‘Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!’ to Press

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Roy Underhill’s first novel is complete and off to the printer. It is an enormous honor to publish this labor of love, which Roy has been working on for years. (I really don’t want to ask how many hours he has in this manuscript.)

In true form, as I was preparing the digital files for upload this evening, Roy called me to add one more joke – something that popped into his head while he was soaking in the bathtub. And it involved a prosthetic leg.

So of course we added it.

And you can see above, the cover came out quite nicely. Jode Thompson, the illustrator, blew us all away with her work. And her work ethic. We typically work odd hours, and she was always right there ready to help.

If everything goes well, the book should ship from the printer in mid-November – just in time for Christmas. It will be $29. As per usual, everything we do is printed in the United States. This book will be hardbound with a red cloth cover and a full-color matte dust jacket. The interior pages will be casebound and sewn for durability.

I don’t have any more details on where it will be available, but I will post them when I get them.

We’ll soon be posting some excerpts from the novel for your enjoyment. until then, here is the description of the book that Megan Fitzpatrick wrote for the dust flap.

“Calvin Cobb is Section Chief of the Broadcast Research division – the smallest section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Along with his staff of four women (all severely injured WWI volunteers), Calvin studies “broadcast seed, nutrient and amendment distribution technology and practice” – that is, what happens when the sh*t actually hits the fan.

“But the four women are more interested in developing the world’s first supercomputer (using abandoned punch-card tabulating machines), and Calvin is more interested in woodworking…and in one particular woman: Kathryn Dale Harper, host of the radio program “Homemaker Chats.”

“How best to woo her? Why, a radio show: “Grandpa Sam’s Woodshop of the Air!”

“It’s an almost-overnight sensation (for measured drawings, write to “Grandpa Sam’s” and be sure to include a 3 cent stamp to cover the cost of duplication). But – as Calvin discovers – success breeds jealousy… a dangerous thing when one’s enemy has friends in high places.

“Can Calvin and his friends save the world through woodworking, one listener at a time? Perhaps – but first, they’ll have to save themselves from Nazis, the clutches of the FBI, bureaucracy and wooden legs that break at inopportune times.

“Well, you get the idea.”

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. For those of you who wish to offer technical advice on the motorcycle shown on the cover, or the particulars of pre-war prosthetic technology etc. etc., we kindly ask that you get a girlfriend.

Posted in Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! | 26 Comments

Roubo’s Rabbiting Plane

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Compliments of Suzanne Ellison.

Posted in Personal Favorites, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 16 Comments

It’s Handplane Inoculation Season

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Yesterday, Thomas Lie-Nielsen and I finished teaching a weekend class that introduced the students to handplanes – how to sharpen, tune and use them. Curiously, the class wrapped up a couple of hours earlier than usual, and we’d covered more material than in the last eight classes.

What changed? We steered clear of a full discussion of the silly debates that circle around the forums, woodworking clubs and blogs – selecting tool steel, chipbreakers, bevel-up or -down tools and sharpening media (for starters).

So instead of a technical discussion of the different tool steels available, we told them that all of them work and that keeping them sharp was more important than their molecular composition. Chipbreakers (or back irons) are one of five primary strategies you can employ to reduce tear-out. Here are all five. Use them as you like. What’s the most important strategy? Sharpness.

Instead of getting into a detailed explanation of cutting geometry, clearance angles, wear bevels and the like, we explained the simplest sharpening strategy that will work with all tools, from paring chisels to high-angle smoothers. And that what was more important than the angle of attack was that blade was wicked sharp.

Oh, and about sharpening, the message was this: Making tools dull is way more fun than making them sharp. All the sharpening systems work (including using a cinder block). The more important message about sharpening media is that you should pick a system and stick with it for at least a year before considering a change. This is what I call “sharpening monogamy.”

Our goal with presenting the information this way was to inoculate these new handplane users so they didn’t feel the need to learn everything a metallurgist and machinist knows before flattening a board. If we’re lucky, when these 26 woodworkers see these debates raging on a messageboard they’ll shrug their shoulders, close the browser window and head to the shop.

— Christopher Schwarz

Personal note: I have exactly 103 messages in my inbox that require a response. I am going to be out of commission for about two weeks, and I will be particularly slow to respond to messages. I apologize in advance for the inconvenience. If you have questions about an order through our store, John will be happy to help you at john@lostartpress.com.

Posted in Handplanes, Woodworking Classes | 6 Comments

Hand-tool Classes for New Woodworkers – How You Can Help

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Since I announced the two discounted classes I’m teaching in 2015 for young adults, I’ve received many offers of assistance – everything from cash to tools to food.

First off: Thank you. Your generosity is much appreciated.

After discussing these offers with the owners of the schools, we are creating a mechanism for how you can help. For those who wish to help with the class in England with the New English Workshop, we will post details on how you can help there shortly. You can register to attend the class here.

For those who wish to help with the class in North America at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, here are the details.

Tuition: If you wish to sponsor a student taking the class, you can send a check made out to the Roger Cliffe Foundation. You can send the check to me (so I know who is donating what) and I will forward them all to the school. My address:

Christopher Schwarz
Lost Art Press
26 Greenbriar Ave.
Fort Mitchell, KY 41017

Simply write in the memo section of the check that the donation is for the Hand-tool Immersion Course. This donation is tax deductible. If you have any questions about donating tuition money for students, contact Paula Bueno at the Marc Adams School at 317-535-4013.

Tools: If you would like to donate some of your tools to the class that will be given to the students, you can send them to me at the same address above.

Note that unlike a tuition donation, tools are not a tax-deductible donation. Below is a list of the tools we hope to supply for all 18 students with details of what we are looking for in the tools.

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Tool Kit for the New Anarchist

Planes

  • No. 5 jack plane, such as a pre-war Stanley with a clean iron (no rust) and a tight chipbreaker.
  • Low-angle block plane, such as Stanley 60-1/2 with a clean iron and movable toe piece.
  • Wooden rabbet plane (skew or straight iron). Wedge needs to work.
  • Large router plane, such as Stanley No. 71 or No. 71-1/2.
  • Card scraper.

Boring

  • Hand drill, sometimes called an “eggbeater,” such as a Millers Falls No. 2 or 5 with a 1/4” chuck and intact chuck springs (i.e. the jaws are spring-loaded and work).
  • Brace with a 10” sweep. Good chuck with its springs still intact and a tight pad.

Striking

  • Bevel-edge chisels with wooden handles (1/4”, 1/2” and 3/4”).
  • 16 oz. hammer with a wooden handle. Striking face should be smooth and slightly crowned.
  • Square-head joiner’s mallet.

Marking/Measuring

  • 12” combination square that is square, locks tight and has clear markings.
  • Marking gauge. The metallic ones, such as the Stanley No. 90, are preferred.

Sawing/Rasping

  • Backsaw with a 10”- to 14”-long blade. Straight sawplate, comfortable wooden handle and little or no rust.
  • Coping saw that takes pin-end blades and locks tight.
  • 10” cabinet rasp (older and sharp is better).

A few people have asked if they can donate food or tutoring assistance during the class. I’m going to try to come up with a plan for those aspects of the class early in 2015. So stay tuned.

If you have any questions about helping out with these classes, drop me a line at chris@lostartpress.com.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Woodworking Classes | 8 Comments

Hand Tools from The Cronkwright Woodshop

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For woodworking I prefer wooden layout tools – squares, straightedges, winding sticks and the like. They are lightweight and so much easier to keep in truth than metal tools.

While most woodworkers make their own layout tools, some don’t have the time or persnickety nature necessary to do it really well. If you are one of those people, you need to get to know Neil Cronk of The Cronkwright Workshop.

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Neil was a student of mine at Rosewood Studios – he was a professional carpenter, drywaller and furniture-maker. Then he chucked it all to make layout tools and custom furniture (and make ends meet by working at the local bike shop).

Right now Neil makes winding sticks, a Benjamin Seaton try square and the Durer Melencolia square. You can see them in his store here. I purchased his winding sticks and a Melecolia square to help support him and check out his work.

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And then last weekend I looked over all his wares at the Woodworks Conference in Perth, Ontario. Neil’s work is impeccable. Every joint in his squares is flawless. The winding sticks are superb – way better than my beat-up pair. Neil inlaid stripes of contrasting woods on the inside face of each stick. It’s not window-dressing. The stripes allow you to effortlessly see how far out of truth a board is.

In other words, I think most woodworkers I know would be humbled by this work and it would serve to inspire them to do better work. I am certain that some commenters will balk and grumble about buying wooden tools that can be made. But these small items will help support a truly talented woodworker with a young family and I promise you will be damn impressed by the tools themselves.

Even if you aren’t interested in Neil’s tools, be sure to check out his Hand Joinery Tutorials that he posts on Twitter via live Tweets. He tackles a wide variety of joints and shows each step, and his photos are in real time.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites | 8 Comments

More Praise for Naked Woodworking

NW_wrap4_1024x1024Mike Siemsen’s “The Naked Woodworker” DVDs have been well-received by Lost Art Press customers – we’ve had trouble keeping them in stock during the last month. And the downloaded version has been watched almost 700 times on our streaming site.

If those facts aren’t enough to convince you that “The Naked Woodworker” is an excellent bootstrapping introduction to becoming a hand-tool woodworker, perhaps you’ll listen to what other bloggers have been saying about the videos during the last couple weeks.

Bob Rozaieski of The Logan Cabinet Shoppe wrote up a full-length review of the DVDs on his site this week – check out the full write-up here.

Bob is not a beginning woodworker – far from it. He purchased the DVDs so he could donate them to his local woodworking club.

Here’s the gist of his review: “…let me just say, that if you are the new woodworker I just described, you need this DVD. It will be the best $20 and the most valuable 4½ hours you can spend before you start woodworking.”

Other recent reviews:

The Slightly Confused Woodworker weighs in on the DVDs.

The Accidental Woodworker covers the second DVD in detail.

And here’s a blog I didn’t know: The Wood Nerd. He discusses the DVDs as his jumping-off point to get into the craft and the results. Good stuff – this guy even gets into his failures. That’s helpful stuff.

The Naked Woodworker” is available in our store for $22 for the two-DVD set or $20 for the download. Stay tuned for more nudity – Mike Siemsen is working on a video that we will post for free here that shows you how to use the workholding on his bench.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in The Naked Woodworker DVD | 1 Comment

André’s Big Coloring Book of Bois

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When we announced the upcoming publication of “l’Art du menuisier: The Book of Plates,” I received an unusual e-mail from Suzanne Ellison, a Lost Art Press contributing editor, researcher and indexer.

“I’m getting out my colored pencils.”

Yup, Suzanne is going to color some of the 384 full-size plates in “The Book of Plates,” which will delight Ted Turner and horrify some scholars (especially when she adds those parrots to the woodlot in plate 4).

To encourage her artistic vandalism endeavor, I sent her a pre-publication proof of the book and she has been making plans and even coloring some of the low-resolution plates.

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My favorite so far is a diorama she made using plate 99, which shows the menuisiers fitting out a room with paneling and windows.

“The Book of Plates” is at the printer and is expected in November. It will be available from Lost Art Press and these retailers. The price will be $100 – crayons not included.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Roubo Translation, To Make as Perfectly as Possible | 7 Comments