Monday, 15 September 2014

Last Day at the Show.

Now the WIA show has been clearly advertised as running from the 12th to 14th September, so while my son looked round the knife show I thought I'd pop in to WIA for a last look round. If I thought it was quiet on Friday, it was positively deserted now!

I'm not quite sure how the show can run for 3 days but the exhibitors only stay for two!
Anyway it probably saved me some money and I joined my son in the knife show.

There was a wide range of knives on display, varying from first time amateurs to seasoned full time pros as shown with this wonderful damascus knife made by David Warren at $1,500

One of the stands had some very sturdy looking chisels which were 1/4" thick, a bit OTT but would probably fare well at some Roubo mortises. They were pretty good for a first attempt, but the price of $120 each was a bit hopeful.

He also had a souped up Stanley no 5 on the stand with a massive 1/4" thick blade and lever cap. The problem of the adjuster working with the thick blade was overcome by adding slots to the blade rather than the chipbreaker. It felt nice and heavy in the hand, although the blade was prevented from sitting flat on the frog by the lateral adjuster so all the benefit of the thick blade was lost by lack of proper support. Nice idea, but back to the drawing board!

Later on we visited a local gun club and the range of guns was incredible!

The handguns made a tremendous noise and we both jumped when we first heard one go off, even with the ear defenders on. Harry was a good shot but at $90 a session I didn't join him.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Krenov Cabinet

Yesterday we made a 100 mile trip up into the mountains to visit David Finck, highly talented woodworker and author of Making and Mastering Wood Hand Planes, one of the best woodworking books written.
David owns the last cabinet ever made by the late great James Krenov, I never thought I would ever see one of these in the flesh so this was a great privilege.
The scale of his work can be very deceiving, so the shot below next to David gives you some idea.

Inside the cabinet.

The tiny little dovetailed drawers with hand cut dovetails and pillowed fronts with hand carved knobs

With James Krenov's eyesight failing, he was unable to make the base and this came down to David to complete. His training at the College of the Redwoods and his many years cabinetmaking showed in the result which was delicately designed and crafted. He used doussie, one of Krenov's favourites, better known in the UK as Afzelia.

After a very nice home made lunch we descended to his basement workshop where I recognised many shots from his book including this fine old band saw from the 1930's. It weighs a ton and was built like a battleship. Not surprisingly it works very well, makes my Startrite look like a toy!

Whenever I see a workshop with no free wallspace I know it's a serious place.

David has recently turned his skilled hand to violin making and was leaving for a show the next day. I hope it goes well.

I'll leave this post with an iconic shot from the book showing his rack of krenov style hand planes, made for a multitude of tasks. The plane on the bottom left made from Cocobolo is my favourite and was made while David was at the College of the Redwoods.
I'm very grateful for the hospitality shown by David and his wife Marie, this alone made the trip to the US worthwhile.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Woodworking in America Show.

So here it was, the grand show, after months of internet hype we turned the corner and expected to see them queuing down the road to get in. No queues, were we in the right place?
We saw the WIA sign and downstairs we went, straight up to the counter, paid our entrance fee and in we went. What a surprise, the show was not very big, just 60 stands.
After I'd recovered and we started going round things got a lot better.
Above is a picture of the JDS Multi Router, a fine piece of kit, solid as a rock and built beautifully. With the multiple adjustments it would suit chair makers, particularly for small runs. At $2,695 it's not cheap and that doesn't include the stand and you have to supply your own router!
Below is the amazing results achievable with the Epilogue laser machine. Not really appropriate for your average woodworker with prices starting at $8,000 rising to $40,000.

Now this is much more like it, old fashioned fine quality branding irons. Available in manual from £75 through to electric heated from $235. Rick used to cut the designs by hand but now uses CNC which is a lot faster. They are best used in a drill press or fly press if you have one and the results were very good. They also have a charm that no laser cutter could match, I will be investing in one of these.

Next up was an unusual little sander called the Sand Flee. It is a very solid machine with a single rotating drum peeping through a flat aluminum table. It is really only designed for smaller work like box making but made very quick work of cleaning up the sides of dovetailed boxes. The work needs to be passed over the drum at a fairly even speed to get a consistently flat finish and the protrusion of the drum can be adjusted by altering the table height. It cost around $650 (from memory) and for the right type of woodworker I could see a great benefit.

Below is the Noden Adjust A Bench which I'd seen adverts for in the woodworking magazines. It was easy to use and felt very solid. For me I do a lot of work seated at my bench and I find an adjustable stool far quicker than an adjustable bench! However as a second bench I could see a lot of merit especially for glue ups with a height range of 28 to 45 ". The standard price of $430 for the end frames seems reasonable with $160 extra for the heavy duty castors. Another extra is a pair of brackets which allow one of the rails to be replaced by brackets to allow you to sit at the bench, glad to see I'm not the only one who works like this!

There was a hefty slice of tool porn at the Blue Spruce stand. I got all but one of the woods and even Dave Jeske didn't know what the last one (second left) was as this was a customer special. The standard of workmanship was faultless and they are lovely chisels to use especially for dovetailing.

Here's a sneak preview of a forthcoming knife design following the sloyd style.

The fit in the hand was very nice and I can see one of these coming my way when they are released.

Fellow planemaker Scott Meeks had a good selection of planes on display and set up for customers to try. They felt very comfortable and with nicely sharpened Hock blades, worked very well. It was good to see he has moved from round cross pins to flat bottomed ones which will hold the blade much more securely.

Mark Hicks from has been making these benches for a couple of years now and does a fine job. After introducing myself, he said 'I'm making your bench for Hand Works!' which was a very pleasant surprise. I had asked if I could borrow a bench to demonstarte on, I didn't think it would be that grand.
The hardware is from Bench Crafted and works like a dream. This was the first time I had a chance to try both the new double lead screw as well as the criss cross clamping mechanism, they are both superb. The ship wheel handle also works very well and I don't see how this vice could get any better or easier to use, except maybe with a remote controlled motor (oppps that's let the cat out of the bag!)

The very graceful looking tool below is a travisher made by Claire Minihan which worked as nicely as it looks.

It's great to see a female woodworker and tool maker in such a male dominated field and especially one so young. She used the tool skillfully and quickly. I find the most useful tools come from users rather than designers.

And lastly some pictures from the Brian Boggs stand. Perhaps a surprise to see a woodworker selling his wares at a woodworking show and yet apparently 20% of his sales come from fellow woodworkers. I own one of his chairs which is daily use in my office.
The chair below is new and has an elongated back with a very striking black and white weave, very nice.

My son relaxing in one of his outdoor rockers. When you see the quality, comfort and price tag of these chairs I'd be very reluctant to leave it outside!

the curvacious bench was another beauty and the chair on the right was designed for guitar playing. When you sat in it the curves just hugged you. Brian is a man who has spent decades perfecting his craft and it shows.

My son spotted a knife show was also being held this weekend so we will be back tomorrow, he'll be upstairs and I'll be down, there's a few stands I haven't got to see properly. The show may be small but it's well worth a visit.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Woodworking in America Trip

The day before going to the show we had a good look around Old Salem, which lived up to the recommendation, thanks David.
This was a Mennonite community originating from Eastern Europe. Although the many properties have been for the most part rebuilt, it's been very well done. This is the Two Brothers house which featured some wonderfully executed double dovetail on an amazing scale.

This was the Single Mens house, the single woman's house was just across the green, so not as bad as it sounds!

A fine German bench with a dog leg vice, a very useful thing. Notice the angled support leg, doing the job without getting in the way. I have one of these on the to do list, I must remember that feature.

Another fine old bench with a leg vice and angled legs for maximum stability.

There seemed to be beautifully executed dovetails everywhere, even the stretchers of this stool had them!

And some more with a crazy angle and pins as skinny as you like.

This was the most enjoyable building we visited, the gun smiths shop. We had a fascinating history of the gradual transition from the European ways to new American ones. He also had plenty of well supported opinions on more recent topics such as US gun laws, health and social security. I tried to coax him a couple of times into working on the gun stock behind him but to no avail.

Here's a couple of antique guns (do not touch jobs!) the one at top was the more fancy with plenty of brass inlay and additional shaping. The wood was curly maple which replaced the more traditional maple of Europe. His hand made reproductions of these guns started at $3,000 which I thought seemed quite reasonable, that is when he got round to doing some work!
Anyway with appetite truly whetted it's off to the show!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Saw Bench Refurbishment

A good customer from NSW in Australia sent me these pictures of the refurbishment of a 20 year old Magic panel saw. It's pictured arriving in what he calls his shed!!

It was stripped right down to remove the surface rust and allow for respraying.

Here are the workings being lifted clear. I could have done with a forklift in my 'shed' once or twice!
The saw was treated to a new motor and a clean up.

The saw in all it's refurbished glory with a set of heavy duty wheels to push it around.

The saw cost $800 on E Bay and the total cost including an allowance for labour was $3,000.
That sound s a bargain and I know Peter has already put it to good use making some new office desks.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Customer Roubo Bench

Here's a great looking Roubo bench from a customer here in the UK. Plain, simple, sturdy and all the better for the Classic hardware from Bench Crafted. David made it to the same dimensions as the one shown in my You Tube video, 5' long x 20" deep x 37" high. I'm pleased about the height, as I'm sure his back will be in time! 33" - 34" is just too low for comfortable work.
I think every woodworker should make their own bench, it's very satisfying and almost a rite of passage. You can custom it to suit you, the obvious feature here is the left handed set up.
It is also knock down which makes it much easier to move around.
The picture below shows the method of lining up the top to the base, a nicely rounded large dowel.
It's important (as here) to do this on the front legs so the front edge stays flush with the frame as the top expands and contracts with the seasons.
Also note the well executed draw bore tenons for the frame.