BSD #12 4/25/15
M- The deadline has been set for the 11th annual Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge, which highlights the achievements of woodworkers using natural wood veneers. All you have to do is build something using veneers and upload photos to their website by May 25th. But bring you’re a game, because this is a worldwide contest that attracts some awesome woodworkers. Cash prizes will be awarded at the AWFS fair in Las Vegas this July.
S- They say nobody wants to see how the sausage is made, but I disagree. I don’t care if they’re grinding up lips and eyeballs, I think it’s fascinating to get a glimpse behind the scenes. Mmmm, sausage. Anyway, Chris Schwarz recently treated us to a behind the scenes tour of the Blue Spruce tool factory near Portland, Oregon. Blue Spruce is widely known for its chisels and other hand tools, and they allowed him to take his camera into their small warehouse to see how everything is made. It is a fascinating look at a small American company, and I highly recommend you check it out at the link in the show notes.
M- Tim Killen has a tip for you Sketchup users concerning when to use groups vs. when to use components in your 3D models. He says that turning each part of your project into a digital component is critical to getting the most from the program’s features. This allows you to quickly duplicate parts, modify those that are identical, and freely arrange them within the model. Grouping is useful when you want to preserve the orientation of a set of parts, allowing you to move them all at once. There are also several other ways that groupings can speed up your work flow, which he covers in a short blog that you’ll find at the link in the show notes below.
S- Perhaps prison isn’t all that bad after all. While some of the nation’s incarcerated pass the time breaking up rocks with a hammer, making license plates and sharpening their shivs, others are building fine furniture. The New Hampshire Furniture Masters organization is presenting an exhibition called “A New Path- Prison Furniture Making Program. It’s being held in Concord until June 8th and features the work of members of a prison outreach program operating in New Hampshire and Maine. A dozen or so inmates participate in the program at any given time, with more on a waiting list that is said to be as long as 20 to life. One aspiring woodworker was heard to say “I’d kill to get into that program”.
M- Michael Pekovich has found a 10” combination table saw blade that he says is a great value. He spent several months using the Freud P410 giving it a real world test. He built several projects that required a lot of ripping and crosscutting of oak, cherry, butternut and maple. While he normally uses a high end Forrest Woodworker II blade, he says the Freud was a solid performer. It did seem to require a little more force to push thick stock through the saw, but the result were clean and free of tear-out. And at between 75 and 85 dollars, depending on your preferred kerf style, it’s a real value over typical high end saw blades. If you want to check them out, you’ll find a link below.
S- In our workshop we get wood from all over the place. Local mills, hardwood dealers, craigslist, firewood piles, the neighbor’s eaves- if you aren’t picky you can find more than enough. But sometimes you need something special. Charles Neil, who’s hardly builds anything from lumber that isn’t figured or curled or flamed or birds eyed or tiger striped gets his from Bob Kloes, a period furniture maker who also sells limited amounts of beautiful hardwood out of his shop and through the web. Hand tool aficionado Chris Swartz favors Northwest Timber which sells carefully inspected and surfaced hardwoods from its warehouse and over the internet. In fact, the internet has become a great place to buy materials in small to moderate quantities. Shipping does add to the cost, so you may wish to limit your purchases to select woods for certain projects, but the huge selection of fine hardwoods available can really take your next project to another level.
M- With the highly anticipated release of Vittuoso, the Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley right around the corner, Lost art Press is giving us a glimpse into how a book of this scope is created. The article explains the tremendous amount of effort that is required to properly light, capture, color grade and layout each image. I found it a fascinating look into the publishing industry, which gave me a new respect for the true artists that make projects like this possible. And I suspect that it will also help me justify the cost of the book once it’s available next month. A link to the blog is in the show notes.
S- Woodworkers dealing with unreasonable expectations isn’t anything new, according to our favorite old-timey woodworking literature enthusiast, Jeff Burks. He points to an 1888 article that bemoans the demands placed upon the planning mills of the day. If an order isn’t perfect, it’s always the planer’s fault. He jokes that customers seem to think the workers are intentionally destroying the stock. “He either planes too thin, or he planes it rough with dull knives. His men are careless and slam the lumber and split it on purpose, or they knock the knots out with a hammer, or they don’t pile it right after it is worked, and of course he must make it good or else lose the work, or make an enemy of the yard if he doesn’t make a reduction in his bill, for what is often no fault of his at all.” The planer was often the victim of the saw mill, which produced poorly cut stock in the first place. But while the sawyer is expected to churn out cheap lumber fast, the planer is expected to turn the junk into quality materials- to make chicken soup from chicken poop, so to speak. That was 1888, and even today I still can’t make a good chicken soup. Some things never change, eh?
M- What type of hand saws do pro woodworkers use in their shops? Glen Huey and Chuck Bender recently took up the question in their 360 woodworking podcast, and we thought it’s be a good subject for another edition of point, counterpoint.
S- For every job there is a perfect tool, so I like to have a good selection of saws.
M- I think you can do just about anything with just a couple of saws. The rest is just overkill.
S- Well that depends on what you’re doing. If you are dimensioning lumber by hand, you’ll need at least two panel saws, one for ripping and one for crosscutting. And it’s a good idea to have two pairs, one for fast cutting when you’re in a hurry, the other with finer teeth for cleaner cutting.
M- Who dimensions stock by hand anymore? That’s what a table saw’s for. I’m 60 years old, I don’t have time to rip boards by hand, and at 600 pounds, Stumpy doesn’t have the energy to do it either.
S- Ok, let’s talk back saws then. If I’m cutting dovetails in thick stock I use one saw, if it’s thin stock I like a finer saw, and a crosscut dovetail saw for trimming the ends. Then there’s crosscut and rip carcass saws, crosscut and rip tenon saws, sash saws…
M- You’re making window sashes? I have one dovetail saw. I use it for everything. Contrary to popular belief, a rip filed saw WILL cut across the fibers. It may be rougher, but I’m cleaning everything up with a chisel anyway.
S- Which is why I don’t let you use my dovetail saws. Fine tools are tailored to a specific job. And the next time I catch you using my 1790 Dalaway dovetail saw to cut your bologna sandwich it’s on!
M- Oh, do you want to dance, chubby?
S- Hike up your tutu and pleigh on over here.
M- The bottom line for me is, I only need a couple of back saws for when I want to feel like a fancy hand tool woodworker. The rest of the time I use power tools like God intended.
S- Stay away from my tools….
M- Well that about wraps things up for this episode of Behind the Sawdust. Don’t forget to tune in on Friday for more of the best in Woodworking News, tips and infotainment.
S- And be sure to visit Stumpynubs.com and check out our innovative homemade woodworking tools. We’ve got a bunch more coming out shortly, so sign up for the newsletter, you won’t want to miss anything. Then you can sit back and have a cold one, because you’ve earned it, my friend.
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