I like to think of our holdfasts as a “course correction” for this form of tool. During the last 25 years, holdfasts (when you could find them) became lighter, shorter and shrank in diameter. Other makers made them look quite nice, with crisp arrises and smooth pads.
The Crucible holdfast is a thing from an earlier time. It’s heavy, thick and with a coarse surface finish. We know it’s jarring to the eye and the modern mind. And that’s why I sat down yesterday and made this video. It was supposed to be about 2 minutes but ended up at 10. Apologies for that.
As the wet oak is rived, I can smell my daddy’s neck. There was no other neck. Time and time again he would come upstairs out of the basement or come inside from the back yard with wood shavings (most likely white oak, his favorite) on his chamois shirt, or his beat-up boots.
I could get a bear hug like no other. And to this day, I know the scent of a Woodpucky. The Woodpucky (a woodworker to most people) lives and breathes with wood. Always carries the scent of wood – dust probably hanging around them, on them or their clothes and hair. They understand time, growth, fit, math, structure, wet, dry – the whole gamut.
— Harper Burke, daughter of Jennie Alexander, at her father’s memorial
I have little clue what Roy Underhill is doing in the picture above; it’s from 2012 when I was in North Carolina with Christopher Schwarz assisting on a tool chest class at The Woodwright’s School. My best guess, however, is that Roy is poking fun at Chris’ overhand ripping technique by demonstrating his own underhand (Underhill?) ripping technique…while dropping sawdust into his eyes.
Roy is always funny, and a joy to be around – and shenanigans aside, he knows more about hand-tool woodworking than just about anyone I’ve met. You can meet him, too (and possibly get dragooned into shenanigans). He’ll be at the Lost Art Press open house (837 Willard St., Covington, Ky.) on April 13 from 10-11:30 a.m. and from 1:30-5 p.m. Stop in at any time during those hours to say hello, pick up a signed copy of “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker,” and simply to hang out with Roy – always a delight!
Megan Fitzpatrick and I have spent the last couple days getting a huge batch of Crucible Card Scrapers finished and packaged up. And today we sent off nearly 700 of them to the warehouse.
I’d like to thank everyone in our supply chain – from the waterjet cutter to our machine shop to our magnet vendor – for busting hump to get these done. But mostly I’d like to thank Megan for helping me plow through QC, assembly and packaging today.
We think these scrapers are the cat’s pajamas. They are easy to sharpen and require little thumb pressure to produce beautiful shavings.
Note that the logo applied to the scrapers is a repositionable magnet and not a sticker. Hence they are a little crooked and off-center. You can satisfy your OCD to the max as the magnets are a precisely shrunk shape from my CAD drawings of the scraper.
Anyway, they are available now for shipment – $20 plus domestic shipping. You can read all about them (and how to sharpen them) here.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. Brendan Gaffney is working on a huge batch of lump hammers that we hope to finish next week. Details, as always, on our Instagram account.
Most woodworkers with a connection to the internet have stumbled on images from Axel Erlandson’s (1884-1964) famous The Tree Circus, a California roadside attraction that featured Erlandson’s amazing pruning and grafting abilities.
He made furniture and sculpture by grafting branches and tree together, coaxing them to create great geometric patterns and unusual structures.
The Tree Circus didn’t last long, but the photos crop up every few months on Facebook or Twitter. This weekend I got to see one of the great structures from the collection – “The Telephone Booth Tree” – which is in the permanent collection of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Md.
As you can see from the photo, the tree is no longer alive, but it is still impressive. And it is much bigger than I imagined from the photos. I spent a good deal of time admiring the joinery and the form itself.
And I thought: This guy had far more patience than your typical woodworker. Step one, graft branches. Step two, wait two years. Step three….
And, of course, I thought of the Welsh stick chairs from St Fagans that relied on branches that had been trained by the woodworker to produce the required shape for a chair while the tree was still alive.
You thought this wasn’t going to be a chairmaking post. Ha.