Saturday 31 January 2015

New Work Bench Finished.

This has been on my 'to do' list for some time, and a post Xmas lull has given me the time. This is my take on the classic Scandinavian bench with a shoulder vice, there is nothing better for dovetailing!
I owned an original bench made by Lief Carlsson who's father made James Krenov's bench and it was wonderfully made thing. Although there were a number of niggles I had with the design and so after 4 years I sold it to a friend.
The main change I made was to make the shoulder vice much smaller, it's opening capacity is halved to 4" which is plenty for any work I do and it brings me much closer to the work. This also meant that the reduced overhang didn't require the support of a fifth leg which was always getting in my way. Instead I just reinforced the leg and added some nice curves.
The other changes I made were to greatly shorten the vice handle, make the frame flush with the edge of the top, lower the main rail so I could work seated and raise the overall height to a much more comfortable 37".

You'll also notice the construction was greatly simplified by not having any cross grain timber requiring large dovetails. I just simply went for 4" timber all the way through which makes it as solid as a rock. I decided to stick with the tool well, not so much for it's usefulness, but to reduce the weight of the top as I intend to take this bench to shows.

Instead of the traditional hugely complicated tail vice, I installed a very neat inset vice made by HNT Gordon This took less than an hour to mark out and fit. Having a 1/2" router with spiral bit certainly speeded up material removal. Personally I don't use a tail vice but this will be useful at shows for customers trying out my planes.
An article on the making of this bench will be appearing in Furniture and Cabinet Making magazine and I'll be doing a YouTube video on both the bench as well as the vice in the near future.
It took me 30 hours to make spread over 2 weeks and measures 5' long x 27" wide x 37" high. The main top is 20" wide and the working area is 12" wide x 4" thick.
I put it through it's paces today and it's a pleasure to work with!

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Plane Making Course at West Dean College Available to Book Now!

At last, the weekend course at West Dean College is available to book. It runs from 1st - 3rd of May and we'll be making the high angle smoother shown in the foreground above. Please note the planes we will be making are going to be in Bubinga rather than Lignum (see picture below of the last class). I have some very hard stock which is bang on quarter sawn so they will be both attractive as well as very functional. The £265 cost includes all the materials and the college has advised that you ring rather than book online for the first couple of weeks due to computer work. Please make sure you ask for your 5% online discount though!
The current summary mentions making a plane adjusting hammer but this was part of the format when the course was run over 3 days instead of 2, so we won't have time to include this.
The course is aimed at intermediate woodworkers rather than beginners and as always if you're interested don't leave it too late!

Sunday 25 January 2015

Customer Projects

Here is a fine cabinet by John from Switzerland, it is made with Barbados mahogany and demonstrates a wide range of woodworking skills.
Barbados mahogany is a very close relative of Cuban mahogany and is not commercially available any more.

A heavy duty pestle and mortar made from true lignum another banned wood. This must weigh a ton!

Some more lignum.

Wonderful book matched doors from more of the barbados mahogany, it looks like a monster rising from the flames! Thanks John for sharing the pictures.

To finish we have a couple of before and after shots from a happy customer in New Hampshire.
Below are some dovetails without the guide...

...and here is Shauns first attempt with the guide, much better!!

Friday 23 January 2015

The Walnut Man.

If you are ever looking for fine English walnut then my friend Andy is your man! (Andy is taking the photo). Here's his website the news section has some very interesting posts.

He travels all over the country looking at walnut trees and goes to amazing lengths to get out the trees he wants. This looks like a wind blown tree which is great because some of the best stuff is in the root ball.

I don't think the suspension with take any more than that!

And here is some of what makes the hard work worth while.

 Andy filmed a short video of a walnut log being sawn, I wish I had the money and space for one of these saws!

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Computer Model of Toolbox Mark Two, New English Workshop Corse.

Simon has produced this three D computer model of my toolbox mark 2. It's fascinating to watch and he hopes to be putting a link through to the dimensions shortly for those of you interested.
For those attending the New English Workshop course in the summer it's a great insight into what you'll be making in just five days!

Friday 16 January 2015

Tool Chest Article in F&C Magazine.

The latest edition of F&C magazine has just come out. It has a nice 5 page article on the making of my latest tool chest, complete with drawings and dimensions.

This is the chest we will be making on the five day course I'll be teaching in the summer. At the last count 12 of the 16 places are already booked, so don't leave it too late if you want to come!

There are five other courses being organised at the same time with some famous names coming over from the US including Chris Schwarz, Peter Follansbee and Roy Underhill. For more details on all the courses

In its making the tool chest is really more of a large jewelry box than a small tool chest. Techniques include accurate hinge fitting, piston fit tray, dovetails (of course!) and a soft closing lid. Accuracy and attention to detail are the order of the day (or week) and everyone should go home with a completed chest made entirely by their own hand.

Sunday 11 January 2015

More Customer Tools and Furniture.

Above is a nice box made by Brian from Maine, USA. It's white oak and reclaimed mahogany with a bubinga lid and Brusso stop hinges. He used my 1:7 dovetail guide and it was a present for his mom.

Budding tool maker Pierre from Canada had a go at the plane above after seeing the work of Konrad Sauer. The one below was his second attempt which he says was tighter, they both look pretty good to me!

Here's one of his wooden planes in action, the proof of the pudding!

He's achieved a lovely rounded shape which takes longer to achieve but rewards with extra comfort.

A pair of small handy little planes, the dark one looks particularly nice to hold.

And finally a really pretty veneered box, the dark edging sets of the burr really well and the hinges and lock look very neatly fitted.

Friday 9 January 2015

Customer Tools.

Over Christmas Mike bought a dovetail guide and 372 saw. He called by a couple of days ago to buy more tools and show me his first attempt at hand cut dovetails. It went together first time without any gaps, no mean feat in 18mm stock! No wonder he looks pleased.
Mike has been a carpenter all his life and is looking forward to doing some finer work in his retirement.

Robert form Canada sent me this picture of a chisel hammer he made with a cocobolo handle to match his Blue Spruce chisels. Very nice!

Below is another plane from Canada sent in by Richard, it is an early plane made by Konrad Sauer. Not a production model it measures just 90mm x 9mm wide and apparently is great for cleaning up stub tenons.

Below is a spokeshave made from a kit by Ron Hock. Apparently it was easy to make and works very well. It also looks very comfortable. Stuart came on my last dovetailing course at West Dean and has been busy in the workshop since. I can see one of his boxes as well as a long shooting board and a Roubo style bench with very nice through wedged tenons.

At the end of the course we made start on a Krenov style plane from a lump of Lignum he brought.
Here is the end result, a very handy, comfortable little plane.
Notice the quarter sawn stock great for stability and for hiding the join lines of the cheeks.

A nice bit of sapwood on the side.

With a tight mouth, (although he says it will be tighter next time!), it works very well.

Saturday 3 January 2015

January Sale, First Come First Served!

First up are three Knew Concepts saws, they are scratched but brand new (or should that be knew!)
Thankfully the firm have beefed up their packaging so hopefully these will be a one off. SOLD

Saw 1 above is an 8" screw tension for £35 + shipping. SOLD

Saw 2 above is an 8" screw tension for £35 + shipping. SOLD

Saw 3 above is a 5" screw tension with a couple of tiny marks, £32 + shipping. SOLD

Tool 4 is an HNT Gordon flat sole spokeshave. This was used for my YouTube video and can't now be sold as new. List £109 sale £95 + shipping.

Tool 5 is a curved sole spokeshave again just used for the video, list £114 sale £99 + shipping. SOLD

And lastly tool 6 is a lovely little radius plane, the shot below shows the attention paid to the mouth opening, not easy when it curves both ways! Again just used on YouTube. List £99 sale £89 + shipping. All the Gordon tools come with their boxes as shown, first come first served!
Please email me SOLD 

Thursday 1 January 2015

Lovely Bowls from Barbados Furniture Maker

Happy New Year to you all and thanks for reading my Blog over the past couple of years.
To kick the New Year off here are some very nice bowls from furniture maker Cy Hutchinson from Barbados. He trained at Rycotewood from 1994 - 1996, it's amazing how many of todays makers came through that college, even as far away as the West Indies. You can see his webiste for more

He enjoys mixing metal with wood and combines them to great effect.

The first six pictures are all Barbados mahogany, very closely related to Cuban Mahogany. It has a wonderful rich golden colour.

This last vase is from genuine lignum vitae which has all but gone now and certainly can't be exported. The wood I use for my planes is Palo Santo which is from the same genus and has the same dense oily properties as the real stuff.