Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Just Too Good To Burn



My cousin Troy, who's been my best friend since we were kids, has been kind enough to keep me supplied in firewood all year, bringing me a load every 2 or 3 weeks in this colder than normal winter. Well, I haven't looked at firewood quite the same since taking Peter Follansbee's joint stool class down at Roy's last summer. As I've been bringing in armloads to put on the hearth, I couldn't help but notice some of the beautiful, straight-grained red oak that was mixed in there. I've already taken advantage of it and used it for the legs on both my new shave horses, and Sunday I found a piece long enough for a stile of a joined stool. Now I could only get one leg out of that piece, but I broke into another piece that I was able to get two aprons and two stretchers out of. Plenty of nice stuff around 20" long to get aprons, stretchers and chair legs out of, I've just gotta find a few more longer pieces for 3 more joint stool stiles. And I have to make sure Troy doesn't find out I'm turning all his firewood into furniture. ;-)

The extra added benefit to green woodworking is that the waste makes the best fire starter that money can't buy. And lots of it. And it's a heck of a lot of fun working that nice green stuff.

As a side note, my hatchet handle that I made last summer and thought I'd let dry out enough obviously didn't. It's progressively gotten more loose to the point where I finally got tired of wedging it a week or so ago and took the hatchet head off of it to make a new handle. So in being without a hewing hatchet, but armed with two new shave horses and a nice, sharp drawknife, ( the Auriou drawknife is a dream to use ), I've been doing what is normally hewing work at the shave horse. I gotta say, it works very well. I know it's not traditional and Roy would probably tell me that the ancient woodworkers would snicker at me for using the drawknife instead of the more noble axe, but it really is a viable alternative. Actually, now that I have a nice drawknife, I find myself using it a lot, for things I would never have thought to use it for previously. I guess that's what woodworking and life itself is all about. New discoveries and growth. 'Til next time...


A real nice pile of starter fuel for the wood stove.

Two aprons, two stretchers and one stile; sitting atop everything that
WASN'T an apron, a stretcher or a stile.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Stable Full of Horses




Shaving horses that is. The bodgers' or English style shave horse is one I just kind of cobbled together about 4 years ago. Not my finest work by far, but it's done it's job well enough. However, in watching all the Curtis Buchanan videos on YouTube and seeing Elia Bizzarri on a past episode of The Woodwrights Shop, I decided I wanted to try a Continental or Dumb Head style horse. One of the main reasons was hearing Elia say that this style was better for shaving long parts like Windsor arms and bows because you can just slide the piece in from the side rather than having to pull it out and reinsert it from the front as on the English version. Plus I had enough southern yellow pine 2 x material laying around the shop that it wouldn't cost me anything but time.

After browsing over a bunch of shave horse pictures on Google Images ( a resource I use a lot for ideas on furniture and shop fixtures ) I decided on a close version of the model on Drew Langsner's Country Workshops site. A model he refers to as a Swiss shaving horse. About the only change I made was to make the bridge removable and pivoting, so I could change the slope of the bridge by inserting a different height riser. The riser is not attached in any way, just sitting in a shallow rabbet in the top of the bench and the bottom of the bridge. Everything is southern yellow pine with the exception of the wedges holding the head, the foot treadle, and the bridge pivot block. The wedges are cherry, the foot treadle is 1 x oak, and the legs are nice, straight grained red oak off my firewood pile. And just for some turning practice, I turned the legs in the style of Windsor chair bamboo style turnings. These were glued into 6 degree tapered holes and then wedged with walnut wedges. It was fun turning the legs and was really good practice, including tapering the tops of the legs to a 6 degree taper matching the reamed leg holes. The metal pins are half inch steel rod, easily bent after being heated in my paint can forge.






The completed Swiss style horse.

Another view.

Close-up of the removable block and adjustable bridge.

Adjustable height head with home-made steel pin.

The walnut wedges driven into the tops of the legs.

My tapered reamer and a gauge block of a matching taper that allows me
to check my turning as I go to match the tapered holes in the bench.


Of course, after building the Swiss style horse, I got to thinking that maybe I should try a more traditional dumbhead style. And since I had enough material for everything but the bench part, why the heck not! I mean, if two horses are good, three must be better. Right? And they really don't eat much. Ok, that was easy enough to talk myself into. Time to get to work! This one I decided to make three legged, again with red oak legs off the firewood pile, but this time made somewhat in the fashion of welsh stick chair legs. I figured the three legs would be beneficial if I ever decided to take things outside on uneven ground. I also made the slope of the bridge more shallow, and fixed. I'm very happy with it. The lower angle of the bridge is quite comfortable when using the draw knife.

The more traditional dumbhead style horse.

Three legged for a steady stance even on uneven ground.


The bridge held firm with tapered oak pegs. I got a little
too aggressive driving in the right peg and split the bench
slightly. Bending a 1 1/4" piece of steel to fit tightly
around the front of the bench fixed that problem quite
nicely. Again, the paint can forge came in handy here.

Three horses, one old nag and a couple fresh young steeds, ready for action.
I love it when the natural light shines in from the front window and rakes
across a piece.


So now I have three horses and a steam box at the ready. Starting to look like I'm getting ramped up for some chair making. Or a school! Ha Ha

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Few Recent Acquisitions For The Shop



Just a couple pictures of some recent additions that I've acquired for the shop over the last few months.




Gramercy Tools dovetail saw. I had one before and sold it. They're great
saws, I just found myself using my Wenzloff Kenyon style dovetail saw
as my "go to". This was just too good of a deal to pass on though. Not
a mark on it, sharp as a tack, and $80 off the price of a new one. I'm quite
happy to have gotten one of these back in the fold.

Pierced tin lantern by Master Tinsmith James Glynn.
Again, just too good a deal to pass on. Found it on eBay.
Hung it between the double window above my bench on
a hand forge hanger I'd gotten at last years Fort Frederick
Market Fair.

Equipped with a beeswax candle. Really doesn't put out
a lot of light, but you can't beat the look.

Last but not least, a grindstone that I found at a local antique store. It's
missing the seat and the drip cup, but I plan on making a wooden stand
for it anyway. Debating between the style found in Roubo's plates or
something of similar style, but with a seat. Going to have a removable
water trough under the stone. The main thing is that the stone itself is
in great shape. Perfectly round with the only flaw being a small chip on
the opposite side of what is shown in the picture; and it only encroaches in
on the grinding surface of the stone about an eight of an inch or so.
I'm happy to have finally found one of these locally and in such good shape.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Maybe a New Hobby - Undertaker



My pet snake Reggie died unexpectedly while trying to dine on a porcupine, so I decided to make him a nice snake coffin; complete with a steamer to keep him cozy on those cold winter nights. I think he'll be very comfortable in his final resting place. Well shoot; now that I look at it, this would make a nice steamer for bending chair parts. Hmmm, sorry Reggie. Looks like a cardboard box will have to do for you.


Six feet long. About 4 1/2" square inside dimension.

Plenty of hose length. Eleven feet long.

3/4" dowels, 5" from the front and back and 9" between on the others. Eight
dowels total. About an inch and a half off the floor.

My steam source. Little wall paper steamer. Says it'll run for about 70
minutes on a tank full. Bought from Lowes with Christmas gift card from
my mother in law and father in law. Thanks guys!

The back cap piece, rabbeted on the inside to help keep the box square.
Need to drill a small hole or two back here near the bottom to let the water
that builds up from condensation run out.

Converted the end that was originally going to a wallpaper steamer head
to this garden hose type fitting for easy disconnect. 

Shot of the fitting disconnected. Just a few turns to disconnect.






Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Uh-Oh, I'm Afraid This Could Be Addicting.



A few months back, inspired by the many spoon carving blogs I'd been seeing and the spoons that Peter Follansbee post on his site from time to time, and Robin Wood's web site, I ordered a couple spoon carving knives. I bought 2 hook knives from Del Stubbs at Pinewood Forge in Minnesota (excellent quality knives) and an inexpensive "Sloyd" knife off of eBay. The Sloyd knife is ok, but I find it's 4" blade to be too long and I'd like to eventually get one of Del's in a 2 1/4" blade length.

Very few tools required for spoon carving.


Anyway, fast forward to a few weeks ago and with my 5th wedding anniversary fast approaching, I was looking for a woodworking project I felt up to handling. We try to do the traditional wedding gift thing based on  the years married, and the traditional 5th anniversary gift was wood. I wasn't really up for a furniture project, so I figured, what better time to give spoon carving a try. There's lots of good videos on the subject. One of the best I found on YouTube was one by Ben Orford. Also found some good ones from Barn Carder and I had gotten the Jogge Sundqvist DVD for Christmas. Now time to find some wood. From what I gathered, fruit woods make great spoons, as well as birch, rhododendron, holly I think; really just about any tight grained, closed cell wood I believe. I found something growing out by my wood shed. Kinda looked a little cherry-ish by the bark, but not exactly. But it was a great size for spoon blanks, was tight grained, and was available. We have a winner.

And you can't argue with the cost of material; whatever this is.



After cutting a few limbs off and cutting some sections around 16" or so in length, I was ready to give it a shot. I split a section in half, removed the pith with a hatchet, smoothed it out a little with a draw knife, and sketched out a spoon shaped object on the flat surface. I removed the bark from the sides and then rough shaped the outside of the branch, which is the back of the spoon, with a hatchet into what seemed like a good shape. Then I started rough shaping the sides of the spoon to my lines with the hatchet. I think this is what Pye refers to as the workmanship of risk in his book. It's pretty exhilarating seeing how close you can come to your lines with a hatchet without ruining your spoon. So after the hatchet work was done, I shaped it up a little better with the Sloyd knife, then went at the bowl with the hook knives. These came direct from Del surgically sharp and ready to use. I have a few "surgical" nicks on my right thumb that can attest to their level of sharpness.


Still had a nice amount of keel here. Somehow lost it in the shaping process


When I got the spoon shaped how I wanted it, I was ready to do a little decorative carving on the handle to snaz it up a little and I wanted to put our names and wedding date on it. I had planned on doing this with a chip carving knife I'd bought at a woodworking show about 25 years ago and never used. What a worthless hunk of steel and wood that turned out to be. Luckily, I tried it on a scrap piece first. So with no chip carving knife, I decided to go at it with my trusty Pfeil v-gouge. This worked well enough and I was pleased with the results. With the carving done, I hit a few spots with a scraper and then it was on to the finish. I didn't use any sandpaper on the spoon; I much prefer the look of spoons that show the facets of the carving knives rather than something that is sanded to the point of looking like something that came from Ikea or Bed Bath and Beyond. I used grape seed oil to finish this spoon. Just rubbed it on by hand, let it dry a while, rubbed it in a little more, and then wiped off the excess. I believe I ended up giving it 7 or 8 coats like this. Other than losing the keel a bit, I'm pretty happy with the results for a first effort and I think Jen was pleased with it. It was a very enjoyable project and I see more spoons in my future. This one is pretty much just decorative, but I'd like to do some cooking spoons, eating spoons, maybe some spatulas. I'd like to try some different woods also, maybe some apple or pear. Oh, and if your gonna eat with wooden spoons, it only make sense to eat out of wooden bowls. Oh boy, looks like yet another rabbit hole to fall down. Good thing I have a spring pole lathe.  :-)

Completed and oiled up.

Close-up of the carving.

The bowl.

Backside. Anyone have any guesses as to the type of wood?

As you can see, I lost that nice keel I had earlier.



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some Proper Signage




I made this sign and sign post for the shop about a month ago but never got around to posting pictures. Does this mean that  I'm going into business? Absolutely not. I don't even have the energy to do what's on my wife's list much less try to do things for actual customers. This is just another piece in my quest to immerse myself in my own little 18th century fantasy world. The fact that I listed turner on there is a bit of a stretch for now, but I'm getting there.

The sign itself is made of red cedar, painted with a base of exterior latex. The lettering and tool silhouettes are also just exterior latex paint. I'll see how it holds up to the weather over time.

The post is a piece of 3x5 white oak that I got from the same Amish mill that I got the pine tongue and groove that I used for the shop floor and interior walls. The arm is attached to the post with a draw-bored mortice and tenon joint, so the iron bracket is rendered pretty much just ornamental. The curls on the end of the arm bracket and the brackets that hang the sign were just heated up in my paint can forge and bent around a couple pieces of small pipe that I held in a vice. I'm pleased with the overall effect.


Sign's up, flag's out. Shop's open.




The flip side.

Practicing on the spring pole. This will be a taper reamer.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hiding the 21st Century...




...right below the 21st century.

One thing I love about a hand tool shop is that you can listen to music or talk radio while you work and never really miss a word or a note. I've had my iPod dock and XM radio in my shop from day one and use them every time I'm out there. What I didn't like was how they were just sitting on the floor out in the open. This hanging cabinet was the solution. I had originally planned on just doing a painted poplar cabinet, but I've had this walnut hanging around forever so I figured the no cost feature was nice. And I couldn't bring myself to paint the walnut!

The construction is nothing fancy, just rebate joints top and bottom of the sides and a dado in the middle for the shelf. French cleat to hang it on the wall. Didn't even bother with a back. The one thing I did that was new for me was to re-saw a piece of crotch walnut to bookmatch the panels for the doors. Just did the re-saw with my 22" rip saw; didn't take long at all and did a pretty fine job. Smoothed things up a little with the plane and put a crude bevel all the way around to fit into the mortice and tenoned, grooved frame doors. Finished them up with a card scraper to deal with the crazy grain of the crotch wood. When I went to glue the doors up, I decided that I liked the look more with the beveled panels out rather than in as I'd originally planned. Had I known that I'd have maybe took a little more care with the beveling. Oh well, I'm happy with the look and it is just shop furniture after all. I really like using that excuse; gives me a license to not feel I have to be absolutely perfect.

I didn't want to really spend much on nice hinges, but I didn't want shiny brass either, so I bought shiny brass hinges from Lowes for a couple bucks a pair and gave them a 24 hour vinegar bath. That gave me the look I wanted. The finish is just a couple coats of Minwax Antique Oil Finish. After hanging it and putting in my equipment, I finished things off by plowing a groove in a piece of pine, painting it white, and using that to cover the plug wires heading down to the outlet beneath the cabinet.

I may get around to putting handles on it one day, maybe not. Same goes for a catch. The doors stay closed on their own so no rush there either. Now to replace that ugly grey metal breaker panel door with a nice wooden one...


Here's an old pic I found that shows where the radio used to reside.

The one in progress pic I took; chopping out the rebate, later smoothed out with the rebate plane.

21st century sound box hidden. Right under the split unit heating and cooling system. :-)

What's behind closed doors.

And the cable trough.