Saturday 30 March 2013

Latest Batch of Chisel Hammers

I've just completed a batch of chisel hammers ready for the Yandles show next week. I've increased the diameter of the 'bulb' from 40 to 42 mm which gives it a more meaty feel in the hand. The rippled ash on this batch is particularly tight and iridescent and there is a good number of the darker olive ash which is my favourite. I managed to obtain 35 cube (420 board feet) of this wood a few years ago, all from one tree. I have enough left for about 1,000 handles, so I'll be ok for a while!

Thursday 28 March 2013

Japanese Plane Tune Up.

I recently bought a plane from Alex The blade and chip breaker dates from the 1950 but had not been used, this was part of a large stock that Alex bought from a shop that closed down in rural Japan.

The blade is marked Tadatsuna which was done by hand rather than stamped. The hammer hits in the background are a reminder of the blade forming process.

 I am no expert on the tuning process so I would appreciate any help and advice that may improve my method.
I rubbed the back of the blade with a soft pencil and pushed it down into the Dai (plane block). The witness marks are then removed and the process repeated until the blade fits. A very good article in Australian Wood Review magazine recently described the making of a Dai which was very informative. The blade fitting process however took 5 hours, which is enough to put anyone off! Mine was done in about 30 minutes which involved taking the blade in and out about 25 times.

Instead of using a normal chisel, I used a blunt edged chisel as a scraper, which was much easier and cleaner. If you haven't seen this technique then have a look at Bill Carters website and go down to 'using ground off chisels'

The next stage is to relieve the base so that there are are just two places touching the work, just in front of the blade and at the front. I'm using a scraping plane but the blunt edge chisel works just as well.

The blade came razor sharp and the chip breaker required some adjusting with a hammer and then it was time to give it try. The mouth was not as tight as would have liked and I will deal with this later, however it worked very well on some beech.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

100,000 Milestone!

Yes my blog, started just over a year ago, has just passed 100,000 page views. A drop in the ocean compared to some but not bad for an internet novice like me. It's quite a commitment and has become more difficult to keep the posts interesting, there's only so many times people want to see how my tools are made! The response has been very positive and it's certainly been good for sales, so thank you all for contributing to my blog. It's appropriate to mark this milestone with a picture of a readers dovetails, in fact his his first with my tools. Well done Dave!

Monday 25 March 2013

Chisel Hammer Review in F&C

The April edition of Furniture and Cabinet Making is out and it's a good read as usual.
They had a mini test of my chisel hammer which was nice, you'll have to click on the image to read it.
I couldn't agree more about the need for a loose grip and letting the weight of the tool do the work. It's a great little tool and I couldn't imagine using a traditional hammer!

Saturday 23 March 2013

New Magnetic Dovetail Guide

Here's part of a batch of dovetail guides having their magnets and pads fitted. The eagle eyed will have noticed that the guide I'm using in my recent You Tube videos is not wood any more, the last wooden batch I made was 145 guides which needed 290 cuts with an unguarded blade on my table saw. This was very boring and as a consequence potentially dangerous, I have all my fingers and would like to keep it that way!

The new guide is made from aluminium and has been created on a CNC machine. It has been hard anodised for durability. The magnet lies perfectly flush with the surface of the guide due to the accuracy of the machining.  

Obviously the angles are absolutely spot on and the material doesn't move like wood, so it stays that way. The guide is heavier which helps a little with positioning and the legs are thinner which gets you nearer to the work. The down side of the extra weight is an extra £1 on the postage costs to the US, a small price to pay!
The other advantage, now someone else is doing the work, is that I can have them produced in any angle. Following the plentiful and varied feedback from you regarding angles I am pleased to say the guides will be shortly available in angles 4, 5,6, 7 and 8, I will let you know when they are in stock.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Sam Maloof Books

I treated myself to the latest book on Sam Maloof, at 200 pages it includes lots of high quality photos as well as plenty of text. Half the book is on Maloof and the other is on other local artists who made up the art community in the Pomona Valley between 1945 and 1945.

A wonderful Maloof rocker, I'd love to see and feel one in the flesh.

I wouldn't mind having these stools at my breakfast bar!

One of my favourites a horn chair with low arms. The low arms take the place of stretchers, strength wise, which add a lightness and balance to the design. The strong influences of Hans Wegner are clear to see.

When Maloof moved to the area just after to war he was taken on by artist Millard Sheets and this is one of his paintings.

Bob Stocksdale was a master turner. I very much liked the work of the other artists featured in the book and it all went together very well. Looking at the dates it's amazing how long lived most were including Maloof himself living to 93, this work must be good for the body as well as the sole!
If the other art doesn't interest you then the book below would suit you better, 270 pages of wall to wall Maloof, great!!

Saturday 16 March 2013

Chip Carving

 I have always been drawn towards carving but never got round to learning and putting in the practice Last year I spent a day with Nick Barberton a very talented carver and furniture maker and I found it not quite as easy as I had imagined. In fact the only clean cut I made was on my hand! Have a look at some of his lovely work, particularly the carved vessels and panels

Chip carving is very appealing when done well and sensitively, so I decided to give that a go as it looked easier to pick up than some of Nick's techniques. I ordered a pair of knives from made by Wayne Barton from the US and they arrived this week. They feel very comfortable and came razor sharp.

A while ago I bought a couple of planes made at the College of the Redwoods which had chip carving on the sides, this was added after the maker attended a course with Kristina Madsen who has created some wonderful work with this technique.

I bought one of Wayne's books, as well as a DVD, now all I need to do is make some time to practice!

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Customer Projects

Here is a jewellery box made by James in the UK. He made it after receiving my DVD 'Hand cut dovetails made easy' as a Christmas present.

I like the design with a combination of a lid and drawers, the hinges look like Andrew Crawford's  excellent box hinges, discreet and easy to install.

The fully lines interior must have taken some time. This was a 40th birthday present for James's step daughter and she was very pleased, I'm not surprised.

Steven from the US made one of my dovetail alignment boards (see my video on You Tube). Above is the rough plank, it's best to make the two parts from one continuous board and quarter sawn if possible.
The dovetails were cut with the Veritas 14 degree magnetic guide and he's done a pretty good job. He wasn't impressed with the saw Veritas recommend and is ordering a Gyokucho saw from Hida Tools. Steven also has one of my magnetic guides which is on the way to him, he should find it easier to handle and kinder to the teeth of his new saw.

Here is the finished board with the fences attached, a simple but very useful aid.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Dovetail Marking Knives.

I'm making a batch of 50 dovetail marking knives, here they are turned and sanded to 400 grit.

The slot for the blade is cut by hand, I had considered using a slitting cutter on the router table but as the handles vary a little in thickness this would be fiddly. Anyway it helps me stay in practice sawing straight.

The saw I use is an old dovetail saw by Hill (Late Howel) dating from around 1860. It has just the right 0.6mm kerf to fit the blade.

The thumb recess is created with a 3" drum on the spindle sander and finished with the smaller sander behind. I install a blade in the slot and press this against the square, so that the recess is in just the right place.

After the first coat of finish, I'm doing some mini smoothers at the same time.

That Pink Ivory knife really is that pink!

A nice matching pair in Brazilian tulipwood, a very hard and heavy wood and one of my favourites.
The curly madrone below really came alive when it was hit with a finish.

Friday 8 March 2013

Burr Brown Oak

I paid a visit to Yandles wood yard today and spotted a slab of burr brown oak. After trimming up it measured 26" x 15" x 6" thick which made it manageable, although it has not been seasoned so was a dead weight and very reasonably priced at just over £100.

It was pretty much solid burr and will make wonderful panels or box lids after it's dried.

If I were to leave the slab in one piece it would take years to season and would develop plenty of large cracks. I've found the best thing to do is resaw it on the band saw to a thickness of 1 1/4" and here are the resulting boards. Before the final cut the blade started vibrating quite badly which was worrying, especially with the problems I've had with my Startrite band saw (see my posts on Startrite). As it turned out it was just the wet sawdust clogging up the tyres and teeth on the blade, I had to clean them up twice before I was done which was a pain.

The grain is wonderful and reminds me of one of the cabinets on James Krenovs website. I need to put this away in a dark corner and have another look in a year or two!

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Dovetailed Box in birds eye maple and walnut.

When I was teaching at West Dean College recently a regular visitor helped out with some of the students. I gave him one of my 'kits' and he made one of my pivot hinge boxes. He has done a fine job, the hinge is harder than it looks to get right. The little offset disc is a nice touch to an otherwise square box and again this takes some care to make a neat job. Well done Norman!