Maintenance day & shop update

This week I had to take a day to maintain some of my tools and to re-flatten my second bench (the community workbench). Since being made the top has dried some and had moved a lot. I realized this when I was trying to level a little stool by using the bench. 

In the end I got the two ends flat again, and the middle part of the bench “flat enough”

After that it was long overdue for me to disassemble, clean, and sharpen my planes. 

about 20% there…

So, not the most creative of days in the shop, but it ended up being satisfying anyway. On to the next project: building a hot wire foam cutter; this is to quickly render prototypes of my pieces in 3D. 

Maintenance day & shop update

Baby steps toward chair making 

Working through some of the projects and ideas in the new book by Chris Schwarz. Here are a pair of saw-benches made using the tapered tenon staked joinery method he describes. It worked very well, I think. And I’m more in love with these pieces than I expected. 


The seat is yellow pine and the legs are ash. The seats were finished in Danish oil, and the legs finished in a neutral wax. Hide glue and a wedge for the joinery. The bottom picture shows the second stool/bench prior to applying the finish. FYI, the angle of my photo distorts the apparent degree of splay on the second bench. 

Baby steps toward chair making 

Community Workbench & Shaving Horse

I moved my shop into a shared maker-space 14 months ago. This turned out to be a transformative experience for me. Being around other woodworkers and makers of various sorts has been incredibly inspiring. One of the things I was recently inspired to do was construct some gear for the community of makers in our shop.

In our shop I am the only woodworker with much hand-tool experience. My bench was moved to the new space, though was not really available for others to use. If you have ever tried woodworking without a good bench, you know how miserable this experience is, particularly if you are attempting to use any sort of hand-tool. There were in fact several worktables available to the woodworkers in our shared space, but none suitable for serious work holding. After the recent FWW article on the low-budget Nicholson workbench, I became obsessed with the idea of building one. However, I wanted it to be available not just for myself, but for the other members and any students coming through the shop.

IMG_4131
Nicholson Bench in the foreground. My first bench (split top with face and tail vise) is hiding in the background under a mountain of toolboxes and debris.

So I managed to build one of these benches, spending less than $200. And it has been a joy to use. I have also been happy to see others making use of it and enjoying woodworking more because of having access to it. This ended up leading to a desire on my part to put together a shaving horse as well, as we do have a growing contingent of spoon-carvers at our shop.

IMG_4236

The shaving horse design is 1/2 based on Peter Follansbee’s design, found here. The legs are different because my reamer hasn’t arrived yet, so I took a design cue from my saw-benches (Chris Schwarz’s design) for the back legs. The front leg pitches forward to allow the clamping apparatus to travel appropriately while in use. It also apparently makes it look like a motorcycle. I’ve heard people at the shop refer to it as a ‘chopper.’

Next I’ll be making some adjustments to my tool-chest, and I think I’ll begin prototyping some cabinet designs I’ve been dreaming about. Next month we are scheduled to move the shop to a new and better location.

 

Community Workbench & Shaving Horse

Japanese toolbox redux

One of my favorite things to make is a Japanese toolbox. There is a simplicity to the design that I find appealing, and there is a clever locking mechanism for the lid that is remarkably satisfying to use.

I’ve been working on further adjustments and refinements to the design of some of my earlier Japanese boxes. The first one I built was a large tool chest, which I still use. Then, earlier this year, I built a pair of pine Japanese boxes for storing shop supplies. The box pictured below was made on a whim, out of some scraps, but I took pains to handle the material in a thoughtful way. I think it turned out fairly well.

Poplar, hide glue, wrought nails. The bottom is series of shiplapped boards, which sit in a groove in the lower edge of the box. Interior finished with beeswax, exterior finished with danish oil.

Japanese toolbox redux

Mid-century side tables (completed)

These side tables were completed a few months ago. They were installed in our master bedroom, each under a hanging pendant in leu of a lamp. I hadn’t got around to photographing the final product until today.

Cabinet out of pine, painted caviar black by Sherwin Williams. Drawer front in curly red oak finished in natural shellac.

 

Mid-century side tables (completed)

Veneer hammer

I am planning some experiments with veneering and also with leatherwork for later this year. So I crafted a veneer hammer. I was inspired to make the hammer instead of purchasing one, after seeing some posts by Tom Fidgen on his website. This hammer took some cues from his, though departs from his design in several ways.

 

I couldn’t find a suitable piece of brass for the tip(s) of the hammer, so I made do with a piece of brass from a door hinge. Time will tell if this is going to work or not. If not, I may end up replacing the brass that I have.

The hammer was made from some scraps of maple that I had in the shop, and a little walnut wedge in the end of the tenon. Curves were cut on the bandsaw, though everything else was done by hand with a chisel, saws, and rasps. It was finished in danish oil & armor-seal.

I find again and again that I really hate metal-work. However, I imagine that it is similar to wood-working in that any misery and frustration in the work is due to (or at least directly proportional to) poor planning, lack of knowledge/skill, and inappropriate tooling.

I’m looking forward to posting some pics of the veneering experiments in the coming months.

Veneer hammer

Prototype dovetailed box

Working through ideas for potential projects meant for a small woodworking class, focusing on hand-tools.

This is one of the ideas I prototyped earlier this fall. I wanted a project that allowed students to practice hand-cutting dovetails, make an object that was actually attractive or useful, and could be completed in a single session.


It’s made of clear white pine obtained from the local home store. Nothing fancy, but sometimes beautiful things can come from ordinary beginnings.

We’ll have to mill the parts to final thickness and length, but I think even a beginner should be able to complete the box quickly.

We’ll see.

Prototype dovetailed box