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I’ve built more workbenches than any other woodworking project. I’ve taught more workbench classes than any other type of class. And I’ve written more words about workbenches than I care to remember.
During the last two decades, I’ve encountered six distinct personalities of workbench builders. These are the six little angels (or devils) that sit on my shoulders as I peck away at my laptop on my latest effort: “Ingenious Mechanicks: Early Workbenches & Workholding.”
I’d like to introduce you to them. I am quite fond of all six. But all six drive me a bit bonkers at times. Let’s start with “The Engineer.”
Workbench Personality No. 1: The Engineer
It begins with a discussion of the wood selection for the top. The engineer looks over the stock and begins measuring the angles of the annular rings on the end grain.
“This top,” he says, “will never remain flat.”
He’s done the calculations for how much each stick will move tangentially and radially. The conclusion: These pieces of wood cannot be joined into a benchtop that will move homogeneously throughout the yearly humidity changes. He wants all his sticks to be perfectly quartersawn. Or, at the least, all the annular rings should be at nearly the same angler to the true faces of each board.
I attempt to explain how flat a top needs to be for typical planing operations (not very flat), and that it has to be reasonably flat in only certain areas of the benchtop (near the front 12” of the benchtop). I take away his feeler gauges when he isn’t looking.
When cutting the joinery for the base, I implore (beg, really) for all the students to make their tenons fit loosely. The tenons should fall into the mortises – like throwing a hotdog down a hallway. This makes the bench much easier to assemble and faster to build. Drawboring will lock the joints together instead of glue.
The engineer asks: Won’t a loose fit make the joints weaker? And therefore the overall bench?
Me: Not in any meaningful way.
Engineer: Prove it.
He makes his tenons so they are .002” smaller than the mortise opening. (“That is loose” he protests.) When he’s in the bathroom I take a wide chisel and pare slightly the walls of his mortises. When glue-up time comes, he’s amazed that the bench goes together so easily.
Me: The glue is acting like a lubricant.
We’re installing the vises. The engineer isn’t satisfied with the bushings and bearings used on the guide bars. He recommends we overnight some alternative raw materials from MSC that we could mill up the next evening. Also, he has drawn up some sketches of shielding we could construct that would prevent dust from ever landing on the screw mechanism. Perhaps they could run in a sealed oil bath.
After the class adjourns for the day I drive to my hotel to drink a beer and sleep – thrilled that a throng of engineers built my vehicle and made it safe. But I’m also hoping against hope that that The Engineer will discover LSD, marijuana and Ecstasy that evening and is going to show up to class the next day in a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops.
— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com
Next up: Workbench Personality No. 2: The Traditionalist
Filed under: Uncategorized, Workbenches
We have a couple of times touched upon the subject that there wasn't any woodworking blogs written in Danish.
As a result I started the bloksav blog (which is the Danish name of a mulesaw).
Mikkel has resurrected his old blog called Haandkraft. He writes in a very informative language about the projects that he makes. He uses hand tools (though he admits having a chain saw)
I really hope that it will be possible to get just a tiny bit more people engaged in some sort of woodworking, now that it is possible to read about in Danish.
However International the woodworking community may be, there may still be someone out there who find it easier to read a blog in their native language.
|clean up first|
I cleaned out the left over wood fibers in the corners first. I then checked the sockets for square to the reference face. Only a few of them needed extra work so this won't be a cause of gaps. I should be able to finish this up this weekend inbetween working on the tool rehabs.
|scrape, sand, and refinishing the knob and tote is next|
|snapped off with very little pressure|
|thought I had solved a tricky glue up|
I snapped off the horn and put the handle back in the vise. I'll leave that in the vise until tomorrow. That will give me a chance to figure out how I will glue the horn back on.
|time to see if the extra magnets are working|
|ready for paint|
Did you know that women are 3 times more likely to have migraine headaches than men?
Drawing furniture-scale curves – up to 48” or so – is a challenge to do by yourself. And many times when you use a springy stick and nails, you are so focused on holding things in place that you fail to see if the curve is fair or not. Years ago I bought the Lee Valley symmetrical drawing bow and designing with curves became a heck of a lot easier. […]
‘But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.’
One of the things that has always bothered me concerning woodworking forums, magazines, etc. has been an overemphasis on the spiritual/metaphysical aspects of making furniture. If there is one quality that I despise in anybody, it is an overabundance of self-importance. A lot of people, too many people, tend to over-value themselves, and the things they make, in relation to how they think others should perceive it. I had mentioned in an earlier post a trip to Mount Vernon and how that trip was in many ways a spiritual experience for me. Others may visit Mount Vernon just because they enjoy the grounds, and others still may visit and feel nothing at all. So when it comes to the Washington Campaign Desk I recently completed, I am very much in the mindset that it is without a doubt my favorite project, yet I would not doubt that some may look at it and think to themselves: ‘big deal!’
Firstly, as far as woodworking projects go, this desk, for someone at my skill level, would probably be considered an intermediate level project. For a professional woodworker it would likely be considered a relatively simple build. It was not the most technically difficult project I’ve made. In fact, I can say in all honesty that I spent as much time milling the wood and cleaning up the resulting mess as I did on the actual woodworking involved in constructing the desk. One of the most time consuming individual aspects of the project was making and fitting the breadboard ends, and when I carelessly removed a chunk of the desktop with a shoulder plane I wound up removing the ends completely rather than attempt a shoddy repair. If the two plus hours I spent on the breadboard ends are removed from the equation, I probably have more time spent milling than woodworking.
As in all of my projects, I like to think that I become a little better woodworker and learn a little bit more every time I complete one. But I cannot assign any one particular “Eureka” moment when it came to the physical act of working the wood used in making this desk. Probably the most challenging aspect of the construction was sawing and shaping the ogee ends. At that, the job I did was just okay. I certainly learned something, and I certainly gained some experience, but I don’t feel any closer to the woodworking gods in doing so.
After re-reading these few paragraphs you might thing that I sound bitter, or even ungrateful. Rest assured, I am neither. As I said, this project is hands down my favorite, and it is possible that I may never build anything again that I like quite as much. Why? It is simple, really. I went to a museum and caught a brief glimpse of a piece of furniture that was likely used by a person who has very much guided me throughout my life, and I knew enough about woodworking to be able to construct a near-enough reproduction of that piece of furniture using only a memory and a photo. If there is any “spirituality” to be found, this is it. When I saw the desk I knew immediately that I had to make it. I experienced a unique moment of true inspiration. I wasn’t looking for it; it wasn’t forced; it just happened. And in my estimation, that is the essence of spirituality.
There is more of me in that desk than in any other piece of furniture I’ve made. It isn’t in the joinery, which is dadoes, bolts, and a few screws. It isn’t in the desktop, which quite frankly has a bit more “character” than I had hoped, or the drawers, which are made of basic home center poplar held together with some basic half-blind dovetails. It is something that can’t be seen by others, and I’m glad of that fact.
I could write ten more pages trying to explain my reasonings, but I’m not going to do that. Just know that when I look at that desk, I feel connected to something larger than myself. And I believe that when I finally use it, I will be inspired to be my best.
I don’t know if there is a “woodworking god” or not. But if there is, just for a brief moment as this desk was nearing completion, I believe that I saw His face
Skottbenken på Nesset. Foto: Roald Renmælmo
Som lærar for studentane på bachelorstudiet i tradisjonelt bygghandverk på NTNU er det veldig givande å få tips om interessante skottbenkar rundt om i landet. I august i år hadde vi samling i høvelmaking på Røros og då var nokre av oss og besøkte student Jostein Utstumo i Tolga. Då kunne han vise oss ein veldig fin skottbenk som var teke vare på på garden. Eg fekk teke nokre bilete av benken då, men rakk ikkje å gjere ei grundig oppmåling. Heldigvis har Jostein målt opp denne benken til si skottbenkoppgåve. Den vidare teksten og oppmålingsteikning er frå hans oppgåve.
I tidligere blogginnlegg på https://tradisjonshandverk.com/2017/01/20/hva-skjer-pa-roros/ har jeg blant andre bygninger, omtalt bygningen som huser skottbenken som nå skal omtales. Benken befinner seg på en gård helt sør i Tolga kommune i Nord-østerdalen i Hedmark fylke. Fjøsbygningen som benken står inne i er bygd i 1802 og gården har bosetting fra ca. 1750.
Skottbenken er av typen med skru for stramming, den er 4,4m lang og 72cm høy. Den består av to bukker som det det er festet to langbord til der det ene er fast og det andre er løst slik at man kan feste et emne som skal høvles rett i mellom dem. Noen benker har bord til avstivning, det er det ikke på denne og jeg kan ikke se spor etter det heller. Det løse langbordet har påmontert noen ekstra klosser med karnissprofil mulig at disse også kan gi en avstivende effekt?Oppmåling av skottbenken på Nesset i Tolga
Om alderen blir jeg usikker, det er brukt en form for gjenget jernstang med mutter på for å holde den sammen. Den mutteren med firkanthode gir meg en følelse at vi ikke er tidlig på 1800-tallet men heller nærmer oss utmot/utpå 1900. Skruen og armen skruen går igjennom er av bjørk, skruen er relativt grov ca. 6 cm i utvendig diameter.Har lagt benken på siden, man ser både bolt og spiker som er brukt. Foto J.Utstumo
Benken ser ut til å være godt brukt og etter hvert noe misbrukt, en kuriositet er at det står en benkehake i fastbordet ca. 60 cm fra enden, noe som kan tyde på at benken har blitt brukt til å høvle flate på, og ikke bare til å rette kant.
Det finnes fortsatt noe høvler og verktøy på bruket selv om det ikke er voldsomt imponerende er det noe ved seg allikevel. Det er noe okshøvler og den ene der har ski så den er nok antagelig brukt på skottbenken, de er mye diverse i den kassa og det er lite trolig at det er personen som lagde skottbenken som sist brukte høvlene. Høvelen som står oppå skottoksen har både klasse og stil.
Bruk av benken
Gårdsbruket har noen stykker av pent snekkerhandverk både på fjøsbygningen og i en gammel himling som i dag befinner seg på kaldt loft i våningshuset. Det er naturlig å tro at benken kan ha vært i bruk til noe bygging på gården her. Men om den er har vært med fra første stund er jeg noe usikker på?
Figur 7 er fra våningshuset som mulig er bygd ca 1750 og figur 8 er ifra fjøsbygningen som er bygd 1802. Utpå begynnelsen av 1900-tallet ble gården delt og fjøsbygning fulgte da med i oppdelingen og et nytt våningshus ble da bygd til det nye bruket. Forrige vinter gjorde jeg en liten oppdagelse da jeg gjorde et lite arbeid på en gammel dør i den bygningen som jeg synes var spennende; nemlig gerikt med notspor for panel. Om denne og resten av panel i huset er høvlet på skottbenken er ikke usannsynlig. Figur 9 er en gerikt fra det nye våningshuset som ble bygd da gården ble oppdelt rundt 1910.
Lately I’ve been incorporating hand tools more and more into the projects I’m working on. I was recently exploring ways to make rabbets for a serving tray I’m working on as a Christmas gift. There are, of course, numerous ways to make them. I was in the mood to make mine by hand. As luck would have it – and because I’m the book editor – I happened to have […]
I came in to furniture making as a very young man.
Basically I started at the bottom of the food chain.
As a result I didn’t get to start with perfect.
My workshops have been a constant slow evolution.
There have been many, from sheds to simply outside, right up to industrial units.
As long as I had my bag of tools I made them work.
The good thing about this I suppose, is the experience gained.
Judging, not so much by our friends and patrons, from whom we still get the occasional kudos for our website, but by the mellifluous and subtly patronizing emails we receive in the dozens per week from all those fans from far away lands that so generously offer their expertise, time and energy, for a small fee of course, to pointing out how beautiful and effective our website is while at the same time, in the kindest manner, how crappy, how antiquated, how 1999 it is. Like Lloyd Christmas we're tired of our website eking it's way through life, we want to see it flourish and grow.
So we've been working on the new site for the last year. All of the text has been pored over, some of it rewritten by our resident wordsmith. Some of the principle photography, no idea what that means but it sounds good, has been re-shot, and the entire look and structure of the site has been properly coded. We used real code this time finagled by a real person who has put in a lot of time bolstered and fueled by uncountable Jack's pepperoni pizzas.
The site now looks all grown up but we hope, not too flash. The links all work, we think, the days of telling customers "you're looking at a cached version.....no no, add an l on the end of htm......you can't get to that page from there, that link is wrong, go to this website then hit crtl f5 and it will take you to another website that holds the older version which will redirect you to one of our vendors, their site has the correct link back to our website......" We have a proper cart, something we introduced earlier this year but is now even better, and an account login if you choose. We've added a static header that remains in it's proper place without some kind of incremental shift in the wrong direction every time you click on a link because the previous Webmaster was way closer to a Dungeon Master than a real coder (actually most previous DMs are probably pretty good webmasters,......not this one he's way closer to the attributes of a Barbarian than a magic user, hits points high, intelligence points not so much). The home page has one of those fancy rotating carousel image things that's mostly annoying but we've kept it toned down a bit. We've added an About page that still doesn't say much but should satisfy anyone who still thinks we're a family of hicks making an odd vise here or there while sitting on the divan watching our stories and suckin' on ribs....hey wait a minute.....
So thanks to the crew at Benchcrafted that allowed me to finally upgrade to Windows 10 for fear that ditching Windows 7 would have rendered my copy of Dreamweaver 4 inoperable, the most shocking bit being that the copyright on the splash screen is 1997-2000!. So yes, I guess we have been coding like it's 1999. I hope I never again have to code a single line or think about cascading somebody's style sheet, or render a layer and convert it to a table.
Now if the robot overlords could just do our bookwork.....
And in the vein of getting current........just like Signor Roberto we would like to say "the rent stay lika before!" but unfortunately it can't. We only really raised prices 1 time in 10 years! There have been a couple small adjustments in those years but the current M series Tail Vise is only $10 more than it was 6 years ago or more, and that was an off the shelf handwheel not the current custom cast unit. The Glide M is only $100 more than it was 6 years ago, again with an off the shelf wheel........but it now includes a Crisscross which is $100 so it hasn't actually risen in price at all, and that after adding a custom wheel and 3x knobs. Mag-bloks have only gone up $3 & $5 respectively.......ever! So expect some increases in the next few weeks across the board mostly. We had wanted to get the increases in before we launched the new site but it will just have to happen in spurts sometime between now and January. Don't get too worrisome though, the increases for the most part will be small.
Launch should be Friday Dec. 1.
Next up: the blog is getting a face lift too, but that won't happen for a few more days yet.
A few weeks before our class begun (for past entries about my class read part 1, 2, 3, 4) I emailed my prospective students and suggest to them to look out for free furniture on the side of the road or near the trash bags on garbage eve (the night when trash is put outside.) I said that some nifty nice stuff can be “harvested” from abandoned or broken furniture, […]
The post Live Edge Class at Snow Farm, Massachusetts – Part 5: Lisa’s Cherry Table Completed appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Editor’s note: With the holidays upon us, I’m looking through vintage issues of 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. I’ll post (at least) two every week between now and the new year. This is Holiday Project Post number two – for […]
Kennedy & Bragaw: English and American Hardware, 203 Main Street, Hartford, Ct, July 1st, 1845.
This firm was in business from 1844-1846. Before the advent of bound catalogs, merchants marketed their goods through sheet listings such as this one. Easily folded for mailing, in this early case as a stampless letter, the listing doubled as a format for personal correspondence between the seller and the prospective buyer.
At the bottom of the sheet is a note: "Joiners Planes of our own Manufacture". The proprietors in question were Leonard Kennedy, Jr. and Isaac Bragaw. To my knowledge, no imprint has been recorded. If you have a plane marked by this merchant partnership, please come forward."
James Kellogg, Plane Maker: Price List and Correspondence. Courtesy of Roger K. Smith, are two pieces of history from James Kellogg, the famous plane maker. The first is a stampless letter from Mr. Kellogg to Mr. H. Foster, agent for Mr. J. Daniel, concerning discount terms on an order of planes. The second is a photocopy of an early and unique Kellogg price list. While Roger does not remember from where he originally received the price list copy, if memory serves me right, I believe this is a photocopy of a Kellogg price list that was sold at a Spicer Auction in Rhode Island.
These two unique pieces of ephemera are offered in PDF format for easier reading
Correspondence: Commercial, Traveling Salesman; Jessop Steel, M. Thornburn Correspondence 1848
MR. M. THORNBURN TO MR. Hy JESSOP OF NEW YORK CITY. Stampless letter, Providence, July 7, 1848. Composed in blue ink on pale blue paper. Before the advent of the postage stamp, the stampless letter was the only form available for sending correspondence through the mail service.
Henry Jessop was the son of William Jessop, founder of the Jessop Steel firm of Lancashire, England. In the 1830's William Jessop and Sons opened their own steel and iron foundry business. Thomas and Henry Jessop took responsibility for the commercial side of the enterprise while Montague and Sydney accepted responsibility for the foundry and production side. Jessop Steel did not open it's United States factory until the 1860's. Prior to this, traveling salesmen such as Mr. Thornburn represented the business' interests. Henry Jessop died in 1849.
This piece of correspondence between Henry Jessop and M. Thornburn is a wealth of detail, both explicit and implied. The competition for dominance in the iron and steel industry is evident. Mr. Thornburn has some success but at other times he is faced with the problems of inadequate goods or local competition. Unfriendly buyers leave him annoyed and frustrated. The Mexian-American War ended in February of 1848. Mr. Thornburn was attempting to expand his customer base at a time when funds where in short supply.
The original document and a full transcription of the text.
Envelope: IVES MFG CO., MEPHISTO AUGER BITS. Jan. 7, 1913. "It looks as if it would bore, doesn't it?". I'm not sure what this small envelope was meant for. My best guess is contained some product information. It's a bit too small for use as a mailing envelope, but an envelope it is. Any guesses?
EAGLE SQUARE MFG. CO. MANUFACTURERS OF CARPENTERS' SQUARES AND BORING MACHINES. South Shaftsbury, Vt., May 4th, 1912. Estimate from F. L. Mattison for filing a saw. This billhead notes "House building materials and brush handles of all kinds" are sold in addition to their well known carpenters squares.
|the next project|
|this is where I will keep|
|my pencil is broke|
|hinges with a built in stop|
|you can never have enough hinges|
|they are too big|
|adding two more magnets to the 12" square|
|two added to the 15" square|
|impetus for the roll around drawer unit|
|for the Lee Valley dovetail saw|
|exceeded my goals for tonight|
Who was the first undrafted QB to start a Super Bowl game?
answer - Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXIV
I’ve found that the way I design furniture and the way I restore buildings are unusually similar.
When I design a chair, cabinet or workbench, it’s a subtractive process. I usually begin with something quite complicated and then remove bits and pieces until the thing looks right. I’m not looking for a design that excites me (the building part is exciting enough). Instead I’m looking for a quietness or peace in the design. (For more on this process, see the chapter titled “Seeing Red” in “The Anarchist’s Design Book.”)
With old buildings, the process is much the same. Typically they are festooned with the detritus of the 20th century, including oodles of wiring, layers of silly wallboard, paneling, tile and buckets of fossilized “Great Stuff” foam.
The first step is always to subtract. A lot. And keep going until the builder’s original intent begins to emerge.
That’s where I am with the Horse Garage. We finally pulled down a lot of ridiculous cripple studs that served only to hold up the butt-ugly ceiling tile. Then came down the obsolete pipes for the wiring. This afternoon a very early 20th-century garage began to take shape. I could see the original structure. And though it is astonishingly straightforward and plain, it has finally brought me some peace.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
So I added another R Groves tenon saw to my collection of working Groves saws. The eBay find was a no brainer for me because it was one I’m yet missing from my saw gatherings. There are still two or three to come that I know of and there may be others I don’t know […]