Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place! These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...
We’ve just posted two positions – one to conceive of, acquire and edit woodworking books; the other to conceive of, storyboard, direct, film and edit woodworking videos – for the Popular Woodworking community, reporting to the content director (that’s me). If you have a passion for and solid knowledge of woodworking (along with the skills particular to each job) and live in or are willing to relocate to the Greater […]
Do not throw rocks at this sign.
My eighth grade teacher Mr. Knox put a sign in the parking lot that said “Do Not Throw Rocks at This Sign.” He put it there to prove a point that if you tell a kid not to do something, most likely they will want to do it. He was right. By the end of the week, the sign was demolished.
Maybe it is the kid in me or I’m just the rebellious type, but when a friend told me it is not possible to steam bend kiln dried lumber, I just had to try. My plan was to create a wooden handle that had three tight bends in it. Of course, my first try splintered along the outer radius of the bends, proving my friend right.
Apparently, when wood is kiln dried, the lignin in the wood dries out and hardens, not allowing it to bend. Now, I am not a biologist, so I may not be qualified to explain exactly what lignin is. However, the same friend who told me you can’t steam bend kiln dried lumber provided me with this definition. Lignin is an organic substance binding the cells and fibers in wood together. By the way, he is not a biologist either.
Not letting his explanation stop me, I set out to do my own research. I didn’t waste any time researching things that would tell me I couldn’t do it, like studying what lignin is. I did however find an old Woodwright’s shop episode were Roy Underhill showed how to use a metal strap during the bending process to compress the outer fibers, preventing them from splintering.
Now the wood Roy used was not kiln dried, but his technique was what I was interested in and I thought it was worth a try. I headed off to the hardware store to find some flexible metal. It turns out they don’t really sell anything that I thought would work. Feeling defeated I headed towards the door to leave when I spotted a piece of metal banding sticking out of a trashcan. Not wanting to be tackled in the parking lot for stealing their trash, I found an employee and asked if I could have it. While giving me an odd look, he said “sure”. I headed back to the shop to test it out. On a side note, after showing my friend what I was using to prevent splintering, he suggested using metal strapping that plumbers use to secure pipes and ductwork, which can be purchased at most hardware stores.
It took me a few practice runs to figure out how to keep the metal banding tight against the outside curves where the most splintering could happen. After some practice, it worked out pretty well. It didn’t stop all of the splintering, but the little parts that did splinter were easily sanded off.
I have seen some elaborate setups for building steam boxes; however, my setup for this project was simple. Since the piece I wanted to bend was small, I just used a trash bag to contain the steam. To generate the steam, I snuck into my wife’s closet and got the little steamer she uses to steam out the wrinkles in her clothes (let’s keep that part on the down low). I stuck the end of the nozzle in the bag, taped it shut, and let it fill with steam for 30 minutes before pulling the piece out and bending it into my form and clamping it.
When I showed my friend my accomplishment, he didn’t readily admit to defeat. He said, “The handle is only 1/8 inch thick, it is like a bent lamination.” On the other hand, unlike a bent lamination where the gluing of the layers are what holds its shape, this is only one piece of wood and no glue. It is holding its shape all on its own. The two outer curves are almost at a 90-degree bend, which is tough to do even with a 1/8 inch thick piece of wood. In the end, whether or not I am rebellious or just determined, I ended up with a beautiful steam bent handle.
Brian Benham has made his lifelong passion for woodworking his profession. He enjoys taking his clients’ ideas and combining them with traditional woodworking techniques to create a unique piece of furniture. You can find more about his furniture at http://www.benhamdesignconcepts.com/
The post Woodworking Hardware: You Can Steam Bend Kiln Dried Lumber appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
What is the place of handicrafts–especially traditional handicrafts like spoon carving, basket weaving, pottery, and blacksmithing–in today’s world?
Before I answer the question, allow me to indulge in a little philosophy. Since at least the 13th century A. D., and probably since the 4th century B. C., philosophers have distinguished between the liberal arts and the servile arts. The liberal arts are ends in themselves; they may have practical applications, but they are essentially pursued for their own sakes. (In the Middle Ages, there were exactly seven of them: grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.) The servile arts, on the other hand, aim at some pragmatic good. They are pursued for ends beyond themselves. If it weren’t for their practical results, they probably wouldn’t be practiced at all.
So, got that? Liberal arts are pursued for their own sake; servile arts are pursued for the sake of something else. So, for example, if I could still play the piano, I might sit down at a piano and play a Bach minuet for the sheer pleasure of it. Thus music is a liberal art. If, on the other hand, a button falls off my shirt, I might sew it back on. I don’t enjoy sewing buttons on–in fact, I find the whole operation tedious. I do it because I want my shirt to button properly. Thus, sewing is a servile art.
But here’s the problem: in an age of mass-produced clothing, a lot of people now sew for fun. A friend of mine is getting married next year and has decided to make her own wedding dress. She could afford to buy a nice one if she wanted to, but she has chosen to sew the dress herself. At some level, she is undertaking the work for its own sake. On the other hand, many chain stores now play “mood music” continually. The music is deliberately chosen (and sometimes composed) to subtly influence customers to buy merchandise. The music is valuable only insofar as it increases sales.
That brings me to the assertion in the title: the old servile arts are the new liberal arts.
There was a time, I suppose, when manual labor (if you include agricultural work) was the norm for most people in the West, but the Industrial Revolution changed all that. There is still some meaningful manual labor available, such as electrical work, plumbing, and auto repair. But skilled, manual labor is no longer the norm for most Westerners. Individuals can go back to practicing pre-industrial crafts, but I’m afraid that societies can’t. And while a few skilled artisans may be able to make a living using traditional methods, most cannot.
This leaves traditional handicrafts in the hands of amateurs–people who practice them but do not depend on them for their livelihood. Often they begin to pursue a craft out of some pragmatic need, as I did when I started working wood. I needed bookshelves that could actually hold books. But then something happened. I began making things (including tools) not just because I needed them, but because I enjoyed the process of making them. At some point, I crossed the line from practicing woodwork as a servile art to practicing it as a liberal art. I find that many amateur craftspeople do the same.
The disadvantage of leaving the older handicrafts to the amateurs is that these people often have little time to devote to learning the craft, and they can have trouble finding mentors locally. It can take them years to learn what the old professionals learned in only weeks. On the other hand, an amateur is free from the burden of the market. He or she can make something without worrying much about labor costs and overhead, and if an amateur furniture maker wants to try out some new style or design feature, he or she is free to do it. The professional furniture maker doesn’t always have that luxury.
Paradoxically, many of the old liberal arts function a lot like servile arts. Professionally, I teach in the liberal arts–specifically literature. Because I do it for a living, I can’t always do it exactly the way I might like. If I want to explore a new avenue by, say, designing a new course, I have a long list of stakeholders to consider–administrators, accrediting agencies, colleagues, and students. It is very seldom that I can actually pursue literature solely for its own sake. If, however, I want to try veneering or French polishing, all I need to consider is my available toolkit. One or two specialized tools, and I’m free to go in a new direction. I don’t have to need to veneer a piece of furniture; in fact, I don’t need to build things myself at all. There are days I just want to make a box, a spoon, or a pipe. So I do. I may end up using it, selling it, or giving it away, but those outcomes are secondary. In itself, the work can be utterly gratuitous. In a very real sense, my woodworking is far more free or liberal (in the old sense) than is my teaching.
Tagged: liberal arts, servile arts
A few weeks ago I was invited to attended a huge and jaw dropping tool swap in North Carolina and ran into Ed Hobbs, president of the North Carolina chapter of the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association – the organization that put on the tool swap and meeting. Ed gladly took a few minutes to explain how fun and beneficial the MWTCA is to tool lovers like me.
I think the biggest benefit that I was able to witness (in addition to the Grist Mill publication) is the nation’s largest tool swaps, or tool sales. They’re held all over the United States and Canada (here are the locations)! It’s a great way to make friends with people who are knowledgeable about woodworking hand tools and one of the best way to find good deals on hand tools.
In the next video I’ll do a tour of the mouth watering tool swap where I purchased some very beautiful woodworking hand tools! Here’s a few photos to get you excited:
CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO JOSHUA’S FUTURE ARTICLES & VIDEOS!
Depends on the chairmaker, I guess. It starts with this spoon that arrived in my mailbox one day. I told you I have a great mailbox. Curtis Buchanan made it; sent it with no note, just the spoon. (great article by & about Curtis in Fine Woodworking recently – glad I stumbled into it)
Then Tim Manney posted stuff on his blog about some whacky idea about making spoon crooks by steam-bending the blanks. http://timmanneychairmaker.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-few-spoons-and-dissection.html
Turns out that’s what Curtis did. And then Tim went totally full-tilt-bozo with the idea. And makes outstanding spoons this way; steam-bent, drawknife, shaving horse. Sounds like chairmakers to me.
Tim gave us a run-down of his techniques. Says it starts with “it’s hard to find crooks” so he makes ‘em. Shaved green, tries to follow the growth ring, so very carefully shaved. Then steamed, and clamped to a form for 12 hours.
Then, no axe – just goes to the shaving horse and gets his very sharp drawknife and goes to it. He draws the shape on there, and starts in defining the outline of the spoon.
Next he shaves along the side of the handle, towards the relief cut he just defined. Very precise, deliberate cuts. One false move…
Then knife work. He hollows the bowl with a gouge, (see previous post) -
It’s one of those things that I don’t want to do; but I really admire Tim’s approach and his work. Both are great. It was a real thrill to have Tim around this weekend at Lie-Nielsen, I know the students dug it too.
I’m looking for a gift list to give to my mom, brother, etc., and I like books – the old-fashioned kind. Paper. Ink. Binding. Words on a page. So, I want to know your favorite woodworking book buys of 2014…or the books you’d like to get (perhaps the ones on your list!). And they needn’t have been published this year. Limit it to maybe five? Otherwise, this may get […]
The post Favorite Woodworking Book Buys of 2014 (Thus Far)? appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
A “backstory” is a literary device used to lend depth and color to the main story. Characters often have history that impacts their present decisions and actions, and that history often is revealed as a ‘backstory” that helps us understand the character’s current motivations and psyche. The backstory enriches and enlightens and makes the main story line more compelling.
Like an author creates a character, a woodworker creates a “thing,” and that “thing” likely has an interesting “backstory.” The backstory of your work can make what you make more compelling and more valuable.
As we move from outside to in, as summer changes to fall, many of us are already planning the holiday gifts we will make for others. An interesting backstory may well turn out to be as highly valued as the object itself. Imagine your woodworking gift accompanied by an interesting backstory… the history of the piece, from idea to plan to wood to finished product. The story of your woodworking efforts will be appreciated… indeed, perhaps even cherished. And how you tell the backstory will make a big difference.
Photos are an obvious choice for creating the backstory behind your project, but you will need words, too. PowerPoint and Keynote are two great programs that allow you to combine pictures and words easily. There are also a number of free photo-management programs that include the ability to produce photo albums with labels and descriptions. You could simply “paste” photos into a word processing program for an effect almost as nice.
The backstory behind the creation of a woodworking project is an historical timeline, so start with the wood, the idea, or the plan. Was there something special about the wood, how it was acquired, or where? Did something about the recipient trigger the idea for the gift? Did you design the piece with the recipient in mind, and what was the motivation? From there, simply follow the timeline and show snippets of the project that might be interesting to a non-woodworker.
Did you use a special hard-to-make joint? Did the project require extensive handwork? Or was a special jig made to accomplish the machine work? Did you apply a special finish? In all likelihood, the little things you do everyday will be very intriguing to a non-woodworker and will help them appreciate the thought, effort, experience, and expertise that went into your gift.
With a little planning, the backstory of your woodworking project can be easily compiled. If you take pictures and keep notes throughout the project, chances are you can put the backstory into a pretty binder and finish it up about the same time you are rubbing out that last coat of shellac. Present the two items, your woodworking project and its backstory, together, and wait for the smiles.
Not too long ago I had a chance to visit a friend I haven’t seen in almost five years. I had made and given him a small piece of furniture and shortly thereafter he was transferred to another city. Today, five years later, that small piece of furniture is still prominent in his living room, as is the “backstory” of the project I gave him at the same time. He told me that he has never had a guest in his house that wasn’t fascinated by the booklet describing the process, from wood to finished piece.
This year, consider making a “backstory” to accompany the woodworking gifts you give. We would love to see them, too. Send us an electronic version of your backstory and we will share the best with the rest of the woodworking community right here in the Highland Woodworking Blog!
The post The Down to Earth Woodworker: Don’t Forget The “Backstory” appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
Just back once again from Maine – where we had a 2-day class at Lie-Nielsen in spoon carving. We turned 16-plus people loose with axes & knives. Yikes. It went very well, as long as I didn’t think about it at first. I had decided the theme for day one was “A Moment of Doubt & Pain” – some steel & flesh collided. Nothing too bad; but you hate to see anyone get nicked.
The 2nd day, it all began to click in, and out came spoons galore. Real spoons. Nice work. Here’s some photos, I didn’t get enough, I was too busy running around.
There were lots of spoons coming out really well, I only wish I had shot more..
I remind new carvers (and old carvers too) to look a lot, carve a little. Dave looked:
But I guess he didn’t like what he saw…
I was helped as usual by Deneb, but we also had Tim Manney come for the weekend, (thanks again, Tim) – he was a huge help. Tim doesn’t make a spoon like I do at all, but he knows how to…so he worked & worked as well. Here, he’s teaching the old method of using a standard gouge for hollowing the bowl. This is how we first learned how to hollow them, from Drew Langsner’s book Country Woodcraft.
It amounts to a flick of the wrist. Hold the tool by the shank, not the handle. Then, brace your off-thumb against the heel of your gouge-holding hand; and…
flick o’ the wrist – it’s a short travel for the gouge – but it works well Tim uses this method a lot. Maybe exclusively?
Most of our wood was straight-grained birch, but Dave brought his own apple crook to split
I live in Massachusetts, not in Maine. Some think I should live in Maine. Sometimes I think it. But for now, I still drive up when I work there…and for the third straight Maine trip, I had car trouble. Dead starter it seemed. I ended up an extra day in the mid-coast Maine area, with 65-degree temps, under bright sunny skies. Nothing at all to do except sit & carve more spoons. Deneb, ever the charmer, said “why don’t you work down in the showroom?”
Here, I am using my new Nic Westermann twca cam and a neck strap. A great deal of leverage on this arrangement. I put a very long handle on mine. I saw a very brief clip of Barn Carder using one, shot by Robin Wood. Thanks, Robin & Barn – though I have only used this tool briefly, I really like the neck strap idea. The strap is just a loop around my neck. Then I twist the shank of the twca cam in one end. Then pull back a bit with my neck, while levering my right hand away from me, to bring the hook tool across the spoon bowl. Short move, big chips. Reminds me of the short time I got to try a block knife…
Then, it all became clear – Thomas Lie-Nielsen came by and admitted to tampering with my car, so I had no choice but to demonstrate in the showroom. He’ll stop at nothing. It was fun though…one woman came in & once we talked about what I was doing, she asked if I would mind if she took my picture – I thought about 20 years’ of working in front of the museum visitors, and wondered how many photos I’ve been in. A whole lot; what’s one more?
here’s the link to Barn using the large hook https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rybANi3lX2M
thanks to Robin Macgregor for the last 3 photos.
One of the primary design elements of the case was the use of three way miters. In the pedestal, as I've explained, they're not true three-way miters. The movement case is a different story. But there's more to it than that.
Mitering an end-grain joint is a fairly straightforward affair. Typically, it's used in case constuction, and the biggest miter joints I've usually seen are on things like blanket chests. That may be up to 18" worth of miter, but it's not too hard. In this case, I had a few more variables to consider. First, the stock was re-sawn out of a larger piece. It was mostly flat, and behaved fairly well. Second, the joint has to come together flatly, and mate with the solid core. So, if there was any concavity, or convexity in the joint, I'm going to have issues, because either the middle or the ends won't mate cleanly with the core. Lastly, these pieces are long. 32" of walnut, plus extra to trim back, and 42" of maple, with extra. So they needed to be long, straight, and perfect.
long-miter shooting board to do the rest.
Lastly, I needed everything to be dead straight. Given the thicknesses of everything involved, I wasn't too worried that things would go awry, but to be sure, I made box beams to provide flat reference surfaces for gluing, and glued everything up.
Sorry for my complete inaptitude to make nice pictures. The finish looks patchy, but trust me, it isn't half as bad in real life. With an extra coat of linseed oil, it even turned out better, but it is now dark outside, so no ore pictures.
Anyway. The front boards have a rabbets, the side boards fit in these rabbets and then some oak pins are driven through the joint, like a nail. It's super simple, but still quite a bit of work. I made a till inside the box. The bottom is also rabetted and nailed. The top is made from some leftover maple with a lot of knots. It all comes together quite nicely, if I may say so. On to the next one!
I spent some time over the summer shooting a video class on building a Shaker style Nightstand (or side table) with the folks from Craftsy. The class is now up and running on their site.
This is a class on using hand tools to do the joinery and shaping on the table. I cover jointing and gluing up a top, and then flattening it by hand. I talk about hand chopping the mortises, sawing the tenons, and then fitting the joints properly. Also covered is shaping the bevel on the underside of the top and tapering the legs with hand planes, cutting table buttons and mortising the aprons for the slots so the buttons can attach the top, and assembly and finishing techniques.
The table itself is incredibly versatile. I think we have eight or ten of them (with some variations) in various places around our house. They work next to traditional as well as contemporary pieces. And although the design is so subtle as to be spare, done well, the piece has a lot of impact.
Class starts early on a Saturday morning with everyone sipping coffee and chatting amicably, the group of us ranging in skill level from those who have been turning for a while to folks who have never held a woodturning tool before. The classroom at Highland is a great place, all old wood with various projects and tables stacked here and there; the atmosphere in the room is one of eager anticipation.
When our instructor, Phil Colson, arrives he greets us all warmly and we do the standard introductory spiel, once around the room telling a bit about ourselves and a bit about why we are here. Once introductions had been made we begin the class itself, starting with a tour of the lathe, an overview of the basic tools we will be using and the theories behind turning a bowl. We discuss the roughing gouge, spindle gouge, bowl gouge and so on.
Phil sketches a simple bowl design on the board and illustrates how best to approach the tools and the work itself. After the explanation comes the practical instruction, and we all gather around Phil’s large shop lathe while he demonstrates a few basic techniques, some do’s and don’ts and other pieces of information we will need to make our bowl. For instance, how best to hold a roughing gouge and introduce it to the spinning piece, allowing the bevel to rub before engaging the cutting edge of the tool.
Finally, after a coffee break, it is time to get our hands dirty. Using some cut off pieces of 2×4, Phil has us in front of the lathe learning how to round the stock with the roughing gouge and how to introduce the tips of the tools to the pieces we were making. We practice forming beads and coves using the spindle gouge and discuss the use of the skew and parting tool. There are plenty of hands on opportunities for instruction as Phil moves through the room. He offers tips and pointers and will correct someone’s stance or hold on a tool when the need arises. The class itself provides all the tools and materials needed, though you are encouraged to bring your own if you have them. Not only do you learn the proper use for the various woodturning tools, the instructor also covers the basics of sharpening, a vital skill for any woodworker. A sharp tool is far better to use than a dull tool.
Time passes and we all became more familiar with the use of the basic tools. After a bit more instruction at the blackboard and some conversations about bowl form and design we begin the true point of that day’s class, turning our first bowls. We utilize the bowl gouge for most of the work, shaping the outside, sanding and then turning the blank before hollowing out the bowl itself. I won’t bore you with the details, nor will I deprive you of the adventure of discovering turning for yourself. There is something magical about taking a rough piece of wood and creating an amazing piece of functional art all in a matter of hours.
With the tools, instruction and materials provided by Highland Woodworking and this class you are bound to have an exciting new passion in your life. This class was my first personal foray into the world of woodturning and I have been diving in ever since. I highly recommend any of the classes at Highland but if you are interested in turning, a wonderful place to start is the Basic Bowl Turning class.
Matthew York has been a woodturner since 2004 and has been interested in woodworking since he was a teenager. He currently lives in downtown Atlanta and has a small shop in his basement. He is an avid woodworker and is always available to talk about the craft. He can be contacted at email@example.com or visit his website at fracturedturnings.com. You can also follow him on twitter at @raen425
I refuse to do the obvious “I’m baaaack” that was recently used by a definitely possible but uncommitted presidential candidate. It’s too obvious. And unless you’re Jack Nicholson (or Eminem), you shouldn’t use it either. It’s been done.
Before I explain where I’ve been for the past few weeks, I want to wrap up my nostalgic visit to Adamstown and do one final blog showing all the wonderful things you can find there.
This isn’t one of them:
I show this one to demonstrate that there is something there for everyone, even those that don’t deserve it.
I like this server a lot more:
with great and unique bellflowers:
Here we see an interesting use of veneer:
Finally, a formal painted corner cabinet.
To see the entire Adamstown set on Flickr, click HERE
If you are in the area, you should definitely plan on spending the day. I hope to make it there again next year. And the year after that.
Everything about this piece revolves around supporting (both literally and aesthetically) the live-edge top. We spent nearly two hours comparing several options at the hardwood supplier, deciding whether we wanted one wide slab or a bookmatched pair of boards that would net the required width. A good rule of thumb is that a dining table should be between 30"-36" wide and allow 24" along the long dimension per person. As this table will fit a small dining room we are opting for a slightly narrower width.
The customer fell in love with a slab that runs the full gamut of the black walnut colour palette - from blonde to gray, to purple, to deep brown. The inclusion of sapwood is a personal choice that I fully support since it adds to the dramatic nature of the top. This particular board has a large, stable knot in the center that not only creates a focal point, but generates a fair bit of figured grain.
There are many great tutorials on the web about how to flatten a top, so I won't go into too much detail here. My experience is that these single slabs have a predominate concave/convex side and there may be some rationale about which should face up. Our decision, however, was based entirely on appearance. This meant that the underside (where I start the planing process) was the convex side. I start with a scraper to remove any gunk, and plane at a 90 degree angle and toward the middle from each side with a 5 1/2 plane until I am taking shavings (more like fine splinters) from about 95% of the slab. It is then generally time to resharpen, set the the plane to a finer cut, and then plane with the grain. With the use of a straight-edge and a pair of winding sticks you can trust your eye to get it very close.
While I leave a planed surface on the underside, I eventually sand the top since the juxtaposition of a very fine top surface with the rough-and-ready live edge creates some nice visual tension. I plane the top with the usual process and fill the void within the knot with dyed epoxy. After sanding through the grits to 320, the top is ready to take its finish of Danish oil and paste wax.
Affixing the top to the base is the greatest engineering challenge. I suspect that the top outweighs the base by a factor of about five to one, so any minor slack in the joinery becomes magnified. I register the top along its center line with 1/2" oak pegs set into the frame. . .
And install four brass inserts into the underside of the slab. . .
These are attached to the base in slots that allow for a significant amount of seasonal wood movement.
I also attach thin leather pads along the mating surfaces to minimize any squeaks under normal use. Hidden adjustable feet also help to stabilize the table regardless of the floor.
I'm very happy with this table, and with its semi-modular construction and easily renewable top, it should serve the customer well through the years.