Ball-and-socket Campaign Stool

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Jeff Burks turned up an interesting patent for a camp stool that seems genius, and yet I’ve never seen an example in the wild.

Nathaniel Johnson of New York was granted patent 32,698 on July 2, 1861, for using a curious metallic (or wooden) orb as the centerpiece of a folding camp stool. In essence, Johnson calls for using an iron orb that is pierced by three rods as the folding mechanism for the stool.

In and of itself, using a sphere isn’t an improvement. But what Johnson shows is that each of the three legs of the stool has a sympathetic spherical recess. This small detail allows the legs to close tighter without significantly reducing the strength of the legs.

It’s a pretty smart idea.

The challenge, of course, is in implementing it. I’ll grant that a machinist of average intelligence could create the orb with the three threaded posts. But creating the spherical recess in the legs would be a trick with off-the rack tooling. I don’t know of many drill bits that have a spherical cutting surface. Some router bits do. But then you’d have to follow that tricky operation by drilling a perfectly placed hole for the rod of the hardware.

I can visualize a drill bit that would cut the hole and sphere in one go, but that bit doesn’t exist (as far as I know).

So this one gets filed in the “cool, someday” folder.

This has inflamed my lust to build some more campaign stools from the leather and wood scraps in my basement. And to dream of perfect spheres.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Posted in Campaign Furniture | 10 Comments

Hand-bound Edition of ‘Chairmaker’s Notebook’

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Johanna Smick of Monkfish Bindery is offering 45 hand-bound copies of Peter Galbert’s “Chairmaker’s Notebook” for pre-order on her website.

Lost Art Press is supplying the loose signatures for the book, which will be printed on the same #80-matte paper as our standard edition. Johanna will take it from there, stitching the signatures and assembling the book into a quarter leather binding – leather on the spine and paper over boards for the remainder of the cover.

What will be particularly spectacular will be the printing on the cover paper and leather using one of Peter’s images of a bow-back chair. Each book will be numbered and signed by the author. All-in-all it will be an impressive piece of work.

Johanna completed the hand bookbinding program at North Bennett Street, has an BFA in printmaking from Washington University and is an established bookbinder in Asheville, N.C. You can read her full biography here.

Complete details on the ordering process and shipping schedule are available on her site. The book will be $285. You can also order a matching clamshell case for an additional $100.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. The standard edition of “Chairmaker’s Notebook” is available with free domestic shipping for only 15 more days. After the book ships on March 20, domestic shipping will be $8.

Posted in Chairmaker's Notebook | 9 Comments

The History of Wood, Part 44

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‘The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years’

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After six years and hundreds of hours of work, our biggest publishing project is finally coming together.

“The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years” is a massive compilation of the best writing at The Woodworker magazine while Charles H. Hayward was editor, from 1936 to 1966. Many of the articles were written and illustrated by Hayward himself, but this authorized compilation also features stories from other great workshop writers such as Robert Wearing and W.L. Goodman.

When we say this project is big, we mean it. This 8-1/2” x 11” hardbound book will easily be more than 1,200 pages long and feature articles on all aspects of hand tool use, joinery, furniture styles and workshop philosophy.

The book has taken a team of people including myself, Megan Fitzpatrick, Phil Hirz, Ty Black, John Hoffman and Linda Watts years to put together. It started with us purchasing every single annual edition of The Woodworker from Hayward’s tenure, a $2,000 bill.

Then we spent many beer- and wine-soaked evenings sorting through all of the annuals, culling out the best articles, weeding out duplicates and trying to make a cohesive book that included a fair sample of Hayward’s pioneering publishing work.

That was the easy part.

Ty Black scanned all of the articles and wrote a program that would process the images and turn the stories into editable text, which then had to be compared against the originals.

And now Linda Watts is laying out the entire book in a cohesive, vintage-looking package that will present Hayward’s work to a new generation of hand-tool users.

I will be honest: We bit off more than we could chew with this book. It would have been easy to scan all the articles and reprint them as-is. We took the hardest and most expensive road possible in resetting all the text, reprocessing each image and creating new page layouts.

“The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years” will be published this fall. We don’t have pricing information. But you might want to start saving your dimes and English pesos now. It will be worth it.

As a small taste, here are all of the sections of the book:

1-Tools & Techniques
Sharpening
Setting-out Tools
Handplanes
Saws
Boring Tools
Carving
Turning
Veneering & Inlay
General Techniques
Miscellaneous Tools

2- Joinery
Panel Joints
Frame Joints
Dovetail and Carcass Joints
Miscellaneous Joints

3-Workshop Appliances & Storage
Workbenches & Workholding
Tool Chests & Storage
Appliances

4-Furniture & Details
Furniture Styles Styles
Projects & Drawings
Miscellaneous Details

5-Chips from the Chisel

And below is a bigger taste: The full table of contents for the book.

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More details as they become available.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker | 34 Comments

Happy Bunkday to Me

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I use a lot of construction lumber in my projects – not only for workbenches but for furniture projects as well. If you carefully select your lumber you can end up with very nice wood for little money.

I’ve written about how I select my construction lumber from the racks here, but the following is the other half of the story.

As much as I like my local independent hardware store, I end up visiting my home center about twice a week for odds and ends. No matter how much of a hurry I’m in that day, my first stop is the framing lumber. I don’t always buy something, but I always watch the pile of 2 x 12 x 8’s. And I look at the rack of lumber at the roof.

At my store, they usually have a Saturday-night cull. The employees pull all the junk from the racks that won’t sell because it’s too distorted or nasty. They band the culls and sell them for something real cheap. But I ignore the cull pile.

After they cull the racks they open up new bunks of fresh wood to replenish the racks that look skimpy. So Sunday morning is a great time to go to my home center.

Today I stopped by for lightbulbs and saw they had just opened a new bunk of 2 x 12 x 8’s. The employees had removed only two of the restraining straps, so I did them a favor and cut the third free. Then I spent the next hour sorting through the entire bunk (then restacking it perfectly). I found nine beautiful, straight and clear 2 x 12s. And because this bunk had been sitting at the top of the rack for months, the stuff is dry – between 5 and 7 percent moisture content.

These 2 x 12s will be the next project in “The Furniture of Necessity,” one that I have been itching to build for two years.

The only problem is I have to head back to the home center today. In my excited state I forgot the lightbulbs.

— Christoper Schwarz

Posted in Furniture of Necessity | 28 Comments

The Second Staked Backstool

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I don’t give names to my pieces of furniture. I have nothing against people who do, but it’s just not my thing. But sometimes a piece of furniture reminds me of someone as I’m building it. When I look at this backstool I can think only of Joe Kent Wagg.

For three years I attended a Lutheran school that was populated by a volatile mix of smart kids, token charity cases and trouble-makers. In fourth grade, our resident bully was Joe, who was older, bigger and had questionable dental hygiene.

I was the kid with a bowl haircut, glasses and a smart mouth, so naturally Joe had it in for me on the playground. Thanks to Joe I learned a lot about scuffling, chewing dirt and hiding in the bushes – all valuable skills in the corporate world.

While Joe ruled recess, he struggled in school. He would get out of his seat several times a day and sprint around the classroom. Eventually the teacher brought a roll of duct tape to class and adhered him to his chair by wrapping his midsection to the chair’s back.

This did not stop him. Partially mummified, he would tip backward in his chair all day, a clear violation of school rules.

So the teacher taped him to a chair that with casters on the feet. When Joe tipped back, he would fall on the floor like a crippled turtle unable to get upright.

We were commanded to ignore him, and Joe was left on the floor for what seemed like hours.

I think it was that day that I started to have a problem with authority.

So Joe, this three-legged backstool is for you.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Furniture of Necessity | 24 Comments

Buy My Tool Chest – and all the Tools in it

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Here’s your chance to buy a completely finished and fitted Anarchist’s Tool Chest that is chock full of premium hand tools (more than $8,300 worth) – and help a great woodworking school in the process.

Here’s the story: Last summer I taught my first class in England for the New English Workshop, which was held at the shops at Warwickshire College. As a way to give back to the next generation of woodworkers, Paul Mayon and Derek Jones of New English Workshop completed and finished the tool chest I built (very nicely, I might add). Then a bunch of generous toolmakers donated a load of premium hand tools to put in the chest.

On March 28, 2015, the chest and its contents will be auctioned off by David Stanley Auctions and all proceeds will be donated to Warwickshire College, which offers an excellent furniture program. You do not need to be in England to bid on the chest – David Stanley accepts internet bids and can ship the chest if need be. Check the David Stanley auction site for details.

The chest is finished exactly like the one in the book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” including the sliding trays and black-over-red paint job. The chest is signed by me and all the students who participated in the class.

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The list of tools is nothing short of amazing. Here’s a list of the tools, who donated then and the value in English dollars. Check it:

Ashley Isles MKII bevel edge cabinetmakers chisels x 6, donated by Workshop Heaven, £133

Aurio Rasps x 3, donated by Classic Hand Tools, £252

Bad Axe Sash Saw 14” 12ppi Hybrid, donated by Bad Axe Tool Works, £186

Blum Tool Company #5 ½ Mesquite Jack Plane, donated by Blum Tool Company, £210

David Barron 9-1/2” lignum vitae smoothing plane, donated by David Barron, £175

Classic Bow saw 400mm Turbo Cut, donated by anonymous, £56

Chris Pye carving chisels set of 11, donated by Classic Hand Tools, £290

Clifton #4-1/2 Heavy Smoothing Plane, Donated by Clico, £310

Czeck Edge Kerf Kadet II Marking Knife, donated by Czeck Edge, £35

Karl Holtey #10 Mitre Plane, donated by Karl Holtey, £2,000

Jeff Hamilton 5” Lignum Vitae marking gauge, donated by Jeff Hamilton, £65

Veritas 10” Sliding Bevel, donated by Lee Valley Tools, £39

Lee Valley 12” Dividers, donated by Lee Valley, £18

Veritas Medium Shoulder Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £200

Lee Valley set 5 parallel tip screwdrivers, donated by Lee Valley, £30

Veritas Small Plough Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £200

Veritas Router Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £170

Veritas Low Angle jack Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £295

Pax 1776 10” Dovetail Saw 20tpi with pear handle, donated by Peter Sefton, £120

Philly Planes Coffin Smoother, English Box, Donated by Philly Planes, £215

Sterling Tool Works Saddle Tail, donated by Sterling Tool Works LLC, £70

Rob Stoakley Japanese panel gauge, donated by Rob Stoakley, £150

Texas Heritage Waxed Canvas Chisel Roll, donated by Texas Heritage Woodworks, £69

Workshop Heaven Ultimate Hand Brace, donated by Workshop Heaven, £64

Workshop Heaven Maple & Apple mallet, donated by Workshop Heaven, £45

So sell a hock a couple kidneys and perhaps a spleen. It’s all to support the next generation of aspiring young woodworkers.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in The Anarchist's Tool Chest, Woodworking Classes | 7 Comments