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...
Peter Galbert - Chair Notes
Before, I get going, I want to mention again that there are spaces in the class that I am teaching starting on the 20th at Kelly Mehlers. Usually during a class where we make a chair, everyone has a topic that they want to cover, but time doesn't allow. This class is for all those topics and more, it's not just about making a chair, it's about Chair making. Besides building shavehorses, we will go in depth into chair design (recreating the chair below), we'll grind drill bits, get our tools sharper and better tuned than every, make some tools (adzes and sloyd knives), go over various techniques for constructing chairs that folks always ask about such as the duckbill joint and we'll be building the rocker jig that I recently built and going over the fine points of rocker making. We decided to do this class based on the constant requests of students in the chair making classes and I hope you'll join us.
There are some simple landmarks that guide most chair design. The shoulders are wider than the hips etc... Following this logic leads to most chairs having the shape of a section of a cone. But there is more to it than that. The body can be viewed as a series of conical sections that lie at angles to each other.
I decided to take my recent cardboard chair mock up one step further and use my friend and fellow chair maker Dan as a subject. Dan is 6 foot and forever tall, so I thought it would be an interesting case study. I doubt Dan has ever sat in a chair that was truly sized for him, so we dug back into the lawn mower box and got to it.
We started by making a stable stand in for the stool part of the chair, and a cut out that I use for my largest chair seat back.
The plank at the back gives support for the upper rib cage, which is enough to make the chair stable and "sitable".
I bought a new push lawn mower the other day, and like a two year old at Christmas, I had much more fun playing with the box than with the mower.
I've spent lots of time thinking about the shaped of the spindles in the backs of chairs and because I use spindles, it's easy to get stuck thinking vertically. But the shape of the human body doesn't follow a singe vertical curve at every spot. So I started thinking about the relationships as they proceed horizontally. With the hardy cardboard, I mocked up this chair back by aligning four curves. It is surprisingly comfortable and sturdy.
Each curve is actually slightly cones shaped. It was easy and took only a half hour or so, but it confirmed a lot of what I have been doing with my spindles and encouraged me to go even further.
Here is the view of the back. I started by pinning the piece together with drywall screws and adjusting them as I saw fit.
Then I took the small blocks of plywood and spun the screws until the plywood was sucked tight to the cardboard. The single board clamped to the workbench puts the support in just the right spot so I can rest my weight on it. From there, I mapped out the spindle shapes and will be making some patterns and dummies to further test it out. We will be working with this more to design some chairs at the class that Greg Pennington and I will be teaching at Kelly Mehlers in a couple of weeks.
As you can see in the chair below, I have been highlighting similar shapes in the flat spindles of my chairs for some time now.
I've accentuated the chamfers on the spindles which adds a lot of interest to their blonde color.
And I opened up the goat paddock into the woods so my kids could climb rocks and eat shrubs.
I noticed that this is my 501 st posting on Chairnotes! My best days always include working out something or learning something and posting about it. I am trying to steer my activities to encourage these behaviors. Thanks for sticking around.
I'm a bit of an insomniac. But I'm not one of those toss and turn, stress about how much sleep I'm losing insomniacs. I get up, get dressed and enjoy an hour or two of peace and quiet with no phone ringing and no meaningful work. I indulge in lots of rambling thoughts in these wee hours.
Recently, I've been spending nights listening to lectures and stories by Richard Feynman. He was one of the great minds in physics of the twentieth century, and his ramblings fit perfectly with my mood. Then, over breakfast, I retell his stories. If you haven't heard Feynman speak, he sounds like my Uncle Jay from New York, but stick with it, because like Jay, his brilliance comes along unexpectedly.
This one blew my mind.
Here is one of my favorite talks, and it's about trees, so I figure it fits.
I've bought a new drawknife the other day, shocking, I know.
It's a Barton #7. Barton is one of the only makers that used a geometry that distinctly lends itself to use bevel up. I have always liked the large gap between the blade and the handles, it makes seat carving a snap.
Let's face it, there are enough chairs in the out there. I don't rush to the shop concerned that someone is lacking a place to sit. I go for the joy and challenge of making. For the most part, the chairs that I make leave my shop and I am left pondering the next chair, my tools and my process. As I assume it is with most folks, it's about exploring the limits of my tools and my ability.
And as do most folks, I've looked for help. The magazines and books guided and inspired me, but in the end, I was left guessing whether my results were hitting the mark. The funny thing is, even after all these years, the desire to get more from my tools and process has only deepened.
A case in point just pulled up as I was writing this. My friend Scott came over last week and I helped him reshape his turning tools. This time he came over for a couple of chunks of maple to try them out on. He was remarking how excited he was to get back to the lathe now that his tools were better shaped. I know well the frustration he must have felt turning before.
In a broad sense, this is what the class at Kelly's is about. We will investigate the geometry and function of tools we have and ones that we are making to get the most out of our woodworking experience.Whether it's the holding power of our shave horse or the angle of the handles of our drawknives, we'll be addressing our expectations head on.
One project that I am excited about is making adzes.
Tim Manney and I have turned our attention to designing a new adze.
Tim had great experience in Peru watching the folks use adzes and I've always made my own adzes, first for financial reasons and lately because I haven't been impressed by the ones available. And, oh yeah, did I mention financial reasons?
|Grinding the Blade|
|A Rough Prototype|
On the process of chairmaking, we'll start with my basic goal as a chairmaker.
I don't want to make a chair, I want to make any chair. That means that I am not satisfied to have a single design, instead, I want a process that functions to bring to life whatever I can imagine. The Windsor technology is a perfect framework for this, as the limitations that it offers have led me to come up with some simple landmarks and techniques for connecting the dots.
Chairs can be mysterious, even to experienced makers, but I think that with a little focus on design and process, you can understand the variables and their meaning.
|A Chair Near Completion|
I suppose that a quick word is in order about my reasons for going to the trouble of building this tool. While I enjoy doing many things with hands tools, because they give me lots of control, freedom and results that machines can't match, when it comes to rockers, I have a different priority.
Designing and building rockers is a process full of variables. To rock successfully, rockers must be oriented to each other and the chair correctly. Any variation in the process of cutting the slots and fitting the rockers can make it difficult to refine the design. Also, the references used to locate the slots can greatly affect the consistency from chair to chair.
What this fixture does, is create repeatable and consistent rocker slots based on references that allow me to focus on the other variables that go into making a rocker. For me, nailing down the relationship between the seat and the rockers is the next step towards a deeper understanding and freedom in rocking chair design.
I am going to show some photos here, and hopefully you can see that while it has some adjustable parts, the fixture is simple and does a simple job. The photo below shows one the primary advantages of the fixture, which is that the two platforms are automatically parallel to each other which insures that the slots are as well.
Another variable that the fixture addresses is the different splay of the legs. You can see this in the photo below if you look closely.
Most importantly, the slot is in the center of each leg at the deepest point, for strength. The jig does this automatically. I'll explain how it does this later, but for now, I just want to point out the variables.
First, I measure the splay of the front and rear legs, in this case 13 degrees for the front and 19 for the rear, which gives me an average of 16 degrees. I pivot the central panel to 16 degrees, push the chair up against the jig and position the two platforms. Then I route the slots.
Next, I swing the pivoting panel the opposite direction (16 degrees again), with the platforms still fixed, reposition the chair, and route the other legs.
Using the fixture was a breeze and so many of the troublesome layout and fitting issues that I've always encountered were either eliminated or greatly simplified.
As you can see, the central panel swings both directions so that the platforms on the top can be set once in the process. If you aren't familiar with original, you might understand it once I shoot the videos.
Here are the platforms that the router runs on. If you click on the images, you can see them larger.
Just a few slots and hardware to make the platforms adjustable and I'll be ready to route. It's almost worth all the splinters... almost.
The basic idea is simple, each shape should have a geometric logic within itself and a sense of tension with the other pieces that it joins to. Without this, parts and entire pieces of furniture look "ooey gooey", like they are melting or have worn slack.
I have a few techniques that I use to help create the logic within a piece. Mostly, they involve following a series of geometric shapes as inbetween steps so that the final shape has a hidden framework that helps define it.
I was thinking about this today while shaping the curved stretchers for a rocker that I am finishing. I had some issues when bending the stretchers turned to their final shape, the tapers had too much runout and cracked. So I turned the piece at a cylinder and bent it. The bend went fine, but then it was up to me to carve the tapers.
Here are a few shots that I took while wandering around the town.
On clear days, you could see snow capped mountains across the Sound. But alas, my ailing camera couldn't capture them.
The school itself is located in Fort Worden State Park which has a huge array of cool old buildings that all sorts of businesses and schools.
And the photos above only show the shelves. Each bench has a full set of layout tools and just about everything you need. They even had an array of drawknives and spokeshaves. I wish we had talked more before I went or I wouldn't have shipped my froe out there, they had plenty.
Here is Tim warming up while we built the kiln on Sunday before the class.
And here are the students shaving away. They recently built the shavehorses and they performed beautifully. I love it when the students work on good shavehorses because the quickly come to appreciate how efficient they are.
The last item worth mentioning is the food. Everywhere I went there was a new place to get great coffee, food or beer, my kind of town. I've discussed returning with Tim and have already started plotting to get Sue out there for a well deserved vacation.
|Curtis Buchanan's Signature Comb Back|
A quick word about Curtis' videos and plans. Curtis has been a friend for many years and he greatly influenced my decision to offer my experience in an open format and so it was no surprise when he started offering his in his videos. Now that he has created a package of videos and plans, I'd encourage you to support him, knowing that he is working to find a way to balance making his living with openly offering his knowledge. A success with this effort will lead him to do more videos, which will benefit you, me and chairmaking enthusiasts for years to come.
But as with all things in this world, choices must be made and consequences endured, so my maple syrup season has been whittled down to a couple of days of running out to the rig to check the fire, while tending to other business. It's the exact opposite of the way it is meant to be, which is an excuse to hang out outside for 8 hours tending a fire and watching the spring arrive. But, I needed to do it, even if it wasn't the ambling joy of burning wood and time together.
But that said, my efforts last season to improve my rig worked great and I was able to get more than a gallon each day that I boiled. Enough for me and my helpers.
Speaking of helpers, he are pics of Dan and Tim helping me split out parts for a class that I am teaching next week at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking in Washington state.
I set out to paint the chair blue, and I did, but the layering, and shellac (hint) shifted the color to the green
He made his "smarthead" shavehorse and made some updates and additions to the plans. It boggles my mind how pretty he makes everything. I wonder if his sock drawer is a mess.
I am getting very excited for the class at Kelly Mehler's where we will be building this project as well as forging blades, getting down and dirty with our tools and as always, having a ball.