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
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
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 … Continue reading Making a Bucksaw – Retrospective
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 … Continue reading Fishing Reel
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. I lived on the flat Plains for quite some time … Continue reading A New Sled in Time for Winter!
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 … Continue reading Arrows from Planks
Coming soon to the blog; New plans for a packable frame saw. In the mean time, check out the link to my older post about making a frame saw from 5 years ago.
Okay dammit. Now I have to make some of these…
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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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
Someday, I'll have one this nice again... Click the image for a much larger version.
With the holiday season just around the corner, it's time to start making those gifts for friends and family. I collect old plans for projects I never seem to get around to making but here's a quickie that might be on the table soon. Maybe you know some youngster that will need a sled this … Continue reading Build a New Sled in Time for Christmas!
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
Thanks to Ronel Silva for passing this on. It's a good video showing the construction of a Pea Picker style of folding stool. I posted my own version here several years ago. The video is in Spanish, but if you do not speak it, I think the visuals should give you plenty of guidance. https://youtu.be/JiQPUKHo9Xo
As I sort and cull my tools (and life) I want to share some past projects that may seem too simple to consider. I am not always on the path to a handmade life but I'm also never far from it.
Looking through old books online I'm constantly reminded of how easy we have it in the 21st Century. I still remember seeing my grandfather and great-grandfather ripping the occasional board by hand. Neither had a table saw and it was often too much trouble for a single cut to replace the blade in the circular … Continue reading Rip Cuts and Table Saws
"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
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.”
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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Here's another fine read and almost too much reality from Paul Seller's blog. First off I didn’t want to edit this letter down because of the individuality it expresses. So it’s long and worth reading. Hi Paul, I just turned eighteen, and for just over a year now… Source: An Answer for Today
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!
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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These are nearly the same type I make. A frame saw is a useful and simple introduction to woodworking and tool-making. If you are interested in woodworking, Paul Seller's blog has a lot to offer. From Paul Seller's: If you have not yet made one of these you should. They are quick and simple to … Continue reading Making a frame saw
As usual, Greg Merritt at BY MY OWN HANDS has again shared a great project with his beautiful drawings to illustrate the work. Check out this nice little bookcase below.
As we continue the never-ending unpacking of boxes and putting away of stuff, it has become apparent that the Hillbilly household is in immediate need of a bookcase. This of course means that the nightstands have been bumped from the top of the list to the #2 position. In either case, neither of these projects can be started until I have the new shop space up and running. I’m getting close on that front and might even post about it as early as tomorrow. Anyway, back to the bookcase.
We currently have a standard, tall bookcase that was purchased many years and holds quite a few books. That piece now resides in my office and holds all of my woodworking and craft related tomes. It’s full. Additionally, there are a few built-in shelves in the new house and they hold several books. They too are full. We own a lot…
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I cannot even express how much this speaks to me. I have been reprimanded for not being willing to make extensive working drawings of furniture for a lazy half-wit on more than one occasion. My Vardo building pages have been attacked by the entitled internet Anons for not being able to state in exact measures how many fasteners will need to be purchased to build their own project. I was loudly scolded for not making an exact dimensional cutting list for the thousands pf pieces that make up the project, and so on and on and on.
“Close your mouth, open your mind, get off your ass and put a little effort into life. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish” says it all.
In the past few days there has been a, lets call it lively, discussion over on Paul Sellers’ Woodworking Masterclasses forum. Generally speaking, the entire thing centered on two complaints voiced by a single member.
The first complaint was that the when and why of which joinery to employ was not being directly addressed. The second complaint was that the woodworking instruction was not directly addressing how to design a piece of furniture. While these issues are technically correct, all of the information is there in Mr. Sellers’ videos and blogs for those willing to observe, think and extrapolate for themselves.
For some reason society in general has shifted to an absolute literal way of thinking. Every step and element of a process must be spelled out in order for people to understand and perform that process. Here is an example from my workplace:
An employee was told to sweep the floor in his…
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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
Before powered saw mills, making lumber was much more labor intensive. Now I can flip a switch to crank up the band saw or table saw; or pull the cord to fire up the chainsaw for big work. It's easy to forget how good we have it. Notice the sturdy little sawhorse holding up the … Continue reading Sawing Planks
The Internet is neither good nor bad. It is just a repository of information like a giant disorganized library that is constantly in flux. Like a library, it is a tool and like a library it can be a meeting place. Probably the two best things about having an Internet presence is the vast amount … Continue reading Making Connections with Kindred Spirits
Shop aprons are not as widely used as in the past. I believe this is related to our modern view on clothing and how it has changed over the past century. Not only are we training less in the trades, our clothes are ridiculously cheap in the modern world. Low prices and availability keeps our … Continue reading Make a Shop Apron
I saw this beautiful and sturdy chairmaker's work bench on AMBROSE VEVERS' Tumblr blog early this morning and wanted to share it. It is a great example of a purpose-built and appropriate sized benched for a craftsman. Not every bench needs to look like an 18th Century Diderot drawing or Roubo bench. That sets the … Continue reading A Chairmaker’s Work bench
Thank you Paul Sellers for stating an obvious but nearly lost truth. There are far too many needless and complicated gizmos, devices, and "new technologies" for a 2,500 year old task. Clever marketers have figured out that we can blame our laziness and impatience on our tools and not ourselves. Maybe I am speaking out … Continue reading Sharpening is a Simple Act
Wow. I would have loved that top kit, even in my twenties!
The perfect gift for the craftsperson in your life. You could go a long way with a selection of tools like this.