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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!
No, not more news about a new mobile phone service, but I now have some pics of another Norris 6G, courtesy of Darryl Hutchinson at Classic Planes. Darryl’s pictures are below and I think you will agree my own plane hardly differs. Compare the pictures below, good to see another one in the wild.
The only noticeable thing being the lack of screw under the handle. (As Paul Blanche pointed out in the comments on the page, these planes sometimes came without.)
So, yes, I’m naming this a rare Norris 6G.
Yesterday I wrote about the workmanship of risk (or the workmanship of screwing up as I like to call it.) It’s a topic that has been on my mind as I started in on the inlay for the Blacker Serving Table I’m making. This project is a bit of a stretch for me, I’ve done inlay twice before, both as sample projects that didn’t matter. Now I’m doing a real project, with a very real risk of ruining a part.
The inlay process is simple enough. Make a cavity and stuff some contrasting material into it. It’s the making of the cavity where the risk comes in. For the petals on the vine motif I’m doing I have cut out Abalone shell that I’ll inlay. To create the cavity I’m using a micro router to freehand the opening using 1/16″ and 1/32″ bits.
When I first did inlay I tried using a router base from William Ng, but wasn’t satisfied with it. The screws to set the depth didn’t hold when routing and the depth would drift deeper. I returned it and eventually got this tool from Micro Fence. It can use a variety of Dremel-like tools for power, I’m using my Foredom flax shaft tool. I like this tool a lot better, it holds depth properly, is easy to adjust and has a real plunge mechanism unlike the Ng tool.
But the point of showing it is to demonstrate the risk of the operation. Most of the work is done using a 1/16″ bit and freehand routing the cavity that the inlaid material will sit in. If it’s too small the material won’t fit, if it’s too big you have ugly gaps around the inlay.
The very first leg I tried on I lost control and made a bad cut for the silver vine, which is also freehand routed. It wasn’t the end of the world, although it felt like it at the time. Luckily I was able to move past that and finish the inlay in the first leg, here it is sanded flush and (mostly) ready for finish. It’s far from perfect, but when it’s part of the table, has finish applied and is viewed from three feet away it will look great.
The silver wire is 1/16″ and 1/32″ thick square Argentinium Silver — a Sterling Silver alloy that is tarnish resistant. The dots are 1/8″ round silver wire and 3/16″ copper round bar in drilled holes. I learned some tricks doing this first leg, and I’m working on the other three legs right now.
The middle shelf is attached the the ends of the cart with fourthrough mortises. Laying out each mortise carefully I use a chisel to cut 3/4 of the way through from one side, reverse the board and finish up from the other. With a little care you have a nice design element.
The key word is “care”. Although it would be more expedient to take “care”, for the sake of the community I found it imperative to make several key mistakes.
Mistake Number 1:Notice in the photograph that the tenons extend far beyond the cross rail. The picture doesn’t give me credit for the full 2.5 inches that will allow much greater forces to placed into the tenon when fitting the pieces together. If the length had been trimmed to a reasonable amount there would be no demonstration of the human domino machine (see festool domino) for reattaching the tenon..
Mistake number 2: maybe I should call this trial number 2…. The long rail decided to twist and cup severely. No picture but there are definitely some stresses in this wood. It’s now in my scrap collection. Enjoyed the additional mortise training.
Mistake number 3: After two mistakes it would be wise to go for a long run where you could carefully review options and format a plan for carefully taking the next steps. However to ensure that the reader gets a full plate of mistakes I continued forward assembling the cart. The weather has been variable and over a couple of days joints have swollen. Possibly the weather is to blame, but more likely a hard hammer blow rather than a gentle squeeze with a clamp resulted in the sound of a crack. Yes another leg to practice veneering! The excitement almost brought me to tears. The resulting 5 mile run was one of my fastest ever. You have to take the good with the bad.
Eg har gjort eit poeng av at skottbenken ikkje har kome med i faglitteraturen i snikkarfaget eller tømrarfaget. Det er mogleg det vert “sant” om eg repeterer det mange nok gongar og ikkje tar meg bryet med å sjekke med denne faglitteraturen? Om ein slår saman faglitteraturen i våre nordiske land så blir det fort ein del bøker som ein kan leite gjennom på søk etter skottbenken. Eg har gjort ein del tekstsøk i digitaliserte versjonar av nokre av desse bøkene. Så langt har eg ikkje fått treff på skottbenk, rettbenk eller strykebenk i dette materialet. Eg har då gått vidare og lest gjennom det som er skrive om golvbord. Sanneleg vart det ikkje napp på dette, og eg må moderere mine påstandar om at skottbenken er fråverande i faglitteraturen.
Theodor Broch gav ut “Lærebog i Bygningskunsten” i Christiania (Oslo) i 1848. Boka er gjerne halde fram som den første norske læreboka i husbygging. Broch var norsk og hadde militær utdanning frå Noreg, men han hadde offentlege stipend for å reise og studere militær byggekunst i Tyskland, Frankrike, Østerrike, Belgia og Nederland. Han baserte nok mykje av både tekstinnhald og illustrasjonar på utanlandsk faglitteratur. Det er tydeleg at øksene han har teikna er meir i tråd med tyske og danske økser enn med samtidige norske økser. Det er grunn til å vere kritisk til kor vidt boka representerer norske tradisjonar, eller om det er mykje påverknad frå utanlandsk faglitteratur? Likevel er boka ei tidleg og viktig kjelde som tar for seg mange nyttige detaljar som ikkje er med i nyare fagbøker. Om bord og plankar skriv han:
“§410. Bord og Planker som ved Hjælp av Hövlen ere jevnede paa deres brede Sideflader, kalder man hövlede; er de hövlede paa de smale Kanter siges de at være strögne. Dette siste er nödvendigt ved Bord eller Planker, som lægges Side om Side, thi elles ville de aldrig slutte tæt til hinanden. Strygningen udføres sædvanlig paa Fugbænken (Fig. 65), paa hvilken Bordet eller Planken holdes opretstaaende mellom Aagerne ab og cd ved Kilerne m, m. Al Hövling sker först med en kort Hövel (Skrubhövlen), hvorved Bordene eller Plankerne kun blive grovt tiljevnede (skrubhövlede); siden fuldföres planeringen med en finere, lang Hövel (Slethövlen, Oxhövlen, Stryghövlen).” (Theodor Broch, “Lærebog i Bygningskunsten”, 1848)Skisse av Fugbænk frå “Lærebog i Bygningskunsten” av Theodor Broch, 1848. Skissa er med i ei eige bok som har med alle planer som det er henvist til i teksten i boka.
Illustrasjonen av Fugbænken i boka til Broch har litt til felles med benken som K. Gjesme i Lærdal har teikna. Også nokre av benkane som beskrive frå Sunnmøre kan ha fellestrekk med denne benken. I staden for lange bord som ein klemmer saman er det ein ås som kanten på bordet som skal høvlast ligg på. Korleis “stryghövlen” har sett ut er vanskeleg å seie sidan den ikkje er illustrert eller forklart nærare. Det kan vere ein lang høvel. Det er mogleg at Fugbænken til Broch fanns i fleire variantar, også med rettbord på sida slik som K. Gjesme har teikna? Slik han er forklart i tekst og skisse har ein ikkje noko form for rettbord som ein eventuell skottokse kan brukast saman med. Arbeidshøgda er 2 fot, ca 62,75 cm. For høvling av 8″ – 10″ breie bord så gir det ei høveleg arbeidshøgd samanlikna med det som er vanleg på andre typar skottbenkar.Vidare i teksten forklarar Broch om pløying av bord. frå “Lærebog i Bygningskunsten” av Theodor Broch, 1848. Figur 206 frå planverket til “Lærebog i Bygningskunsten” av Theodor Broch, 1848.
It was raining when this all went on. The last time I was here the internet connection died when the rain started. I don't give much hope for posting this in the AM from the hotel but maybe McDonalds will still be supplying WiFi.
Not shaping up as a good prelude to seeing what Mr Studley made so long ago. I had printed out the directions to Scottish Rite Temple and they didn't involve a lot of turns. It was basically off the exit and two turns. I still managed to miss one of them. But what is good about the directions I had was they tell you if you have gone too far.
The the street names in Iowa are a bit funny to me. I'm used to names etc and here in Iowa it's letters and numbers. Throw in a bunch of one way streets and it took me 15 minutes to get back to where I came off the highway and then finally to the Temple. I got there about 0915. Plenty of time to go get a coffee before my viewing time at 1000.
|the room I waited in|
|Don's into piano vises|
|the back of H.O. Studley's workbench|
|built in last decades of the 1800's|
|slightly opened drawer|
In front of the drawers are the ebony bench dogs for his workbench. They are individually numbered for their corresponding hole on his workbench. Solid ebony bench dogs with a small piece of brass to keep in place - unbelievable.
|The front of H.O. Studley's workbench|
|better picture of H.O. Studley's bench|
|wagon end of Studley's bench|
|best I can do picture wise - no large rip or x-cut saws|
It became even more apparent just what a guy Mr Studley was when Don flipped these 3 holders. The level of detail goes way over the top. The edges of all the holders are all molded and some have applied ebony moldings. And it continues from the first one to the bottom one. It wasn't just the top or show piece that got his attention to detail.
|the last bad picture|
The size of this chest isn't that big for the number of tools it contains. It is only about 7" or so deep and maybe 36" tall (eyeballed measurements) that even with the layering it almost defies comprehension on how he stuffed them all in this space. Seeing this up this close was worth the trip to Amana again.
|3" x 8" coarse diamond plate|
I have been thinking of getting one of these diamond plates and seeing and playing with it convinced me that I'll have to get it. Joel at TFWW had the fine and x-fine ones. I like having a larger stone to sharpen on. Allows for a longer stroke which should shorten the time spent doing the deed.
I was up on the Lie Nielsen platform at 1230 and I ended up alone in the universe. I didn't see Bob or Brian anywhere. And I didn't see Bartee at the Scottish Temple. I thought he had blogged he was going at 1100 but I didn't see any white haired gents wearing glasses that looked like him. I guess some things aren't meant to be.
|lilacs at Amana Village|
I wandered around at the tool event again and left it around 1400. I never got to play with the Chris Vesper bevel gauge and I went back to Konrad Sauer (I screwed up his name in yesterdays blog) again and asked the price of the small smoother. It's 2100 Canadian which means it's about 20% less if paid in american dollars. Still too rich for me but I do have a sock drawer and lots of time.
I couldn't remember the name of the guy who made the miniature chest with all the tools in it on yesterday's post. It was William Robertson. I forgot his name and mis-remembered the name of the guy from Heritage Woodworking. His name is Frank Strazza not Sturgis - my apologies for getting that all screwed up.
|Ron Hock came from California|
|Patrick Leach offerings|
I don't know if Jameel is going to pony up and do a show like this again. If he does do it he'll have to use a real big hook to get me out here for a third trip. If that happens I'll be staying at different hotel hopefully with a better internet connection.
What is the only continent that corn is not grown on?
answer - Antarctica
I have been leafing through a fine volume, Colonial Craftsmen and the Beginnings of American Industry by Edwin Tunis (d. 1973). Originally published in 1965, this book was reprinted by Johns Hopkins University Press in 1999. In it, Tunis surveys a plethora of early American crafts. Some of these trades are still familiar to us: the baker, the tailor, and the gunsmith. Others, such as the whitesmith, the limner, and the chandler, are all but forgotten now.
The opening section of the book, “New World, New Ways,” is perhaps the most instructive for the dilettante historian. Tunis describes the early, ultimately futile attempt by England to impose her system of guild licensing and monopolies on the North American colonies, and he explains the ad hoc system that grew up in its place. Colonial Americans used the apprenticeship system, for example, but the terms of each apprenticeship varied more widely than in England. There was some European-style specialization in the larger towns, but most craftsmen did a range of work uncommon in many European shops.
Wood was the most plentiful natural resource of Colonial America. So naturally, much of the book is dedicated to woodwork of various kinds, though Tunis also describes many different types of metalwork, as well as work in leather, horn, paper, and other materials. It is clear that Tunis has looked very carefully at many examples of craftwork; he knows in general how each was made and can say why it was made that way. He has spent a good deal of time with old records as well as other documents, such as Ben Franklin’s Autobiography, and he is adept at providing amusing anecdotes about the early American economy.
Tunis does make a few mistakes along the way–mistakes that wider reading in European texts would have corrected. He says, for example, that the “smoothing plane” is ill-named and was used only for trimming. Moxon, however, writing at the end of the seventeenth century, indicates that the smoothing plane is used for removing tool marks from the fore plane and jointer plane, thus leaving a smooth surface. “Smoothing plane” is exactly the right name for the tool. There are a number of similar errors in the sections concerning woodwork, and I expect there are errors in other sections as well. Tunis has not attempted to practice these crafts himself, so it would not be wise to trust him on every detail. Nevertheless, the book is a delightful journey into the American past.
The best thing about the book is the hand-drawn illustrations, all by Tunis himself. Some of them show artifacts close-up, and at his best he is nearly as good as Aldren Watson at rendering critical details. (Watson’s book Country Furniture is an excellent companion to Tunis’s Colonial Craftsmen.) The best drawings, though, show the craftsmen themselves at work. A few drawings are funny, such as the tanner scraping a hide while warning a stray dog away from his work (at right). Most, though, show a craftsman or two with full attention on the work itself, whether it be rifling the barrel of a musket or spinning blown glass into a large disk.
Tunis may not know enough about every craft he writes about, but he has certainly watched craftsmen of some kind at work. Few other illustrators I know can capture the intent focus of a person engrossed in the job at hand, and his books are worth looking at just for that.
I was several chapters into this book before I realized that I had been enjoying Tunis’s illustrations since I was a boy. In the local public library of the town in which I grew up, there was a battered hardcover edition of another of his books, Weapons, which I must have checked out dozens of times. I had long forgotten the author’s name (if I had ever known it at all), but I eventually recognized the style of the illustrations. So I suppose I have a sentimental attachment to Tunis’s work.
Tunis wrote and illustrated a number of other books, including several more books on American colonial life, which I plan to acquire soon. Now, fifty years after Colonial Craftsmen was published, we know more about many of the crafts he wrote about. The Hand Tool Renaissance of the last twenty years has taught us much about how pre-industrial craftsmen did their work, and it has also helped to bring old, obscure books on handicrafts back into print.
I think that Edwin Tunis would be very pleased to see today’s revival of traditional handicrafts.
Tagged: aldren watson, apprenticeship, Colonial America, Colonial American, Colonial Americans, Colonial Craftsmen, Edwin Tunis, illustrations, smoothing plane
This was the best, show I've ever been to. Customers and tool makers were really looking forward to it and from all I've heard it didn't disappoint from either side.
Jameel Abraham (and his family) deserve a special thanks for all the time and effort put into organising the show, let's hope they'll be another.
The tool chest shown was made by Chris Schwarz, but the hard part was immaculately done by Jameel, a very talented woodworker.
On a personal note, I couldn't have done the show justice without the use of a good bench and what a fine one it was. Provided by Mark Hicks from Plate 11 http://plate11.com/
Mark had a great show as well, selling all but one of the benches he had there.
And finally many thanks to Brian Buckner for the excellent BBQ as well as tirelessly running around making sure everything ran sweetly. See y'all next time!
Well. No sooner did I return from Alaska, and I had to prep for a trip to Lie-Nielsen in Maine. Taught 2 days of spoon carving,
then shot a new video for 4 days.
Came home Thursday evening, and on Friday got organized somewhat for teaching today with Plymouth CRAFT http://plymouthcraft.org/ = a class in riving, co-taught with Rick McKee, of Blue Oak fame – https://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/
Many nuances of using ring-porous hardwoods and splitting wedges and froes. (also helping us out was Michael Doherty, “the Source-of-All-Wood” – in the floppy hat. Thanks, MD)
Some hatchet work, some detours.
It was held at the Harlow house, part of the Plymouth Antiquarian Society. http://www.plymouthantiquariansociety.org/ Our friend Donna Curtin gave us a tour inside the c. 1670s Harlow house during lunch. We almost didn’t come back to riving there was so much to see inside.
As usual for Plymouth CRAFT, we had a 2-ring circus today, there was spinning going on inside too. I missed that, but Marie shot many photos, I’m sure.
There were birds in Maine, but grey skies…
osprey no fish what is this fish thinking? magnolia warbler black & white warbler
Time for some non-woodsy bits, before I hit Connecticut next Saturday.
Chisels manufactured in large quantities have the advantage that the tang is usually forged together with the chisel in a way that makes it sit right in the middle of the end, and it is uniformly shaped.
This difference from a hand forged chisels allows the handles to be turned industrially, since all the tangs of a series should theoretically look the same. With the turning some sort of hole can also be made for the tang, so fitting a new handle shouldn't require a lot of fiddling.
The mortise chisels of the two previous posts on this blog had different tangs all of them. variations in the width, thickness, length and taper required me to make a specific hole in each handle.
I brought a gouge with me from E.A. Berg, and I have always liked that shape of handle, so I am going to try to copy that shape and see if I can make a batch that looks similar to each other.
The handles for the smaller chisels will be made slightly smaller at the front end due to their smaller tang.
Before starting on the actual handles, I used my Sulphuric acid solution to clean the blades for rust, this was followed by some sanding with emery paper.
The firmer chisel and the slick were unbelievably rusted with heavy pitting.
For the first two handles I tried to drill the hole before turning. I then inserted a threaded rod with a carrier (a nut filed with two sharp points) into the hole and mounted this threaded rod in the 3 jaw chuck of the lathe. The live centre was used to control the other end of the set up.
It worked OK, but the carrier would easily loose the grip of the end grain of the handle.
My idea was the the hole should line perfectly up with the turned handle when I did it that way, but the missing grip caused too much trouble, so I needed to find a better way.
But all in all the system worked more or less as intended. I had started with the smallest chisels, so there wasn't a lot of work to do in order for the tang to seat in the hole. I wiggled a drill a bit, and that was about it.
I reused one ferrule for the first handle, and made myself a new brass ferrule for the second one.
For the record, I didn't bring any turning tools with me, so the work order was to first refit the gouge to the original handle, and then I used that one for turning. I also used the narrow chisel to define the piece for the ferrule while it was still without the handle, as soon as the handle was completed, I mounted it on the narrow chisel, and those two tools turned the rest of the bunch.
My new system was a carrier made out of a piece of pipe. I sawed a lot of teeth in the end of the pipe, it almost looked like a cup drill.
Then I mounted the carrier in the lathe, and hammered the handle stock onto the teeth. I pressed the live centre into the centre of the blank, and then I started turning.
This worked a lot better, no loss of grip at all. Once the handle was turned to shape (but not separated from the traction end), I sanded it and applied some bees wax by holding the lump of wax onto the spinning handle, I buffed the wax using a piece of rag with the lathe running.
To drill the hole, I changed the live centre to a drill chuck, and with low rpm's I just supported the handle with my hand while drilling the hole. This worked fine.
I also made one handle for the socket type slick that I have brought with me. I made the tapered section a bit too fat, so I wasn't able to pound the handle all the way down to the rim of the socket. But this will perhaps be an OK thing, because if the handle dries more than I expect, then I can hammer it further, and it should remain fixed.
Finally 4 new ferrules were made out of brass, and I mounted the rest of the handles.
Even though I took a lot of care trying to make a tapered hole by twisting and turning the blade in the handle before seating it, some of the handles were still a bit out of alignment. I guess the wood may be softer on one side of the handle, so the entire tang just shifts over to where there is the least resistance when it is seated. Anyway, now the chisels have some nice handles which they didn't have before.
I have flattened the back of most of the chisels roughly on our grinder, but I have not sharpened them all. I prefer to do that at home where I can do a better job than out here.
Despite my best efforts to keep the handles clean and good looking all through the process, I succeeded in giving the all a bit of patina. This was not the plan, but I doubt that I will do anything radical about it such as stripping the wax of and give them some oil or varnish at home. Eventually they will get some grime on them anyway.
Chisels listed from top:
E.A Berg 3/8" bevel edge chisel
KB VW Sweden 1/2" bevel edge chisel (short)
Erik Anton Berg 3/4" firmer chisel (E. A Berg)
Jernbolaget Eskilstuna Sweden 27/32" bevel edge chisel (short)
Erik Anton Berg 25 mm (1") bevel edge chisel
Jernbolaget Eskilstuna Sweden 5/4" bevel edge chisel
Jernbolaget Eskilstuna Sweden 9/16" gouge
Keen Kutter 7/4" Bevel edge slick
This man is Rhodri Owen. He came to me three years ago and did a nine day class. The he invested in another class. He left that class and gave up his job to start working on his own as a lifestyle woodworker. His workshop was his grandfather’s and he took it over and started building furniture. It’s been a struggle, yes, but he’s become a woodworker. How ’bout that! Real woodworking.
I am utterly saddened by the number of people who rely on an electric dishwashing appliance to clean their dishes on a daily basis. This trend is causing the art of hand washing to quickly fade and it is in danger of being completely forgotten. Soon to be lost are the nuances that are paramount to the art. In the following paragraphs I will attempt to log these details in hopes that some record of the hand washing art will survive.
I shall begin with the detergent that is required. For without the proper detergent the entire process is diminished to the level of a rank amateur. The proper detergent for hand washing dishes is lye soap. But not just any lye soap will do and it must be manufactured from the proper ingredients. The base ingredients for genuine hand washing lye soap are as follows. Fat rendered from hogs that are more than twelve months, but less than fourteen months of age. These hogs must also have only been fed a mixture of yellow corn mash and egg shells. The fat from these animals will be of the highest quality and essential for making the proper lye soap. The wood ashes for the soap should be obtained by burning only red oak timber that has been air dried for at a minimum of three years. Care must be exercised so that no knots are burnt in the process. For the knots will foul the ash mixture and render the resulting soap all but useless for hand washing. If none of the soap making artisans in your area are capable or willing to meet these requirements, then you must resort to mail order or self-manufacture. Self-manufacturing being far too involved for the scope of this article.
The required cloth for both the washing and the drying of dishes is best obtained from antique pre-WWII flour sacks. These are becoming exceeding rare, but the expense for this cloth is a small price to pay for the art. These cloths are 100% cotton and were made on looms that are no longer in service. It is also speculated that the flour once stored in these sacks imparted a particular quality to the cloth that there is no way of replicating with modern manufacturing techniques.
A scouring brush will prove useful from time to time. As with the other items, the type of brush employed will either elevate or completely destroy the quality of the artistic process. The proper brush can no longer be obtained from any known source and therefore must be fabricated by the artist. The dried roots of a three year old wild dogwood tree are required for the manufacture of this brush. There are several opinions as to the correct number of dried roots that should be bound to create the brush. Generally the number of roots required ranges from one hundred to one hundred twelve. I favor a brush made with exactly one hundred and seven roots that are all of the exact same diameter bound with sisal twine.
This brings me to the water. Two basins will be required. One for the washing and another for the rinsing. The former needs to be brought to exactly 150deg. At this temperature the lye soap is added and allowed to dissolve. The water then must be cooled to, and maintained at, 120deg before any washing can begin. The rinse water is equally important and must be maintained at exactly 170deg. It is important to obtain a minimum of two quality thermometers in order to monitor and adjust the water temperature.
Now that I have listed the proper implements and supplies I will describe the actual hand washing art. Only one item should be in the soap and water mixture at any time. For all pots, pans and circular dishes a clockwise scrubbing motion must be utilized. Many amateurs will use all manner of scrubbing strokes and as such destroy that art form. For utensils the proper stroke is away from your body working from the handle of the utensil to it’s tip. It is also very important that the utensil be completely submerged in the wash water during the entire process.
The items are then fully immersed into the rinse water for exactly 6.5 seconds. Then removed from the water and held above the rinse basin for a further 2 seconds. The item is then immediately dried with the aforementioned cloth. Many an amateur will employ drying racks. Please do not follow this poor example. Endeavor to maintain the artistic process.
I hope that you have found the above information both informative and inspiring. At the very least, I hope that it has encouraged you to abandon the use of the electric dishwashing machine. The art of hand washing dishes is something that is far too valuable to let slip away into the annuls of time and must be preserved. I encourage you to take up this highly rewarding and useful art form so that you too will have clean dishes.
The preceding is complete and utter nonsense and I hope that you recognize it as such. Any similarity to the woodworking world is intentional and meant to provoke thought. While I understand the value in preserving traditional methods, they are not always the be all to end all. I also believe that some woodworking can transcend the common and become art. That being said, creating and making are what I find more important. I approach woodworking with practicality. Using the tools that I have and exploring techniques to find what works for me. As budget or necessity dictate, I’ll further explore tools and materials. Sometimes my tools and methods are in-line with “expert” opinion but, more often than not, they are not. Even so, somehow I still manage to build things from wood.
I’ll bet you can do the same.
Something I’ve heard mentioned a number of times over the past couple of years is the phrase “workmanship of risk”, which is a reference to David Pye’s book “The Nature and Art of Workmanship”. I haven’t read the book, but I found some excerpts online that I read. It’s an interesting line of thought, if a bit more scholarly than the usual stuff I read. I’ve just ordered the book from Amazon and am looking forward to exploring these ideas more.
There were a couple of bits that caught my interest. First, and I think this is generally a topic of interest for woodworkers, is putting a definition around craftsmanship and “hand made” versus “machine made”. Instead of trying to specify the kind of tool used to build something as its level of craftsmanship, he talks about the risk to the outcome. Manufactured goods, like your average flat-packed Ikea table, have no risk to the outcome. The design and outcome are completely fixed and dependent on automated mechanical processes. Whereas with “hand made” or “workmanship of risk” the outcome is at some level of risk throughout the process of being built. This second idea of risk resonates particularly with me.
When I’m building something I’m focussed on each detail. I expect that everyone is like that, but I tend to be particularly hard on myself. I also don’t mean to say that I do a great job on every detail, and some I royally screw up. Again, I’m sure I’m not alone in that, although I have to say mistakes, even ones easily corrected, really throw me for a loop. This makes thinking about the processes, meaning and value of the exercise worth examining for me. The following is the opening paragraph from page 20 of his book.
If I must ascribe a meaning to the word craftsmanship, I shall say as a first approximation that it means simply workmanship using any kind of technique or apparatus, in which the quality of the result is not predetermined, but depends on the judgement, dexterity, and care which the maker exercises as he works. The essential idea is that the quality of the result is continually at risk during the process of making; and so I shall this kind of workmanship, “The workmanship of risk”: an uncouth phrase, but at least descriptive. … With the workmanship of risk we may contrast the workmanship of certainty, always to be found in quantity production, and found in its pure state in full automation. In workmanship of this sort the quality of the result is exactly predetermined before a single salable thing is made.
Workmanship, especially within the scope of Pye’s definition, makes sense to me and can be something that can bring great joy on a good day. It’s a concept that is a core value for me, and some days is acutely elusive. I doubt I’m alone in that feeling, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
Steve Ramsey of Woodworking for Mere Mortals is helping to raise donations for the Make-A-Wish Foundation by auctioning off the version of his “Unique Snack Serving Tray” he built on WWMM this week.
It looks like a fun little project and is a great excuse to get in the shop and spend some time building a project you know family and friends will enjoy using.
As always, plans are available for it are available at woodworking.formeremortals.net, but if you’re thinking you might need the original to REALLY get a feel for how it goes together you have until May 22nd, 2015 to bid on it at eBay.
Of course this also is a great excuse (as if you need one) to help raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
For more information, visit Woodworking for Mere Mortals by clicking on this link. To go directly to the auction itself click on this link.
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Although everyone was expecting a good show, no one really knew.......I arrived an hour before the doors opened and this was what greeted me!
Below you can see the queue stretching down the main street.
This show was full of fine plane makers. I was sharing a booth with Phil Edwards (Mr laid back), he was still setting up when the doors opened!
Across was Konrad Sauer, it was good to meet him again and he had a fine selection of planes.
The K13 and the K18 shown below were the stars of the show for me, they felt nice, worked wonderfully and those looks are to die for!
Scott Meeks was opposite me with a good selection of his sculptural wooden planes.
Daed Toolworks had some very fine planes which also caught my eye.
Also opposite me was Wayne Anderson with some real beauties.
Blum planes are unusual in the blade and adjustment design and they have just been granted a patent for the system. I'm looking forward to giving these a try tomorrow.
And finally the highlight of my day. A customer came to thank me for helping him transform his dovetailing and woodworking with my tools and videos. He had brought a special pack of six beers with him as a gift, very touching and gratefully received!
At Handworks 2015, Amana, IA. Going to see the Studley toolchest tonight.