Sunday, January 31, 2010


That moment, you know you have to cut, you've laid it out, measured, remeasured, scoured the web for any other alternative, checked the books, the magazines and the blogs. Faced with the terrifying prospect of completely and irrevocably butchering that very expensive piece of wood, when do you decide to cut?

Once scrambled, you can never get the yolk out of the whites.

Ah hell, it's just a piece of freaking wood!

Wait though, what if you made an error, how do you correct it at this point?

What if that joint isn't beefy enough?

What if the grain just isn't going in the right direction?

These thoughts are the cancer of woodworking, if you don't overcome these fears, face those demons, you'll never get a damn thing done!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

these are some views of my favorite things

Sometimes I just stand around in my shop...
it's tough to concentrate with all those impeccable hand-made portents of the craft calling out...
pick me up and use me dammit!
sometimes I just sharpen things...
chisels, plane irons, spokeshave blades, marking knives, auger bits, scrapers, haven't made it to the saws yet, kinda scared

or I oil things...
blades, irons, try-squares, adjustable squares, dovetail squares, miter squares, sliding squares, combination squares, rulers, braces, eggbeater drills, hand drills, dovetail saws, carcass saws, tenon saws, panel saws, flush-cut saws, smoothing planes, block planes, shoulder planes, jointer planes, try planes, scrub planes, router planes, rabbet planes, combination planes, plow planes, hollow planes, round planes, transitional planes, fillister planes, I could go on...
It's an almost impossible task to keep everything clean, oiled, sharp, and adjusted, ready to create...

sometimes I make stuff...

sometimes I buy wood,
both my favorite and most dreaded parts.

I just had the opportunity to meet an amazing supplier. At this point he'll remain anonymous until I ask if it's alright.

Urban trees, some hundreds of years old, felled by storms, cars, death, or construction, that would otherwise be trundled off to a mulch plant or bonfire. Trees with character and history, somehow managing to survive as long as they have. It's in the wood, there in the grain, its twists and turns and convolutions, its color and pattern and stain. It's in the sap that pumped through and the branches we can only imagine. And you can ask the story, he knows. He knows how to cut it and dry it and point out spots you may have missed. He used to mill bits of firewood on a band saw as a child. He earned a degree in forestry and now imparts his knowledge in the wood he sells.

May my shop fill with his effort
and his efforts not go to waste

Friday, January 8, 2010

Looking back

Last year about this time I was waist deep in my own smoother, some folks have seen the pics, some very lucky few have had the chance to hold it, caress it, heft it, and even fewer still have made a shaving with it, no not a shaving really, a whisp..

So here's how it's done..

Buy some stuff...
dense luscious wood (LET IT DRY FIRST!!!!) good thick carbon steel, even thicker brass, and oh yea, an iron (really that should have been your first step, shoulda been mine too, but, well, now you know)
Since pictures say a thousand words, I'm going to shut up...

It is hands-down my favorite plane in the shop, it undoubtedly has its place, only used to put that final show finish on the surface, but damn does it feel good!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

oh yea, the chairs...

So getting back to the shop after a two week vacation has been a delight. Never thought I'd go away somewhere nice, say Napa Valley

and Chicago , and actually miss being home. But a week spent in my girlfriend's parents' house, hearing the whine of the dust collector, snarl of radial arm saw, weed-wacker staccato of random orbital sander, made me miss my shop.

Ideas which I've approached, torn apart, reassembled, thrown out, recovered, seem to get lost in the perpetual separation of vacation. An understanding that drawings aren't always necessary.

Absence from your norm is therapy for your soul.

I learned a lot more about things other than woodworking.
I really picked up the value of other people. What some one else means to me. When that one shines that glimmer of one-ness.

I've decided the chairs will reflect this, four pieces, as a whole each reflecting one. I can't say they will be about another specific person, but each will include a bit of place, that centers each object through a physical artifact of being with another person.

Mysterious, huh? Just you wait.

Of course, I missed my cats too!