Full-size Leather Lips for Your Stool

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The leather “lips” for the seat on the stool in “Campaign Furniture” have stymied a few readers. Their exact shape isn’t critical, but I should have provided a gridded diagram to make things easier.

Reader Glenn Frazee has made it super-easy to cut out your leather lips. He generated the following full-size pattern in pdf format for you to download. Simply print it out (with no scaling) and use it to make a wooden template for your lips.

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Thanks Glenn!

I also have some interesting hardware options for the stool to share with you in the coming weeks. Think: “blacksmith-made tri-bolt” and “hidden nuts.”

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Campaign Furniture | 1 Comment

Peter Galbert on Practicing Mistakes

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Editor’s note: Peter Galbert’s upcoming book on chairmaking is filled with stuff I have already begun to put into practice in my shop. Check out this short passage.

While learning techniques for turning specific details is important, I’ve found that having a process to practice and improve them is critical to mastering them. I remember learning to turn and feeling like mistakes and catches came out of nowhere, like a mugger in the night. But turning is simple physics, and the combination of tool, wood and movement will yield absolutely predictable results. Just like driving a car, the key is learning what the controls are and how to combine them to keep out of harm’s way. The problem almost always lies with you and your tool, and while this sounds like condemnation, I take it as encouragement. If the technique you are using gives poor results, you have the ability to choose a different technique, but first you must identify the problem.

Because the occasional turner usually needs to make a only few pieces when a project calls for them, it’s natural to assume that carefully turning a good bead on a scrap piece of wood is the way to bone up before chucking up a furniture part. The problem with this assumption is that it implies that squeaking out one good bead is proof positive that you can repeat the feat.

I’ve found it’s more productive to turn 10 poor-looking beads quickly. This gives the turner the chance to rehearse the movements and isolate the problem areas. I encourage consciously repeating mistakes, as long as they aren’t unsafe, until you can do so consistently. That way, you will learn to investigate the mechanics of the trouble, and avoiding it becomes easy. Plus, like a boxer learning to take a punch, you won’t become overly rattled by a simple catch or mistake.

— Peter Galbert

Posted in Chairmaking by Peter Galbert | 3 Comments

The Piltdown Cabinet

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Most woodworkers become adept at hiding repairs on their furniture or antiques. But some use this skill to fool a buyer into paying much more for a piece that is actually modern or has been cobbled together from several antique sources.

The forgery trade employed many famous woodworkers, including Charles Hayward (by his own admission in his short biography). And there are many written accounts that explain the forgery trade. And it still goes on today quite actively.

One common ruse is to buy old but inexpensive pieces and chop them up for the vintage wood and patina. Then assemble bits and pieces from several sources to create something that looks much earlier, rare and expensive.

The pull above is a victim of the chop-shop trade. It was culled from an early campaign chest so the wood (oak veneer over tight-grain deal) could be used for something else. The pull made its way to woodworker Richard Arnold, who gave it to me this fall.

And while campaign pieces are typically the victims of the chop trade, they also can be the final result of the ruse, as explained by Bernard Jack in his book “The Antique Story Book” (Etching Hill Press).

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Demand for Military Chests was outstripping supply and (the antiques dealer) had several people making them for her. She was sure I could do the work, adding that her local dustman was able to turn out one a week in his spare time. She would supply the Victorian chests and all the brasswork and pay me a fiver for each one. I apologised for being unable to help, saying that I was already heavily committed, but thanked her for the offer. I wonder who owns the chests the dustman made?

So the next time you are in a museum or antiques store and get to examine something rare or extraordinary, keep in mind that there is a shadowy world of woodworkers out there who are corrupting the furniture record we study and replicate.

— Christopher Schwarz

If you want to read more about the world of fakes, check out this article about the Chipstone Collection.

Posted in Campaign Furniture | 21 Comments

Too Busy to Sharpen

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I criticized a carpenter working for me recently for using dull tools. He excused himself by saying that he had been too busy to sharpen them. He had been working for weeks with a dull saw, and with a plane which had notches in it, leaving ugly ridges on the boards he was planing.

He had probably wasted more time in working with dull tools than would have been required to sharpen them several times, to say nothing of the inferior work he was turning out.

There are multitudes of people who never do good work because they never prepare for it, never put themselves in a position to do good work—they never sharpened their tools; never trained themselves for it, and they go through life botching their jobs…

Orison Swett Marden

North Judson News – December 24, 1914

—Jeff Burks

Posted in Historical Images | 4 Comments

What Will Become of Me?

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A tall pine-tree had been cut down in the forest, and dragged away to a back yard, where it now lay chopped into blocks of wood for fuel, piled up on the top of one another. Near the yard, on the other side of the hedge, was a garden with a green lawn, and out amidst the foliage there peeped forth a charming villa, where a family from the neighbouring town were wont, during the summer months, to come to live, and inhale the balmy air and bask in the country sunshine.

During the long, dreary spring the wooden logs had plenty of time to reflect on their future, but the majority of them were agreed that there was not much to reflect upon, for the fate of a log of firewood was once for all decided, and could not be altered.
Continue reading

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Router Plane Fix

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Worked like a charm.

The old Stanley router plane turned up in the mail from a colleague in the States a while back, the box a little crunched and the threaded adjustment shaft was bent. Not a huge problem, but the thing was that it made it impossible to set the iron for anything less than about 3/8” (9 mm). The question was; leave it as is, or try to bend and risk breaking the shaft? Not needing the plane right then, I decided to think about it…

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The bent shaft made it impossible to decrease the depth of cut.

The other day when cutting some tenons for a desk for my daughter Rachel, I decided to try to fix the shaft. I figured even if I broke the shaft the plane would still be usable, as the thumb nut is only used for fine adjustments.

I had had a similar problem on a Record 044 plow plane I bought online a while back. It seemed at the time to be an incredible bargain. When it arrived, I could see why. Sharper eyes than mine… There is a machine screw that holds the irons, of different widths, up against the body and a pressure foot to hold the iron against its bed. Whoever bought the plane way back when seemed not to have understood how the screw and the pressure foot worked together, and had cranked the screw so hard he had bent it. Taking a closer look back at the photos online, you could see the problem, but I hadn’t noticed. The iron couldn’t seat properly and from the looks of it the plane was put back into the box and never touched again. None of the irons had ever even been sharpened.

For the plow plane, I took three regular nuts and threaded them down the screw, aligned them and clamped them in a metal vise and used a big Cresent wrench to bend the screw straight. Worked fine, but in this case, the shaft was a true 1/4” and the 6 mm nuts I have here in France wouldn’t fit. So I knocked together a little jig in 5 mm ply to protect the threads from the vise.

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The soft aspen-cored okoume 5mm ply was perfect for the job.

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The 5 mm ply was the perfect thickness to leave space for the 1/4″ threaded shaft. You can see the slight indent where the wood compressed around the shaft.

Worked like a charm, not 100% straight, but fully functional.

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The iron was in pretty good shape, and 15 minutes on the stone got it done.

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Rachel’s desk

Oak and black locust, with maritime pine as secondary wood.

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I have always liked a low angle for my wrists for typing, so I added an old-fashioned typing tray, wide enough to take a big laptop or a wide keyboard, with a drawer to store it behind the hinged center piece.

I ended up taking it to a joiner I know to cut the profile around the edges of the top on his table moulder. The end grain of the black locust was just too splintery to cut across it with the moulding plane I wanted to use, even with a sacrificial block clamped onto the end to keep it from tearing out. Other than that, I used a thicknesser, and then the rest was hand tools.

There is a reason it is a cliché among woodworkers to speak of the satisfaction of building something for your family that, as long as it lives in a home, will last centuries: It really is satisfying.

Now, if only someone could tell me what eschauffent means…

- Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson is a translator and woodworker living in France. He is translating the woodworking parts of André Felibien’s Des principes de l’architecture, de la sculpture, de la peinture… avec un dictionnaire des terms for Lost Art Press. The book is due out in the Autumn of 2014. Anderson translated Grandpa‘s Workshop for us.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Folding Campaign Bookcase Complete

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For the last seven weeks I’ve been building this folding campaign bookcase using sapele I purchased from the dearly departed Midwest Woodworking. My logbook says I have about 50 hours in the project. It took seven weeks because I was interrupted by travel, teaching and taxes (to name a few things).

Some details:

Overall dimensions (open): 37” long, 27” high, 10-1/4” deep.
Hardware: Most of the hardware is from Lee Valley. The corner guards, brackets and campaign pulls were vintage stuff from eBay (though Londonderry Brasses carries the exact stuff I used). The lock is from eBay as well. See here for details.
Finish: Garnet shellac and black wax.
More details on construction: Coming this fall in Popular Woodworking Magazine.

The piece is away for photography and then to the customer. Now I can get started on making some birdhouses.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Books in Print, Campaign Furniture, Projects | 23 Comments