Happy new year

•January 2, 2011 • 8 Comments

…to all of you! My new year is going to become an interesting one, I’m quite sure about that. For now, I don’t have much time for woodworking, unfortunately, but that should get better in a few months. Well, maybe, we will see.

This weekend, I finally managed to spend some time in the shop – at temperatures well below zero. Working with steel tools is not really a pleasure when they’re freezing cold. Since I don’t have time for a  proper project at the moment, I figured that I could just as well venture my first steps in dovetail land – the result of which you see on the right. (As if you hadn’t already seen first dovetail attempts often enough…)

I’m not completely unhappy with the joint, but without doubt there’s a lot of room for improvement. I’m really puzzled about the size of the gaps – given the amount of force (i.e. the mallet) it took to drive the parts together.  I was closely following the tails-first approach, described in detail by Tom Fidgen in his book; at least, I now have kind of an idea about the workflow, and the critical parts in particular.I especially liked the method for laying out the tail spacing and size with a divider, that was easy, fun, and resulted in precise markings.

I’m less happy with the precision of my sawing – but part of it is contributed by my leg vise which I haven’t presented here yet. The board that I used for the vise has warped since I installed it and requires a touch-up with a selection of planes. Consequently, the vise definitely lacks precision and doesn’t grip firmly enough for precise sawing (I can’t even saw precisely enough when the workpiece is properly secured.  But  that’s a different problem altogether). And there’s definitely some practising to be done with the chiseling…

At least, I got my hands on wood again, and a lot of fun it was, too. So much for now – thanks for reading!


Holdfasts: Forge your own

•November 7, 2010 • 4 Comments

That has been a rather long period without new posts. I sincerely apologize, but I have been busy with a lot of non-woodworking stuff. Also, a cradle has been added to the to-build list..

My new workbench hasn’t seen much progress in the last three months. However, I am now the proud owner of two brand-new holdfasts, forged by me, myself and I.

Again, I took a class at the “Haus der Eigenarbeit”, where I previously took the handtool woodworking class; this time, it was an introduction to forging (or blacksmithing? I’m not 100% sure about the right word here). Basically, we spent a day in a blacksmith’s shop, under the guidance of Marten Schmid.

My holdfasts were produced from a piece of round 18 mm diameter (that is slightly less than 3/4 in) mystery steel. Forging a holdfast actually is not too difficult, even I managed to do it with satisfying results. Provided you have access to a massive anvil, a forge and some hammers, that is.

First tests show that the holdfasts hold remarkably well – and because they are forged, they hopefully won’t break.

And now, please excuse me – in the last months, billions of blog posts waiting to be read by me have accumulated. I hope I will have more time for woodworking in the next months, some projects are waiting…

Thanks for reading!

Getting rid of the Schwarz syndrome

•July 19, 2010 • 5 Comments

As previously mentioned, one of the few remedies for the Schwarz syndrome is building a workbench. This weekend, I have worked hard at going through therapy and have made some progress.
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The Schwarz syndrome

•July 12, 2010 • 5 Comments

Recently, the Schwarz syndrome has been described in the literature. It seems to be a highly contagious disease which spreads rapidly through the internet woodworking community. The main pathways of infection seem to be the blog of The Schwarz and his book, other infections are reported from sources like work-in-progess reports in woodworking forums and blogs such as here and here.

Among the symptoms are the inexplicable longing to build an old-fashioned workbench, manic internet researches, long contemplations of the question English vs French, a manic lust for softwoods such as Southern Yellow Pine,  as well as profound dissatisfaction with the current workbench situation of the affected woodworker. In severe cases of the Schwarz syndrome, it is reported that the patient wishes to build the aforementioned workbench entirely with handtools.
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Marking gauge

•July 5, 2010 • 4 Comments

As previously discussed at Wood’n’bits, woodworkers have a need for several marking gauges. Since I owned only one, and figured that my poor woodworking skills might somehow be related to this lack of measuring devices, I decided to build this particularly nice, one-hand-adjustable example. Continue reading ‘Marking gauge’

Handtool woodworking class – project finished

•June 28, 2010 • 8 Comments

At last, the stool project that once began in the handtool woodworking class is finished. I finally fixed the top to the base and applied the last coat of finish (bees wax on top of three coats of BLO).
For now, I’m happy with the result – see yourself:
Finished stool
Accidentally, this picture graciously hides some of the mistakes that I made. It barely hints at the single leg with the taper on the outside, and you can’t look under the top, so you can’t notice the gap between the left leg and the top.


The second picture accentuates the wrongly-tapered leg, but hides the splintering on the end-grain side of the top. Note to self: Take care when shooting end-grain.

And finally, a close-up view of the multi-coloured top. This was joined from some scraps (the bicolor-shavings from the last post came from here). This shot doesn’t hide any mistakes, in fact, the joining was much easier than I feared. I wonder if anyone can guess the three different woods I used here. The winner will be allowed to buy himself some ice cream.

In conclusion, I did learn a lot from this little project. There are some things that I would do different next time, as well as some things that I’d avoid. This was the first time that I worked with hardwood (as in hard wood), and that’s really quite different from the pine or fir projects that I’ve done before. Much better, though. Of course, the stool is not a design masterpiece. For example I’d build the stretchers much thinner next time, but then, that was not the focus of this project. And it’s pretty, anyway.

So much for this project. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to build next. There are some entries on my to-do list, but I haven’t decided yet.

So far, thanks for reading and remember to guess the wood the top is made of!

Handtool woodworking class – update

•June 7, 2010 • 1 Comment

I noticed that it has been quite a while since my last post – sorry about that! I have been busy with a lot of non-woodworking stuff…

Now, I have finally found some shop time again, and I almost finished the project from the woodworking class. As you might remember, this project is a basic stool, with mortise-and-tenon base. On the last evening in the woodworking class, I glued up the base and managed to get it (almost) square. For the top, I collected a lot of scraps (cherry, walnut and oak), and joined them together. I closely followed the steps in my woodworking bible (the Tage Frid book), basically, I used a shooting board and joined consecutive edges with top and bottom down, respectively, to minimize gaps. This worked out a lot better and easier as I expected (and feared), and after glueing, I couldn’t find any gaps. The bicolor shavings in the picture might give you a vague impression of the finished top. In fact, it looks much better than I ever expected.

Pretty, aren't they?

For the finish, I planed and scraped the whole thing, and added two coats of boiled linseed oil. The BLO brought out the colors really nicely, especially the walnut got a very deep shimmer (my English leaves me here…)

Pictures of the whole thing, as you know by now, in the next post, which will be written when the BLO is dry.

One question that I still haven’t decided on is how to fix the top to the base. I think I’ll just use two dowels through the stretchers, to allow for some wood movement. (Although that won’t matter much, considering the scale of this project).

So far, thanks for reading!

Handtool woodworking class

•April 20, 2010 • 2 Comments

Some time ago, I signed up for a handtool-only woodworking class here. So far, it’s been taking place four times, and one more time is to come. (It somehow sweetened the start into the week, since it is on Monday evening)

Please don't note that gap on the top of the right stretcher...

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Greenwood digressions

•April 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’m back from a busy week at our weekend home. Today, it’s image-and-comment-only day. (hint: the titles of the images appear when the mouse hovers over it)

update: cool, wordpress now offers slideshows. So, sit back and enjoy.

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Shoulder plane progress

•March 24, 2010 • 2 Comments

Meanwhile, I have started to work on the shoulder plane kit. So far, I haven’t made much progress, and, as you expected already, I don’t have work-in-progress pictures yet. As usual, I promise to deliver soon… In this case, I have a good reason, because I’m not working  in my shop or at home, but at work (after hours, of course), and I didn’t bring a camera with me. Continue reading ‘Shoulder plane progress’