Welcome back to Behind the Sawdust, our weekly-ish vlog where we talk about what goes on when the cameras are off at the Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal Shops. It’s a new month, so today we will wrap up November with the latest woodworking news with snarky comments, and a debate about
We begin with breaking news from the table saw wars. As you may know SawStop has sued tool giant Bosch over its Reaxx table saw, which Sawstop claims infringes on their patented skin-sensing technology. The battle has been waged in court, and on woodworking message boards for a year now, as everybody seems to be an expert on patent law. Well, the only opinion that really matters is that of the International Trade Commission which has been hearing the case. And it appears that SawStop is well on its way to winning. Back in September the ITC judge found that Bosch’s saw does indeed infringe on SawStop’s patents. Bosch responded that the ITC will be reviewing that ruling, and they still expect to prevail in the end. However, this part month the court confirmed their ruling that Bosch was in violation. What does this all mean? I have no idea! It appears that, at least for the time being, SawStop can claim a major victory, and if I owned a Bosch Reaxx saw, I’d start stockpiling those little cartridges and any spare parts I may need in the future. But I’m sure Bosch will say it ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and that chubby frauline hasn’t even taken the stage yet. And they may be right because the court has yet to actually bar the Reaxx saw from sale in the United States. That cease and desist order is still before the court, and we don’t expect to see a ruling on that for a couple of months yet. And there are likely to be appeals and all sorts of nonsense that will drag this on for years. But the future of the Bosch saw does appear far less certain that it did a year ago. We’ll keep you updated as the case continues.
As a collector, and user of old tools I found this one interesting… Archeologists say they have opened a Viking toolbox for the first time in 1,000 years, and inside they discovered fourteen different tools that I believe suggest that the owner was a woodworker. The tools included a set of spoon drills, which as we know, are commonly used by chairmakers even today. There was also a set of pliers and some tweezers, evidently for removing those nasty splinters that are all too common when working with rough Viking timber. They also found what they referred to as a “clink nail.” Anyone familiar with old English, or at least Google, knows that a “clink nail” is another name for a clenched nail, a technique used by woodworkers to securely join their workpieces. Among the tools was also found a draw plate with a number of holes in it, that researchers have identified as a tool for making wire, but any old-timey woodworker would recognize as a tool for making round pegs and dowels. These tools are in a rusted heap, but CT scans suggest that there may be even more hidden within the larger lumps. Perhaps a chisel, or a hand plane? Maybe a holdfast or even small, fold up workbench? If you think it’s impossible for a Viking workbench to fit into a tool box, consider this: These discoveries were made in the fortress of 10th century Danish King Bluetooth, making these tools the earliest known examples of Bluetooth technology.
Times are tough, so if you’re looking for a job, listen up. You may be just the sort of person the Port Townsend School of Woodworking is looking for. No, not as a student. Not even as a teacher. They are looking for an executive director. That’s right, you can be the guy in charge of one of America’s most prestigious woodworking schools. What an opportunity, you say. To be hobnobbing with the masters of the craft, helping to shape young little skulls full of much into tomorrow’s master craftspeople. Not so fast! There’s a catch. As the guy in charge, you will have a hand in choosing the curriculum, but your primary tools won’t be planes and chisels. They will be telephones and the seat of your pants. You see, the responsibilities of the Executive Director include overseeing marketing and communications, collaborating with the board on outreach, leading fundraising efforts, securing grants and donations, negotiating the annual lease, recruiting support staff, overseeing financial procedures and writing monthly reports, preparing budgets and presenting them to the board, managing OSHA compliance, managing and backing up all of the computer software and hardware, and the list goes on. So, if working with your hands, making things from wood has gotten a little stale, and you’d like to exchange your shop apron for a suit and tie and a modest $45K salary. Contact the school at the link in the notes below.
If running a woodworking school doesn’t sound like a good fit for you, I am also looking for an executive director at Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal. Your responsibilities will include chilling our cold ones, replying “I know you are but what am I” to rude comments on our YouTube channel, applying Mike’s mustache balm, chilling more cold ones, and a few miscellaneous duties like all of the video editing, camera work, web updates, etc. Oh, and Chip gets to whack you behind the knees with broomstick every morning. He just loves doing that. I’m not going to promise minimum wage, but you do get to keep all of the empty cans from our cold ones, and here in Michigan we do have a 10-cent deposit on those. If you’re interested in applying, and you have at least one master’s degree in something interesting, let us know in the comments below the video.
Pro carver, Mary May, is writing a book about carving traditional acanthus leaf designs in furniture. As we all anxiously await it’s release through Lost Art Press, you may enjoy a little story she related about how she got into wood carving. She was just six years old and had been practicing writing her name in school. She was pretty proud of her new skill, so she decided to practice it with a screw driver on the nine-drawer chest in her bedroom. The letters M-A-R-Y scratched easily in the soft pine of each drawer front, but she soon realized that mommy and daddy wouldn’t be so proud of her penmanship. So what did she do? She added an extra line to each Y, turning the nine “Marys” into “Marks,” which happened to be her brother’s name. Of course, her parents weren’t fooled but instead of tying her to a radiator and beating her with a rubber hose like my parents would have done, they made her use that dresser all the way through high school as a reminder of her misdeed.
I found this story to be particularly interesting because I had a similar first experience with wood carving. This is a true story. I remember as a little stump whittling away with some sharp object on a drawer front on my parents dresser. When the danger of discovery occurred to dumb little child head, I decided, not to cover it up, but to add to my design “I love mommy and daddy.” Who could get angry at a child that expressed his love through wood carving, right? I don’t remember what happened after that, but it was about 20 years before I was able to hold a carving tool again, so go figure…
Noted woodworking historian and santa-beard aficionado, Peter Follansbee visited the Shelburne Museum in Vermont this fall and spent some time examining a 17th century table that I found absolutely fascinating. The table had no top attached, which exposed some of its 500 year old secrets. Among my favorite details were the faint set of chisel marks left by the original craftsman to help him identify which parts whet where during final assembly. This apron was marked with a four. There were also a number of holes and channels bored by insects before the piece was built, showing the joiner’s thrift when choosing his material. You rarely get to see the tenons inside their mortises, but this craftsman cut his the full height of the aprons, and the missing top leaves them exposed. Looking at them you can actually see his hard work that would otherwise be hidden inside the finished piece forever. I don’t really have any snarky comments to make about this, I just love this sort of thing. Not just for the love of woodworking, but for history too. Plus, it’s amazing that Peter was able to take these photographs without his beard getting in the way. I’ll put a link them in the notes below the video.
November ended with a joyous occasion here at Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal. It was my 20th wedding anniversary. Yes, I used to be that good looking. Back then we honeymooned in the city of love, Toronto. So, I had a pretty high bar set for the big 2-0. Where did the missus and I go to celebrate? Detroit! Yes, the city that was once the murder capital of the world has seen a resurgence in the last few years. It’s actually a nice place to visit. Sure, it’s still a little iffy walking down the streets in many neighborhoods. Even in midtown I got asked for money every few steps, but that’s the life of a famous internet woodworker. Anyway, we had a lot of fun, and the changed I saw reminded me of a segment we did a while back, when Detroit wasn’t such a nice place. It was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but I thought you may like to see it…
(Directions to woodworking show segment)
That segment riled a few Detroiters up back when it first ran, because they knew that the city was on the road to recovery. And after my most recent visit, I have to agree. We still have a ways to go, but here’s to a revitalized Detroit.
That about wraps things up for this edition of behind the sawdust. Next week I think we’ll do another Question and Answer vlog so leave your questions about just about anything in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter or email them through the contact link on our website. And don’t forget to support our sponsors. Without their generosity, we couldn’t produce the wide variety of woodworking videos we produce for Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal. Then you should sit back and have a cold one. Because you’ve earned it, my friend!
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