Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fox Wedged Tenon

Fox wedging is a joinery technique for a mortise and tenon joint where the wedge is fitted into a sawn kerf in the tenon. As the tenon is driven into the mortise, the wedge flares the split tenon and locks it in place.

High definition version of the video below can be found here.

One commenter asked if I had bored a flared hole to match the flared tenon. I did not. But you can cut a dovetail-shaped mortise, as shown in the illustration at right, which makes for a very strong joint. In the case of the drawer pull, I felt that the extra strength wasn't necessary.

The illustration is from this website.
The music is "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cool Medieval Chests

If you read the Lost Art Press Blog, you may have seen a link posted by one of the commenters on this entry.

If you like carved Medieval chests, be prepared to
spend a few long minutes here.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Fun With Photoshop

What's with the disturbing image? Read all about it here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bob Baker: 1954-2010

I'm very sad to learn of the unexpected death of Bob Baker.

Some of you may not have heard of him, but if you are a serious handtool collector or are deeply smitten with antique tools, I bet you have.

I met Bob for the first time last November and most recently saw him at the Brown Tool Auction in March. The first things you would notice about him were his rosy cheeks and his piercing, twinkly eyes—which were fixed in a perpetual smile.

Bob had a love for unusual, high-end planes. Two of his reproductions—the Thomas Falconer Plough Plane (of which he made a full and half size) and the Moisset Plane—are two of my favorites. He made the Moisset plane in 1983, his first attempt at carving.

His level of precision and attention to detail in repairing high-end antique tools earned him a well-respected reputation. I found out later that many collectors would entrust only him to repair their tools.

Bob also made some of the period antiques I love—17th century carved New England pieces. He split the logs by hand and worked with handtools to make authentic reproductions of pieces he studied in museums, taking great care to match each joint, nail, and detail of the originals.

Bob made some of the things that I've always planned to make someday (or at least try). He was someone I held in high esteem and with whom I felt a kindred spirit. Not only did we share the same taste in planes, furniture, and architecture, we both shared a love of all things quirky. Like Bruce Campbell movies. And hiding secret, goofy messages in our pieces. And being mischievous big kids.

In one of his reproductions (last photo), he changed the initials on the front of the case to "BP." The patterned carving from the original reminded him of baby penguins, so he hoped that "someday, some little kid will look at that box and say, 'Hey, those look like a row of baby penguin faces' and hopefully put what he sees with the initials and smile at the discovery."

In his last email to me, he said "I have two big carving projects coming up in the next year or so. In the meantime—plane making, some restoration on two Holtz lathes, and building six copies of the clockmaker's lathe in Plumier/Diderot. (Bow lathe that clamps to the edge of a table or bench. A sweet little diddy.)"

Bob was high-energy, bright, proficient, precise, and someone I admired and hoped to emulate.

Unfortunately, for me and for the rest of the woodworking world, we have lost another great. However, I feel so fortunate to have gotten to know him even a little bit.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How To Make Stephen Shepherd Say Bad Words

There is not one ounce of my being that likes to repair furniture.

But, there are two people to whom I will rarely say no, and they are my pastors. So, when our associate pastor asked if I would repair some loose rungs on her antique pew chair, of course I said yes.

I had hoped to be able to knock apart the chair enough that I could fox-wedge the tenons (see illustration), but the seat is caned and I didn't want to risk damaging it.

Looking for an easy solution, I posted on Facebook: Has anyone ever tried to shim loose chair tenons with tape (plus glue, of course) if you're not able to take the entire chair apart in order to fox-wedge the tenons?

A slew of suggestions for fixing the joints followed: plane shavings, toothpicks, linen cloth, cotton thread, and unwaxed brown paper as shims; 1/4" lag bolt; and polyurethane glue with gap-filling properties (see blog post title).

I opted for using plane shavings, which worked very well. I glued and wrapped each tenon with a thin strip of wood, filled the mortise with glue (oddly, there was no old glue in the mortises that needed to be removed), knocked the chair back together, and clamped it.

A few shaving fragments squeezed out of the mortises, but they were easy to pare away with a chisel.

After the chair was finished, my partner, thinking she had remembered the correct joinery term that I referred to earlier asked, "So, did you outfox the tenon?"

Only time will tell, Nancy. Only time will tell.

Stephen Shepherd, who wrote The Hide Glue Book (the definitive book on hide glue), eschews the use of modern glues for many reasons, one of which is that it makes future repairs very difficult. He saw my Facebook question this morning and wrote a blog post about the evils of using modern glue to build and repair furniture.

Well, I'm about to be added to Stephen's doo-doo list. Sorry, Stephen, I used Titebond III, because I do not have any hide glue and I'm lazy.

I did, however, take precautionary measures before gluing up the tenons in the hopes that the person in future who will need to re-repair the same rungs won't wish that my neck be wrung.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spoons As Functional Art

Norman D. Stevens, Director Emeritus of the University of Connecticut Libraries, has been collecting contemporary crafts for decades.

For the last four years, he has concentrated his efforts on amassing a collection of over two hundred 9" handcarved spoons from all over the world.

The variety is incredible. Who would have thought that something as utilitarian as a spoon could be interpreted so many different ways.

Recently, some of his spoons were on display in The American Association of Woodturners Gallery of Wood Art, and the Gallery Director, Tib Shaw, photographed 74 of them.

The 74 images have now been printed in a catalog "A Gathering of Spoons 2010," which is available from the AAW website. The cost is $10 for AAW members and $20 for non-members.

The styles include traditional, folk art, contemporary, and sculptural, and a variety of wood species are represented.

The craftsmanship is impressive, and the shapes are imaginative and inspirational.

All photos were taken by Tib Shaw and are copyrighted by AAW.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pretty Axes

Lest you think I've played another practical joke on you and used my ninja photoshop skillz to lure you into thinking that some manufacturer has morphed a workhorse of a tool into frilly eye candy, I assure you.....the images you are about to see are real.

Peter Buchanan-Smith, owner of Best Made Company, and a graphic-designer-turned-axe-painter, sells hand-forged axes made by an undisclosed company in Maine.

Apparently, the fashionable axes are well-made. And people are buying them.

The New York Times wrote an article about it here.

As woodworkers, what do we think of these? Do we dismiss them as unnecessarily-decorated tools? As croquet mallets with a serious business end? As functional works of art?

Is decorating a tool necessary? No. Have craftsmen decorated their tools for centuries to make them more attractive? Yes.

Think of chip carved 16th-century Dutch planes and the carved router plane at left.* The carving lends nothing to the workability of the tool, and yet, the maker felt compelled to add ornamentation.

Are some forms of decoration okay, but not others. If so, why?

*The 18th-century router plane image is from Sandor Nagyszalanczy's book "Tools Rare and Ingenious: Celebrating the World's Most Amazing Tools."