Monday, December 29, 2008
Hope you all had a great Christmas - the dust has just about settled and the last of the relatives has hit the road here at Philly Central. December has been a pretty busy month (to top off a year of busy months!) but at last I've managed to sneak away for five minutes on the computer.
Over at UK Workshop forum I joined in on the "Secret Santa" gift swap. My pressie turned up a couple days before Xmas and I put it under the tree ready for the big day. And I was not dissapointed - on opening the box I found this little thing packed in amongst some shavings. It's a small rebate plane made from brass and steel, with a rosewood wedge. Needless to say, I couldn't believe my eyes! Many, many thanks to my Secret Santa (you know who you are, Aled Dafis!) for fantastic gift :)
Spent half a day cleaning up the workshop today - can't stand trying to work when the place is so untidy. The place looks a million times better now, so I may take some workshop photo's in the morning to share with you.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Having a busy month and can't believe where the time has gone. Feeling the cold in the workshop, too. How much frost??
Today was a big day - hairdresser day. And the mighty (some say mighty untidy) Philly hair has been shorn. Not totally, but quite severely. I won't post a picture as I don't want to put anyone off their dinner...... ;)
Was pleased to see myself mentioned over at the Lost Arts Press blog - John Hoffman and I got on famously at WIA. Looking forward to a repeat in 2009, John!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
And no, before you start panicking about the title, this post has no "New Yankee Workshop" content, so you can relax ;)
After all the excitement of WIA and the subsequent travel-tiredness, it's good to be "back-to-normal". Whatever that means.......?
And that means I've been cleaning up the 'shop (I must really of been panicking before I left for WIA - the place was in a complete state) With the shop tidy I spent some time re-arranging the tool chest. Just to get into the swing of things. And of course, I've been playing with my new Veritas Premium block plane. What a beauty - I'm still gob-smacked by its beauty and performance. Man, I'm sad :)
Did a small upgrade on the new mill - a digital readout for the Z axis (that's "up and down" to us simple types). The stop system that the mill came with might of been good enough for a drill press but useless on a mill. My new DRO was pretty simple to fit and works a treat. Got me thinking about the X and Y axis now........
Been busy making planes this week and all the while planning a new smoother. A customer has asked for a toted version of the brass soled smoother - I'm making prototypes this weekend so will hopefully have something to show soon. And the adjuster mechanisms are slowly coming together - having to learn more and more metalwork skills. One day I might be quite handy - just not yet ;)
Chief Shopcat Cupcake has been good company this week - I was testing a moving fillister today and she was up on the bench playing with the shavings as they curled out of the plane - hilarious! Just need to teach her how to use a broom..........
Been reading the threads on Woodnet about the new Veritas dovetail saw - quite amusing! Rob Lee and Co. must be sat there with big smirks on their faces! Amazing the emotion a new design can raise - I pretty sure Folks will be won over when they get to play with one, though. And that is a crucial thing - getting tools into peoples hands to try. It completely changes (or re-inforces) any preconceptions you may of held. And it's why I attended tool shows this year - and will be at many more next year! So please - if you see me at an event don't hesitate to come over and say "hi". Even if you hate wooden planes ;)
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I thought you'd like a break from woodworking talk and be interested in another aspect of my trip to Kentucky.
After the days show was complete there was a reception held every evening in the Boone Tavern. An hour or so of smoozing and rubbing shoulders with the stars, and it was time to return to the hotel and grab a few hours respite, ready for the next day. At least, if you were smart that's what you'd do......;)
We'd been notified that Berea was a "Dry County", something unheard of in the UK. I talked to quite a few different sources to find out what that meant exactly - and I didn't really get to the bottom of it. But basically, no bars, pubs or off-licenses. Thankfully, we were staying in a hotel a few miles north of Berea in a town called Richmond. This,we discovered, was just over the border in the next county. And that one was wet :)
Earlier in the year, Bryan Boggs came over to West Dean in the UK to teach. In the evenings we all went out to local pubs to show him how we do beer in the UK. And in Berea, Bryan was kind enough to reciprocate - he insisted he took us (Mike Hancock, Michel Auriou and myself) out for "Fish and Chips" and a "Pint". What could we say?
So we end up in an Irish bar called the "Paddy Wagon", and yes, we did have fish and chips (of a sort) and a pint. They had a good selection of beers from all around the world so we were very comfortable. Later that evening other exhibitors arrived and our table got rather big - Adam Cherubini and his assistant David, Tom Lie-Nielsen and crew, John Economaki and his assistant Mike, John Hoffman of Lost Arts Press, and finally, the Pop Wood crew.
So, yes, I was a pig in "mud" (or insert own phrase here!). And there was band playing (with a bagpipe player!!!??) to fill out the evening. I was exhausted from jet lag but it was a surreal evening for me :)
Now most people would leave it there, but oh no. We returned the following evening for a little more - and to try out the pool tables. By the time we got to the bar (we'd stopped for some food en-route) most of the folks we were going to meet there had gone. But it didn't stop us - and we had Konrad Sauer along for a little extra support. This evening didn't end until 1:30am......and we had to be "open for business" at the event at 7am. Not too clever - but a lot of fun ;) and there was another band on that evening that truly kicked butt - kinda like Govt Mule if you like that kind stuff!
Needless to say, the final evening we managed to make out way back there for one more. Yet another band was on (five guys playing bluegrass) and we took advantage of their wide range of beverages and deep fried chillies. And we played pool yet again...apologies Bryan for thrashing you on your home turf ;)
So -if you are in Richmond, KY, you owe yourself to pop into the finest bar in town. We'll be back ;)
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Woodworking In America Conference, 2008
I had the honour of being invited to the above conference in Berea, Kentucky. It was a “hand tools only” event which featured the top toolmakers from around the world (plus myself). It also featured training sessions on various skills (sharpening, planing, etc) as well as Q+A sessions with tool manufacturers on different aspects of tool design and use. This was the first of this kind of event held in the US, and it sold out almost immediately to 300 lucky attendees.
The list of woodworking celebrities was long – here’s a quick attempt and in no particular order (apologies to any I’ve missed)
· Mike Dunbar
· Rob Lee
· Roy Underhill
· Tom Lie-Nielsen
· Frank Klaus
· Michel Auriou
· Larry Clark and Don McConnell
· Jim Leamy
· Dave Jeske
· Kevin Drake
· Mike Wenzloff
· Konrad Sauer
· Chris Schwarz
· John Economaki
· Adam Cherubini
· Ron Hock
· Gary Blum
· Ron Brese
· Chris Vesper
· Joel Moskovich
· Clarence Blanchard
· Don Weber
There was a real buzz in the air on the first day as the eager attendees turned up early to get started. The second day we actually came to open up early as so many people turned up early to get in – a decision that hung-over exhibitors were overjoyed about ;) But it was an extremely enjoyable event – I never saw anyone who wasn’t wearing a silly grin throughout the whole three days of the event.
New Tools – Lee Valley had an interesting new dovetail saw on display featuring a very modern design. It feels very comfortable to use and I have one with me to play with – review ASAP. I also had a sneak preview of an exciting new plane from Veritas. I have been sworn to secrecy but can tell you this – it is breathtakingly pretty and I want one!!!!
Lie-Nielsen were also showing some new products – tongue and groove planes, a panel saw, hammers, corner chisels. I could never get close enough to take a picture but these lines should be available before Xmas.
One of the highlights of the show for me was the openness of all the exhibitors to talk and share - I spent way too much time chatting with Lee Valley crew (these guys know they have the best job in the world and it really shows!), Ron Brese, Bob K, Ron Hock, Adam Cherubini, Jim Leamy and, for me the highlight, Larry Williams and Don McConnell of Clark and Williams fame. As a wooden planemaker, to spend hours talking to these two extremely knowledgable, skilled and passionate men was worth the cost of making the trip – I was in plane heaven!
Chris Schwarz was seen hovering over the proceedings and was working incredibly hard to ensure the show was a success. I heard him say he had only 12 hours sleep over the three days, and I can believe it. Thanks for all your hard work Chris – it certainly was worth it and you should be proud.
John Hoffman of Lost Arts Press was often close by to ensure I had a beer in my hand and knew where the nearest Mexican restaurant was located – cheers John, look forward to the next time!
I also met a fair few of the Woodworking bloggers throughout the show like Matt (Matts Basement), Kari (Village Carpenter) and Mitch (furnitude). I fear there may be a few embarrassing photo’s hitting the web soon………
Finally, I would like to thank the Popular Woodworking crew for putting on such an excellent event and to all the staff and attendees for their warm, enthusiastic welcome – it was truly a pleasure.
Made it back home safely and have got a few hours sleep. Still have a grin on my face from woodwork overload, but it was well worth the trip.
I wanted to thank everyone who made my visit such a pleasure for their warm welcome - it was great to meet so many people I knew only from emails and forum posts in the flesh!
Give me a few hours to sort out some photo's and I'll post a report.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Day two is over - and what an amazing day it was! Everyone is walking around wearing huge grins, woodworkers in heaven. The day started extra early, 7-o-clock, as the attendees asked for extra time. I managed to get a good walk around and get a chat with pretty much everyone. The list of woodworking superstars was huge and the willingness of everyone to stop and share was quite amazing - there really was a huge buzz of excitement in the air.
I had a quick lunch (with Mike Dunbar, Adam Cherubini, Louis from Pop Wood and Ron Hock - see, told you the list was long) then helped out on the sharpening class with Deneb (from Lie-Nelsen) and Ron Hock.
Back to the show for more plane action and finally the day was over. There was a final dinner in the evening which everyone attended and we heard from Tom Lie-Nielsen, Robin Lee, the Pop Wood crew and finally, Roy Underhill. Roys empassioned speech was quite hilarious - I do hope someone videod it, as it was brilliant!
Today sees the marketplace closed, so I am helping out on the Hand Planing class this morning.
Then we have to head back to the airport for the long trip home.
Boy, it has been an amazing experience. Once my head stops spinning I'll post more photo's.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Well I'm here. After a long and slightly painful journey I arrived in Lexington, KY - it was real late, thanks to a missed connecting flight. So I stopped at a local hotel for the night before heading down the next morning to Berea.
The first day was spent talking. No real surprise, as you know what I'm like. A good few hours (and lunch) was spent with Larry Williams and Don McConnell - It was a great pleasure to chat with two giants of the planemaking world!
Later on Mike Wenzloff and his lovely wife Dina arrived and we set up the benchs ready for the next day.
The evening was spent with Brian Boggs, Michel Auriou and Mike Hancock - Brian said he knew a great place for "fish and chips". So we ended up in a Irish pub - and a great night it turned out to be. TLN, Deneb and crew turned up, John Econmaki and crew and the Pop Wood crew also turned up as the night went by. It was spoiled only bag-pipes. No, don't ask ;)
Today was the first day of the show - the atmosphere was electric! Everyone was beaming and it was such an amazing day. I'm almost hoarse from talking to people so another hour and I'll be off for a cold drink.
Thanks to everyone that called by to say hello - I never knew so many people read this blog :)
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Thought I'd show you some more pictures before I disappear.
The Skew Miter looks pretty cool - out of direct light (I've got two lamps shining on it in these photo's) it looks black. Kind of a stealth fighter look ;)
The smoother and shoulder planes look pretty handsome, too. You really can't beat the combination of brass, steel and exotic timbers.
Next stop - Kentucky.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Just finished in the workshop - I'm finally happy with the planes I've made for the Kentucky show. Amazing how much work goes into a plane. The initial work goes quickly but the finishing details and tuning takes easily as long again. Then after a few days the plane needs another fettle once it has settled down.
The Blackwood Miter plane looks awesome - I'll take some "studio" shots tomorrow. That wood is just spectacular, and I'm already worrying about obtaining some more. The sheer weight of it is shocking - this is one plane that definitely doesn't need a brass sole! And it always amuses me the way the shavings curl out of a skew plane :)
Tomorrow will see me packing and panicking (probably in that order). Can't wait to get to the US, though.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh.........! Only two more days left before I hit the road. Where does the time go???
Been putting the final polish on my new prototype brass soled smoother. What do you think? Made from Indonesian Rosewood and lots of brass, with a 4mm thick 40mm wide iron, she works excellently. And of course, the "Philly Patent Dovetailed Sole". The sheer weight of the thing means you only have to push it - it holds itself on the work by itself. Need to get the thing on the scales and check out its weight - I'm pretty sure it matches an infill for heft.
I still have some finishing touches to put on the skew miter and tomorrow should see me close to complete. I then have Tuesday to panic and start running around like a headless chicken.
Back to the workshop....
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Built a second, larger, version of my new shoulder plane. This one is 25mm wide and is in Pau Rosa, a favourite timber of mine. I scaled the dimensions up a little and I'm pretty pleased with the way the two planes have come out. Look forward to giving them some serious use.
Another plane on the bench at the moment is this...........
A Skew Miter plane in African Blackwood. I have to tell you - Blackwood has now moved into my Top 5 Timbers. An amazing wood - very, very heavy, and planes like marble. Plane irons last only a few shacings before the edge begins to break down, but boy, is it worth it. The timber looks amazing! I'll make the iron and wedge and get some more photo's.
Back to the workshop....
Monday, November 03, 2008
Right - I promised some pictures.
This is the prototype of my shoulder plane design. It's made from Rosewood and brass, with the sole fixed to the body with a sliding dovetail. In use the plane is very comfortable and has a good weight to it - I'm very pleased!
I am about to make two more, one 3/4 inch wide in African Blackwood , the other 1 1/4 wide in Pau Rosa. They should be ready by the end of the week, and I hope to take them to Kentucky with me to get some feedback on the design.
Back to the workshop......
Sunday, November 02, 2008
For quite some time I've been working on a shoulder plane design. I know when it comes to planes you are re-inventing the wheel, but I really want to make a plane that I am proud of - and that is visually identifiable as a "Philly Plane".
I have plenty of sketch pads full of drawings and ideas. But I really can't "see" a design until I get to hold it in my hands - a potentially time consuming affair, especially as so many designs just don't work once they become "3D". So I have started to make mock-ups from scrap timber - they take minutes to produce, thanks to the bandsaw, scroll saw and sander. And you can instantly tell if you like the design - it is immediately obvious to the eye and hand.
So I have a growing pile of shoulder plane ideas, rendered in wood. And after much work, I have arrived at a design I am happy with. The finish is still drying on the prototype, so you'll have to wait until tomorrow for a photo. But I have attached a picture of some of my mock-ups - hopefully, this will inspire some of you to try this approach. It also works well with furniture designs - a hot glue gun and some offcuts will soon help you see your design in the flesh.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Picked up a copy of Good Woodworking today and was rather pleased to see my ugly mug in a few pictures, as well as a bunch of my planes. Certainly made my day - cheers, Andy!
Been spending some quality time with the new mill. Such a pleasure to use - it always amazes me how large machinery often excels at doing fine work. My table saw is the same - a huge machine, yet perfect for tiny, accurate cuts. Of course, it also handles the big stuff too!
One of the things I wanted to experiment with is adding brass soles to some of my planes - lots of customers have asked about this. So I'm making prototypes as we speak and should have some shiny new models for you soon.
Scared myself earlier when I looked at the calender. I'm off to the US in just over two weeks for the "Woodworking In America" conference. I'm sharing bench space with hand saw supremo Mick Wenzloff, and yes, I'm very excited!! Needless to say, I'll be taking plenty of photo's and taking lots of notes. Expect a full-on Philly Report on my return ;)
Back to the workshop......
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Spent some time yesterday making a stand for the new Mill. 100mm square legs makes for a sturdy base, and it cost me about £20 to make.
Today was D-Day. Went to my local hire centre first thing (A1 - great guys!) and picked up an engine hoist. It was rated for 500kg so I was quite satisfied it was man enough for the job.
Spent an interesting hour manoeuvring the mill in through the door of the workshop (yes, after removing the door to give me more space) and then getting the thing safely in position on the new stand.
Once the heart rate had slowed down I was rather pleased with how it had went. Next - de-greasing. The mill was heavily coated in thick grease and paper. Good for keeping the rust off, a dirty job to clean off. Lots of towel and rags, with WD40 to loosen the worst areas and it came up pretty well.
After setting up the machine and installing handles, etc I was ready to test it. And it worked a dream out of the box - very smooth and quiet. Spent some time taking test cuts and I came away very impressed - a world apart from my previous mill.
Someone asked if I would be making infill planes? I don't plane to make infills at the moment but do have plans for some interesting new hybrids. Pics soon ;)
Monday, October 20, 2008
For quite some time I've been considering upgrading my milling machine (Yes, sorry, it's a metalwork machine). I have finally taken the plunge, thanks in part to an Axminster "10% discount" voucher. Received a phone call from them on Friday to arrange a suitable delivery time and the van turned up on time first thing this morning.
I was expecting the packaging to be "sturdy" and just a little bit big. But I was still quite surprised at the size of the thing! Still, the delivery guy was kind enough to deposit the beast where I wanted it and left me to it.
Getting it into the workshop is going to be a squeeze, but, with the help of an engine hoist I should be able to get it in and sorted tomorrow.
More pics then....
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Brace yourselves - I have actually done some woodworking! Yes, non-planemaking stuff.
Remember the acoustic guitar project I've been slowly building? It's a Weissenborn lap steel guitar, and I made pretty good progress until I came to making the sides. Yes, the tricky part......;)
A couple of weekends ago I made a small bending iron from some steel pipe and a blow torch. Worked fairly well but the pipe was too small a diameter to give me the gentle curves I required. Rather than purchase some suitable pipe I decided to go for Plan B - build a former and laminate the guitar sides in the vacuum bag.
So I built a one piece former from some poplar and laminated the sides from 6 pieces of veneer. It was simple work and the vacuum press did its usual amazing job of flattening things while the glue set. I made a pair and then set them aside to cure. Now I can get on with assembling the guitar, when it finally looks like a "real one"!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Been all go in the Philly Workshop these last few weeks. Another Woodworking show (Yandles), catching up with orders and making two Oak Bookcases. And a few other things besides.....
First up - a tip. If you use power sanders of any type you really need to get yourself a "belt cleaner". I use a 12 inch disc sander for roughing out and they clog fast - as soon as they clog they burn out and become useless. A cleaner removes any clogging in seconds and prolongs the life of the abrasive by ten times, easily. They cost little (I bought the small one form Axminster and it has lasted 18 months) and work well. You can see the remains of the old one on top of the new one - I certainly had my use from it ;)
Next up - the oak bookcases. These were a project for my friend Steve. They were pretty big (2.2m high, 1.5m wide and 400mm deep) and I managed to use pretty much every clamp in the workshop. But the customer was very happy and it was good to do some furniture making.
Cupcake the 'shop cat is getting bigger by the minute. She is also quite comfortable in the workshop now and looks forward to having a nap in there (when she's not rooting out sawdust). Here's a photo of her hard at work ;)Yandles show was a lot of fun (except for the rain!!!!). It was great to meet so many of you in person and fun to see Folks making shavings with my planes. I have some new models in the pipeline so keep your eyes peeled (as well as a new-look website!)
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Time for another woodworking show - Yandles in Martock, Somerset.
I do enjoy Yandles, a twice yearly event. It is held in a working sawmill and has a wonderful atmosphere - huge woodworking machines lurking everywhere, stack after stack of planks air drying in the fields and the smell of tannins in the air. It's not the biggest show but definitely the friendliest.
I'll be there Friday and Saturday - do pop by my bench and say hello!
Back in the workshop I've been busy with the Rosewood again. Just finished a Luthiers Scrub plane - a lovely little plane. The sole is gently curved in both directions (front to back, side to side) which allows you to cut hollow surfaces. If you've ever used a curved spokeshave you've probably found it a bit difficult to keep the tool cutting throughout the cut - this scrub is completely different! It is so simple to use and has a very shallow learning curve. I was so pleased with the way it worked I had to make one for myself, so a baby version in Pau Rosa was born :)
So - better go pack the van ready for Yandles.
See you there?
Thursday, August 28, 2008
A little more about Westonbirt. On the Sunday we had the pleasure of meeting Bill Carter. Bill makes the most wonderful infills, mostly Miter planes. But with a difference. The majority of his planes are miniatures and he ages the metalwork to give an antique look. These give the planes an wonderful timeless look. He also makes a lot of his plane from recycled tenon saw backs - check out his website for more info. Bill was very happy to talk about how he makes his planes and I was fascinated by his methods. As a bonus, his wife Sarah makes a smashing sponge cake ;) Here's a photo of Bill with fellow planemaker Konrad Sauer.
It was good to see so many members of the UK Workshop forum over the four days. Here are a couple of random pics....not sure about the axe one ;)
There were exhibitors from all around the world and it was great to socialise after hours. Here is a picture of Martin and Tommi from Magma - they are holding a Japanese plane they made during the show. A plane with a difference - not many have a walnut blade ;) Tommi (on the left) was also our star goalkeeper during the "International Soccer Match".
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Westonbirt is over - and what a great event it was too!
Another day or two and I should have recovered (mostly) after a hectic but very enjoyable five days. A highlight for me was the "communal living" aspect - most of the exhibitors camped on-site and our host, Mike Hancock, was kind enough to put on a chef to cater for us. Eating, working and drinking (oh, the drinking!) together made for a unique and very enjoyable experience. It's kind of bizarre to be sat under the stars chatting away with an international selection of woodworking superstars!
The standard of work at the show was very, very high and there was a huge variety of wood related disciplines on show. I'll post some more pictures as the week goes by (and I catch up on some sleep - you forget how good it is to sleep in a bed) And also recount the "International Football Match" that took place on the Saturday night ;)
So - the first picture. Many thanks must go to my "glamorous assistant" Mike Riley, who was kind enough to join me at the show. Couldn't have done it without you ;)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Well - that's that. I've finished in the workshop and put the bench in the back of the van ready for the journey to Westonbirt tomorrow. I've just about finished all the planes I was hoping to make and I'm sat at the computer now printing out signs and labels. The rain is falling outside (obviously having a last go before the coming heatwave...........) but I'm not worried. I know its going to be a great weekend :)
I've made a couple of planes from some Indonesian Rosewood I've been hoarding. One is the pretty little smoother I showed off yesterday - the other is a monster Miter plane. She looks just awesome! If anyone is interested they'll be on my bench this coming weekend :)
Shock of the day was the Wife coming out to the workshop with the phone. "It's Konrad", she says. My jaw drops - not Konrad Sauer??
Oh, yes - a quick call before he heads to the airport to make his way over. It was great to have a quick chat (and also to find I'm not the only one feverishly packing bags!) and I'm really looking forward to spending a few days in his company. Did I mention Konrad and I will have our benches set up next to each other (along with Infill maker Bill Carter!) in the Classic Hand Tools marquee?
So make sure you head over to Westonbirt this weekend for the "Festival of the Tree" - you won't be disappointed!
The workshop has been going flat out preparing for the "Festival of the Tree" at Westonbirt. I'm packing the van and hitting the road in the morning, so today is the last day for me finish off bits and pieces and any last minute tasks.
Again, I've been fortunate to have my workshop helper (let's call him "Mr. X" for now....) giving me a hand. I can tell he's enjoying it because he was moaning he didn't have his own workshop apron - one Tormek apron later and he's a happy bunny! Of course, that doesn't stop him repeatedly dropping hot pieces of metal into a jam jar of water, but I promised I wouldn't mention that ;)
With the Ipod rocking away in the background we've produced some lovely planes in the last few weeks. A Rosewood smoother and Miter plane are two of my favourites, and we've been making a selection of the new "Philly Shaves" in walnut, oak, maple, Gonc and Rosewood. They look fantastic - arty photographs to follow!
So - I should get back in the workshop. Time is ticking away....