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Posts tagged woodworking
I'm Surrounded

Working at Veritas is admittedly a pretty cool gig. One of the best things about my job is the people I get to work with. In my office there are many talented designers and engineers that do what they do really well - on top of that, they are good people. Among those folks are some pretty talented woodworkers. I have friends/co-workers that are timber framers, heritage carpenters, boat builders and luthiers just to name a few.

Scott works for Veritas as a buyer. He brings in all the material needed to make all the tools the we produce. Scott is also an incredibly talented woodworker. For months he has been sharing photos of his period work but I wanted to see it in the flesh.

Proud Papa Scott with his chair.

He brought in a Connecticut Chippendale chair that he recently made. This style of chair would have been popular in the mid to late 1700's and was stripped down in regards to carving from it's Philadelphia cousin.

The chair is crafted in mahogany and the workmanship is primarily with hand tools. The thing I like best is the surfaces are off the tool and not sanded to the point of unnecessary smoothness. To my eye, this piece has so much character because of those tool marks. No only is the overall form of the chair pleasing but you can also see and appreciate the human being that was behind its creation. By the way, Scott is a self-trained woodworker who follows my mantra: "In order to understand, you must do". He is proof that if you get into your shop and try things, anything is possible.

A lot of my writings in the past haven't featured much on other's woodworking but I think that is about to change. I enjoy seeing other peoples' work and so I think it's time to share some of that with you. You may be asking yourself: "When are you going to be making some projects Mr. Minimalist-pants". Well I have quite a list that my wife has developed for our new house that I will be getting started on once I get some work travel out of the way. I think she has about five piece in the queue for me so I'll be a busy fella in the next few months. I've got some basic design work done and now I'm ready to prove those designs with some maquettes that I'll be putting together.

Stay tuned for a multi-part blog on the design and making of my dining room table. I'll be trying some unconventional joinery for the legs that I'm hoping will let me ditch the aprons. Or....it could all fail miserably. Either way it should be as fun as watching a train wreck - you may want to look away but you can't. 

In order to understand, you must do. - V

The Power of the Barter System

The Barter system has nothing really to do with Ron Barter however he is not excluded from it. Long before the days of money and credit cards, life was much simpler. As a  cabinet maker I would build you a harvest table. In exchange, you the farmer would deliver a basket of seasonal vegetables and grains weekly for that year. You got your table and I got food. Simple, non?

In today's marketplace it's not as simple as that. It's not likely that I can walk into my local grocer and trade a dovetailed box for a quarter of beef...I know, I've tried. However, I'm here to say that the Barter system is alive as well. 

I've been giving private woodworking lessons to a pretty talented guy named Jordan. Jordan is the Creative Director at my all-time favorite brewery Beau's. If you haven't tried any of their beers you are missing out and you should turn off your computer/tablet and go find some....go ...I'll wait. 

Anyhow...Jordan is the creator of their famous tractor logo as well as many others. Jordan and I bartered for each others services. I am teaching Jordan hand tool woodworking and Jordan is designing a new logo, website and other promotional pieces for my company The Minimalist Woodworker. As I type, Jordan is well on his way to making his first work bench with hand tools and I'm happy to show off part of my new logo that Jordan designed.

What you see here is the monogram that is part of my new logo. You'll have to stay tuned for the rest of it once my new web site launches. I leaked out this monogram on my various social media sites as the avatar and received some positive comments. I'm proud to be working with such a talented artist and I'm double-stoked that he has decided to take up woodworking.

There is going to be more new and exciting things coming down the pipe for The Minimalist Woodworker in the next month or two so keep an eye on my social media sites and here at the blog for more developments.

Do you have a story about the Barter system and how you both benefited from it? I'd love to hear it. 

In order to understand, you must do. - V

Pinus strobus Hand Plane

I love wooden planes. I love making them and most of all I love the sound they make as they take shavings from wood. The other day I was experimenting with using softwood for the body of a Krenovian-style plane. At best guess I’ve made about 20 of this style of plane with the majority of them made from a tough wood of some type. Maple, sapele, rosewood and king wood to name a few but the other day I wondered about making a pine plane.

I apologize for the poor photo quality...here you see the bubinga sole.

Now obviously pine would not wear well so I soled the plane with an 1/8” of bubinga. I have also discovered that the hardest part about setting this style of plane for me is setting the wedge. I would constantly go back and forth between too heavy and too light of a cut, so to fix that I’m using a mechanical wedge in the form of an insert and screw. With this set up I can set the wedge and make the adjustments to the plane without having to worry about changing the setting while hammer setting the wedge. The plane adjusts in the same manner as any other adjuster-free plane - A few light hammer taps here and there gets you were you want to go.

Ignore the styling on this model...this was just an experiment.

The results the plane left behind were stellar. It was great performance with a nice lightweight body. I think weight is important for shooting but for smoothing and stock prep I’ve been leaning towards a lighter plane. This pine model is only 25% lighter than an all-bubinga plane so in the end you’re not losing that much weight.

I’m going to continue to experiment with this light weight version and use them more often to see how they last…I will keep you posted.

In order to understand, you must do. V

A Good Place To Start

There is no doubt that one of the most important woodworking tools when you're using hand tools is a workbench. Having the ability to secure a piece of wood to something solid is essential. For the most part you have two choices: you can buy a pre-made bench or you can make your own. I usually recommend that woodworkers make their own bench because you can make it the size that is specific to you.

My bench is about 60" long and around 20" wide. Anything bigger than that and I have trouble getting around it to work. Another plus to making your own is the control over the height. I'm 6'2" so the bench height that works for me is not the same as the height required for someone who is 5'5" or 6'8". For most work I think the bench should be around the distance from the floor to your wrist joint. This is just a general rule - ideally you want to be comfortable at your bench so you should make it the height that works for you. 

Making your own bench can seem a bit daunting but it's not as hard as you would think. A logical question that gets asked is "How do you make bench when you don't have a bench"?

Enter the ubiquitous portable work bench. This style of workbench has been around for many years. My dad had one and he used it for a lot of projects around the house. You can find these benches new at many home centres, made by many companies for a reasonable price. You can also find them at yard sales and flea markets for $5 - 10. 

These make excellent starter benches. The only advice I would give is to remove the thin, often cheap top and replace it with something a bit more robust. I added hunks of 2 x 8 to mine which gives me 1-1/2" of thickness and adds a bit more weight to it. This extra thickness also allows me to use various bench accessories like holdfasts or planing stops to help secure the work.

You don't need an 8-foot long aircraft carrier for a bench to get started. Kitchen tables have been know to become good work benches but it's hard to beat a $5 yard sale find. The best part is that you will always find a use for this small bench even when you do eventually make a your own proper workbench.

I'll be soon building a new bench to replace the first one I made after graduating from Rosewood Studio. It was (and is) a good bench but it just doesn't suit the way I work any more. The old bench is being donated to a co-worker who is just getting into hand-tool woodworking. Hopefully he gets as much use as I did out of it.

In order to understand, you must do. - V