Jan and Feb classes are full.
March 10-15- Sack Back
May 5-10-Sack back
June 9-14 Continuous-Arm
I will also be teaching this class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking October 18-19
A few naughty readers have been attempting to build collapsible tables and bookcases similar to ones I’ve been constructing for “Campaign Furniture” and have run into some trouble.
Instead of being a wiener-kabob and saying “wait for the book,” here is some basic but critical information about mechanical furniture: In these simple constructions, the pivot points have to be equidistant.
What does that mean? Take a look at the quick-and-dirty sketch above. In these bookcases, the center pivot point is on the outside of the bookcase. The top pivot point it 7-1/4” above that — right below the top shelf. The lower pivot point is 7-1/4” below that right above the lower shelf.
If the upper and lower points are not equidistant from the center, the bookcase will not fold flat. Also good to know: If the distance between the lower and upper pivot points is greater than the length of one of the shelves, the bookcase will not fully collapse. The two center pivot points will run into one another.
I am almost finished building this bookcase and will post a movie later this week.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Campaign Furniture
Christmas means gift giving and struggling to find that different gift, yet find something meaningful at the same time can sometimes thwart us. There is always time at Christmas for joy, and preparations are key to a restful holiday. Today I worked to perfect some things that will be gifts and also to complete all of my orders for Christmas. The stars I made will make Christmas cards and gift tags for friends and family. I also hung one on the Christmas tree at Penrhyn Castle as the Castle comes into the Christmas season and all of the things the staff here do to enrich the lives of visitors old and young and all in between.
Phil has been making a street sign for the pedestrian walkway on High Street in Bangor and finished off the sign this afternoon. Our cafe of course is our favourite cafe; Bluesky Cafe. Delivery tomorrow hopefully and we plan on delivering firewood scraps for their wood burning stove. Bluesky is all go at this time of year but those of you who are in or near Bangor over the next month should stop in for breakfast or lunch. Chrissy and the staff are wonderful and helpful. We will be holding our Christmas party there this year.
I have so enjoyed this commission because I’m using wood that might otherwise be burned or chucked. On the other hand I get to think about each recipient as I make them. These spoons will be tagged with details of the where, why and how’s that they came from. Life is about texture and I want to add texture to the lives of others as I make the spoons. Some I shaped as a dipper and others shallow. Everyone must be different in some large or small way so that there is variety and arguments over who got what kind of spoon. I couldn’t help but notice that this piece of a Giant Redwood I retrieved from the firewood lot by the castle looks like a topo’ map in full 3D. It sparkles in the hard aspect of the growth rings and because generally the wood is very soft, I have keep my gouge in top-notch condition and even then I have some rotating to do to get the cut straight from the edge without sanding.
Yes my benchtop is questionable for order but it’s how I work in phases. I need all of the tools where they are to hand, so every so often I pick up and put up and get going again on the next one. Anyway, I am having fun as I go.
I am just old enough to have grown up with the Whole Earth Review/Co-Evolution Quarterly, although many of the copies I was rooting through at the libraries were already a few years old. Nonetheless, these tomes were deeply formative. I am fairly sure that is how I discovered Lloyd Kahn, Eric Sloan, and Zome tools.
This type of writing is sorely missing in today's tech-obsessed publishing world. Even hand-tool woodworkers are constantly clamoring over the newest redesign of an old standard rather than simply delving deep and discovering what in themselves can be improved or optimized.
The Whole Earth Review spirit, on the other hand, would often look backwards towards simpler tools and techniques while judiciously admitting newer innovations as well. A type of responsible futurism, perhaps it could be called. Kevin Kelly, Stewart Brand, Jay Baldwin, and others helped shape the ecotopian visions of a bright green future in the 1970s, and we need that type of vision now more than ever.
Kevin Kelly has kept the spirit alive in his Cool Tools weblog. It is essentially reviews, but they are not as worshippy as other tech/tool sites. They tend to be sober, dry, and straightforward. You will find that there is a strong element of "good enough" rather than an obsession for the best. It is not uncommon to see reviews stating something like "don't get the premium one, the basic model is just fine and 1/3 the price".
I've subscribed to the Cool Tools newsletter since the beginning. In fact, it used to be called Recommendo. My desires for more and more "cool tools" have continued to fade, but I still scan it, looking for those lifetime quality tools and novel ways of handling problems like carrying plywood alone, cleaning up drywall dust, hacking open products sealed with special "security" bolts, etc.
It was pleasing to see, recently, that Cool Tools has been released in a large book format. Like the original Whole Earth Catalog, it needs to be seen in person to appreciate. It is like sitting with the old Sunday funnies, slowly poring over the colorful illustrations and finding surprises on every page.
It is mentioned here because there is a woodworking section, and several related tools throughout. Full disclaimer - I do have a review published in it and so received a contributor's copy, but I would have certainly purchased it for full price.
The book is also a terrific example of self-publishing. Kelly knew traditional publishing venues would not allow him the type of control he wanted, and so he skipped right over them, using freelancers as needed. He has a writeup on the process at his blog.
As consumerism continues to bother me more than ever, I felt some reluctance to even mention this grown-ups toy catalog. However, after sharing it with some equally cynical (ok, almost) family members who expressed pure delight, I figured I should share it with my public.
I will never, I repeat never work on another piece of new made crap, ever again. In the first place the material used is of inferior quality and the modern glue sucks. The FSO are impossible to properly repair and there is no way to match those dead looking poly urethane coatings [I won't even call them finishes].
What a waste of resources but considering our throw away society and the lack of taste most people exhibit, I guess they get what they deserve.
Buy a proper piece of craftsman made furniture and pass it down through your family instead of purchasing some crap that will end up in a landfill.
Using 80-20 for most of my jigs saved me a lot of time, but I still needed a fast way to cut shoulders on the 45 degree tenons. Given that it was only one table, it didn't make sense to me to spend a lot of time engineering a way to treat it like a production run. So, I used the French chair maker's vise that I built back in July of 2012:
It's really simple to use. The top surface is reference-flat. The material is clamped lightly in the vise, and the shoulder line is lined up with a gauge stick that's set to the height of the saw blade in a side-cutting saw that's also part of this arrangement. Once everything's in alignment, the material is clamped, and the saw cuts both shoulders to be in exactly the same plane. Clever, simple, efficient. Gotta love that...
SO how accurately does it cut? Very accurately, as long as the gauge stick is right on, which is the current problem. As pretty as this picture is, I actually need to make a new gauge stick. The tenon sticks up above the vise, I'm actually cutting on the wrong side of the line. The joints all came together fine, but the tool should be working more accurately than this. (To be fair, the blade was pulled out farther than normal for these shoulders, so there may be some error introduced there, but even still... I need to give this some attention.)
Clean shoulders will make or break the look of a mortise and tenon joint, so they have to be done right. For this particular table, this was the most efficient way to get the job done that I could think of. For multiple tables, I might set up something on the table saw (if it was set up, which it's not, yet) or with router templates. But for one table, (8 angled joints) the chair maker's vise is such a quick and intuitive tool that it just made all the sense in the world to cut the shoulders that way.
Joinery's done... chamfers are next.
If, like me, you think every year at about this time, “I really ought to get started on making some Christmas gifts…” Tom Iovino at Tom’s Workbench can help. He’s compiling nice projects that – and this is important – can be built quickly (because I certainly don’t recommend building a spice chest in three … Read more
Everyone loves receiving handmade gifts at the holidays. Be they as simple as cutting boards or as elaborate as a Highboy, the fact you took the time to create a gift that is like no other tells the recipient that they matter and you wanted to do something special for them.
But the reality of the situation is more like…you’re standing in the middle of your shop realizing that while you have the material, the plans and the know how you have ZERO time to build the gift you pictured in your mind (if you actually had a gift in mind…which I never do!)
Don’t worry though, we’ve all been there and thankfully someone had the foresight to think ahead and solicit suggestions and ideas to help us through the pressure of this season of giving.
From December 1 to December 7 of this year, Tom will be posting “last minute” ideas to help you come up with a few projects that will make you shine like the woodworking hero you are.
To find the projects, visit Tom’s website at www.tomsworkbench.com.
Hi, just recently user 'mafe' on lumberjocks created the dai for a japanese jointer plane from several pieces (like a Krenov style plane). This seems a lot easier for an amateur to do than from a single piece of oak. Do you see any cons to this?
For reference, here’s the writeup on Lumberjocks by mafe on making a Japanese plane by gluing up the body.
As a caveat, I haven’t tried to make a Japanese plane myself as of yet. The traditional way is to chop out the throat and the mouth of the plane from a solid block of wood. There are a few issues that I see with laminating the body.
First, if there is going to be a point where a Japanese plane fails over time, it’s usually by developing a split in the body by the mouth of the plane, as can be seen in the picture below. This is due to the body shrinking over time and running into the sides of the plane blade. A Japanese plane blade is wedge-shaped across its width, which may exacerbate this splitting issue.
Laminating a Japanese plane body together puts a glue line right where this potential crack can form. And although joint stress tests usually show that a glue line is stronger than the wood around it, if for some reason the glue line is less than ideal, this could lead to a greater chance of failure.
Having said that, I’ve talked with Scott Meek and Rhett Fulkerson, who both make excellent wooden planes using a laminated body construction, and neither one of them have had issues with this sort of failure with their planes. It should be noted that they both use western plane blades, which have parallel sides, and that the gap between their blades and the sides of the throat seems to be wider than what is typically seen in a Japanese plane, which gives more room for potential shrinkage.
Second, like all wooden planes, this type of Japanese plane will move over time with humidity changes. It’s not clear what a glue line running the length of the plane will do to the usual movement of water through the body of the plane. Larry Williams and Don McConnell have similar reservations about laminated plane construction and moisture movement.
Finally, aligning the various parts for the glue up seems to be enough trouble that I’m not sure how much benefit is gained by going through this process. If you wanted to make a smoothing plane by this process, you want to have the mouth as tight as possible. There seem to be enough pieces going together at the glue up stage that precisely placing the mouth seems problematic. I suppose you could glue the body together so that the mouth was deliberately too tight, and tweak it later, but then you might as well cut a mouth the traditional way.
As I mentioned before, I haven’t made a Japanese plane yet, so all of this is conjecture. But for grins, I took a piece of 8/4 oak and a 15mm chisel, and tried to see how much time it would take to chop out enough wood to make the throat of a Japanese plane. It was a lot less time than I thought it would be. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not that much time to be saved by going the lamination route.
Today I designed a new dovetail template I think everyone will like. I designed it six months ago actually but haven’t had the time to make it. It’s fairly radical I think. Different and highly functional. I also looked over the stars ready for the blog and decided to make the same one we recently filmed. The method remains the same regardless of how many points you choose. The angles that intersect the centre are the parts that change depending on the number of points.
The size of the star is generally governed by the thickness of the wood you use. For a mid sized star I suggest you use wood around 16mm (5/8″). In my last blog post I suggested 10mm but perhaps the extra size will be easier for starters. This is large enough to handle and a good size for practicing the techniques. Either way, both sizes will work and all the cuts remain the same. You will need two pieces of wood if you want contrasting colours. If not, one piece of wood will work just fine. I suggest the width if the wood as around 30mm and 25cm (10″). This will make many stars but the extra length is for holding in the cutting along the segments in the vise.
For a four-point star you will mitre the segments to 45-degrees. An easy formula to establish the angles is to divide 360 by twice the number of points. For a five point star the angle is 36-degrees, six points is 30-degrees and so it goes. For our Texas friends, two angles are needed; 36- and 72-degrees. The 72-degrees is the long angle. On the five-pointed lone star all of the points are the same length and so all of the angles are the same too.
Chisel into the knifewall with a chisel to create a step down.
Now do the same in the opposite colour.
It is easy to think that these facets must all be exactly the same but don’t worry at this stage if there is variance between the pieces. We can correct that later.
Joint the meeting edges of the stars. Don’t use the machine for this;-)
Upturn your freshly sharpened plane in the vise making sure that the sole is just below the cheeks of the vise tops. Clamping on the cheeks will break the cheeks.
Place the two opposing facets of the star together and stand them up on the plane sole so that they are perpendicular to the sole. Carefully push the facets across to cutting edge using the less dominant hand to pinch them together and the dominant hand to push the facets forward slowly and CAREFULLY.
While you are waiting you can make a thicknessing jig to plane the facets of the stars.
Any scrap pine will do. Here I am using a section of 2×4.
Place a long star facet on the edge of the 2×4 and mark the shape onto the wood.
This recess now gives you something to hold your facets in. It will hold both the long and the short facets even though the short facets don’t actually fit. Use either the square end or and the pointed end.
Plane first one side smooth and then turn it over and plane down to the surface if the holder. Don’t plane off too much. Just a shaving of the holder and no more. Use the router as needed to re establish the depth if you think it’s needed.
If the angles are close or perfect, glue the first three together and tape as you go. It. Is good to tape both sides and stretch the tape across the joint line of each added facet. Insert the last one and make sure the joint lines of the last one are good. If not, plane or chisel to fit and glue in place.
We have a free video on making stars on woodworkingmasterclasses.com soon. If you sign in for a free subscription here, you will automatically have access to see it and all of the other free videos offered through the film media. I will let you know when we can slot it in here too.
The post Unique Christmas Gifts and Decoration – Making Faceted Stars appeared first on Paul Sellers.
I cannot give you the gift of better eyesight in the shop because, oh, wait, I actually can. Speaking as someone who has had pitiful eyesight since first grade, I have always looked for ways to improve my marking tools. Without a doubt, the one tool that has improved my game more than any other … Read more
I’ve noticed that several woodworking blogs and web pages have been putting up lists of suggested gifts for the woodworker. I have to admit that is a pretty good idea, because chances are that many woodworkers share at least some of the same tastes. I’ve decided to add my two cents to the kitty and put up a short list of items that I own and think would make good gifts for the woodworker in your life. So here goes.
I own several pairs of these work pants and they are well worth the money. They are both thicker and heavier than their Carhartt equivalent, but at the same time softer and less stiff. There are tool pockets on both legs, along with a hammer loop, and the zipper is heavy duty with a large pull. They may be a bit too heavy to work in during the summer, but for the other three seasons they are just about perfect. They work well both in a workshop or a job site, and they don’t stain easily.
This was a tool I owned long before I got into woodworking, and only recently traded it for a Starrett. The cost is extremely low for the quality of the tool. However, I will say that when I purchased mine more than ten years ago the tool was made in America. As of now I am not sure where this tool is manufactured, but if it is of the same quality as mine then I have no problem recommending it as a gift. It is accurate, inexpensive, and a must have for woodworking.
If you, or a woodworker you know, owns a workbench and doesn’t own a pair of these holdfasts it would be the first tool I would purchase on the list. They work brilliantly, are inexpensive, high quality, and will see use nearly every time a woodworking bench is being used. There is not a single project I have built that haven’t seen holdfasts come into play at least a half dozen times. I cannot say enough good things about these tools; they are as good a product as you will find anywhere as far as woodworking tools are concerned.
For less than $100, this four-piece chisel set is the best value on the market. These chisels are light, easy to sharpen, have high quality handles and tool steel, and come in a leather pouch. For the money, I have not used a better chisel, not even close. In my opinion, to get a chisel of this quality you are going to spend more than double the money for another brand. In fact, be prepared to spend more than triple for the Lie Nielsen versions. This set could very well be the first and last set of bench chisels a woodworker will ever need.
While I am not as enamored with the #4 smooth plane as many other woodworkers can be, I certainly know that it is a useful tool. The problem is that a good quality one can get expensive. While there is nothing wrong with spending money on a good quality tool, the #4 plane does not get used as often as you think, and I am of the mind that I would rather put the money into a tool that sees more use. If you are looking to go new, the Stanley Sweetheart #4 is a great option. The plane is made of ductile iron, has premium totes, a high quality iron that is easy to sharpen, and a Norris style adjuster. I own it and have little to complain about. For less than $130 it is as good a hand plane as you can get.
Especially for a person new to sharpening, this set is a great start. It includes a 1000/8000 grit Norton water stone, a side clamp honing jig, tool oil, and a Lie Nielsen ruler if you prefer to sharpen using the “ruler trick”, which I personally don’t care for all that much. Aside from a 220 grit stone that I own, this set is the only system I use to sharpen with and I have had no trouble keeping my tools edges maintained, and believe me I am no expert sharpener. You are not saving much money by purchasing the kit over individual pieces, but if you need everything in the kit this is the easy way to go about it.
So that is my list of basic items that I believe any woodworker could use. The most expensive item on the list is $125. I personally believe that any one of these gifts would work great for a woodworker who for whichever reason does not own them. I know that it can be tough sometimes to find a gift for a woodworker, especially a new woodworker. So I hope that this list helps out a little bit, and possibly makes a woodworker happy on Christmas morning.
Yes, I’m poking fun at Chris Schwarz and his “Anarchist’s Gift Guide,” but also at ourselves (in a tiny nutshell: a hegemonic government is one in which imperial dominance (the corporation) over subordinate states (us and others) is regulated by threat of force…such as, one could presume, a pink slip).* Moving on: Below you’ll find … Read more
These days I am spending far more time slogging than blogging as I work my way through the 125,000 words of To Make As Perfectly As Possible: Roubo on Furniture Making. Deadlines, even self imposed ones (I am determined to get through the manuscript with a complete first pass by mid-December) do have a way of reducing the whimsical charm of a project. But there are moments…
This evening was one of those times that reinforces the delight of beginning and reaffirms my commitment to the Roubo annotation. I was wrapping up the general chapter on the making of seating furniture. The description of upholstery techniques was grand (as soon as I finish the following chapter in the next couple of days I will forward them to one of my readers for confirmation of the descriptions), but the last fifteen pages of the chapter wherein Roubo describes the material technology and techniques of cane preparation and weaving was simply elegant, eloquent even. The wordsmithing of Andre-Jacob as transmitted by Michele melded into something approaching the sublime for those pages. I was honestly sad to see them go.
It made me ever so grateful for the ability to read, to understand and appreciate words and the information and ideas they convey. I simply cannot comprehend the widespread desire for willful illiteracy, which is all about me outside these walls. Heck, only a dozen miles away are a legion of belligerent flaks and flunkies whose duty is the eradication of words, or worse, their meanings, surrounded by a populace that apparently welcomes the relief from being responsible for learning, knowing, understanding, and acting.
Down off the soap box now.
We are now the proud owners of this little chunk of rural Lincolnshire. The aerial photo is from around 1978 shows the buildings looking a little rough around the edges and things have only gotten worse since.
We’ve definitely got our work cut out but this is going to be a long a fruitful journey. The site comes with planning permission for mixed residential and commercial use so along with becoming our home it is also the new and extensive digs for The English Woodworker.
This little blog is having a face lift and will emerge bigger and better than ever. You can expect our usual posting and woodworking rants together with two new focuses;
- A diary of events on the slow and steady renovation together with our daily lives.
- A new focus on producing woodworking videos from our new and enlarged hand tool workshop.
It all sounds simple spread on to those two lines but this is going to be anything but. Getting to this stage has already meant our lifetimes without holidays, without luxuries and constant 5am starts, and this is just the beginning.
We’re running mainly off shear determination and enthusiasm and should likely be considered mad, but then that’s exactly what this is going to take.
The ambition – to create a celebration of the craft, the skills and the lifestyle of ‘The English Woodworker’.
Further details coming soon…