My young life was a never ending remodel project of one sort or another. As I've aged, I've found I have little interest in the work, yet being "frugal", particular, and somewhat knowledgable on the subject means I'm unlikely to ever be completely free of its grasp. That said, there is still something euphoric about driving a handful of 16d nails every now and again.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
At HandWorks, Lee Valley displayed a 3-D printed prototype shoot plane. Rob Lee was there to chat and answer questions, incredible guy & company if you didn't already know (and no they haven't bribed me with anything than selling incredible tools at reasonable prices and great customer service through the years, though if they want to start providing more bribes...) Well when a LH (Southpaws love LV) version was advertised at a competitive introductory price and free shipping, I couldn't resist... It arrived before the promised introduction for left-hand planes. (With a few other goodies, whenever I buy from LV I can't resist filling my basket with odds-n-ends I've been thinking about)
Despite a spiraling out of control bathroom project, a bad clutch slave cyl and other urgent matters, I had to give it a shot (sorry.) Here's a quick review, though to be for totally fair I have not used a shoot plane before, though I did play a fair bit with the Lie-Nielsen & Breese planes at HandWorks.
|A Lot in common|
The design follows the same low angle plane design as the bevel up Jointer, Jack & Smoother; where most parts are interchangeable, including irons (PM-V11 is new to me) so it looks/works very similar to my jointer. Surprisingly, it shares other parts with the Veritas family, the front mouth adjusting knob is identical to the original LV block plane, which means if you're so inclined, you could remove the brass knob and replace it with the accessory wooden knob. I don't necessarily think it improves the ergonomics, it does kind of look slick. This shouldn't be surprising, given LV usually offers custom handles and totes. However, the rear tote is less customizable (if you care), the bracket mounted to the wood is epoxied and not user replaceable, today.
The plane is styled in the modern Veritas ethos (which I like). Fit & finish is typical LV goodness. The only niggles I have are a couple tiny casting rough spots and a notch designed in the edge of the casting to clear the iron that could be visually cleaned up in the pattern design IMO. The plane is perfectly balanced along the length of its sole with the CG spot in the middle. However, in the ulnar rotation axis there's quite a bit of lean one way. Of course, this won't be a problem since we won't be using this like a bench plane, but this LH plane leans decidedly to the right when lifted (not surprising since it is heavy and only has one side wall.) I've only started to notice this roll in planes, after talking with the Old Street tool guys on their reasoning for RH & LH bench planes.
I don't currently have a shoot board, so I used my recently made bench hooks. Without even sharpening the blade, but straight out-of-the-box, I was able to effortlessly take paper thin shavings on end-grain in Walnut, Cherry, Pine and ancient oak.
|Easy to Adjust|
Bottom line, excellent plane. I'm sure I'll use this plane at every opportunity and it will excel at it's function (especially for us lefties). Another home run for the Canadians.
|Mysterious Tapped Holes|
Thursday, September 12, 2013
|Oriental Influence Bench Concept|
|Entry Hall Concept Pieces|
|Bar Cabinet Concepts|
influenced by C&B
Among the blogs I follow are several that have a definite design focus while still being woodworking, it helps to surround yourself with such ideas. Here are a few; they are all more accomplished than myself, but in case you haven't run across them, you'll want to add them to your feeds, (feel free to mention others you've found in comments):
- George Walker doesn't need my endorsement, but clearly has a good way to vocalize what many good western designers of old have used (if it ain't broke...)
- Chris Wong is very open to accepting idea discussion and incorporating them in his pieces, as well as talking out his design process and inspirations for his decidedly more modern style.
- Chris Hall has been talking about his sideboard design and brings oriental historical info to the table.
- Some journalist book-maker occasionally writes about design , , (I can't find the post I really remember just now)
|Some Small Plane & lever Cap I'll probably never make|
I've included some of my sketches here to illustrate the concept and archive some pieces of paper floating around (also I like blogs to have pictures) Paper and pencil is the way to go, freeing you from the constraints of CAD in the early stages. (If anyone has found a good way for archiving paper sketches and for getting them to look good once digitized, please leave a comment)
|Full size layout on reused (oil changes?) cardboard|
|Mom's Shoe Bench|
|Feminine Backsaw Handle|
|Mom's Bench Ideas|
|Backsaw handle (and oil rag evidently)|
Note disused pizza peel in corner
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Dorks are by definition, out of touch with the crowd. Frame saws in the US are such. A lightweight, sharp, fine toothed, inexpensively replaceable blade saw capable of cutting dovetails or sinuous curves and suitable for boulle, contractors or small children ought to be popular and swanky, yet the humble coping saw (excepting Knew Concepts) has few friends. The same story goes for poor Maclura Pomifera. She often gets called mean names like Hedge, Osage Orange, and Bodarc despite being strong, flexible, and uniquely colored. And, on very rare occasions, some may consider traditional woodworkers to be out of touch with the norm (sorry) either for not embracing bulky, expensive, noisy, power everything tools at every single point in a project or for just making stuff instead of buying it at IKEA.
I periodically get to participate in some volunteer construction projects that put me with Binford types doing trim carpentry. These guys are really great, and the whole project is incredibly fun and upbuilding (in case they ever find this blog..), yet they often give me a hard time about hand nailing some pieces or bringing along hand planes. (They also have been leaving the odd-ball angled transitions to me of late, I wonder why?) so you can image I got some ribbing when I started bringing this wooden coping saw.
I chose the species after acquiring a couple chunks from a downed tree (Thanks Kris!) when I thought I might make a plane body or infill out of it. (Its open pore structure makes it less suited for this.) I then figured it the ideal wood for a Gramercy style turning saw, given that it is used for excellent shooting bows, so much so that french explorers named it after it's stateside usage, bois d'arc. I made my pins from lengths of brass all-thread filed down on a lathe to make a shoulder to support a #10 brass washer, then epoxied in. The slit and hook are simply hack sawed in the soft brass. I hadn't gotten around to ordering the 12" blade from TFWW when I busted the handle/pin on my Stanley coping saw. A flash of
frugality brilliance encouraged me to finish up this saw, but with an additional short stretcher to allow this to be used as a coping saw. I have been supremely satisfied with this replacement coping saw. When ordering other items from TFWW this week, I picked up a pair of 16 TPI 12" turning saw blades. I think I'll like the longer length saw, but I'll be down a coping saw again...
Positives to using this short turning saw
- You can really tighten it up vs. the ol' Stanley
- It's easy to change the angle (but doesn't slip too easily, due to neoprene washers)
- It's light (12oz) despite being a heavy species.
- Hedge really turns and polishes well, (though it is hard on tool edges due to silica content)
- I like the yellow color fresh and even better after it's mellowed a while
- The ball knob fits well in your palm while choking up on the frame (most uses)
- When you break a blade, saw parts go several directions
- Rarely, it's too tall to fit somewhere a coping saw might fit
- I think I'd prefer to have ball knobs on both ends since my index finger usually wraps the frame a bit
During one project while I was about out of earshot, I saw a fellow volunteer pick my saw out of my tools and show it to another, commenting with admiration about how I'd made it. The other said that it worked pretty much like any coping saw, seeing no real difference or reason for it over a jig saw. I thought how nice it would have been to hand both of them one to go experience for themselves (nice hand tools being like crack for some) and knowing that not many of the "trim guys" would choose the Gramercy for their coping. So this gave birth to me making a small run of these coping saws to eventually gift. I raided the scraps, and have made most parts for a dozen or so saws in a variety of materials on hand (maple, cherry, ash, oak, walnut.) I'll put them together with various contrasting wood patterns. I decided to make the pins of steel instead this time (big mistake) which involved me improvising a metal lathe via a cross slide vise with the lathe. This is not a priority project, so I go at it in spurts, but it's interesting doing a batch project, since most of my projects are one-offs. I have visions that I'll get these done and stop being the only hand tool dork by winning everyone over. In actuality, I'll probably be poked for having the stretch yellow saw. That's the power of a true dork, we can be out of place anywhere.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
First off analyze the design scope: a board with pegs in it.
- How many?
- Four of us, so one each for coats,
- Two kid's school bags
- Wife's purse
- My camera bag
- Bags might weigh a ton and are cumbersome
- Pegs need to be sturdy
- Spaced to not tangle or interfere
- Must attach securely to the wall
- Lumber on hand
- Finish on hand
- No analysis paralysis or researching how people over the last 4 centuries have managed coats and bags...
This leads to something functional, but pretty plain. "Perhaps I can borrow some richness from Greene & Greene or Art Nouveau." I thought to myself. I sheepishly admit that I then blew a considerable amount of time looking at Art Nouveau Typefaces, since I still thought I'd have time to carve initials for each space. I finally scrapped that idea on Sunday in an effort to meet deadline. Still, looking at fonts helped me understand more clearly what look I was after or avoiding. This is not the first time my design clarity has been aided by typography.
My materials on hand were limited to a 6”ish wide length of cherry and some really short bits of walnut clanging around in the bottom of the bin. Beyond that, and I'd have to go red oak, which would kill any chance at a G&G vibe. 6” was way too narrow to lay out the tsuba I'd envisioned, so I started playing more with arcs and reversals to find something that didn't force me too narrow on my stock and hopefully felt like it fit the design epoch.
What to do for the hooks? At this point, I was worried about the rack pegs being too simple, making the rack minimalist. I sketched some rounded shapes, but kept thinking they looked a little anthropomorphic. In the end, I emulated cloud lifts on the uppers and some blocky hooks below. I considered a few layout options with dividers and moving pegs around. Eight ugly (wall side) wedged mortise & tenons and square plugs hiding screws would cover the joinery. (Cutting tenons on curved objects with round overs made me glad I use hand tools.) I rounded over corners with a couple sizes of bits and then blended transitions by hand. Finally, I finished with a coat of thinned sanded-in spar varnish (on-hand), and then one full strength (quick version of FWW #154)
It might not be the solution I'd have come to with more time and materials; and not everyone will like the design; but it gets the job done & didn't take forever. Certainly I'm glad that now I have a place to hang the coats and backpacks when picking them up off the floor...
Thursday, August 8, 2013
This post started out as a teaser about some other upcoming project posts . Then it turned into why things I do take forever , finally it became about the value of wasting time .Maybe this is why it takes me forever to write...
Back at a few years, there was a clear resurgence of new high end back saws Wenzloff & Sons, Gramercy, Lund. I felt left out, unhappy with my $9 Vermont American gent's saw, but unable to justify the purchase of one of these new saws, or find a suitable vintage saw (since I didn't look). I was at the beginnings of my tool journey and I needed soo many power & hand tools, that I couldn't justify such "extravagance", especially with my growing family (Where was ATC when I needed it?). So I did what woodworkers do, I decided I could just make one...
I researched pictures, reviews, catalogs, articles, & websites learning about fleam, rake, pitch, hang.... I had an old panel saw Dad literally pulled out of the dump (bit rusty). After the application of a little elbow grease and a cutoff wheel, I had a saw plate. I came upon a treatise of 19th century backsaws (must read), so I had some ideas about how I wanted my tote to look & feel. I spent enough time on the cherry handle, that the
|Someday I'll black the back...|
prototype needed to be "production" (despite a knot that I swore would disappear in shaping). BTW, toothing a saw plate from scratch shouldn't be your first experience with a saw file... I got it together and it "worked", but the pointy bits looked like what you'd get from DIY orthodontia. I made do with the saw, and was pleased with many aspects of the saw making experience, though I knew I didn't want to start a new saw filing company. Still, it was enough fun that I found myself hooked on designing and making totes (and other shaped forms) quite a lot. I later re-handled (in walnut) a decent miter saw whose plywood handle previously had the ability to cause blisters while hanging from a nail. When my daughter wanted to cut dovetails in the shop, I re-handled that $9 gent's saw to fit her hand and style better so she would have something all her own (she has since decided she's more of a continental girl and prefers frame saws) I was pretty pleased with myself; that was, until I left my cave, and saw the light of the outside world for the first time....
|don't mind the split nut...|
Feb '11 I took a class with Roy, and for the first time I was exposed to well maintained tools. (I could write another 10 posts on this experience, but probably won't get around to it. Short answer, "Just do it!") WOW! Well filed saws cut so nice. I drove home and immediately ordered the LV carcass saws. Unique modern look, an incredible value, and proves a saw can take a lesson from a plane. (I wonder if it could go the other way...)
|I see an owl|
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Typical of summer, there has been a lot of non-woodworking going on. While this makes our home run smoothly and is good long-term, short-term it makes me grumpy, since I'm not getting to do much work that I truly enjoy while doing it. When Brian Eve recently posted "productive procrastination" it struck a chord with me as a way to do some woodworking, without derailing the summer projects.
Some how I've never been able to find the required five minutes needed to make the simpler style hook, always finding some alternative method when I needed a bench hook. This pair takes just enough effort to earn a little "made by hand" love in the shop without being an unloved plywood jig or an inlaid dog house.
Yes, I still have more things on my summer to-do list than I'll finish, but this 2hr project was just what I needed, giving me enough sense of accomplishment and "me time" to recharge me to go on with the chores of life.