Other People's Videos

A movie about woodworking would likely bore the general public to tears.  I, on the other hand, would be thrilled to watch a movie about someone else's creative process.  Hollywood continues to ignore my script submissions for a high budget drama about a woodworker struggling to make ends meet.  So, instead of a feature length film about building furniture, or a blockbuster about timber framing we are stuck with short independent documentaries profiling individual woodworkers.  Fortunately, a lot of these hipster-born brainchildren are actually executed rather well.  These are two that I found which, while very different in style, focus on what makes woodworkers tick.  I appreciate Mr. Rogowski's approach to design in the first video.  His simple straight forward attitude is likely what has made him so successful.  If he looks familiar it's because in addition to being a celebrated furniture maker, he also writes for Fine Woodworking Magazine.

I am enthralled at the ingenuity and determination of Mr. Kapek in the second video (fair warning, it's subtitled).  Contrary to popular belief, power tools have a much welcomed home in my shop.  I am a believer in the right tool for the right job, but if I can do a task by hand I find myself preferring that method more and more.  As I find myself building skill sets (very slowly) I see the value in making my own hand tools.  I can custom tailor them to my needs and learn a lot of important lessons during their construction.  Fortunately, however, haven't yet had to build any of the machines in my shop by hand as Mr. Kapek did.  These videos are worth a watch, as both are rather inspiring, but when I see a 92 year old woodworker still happily toiling away in his shop, I feel there is hope that it is possible to do this for the rest of my life.  So that leaves me several years to actually make something!


Pockets Full Of Chips.

Pockets full of wood chips are indeed better than pockets full of ice cream, but both are equally aggravating when you are trying to pay for something that requires pocket change.  I am constantly trying to clean out wood chips from all my pockets (yes, including my dress pants).  Even when my clothes come right out of the wash, I end up with a handful of mulch when I reach for my car keys.  This problem has gotten worse since I started doing more wood turning (it is akin to standing in front of a wood chipper with an open trash bag), and don't get me started on the pockets of my hoodies!  In short I have been having trouble leaving the workshop mess in the workshop.  This is why I have been on the search for a good shop apron.


A Day Late And A Dollar Short.

Last year I wrote a post about a useless thingamabob that I made while teaching myself to use my South Bend metal lathe.  At the end of the post I mentioned a super secret project that I was creating.  Well, imagine my shock (not to mention extreme disappointment) when I saw my secret project released in February for sale on Lee Valley's website!  I had been working on the minutiae of this thing for a little less than a year (including the time I spent cursing at myself for not learning the metal lathe faster), and I had planned to release it for sale on my blog in the next month or two.

No, they didn't steal my design (that would be crazy talk... or so I'm told).  They had access to the same tool that inspired me.  The Briggs Patent Saw File Guide!  Fortunately for woodworkers, Lee Valley is an excellent company that obviously put some thought into their redesign of this once lost, ingenious little tool.  If you are on the fence about sharpening your own saws, get one of these things and you will never look back.  I learned to file saws with mine.  I don't use it all the time now, as it actually does train you to hold the file correctly, but I do use it more frequently than some of my other sharpening guides.  The original, like my prototype has an outer ring that rotates to set the rake angle and a swiveling set of arms used to set the fleam.

My Briggs Patent Saw File Guide
Patented in 1919

The File Gets clamped In The Bottom

This tool allows you to choose the rake and fleam you want to use when sharpening your saws.  You dial the angles in on the jig and then clamp it to the end of any triangular file and away you go.  Just keep the wings parallel and level to the line of the saw and you get perfect results every time.  The prototype I was building was more a copy of the original (patented in 1919) whereas Lee Valley did an excellent job giving it a much sexier design and an all aluminum chassis.  I opted for a solid brass body, with a stainless steel thumbscrew and a Lignum Vitae grip (it would have ended up being maple or apple after I ran out of my limited stock of Lignum).

Solid Brass Construction With A Lignum Vitae Handle
You Can See The Rotating Outer Ring For Setting Rake Here, Which
Moves In Concert With The Set Of Wings For Fleam
The Setup On My Prototype Was The Same As The Original

Like a dunce, I didn't race to the engravers to have my markings put on the guides I was making as soon as I had the prototype finished.  I wanted to be able to do everything in my shop which meant waiting and searching for a machine that would allow me to engrave the tubular brass guides.  I tried to do it by hand but it was an utter failure (as can be seen in the photos of my prototype).  Again, fortunately for woodworkers, Lee Valley doesn't have any problem engraving their tools accurately.  I am both excited and saddened by this arrival from Lee Valley and if you don't own one, get one...it'll be worth it, I promise.

Here's How It All Fits Together