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I’ve been back & forth lately. Maine, here, North Carolina – now here, then Martha’s Vineyard. Then here for a few weeks. Here’s some non-woodsy shots, mostly. This flock of shorebirds wheeled & spun – moments later Marie & I spotted a peregrine falcon bearing down on them. I love how they turn this way & that – and the color changes. this is the backs of these birds:
Semipalmated plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina) silhouetted against the water.
Those were at Plymouth beach. We went to Maine to see the Common Ground fair – took the kids for a walk one evening. The ocean is always the best place for playing – no place we go is more consistently engaging.
This is an island reached by a causeway. Lots of driftwood, which we don’t see at Plymouth much. Daniel peeked inside. I noted what happened to this log – the growth rings are separating completely. Some mad twist too.
Spoons growing everywhere. No cutting allowed though…
Back at Plymouth Beach, stretching is important. This is, I think, a Laughing gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
And we hit the beach just right to see a bunch of migrating butterflies – many were monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus)
A couple weeks later, I was at Roy Underhill’s to teach a spoon carving class. Long drought has dried up the creek at the dam. Fish were dying, and black vultures (Coragyps atratus) came to clean up. There were turkey vultures there too – but these were the smaller black vultures.
Earlier, at home, found this cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) under the bird feeders one day.
and a rare moment when the blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) was quiet and still.
Our friend Rick DeWolf has been infected with the horror vacuii – and made this gate to keep his dog in (or out, I forget which). Despite being able to make this, Rick is still coming to our hurdle-making class later this month. A couple of spaces left. there will be no carving though. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/riving-hurdlemaking-weekend
Once you grab a sledgehammer, it’s hard to put it down.
What began as a mild demolition of the interior of the Horse Garage at our storefront blossomed/became infected. Now I am neck-deep in a major construction project that requires all my skills, most of my time and nearly everything in my bank account.
The reward, however, will be that I’ll have a place for the few machines I own, and they’ll be steps away from my bench room. Also, the butt-end of our property will look a lot more like it did the day in 1906 that they constructed the garage behind the store.
In addition to time, money and muscle, this project requires the cooperation of the City of Covington. We’re in an historical overlay district. Luckily, city officials here are helpful and supportive. I’ve yet to encounter an unreasonable roadblock. But you do have to submit paperwork. Lots of it. And I don’t like paperwork.
Today we proposed our changes and backed them up with archaeological evidence, drawings and a fully signed and dated form. If this gets approved, then I will be on a fast track to build four huge doors, assist in installing a new membrane roof and weatherproof the building before winter arrives.
I’m optimistic. Not only because of the huge carrot dangling in front of me – a nice room for machines – but because of the help of the local Latin American community. The restoration of Covington is being built with the backs of the immigrant laborers, and my building is no different. While I’m on the roof and lifting concrete blocks every dang day, this job would be a nightmare without the help of Manuel, Hugo and a number of other strong backs.
I am not trying to be political here, just honest. They work as hard as I do. They push me to take on as much as I can manage. And they do it all with a laugh and a smile.
As we lift these 50-lb. blocks up into place I can think only of my great-grandparents on the Schwarz side. According to my grandfather, they arrived in the Dakotas from Germany in the early part of the 20th century and were put to work making bricks. They saved enough to move to St. Louis and buy a boarding house. My grandfather was a paper salesman and freelance photographer. My father was the first Schwarz to go to college and became a physician.
And now I’m back to the bricks.
Circular irony aside, it feels damn good.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
The plates, top and back, are done to the point that they can be glued onto the ribs. So this means the ribs have to come off the forms. I have linings both top and bottom, the first step for removal is to trim these from square to tapered. All sorts of ways to do that. What you basically want is a big surface at the outside, to create a bigger gluing surface, tapered down to thin on the inside, to reduce weight and stiffness.
I take a compass and set the pencil at about half the width of the lining, in the vertical sense, and trace out a line on the linings all the way around, top and bottom. Then a sharp knife, cut a bevel from the line to the inside edge, tapering down to meet the rib. I usually make a few nicks on the form and on the ribs, but nothing so much to worry about. And it doesn’t need to be perfect right here, because I’ll clean it up later after the ribs are off the form.
Once the linings are trimmed, I use a small hammer and knock the blocks loose from the form. Then a flat chisel, I strike diagonal cuts to take out the ‘inside’ corners that will disappear anyway.
When those fragments are out, it’s a matter of carefully loosening the ribs -- may have a few accidental glue spots that you don’t want to rush loose -- and then bending the ribs outward a bit, tipping the form as you go. I start at the C-bouts and work towards the larger, lower bouts. Once the endblock is free, you’re pretty much done with the removal.
Then, trim up the blocks and clean up the linings a bit.
Next, glue on a plate or two.
If you want some good news then just scroll to the bottom…
The last few lines or so.
If you want a jolly good moan, then read on.
There’s that old saying about knowledge being power, or the force is strong with you, or something along those lines.
That doesn’t really work now.
With the internet, every bugger is an expert…at everything.
This makes it pretty hard to find good, reliable knowledge.
And I do it for you. Details on the Crucible blog here.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
One of the aspects of finishing that has occupied the interests of woodworkers for centuries has been the quest for executing a smooth and glossy surface. Part and parcel of that effort has been to diminish the texture of the wood itself, hence the need for grain filling. Its importance and vagaries were such that I have introduced two disparate exercises into my teaching, both of which were pretty explicitly described in the historical literature. As done by the ancients, the quest for a non-contaminating grain filler with both enough hardness and flexibility to fulfill the task led them to employ purified beeswax as the backbone for the fill material.
The first exercise was to prepare the base for spirit varnish pad polishing, sometimes known in our vernacular as “French polishing.” In this instance the objective is to flow molten beeswax onto the surface, then scrape off any excess in readying for the pad polishing. Historically they would have used a tool similar to a roofers’ soldering iron, albeit a bit more flattened at the end such that it resembles more closely something like our modern electric tacking iron.
So that is what I use. First the molten wax is drizzled onto the surface by rubbing the hot iron against the block of beeswax, followed by working the iron over the entire surface.
When the entire surface has been saturated with molten wax, the heel of the iron is used to squeegee off any excess and the piece is allowed to cool. Then using a scraper sans burr, the surface is cleaned fully down to the wood fibers. Historically this scraper would have been steel or brass, but equally viable now is a piece of plexiglass with a nicely prepared edge.
With a final buffing with a piece of coarse linen or something similar, the end result is a surface ready for the spirit varnish pad polishing to come.
|Blade and Honing Guide|
I am a happy man! I have discovered a great regime for sharpening my plane irons and chisels. I use a honing guide, a simple Eclipse type one that costs about a thousand rupees. It takes just a few seconds to fit a blade and the results are consistent and repeatable. I find that if I use the same honing guide and the same angle on a particular blade, the bevel presented to the stone is consistent and requires very little effort to re-sharpen.
My regime requires the use of three moderately expensive Japanese ceramic stones:
the Sigma Power 400 grit (Rs 2900), Sigma Power #1000 (Rs 2200) and a Naniwa Ebi #8000 (Rs 3400). The prices quoted are for stones from toolsfromjapan.com and exclusive of shipping charges.
I follow this procedure for maintenance sharpening:
1. Fit the blade in a honing guide
2. Do initial honing on #400 stone to raise a burr. About 100 strokes.
2. Refine edge on #1,000 stone - 50 strokes
3. Polish edge on #8,000 stone - about 25 strokes
And Voila, the blade is super sharp once again.
Max time 5 minutes.
|Japanese Ceramic stones: Sigma Power #1000 (left), Sigma Power #400 (Centre) and Naniwa Ebi #8000 (Right)|
The key to this is the Sigma Power 400 stone which cuts like the devil and is way faster than diamond stones or sandpaper. The Sigma stones work exceptionally well with India made plane blades and the harder Chrome Vanadium chisel steels. Indian plane irons are usually if not exclusively made of EN42 steel, also popularly known as Spring steel. It takes forever to sharpen Spring steel blades on sandpaper and Diamond plates too are not great at taking down this steel. Sigma Power appears to have been designed to wear down this steel in no time at all. It is a marvellous piece of work and hugely reduces sharpening time and encourages me to keep my blades razor sharp. It's so easy.
The downside is the cost - buying the three stones will cost about Rs 10,000. Not a small sum to drop on sharpening supplies. But for the serious woodworker there are few alternatives. Sandpaper in the long run is extremely expensive and so are Diamond stones. Clearly there is a cost for maintaining super sharp blades.
Local Indian carpenters get by with a Rs 180 stone - one could go that route and add a strop with polishing compound. I have, however, tested the sharpness of those blades and the ones sharpened with Japanese ceramic stones; there is really no comparison. Local carpenters use a lot of forces while planing and chiselling which is completely unnecessary if the blades are super sharp. There is also the question of the final quality of a planed surface. The grit at which a blade is honed at will determine the smoothness of the planed surface - no question as it is a direct relationship.
|Thin shavings can arise only out of the mouth of a super sharp plane|
In other words, if someone is going to invest in hand tools for woodworking, I would advise they keep the number of tools to a minimum but spend on good sharpening stones.
It is better to have just three or four hand planes (Jack, Jointer, Smoother and Block) and about 6 chisels of different widths and a set of good stones. It is worth it if you can stop work and re-sharpen for just 5 minutes and then get back on the job.
I have been flattening small 15 inches square panels in between other work and my sharp planes are a huge help. They are quick, clean and satisfying. Nothing like a good sharpening regime!
11 October 2017
Tomorrow night (I am writing this on Monday evening, October 9th), I will be teaching dovetailing. This Saturday I will be teaching a free class called "Introduction to Hand Tools" for the first time. So I have teaching on my brain. I've taught the dovetailing class before, so I know what's on tomorrow night. It's the second session, and we'll be learning about body movement and sawing straight. This afternoon I checked to make sure that all the wood we need is ready, and Tuesday need to double check that class saws are ready to rumba.
It's the Saturday class that preoccupies me a bit. The class is in response to the many people over the years who have come to our showroom, for themselves or looking for a gift, who are trying to wrap their heads around the idea of using hand tools. They sincerely want to expand their horizons. Sometimes they are familiar only with what Home Depot stocks and hand held power tools. This applies to professionals and amateurs alike. Many are perplexed by the idea what you can actually build anything by hand. Of course, misconception about hand tools are formed by never seeing the tools in efficient operation. You can drill a hole with an electric drill even if the bit is dull and the drill is noisy. But it isn't patently obvious how to work a brace or a bit so it's fun. We have a reputation and a lot of showroom and warehouse space devoted to hand tools, so the curiosity is natural.
What can I do to give people what they've come to discover? I have to get and hold people's attention. I have to make hand tool skill look like obtainable. I have to show the distinction between cheap knockoff tools that don't work well and quality hand tools. And - particularly for the amateurs - I have to show that the basic operations of woodworking by hand, operations that can be performed in a small apartment or shop, don't have to be painful, and can result in good results.
I try to be practical, not (just) philosophical.
I should teach how to measure accurately but I am afraid it isn't sexy enough to keep a class engaged. People want to see sawdust!
I think I want to teach people how to start a cut with a handsaw. That's a big problem people have. They try cutting something and since they can't start the saw they never get to the joyous moment when they can advance easily through the wood.
I think I want to teach people how to set a hinge because that gives me a chance to demonstrate marking out and chiseling to a line. And it's easier than setting up a router.
I think I want to show people how to clamp their work. It's not very sexy but it's pretty useful. I know some tricks with a few clamps that let you set up anywhere even at the kitchen table.
I will have to plane something - wood shavings are sexy. And if I rub the shavings on the wood I can show a wonderful burnished surface.
And of course I plan to drill a big hole with a brace and bit, showing how to not splinter out at the end and also how a ratchet brace really helps with those large holes.
I think that's all I can do in a couple of hours. My main goal, of course, is to inspire. I hope that at least a few of the attendees will look at what I am doing, try it themselves and then go home, take the plunge and start building stuff.
If you are in the area this Saturday, you're invited to the class! For more details click here.
I made a mitered box tonight and I made one with a method I have seen many times before. I had thought of making it in the past but I felt it was something beyond my capabilities. That was mostly due to the box being mitered. The other part has to do with how the lid is secured, sans hinges or some other contrivance of that ilk.
|find a couple pieces of 1/2 stock|
|marked where the 5/8" dado will go|
|this isn't carved in stone|
|used the 043 to make the dado|
|last dado done|
|two long sides done|
|can't forget to mark the dado|
|all the parts are sawn and I'm ready for a dry fit|
|wee bit too long|
|this is ready to glue up|
|glued with hide glue|
Tomorrow I'll saw it in two and fit the bottom piece in the dado.
The President of the United States rates a 21 gun salute. How many does the Vice President get?
answer - 19
Here’s a last-minute surprise: Don Williams will be at our storefront this Saturday (Oct. 14) to sign books and talk about all things A.J. Roubo, H.O. Studley and historical finishing.
If you’d like to chat with Don and ask him to sign a book, be sure to stop by between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. (I don’t want to force him to stay in one place all day.) Don is the author (or co-author) of some of our most intense and rewarding books, including:
Don is a wellspring of information on historical finishing techniques (he is the only person I know with a shellac collection?). And is a remarkably generous person with his time and his hard-won information. So this visit is a very pleasant surprise.
As I mentioned before, we’ll have lots to see this weekend, including my completed Saalburg workbench (a replica of a surviving 1,800-year-old workbench) and the Horse Garage, which will become our machine room. Plus Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney from Popular Woodworking Magazine will be hanging around. It should be a fun day.
The storefront is located at 837 Willard St. in Covington, Ky. We’re open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
I’ve decided to trek to Covington KY this coming Saturday to sign Roubo and Studley books at the Lost Art Press storefront open-house (and pick up my own copies of the Deluxe version of the new Roubo volume). I should be there from mid-morning through mid-afternoon if you want me to sign your book.
Actually, I’ll be there even if you don’t want me to sign your book.
Drivel Starved Nation!
It’s always exciting when we have something new to share… which I suppose makes this post news. (I did that math all by myself – FYI)
Since 1983, (that’s 34 human years, but 311 tool maker years), we have been producing impeccably crafted bench tools primarily for avocational woodworkers. It’s been mostly fun, but not as fun as it could have been knowing what I know now…
Three years ago, I experienced a life changing happening in China that I cannot get out of my head. If you missed my original post, you can read it here.
What I learned over the previous three years is the enthusiastic joy the Chopstick Master™ has brought to people’s lives the world around is something I hope to duplicate with future offers from Bridge City.
I believe the thrill of using the Chopstick Master is not the pair of chopsticks (yes, they are beautiful and function perfectly), but the self-esteem boost one experiences from the making process. Learning something new is always its own reward (good and bad) but there is another aspect in play here that is noteworthy. And that is the power of gesture.
To make a pair of chopsticks takes about 15 minutes. Giving them away as a gesture creates a feeling that lasts way beyond those fleeting 15 minutes. It is simply about as good as one can feel about themselves. And it is contagious, as in Quality is Contagious™.
Last January I met with the lawyers that manage our patents and trademarks and we were discussing the improbable success of the Chopstick Master when one of them blurted, ”What’s next, a gizmo to make pencils?” This unintended comment, meant as a joke, was simply a great idea in my mind. Why? Because I felt that making pencils would be 10 times more fun than making chopsticks! And having fun, is a big deal to me. I now love lawyer humor too!
I left on my annual work retreat in February and immediately jumped head first into the rabbit hole of pencil making (when the Muse talks you listen). I have been doing almost nothing since. So yes, your fearless Tool Potentate has yet again “bet the farm” on this improbable idea. It worked with the Jointmaker Pro and I sure do hope it works here…
The patent and trademark has been filed so here’s an overview of how Pencil Precision™ works;
Using our venerable HP-6v2 Plane (any version with locking dovetail nuts), you attach the pencil groove soles, insert the iron and adjust for a whisper cut, attach the fixed purpose acetyl depth skids, and plane the supplied 170mm cedar blank until the plane quits cutting. This process creates two 1mm radius channels and dimensions the blank stock to exactly 4mm in thickness. Repeat this for the second blank. The blue knob tightens the red clamp jaw which freezes the blank in place. The unit was designed to work on a kitchen counter or workbench. This step for both halves is less than 5 minutes.
Once the two halves are complete, you put a thin film of wood glue on one side, position the 2mm dia lead blanks in place and use the fixture to clamp the blanks for at least 1 hour. No other tools are required (OK, a small hammer will help later…) but this device is literally a factory in a box.
You next place the pencil sandwich back into the fixture using the orange index clamp pads. These keep the pencil blank centered while you plane 1/2 the diameter of a round pencil blank. All pencils shapes emanate from this round pencil blank. When the plane quits cutting (the depth skids control everything so you cannot screw up), flip the blank and repeat. The result will be two round pencils! Again, about 5 minutes for this step.
Next, you decide what pencil profile you would like to make, your choices are to stay with round (perfect for colored pencils) or hex, or beaded or our modified Reuleaux profile. In the image below, we are making a beaded pencil. Put in fixture and crank away. You are literally extruding wood through a series of progressive dies (think circular plane irons). The results will almost make you scream with joy the first time, the second and third… it is that much fun! This takes about 1 minute.
With a completed blank, you have to decide now how to finish your pencil. You can paint, or go natural, the many choices are yours. (I will post later why making a pencil out of cocobolo/ebony/rosewood is a stupid idea). With a piece of cardboard under the fixture, your paint set-up looks like this;
Painting will require at least 3 coats, so you need to plan accordingly. We will provide detailed painting tips (I have an airbrush which is awesome) but in the shop we are painting with a brush using acrylics and a top gloss coat. Once the finish is dry, it is now time to cut the tenon to receive the ferrule. This is strikingly easy for anybody regardless of skill. First, you put the pencil blank in the hole and lower the guillotine. Spin the pencil with the cutter engaged to score the shoulder. This takes 15 seconds.
Once the pencil blank has been scored, you remove the excess wood by repeatedly pushing the ferrule end of the pencil into the hole at the end of the fixture, rotate and repeat. This shaves the pencil to the proper diameter. The other cutter you see is the built in pencil sharpener.
The supplied ferrules (we have not decided on all the colors yet, but we really like the champagne color, works for everything) are beautiful. Plop one in the the fixture, raise the guillotine to the fixed 90 degree position (no, the blade is not exposed, it just looks that way) and with the pencil resting against the guillotine and the orange body, tap the pencil home. Without this setup it is way too easy to get the ferrule on crooked. All that is left is sharpening and inserting the supplied eraser.
Yes, we have a way to identify the lead types and we will offer colored pencil leads for the adult coloring book market.
Imagine making a pencil for your child’s SAT test? Your grandchild’s first pencil? The gesture opportunities are endless. This “pencil factory in a box” can be enjoyed by your entire family on the kitchen counter!
I will give a report on the crazy way our contest was won in my next post. And, we are still working on pricing.
The post Introducing Pencil Precision from Bridge City Tool Works appeared first on John's Blog.
This is another situation were we need some Federal regulation as to the standardization of furniture terminology to avoid confusion and indicate the actual use and derivation of a furniture type. It is commonly called the corner chair but there is not indication that these types of chairs were used exclusively in corners:
There is speculation that this design was meant to allow men wearing sword to sit comfortably. Many doubt this. It can also be called a writing chair, a smoking chair, a roundabout chair or simply Edgar. My personal belief is that exist to promulgate manspread.
There are many variations of corner chairs out there. The common design elements are that the legs are rotated 90° from typical, the side legs continue up to become the arm supports and that the chair arm goes from one side leg to the other. I now believe that some of those odd chairs I came across are just corner chair variants.
Some are more functional:
Some are more elaborate than others:
Some aren’t rounded:
Some are less than utilitarian:
Some are more modern in their approach:
Whatever they are and however they’re made, you can find more in a photo set HERE.
My wife, Anita wanted me to make some custom floating shelves for the dining room. We had some floating shelves from Ikea, but she wanted something that would match the coffee bar I made her.
Making the shelves were super easy. I grabbed 3/4″ pine and a couple of 2 x 2 select pine from Home Depot. I made the width of the shelves 3 1/8″ thick so that the 2 x 2 would fit inside nicely without getting jammed inside.
I used my miter jack to make sure the sides were a perfect 45 degrees so all the pieces would fit nicely together with no gaps. Most people make these shelves with simple butt joints on the ends, but I didn’t want end grain showing so I took the time to miter the corners.
After making sure everything fit together well, I glued and clamped the whole assembly together. Anita then stained the shelves with apple cider vinegar, steel wool solution and gel stain to match the coffee bar.
When it came to install the shelves, I attached the 2 x 2 frame to the wall by securing it to the studs making sure it was level.
I then slid the shelf into place and secured it in place from the bottom into the 2 x 2 frame. I then did the exact same thing on the second shelf.
Here are the shelves installed with a bunch of Rae Dunn pottery on them. Anita was planning on writing messages on the chalk board wall to give it some pizzazz, but decided the wall is too dark and will eventually paint it back normal. What do you think? Should she give the chalk board wall a shot with fancy chalk board writing on it?
I recently finished a joint stool, made from read oak that was originally split from a log, following the method shown in Jennie Alexander and Peter Follansbee’s terrific book, Make a Joint Stool from a Tree. The dimensions are modified because this joint stool will be serving as a footstool for one of our chairs.
A joint stool is a traditional western woodworking project, and doesn’t have an equivalent in Japanese woodworking either as a commonly used piece of furniture, or in terms of the method of construction. Despite this, I made this completely with Japanese tools, except for the part where I drilled holes for the dowels for the drawbored mortise and tenon joints, and for the dowels that attach the top board to the base. There is a slight nod to George Nakashima, as the stretchers have a live edge on the bottom side, I maintained the sapwood on the top, and the decoration on the legs certainly are not in the period style for this type of furniture piece.
My viewpoint on the Japanese woodworking tool world has always been on the side of looking for similarities between Japanese and western woodworking tools, as opposed to focusing on the differences. As with the Bible box I made some years past, I think this project illustrates this point quite nicely. I like to think that this is a good example of how, despite visible differences between groups, there are many more similarities than differences. In these times, that’s a good lesson to keep in mind.
And I’d like to point out that, yes, this project was made with hardwood.
This is the second I have done this. The last time was also Columbus day about 4-5 years ago. Oh well, shit happens. I was up anyways and I couldn't go to the shop because everyone was still sleeping. I'm sure the couple of hours I was there will be turned into comp time and not OT.
|let's have a sharpening party|
|first one I did|
|some of the output|
Instead of sharpening the irons in the planes and putting them back, I cycled them. I took the spares I had and put them in the planes. I sharpened the irons I took out of them and put them in the drawer.
|the last of them|
|polishing the cheeks and sole is dead last|
|made my center bead|
|making another bead|
|tracks end to end|
I'm not sure if this is the correct way to do this but it worked. The other way to do this is to use a fence nailed or clamped to the stock. The more I do handwork, the more I understand that my hands and eyes are a powerful combination that are capable of a lot of things.
|it looked straight|
|I need lots more practice here|
|a pair of #8 H/Rs|
|a little bit of pitting on round iron|
|1/8" beading plane|
|Not too too bad for my first attempt at this|
|decided to play with my 3/4" T/G (match) planes|
|groove was easy, the tongue was a bitch to do|
|joint line isn't aligned|
|back side is off set too|
|scraped the paint and made another set|
|groove done - still a bit too heavy on the depth of the iron by the thickness of the shavings|
|better alignment on the reference faces|
|the tongue and groove looks ok here|
|hiding the misalignment|
|plane I used to make the bevel|
|might as well play with the 1/2" T/G|
|misaligned and the tongue fits snug in the groove|
|just as bad if one board is flipped|
|1/2" thick board and the tongue is off center|
|I am still doing good on plowing the grooves|
|the 3/4" T/G irons|
What is a footling compliant?
answer - one that is trivial and irritating
Influence, the word, the resulting action, literally means to ‘flow in’, I suppose suggesting more a gentle ebbing that nudges the shoreline or a steady but easy current influencing another entity, source or supply of one kind or another. Sometimes an influence goes one way and other times it can be more symbiotic but not […]
This evening I posted a rant at Crucible Tool about our holdfasts. I’m not very good at rants and need to take some lessons from Raney. Still, here is is.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
In this month's issue of Popular Woodworking, I have an article (my first!) on making a double iron coffin smoothing plane. Here's a link to a description of the article, and here's a link to purchase, should you be so inclined.
I didn't choose the title--Popular Woodworking likes puns more than the NY Post does!--but I'm very happy with how it all turned out. Megan Fitzpatrick originally asked me to write a seven-page article. A few months later, I emailed her to say "I have a problem. I've written 15 pages and I'm not done yet." But somehow, she managed to condense it down to 10 pages, without omitting any essential content.
I tried to put everything I could think of into this article, but after it was done, I realized there was one thing I didn't mention: no matter how complete an article is, it can never substitute for learning at the School of Hard Knocks. I tried to include everything I've learned over the past five years about avoiding all the pitfalls in planemaking, but you know what? The only way to really learn about those pitfalls is to experience them. You'll probably make some mistakes on your first plane. You might even have to start over. But if you want to make a plane, persevere, and you'll get there. I won't pretend it's easy, but it's not rocket science, either.
If anyone out there has comments or questions, feel free to post below.