Archive: » 2019 » May

Workshop Teaser – Make A Set of Roubo Squares

Every participant will begin with a slab of brass which we will cut on the table saw to yield the preferred number of graduated squares.

Once these have been cut and the corners cleaned up, they will be laid out for the graduated nesting sizes.

Ogees are cut and filed into the ends, and all the detailing is finished in preparation for the silver soldering of the shoe on the outside of the beam.

If this workshop interests you, drop me a line via the Comments or Contact functions of the site.  It will be June 20-22, and the tuition + materials is $425.  You will leave with a completed set of squares.


Other workshops at the Barn this summer are:

Historic Finishing

Make A Roubo Shoulder Knife

Make A Ripple Molding Machine

Workbench Wednesday – #18 (2018), Bob’s Tricked Out Nicholson

It’s not my own bench but demonstrates a developmental step in the making of Nicholson benches at the Barn.

My friend Bob has many and varied skills that I draw on frequently.  At least once a year he comes over to fell trees for firewood, having been a timberman virtually all of his life.  I am happy to cut up the trees once they are down but am not fully confident of bringing them down where they should be (i.e. not on top of me).

Bob is also a gunsmith and firearms instructor (I will be getting some advanced training from him next month) and I’ve visited his workshop several times.  In my visits I noticed a decided lack of workbench assets there so last spring I built him a tricked out Nicholson for use on guns stocks and such.  He had some space limitations so it was a custom built 6-foot unit.

The basic bench was little different than what I’ve built before.  To this base I added a twin-screw face vise on the front apron, then added a bench top Moxon vise to be moved wherever he needed it on the top.  In fact, building this bench was the practice that let me work out all the kinks for the class I taught in Arkansas last summer.

At the end of the first day working on the bench I had it up in its feet and was ready to turn my attentions to working on the vise screws with my new Bealle threader.

But for the first day I just built it the way I do them all with the apron projecting slightly above the top battens so I could hand-plane everything nice and even.

Next week I will focus on incorporating wooden screws vises into the bench.  It will be the final installment of “looking backwards” in the bench making adventures at the barn, but never fear, there are a half-dozen new iterations coming down the pike.

In A World Before Sawmills

I  was utterly captivated by this short documentary of Norse woodsmen fashioning eight forty-foot rafters from a single tree trunk, using only axes and wedges fashioned after nearly-millennium-old archaeological discoveries.

I’m guessing these guys could hold their own in a wrist wrestling competition.

It sure makes my splitting and riving for making Gragg chairs pretty insignificant.

Come To Papa: New Treasures For The Shellac Archive

Being a long time shellacophile in the Age of Ebay I browse that site’s holdings periodically for shellac-related items of interest.  As a result I own a Zinsser money clip, several generations of sales and technical brochures, a book or two, and several old timey shellac bottles and cans.  Recently my visits to ebay for this purpose have dropped off considerably, coming now only to once every month or two instead of a couple times a week.  I’m just too busy to spend that time, and frankly have not found anything worth buying in a few years.

That all changed a couple weeks ago my pal TimP sent me a note indicating the availability of these three treasure troves, bound compilations of research monographs and related materials from the three gravitational centers of the Shellaciverse: The Indian Lac Research Institute; The London Shellac Research Bureau; and the Shellac Research Bureau, Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

There was a “Buy it now” option so of course, I bought it now.  It was my moral duty.  Earlier this week the hefty package arrived here in the wilderness and I eagerly opened it to see if it was solid gold or simply dross.  Each volume is several hundred pages of documents comprising dozens of monographs, technical notes, and other publications.  A quick glance indicates that almost half of this is new to me so it constitutes a substantial amazing addition to the archive.

Thanks TimP!

It will take some time, perhaps even needing to wait until the winter reading season, but I will get through the books and digitize them for inclusion into my electronic version of the archive.

Note to self: resume posting publications to The Shellac Archive!

PS  With the arrival of Spring like a freight train, some recent eye surgery (my 21st), a little travel, and a heavy video production schedule I simply haven’t had much time nor energy to blog lately.

Workbench Wednesday – #17 (2018) Full Size Nicholson

For our penultimate offering in the “looking back” portion of this series I offer for your consideration a full-size Nicholson.  This workbench was primarily an exercise in, “I wonder…” as in, “I wonder how fast I can build a complete basic bench.” This approach to seeing how much time it would take to build the basic workbench was predicated on leaving the full tricking out for a subsequent session.  I found the answer to be about 4 hours, not counting the time for obtaining the lumber from over the mountains.

Notwithstanding my deep connection to Roubo benches I have come to see the Nicholson as a preferable option for many woodworkers.  It is exceedingly fast and easy to build, needing only a small table saw (or even a hand-held circular saw with a Speed Square for crosscutting and a rip fence on the saw base) , battery drill with a box of decking screws, and hand saw and hand plane of your choosing to make.

As (almost) always I began with clear southern yellow pine 2x12x24′ construction lumber selected from the inventory of Virginia Frame in Fishersville VA.  They gladly cut the 24-footers into 8-foot sections for me.  Once home I ripped then crosscut two of the boards in half for stock to fabricate the legs and the cross battens for the top boards to rest on.

The assembly itself was so straightforward I need not even discuss it in any detail.  With my drill, framing square and the decking screws it was up on its feet in no time.  I made the bench with a double apron on the front side in order to provide 3″ of thickness for holdfast holes.  I dimensioned the backing apron to be at the right height for the battens, and the off cut served as the support for the battens on the rear apron.  The double thickness of battens and top boards serves the same function of capturing the holdfasts.

With my 3/4″ hole drilling jig I can go back and put holes whenever and wherever I need them.  But for now it was just a basic, fully functional full-sized (8-foot) workbench that could last several generations of craftsmen.

All the “tricking out” features would come on the final bench of this part of the series, #18, Bob’s bench for gunsmithing.

(Truth in advertising — when I ramped up the production of Mel’s Wax over in my work space I purloined this workbench from the classroom, and last week I build another one to take its place.  So maybe this posting is about Opus 17 and Opus 19.)