Maker, Joiner, Traditional Woodworker, Instructor, Engineer, Open Source Software and Hardware, Preservation Carpentry, Custom Furniture, Custom Mill work, Instruction, Preservation Masonry. Yep, I like to make stuff.
Here’s a recap of Saturday and Sunday (days 2 &3) of Woodworking in America 2016. Saturday was a fun day of workshops and lectures. I watched a great talk by Caleb James on Danish Modern furniture. Chris Schwarz had a talk about Chairmanning and a talk about his Roman Workbenches. Roy Underhill demonstrated how to make a classic coffin. Mary May demonstrated how to carve volutes, C-Scrolls and other similarly projects. I also had some fun guarding Chris’ low Roman workbench as I helped Roy get it out to his van.
I got to see some more old friends, meet some new ones and meet several friends I knew from being online, but not in person. I got to meet Mike Flaim and had a brief interview with Dyami Plotke of MWA.
In the evening we had an event where we went Rhinegeist Brewery for some very good beer and BBQ followed by a tour of some of the massive underground brewing and beer storage tunnels that are under much of Cincinnati.
Click on any of the images below to click through the images as a slideshow. (if you are viewing this post in an email browser, please click on the post title above to view the post on the website itself)
Another great view of the Cincinnati waterfront.
Caleb James’ excellent presentation on Danish Modern furniture.
Caleb’s traveling tool chest with a large collection of the planes he’s made.
Great Hans Wegner quote
Nicely proportioned stool
A table from Caleb’s presentation we all hope to see in an article at some point.
George Walker’s talk on Designing With Curves
George Walker with his string 2.0
George Walker demonstrating some great, and traditional ways of working with curves
Mary May’s class on carving volutes, C-scrolls and similar things
Sample of a violin scroll
Carving a volute
Mary May Carving a C-Scroll
Mike Siemsens’s Anarchist Tool Chest
Zach Dillinger with his very nice reproduction ottoman.
Zach Dillinger taking questions as the end of one of his workshops.
Quick selfie with my hero, Roy Underhill. It’s always great to see him and he’s very nice to all of us fans.
You know Roy Underhill’s presentation killed — there were a LOT of coffins all over the room.
Chris Schwarz’ talk on Roman Workbenches
Chris demonstrating how versatile the low bench is for preparing stock.
Taller Roman Workbench with Chris hand rasped nuts.
Chris Schwarz’ talk on making a straightforward chair (showing how you don’t need to invest in a lot of fancy chairmanning tools to make a comfortable and nice looking chair)
Chris cutting wedges for his chair leg tenons.
Vampire vise made by my friend Peter Ross for Chris Schwarz’ tall Roman workbench
Double wedged tenons in the Roman Workbenches to close up any gaps.
The nicest bus stop bench in Covington, KY. Guarding Chris’ low Roman workbench as Roy went to get his van.
Selfie while laying on a Roman bench in the middle of a city sidewalk.
Couldn’t help but think of the beginning of the Woodwright’s Shop as Roy walked to the parking garage that looks almost a bit like the streets of Durham, NC😉
Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati
Enjoying my time at Rhinegeist Brewery with Zach, Jake and others. They even had a beer called ‘Steve’
It was OctoberFest weekend in Cincinnati — the largest outside of Germany. Made my German ancestors happy to try all the brews and see all the folks in Lederhosen and Dirndls.
Folks jousting American Gladiator style in full on lederhosen.
One of our tour guides of the many underground brewery buildings in Cincinnati
Cincinnati Connector Street Cars
Great old sign dating back to the first days of electric in the city (At least according to our guide who was quite a character)
Pig sticker fence. I also really like how the guy restoring this row house painted the CDX on the door to look like a door and even layered it on the windows and painted them to look a bit like sash. Nice touch.
About to enter a spooky underground brewing cave that has even been in some recent movies.
Gives and idea of how big some of these brewers were back in the day, under a large hill in the city.
There might even be a ghost in this photo….
Inside of the hotel lobby. A very big open space
Testing out my new Timbuk2 camera backpack. Worked out great on this trip
A paddlewheel sightseeing boat out on the river.
If you’d like to see my photo recap of the first day of WIA 2016, please check out this earlier post here.
I had a great time at the event and hope to see many of you there next year.
Here’s a recap of my first day at Woodworking In America 2016 — held at the Northern Kentucky Convention in Covington Kentucky which is part of the greater Cincinnati Ohio area.
This was my first time attending this conference and other than a nightmare of a time getting there by plane from NH (Thursday night flight cancelled, the second set of flights Friday at the crack of dawn, missing the connection due to ground staff incompetence and fighting to get on another flight later in the day) and missing the 2/3 of the day’s lectures I still had a very nice first day watching Freddy Roman’s presentation, exploring the brew and browse event, meeting a ton of friends old and new and meeting several online friends in person. I also had a great dinner with a great bunch of folks — Zach Dillinger, Mary May, George Walker and many others.
Click on any of the images below to click through the images as a slideshow. (if you are viewing this post in an email browser, please click on the post title above to view the post on the website itself)
Greetings from Popular Woodworking in America 2016
John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
Street leading to the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, home to WIA 2016
Freddy Roman giving a talk on sand shading and inlay.
Some of Freddy’s banding stock samples.
Freddy Roman demonstrating some fine detail work.
Sand shaded blanks
Very neat sample board of some incredibly tiny and intricate banding Freddy acquired and has worked from.
Carving close up on big screen
David Thiel of popular woodworking tweaking his camera. I always think photographs of other photographers are fun.
My friend Zach Dillinger at the Mortise and Tenon booth
The new Crucible Tools — hold fast and dividers. Very nice looking.
Paper sector by George Walker and Jim Tolpin
Brendan Bernhardt Gaffney and George walker looking at Brendan’s new sector prototype.
Prototype Sector by Brendan. Definitely going to get one soon.
Joshua Klein and his most excellent Mortise and Tenon Magazine booth
Tico Vogt Toolworks
The large Lee Valley/Veritas booth. Always fun to try out their latest and greatest tools
SAPFM booth with the hand tool olympics. I’m proud to say I did will with my cutting events.
Lie Nielsen Toolworks with Mr. Lie Nielsen himself.
Deneb Puchalski of Lie Nielsen Toolworks giving a demo. Deneb is a great guy and I’ve been buying tools from LN for many years and he’s been my main point of contact for most of it.
Knew concepts marquetry saw
Some of the very nice work by Texas Heritage Woodworks
Jason Thigpen of Texas Heritage Woodworks making a great face.
Some of the very nice work by Texas Heritage Woodworks
Plate 11 Workbench Company
Plate 11 Workbench Company with leg vise and real nice planing stop
Plate 11 Workbench Company planing stop
A nice rocking chair by ne of the exhibitors. Wish I could recall his name, but he was offering online courses, one of which was on making this chair.
The Superior Works🙂
Up next is a post about the second two days of the conference. I had a great time and hope I can attend it again in 2017.
It can take a long time to make a tent fly — but it’s worth it.
What is a Tent Fly?
A fly refers to the outer layer of a tent or to a piece of material which is strung up using rope as a minimalist, stand-alone shelter. In basic terms, a fly is a tent without walls. Purpose-made stand-alone flies are also sometimes referred to as bivouacs, bivvies, tarpaulins, or hootchies. — Wikipedia
A few years ago I didn’t know what I tent fly was, at least not by name, but on one of my visits to Eastfield Village I saw a nice one that Billy McMillen built and used. On some visits to Colonial Williamsburg I also checked out a huge tent fly that Garland and Ted and the guys had and decided I wanted to build one for myself. I wanted a place to work on timber framing elements out of the sun and rain, a tarpaulin for when we have a party in the yard, maybe a craft fair or a re-enacting event.
I decided to go with a custom made tent fly from Panther Primitives — an outfit Billy and Garland both recommended and big in the re-enacting community for making top quality tents. I went with the 12’x16′ Tent Fly with the 13oz Flame Retardant Sunforger Heavy Duty Canvas. I also had a special request to have grommets and loops so I could support the outer edges of the tent with a series of posts or a post and beams depending on how the fly will be used. I also ordered 16 manila rope sets, heavy duty stakes, a canvas bag for the ropes, bag for the tent and bag for the ropes. The folks at Panther were great to work with and make and excellent product — superior materials and craftsmanship.
With the canvas taken care of it was time for me to build the necessary posts to support this tent. Like any good woodworking project it starts at your wood supplier. I went to my perennial favorite — Highland Hardwoods in Brentwood NH. I carefully selected some straight grained 8/4 Eastern White Pine. I ripped the pieces to rough size, power planed and jointed each of the pieces and removed the mill marks with a hand plane.
The center of the tent is supported by a larger beam –12.5′ long and roughly 2″x4″ — with a rounded over top. This beam is made from two pieces joined in the center with a simple metal connecting collar.
For each of the 2″x2″ upright support posts I routed in stop chamfers and used a 1/8″ radius rounding bit to break and square edges.
I then removed any mill marks from the routing. With 14 6′ tall posts and two 9′ tall posts it took a while to get all the woodworking up to this stage.
Next up was cutting 3/8″ metal rods to about 6″ long for each of the 6′ posts. The two 9′ tall posts needed 9″ long metal rods.
Once cut with an abrasive cut off wheel I rounded over the ends/corners of the rods on a slow speed grinder.
The mild steel rods from the hardware store are prone to rusting and have a bit of a modern look to my eye, so I cleaned them off with alcohol and then applied Super Blue (Gun Blue) to ends of the rod that would be exposed. The dark gray/black patina looked like older ironwork to my eye and at the least darkened all the freshly exposed steel from the cutting and grinding process. I’d also advise sealing it after that fact — with some lacquer or similar clear film finish that won’t react with he metal.
I used a center finder gauge to mark where I should be drilling a 3/8″ diameter hole, 3 inches deep into the end of the posts.
I also used a doweling jig keep the drill bit straight as I drilled into the ends of the posts.
In order to accurately and repeatably drill to that depth and use the doweling jig which is pretty thick I needed to use two drills with the same size of bit. The drill (upper tool in photo below) is used with the jig to drill as deep as it will go. The drill is removed along with the jig. The impactor (lower tool in photo below) has a bit with an appropriately set stop collar to control the depth is used to complete the hole. The initial hole created using the drill and doweling jig provide a nice guide for the impactor + stop collared bit to reach the required depth.
I then test fit/cleaned out the holes and glue the rods into place. (Make sure the blackened end is exposed). Ideally you want to use a high quality epoxy like the West System 2 part epoxy. I also installed tapered rubber washers from Panther that will help keep water out and keep the grommets where you want them on the metal rods.
The freshly milled eastern white pine pine is a very pale white.
To give the wood a more pleasing color I gave it a coat or two of amber shellac. I then followed that up with two coats of a UV stabilized General Finishes satin polyurethane, sanding between coats as need.
With the woodworking complete it was time to join the top beam together using the metal bracket. Use two large pan head screws to secure the wood into the connector. Also drill two holes through the top beam for the pins to pass through.
Insert the two 9′ posts into the vertical holes in the top beam. When I did the metal working I initially put the same 6′ metal rods into the 9′ tall posts, but realized the rod would not stick out the top of the beam, so I had to add 9″ rods to the other ends of the 9′ posts, but this worked out great as the accidental shorter rods now on the bottom of the tall posts help keeps the posts from kicking out when you are trying to stand up and secure the posts.
Drape the canvas over the top of the beam and carefully raise it to an upright position — you’ll want a helper for this. With the posts, beam and canvas in an upright position you’ll want your helper to keep it standing up while you secure the storm ropes — attaching them first to a stake you have to drive into the ground (with the stake angled away from the tent) with a heavy mallet, then to the rod on top of the post. Then use the wood block on the rope set to tighten up the rope.
Next install the corner posts and install 2 rope sets on each corner deployed at 90 degrees from each other.
Then install any additional posts you want to use. I built enough posts to fill every grommet on the canvas. Every other post on the side of the tent also got a single rope set and stake to further anchor the test to the ground. If you find your self coming and going through the lower side of the ten you can remove 1 or more of those side posts to give you better access.
With a new canvas and rope sets you’ll want to check the ropes every day as things will stretch a bit and can get loose. Eventually they’ll stabilize and you can enjoy the use of your new tent fly.
The 9′ high ridge beam and 6′ high ends are a bit higher than average but allowed me to walk in and out of the tent with ease and gave me a good size work space under the protection of the tent.
It was a lot of work and a lot of fun to put together and I look forward to a long useful life for this tent.
P.S. If you build your own tent fly, please tell us about it in the comments below.
Time for my semi-annual post about the Nashua ‘Live Free or Die’ Tool Show and Auction. Wait, didn’t that happen back in April? Yep. I’m really behind on my blogging as I have been busy working, writing, teaching and helping with our second baby. Having two kids under 2 years old is definitely exhausting. So there will be a few posts here and there out of time as I work through my backlog.
A new vendor/booth I had not seen before was the Tool Testing and Sharpening Station that was put on by the Veteran Woodworkers Association — a great place to sharpen and test out your new tool purchase.
It was an overcast day with the threat of rain so I think turnout was a little lower than average and my new job is a lot further away from home so I didn’t get to spend as much time at the show as I normally do.
There was not a lot that jumped out at me this year, but one vendor had a pretty extensive collection of native and ancient tools. He also had a lot of tools made from ivory and bone.
It was amazing to see some of the detail on these early tools.
I almost made it out of the show without spending much at all but then two items caught my eye. The first was this nice Post Drill by Buffalo Forge. The drill looked complete, exceptionally clean (possibly restored but can’t tell for sure, so if it was restored it was a while ago). Even has a nice heavy vise grip style hold down — assuming that was a later addition, but works great and useful. It looks like this was one of the later produced models by the Buffalo Forge.
I’m in the process of building a timber frame barn and want to get a bit more into Blacksmithing (took some classes at Prospect Hill Forge and down in NC with Peter Ross) and would love to dabble in it a bit more. Once the barn is standing I know right where this drill will get mounted. The drill gets mounted on a heavy post, hence the name and is powered by hand crank. You can adjust the throw of the crank lever. You can also turn the mechanism using the heavy fly wheel on the left but in general that is more to help keep momentum going. This model also has a gearing mechanism on top that will advance the drill bit as you turn the drill and is useful when drilling metal.
The same vendor also had a nice Leg Vise used for Blacksmithing that also caught my eye. The vendor was not at the booth and after waiting around for 15 or 20 minutes and going by some very VERY vague descriptions of what the seller looked like from neighboring booths, I posted my friend Ken (Thank you Ken🙂 ) at the booth to keep an eye on my new treasures and went into the auction to search.
As it turned out it was my friend Josh Clark of HyperKitten fame.
It’s a nice big leg vise with some nice details, working spring, reasonably clean jaws and still a good amount of life left in the screw.
The vise had nice chamfered and some filed details and has a named stamp in it which reads “Goldie. 133 Attorney Street”.
After doing some online research and in particular finding this post on a forum I was able to learn a little bit about this vise.
“From the above post by Frank Turley (Which had a lot of great pictures which have gone MIA, but matched my vise above) I
The raised letter markings are “GOLDIE” AND “133 ATTORNEY.” He googled and found that the maker was Joseph Goldie located at 133 Attorney Street, New York, NY. I found Goldie in my Directory of American Toolmakers as a maker of “anvils, rules, and vises,” 1842-1849. The son, Joseph Goldie, Jr., made “miniature vises and anvils,” probably for jewelers. The big vise has the wrap-around U-shackle with its split and splayed mounting bracket. It has chamfered legs and pivot beam. It has a nicely turned “bell shape” on the screw box, not too unlike the Peter Wright’s.
The tenoned vises were “composites.” The box was a forge welded tube with a coil of square-sectioned stock brazed within for the internal threads. The stops, to keep it from turning. usually two, were brazed on.The external portion of the box was composed of perhaps 3 rings that were brazed together and then lathe turned. A careful cleaning will sometimes show lines of brass left from the original brazing. These old vises rarely exceeded a 4 1/2″ jaw width.
The tenon for the mount was often rectangular in section going through a hole in the fixed leg. This necessitated having a hole in the leaf spring. To tighten the assembly, the tenon had a carefully placed slot in it to receive a wedge.
The pivot beam usually had an unthreaded, headed bolt with slot to receive a wedge, not a nut and bolt. If there is a nut and bolt, it was probably added at a later date.
My pictured vise has a jaw width of 4 5/16″ and an overall length of 36″ — Frank Turley
All in all it was a good show, I saw a lot of old friends, picked up a couple of fun new tools for the shop and I look forward to the September show which is fast approaching.
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” — Wizard of Oz
Back in May I spent a couple of days in Cincinnati Ohio on my way down to Harrodsburg Kentucky for the EAIA Annual Meeting and a quick stop in Covington Kentucky on my way home to visit with some of my woodworking friends in the area.
My first stop was at the Popular Woodworking offices and studio to see Megan Fitzpatrick and David Thiel who graciously showed me around.
The office building while nondescript from the outside contained an interesting space on the inside. A mixture of office space, editing bays, studio/soundstage and a woodworking shop.
I visited the shop area with backdrop you may recognize from several woodworking videos. The timber framer in me wants to push up that simulated plate and add some braces.🙂
In the warehouse space you could see several projects from Popular Woodworking and American Woodworker magazine. If only we had room in the car to buy one and bring it home.
In the studio area I was able to see another F+W project video being recorded.
Out in the woodworking shop I felt right at home. There was a large machine and bench room. In the corner I could see Megan’s workbench and the windows you may recognize from many an article and post from Popular Woodworking over the years.
I was too busy talking David’s ear off and didn’t take a picture of him to include in the post, but I’ll make sure to take one next time I am in town.
On the way home from our trip I also stopped in Covington KY (right across the Ohio river from Cincinnati OH) to visit Chris Schwarz at the Lost Art Press storefront. The storefront is a nice historic building that used to be a saloon in a part of Covington that reminds me a bit of Brooklyn — lots of history, artists, hipsters, good restaurants etc.
After watching the build out via many of Chris’ blog posts it was neat to see it in person and to see several of Chris’ recent pieces in person.
You may recall the Aumbry above from the cover of a Popular Woodworking issue earlier this year and from the Anarchist’s Design Book.
I’ve always wanted to make some Shaker Oval Boxes. I love a good challenge and learning a new woodworking skill. Back in May I attended the Early American Industries Association (EAIA) annual meeting which was held at Pleasant Hill Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, KY.
In preparing for the meeting I figured a nice set of Shaker oval boxes would be a solid addition to the EAIA’s silent auction.
In order to gather up the correct supplies and learn how to make a proper oval box I reached out to John Wilson of Michigan who is a well known expert on making these boxes.
From John you can order an instructional DVD, book and templates along with supplies for the boxes and other related projects (baskets, trays etc). In this post I won’t go through all the steps necessary to make these boxes, but I will cover a highlight reel of some of the more interesting steps in the hopes it will whet your appetite for making some boxes yourself. (Links provided at the end of this post)
First off I laid out the templates for all the bands I wanted to bend into boxes and box tops. For this project I used Cherry. Then I pre-drilled the holes for the copper tacks.
Next up was filling the copper steam box with water and heating it up. under the box is a double burner electric hotplate and blocks to keep the tray steady on the burners. When using Cherry you may also want to use distilled water as minerals in your tap water can leave some stains.
I then steam the ends of the bands, cut the tapers in the end with the tack holes and feathered the other end of the bands on the belt sander.
After letting the bands steam I pulled them out one at a time to wrap around the appropriate sized form and marking the overlap. Then remove it from the form and hold the band tightly in place at that same size marked while you take it over to the heavy round pipe anvil and clinch the tiny copper tacks in place to secure the band. This set of forms is a large block of basswood in the size and shape you want the box to be.
I had never clinched a tiny copper tack before so I grabbed a shim and practiced with a few tacks of each size on the anvil. After a tack or two you’ll get a good feel for it.
I got a rhythm going and could feel/read how the tack was going in and move it on the anvil relative to my hammering to make sure I got the tack head nice and even with the surface and got a nice clean clinch on the inside.
With the band tacked the next step was to get them over to the second set of forms to dry. These forms are two blocks of wood also in the shape of the box, similar to the first form, but these forms have a tapered edge profile and holes to let air/water in and out and give your fingers a place to pull the forms out from when they are dry.
The bottom band is steamed, tacked and setup on the second set of forms. The top band is wrapped around the bottom band on the form. The goal is to get a nice tight fit and line up the tack holes.
Let the bands dry for a day or two and then it is time to fit the tops and bottoms into the bands. Trace your band onto the top or bottom blank, cut it near the line on the bandsaw and then use a fixed disc sander with the table set at a few degrees under 90 and sand them to shape and test fit as you go. You don’t want any gaps or spaces between the band and the top or bottom.
I got all the tops and bottoms fitted before moving on to the next step.
Next up was testing out a special drilling jig to make pin holes for attaching the tops and bottoms to the bands. There is no glue in these boxes.
The pins that will secure the bands to the top and bottom blanks are made from hardwood toothpicks that are cut in half on a band saw.
I made pencil dots where I wanted the pins to be, fired up the drill in this jig and made all the pin holes.
For very tiny boxes with thin tops and bottoms I made a tape loop out of blue painters tape and taped some thin cardboard onto the face of the jig to center the holes in the thickness of the top or bottom of the box.
The pins are then tapped into place, clipped off and then sanded on the belt sander to remove any protruding pin left and make sure the bands are level with the tops and bottoms.
The boxes nest inside of each other similar to a Russian Nesting Doll. This made it easier to bring 5 boxes on the very long, and very full car ride from NH to KY with my wife, two babies and me.
At this point the boxes all have a bit of a dull fuzzy look about them.
I gently hand sanded all the boxes and made sure the top and bottom fit the way I wanted. They should have a nice snug fit, but not too tight nor too loose.
All the corner edges, and inside and out of the box get a final sanding and cleanup. Then time for the finish. I applied Tung Oil to the boxes to bring out the grain in the Cherry and finished it off with a couple of coats of amber shellac. Each box is also signed, dated and notes that they were part of the 2016 EAIA annual meeting.
I was very pleased with how well the boxes turned out especially given this was the first time I ever made shaker oval boxes.
I was also glad to hear EAIA members also liked them as my set of boxes in sizes 0-4 turned out to be the second highest grossing item in the EAIA silent auction and I was humbled to receive the plaque below.
I know they went to a good home, the home of Judy and Bill McMillen of Eastfield Village and Richmond Hill fame and good friends of mine. I’m also happy to report I was able to win the auction for some of the items Billy made as well including a Tin-Smithed dustpan my wife and I both had been wanting for a while when we saw one that Billy made at a prior event, but that is a post for another time.
I had a great time making the boxes and we all had a great time at the annual meeting. I had wanted to visit Pleasant Hill Shaker Village for a long time and I’m glad I finally got to see it and spend the better part of a week living in the village.
If you’d like to make some Shaker Oval Boxes of your own, please check out the link to John Wilson’s website below along with links to more information on Pleasant Hill Shaker Village and the EAIA.
The weather is finally starting to warm up and it’s time from some summer workshops at The North Bennet Street School and Historic Eastfield Village.
As always you can find my teaching schedule on the ‘Instruction‘ page at the top of this blog.
First up is the ever popular ‘Drywall for Beginners‘ course at NBSS. There are a couple of seats left and registration closes soon, so if you are interested, please sign up ASAP. In past offerings of this course I posted about it here and here if you’d like to see what it looks like. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn how to hang drywall, tape, mud and texture it.
Saturday-Sunday, June 25-26 (2 Sessions)
Instructor: Bill Rainford
Students learn how to hang drywall, tape seams, work with mud, sanding (wet and dry), and how to work with corners. Additional topics covered include light framing overview, repairing holes, working around outlet boxes and fixtures, repairing damage, finishing the surface, painting tips and, if time allows, the basics of texturing. Students assemble and work from full-size model wall sections which include an inside and outside corner and opportunity to work with stud bays. This class is intended for homeowners, DIY enthusiasts and carpenters/contractors. Basic carpentry or handy skills are a plus.
Students are responsible for supplying their own tools. A tool list will be sent at least 2 weeks prior to class start.
Next up is a new ‘Introduction to Sharpening‘ at NBSS. This workshop is a great opportunity for students to learn how to tune up their basic tools — bench planes, chisels, marking knives, cutting gauges, block planes and specialty planes. The genesis of this course was the realization that some students coming to weekend workshops at the school only had some, and possibly none of their tools properly sharpened and ready to go. (For other workshops I’d rather see students focused on the course at hand and not trying to hastily tune a chisel or iron rather than paying attention to a new course lessons) If you don’t have the time to commit two weeks to the Fundamentals of Fine Woodworking, or even if you completed that course and need more time and practice at sharpening, need access to a proper grinder or you have a new more complex iron or chisel that needs sharpening this is a great class to get your tool kit tuned up. The course is a mixture of demonstration and hands on time with with an instructor.
Saturday-Sunday, July 23-24
Instructor: Bill Rainford
Having sharp, well-tuned tools is perhaps the most important aspect of woodworking; they are requisite for good work. Learn the basics of sharpening a core set of tools used in many woodworking applications. We cover tuning up and sharpening a bench chisel, smoothing plane, and cutting gauge. Additional topics covered include hollow grinding, honing, making a stone holder and tuning up your stones. Additional tools covered as time allows.
Students are responsible for supplying their own tools. A tool list will be sent at least 2 weeks prior to class start.
And last, but certainly not least is an upcoming workshop at Eastfield Village as part of the Early American Industries Association (EAIA) Historic Trades Sampler. The course I will be teaching will be building a domed top box. This will give each students hands on exercises in working wood, assembling a small box, setting butt hinges and an optional lock, and working with cut nails. Once students complete their box we’ll work with Bill McMillen to do grain painting on the box as well. Details below including info on other courses being offered as part of this event:
Eastfield Historic TradesSampler Early American Industries Association
Join Us July 28-31,2016!
The Early American Industries Association Eastfield Historic TradesSampler, will be held on Thursday, July 28th through Sunday, July 31st, 2016, at Historic Eastfield Village, East Nassau, New York. The program this year will include:
The name name Eastfield Historic TradesSampler reflects what we actually offer-a sampler of various trades with an opportunity to learn about them while completing a small project related to the craft.
There are two different workshops each day from which to choose. The classes start at 9 a.m. and there is a lunch provided in Eastfield’s historic tavern from noon until 1 p.m., at which time the afternoon session of the workshops resume. The workshops end around 5 p.m.
Accommodations in Eastfield’s taverns are available free of charge for those wishing to stay as guests in early 19th century surroundings. The only requirements is that each person supply their own bedding, plus 10 ten inch white candles.
Students are encouraged to stay here during the Historic TradesSampler. Meals may be cooked or served in the late 18th century kitchens. Accommodations are rope beds with straw and feather ticks. Facilities are located in period out houses. There are evening gatherings in the Briggs Tavern and lively conversations and games of dominoes by candlelight. This immersive experience offers an unforgettable opportunity to be with others-students and teachers-of similar interests, to gain appreciation for the work and daily life of early 19th century America.
The cost of registration for the workshop is $485.00.
To register, you can contact John Verrill by phone at (703) 967-9399 or email EAIA1933@verizon.net or via mail:
Early American Industries Association PO Box 524
Hebron, MD 21830
If you have any questions about these upcoming workshops, please send me a comment below or contact me directly via the contact form here.
For many hand tool woodworkers, analog and imperial is the only way to go. Sometimes the modern world imposes itself on me and I have to bite the bullet and go digital and even occasionally metric.
I ran into this recently with a custom knife for my Williams & Hussey Molding Machine…
When I ran some muntin stock for a window sash the portion of the profile it was slightly narrower than my mortising chisels and hollow chisel mortising bit. I triple checked the setup of the knives and made sure they were aligned. I then took the chisel to the knife and it was slightly wider than the template. The CAD drawing of the knife matched what I expected the knife to look like. When talking to the knife manufacturer he asked that I double check the size of my chisels and I broke out the old, low resolution (1/32″), manual calipers I had and described what I was reading. That is where our two different worlds met. My trusty old General Tools Vernier caliper which worked great for comparing say two tenons — as I don’t have to read the value so much as compare — sort of like using a pair of wooden ‘pants’ on a timber tenon do not give the digital readings he was expecting. Terms like ‘a very tiny bit over 3/8″ ‘ don’t work in this context.
TIP: When taking measurements, especially those wherein you want to compare say two tenons, make sure you secure the lock screw — this way the jaws do not move.
I wound up having to send in my chisels for him to look at and adjust the knife, which I am grateful he did, but I did not want to repeat this experience.
“I thought the whole point of old woodworking was that you didn’t have to go metric.” –- Roy Underhill ( The Woodwright’s Shop Episode “Who Wrote the Book of Sloyd?” )
Right after the above I had the opportunity to get a digital caliper set from General Tools.
I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a real nice dial caliper like a Starrett but $185-$700 was out of my price range (Though I do use a Starrett Dial Indicator for setting up my stationary tools and love it) or high end digital caliper like the Mitutoyo ($150-$500+ depending on model), but for how often I’d use it I could not justify the price.
Enter the General Tools Model 147 Stainless Steel Digital Caliper. The tool sells for about $25 on Amazon.com and claims and accuracy of ±0.001 in./0.02mm and a resolution of 1/64 in./0.0005 in./0.01mm.
I read all the reviews for this model and similarly priced calipers and wanted to see for myself how good it was or was not.
Top concerns I saw in the reviews for this sort of tool — questions around repeatability of measurements, battery life and accuracy. As a woodworker my measuring tools usually are only graduated down to 1/128th of an inch at most, anything beyond that is tested by hand, eye and reference straightedge. Anything beyond that I defer to my machinist friends who like to get OCD about ambient temperatures and other fine details of super high resolution measuring.
The caliper comes in a nice little plastic form fit case, along with a tiny screwdriver for the battery compartment along with a spare battery. (See first photo in post). The caliper seems to be mostly stainless steel with what looks like metallic coated plastic around the display. Overall to tool has a nice weight and finish quality and seems to be machined better than I expected. My only real nitpick is the thumbscrew has a tiny bit of play left and right, not in the direction it drives, so it doesn’t affect performance, but is something I noticed on close inspection.
I took out the tool and tried it on several chisels to see how they measured up. My old set of Lee Valley Japanese steel chisels measured a little bit under their nominal size. (As others have described, such as this article)
After taking a measurement I took a few other measurements, defined a new zero location, either arbitrary or using a reference like a machinists 1-2-3 block and then re-zeroed out the caliper and re-tested the chisels. I was able to get consistent readings each time.
Tip: Before taking a measurement make sure that he calipers are ‘zeroed’ out — by making sure the jaws are touching (and you can see no light through them) using the zero button. If starting from a new open position, so you can take a reading relative to a given starting place, you would open or close the jaws on the reference object, press the zero button and then adjust (open or close) and take your next measurement. (You can take negative measurements as well when starting from a zeroed out open position)
I also took some inside measurements (as shown above) and used the depth gauge rod (not shown) and had similarly consistent results. The fractional mode only displays down to 1/64″ and if you want higher resolution output on the screen you’ll need to use the imperial decimal mode or the metric (mm) mode. I like the ability to switch modes as it takes out some of the human error in converting from fractions to decimals or to metric measurements.
Tip: When taking measurements such as the chisel above make sure the jaws are firmly up against the item being measured and parallel — don’t be lazy using your finger on the thumb screw (used to open or close the jaws).
Others noted battery life issues, but my inner-engineering OCD likes to shut of the caliper as soon as I am done using it, but a few times I left it on to make sure that it eventually shut off and it seemed to work fine for me. The form fitted case has an instruction sheet in it when you get it and I wonder if for some folks if they didn’t seat the caliper properly in the case or put something on it so heavy that the closed case gets a little crushed/deformed it might press the buttons and prematurely drain the battery. I’ll keep an eye on battery longevity and add comments if things change, but so far so good on that front and I like knowing I have a spare ready to go in the case.
For this price range do I expect the tool to replace the high end premium line — no. But do I need a premium high end dial or digital caliper in my woodworking shop, also a no. This tool is a nice step up from my old caliper, offers and accuracy range above what I expect to work at and seems to be a real good value for the woodworker in need of more accurate measurements and a solid user tool.
P.S. If you are interested in the same model, you can find it here on Amazon. I do not get anything from sharing that link. If you have this tool or get one for yourself, let me know what you think of it in the comments below.
It’s never a good day when a power tool gives up its magic blue smoke. When I was making a recent run of saw horses my jointer’s switch decided it had enough.
It’s a Delta X5 ‘Professional’ 6″ jointer with the 42″ beds. It’s the same one that had the large fence advancement knob break a while back requiring a modern make-do sort of fix. For what was supposed to be a top of the line ‘professional’ machine for its size I’m disappointed with how many issues it has had related to the manufacturer cutting corners. I used to be a big fan of Delta but in recent years and especially with it being sold off from Pentair and later Black and Decker and the turmoil with it being owned by an overseas company that only seems to own some of the old Delta product lines I’ve been disappointed with the quality and longevity of these machines compared to the old iron 20th century versions of the same model tools.
I knew this switch was going to be trouble the minute I saw it in person as I have a Delta 36-980 Table saw of the same vintage and both purchased new in the late 2000s — that had the switch die — at least in that case of fused into the ‘On’ position so I was able to add a Rockler Router Table Switch with a nice big crash pad on it and have a safe and reliable way to turn the machine on and off.
For either machine they want $50-65+ for a replacement switch assembly that likely would not last any longer and has an incredibly cheap feel to it. I didn’t want to hack the cable and try and hardwire in a similar Rockler switch on the jointer as the flimsy arm to hold the switch would require even more modifications.
When the switch decided to die it seems to have arced and burned up the contact inside the switch (As seen above and below)
Rather than throwing more good money after bad I figured with some research I could find another switch to insert into the housing that would have the same load ratings and have a much lower price and it took a while to find one I thought would work, but eventually I found the switch below:
At the time I bought it, they cost me about $10 each and I bought one for my jointer and one for the table saw. You can find this toggle switch here on Amazon.com
I opened up the housing, took a picture of the wiring via my phone so I could wire it back up correctly, unplugged the leads and compressed the snap fittings so I could pry the old switch out. The new switch popped in and the contacts fit fine. I neatened up the wires, gave the circuit a quick test and closed up the housing and put it back on the machine.
The replacement switch also has that built in child safety switch/pin that can be removed and seems to work fine with that large over button as seen above.
With a little bit of research I’m happy I was able to save a few bucks and get this machine back into service. Hopefully this new switch from another manufacturer will last longer.
P.S. I know I have been slow about posting lately, but we just had our second baby and things have been very busy. I’ve been amassing more content from time out in the shop so for the next month or two likely posts will be coming out at a slower pace but I’m working to get through the back log.
The best saw horses cannot be bought in a store, you have to build them. I’ve seen plastic saw horses bend and buckle under < 200 pounds of load. I’ve seen 2×4 saw horses with sheet metal couplers deform and crush.
When I was a student at NBSS one of the first projects we completed was building a pair of solid wood saw horses that could meet the heavy demands of a preservation carpenter. The school would load them up with more material than I ever thought a simple horse could hold. I was so impressed with how well they turned out I built 10 more while I was there and they have served me well over the years.
Right now as I build a 24’x30′ timber framed barn out in the yard I built another 28 horses to hold all the timber off the ground for sorting and working through the piles. The post below covers how I built these heavy duty horses.
For a large run of horses like this it is important to run through each operation like a small assembly line, though at times it can feel like a slog — after cutting 112 legs you become a master at optimizing all of your operations.
The wood of choice is green eastern white pine we buy from a local sawyer/lumber company. (Copeland And Sons Lumber). The beams (the work surface of a horse) is cut from a 4x4x12′, the legs are made from 1x6x12′ boards and the gussets are made from 1/2″ CDX plywood. Buying rough green stock like this from a sawyer helps keep the price per horse reasonable and the wood is full size, not nominal, so my 4×4 is 4″x4″ when I get it. I estimate that they cost me < $10 each in terms of materials.
A note on working with green lumber, for horses or timber frames or similar projects — this wood was a tree possibly only a day or two before I get it, so if you use a power tool you may get some water spray on you. Be warned. Also make sure you wipe down and oil your tools appropriately so they do not rust. In the photo above you can see the outer 1/4″ or so that has dried a bit vs the wet center on this fresh cut off piece.
I start by cutting the beams to 36″ long. I then cut a 12 degree bevel on two sides. If your table saw cannot cut a full 4″ on an angle you can cut as much as you can, snap off most of the waste and then use a jointer or portable power planer (like 3-1/4″ Makita Door planer) to even out the side.
I also stamped my name into the end grain of each beam with my name stamp. It makes it easy to tell my horses apart from say another friend from the school.
Next up I ripped my 4×8 sheet of 1/2″ CDX plywood into ~4″ wide strips. I then took a second pass on each strip with the blade set to a 5 degree angle. This allows the gussets to nestle up tightly against the beam during final assembly.
Next up I cut all the legs. I set the compound miter saw to cut at a left tilt of 5 degrees and a right rotation of 12 degrees. (See image above). The long side of each leg was cut to be 34.75″ long.
With all the legs cut I ripped the rough edge off of each board, then ripped the other side so all the boards landed at a consistent 5.5″ width.
You don’t have to plane the boards to thickness if you don’t want to. Leaving them as thick as possible added to the strength and I am not thrilled about passing green wood though my cast iron tools and into my dust collection system. My site chop saw and portable table saw both have aluminum tops which deal better with the wet wood.
All the legs are the same, though above I stacked them to make sure I had a correct number for all the horses I planned to build. I also used a low angle block plane to break all the edges on the boards since they will be handled many times over the years and you don’t want any splinters.
I then brought my wood into the heated shop as we were getting some snow and stacked them as you see above. This was a big mistake as I’ll describe later. I planned to be out there the next day but with snow and a baby in the house they sat out there for a week. If you bring sopping wet/green wood into a heated shop, make sure you sticker them so air can flow around all the edges and the wood can dry evenly.
With all the legs cut I started to layout for the screws. I grab two combination squares and set one to be 1″ and set the other to 2″. This allows for fast/efficient layout. (see above image). Each of the screws is either 1″ or 2″ from the edge or top of the board. The screws are staggered to help avoid splitting the wood. I used DeckMate 2″ ceramic coated deck screws that have a nice thick shaft and are rated for outdoor structural use and do not rust. Do NOT use drywall screws on this sort of project, they are far too weak and not meant for the outdoors. One 5lb box of #8 2″ screws was enough to attach all the legs. After layout I pre-drill each of the holes and start the screws into the boards — this makes it a lot easier to assemble the horse later on.
For the beams I make a tick mark 2.5″ in from each end on the top edge of the beam. Using a protractor I make a 5 degree line down the side of the beam — this splays the legs and gives use nice stable horse. Having two protractors on hand is nice as I have one set for the right and one set for the left. I then set a combination square to 1/4″ and make a line along the top edge of the beam — this allows me to line up the legs during assembly. I also broke all the edges with a block plane.
Early on I made a few pairs of saw horses to work from and did the majority of the horses as a large run.
Attaching the legs — I added one leg at a time, usually only sinking 2 or 3 of the pre-started screws into the beam. I add one leg, then add the second leg on the same side of the beam. This makes it easier to stand the horse on those two legs and add the third leg. When adding the 4th leg you’ll want to make sure all 4 legs are properly resting on the ground. If your horse wobbles this is your chance to adjust the legs. When the horse is standing the way you want you can sink the rest of the screws on the legs. When using an impact gun you don’t want to sink the screws any further into the wood than you absolutely have to. Ideally the screw heads should come to rest in the same plane as the surface of the wood, but green pine can be a bit soft so some of them may go deeper before they have enough grip to pull the leg tight to the beam.
With a beam and set of legs ready to go and standing nicely you can take a plywood gusset blank, bring it over to the partially assembled horse and trace where it meets the legs. Ideally the gussets should not stick out farther than the legs, otherwise they might catch on things. Making them say 1/32″ inside of the surface of the legs is what I shoot for. Using that traced piece I cut it and label it as a the template and use that for laying out each of the subsequent gussets
Important Notes About Gussets:
1.) When cutting the gusset the beveled end is always ‘up’ on the installed gusset — it mates nicely to the underside of the beam.
2.) When installing a gusset make sure the 5 degree bevel is facing the correct way so that it rest tightly up against the beam.
With a few horses pressed into early service I was able to make a makeshift table that allowed me to layout/mark all the of the gussets. Each one is secured with 4 screws. I made a mark for each screw to be 1″ down from the top or the bottom of the gusset and centered on the thickness of the leg, so for most that would be ~3/8″ in from the mitered edge. I turn a horse on its side and place the marked gusset where it is going to go. I then pre-drill the gusset in place and drive the screws. I used #8 1-5/8″ Deckmate Ceramic Star-drive screws and again a 5lb box was enough for this project.
Each horse required 16 2″ screws and 16 1-5/8″ screws.
And now we have a completed horse! The image above has some more dimensional information for quick reference.
Now back to that mistake I mentioned earlier. By leaving the cut wet boards tightly stacked a mold/fungus quickly bloomed on half of the boards. I have a lot of allergies so I didn’t want to handle those boards any more than I’d have to, and it was unsightly, so I suited up and with my dust mask and fed them through my lunchbox planer. I also didn’t use my dust collector as I don’t want that wet fungus living in my filter. I planed the rough boards smooth and stickered them up to dry in the sun as I worked on other horses.
That little mistake accidentally created ‘Denim Pine’ — pine boards with a blue tint that results from that fungus blooming and is desirable to some folks, presumably non-workers that like the look of it. (See above and below). With the mold/spores/fungus/grossness removed and stickered the legs will dry and be fine to use. As I completed each horse it will live out side where it can dry at a steady rate until the barn gets finished.
How do you store all of these horses?
The horses stack nicely and even when stacked all the wood can dry nicely.
This was the largest run of horses I’ve made to date so I set them all up out in the driveway just to see them all in one place.
Two of the horses, my ponies, had a 24″ beam as two of the 4x4s were a little short and I thought it would be nice to have a set that can fit into a tight place.
What do you plan to do with all these horses?
Above and below you can see a couple thousand linear feet of 16′ shiplapped pine sheathing held with ease by these horses.
In the photo below are 24 2″ thick 12″ wide green pine planks that will be used in the barn loft. I estimated this wood to weigh 1800lbs and the 4 horses below seem to hold it with ease.
And below are some 6×9 25′ long timbers.
As you can see these versatile horses are at home in the shop or out on a worksite and I hope that you’ll build a few pairs for yourself. If you do, please let me know in the comments.
A Joiner's Guide To Traditional Woodworking and Preservation