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Inside the Oldwolf Workshop

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I am a woodworker and writer exploring and honing both crafts through this blog. Follow along as I discover myself in words and sawdust, moving along the path towards finding the methods of work that are best for me.Derek Olson (Oldwolf)http://www.blogger.com/profile/17266838091596906383noreply@blogger.comBlogger381125
Updated: 51 min 9 sec ago

Nearly All The Bells And Whistles.

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 9:31pm

The new workbench I bodged into place last fall needed some of the bells and whistles attached if I was going to make serious use of it this year. After all a bench isn't a bench without the handful of workholding devices that make life easier.

In my book a bench needs three things

1. Dog and Holdfast holes. Drilled where appropriate.

2. A Leg Vise. This is going to be yet forthcoming. I can't make up my mind on which hardware to buy (or how to earn the extra scratch needed)

3. A Plane Stop. As some of you remember I received this Perfect Workbench Punctuation last fall from Tom Latane.

A little while ago I managed to drill my initial holdfast hole locations and set about installing the plane stop.


I started by making a 3"x 3" Square hole in the bench top and milling down a blank of clear white pine to fit snugly. I know what you're thinking, isn't that supposed to be made from hardwood? I guess the answer is yes but there are a lot of "suppose to do" things I just ignore. I think it relates to issues with authority in general.


To go along with the new plane stop I made a few new notched battens or "doe's feet" from some 1/2" plywood scrap. Since these photos I've also glued a third sheet of 150 grit sandpaper to the underside to increase the grippitude.  


Yes it will scratch the workbench top but no worse than errant saw and chisel marks. This is a workbench not a sacred altar to thumb twiddling. The sandpaper improves and already great tool. It's not like I've gone to the blasphemy of hitting the whole top with a toothing plane. (Oh wait, I just ordered a toothing plane from Hyperkitten


In the meantime, still pre-leg vise, I've been using the plane stop and a wooden hand clamp for edge planing. It works well in most cases and I'd almost fore-go my dreams of a Benchcrafted leg vise if not for the sliding deadman I built into the new bench. 

Well that and eventually working with wider stock. 


Everything was working well, until the pine block holding the plane stop dried out a tiny amount, or the bench top changed a little around the stop hole. Not much but enough to affect the movement and make it loose especially when it's set around 1/2" high or lower, which is most of the time. I thought through my solutions, from making a new block to installing some ball catch or spring plate hardware. 

In the end I went a bit low tech and simply glued a couple sheets of heavy sketchbook paper to two faces of the block like it was a sheet of veneer. 

Problem solved as quick as the glue set up and I trimmed the paper I was back in business. There is still a little slop so I'm considering adding another paper thickness or so to refine that, but it works much better now at any rate. 


Ratione et Passionis
Oldwolf
Categories: General Woodworking

Medieval Claw Hammer

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 9:38pm
There is always debate and controversy over the "form" of a tool as it passes through history. This stained glass window is from the Sainte Chapelle in Paris France. Built by/for King Louis IX to commemorate his heading off to crusade (the 7th Crusade) and to house the very valuable relics from the Passion he'd managed to purchase from Byzantium.

The window was created around 1240 - 1250 AD. It shows Christ carrying the cross through Jerusalem and a man standing by, hammer in hand.

The hammer obviously has a claw, not unlike a modern hammer. Almost looks like an Estwing brand.

I find that interesting. . .


We have to be careful about what we think we know about the past. Those old boys were pretty smart.

Ratione et Passionis
Oldwolf
Categories: General Woodworking

Burdens, Research, and Answers.

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 3:51pm
I know if you're following me in any variety of social media, it looks like I'm simply hanging out with Don Williams and the Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench. . .

you'd kinda be right about that.

But I'm also using my downtime from docent duty to focus in the laser on this little medieval book of mine. After all a few weeks ago I gathered some incredible research and I'm ready to start filling in the initial framework.

There is still more research to do along the way, but yesterday evening I had a small but satisfying break through.


The bed shown in the Morgan Bible has been an issue for me since just after identifying the thirteen instances it shows up.  Why is it so problematic?  The bed clothes hide most of the bed in nearly all the instances. The best you get to see is the feet.


It's a little maddening in the fact that it doesn't show anything much for me to work from. But research is magic. Tonight I was reviewing my notes and I found a trail to follow. Under my research on beds I'd written "Famous example from Chartres" Offhand I wasn't sure what Chartres was.

The power of the internet is great and soon I'd found that Chartres Cathedral is a medieval Gothic cathedral built near Paris France around 1194 and completed around 1220. It is nearly complete in it's original state, almost untouched by hardships. And the stained glass windows are exquisite. In a stained glass window panel called the Charlemagne panel. There I finally found a solid answer.

My research has concentrated on other illuminated manuscripts, now I'll have to spend some time with stained glass windows as well. It's a heavy burden. . .


Close in geographic proximity. Falling very close to the span of years in which the bible was made,
The bed without the bedclothes is fairly close to what I was picturing in my head and planned out on paper. Still, I wasn't close enough, I'll start the measured drawings again from scratch once I get back to my drafting table.

A lot of those who've studied the Morgan Bible note how the artistic interpretations inside are different from other manuscripts at the time. The popular speculation is they were actually mural painters, based on recollections of similar murals that had been painted at the time and preserved until the 20th century.

I have a different speculation. Not possessing the advantage of witnessing the murals, I see similar artistic quality and work in the stained glasses of Chartres Cathedral and Sainte Chapelle.. What does a stained glass artisan do when the work is light? or they cannot travel for a while to work on a new cathedral? Settle down for a bit and work for a Scriptorum creating manuscripts.

I wonder if the idea has been entertained.

I will have to leave it for the moment though. For the rest of the day I get to help pack up and wrap up the Studley Tool Cabinet, Workbench, and all the tools for it's return journey to the owner. Yet another burden. . . .

Ratione et Passionis
Oldwolf
Categories: General Woodworking

Caught!!

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 6:44pm
I went to Handworks 2015 for a great reason. The H.O. Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench. But today I wasn't scheduled to stand in as a decent docent, so I drove a bit down the road to Handworks itself.

I had only two purchases on my mind. First I was going to look at Lee Valley for a pair of their register calipers that loop close to the pair in the Studley Cabinet, but I didn't see any there. The other thing was to pick up four more holdfasts from Tools For Working Wood. Now I will have a pair for each bench, no more stealing from one to another.

Then I wandered down to the darkside. To Patrick Leach and his used tool menagerie. I reminded myself there's not many tools I'm on the lookout for and none of those that I can afford this weekend. (mainly we're talking hollows and rounds) I have a weakness for dividers, and as I wandered Patrick's booth I grabbed a nice bullseye pair and thought long and hard.

Then I found a bin of hammers.

I didn't want both, so I made a decision.

Despite having zero need, the hammer won out.



I have always loved this form, It needs some clean up of a chip in the narrow face and a little hot hide glue for the crack in the handle, but she's a nice intermediate size. Ah what the hell.

As far as my un-affordable moulding plane issue. . . I may have solved that too.


So. . . caught twice I guess.

Ratione et Passionis
Oldwolf
Categories: General Woodworking

Studleyville USA

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 9:32pm


I know there is going to be a lot, and I mean a lot of discussion, re-discussion, and examination of the HO Studley Tool Cabinet and Bench coming in the next few weeks at least, if not (justifiably) for the next decade.

Don Williams has done a magnificent thing bringing the Cabinet and Workbench out into the daylight of public consumption for a weekend. He is the only man in the world who could have made it possible. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for finding the access to this masterwork, and then thoroughly documenting the tools, the bench, and the cabinet in a way to answer almost all of the possible questions.

And Narayan Nayar's phtography . . . forget about it. I don't have the words to even start.

As a docent for the exhibit I have been fortunate enough to spend a little more time around the tool cabinet than others will. I can tell you one thing for certain.

It never gets old.
It never feels like, "Oh, I've seen that before."

Sit and study for as long as you want . . . this is alien technology folks.

Studley is showing us what's possible. It's up to us to stand up to the challenge.

Seeing it in person. . .it's a paradigm shift.

A game changer.

Tonight was the open house for the vendors of Handworks 2015. As a docent it wasn't my job to watch the Cabinet or the Workbench. It was to watch the patrons.

I stood near the cabinet vitrine.

I saw the astonishment on people's faces. I heard the expletives and excitement in their voices. I saw their reaction to seeing it in person for the first time.

I could completely relate.

Ratione et Passionis
Oldwolf
Categories: General Woodworking

Dear Workshop…

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 5:33am

I know we haven't been able to spend much time together lately. It weighs heavy on my heart too. You've watched me come and go, drop a variety of stuff off in your space, and leave nearly as quick as I show up, and you've dated strong. You haven't uttered one bad word.

I know lately I've spent much more time than usual with pickup truck and laptop. And while I enjoy their company, it's not the same as the time I get to spend with you. Unfortunately it will be a few more weeks until I can again settle into a routine with you. 

We will spend some time together this weekend and we'll see what we can accomplish. But until the time where I can fully re-dedicate myself please know I will miss you.  

Tell tool chest and workbench I said "Hi" and help them understand this time apart is all for the good of all of us. I know the chisels and tenon saw already understand. 

Let's just remember to cherish the time we have when we have it. 

Your's forever. 

Oldwolf
Categories: General Woodworking

Neck Deep

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 7:04pm



When I started to envision a book on medieval furniture, I didn't want to write something stuffy and scholarly. As I began to walk the path I realized a simple truth. I needed backup. I needed to have some sources, some research that dug deeper than the surface I was skimming.

Long story short. . . I started down a path I thought I knew well, but all to soon I realized there were deep places where I had not tread before. For those places I needed a flashlight.

That flashlight is research. Climbing on the shoulders of those who had gone before and hopefully seeing further.

Today I spent several hours hunkered down in the Kohler Art Library and it's vast archive of knowledge. It was incredible. I found sources for things I already knew. I found answers to questions I was asking myself. I mined enough raw ore to melt down and polish up into a book.

Now I have to continue to find out if I'm worthy of the task.

I'm not worried about building the furniture or documenting the process. I'm worried about writing a book others will find worth reading.

Ratione et Passionis
Oldwolf
Categories: General Woodworking

Some Answers and Final Touches (Stanley 358 Miter Box)

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 12:32pm
Almost two years ago I finished up an extensive rehab on a old Stanley 358 Miter Box. By far this was the biggest tool rehab job I've ever done, but it was well worth it. Though I dare say I could live without, its a welcome luxury for dependable and repeatable cuts.

By far and away I get more email questions and comments on this series of posts than I do about anything else I've written or built. I believe that's because there are thousands of documented "how to cut a dovetail" posts out there, but not a whole lot of documentation on restoring one of these babies.

As I finished up writing about the rehab (http://blog.oldwolfworkshop.com/2013/05/finishing-up-stanley-358-miter-box-and.html) I still had a few questions myself that I was unsure about. Mostly it had to do with this piece set up to make cuts at a repeatable length.


I had the metal threaded disk that I knew inset into the wooden bed of the saw bed (see part 109 below) But I didn't understand how the other pieces related to it.



In my mind I envisioned something much more complicated. I'm not even sure it's worth the time to describe it. I had it wrong.

Then I got an email from Jeff, He'd picked up a Stanley Miter Box himself and the threaded disk was still imbedded in the bed. He went back over the part list and had one of those light bulb moments. The parts for the arm are other pieces repurposed.


You have these guide arms, and the thumb screw and arm clamp from the back. It never occured to me this thumb screw would thread into the disk, but it does!

This morning I finally got around to installing the disk and completing the rehab.


A 1" forstner bit made a shallow recessed for the disk. I followed up this by drilling out the center with a 1/4" bit to make clearance for the thumb screw.  I located the spot by eye and by running my fingers underneath to make sure I didn't drill the post into a metal support. By eye it's very close to the original placement shown.


Without any steel flat head screws, I decided brass would be ok. #6 size screws were the right fir for the bevel and holes in the disk.


Then it was try the thumb screw, clamp, and stock guide. works perfect and again much simpler and straight forward from what I thought. Isn't that nearly always the way.


Along the way, Jeff also turned me on to a great little book available through Project Gutenberg. Because I get a lot of questions about the project I thought I'd include the text and pics related to the miter box below, but you should go check out the book for yourself. The section on mouldings is worth a read by itself.


"The "How To Do It" Books: Carpentry For Boys
By J.S. Zerbe (1914)
from Project Gutenberg

Miter Boxes.—The advantages of metal miter boxes is apparent, when accurate work is required.

The illustration, Fig. 267, shows a metal tool of this kind, in which the entire frame is in one solid casting. The saw guide uprights are clamped in tapered sockets in the swivel arm and can be adjusted to hold the saw without play, and this will also counteract a saw that runs out of true, due to improper setting or filing.

Fig. 267

A second socket in the swivel arm permits the use of a short saw or allows a much longer stroke with a standard or regular saw.

The swivel arm is provided with a tapering index pin which engages in holes placed on the under side of the base. The edge of the base is graduated in degrees, as plainly shown, and the swivel arm can be set and automatically fastened at any degree desired.

Fig. 268

The uprights, front and back are graduated in sixteenths of inches, and movable stops can be set, by means of thumb-screw to the depth of the cut desired.

Figure 268 shows the parts of the miter box, in which the numbers designate the various parts: 101 is the frame; 102 the frame board; 104 frame leg; 106 guide stock; 107 stock guide clamp; 109 stock guide plate; 110 swivel arm; 111 swivel arm bushing; 112 swivel bushing screw; 113 index clamping lever; 115 index clamping lever catch; 116 index clamping lever spring; 122 swivel complete; 123 T-base; 124½ uprights; 126 saw guide cap; 127 saw guide cap plate; 132 saw guide tie bar; 133 left saw guide stop and screw; 134 right side guide stop and screw; 135 saw guide stop spring; 136 saw guide cylinder; 137 saw guide cylinder plate; 138 trip lever (back); 139 trip lever (front); 141 leveling screw; 142 trip clamp and screw; 146 T-base clamp screw.


That's all for the miter saw box except a couple quick notes.

First, I did a lot of my own research on this miter box in old tool catalogues scanned in by Rose Tools. Unfortunately that site is no longer in existence, but Isaac Blackburn has done a good turn by taking over the hosting on his website. See a ton of old tool catalogues at his site: http://www.blackburntools.com/articles/rose-tools-catalog-archives/index.html 

Second, if you're interested in revisiting (or discovering for the first time) my rehab of this miter box you can find all the articles collated here:  http://blog.oldwolfworkshop.com/search/label/Stanley%20Miter%20Saw%20Rehab  It's a quirk of the blog software to post the most recent post first, keep scrollling to see older posts.

Third, and most important. Jeff, buddy, I owe you a beer (or whatever's your pleasure) when I get a chance. Thanks for figuring out the answers!


Ratione et Passionis
Oldwolf
Categories: General Woodworking

"Beware Of All Enterprises. . ."

Sun, 04/05/2015 - 7:35pm

 "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and rather not a new wearer of clothes"  -Thoreau

Often you only hear the first part of this sentence from "Walden." Kurt Vonnegut had it painted on the top of the coffee table he sat at to write his stories.

A recreation of Vonnegut's writing space at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis
If you take just the first half of the sentence out of context, it interprets as a kind of paranoid statement against allowing yourself to experience new things or change, you can also take it as an affirming "stay true to yourself," thing.

Instead, if you read the statement as a whole, and the supporting text. It really means you should change yourself first, and the clothing, or accoutrements needed should follow. Decide what you're going to be, find out if it fits instead of jumping in feet first and wasting money on things you don't need, they when you have a basic idea, go ahead and purchase the new clothes you're going to require.

Now we've moved from paranoia to the sage-like advice of experience. The kind I'd give to anyone who was interested in taking up the yoke of transforming wood into usable stuff, works of art, or a combination of both and more.


I've had Thoreau's words on my mind lately as I've moved about town buying, literally, new clothes for a new venture. I feel blessed to be part of a small group of people who've been asked by Don Williams to help with the exhibit of the H.O. Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench. One of the most solemn duties I've been assigned is to take a shift as a docent on each of the three days.

This means I will be there to assist the viewers, make sure everyone is behaving, and, the coolest thing, provide answers to questions and context to the collection. It also meant I had to buy some new clothes to fit into the docent dress code.

In order to help me study so I have the answers to questions, I've been allowed to view a editorial proof of the final product!

No, I cannot tell you anything you haven't heard from the official sources of Don Williams and Lost Art Press. You can ask, you can offer, you can bribe, but why would I do such a thing and jeopardize my inclusion in this historical event.

I can tell you one thing, The combination of Don's words, research and interpretation and Narayan's photography all result in a powerfully informative record of this incredible and historical tool cabinet that stretches into the realm of a powerfully folkloric work of art.

Off the top of my head I can think of only a handful of complete and historic tool collections connected to a single maker. The Benjamin Seaton toolchest, The Duncan Phyfe toolchest, The Dominy family tools, benches, and workshop. and The Studley tool cabinet and workbench. Of those I would bravely assert the Studley cabinet is the only one to consistently surpass the consciousness of the relatively small community of woodworkers and enter into the mass awareness of the public at broad.

Not always as a tool cabinet or collection of woodworking tools, but as an object of complex beauty, obsessive attention to detail, a novelty of desire or a combination of all and more.



The Studley collection is owned by a single, private collector. It is not part of any museum collection or regular exhibition The cabinet and workbench have never been displayed together in public ever before and it's highly possible they will not resurface again for a long time, if ever.

The good news: The collection is well and thoroughly documented in "Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O Studley"

The better news: You can still get tickets and make the pilgrimage to see the collection. The groups will be kept small and you will get nearly an hour to commune with the pieces. During each group time Don will open up all the hinged places and show all the hidden recesses the poster on your shop wall only hinted at.

You'll get to see the cabinet and workbench up close (Sorry, you still won't be allowed touching privileges, those are reserved for Don's expert hands alone.)  However, Don has constructed a replica of Studley's workbench and on that platform he will hang a number of vintage vices equal to those hanging from the master's bench. Those you will have free reign to open, close, and inspect to your curiosity's delight.

I am very humbled to be a part of this event and hope everyone can and will take the time and visit. I cannot imagine anyone finding themselves disappointed to spend a little time around an object as mythical in proportion as this. Honestly, do yourself a favor. Just buy a ticket and go!


The Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench Exhibit will be in Cedar Rapids Iowa, May 15th - 17th for more information and to pre-purchase tickets (highly recommended) go to the website:  http://new.studleytoolchestexhibit.com/

The exhibit is set to coincide with the second incarnation of Handworks, a near mythical gathering by itself, set to take place at the nearby Amana Colonies, register for this event and find more information at http://handworks.co/

Advance purchase "Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O Studley" through Lost Art Press and choose to pick it up at Handworks (before it even has a chance to hit the mail stream) here: http://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/virtuoso

And last but not least, Check out all the exhibition preparations and so much more Don Williams has been up to at his barn: http://donsbarn.com/

I really do hope to see you there.

Ratione et Passionis
Oldwolf

(Note: All photographs above with the exception of the reproduction Vonnegut coffee table were taken from the Lost Art Press sell webpage for the book "Virtuoso") 
Categories: General Woodworking

See It In Person

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 8:47pm

A while back. during a family vacation, I visited the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In one of the first galleries I found an original Greene and Greene dining set designed for the Charles Millard Pratt House. Darlings of the Arts and Crafts style, G&G furniture always grabs my attention. I own several books about them and have read many, many magazine articles written about original pieces, reproductions, and “inspired by” work. I have never had the opportunity to see any original in the flesh.

I hovered and studied the table and six chairs for more than a half hour. Moving around the peninsula dias to see all the angles and even setting off the proximity sensor alarms.

Twice.

I’m not really interested in building a reproduction or “inspired by” piece, maybe I was once, but those days have passed. so that wasn't the intent of my scrutiny. I was trying to decipher the mystery of my attraction to the Greene brother’s designs and I found it in the subtle details I could never quite pick up on in photographs.


Whether it’s a Greene and Greene dining set or a Philadelphia Highboy, many woodworkers experience these pieces only through measured drawings, cut lists, or a Sketchup models. Isn’t it odd that in a three dimensional medium like furniture making, the majority of our knowledge is transferred in two measly dimensions? Catalogues that come full of pictures of fantastic furniture, isolated against sterile drop cloth backgrounds only tell, at best, half the story. These photos hold no regard for how a piece lives in space, how it can command or deflect attention in a room, or truly convey the subtle details and textures that act like punctuation in a well written sentence.


Museums are the flagships of the art world because they allow people to experience a masterpiece in person. As an art student years ago, I was encouraged to imitate the styles of the masters to learn from them and better imitation sprang from time put in studying a master’s work. It was a given that seeing a masterwork in person was a superior experience. Photos in books will never really show the texture and color found in a Van Gogh painting. The way a Rembrandt changes subtly depending on the angle you view from. Or the way a Picasso draws a visceral feeling from you as your mind takes in everything both familiar and alien.

Translating that experience into broadening your woodworking horizons is easy. All it requires is that you step out of the shop for a while and look for opportunities. Visit an antique dealer and open some drawers to look at the hand cut dovetails. Find a museum or historical home in your area and see what they have to offer, you may be surprised at the cross contamination of ideas that comes from looking at great works other than furniture. Better yet, volunteer and get the chance to spend extra quality time around those pieces. Make a pilgrimage to see great works: The Gamble House in Pasadena, Winterthur Museum in Delaware, The Museum of Southern Decorative Arts in North Carolina.

Get out and see the work that inspires you in person. I promise it will only inspire you more.

Ratione et Passionis
Oldwolf
Categories: General Woodworking

Plugging My Inappropriate Holes.

Sun, 03/29/2015 - 2:53pm

One issue with the new workbench was the scars of it's past. Constructed of reclaimed barn beams scattered through the top were 7/8" inch diameter holes. They're related to the original joinery. The sad thing is my holdfasts are made for 3/4" holes and these holes just don't work.

I laid out and drilled a series of holdfast holes based on the "Patented Chris Schwarz Holdfast Plan" and my new holes became intermixed with the old holes (There's immature comic gold in that sentence) After working with mixed holes for a bit I became slightly fed up mistaking one for the other.


So I picked up some dowel and spent a little time today plugging my inappropriate holes.

I left them a little proud of the benchtop so once the glue sets up I can cut them off with a flush cut saw and plane them even to the benchtop.

Then I will no longer mistake one hole for the other.

Ratione et Passionis
Oldwolf


Categories: General Woodworking
by Dr. Radut