The Future is Handmade

“Masters don’t need to say they’re the masters—it’s obvious in the work.”  Maikel Kuijpers studies craftsmanship.  This is my kind of thinking and one of the reasons I became so infatuated with material culture when I was a young anthropology student.  People who make for themselves, when that is the only option, don't just create … Continue reading The Future is Handmade

Gourd Bottom Bags and More

Stacey has been adding her art to the shop lately so I wanted to give her a bit of a promotion here on the blog.  Among other things, she produces meticulous and beautiful art, beaded bags, earrings, and fiber arts.  Here are her latest additions to the shop. The smaller bag on the left is … Continue reading Gourd Bottom Bags and More

The Hardest Part of Learning to Sharpen

Wise words. Learning to really properly sharpen an edge tool by hand is an epiphany and makes wood and leatherworking a real joy.

The Literary Workshop Blog

The other day, I was teaching a friend to sharpen his plane iron, and it got me thinking about sharpening.  Of all the skills I have learned while working wood, sharpening has been the most life-changing. It started with chisels and plane irons, but then I began sharpening my kitchen knives and pocketknives.  I had no idea that steel could get so sharp!  It used to be that dull tools were merely inconvenient, but now I find a dull knife a heartbreaking disappointment.

I say this because I want to share a recent article on sharpening by Chris Schwarz, former editor at Popular Woodworking Magazine and current head of Lost Art Press.  In it, Schwarz reflects (well, more like pontificates) on how few woodworkers actually know how to sharpen an edge tool.  Even the some of the professionals who write for the big-name magazines often lack basic sharpening skills.  He…

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Art and Craft Fair

I would not have ever thought myself a craft fair kind of guy yet here we are... Last year, our local community center hosted an arts and craft fair as a way to bring local artisans together and raise money for public programs (art classes, GED education, computer skills, tax assistance, etc.).  Being new to … Continue reading Art and Craft Fair

Some New Leatherwork

There are some new projects coming off the bench.Here's a new minimalist traveler's wallet.  I'm still working through the design and construction process but like it so far. Simple three-pocket design; a vertical a horizontal card pocket  as well as a large one for bills. A bucket purse made from an oil-tanned leather.  Welted and … Continue reading Some New Leatherwork

Responsibility

Here are some good words about responsibility I would like to share from the Northwest Woodworking Studio.

Tool box detail

Shavings

I had this crazy idea about the world and how I’d like to change it today.

Hear me out.

What if folks acted as if they were responsible for their actions? That whatever they did out in the world had a pond and ripple effect? That they are not alone on their computer, on a phone, in their world, entitled to more of everything at the expense of everyone else?

It would be like working at the bench if you will allow me. Where when you screw something up you are the one who did this. You are the one who has to fix it. You can’t turn to your neighbor, the car next to you or the bike rider, big business or the government, or your sad upbringing and history and blame them for it. You have to take responsibility for who you are and where you are in…

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‘We’re All Frauds’

If it takes five times, build it five times. I feel this sentiment almost everyday. I think that means we really care about what we do.

Lost Art Press

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The book that became “Chairmaker’s Notebook” began as a chat with chairmakers Peter Galbert and Curtis Buchanan. We made a plan to produce a video of Curtis building a chair that would be accompanied by a pamphlet from Peter illustrating the construction details.

In the end, Curtis’s detailed videos ended up here. And Peter’s “pamphlet” became the best book on chairmaking I’ve ever read.

But that’s not why I remember that meeting with Peter and Curtis. Instead, I am continuously struck by something Curtis said to me in that cabin in Berea, Ky. Curtis began talking about teaching woodworking.

“We’re all not as good as people think we are,” he said. “We’re all frauds.”

This was Curtis Expletive Deleted Buchanan. A guy who has more skill than 10 magazine-grade woodworkers. And he was sitting before me explaining that – like all human beings – he has insecurities…

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Making a Spanish Guitar in the 21st Century

My friend Bob sent me a link to an excellent video documenting the construction of a Spanish (i.e. Classical) Guitar.  The man is obviously a real craftsman with a purpose-built shop and this is definitely not a one-off project.  If you are like me and like to see how things are made, this half hour … Continue reading Making a Spanish Guitar in the 21st Century

Live Well

"God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well." ~Voltaire Voltaire was on to something there.  Here is a very inspirational family making good in the wilds of Wisconsin.  I would love to see more as they sound like some truly genuine artisans and … Continue reading Live Well

A Level of Craftsmanship

A REAL BEAUTY! Here is an overview of a most remarkable modern Vardo build by Greg Ryan.  Not only does it document an amazing build, it is a really well put together little film as well.  I wish I could hit this level of craftsmanship someday.  This is one that will really inspire the budding … Continue reading A Level of Craftsmanship

Luigi Prina: A Fantasy Artist of Straight Out of My Dream World

I was thinking last night about a remarkable artist I first read about in The Blinking City, Luigi Prina.  I posted about him before but his work never ceases to amaze me.  Mr. Prina has been an architect for over 50 years but his model building is a real combination of inspired art and fantasy.  … Continue reading Luigi Prina: A Fantasy Artist of Straight Out of My Dream World

More Joinery

Here's a beautiful trestle table coming together in Andy Rawls' studio; spotted on his Tumblr this morning. Seeing this makes me realize I can't wait to get some projects done over the three day weekend.  It makes me a little sad to say something like that.  Choosing a job for pay instead of a love … Continue reading More Joinery

A Master at Work

It is awe-inspiring to see a master of anything at work, making their creation seem almost effortless.  Many thousands of hours, or even thousands of days, really show at a high level of work.  This isn't to say that repetitive tasks are always fulfilling or require lot's of mental exercise but that is often the … Continue reading A Master at Work

Butcher block counter top.

Wise and thoughtful words for Makers.  It’s the thoughtfulness that a hand-craftsman puts into his project, not the speed or even cost that makes something worth making in the first place.

Woodworker Network

“If you remain insensitive to the individual characteristics of the material you are working with and cut regardless to a predetermined, exact measurement, then the finished piece will lack a certain wholeness and be little better than something you could have bought from a factory.” – Graham Blackburn

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Project: Buckskin Bags

To aid in downsizing our worldly possessions (and tons of raw materials), I initiated the buckskin bag project.  The goal is to produce as many little beauties as possible while experimenting and learning new techniques. This is the first run of bags, which still require embellishments, closures, and neck straps.  More to come...

Topper Update

Here are a few images to clarify some questions about the wooden topper.  It is not a work of art.  It was to be used for a single field project last summer but now I really like it so it will be a permanent part of the rolling home. Here's the overview sans roof rack.  … Continue reading Topper Update

Eight Foot Terrapin

Not terribly far from the Paleotool secret lair there toils a designer and builder of unique, hand-built, small campers.  Inspired by the lack of uniqueness and beauty in mass-produced campers, Peter Pavlowich put his Wood Construction and Design degree to work to create beautiful, minimalist campers for small pick-up trucks under the name Casual Turtle.  … Continue reading Eight Foot Terrapin

Campaign Desk

Here's an interesting piece of "gone native" campaign furniture.  There was much bad about empire building (and still is) but the bringing together of foreign cultures often created new and interesting art and craft styles. While on the topic, if campaign furniture is of an interest, or if you want to even know what it … Continue reading Campaign Desk

Leather Dopp Kit

A small toiletries bag made from a wax-impregnated leather.  The design is essentially that of a very small 18th century portmanteau.  Included here are some of the basic tools-of-the-trade for scale and perspective.  I think leather work is appealing to me, in part, due to the honest simplicity and lack of power tools.  Most projects … Continue reading Leather Dopp Kit

Leather Laptop Case

I needed a new laptop case and had some nice shoulder leather left over from other projects.  It's a fairly minimalist design but serves to protect the little Mac.  A small brass button closure is the only hardware. After giving this some thought, I realize that a leather case like this should last at least … Continue reading Leather Laptop Case

Wooden Truck Topper

A couple recent inquiries prompt this quick post about a wooden truck topper.  The question that came up a few weeks ago was "why would you make a topper instead of just buying one?"  Well, I'm not wealthy and making something costs a lot less than buying it.  Also, if you are a woodworker, it's … Continue reading Wooden Truck Topper

A Vardo Build Recap

This post is a re-cap of the Vardo build.  I get questions about this project at least three times per week and I think it has inspired a few other people to make the leap.  I still consider it a work in progress even though it is four years old and has 18,000 miles under … Continue reading A Vardo Build Recap

21st Century Sea Chest

This is not furniture worthy of the great builders like Peter Follansbee, Chris Schwartz, or Chris Hall.  However, it is a piece of functional furniture created from nearly all recycled materials and will hopefully be with me for the rest of my life.  I've wanted a sea chest for about as long as I've known … Continue reading 21st Century Sea Chest

The Status of the Apprentice

Lost Art Press

chandler_barber_advert

Let the boy learn a trade. Watch him at his work and at his play; study his likes and dislikes; place him in a position where he can exercise his talent— if he has any—or his creative genius. Place him where he can learn a trade for which he is best adapted, mentally and physically, and if in after years, he chooses to follow any other line of endeavor, business, law, polities, literature, the stage, the lecture platform, or whatever he considers himself best adapted for, he may do so.

Then should his efforts prove a failure he has always a trade to fall back upon which will at least give him a chance to earn more than the pay of a day laborer. This argument was much in vogue years ago, and we sometimes hear it today, but the obstacles placed in the way make it impossible of achievement…

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A Fancier Base for a 6-board Chest

Lost Art Press

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While the six-board chest is a simple form, there are some variants that make the chest look more high-style, like it might have a fancy bracket-foot base.

Today I decided to convert the chest I built for the Alabama Woodworkers Guild into one of these fancier chests. I removed the moulding that returned down the sides of the chest (see the video here), and made some base pieces to fit under the moulding.

98-01I also removed the crappy hinges I installed in Alabama. One leaf of each hinge was entirely too long. Today I installed iron Lee Valley unequal strap hinges, which look better. Unfortunately, I have some work ahead of me to hide the screw holes from the earlier hinge set.

I also installed a vintage crab/grab lock, which I picked up on eBay for $30 (gloat).

So far, I like the enclosed base, but I don’t…

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