Friday, June 26, 2015

Windsor Chair Seat Carving Video with Peter Galbert - How to Use an Adze - Part 1

I promised to post video of Peter giving instruction on carving a seat during the class we had back in May. As you'll see, it all starts with the adze. Peter and Tim Manney collaborated to develop an adze specifically for carving seats (although it would also work just fine for bowls, etc.). I highly recommend it. I already owned an old school adze, but after giving Tim's a go I had to have one. It is so light and effective. I don't think his wait list is super long right now so if you need one it might be a good time to contact him.

Anyway, Peter does a nice job of explaining the function and use of an adze in this video. Enjoy!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Roubo's Irons Don't Taper??!!!

I am flabbergasted. What is up with this? Roubo's irons don't taper?!!!

There I was, just flipping through the several pages of planes in The Book of Plates that LAP produced - as I do just about every day, it seems. (I tell ya, this book is worth its weight in gold to me.) So, this particular day, I was meticulously studying the plane irons because I am delving further into making planes that are based on Roubo's drawings. I'll actually be contributing an article to  Popular Woodworking in the near future on this subject. I promise that all of you aspiring planemakers out there will love it. It doesn't require any specialized tools and they are very simple to make.

Roubo style plane based on the Book of Plates

Anyway, I have been trying to decide how I wanted to go about making the irons. I just assumed that his irons were tapered from thick at the cutting edge to thinner at the opposite end. Then I just happened to flip to some pages showing some of his earlier drawings and BAM! there it was - a side view of the irons clearly showing both the bench plane and the side escapement plane with parallel thickness irons! No taper!

I know what you are thinking, "He just didn't draw the subtle taper of the irons." This is possible, but he clearly knew how to draw a tapered iron because the plow plane irons on plate 16 are clearly tapered. However, the irons shown on plate 13 are not tapered even the slightest.

Roubo - Plate 13

This sort of rocked everything that I assumed about antique irons. Most of those I know who think on this subject believe that the irons were tapered to save metal. So what is going on here? Could it be that the tapered irons of the British and American planes were made that way because it, in fact, added functional value? I believe this is the case. I think this actually gives reason to believe that the added functional value of tapered irons wasn't just an unintended benefit of a frugal planemaker. Maybe it was an accidental discovery, but continuation of the practice was surely intentional. After all, if the reason was only to save metal, then why would the planes Roubo knew of have even-thickness irons from toe to heel? Wouldn't they be interested in saving iron too? Wasn't it just as expensive for them at the time? And, wouldn't it be more difficult for a blacksmith to make an even-thickness iron? Lots of unanswered questions here, but I wanted to share my findings with you all. I personally hate to speculate too much, but it is interesting, nonetheless.

One thing is answered, though: I have wondered why there was a sneck on his irons. This explains it! I am still sold on tapered irons, but this gives some food for thought.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Evolution of the Panel Raising Plane, à la Caleb James

I have been enamored by the panel raising plane ever since I watched Roy Underhill use one in The Woodwright's Shop episode entitled Raising Panel-Zona. I saw that plane and decided I had to make one. So I did. If you were a reader back in October 2013, you may remember the post in which I talked about that first one I made. Ironically, Bill Anderson came out with an article on making a raised panel plane in Popular Woodworking magazine about 3 days later. Bill is a great resource for restoring vintage planes.

The version I made turned out pretty well, but the profile was based on what you would see on a router bit common today. As it turns out, modern router bits don't really reflect the profiles found on antique furniture. This is no surprise, really, seeing as modern day bits are made for architectural work like kitchen cabinets, shutters, full size doors or the like. The scale is a bit large. I could tell  something wasn't quite right about it for furniture, and so the plane never went to production. I had to get the profile proportions just right first.

About a year later I visited Winterthur and was able to look at a couple of pieces there. I could see that the scale was, in fact, smaller on those planes and it helped me nail down the proportions that look correct for a furniture piece.

About 6 months later I ran into Roy Underhill at a Lie-Nielsen hand tool event where I was demonstrating some of my planes. I showed Roy the updated panel raiser that he inspired me to make and, the next day, he brought the actual ones from the show. It was a real treat! The proportions and skew from the two planes he brought were different, but not completely. Interestingly, my plane's profile and skew proportions were nearly an average of the two. Needless to say, I felt I was on the right track after that.

But, I wanted to take it a step further. Why not make it even more authentic with a blacksmith-forged, laminated iron? I think most would agree that there are few people who know how that iron should be made better than Peter Ross. He did, after all, study the tool chest of Benjamin Seaton 1797 and all the iron work in it. Here is an iron that he made for me. It is just wonderful.

Unfinished Blacksmith Forged Laminated Iron (left) O1 Tool Steel Iron (right)
This plane has been a long time coming. So, I'll be talking more about this panel raising plane in posts to come and will eventually take pre-orders on them, as well. In the meantime, you can see a little clip of the plane in action in this Instagram post. I'll put up the full video soon.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Now Taking Pre-Orders on Side Beading Planes!

UPDATE: As of 6/8/15 -9:20 est- no more new pre-orders on this plane until next time. As always, THANK YOU for your enthusiasm! UPDATE

Its official, I am taking orders on side bead planes again! I am limiting it initially to the most versatile and used size for furniture, the 3/16" size. If you are interested in the 1/8" or 1/4" shoot me an email. I will then see what I can do to work those sizes into the production schedule based on demand. I'll close pre-orders shortly so place your order in the shop now. I begin production in two weeks and will be shipped upon completion there after. First shipments estimated week of July 13th.

For the sake of new readers... My planes are made from stock that I cut, dry and season. It is American beech and the planes are made in a traditional 18th century style and construction. These are not four piece planes glued together here. They are solid one piece construction that will last a couple hundred years if you and your grandchildren store them properly. Once the stock is roughed out on the table saw, the making process is 99% completed with hand tools. The blades are Lie-Nielsen tapered moulding blanks that I profile and heat treat in house.

Here is a short video of the 3/16" side bead plane in use.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Riving and Steam Bending Videos With Peter Galbert + Book Review

Peter and I had a great time with the class that was in the shop recently. I took the time to shoot a few videos and will be posting them up here in time. These aren't exactly instructional videos but you can sure learn a lot from these short clips. Pair this with his new book and you are not far off from making a chair.

Oh, by the way, here is an excerpt from my review of his new book from Lost Art Press.

"If green woodworking knowledge were money then Peter Galbert would be a millionaire and if you said to him "show me d'a money" he would show you this book"

I think that was one of the excerpts found on the inside first few pages of the book. So honored to be included in that list along with other well know reviewers. So humbled.

I really liked what Disney said, "An instant classic"

Along with A. J. Roubo who said, "Un homme après mon propre cœur"

Enough out of me just watch the videos and enjoy!

If you like this and want to see more then stay tuned. I'll get a few more up, hopefully, sooner rather than later. Then again I could just quote Peter after six days of instruction and say "Its all in the book" :)

Friday, May 29, 2015

What is a Mother Plane?

I get asked all the time at events where I demonstrate my planes - "How do you cut the profiles on the sole?"

The answer is easy...well, sort of. :) I start by making a plane that is exactly like I want my final production plane to be. I call this my prototype plane. I cut that profile with hollows and rounds along with rabbets and/or plow planes. However, I don't want to do that for every plane I want to make in the future because it would be tedious and take a really long time. Therefore, I use this prototype plane to make a mother plane which is essentially a "negative" of the profile I want.

I can then cut multiple plane soles with this mother plane, all of them being virtually identical. These planes that are made from the mother are then called daughter planes. It is a good process but it is tricky to make a good mother plane. It involves making planes with multiple irons in order to cut these mucho complex profiles.

I have been making these mother planes for quite some time now, and was thrilled to discuss them with Bill Anderson recently. He is in the process of studying a very large collection of antique mother planes and he told me that the original makers would typically combine multiple dedicated planes to make complex profiles rather than putting multiple irons in a single plane. I can see some advantage to this, but also some disadvantage. I may try this in the future for some other profiles, and look forward to seeing more from his research down the road.

Anyway, I put together some videos of the process. The first is a time lapse of the process and the others are the full, comparatively slow process. I hope you enjoy seeing how this is done.

Also there are a few of these Ogee and reverse Ogee planes left in the shop.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ogee And Reverse Ogee Moulding Planes Up for Pre-Sale

Hey all! I am sure you've been wondering where I have been off to for so long. Yep, you guessed it - making a load of 1/2" ogee and reverse ogee moulding planes.

If you have been wanting one, here is your chance. It has been a long haul on this run of planes and I am almost done with them. I am doing something different this time around. This time, instead of taking pre-orders before I even start and making you wait for months, you can place your order just a couple weeks before they are ready to go. There are limited quantities. (Do I even need to say that?)

You can place your pre-orders here in the shop on my new website (...that is only partially completed, Sorry!). If you are on my wait list for a specialty wood ogee plane I will be emailing you directly.

Ogee Moulding Plane

I should tell you that quite a lot of research has gone into these planes. First off, I had to establish what is and was traditionally the most used size of ogee plane. Consulting with the likes of Chris Schwarz helped me zero in on my size choices based on his knowledge of tool inventories from probate records. Then I spent time with Bill Anderson crawling through his collection of Ogee planes to find some beautiful examples. Thanks you two! I appreciate how this community shares its knowledge. Lots of givers out there.

Oh and here's an interesting factoid: All of these planes (and many to come) were made from a stash of quarter sawn beech that I purchased from Tom Lie-Nielsen. Story is he, at one time, was going to make moulding planes. Plans changed and I scored some wood that had seasoned for many years.

Reverse Ogee Moulding Plane

I also researched the plethora of ogee and reverse ogee plane profiles offered over the many years that they were made to settle on the proportion, angle, degrees of a circle for the cyma, etc. for just the right profile for furniture work.   

In short, I didn't want to make this plane until I felt completely comfortable that it was going to be really sweet. I feel good about these planes and I hope you do too.

Here is a peek at the planes in use in these YouTube videos. Enjoy!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Racing with Roy Underhill

A few weeks back I was guest demonstrating at the Lie-Nielsen tool event in Raleigh, NC. It was a nice venue and since it was in Roy Underhill's neck of the woods he came on over as well. The show went well and there was lots of time to try out planes of all sorts and Roy even brought along a couple of shave horses and a pole lathe for attendees to try out. I gave the pole lathe a go myself.

Anyhow, it seemed that there was going to have to be a race at some point. I mean when you get all those hand tool users in one place the egos really get going. I mean Roy got to talking about how he once cut a dovetail "this big" and I couldn't just stand by and listen to that. I jumped in and started talking about how my great granddad learned how to cut dovetails from Peter Nicholson. Next thing you knew Michelle Myers said she was related to Peter Nicholson. It was on. Time for a dovetail race.

To warm up though we started at the shave horses to size each other up on speed and agility.

I was determined to be the fastest, even thought the race wasn't even officially on yet, but even so it ended in a tie. The competition was fierce and those lining up to show their stuff was extensive.

Look at these guys go. Roy pulled some underhanded stuff and would distract the competitors just so they wouldn't qualify for the finals. That dirty dog.

First up for the dovetail race was Michelle Myers (Lie-Nielsen show staff) and Roy.

They started with the through dovetail joint. I can't say what happened fully but an "accidental" mix up in how many tails vs. pins to be cut somehow ended up in Roy's favor so he moved on to the next round.

Next up was Roy and I. I knew this would challenge all my chairmaking abilities to the full (seeing as the only dovetails cut by a chairmaker are on that little drawer under the desk and seat of a windsor writing arm chair). It was on!

This short video below shows the intensity.

So how did it end? I'll let you decide. One joint was prettier and one was faster.

Those watching called it a tie but a race is all about speed so Roy took the prize. Don't rub it in too much Roy!

With patch over one eye, half blind Roy shows off his finished half blind dovetail.

Here I am still working away while Roy is already done. This picture makes me laugh every time I see it. Classic Roy!

Ok as you can see this was all in good fun. I hope we meet again and I get a second chance to test my skills against the legendary man himself. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Watch Peter Galbert Make A Windsor Chair In 30 Minutes!

Some of you are aware that Peter Galbert made a windsor chair with Tommy Mac on his show Rough Cut. I, like many of you, asked Peter where you can see this online. He didn't know. Funny how these thing go, right.

Well as it sometimes (always) goes around my house. I can't find something and I ask my wife where it is then two seconds later she has found it! Really?!?! Same thing happened here. I swear she catalogs the internet in her sleep. Google should hire her. She can find anything online that I can't. Enough about that. The point is, if you wanted to see this episode and couldn't find it... here it is.

Don't forget, I am hosting Peter in my shop to teach chairmaking classes this springThe class is 6 days. The first class starts April 20th for the fan back and May 4th for the ballon back. These are the two chairs that are featured in his new book from Lost Art Press. They are the foundation in your future in chairmaking. 

There is only one space left in the ballon back and a couple still left in the fan back. Don't miss the boat. It is going to be a great time! See the full details on the classes and how to register in this previous post.

Enjoy the video!

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!!!!! :)