Shop time has been a bit in short supply lately. I had a couple of days off this week where I was able to spend some quality time there finally.
Sometimes a small, easy project is great to get back into the groove and get a feeling of accomplishment that you got to finish something. In this video, I make a small Christmas Tree decoration that has an accordion style to it. To make it more interesting, I adhered sheet music of “Silent Night” to it.
After a mistake and redo, I finished the project, and then celebrated in a fashion that I think Nick Offerman would approve.
The first half of 2015 really didn’t turn out to be much of a great woodworking period for me for various reasons. It hasn’t been until the last couple of months that I’ve been able to get any significant shop time, but now that I have been able to get more shop time, I wanted to get back to the site.
That doesn’t mean I’ve been totally idle though. This past summer, I was able to get what I consider two pretty cool things done that have been on my list for a while.
July – Lie-Nielsen Open House
I was able to take a comp day on the Friday of Lie-Nielsen’s open house this year. I’ve wanted to head up to Maine the last couple of years to see where some of the nicest hand tools are made. (I had to work on Saturday, which made it a somewhat anti-climatic Saturday, but I digress.)
I took what normally would have been a 3 1/2 hour drive, but with a Dunkin’ Donuts large iced coffee with my breakfast on the road, it made for closer to a 4 hour drive with “pit stops”. I arrived, and it was great. We got a tour of the facility from one of the employees – a very nice guy who mentioned he was originally from Plymouth, MA, (a stone’s throw from me) and we got to some small talk of things in this area. They had many folks demonstrating both outdoors under their tent and in their upstairs education workshop. I placed a low angle jack plane on order, and got to meet the man himself, Thomas Lie-Nielsen, who proceeded to apologize a couple of times for not having them in stock that day, but he was sure I’d love it when it came in. It came in the next week, along with an extra toothed blade, and yes, I do love it. It’s an excellent tool that I will continue to find many uses for. Thus far my main use has been as a shooting plane and a small jointing plane for smaller pieces.
Matt Kenney’s (of Fine Woodworking) boxes.
Mary May demonstrates her carving.
Deneb Puchalski and Roy Underhill with a blacksmith.
Christian Beckvoort demonstrates dovetails.
Another angle of Christian Becksvoort doing dovetails.
After speaking to Christian, he offered to sign his book that I bought while there.
Two masters. Roy Underhill filming a short segment with Christian Becksvoort.
My low angle jack plane and extra toothed blade arrived the next week!
August – I Finally Got a Bandsaw!
I’ve had a good bandsaw on my list for a few years now. Every time I got close to being able to pull the trigger, life would throw a bit of a curveball and we’d have to reallocate the funds.
The stars aligned quite nicely for this. I was able to sell a small amount of some stock that had vested at the time Woodcraft was having a nice sale, which also coincided with a Massachusetts sales tax holiday! It was an estimated savings of about $160-$170 between the sale and no sales tax.
So a very nice Laguna 14 Twelve bandsaw now sits in my shop! With the low ceilings in the basement, I had to double check all the measurements before buying to make sure I could fit it in there.
So we’re caught up… mostly. The project on my bench that I’ve resumed is a coffee table. The leg assemblies are mostly together with the exception of some trim pieces. Once that’s done, on to the top, and then finish!
Unfortunately, various events of late have kept me from getting into the shop as much as I would like. From end of summer and back to school, to giving my dad some extra help as my mother has experienced increasing health issues the last few weeks, I haven’t spent too much time in the shop from mid-August onward.
I did however, get a few hours on a Friday a couple of weeks ago to attend the Lie-Nielsen hand tool event in Manchester, CT. I have to say it was nice getting back into a woodworking setting and mindset. This particular event in Manchester, CT was hosted at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. I’ve been to a few other Lie-Nielsen events, but this one by a good margin was the largest. Lie-Nielsen will often have another vendor or two with them, but there were several at this event: Tico Vogt (premium shooting board maker), Fine Woodworking Magazine, Catherine Kennedy (Tool Engraving), and others who I forget their name, but dealt with molding and wooden hand planes. If you have never been to one of these events, you owe it to yourself to try and get to one. You can test drive any tool they have there, and you get a great feel for what a quality, sharp tool should feel like. Ask a question, and you’ll get a detailed answer and/or a great demonstration.
So here are a few pics:
Thanks to Google+ “auto-awesome”, a panoramic of Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. Lie-Nielsen area is on the left, and other vendor booths along back wall.
Some furniture on display at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking.
Deneb Puchalski of Lie-Nielsen answering questions on hand planes.
Mike Pekovich of Fine Woodworking magazine doing a demonstration on card scrapers. It was nice to chat with Mike for a bit after his demonstration.
And of course, I couldn’t NOT post a pic of my new #4 that I ordered at the event and arrived the other day!
This post is following my usual theme of “better late than never”…
I got the chance a few weekends ago to spend a day in New Haven, CT to attend Fine Woodworking Live. The event was the whole weekend, however Fine Woodworking also offered day passes for this year’s event. Not to get into too much personal info, but since I have a special needs son, which has meant a very “tag-team” approach for my wife and I, I’m very happy the day passes were offered. I could go for the day, and be back that night.
It was great to see a couple of folks I hadn’t seen in a while, and meet for the first time others. Getting to spend time with fellow woodworkers is always a great part of an event like this. The day began with a presentation to all the attendees, and was then followed by the classes. What was nice is that the most popular classes (determined by a survey they gave to attendees prior to the event) were offered at multiple times. The common thing I took away from the event was the approachability of the instructors and the Fine Woodworking employees at the event. All the folks I spoke with either after classes or in the hallway were easy going and willing to answer questions and feedback.
Of course I took some pics while there (click on each for larger image):
Phil Lowe of the Furniture Institue of Massachusetts at the morning presentation showing some of his work.
Matt Kenney of Fine Woodworking discussing one of his pieces.
Christian Becksvoort, while more known for Shaker style pieces, discusses one of his music stands.
Christian Becksvoort discussing another of his music stands.
After the morning presentation, I (on left) caught up with some folks I know from the Modern Woodworkers Association (modernwoodworkersassociation.com): Chris Adkins (middle) – highrockwoodworking.com; Ian Mackay (right, who I met that day) – woodcanuck.wordpress.com; photo by Dyami Plotke – penultimatewoodshop.com
40 Years of Tips with Christian Becksvoort. Here Christian is showing a demo piece that is not glued up, so he can break it down to show construction details. Ed Pirnik of Fine Woodworking doing A/V (green shirt), and Asa Christiana also of Fine Woodworking (light blue shirt) taking photos.
Mike Pekovich of Fine Woodworking teaching hand tools. Here explaining the versatility of the spokeshave (on my “to get” list at some point).
Mike demonstrating body mechanics while hand sawing with a back saw. He explains how to adjust if your cut is off the line.
Fitting a drawer with Phil Lowe. Phil goes over how to fit the drawer front into a case, and the construction of the remainder of the drawer box.
Phil setting his marking gauge to start laying out the dovetails of the drawer.
I think I would be remiss if I didn’t share my thoughts on Fine Woodworking as an organization. When I first became interested in woodworking, my impression of Fine Woodworking was that it would be the magazine I would get once I “got good” at woodworking. It was the magazine for folks that had a great deal of experience, which I had yet to obtain. Shortly afterwards, I was invited by the Modern Woodworkers Association to take a tour of their offices and shop in Newtown, CT. It was then that I figured it might be a good time to check out the magazine, so I subscribed.
Once I had magazine in hand and took part in the tour, I realized my first impression was a bit off. With their mix of editor and contributor authored articles, it is a very much “how-to” magazine, with content suitable for multiple experience levels. When on the tour with Matt Kenney and Mike Pekovich, it was clear they were regular guys with a love for the craft.
Now that I’ve been a subscriber for a couple of years, attended Fine Woodworking Live, and listened to their podcast Shop Talk Live for some time now, it’s clear to me that they are working hard to lose any image they’ve had as a publication only for the professional or well experienced hobbyist with an aloof air to it. Shop Talk Live I find entertaining, and they don’t hide the fact that mistakes will be made (Smooth Moves is great section of their podcast).
So for anyone reading that may have a notion that Fine Woodworking is not for the everyday hobbyist or new woodworker, I would say to give them another look. Check out the magazine and their online membership, as well as their Shop Talk Live podcast. Of course, if you can make it to next year’s Fine Woodworking Live, I would highly recommend it. Even if you can’t make the whole weekend, I hope they will continue to offer the day passes – it was definitley worth going.
I finally got some supplies to start flattening and sharpening the Narex Chisels I got from Lee Valley a while back. So here is part 2 of the test drive where I compare a tuned up chisel to one of the ones untouched out of the box. I’ll also over go over some of my sharpening setup. Thanks to Kari Hultman and Mike Morton for the info they provided me recently regarding my waterstone!
FYI – Lie-Nielsen’s YouTube that I mention in the video is back online here under their new account. Their sharpening guide can be found here.
I wanted to post this quick note because I had really wanted to post the second part of the Narex chisel test by now. I received my waterstone, and when I double checked them for flat, I noticed that there was a slight hump in the middle. I have on my list a DMT diamond stone to flatten the waterstone, so once I allocate the funds for that, I’ll get it and be back in business!