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Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Sassafras Standard

The title is more than just a cool alliteration, it is the culmination of a lot of recent reflection.  A lot of recent woodworking trade press has focused on indirectly on standards.  Two recently read books also tell the tale of standards, Making Traditional Wooden Planes by John M. Whelan and The Anarchist's Tool Chest by Christopher Schwarz.  A treatise on Chisels from Adam Cherubini talked a lot about standards directly.

I never really thought about it before, but it was a revelation to find out that 'old' moulding planes follow a standard.  The hand planes featured in Whelan's book also follow standards, though probably dictated more by wood and tradition than anything else.

It would seem our woodworking forebears were not a motley collection of weed chewing rubes. A bit of an oversimplification, but it captures a lot of how us modern day woodworkers feel.  But this is not the point I was getting to.

The standards I've been thinking about are how all the components of woodworking relate to each other.  Chris Schwarz built a chest sized--standardized--to hold the most common furniture making tools.  I've begun to plan my woodworking spaces around standards as well. 

My tool chest planning is the second step in my quest for standards.  Which brings us back to sassafras.  I've decided to build my chest walls with sassafras, a common boat building wood in the Midwest.  The source I found for sassafras only has it in 1" widths; curiously, not the ACTUAL 3/4" stuff we've been conditioned to accept.  There is some irony that my nascent journey towards standards begins with the oddity of non-standard wood.

1 comment:

  1. Scott,

    I find it ironic that your post regarding standards uses the term "widths" to denote what most woodworkers regard to be the "thicknesses" of the lumber.

    BTW, I just stumbled across your blog while Google-chasing info about Grace Cabinetmaker's Screwdrivers.

    Keep up the good work.