Storefront Open this Saturday (With a Free Scraping Lecture)

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The Lost Art Press storefront will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and I’ll give a free demonstration on scraping at 2 p.m. that day.

The lecture will cover:

  1. Understanding scraping. How and why it works. And what that means for the sharpening procedure.
  2. How to sharpen any scraper using a block of wood, your sharpening stones and a burnisher (no commercial jigs required).
  3. How to grind scrapers to special shapes for mouldings, chair seats and general use.
  4. How to set up and use scraper planes and the No. 80 cabinet scraper.

Note that this will absolutely, positively not be a shakedown/sales pitch for Crucible scrapers. In fact, I’m going to show you how to make your own curved card scraper so you don’t have to buy one. (Yes, we will have a few scrapers and burnishers on hand to sell. But that’s not why we’re doing this.)

We also will have our full line of Lost Art Press books for you to check out, including the gorgeous new one from Marc Adams, “The Difference Makers,” and David Finck’s “Making & Mastering Wood Planes.” We have a few lump hammers here in stock. I don’t think we have any blemished books, however.

My commute on Saturday to unlock the front door for the open day will be the easiest ever. We moved in upstairs, so I’ll just have to walk downstairs. Yesterday we opened up the door between the storefront and living spaces. The cats, while terrified, are curious. So you might also see a Lost Art Puss on Saturday.

Directions to the storefront are here.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Farewell to this Workshop

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Last night I swept out my shop in Fort Mitchell, rescued a few boards of old-growth yellow pine I’d forgotten about and took out the trash for the last time.

I built the shop 18 years ago, when Lucy was pregnant with Katy (who is leaving for college in 12 days). It was the first shop where I had a window, an outside door and – eventually – wooden floors.

This is where I built all the projects for “The Joiner & Cabinet-Maker,” “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” “Campaign Furniture,” and “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” Not to mention hundreds of other projects for magazine articles and commissions for customers.

Typing this out, I think I’m supposed to feel sad by leaving this space behind. The truth is, I simply wonder what will become of the space when the new owners move in this week. I left the wood rack in place. Plus the clamp rack. All it needs is a workbench and maybe a box for some tools….

— Christopher Schwarz

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Perception is not reality

Making Things Work

Note: This is the third in a series of posts related to the tales in Making Things Work. The posts are new material, not excerpted from the book. Each post is tied to one or more of the book’s chapters, here “A Case of Mistaken Identity.”

Friday Bridge Fish Bar The fish and chips bar, Friday Bridge. Image by Lynne J. Jenkins from her blog Echoes of the Past

It was one of those early summer days when the damp chill of spring has retreated just enough that you’re ready to bare some skin to the sun. 16 degrees Centigrade, 61 Fahrenheit—one of my favorite mnemonics.

The Second World War had ended 35 years before, but judging by its freshness in the national psyche, at least among people I knew (you could still hear “Bloody Yanks—over-fed, over-sexed, and over here” at any blue-collar workplace frequented by men of a certain age), the elapsed…

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Free Excerpts of Two New Books

For those who like to browse before they buy we’ve added excerpts from two of our latest titles – “The Difference Makers” by Marc Adams and “Making & Mastering Wood Planes (The Revised Edition)” by David Finck.

In the excerpt for “The Difference Makers” you’ll have access to the contents, preface, a long introduction filled with woodworking history and the chapter on Garrett Hack, which has, perhaps, one of the funniest stories you’ll read in the entire book. Simply go here.

In the excerpt for “Making & Mastering Wood Planes” you’ll have access to the contents, a foreword by James Krenov, an introduction and all of Chapter 5: Planing Techniques. Chapter 5 includes detailed information on how to prepare to plane, edge-joining techniques, flattening and truing surfaces, polishing surfaces, squaring end grain, profiling, and finishing hand-planed surfaces. For this one, go here.

Enjoy!

— Kara Gebhart Uhl

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To Train the Bear to Not Get Up

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Last weekend I attended a fantastic Society of American Period Furniture Makers mid-year meeting and had two shocking thoughts.

  1. Until Elia Bizzari showed up, I was one of the youngest guys in the room. And I’m a codgery 51 years old.
  2. Of all the incredible things I learned during the weekend, virtually none of it – zero, zip, nada – was stuff you can find in online videos.

These two thoughts are related. The amazing generation of white-haired woodworkers at that event are just as likely to start a YouTube channel as Thomas Lie-Nielsen is to move his factory to China. It’s not that these woodworkers aren’t intelligent or skilled or have a deep desire to share what they know. They have all those things – as much as any YouTube creator I’ve met.

It’s just that digital media – creating it, maintaining it, promoting it – is not their bag.

It’s not my bag, either. I made the choice to make books. And I will spend the rest of my days fighting to preserve the knowledge of other people in books and on this blog. (If you think it should be preserved via digital video, I encourage you to start your own company to do this.)

But most of all, I encourage you to shut your laptop or iPad and experience real life woodworking. Join one of the fantastic organizations that are filled with people with vast experience and memories. Have a meal with them. Go to their seminars. Ask them questions. Put your hands on the tools and see the work being done before your eyes. Real life is different than video. It has a taste. A smell.

One might say it is the difference between online pornography and true love. But I don’t know anything about that.

As a practicing aesthetic anarchist, I don’t tend to join organizations. It’s not my bag. But there are three that I have long been a member of and adore:

Society of American Period Furniture Makers

Early American Industries Association

Mid-West Tool Collectors Association

Oh, I am also a member of the Black Keys fan club. And I am a former member of the Radio Shack Battery Club, but that is sadly defunct.

All three woodworking/tool organizations have low – piddling, really – membership fees. And you get so much more back for that money. Especially access to that deep, life-long knowledge that is hard to acquire and is – like it or not – best shared in person.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Aug. 10 Free Lecture: All About Scrapers

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During our most recent open day, Derek Jones gave a great lecture about French polishing for the attendees, and that made me think: We should do this every month.

So on our next open day, Saturday Aug. 10, I will give a free lecture at 2 p.m. on scrapers. This is a demonstration that I recently gave to the Society of American Period Furniture Makers. It covers sharpening scrapers, cabinet scrapers and scraping planes. Plus how to use all three tools and how to grind card scrapers to special shapes to deal with mouldings.

This is not information that I have published before. And it’s absolutely not going to be a sales pitch for the Crucible card scraper or any other product. It’s just a way for us to give back something to the woodworking community that supports us.

(I know someone is going to ask this in the comments, but we don’t have the technology to film or stream events from the storefront. So this is something that will occur in real life only. Apologies.)

Megan and I brainstormed a bunch of ideas for future lectures, everything from installing butt hinges to cutting mitered dovetails. If you have a particular topic that you would like to see, let us know in the comments and we will consider it.

As always, our open days are intended to be a fun way for you to meet other woodworkers, learn a bit about the craft and visit Covington and Cincinnati. If you ask, we will sell you a book or tool, but commerce is not the reason we open our doors.

The open day is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10 at our storefront. The store is located at 837 Willard St., Covington, Ky. 41011. Hope to see you there.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Malcolm Tibbetts

 

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UNITY (2002). Curly maple, caretto and many woods from around the world. 25″ diameter. “A five-revolution Möbius style torus,” Malcolm says. “‘Unity’ celebrates the number five. A crosscut of the torus reveals a pentagram (five pointed star). If you were to trace any valley between any two ridges (or trace a ridge), you would make five revolutions before returning to your starting point. Does this make it a Möbius (one edge and one side)? The overall diameter is close to five squared (25″). In ancient times, the pentagram (derived from the pentagon) was a symbol for health and salvation, and in the Middle Ages, it was used as a symbol to repulse evil spirits. As a geometric form, the pentagram is quite significant; the bisected line lengths contain the golden ratio, the number known as phi, approximately 1.618. The number five has always been regarded as mystical and magical, and it relates to the human form. We have five fingers/toes on each limb. We commonly possess five senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste – the list goes on and on. It has been said that, ‘All things happen in fives or are divisible by or are multiples of fives.’ This was a complex and challenging project, but there was relatively very little turning; however, every one of the 100 individual pentagram-shaped rings spent time on the lathe in order to create the matching concave curves. After assembly, the surface contained ridges between every small ring, which required extensive abrasive smoothing, but the final shape depended upon the pre-turning of the components.”


This is an excerpt from “The Difference Makers” by Marc Adams. 

One of the people who had the greatest impact on Malcolm was his grandfather, Rap Gardner. At an early age, Granddad would give him guidance on how to make items with wood. He still remembers making a birdhouse before he started grammar school. From those early days Malcolm always had an interest in woodworking. It wasn’t until after he got married that woodworking became a necessary hobby. In 1976, after scraping together enough money with his wife, Tere, to buy their first home, there was nothing left for furniture. He purchased a Craftsman table saw and converted a bedroom into a shop (there was no garage) and proceeded to make their furniture, some of which is in use today.

In 1993, Malcolm had a shop full of tools and a house full of furniture, so his desire to stay active in the shop turned to woodturning. For the first year, Malcolm turned in isolation. He knew nothing about woodturning clubs, the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) or the fact that there were schools scattered throughout America that offered workshops on turning methods. Turning bowls was a great place to start, with instant gratification, but after turning a few dozen bowls, he found life at the lathe became boring. He started gluing in a few pieces of wood to add some character and color, not really knowing that he was creating “segmented” turnings.

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CROOKED JOURNEY (2015). Peruvian walnut and white-dyed veneer, 8,800 individual pieces. About 14″ dia. “This is a very difficult shape to explain,” Malcolm says. “It’s an endless tubular ribbon. It’s constructed from 10 half-sections of five-sided donut shapes (five full donuts were used). To successfully complete the loop, three different donut diameters were created, with different orientations of the pentagon surfaces. The pentagon cross-sections severely limited directional changes. Each directional change occurs at the vertex of an imaginary decagon (10-sided polygon). The relationship between the five-sided donuts and the points of a 10-sided shape is what made the assembly possible. It was a bit of a head-scratcher to design. Finished with MinWax Wipe-On Poly.”

In 1994, Malcolm discovered there was to be an AAW woodturning symposium in Fort Collins, Col. Because he had the time and the resources he decided to attend and took along a few of his pieces to display in the open gallery. He was so new to turning that he had no idea who any of the presenters were but ended up in a workshop on deep vessel hollow forms taught by Clay Foster. This was his first exposure to professional turning – the first time that he witnessed another person turn wood. By the end of the weekend he befriended a gentleman by the name of Ray Allen, one of the world’s best-known segmenters. Ray was an inspiration to Malcolm and his first real turning mentor. Ray’s work as a segmented turner elevated the craft to an acceptable form of art turning, and it boosted segmented turnings to the collector level. Prior to Ray, segmented turning didn’t have a great reputation due to so many gluing failures and improper construction methods. However, Malcolm saw segmented turning as a truly unique art form that was in its infancy. He was hooked.

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TOLERANCE (2005). Myrtlewood. About 32″ tall. “A complex ribbon form constructed with half-cylinders and half-bowls,” Malcolm says. “The designs, which are pierced through the wood wall and not painted, are symbols used by many cultures throughout history and the endless knot has its own meaning.”

Malcolm then discovered an AAW turning chapter in Sacramento and religiously made the two-hour trip to meetings every month for years. He became driven to learn all he could about turning while creating and developing new processes in his segmented works. By 1997, he became a regular instructor at the annual AAW symposium and eventually became a board member and even the vice president. Although he didn’t become a full-time professional turner until after he retired from the ski industry in 2002, his work was represented at a gallery in San Francisco called the Stones Gallery. Within eight short years Malcolm had gone from a turning beginner to a turner extraordinaire.

During the last three decades Malcolm has developed many innovations such as the porthole feature ring, ribbon construction, dizzy bowls, checkered hollow forms, tubular construction and orderly tangles. His work ranges from tiny jewelry items to outdoor sculptural pieces that require a crane for installation. He, along with Bill Smith and Curt Theobald, are the founding fathers of the Segmented Woodturners, an AAW chapter with hundreds of members around the world that host a biennial symposium. He has written three books, self-produced countless educational videos and has a big following on YouTube.

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A TANGLED WEB (2014). 22″ dia. Inspired by the Sir Walter Scott quote, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” “Composed of 12 five-pointed star shapes (pentagons with concave curved sides), arranged in an ‘orderly tangle,’” Malcolm says. “Won the Craftsmanship award at the 2015 Bridges Conference.”

However, his greatest contribution to the world of polychromatic turning is much more than inventing new ways to glue together pieces of wood. Malcolm is responsible for crossing the line between fine woodworking and fine turning. Through intuition, remarkable engineering and clever designs he has transformed the process of cutting, gluing and assembling wood in contorted ways. Then, with the skills of a virtuoso turner, he has proven that the two crafts, woodworking and woodturning, can collide and live in harmony.

Meghan Bates

 

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