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A lovely lignum vitae body, rosewood tote handled smooth plane by J. Foster, Boston. Pollack suggests that J. Foster is Jesse Foster, listed in directories as a Boston, MA, turner and cabinetmaker.
Most likely made by a shipwright, this live oak handled smooth plane is made up of carefully selected pieces, joined to maximize grain. The handle is reinforced with a steel plate and the wedge is held in place with a steel rod.
Some things in woodworking are hard-earned. Translation: I might not be so bright.
This week I performed some maintenance to my circa 1505 workbench designed by Martin Löffelholz. I’d built the bench last year using components that were soaking wet. This was not my preference, but sometimes we don’t have a choice when it comes to wood.
So what would be my preference? A wet top and bone-dry legs.
In my case, the tenons on the four wet legs had dried out faster than the wet benchtop. Because the ends of a stick of wood dry out before its middle, this was to be expected. As a result, three of the tenons became loose in their mortises, and I needed to re-glue and re-wedge them.
This is quick and easy work, maybe an hour. And because I use hide glue, there was no need to scrape off the dried PVA glue to remake the joints. (Yay for animal glue – for the 102nd billionth time.)
What’s the point here? Well, if you’ve ever made a workbench with through-tenons or through-dovetails then you know that the most difficult part of flattening the benchtop is dealing with the recalcitrant end grain. It can stop your handplane short, no matter how sharp it is or strong you think you are.
This week I got smart. Usually when you make a through-tenon, you make the tenon over-long and then saw or plane it flush to the surrounding wood. This is a good idea when making doors or small boxes. But when making workbenches, perhaps not.
This week I decided to cut the tenons 1/16” shy so they would end up recessed instead of proud when the joints were assembled. And, after assembly, I chiseled the wedges down flush with the tenon.
As a result, the benchtop was easy to flatten. My jack plane didn’t encounter any end grain until the last few strokes of flattening the benchtop.
Why haven’t I done this for the last 100 workbenches that I’ve built with my students, for customers or for me?
Lesson: Don’t be a Schwarz. Cut your workbench tenons short.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Workbenches
A small tin of Prooftint Stain sprung a leak and coloured a portion of my shelf, awe how considerate. The little bugger over the years slowly ate its way through the bottom of the can. Not really sure how though as it’s not possible, but the evidence is in the pudding.
As I was cleaning and cursing away, you know the usual shop talk with yourself, I noticed this beautiful brass or bronze like patina on another tin the stain leaked on.
Once more poor photographic skills have let me down, I wish you could see what I see. It reminds of the old infill planes Bill Carter still makes by hand. BTW, it was Elm that leaked. I did try another stain on another can to see if I could replicate it but no go. I guess a particular metal type matter, but I’m unsure about this. What type of metal is the can made of? Probably tin, but I’m not a metallurgist to say for sure. Either way it works and looks great. You could probably do this to screws to give it an antique look. Just so you know that methylated spirits will wash 90% of it off. But I think a little bit of lacquer will protect it for many years.
|winter wonderland at1500|
|Fiskar paper cutter|
|working the #3|
|slight hollow at the heel|
|an hour later|
|the sides need work|
|metric plywood from Woodcraft|
|120 grit batting next|
|done up to 400 grit - it's shiny|
|degreasing and cleaning the interior|
|sharpened by Ken Hatch|
|fettling the chipbreaker|
|brass is shiny and the small parts are cleaned and oiled|
|the last step in the rehab|
|this took a while|
|it's ready to go to work|
|glamour shot #1|
Did you know that Gene Autry is the only person to have 5 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
|Manmeet "Lucky" Singh, Luthier|
Shadipur is a crowded, largely working class, locality in west Delhi adjoining the industrial districts of Naraina and Kirti Nagar. Its narrow streets perpetually crowded with autos, two-wheelers and rickshaws are lined with endless shops, eateries and hawkers. Down its narrow alleys are houses that seem to touch each other and allow nothing wider than a scooter or motorbike to pass through.
Manmeet Singh, better known as "Lucky", leads me down one of these alleys where the noise of the street recedes and sunlight is cut off by the overhang of closely built brick and cement houses. He unlocks a steel door and ushers me into his 10 by 20 feet workshop.
The little windowless workshop is crammed with carefully bundled stacks of wood of various species. He collects different types of wood, and lots of it. For, Lucky is a luthier; at 23, he is perhaps one of the country's youngest and already a pro known for his finishing skills.
|Measuring a pattern for a guitar body|
He has been making guitars for just 3 years and already his basic models of acoustic guitars sell for Rs 25,000. He makes one or two guitars a month and supplements his income by taking up spray finishing work and procuring exotic local varieties of wood for guitar makers and wood suppliers.
|Ukulele with Cocobolo back|
The first part of the process is to acquire great wood, he explains. "You cannot finish something that is not great in the first place", he explains in Hindi.
This is one reason why he spends a lot of his time - an average of three days a week- at the city timber markets. At Kirti Nagar timber market near where he lives, everyone seems to know Lucky. He dives into the shops to quickly inspect what is available. If something catches his eye, he is instantly on to it.
At one shop, we came across a couple of logs of a local timber called Jungle Jalebi. I later learnt this wood is Pithecellobium dulce also known as Monkeypod. It is dense and difficult to saw. Lucky thought one of the logs would produce some great burl.
He snapped a few photographs of the log and sent it to one his mates in Mumbai who exports exotic Indian woods for guitar makers around the world. The reply came back almost instantly and in the affirmative. The next thing I know Lucky was fishing out money to reserve the log for re-sawing later.
|Lucky's little workshop stashed with wood|
"Two or three of us share the wood I find", Lucky explained. "That way I can get what I want without having to block a lot of money for an entire log."
This way, he has managed to build up a small but impressive collection of a wide variety of wood, including Purpleheart, Cocobolo, Black Siris, Mango, Indian Mahogany, Sapele, Bubinga, Spanish Cedar and so on.
|A beautiful local species called Siris|
He gets the wood cut into quarter inch thick pieces and brings them back to his workshop where he uses a shop made drum sander to bring them down further to a final of 2 to 3 millimetres.
The pieces are cut into various shapes and joined together with thin splines. The sides are moulded in forms of various shapes and sizes made of MDF. The neck is made separately and later attached to the body.
|Mango wood guitar finished with lacquer|
Where he excels is in the finishing. He has an air compressor spray system at home and does the finishing there in a veranda as his workshop is too tiny and enclosed for spraying. He also has a shop made buffing machine which uses various types of cloth wheels.
"The glow in the finish comes from depth", he says. "The only way you can know it has worked is from seeing the final product. If there isn't enough depth in the finish, then it isn't done."
|An accoustic guitar made of Indian Mahogany by Lucky|
The best thing I liked about Lucky was his insatiable curiosity about different kinds of wood, finishes and work methods. He keeps visiting the larger paint dealers to know about the latest kinds of finishes, paints, fillers and so on. He seems to be constantly absorbing information.
A self-taught guitar maker, Lucky Singh seems to be vastly enjoying the learning curve he is on. His insatiable curiosity about everything involving his art will ensure that he grows to be a great craftsman someday soon.
10 December 2017
I received an email this morning randomly from Lord knows who. The Woodworking forum advertised doesn’t appear in the search list. The business address advertised also is non existent, so I’m just taking it as spam. However, it’s not useless information and I thought I’d share it with you. I’ve also provided a link to a website I discovered this morning who sells exotic species in the US. I thought Australia was the only country with high priced timber, I guess the US has decided to follow our poor example.
Pine, oak, and maple are perfectly serviceable woods for most woodworking projects, but sometimes you want to create something a little special. Even the most basic design can be transformed into high-end pieces with the right kind of wood.
Most exotic woods are harder and denser than basic pine or maple and they contain more natural oils, which allows you to create beautiful glassy finishes on most exotics. Exotic woods are generally heavier than basic woods and can be much pricier, but they make great choices for smaller pieces and accent or inlay work. One thing to keep in mind while working with exotic woods is that the dust from sanding many of them can be hazardous to your health. It can cause rashes to your skin or problems when inhaled, so wear protective clothing and eyewear when working with it.
Brazil Nut Wood
Made from the tree that produces the food of the same name, Brazil nut wood is very dense. Best used for projects such as furniture making, boxes and musical instruments, its beautiful reddish tint is lightly striped with golden orange. The wood is moderately smooth-grained and can take a very high polish, making it a great wood for showpieces.
This exotic hardwood has a deep curl that penetrates through the wood. The reddish-orange color combined with the curl creates a board that looks like it has enclosed flames. Popular in Southeast Asia for floors and cabinets, it’s also a beautiful choice for smaller projects such as pool cues, duck calls or knife handles.
This west African species is a wonderful wood to work with, being slightly less dense than American walnut. The warm brown background has prominent black stripes throughout, making it a striking choice for larger pieces. Use this wood for guitar bodies, fancy boxes or turned pieces.
Also known as Pacific Koa, Monkeypod wood is an excellent choice for furniture and turned pieces. Warm gold and dark chocolate brown swirl together with black stripes to create a beautiful design. Pacific Koa is light in weight, relatively hard and very strong. It finishes absolutely beautifully, making it the exotic choice for many who love woodturning projects.
Pernambuco is also known as Brazil wood. This rare, exotic hardwood is burnt reddish brown in color. The name is significant because the burnt red and vivid orange colors of the wood resemble the colors of Brazilian soil. This is a very stiff wood that works well in box making, but its primary use is for instrument bows. You can create a glass-like finish on this wood, making for some absolutely striking projects.
Australian Murray Red River Gum
Truly an extraordinary wood for extraordinary projects. This hard, dense wood ranges in color from creamy white to a brilliant, deep red. It glues and works well, but its figural inclusions are what makes it really special. Black swirls and random shapes show up throughout the pieces and occasionally even a checkerboard design will occur. This wood has a silky smooth grain, giving you the opportunity to craft some very special pieces.
This wood grows on the east coast of Brazil. The color is light gold fading into a red, with dark streaks that resemble a tiger’s stripes. Tigerwood is naturally oily and dense, which means it can take an incredible polish. This wood is great for smaller pieces and fancier applications such as pepper mills, knife handles. inlay work or bowls.
A gorgeous wood that’s ideal for stringed instruments as well as smaller pieces. Movingui is so sought-after than most great pieces are cut into veneer, but occasionally you’ll find some sawed into lumber. It has a medium to fine grain and is a soft golden yellow with a darker golden grain that can look like stripes, mottling and even bees’ wings.
The problem with many exotic woods is that they’re rated as vulnerable or endangered. Legitimate dealers collect their wood from naturally dead trees. The sale of exotic woods creates strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Whether you feel uncomfortable dealing in exotic and rare woods or you love the unique features they bring to your projects, you should always support dealers who follow import laws and practice sustainable customs.
This year when people ask me what they should get their woodworking family and friends for the holidays, my first answer is always a board of hardwood. But if they have a tool in mind, things get harder to suggest. Below are items I recommend because they work for most types of woodworking and if they already have one, then having another is welcome. 1) Sloyd Woodworking Knife – On […]
|glued the felt to the plywood|
|it looks pretty good|
|two pieces for the bottom of the box|
|how I did it|
|where they cross is the center|
|squaring a line across the width|
|need a bigger square to make this line|
|got my two 90° square lines|
|line up the center line of the handle on the short 90°|
|eyeball the handle centered on the long square line|
|trace the outline of the handle|
|get a brand new razor blade|
|clean edges all around|
|I like this a lot|
|got two more Howard adjusters|
|the only one without a Howard adjuster|
|not needed anymore|
|got another coat on the box - at least one more to go|
|going to sharpen my 6mm chisel|
|it's not too bad|
|the best I ever remember seeing this chisel|
|the back just needed a touch up|
|I'll sharpen and hone up the rest of the herd|
|these two have chips|
|the biggest chisel has a big chip missing|
|my new 1 1/2" AI chisel|
Did you know insecticides were the first products marketed in aerosol containers?
Back in the mezozoic era when I was in college, I hosted a late night jazz show on the college station. My theme song was a Dave Brubeck piece (as would be the case with any civilized person in that situation), in this case Unsquare Dance. For whatever reason this tune, or more precisely the title, leaped into my head when I first saw the juxtaposition of the new and magnificent stone wall with the whomperjawed lean-to attached to the ancient log barn behind the root cellar/granary. I’d always recognized it was a bit off-plumb, but goodness the comparison was sobering. My desire to get it straightened out needed to become action.
About that time my younger brother came for a week-long visit. We are pretty much two peas in a pod, although he is a better marksman than am I. He is an excellent carpenter and builder, so once I knew his schedule I ordered some 2x8x8′ pressure treated SYP to use in building the new wall structure.
The strategy was to assemble stick-built laminated beam to serve as the top plate for a post-and-beam configuration, about a foot inside the original wall. But first we had to jack up the roof to some semblance of planarity, which we accomplished with hydraulic bottle jacks and extra 2x8s to wedge the roof to the height we wanted. It took a day of gradual lifting, but we finally had it ready to work on. The foot worth of swale was as gone as we could get it, and it was time for the hard work to begin.
Perchance would you care to procure a new sticker set for your divan, boudoir or your dearest fainting couch? (Translation: Want some stickers for your pie hole?) We have a new set of three stickers available now from my daughter Maddy the sticker princess (not be confused with Katy the wax princess).
This set features a 3”-diameter sticker from the Fancy Lad Academy of Woodworking & Charcuterie. Click here if that doesn’t mean anything to you. The second sticker is 4” wide and is an original piece of art from Suzanne Ellison – a crow made from tools from A.J. Roubo’s “l’Art du menuisier.” The third sticker is the gorgeous cover from “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” by Roy Underhill.
These are quality 100 percent vinyl stickers. They will survive the outdoors – heck you could put one on your car. Want a set? You can order them from Maddy’s etsy store here. They are $6 delivered ($10 for international orders).
Or, for customers in the United States, you can send a $5 bill and a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to by daughter Maddy at:
Stick it to the Man
P.O. Box 3284
Columbus, OH 43210
As always, this is not a money-making venture for me or Lost Art Press. All profits help Maddy escape her undergraduate education with both kidneys.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Stickers, Uncategorized
A call from a local middle-school orchestra teacher. "One of my students broke the scroll off a viola, and I need it repaired. It's borrowed from another school!" So, here it is. Not just the scroll, but the entire pegbox. A really bad break. Financially not worth repairing. It is, at first glance, an older 15" student viola, which has put in plenty of years work. Just replace it.
"Can't do that. It's borrowed. I can't say her viola is broken."
It will cost _________.
Pause. "I don't have that much money in my budget."
So here it is. I'm trying to figure something to do, and I think I have. Not charging enough. Hoping the work also serves as pennance for some sin, past or future.
But the back --
It just amazed me. It has long been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that it is impossible to photograph varnish. Photos, even video, can not catch the reflections as you or the instrument move through the light. Even with a camera as nice as a cell-phone. But here are some photos.
A one-piece back, with great clarity and motion. It could be as simple as amber shellac and clear spirit varnish. The wood, underneath, is aging to something of a grey-green. It's a great combination.
So, even if I don't gain any pennance from it, at least this one may have a chance to make music again.
And I have a new conceptual model for varnish color.
The first week of December to Remember is over! I have drawn the following winners at random. Continue to enter throughout the month of December! December 1: Jim Dunn, Alabama December 2: Donald Nay, West Virginia December 3: David Hodgerson, Iowa December 4: Douglas Slater, Wisconsin December 5: R. Mark Underwood, Texas December 6: Eric Webb, Georgia December 7: Heidi Smith, Michigan
I’ve said it many times (though I’m sure I’m on the wrong page).
I believe that hand tools are the most efficient set up for the individual maker.
And not just the hobbiest.
If you’re building one-off pieces for clients then hand tools are still where it’s at.
Most that would disagree lack a thorough knowledge of using hand tools.
I have various reasons, and many exceptions.
Someone, I think on Google, asked me to post drawings for the little portable vise I posted about on November 11th. I have been working on them and should have them done relatively soon.
Also, I was asked about the knicker blade for the Filletster Plane I posted about back in February of this year. I did get a replacement blade from Bob's Tool Box in the UK, but it was a tad too wide so I plan to do the slight modification it needs right after I finish veneering my bondo-trued fir plywood (I love typing that because I know it makes some cringe). I will be videoing the process and I will post the results here.
And speaking of veneering...all I can say is...what a pain in the ass that job is.
The only bit of advice I can give anyone who hasn't tried veneering yet is; don't do it unless you have the proper set-up for it. I will never veneer anything this large again, so I think spending a few hundred or so on a couple of dozen clamps and cauls, or better yet, spending the time and the money to build a 40" x 50" (the size of the largest piece) multi-screw press is crazy. As a result, I have jury-rigged the weirdest set-ups to get the job done.
I have been getting the job done slowly, doing it in a way that is either gutsy, or just damned stupid.
While clamps are one major requirement, the other is "plates". These are dead-flat pieces of material that are at least the same size as the piece you are veneering, or better yet, slightly larger. Again, I'll never use them again so instead of buying material to make them, I bought a couple of pieces of 18-gauge sheet metal. I am using the actual substrate pieces I made for the cabinet as the plates, stacking them with two, already veneered or not, on the bottom, covering it with a piece of sheet metal, then the piece of substrate I am veneering on top of it, then the second piece of sheet metal, then two more pieces of substrate, again veneered or not, on top. I then use strips of 11mm plywood (leftovers from the substrate) and some 2x4 cauls I made to clamp them all together. Because the substrate pieces are made from two pieces of 11mm ply glued together, giving a finished thickness of a hair under 1", there is relatively no give to them, and with five of them clamped together, there is zero chance of any twisting. They have also been flattened beyond an inch of their lives (remember the bondo), so they actually do the job very well. I did have one veneered piece I was using as a plate that came out with a 3" long by 1/8" wide dent in it. I don't know what caused it, probably a stray, missed sliver of veneer, but I took my wife's really expensive, and very hot, steam iron to it and it just disappear.
This is an excerpt from “The Essential Woodworker” by Robert Wearing.
In making plain or flush doors the obvious choice of material appears to be a well-chosen board of solid wood (Fig 353). However this is no solution since the wood may swell or shrink, spoiling the fit, or warp, making any fit impossible. A stable, light door suitable for painting or lower-quality work can be made from a mitred frame to which are glued two sheets of thin ply (Fig 354).
A heavier and more robust door is shown in Fig 355. Here a stronger frame is dowelled or tenoned together with two ply skins. Extra cross members are added to stiffen the door. Air holes are drilled in the cross members and in the bottom rail to equalize air pressure inside and outside. Such cross members must not be too far apart, nor should the ply be too thin (minimum 6mm (1/4in.)), otherwise an impression of the framing may show through.
A door from multi-ply or blockboard is extremely stable, but the edges are unattractive and do not take the hinge screws well. Such a door is generally lipped (Fig 356). The lipping may be butted or mitred at the corners. The tongue is essential for good adhesion, particularly on the end grain of blockboard. The lipping may be applied to veneered material but for better work the lipping is concealed by veneering the whole face after the lippings have been glued and planed flush. Lippings must be made from thoroughly dry material, otherwise shrinkage will take place and the lipping will show through the veneer.
Good-quality handwork makes frequent use of the framed and panelled door (Fig 357), the inner edge of which is moulded or chamfered. The following illustrations show some of the possible combinations of frame and panel.
— Meghan Bates
Filed under: The Essential Woodworker
Just a quick post to say that, as of today, I am no longer with Popular Woodworking.
But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving woodworking – far from it. I’m looking forward to lots more time in the shop as I build some commission pieces, and I’m working on a number of woodworking writing and editing projects. Plus, I’ve a couple classes already lined up for 2018, and am working on a few more. In short, this is nothing but a positive change.
Megan brought a breath of fresh air to the woodworking world during her tenure as editor of Popular Woodworking. I’m honored to have been a small part of her time at the magazine. Best wishes for her future projects and endeavors. I’m looking forward to see what she has in store.
Editor’s note: With the holidays upon us, we’re looking through the magazines and books we own for fun handmade gifts – things that you can build in not too much shop time, but that will help to create a lifetime of memories for the recipients. This is Holiday Project Post number five – for the “Pint-sized Pickup,” click here; for a Craftsman-style Wall Shelf, click here; for “Heirloom Photo Album” […]
When I got home from work the first thing I did was to sign into amazon and bring up my order status. I was expecting to see 5 outstanding orders and there were only two. According to amazon, I never placed 3 of the orders. My wife would have been the recipient of the short end of this stick. After checking the order history again, I placed the orders and signed out. I signed back in to amazon to ensure the orders had gone through and they had.
I found a problem with the blog today. I don't know how it is happening but some of my blog posts are being doubled up on one date. The hiccup started on the 23rd of november with several posts being dated for the same day after that up to dec 5th. That isn't right because I have posted a new blog entry every day for the past several years.
I corrected the nov and dec double postings with what I think are the correct dates. I noticed some doubled up dates for sept but I didn't change them (I'll check them out this weekend). I think I updated the nov-dec problems so that they weren't posted again. I'll check the date when I post in the future to ensure it is the correct day.
|calling them done|
|1 1/2" Ashley Iles chisel|
|the snug fitting one is the lead off batter|
|lots of red felt|
|found the center of the handle|
|handle position marked and ready to cut out|
|it isn't laying flat on the bench|
|felt has a crease in it|
Got all of 23 minutes of play time in the shop tonight. That is ok as it was much more important that I sorted out my order problems.
Did you know that Lucy Hayes, the wife of President Rutherford Hayes, was the first presidential wife to be referred to as the First Lady?
Having the ability to read grain on wood is one of the many most fundamental critical tasks a woodworker should have competency in. Some timbers are easy to read while others are not. Let’s look at this African Tulip I’m working with to have a better understanding on the subject.
If we look at the board, you’ll see the grain is a cathedral or one could even describe it as a ripple in a pond. It appears to our eyes the grain is pointing from left to right, so if planed from left to right, you’d be planing against the grain or is it. If we inspect, you’ll notice the grain is layered from right to left so, our planing direction is right to left.
I know it looks deceptive. Another way of reading the grain if it’s difficult to read on the surface is by feel.
Running your finger along the edge of a board in both directions will most of the time give you a clear sign of where the grain is running. Press lightly when you do it and be careful of splinters.
Most grains can be read, but some just can’t and when you run into the one that can’t, set your plane to take a light shaving. If you feel it snag then stop, even with a plane set to take a little more than a 32nd you can still feel your planing with or against the grain. If it’s tearing on both sides of the board, then hone a higher bevel angle.
The more you work with various species the more you’ll learn what to look out for.
Take care and enjoy your craft