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It happens all the time, people call me and tell me about trees that are so big that they can’t get their arms around them and, unrelated but still slightly humorous, they tell me about their Chinese Elms. For the record, I have seen many trees that you can’t get your arms around (which doesn’t make that nutty measuring system any less ambiguous), but the Chinese Elms that I hear about have never, ever, ever, not once, actually been Chinese Elms – they have always been Siberian Elms.
I have gotten used to it now. If someone says they have a Chinese Elm, I just assume that it is a Siberian Elm. It isn’t that big of a deal, except that there really is a Chinese Elm and I often wonder if the next call about a Chinese Elm will, in fact, yield a Chinese Elm. I like both American Elm and Siberian Elm and assume that I would like Chinese Elm as well, and I don’t want to miss my chance to mill one if it ever comes along.
The elm issue moved to the forefront after a recent trip to the Missouri Botanical Gardens when I ran across an actual Chinese Elm conveniently marked with a little official sign. I have never seen one in real life, at least that I know of, and this was a great opportunity for a close-up view of a confirmed Chinese elm tree. I took that opportunity to snap some photos for comparison. Nonetheless, just assume that your Chinese elm is actually a Siberian elm, unless it looks a lot like the photos below.
As an accidental/incidental/occidental tool collector, I am always amused to read or hear a serious tool collector trash talking a Frakenplane. Their definition of a Frankenplane is a Type 5 plane with a Type 6 knob, shorter one without the bead. Or a type 16 lever cap on a Type 14 plane. Let me show you a real Frankenplane.
Behold the Frankenplane:
I’m not sure what it was or how it became what it is, but it does exist and we must accept that.
We traveled to Baltimore to visit friends for Labor Day. On Sunday, my wife visited one of her best friends in Philadelphia. To give them some time to catch up and bond, I volunteered to go explore my old stomping grounds in and around Adamstown, PA. For those not in the know, this is an area self-billed as Antiques Capital, USA. There you will find about 5 miles of antiques dealers and flea markets (the good kind). Mid level and primitives, not much in the real high end and fancy. Still, a reasonable mix. Always interesting.
I found this plane at a shop that is usually loaded with primitives. And the Frankenplane is interesting in the clinical sense of the word. It is still there for only $30. If anyone really wants it, I will send you the location if you can provide a reasonable explanation for wanting it.
Did I buy anything for myself? Against my better judgement, I picked up the carcass of an early Stanley 45 combination plane. I believe it is a Type 3 or 4, 1888 to 1892. I paid $20. It’s my plane, I think I’ll keep. Until I get a better offer.
Although I usually feel like a competent woodworker, any time I am faced with metal work I feel like I’ve gone back to kindergarten. This project has, however, forced me to get a little more comfortable with metal working.
But first, one important photo I forgot to share last time around:
Work holding isn’t always easy when working with an irregularly-shaped piece. That’s where a handscrew held upright in a bench vise gets really, really handy. I place a spacer block behind one of the jaws so that the bench vise clamps only one jaw, leaving the other free to move. That way, I can easily reposition the workpiece with a turn of the lower screw.
Once the saw handles were shaped and sanded, it was time for a little metal work. Both saw plates needed trimming to fit the handles. The panel saw also had at least two separate sets of handle holes drilled in it, so I opted to cut that whole section off the back, shortening the saw by maybe an inch and a half. I marked my lines with a black marker, taped the saw plate to a backer board, and cut it off with a hacksaw.
In retrospect, I should have just used the tape itself as the layout line, but oh well.
The dovetail saw plate also needed one corner clipped to fit into the handle slot. I filed both cuts smooth. Then I shaped the brass spine with a file and sandpaper. (Not wanting to get metal filings all over my camera, I opted not to take any pictures of that process.) The work went quickly, as brass is quite soft and easy to work. The drawback is that the brass is also easy to mar with an errant stroke of the file. After sanding the spine, I took it down to my buffing machine and put a nice shine on it. I went back and forth between the sandpaper and the buffer several times before I was satisfied with the surface finish on the spine.
The next challenge was drilling the holes for the bolts and nuts in the saw handles. This presents a challenge, as the holes must be lined up perfectly. It’s easy to drill a hole through one side and then counter-sink it for the head of the bolt. But how does one counter-sink the other side? Normally, one would do this with a special drill bit called a piloted countersink. But since I had only five holes (three of one size and two of another), I didn’t want to buy a special bit. There is a way to do this with regular drill bits, and while it’s time-consuming, it works just fine.
First, clamp down the workpiece on the drill press table and drill the narrow hole all the way through. Then, without moving the workpiece, counter-sink the bigger hole to the necessary depth. My drill press has a decent depth-stop, so getting a consistent depth was pretty easy. The smaller hole should be perfectly centered in the larger hole.
Now turn the workpiece over, put your smaller bit back into the chuck, and (without turning the drill press on), insert the drill bit into the original hole. Turn it backwards a few times to be sure the workpiece is in the right place. Clamp down the workpiece; it is now perfectly centered on that hole. Back out the small bit, put in the larger bit, and counter-bore it from this side.
It’s a lot of changing bits in and out, but the results are precise enough for my purposes here.
I then drilled holes in the saw plates for the bolts.
For the dovetail saw, I considered squeezing the slot in the spine so as to hold the saw plate by friction alone–which is the traditional way of constructing a backsaw. In my imagination, it seemed like the right thing to do. But when I started to try to close the slot, I found that the brass is pretty springy. The more I thought about it, the more I saw that the likelihood of my ever wanting to remove this saw plate from the spine is about nil. So, in a moment of weakness, I reached for the super glue. A dab in each end of the slot, and the saw plate was solidly seated in the spine. Sometimes chemistry wins out over mechanics.
So, at the end of the evening, I am almost finished. I will need to trim the screws to final length, apply a finish to the handles, and sharpen the saws.
Tagged: backsaw, counter bore, countersink, dovetail saw, drill press, handscrew, spine
I’m reading everything I can find about inlay these days, and thinking about doing a simple piece to get a feel for the process soon.
First, for inspiration, take a look at the detail on this inlaid Koi from a tabletop by Hudson River Inlay:
I also found a great “instructibles” tutorial that covers the basic steps for inlaying a design cut from shell: http://www.instructables.com/id/Handcut-inlay/?ALLSTEPS
And I’ve started/finished watching these two Larry Robinson inlay videos.
The first video goes through the process of inlaying a butterfly cut from White Pearl, Gold Lip Pearl and Abalone shells from design through completion. There were some great tips in the video. These were produced originally as VHS tapes, and the video quality is not quite as nice as more recently produced “how-to” DVDs, but that isn’t really a problem.
Larry goes over the different kinds of inlay materials available, and I was really surprised at the size of the shells that the Pearl and Abalone comes from. I’d always imagined small shells, like 3″ to 4″ across, but the Pearl shell was easily a foot wide. I tried to sang some screenshots from the video, but didn’t get anything usable.
The design process involves tracing several times, refinance the layout with each step. It’s an interesting approach, with the first tracing from a reference book the design looks a little crude, then lines are slightly uneven and the design is unbalanced. After tracing from that copy onto a new design the effect is greatly improved. I’ll have to try that.
The biggest challenge in my view is sawing out the parts. He uses a fret saw with a tiny jewelers blade and saws out these impossibly tiny, delicate parts. The guitar peg head below is an example, each of those vines, including the thin delicate ones leading up to the flower in the middle, were sawn out by hand and fit into a recess in the wood.
I haven’t watched the second DVD yet, but it is supposed to cover more advanced techniques, including engraving the inlaid material.
I’m not particularly interested in doing this sort of elaborate inlay, my goal is to be able to do more traditional furniture inlays as seen on Arts & Crafts furniture, and especially the bolection style used on Greene & Greene furniture. But any little tidbits of information on technique I’m filing away. One day soon I’m going to try this myself.
It’s a holiday weekend. Yeah. I have an extra day in the shop on Monday that I intend to fill building a quick desk with my younger brother. He’s looking for something a bit toward contemporary and I’ve sold him on using LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) for the top with legs that are simple to make; he wants inexpensive and quick. The most time spent – at least I hope it takes longer than other parts – is time building a pencil drawer.
I took two hours to rip, square and assemble the pieces of LVL for the top one night after work. That includes time spent watching glue dry. The process is easy. Here are the steps in case you want to play along (or build something similar down the road).
I began with two LVL beams that were 1-3/4″ x 11-7/8″ x 10′-0″. After chopping the beams in half lengthwise, I set up at the table saw to rip each piece to 2-1/8″. Of course, one edge was ran over the jointer to give me a square edge to start. Using a 50-tooth combination blade, LVL cuts easy. The beams I purchased had a bluish painted surface, as you can see in the photo. That worried me little after making the jointer pass. Then after ripping the pieces and turning them on edge, you begin to see the final surface. To make up the 30″ in width needed to the desk, I ripped all four half beams, which produced 20 strips that were 1-3/4″ x 2-1/8″ x 60″+.
From the table saw, I returned to the jointer to true one of the two yet-painted edges to provide a solid glue surface. A single pass flattened all but two of the pieces. Those two pieces were areas where the lamination overlapped causing a bump in the face. I ran them a second time in order to achieve a flat face. You still see bluish paint in the left-hand photo because only one face has been flattened (all faces run over the jointer knives are downward facing, waiting for the planer.
A ride through the planer was so easy. All I needed was to flatten the second face for glue. The planer I used is setup with a spiral cutterhead. Even though there were no problems with the three-knife arrangement at the jointer, the planer surface was smoother. (This is why, when asked, I suggest that the planer have the spiral cutter, but it’s not that important on your jointer – the jointer is seldom the last surface of your work.) The first pass was great except for, you guessed it, the two pieces that needed the extra pass at the jointer. When those two were feed through the planer, the final surface was untouched in a couple places. A send pass through the planer was required, but only for those two pieces.
To my surprise, the most difficult process in assembling the two planks for the top was the glue-up stage. Spreading glue on the 19 pieces (yep, I had one strip left over after attaining the 30″ width) was a pain. I decided to lay the strips out as if I were gluing panels for a case side. With the finished face up, I then rotated each piece to a glue face. With the pack tight together, I squeezed glue up and down the face leaving small lines covering the surface. I spread the glue using a thin scrap of wood. Scraping along the length was no good, but across the pieces worked like a charm. With one side gooey, I flipped the strips abd slathered up the second side. I was amazed at how sticky the pieces were as I tried to align the ends – I needed a mallet to move the individual pieces. Than goodness I assembled the 19 pieces in two separate groups. When finished, I added clamps and let the half-tops set. All in all, I used almost 3/4 of a quart of glue.
Out of the clamps in 45 minutes and all that was left was to clean the squeeze-out off and make a pass through the planer to level the two surfaces. When slid together – I still need to assemble the two halves – you get a good idea of how the top looks. My guess is it’s even better when a bit of finish is applied. Next week I’ll walk through the legs. Get it?
Build Something Great!
Yesterday afternoon I managed to get in a little more work on my plane while the cat was away. Before I started, something had been bothering me that I decided to look at, and that was the holes I drilled into the cheeks of the plane for the cross-pin dowel. On the previous planes I had made, I started by squaring up the cheek stock to the body stock used for the back half of the plane. I would then mark the spot for the dowel hole, and drill out both pieces simultaneously using a drill press. That plan was the very same plan I had in mind for this plane, but then I did something foolish. I drilled out the first hole, and during the middle of the process noticed that the second cheek had some tear out at the back. Rather than finishing the drill out and then cleaning up the board, I sawed off a bit of the end, and without compensating for the sawed off difference, drilled out the second dowel hole. The result left me dowel holes that were out of line by nearly 1/16 of an inch, which doesn’t sound like a whole lot until you attempt to push a half-inch oak dowel through it. Nevertheless, I managed to get the dowel through, which leaves me a slightly crooked cross-pin. How this will affect the adjusting/wedge, or the overall usefulness of the tool I’m not exactly sure yet, but, live and learn.
Rather than despair, I continued working on the plane. First thing I did was clamp the body down and plane down the sole to get it flat; ironically I used a smooth plane for this. It really only needed a few passes before it was finished. I then used sheets of sandpaper and my tablesaw bed, starting at 60 grit and working up to 150. The plane sole is now nice and flat, though I will still do some more sanding before I call it completely finished. I want to hold off on the final sanding until the wedge is fit; I will then finish it using 220 and 400 grits.
After I was happy with the flatness of the sole, I decided to try and attempt some initial shaping of the plane. I don’t own a band saw, so I traced out a shape using some French curves and attempted to use a jigsaw to shape the plane. I quickly found that the jigsaw was not an option, so I turned to spokeshave, rasp, block plane, and chisels. I had only a basic outline in mind at first, so the shaping was really just a trial and error process. After roughly 30 minutes I managed to achieve a fairly decent shape/curve. I don’t want the plane to look overly machined, so I got the front shaped to a look that seems pleasing and left it at that. At that I called it a night.
Saturday, after work, and running some errands, I decided on a little late evening woodworking. For the back section of the plane I was going for a more pronounced curve, so I got out my 1 1/4″ chisel and started pounding out the shape. I progressed from the large chisel to smaller chisels as I needed. I also used the block plane for some of the initial shaping, and then finally the spokeshave to clean it all up. I was attempting to achieve a graceful front to back curve, as well as a more subtle side-to-side arc. In around 45 minutes I had the carving portion finished; I then spent around 15 minutes hand sanding. I like how the plane looks: graceful, yet still made by hand. More impressively, my lovely wife actually spent a few minutes with me while all of this was going on. She was quite impressed that I knew how to carve, and she liked the contrast of the light and dark woods on the plane itself. Today, I hope to finish the wedge and make the first test shavings.
I don’t necessarily know the reasons, but I like making planes. I need to make more, many more, before I can call myself good at it, but I am improving. I have a construction technique down, now I just have to perfect it. But planes are fun to build. The material is generally reasonably priced, and you only need basic hand and power tools to get it done. With a handful of sharp chisels, a spokeshave, a table saw, and a block plane most woodworkers can make a handplane. And, more importantly, if you are a handplane user, I can’t think of a better way of learning how to use a plane than to make one of your own.
Ninety miles from the Studley-era piano maker’s workbench was the finest Studley-inspired tool cabinet I have seen. No, it wasn’t Studley, nothing else is, and it is not yet finished as there are still many tools destined for it, but I cannot imagine any serious woodworker not wanting this hanging on the wall above their bench.
The maker is a tremendously skilled fellow whose other projects revealed that like Studley, he enjoyed making intricate and complex things.
Oh, and all the screws are clocked. He wouldn’t bite on my suggestion that this revealed he was anal-retentive/compulsive, he merely replied that it was attention to detail. He was a great sport about the whole thing, and I truly enjoyed my time with him and hope he will make it to the exhibit next spring.
Yup, it’ll be in the book too, in far greater detail and length.
Back home now, and finishing the first rough draft of the whole book tomorrow!
Yesterday I started applying the finish to the Thorsen cabinet.
It seems like ages ago that I started this project, but I have to remember that in the course of building it I started (and completed) the Thorsen side table. Plus I also designed an Arts & Crafts bookcase that I intended to build next (as soon as I can source the wide quarter sawn oak for it I will start it!) and almost by accident I decided to design a the Blacker House Serving Table, which I might actually build next. Part of my interest in the Blacker table is, of course, learning about inlay — which is my current fascination.
So it was with equal parts excitement and trepidation that I started layering on the finish yesterday. I’m excited to be so close to completing this project finally, but I’m worried that I’ve forgotten to do something in the interim. I think I’ve made al;l the parts — case, back, door, skirt front, glass retaining strips…check. Everything is sanded to 320, wiped with water to raise the grain, scoff sanded and cleaned to remove dust.
So I mixed the Trans-Tint Reddish-Brown water dye, and assembled my tools.
I set up my finishing stands (I made these folding stands 25+ years ago from electrical conduit to hold car parts I was painting) and did a final clean up pass on the parts.
I used a combination of the spray bottle and the brush to get a coat of dye on. I did one “table” of parts at a time. First I sprayed the cabinet and the shelf and glass strips that were on the same stand. I made sure I had dye everywhere and that it a good five minutes to soak in, then I wiped it down with rags. Then I moved to the next set of parts. Once all the parts had been dyed and dried, I left them to air dry for an hour.
After I was sure that the water based dye had completely dried I went over the parts with a scotchbrite pad to remove any little fuzzies on the surface, and blew them off to get a clean surface. Then I slathered on plain Boiled Linseed Oil and let that soak for an hour. In the sun the parts look very red, back inside the shop they look dark brown, the actual color when finished and in the house is in between these two extremes.
I kept an eye on the parts while they were coated in oil to make sure they didn’t dry out in spots. After an hour I wiped them down and removed all traces of oil on the surface. I used an air nozzle to blow out the joints and corners to make sure there wouldn’t be any drips later. Then everything went back into the shop to dry.
You can see how mush darker the finish looks in the shop. I want to wait at least 24 hours after the oil before spraying the Garnet shellac — and at least 24 hours after that before rubbing the shellac out with colored wax.
Today I’m going to do the stained glass and a couple of errands — I bought a new bandsaw for my wood shop and I need to haul the crate to the recycling center, and I plan to pick up some more Sapele for the Blacker table. Ideally I’d get the glass done today, but it might get too hot later to work outside and I have to do the errands in the morning while those places are open. If it’s too hot this afternoon I’ll have to watch the inlay video I got, and that certainly won’t be a hardship!
This will be our first full winter in the Virginia Highlands, where it gets “upstate New York cold.” For the past few weeks the sound of chainsaws and log splitters has been a constant drone in the background of the valley atmosphere, as the locals are getting ready for intense global cooling. Me too. In addition to the firewood already stacked in the storage shed next to the cabin, other piles of split wood are growing around the homestead.
Last winter was perhaps the coldest in a century here, and the woolly worms, walnut trees, and Farmer’s Almanac are all projecting an even colder winter this time around.
Walnut trees? Yep, by mid August they were already turning yellow and the leaves are now falling in a constant wave. Hence, concerns for an even worse winter. That would be pretty brutal, as at least on three occasions last winter the dusk to dawn temperature here in the holler was 20 degrees below zero.
Given the cold-nature of my bride the need for firewood and lots of it is riding high at the moment. Yesterday was one of those times when I hunted and gathered firewood. In the morning I went to my friend Mike’s farm and he cut down two trees, one maple and one beech and helped me load my truck to the gills. I’ve never bottomed-out my 4WD s10 before, but it was yesterday.
When I finished splitting that (our altitude lets split wood dry really fast!) I went up the hill to work on a giant maple that fell last winter. So far it has yielded two truck loads and will probably get another two by the time it is all done. For scale, the log on the ground is 16″ by about 15 feet long, and the larger of the two trunks still on the root ball is about 24″. It’s stretching my 14″ Stihl chainsaw to the limit. It might be time to get another, larger one. But for now as long as I keep the chain sharp it is doing okay.
How much wood do we need to keep the home fires burning non-stop for five-plus months? We will find out, but the other night at Bible Study one of the fellows indicated that he had put up 19 cords of wood. I certainly hope he needs a lot more than we do. Otherwise I am only about 1/3 of the way there. Fortunately(?) I want to clear more space on the south side of the barn for more winter light, so a bunch of trees will be coming down next week.
Business first = I spent part of a recent evening blabbing about me & woodworking to Cory Mickelson http://craftsmansroad.com/ . I understand why it’s a “-cast” but I don’t know what the “pod” part is… I couldn’t get to it from the website; and used Itunes to hear it. Once it started, I shut it off. I can’t listen to me. Cory was very nice – some of you might want to hear it. for some reason.
But finally – birds. Daniel & I have been making some early morning trips to try to get shots of the glossy ibis and Little Blue Heron that our friend Marie told us about over in Marshfield. Today we had great views of 2 of the ibises; the Little Blue Heron – which you will note is white – was not too far, but still far enough that we couldn’t get good photos. The young LB Herons aren’t yet blue/purple like the adults.
To really see these birds; let’s swipe photos from Marie – hers are great…she had a Great Blue Heron one day she was there – Daniel & I saw him there one morning, but not today. then the ibis & the Little Blue Heron.
In my above video, Frank Klausz takes us into his new woodworking workshop and shows his amazing, and huge, carpenter’s molding plane that he made at the request of his local tool collector group in New Jersey.
Frank wanted to demonstrate this molding plane when I was filming a video tour of his new woodworking workshop.
Before you email me, please first look at the bottom of this article for a list of all the tools that Frank mentioned in the 3 videos.
Frank Klausz is a master Hungarian woodworker and teacher who has been featured in many woodworking magazine articles and video recordings. You can checkout these classic woodworking DVD videos that feature Frank’s instruction.
Below are a few photos from my visit…visit the other articles to see more photos & stories…
FRANK’S FAVORITE TOOLS
I know that I’m going to get a lot of emails for a list of Frank’s favorite tools that he mentioned, so I’ll save myself some time by listing them here:
- Lie-Nielsen No. 62 Low Angle Jack Plane
- Vintage Stanley No. 62 Low Angle Jack Plane
- Lie-Nielsen No. 4 Smoothing plane
- Vintage Stanley No. 4 Smoothing Plane
- E.C. Emmerich Wooden scrub plane (made in Germany)
- Antique “Grandma’s Tooth” Wooden Router plane
- Sliding Dovetail Plane
- Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw
- Adria dovetail saw
- Gramercy dovetail saw
- Gramercy Hold Fast (or Hold Down)
- Vintage Stanley 750 bevel-edge chisels
- Marples chisels
- “Joinery Master Class” (Frank’s recent DVD that he mentioned)
- Frank’s table saw (I don’t use them anymore, but this one is cool)
- Antique plumb-bobs
This post has nothing to do with woodworking – so stop reading now if you’re just going to complain about that. I imagine with the long Labor Day weekend in the U.S., many of us are heading off to end-of-summer picnics. And if you’re looking for dishes to take along, click on the link that follows, then click on the individual recipe cards. This site is – hands down – […]
I’ve reached a state of equilibrium with the design for my semi-reproduction of this Greene & Greene serving table from the Blacker house. Which almost guarantees that I’ll think of three changes I want to make before I finish writing the blog post…
There were some missing details that I needed to fill in, including joinery and embellishments. I think I have those done now, but I’d appreciate feedback on goth the aesthetics and the functionals. In terms of the latter, I settled on twin 2″ wide tenons on the skirts with a wide stub tenon across the end of the skirt to prevent cupping. The longer tenons will hold the base together, the stub tenon probably don’t be glued but is there just to prevent cupping on the wide skirts. The tenons are offset between the sides so that the deep mortises don’t intersect. I can think of other ways to do this joint, so I’m curious if anyone sees a problem.
I added in the joinery details on the table top as well. A wide stub tenon and four 2 1/2″ wide longer tenons. I’ll screw through the breadboard end caps into the end of the long tenons. I added rectangular Ebony caps to indicate these locations on the breadboard ends, although I might want them a tiny bit longer. Also new in this “final” version are the Ebony applies that join the top and breadboard end.
I had mentioned that the transition in the cloud lifts was more gradual in mine than in the original. I tweaked it in my design to make it a bit more abrupt like the original, and I like it better. This is a detail I might play with a little in the future. I didn’t update the inlay design in the top, but I probably will eventually — ok there are the three changes I predicted that I’d find in talking about my final design.
I added in the inlay design on the legs — I’m pretty happy with this part. I think it adds a lot to the style of the table. I feel like I got the “rhythm” of the design right, although it’s not identical to the original
Overall I think I’ve captured the scale and feel of the original design, although it’s different in some of the details. The inlay is a little bit of a concern, but I think if I do a practice piece or two I can probably figure it out. I took today off work, so I’ll be starting the finish on the Thorsen cabinet. Maybe during drying time I’ll run down to Watsonville and pico up a couple of wide boards of Sapele for the skirts and top of this table…
Monday just after dawn I hit the road for a longish drive into the Heart of Dixie to see a workbench. The owner had contacted me through the Lost Art Press web site indicating he had a really fancy Studley-era piano makers work bench. So of course I had to go see it.
He was right. It was spectacular. Other than Studley’s, all the other piano maker’s benches I had seen were at least in part “store bought.” Not this one, it was all craftsman-made. By a mighty good craftsman.
With its burled veneers on the drawers, delicate a whisper tight dovetails, superb cast drawer pulls, and the really neat tool rack, it was a work of art.
And yes, it will be featured in the book, in a Gallery of Piano-maker’s Benches.
I just received notification from Popular Woodworking Magazine that my subscription will be ending in January and I can renew the subscription for one or two years if I am so inclined. The renewal fee for either time period is inexpensive, but the truth is that I am not sure whether or not I will do it.
A few years ago I very nearly did not renew my subscription, mostly because I really didn’t enjoy the magazine as much as I had in the past. That isn’t the case as of today. The addition of Chuck Bender, the re-addition of Glen Huey, and the ever steady Robert Lang have all done a nice job. More importantly, Megan Fitzpatrick, as far as I can tell, has done a great job as the content editor. To be honest, I’m not really sure exactly what goes into publishing a magazine, but I do know that since she has taken the helm the magazine has been very good and very consistent, and I have to think she deserves quite a bit of credit. for it. PW is currently the only woodworking magazine I read.
So why am I having an inner debate over $25? It’s not the money, not even a little. But if you’ve been reading my blog lately you know that my wife has declared a holy war over my woodworking hobby. So is there any point in my subscribing to a woodworking magazine when I may not be woodworking any more? I don’t subscribe to any music magazines anymore because I stopped being a musician. I don’t subscribe to my former union’s magazine because I am no longer in the union, and that magazine was free, and I actually wrote a few articles for it. So is there any point?
I like the idea of supporting a good magazine. If there weren’t people willing to subscribe then we wouldn’t have anybody willing to write, and good people such as yourselves would only have half-assed attempts at writing such as my own to keep you entertained in the woodworking sense. At the same time, a magazine like Popular Woodworking surely isn’t going to fold up and die because one half-assed blogger like myself decided to end his subscription because his wife is slowly trying to suck the life out of him.
The thought of reading a woodworking magazine even though I no longer woodwork is really depressing to me. For some reason it’s even more depressing than the thought of an unused box of woodworking tools sitting in my garage. I have the idea that not renewing the subscription is basically admitting defeat. Yet, I also have the idea that I’ve already been defeated, and a woodworking magazine that I no longer have any need for will just be a sad reminder of when my life meant something.
- Lie-Nielsen Low-Angle Adjustable-Mouth Block Plane 60-1/2
- Lie-Nielsen Low Angle Jack Plane No. 62
- Lie-Nielsen Ductile Iron Holdfast
- Tormek T-7 Grinder System
The lucky winner was recently announced and we are happy to congratulate Kevin Meske on his lucky win!
We recently spoke with Kevin on his woodworking background and what kind of woodworking he plans to do with his new tools:
I have always had a passion for building things. My mother use to tell me that I would tear apart all my toys as a young boy just to see how they work and then put them back together. I started woodworking at a young age, mainly birdhouses and other small projects. My passion for it really took off when I found Norm Abram and the New Yankee Workshop. Today I am employed as a carpenter and also love watching Tom Silva on This Old House. Although I love carpentry, nothing beats trying to replicate a Norm Abram piece out in the workshop. Furniture building is my favorite kind of woodworking.
2. How did you find out about the contest?
I saw the Tormek Grinder on the New Yankee Workshop. I went to google and did some more research about it. There was a link to the contest on the search page. I added it to my Amazon wish list that same day. Thanks to you, I was able to remove it.
3. Can you describe your reaction on finding out that you won?
I was going through my email deleting spam/junk mail and I ALMOST deleted the email saying I won because I didn’t recognize the name. The only reason I gave it another look was that I saw that it had an attachment with it. I couldn’t believe it that I had won. My wife was sitting next to me and I just told her in a low voice (in shock),” I won.” Then we screamed and celebrated together.
4. What do you plan on using your new tools for? What will you do first?
I plan on sharpening everything I can get my hands on, which is exactly what I did first. No more dull chisels! I am excited to build a new project to break in my new hand planes.
5. Hand Tools or Machines?
They both have they advantages and disadvantages. I like to use power tools to get me as close as to finished piece as it will take me. I like to fine tune with hand tools. for example fitting a tenon into a mortise.
Any final words?
Just want to say thank you for helping me add more tools to my workshop. I have many more to add as I am a young man and just getting started and buying what I can afford and when I can afford. Thanks to you and this contest I have a couple top of the line goodies that I will cherish forever! (Also, below is one of my Norm Abrams replications that I created)
Keep reading the blog to find out when our next contest will be!
The post Winner of our 2014 Lie-Nielsen/Tormek Sweepstakes Revealed! appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
I want to thank John Vernier for his comments. John always has valuable input and has shared some great insights on both history and techniques. Yesterday I mentioned that there were two versions of the table — I was alluding to two different sizes that were produced, but John clarified that there were also two of the smaller version of this table produced for the Blacker house originally:
You are right that there are two versions of the table. There are two identical serving tables, the one in Chicago and the other in the Oakland Museum (you should pop over and take a look). There is also a breakfast table which is larger, and scaled so that it can butt up to the main dining table and act as an extension. I think that one is in private hands but I’ll get back to you if I find out differently.
The two identical smaller tables were both originally in the Blacker dining room. Jim Ipekjian’s copies are there now, against one long wall, opposite the sideboard. I think they have silver tea service displayed on them, and they really are just auxiliary serving tables. The breakfast table was in a separate room which is connected to the main dining room by a set of double-fold french doors, so that the space can be opened up into one large room, and the breakfast table scooted up to the main dining table. The dining table also has extension leaves which mount on each end, so the resulting table would be extremely long, just the thing for 32 person dinners. On the whole it really is the largest and most elaborate dining set the Greenes designed.
When Nellie Blacker died in 1947, the people who bought the house sold off the furniture in basically one big yard sale. One of the neighboring families bought most of it, and kept it for many years. When interest in Greene and Greene began to pick up, they realized the importance of their collection and sold it off slowly over a couple of decades (I don’t know if this is still going on, a lot came to market in the 70s and 80s). Many different museums have bought a piece or two as representative examples of G&G work, so it is dispersed all over the place.
Thanks John! I would go see the one in the Oakland museum, but it’s not on display. I wonder if they’d let me see it anyway? I may actually have an “in” there…I’ll investigate that.
For comparison, here are the two different sizes of the Blacker table. First off, here is the version that I’m thinking of building. The chair in the picture puts the scale of the “smaller” table into perspective, it’s still a fairly large table at about 36″ wide by 22 1/8″ deep by 29 7/8″ tall . The chair would be an interesting project too, although that scares me. Chairs in general, but G&G chairs with tapered trapezoidal curved legs and angled mortises and so forth. If you look closely you can see some subtle “stepping” on the lower stretchers of the chair too. Wow. Something to file away for another day…
The larger version clocks in at 59 9/16″ wide by 51 5/8″ deep by 30 3/8″ tall, with a base that is 23 1/2″ square. You can see that the style is identical, although the larger version appears to have supports under the table top.
So here is my updated CAD model. I am not trying to get it to be a complete clone of the original, but I want it to be visually very close. I spent time making the legs thicker up to 2 3/16″ to try to match the original, then backed them down to 1 7/8″ with the thought that I could make them out of the 8/4 stock I already have. I think they look large enough visually at this dimension. I spent a lot of time playing with the details on the bottom of the leg, eventually adding some subtle shaping to taper the leg in the last inch and a half, and then adding the “Blacker leg indent” on the two outer faces. The indent is not on the original version of this table, but it was on a number of furniture legs in the Blacker house.
I changed the height of the skirts and stretchers, making both slightly smaller, and reduced the round over on the edge of these parts too. I moved the stretcher a little closer to the skirt. I played with different widths for the start and end of the cloud lift design — this is the most obvious different between mine and the original. The “lift” on the original is more abrupt, the transition from one horizontal surface to the other is vertical, where on mine it’s angled. I may change mine to match the original in this aspect. The hight of the lift on mine is taller than the original too, I’m on the fence about whether to change that.
I added the ebony pegs on the legs, although as I look at them I may want to increase the sizes one step. I have 1/4″, 5/16″ and 3/8″ — I will probably increase them all a step.
I removed the inlay on the legs, only because it was just a quick mockup and was getting in the way of the other changes I was making to the leg shapes.
So, I want to experiment a bit more with the skirt and stretcher profiles, and work out the joinery for those parts (I just have a single wide stub tenon right now). Then model the actual inlay that will be on the legs. The top needs some attention too — joinery details, ebony plugs and ebony spline and changes to the inlay layout. Another couple of hours and I’ll have a workable CAD model that I could build.
I measured a space where I think this could go in the house — right under where I want to put the Thorsen cabinet. It’s narrower but deeper than the sofa table that is there now, which might leave enough room for a pair of chairs to flank it…
Once you have sawn a great pile of equilateral parallelograms with the jigs from the last post, you need to arrange them into the final pattern. Next post will go through the nuts and bolts of assembling a finished parquetry panel to adhere to a substrate, but for this post I want to diverge for just a few minutes and talk about the pattern layout itself. I feel justified in doing this because I have yet to teach a workshop where everyone does not make some layout mistake that has to be undone, often with great damage to the glued up pattern or at the very least loss of a lot of time and a raised level of frustration.
The key is to remember that in most instances, this exercise included PARQUETRY IS A REPEATED PATTERN. In fact, this simplest exercise is really about a dozen patterns superimposed on each other, and you must be mindful of their construction in order to avoid catastrophic mistakes that might deter you from finishing or continuing.
The pattern Roubo illustrates in the plate above, Figures 4 and 5, is simple and to my aesthetic taste, garish. I prefer to adapt it to my own preferences by using all the same wood for all the lozenges, and establish the shimmering pattern only through the changing grain patterns of the lozenges via laying them out.
The simplest unit of the design is the cubic die. It is repeated ad infinitum until the panel is complete.
All you have to do is make sure you lay out each and every one of them with the grain pattern like this.
Or perhaps more simply, just remember to make it a whorl like this. But in truth, this is like George Costanza getting hypnotized by a poster on the wall of the bathroom. Hopefully you do not proceed only partially robed.
Such would be the risk when you realized suddenly that the dice overlap each other, and your eyes start to spin around. Let’s see if there are other approaches that might help.
Another, second set of patterns is the pinwheel with a center point.
They are simple to lay out, just make sure that each opposing pair of lozenges is aligned to each other and the overall pattern. Like this,
Unfortunately, the pinwheels also overlap each otherand there is the risk of visual confusion. Arrrrgh!
There are a third set of simultaneous patterns at work on the panel that are easy to keep in mind, running always in the background like a security system on your computer. It is the most straightforward pattern set, and this is often where I begin, laying out a horizontal row of lozenges tip-to-tip, each with the same grain orientation.
But, since we are working with a six-sided form, there are two additional complimentary patterns identical to the first one, each of these two off-set by 60-degrees.
So, you can see the advantages of thinking about complex complimentary rows.
If you keep all these things in mind while you are assembling your panel, success is at hand.
I’m a firm believer in re-visiting work after some time has passed. Be it writing or woodworking, a few years allows for a more disinterested judgment. If it holds up, you may be onto something. If not, there may be lessons to learn. About fifteen years ago I began to venture beyond printed plans. I built this little maple table for Barb. Although the joinery was solid, the design – not so much. It’s largely a failure in details that add up to mush to my eye. It began with a nice chunk of bird’s eye maple that I glued up for a top and aprons. I didn’t just do a poor job of joining together pieces for the top (cut from the same board no less), I managed to make them look like they were two different species of maple.
Instead of using a crisp moulding profile for the edge, I settled for a simple round-over that always had a feeling like some rolled out pizza dough. The curved apron patterns were based loosely on some pictures from a book on period furniture but I had no eye for curves and I fell into the mire that plagues so much massed produced “Early American” furniture. It has not the grace of the fine urban originals or the folk of the back country originals. It screams, “ I don’t know Jack about curves!” Finally I topped it of with an oil varnish finish that couldn’t take spilled beverages and hot coffee mugs. Game, set, match.
What is one to do?
Perhaps I can salvage the legs and build Barb another table.
More to come.
George R. Walker