I’m Back Baby! – Well, sort of…

Machinist shop – Mike Savad

I’m working on getting the leather and wood shop back up and running while working a part-time day job.  The recovery from injury is slow and frustrating but I can start doing some things now.  While doing some weekend reading, I came across this fine quote by Drucker.

“There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

~ Peter Drucker Managing for Business Effectiveness, 1963 p. 53.

Advertisements

Thoughts Provoked by a Sloyd Workbench Advertisement

A bit of personal history –

I never touched a tool in high school.  When I was there, kids were openly placed in two “tracks;” either Academic or General education.  I know I wasn’t the sharpest student and I generally disliked almost everything about being in school but I was placed among the Academics.  In lieu of shop classes (woodworking, metal shop, electricity, etc.) I learned a lot from a former engineer-cum-teacher who taught Drafting and Engineering Drawing.  This was the closest thing to shop class a kid on the Academic track could do.  Why? I have no idea.  We learned about house design, making scale plans, estimating materials, and other useful things.

Engineer drawing.

Fortunately, my grandfather was a handy guy who grew up on a farm and spent his early years in the building trade so I learned the basics of using a square, compass, saws, planes, and the like from him.  Also, being left as a somewhat feral child, I was able to use and abuse the family tools and learned many valuable lessons the slow and often frustrating way.  When I was sixteen, I began working part-time for a construction company as a laborer with the thought I might make that my profession.  I learned a lot, both good and bad, by observation and exposure, and continued to work as a carpenter in various capacities through graduate school a decade later.

Elementary school Sloyd.

Where am I going with this ramble? 

It was a long and meandering road for me with many side excursions and dead-ends, and although I feel grateful for all the lessons and training I received along the way, I sometimes lament the loss of craftsmanship and the values of creativity in schools.  In short, education isn’t an either/or proposition; that you are either on track for academic pursuits or you will be in the labor force.  I have met many geniuses with little formal education and many fine academics who excel in the manual arts.

Teach your children well.  Real life skills are too important to be left to others.

Making a Bucksaw – Retrospective

At “Echoes in Time” Champoeg State Park, Oregon, USA 2014.

This is the prototype saw I used for teaching a bushcraft class at Echoes in Time in 2014.  Unfortunately, a split in the original wood spread last winter and I had to rebuild it.  Actually though, that is a beautiful thing when you can make your own tools.  I didn’t spend any abstract money for a new one, I didn’t have to trow away some sort of useless and polluting garbage, and I could readily improve the design based on several year’s use and observation.  I’ve sold about 20 of these now so the pattern is firmly ingrained in my brain and sinews while tweaking each batch to make them more pleasing to use and efficient to make. without losing the aesthetic of this ancient design.

Saw ready for assembly.

It has been a very successful class for me at both Winter Count and Rabbitstick over the years and I’ve honed the teaching so that each student can really get them most out of it.  Not only is there basic shaping and carving, but also learning to make a simple blind mortise and tenon joint, drill holes by hand-power, and think about design options.  I hope to be teaching this one-day class again soon as it is a great introduction to hand woodworking  while building a manageable and extremely useful tool.

Assortment of cordless tools used in class.

Fishing Reel

I’ve been working on a new hand reel to keep in my pack with my travel fishing kit.  I didn’t have much of a plan when I started so I drilled out a couple of one-inch holes a little further apart than the width of my hand and started from there.  The wood came from the scrap pile and is a very solid chunk of walnut.  I’m a little concerned about the possibility of cracking but this piece is old, well-aged, and extremely solid so I suspect it will be okay in the end.  It will be heavily waxed to waterproof the wood and I’m working on making and trying a few silk leaders.  Anyone with experience with hand-made fishing gear have any thoughts on this?

The hand reel and the primary tools used.

These little projects are a nice way to spend the evening in a productive way.  After looking at so many artifacts over my career it becomes apparent that our ancestors often created works of art and beauty that truly come from within maker and their influences throughout their lives.

When you make for yourself, your tools and possessions become a reflection of who you are, not where you shop.

A New Sled in Time for Winter!

I collect old plans for projects I never seem to get around to making.  With winter here, maybe someone would want to build this fine sled.  This comes from an old Delta Tool company publication and the procedure is about as simple as can be.

finished sled

I lived on the flat Plains for quite some time and I’m rediscovering the joys of hill country.

https://i2.wp.com/www.thewoodcrafter.net/proj/prpics/p44_3.jpg

From the book Toys, A Deltacraft Publication, DELTA MFG. DIVISION

There’s not much to it really.  An couple large project scraps and two long boards for the runners will just about do it.

The recipe is simple:

  • The frame is 1/4″ birch and the top boards are 3/8″ birch. Fasten together with countersunk, flat-head wood screws.
  • The runners are made from ash. Make a simple form with an 8″ radius from scrap wood. Soak the ends Of the runners in hot or boiling water for about an hour, then clamp onto the form and allow to dry for 24 hours.  Ash takes to bending very well in my experience.
  • Finish body of sled with varnish or paint. Apply several coats of shellac to the runners and wax.

Maybe one less plastic tub sled will end up in the landfill.

Here’s the link to the website where I found the plans.  There are some fun and simple projects to you busy in the coming fall.  I recommend the “retro” section for some good stuff.

http://www.thewoodcrafter.net/main.php

https://i0.wp.com/www.thewoodcrafter.net/imgs/wclogo.gif

Save

Arrows from Planks

Dowel Cutter – A useful tool for large-scale production

A version of this post appeared here in 2012 but here is an update as prelude to a coming post.

I’ve been using a Veritas dowel and tenon cutter to rough out arrow shafts from planks.  Quite a while ago I posted about the jig I built for cutting the shafts and thought it might need some follow-up.  Although I didn’t have much in the way of appropriate wood available for arrows on the day the cutter arrived, I did have one well-aged straight-grained poplar board that had been set aside to age for arrows to experiment with.  The cutter, once set up, takes a piece of square stock of 7/16″ – 1/2″ and cuts it down to a 3/8″ dowel.

Looking through the feed end of the dowel cutter.

When the shaft comes out of the cutter it tends to start wobbling and the effect increases quickly.  The solution is to create some sort of guide for the shaft so I came up with wooden blocks, as seen below with slightly oversized holes drilled inline with the cutter.  There is a second identical block set back a few inches further to increase stability.  After the first few experiments I could really tell that the stabilized shafts were much smoother than the unstabilized ones.

Shavings as they exit the cutter.

The wood can be turned by hand or a wrench or, as in this case, it can be driven by a drill motor chucked with a square socket (not pictured).  The drill motor is not only faster but seems to cut smoother due to the high rate of rotation.

Before and after a light sanding.

The above photo is blurry but the right shaft demonstrates the rough “fuzzy” state as they come out of the the jig and the left is after a few minutes with some 100 and 220 grit sandpaper.  They are subsequently burnished and await nock reinforcements as the next step.  After putting a better edge on the blade, the shafts come out a littler smoother but it really seem to vary with the type of wood being used.

Image from the English War Bow Society. Click the image to link to their site and find out more about English warbows.

I was able to turn out eight experimental shafts in a short time.  Two were rejected immediately as they has little kinks in the grain and two were rejected during sanding due to blemishes in the wood.  They’ll probably be okay for light weight kid’s bows but are not acceptable for heavy, fast bows.  The spine feels a little light to me but I’ll hold out to see what comes of them.  The goal is to create some fairly standard issue British war bow arrows and see how they perform.  Since I use wooden dowels to peg together many other projects, very few shafts have gone to waste since this purchase.

Note: many great arrows have been cut with the Veritas cutter since the original post in 2012 and I will do my best to continue documenting the work.

Updates to follow soon…

The Nuts of “Ingenious Mechanicks”

Okay dammit. Now I have to make some of these…

Lost Art Press

While researching “Ingenious Mechanicks” Chris Schwarz and I found many workbenches with face vises and some of them actually had vise nuts.

In the montage above there are selections from paintings from Spain, Italy and what is now present-day Ecuador. As you can see, they range from the basic steering wheel to the curvy hurricane. The nut on the lower left is the shape Chris chose for his Holy Roman/Löffelholz workbench (and he provides the pattern in the book).

My particular favorite is a form that may have originated in Spain and made its way to Spain’s New World colonies: the double-bunny ear. The double-bunny ear provides an easy grip for tighting or loosening the vise.

The top right image is from a 17th-century Spainish painting. The next two vice nuts on the right are late 19th-to-early 20th century from Guatemala and Mexico. The vise nut on the left is of…

View original post 46 more words

Wood Carving; Spoons, Spatulas, and a Whiskey Noggin

Now that I’m back to spoon carving it feels great to actually finish some decent pieces.  Most of the nicer wood I have on-hand is kiln-dried, making it much more difficult to work.  More patience, more sharpening, and smaller cuts are necessary to accomplish a desired form.  However, this weekend paid off with a few nice utensils coming out of the work room.

I finished an assortment of spatulae and spoons for an upcoming craft show but I have no idea if there will be any real interest.  The Osage orange eating spoon at the bottom is a gift but the rest will be for sale.  It is a ridiculous amount of time for the monetary return but certainly allowed me to relax and focus on the crafting and creation of each form.  To me, a handmade item is far nicer and more valuable than something stamped out in a factory far away.

The top spoon ended up as a gift and the bottom one sold quickly.  Walnut is a beautiful wood.

Whiskey noggin nearly completed.

It holds a two ounce shot of your favorite beverage with a little room to spare.

A few items from my table at a recent craft show.

I’m trying to keep busy in the dark and cold months.  I hope you are too.