‘By Hand & Eye’ Animations

BHAE_detail2_500_IMG_7428Here you can download the geometry animations discussed in “By Hand & Eye” by George Walker and Jim Tolpin. There are a variety of ways to download them to your computer or watch them.

  1. Download the following .zip file. After it lands in your “Downloads” folder, double-click it and it will extract itself. You will have a folder with three documents. Double-click on “By Hand & Eye Animations.html.” That will open your default web browser and you will see all the animations.

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  2. Follow this link to a Dropbox folder where the three files discuss in No. 1 will be located. Download those. Double-click on “By Hand & Eye Animations.html” to get started.
  3. Visit Jim Tolpin’s YouTube channel. Scroll down and you’ll see all the animations there.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in By Hand & Eye, Downloads | 6 Comments

Lost Art Press Contributing Editors

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While I’m the public face of Lost Art Press, this company wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for a network of independent woodworkers, writers, editors, designers, indexers, researchers and proofreaders. Every book we publish is vetted by a team of people – some paid and some volunteers – who clean and refine our authors’ work.

Our network of assistants has gotten large enough that I am compelled to offer the following people the official title of “contributing editor.”

Before I list these people, I have to call out John Hoffman, who owns half of Lost Art Press. Without him, we wouldn’t have a new website, we wouldn’t have a smooth accounting system and we wouldn’t be able to ship books as efficiently as we do. John’s labor is the thankless donkey work that keeps this business going. He’s also been expanding his efforts this year into the editorial realm, which we’ll be discussing in the coming months.

But whether you know John or not, this business would not exist without him. And it’s important for me to mention that at every opportunity.

So here are the Lost Art Press contributing editors, in no particular order:

Suzanne Ellison. While we call her the “saucy indexer,” Suzanne is more than a writer of indices. She provides proofing, endless research and nudges (she is currently nudging me into Danish Modern). For example, when I started researching campaign furniture, Suzanne started her own independent investigation into the style. Without her help, I think my book would still be in the works. She also is willing to endless do-gooder donkey work: Right now she is transcribing the entire “The Naked Woodworker” DVD for customers who are deaf. She is doing this for no money (though I’ve promised her a dinner and wine).

We hope to have Suzanne write a book for us on Gillows of Lancaster, one of the most important and under-appreciated furniture makers of Great Britain.

Jeff Burks. Jeff’s research is fantastic. He finds images, articles and references that elude me and other people who plumb the history of the craft. His research on patents is impressive. And he has compiled some amazing original-source material on topics that needs to be published.

He has a sharp eye when it comes to woodworking imagery – paintings, drawings and sculpture in particular.

He also goes on hiatus at times. He’s a professional woodworker and sometimes his work becomes all-consuming. So for those of you who ask: “What happened to Jeff Burks?” My answer is: I don’t know. Let’s hope he’ll come back soon and return to posting regularly on the Lost Art Press blog.

Megan Fitzpatrick. Since we started this company, Megan has edited every one of our books. Some of them she edited for free – to help improve the product. On other books, such as Roy Underhill’s forthcoming novel, she has done more work than anyone besides the author. She even sneaks into the backend of our blog at times and fixes typos.

Though she technically works for a competing publishing house, we have found a way to make that relationship work. I promise not to publish any books on plunge routers; she vows to never publish translations of ancient French texts. All good.

Linda Watts. Though Linda is a book designer, she also has the sharp eye of an editor. Whenever she completes a design, she also gives us a list of errors and typos she finds. Linda has been in the woodworking publishing field longer than anyone in my circle of friends – she started at Shopsmith and designed its magazine “Hands On!” when I was in high school. My relationship with Linda is the longest (and best) that I’ve ever had with a designer.

There are lots of other people who helps us out on individual projects, but the four people above are involved in some way with almost everything we do. They are the reason that a lot of our books are interesting, fun to read and beautiful to behold.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. In a future post I’ll discuss the Lost Art Press mules – people who are the arms and legs of this company. These are the people who help move mountains of books or scan piles of pages.

Posted in Personal Favorites | 8 Comments

The Genius of Charles Hayward. Coming Soon

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This project is difficult to talk about – mostly because it is like trying to describe in a phone conversation all the objects you could find in a Sears store.

Since the day that John Hoffman and I started Lost Art Press, one of our goals was to republish (legally) the work of Charles Hayward, the editor of The Woodworker magazine for three decades and my personal woodworking hero.

Hayward was a traditionally trained British craftsman, a professional woodworker, a talented writer and a near-genius illustrator. And he worked like a dog.

After much tribulation, we secured the rights to publish Hayward’s work in The Woodworker between 1937 and 1967. That was the easy part. During the last five years, a large team of people have been dissecting this huge amount of data, scanning it, proofing it and organizing it so it is a comprehensive look at Hayward’s writings on hand tools.

The result will be a huge – easily more than 500 pages – large-scale book that will cover all aspects of the craft, including every word that Hayward wrote on joinery, plus tools, turning, carving, finishing and traditional design.

Today was a major milestone for the project. John, Tim Henrickson and I made a final sweep through the 360 magazine issues to make sure we didn’t miss anything on joinery. The good news is that we didn’t find much that we had missed. By the end of this month, all this stuff will go to the page designer, Linda Watts.

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To give you the tiniest taste of what is to come, download this one-page information graphic that Hayward drew on remouthing a plane. It’s only one page and yet describes something that could take a writer many pages to do equally well.

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We do not have a release date for this book yet, except: As soon as humanly possible.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites | 16 Comments

The History of Wood, Part 19

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Furnishing the Great Outdoors

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I am embarking on a project to (slowly) repopulate my deck with a better grade of furniture. First up is a pair of small folding tables. The design is adapted from one published a few years ago in Popular Woodworking. The table shown here is 20″ square by 38″…er, no…24.5″ high.

Designing furniture that can survive being left outdoors in the sun and rain without eventually degrading into a pile of sticks (or worse) is a whole ’nother enchilada compared to ordinary furniture making. There is significant overlap with campaign furniture, with the added bonus that wood that gets rained on moves. A lot. In fact, outdoor furniture has much in common with boatbuilding, and so one looks to suppliers like Jamestown Distributors for fasteners and finishes, SailRite for upholstery fabrics, etc.

The woods used must be durable (resistant to decay), of course. That limits one’s choices to the usual suspects: teak, mahogany and its relatives, white oak, etc. Some “cedars” are also suitable, though their relatively low strength means that the various components usually need to be beefier than in this table. Other North American woods that would be suitable are black locust and honey mesquite, both of which can be hard to find but are probably worth looking for. I haven’t worked with mesquite, but it’s on my to-do list, as it is supposed to have exceptional dimensional stability with changing humidity.

These tables are in sapele, an African relative of mahogany that’s rated as “moderately durable.” To give them a leg up (pun intended) in terms of surviving the elements, I’ve fitted them out with “shoes” made of UHMW polyethylene. The shoes are held in by a 1/8″-diameter oak pin, which can easily be drilled out to allow for replacement, in case they wear out or the whole experiment turns out to have been a bad idea.

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There are four legs and four top supports, and no two are exactly the same. They come in each of the four combinations of inner/outer and left/right mirror-image pairs. It got to be so confusing that I made up some custom labels before I drilled all of the holes and counterbores.

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For want of a good locknut…

Chris isn’t the only one with hardware woes. Because the joints of this table need to allow folding for storage, the fasteners have to stay put without being fully snugged up to the wood (which in any case is only going to be a temporary condition as the wood shrinks and swells). So some kind of locking fastener is called for. The standard solution is a nylon-insert locknut (leftmost in the photo below). These work well, but I didn’t want to use them, for two reasons. The main reason is that they’re thick, quite a bit thicker than an ordinary hex nut, which would mean having to reduce the thickness of wood left at the bottom of the counterbores more than I was comfortable with. The secondary reason is that nylon is not UV stable, meaning that they would degrade over time (although, to be honest, so will the wood).

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Back when I was in the cyclotron business, we used some aircraft-grade locknuts that were all stainless steel, and worked by having a thinned-down collar that looked like it had been slightly squished in a vise. I wasn’t able to find that kind of locknut, but I did find some at McMaster-Carr that were superficially similar. I ordered a pack of the center-lock style (second from the left). You can see a small indent on the flat; there’s a matching one on the other side, and together they deform the thread just enough to create a locking action. Or at least that’s how they’re supposed to work. I found the nuts to be wildly inconsistent from one to the next, and most barely locked at all.

So I ordered a pack of the top-lock style (third from the left). These have three small deformations on the top of the nut, which you can just barely make out in the photo. These turned out to be a lot more consistent than the center-lock variety, although there are a still a few bad apples in the pack. These are the ones I’m using in these tables, but to hedge my bets, I also ordered a pack of low-profile nylon-insert locknuts (rightmost), in case the top-lock nuts turned out as bad as the center-lock ones.

Finishing touches

I haven’t yet applied any finish to the table. One option would be to leave it unfinished and let it go gray (like Megan the teak chair in the photo). I have a piece of sapele that’s been sitting outdoors for about eight years, and while there’s a fair bit of surface checking, it still looks pretty good, and remains structurally sound. I will most likely go with Osmo “One Coat Only.” I’m currently field-testing another piece of sapele with that on it, and it’s holding up well after a couple of months, but I’m going to see how it survives the winter before making a final decision. I decided early on against a traditional exterior varnish finish (e.g., Sikkens Cetol); I just can’t stand the look of varnish on unfilled open-grain woods, and I wasn’t about to try to use a pore filler on an outdoor piece.

In order to facilitate the inevitability of refinishing, the only parts of the table that are glued are the components of the two halves of the top. Everything else is bolted or screwed together. The top panels and the two leg braces are attached with #6-32 screws and brass inserts. The screws (also from McMaster-Carr) have a patch of locking goop that you can see in the photo. The makeshift insert installation tool on the right, along with a drill press to keep everything square, works better than any commercial tool that I’ve tried.

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Lessons learned

If I were to build these tables again, I’d increase the thickness of the top from 1/2″ to 9/16″ and reduce the thickness of the legs and supports from 3/4″ to 11/16″. I also realized after it was way too late that bronze saw nuts like these might be just the thing for the leg/support joints.

I think the most important lesson I learned, though, is that writing a blog post using an iPad (from a hotel room) is never a good idea…

–Steve Schafer

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Quick Video: Maison de l’Outil (The House of Tools)

I’ve long known about the Maison de l’Outil in Troyes, France, but I have not had the chance to visit. Yet.

Reader Sebastian Gonzalez found this short video – in English – about the history of the museum, its collection and its more than 30,000 books on tools and crafts. The video even highlights Juliette Caron, the first female compagnon carpenter in France (I collect postcards related to her).

The video is worth a watch.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites | 10 Comments

Fitting a Blade and Back Iron to the Body

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Part 4 of a British Introduction to Japanese Planes

Fitting the blade and back iron to the body is a fiddle, but not difficult. What you need is a good bench light and a graphite pencil or graphite stick. The essence is of this is DO NOT CHANGE THE GEOMETRY of the plane body. So as the blade fits into the two side channels, do not pare the upper surface; this is the surface that beds the blade at 41° effective pitch.

Remove the bar under which the back iron fits. You will find that this is just a round wire nail sharpened on one end. Fit the blade by rubbing graphite on the sides and on the back of the blade.

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Tap the blade in using a small hammer, tap it out by hitting the top back corner of the wooden body with the hammer, there is a chamfer planed on that corner to allow you hit JUST THERE. Not on the end like European tap-and-try planes.

Pare away the area where the graphite has left an imprint on the plane body and repeat the process. You will find yourself fitting the width first, then paring to allow the back of the blade to sit further down in body of the plane. Allow a nice couple of hours to do this well. If you rush this, the blade will not sit tight and you will not get the polish you want.

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Remember that plane bodies expand and contract in width and blades do not, so open the side channels enough to allow for this expansion and contraction. You see so many cracked Kanna where this has not been done correctly.

Getting a good fit for the back iron is difficult as it is hard to see right down by the cutting edge. You will need a narrow chisel to work the slots on either side and a broad chisel for the land between.

The mouth is pretty well determined by the Kanna’s maker; a good maker will set up the mouth so that the blade trims its own mouth and you can then open it a shaving or two. I have a Kanna that did not have such a good mouth so I have fitted a rosewood dovetailed key in front of the blade.

Next we will look at the sole of the plane and taking a shaving or two!

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

Posted in Handplanes | 1 Comment