Monday, May 20, 2013

And, that's a wrap.

Monday, September 10, 2007.

That's the day I sat down to write my first blog post, not knowing if anyone would ever be interested in reading it. But, that was okay. My sole reason for starting a blog was to make friends with other likeminded folks. And if that didn't happen, I'd just head back to my quiet little corner of the woodworking world.

But it did happen. I made tons of friends. And I never could have predicted all the other things that occurred over the next five and a half years because of my blog.

I'm grateful for all the opportunities that came my way, the encouragement I received, and the knowledge I gained.

For the first three years, I was obsessed with "feeding my blog" with visits to historic sites and woodworking events, and pushing myself to try new things.

Since then, I've cut back on blogging. With so much great content out there through podcasts and blogs, and online communities such as the Modern Woodworkers Association, it seems as though all the bases are covered.

I played fastpitch softball until I was 33 years old. That's when I decided to hang up my cleats while I was still playing good ball.

I'm not sure what my next step is in woodworking, but I feel that it's time to take a seat on the bench in the blogging league and watch the game from the cheering section.

With that, I'll leave you with some of my favorite posts, and offer you my most sincere appreciation for reading The Village Carpenter blog.

All the best to you.

February 14, 2008

March 12, 2008

August 30, 2008

May 3, 2009

July 10, 2009

October 31, 2009

February 18, 2010

July 11, 2010

May 22, 2011

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

WIA: Better, Faster, Stronger!

Registration for Woodworking In America is now open!

You'll see some new speakers as well as old favorites at this year's event. And of course, there is a huge variety of classes to inspire, educate, and entertain you. On top of all that is the icing on the cake—the marketplace—where you get to test drive and talk to the makers of your favorite tools.

At each WIA I've attended (I think it's 4), I've found myself making mad dashes to try to catch as many classes and meet as many people as possible.

So if you have ever considered cloning yourself, now might be a good time to get started.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Life's Curve Balls

Been a wee bit quiet around the shop lately. We had a health scare three weeks ago and, long story short, I've been busy taking care of my partner, managing the household, walking the dogs, and running my business.

No time for woodworking at all. Hopefully we'll fall into a routine soon and I'll get back to it, but family comes first.

Anyhow, carry on and happy woodworking!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sven In Action

A couple folks wanted to see a video of Sven in action. He works pretty well, but after a bit of a break-in period, I think he'll be even better.

I have no idea why the shavings are accordioned. Nothing is obstructing their exit and they don't bunch up at all in the throat. Maybe it has something to do with the higher bed angle. No clue. He works. And that's good enough for me.

To see the video in HD, click here.

The song is "Heartbreak Express" by Dolly Parton.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Horned Smoother Part X

Herein lies Sven's last post.

Totally fun project. I added a little decoration to the wedge by carving my initials in the top portion and carving a curvy element at the bottom of the ramp.

The finish is a couple coats of BLO followed by a couple coats of wax. Sven's already gotten a nice suntan from sitting by the window in my shop, but after a few years of use, he should have an even richer color.

A few words about the jig. I built it as a clamping device that would allow me to flip the blank around quickly without having to fuss with actual clamps. It was worth its weight in that alone, but it proved to be an excellent work holding device when working with the blank on end or on its side. I made a few spacer blocks to hold the blank more securely during those times.

To make the jig, I sat the blank on top of a board, slid the clamping blocks up to it, and screwed them in place. This made for a very tight fit. So tight, that the first few times I removed the blank from the jig took a little muscle. After a bit of use, however, because the blocks were pine and the fibers compressed, it became much easier to remove and reposition the blank.

The clamping blocks that were positioned along the sides of the blank have a space between them so that I could see my layout lines.

Sven's dimensions are 8.5" long x 3" wide x 2.25" high. From the sole to the top of the horn is about 5".  I decided to leave a little extra length to the heel so that my hand wouldn't come in contact with the iron.

Now....what to build next?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Horned Smoother Part IX

I'm not sure how 18th-century planemakers attached horns to planes, but I decided on a sliding dovetail for strength.

Thinking it would protect the fragile corners of the dovetail, I added shoulders so that it would sit back from the front of the plane by way of a shallow recess.

The dovetail is hidden because the horn covers the joinery. I have no idea if this matches the method used 300 years ago, but it worked really well.

Even though there is a cross-grain situation with the horn and plane body, I glued it in place. We'll see what happens over time.

I had thought to circumvent any cross-grain issues by burying the bottom of the horn in the body and cutting a deeper mortise than necessary to allow for movement.  Changed my mind for whatever reason, but I do think that's a viable option.

The last two photos show the horn with oil applied. It also shows the decorative border I carved along the lower portion of the plane and the final shape of the plane's body.

I should have glamour shots of Sven ready on Thursday. The oil is drying, then I'll apply some wax to the outside surfaces.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Horned Smoother Part VIII

Here is how I carved the scrolls on the horned plane (whose name is Sven, by the way).

It turned out to be much easier than I expected, so it's no wonder Dutch planemakers added them as a design element. It's a cool feature that doesn't take all that much time to make.

After I carved the shapes with chisels and gouges, I touched them up with files. I use a ton of files in my shop; they're invaluable with these types of projects.

I'm actually finished building Sven, so the three shots at the bottom of this post show a couple coats of boiled linseed oil worked into the wood and the carving I added to the top of the plane.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

We All Have A First Project

This is Get Woodworking Week—the thoughtful event initiated by Tom Iovino of Tom's Workbench.

Tom has reached out to bloggers, podcasters, and magazines to help generate enthusiasm for our craft. Hoping that maybe, just maybe, we can provide the gentle nudge for someone who's been thinking about picking up woodworking as a hobby.

I thought for days about what to write. Then I remembered the value of "show, don't tell."

So, for your viewing pleasure, I present some of my very first projects from 20 or so years ago.

Am I embarrassed to show them? Heavens, no. Looking through these old photos, I can still recall the excitement I felt when I built them. How proud I was to unveil them to family and friends.

So, my advice is, no matter where you are in your journey, be sure to photograph everything you make.

We all started somewhere—even master woodworkers who are making extraordinary pieces embellished with marquetry and inlay all had a first project.

Okay, yeah, I might be a little
embarrassed about this one...

Years from now when you look through your old photos, you'll be surprised at how far your skills have advanced.

Maybe you'll have the chance to share the images with someone who's been wondering if they might be able to build something if they just put their mind to it.

And you'll become the gentle nudge they've been waiting for.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Horned Smoother Part VII

Making this plane is proving to be an excellent learning experience.

It didn't work all that well at first—shavings were getting stuck near the mouth and those I pulled free were accordianed.

I took a class years ago where we made a panel raiser. And while, after four days, we learned how to lay out the lines and flatten a bed, and everyone left with a working plane, we didn't learn (or at least I wasn't paying attention at this point) why it worked.

So when my smoother wasn't working well, I had figure out why.

First, I reckoned that because the plane is high angle, the throat needed to be opened up. This meant changing the upper angle of the throat from 55º to 62º (an arbitrary number), which in turn made the wear more shallow.  And that meant the shavings had a shorter distance to travel through the narrowest section of the plane, plus I could reach stuck shavings more easily.

I started fiddling around with the scrolls at this point, but just ignore them until the next post.

Before tweaking.
Next, I had an epiphany. It's a no-brainer, but it hadn't really dawned on me until now: a full-width shaving needs an exit path—from mouth to top of plane—that equals a full-width shaving (don't say it....I killed too many brain cells in the drinking days of my youth).

That meant tapering the thin walls of the abutments (that hold the wedge in place) from 1/4" at the top of the plane to zero, and well in advance of the mouth.  It also meant that the wide walls of the abutment had to taper from the wedge toward the front of the throat and along its entire length.
After tweaking.

After that, the long arms of the wedge needed to be shortened so they matched the length of the abutment. I also shaved a steeper angle on the arms to provide more clearance for shavings.

One other thing--I made the wear as smooth as possible. It seems as though even small bumps or rough spots will snag a shaving.

Every day that I learn something new is a good day indeed.

*You may notice that the mouth opening is awfully large. I'll add an insert later on to tighten it up.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Horned Smoother Part VI

I employed various chisels and files, and worked in from the top and bottom of the plane in order to open the mouth.  It can take awhile because you need to be sure that all surfaces are as flat as possible. 

I found it a little too iffy to cut the final angle of the abutments by following the pencil lines that I had marked on the outside of the plane. So I cut a 12º wedge from a thin board to use as a pattern to mark the angle on the inside of the plane. 

After the abutments were cut to shape, I rough-cut a full size wedge on the band saw and cleaned it up with a plane. The fit of the wedge needs to be spot on in order to hold the blade in place, so there is a bit of checking, tweaking, and rechecking involved.

Once the wedge is properly fitted, some of the lower portion needs to be removed in order to provide a clear exit for shavings.

At this point you have a working, but extremely painful to use, high angle smoother.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Horned Smoother Part V

If you're making one of these planes along with me, here are some errors you can avoid.

When drilling into the mouth to open it up, follow the angle of the bed line.

I forgot to do this and instead drilled between the layout lines that marked the bed and the lower portion of the throat (below the break angle, referred to in my books as the "wear").

After drilling the third hole in a row, I suddenly remembered why I should be following the bed angle.

I had drilled right into the lower part of the abutment that keeps the wedge in place—thus blowing it out—and also into the side wall of the abutment. I also drilled above my break angle.

Nothing a few carved pegs can't fix.

You will see these mistakes when the plane is finished, but I don't mind. It will be a good conversation piece and it fits the rustic, craftsperson-made look.

The other thing I forgot is that it's best to keep the front of the throat flat until all your angles are cut—before you start carving any curves. It's much easier to mark the location of the break angle on a flat surface.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Horned Smoother Part IV

With pencil, I outlined the shape of the throat, scrolls, abutments, cheeks, and bed. Then I started chopping.

Here are progress shots along with descriptions. 

The result after roughing out the
waste with a mortising chisel.
After this, I'll open the mouth, cut the area below the break angle, and finalize the angle of the shallow walls of the abutments (the parts that hold the wedge in place).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Horned Smoother Part III

Here is the layout for the throat, mouth, bed, abutments, and cheeks for my plane.

I referenced two books: Wooden Planes and How to Make Them, by David G. Perch and Robert S. Lee; and Making Traditional Wooden Planes, by John M. Whelan.

The two books are slightly different in their approach and presentation, and I made some slight revisions to suit my plane—so don't take my layout as gospel. If you can get ahold of some old wooden planes for reference, it would be helpful to you.

The pencil marks in the photos are pretty light, so I included two images (at right) with clearer layout lines and angles.

I also added images of the little coffin smoother (last image) that I made awhile ago so you can see the physical shape of the throat and abutment.

The lines on the blank that are at the very front and back represent cutoff lines (for the final length).