I’ve gotten onto two kicks recently. The first is making tools from scratch or from kits (since I’m lazy), the second being developing my hand tool skills. So it was appropriate that signing up for Shannon Rogers’ (The Renaissance Woodworker) Virtual Hand Tool School led to our first assignment delivering on both of these.
This first assignment is intended to build skills in planing down some rough stock to a flat, co-planar board as well as some basic chisel technique. I won’t delve too much into the details of ‘how’ you do these things (join us at school if you want to learn it first hand…it is worth it) but I will talk about my personal take on the experience.
This weekend, I received a gift I cannot put a price on. I was given a carver’s woodcarving kit. This is not something you purchase at Lee Valley, Woodcraft or Lie-Nielsen. This is a carving set built up over time by a person of simple means with a passion for woodcarving.
A bit of history. I have a neighbour, in his 80′s who along with his ‘girlfriend’ (also in her 80′s, a very cute story for another time perhaps) who have adopted my family as their own (figuratively). For many years he did a lot of woodworking, building rocking horses and framed mirrors which he sold at fairs. His girlfriend did a lot of woodburning and woodcarving. Along with her husband, they were key members of the Ontario Woodcarvers. We visit back and forth and talk often about woodworking.
A quick pass with the band saw and I had the final shape of the plane ready for a quick bit of sanding. The sanding process involved cleaning up the bandsaw marks, flattening the sides as they were slightly uneven. The sole needed a quick pass with sandpaper, while holding the plane up against a square block of wood.
While at Woodworking In America, I had the pleasure of talking with Ron Hock for a bit. While I was most impressed with his $1 wooden planes (balsawood with wings) I was equally impressed by the kits he had for a shoulder plane and a Krenov style plane. I ended up buying both…ok, you got me, I bought the balsawood plane too.
I explained to Ron that I was new to tools without tails and he handed me a small wooden plane and encouraged me to try it. It felt awesome to hold and having played a bit with metal body planes I was surprised at how much more you can finesse a wooden plane. That was when he told me that the plane I was using (my first wooden plane experience) was a Krenov plane….made by Krenov himself. Not bad for a first experience.
I was getting kind of bored with the old Blog look and feel and after trying out a few theme changes in WordPress I realized that it wasn’t going to be a quick and dirty change to get what I wanted. I decided that I could attack some small changes and grow towards the look I want.
Not to be dissuaded, I opted for one or two quick changes I could make that would improve the look and feel (to me.)
The background is mahogany (which you probably already guessed, being woodworkers). BTW – I do not recommend googling ‘ebony’ images…well, unless you’re feeling lonely…nevermind.
The creepy tree roots picture is gone and I went out in the shop and grabbed a few tools and some rough cherry boards, a little decorating with plane shavings and some accent lighting and voila a new header picture. I was thinking of sepia toning the picture, but it didn’t work out as nice.
Lastly, now I show previews/teasers of posts rather than the latest blog entry.
Let me know what you think…
I picked up a couple of Czeck Edge Tools kits for making a scratch awl and two different sized marking knives.
Where these types of kits are concerned, I like the fact that I have a more personal attachment to the tool, a say in how it is designed and naturally the cost savings (given I work for free when it’s for me).
I’ve got three blanks picked out to make the handles for these tools and have to resist the temptation to just go out there and turn a fancy handle and slap it together. If I’m going to use these tools on a regular basis, I really want the handles to be more ergonomic that pretty.
Having worked my way through my withdrawal symptoms after an incredible weekend of woodworking panacea at WIA, I find myself now taking an objective look at the work I have laid out for myself as a result of this weekend.
This is likely a good time to open the door into my psyche and give you a peek into how my brain works. As stereotypically as it might seem, being of Scottish decent I seem to have inherited the genetic frugality that often defines my ancestry. There’s a subtle difference between frugal and cheap, but I’ll try to define it as best I can. Cheap is essentially a desire to pay as little as possible for something. Frugal (as I define it) has more to do with perceived value. I’m happy to spend money as long as I’m getting value for my dollar. (more…)
This was my first year attending Woodworking in America, and it certainly won’t be the last if the future events are anything like this year’s. Based on this experience, I thought it worthwhile to write down some of the things I liked and disliked about the conference. This ought to help me next year since I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast.
When you hear about it – book it! There was an early bird discount, but it sold out before the discount expired, so if you plan to go, book it early.
Going to WIA far exceeded my expectations on all levels.
As many of my fellow bloggers have said, meeting everyone in person and just having that one on one time with fellow woodworkers and bloggers was easily worth the price of admission. This is not something you can describe or necessarily understand unless you’ve been a part of it, so I won’t try to elaborate – just try and go next time.
One of my secondary or even tertiary goals in attending Woodworking in America was to get some useful material to fill this blog with. I just hope I can crank it all out before next year’s WIA (which Chris Schwarz confirmed would be in the same location, pending a few contracts being signed).
Why am I up at 5am writing on my blog? There has been a grand total of 3 whole hours of WIA attendance so far and already my brain is full. Between meeting up with some of the online woodworking community, meeting the toolmakers, PW editors and seriously considering a second mortgage after visiting the marketplace…who could sleep?
Maybe a brain dump on the blog will let me get an hour more shut eye.
After settling into the hotel, I met up with Morton and Dyami and headed over to WIA to register. After we got to the Conference center the people started coming out of the woodwork (pun intended). Steve Taylor, Kari Hultman, Kyle, Cody, Aaron Marshall….to name but a few. The reception got us face to face with a few others including ‘The Schwarz’, Chuck Bender, Frank Klausz and others from PW.
The only criticism I’ve got with the Toolmaker’s dinner was with the dinner itself, let’s just say I’m not the biggest fan of Cincinnati chili.
After mingling until 7, the much anticipated opening of the marketplace took place. I’ve got to admit that the marketplace is a bit smaller than I expected, but it does not disappoint in the least! The toolmakers are a great enthusiastic bunch of guys. You can see that these guys live and breathe the tools they make. A lot of these guys were still scrambling to get set up, and they took advantage of our eagerness to see the tools by enlisting people to unwrap tools from their packaging and chat about them while they got them set up. It took a while to work my way through the vendors, just to get an idea of who I had to go back to and spend more time with.
Naturally I had to try out the Sauer and Steiner handplanes, Canadian content rules and all. These coffin style planes are incredibly nice to hold. Konrad explained his sharpening process on the blades after I was pulling gossamer thin shavings from the plane. Apparently there’s a huge leap in quality by sharpening beyond 8000, going as high as 12000 and 15000 gives an edge with just that bit less resistance, enabling some spectacular results. The blades they use are Ron Hock blades.
Conveniently located next door was Ron Hock. I spent a few minutes talking with him about his wooden plane kits and trying out the two demo models he had on hand. These are completely different to use than a metal body plane. I was hooked and picked up the basic kit along with the shoulder plane kit. Look for some blogging on these as I get into building them. When I mentioned to Ron that I’d be blogging about the progress he was very excited to hear what I had to say, particularly with the shoulder plane kit as it’s had less time in the market. While we were chattering away and my wallet was getting lighter, along comes none other than T-chisel, Tommy MacDonald.
The following shows just how boys will be boys and we never do grow up. When Tommy showed up, Ron grabbed a small balsawood airplane off his bench and was encouraging Tommy to try it out. Eventually Ron sent the airplane loop de looping into one of his neighbours booths. Surreal.
Going back to Ron’s wooden planes, he put a Krenov style wooden plane out and said to give it a try as well. I gave it a shot, it was really smooth, really nicely contoured and naturally the blade was super sharp. Then he tells me, some folks are actually taking the shavings they cut with it home with them to put on display. Why? Turns out, this isn’t just a Krenov style plane…it’s a Krenov plane…made by Krenov! How cool is that!?!
A few more spins around the marketplace and I made my way through the books where I picked up Chris Schwarz’s new workbench book, Tom Fidgen’s book and Handplane Essentials.
After a quick chat with the guys at Lee Valley about their deal, the announcement came that the marketplace was shutting down for the night. Getting woodworkers out of that marketplace was an Herculean feat.
Back to the hotel and another hour or so of chatting with the guys in the lounge before retiring for what has turned out to be a rather short night.
With that off my chest, maybe I can catch another 1/2 hour nap before things start ramping up for the day and a long day of workshops and trying to resist the temptation to go back to the marketplace. Resistance is futile…