Friday, November 13, 2009

Fine Woodworking: Finishing Smackdown

Fine Woodworking hosted an event with Asa Christiana and Michael Peckovich going sander to handplane to see which tool creates a finished surface the fastest. Anatole Burkin emceed the event and two dozen woodworkers from the local community were invited to watch. This video shows some highlights, plus a few of the beautiful pieces of furniture on display at the Taunton Press building, where Fine Woodworking is located.

So who won the event? Let's just say a collective galoot sigh of happiness was heard round the world.

*The video above is one that I made for fun. It just shows some images and footage to give you an idea of what the event looked like and a sense of the friendliness. To see the actual live streaming, please visit the Fine Woodworking site.


will said...

I'm sorry, I've tried to see the lightness or silliness of this but I still return to the thought - someone, probably FWW, has jumped the shark with this sort of stunt.

Woodbloke said...

I can't really see the point either...the first few seconds showed a guy sanding a table leg with a ROS...looks like he'd had a coupla shots of JD just before though as it was wobbling so much. The timber appeared to be a decent bit of straight grained maple or similar with some pieces being fairly narrow. The galoots are going to win hands down...but what if it was a wide board of something heavy, nasty and interlocked? Horses for courses, as ever. Good fun though! - Rob

Larry Marshall said...

I'd like to thank FWW for streaming this event in its entirety. It was great. I'm not sure that the abbreviated presentation does much, however, as the purpose was to look at the real time duration/activities in comparison. Anyone viewing the 3-min version would surely miss the point.

Cheers --- Larry

Kari Hultman said...

My little video is just for fun--to show a few scenes of the competition, images of the shop and the people who attended. If you'd like to see the actual footage, you'll need to go to FWW's site for the live stream.

The competition wasn't silly at all, and it was my impression that the woodworkers who attended came away with a lot of information since Asa and Michael both gave pointers to anyone who was standing by. I took lots of notes that I plan to put in an upcoming post that you might find interesting.

The Cottage Workshop said...

Great video Kari! I'll be humming that all day.
I think I got the point pretty well though. From what I could see, they presented some sort of comparison between different approaches to finishing. I'm sure the "shootout" part was a vehicle for teaching and to have fun but not to be taken too seriously.

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Richard. I'll give more details in the next blog post, but you're right--two men used different methods to see if power or handtools could produce a finished surface more quickly. I enjoyed hearing both men's thoughts on preparing a surface and seeing their techniques. It was an opportunity to watch and talk with talented and knowledgeable woodworkers.

Jeff said...

That was a nice lift to my morning. I don't think there's anything wrong with a little gratuitous lightness and joy. Thanks!

Joseph Pritchard said...

Kari! Great video and super music. Who did that version? I know a few galoots who knocked back a celebratory libation!

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks Jeff! Glad you liked it. It was fun to put together.

Thanks Joseph! That is Frances Faye singing that version. I must admit, I was also happy with the outcome of the competition. :o)

Dyami said...

I watched it live and must say, they seem a bit too enchanted with hand tools. Asa many times brought up that his set up was hundreds of dollars cheaper. Not only that, it took almost no set up of his tool and very little skill. When the cost of planes and card scrapers and the time it takes to learn the skills necessary to set up a plane and sharpen a plane blade are all factored in, you'd have to make a lot of furniture before the plane becomes more efficient.

Nice post and great coverage by you and FWW.

Kari Hultman said...

Dyami, you bring up some important points. There are benefits to using either method. And actually, both men said that once you finish with 600 grit sandpaper, you really can't tell a difference in the finished surface. Certainly, sandpaper is the less expensive route and easier to use. I learned to use handplanes, though, because sawdust makes me cough and I hate sanding. It was always the most egregious part of a project. Handplanes are quiet and better for your lungs. They do require skill and knowledge, but (for me) they're more fun to use than a ROS. Like every task in woodworking, there's always more than one choice, which is great.

Did you catch the shot in the video with sawdust on Asa's nose??? :o)

Dyami said...

I did see the sawdust, though I must say it was a point for sanding, as I love to wear my hobby.

I have to say that I agree with your points. I like both planing and sanding (if you belong, check out the photo of cedar shavings I planed today and posted to the TWW Community). I would have preferred that FWW provide a slightly more unbiased coverage (even Asa though he would lose before starting).

In terms of the dust sanding causes, while I agree with you in my distaste for it, I've gotten in the habit of wearing a mask when I use power tools and I just keep the mask on when sanding. Also, I've been blown away by the results of hooking up my R.O. Sanders to my ClearVue Ridgid BlowerVac Cyclone. It let me sand a 10' x 12' oak floor with my Ridgid 6" R.O. When I was done I sept the floor and had a pile about 4" round and 1/2" high. Between the masks and vacuum, the dust doesn't really bother me any more.

Thanks for the discussion,

Dan said...

Kari - Thanks for the video fun! As for me, there is no competition between sanding and planing; I hate to sand and love to plane! It's that simple.

Well, okay, I can elaborate. I not only enjoy the process of planing more than that of sanding, but I enjoy the results more as well. There is a quality to planed wood (a kind of burnish?) that I have never seen replicated with sandpaper.

Plus, being a hand tools only guy, planing is WAY more efficient :)

Kari Hultman said...

Dyami, I've also seen Festool's dust collecting system and it's very impressive.

Dan, you could really see the difference between the two boards once they put a coat of oil on them. Since Asa had only sanded to 220, his board did not have the sheen that the planed board had. they said that they had run a contest in a past issue where two boards were compared—one sanded to 600 grit and one handplaned—and they could not see a difference. I think it's one of those can o' worms topics. ; )