Tag Archives: Fine Woodworking

LET THE MADCAP-ERY……BEGIN!!!!

As promised, here is a link to the first “Official” published work by The Madcap Woodwright.

blog.woodworkingtooltips.com/2017/01/roubo-bench-build-twist/


There are actually two other bits published in Highland Woodworking’s blog.(Part one of the Roubo build being one of them. It is linked in the intro to this piece. Don’t miss it)

 I am actually enjoying two bylines via these brave souls.

 I have a spot in their blog, as well as a column in their online magazine WoodworkingToolTips.com.

 I wish to extend my profound gratitude to them for providing me with a literary outlet for my musings, as well as all the editorial mentoring and encouragement a budding writer could ever ask for.

Thanks especially go out to Kelley Bagby for rolling the dice on an untested voice.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

“He Who Hesitates……”

……procrastinates indefinitely.

 

It’s not that I am lazy, It’s more a case of having a lot of ideas and not knowing how to put order to them.

Since the first of the year I have been off to a good start with my level of productivity. I have discovered that I am quite adept at disgorging myself of various literary ideas now that I have cajoled an actual periodical to publish some of my ramblings. No shortage of copy for Highland Woodworking’s online magazine of blog.

Nor have I been lacking in the work to do in The Tiny Shop. Since the phonograph refinish, I have had a string of small furniture repairs and/or refinishes. Throw in another workbench build, and you are up to date with my current state of workshop projects.

Aside from a few model train display cases and the long promised step stool for my dear wife, I am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Now what?

Well, that is where things are getting a little sticky. I really need to get some furniture built as prototypes and proof of concepts. I have been wanting to get some things built not only as a means of developing some design ideas, my take on some more traditional styles, but also as fodder for my photographer son to take some beauty shots of for a hypothetical website for The Tiny Shop.

Since I have yet to actually put pencil to paper in many months, I am relegated to my minds eye for developing ideas. This poses a bit of a problem, you see I tend to bounce from idea to idea and end up with a collection of fractured ideas bouncing around in my melon.

Best to choose one, and get on with it.

My intention is to build one of three ideas I have right now. The first is the glove table I had mentioned in a previous post. Next idea would be a blanket chest for my dear wife.

Last, and most fear inducing is the design and construction of a wall unit for our basement family room. Our house is on the verge of being too large for us, but with my 18 year old son having moved in with us this summer, the wall unit may be a good way of making the largely unused family room a little more warm and inviting for him during his stay with us, and an investment in our future use of the space once he moves on to his inevitable world domination tour sometime in the future.

Decisions, decisions.

yinyang

 

A MOMENT OF WEAKNESS….

The Roubo-apffel workbench is now complete. I once again could not resist a pic of it here since installing the leg vise replete with Benchcrafted “Criss-Cross/Retro.”

Highland Woodworking was where I chose to get the hardware for this vise. Excellent experience with them as usual….Not surprising…. And I’m not just saying that because they are publishing my rambling prose. The have always been a first class operation in my book.

Speaking of rambling prose, look for a couple of articles from me on both their blog

https://woodworkingtooltips.com
And their online magazine. I will link to the online magazine after they publish my article and send me the link……Whooooo hooooo!!!!

FINE TEETH…OR HOW I “SAW” THE LIGHT…..

veritassawset

Above are a trio of hand saws that I will be procuring in the very near future. The can normally be purchased through http://www.Leevalleytools.com, a purveyor of fine woodworking tooling.

Having broken out my vintage Stanley Bailey planes for fettling and fondling, I began a short meditation on hand cut joinery.

Now, I realize that I have mentioned that my hands just do not work the way they once did, and that I find hand cutting lots of dovetails etc. to be hard on my hands. However, I was thinking about it, and it seems to me that since I had been taught, long ago, the means and methods of hand cutting and fitting joinery, it might be a wee bit of a waste if I did not at least try to keep the practice up for as long as I am able.

Therefore, I have elected to leave the door open to hand cut joinery for special projects, or by special request.

Because hand cutting joinery is a bit more involved than using a router and a jig, it requires a few specialized tools in order to do it. Hand cutting mortises and tenons, dovetails and the like normally require a few specialized hand saws and some chisels that are a few steps above the run of the mill Marples Blue chip chisel set.

I know you are saying to yourself…”self…he is just creating a need for more tools to be purchased”. Yep, you are correct…Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa.

I did not start out looking for an excuse to go Ebay surfing for saws and chisels, but as a happy byproduct of my decision to maintain my chops vis-a-vis hand cut joinery, I will need to make a few additions to my hand tool ensemble.

The thoughtful folks at Lee Valley Tools have a lovely selection of hand tools. The saws that I am going to be buying…sometime soon I hope…are from a Canadian company named Veritas.

Veritas also makes some very high quality hand planes, chisels, jigs, vises, and many other woodworking accoutrements.

In this particular case, I am departing from my norm and am planning to buy new tools rather than recycling vintage pieces. This is for several reasons.

The first has to do with economy. For the cost of those three saws above, (conveniently put into a package deal by Lee Valley Tools) I “might” be able to get one or two of their counterparts in fair condition on Ebay…MAYBE.

Don’t let the woodworking talking heads convince you that Ebay is the one stop shop for quality, though maybe needing TLC, tooling at bargain basement prices. It seems that anyone who goes to flea markets, yard sales, and second-hand tool stores has a “buy-it-now” on Ebay with a price that will make you wonder what the color of the sky really is on the planet that these people are from. I think they plan to retire on the proceeds of their tool sales there.

So, buying new tools that will require next to no tuning, that come with a warranty, and that are of proven high quality, seem to me to be something of a bargain.

Another reason is that these tools come backed by unbiased reviews by some fairly heavy hitters in the woodworking world. Paul Sellers being the one whose opinion sealed the deal for me. He had a few of Veritas’s saws in his shop for some long-term (three years) testing and gave them glowing reviews. Mr. Sellers is a revered hand tool aficionado. He knows good tooling, and how to rescue it from the landfill and tune it up for another 50-100-150 years of faithful service. He is an inspiration to me. So if he green-lights a particular tool…new or old….I pay attention. Add in my own personal experience with some of Veritas tooling, and it really is a no-brainer for me.

veritas-handsaw

In any case, I am looking forward to rounding out my arsenal of hand tools with some new saws, a couple of sets of new chisels, some vintage layout tools, and maybe even a small coffeemaker for The Tiny Shop.coffee

Another new addition on the horizon is a place to put all this woodworking finery. I have a great, OLD, Craftsman brand tool chest combo that has been a real God send. I very close friend of mine passed it on to me when I first started putting The Tiny Shop together. I cleaned, waxed and buffed it up, took the useless casters that were on it…barely…off, and plopped it down on a dolly for mobility. Better than new.

Still, even with the tool box from heaven, I would like a set up dedicated to the “finer” tools that I have and that I plan to get.

Initially, I had considered just finding another Craftsman set up like the one I have now. That morphed into building a duplicate out of wood. That then morphed further into something of a hybrid. I would like a base chest of say, four deep drawers. Then perhaps another case that has several more drawers of various depth on top of that. On top of both of those cases, I want to build a plane till and some dedicated spaces for chisels, hand saws, layout tools, and a couple of small drawers for…well….just because they are cool. Something like a cross between this….

dsc_0145dsc_0151

…and these…

toolcab1planetill

Perhaps you can see where my sudden interest in hand cutting dovetails is coming from now?

The first two pictures of a tool chest above, are pictures I grabbed from Paul Sellers blog site. (www.paulsellers.com)

They are of his personal tool chest. I love this chest, but can see a plane till like the one just above here, sitting on top. Also, instead of a stand, I would set the cases on a very low, cradle of sorts, to make use of the dead space for those deeper drawers I want in the bottom case.

It looks like I just made a lot of fun work for myself again….I feel no shame in saying….I can’t wait to go shopping and then get to making some saw dust in The Tiny Shop.

The PLANE Truth…

wp-1475327872978.jpg

When I say I am a tool junkie, I am not kidding. I love them.

More importantly, I love old tools.

Now, it has been some time since I have written on tools, tooling, or the like. Moreover, it seems like anyone who has ever swung a hammer has something to say about hand planes.

I am no exception it seems. Though I would like to point out that it has been nearly two years that The Madcap Woodwright has been a blog and I can’t for the life of me remember if I had EVER written about hand planes. I know I can scroll back through my previous posts and try to see if I had done a piece on them, but that seems too much like work. More to the point, it would require me to revisit some of my earlier, less finessed, pieces and I just don’t have the intestinal fortitude to do that.

The above picture is of my beloved “Daily Driver” hand planes. Each is vintage. The #7 (the jointer plane/Longest plane) being 106 years old.  The #5 (Jack plane/Medium length) and the #3 (Smoothy Plane/Smallest plane) are both from the early 1930’s

Each one is in superb condition for having such a long life thus far. Each has a flat-bed and complete complement of hardware. This is important as over the years these pieces sometimes tend to be modified and parts can sometimes get lost.

For example, My #7 Jointer plane is actually somewhat of a “franken-plane.”

It has a replacement front knob and also rear tote. The cap lever is also non-original as it is obviously japanned/painted from a previous owner and bears no manufacturer marking. Little things like this often driver collectors bat-shit-crazy. However, at least in my example above, a more than century old tool is still alive and kicking. Plus, either by happenstance or by design, the original cap lever’s replacement is actually of heavier, better quality. So since I have these planes to shave wood and not to collect or turn profit on E-bay, I appreciate the “up-grade.”

wp-1475327813249.jpg

With the advent of foundries like Lie Nielson and boutique makers that  hand craft superb tools, there are plenty of folks who ask why someone would ever consider buying such seemingly antiquated tools to work professionally when there are so many newer, and purportedly better, tools available.

It is for a number of reasons actually. Some practical, and some more romantic.

The first reason that comes to mind is that, despite their antiquity and implied rarity, these planes can be had for far, far less than their modern counterparts provided you are shopping for tools that are in “user” condition rather than “collector” condition. The above examples were acquired for the miserly sum of $150 for the trio.

I got lucky with the find, to be sure. They were found in exceptionally fine user condition. No collector would be all that interested as they show signs of having been refurbished/cleaned/modified. In other words, they had had their patina cleaned off, and had been modified for improved performance. These are working class antiques, not shop display queens.

Another reason to seek these out is the same as I had described with my early Delta stationary equipment. The materials used are of very high quality and crafted by old world plane makers, using traditional techniques, from an era when tools were developed and manufactured with long service life and durability as a  primary selling point.

Lastly, there is just something about the feel of tools of this vintage. They just feel good in the hand, and are obviously happy to be put to work the way they were designed. It is a little difficult to describe, but tools this old just feel more willing to be used. They don’t have the feel of a tool that was made to be admired and put on a shelf to be looked at. A tool to only be used sparingly for fear of any sort of damage. At the risk of anthropomorphizing the planes any further, they are just so willing to be used that they beg for it.

The notion that modern planes are better and much better than their ancestors is , in my view, a bit subjective. Given the relative low-cost, the comparable material and build quality, and the intangible benefits of keeping these tools working and useful, I fail to see any reason not to keep them as primary day-to-day tools.

Sure, I would love a full complement of Lie Nielson Stanley Bedrock clones to admire and show off. What self-respecting tool junkie and woodworker wouldn’t? But for my needs, my daily forays into Neanderthal woodworking, I like my very vintage Stanley Bailey #3-#5-& #7 just fine thank you very much.

wp-1475327968733.jpg

Refreshed

Above is the before/after of the Art Deco -ish dresser I rehabbed a while back. Next up was it’s bigger brother, a dresser/vanity combo.

Both pieces had some significant veneer damage. Some I could repair, and some were just too far gone.

Over all, with a quick rehab, rather than restoration, I think they turned out rather nice.

Madcap-ery Interrupted

writersblock

Sure as shit….just as soon as I post here that I am writing a “book,” I come down with the most horrendous, unending, torturous case of writers block that I have had to date.

No matter what, as soon as I would sit down to write, my mind that had moments ago been filled with the most brilliant and innovative or profound topics and notions just decides to delete any semblance of coherent text.

I would sit and try to put anything I could down. ANYTHING. Sometimes even getting a page or two tip-tapped out on my lovely new Thinkpad. Once or twice I even had a session or two where I had nearly an entire chapter of this thing written.

Then I would reread what I had written…..

The horror….the horror.

Finally, I set the Thinkpad aside and tried to write in longhand. Anything to get ideas that seemed to be just out of reach, fleshed out in some way. A word, a sentence, a phrase….anything. All to no avail.

So, in an effort to get the creative juices flowing again I write this blog post to whine about having lost my voice.

The bright side may be that, in having this wretched case of writers block, AGAIN, I am forced to take my own advice and simply be in the moment. Perhaps I should view these many months as a needed recharging of the creative batteries.

Speaking of creativity, I have finally been doing some light restoration work in the Tiny Shop.

I have a friend who rescued a couple of Art Deco pieces from being consigned to the landfill. He got a dresser and also a combination vanity/dresser that were obviously a set just for the cost of picking them up.

they both have some water damage and also some veneer issues, but I have been able to bring the dresser back to life and work is starting on the vanity/dresser now.resto

This piece still had the original mid-century Bakelite handles. It is back together and just got swapped for the soon-to-be-refreshed vanity.

I am excited to see how these two look side by side. I will be sure to snap a couple of before pictures and post them here.

So while the restoration/refreshing pieces are fun and all, what I really want to do is start building some furniture of my own.

When I say “my own,” What I really  mean to say is that I will more than likely be building clones, or my take on pieces that interest me. This is an ongoing method of mine. I start by putting together classic design pieces, and end up sketching and eventually craving to build variations on that particular theme.

For example, I have long wanted to build this.

 

moserdesk1moserdesk2

This is a “Stand Up Desk” by Thos. Moser of New Gloucester Maine. It is on my short list of “to-build pieces.

I also want to build a blanket chest for The Love Of My Life,blanketchest

as well as a glove table for our entry to the house.glovetable

So while I may be somewhat hamstrung by my literary ineptitude, i do have a great deal I wish to get built out in The Tiny Shop to help salve my seemingly empty head.