Saturday, October 6, 2007

Queen Victoria

Would you believe that Queen Victoria was a woodturner? How cool is that? According to The Ornamental Turning Center (OTC), the Queen, and others of wealth and royalty, enjoyed turning decorative rosework and swashwork on a machine called an Ornamental Lathe (which is not the same as a regular lathe). According to the OTC website, the Ornamental Lathe was developed in Bavaria around 1525.

Paraphrased from Sandor Nagyszalancy's book "The Art of Fine Tools": In 1794, John Jacob Holtzapffel opened a lathe-making business in which he developed foot-powered lathes with an overhead drive system. A treadle-drive flywheel was coupled with a system of pulleys & drive belts which powered a revolving cutter. By fitting any of a wide variety of cutters, the user could create an unending profusion of surface decorations.

Beautiful, decorative pieces could be made with an ornamental lathe (of which only a few remain). No wonder it appealed to the Queen. Obviously, the creative spirit can be found in any group of people, including royalty.

Photos from "The Art of Fine Tools", Sandor Nagyszalanczy.

Shiplapped & Beaded

One of the best things about woodworking is that you have several choices of techniques and tools in making any given cut. And when you're a hobbyist, you have the luxury of choosing the technique that suits your safety needs and preference. My preference is to use hand tools, unless I'm in a hurry (which seems to be never). So in making the back for my partner's bookcase, I picked up one of my antique beading planes and my Stanley #78 antique rabbeting plane. Sharpened and honed, they are two very sweet tools.

Why use a beading plane when I could my router table? Several reasons: 1) sawdust makes me cough 2) by working with handtools, it seems more like you're shaping the wood rather than a power tool creating the shape 3) you don't waste wood making practice cuts 4) faster set up time 5) it's quiet 6) it's a great workout 7) it's safer 8) wood shaped with handtools seems to have more character (but my power tool buddies would beg to differ! : )

In fact, it took me only a little longer to bead the boards by hand than it would have taken me with a router. I averaged 2-3 minutes per each 7' long board with 11 passes with the molding plane.

Once the beaded edges were done, I started on the rabbets with the Stanley #78. The first board took 30 minutes to plane the rabbet to width and depth. I've got 12 boards to rabbet, front and back. That's 24 rabbets x 30 minutes. 12 hours! table saw's looking pretty good right now....