“The Woodworker’s Pocket Book” was supposed to leave the printer’s dock today. But because of the snow and ice that paralyzed much of the middle of the United States, the book has been delayed.
Our Tennessee printing plant was shut down for three days and is still trying to get back on its feet. As a result, plant officials estimate the book will ship to our warehouse next Monday. (Barring, of course, a meteor or a space squid invasion.)
We apologize for the delay and will let you know when the book will ship as soon as it arrives at our warehouse.
This year, we’ve decided to stop offering pre-publication orders for books (we’ve never offered it for tools).
Here’s the reason: About 80 percent of our customer service inquiries consist of, “Where is the thing I ordered?” And the “thing” is still at the printing plant. Most of these customers didn’t realize (or forgot) that they’d placed a pre-publication order.
It didn’t matter how many times we put the shipping date on their receipt or at the top of the ordering page. People overlooked it.
And as our company has grown, answering this question over and over has become a significant part of the work that Meghan Bates and Megan Fitzpatrick do for us. We’d much rather have them work on making you new books instead of dealing with frustrated customers.
So going forward, here’s how book releases will work. When the book arrives in our warehouse, we’ll open up sales and start shipping immediately. And for the first 30 days the book is out, customers will receive a free pdf download of the book (if one is available).
This change will (I hope) reduce frustration all around.
This tool began as a question: What the heck is under A.J. Roubo’s workbench?
Right under the benchtop up by the crochet is something that looks like a tool. It looks like it has a couple angled cuts. Because most of the tools shown in this plate show up elsewhere in the engravings in “l’Art du menuisier,” I began poring over the other images in his books.
Plate 14’s Fig. 4 wasn’t an exact match, but it had a similar shape to what was under the workbench. After reading up on this square, I became intrigued and decided to make a few and use them at the bench.
The tool looks like a miter square, but it’s far more useful than that. It also marks 90°, and the angled cutout in the blade is fantastic for checking a board’s edges for square.
According to Roubo’s text, this square was usually made in walnut, and it was cut from one piece of wood. This, of course, makes it fragile and subject to wood movement, which would ruin its accuracy. And making all the angles perfect from the get-go is tricky.
So after a bit of thought I decided to use some modern technology to make the square geometrically perfect from the start, make it immune to wood movement, and increase its durability.
The Crucible Bench Square has a blade that is made from 1/4” Baltic birch that is laser cut so it’s dead-nuts accurate. Then it is joined to a maple stock that is machined on a CNC to fit perfectly and make the whole tool accurate. Each square is then hand assembled. It is supplied without a finish, like most wooden bench tools.
It is designed to start square and remain square. And because we know it’s a handy tool, we’ve added a hang hole so you can keep it close under your workbench.
We’ve just finished up the parts for the first 400 squares and they have gone to a shop in neighboring Newport for assembly. In the next few weeks we’ll have them up for sale in our store. My guess is the retail price will be about $27.
Yes, you absolutely could make this square for yourself. And if that’s your inclination, please go right ahead with my blessing. But if you want yours to be perfect (for woodworking) right from the start, our squares will be available.
Raney Nelson at Daed Toolworks has finished a new batch of Improved Pattern Dividers, which are now up for sale in his store. I use mine every day in the shop, and they are as wonderful as blacksmith-made dividers, but the tension is easily adjustable.
We’re glad that Raney has been able to get these back into production. If you’ve ever wanted a pair, here’s your chance.
After building the green chair, I was compelled to build one more iteration. Instead of worrying about how easy the chair was to build, I wanted to make a chair that made me happy (technically speaking).
That meant some significant changes.
The seat shape changed from a rectangle to a rectangle added to a 21-1/2”-radius arc at the back.
The comb changed from a flat board to a sweeping 21-1/2” radius curve, positioned right at the shoulder blades.
I added sticks to make the chair more durable.
The arms are curved and have circular hands. But the hands are petite, and are difficult to wedge without cracking them.
The seat is saddled, but I used a more contemporary saddle without a pommel.
The legs are octagons but aren’t tapered. The joint between the leg and seat is a tapered mortise-and-tenon joint.
Gorgeous unsteamed walnut.
The back is pitched at 25° (5° more lean than the green chair). The seat is pitched back 3/4” from front to back. And everything that touches the sitter is curved.
This chair is also cosmetically flawed (as I’ve mentioned before). The mortises in the arms are tight, but they don’t look the way I want them to. The problem is the drill bits I’ve been using.
I’m still getting used to the Star-M bits from WoodOwl. They cut so clean. Their only downside is that the bits’ flutes are so sharp they can also do a lot of cutting. That means if you move off-angle, the bit’s flutes will cut the hole to an oval shape. This problem is exasperated when you use a bit extender.
I’m getting better at holding still when I drill, but the arms have cosmetic gaps around the tenons in the arms.
In my heart, I know that vernacular chairs are supposed to have imperfections. In some cases, the imperfections are what make the chair special.
But I also know that I can do better.
When I finished construction (and the day of “make pretty”) I was ready to burn the chair. But I didn’t. I applied a coat of Allback (organic linseed oil and beeswax) and drank a beer.
And that was enough for me to make peace with the thing.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. This chair is the most difficult chair I’ve ever photographed. Too many curves and angles.