and miss the art. And of course we are only seeing the pieces for a few minutes in a gallery. David's work is almost all created for residences where the homeowners live day in and day out with the pieces. I think after living with these pieces for a little while, after the amazement about the craft of the pieces wears off, that the art will sink in and work will be enjoyed even more.
I'll write about the MET exhibit I saw later at day "Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens" another time.
Today I was given this gorgeous set of chisels that put my used eBay collection to shame.
If Taylor won the Powerball over the weekend, he’s playing it very close to the vest. But this is a better gift.
Be sure to click on the link and check out the rest of the photos.
First we cut out the notches in the legs, leaving them attached to the main trunk. Don't have to worry about them holding still while sawing if you do it this way.
And the finished legs, roughly two feet long. Nothing was measured for this project, but that's the approximate length. Not exactly pretty, but they work.
Next, we cut a six foot length from the trunk used the axe and the wedges to split it in half. No pics of that operation, but it split pretty cleanly. However, there was some twist, so we went to work with the chisel and jack plane.
Then it was time to sit and relax and enjoy the view!
I’m a late addition to the speaker lineup, which is perhaps appropriate because actually–I won’t be speaking that much. Doing most of the speaking for me will be a small selection of the thousands of images I’ve taken in the last two years of the Henry O. Studley Toolchest. This will be the first time the public has ever seen most of these images, which will likely not be seen again until they are featured in Virtuoso, a book being written by the aforementioned Don Williams and published by Lost Art Press
I’ve written before about this project and my involvement with it, but I can’t say enough how great it is to work with Don and with Chris (again) and to have the privilege of examining and documenting this national treasure. I’m excited to share that experience and some of its results-to-date with the Handworks audience on Saturday.
It is surprising how little is known about glue, even among artisans who are constantly using it in their work, especially when we consider that the strength and durability of glued work, and, ultimately, the reputation of the artisan, depend largely upon the quality and proper use of it.
It is an indisputable fact that poor glue, or the improper use of good glue, has caused the wreck of many an otherwise good piece of work.
In order to select or handle glue intelligently, it is necessary to understand something about its manufacture. Glue is an impure gelatine, and is made from the refuse of tanneries, such as parings and waste pieces of the hides, ears, and tails of cattle. Some light-colored glues of poor quality are made from sheep skins, pig skins, and bones. Bone glue is prepared by boiling bones, to remove the fatty matter they contain, and then treating them with hydrochloric acid. This renders them soft and translucent. They are then washed in an alkaline bath, to neutralize the acid. The subsequent treatment is much the same as that followed in the other process. Glue made from bones has a milky hue, owing to the presence of phosphate of lime.
A very strong, though offensive smelling, glue is made from fish bones, but the most reliable and economical glue for the woodworker is made from sinews and pure hide stock. In preparing this glue, the clippings are first soaked in quicklime and water for two or three weeks. This removes the hair and acts as an antiseptic. They are then washed and given another lime bath; then washed again and partially dried, or drained, in the open air. When well drained, the “glue pieces,” as they are now called, are placed in large, fiat-bottomed boilers of copper. These boilers are provided with false bottoms, to prevent the material from burning. The pieces are partly covered with soft water, and gently heated until all the gelatinous part has been dissolved out and the remaining glue has attained the proper consistency ; it is then drawn off into “congealing boxes” of wood. As it cools, it becomes stiff and jelly-like, when it is turned out and cut with wires and wet knives. The pieces are then removed to drying racks, where they are supported on nets and dried in the open air. This operation of drying is often a cause of much anxiety to the manufacturer, the reason being that decided variations in temperature have disastrous effects on the product. When dry, the dull appearance of the pieces is not very pleasing, and to give them a bright gloss they are wetted and subjected to artificial heat.
A knowledge of the processes followed in the manufacture of glue enables the consumer to readily judge the merits of any sample offered. The color is a matter of great importance. Good hide-stock glue is clear, light brown, free from streaks or specks. As already mentioned, very light colored glues are usually inferior. A very dark color indicates that poor material was used or that the glue was obtained from a second boiling of the glue pieces. Muddy glues are sometimes bleached by the addition of zinc or whiting; the result is, of course, a very poor quality; but some furniture manufacturers use such glue, as an excess of it on the work is not readily seen, and the expense of cleaning it off is saved.
Another test for glue is to break a piece of it. Good glue, if bent quickly, will snap into pieces with a glassy fracture ; but, when bent slowly, it will bend nearly double, turning white at the bend, before breaking. – Some kinds of glue that are made by the acid process, have an acid taste. This indicates that the acid was not properly neutralized, and this has a detrimental effect.
A very important test of glue is that which determines its “water-taking” properties. In this test, the dry-glue is placed in the glue-pot, and cold water poured upon it. Good glue will not dissolve in cold water, but will absorb the water. Poor glue will absorb very little water, while a first-class quality will absorb an astonishing amount, swelling up until it stands above the top of the glue-pot. This alone should prevent any one from buying cheap glue, under the impression that it is economical. Water is cheaper than glue, and a pound of good glue will make two or three times the amount of prepared glue that a pound of poor glue will make.
When preparing glue for use, no more should be dissolved than is needed for immediate application; glue is animal matter and, like ham or beef, will go bad if exposed. The pieces should be soaked for about 24 hours, or at least overnight, in as much water as they will absorb. Then, with the addition of a little more water, they should be boiled in a glue-pot or double cooker. The pot containing the glue should be surrounded by water and steam, and should never come in direct contact with any heating flame, as a temperature higher than that of boiling water is detrimental. The glue should be boiled until all the lumps are dissolved and the liquid has the consistency of heavy oil. Some classes of work require thick glue, and others thin glue. If the glue is too thick, it may be thinned by stirring in some hot water. A very convenient glue-pot, made of simple materials, is shown in the accompanying figure. The outside can is such a one as contains a pound of infant’s food. A hole may be cut in the cover just large enough to admit the body of a small baking-powder can. This answers very well for home use.
In making a glue joint, it is necessary that the pieces fit together exactly, and are perfectly dry. It is also a good plan to warm the surfaces to be glued. The strongest joints can be made when the grain of the wood lies in the direction of the joint. End wood joints are very difficult to make secure, and require thick glue.
Among amateurs there is a common misconception that the more glue used, the stronger the joint. This is a great mistake, for while it is necessary that all parts of the joint shall receive a coating of glue, the effort should be to immediately squeeze out as much of it as possible. A perfect joint should be discernible only by the difference in direction of the grain of the wood, and not by a black streak. The strength of a properly glued joint is very great; in fact, when tearing apart glued articles—furniture, for instance—the wood itself often separates before the joints will yield.
In some shops, it is the custom to make up a quantity of glue sufficient for several days’ work, and allow the men to replenish their supply from this “stock solution.” This is a bad practice, as glue which is allowed to stand in moisture rapidly ferments and loses its strength.
If, after a glued joint has stood for three or four hours, the glue sticks to the chisel when an attempt is made to clean off the surplus, it indicates that the glue was not cooked enough. In drying, glue should return to nearly the same condition as before cooking, although in warm or damp weather it will not dry as fast as in cold, dry weather.
In wood-working establishments glue is useful in a way which many people know nothing of, namely, as a healing agent. This is particularly fortunate, for at the cabinetmaker’s and in the pattern shop, etc., where glue is always at hand, finger cuts are frequent and need prompt treatment. If the injured part is wrapped with a piece of paper that has previously been covered with hot glue, the cut will stop bleeding instantly. The cut should be drawn together well while applying the glue-covered paper. In cooling, the glue contracts and tends to still further close the wound, in much the same manner as the collodion used by the surgeon. When the finger has healed, the paper can be readily washed off in warm water.
For some classes of work, ready-made liquid glues are very convenient; but they will not answer for large joints, as they dry very slowly. For small work, however, and for mending crockery and glass, they answer very well. Common glue should never be placed in contact with glass, as it contracts so rapidly that the glass is certain to break.
Liquid glue may be made by dissolving 1 part of isinglass in 3 parts of No. 8 acetic acid. Another recipe is to slowly add nitric acid to the ordinary preparation of glue, in the proportion of 10 ounces of the acid to 2 pounds of ordinarily prepared glue. A damp-proof glue can be made by using skim milk instead of water, and preparing in the usual manner.
In making a joint with any kind of glue, the surfaces to be joined must fit each other, and as much of the glue as possible squeezed out, either by rubbing the pieces back and forth, over one another, or by squeezing them together between the hands.
Where the joints or the pieces are large, clamps or presses may be used with advantage for squeezing the glue out. The clamps should remain on the work until the glue has set; this takes from half an hour to several hours, according to the temperature and humidity of the air. Cabinetmakers usually screw their clamps up very tight, and immediately afterwards release them slightly, to take the strain off the screws. If this is not done, the clamps are very apt to give way in a short time.
In working with hot glue, everything should be ready before the glue is applied as it begins to chill immediately, and if exposed to the air too long, a poor joint is the result. The stock of glue should never be kept in a damp place, or the glue will mold and spoil.
George F. Lord
Home Study Magazine – 1899
Filed under: Historical Images
The other day, a friend of mine arrived at my house (via bicycle) carrying a very nice Stanley #6 fore plane, which he gave to me. Despite being about a hundred years old, it had only light surface rust. There’s not much blade left, but I’ll get a few sharpenings out of it before it absolutely must be replaced. The sides are dead square to the sole, so I think I’ve got myself a new shooting plane.
The only real flaw in the plane was a snapped-off horn. So I’ll fix it.
The original tote is rosewood, but I didn’t have any rosewood scraps on hand, and the nearest color/grain match in the scrap bin is a bit of bocote. It will have to do.
I attached the bocote patch with an epoxy made especially for plastics, which seems to stick well to oily woods like rosewood. I used another tote as a template to sketch the horn onto the patch. Obviously, the repaired horn will be a little lower in profile than the original.
The reshaping was done primarily with a rasp. When doing this kind of freehand shaping, it is best to make several facets with the rasp, keeping each side as symmetrical as possible.
Each facet is then refined with a coarse file, and then I use the file to smooth over each edge between the facets. Bocote dust smells a little like dill pickles, in case you were wondering.
It’s important to check to see if the repair fits one’s own hand. That matters more than whether the tote looks exactly like the original. After the file work was done, I used a small card scraper to remove the file marks. Then I sanded with 220 and finally 400-grit sandpaper. Following the scraper work, the sanding was very quick.
I finished the tote with paste wax. Eventually the bocote will darken, making the repair less noticeable. In the meantime, I’ll be using this plane regularly.
Filed under: Build-Alongs, Tutorials