Saturday, June 17, 2017

You Tube Entertainment


We don't have commercial television. Years ago when we first moved into our house (after 4 years of construction) the upstairs was not yet finished. One of the upstairs rooms was to be our den of sorts. Actually it's a bedroom that we've decided to make our den. It's multipurpose. We have a sofabed in that room so it easily doubles as a guest room when need be. But I digress.

We built our house ourselves and you tend to get worn out doing so. After moving in it would have been easy to get complacent and drag our feet on finishing the upstairs. We decided, as an incentive, that we would not move the satellite for our television to the new house until the upstairs was finished. During that period of time we read a lot, listened to the radio a great deal and were quite happy doing without television. So when the room was completed we had grown quite accustom to not having commercial television. We quite enjoyed not being exposed to the constant bombardment of ads making us believe we needed things that quite frankly we did not need.  It's sort of like the philosophy of not spending money on cheap things in order to buy one thing of great quality.

So after purchasing a television for the new room we decided to create a subscription to Netflix. this allows us to decide what we want to watch and when. Now I know there are many devices to allow you skip thru ads, etc., but between Netflix and a couple other sources of video content we are quite satisfied with our viewing options.

Being a maker of sorts I am of course interested in other people that are also makers of one kind or another and You Tube is a great source of this type content.

The Hand Tool woodworking community is quite unique and a group of people I'm quite proud to be associated with. But to think that we are solely unique in this world would be untrue. There is also an entire community of home shop machinist. With the amount of metal working I do it only makes sense that I would be interested in the goings on of that community as well. This community came about due to the efforts of a guy named Lyle Peterson, known on You Tube as Tubalcain. He started posting how to videos of machining operations and quickly found that he had numerous subscribers which encouraged him to post more and more videos. Then came along other personalities like Adam Booth, known as Abom79, and Keith Rucker of Vintage Machinery.org. If interested click their names to obtain links to their You Tube channels. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. On these You Tube creators pages you will find links to many others.

And then there's the woodworking channels. This can be a quagmire of many many channels to sort thru to find the ones worth time for your particular interest. It seems every person with a table saw, router and random orbit sander thinks they have a wealth of knowledge to share with the world. I've noticed the more outlandish the personality of the host the less real skill they have to share. In other words they're trying to make up in personality what they lack in actual woodworking talent. There are the exceptions however.

Jay Bates for instance. Jay uses a mixture of  machine tools and hand tools to complete his projects. That's a work method many can relate to. He is also a talented video editor and does interesting things with special effects. This makes his work quite interesting and entertaining. See the video below of Jay building a hickory side table.


Treebangham is another You Tube creator that I enjoy. Ken Bangham is a very skilled hand tool woodworker. Not only do I enjoy the actual projects he builds, I also enjoy and learn from his methods of hand tool work. I was inspired by his videos to make a Japanese tool box and subsequently I also made tool trays that help keep my bench top organized and these trays are stored in the Japanese tool box.


You'll notice that Ken is a bit more verbal in his videos than some, but that's okay because he does it well and uses it as a method to teach and entertain simultaneously.

Recently I've been watching Ishitani Furniture. Natsuki Ishitani is a young man who lives at the base of a volcano in Japan. Even though most Americans might think a Japanese craftsman using power tools and hand tools is a bit unusual, it's probably more common that we might imagine. Is Natsuki the most talented woodworker I've watched? Probably not, but I do like his non verbal style and his dog has loads of personality. His youthful enthusiasm and the way he attacks his work is fun to watch and the video is put together in a very interesting way. The music toward the end of his projects is very tastefully selected and seems to reflect the mood of the project.  Bear in mind he's not afraid to knock stuff together with a hammer. Very forcefully I might add. I like his design atheistic and the deliberate way he carries out his work.



In most cases when the host starts his video very in your face I'm immediately turned off. Like I mentioned before, in most case those creators have very little to share in real skill and are trying to win your subscription with an alter ego persona. This can be very annoying.

If you have to continually tell me how cool something is........it probably isn't.

Good luck perusing You Tube for quality woodworking content,

Ron


"Woodworker is just another name for Procrastinator"
                                                 Michael Dunbar, WIA Berea Kentucky 2008



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Handworks is Done, What a Wonderful LIfe/Wife



Another Handworks is history. How was it? The weather was trying........as in pretty crappy, however the enthusiasm of the attendees was not dampened by the rainy raw weather. The people endured and as a result it was yet again another great hand tool woodworking event.



Julie and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary at the inaugural Handworks 4 years ago and that speaks volumes about our relationship. Today we celebrate 44 years. We have spent our anniversary at soccer tournaments, graduations and yes woodworking events, and that is why it has worked so well. We've supported each other in every endeavor even if it meant sacrifice. Given that I've had multiple careers it has required a bit more resilience and understanding from her. But that's pretty much the way we've approached our married life, head on and together. One of us has never been dragged along. We've approached everything as a willing, participating part of the 2 person team. It might go without saying that I would marry her again today, but heck at 44 years it might be just the thing to say.








Only time will tell if there will be another Handworks 2 years from now. I'm hoping so and maybe the cold and sore muscles of the Abraham brothers will slowly quit remembering the conditions in the barn this past Friday and will once again decide to have another go at creating what is possibly the best Hand Tool Woodworking event in the world.


Ron


"I would marry her again today and wouldn't even have to think about it",
                                                                                                      Ron Brese

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Heading to Iowa

The Handworks event in Amana Iowa is upon us. All shipments have been sent and received, all that's left is for us to travel there on Thursday to make ready our bench for Friday morning.

Being no rookie to major hand tool woodworking shows, I do have a bit of a different situation for this event. In the past I was only in a position to take on commissions in order to make planes for customers. This year however I will actually have two planes available for sale at this event.

The first plane available is a Winter Smoother. As you can see in the pics below this plane features rosewood knob and tote. The brass bits on this tool have a patina'd finish and an oil finish has also been applied to the aged brass bits of this plane.



I've always loved this combination of metal and wood. I've reluctantly shipped several with this combination of materials.







The splash of sapwood on the bottom edge of the tote creates a lovely contrast. This pic depicts a very inviting view of the tote. Nothing looks quite as contrasting as cocobolo.

I had to take all self preserving precautions in order to be able to work this material without adverse effects on my body. This included wearing vinyl gloves, a respirator, a long sleeve shirt and being very anal about proper dust collection during the entire process. One lesson I learned quite a bit ago. If you have the dust on your gloves or your hands don't touch any other parts of your body until you removed the gloves or thoroughly washed your hands.




The next tool that will be available is a Macassar Ebony Jack/Panel plane. As you can see in the pics the body is made from Macassar Ebony with olive wood decorative strike button.




 This tool has a unique, multi-facetted wedge design and I have found that any adjustments that need to be made to the iron can be accomplished by either striking the iron or the flat spot on the top of the wedge. The top of the wedge sets up quite well to the user. One only needs to strike down on the top of the wedge in lieu of having to swing the hammer down the line of the iron. Tap the iron to increase the cutting depth, strike the top of the wedge to decrease the depth of cut and to set the wedge.



The mouth on this tool is set to allow jack plane type shavings thru, yet also tight enough to do panel plane type smoothing as well.




The Macassar Ebony Shooting board plane below is a new idea that I've been pursuing. I'm sure Larry Williams and Don McConnell of Old Street Tools would tell me that this is technically called a Strike Box plane. This plane is already spoken for, however if you're at Handworks stop by my bench and give it a go.



It features an infill type lever cap. With the iron pitched at 38 degrees I decided I would rather depend on a lever cap to hold the adjustment on the iron in lieu of a wedge. The added benefit of the lever cap is less interference with your hand hold and position on the plane. 

The forward area of the mouth has a gentle sigma curve ending in a stopped rabbit at the top of the plane. This ejects the shavings quite efficiently and lends some elegance of detail to this form.



This plane also has the signature knob positioned in just the right location to give you distinct control of the cut. This plane weighs in a 8 lbs. which gives it plenty of mass for shooting task.





Another plane that will be residing on my bench at Handworks will be the Winter Panel Plane that I completed earlier this year for Bo Childs. This plane features a stainless steel body, brass lever cap and knob seat and Macassar ebony wooden bits. Bo was generous to allow me to show his plane at this event.






The only regret I have is that it was not practical to bring my Nicholson bench to the Handworks event. Jameel and I debated this while he was here for a visit recently. Ultimately we decided that shipping my bench to Iowa and back would put too much hard work at risk of being damaged during the shipping process.



Hope to see you at Handworks,

Ron


"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

                                                                                          Albert Einstein



Friday, May 5, 2017

Handworks 2 weeks away, a Video Featuring the Making of Lever Cap Screws

 I've been very busy putting the finishing touches on the planes I'll be bringing to Handworks. A couple weeks ago I shot some video while making some lever cap screws and thought it might be of some interest.


Ron



"You can't do people's thinkin' and feelin' for dem Rose. Some folks you ain't neber gonna figure out - you just gots to accept them where they be. Dere ain't no way to get inside a person's head and figure out what makes them be the way they be. You just got to accept them"  ~Sarah

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Handworks is Coming Soon

I have been slack in my frequency of posts as of late. The Handworks event is fast approaching and taking the time to shoot video and pictures just adds additional time to the process, time I can't afford if I want to have the planes I'd like to display at this prestigious event.

I'll be presenting a couple of things that are completely outside the box for me, but I will also have some very familiar tools as well.

Two of the tools I have in process at this time are actually for a customer in Norway. He is allowing me to show his tools at Handworks and after the event they will be off to Norway into his ownership.

I have taken time to shoot some pictures of the parts for these tools.

I like to make all the metal parts that are removable from the plane body first. When I get the plane body together those parts are ready to be installed and tuned. These parts, especially the lever caps, are very time consuming to make. It's nice to have that part of the process completed as I look forward to assembling the body.



Removable parts for a Brute shooting plane and a Winter Panel plane



Sole and internal parts for a Brute Shooting plane




Sole parts and bedding plate for a Winter Panel Plane



 When I process plane sides I lap the internal surfaces prior to drill the fixing locations. In the picture below the two plane sides are mated together for final shaping of the plane side profile. With the lapped surfaces mated together on a carrier of sorts the fit is so good that it actually looks like one very thick plane side.


When in fact it is actually the two pieces seen in the picture below.





I have to give a big thanks to my friend Jeff Matilisky. Jeff is a dentist in Gainesville, Fla. He is also a great machinist with a well outfitted shop. He has jumped in to help me create a lot of the parts needed to complete the tools for Handworks. Without his help there is no way I would have been able to finish the tools I wanted to bring to this event. This will also be his first trip to the Handworks event. He'll be one of the people tending my booth.

Hope to see you at Handworks. All indications are that it will be the largest crowd yet at this event.

Ron

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. Theodore Roosevelt











Sunday, February 12, 2017

New Bench is Finished, Jameel Comes to Visit



For one reason or another Jameel Abraham has finished every workbench project I've started, and sometimes he ribs me about it. That's okay because that's what friends do. When he scheduled his recent visit I was determined that I would finish the Nicholson bench before he arrived. I wasn't worried about the friendly ribbing I would get if he once again finished another of my workbenches, instead I really wanted us to have the freedom to do something other than work while he was here.

We did other things..............like fishing. The first day we fished in one of the ponds on the property of Bo Childs I caught 6 fish, Jameel caught one. Before you think I wasn't a very good host let me explain. We coined a new fishing phrase that day, "quarter pounder". No, not a reference to a McDonalds hamburger. It was really a description of the size of the fish we were catching that day. It would have taken all 6 of the fish I caught that day to have added up to one decent southern large mouth bass. 

Neither of us felt like the day had been much of a success except for the fact that it was a beautiful February day. If people caught fish every time they made the attempt it wouldn't be called "fishing", it would be called "catching". Fishing is one of those things where you really have to enjoy to the doing of the thing whether you are successful at actually catching fish or not and you need to do it with people whose company you enjoy.

The next day was a different story. Jameel had landed a couple of small fish and just as we thought we had just enjoyed another warm February day outdoors things changed in a matter of seconds. See picture below for an explanation.


BAM! Just like that a large bass decided the plastic lizard Jameel was using for bait looked just right for it's evening meal. Jameel patiently landed the fish, held it up for a photo op and then gently released it back into the pond to be caught another day.

Oh Yeah, back to the Nicholson bench. So what was I trying to accomplish by building this bench? Many things really. I wanted a second bench. My eldest son is getting more interested in woodworking and when he has a chance to visit it would be very nice to have a second full functioning bench and when I do joint projects with my woodworking friends the second bench will be a very handy thing to have.



But there were underlying reasons. As a designer/maker sometimes you get an idea in your head and it will haunt you until you just build the thing. Sometimes it's the only way to satisfy the creative idea, and the only way to get it off your mind. 

But there was another reason. Most people make a Nicholson bench as their first bench, or something that will do until they have time to build their ultimate bench, usually a Roubo. These first Nicholson style benches are usually made from construction grade lumber, and typically don't include much in the way of vises. The work holding is usually crude and of a configuration that requires the user to expend a lot of physical and mental energy arranging work holding.

Building a bench is a large time consuming task and I wanted to prove that the Nicholson bench design could be made as a forever, one time bench. I also wanted to show that it could be an attractive bit of shop furniture and if one used substantial hardwoods and incorporated high quality vises the end result is a bench that is as functional as any version of a Roubo or other type bench, superseding the need to build a subsequent bench and allowing the woodworker to pursue his or her list of projects. Of course some people like building benches but it is grueling work considering the size of the timbers involved, so it's not something one would want to do on a repetitive basis. Unless you like building benches so much you chose it as a vocation.


I am so taken with the BenchCrafted Classic Leg Vise and Criss Cross, I've decided my Shaker bench will need to be refitted with this same vise and Criss Cross, lest I won't be using my Shaker bench as much as the bench with the Criss Cross mechanism. Jameel and I worked on this retrofit for my Shaker bench in between fishing jaunts.


In the pic below you can see the necessary length of the dogs and the block system I used to secure the edges of the bench at the center parts of the split top. The small blocks are drilled an tapped with 3/8-16 machine screw threads and are glued to the edge of the top boards. The small beams lagged to the stretchers have 5/8 diameter thru holes to allow the 3/8 diameter bolts plenty of room to move as the top boards expand and contract.


Long Dogs are a necessity for this bench unless your name is Clyde and you've starred in a Clint Eastwood movie.





In the picture below you can see the back angle section of the bench removed for finishing. One of the things about this design is the fact that one person can build this bench by themselves. Nothing thicker than 8/4 timbers were used, however once assembled this bench has a massive amount of accumulated weight. You can also see the blocks used for securing the middle edges of the top. 




Because wood is wood and it moves and changes I knew it was futile to align the end cap flush with the top boards and apron. Over time and use it would misalign itself so I inset the end caps 1/4 inch to alleviate this worry.


In Summary:

I had intended to add an 8/4 thick shelf across the low stretchers, however when all the elements of the this bench came together it was such a heavy assembly I decided against the shelf. The shelf was also to serve the purpose of giving me a substantial structure to which I would mount a dead man rail.

I have only seldom had the need for holding really wide panels in the leg vise of my Shaker bench. Given that the bench seems to possess plenty of mass I decided to forgo the extra chore of making the lower shelf, dead man rail, and dead man. Instead I made a small appliance that would serve the purpose of holding one end of a wide panel and would have a wide range of adjustment. You can see it in the first picture hanging from the front apron and below. I call it a "Hanging Deadman". It didn't take long to make and with the few instances in which it will be needed I thought the time required to make it was commensurate to the need.

The Split Top:

Besides making the bench easier to build the split top serves a couple other purposes. (1) It solves wood movement problems in the bench configuration. (2) The best advantage of the split in the middle of a bench top is it gives you a place to put the things that typically want to roll off your bench. Basically any tool with a round handle, like a screw driver or an awl. Place them over the split and they stay put.

The Hanging Dead Man

 So what happened to the old beater bench? As I explained in an earlier post,  everyone needs a beater bench to do things you would never want to do on your nicer woodworking benches. The old beater bench has made a great out feed table for my table saw. 

Now back to my project list,

Ron


“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” 
― Oscar Wilde




Friday, February 3, 2017

Nicholson Bench, Almost Finished


Lots of progress on the Nicholson bench this week. In the picture below you can see that a stretcher across the center of the bench has been added and end caps have been fitted and installed as well. When the top boards are added this essentially makes this a solid maple torsion box of sorts.



The center stretcher has been lagged in place, however the end caps have a tenon that slips into a mortise at the ends of the bench.  I did not want to depend on a couple lags screws to hold everything in place when the leg vise applies outward pressure on the end cap. In this configuration the pressure is applied to the tenon that in turn presses against the side of the mortise. Note that I made the mortise slightly deeper than the length of the tenon. When the lag screw pulls the aprons against the shoulder of the end cap it establishes the width of the bench assembly. I wanted it to fit tight against the shoulder of the end cap and not bottom out in the mortise.



The lags I obtained to use for this bench are squared headed lags with a black oxide finish. I think it plays well with the finish on the vise hardware. I sunk the heads into counterbores on the front of the bench but left them on the surface on the rear apron.



The video below shows some of the other work that's taken place since the last post. Smoothing, making bench dogs and fitting the leg vise.




When making my first bench Jameel Abraham advised me to make dogs for every dog hole. This may seem a bit extravagant but not having to move bench dogs around to different holes saves an enormous amount of time over the course of several years of bench work. If you watch the video and wonder why my bench dogs are so long there is a reason. The Nicholson bench has a wide apron. Unless you have arms like an Orangoutang the dogs need to be at least as long as the apron is wide, otherwise they will be quite difficult to pop up for use.

I also opted to make my dogs from 1" diameter rock maple dowel stock. This extra diameter makes it possible to cut taller faces on the dogs and I've been amazed on how rigid they feel compared to 3/4" diameter bench dogs.

The next post should be the conclusion of the bench build,

Ron

I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end. Abraham Lincoln