Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This Weeks Design

Hello Folks

I have been thinking about what I want to do with this Blog that makes it both interesting for you, and useful to me. One think that I want to do is bring other peoples blogs to your attention with a "Check Out this Blog" section. I hope to do this once or twice a month.

Another regular posting that I plan on starting is "My Design Of The Week" post, where I will post a design from my sketchbook. I also hope to do a copy of this design in Sketchup, that part is for me, so I can get some much need experience in that program. I wish I could say that is my own idea, but it isn't I am borrowing the idea from Jamon Schlimgen and his The Drawing Boards Blog. While he puts out a design  a day I am afraid I'm not that ambitious so I will only do One a week. Enjoy.

Tool Cabinet Design
This is just an Ideal for a cabinet to hold my hand tools and to represent my ability.

Site of the Month


This is carpentry is an online magazine that has a ton of well written articles that most woodworkers would find helpful in their own shop. The site has a RSS feed so can subscribe to it.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

What does "Made by Hand" Really Mean?

Hand Made

When a person looks at a piece of furniture that says its hand made, do you ever wondered what their expectation of what that really means to them is. This is something I have thought about from time to time. I've wondered, do they think that it was totally made by a person using nothing but his hand tools. Maybe they think it was made by a single person who loves their craft working in a small shop instead of in a factory, on a production line, in a foreign country. Maybe some just don't care at all they just like the looks of the piece.

If a woodworker cuts their dovetails with a hand saw then cleans the waste out with a router instead of a chisel, is that still a hand cut dovetail? and can the piece still be considered handmade? what about if you spray the finish instead of hand applying it with a brush, or a rag. What if they picked up their lumber with their truck instead of packing it home in their horse and wagon? Where do we draw the line between handmade and production?

In this age of mass production where the idea of a being a cabinet maker, furniture maker, or even a carpenter is being trained to do just one or two operations and then passing it off to the next person in the line to complete the next step and so on, and so on, until its ready for shipment. I think that if a craftsman builds a piece from conception to finish that what makes it a handmade piece, even if they did use power tools to do some of the grunt work. I really don't think that they are misrepresenting their work by calling it handmade.

I respect woodworkers who choose to use the hand tool only approach for doing their work. I know how much skill and labor it takes to work that way. I also know that most of them do it for their own satisfaction more than for their customers or as a marketing ploy. Most customers in my experience are more concern with when the project will be finished, the total cost, and how it looks when its finished, than they are about whether you hand-cut the dovetails or lovingly planed every boards to a nice finish. Some I think would even prefer the uniformity of a machine made piece over the subtle difference they would find in piece that is made from hand tools only. Mainly, I think this is because that is what most people have been taught to be quality. Again some people just don't care.

Now when someone is doing the work for themselves, or for someone who would appreciate their skills, that is a different story. I don't know any woodworker that don't love to talk about how they sawed this joint, or how sweet their plane was zipping along making fine shavings. That is why so many of us have blogs I think. The experience of making something just using hand tools is a very rewarding project that I believe every woodworker should do at lease once.

Me, I use both my hand tools and machines to do my work. I've worked hard for many years to learn how to use both. learning to use my handtools taught me how and when to better use my power tools, using power tool lets me get repeatable results in less time to make what I produce more affordable, and when I finish a project, I consider it a 100% hand made, after all it was my hands that held that router as much as it was that guided my handsaw.

Just My Thoughts

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tooling Around

Hello Folks

I have been kicking around some small project that I want to get going on, and one them is a dovetail marking gauge. I usually use a sliding bevel gauge, but it never fails that I knock it off my bench and end up having to reset the angle, sometimes more than once. (Yes, I'm a kulz). I want to make a couple of these dedicated marking gauge with a 1:5 and a 1:8 because these are the two I use most when I cut dovetails, and if I want some other angle I can always make another one or use the old slider. I thought I had the design all worked out until I ran across a picture at Evenfall Woodworks site in one of the his many old manuals on woodworking. I have never seen a tool like this before and I really like the design so I think this is the design I will go with.
There is another marking gauge for marking curved material that I found in a Shop Notes issue that I like, this to also made my list. There are a few more tools that I want to tackle like a set winding sticks and laminated wood straight edge. made 1/8 " Baltic birch and cherry.

I will post details and pictures as soon as I can. So guys l have a good time be safe and I hope to see back soon


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter Blues, What To Do

Winter is here and the snows knee deep, so getting out on my little porch to do any woodworking is out of the question, so what to do, what to do. Well to my wife's displeasure it's that time of the year I drag down my many, many issues, of woodworking magazines to look at, I started collecting them in the 70's if that gives you some idea on how many I have.

This year instead of just daydreaming though each issue, I have been trying pick out similar designed projects, homemade tools, and shop ideas, that I like. I then scan them into my computer into their own files, and print them. I can then organize them into my notebook for a quick reference. I am mainly doing this as a design tool, while I have never really build any project out of a magazine, I do admit that I have borrowed some ideas to use on project I have built. One of these day I hope to just pull out the element like legs, aprons, doors, and turnings, that appeal to me and group them together on pages for a reference.

Why do this you ask, well for me when I am designing I get this sort of tunnel vision going and I block everything out except my original idea. This might be good or it might be stopping me from coming up with a better designed project. If I have a reference of ideas that I like, that fall into my skill set and tools, I think I can improve on the my design, experiment with some other ideas and open up my creativity a little, and these days my creativity needs a little kick in the pants.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Hello I,m Back Online

Hello everyone, just wanted to let everyone know I am back online. I had some computer problems and it took a little longer than I expected to get my laptop fixed, but its home now and I got internet connection back, so I will be posting soon. I hope everyone had a great holiday and that the new year is going well.
I am also back on Twitter and Facebook.