One of the grand new pleasures for me has been my fairly recent intersection with the hand-tool-makers world occupied by many new friends and acquaintances, as reflected in the recent gather of toolaholics at the Handworks event in Amana, Iowa. Perhaps most heartening of all was the reality that the riches contained in the Amana Festhalle were by no means the complete community as many other tool makers and aficionados were unable to attend for a variety of reasons.
One of these non-attendees was planemaker Tod Herrli. I first become aware of Tod through my long time friend Bess Naylor, who often hosted Tod as an instructor at Olde Mill Cabinet Shop in York PA. Then I ordered Tod’s brilliant instructional video on making a hollow-and-round pair. Thanks in part to my previous job duties I have seen dozens if not hundreds of instructional videos on a wide variety of topics, and I cannot recall ever seeing one better. Ever. To watch him construct a matched pair of hollow-and-round planes in near-real time is an awesome thing.
Last spring I had the opportunity to meet and visit Tod on my way to teach at the National Institute of Woodfinishing in Minnesota, spending a delightful afternoon immersed in tool chat. On my departure I indicated my desire for a small sash plane, and asked Tod if he could make one for me. Last month a package arrived with a sample of the output of such a plane, along with the question of whether or not I still wanted the plane I had requested.
The answer was an unqualified “Yes!”
On my way home from Amana I stopped by Tod’s house again for another wonderful afternoon of fellowship, culminating with taking delivery of my new plane. Now I have no excuse for not building small cabinets with glazed doors. A matching coping plan is in the works, and I will wait patiently until my turn for that comes up in Tod’s hectic schedule.
It is my hope and desire that Tod can come to The Barn On White Run for a week of planemaking teaching next summer, and perhaps many more summers after that. My plan is for Tod to teach an introductory class on simple planemaking on a Monday and Tuesday, with Wednesday, Thursday and Friday dedicated to a second class on making a more complex tool.
Stay tuned, and thanks Tod for making this new heirloom tool for me.
My name is Don, and I’m a shellacaholic. The topic of shellac and its uses and performance has been a near-constant focus of mine for the past four decades. One result of this interest has been my compilation of hundreds of documents with thousands of pages dealing with those very same topics, ranging from manufacturer’s brochures to articles in the popular press to arcane monographs so esoteric that their audience has been nearly invisible over the decades.
One great advantage (?) to electronic self-publishing like blogging is that there is no governor on the enterprise beyond one’s own energies. That capacity allows me or anyone else to go anywhere their ideas take them. Which of course brings me to the topic of this blog – my shellac literature archive. In recent years I have been scanning and digitizing these files, and I am not close to being finished yet!
With Jason’s help I have established a special section within the Writings section to house this archive. Over the coming few dozen months I will be uploading my shellac archive, one document per week or so. Some weeks it will be a stand-alone document, some weeks it will be a consecutive series of chapters from shellac treatises. This will be the shellac world’s analog to the old-time serialized novels. All tolled I think I have about 200 things to post (if stacked up it would be about a four-foot-tall pile), but the final number will depend on how I chop them up.
The first entry is, appropriately in this centennial year, the 1913 trade brochure, “The Story of Shellac.”
Chris Schwarz just posted my newest contribution to the Lost Art Press Blog. You can see it here. My ongoing exploration of these vises and my efforts to replicate them will mostly occur ay my blog, so stay tuned.
I am not sure if two events establish a tradition, but I am hoping that is the case. For the second year in a row I set aside a weekend in May to host one of the local Chapters of the SAPFM with whom I am involved to gather at The Barn for a weekend of fellowship and woodfinishing.
The first weekend of May 2013 The Barn hosted a “Finisher’s Retreat Weekend” for the Chesapeake Chapter of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers. I co-taught the event with old friend DaveR from Knoxville. The premise for the weekend was for each participant to bring a completed furniture making project and we would finish it together. Together Dave and I led them through the Six Steps for Perfect Finishing, beginning with preparing the surface of the workpiece and wrapping up with a glorious artifact portrait of their piece on top of Franklin Floor.
Since the task for each participant was to arrive with a recently constructed piece awaiting the final, transformative finishing processes, the range of projects was broad and the quality of workmanship exceedingly impressive. Between my ministrations on surface prepping, wax finishing and brushing shellac, and Dave’s instructions and demonstrations with spirit varnish pad polishing and traditional asphalt coloration, and the continuous cross pollination, great progress was made on each project.
I look forward to May 16-18, 2014, where we can perhaps cement the new tradition for SAPFM members to come finish the pieces they built over the winter.