We can improve our own taste and judgment by studying good work wherever we find it, in shop windows, exhibitions, museums, or illustrated in the pages of books, just as we can improve our own skill by thoughtful, intelligent practice and in taking instruction in whatever direction we may need it.
For there is so much to be done, there are going to be so many busy years ahead for all of us, that the man who is ready to plan and work now to achieve later the thing he longs for, whether it is a small business or a beautifully equipped home of his own, is the man who will be equal to the hour when it comes.
Gandhi and his spinning wheel were more quixotic than realistic. A power plane can do in a few minutes what might require a day or more by hand. In a creative craft, it becomes a question of responsibility, whether it is the man or the machine that control’s the work’s progress. — George Nakashima, “The Soul of a Tree,” page 125
It takes character and personality to determine actively to live and learn, to persevere in patience while experience accumulates and teaches us the things we want to know. There is no one who is born with an infallible taste and judgment or who can acquire it suddenly.
The mind and eyes need as much training as the craftsman’s hands if they are to learn to discriminate between the true and the sham, the thing that is beautiful and the thing that is flashy.
It is when the craftsman can combine all three things, the fine judgment of mind, hands, and eyes, that he produces work of the highest order.
I got a couple of hollows and rounds from a friend. They were made by Matt Bickford of M. S. Bickford Planes, and are sweet. Well except for one part of the plane. The back is showing some damage. I know it is customary to hit the back of the plane with a hammer to withdrawal the iron a tad. Just part of the adjusting method of this type of plane but I thought there has to be a better way. So I asked Matt Bickford who replied with the following
“I know of three ways to back the iron out and/or loosen the wedge.
1. Tap the iron all the way out and reset from the beginning. This is certainly not ideal for many reasons, but it works.
2. Tap the back of the plane with a hammer. It backs the iron out and/or loosens the wedge completely. This also is not ideal because you scar the back of plane as you know. You can definitely find examples of antiques like this around.
3. My favorite way: Hold the plane upside down with the toe facing away from you. Make sure you’re holding the wedge slightly with one hand. Slap the top of the plane in front of the wedge squarely against the top of your bench. A light tap will back the iron out and a sharp, abrupt smack will take the wedge out all together. If you hit it squarely you won’t mar the plane. Even if you miss square you won’t do much damage, if any.
This third way is very accurate. As you get better you’ll naturally start putting pressure on the wedge or iron sides to make it even more accurate. I even use this method sparingly on planes that I’m about to send out. You won’t hurt the plane. The only downside of this method is that the iron may not stay in place in the mortise. It may slide to to the side if you’re not careful, but you can overcome this.
I’ve included some pictures. Please let me know if this makes sense.”