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Inside the Oldwolf Workshop
|The old soldier drawing board. It's been around a while.|
So two weeks ago, on a cloudy, slightly stormy Saturday morning I gathered a couple axes, wedges, and a thermos of coffee and drove to Tom's shop in Pepin Wisconsin and met the two other gentlemen who decided to join us that day. From there it was a quick drive to the small parcel of woods Tom owns outside the town.
We started by busting apart a cherry log for a couple of us to share. I always fin this to be great fun and super satisfying. Then we all got to work with adzes, each on our own individual logs.
I've never found an adze in what I considered good enough shape to buy it so I had no real experience using one. The concept of swinging a horizontal axe blade in the vicinity of your lower legs and feet flies in the face of the modern, child-proof bottle cap, safety-litigation-congregation's standards. But like anything you have to be smart and keep your head in the game. Pay attention to what's safe and what's not as you're working, think through your actions before you take a swing, and you're fine.
The nice thing is the other guys all brought a nice variety of adze styles along and I took a bit of time with all of them, getting a feel for what I liked and didn't.
While the three of us worked, flattening slabs for benches. Tom worked hewing round logs square for timber framing.
It rained on and off at times, which was refreshing though we didn't get very wet at all under the heavy tree canopy.
When the day was finished I had a new blister and a cherry slab about 3" thick 15" wide on the top side, and a little over 3' long. We all loaded up and took off. The next day I was exhausted, with sore muscles I'd long forgotten I owned, but I still managed to waddle out to the shop and work on the slab some more.
I started by planing the bottom completely flat. I use metal bodied Stanley planes in most of my work, but I find for green work like this, a wooden body plane is superior in feel and function.
With the bottom set, I ran a marking gauge over the ends and snapped some chalk lines to get a uniform thickness to the top. The slab is giving me about 2 1/2". I took a hewing axe and brought the thickness down close, then planed some of the roughness away. I didn't bother getting carried away because I want to give the seat a dish out, like a Windsor chair seat.
I did some dishing, then set the slab aside. I have lots of other work and can't eat the distraction for more than a weekend right now and the slab needs to season a little before I work it some more. I have these visions in my mind of a cross between a Windsor and a Norwegian Sengebenk.
We'll see how that works out.
Ratione et Passionis
The fact that Peter is leaving isn't news. There are rumors that Plimoth Plantation didn't plan to replace him, Chris wrote about this in a post on his blog, but down at the bottom of the comments in that post is a comment by a Sarah MacDonald, that states the organization is updating the job description and expanding the diversity of its craftspeople. (There is no updated job posting for a joiner as of today)
This all gives me pause for thought. What if I were to be hired for the job? I certainly would meet some of the qualifications
I have spent several years developing competency with hand tools in woodworking in general and with working freshly riven, green wood more recently. I can take a fallen tree and turn it into a finished piece of furniture.
I have developed a love for the furniture and construction styles of the 17th century. I have been working on the carving aspect of the craft for several years and it's a very comfortable, natural style for me now.
|My most recent carved interpretation. Walnut carved box sides. I haven't finished the till, lid, or bottom yet.|
And I have experience as an lecturer and educator, I spent two years teaching Surgical Technology and Central Service Technology at Western Technical College, before deciding to return to the field. And my work has been published in a major woodworking publication.
Ok . . . so do I have the job?
Several things will keep me from even applying if the job is posted. Not the least of which is the need to relocate. It is definitely not the right time in our lives to take on another adventure like that. Not for a while.
But the job is still fun to think about, like the "What would I do if I won the lottery?" question. Though the approach that comes across my mind is "What would I do differently?"
Peter is am inspiration to me, I've never managed to come up with a good reason to correspond with him outside of the abject hero workshop and fawning praise of an unapologetic fan boy. But if I were to trip, fall, and land in the job, I would want to make it my own. Standing on the shoulders of giants to see further is more noble than repeating what has been done before in a cookie cutter fashion.
I would certainly have a lot to learn in the job, that would be most of the fun.
Ratione et Passionis
"The mere act of owning real tools and having the power to use them is a radical and rare idea that can help change the world around us and - if we are persistent - preserve the craft."
We've spoken about hand saws and back saws, now we break down into the few specialty saws I keep sharp and ready.
I suppose a miter box saw can be considered alongside the back saws, but since it rarely sees use outside the miter box I'm going to call it a specialty.
My Miter box saw is a Disston saw made for Goodell Pratt. It's 26" long with 11 PPI (Points Per Inch) and filed with 15 degrees of rake and 20 degrees of fleam. It has a deep plate (5 inches) and works nicely in my Stanely Miter Box. You can see the rehab of both miter box and saw HERE.
Next is my cheepo coping saw. Nicholson brand I believe. I picked it up off a clearance rack at a box store a few years ago, and it's been a good friend ever since.
I use it for scrolling and for sawing out the waste in my dovetails. The tension on the original was never great so I souped it up by throwing a couple of washers between the handle and the frame. I've also sanded the smooth factory finish off the handle.
The weird thing is, I've managed to get my hands on a Knew Concepts Fret Saw I thought would replace this old war bird, but I just never liked it. I like the beefier coping saw blades over the wire fret saw blades and the Knew Concepts saw handle just never fit or felt right in use. I like the engineering that goes into making the frame stiff and light and the whole concept, I just couldn't efficiently use it.
So, until something comes along to replace it, my old coping saw will remain in the tool box.
Oh, if you were wondering, I usually set my coping saw blades to cut on the pull stroke.
I consider my stair saws to be one of the few conceits in my nest. They are not multitaskers, they do one job, something that can be done with a carcass saw. Cut a sidewall for a dado or rabbet. But they do it so well and efficiently and they look so cool. . . what can I say, a guy should be allowed a little conceit.
I have two (more conceit) The one on the right is an unmarked vintage model (I believe it's Disston though). The blade is 7 PPI and crosscut. I've had it for a few years and I just haven't gotten around to cleaning it up and sharpening it, probably because the one on the left works well when I need it.
Before I found the vintage one I was captured by the concept of the saw and decided to build one for myself from scratch and a picture I got off the internet. You can read the old post HERE. My blade recut from an old saw plate comes to 6 PPI
Stair saws are a great addition to your nest. Vintage ones are tough to come by so I suggest heading over to Two Guys In A Garage website, where they offer kits to build your own. I keep threatening to buy one myself.
The last specialty saw I keep in my woodworking tool box is a hacksaw. If you're following links in this post you'll read some nasty things I had to say about hacksaws when I was writing about building a stair saw. What can I say, I was having a day.
It's kind of weird to mention it along with woodworking tools, but it's just the ticket for modifying hardware, sawing brass pins to length and other small metal working jobs that pop up. Find a simple one that tensions well and don't be scared to replace the blade often.
|Photo from Tools For Working Wood website.|
The final specialty saw isn't in my tool box yet. It's going to be a veneer saw. My current project has pushed back my exploration into veneer, marquetry, and inlay for now but when the clock circles around again I will be in the market again. When that happens I will most likely head over to Tools For Working Wood and pick up a Gramercy Veneer Saw.
That wraps up my thoughts on the saws I have. use, and will get and the concept of trying to get the most out of a few good saws rather than filling a whole saw till with special circumstance saws.
The introduction to the saw nest series is HERE.
Hand saws in my nest are HERE
Backsaws in my nest are HERE
and ALL the posts are collected together in one HERE.
Now it will probably be a while before I put any real thought into my saws again. Of course if they're working for you, you don't have to think about them.
Ratione et Passionis