Studley

Replica Studley Infill Mallet Castings

I was recently alerted to the ongoing project by foundryman Bill Martley to replicate the shell castings for the beloved mallet of Henry O. Studley.  Well, beloved to me at least.  Bill and I corresponded and I ordered the raw castings in his original alloy, a red-ish bronze.  You can tell the coloration difference between Bill’s castings and the brass shells I have worked on in the past.

The castings are quite nice and I am working through finishing them to make myself a mallet or six.  The amazing thing is that Bill got the pattern really close to the original, without even having access to the Studley book!  He said he was relying on pictures I posted on this blog.  I sent him a copy of the book as part of our transaction, so he can move forward with the definitive information in-hand.

Bill has been selling these rough castings through his Instagram page, mystic_pickers.  If you are interested in acquiring one of the rough castings from Bill you can contact him directly through the Instagram page.  If there are hiccups let me know and I will check with him to see if he wants me to post his contact information here.

Since the color of the alloy is wrong for me I have ordered two addition sets of castings from Bill with yellower alloys to see how they look and work.

At the same time I have been tinkering with my patterns for casting the mallet shells myself, just because.  (I am determined that 2021 will be a year of metal casting at The Barn with several projects in the pipeline)  Once I get the patterns to a point where I am satisfied I will cast them in both silicon bronze and brass in the barn.  Since I have the detailed information based on my many examinations and with the blessing of Mister Stewart I am confident that the end point will be successfully achieved.  (Let’s just keep it between ourselves, but my ultimate goal is to have finished “authorized” mallet replicas for sale at Handworks 2021.)

I’ll be recounting the project from my end as things proceed and I hope you will enjoy the ride.

Final Space Preps for Gragg Workshop

With all of the steam bending done for the Gragg chair workshop John and I spent a little time reorganizing the attic of the barn, now with only the months of waiting for the students to arrive.  One more workbench to move across the room and it’s all done.

Yes, we hoisted one and made two new benches and began to place them around the perimeter of the space.  At almost a thousand square feet it is a grand luxury for any workshop, and I have only Mrs. Barn to thank for it.  I had intended to leave the level of the barn un-floored, but she recommended, correctly, that if I did lay down  floor I would find it immensely useful  She was correct, again.

So, at the workshop every participant will have a fully outfitted bench plus half of a 4′ x 8′ assembly table on wheels, which are themselves re-cycled platforms for the long-passed Studley exhibit.

One final decorative touch was to tack the graphic panels from the exhibit over the benches.  Whether these inspire or intimidate is yet to be determined.

 

Last Call For Alco-, er, Free Studley Postcards

I’ve still got a few left, awaiting new homes. If there are any more in a week I will just put them in my traveling store and hand them out at upcoming woodworking events. – DCW

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Thrashing around my “mail” closet I came across a stack of leftover postcards I had printed in 2014 to promote the then-upcoming exhibit of the H.O. Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench I was creating for the following May.

Rather than simply throw them away or use them for notes to myself, I decided to make them available to you for free until they are all gone. I guess I could make some charge, but that seems like too much trouble to me.

So, if you would like one of these cards to post on the wall next to your tool cabinet just drop me a note and I will send you one for free (make sure to include your mailing address!). If you feel compelled to compensate me you can buy me a cup of tea or a brownie the next time our paths cross.

FREE – H.O.Studley Memento (still got some)

I’ve still got some of these left so I am re-posting the offer.

Thrashing around my “mail” closet I came across a stack of leftover postcards I had printed in 2014 to promote the then-upcoming exhibit of the H.O. Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench I was creating for the following May.

Rather than simply throw them away or use them for notes to myself, I decided to make them available to you for free until they are all gone. I guess I could make some charge, but that seems like too much trouble to me.

So, if you would like one of these cards to post on the wall next to your tool cabinet just drop me a note and I will send you one for free (make sure to include your mailing address!). If you feel compelled to compensate me you can buy me a cup of tea or a brownie the next time our paths cross.

Workbench Wednesday – #12 (2015) Studley Replica (Top)

On my first trip to visit the HO Studley tool cabinet I was quite expectantly anticipating the absolute headiness of the experience of being in the intimate presence of this iconic artifact.  The drive was a test of restraint as it was a long one and I had to reign in my excitement or I would be exhausted by the time I got there.  It was all I could do to avoid the temptation of non-stop daydreaming that would splatter me on an underpass, or calling literally every woodworker I knew to ask them, “Guess where I am going?”

When I arrived and met Mister Stewart, and he ushered me into the room containing the tool cabinet, I literally felt tingles.  Indeed, the tool cabinet and its contents were as amazing as I had psyched myself up for, hoping that I would not be disappointed.  I wasn’t.  But, much to my astonishment I realized that the workbench was every bit the masterpiece that the tool cabinet was.  I won’t blow smoke up your shop apron and tell you I spent as much time examining and photographing the bench as I did the tool cabinet, but it was a lot more than I was expecting.

I cannot really see myself using a tool repository like Studley’s for my everyday work, but I definitely could see me using the workbench all day, every day.  It was as you might expect from Studley, both ingenious and exquisite and all I kept thinking the day I drove from Studley to Cincinnati for WIA 2010 was, “I gotta make me one of these.”  Eventually I worked through Chris Schwarz to acquire a slab of mahogany 4″ thick by 28″ wide by seven feet long to make the top.

I got the slab home and nestled into the barn awaiting the decks to clear so I could begin.

Imagine my surprise when on a later return visit to continue documenting Studley more fully and I was able to study the underside of the bench, and more particularly the holes into which the alignment pins from the under-bench cabinet fit, I discovered that the bench top construction was not what I had expected.  Suddenly I had a giant mahogany slab available for another function; Studley’s bench was a laminated construction.

With Jameel Abraham I went to a lumber dealer he patronized and bought what I needed for the bench top.  It was select white oak for the core and mahogany for the faces.  Notwithstanding the “mahogany” was no such thing, at least I had materials to begin the replica bench to include in the exhibit.

Lest you lose any sleep worrying about the abandoned mahogany slab (it was true swietenia, not the phony pastiche that is often sold as “mahogany”), fear not.  I have plans for it in the not-to-distant future.

Stay tuned.

Studley Tool Cabinet Molding Profile

I blogged recently about visiting my friend, Mister Stewart, and his ensemble of the Henry Studley tool cabinet and workbench.  One of the purposes of the visit was to get a better picture of the molding profile on the cabinet, but Mister Stewart did one better than that.  During his fabrication of the new workbench base he replicate exactly the moldings from the tool cabinet and gave me one of the scraps from that enterprise.  I finally got a chance to take a picture, and here it is.

If you would like a better resolution picture of the cross-section, drop me a line here.

Visiting Old Friends

A while back I had the opportunity to visit some old friends, namely Mister Stewart and his remarkable collection of artifacts including the tool cabinet and workbench of HO Studley.  My impetus for the visit, beyond the obvious, was to examine the newest element found and integrated into the workbench.  The rear shelf completed the composition of the bench.

It was unusual for the form in that it was not pierced to hold tools, the typical arrangement for such shelves, such as this analogous bench and shelf.

Perhaps the function of this shelf on Studley’s bench was to simply look pretty?

Another element of the visit was documenting more fully some of the molding profiles on the cabinet.  Though I did not have a profile gauge with me, Mister Stewart gifted me with a piece of the molding he made when he fabricated the new workbench base.  Once I get that photographed I’ll post that as well.

Now THAT’S Commitment!

It has been said that in characterizing the participants for a ham-and-eggs breakfast, the chicken is a contributor, but the pig is committed.  While it is not a perfect analogy, I am mindful of the commitment of the many hundreds of folks who took time and trouble to come and see the Studley exhibit.  I have a special warm place in my heart for the several dozen attendees who met me with greetings from foreign places around the globe: Finland, England, Germany, Italy, Austria, Mexico, Massachusetts, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, which sent a substantial contingent.

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The poster child for this might very well be MattR from Melbourne, who reveled in the exhibit with a gregarious intensity that was infectious.  When I announced during his original time period of 11AM-noon on Sunday that given the sparse attendance expected for the final stretch I was going to extend visitor privileges on that final afternoon, he immediately bought another ticket for 3PM and stayed with us until the bitter end.

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Recently he sent a note of thanks and congratulations, and included pictures of his copy of Narayan’s poster and his exhibit admission ticket, matted and framed together, displayed prominently in his very cool shop.

Yeah, passionate aficionados like MattR from Melbourne made it all worthwhile for me, so thanks MattR!

Replicating Studley’s Alcove Arch, Part 1 – The Maquette

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One of my many goals  for the upcoming exhibit of the Henry Studley collection is to give the visitor a real sense of the details Studley lavished on his tool cabinet and workbench, including many that are hidden from view but some of which are almost “front and center.”  Among these prominent features is the arch and alcove, used as the home for his Stanley #1 plane, perhaps the only instance of this model I had ever seen with honest to goodness wear.  Thanks to the permission of the owner and equipped with silicone molding rubber putty I was able to get impressions of the top half of the arch.

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Once I returned home to begin the process of making castings from this mold I realized how inadequate my mold was and set out the create a maquette, or master wax model, from which I could make a second mold, and from that second mold cast replicas for the viewer’s interaction.

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The mold that I had made was okay,  as far as it goes, but it was not as complete as I needed for making three-dimension replicas.  To resolve that, I decided to embed the entire mold in a block of molten wax, then carve away the excess and essentially sculpt the maquette from the remains.

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I found a cardboard box a little larger than the original mold and lined it with aluminum foil, then filled it with enough pigmented wax to cover all the parts I wanted to work on.  I pigmented the wax just so it was easier for my tired old eyes to work it.

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Using common bench tools, mostly chip carving knives, I whittled away all the waste to get to the material left in and around the original mold.  The resulting wax casting was perfect for sculpting the maquette, so I did.

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Next time – casting the replica for display.

PopWood Twofer — Blessing and Curse

I’ve been a reader of Popular Woodworking for several years, and in recent times have enjoyed a very congenial working relationship with them.  I just got the latest PW Issue 218, which is a terrific and not just because I have two things in it.  There are several great articles including the cover project and a long insert.

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The magazine features my article on decorative wire inlay (bisected by the aforementioned insert) and the End Grain column about the Studley Tool Cabinet that ran on the Popular Woodworking web site a few days ago.

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Mrs. Barn glanced through the issue and said, “Very nice article. (I think she was talking about the Studley piece — DCW)  But when are you going to start making furniture for me?”

Ouch.  I guess I know what I’m doing after the Studley exhibit.