This is the finish Chris uses on his chairs, and that I use on everything that isn’t painted. I particuarly love it on walnut and cherry – it warms up the grain and brings out its beauty (as well as offering just enough easily renewable protection), plus it softens my hand and smells good.
Katherine cooks up this wax in the Lost Art Press machine room using a waterless process. She then packages it in a tough glass jar with a metal screw-top lid. She applies her hand-designed label to each lid, boxes up the jars and ships them in a durable cardboard mailer. The money she makes from wax helps her make ends meet at college. Instructions for the wax are below. You can watch a video of how to use the wax here.
Instructions for Soft Wax 2.0 Soft Wax 2.0 is a safe finish for bare wood that is incredibly easy to apply and imparts a beautiful low luster to the wood.
The finish is made by cooking raw, organic linseed oil (from the flax plant) and combining it with cosmetics-grade beeswax and a small amount of a citrus-based solvent. The result is that this finish can be applied without special safety equipment, such as a respirator. The only safety caution is to dry the rags out flat you used to apply before throwing them away. (All linseed oil generates heat as it cures, and there is a small but real chance of the rags catching fire if they are bunched up while wet.)
Soft Wax 2.0 is an ideal finish for pieces that will be touched a lot, such as chairs, turned objects and spoons. The finish does not build a film, so the wood feels like wood – not plastic. Because of this, the wax does not provide a strong barrier against water or alcohol. If you use it on countertops or a kitchen table, you will need to touch it up every once in a while. Simply add a little more Soft Wax to a deteriorated finish and the repair is done – no stripping or additional chemicals needed.
Soft Wax 2.0 is not intended to be used over a film finish (such as lacquer, shellac or varnish). It is best used on bare wood. However, you can apply it over a porous finish, such as milk paint.
APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS (VERY IMPORTANT): Applying Soft Wax 2.0 is so easy if you follow the simple instructions. On bare wood, apply a thin coat of soft wax using a rag, applicator pad, 3M gray pad or steel wool. Allow the finish to soak in about 15 minutes. Then, with a clean rag or towel, wipe the entire surface until it feels dry. Do not leave any excess finish on the surface. If you do leave some behind, the wood will get gummy and sticky.
The finish will be dry enough to use in a couple hours. After a couple weeks, the oil will be fully cured. After that, you can add a second coat (or not). A second coat will add more sheen and a little more protection to the wood.
Soft Wax 2.0 is made in small batches in Kentucky. Each glass jar contains 8 oz. of soft wax, enough for about five chairs.
The following is excerpted from Dr. Jefferey Hill’s “Workshop Wound Care.” The book – the newest offering in our pocket book series – delves right to the heart of what you need to know when faced with common workshop injuries, from lacerations, to puncture wounds to material in the eye. Dr. Hill is an emergency room physician and an active woodworker. So he knows exactly the information a woodworker needs to know when it comes to injuries. And he presents information in a way that a non-medical professional can easily understand it.
The initial steps of wound care are critically important to creating an environment that promotes healing with a quick return to normal function and (if it’s a concern of yours) good cosmetic outcomes. As we covered in Chapter 4, Wound Healing Primer, there are a number of factors that can affect the healing process.
Wounds that heal well have minimal tissue damage, don’t get infected and have tissue layers that line up well. The amount of tissue damage is, generally speaking, a function of the way the injury occurred (crush injuries mean more tissue destruction as opposed to lacerations, which have minimal destruction apart from the severed tissue layers). Sometimes, however, actions taken early in the wound care process can worsen some of the existing tissue damage, or, in the very least, can fight against creating the optimal healing environment.
Stopping ongoing bleeding is clearly the first step in addressing a fresh wound. But assuming the wound is small-ish and the bleeding is not severe enough to prompt you to seek care at your local urgent care or emergency department, your next steps should be focused on cleaning the wound to prevent infection.
In preventing wound infections, the single-most important step is thorough irrigation of the wound. Even a dump truck full of antibiotics won’t prevent an infection in a contaminated wound that wasn’t cleaned. Why? Exponential growth is the reason. A characteristic of exponential growth is that things seem fine until they aren’t and when things get bad, they get bad quickly (see the global COVID-19 pandemic).
Staphylococcus aureus, one of the more common bacteria on your skin and a frequent cause of wound infections, has a doubling time of about 90 minutes. So two bacteria become four in 90 minutes, four becomes eight in three hours, eight becomes 16 in four-and-a-half hours, 16 becomes 256 in six hours. Not too bad, honestly. By 24 hours you’re up to more than 130,000 bacteria in the wound. But, let’s say instead of starting with a wound with only two bacteria, you start in a wound that has 100 bacteria. This time, by 6 hours you’re at 1,600 bacteria. By 12 hours, 25,600. And by 24 hours, more than 6.5 million bacteria are in the wound.
Antibiotics are great and all, but by the time you get them prescribed, filled at the pharmacy, into your stomach, to the bloodstream and out to the wound, they would be greeted by a mass of hundreds of thousands to millions of bacteria.
This isn’t to say that antibiotics don’t have a role in preventing wound infections. They do, and are prescribed in certain circumstances based on the types of tissues injured, risk of infection and ability of the patient to fight off infections. But, the single-most important thing you can do to prevent a wound infection is to clean the wound thoroughly and decrease the bacteria cell counts in the wound. Get that number small enough, and the roving white blood cells that come to a healing wound will usually be able to take care of things.
‘Dilution is the Solution to Pollution’ Bacteria find their way into wounds in a number of ways. First, understand that bacteria are literally everywhere. They are on you, your skin, your chisel, your table saw blade, that nice piece of white oak that gave you a splinter while you were trying to rive out some leg stock. Everywhere. Bacteria can be forced from your skin into a wound by the chisel or whatever else caused your injury. They can catch a ride on a tiny sliver of wood or metal. Or they could be pressed into the wound as you try to hold a grimy rag to it attempting to stanch bleeding.
The goal of irrigation is to rid the wound of as many bacteria and as much bacteria-laden detritus as possible. As the old surgical maxim “dilution is the solution to pollution” suggests, the prime way that this is accomplished is through flowing a large volume of water over and through the wound. The surest way to clean the wound of bacteria and any foreign bodies is through a combination of volume and pressure.
The setup for this irrigation is shown in the photo [Above]. The splash guard is basically a fancy 19-gauge blunt plastic needle with a shield to keep water from spraying everywhere while you irrigate the wound. The combination of the syringe and this splash guard results in a flow of saline/water with pressures around 25 to 35 psi.
What About Tap Water? How much volume is enough volume? The general rule of thumb is that wounds should be irrigated with 500ml to 1L of fluid. But in practice, the real goal is to make sure the wounds are completely free of foreign bodies. Wounds that are clean in appearance to begin with might get away with smaller volumes of irrigation depending on location, depth of the wound and mechanism of injury.What About Tap Water?The type of irrigation just described is important for wounds that are relatively deep or fairly contaminated. Most of the wounds you’ll sustain in the workshop will be relatively small nicks, cuts and skin tears. For these minor wounds, thorough irrigation with tap water will do. In fact, there are a number of studies that show no difference in infection rates for wounds cleansed with tap water vs. saline, even for larger wounds. This of course assumes that the source of the tap water is clean – not really a concern for most municipal water sources, but could be a concern in developing nations or in underdeveloped and under-resourced pockets of the United States.
The process for irrigating a wound with tap water is quite simple (if a bit painful). Turn the tap to lukewarm/body temperature water (those newly exposed nerve fibers will be exceedingly sensitive to any stimuli). Let the water run over the wound for several minutes. Re-examine the wound to see if there is any debris remaining. If there is, you can try to irrigate again, or try to irrigate with the pressure irrigation setup described above, if you have a syringe with a splash guard. However, if the wound is that dirty you might need a more thorough irrigation in a healthcare setting.
Why not Hydrogen Peroxide, Iodine etc. Apart from water or saline, the only other thing that should be used to clean a wound is a mild soap and maybe a dilute iodine solution.
My experience while growing up in the United States Midwest was that every scrape, nick or cut should be cleaned out with hydrogen peroxide every day until the wound healed. And why not? It bubbles like mad, stings a bit and the wound looks a good deal cleaner afterward.
There are a number of problems with using hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds. For starters, it does a much better job of killing red blood cells than it does of killing bacteria. This can be helpful for wounds that have a lot of dried, caked-on blood as can often happen with wounds in hairy areas. It is far less helpful for your standard wound. For wounds that are a couple of days into healing, hydrogen peroxide has been shown to separate newly minted skin cells from the healing tissue at the base of wounds. And, in experimental conditions, hydrogen peroxide has been shown to delay wound healing. If you do choose to use hydrogen peroxide to clean dried blood off, be ready for some heat. The chemical degradation of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen is exothermic (it gives off heat). It’s not enough to cause any thermal burns to the area, but it is quite noticeable.
Iodine is frequently used to clean wounds and does have some advantages over saline irrigation alone in some situations. Iodine is sold in two formulations: a solution and a scrub. The scrub was designed for use on intact skin and for cleaning the skin surface prior to surgery. The detergent mixed into the scrub is toxic to tissues and shouldn’t be used in open wounds. Iodine solution is typically sold at a 10 percent concentration. When it is diluted to less than 1 percent, it is safe for use in open wounds and has excellent antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activity. In the emergency department, iodine-diluted solutions are typically used for irrigating wounds at high risk of infection (based on mechanism, contamination, location).
Chlorhexadine is a surgical scrub soap that is also widely available. It was also designed for use primarily with intact skin. If you have had an elective surgery you may have been instructed to shower with it for several days/weeks prior to the surgery. The reason being that it builds up on the skin surface and has potent anti-bacterial properties (great for decreasing the risk of surgical site infection). It also has a detergent that can be toxic to the tissues in open wounds so its use in wound irrigation is discouraged.
Soaps work by liquefying fats and oils, making them soluble in water and able to be carried away by running water. Because bacterial cell walls are made of fat, soap is able to dissolve some of these cell membranes, killing the bacteria. Commercially available soaps are all generally quite mild in their fat-busting properties (they are fairly mild detergents) meaning that they should not be particularly toxic to open wounds.
Putting it all together, how should you clean your wound? First inspect the wound. Large, gaping wounds or wounds that have a lot of debris in them will likely need to be cleaned and repaired in a healthcare setting. Some initial irrigation of these wounds with running tap water may help you triage the wound and may help lightly clean it in preparation for a more thorough cleaning by a medical professional. After you irrigate under running tap water, cover the wound with sterile gauze that has been dampened with sterile saline and head to your local medical facility.
Smaller wounds, scrapes and lightly contaminated wounds that you feel can be dealt with at home should be first lightly cleaned with soap and water. Then allow lukewarm tap water to run over the wound for several minutes until it appears to be clean to your eye and no debris remains. If you still see some debris, you can try to use the aerosolized saline wound washes that are available in your local drugstore. It’s not clear how the pressures generated by these products compare to the pressure irrigation setup used in your local emergency department. As a general rule of thumb, if the wound still appears dirty, then you’ll need more aggressive cleaning by a healthcare professional and should seek care.
Do note that oftentimes the process of cleaning and irrigating the wound may cause it to start bleeding (you may have washed away the blood clots that stopped any previous bleeding). That’s OK. After you have finished cleaning the wound, you should be able to stop the bleeding again with a combination of direct pressure and maybe a pressure dressing.
After the wound is cleaned thoroughly and the bleeding has been stopped, you’re on to dressing the wound to keep it clean and promote healing.
The title of Jögge Sundqvist’s latest book, “Karvsnitt: Skära mönster i täljda föremål” translates from Swedish (per Google) as “Carved Cut: Cut patterns in carved objects”; with Jögge’s help, we’ll come up with a snappier English title once I’m done flowing in the text and tweaking the layout.
That’s what’s keeping me busy right now. Translator Alice Olsson has been working with Jögge during the last six months or so to get the English text right, and I’m now doing my best to get it to fit the colorful design from the Swedish publisher, Natur & Kultur. It seems to take English speakers more words to say the same thing – so making sure all the text aligns with the relevant images is my primary challenge.
Other than a little nipping and tucking to take care of that fitting, I haven’t really begun editing; I should be ready to dive into that by the end of next week (for which I’ll have expert help from Peter Follansbee as needed for any new-to-me terms). But I am reading as I go along, and I’m excited we’ll soon be ready to share this book with you. Jögge makes it sound simple (with a little practice of course) to make these beautiful pieces.
It builds on the techniques presented in “Slöjd in Wood” (though this book stands on its own), with 15 projects that range from simple (key fobs, knife handles) to more advanced projects (boxes, combs) – but the real magic is in the decorative techniques. You’ll learn how to design and create incised and painted patterns that are rooted in the Swedish craft tradition of making everyday objects into art.
We also hope to replicate the cover half-wrap (as well as the rest of the production values, which are in line with our own – sewn bindings, headbands, good paper, sturdy cover and the like), and have a copy with our printer right now to weigh in on that (we do need it to be affordable as well as beautifully made).
I’ll have more to share (of course) as we get closer to publication – and that won’t be too long from now!
p.s. We also have Derek Jones’s “Cricket Tables” manuscript in house; Kara Uhl is chasing down some images for that book, and it’s in the batter’s circle. Also in 2023 (so far) will be my Dutch tool chest book and Chris’s “American Peasant,” as well as the second issue of “The Stick Chair Journal.”
The following is excerpted from “The Handcrafted Life of Dick Proenneke,” by Monroe Robinson. No one holds a more intimate knowledge of Dick’s handcrafted life than Monroe, and just as Dick shared his life through letters and film, Monroe knew he had a responsibility to share all that he had learned. This book, which includes excerpts from more than 7,000 pages of Dick’s transcribed journals along with hundreds of photos, dozens of illustrations, and Monroe’s thoughtful and detailed commentary, is the result. It’s nonfiction, how-to, adventure and memoir, but at its heart, it’s a guidebook on how to live a life that’s “true,” with materials found and a few simple tools. Appealing to woodworkers, toolmakers, homesteaders, hikers, naturalists, conservationists, survivalists and lovers of Alaska, this book is for those who want to know how one man lived an intentional life, the kind of life many dream of living.
June 27, 1967: What to do today – fog hung low along the mountains I had been wanting to build a short bench using a near half section of log. I knew where there was just the log section to do it – up the Farmer’s property line and past the corner where Fred Cowgill had sawed his boards. I took my pack board and axe and paddled down. It was a heavy chunk and I had a bit of trouble getting on my feet after getting into the shoulder straps of the pack board lashed to the chunk. The surveyors had cut a few small spruce when they brushed out his property lines. These would be just right for legs. I had a good load coming back to the point. I couldn’t split the chunk – too many knots so I would cut it down with axe and adz. I had the adz good and sharp and the chips did fly. It looked as if someone had built a cabin. The chips are the best of kindling. I cut it down better than half – dished it a bit, peeled the bark, sawed the ends square. Augured holes for legs. No bit large enough so I used the 5-inch chisel to enlarge the holes. I sawed and peeled the legs – trimmed them to fit, split the ends and made wedges to tighten them in the holes. Drove the legs in the holes with the adz head. Cut them down to one foot six over all height and she was the finished product. One foot eight and a half-inches long, thirteen-inches wide.
June 29, 1967: I would spend the afternoon building a backrest for my short bench. The end I had cut off was already shaped on the front. I slabbed off the back side and worked it down with the axe, auger some holes and make some pegs to mount it with. By evening it was ready to put on. Weather had turned sour down country and getting that way here.
June 30, 1967: By adding a backrest my short bench became a chair – quite comfortable and very rustic.
With only an axe, saw, chisel, wood auger, adz, pocketknife & rule a man could furnish a cabin and not be ashamed of his furniture. The chair completed and the weather fairing up a bit I would give Hope Creek a try.
What started out to be a “short bench” turned into a comfortable chair. Dick placed it at the base of a spruce tree on the beach near his cabin. It was a favorite spot for Dick to sit reading, writing or taking in the ever-changing grandeur of “One Man’s Wilderness.”
After looking at Dick’s cabin, visitors frequently gravitate to his beach chair where they are immersed in the raw beauty of Twin Lakes. Visitors have told us that their image of “wilderness” will forever be their time at Dick’s cabin and Twin Lakes.
K. frequently took visitors on a short walk beyond Dick’s woodshed. Within a few yards, Dick’s cabin, cache and woodshed are no longer visible. Visitors can no longer see the floatplane that flew them to Twin Lakes. They can no longer see any overhead power lines, roads or trails. They can only hear the sounds of wilderness. Often visitors would say something like, “Oh, now I can see why Dick moved here.” It is a moment they will remember for as long as they remember Dick’s cabin.
August 2, 1968: I need a stool out side to sit things on when opening the door and such. I have a twelve-inch log from the tree I removed to build the cabin. I would saw off a 10-inch length and put the legs on the end. Give them a flare so it wouldn’t tip over if you stepped up onto it.
A thin cut to even it up. The cut looked so nice why not make more thin cuts and plane them smooth and use them for placemats and hot pads to set hot pans on. It would save my plastic tablecloth.
These placemats were “badly soiled by freeloaders” sometime during the winter of 1969-1970. There are photographs of the placemats Dick made to replace the badly soiled ones later in this chapter.
August 10, 1968: Today among other things I would build my butchers block for outside the door. A 10″ length of 11-inch log with three legs. It was finished in short order.
The “butcher block” is the “stool” Dick started to build on August 2. The butcher block only resided in front of Dick’s cabin for a short time, until he constructed a pair of spruce burl tables that remain there today. Dick moved the butcher block into the corner of his cabin where it became the stand for his galvanized water bucket and drinking cup. See 1969 photo on Page 181.
How about making a diagonal cut on the same log and slice off a 5/8″ slab or two. I sawed one and it was very even so I planed it that brought the grain and growth rings into view. I cut another not quite as true but real close so I planed it too. They will make nice decorations for wall or mantle. I gave the backside of them a coat of clear shellac and bees wax on the smooth side to keep them from checking. If it will I’m not sure.
I needed more movies of my latest improvements so hauled out the camera gear and hope to have some interesting shots.
This diagonal cut sat on Dick’s fireplace mantle for some time. He later used it as a plaque for a beautiful spoon to hang on the wall with the words, “Twin Lakes Champion – Sourdough Biscuits and Beans.”
March 4, 1969: Time enough to sand Hope’s wooden spoon. A chunk of wood for a seat in the warm sun I sanded it to perfection. I do believe this was the most pleasant day of 1969.
The tree stump Dick removed from his cabin site became the wood he used to make his butcher block, placemats and plaque for his sourdough spoon. The seat Dick “sanded to perfection” sits on one of the stump’s roots where it makes a comfortable place to sit with your back against a tree. From there you can see the front of Dick’s cabin.