NEWS!!

News

Old English Heavy Metal

In this case, not Iron Maiden but you can fine them in my vinyl stack in the shop too.

One of the cool things about getting a larger space is I can start to fill it. While I still have no need for a table saw, having a power jointer again would be nice. Now some of you may remember hearing me say that most jointers that are on the market today are too small. I mean ... how are you supposed to flatten a 12" wide board with a 6" jointer? My solution? Buy a 12" jointer!

12" of wood flattening heavy metal

12" of wood flattening heavy metal

I don't have the year this old fella was made but I'm sure I will once Jack Forsberg is through with me. He assures me that this is going to be an involved restoration but I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty. My friend Karen has been through the old tool refurb deal in her shop so I'm sure with these two in my corner I won't get into too much trouble. 

A time before crumby stickers

A time before crumby stickers

I will be doing a full restoration including all things that whir and cut, down to the paint and aesthetics. If any one sees (or has) any cool vintage start/stop buttons, let me know.

And then there is this tall fella.

Would you look at the lines on the hood

Would you look at the lines on the hood

This is a Buffalo 18  drill press - a serious drilling machine and I'm looking forward to getting it cleaned up and running. The press promises to be less work than the jointer but as Jack has warned me, you never know what you'll find one you start taking things apart. This Buffalo is a Canadian made machine from Kitchener, Ontario.

These tools were designed for pattern makers and machinists respectively, a discerning group if there ever was one. There is a bit of work in this heavy metal game but it will be worth every minute when I eventually work with tools that were bred for accuracy.

In order to understand, you must do. - V

Meet My Apprentices

Not everything I do is centered around hand tools. There ... I said it. Many people know me for my book The Minimalist Woodworker that I wrote a while back. Some of those people are shocked to find out that I use machines as part of my daily woodworking. I wrote the book because I was tired of hearing people tell me that they couldn't woodwork because they didn't have enough space or money. Other notable excuses for not taking woodworking was not wanting to make excessive dust and noise. I wrote the book because I knew that woodworking can be done with very little and if you didn't have the space, money or other limitations you could still make things from wood.

Two of my capable apprentices

Two of my capable apprentices

I've been in many different sized shops ranging from 40 sq ft under the basement stairs of a townhouse when I was in the military to a couple thousand sq ft when I studied at Rosewood. Regardless of the size of space I have continued making. Currently I have a wonderful basement shop in out new house that I designed from the word 'go'.  It's just under 500 sq ft and I feel that I have finally arrived.

In that shop are machines. Machines that I call my apprentices. They do the things that I'm not interested in doing like breaking out lumber. I haven't named any of them yet but I might yet. Mostly I run machines because I can. I have the room for them and I have the luxury of making noise and some dust in a contained area. This is mostly because my most important client lives upstairs with me and she likes what I make for her.

I'm not a production woodworker so I don't need production machines but I have a few that make my life a bit easier. Here is what is currently in my shop:

Bandsaw - 14" General International with riser kit
Thickness Planer - Dewalt 735
Drill Press - Ridgid floor model
Track saw - Festool TS-55 with vac and MFT-3


You'll note that there is no mention of a table saw, jointer and chop saw. When I studied at Rosewood we were encourage not to use the table saw to rip wood because the safer option was to use the bandsaw. This meant that the table saw only got used for crosscutting and dealing with sheet goods. I've gone many years without a table saw and don't feel that I'm missing out on anything. Now that I'm in a shop that can handle swinging plywood around, I went with the track saw because it makes much more sense bringing the saw to a large sheet rather than muscling that same sheet up onto a saw table. We've all been there ripping big sheets on a table saw and we know some of the weird sounds the saw makes while we do it.  The table saw is also a huge space hog. I also use the track saw to crosscut so no need for a chop saw.

German apprentices!

German apprentices!

I don't use a power jointer because I don't have the thousands of dollars to buy the size I want. The minimum size I would want is 12" because most of the wood that I use is 10" wide easily. How to you joint a face of a 10" board on a 6 or 8" jointer? You don't. You grab your jointer or jack plane and get the one face flat, then joint an edge and carry on. Although recently I have been exploring the world of vintage woodworking machines so I may end up with a jointer one day.

So yes I use machines. I use them were they make sense to me but turn to my hand tools for certain joinery, refining surfaces and generally anywhere that I can do it faster with a hand tool instead of setting up a machine. I also can sleep easier knowing that if I lost my shop for whatever reason, I can turn to my hand skills to keep my love of making in wood alive.

In order to understand, you must do. - V

 

Bit of a Fart in a Wind Storm

As the title would suggest, I feel like I've been all over the place lately. So many writing and building projects on the go and many new things happening in my shop. I started and ended another blog that hopefully none of you saw. I was concerned that as my shop grew that maybe you weren't going to be interested in this growth. There are machines making their way in and so my thoughts were "that's not very Minimalist". It was pointed out by many people (some more delicately than others) that I should focus on one blog and not split my time any more than I have. 

So there is going to be some non-minimalist content on my site. I'm growing and so should my blog. There will still be plenty of hand tool content ...  I'm not becoming a wood machinist. I still believe that hand tools in the shop can certainly be faster when working on one-off projects as I do. I just have the ability to bring in some apprentices now that I have the space.

There you have it. I'm done explaining and I hope you continue to enjoy what you see here. There are so many cool things happening here in my shop and I'm looking forward to boring you with them. Most importantly, always remember - In order to understand, you must do. 

- V

Everyone Needs A Blacksmith

Can you imagine having the ability to have tools made for you, to your specs and your design? You can - you just need a blacksmith. I've got one and he's always keen to try something new. My brother (in arms) Nick is a great buddy to have. I first met him at a community wood shop in Ottawa called My Urban Workshop. He has the skills of a woodworker aaaand does cool stuff with hot steel. 

My first tool I bought from him was a drawknife. This neat piece of kit is made from a railway tie clip and not only does it work really well, it looks pretty rockin'.

Not long after the drawknife I saw this cool hammer that Nick made. It was originally intended as a wooden plane hammer. I have a strange fascination with hammers and for some reason I collect them like ticks on a dog. The hammer is double annealed so its softness is perfect for  hitting wood. I've used this beauty on planes and chisels and it works like a charm. Sweet balance and wicked aesthetics make it the tool I reach for when wood needs a beating. 

About a month ago I saw a selection of kiridashi-style marking knives that he made. Typically these knives have a single-bevel but I asked Nick if he could make a custom ground double-bevel and as usual I got the 'no problem' answer. I met Nick at my favourite shawarma place the other day and he brought out this little beauty. He even personalized it for me with the Minimalist Woodworker logo using a laser. 

I 've dropped a few other tool ideas on him and I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with. In the mean time, I'm going to enjoy using tools that are crafted in a similar fashion as I work wood. BTW if your interested in Nick's stuff and want some of it then check out his site oldsoldiertoolworks.com. He has links on his site for social media as well. I will warm you - knowing a blacksmith gets expensive.

In order to understand, you must do. - V

Vic TesolinComment
He's the Saw Man

I may be naive, but I don't think there is a human being alive that knows more about hand saws than Mark Harrell at Bad Axe Tool Works. He has acheived a level of saw geek-dome that is awe inspiring...and I say that with respect. Whenever I need saw info, I head to his site and surf through the hockey-sock of info there. Recently Mark made it even easier to parse out what you need.

Mark takes you through the steps of how to maintain your saw or completely rehab a vintage model. Mark is a prime example of my typical sign off - In order to understand, you must do. Mark has spent thousands of hours doing research,  experimenting and testing everything from handle material to tooth patterns. If you have any interest in saws at all go here and get ready to learn. My buddy Mark is a fantastic teacher.

In order to understand, you must do. - V

Vic TesolinComment