I recently picked this DVD up from Chris’s blog when he was blowing out his copies for blog readers, and wanted to throw up a quick review. By the way, if you’re wondering where I’ve been on the blog, it’s been a combination of really heavy work schedule and family summer vacations that have kept me out of the shop recently.
Short version: Well worth the pick up even if you’re not interested in power tool woodworking, and is a great starting point for hybrid woodworkers to dip their tow into the hand tool waters.
This 2.5 hour video starts out with a simple premise, to teach you how to build a traditional style tool chest in a short amount of time using a blend of hand tools and power tools with home center materials. And, in my opinion it does exactly what it says on the box. However, it also does something a bit more more than that. As a hand tool woodworker, I’m all about the traditional methods and sources. The value for me in this video is in the information he presents in addition to the construction details. He shows several old tool chests, and how they were constructed which was quite fascinating on it’s own. He also spends time talking about the choices he makes in construction which gives me great ideas on how I want to build my own. And at the end he shows off the “Dutch” tool chest, and talks about the benefits of both the traditional and “Dutch” style chests, including how to pack your tools and division of the insides. These bits alone are worth the price of the DVD for me with the information being presented well and easy to absorb.
The construction of the chest itself is well produced, and Chris and helper Ty do a good job of presenting the material. If you’re new to this stuff, it makes you want to build stuff and feel like you could actually do it. The really subversive part of the DVD comes in how he introduces some hand tools to the mix and starts you thinking down the path of how hand tools can be integrated into your shop.
All in all, worth price and worth picking up for the information and discussion on tool chest design.
I picked up a center bead plane from Josh over at Hyperkitten Tools, and tuned it up this afternoon. The blade unfortunately had one of the two groove points messed up. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to fix it, but I gave it a go. I ground it on my coarse and medium oilstones and got the two groove blades in decent shape, but I had to take so much metal the center beading part of the blade was fairly shallow. I had a medium curved oilstone and was able to take some metal away in the center, while keeping the rounded area sharp.
Putting it into the plane body though, the blade profile did not match the sole any more. I took a risk and planed the boxing down slightly with my smoothing plane. It brought the profile back into a decent enough match, and putting it too wood it cut a decent bead.
Which brings me to the decorative molding carving, which was why I bought this plane in the first place. I was surprised at how easily this carved, even in crap Pine. The molding is something I picked up from Peter Follansbee, and it’s really quite easy. A straight vertical stab down with a gouge that matches the bead, on the center of bead. Then a downward sloping push cut into the back of the stab cut and out pops a little chip. Repeat this down the length of the bead evenly spaced in a single direction, or in opposing direction and you have a great decorative molding. It does some near stuff with light and shadow.
After getting back from the Coyote wood shop with the new planks, and letting them acclimate for a while I thought I’d get acquainted… Well, I also thought I’d get my wisdom teeth removed, and then recover in time for a major crap storm at work, and then I thought I’d get some carving done.
Anyway, I also had a new V chisel to try out that I picked up at the Lie Nielson event. They are selling the new Auriou carving chisels designed in partnership with Chris Pye. I didn’t intend to buy one, but after picking it up and feeling how good it felt… well I just had to.
After rough planing, and ripping a small chunk of Alder to two 1/2″ planks I decided I would revisit a carving pattern I had used before. It is mostly V-tool work, so it was a good introduction to the tool.
The chisel feels good in the hand, but the heel is a lot lower angled so I have to get used to a new grip and posture with the tool. It went in deep at the angle I was used to with my Pfiel “Swiss Made” chisel. It also needed a quick sharpening on the Translucent Arkansas and strop. The top panel is the chisel right out of the box, the lower panel is after a quick pass on the stone and strop.
The alder is a bit light, and I want to try a different section of the board before I decide how much I like this wood. So far the jury is still out.
The chisel is a fine tool, and once I got used to it it was pretty nice to use.
I’ve been looking around for a local mill, preferably one that handled urban harvested woods. I found the Coyote Woodshop through a web search and reached out to the owner to see what he could offer me. David was very nice, and knowledgeable about the subject and on his invitation we set a trip out to visit his place out on Bainbridge Island. (For those not local, it’s a quick ferry boat ride over the Sound.) Also, there was a promise of baby goats for the kiddo, so we made a family day trip out of it.
After a tasty lunch at the Hitchcock Deli we headed down the road to check out David’s place. It was probably 15 minute out of town, so local people should check this place out because it’s really much closer than I thought it would be. David met us and sent me off to visit the wood shop while he pulled a pie out of the oven. I snapped a few pictures of the wood shop and drooled over some of the woods he had available. He has a nice selection of local woods all ready for amazing projects.
Then we discussed what I’d come for, which was Alder for making a few carved boxes. He took me out to his air dry shed, and we uncovered a big stickered pile of Alder that had been drying for two years. Air dried carved better than kiln dried, and Alder carves well so this was a great find. I pulled five boards 1″ x 6″ x 6′ and he showed me some White Oak he had next to it. I pulled a quarter-sawn chunk to take home and try out carving on. I’ve got them acclimating in my shop right now, and I’m hoping to get some time this weekend to breakdown one of the Alder boards into some usable chunks and start dressing it. On a related note, I was able to acquire a vintage scrub plane from Josh over at Hyperkitten tools to help in the stock preparation.
It was a nice trip for the family, and I got some locally harvested air dried wood for carving.
Plus, baby goats.
I read on Peter Follansbee’s blog that the attendance for his two classes at Port Townsend might get cancelled because not enough people are signed up!?!
“still hoping for students out west at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. Right now, it sounds like we need 6 more students for each workshop. Otherwise, these 2 classes will get cancelled. One is a week-long “make a joint stool” class… the other a 2-day class in carving. It would be a shame it we have to scrap it, the school and I have dedicated the time slot and can’t really make it up if it falls through. I know time/money/logistics are all a concern for all of us. But I often get requests “When are you coming to X,Y, Z?” – I only get to come if we get students. I won’t harp about it again, just one last nudge if you know someone out that way, or wanting to visit out that way…dates are April 22-26 for the joinery class, and the 27th & 28th for the carving http://www.ptwoodschool.com/ “
Hey MWA folks and any other PNW woodworkers, you should think about these classes! Peter Follansbee is one of the most knowledgeable guys out there for 17th century carving. If you have any interest at all, it would be well worth the time and money to attend, as I doubt he’s going to make his way out here again.
I’ve already signed up ages ago, and will be majorly disappointed if this gets cancelled. Please spread the word! Tell your friends! I’ve been hoping to get a chance to meet Peter and learn from him since I started reading his blog. It started me down the path of carving, and is a major reason why I’ve been able to figure out the stuff I’ve done lately.
It’s been a bit since I’ve updated the blog due to a variety of reasons including a minor surgery that had a rough recovery. I have been working the wood in the shop, just not posting here. I have at least two other major posts I will be adding as I catch including one on my sons 6 board chest build, some finished carved boxes, and a couple shop made tools.
But for now, I want to share this bit of carving I did on Saturday which I think came out really nicely.
This is going to be the front panel of a traditional style nailed box, sometimes erroneously called a “bible box” that I’m making as a gift for someone. The roses are modeled after heraldic roses from the Tudor period, and were new to me in terms of carving. I studied a lot of period examples to get a sense of the form, and watched one of the recent videos from Chris Pye’s woodcarving workshop series in which he does a double-rose in a Gothic mirror. (If you’re interested in learning carving, this is a very nice investment in your craft, Chris does a fantastic job of explaining and showing how to carve.)
I also took some step by step shots of the progression as a demonstration of how easy it really was to do. As I worked on the first one I worked out the steps I needed and then captured a shot of the tool used to do each of the dozen or so steps to complete a single rose. Then I put them together “Kari Hultman Style“.
Some of the shots were blurry, sorry about that I was grabbing these quickly with my iPhone and getting back to work. If you have any questions about which tool or want to know more about a step I took let me know. I hope it’s somewhat self evident what each step is.
By the numbers I wrote 25 posts (not counting this one) in 2012 on a variety of topics.
I made a turning bow saw, a carved tool tote, marking gauge based on a period example, a six board tool chest for my son and two traditional carved storage boxes (which I will post final pictures of next year). Not all of these things got posted to the blog, mostly because I don’t really have a good set up for taking quality photos yet.
This year was all about the carving for me, as I took strong leaps forward in terms of skill and knowledge in the area of traditional 17th century carving. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the subject, and am considering a fairly large project this next year in this mental arena. We’ll see, I’m not going to commit to it yet, because based on my post history my time to work on projects is fairly limited. IF I feel like I can pull it off, it will involve a lot of writing, something I’m not great at so we shall see.
My top new tools for 2012 include:
Skills that I feel I greatly improved this year:
Areas that I really want to work on in 2013:
I also have two classes coming up in 2013 at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking that I am very much looking forward to.
That’s the plan, who knows how it will hold up. I’m not making any resolutions, because I don’t believe in making grandiose sweeping proclamations that I will never achieve. I do make plans, and set reachable goals but don’t call them resolutions.
Happy New Year! and I wish all of you a big year of woodworking in 2013!
For some reason marking knives have bubbled up to the surface around the web.
I use two marking knives consistently,and a plain old scratch awl for most of my marking tasks. They are indispensable to my work and are almost always on my bench top. In fact to grab photos for this post, I just went through recent images to find ones with the marking knives in the background.
Which marking tool I grab depends on what action I’m doing.
If it’s rough cross cut, called a “third class” saw cut I’ll just grab the awl and scratch away. My only concern is that I can see the line, and that it is straight, the rest I don’t care about. This is usually where I grab my big toothed cross cut saw and hit it hard and fast. I’m just breaking the stock down at this point or I know I’m going to be cleaning up the edge later on the shooting board.
I picked up a handful of blue handled awls at Harbor Freight for use in the shop. I’ve modified a couple of them into birdcage awls, and brad point awls, but I keep a couple unmodified close at hand as they are very useful. They are great for laying out carving patterns for the 17th century stuff and you can often still see traces of scratched line layouts on old chests and boxes by the old carvers.
My workhorse marking knife for the longest time was this old chip carving knife I used originally for wood block carving. I use this for marking out cuts on the show faces. I lay my square on the line, and do several passes with the knife. The first pass is light and the focus is on dead nuts accuracy. Each successive pass adds more pressure making a deeper cut each time. I find with this type of knife I can really crank down on it, and get a nice deep clean cut on my third or fourth pass. I will also lay the knife into the leading and trailing edge of the cut and press down to sever the fibers a bit more where the saw enters and leaves the wood.
This is a “Second Class” type cut according to Robert Wearing from the Essential Woodworker and I usually will add a “V” notch at the start of the cut to make sure my saw doesn’t jump out of the cut and ding the edge when I make my first cuts.
For marking dovetails, or making really precise lines I’ve been using the Blue Spruce spear point marking knife. I got one for myself as a treat for my birthday last year and it’s a high class tool. The workmanship is top quality and it is a joy to hold in my hand. It wasn’t cheap and it is definitely a luxury. Chris Schwarz wrote about spear point knives a while back, and Popular Woodworking just re-posted the article to their blog. There is also a review of the new Lee Valley budget spear point marking knives out there too.
I’m still getting comfortable with this style of knife, as I find it a little delicate for my tastes. But when it comes to marking dovetails (I’m a tails first kind of guy), this knife has no equal. For a “first class” saw cut this knife also does well, although I’ve used both the previous knife and the spear point to good effect. Start out the same way with light then increasingly deeper cuts keeping a clean edge. I then follow up with the knife angled into the waste side to create a trough or lopsided V notch for the saw to ride in. Some people use a chisel to cut this but I usually just use the knife. The creates a path for the saw to travel in as well a severing the fibers on the show side leaving a really clean edge where it matters.
I’ve been watching the old Woodwright’s Shop episodes on DVD. It’s great fun but the first few seasons can be a bit dated feeling, as he pushed the really hard core folk craft stuff. One of the tools he uses quite often (still does in the newer episodes, but he doesn’t make as big of a deal about it) is the Froe. It’s also something that Peter Follansbee uses in his work with the Plymouth Plantation while recreating the 17th century joined work. I have no real interest in using a froe, have no real need for one, nor do I have much call for it since I rarely every see logs that I can work with. But after watching five seasons of Roy carrying on about his Froe, and reading Peter’s blog I felt compelled to have one. No idea why, but I couldn’t fight it.
Fast forward a little bit, we’re on the road (through the woods and over the hills to grandmothers house we go) for Thanksgiving and we stop in at a couple Antique store along the way. Of course what did I find? An old beat up froe. In fact there were two of them, but the second one was pretty bad. I caved, I did I will admit it freely, I bought the froe just to have it in my shop, as a sort of homage to Roy and all his work. Plus, if I ever do run across a white oak straight grained log about six feet long, I’ll be set! (The latter is very unlikely to happen out here on the West Coast in very urban Seattle, but you never know right?)
On the way back, travelling on Black Friday towards home we stopped at a new Antique store in eastern Washington we’d discovered while stopping for gas and lunch. It was a great store and my wife found some good stuff, and I got what I consider to be my best find so far.
In a dark corner, I found a pile of rusty junk that contained a beat up Stanley Number 7 whichlooked like it might be salvageable. As mentioned in a previous post I needed a new blade for my Number 7. so I thought I might be able to use it for parts at least. As I carried it around for a while and in some better lighting I got a really good look at it and discovered the blade was in good shape and the rust wasn’t that bad. The real kicker was the price tag, $25. And I even got 10% off that just for asking.
Fast forward again to tonight when I got some time down in the garage to see what was under the rust and grime. It was a veritable diamond in the rough because the rust was barely surface level and the grime scrubbed way to reveal a pretty solid user plane. I hit it with some light machine oil, sand paper and a wire brush and this is what came out.
I had to completely regrind the blade because it looks like someone had planed some nails with it and a quick run through my Coarse, Medium, Fine India stones followed by Translucent Arkansas and stropping I have a blade that could shave hairs off my arm and cut wispy thin shavings. There was grime deep in the works, and I had to totally disassemble it and give it a thorough cleaning. There was paint splatters in all sorts of places including a big old dollop on the front knob. I sanded the knob on my lathe and cleaned up the tote handle by hand followed by a light coat of walnut oil.
Best $25 I’ve ever spent.
This weekend the family indulged in a quick get-a-way to Victoria, BC for a quick vacation. It’s only a few hours ride on the Victoria Clipper, and was nice and relaxing for us to get away from work and the messy house. While we were traipsing around the Royal British Columbia Museum I ran across a few woodworking related displays and interesting tools I thought I would share. Overall the Museum is a fun trip, especially with kids, as the displays are really well done and not at all boring.
In one of the “through the periods of history” sections they have this great display of hand tools on the wall that any woodworker would love to have.
Some were more modern, but some were nice looking vintage pieces that would great additions to the toolbox.
Further down the display they had an interesting saw in a kit for a surgeon. I snapped a picture because it looked like it would make a great handle design for a dovetail saw.
The over in the native peoples exhibit they had a nice display on how they made the bentwood and carved boxes out of Cedar.
We had a great time, and my son loved the undersea area which is done in a very steampunk, 20,000 leagues under the sea theme that is superb, and the giant Mammoth display. He ended up with a stuffed Mammoth to take home which he was quite happy with.