The Nicholson Bench for Starters. (Also Beginners, Newbies and Novices)

Originally posted on Lost Art Press:


I like to read and discuss old texts and try to figure out what the authors are trying to tell us. When I read about using hand tools I prefer texts that were written before the use of electricity. Nicholson’s “The Mechanic’s Companion” was one such book. His brief description of a joiner’s bench and the accompanying plate piqued my interest. Why all the holes and how does it work? Only one way to find out: Build it.

Peter Nicholson, definitely not naked.

Peter Nicholson, definitely not naked.

Because this bench is the results of hundreds of years of development, I tried to stay true to the text and plate and build the bench with a similar mindset as the original users. One task of a joiner was to finish the interiors of houses, so the joiner built a bench 10’ to 12’ long from common materials and made all of the doors windows and…

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Willow Pack Baskets!

Bridgette and I worked on some willow basketry last week at the Echoes in Time gathering in Champoeg, Oregon.  We spent the week with our friend Mick and his family with his fantastic vardo.


I have wanted a new pack basket for quite a while and the great Oregon basketmakers provided some excellent materials for the class.  I only had eight students for the frame-saw class I was teaching so I was able to work in some baskets around the teaching schedule.  I would have loved to document the whole process but I am such a novice that it would have taken three times as long and disrupted the flow of the basket in ways I wasn’t prepared to deal with.

20140721_175636Here is the first round of basket making including the base, addition of spokes, and working with weavers.  The various colors come from the different willows harvested at different times.  For those truly interested in the weave, this basket consists primarily of wales and rands with the addition of a rim and a foot to protect the bottom.

PackBasketsI’ve made a few other basketry projects under good instructors but this is, by far, my biggest effort to date.  I really hope to dive into this craft more deeply sometime in the future.  Enough for now, back to Making stuff (right after my nap).

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Another Greenville, Another Magic Mart

Originally posted on Lost Art Press:


People gripe about traveling abroad, especially for work. I don’t get it. Here is how it’s done.

1. Take yourself on a “date.” Jet lag is easy to conquer with modern chemistry. I tell people that I give myself a “roofie” before I fly across the globe. First I take myself out for a nice dinner – in this case an overheated Mexican craphole in a New Jersey airport. And I order extra salsa – in this case they brought ketchup.



Then I get myself a nice girlie drink, the ones that come with either a paper umbrella or a glittery tube top. And, after telling myself how irresistible I am, I slip myself a few pills while I’m not looking. Two ibuprofen and two Benadryl.


With the help of this concoction I can sleep all the way across the Atlantic while a 6-year-old ninja goes all Donatello on the…

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Humans killed Gompotheres (Cuvieronius sp.) in Mexico 13,390 Years Ago

Originally posted on GeorgiaBeforePeople:

The fossil record suggests Columbian mammoths (Mammuthus colombi) and mastodons (Mammut americanum) were relatively common across North America during the late Pleistocene. Woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) ranged as far south as Virginia but were more common to the north in Beringia and Eurasia.  Few people are aware that a 4th species of elephant-like beast, the gompothere (Cuvieronius tropicalis), expanded its range to include southeastern North America during warmer climate stages.  The gompothere likely had sparse hair like other large tropical mammals such as elephants, rhinos, and humans.  So when climatic conditions deteriorated, the gompothere’s range contracted toward Central and South America, while the more heavily furred mastodons and mammoths still thrived in regions with subfreezing temperatures.  Prior to 2007, the only evidence that humans hunted gompotheres had been found in South America.  But that year, scientists excavating the El Fin del Mundo site in the…

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Almost-forgotten Handsaw Tricks – Popular Woodworking Magazine

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Truck House

Found on Pinterest:


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Did Eremotherium laurillardi Supplement its Diet with Sea Weed?


Hmm. I like. Our Sloths are quite a mystery to me.

Originally posted on GeorgiaBeforePeople:

Eremotherium laurillardi, a species of giant ground sloth, apparently was abundant along the Georgia coast during the Sangamonian Interglacial (~132,000 BP-~118,000 BP).  Fossils of this species have been found at 7 of the 9 known coastal fossil sites of Pleistocene Age. It was really a spectacular beast growing as large as 18 feet long and weighing 6000 pounds.  When it sat on its haunches, it was even taller than a mammoth.  It disappeared from the state when the climate turned colder, probably some time between ~75,000 BP-~30,000 BP.  The fossil record is too incomplete to determine exactly when this species succombed to the cold in this region.  Eremotherium continued to exist in South America until the end of the Pleistocene.  Two other species of ground sloths  were better adapted to the cold and likely lived in Georgia as recently as 11,000 BP.  Jefferson’s ground sloth (Megalonyx jeffersonii) and Harlan’s…

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Travel In Your Home


Love it. What a cool design.

Originally posted on Retrorambling:


The French inventor, Loubet, who holds a record number of patents on practical sporting and traveling equipment, has recently demonstrated the latest of his constructions for the benefit of people who like to travel and take their homes with them.

Built along airplane construction principles, on the chassis of a light auto truck, the frame is very light, containing thousands of small pieces of wood glued and nailed together, then covered with panelling, canvas and paint. The home is streamlined and houses four persons easily with all accommodations. The car is 24 feet long and weighs about 3,500 lbs. At the top of the page is a general view of the car home; on its top is a canoe (full size), which is easily removed for use.

The photo at the left of the page was taken from the kitchen; in the center, where the men are sitting, are two…

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Smoothness By Arlen Ness

Originally posted on Retrorambling:

If Ettore Bugatti had been diverted away from car design and into motorcycles this is almost certainly what he would have built. This remarkable art deco motorcycle was designed and built by master bike builder Arlen Ness, surprisingly there isn’t much information available on this jaw-dropping two-wheeler, the Arlen Ness website is down and emails to the company have gone unanswered, Wikipedia hasn’t been much help and Google throws up relatively useless links when searching for “Arlen Ness Smoothness” and other variations thereof.


What we do know is that Arlen Ness is currently based in Dublin, California and they have a bike museum featuring 40+ bikes, including the Smoothness and a number of other remarkable customs including a jet-powered bike creatively named “Mach Ness”. Arlen and his son also appeared on an episode of “The Great Biker Build Off” in 2004, a competition which is son Cory went on to…

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I knew I shoulda made 2


I like this. Another cool little project for the shaving horse.

Originally posted on Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes:

I haven’t made one of these in over 20 years – a phrase you’ll get sick of hearing here. I’m preparing to head north for the Lie-Nielsen Open House – and have lots to do. On my list was a brief woodworking project. The other day I had shown a shot of me at a shaving horse, making long thin hickory bits.

everything old is new again

Then I bundled up their ends with packing tape, and jammed a piece of scrap wood between them. Let them sit a while.

bound & bending

bound & bending

Then made the tiniest frame; 8 1/2” x 10 1/2” or so. Red oak. Drawbored mortise & tenon.

first joinery I have done in a while

first joinery I have done in a while

Then I kept on going & forgot to shoot the steps. Nothing terribly enlightening anyway. When Maureen came through the work area & asked “what are you making” – when I told her, she said, “No…

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