Building Your Own Vardo

I began version one of my Vardo Caravan eleven years ago this month.  As I published updates and details along the way people have for a detailed "how to" for building a vardo.  Since everyone's needs, skills, and resources are different, I will leave the task to others.  My suggestions are this.  Decide on your … Continue reading Building Your Own Vardo

Another Bucksaw on the Loose

I am stunned to hear from several recent misguided enthusiasts to the gentle art of wilderness skills that their new hobby costs them so much money... I guess even our low-tech approach to life can be marketed and sold to the right customer with our ingrained need for newer, quicker, and "approved" gear. Let's hope … Continue reading Another Bucksaw on the Loose

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 … Continue reading Thoughts Provoked by a Sloyd Workbench Advertisement

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…

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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 … Continue reading Wood Carving; Spoons, Spatulas, and a Whiskey Noggin

Ana White and Some Truly Brilliant Ideas

Someone recently shared this house with me and I've seen her (Ana White's) work popping up all over the Internet lately.  Ana White uses readily available materials to create some genius storage and living solutions for small homes.  These could easily be applied in many other situations in order to make the most of any … Continue reading Ana White and Some Truly Brilliant Ideas

Perpetual Beginner Mentality

Here’s a nearly perfect little essay from Greg Merritt about amateur woodworking that can be applied far beyond our chosen hobby. It’s a great way to start off the New Year on a positive note.

I particularly like this line: “To build furniture you need three basic skills.  You must know how to sharpen, layout accurately and then accurately cut the wood to layout.  That is it. Period.”

HILLBILLY DAIKU

The following is written for those of you, like myself, who are amature/hobbiest woodworkers. We just want to build things with wood and enjoy the process as well as the result.

In days gone by, when the apprentiship system was in full swing, a person knew where they stood in the hierarchy. You entered as an apprentice and worked your way up through the ranks. Crossing milestones allong the way that advanced you to the next level. Eventually working your way up until you were considered a master craftsman, or whatever similar rank, depending upon your chosen proffession. My assumption is, that as these individulas moved up in the system their attitude changed as well. Gaining both confidence and a sense of reponsibility to the profession.

That was then, this is now.

Something I have observed over the years is that amature woodworkers are almost always viewed as perpetual beginners…

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Joinery Journey

Joinery doesn’t have to be a mystery or an unknowable. Have a read of Mr. Merritt’s take on joinery. I’m looking forward to more!

HILLBILLY DAIKU

I love joinery.

There is something magical about fitting two or more pieces of wood together.

Before the advent of mechanical fasteners, joinery reigned supreme.  At that pre-industrial time is was the cheapest, fastest and strongest way of building with wood.  As nails, bolts and screws became less expensive they began to displace joinery for building with wood.  Mechanical fasteners required less skill and were faster. Thus the products produced became less expensive and the structural and aesthetic compromises were  accepted as “progress”.  Machines too brought an end to joinery’s reign.  Some joints that can be “easily” cut by hand are either impossible to cut with a machine or the setup is too costly.  So joinery was simplified or abandoned to accommodate mass production.

I have no intention of delving into a philosophical diatribe on the pros and cons of the industrial revolution.  My intent with the preceding was to…

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