Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fan Back Windsor Chair Plans by Curtis Buchanan - Now Available!

New windsor chair plans are now available from Curtis Buchanan for his fan back side chair. This is a beautiful side chair that is well suited to learning the craft of chairmaking as it is within the grasp of novice chairmakers.

Curtis has included double bobbin or bamboo style turnings in the plans and a simplified crest to compliment these turnings. There are also the baluster turnings and carved chest patterns for the more traditional look.

The double bobbin turnings make the construction of the chair fit a more modern home interior as well as minimize the high level of skill needed to turn the baluster legs. They are also more easily turned in stock that is not green, which is easier for most of us to find.

Below is a video of Curtis explaining what is included in the plans.

To buy the plans visit his website here. They are $55.

Curtis and I have been producing plans for his windsor chair designs over the past few years. However, I have been so busy with my work that we decided to get the help of an illustrator that worked for Fine Homebuilding for many years and is well qualified. The plans just keep getting better and Chuck had some nice things to add to the drawings from his years of experience illustrating plans for magazine readers.

In the future I won't be at the helm producing the drawings but I will be offering assistance to the illustrator along the way. I hope to see Curtis continue putting his life's work down on paper. It would be a shame to see all his great work not be shared with everyone. So I encourage you to support him so that they can continue to be produced.

Happy chairmaking. Enjoy!

By the way. Peter Galbert's new book covers building a chair in this style so grab that too if you need the best advice out there on how to produce one of these chairs. Some really exciting things are happening for chairmakers - finally!!!!! :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How To Accurately Size A Round Tenon And Do It Consistently

Following the discussion from my prior post, you might be wondering how to get those tenons to fit nice and tight - and do that consistently. It's not magic, but there is a method and tools that make it seem like it.

Here are the tools I use. The first is a beading tool that Henry Taylor makes. Its 3/8" across. On this beading tool goes a Sorby sizing tool. With proper use it will give you repeatable turned diameters without using a separate caliper.

The other tool is a dial caliper, and it is a real must in my book. You'll want to measure the tenon as you test it and adjust your beading/sizing tool to tweak the fit until everything is just right. It can be just a few thousandths that make a difference in a perfect fit so this tool will save you lots of time.

Using these tools allows me to adjust my fit for each kind of wood I use. Also, since different styles of drill bits leave a slightly different size hole, despite being the same diameter, this will allow me to adjust my fit for each unique set up and drilling bit I use.

Hope this gives you a little extra help in the shop for that next project!

By the way, these tools can be found at Lee Valley.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What A Well Fitted Post And Rung Chair Joint Looks Like

An important part of chairmaking is knowing how tight to make a joint in order to get a proper fit. How tight I make a joint will depend somewhat on the type of wood used but, essentially, I want it as tight as possible without splitting the joint - and having to use a little force to bring it together is not necessarily a bad thing.

A good rule of thumb for testing a windsor chairmaking mortise and tenon joint is if you can put the joint about half way together with only hand pressure then you are about perfect. Then during assembly you can force it togther with a few hammer blows.

In windsor chairmaking, you are not often putting multiple joints together at once so a tight fit like this is possible without complicating a smooth assembly. On the other hand, with a post and rung assembly, I will back it off just a hair so I can have a bit more control on an assembly. When you add up a lot of joints that have to come together at the same time on one of these chairs then the extra give can be the difference between success and a struggle or failure.

Here is a short (and very out of focus) video of how tight I try to make the joints for a post and rung chair joint.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Glue Up Of A Post And Rung Chair / Stool Assembly

I wanted to give a little sample of a glue up of a post and rung assembly. This is not the entire process but my hope is to share some little details about applying the glue and how to clean it up as you go along. These things are not often discussed in books but it is helpful to see how it is done so that your process goes cleanly and smoothly.

I use hot hide glue exclusively in chairmaking. Using PVA glues, or just about anything else, is simply madness if you plan to have well fitted joints. PVA glues will bind up in a split second in a really tight joint and will stop it from going together completely. On the other hand, hide glue will actually lubricate a joint making tight fitting ones come together more easily

You'll notice the first tool of the trade here is a good stiff bristle brush for wiping away the excess glue. This is just a cheap natural hair brush from a hardware store with the bristles cut way back near the base. Removing the majority of the glue this way keeps you from smearing it around and then worrying about getting it all wiped off. Also, try to avoid adding any water to the surface as you clean so that you do not dilute the glue and spread it around even more. That said, slightly damp cleaning tools may help lift the glue better.

Your next tool is going to be paper towel for cleaning the joints. This may prick your eco-friendly conscience but a clean surface each time to remove the glue is, in my opinion, the only way to go. Using a wet rag will only spread it around for you to fuss with later before finishing. Plus, a paper towel will pick up the glue off the surface better than a rag.

Lastly, be sure to use something like an old magazine under your work so that you don't damage the side that is on your workbench.

I first learned most of these methods from Peter Galbert. If you have heard about his upcoming book from Lost Arts Press and are wondering what to expect, this is the sort of detail that he covers. It seems nothing is left to guesswork. 

Even though I read and helped edit most of the text early on I can't wait to get my hands on the finished copy. Chris and Megan did a really great job of compiling the book into a super easy to read style that is a hallmark of LAP publications. Plus, Pete went back and reworked a lot of the drawings and I haven't seen all of those yet. Very eager.  Come on Chris, get that thing to the printers!!!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

1:2 Scale Beading Plane

Back in the summer I joined Instagram with the aim of sharing more of the things going on in the shop. To my surprise it has been a source of lots of new and I would say fresh things in woodworking to see.

If you are like me and have a hard time pinching your nose as you enter the forums these days then you might like some of the things you see there. Maybe its because a picture requires you to show your work rather than just talk about it. Seeing nice work is inspiring and makes you think about what is actually being made out there. I think what I have seen has effected my work for the better.

Along those lines, I ran across a really talented guy, Marco Terenzi. He makes a lot of 1:4 Scale woodworking tools. It is kinda mind-blowing to see what he is accomplishing. I joked with him about making a miniature plane and of course he encouraged me. We chatted about possibly collaborating on make a 1:4 scale beading plane. The issue with making them so small is the tools, so I would need some 1:4 scale planemaking tools! I know, these things start getting a bit wacky but kinda fun to change things up and see what happens.

Anyhow, we might get there at some point but I decided to modify a small carving chisel I had and make a 1:2 scale beading plane to just give it a go. I used a broken tang of a moulding plane iron for the new 1:2 scale iron and I was off and running.

1:2 Scale Beading Plane and Chisel

Here are a few more photos of the process.

If you follow me on Instagram then you already know the story. I got pulled into the "Giveaways" that some do on there so for fun I gave away the plane in the method others use.

By the way, I on occasion have extra planes that I make or prototype planes that I offer up for sale through Instagram so if you don't follow me there already via your smart phone or tablet Instagram app then you might want to, if you are interested in that sort of thing.

If you are curious, you can see some of my recent posts here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Come See Me At Lie-Nielsen Handtool Event In Raleigh, NC

OK, OK, OK, Come see Roy Underhill at the Lie-Nielsen hand tool event in Raleigh, NC. I know the real reason why we are all going (including me). Its going to be fun no matter how you spin it. Scott Meeks will be there, as well. Don't miss it!

So, come give a bunch of hand planes of all sorts a go the weekend of January 30-31, 2015; Friday (10am - 6pm) and Saturday (10am - 5pm). It is located at 210 Jensen Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606. The event is hosted by NC State University Crafts Center.

Windsor Chairmaking Classes with Peter Galbert At My Shop

I have been talking about having classes at my shop for a little while now. The wait is over! Peter Galbert is coming to teach two 6 day classes this spring. What's exciting about these classes is that they will feature the two chairs that will appear in Peter's upcoming book.

Each class will have six students and will have the chance to take either the class on the fan back side chair or the ballon back side chair. Don't be disappointed these classes are not on making an armchair. Trust me it will allow for much more in-depth instruction and give you a strong base to build on. The first class starts April 20th for the fan back and May 4th for the ballon back. Classes are $1300 which includes materials.

As many of you already know, Peter is an amazing teacher. I took a class with Pete some years ago and it had a huge impact on my work from there on out. I hope you can come and join us.

Since I am just hosting the classes at my shop you will need to contact Peter to register for the classes. You can contact him at peter@petergalbertchairmaker.com or 978-563-1425 to register or if you have any questions. If they are a success we hope to have more like it in the future.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How To Glue In Boxing On Moulding Planes

When it comes to making certain moulding profiles you have to take into consideration how the sole of the plane will hold up to heavy wear. If the profile focuses a lot of friction on a relatively small area then it will likely not hold up very long.

A very good example is the quirk of a beading plane. You simple don't see beading planes without boxing. The quirk would very quickly wear away without it. 

There are other places that you would see boxing used in profiles and even boxing for fences. I talk more in-depth about boxing in a post here.

I thought it would be interesting to share my approach to installing boxing via a video. The process is essentially to make strips of boxing. It is not easily described how I rough out the boxing strips but it involves a slot cutter. All the strips are roughed out over size and then individually fitted to the groove cut in the plane body. I cut this groove at the table saw. 

The process is involved but when done right it can be glued in with hide glue and just tapped into place with a hammer and that is it. I do not use any clamps to secure the boxing while it drys. Even without the glue the boxing would be difficult to remove just on the friction needed to tap it into place. 

This is an approach I learned while fitting mortice and tenon joints in chairmaking. If you could push the tenon in about half way and it stops without using more force (hammer) then you have a perfect fit that glue only adds a bit more confidence in the joint withstanding stresses in use. The hide glue also acts as a lubricant to make tight joints slide together, unlike a PVA which would bind and lock up in this situation.

You'll notice that the video ends suddenly since my memory ran out right at the end but you get the gist of the process from this video. :) 

I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

No New Pre-Orders On Ovolo Planes- Thank You!

Again, I appreciate everyones enthusiasm for these traditional planes. I am at this time (12/7/2014 9:34est) putting a hold on taking any new orders on the square ovolo planes. 

I really look forward to getting these planes into the hands of people. I enjoy using them and exploring places to put them to use in my work. I think you all will too.

Thanks Again!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Square Ovolo - Now Taking Pre-Orders!

UPDATE: As of 12/7/2014- 9:34 est- no more new pre-orders on this plane until next time. Thank you for your enthusiasm! UPDATE

I am now taking pre-orders on 1/4" and 3/8" square ovolos. If you didn't see my previous post discussing these essential planes, read it here.

Below is a video demonstrating the 1/4" ovolo in use.  

The prices are as follows:

1/4" square ovolo: $285.00 + shipping
3/8" square ovolo: $295.00 + shipping

Shipping is $10 for one plane or $15 for two within the US. If you are outside the US, the actual shipping rate will be calculated. 

Please email your order to calebjames(at)me(dot)com with your complete name and ship to address. You will receive an invoice over the next day. Payment can be made via Paypal or by check sent to the address provided. If you do not receive an invoice, check your spam folder and/or contact me after 24 hours.

The estimated start time for these planes will be around the end of Januray. That is the start time, not when planes will be ready for shipping. Once I close orders, I will update the blog and provide an estimate of the lead time. If you want a specific time frame for your plane I can do my best to give you an individual estimate if you email me directly. 

It could take me a couple weeks to get a good estimate after I inventory my billet stock and contact Lie-Nielsen regarding blade inventory. I appreciate your patience.

I understand that ordering a plane with me is not a simple process. I sincerely appreciate everyone's enthusiasm for the traditional planes that I make and your patience, as well. I hope to have a smoother method of ordering in the future. Until then, please subscribe to the blog for future updates on pre-orders. This is the way that everyone will be notified in the future. I do not keep a "list" of ones that want to buy a plane for future pre-orders. I wish I could do that but it is just too messy and isn't really fair to everyone.

As a side note, I do, on occasion, have "extra" or "one-off" planes around the shop that I offer for sale. I put these up on Instagram occasionally so, if you are interested in that sort of thing, then follow me there on your smart phone or tablet by searching for @calebjamesblog on the Instagram app.