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A moisture meter is a device that lets you see the future. It allows you to avoid mistakes where your furniture will – literally – fall to pieces. But convincing woodworkers to buy one is like trying to push water uphill. This weekend, Brendan Gaffney and I were each working on some chair projects and got on the topic of moisture meters. Brendan has an idea for how to make […]
I pretend I exist in a bubble or cocoon. Each day I’m at home, I get up & have breakfast with the family, and then make my way out the back door to the workshop. Open up the windows to let in the sounds of the birds, check the river – tide in or out? Coming or going? And then sort the day’s projects – am I cutting these mortises, carving which pieces – most of my concerns are about really great quality oak, sharp tools, and learning from studies of period pieces…
And it goes like that day in & day out. Which hatchet? Are these bowls dry enough for the next step? Ah, I figured out what design to carve for that panel. Then, time to clean up the place and re-set the bench…
All the ordinary stuff is an intrusion – have to go to the dump, the bank, did I pay the bills? I just want to get back to work in the shop. All of that is just like the rest of us.
Every so often, I traipse out into the world to teach a workshop, deliver a lecture/demonstration – that sort of thing. And those audiences are pre-disposed to receive what I have to give. An interest in woodworking, furniture history, spoon carving – they’re already converts. But I know although we have woodworking interests in common, there can and will be things we don’t have in common. And that’s usually fine with me. I can get past a lot of stuff, and concentrate on our shared interests. And it has always been a great kick for me to come together with people I might otherwise not connect to…
This year, it’s been tricky, with the political climate in America and the world. I have specifically stated in many of my classes – “No politics, please.” Just to avoid the issue. Trying to be polite…and it has worked thus far.
Like I said, I can get past a lot of stuff. But…not racism. Not Nazis marching in the streets of 21st-century America. That shit doesn’t fly. Everyone should be against that…none of this “many sides” crap.
So…in the hopefully unlikely event that some of my readers are sympathetic with the KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, etc that were on display down in Charlottesville this past weekend, – if that’s you – please un-subscribe to my blog. Please stop following me on Instagram, FB…please don’t come to my classes. Please don’t buy my book, videos, spoons, etc.
I want nothing to do with racists.
Back to oak now.
Among the Japanese tools I’ve seen over the years, I haven’t seen much in the way of drills in the sense of the brad point/auger/twist bit drills that we’re familiar with in western woodworking. There are Japanese gimlets, small hand held tools used to make small holes. These holes would be used to make pilot holes for metal, wood, or bamboo nails. The business end of the tool has a square profile, and the four sides come to a point.
In use, you would hold the Japanese gimlet vertically between the palms of your hands, and roll your hands back and forth to make the gimlet spin clockwise and counterclockwise.
There’s also a version with a three pronged tip (sort of like a very aggressive spade bit, or a flat cross section of a brad point drill bit) that can create a slightly bigger hole for dowels, but it seems that the largest of these topped out at around 1/4″.
The drawers for the finishing cabinet are now at the fitting stage. I have to clean them up, do the drawer runners, make a bottom, and fit a bottom in place. I kind of did a 90/10 thing tonight with the most calories going to the drawers.
|the front of the small doesn't fit the opening|
|large drawer fit|
|the gaps are still there|
|the other side|
|flushing the top of the big drawer|
|one side fits|
|sawing off the wild|
|flushed the bottom|
|top flushed up|
|cleaned up the sides and the back|
|in about a 1/3 of the way|
|2nd trimming and I'm about 1/2 way - planing just the top|
|third trimming and I'm done|
|I'll plug this after I get the bottom and slips installed|
|flushing the tails|
|epoxy and filler|
|4 coats of shellac|
|squared up one end of the slips|
|the back of the slips|
|the front look|
|the way I'm leaning|
|slips aren't as proud this way|
|works better than this way|
In what Baseball World Series was the Star Spangled Banner first played?
answer - the 1918 series
Right off the bat thanks to everyone who responded.
Matt offered some really great ones and two stood out the most.
Planes, Chisel and Saw
At The Workbench
The first one is a title from a book my friend Tony Konovaloff wrote so I can’t use that, but it’s great and definitely complements what this magazine’s about
But I equally like At the Workbench and I’ve secured it pending payment which means no one gets it till I make a payment.
I’m still open to suggestions but so far this one seems to be the winner.
It’s a pity ASIC isn’t flexible in these things as HANDWORK is by far the most suitable title but we also work at the bench so it is what it is, but i know it will create some confusion for some people who are not in the know.
This post I’ve written on my phone at work so I’m sure there are some missing commas and periods which my friend Matt will pick up on. But I’m not a text addict like my daughters and if my life depended on it, it would be short lived.
Btw the second issue it’s title will remain unchanged. I’ve already begun work on the third issue.
While Katy’s soft wax is great for furniture surfaces – especially interiors – she has a new devoted customer: Crucible Tool. Unbeknownst to me, Raney and John have been using the soft wax on our improved-pattern dividers as the final finishing step.
In fact, Raney asked me to make a big batch for him so we didn’t waste so many little 4 oz. tins.
If you’d like to give soft wax a try, Katy has a batch in her etsy store that is ready for shipment. The wax is $12 per 4 oz. tin. I use it on drawers, turnings, chairs and even as a final topcoat on oil finishes.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. We hope to have a new black soft wax soon. Oh, and about the photo of the cat: The wax had nothing to do with the hair loss.
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I chose HANDWORK as the title of our magazine as it best describes what we do, but as I tried to register the name yesterday through ASIC they tell me a little old lady has taken this name. Not only did she take this name she registered multiple spellings of handwork. So, now I need another title for the magazine and I tried several others;
- Handcraft – taken
- Handkraft – taken
- Handcraftd – taken
- woodworking with hand tools – too long
- woodspeak – available pending my payment
I personally like WOODSPEAK as a title, I think it's unique and we are speaking about wood and when we work our wood speaks back to us.
So what do you think?
Do you like it?
Do you have any other names that would be a better suited title?
Lets brainstorm together, I only have a few days to register that name.
One more has been added to the pending payment list and I think this one is pretty good also
"BenchWork". That title pretty much covers everything we do.
Your responses to the last blog came as no surprise. As people accept the ever more mundane of mass making, skills automatically become dumbed down. Manufacturers that once had loyalty on a more local level have gradually sold out and what we thought was still being made domestically by local skills was hidden behind bland …
Drivel Starved Nation;
It seems that whenever we introduce a tool that is not “traditional” factions of the woodworking community, using their internet bullhorn, feel compelled to condemn the effort as heresy, an egregious assault on our “woodworking heritage”. These anachronistic views to me, and to us as a company, are about as much fun as pre-chewed food. Ideas evolve and so do tools — at least I like to think so.
New ideas are almost always the result of a changing perspective. And this is what I believe we do best, we rattle the cage of conventional woodworking wisdom with tool ideas that either attack or improve functionality deficiencies, inconvenience and work-flow efficiency, all with an underlying passion for aesthetics. Ironically, nobody needs any of these tool ideas… except me.
When I started my furniture making career back in the mid-1970′s, my small basement shop evolved into a 2,000 sq.ft. woodworking studio located in an old defunct furniture factory which still resides in a huge Portland gully. My view was Interstate 84, which was about 75 yards away. That shop contained all the “traditional” purchased hand tools you can imagine, and I despised many of them.
Back then, I had no idea I would eventually become a tool maker, but I do remember cussing under my breath about squares that were not square, block planes that needed half of a day of work to be functional (maybe more), and particularly my Record shoulder plane — that plane could not be used for more than 10 minutes without causing hand pain.
I remember being acutely aware how my store bought tools shared a collective ugliness which I surmised was the result from pragmatic cost compromises. Little did I know I was littering my brain with seeds that would eventually become Bridge City Tool Works.
Fast forward some 40 years later and I now have two shops — and it is not as luxurious as it sounds. In the skunk lab at Bridge City I work primarily at a stand-up bench I built in 1977 (it is from my original basement shop). This shop is full of Bridge City stuff and working space is small and precious. There really is not much room except for one little tool prototype project at a time. We are so cramped here that the table saw has to be moved to utilize the entry door cavity for ripping long boards. I suspect you understand what I am talking about.
My home shop is a back bedroom of my house which houses my Jointmaker Pro. There is another stand-up bench in the garage, but it quickly attracks clutter with important items like dog food, light bulbs and currently, window washing paraphernalia. The garage is also home to our dogs “Hyatt Suite”. In other words, working in my garage is next to impossible.
With this in mind, my tool design perspective has changed and you can see it in our latest design, the UG-1 Universal gage (which, by the way is a stupid name — I lost the vote here). Currently I am interested in working with as few tools as possible to accomplish my needs because I don’t have the space, nor the patience to find, then put away what I need for whatever project I am working on.
To be sure, I am rarely a fan of multi-tools and I own several, the most important of the bunch is the one I carry on my bicycle. That said, it seems multi-tools are full of compromises so when I set out to design one, it is not out of ignorance, I really want to solve my space constraints and simplify my work-flow in the most uncompromising way I can conjure.
In my next post I will explain all of the uses I have planned for this tool and will objectively (as much as possible anyway) grade each of the functions of this cool little tool! You will be able to agree or disagree, but I think the dialog might be enlightening.
It’s always a pleasure to hear what one’s instruments are doing and I recently caught up with this small steel-string guitar that I made nearly 5 years ago for Poppy Smallwood. Based on a Martin OO model with 12 frets to neck, it’s made of English walnut and has a sitka spruce soundboard.
(More photographs here, if you want to know about its construction.)
Poppy has been playing the guitar in all sorts of places, making a reputation for herself as a singer and songwriter. Here she is performing one of her own songs for BalconyTV against the background of St Petersburg.
You can hear several more of her songs on Soundcloud.
For as long as I have been writing about woodworking, I have wanted to build a dugout chair. I first encountered the form in one of the many furniture books we had a Popular Woodworking Magazine. Soon after I started working at the magazine in 1996 I began poring through the books whenever I had a spare moment – attempting to get up to speed with all the different furniture […]
Blum Tandem slides are a fabulous innovation for built-in cabinetry with drawers and pantry pull-outs. They’re smooth, silent, invisible and they come with a little person inside who pulls the drawer shut for you. (OK, not really, but there might as well be someone in there considering how well they shut themselves.) As with most innovative hardware, there’s a range of accessories you can buy to ease installation. When I […]
If you have a week free beginning September
18th – yes I know it’s barely a month away – 360Woodworking has the perfect woodworking vacation for you. There is one bench open for a hands-on class building a Pembroke table, a furniture form that spanned over a century and was interpreted differently by the tastes and styles of the various designers of the age.
In the class as you build your table, you’ll learn multiple methods to taper legs, how to work with stack-lamination techniques for the curved parts, basic veneer work, how to lay out and cut the oval top complete with drop-leaf joinery and inlay and how to make knuckle joints for the fly rail – come ready to work to build this iconic piece of period furniture.
I listened to a BBC Radio 4 programme with a presenter named Jenny Murray talking about 17 crafts on the ‘Red Endangered List’, where certain crafts are in danger of disappearing. Of course we have seen crafts disappear because there was no use for them anymore. John Seymour wrote a book about the Forgotten Crafts …
|plugged the groove holes|
|didn't get 100%|
|there is a lid in there|
|both sides have some twist|
|got one face flat|
|sizing the overhang on the ends|
|got a ton of tear out|
|made mess of this|
|my 5 1/2|
|washers for clearance|
|only gluing about 1/2 way|
|working on the big drawer front|
|cleaning out the sockets|
|first one fitted|
|the ugly gap|
|making my blind groove|
|sizing the back to match the front|
|dry fitlooks good|
|drawer slip overhang|
|a look see|
|new look for me|
|small drawer parts sized and ready to dovetail|
|front done and ready to do the back|
|I said oops|
|way too tight|
|ready for glue up|
|lid ready for finish|
The back top edge of the box has to be rounded over to allow the lid to open and close. That is what is delaying getting this out the door today or even tomorrow.
|one coat on the box and lid|
A good day in the shop and it was a wee bit difficult getting myself out of my chair when the wife said dinner was ready. I felt like things had rusted in place and I needed to oil the joints to free them. i think my age is catching up with me.
This federal holiday was first observed in 1894. What is it?
answer - Labor Day, celebrated on the first monday in September. Canada's Labor day is celebrated on the same day too.
I'm clearing out some old planes, all have faults that would be easy to fix. First up an unhandled Spiers smoother, a good user.
Next a Norris A 71 missing its rear handle.
And lastly a Spiers parallel smoother again a good user
All start at 99p so bargains to be had. Due to the weights I'm afraid it's only postage (or collection) in the UK
Chance meetings abound at Handworks, while talking with Jim and Mike at Mortise and Tenon Magazine, I took the opportunity to grab a photograph.
Jim and I were laughing about asking someone to grab a photo of the three of us and we asked the first person wandering up to the table. After the picture was taken we continued talking and the conversation moved to clamps and quickly a business card appeared in my hand. Our photographer, Keith Clark was the owner of Dubuque Clamp Works.
Readers of my blog surely know that I am a huge fan of Dubuque Calmp Works. Learning more about the clamps I left the conversation even more impressed by their commitment to materials and quality. I purchased my clamps through Lee Valley Tools and have been extremely happy. There are many other places they can be purchased as well.