Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A New Idea?

This last week I have had a whole bunch of what you can only call "epiphanies". You know, those moments when the light bulb flicks on?

I've been building a plane for a friend and it involved compound angles. Skew blade, skew bed, angled sole - you know, a real brain bruiser. I've taken a couple of goes at it and I keep sitting awake at night working out how I can make jigs to make production of these features easier. And I have made various clever little gadgets and sliding jigs. But minor errors have made setting these jigs up a costly in time and materials.

So I gave in the other day and made some "Old Timer" jigs - skew floats and wooden blocks to guide a back saw. An hours work, and not a fun hour - how the hell "The Wenz" files saws all day without going blind or mad I'll never know ;)

But with the correct tools it took only a minute to make all the important cuts and then correct any minor errors. A minute!!! And no machinery, no dust extraction. And no brain ache from working out compound angles........

It really humbles me when I have experiences like this - every woodworking problem and situation has been tackled and solved, then refined to its most simple and effective method by our forefathers. And this happened over a hundred (sometimes two hundred) years ago!! Amazing!

So get in that workshop. And when you hit a problem don't reach for that woodworking catalogue to buy the new router jig. Reach for your trusty hand tools and just go for it.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

First Try....

Hi Folks
Well, here is my completed Try Plane. I have a confession - I originally planned to make this a "Razee" style plane. Made the body, fitted the iron and wedge, shaped the tote. Then it was time to bandsaw off a section at the rear. But my pencil started drawing interesting curves and, before you know it I have come up with this. It is a mix of Stanley Bedrock and classic Infill - I think I'd call it "CRazee".......;)
The plane is made from Bubinga and has a 2 3/8 inch wide iron - pretty big! At 24 inches long I was expecting this plane to be HEAVY. But with the "interesting" shaping the weight has dropped considerably and it feels very pleasant in use. I was unsure about the front strike button - comments from my band of trusty plane testers all said a front grip of some description would be needed. It certainly is needed for easy removal of the wedge without damaging the stock and in use it is perfect for nestling your thumb behind. What do you think?
Have a good week,

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Show and tell

Had the pleasure of meeting up with Waka, Tony and Bill from UK Workshop for the bi-annual visit to Yandles Woodworking Show. And what a fun day it was........
Yandles has a real inviting atmosphere. Held at a working saw mill (which closes down for the show) it is not a huge show but big enough. And theres plenty to see - as well as lots of interesting timber :)
Needless to say, the boys goaded each other to ever greater heights of tool purchases. It was hilarious to watch. And don't even ask about the manbag...............;)
Back home I've been having yet another workshop change around in the never-ending pursuit of the perfect layout. With my ever expanding planemaking I needed another bench for final fettling and "shipping". So I have now sorted that, as well as making the shop more efficient. Again.
Two more planes are leaving the door - they certain look pretty!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Flat Out

Been a busy boy in the workshop recently. Planes, planes and planes. Just finished another miter plane and a baby smoother in Pau Rosa. Oh, and a Coffin Smoother in Pau Rosa.
I've made some progress with my Try Plane, too. Bubinga is the timber of choice and what a rock hard timber that is! Needless to say, the planes need a good hone before attempting to slice through it. The #8 has seen a lot of use and I notice that it doesn't seem as heavy as it used to. I must be getting stronger ;)
My favourite thing about using the #8 is "sticktion". It planes surfaces so flat that you can "stick" two pieces together - as you try to pull them apart you can feel them holding together, almost like a vacuum. Now that is flat!!
Got the Philly Forge out the other evening - it's much more fun in the dark! Plus, you can easily tell which colour the steel. And I do love smelling of BBQ ........;)
Konrad Sauer has blogged about his time at Westonbirt - makes for good reading!
Have a great weekend,