Schwarzlandia!

Before taking off for a second scoop of England this summer Marsha, I mean Chris, gave me a key to the blog. Silly rabbit.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve found some interesting woodworking references and will post a few while Chris is away. I will try to refrain from cat pictures, but can tell you there will be monkeys.

To start things off let’s discuss Chris’ obsession with his beloved (his word) $12 jack plane. Longtime LAP-landers are familiar with this infatuation and it is highly likely that many of you have your own little tool crushes. Did you know his nickname for the plane is Lola?

A while back I put together a little hommage for Chris and Lola. I call it “Schwarzlandia”:

Late one evening a large object fell through the mists shrouding the teeny-tiny Duchy of Schwarzlandia. Once the dust had settled and the sneezing had stopped the bravest of the brave Schwarzlandians rushed out to investigate.

Schwarzlandia!

Suzanne Ellison

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Kaare Klint Safari Chairs: Early & Later

safari_klint1

I’m interested in how furniture (and tool) designs change. Typically the trajectory is toward entropy or dissolution. But sometimes it goes the other way (see Lie-Nielsen and Veritas handplanes.)

safari_klint1_detailThis week I have been deep into reading the Kaare Klint monograph by Gorm Harkaer. It is a staggering work in both scale and scope. Harkaer covers everything from Klint’s paintings to his sculpture, logo designs and (of course) furniture. It’s the second-most expensive book I own, but I don’t regret a penny.

Today I was examining some of the photos of Klint’s Safari chair, which was born from the Roorkee chair of the campaign-furniture era. The above photo is one of the earliest chairs from 1933.

The legs are teak. And note the folded over and stitched leather arms. Oh and I couldn’t resist noting that the screws are clocked.

Later chairs were mahogany or “smoked” ash, according to Harkaer. “Smoking” involves coloring the ash with ammonia steam.

The chair below is a 1953 version in smoked ash with a canvas seat. Note we now have the familiar non-stitched arms. I much prefer the stitched arms. They sag a lot less over time.

safari_klint2_cloth

Other interesting details from the monograph:

  • The seat coverings were available in leather, undyed linen drill or canvas in brown blue or olive.
  • After Klint’s death, his son designed a footstool to go with the chair.
  • More than 150,000 official Safari chairs have been made since 1933.

— Christopher Schwarz

safari_klint2_packaging

Posted in Campaign Furniture | 3 Comments

Forward into the Fantastic Nothing

undercarriage_complete_IMG_9156

This morning I clipped my nose hairs (it sure beats braiding them) as I prepared for 16 days of teaching (and taking) a class in England at David Savage’s Rowden workshop. Leaving on long trips is always difficult, and not just because of the excessive follicle primping.

Despite the great privilege of instructing, it is hard to leave behind my family, put my personal work on hold and be disconnected from my library.

So on Nov. 13, I am going to become a hermit.

If you look to the right of this blog entry you will see that I have removed the calendar. And that’s because there isn’t one anymore. I have cancelled everything for 2016 and beyond. After I return home from the French Oak Roubo Project, I’ll be home indefinitely.

Full-hermit mode will help me finish my manifesto (aka “Furniture of Necessity”), reduce the backlog of books clogging the Lost Art Press pipeline and work on restoring our new headquarters building. Plus, I will take a crack at building some of the dozen new furniture designs that are stuffed into my sketchbook.

The chair above is one of those designs. And I almost didn’t want to show it because it raises a lot of questions I can’t answer because I’m getting on a plane. No saddling? Will those legs work? Undercarriage? No relief on the rear curve of the seat? Solid ash? And more? Yeah, I have good answers for all those, but it’s gonna take a book to understand where the heck I am going.

Thanks to everyone who has taken a class with me during the last 10 years. It really has been a blast, I’ve made some lifelong friends and I’ve learned as much as I have taught.

Next time you see me I should have nose-hair dreadlocks. Just got to get some advice from Tom Fidgen first.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Woodworking Classes | 31 Comments

Changes Inside my Chest

My chest has become dirty, dinged and faded from daily use. I love it.

My chest has become dirty, dinged and faded from daily use. I love it.

You weren’t supposed to build the tool chest in “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” It’s a metaphor. A conceit. A Trojan something or another.

I did my homework before I built it. I still have all that research piled into folders upstairs. But when I started writing the book, the physical chest became less important than the ideas it represents.

So it’s not perfect. It’s a prototype. When I build a chest today for customers or a class, here’s what I do differently.

  1. Install the lower skirt before attaching the bottom boards. This allows me to clamp the living pee out of the skirt where it meets the carcase. The result: Fewer gaps between the carcase and the lower skirt. If I still have a sliver of a gap, I’ll miter a 3/16” bead around the skirt.
Here's the existing 45° profile. It looks fine and is plenty strong. But I prefer the look of a steeper slope.

Here’s the existing 45° profile. It looks fine and is plenty strong. But I prefer the look of a steeper slope.

  1. Change the profile on the skirts. I use a 45° bevel, which is fine. After messing about, I prefer a bevel that is 1” high and leaves a 1/8” flat at the top. (The exact angle depends on the the thickness of your stock. Don’t worry about the exact angle.)
Here's where the chain liberated itself from the carcase. Good riddance.

Here’s where the chain liberated itself from the carcase. Good riddance.

  1. Nix the chain for the lid stay. More on that in an upcoming article with Brian Clites, our moderator.
Here you can see the tool rack and the lower runners that stop at the sawtill.

Here you can see the tool rack and the lower runners that stop at the sawtill.

  1. Reconfigure the sawtill and runners. OK, this is complicated to explain and I’ll be brief. My chest had a hinged panel between the sawtill and the lower tray. It acted as a door to the lower section of the chest and as a stop for the lower tray. In traditional chests, the panel was a shelf to put the stuff you needed every day in the shop – your apron, hat etc. In use, I hated it. It really got in the way of my work. So I removed it. And that is why the runners for the lower tray stop at the sawtill. Don’t imitate me. Make the runners for all the trays run the full depth of the chest.
I still have the panel – it's a nice piece of work. This morning I put it in place so you could see how it works. It looks nice but makes working out of the chest more difficult.

I still have the panel – it’s a nice piece of work. This morning I put it in place so you could see how it works. It looks nice but makes working out of the chest more difficult.

  1. Add tool racks. I like a tool rack pierced with 1/2” holes on 1-1/8” centers. My favorite one is on the front wall of the chest.

I’ve had about 100 people suggest other changes, from making the dust seal surround the lid on four sides and hinging the seal (not a bad idea), to adding a tissue dispenser (a bad idea). Feel free to discuss these amongst yourselves in our fetal forum.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. When I return from England next month, one of the things on my list is to update the complete list of tools in my chest and post it here. And to get the “Anarchist Tool Chest” T-shirt live in our store. So stay tuned.

Posted in The Anarchist's Tool Chest | 31 Comments

An Interesting Early Saw

Zeugma Pasiphae Daedalus Mosaic Full

The first metallic saws were likely Egyptian, and they resembled a butter knife or a simplified Japanese pull saw. We know that saw technology migrated north to the Romans and Greeks. But most of the saws you see in early frescoes or mosaics are bowsaws – not the Egyptian style.

So I was delighted to see this Roman image that was turned up by contributing editor Suzanne Ellison. It depicts Daedalus and son presenting an artificial cow to Queen Pasiphae. The Roman mosaic is from Zeugma in Turkey. Most of the Zeugma mosaics were done in the 2nd century. The mosaic has the queen, her nurse Trophos, Daedalus and Icarus.

My eyes were drawn immediately to the saw. It looks like an Egyptian saw, but perhaps in iron instead of copper or bronze. It has a wooden handle at one end (in the worker’s hand) and – surprisingly – what looks like another handle at the other end. This second handle looks to be open, much like the open rectangular handles on Roman planes.

If I squint, it looks like the teeth of the saw are filed toward the handle in the workman’s hand. But if I squint again it looks like they go the other way. Or both ways.

Curses. I need to get on a plane to Turkey today to investigate. The resolution on this image isn’t satisfactory.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Historical Images, Saws | 24 Comments

Update on the New LAP Forum

Chas. A. Strelinger & Co 1897

We’re making progress on the Lost Art Press forum.

Chris found us a platform, called Muut. It is cutting-edge and looks pretty slick. Muut also has some invisible features that appealed to us, such as its infinite archiving of posts (nothing can be edited or deleted, except by me, after you post it), and its broader safeguards towards user integrity.

John worked like a bear last week to get the platform fully embedded into the site. Thanks to his efforts, you will be able to post to the forum simply by logging in with your existing LAP store credentials. The forum is already embedded in the product page for each book. And eventually links to the most relevant discussions will also be integrated into our blog posts.

We have tentatively scheduled the forum’s full beta release for Monday, Sept. 14. On that date, Chris, John and I will respond real-time to all questions LAP.  Kind of like a Reddit-style AMA discussion within the new forum itself. More details to come.

Why do you still have to wait a few more weeks? Well, even though everything has gone smoothly so far, I am not quite ready to jump full-in. There are some technical kinks I’m still working out, some more CSS to embed, and some things I don’t like about Muut that their coders are helping me with. (For example, I’m obsessively organized, but Muut is designed to be automatically indexed and automatically categorized – my worst nightmare!)

I also anticipate some unforeseen glitches. In other words, I know there are knots hidden underneath the face grain. Will you help start planing it for me? You can use a limited preview of the forum here. For the preview, I have disabled all of the categories and sub-categories save the channels on “Workbenches” and “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” If you check it out now you can get in early on the conversations. Send me your impressions.

Finally, use of the forum (and of the LAP site more broadly) will henceforth be governed by a set of rules. (Cue the tomato-throwing.) Most of you already follow these previously unspoken guidelines. But the demise of past woodworking forums spurred us to put these in print. And I will enforce them vigorously. (I already deleted three posts on the blog in the past day – did you notice, you otherwise-nice people making jokes about the blind and deaf? Oh, and I deleted one of Chris’s comments, too. Sorry Chris – rules are rules.)

The following is our draft of the new Terms of Service for participating in the Lost Art Press community:

Welcome to the digital home of Lost Art Press (LAP). We strive to treat you as a guest in our house. We ask that you behave accordingly. Therefore, your use of the LAP web site is contingent upon the following Terms of Service:

  1. Use of the forum is governed solely by the owners of LAP. The forum moderator(s) will delete any post that violates the  following rules. Repeat violations will result in the deletion and deactivation of your LAP account.  
  2. This is a woodworking forum. Only woodworking will be discussed.
  1. No political, religious or social commentary of any sort. This restriction includes users’ quotations, signature lines and avatars. If it’s not woodworking, don’t post it.
  1. No sexist, racist or hateful language.
  1. No bullying, harassment or intimidation. LAP welcomes woodworkers of all skill levels. If you don’t have anything helpful to say, don’t say anything.
  1. No solicitation, advertising, self-promotion or spamming. Links to external websites are permitted only if they are directly relevant to a discussion.
  1. No profanity.
  1. No anonymous posts. To ensure integrity, users must login to their Lost Art Press account in order to post to the forum. If you do not already have a LAP account, you can create one here for free. We will not share your name or personal information with any third parties. Fake or duplicate LAP accounts will be deleted.
  1. When in doubt, see Rule No. 1.

– Brian Clites, your forum moderator and author of TheWoodProf.com

Posted in Discussion Forum | 32 Comments

Alert for Workbench Nerds

detail_1300_noahs_ark

Visit my blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine here for a full-resolution version of the full plate from the above detail. And it’s not a discussion on man-boobs. Promise. (Look at those! Wow.) Maybe that’s not a man?

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Workbenches | 21 Comments