Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This is a collection of all the different blogs I (try to) read. A whole bunch! If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to use the CONTACT page to get a hold of me. Thanks!
|Raj Kumar Moudgil of Assam|
Unlike me who constantly hungers for more tools and jigs, Raj makes do with very little.
He has taught himself woodworking and produced useful and great looking furniture with the most rudimentary of tools.
Seeing his tools and facilities and the pieces he has built, leaves me ashamed for possessing so much and achieving so little.
|Raj's modest set of tools|
Raj works at a public sector Oil Refinery as Assistant Manager at Digboi at one end of Assam. He is an electrical engineer by training.
He lives with his mother, wife and two school going children but finds industrial life quite challenging and stressful.
"To reduce stress I do yoga and Wood working as my hobby," he says. He started wood working in mid-2014 with only a few tools. He has three hand planes - a 14 inch, 8 inch and 6 inch block - as well as some other tools like a chisel purchased locally.
|Bookcase made by Raj|
His first project was a workbench, built in October 2015. After that he never looked back.
His latest project is one that he takes most pride in. A few months ago last year he decided to build a queen size bed for himself.
"I purchased raw wood from local sawmill here in Assam called as Sham; its grains are not so fine and it needs lots of effort to smooth and finish properly," he says.
This project took four months to complete. "It was a box bed, 6 feet by 6.5 feet of pure wood, all finishing, mouldings and so on made by self," he says proudly.
Raj says he took advice from my blog to finish the project. For final polishing, he used shellac purchased locally. He sanded everything through a progression of grits from 120 to 320.
"My total expense was ` 9500 plus my hard work. Whereas the market price in Assam for a similar bed is ` 28000 and that too made with commercial ply while I used waterproof ply for the top."
Good show, Raj! You are an inspiration.
30 January 2016
At long last, we are now offering the first two volumes of “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years” for sale in the Lost Art Press store. The books are at the printer now and are expect to ship in March 2016.
If you want to skip the backstory and place your order, click here. There you can order the volumes for $45 each or $80 for the set.
During the last eight years, we have culled, organized, scanned, edited and re-edited these articles to create these two hardbound volumes totaling 888 pages. This is not simply a quick reprint of old magazines. We have reset all of the type. We have scanned and cleaned every image (there are more than 2,000 drawings and photos). The entire project took many hundred hours and a dozen people all over the country.
The first volume is on tools and the second is on techniques. The volumes are organized as follows:
Volume I: Tools
Setting Out Tools & Chisels
Veneering & Inlay
Volume II: Techniques
Miscellaneous Tools & Techniques
You can download a complete (and searchable) list of the articles in these two volumes here.
Like all Lost Art Press books, “The Woodworker: The Charles Hayward Years” is produced and printed entirely in the United States. It is printed on smooth acid-free #60 paper and joined with a tough binding that is sewn, affixed with fiber tape and then glued. The pages are covered in dense hardbound covers that are wrapped with cotton cloth.
Below is my introduction to the first volume, which explains the long journey we have traveled to get to this day.
An Introduction to “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years”
There is little doubt that Charles H. Hayward (1898-1998) was the most important workshop writer and editor of the 20th century. Unlike any person before (and perhaps after) him, Hayward was a trained cabinetmaker and extraordinary illustrator, not to mention an excellent designer, writer, editor and photographer.
Add to all that the fact that Hayward was, according to Robert Wearing, a “workaholic,” and you have a good picture as to why we spent almost eight years laboring to bring this book to life to honor his work.
As editor of The Woodworker magazine from 1939 to 1967, Hayward oversaw the transformation of the craft from one that was almost entirely hand-tool based to a time where machines were common, inexpensive and had displaced the handplanes, chisels and backsaws of Hayward’s training and youth.
While Hayward didn’t mind machines (he wrote the book “Light Machines for Woodwork” (Evans Bros. 1952) after all), he never stopped filling the pages of his magazine with information on hand tools, joinery and finishing that is difficult to come by today, even with the Internet to help us.
The early 20th century was an important time in the history of handwork because we finally had automated machines that could turn out well-made woodworking tools at prices that the working class could afford. With these machines, firms such as Stanley and Record flooded the world with tools that allowed almost anyone to be a woodworker. (It was, of course, these automated machines that almost killed hand-tool woodworking, but let’s set that aside for a moment.)
Hayward and his contributors took great pains to teach readers how to use these hand tools, whether it was a jack plane, a Stanley 45, a metallic side-rebate plane or a quirk router. This sort of information was rarely written down, and much of it was lost in decaying magazines or cemeteries.
The book you hold in your hands, the first of several volumes, seeks to reprint a small part of the information Hayward published in The Woodworker during his time as editor in chief. We have tried to organize it into sections on tools, techniques and projects that you will find useful. But most of all we sought to capture the spirit of Hayward’s tenure at The Woodworker without excessive editing or watering down of the text.
As a result, you will find stylistic inconsistencies throughout. Should a tool we call a “straightedge” be written as “straight-edge,” “straightedge” or “straight edge?” All three appear in the text, as do a thousand other inconsistencies that we could have unified into some homogenous whole.
But we didn’t. The English language and the tools it describes are always in flux. And so we reproduced all of the text exactly as it appeared when published. Yes, some of it might seem sexist in the 21st century. Some of the words are spelled oddly. And sometimes simple articles are dropped, as was common at the time (“Take gouge and mark…”).
Like it or not, writing is like that. Writing styles, punctuation and even grammar rules change. So we left the text as-is for you to interpret and enjoy.
That is not to say we had an easy time editing this project.
The genesis of this book occurred before John Hoffman and I formed Lost Art Press. We were frustrated with the books available to teach us the details of handwork. We decided to chase after republishing Robert Wearing’s “The Essential Woodworker” and some of Hayward’s classic writings. Getting Wearing’s book revised and republished was easy – Wearing is still alive and he was happy to help.
But Hayward had died in 1998, so things were more difficult than we could have imagined.
In the end, we made a deal with the current owners of The Woodworker magazine to republish the articles in this volume. That was the easy part. Which articles? And how should we present them?
A group of us took on the project on nights and weekends. Megan Fitzpatrick, Phil Hirz and I spent weeks combing through the original texts, compiling the articles that were important and organizing them into something you could read without buying 27 years of rare magazine issues and boiling them down for yourself.
After a couple years of work, Ty Black took on the monumental task of scanning the text and processing all the classic images from the magazines. This process alone took almost a year.
Then we had to double-check all the scanned text and images against the originals. John spent months of his life at the computer comparing the scanned text to the originals from Hayward’s typewriter.
And then it needed to be designed so you could easily digest it. Graphic artists Linda Watts and Meghan Bates both spent months puzzling together all of the text and images into what you have here.
There were many more steps, but I won’t bore you with them. What’s important to know is this: We tried to reproduce faithfully the articles that Hayward wrote and edited. There are stylistic inconsistencies. If you care about these small details, this book is not for you. Return it to us for a full refund.
We hope that you will enjoy “The Woodworker: The Charles Hayward Years.” But we mostly hope that it will inspire you to pick up the tools and get busy. As Hayward said in 1980:
“I think that books are useful, but I certainly think that, like anything else, the skill to do comes from actually doing. Books can guide you, explain about techniques, tools, materials, – present ideas, steer you away from pit-falls… Books include a great deal of valuable information but it is up to the reader to apply that information.”
We could not agree more. Hayward says his first project was a coffin-shaped bed he built for the family cat as a young boy. And after his eyes had failed him and he could not write, edit or build furniture, he received a visitor in the 1980s who said Hayward was “in his 80s, painting the guttering of his house.”
I hope to go to my ultimate reward in the same way.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker, Uncategorized
Last August the Midwest Tool Coolectors had one of their meets nearby. Fortunately this one is open to the public for a small fee and each year.It’s always fun to poke through the piles of old chisels and look for bargains. Didn’t find many that were cheap but following are a few pictures of items that caught my eye. Click on the saw photographs. The blade has been divided into demonstration of correct and incorrect sharpening techniques
Every time I build a tool chest for a customer or during a class, someone asks me this question: Why are you going to paint over all those beautiful dovetails?
My answer: Because it’s the best finish for a tool chest.
Historically, most tool chests were painted. I think I’ve seen only a dozen that have avoided the brush. And most of those were shop queens. But that’s not why I paint all my chests. Blindly obeying the historical record isn’t my thing. While the historical record usually wins, I am willing to question it.
So here is my propaganda paper on paint.
- It is the most durable of all finishes. Good paint is nearly impervious to UV light. It forms a tough film that readily resists water, abrasion and other shop mishaps.
- Unlike other finishes, paint looks better (not worse) after abuse. This is opinion, but a battered, torched and gouged paint finish looks awesome.
- It is easily repaired – just add paint. With most modern finishes, repairing damage is difficult. Say you finish your chest with varnish or polyurethane. After a year of hard knocks and water damage it will look like something at a church tag sale. Fixing those clear film finishes is usually difficult. Fixing a paint finish is easy. Just add paint. (Note: Shellac, lacquer and wax are more easily repaired than varnishes, but they also are easily damaged.)
- Paint reveals the form. Many modern woodworkers love the look of natural wood. I agree that the wood’s figure can really enhance a piece. But the figure can also be distracting or detrimental to the form. Because of all the dovetails and wild figure, the form of the piece can get lost. Paint reveals the silhouette.
- A good paint job isn’t the easy way out. When I use clear finishes, I spray them on. So I can finish a big piece of furniture in a morning. Not so with paint. Choosing to paint a piece adds two or three days to the process. It takes skill and care to do it well.
- Expressed joinery isn’t the point. This is another opinion, but when I see lots of exposed dovetail joinery in a piece, I assume the maker is trying to make a point about his or her skill with a saw or a router. So I’ll step back, squint my eyes to blur them and look at the piece again. Are the dovetails the “bread and circuses” of the piece?
It’s your tool chest, so finish it the way you (or your customer) wants. But know that someday, someone is going to take a brush to cover over your crazed, flaked and dented French polish. And that is the moment when your true workmanship will be revealed.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Finishing, The Anarchist's Tool Chest, Uncategorized
If you receive our newsletter, then you probably read about my first real woodworking project. If you don’t receive the newsletter (which you should, it’s full of good articles and some exclusive content), then I will sum up that project for you. It was a disaster. For my second project, I decided to build something practical. My dad is an avid bass fisherman. He fishes an amateur tournament series every summer. […]
I wanted to share this article from BlogTO that popped up in my Twitter feed today. Meghan Jeffery attended our Intro to Hand Tools Class last weekend and had this to say about it… Toronto gets a space for people who love woodworking Posted by Meghan Jeffery / POSTED ON JANUARY 29, 2016 The Unplugged Woodshop […]
Speaking of Star Wars, check out Martin Creaney’s wooden replicas of Star Wars spaceships, including the Millennium Falcon, a partial TIE fighter, and an X-Wing.
As it turns out this cupboard and my wife are exactly the height, about 63" tall.
The step back portion of the piece is a cupboard for glasses. It's near the refrigerator and that should be quite convenient.
As typical I used Shaker knobs for the movable parts of the piece.
Editor’s Note: The following blog series, ‘Chips from the Chisel’ is John Gainey’s experience as a carpenter and joiner apprentice on the Cardiff Docks in South Wales from 1955-1960. John’s garden woodworking shop was featured in the November 2013 issue of Wood News Online.
CLICK HERE to read Part 1.
CLICK HERE to read Part 2.
CLICK HERE to read Part 3.
After expressing my opinions on the “old time” use of hand tools, I hope I’m not misunderstood. I am not advocating we should go back to the days of the saw pits with the frogs and sweat. I haven’t got a misplaced romantic view of hand tool use. Today’s machines are wonderful and well into the price range of all. There is nothing like having the stock on the bench, machined accurately to the required sizes, all square and true and ready to be worked on.
I remember being on site, working on a hardwood threshold sill. At the time I was using an electric hand planer to reduce the stuff. Even that was hard work. The gaffer or boss came along, an entrepreneur type (camel hair coat, cigar in mouth) with his hands in his pockets who said in a derisive tone “I don’t know what my grandfather would have said about using electric tools to do your work today.” My reply to that was “I would think he would have been overjoyed to own this and any other tool that eased up on the back-bearing jobs we sometimes have to do. It would have reduced wear and tear on his hand tools and his poor body if they were available in his day.
The changes I saw and have seen have had a profound affect on the craftsman’s life even then. GWR became BR (British Rail) affecting pay and conditions. Diesel engines replaced coal fired engines, which equaled job loss (no need of firemen). Ship containers on dockside equaled job loss (less dockers). The electric drill became widely used and was part of the tool kit. It changed the whole aspect of working tools, which equaled more speed and proficiency.
Sadness at Times
There was a sadness at times with the old timers and their tools. Every second hand shop contained wooden moulding planes for sale for 5s. Any bead (ovolo, round, or hollow) could be purchased when needed. They were examined thoroughly. The blade not pitted, the wood not split or worn down, and the name stamped on the heel. As they were held, thoughts of “I wonder who he was, what conditions did he work under?” It was always tinged with sadness.
Also, each second hand shop contained a number of carpenter’s tool chests. These were no doubt put in by his window. Perhaps he hadn’t returned from the war. Perhaps he had no son and heir. Or perhaps she just needed the money.
I always felt I was trespassing and had no right to be in his box when the shopkeeper opened the lid and exposed all of his tools and bits of pieces of the craft for all to see and for me to choose a tool I needed at the time.
Then one day they were all gone. Americans came over and bought every moulding plane they could find for the antiques market.
There was also sadness when an old timer was retiring. The tradition was to give each apprentice a tool from his box to help us in our career. I had a dovetail saw given to me that I used for many, many years and always thought of the craftsman every time I used it.
Sadness too was when one day, as I was employed as a maintenance carpenter on a housing estate, I saw lying in the roadway gutter a wooden jack plane that was sadly without its wedge and iron. I picked it up and looked for the name stamp and was so surprised to see the name on the heel. It belonged to an old-timer, Ted. I had worked with him as an apprentice. I could not believe it, what a coincidence. How did it get there? What happened to Ted? Why was his plane lying in the road? It was so sad.
Yes, the workshop was full of self respect, pride of work, traditions, skills and methods, knowledge and experience.
Unwritten laws that were duly kept:
- Do not touch another man’s tools without permission.
- Do not work on his bench without permission.
- Do not open his tool box without permission.
- A place for everything and everything in its place.
- No matter what the job, do it well.
We apprentices learnt them and obeyed them without question, and then passed it on to the next new apprentice.
The skilled craftsman is an artist and artisan still waiting to learn. A patient and tolerant man set apart from other men by the nature of his skills, with a great material he is using, steel or wood, glass or clay, iron or copper. The tools he uses become part of him, old friends. The shape, the size and weight, familiar to his hands.
To be able to answer the question sometimes asked “what do you do?” with the words “I am a carpenter and joiner” still makes me feel so proud. To be a carpenter seems the most natural thing in the world to be.
Like most long-time woodworkers I am asked occasionally by an aspiring or nascent woodworker, or more often their friends and family, “What should I (they) study to get them going?”
Though each instance may have its own idiosyncrasies, in recent years my answer has been to steer the inquisitor towards three sources: Chris Schwarz’ “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” which gives an excellent foundational overview for the complete furniture making enterprise, “The Naked Woodworker” video by Mike Siemsen, providing an innovative seat-of-the-pants indoctrination to getting started cheaply, and one of the James Kernov Trilogy as sheer inspiration as it was the source for much of my own early exploration.
A recent addition to my library demands that I add a fourth citation to the chrestomathy for learning the language of woodworking: “The Minimalist Woodworker “ by Vic Tesolin. The subtitle and rear cover title say it all. “Essential tools & smart shop ideas for building with less,” and “Keep it simple. Build more with less.”
Tesolin’s writing is spare, concise, yet wonderfully descriptive. The photographic illustrations accomplish that which I know to be exceedingly difficult at times (and often poorly in craft technique books), it communicates exactly what the author is trying to convey and precisely what the reader needs to learn from it. In my opinion there is simply no way any earnest reader could peruse this book and not comprehend fully what the book means to teach.
I was hooked on the first page of the Introduction, containing some superb evangelism.
The truth about woodworking is that you don’t need a single machine or power tool to woodwork. There, I said it. What you do need is about 40 square feet of space for a workbench and some hand tools.
He follows this with a section “Woodworking vs. Wood Machining,” a dichotomy I have been contemplating for a long time.
After a review of spaces needed, a list of the minimalist’s tool kit, and a review of sharpening — a skill I increasingly contend is THE gateway skill for everything wood-craft related — Tesolin walks the reader through a series of simple projects that will not only outfit the shop with vital accouterments but will also outfit the reader with the skills to make almost anything furniture-wise. Making a saw bent (saw horse) and saw bench, making a shooting board/bench hook, making a wooden mallet, making a workbench, and finally building a small shelf for your tools.
No book is flawless, but The Minimalist Woodworker comes awfully close. Clearly Tesolin’s emphasis is on preparing the reader for a lifetime of skilled craftsmanship in the rectilinear world as there is little discussion, or tools for that matter, in developing a facility for creating curvilinear and serpentine forms. It’s all about the fundamentals of flat, true, and smooth. I believe that the mere inclusion of one tool and its use, the spokeshave, would have addressed this lacuna. Perhaps that will be in a subsequent title. Could there be a “Minimalist Furniture Maker” in the works? I certainly don’t know, but if there is put me down for several copies.
I made my first crude piece of furniture almost fifty years ago and have been earning a living in furniture restoration for more than forty, and “The Minimalist Woodworker” brought me nuggets to add to my treasure trove and motivated me all over again.
Kudos, Vic Tesolin. Kudos.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, if the opening was in the style of an anime.
…yes, a Stanley No.9 Cabinet Makers plane, sans ‘hot dog’ handle for nowI’ve not yet had the chance to pick this up and empty a few more boxes to confirm. Tune in to see if it can indeed be restored. The pics I have so far don’t fill me with promise, but I’ve worked miracles on planes not far off this condition. If it’s rusted through on the bottom though, I’ll be gutted.
It is almost a year since I finished my first Rouboesque bench, which gave me ample opportunity to see which design features works for me and which does not. One of several reasons (discussed in detail in this post) why I decided to go with a split-top design was to be able to have easy access to clamp work using f-style clamps along the centre of the bench. I therefore sized the sliding tool trays in such a way that there would always be gaps between them for the above mentioned clamping activities.
What has become apparent over the past year is that although this is a very handy feature I do not need it all that often due to the number and positioning of the holdfast/dog holes. I am able to use holdfasts for 95% of that type of work holding. To add to that, the gaps between the sliding tool trays constantly threaten to swallow tools which the end up crashing into the planes on the shelve below the bench top.
For these reasons I came up with a fairly easy solution. I made two gap fillers that can easily be removed. The pictures should make it clear how it works. The bigger one of the two now act as a more traditional type tool tray that can hold plenty of tools below the surface of the bench top. These gap-fillers do not interfere with the sliding tool trays at the top, which can still slide to expose the tool trays below them.
I hope that the series of photos that follows will make it clear how these minor tweaks prevent the bench from swallowing tools yet retains easy access for clamps when needed.
|bottle box #1|
|gang sawing the box joints|
|A Glen Drake tool|
|marked the same way I do dovetails|
|marking the baseline|
|the far side board|
|definitely not square|
|where I concentrated my efforts|
|one corner off the saw|
|the other side of the corner|
Another point is that sawing box joints is harder than doing dovetails. With dovetails you have to be square on the top whereas with box joints, you have to be square with every saw cut. The ante is upped a bit here. We'll have to see how well I do on the other 3 tomorrow.
How many words are there in the English language dictionary?
answer - over 1 million (German has about 135,000 words and French about 100,000 words with 350,000 definitions)
Kurs i bygging av skottbenk slik som kurset i Mosjøen i haust fører gjerne til at nokre av deltakarane kvalifiserer til opptak som medlem i Norsk Skottbenk Union. Også kurs i høvling av golvbord viser seg no å ha tilsvarande effekt. Lars Velsand frå Gran på Hadeland var ein ivrig deltakar på kurs i høvling av golvbord på handverksdagane på Røros i 2014. Her hadde han med seg nokre fine golvplogar som vi har skrive om på bloggen. Desse er etter hans oldefar og truleg frå 1860-1880. Høvlane er så slitt at det er vanskeleg å få dei til å fungere saman. Etter kurset på Røros var planen å ta til med å høvle golvbord. Han har sendt meg tekst og bilete som viser at dette ser ut til å ha gått veldig bra så langt. Han har bygd seg skottbenk, eller skøttbenk som ein gjerne seier på Hadeland. Denne er kanskje den lengste operative benken i dag med sine vel 6 meter? For å få benken stiv nok har han laga benken med tre bukkar slik som ein kan sjå på fleire av dei gamle benkane vi har sett rundt om i landet. Her er bilete og tekst frå Lars.
“Utgangspunktet var kurs på Røros i høvling av golvbord. Vi har et fint hus fra ca. 1840, med en stor sal som ikke er innredet. Her ønsker jeg å legge golv på samme måte som det er gjort ellers i huset. Tømmeret ble skåret tidlig på våren 2014, i 6 m lengder. Stokkene ble gjennomskåret, kantene rettet på saga. Det ble brukt ei mobil båndsag.
Neste etappe var benken. Jeg har ikke funnet noen gammel skøttbenk her i området, men det finnes et bilde, tatt på Hadeland Folkemuseum, som viser en skøttbenk. Den har museet dessverre ikke klart å oppspore. Bildet er gjengitt i Hadeland Bygdebok, bind 4, og i Vår gamle bondekultur.
Min benk bygger på inspirasjon fra det jeg så på Røros, og bilder som er gjengitt i bloggen. Den er som bildene viser utstyrt med skruer. Gjenger fikk jeg skåret ved hjelp av utstyr hos en lokal snekker. Benken er 6 m lang, derfor har jeg laget tre bukker for å få den mest mulig rett og stødig. Det har ikke vært nødvendig å montere skråband for å stive den av. Arbeidshøyden er 85 cm.
Jeg har en del gamle høvler etter min oldefar, de må være fra rundt 1860-80. Det er et par golvploger, som du har avbildet og kommentert tidligere. De er ganske slitt, så jeg laget en kopi av den ene, nothøvlen. Jeg tenker å bruke løs fjør, for å utnytte bordbredden maksimalt.
Jeg har nå høvlet ca. 30 kvm av de vel 4o som jeg trenger, så jeg begynner å finne teknikken. Benken fungerer fint, høvlen likeså. Det største problemet er kvist i kanten, på enkelte bord finnes dessverre det. Jeg legger ved noen bilder som viser hvordan det hele ser ut. Det blir spennende å se hvordan de brede golvbordene vil te seg, noen er opp til 35 cm brede i rota. Jeg bor på Skirstad i Gran på Hadeland. Jeg har drevet som bonde i mer enn 40 år, så da er det ikke til å unngå at en også må fuske litt i snekkerfaget. Noen fagutdannelse som snekker har jeg ellers ikke.
Ellers er det flere hus her på garden med handhøvlede bord og planker, og min respekt for tidligere tiders handverkere øker i takt med den flishaugen jeg sjøl produserer.”Skøttbenk bygd av Lars Velsand. Foto: Lars Velsand
Med dette ynskjer vi Lars Velsand velkommen som medlem i Norsk Skottbenk Union. Med sjølvsnikra skøttbenk, golvplog og 30 kvadratmeter golvbord er ein utmerka søknad om medlemsskap. Det er ikkje mange fagutdanna snikkarar som kan skilte med slike bragder. Vi håpar dette kan inspirere fleire i denne regionen til å snikre seg skottbenk (eller skøttbenk) og ta opp tradisjonen med å høvle seg golvbord. Det er ein god måte til å vise respekt for handverkarane før oss, som Lars skriv.
Of course I knew that you did. It has been an interesting discussion.
I recall working on the Isle of Anglesey 8 or 9 years ago with Joseph and a man looked Joseph in the eye and said, You see this man here.” pointing to me. Joseph said, “Yes.” He said, “This man, your dad, wants nothing but good for you. He will never knowingly do anything to harm you.” I think that parents try to steer their children as best they can based on their own experiences and how they perceive the world of good things. Of course earning enough money not to go into debt is important and we want that for our children but for the majority it does mean that if you want uni or college you will incur debts you may never be able to repay. It is the association of higher education with the good life that I object to mostly. It is the good life associated with high income that for me has proven to be wrong time and time again. Most people survive anticipating that one day they will be making enough money to do things with two days off a week doing what they like. I have worked out that usually I have to spend two days a week doing semi pleasant things like associating with bank duties, answering some, not all, emails and such like, countering the misinformants and of course many other things. For others it the other way. They spend 5-6 days a week doing whats unpleasantly necessary, I know.
I can imagine a hundred jobs I might like to have done with my life and all of them revolve around crafting of some kind. I love blacksmithing and pottery. Painting and decorating and raising vegetables and chickens. I like textures like these, colours if you will. Oh, and I may not be a good writer but I do love to write for some reason. And I like to teach too by the way. One thing I will always be grateful for was the conversation I had with my dad when he asked me what I wanted to be. You see for me, at 14 even, I knew I wasn’t something and I knew that being something was a state of being you could actually own. Being a furniture designer and maker is something I own and no one can take that from me. I design a dozen things a day in my head and I think about tools that have not been invented yet. I own six hitherto uninvented woodworking tools. Most people seem to see advanced education as imperative but that is mostly because companies won’t look at you without a slip saying you passed. It saves them filtering through interviewees to find possible employees. I did get qualifiers when I was young, but no one ever asked to see them. I once went for an interview and the furniture company asked me how much I wanted. They never asked me for a piece of paper but I did do a 4-hour bench test in 1 hour that was, in their words, “flawlessly executed in record time too.” Of course no work is flawless. It doesn’t exist. there is great wisdom in interviewing someone through a bench test. great wisdom.
So the question is answered in your comments. Perspective is everything. Finding the balance, different strokes for different folks. But I think this goes much deeper. What is it in our western culture that does in reality seem to strike a certain fear when parents (and grandparents) hear their child say, “I am not going to university.”? Is it embarrassment, image, fear of some other kind? How is it that we always associate a good degree with a good life. I ask my students in every class, a group of mostly men ranging in age from 21 to 65 usually and which does tend to be more middle class I suppose, how many of them needed the degrees they had to do the job they do and 80% at least said no. I asked them how many are doing jobs they were trained to do and by that I mean went to uni to learn to become something specific like say a doctor for instance. 80% said no. I ask the same group how many of them are doing the job they chose and guess what? About 80% said no. Mostly it was economics that governed their choices and rarely a vocational choice. Most often they did please themselves in that university is a good break between childhood and coming of age.
Thanks so much for the great wisdom given in your thoughts and comments. There really wasn’t too much cynicism at all. I for one was most impressed and it helps me to get direction on how best to help the upcoming generation of woodworkers.
Finishing touches are being completed. The slab is receiving several (three to four) coats of 1 pound cut shellac (super blonde) which will act as a sealer. After a final “rubbing”, a good waxing will be applied. Several butterflies were inlaid to to stop checks. The butterflies were made from Swiss Pear, which is extra-ordinarily fine grained and tough. Also, it’s very similar in color to the Bocote sapwood, when finished.
We departed from our normal method of inlaying by hand and opted to use a commercial template and a Whiteside “inlaying” kit to make the mortises and butterflies. A word of caution: make sure that you double check the set up when changing from mortising to cutting the inlays. Enough said!
The base has really exceeded our expectations in terms of stability. The use of sliding dovetails to join the short, lower stretchers to the main, lower stretcher has help to create a very strong, rigid structure while maintaining a “light” look. The base, which is ash, will be finished with four coats of “rubbed” Boiled linseed oil (the first being thinned with turpentine). The BLO gives the ash a lovely golden color.
In a week or so, we’ll be ready to assemble the top and put this table to work, standing guard in the hallway. For anyone who’s curious about dimensions, the table height is 30″