Thursday, August 22, 2013

On Going Refinement

The work of Independent Tool Makers changes over time. I'm still making some of the same models of planes that I made when I first started into making planes professionally but the end product at this point is considerably different.

Some of the refinements are not obvious and some are hidden but the point is every time I make a plane a bit of refinement occurs and after one makes a certain number of planes the end product can gradually evolve into a much different thing. The Stainless Panel Plane pictured below is full pound lighter than the prototype and is visually lighter as well. The configuration of the assembly pins has been revised 4 times in the last couple of years.

Some changes are purely for functional purpose and some are visual. Whereas some of my first planes used tightly spaced threaded pins for assembly, my later planes use a combination of threaded pins, taper pins or in some cases press fit dowel pins. Most of this can't be seen without holding the plane body so that light reflects in such a way as to make these features more visually apparent.

The new lever cap in the Stainless Panel plane derived from a desire to design a different lever cap for the Winter Panel Plane pictured below. It was a natural progression to incorporate an improved design in the Stainless Series of planes as well.

 This refinement is part functional improvement but mostly a visual refinement that allows the lines of the plane to flow together in a more harmonious way. In the pictures below you see one my 912-50S planes in Macassar Ebony with the old style lever cap and the one below with Olive Wood and the new style lever cap. I've made both these planes somewhat recently however the Macassar Ebony plane is part of a matched set that began with the older style lever cap. As you compare the two it's obvious that the lever cap in the picture of the Olive Wood plane is more cohesive with the lines of the plane side.

Of course in some cases it's the process that's refined and one just gets much more proficient at performing a given task and that in itself produces an improved result, and then again the end result is most probably a  combination of all of these factors.

I've heard it said "when you quit learning, you start dying", I like the keep learning option myself and continuing to learn leads to more refinement.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why a 16 Foot French Oak Roubo Bench?

When pictures of Bo Childs 16 Foot Roubo bench showed up on several blogs and videos some questioned making a bench of this size. Some even suggested maybe it was a male ego strut of sorts. However there was a functional reason for a bench of this great size and capacity.

It's easy to forget that handwork on a large scale is still done in some places and some businesses make it their specialty. Wyatt Childs is one of those businesses. Bo provides flooring of several different types and textures among many other products. Almost all require some measure of hand work to create the unique look he is known for. Wyatt Childs  has some very fine machinery, in fact you'll see state of the art Martin machines in the background of these pictures and video,  but for some effects Bo knows that nothing looks quite like a surface created with hand wrought methods.

As you can seen in the above pictures and the video below, 4 people can work at this bench hand scraping walnut flooring.....and that's why sometimes a 16 foot workbench is required. Wyatt Childs does large scale work on a regular basis so this workbench will rarely get lonely.