Lost Art Press Hats, Now in Black

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After many customer requests, we have made a run of our Bayside hats in black with khaki piping and khaki embroidery of our logo.

These hats are unstructured, cotton, made in the United States and adjustable with a steel clasp. They are $17 and are available in our store here.

Dark hats such as these are ideal for hiding sweat stains (eww). Of course, they also absorb heat and make some people sweat a bit more – so they are great for the fall and winter. (Boy, I really know how to sell stuff don’t I?)

Anyway: New hats! I like them!

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Products We Sell | 2 Comments

Updates on Lost Art Press Products for 2014

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I know it looks like John Hoffman and I have been lazy publishers this year. Here it is August and we’ve released only two products in 2014 – “Campaign Furniture” and “The Naked Woodworker.”

Are we drunk? Well, yes, but that’s not what is hampering productivity. We have been working on projects that have a long gestation period. Longer than a constipated elephant, apparently. Here is a quick update on stuff that is on the immediate horizon – before the end of the year.

1. “l’Art du Menuisier: The Book of Plates.” We haven’t discussed this project publicly, and I’ll write about it more in the next couple weeks. “The Book of Plates” contains all 383 plates from all of Andre Roubo’s masterwork printed full-size and on super-sexy #100 Mohawk Superfine paper, hardbound and beautiful. This huge book has been a technical challenge because we want it to have a $100 retail price and still be American-made and extremely high-quality. We have succeeded. Details to come. This book is in the capable design hands of Wesley Tanner (“To Make as Perfectly as Possible” deluxe and standard) right now.

2. “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! A Novel with Measured Drawings” by Roy Underhill. The book is complete and being designed by Linda Watts (“By Hand & Eye” and “The Art of Joinery”) right now. Look for this book in November and somewhere in the $27 price range.

3. “Windsor Fundamentals” (working title) by Peter Galbert. The text is complete. Pete is finishing up some drawings and photos. This book will go to the designer in about five weeks. We are going to try to get this out before the end of the year.

4. “The Woodworker – The Charles Hayward Years.” Work on this book began in 2007 and is finally coming to the end. This will be an enormous compilation of the writings and drawings of Charles Hayward, the single-best woodworking author of the 20th century. Much of this material was collected into his classic books (“Woodwork Joints,” “Cabinet Making for Beginners”). A lot of this work hasn’t been seen since the 1930s. We are scanning a few missing articles and then this book will go into design. We don’t have a release date.

There are lots of other books we are working on actively every day, from the second volume of Roubo, the book on H.O. Studley to “The Furniture of Necessity.” But the above titles are the next four in the pipeline.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Posted in Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!, Chairmaking by Peter Galbert, Furniture of Necessity, Products We Sell | 28 Comments

‘The Naked Woodworker’ Now Available

NW_wrap4_1024x1024The Naked Woodworker” DVD and downloadable video are now available in the Lost Art Press store.

The video, hosted by Mike Siemsen, is an introduction to the world of hand-tool woodworking that begins with a tool kit comprised of only a 5-gallon bucket. It ends with completing a workbench that will allow you to start building serious furniture.

While that might sound like a long journey, it’s not. Siemsen, a life-long professional woodworker, has distilled the process of purchasing, setting up and using a basic set of hand tools down its most important essence. And he doesn’t waste a second of time or a penny of money in the process.

Here’s an overview of the 174-minute video:

1. Buy the tools. We followed Siemsen to a regional meeting of the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association where we picked through piles of tools all morning to separate the good user tools from the stuff that should be left to rust. Armed with a wad of $200 in small bills, Siemsen negotiated with the dealers to assemble a useable set of tools, everything from the saws and planes, to the files and saw vise needed to sharpen them up.

These principles can be used to buy tools online or at an antique mall.

2. Fix the tools. If you buy the right tools, they don’t require too much repair. But every old tool needs a little setting up. Using home-center equipment (a grinder, belt-sander paper and carpet tape), Mike fixed up and sharpened all the tools. He set up the planes. He sharpened the saws (and repaired their totes). And he got all the Auger bits in good order.

3. Build a sawbench. Before you can build a bench, you need a pair of sawbenches. So Siemens shows how to build a sawbench using nothing more than the basic tools, construction lumber and a couple of buckets.

4. Build a workbench. With the sawbenches complete, Siemsen builds a full-size Nicholson-style workbench using more construction lumber and the same set of tools. You don’t a single machine to make this bench, just Siemsen’s clever ideas and the tools you’ve fixed up.

The bench is designed to do all the tasks required in modern workshop, and it doesn’t take a month of Sundays to build. Siemsen built the entire bench – start to finish – in a single day. It might take you a few weekends.

The biggest surprise of the entire “Naked Woodworker” project is how affordable everything is. Siemsen spent a little more than $571 for everything, from the tools to the wood to the glue and screws. But he’s a good negotiator. We estimate almost anyone could do the same thing for no more than $760.

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In addition to the two videos, “The Naked Woodworker” includes a detailed SketchUp drawing of the bench and a spreadsheet that details every tool, screw and stick of lumber purchased for the project.

This product is available in two formats: A two-DVD set that ships from our warehouse in Indiana for $22, or in digital format for $20. Customers who purchase the DVD will be able to download SketchUp drawing of the bench, a pdf of all the tools and materials used in the video after checkout.

Customers who purchase the digital product will download three documents: a SketchUp drawing of the bench, a pdf of all the tools and materials used in the video and login credentials to be able to watch the video on any device and download it onto any device – all in HD.

You can order “The Naked Woodworker” in our store.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in The Naked Woodworker DVD | 32 Comments

Knockdown Nicholson Workbench, Day .625

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I had only 90 minutes in the shop today as we spent most of our daylight getting my daughter packed for college and taking her out for a rib dinner.

But during those 90 minutes I assembled the ends and added the stretchers. Everything went swimmingly until I fit the final stretcher. I planed the stretcher’s edge a stroke too many and so that one lap joint isn’t museum-quality.

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The end assembly right before the final fitting of the stretcher. It is a little long here.

However, the joint is at the back of the bench and by the floor, so I guess I have more luck than brains today.

Tomorrow it’s off to college, and I’ll brood about that joint’s gap all the way home.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. “The Naked Woodworker” will be live in the store tomorrow evening.

 

Posted in The Naked Woodworker DVD, Workbenches | 12 Comments

Knockdown Nicholson Workbench, Day 1/2

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The only thing difficult about building this workbench in two days is not building the whole thing in only one day.

I had only about four or five hours of shop time today because we’re packing up our oldest daughter to head off to college on Monday. Despite this, and going to three record stores and a pizza dinner (A Tavola, my favorite), I had to restrain myself from just building the whole workbench start to finish today.

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This morning I broke down all the stock with a circular saw, jointed all the boards’ edges with a jointer plane and glued up the top. Then I ate a jelly doughnut.

I clipped the corners of the front and back aprons with a handsaw and then glued a 1×10 spacer to the inside of each apron. This spacer, which is an idea I swiped directly from “The Naked Woodworker,” is one of Mike Siemsen’s moments of pure genius on the DVD. The spacers add rigidity and set the location of the legs.

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Then I removed the machine marks from the legs and drilled all the holes for the knockdown hardware. The surface-mounted tee-nuts are a snap to install. They press into a 31/64” pilot hole; prongs stop them from rotating. Then No. 6 x 1-1/4” screws make sure the tee-nuts never fall out when the wood shrinks. I was impressed by how easy these metal bits were to install.

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And when I cinched up the legs to the aprons with 3/8” x 3” hex-head bolts and 3/8” x 1” washers, the assemblies were rock solid.

Note that the order of assembly here doesn’t appear logical at first. But I have a good reason for it. More on that tomorrow.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Posted in The Naked Woodworker DVD, Workbenches | 13 Comments

Knowing Your Onions

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Part 3 of a British Introduction to Japanese Planes

This is the third in a short series on Japanese planes. I am doing this to get to the bottom of an interesting, very simple but highly developed tool for creating polished surfaces.

My son plays rugby with Harry Hood. Harry’s parents have this exquisite oak drop-leaf dining table. The surface of which is highly polished but has never seen abrasive paper. As the evening sun comes in low through the window you see the plane strokes across the tabletop. Wide, smooth, with no tear-out, straight-ish. You can see someone who “knows his onions” who really knows how to do this, has made that tabletop, fast and well.

This is what we are looking for. The answer will be partly in the timber, air-dried and mild, partly in the setup of the plane and partly in the hand that wields it. I can get 90 percent there now, it’s this last bit that drives me nuts. Europeans have used metal planes for only the past 120 years; I wonder if the old sharpened steel wedge in a block of wood can do a better job?

I am typing this with lacerated thumbs gained from careless handling of Japanese plane irons. I thought that 35 years experience of sharpening would have protected me, but no. WATCH OUT. We are now onto Sharpening, a subject that has had more wordy nonsense written about it than almost anything I can recall.

Let’s begin with definition. A really sharp edge is the junction of two polished surfaces brought together in such a way that LIGHT FROM A SEARCHING RAY OF SUNSHINE WILL NOT LAND UPON THAT EDGE. The light in this situation will pass either side; the edge is just too sharp to allow light to land there. You test your edge with your eyes – looking hard, searching for that glimmer of light on the edge that betrays it. Turn the blade this way and that, find the light, examine the edge. If you see NOTHING on that edge, hooray. IT’S SHARP. A fine dusting of sparkles tells you it’s not sharp. Or not sharp enough for me.

We Europeans sharpen differently to the Japanese. We create a polished back like they do; they make this easier by hollowing out the back of plane irons and chisels so all you are flattening is the outer edges. The front bevel we grind, then hone a micro-bevel at the cutting edge. We do this to save time. The Japanese hone the whole bevel and they proudly display the laminated steel exposed by their honing.

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Laminations are partly to make honing easier again. The hard cutting edge is forge-welded to a softer iron.They like to use pre-World War II anchor chains for this as it has a different, softer, quick-sharpening structure compared to modern steel. Look out for a steel with small black flecks in it. It’s very highly prized in Japan, but not here.

To hone these blades I went “their way” and worked the whole bevel. The bevel should be pretty flat to sit well on the stones. But some of them were not. I have now bought a small collection of planes and irons some 40 years old as well as couple of “new old stock” planes which have been in a store but unsold for up to 30 years. The old stock have some evidence of minor rust damage and light degrade, but if you choose the right one it seems to be the way to go. I have enjoyed having tools set up by skilled makers much my senior. They each tell me part of the story of how to do this, but there are a few small problems.

A “new old” blade takes me a few minutes of well-practiced work to set up, an old one may have come from a skilled and much-revered grandfather. Or, and you don’t really know what you are getting on eBay till it’s too late, from a less-than-careful sake-sodden owner whose careless workmanship leaves you with a tool needing a full half a day to get sharp.

Honing demanded a careful sensitive touch. No place here for those dreadful honing guides. You hold it in your hands and work it on the stone. First, get the stone flat, really flat. We use a granite slab with #180-grit wet/dry paper. Put some water on the paper, then rub the stone on the wet/dry paper. You know it’s flat when the surface is an even colour.

Holding the blade with the bevel flat on the stone and working back and forth without rocking and changing the angle takes care, a light touch and lots of slurry. Use the Nagura stone that comes with some high-end stones to help clean the stone and create a polishing paste.

This “going through the grits” is essentially polishing. We start with #1,000 grit to turn a burr, but go through #3,000, then #6,000 and on to #10,000. General sharpening might skip #3,000 and #10,000, but we are being careful here. We are a Japanese waterstone workshop; most of our stones are manufactured by King or Ice Bear. We have stayed with this method because it is fast efficient and relatively inexpensive.

This last qualification is changing now as we are now starting to use natural mineral stones imported from Japan. They are very, very interesting, and I will talk about these another time.

Watch your thumbs. Mine were cut quite badly not once but twice when wiping the blade clean, something I have done routinely every day but probably not with edges like this.

David Savage, http://www.finefurnituremaker.com

Posted in Handplanes, Personal Favorites | 1 Comment

Dilated 10 cm but Not Completely Naked

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Last night I processed image files until the wee hours as I waited for word that Mike Siemsen’s new DVD “The Naked Woodworker” was ready in our warehouse. We’re still working out a few little bugs, but it will go up for sale in the store no later than Monday.

Meanwhile, I woke up this morning with crossed eyes – I couldn’t bear to look at a computer screen. So I got a jump on the knockdown Nicholson I’m building this weekend. It’s based loosely on Mike’s design in “The Naked Woodworker,” but it incorporates some knockdown bolts that are both super-easy to install and robust.

Judging from the comments on an earlier post about this bench, there is some confusion about how these work. They aren’t like threaded inserts. I’ll have more details tomorrow or Sunday when I get to that part of the project. I think you’ll see why these tee-nuts are superior to other solutions out there.

I’m not doing everything like Mike does on his DVD, as you can see in the photo above. Mike assembles the legs with screws so you don’t have to have clamps. I have clamps, so I put those to use this afternoon.

So I’m not fully naked. To the great relief of my neighbors.

More tomorrow.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in The Naked Woodworker DVD, Workbenches | 10 Comments