Are you a Rust Junkie?

If you haven’t heard of Rust Junkie Fest then you are missing out. Jack Forsberg has been running this event for the last six years and this seventh year will be the best yet. There will be all kinds of demos and the Ottawa Woodworker’s Association will be having their annual summer BBQ.

I will be there with some of my shop-made musical instruments like cajon drums and some cigar-box guitars and I’ll be making a CBG while I’m there. These instruments are fun and easy to make and sound fantastic.

So check out Jack’s site for all the info and to register. It’s free to attend, they just need a head count. If you’re there, be sure to swing by and say hey!

In order to understand, you must do. - V

Vic Tesolin
Heading Back Down Under

I’ve been to Australia a couple of times now and this upcoming trip will mark my third visit. John Madden, the organizer of Wood Dust, has asked me to teach a Master Class at Wood Dust 2019. I’m excited to be a part of this event and it promises to be as awesome as last year’s inaugural running.

As always….a bit of Tom Foolery on my part.

As always….a bit of Tom Foolery on my part.

If you have spent any time with me before, you know that I like to have fun and I occasionally goof off as seen above. I have so much fun when I woodwork so I like to keep things light when I teach. Life is serious enough so why not have some fun eh?

WoodDust-17-Wed-Masterclasses-02 copy.jpg

Last year at Wood Dust I taught a class on inlay. This year, I will be talking about my take on design entitled “Design for Woodworking”. We will spend time learning to sketch, building maquettes and flexing the old design muscle a bit. Many folks are afraid of design because they think they have to get formal schooling on the subject in order to be good at it. The truth is, with a bit of guidance and some practice, you can unlock your inner designer and begin building furniture that starts as an idea in your mind.

So why not join us for a bit of fun, boost up your design chops and expand your woodworking skills?

In order to understand, you must do - V

Vic TesolinComment
Which Way Do You Lean?

In my last post I talked about the book 'Making Things Right' and in that book the author described an all too often conversation between him and a group of fellow tradespeople. They were at a bar after a week of hard work and were discussing (with vigor) which was better: an Olfa snap-blade knife or a Stanley-style utility knife. I had a chuckle when I read this because I have to say, craftspeople often have these kinds of conversations. In some cases they go way off the deep-end, arguing about what effectively amounts to how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin - I believe they are referred to as forum threads.

All that being said, I feel like I need to weigh in on this. I'm a big fan of the Stanley-type of utility  knife. The blades seem to be more stout than the snap-blades so there is less flex to them. This same stoutness also lends them to a few honings before I have to flip them around. Once dull on both sides I've also been known to use them as small card scrapers but that usage is admittedly a bit weak.

So I may regret this but - which do you prefer and why? There is room in this world for the two most common styles of utility knife but I'm interested which way you lean. Are you an Olfa-type user or do you do things right and use a Stanley-type? ;-)

To understand, you must do. - V

Vic Tesolin Comments
Book Review - Making Things Right

The most important marketing tool a craftsperson has is doing things well. Whether you are a furniture maker, carpenter or spoon carver, you're really only as good as your last job. Those jobs, done correctly and with care should stand the test of time.
Making Things Right - The Simple Philosophy of a Working Life, by Ole Thorstensen is a fantastic book that talks about doing things right, quality and integrity. Ole is a Norwegian Master carpenter and contractor and in his book he takes the reader through the trials of being a one-man show in a world that seems to be flush with big firms. He talks about the impact of doing good work and how in the building world, you get what you pay for. You follow Ole through a job from the bidding process all the way to completion. 
I found it interesting that a lot of the struggles he mentions in the book are the same struggles I hear from my builder friends here in Canada. You realize pretty quickly that personal relationships and customer service have just as much of an impact as manual skills do. As a woodworker who still does the odd bit of commission work, I definitely identified with Ole through his struggles and his accomplishments when dealing with other humans.
The refreshing part of the book for me is Ole's unrelenting commitment to integrity. Integrity is how a person conducts themselves when no one is looking. He serves as a reminder that there are still good, conscientious people in the world who are ever mindful of how their actions will affect others around them. The book is humorous at times and nail-biting in others which for me makes for a great story. I realized quickly that Ole is the kind of guy that I'd like to have a few beers with. I tore through this book over a weekend and have already recommended it to a bunch of friends who work with their hands.

To understand, you must do - V

Vic TesolinComment
When East Meets West

East, West, and something in between.

Lately I have been doing a lot of research on the Japanese traditions of woodworking. I've always found their methods of work to be interesting and their tools are very different than ours. They pull their saws and planes, their edge tools are laminated steel and some of them work seated on the floor instead of standing at a bench.

My curiosity likely won’t have me on the floor woodworking (to be fair, if it did I would likely not get up). Instead, I will likely find some different techniques that I can apply to my own skillset, complimenting my own method of work. For example, I’m really digging pulling planes. It feels (to me) that I have more control of the stroke and I also feel that I have more power when I’m taking heavy shavings. 

I had a friend come by the shop the other day and he taught me the basics of making a Japanese plane. That was like drinking out of a fire hose. They look deceivingly simple, and how hard could it be? I’ve been making Krenovian-style planes for many years now so how much different could it be? Without going into too much detail, I was wrong.

So with that experience fresh in mind, I set out to make a western-style plane that fI could pull. I’m not sure if it’s going to work, which is the case for a lot of things that I try, but I’m giving it a whirl. The glue-up pictured above is the result of a few failed experiments. I have tweaked dimensions and worked with different blades and blade adjustors. I hope this one is the one that bridges the gap between East and West…If not, in the words of Marvin the Martian, “Back to the old drawing board”.

To understand, you must do. - V

Vic Tesolin Comments