Saw Song

Well, Christmas is over and now I can take a breath and relax.  This holiday season has been insane, which is why I haven't posted anything in over a week.  As it turns out, having a child whom has never experienced Christmas before is, in fact, a big deal that everyone you know wants to witness.  We had a great holiday and my daughter was spoiled by everyone, the way it should be I suppose.


Slip Stitch And Pass

First a note:  I have been concentrating on sharpening a lot lately (this entry is no exception), well, I promise some actual woodworking is coming very soon.

Sharpening, however, I feel should be one of the first skill sets a woodworker learns.  I am still learning to sharpen, and every time I learn something new I see a world of possibilities open.  Sharp tools are easier to control, can take more precise cuts and are generally safer to work with.  Tools like plane irons, chisels, saws and carving tools are easy to sharpen once the basic concepts are understood.  As with any skill, perfect practice makes perfect execution and the right set of stones (sharpening stones that is) will aid in that practice.  


Gimmie Shelter

I have seen a lot of old buildings gutted and renovated/restored over the years.  Whenever I enter one of these buildings I make it a point to pay strict attention to the craftsmanship and methods used in its construction.  When I say "old building" I mean buildings older than 1900, some that date before 1800 and a few older yet.  My time in the military offered me numerous opportunities to view everything from barracks and family homes to historic wooden and masonry construction in several overseas countries.  I could never understand why I got so many befuddled looks while crawling through framing members and poking around attics and foundations with a flashlight.  Apparently, inspecting construction joints at close range that have been hidden in a wall for two and three hundred years makes you a weirdo.

I personally find many of the details in old buildings beautiful, and sometimes, the ones that are hidden are even more beautiful than the adornments on the outside.  This may be why I like the Greene & Greene style so much, as they used a lot of their structural joints as adornment by making them out of exotic materials, finishing them to a high degree and leaving them exposed.  I think obsession is a dirty word, and my wife uses it a lot when I start talking about wood joints at the dinner table.  I also think "one sided conversation" and "I get bored when you talk" are dirty words, maybe she just swears a lot.  

Modern timber framing is one of those practices which still uses a lot of traditional framing techniques, just like many of those in the surviving old homes I inspected.  I have tinkered with some small scale timber framing but building a house is another story.  Unfortunately, to construct a timber framed home you have to have space and money, both of which I am currently short on.  Fortunately, I have a friend who just so happens to have been planning one of these for a long, long time.  The cabin he is constructing is modest as it is a vacation property for some "out of the way" wooded land he has.  He is sending me photos of his progress on dates when I can't be there to help out.  His most recent set reminded me of some joints I had seen in a cabin last year while in Oregon that dated to the 1860s.  They are of housed dovetails he is cutting for floor joists and when looking at them I feel like I am on the beginning end of a piece of history.  They are gorgeous. The photos are from his cell phone so I'll take some others the next time I'm up there to show some of the details and how they fit into the sill plates.

Cutting The Shoulder 

Housed Dovetail

These are of a "commander" (big ass mallet) he made out of some cutoffs which is used to tap the joints together or apart.  This one will also likely be bound around it's perimeter with an iron band to keep it from splitting apart over time.  

Shaping The Handle

Commander To Be Commanded



Other People's Videos. 
I got an email recently from Highland Woodworking about a video series they posted on their YouTube Chanel called "Reclaiming Our History."  This video was created by Mr. Lee Tigner of Early American Furnishings and is part of his overarching goal to connect people with our colonial American history through the furniture he makes and the material he uses to create his pieces.  These videos are available on his YouTube Chanel here: Lee Tigner YouTube, but I wanted to post them here because I think what he is doing is such a great concept.


To See The World In A Grain Of Sand

Variants of sandpaper have been around since 13th Century China where they used natural gum to adhere shells, sand and seeds to parchment.  I have also found several references to shark skin, pumice, equisetum hyemale, and several other abrasive materials being used to polish and sand the surfaces of wood and stone.

The nerd in me (okay, so all of me) got all excited when I found out that the concept of sandpaper turned out to have been around for centuries before the first real mass production of "glass paper" by John Oakey in 1833.  There were even written warnings for counterfeit glass paper being sold on the streets of Paris in the mid 1700's.


The Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Create It

That quote, by Peter Drucker, sums up what companies like Shapton and Spyderco are doing for ceramic sharpening and honing materials.  Through research and development, ceramics are becoming amazingly versatile in both shapes and grades.  The relative hardness of this material, when properly manufactured, allows for its potential use in sharpening, honing and shaping any metal available in the marketplace today including hardened carbide teeth.


Raspier Than Tom Waits

I have been working on rebuilding an old crosscut saw.  I wanted the handle/tote to have all those sexy curves and nice rounded edges that have started to make a well deserved comeback on handsaws.  I don't own a spindle sander so I went with the next best thing, a Shinto Saw Rasp and a woodworking Microplane.  Well, it's better than using my teeth I suppose.


Check Out My Package!

Making misleading titles, as it turns out, is a fun new hobby.  I recently got my package from Lie Nielsen, they didn't have what I wanted on hand at the handtool event so they shipped it to me free of charge.  I got the box before Thanksgiving (shipping was prompt) but, unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to photograph it or get it written up until now.


Gonna Pull This Timber 'Fore the Sun Goes Down

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I got to have fun on someone else's dime, so it was pretty much like any other weekend...  One of my oldest friends and his father are building a cabin in the woods.  See how I made something innocent sound like something disgusting?  In all seriousness though, they are actually constructing a timber frame cabin locally that we'll take apart and reassemble at its final location.


Essential Oils

Okay, so this sharpening video took slightly longer to record than expected.  It also ended up being a much longer video than expected, it's three parts so get a cup of coffee or a snack...or both!  I like history, especially obscure history that is both hard to find and has to do with the origins of little known or forgotten objects.  The first half of this video covers a small portion of the history of oilstones, and it turns out that American oilstones have a truly interesting history.


Ahhhh The Good Old Days

Imagine the logging industry in the United States in its earliest days.  Loggers were felling trees that were potentially over a thousand years old. It is no wonder that we find so many old homes, especially in the North West made out of beautiful lumber, so beautiful in fact that it is now common to salvage it to make furniture.  Picture ripping a 2x4 out of your wall and saying "wow this would make a beautiful coffee table!"  I recently received some photos from a friend of mine in an email which are below.  I have no idea where these photos came from but they make my heart skip a beat when I see them.