‘The Woodworker, Vol. III, Joinery’ Has Arrived

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We weren’t expecting Vol. III of “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years” on joinery to show up until at least next week. But it landed in the warehouse yesterday and employees are busy scheduling an assembly line to ship out all pre-publication orders next week.

Vol. III on joinery (and the forthcoming Vol. IV on the workshop and furniture design) are the two volumes I’m most excited about. The joinery book contains almost everything from Hayward’s book “Woodwork Joints,” plus much more additional information on designing and cutting joinery that isn’t in “Woodwork Joints.”

At $37 (which includes domestic shipping), we think this is a bargain. You can order it here from our store if you live in Canada or the United States. If you live overseas, you can check in with the following sellers.

Vol. IV on the workshop and furniture design is due out early in 2017 – probably in February or March. The entire book has been designed by Meghan Bates, and Managing Editor Kara Gebhart Uhl is working on the final copy edit now.

Vol. IV will be the final volume in the series. All four books will be the same height and width, use the same paper and cover cloth. So they’ll definitely look like a set when grouped together.

For those of you waiting until all four volumes are available thinking that we’re going to offer a special discount on the set, don’t hold your breath. The price can only go up from here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Lots of Soft Wax from The Anarchist’s Daughter

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Katy has been stockpiling soft wax during the last three weeks so she can (hopefully) keep it in stock through the holidays. The tins are $12 plus shipping (calico cat not included).

Katy also wants to have some money in her pocket for our holiday trip to Grand Canyon. You have to tip the mules, I hear.

Thanks for all your support of Katy’s business. You can read more about the wax or order some from her etsy store here.

— Christopher Schwarz

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About Panels and Their Grooves

This is an excerpt from “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years: Volume III” published by Lost Art Press. 

Although framed panelling is not employed as much as formerly, it still plays a part in woodworking. Many homeworkers will use the method for a good class cupboard or wardrobe back, while the ever popular oak linen chest is, to most of us, unthinkable unless panelled.

There are a few points regarding panels and their grooves which are well worth thinking about. In the first place, see that the grooves in all the members of a frame are of uniform depth. The panels should be taken to size so that they are 1/16 in. less each way than the measurements taken between the groove bottoms. Thus, assuming that the grooves are 1/4 in. deep, the panels should be cut 7/16 in. more in length and width than the sight size of the opening. This allows 1/16 in. clearance, which ensures that when the frame is cramped up there shall be no pressure on the panels. If the depth of the grooves varies so that here and there the panels are without clearance, they will come in for some pressure when the joints are cramped up, and so may show hollow or round on the face.

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FIG. 1. REBATED MULLET

Mulleting

Then there is the matter of the width of the grooves in relation to the thickness of the panels. A panel should be a push fit in its grooves, no tighter and certainly no looser. Panels too tight often make it difficult to squeeze the joints up well; loose ones, with their movement and rattle, are an abomination.

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FIG. 2. BEVELLED MULLET

It sometimes happens that panels have to be fitted into grooves too narrow to receive them in their entire thickness. Thus they must be thinned at the edges. This thinning is called mulleting. A common method of mulleting a panel which does not need much thinning is shown at Fig. 1. It will be seen that the panel can hardly be said to fit into the grooves, since at the back it touches only the groove edge. Many workers dislike this method. But it must be admitted that, in the case of plywood panels (which do not shrink), it serves quite well. Solid panels, however, because of shrinkage across the width, would be likely to become slack in the grooves at their edges if mulleted in this way. Even so, if the stuff used for the panels can be relied upon to shrink but little, this may not amount to much.

A sounder job is illustrated at Fig. 2, where the panel is shown rebated. Here the panel does fit the groove and shrinkage cannot cause looseness. It takes a fair amount of time, however, to get an accurate fit of the rebates against the framing at the back. So, in the case of panels not seen at the back, it is a common practice to work the rebates well on, giving, say, 1/8 in. clearance between rebate and frame.

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FIG. 3. HOLLOWED MULLET AND METHOD OF WORKING

Fig. 3 shows the commonest machine-worked mullet. It is essentially the same as the rebated mullet, but the appearance is better. In fact, it is often employed on the face of panels, usually in conjunction with an ovolo moulding worked on the edges of the framing. To work this by hand, a plane that will make a small hollow (called a “round”) and a rebate plane are needed. Gauge on the edges the thickness to which the mullet has to be worked. Then work the hollow, as shown in Fig. 3, handscrewing or pinning a strip of wood to the panel to form a guide for the plane. It is also advisable to fasten another light strip to the left hand side of the plane to act as a depth gauge. After working the hollow, remove the waste down to the line (dotted in Fig. 3) with the rebate plane. If the mullet is on the face of the panel, take special care not to let the corner of the rebate plane iron dig into the hollowed part.

Never glue panels in their grooves. The idea of framing is to provide for shrinkage of panels. If this movement is prevented by glueing, the panels will probably split or, when jointed, crack along the joints.

Meghan Bates

Posted in Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker | 9 Comments

Job Opening: Run the Port Townsend School of Woodworking

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Tim Lawson, the executive director of the Port Townsend School of Woodworking, is stepping down from his post and so the school is on the hunt for a replacement. I’ve taught a couple times at this school in Washington State, and it is one of the most gorgeous corners of the world I’ve ever visited. You can read more about my experiences there here.

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It’s a special place, and it deserves a great leader. If you’re interested, here’s the official job announcement:

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking–a 501 (C3) non-profit–is actively searching for an executive director to join our team. Having become nationally recognized for our excellence in preserving and passing on traditional woodworking skills through entry- to master-level classes, we are now looking for an individual to help guide us through the next exciting phase of our development. The demand for deep craft knowledge is growing, and our facilities, staff and programs need to expand dramatically to meet the challenge.  Are you (or can you help us find) this person?  If so, please go online to our official Job Announcement to learn more.

If the link doesn’t work in your browser, type in: www.ptwoodschool.org/employment/

— Christopher Schwarz

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Aumbry Déjà Vu: The “Mad Owl” Sussex Maker

While reading Fred Roe’s “Ancient Coffers and Cupboards” I came across a drawing of a late Gothic almery owned by Morgan Williams (owner of St. Donat’s Castle until 1909). What caught my eye was the “mad owl” tracery on the door.

“Mad Owl” from Aumbry de Christopher.

The almery was very similar to the one Chris Schwarz built in 2014 and included in the Boarded Furniture section of “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” Was this almery the “mother ship”?

I sent Roe’s sketch off to Chris and he agreed it was a little weird.  Putting aside the chance that a cupboard could be rebuilt, doors reversed or lost, there are differences in the tracery on the side panels. Roe’s almery was not the “mother ship” – we were looking at two different aumbries. In Fred Roe’s second book “Old Oak Furniture” we have our answer:

Chris sent me the auction photo of the original piece on which he based his aumbry and I looked for more almeries/aumbries that might be by the same Sussex maker.

If these four pieces are indeed by the same maker one of his signatures seems to be a “mad owl” and a four-point star tracery on the door.

Chris has said aumbries are “dang fun” to build. Finding a few more pieces from the “mad owl” Sussex maker has also been “dang fun.”

Suzanne Elllison

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For Your Library: Time Capsules Filled With Oak Furniture

Fred Roe was an accomplished artist who later became an expert and collector of oak furniture. Three of his books are available online to add to your digital library. Although most of the oak pieces are British there are some Continental examples. Even if you are not a fan of oak furniture there are historical anecdotes, and as one would expect, plenty of carvings. One great value of these old books is finding inspiration for your next project be it in wood, stone, textiles or that waiting-to-be-filled space between your  tattoos.

Book One: “Ancient Coffers and Cupboards” was published in 1902, includes drawings by Fred Roe and begins with The Dark Ages. I have always been fascinated with linen fold panels and was happy to find ‘The Linen Panel’ chapter (sample platter below). Roe’s drawings are well done and help you see carving details that get lost in old halftone photographs. You can find the first book here.

Book Two: “Old Oak Furniture” was published in 1907 and all the images are drawings by Fred Roe.

In the chapter on ‘Old Furniture with Hiding-Places’ there is a tale involving a bed, a treasure and Richard III on his way to Bosworth. The chapter also gives you several ideas on where to search for your own hidden treasure. You can find the second book here.

Book Three: “A History of Oak Furniture” was published in 1920 and was part of a series by The Connoisseur Magazine.

Joint stool with 15th c. French manuscript reference.

Joint stool with 15th c. French manuscript reference.

This book is comprised of short chapters followed by a large selection of photographs. There is some overlap with his previous books, but put together the three books provide a small library of aumbries, benches, boxes, chairs, coffers, cupboards, dressers, stools, tables and all sorts of decorative details. You can find the third book here.

Fred Roe was able to document furniture and decorative elements found in public establishments and on private estates. Some of the old taverns and houses were later demolished, private estates were sold and their treasures auctioned. In the first quarter of the 20th century he captured a collection of oak furniture, and a century later we can still learn from and enjoy his time capsule.

Suzanne Ellison

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Book Report: Nick Offerman’s ‘Good Clean Fun’

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Most woodworking books are as dry as a popcorn fart discharged in the high desert plain. In the effort to communicate doctrinaire woodworking information, many authors (me included, at times) forget one simple fact: The writing has to be dang compelling or no one will read it.

That’s why many woodworking writers (me included) live in an echo chamber. We write for the people who are already indoctrinated into the sisterhood of sap. Our shorthand is impenetrable for the people on the outside of the cambium layer. We are happy to tell you “how” to do any operation imaginable. But we fail to tell you “why” you would ever want to.

“I can teach a man to sail but I can never teach him why.”
— Timothy E. Thatcher, published in “The American Scholar”

Enter Nick Offerman. For years I’ve watched him slip woodworking scenes into the “Parks & Recreation” series – a canoe here, a Christian Becksvoort there. I watched his “American Ham” special on HBO, where Offerman pledged his love for the grain. And whenever he appeared on late-night television, Offerman was smelling wood (sorry) or talking about working his wood (also sorry).

A lot of us wondered: Is Offerman one of us? Is he hard core?

This fall, Offerman’s latest book “Good Clean Fun” (Dutton) hit the shelves and we have our answer. This book is important – much in the way that James Krenov’s “A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook” is important. It is a huge piece of stink bait globbed onto the hook of hard-core woodworking.

“Good Clean Fun” is, like Offerman’s other books, hilarious. And this time he is selling the act of woodworking to the unconverted. He makes woodworking seem like a voyage of self-discovery that you make with a posse of like-minded misfits – all members of the Offerman Woodshop in California (with a branch office in the Middle West).

Yes, you learn to set up a shop, choose your tools and make some projects. But you are also treated to some of the funniest step-by-step instruction I’ve ever read. During a chapter written by his brother on making a cribbage board, Nick interjects himself into the instruction:

NICK: Another great spot for the card scraper!

MATT (Nick’s brother): I’m told an angel loses its wings every time you use a hand tool.

These wisecracks inhabit every page of this 344-page book, waiting for you to discover them. Whether it’s a section on how to drive a wedge into a nasty species (“Suck on that eucalyptus”), or an aside on meeting Mira Nakashima and learning of her love of flat-sheen finishes (“Ha ha. I knew glossy finishes were for the birds! Sorry, I got excited. Of course glossy finishes have their place. In 1987. I kid.”) The book is a total and complete hoot.

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There’s a section on fashion. Recipes for workshop food. Profiles of interesting woodworkers – Nakashima, Becksvoort, Jimmy DiResta and chairmaker Peter Galbert. There’s a comic book section on harvesting your own lumber. Plus measured drawings of birdhouses.

I know that not everyone gets Offerman’s sense of humor, like not all of us get Roy Underhill or Norm Abram (yes, he’s funny). But I can tell you this: If you buy this book and give it to someone who seems the woodworking type, you can bet they will read it. It’s hard not to – make a canoe paddle? Yes, please. Make a Slingshot Dining Chair with Michele Diener? Wow. Jokes about coiling a band saw blade? Indeed.

This book might not be for you – if you are reading this blog then you probably bleed sawdust when pricked. But this book is something you don’t have – the latest and greatest tool for recruiting new woodworkers, growing the craft and generally extending a kindly hand to young people, women, minorities and the disaffected.

I haven’t read a book in the last 25 years that has as much potential to grow the craft. Buy one copy for yourself and a second one to wrap up and slip to a niece or nephew at Christmas.

That’s my plan.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Posted in Personal Favorites, Uncategorized | 7 Comments