Monday, April 23, 2012

The Spirit of Craft, Personified

Thank you to Robin Wood for posting this video on facebook. 

It's been making the rounds and you'll see why. This man represents the very best of what woodworking means to us. Thinking about our projects keeps us up at night, the pieces we make are an extension of us, and when we are working on a project, we are completely focused.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Roubo: Finished

It's not much different than the last photos I posted, so nothing too exciting. The only difference is there is a finish on the maple and I trimmed the ends of the stretchers. But, she's done. At last.

Somehow, I think my next project will be much more simple. And smaller. And way, way lighter.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Didn't Faint and No One Fell Asleep

I've spent the last four months building my workbench and getting ready for a presentation that I gave yesterday for the York County Heritage Trust on 18th-century woodworking tools and joinery.

In preparation, I read five books (for the first or second time), studied page after page on the Colonial Williamsburg website and many other sites, and watched the Colonial Williamsburg DVD on cabinetmaking.

I took tons of notes, whittled them down to the most interesting bits, and wrote and refined an outline until it was skeletal.  I practiced my lines, sharpened all my tools, made various joints, and tried not to panic.
My workbench, Greta,
worked splendidly.

And the presentation went surprisingly well.

Did I forget to mention some things? Yep. Was I nervous? Only in the beginning. Did I mess up? You bet. I referred to my plow plane as a grooving plane, and wish I had set some of my planes to take thicker shavings. All of mine, except for the scrub, were set to shave whispers of wood which isn't very impressive to the guys in the back row.

There were 75-80 people in attendance. And for an hour and 20 minutes, everyone seemed genuinely engaged.

What I took away from all this is that working with hand tools is extremely interesting to many folks—both woodworkers and non-woodworkers—and it's our responsibility, even if it's outside our comfort zone, to be open to opportunities to share what we know.

I demonstrated the difference between
a plastic-handled "saw" from the home
center and a well-sharpened antique saw.
It was exciting to see a few young people in the audience. One 14-year-old boy stuck around for quite awhile afterwards to listen to the other woodworkers in attendance talk about the craft.

What I hope people took away with them was how easy, fast, and fun it is to use these tools, how the tools are simple yet refined (not crude implements), and how closely connected we are to early woodworkers.

There was one other book I read a few months ago: Kruschev's Shoe, by Roy Underhill—a fascinating book that offers ways to captivate an audience and become an engaging speaker.  It was enormously helpful.

One powerful phrase that stuck with me was the very last line in the book: Taking your turn to lead is part of becoming fully human, as beneath your feet you feel the planet tilting in its path, shifted just a bit in its course by your courage and skill.

Thanks for the shot of confidence, Roy.

Friday, April 6, 2012

WIA: Registration is Open!

Registration is now open for both Woodworking in America Conferences.

It's a tough choice. They have awesome speakers and topics at both, but I am going to the conference in Cincinnati as I will not get on a plane unless threatened with bodily harm. 
Or I'm offered a bunch of Lie-Nielsen tools.

I'm especially looking forward to classes by Mary May (carving) and Paul Schurch (inlay).
This going to be a long seven months...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Roubo: Almost Done

 Four months later, and I'm almost finished with this workbench.

I added a sliding deadman even though the span between the legs is only 27".

The top of the deadman has a 3/8" x 3/8" tongue that fits into a matching groove on the underside of the bench. The bottom skate of the deadman has a V-groove that slides along a V-shaped track that's glued to the front stretcher.

I shaped the wedges for the tusk tenons to match the wedge in one of my antique moulding planes. I still need to figure out what shape to make the ends of the long stretchers.

I may add holes to the front right leg, but will wait to see if I need them. I ran holes along the front edge of the benchtop in between the legs and added only one more opposite the front left leg.  I use that for a planing stop.

I'm finding all sorts of benefits to having a removable split top. For one, I can remove the back half of the benchtop if I need to clamp a board on both sides of the bench.  It's similar to a thinner, Japanese-style bench.

Also, I only need to lift it about 5/8" in order to remove the sliding deadman.

I still need to add a removable shelf, sand the base and apply finish, in addition to shaping the ends of the long stretchers, but that's nothing compared to the work that's behind me.

Oh, and the parallel guide works now without having to enlarge the mortise. I slathered it with wax and no longer jams.
Planing stop uses only one hole.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tool Chest of Benjamin Seaton

The second edition of the book The Tool Chest of Benjamin Seaton is available for pre-order from the Astragal Press. 

Did I order my copy before posting this? You bet I did. :o)

This is a reproduction of the Seaton chest built by
the cabinetmakers at Colonial Williamsburg.

Monday, April 2, 2012

WIA: 2012

The Woodworking in America 2012 site is up and running!  

This year, you have your choice of two conferences:
one on the west coast and one in the midwest.

Registration is not yet open, but you can
peruse the lists of speakers, topics, and exhibitors, 
all of which are impressive for both conferences.