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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Most Hedonistic Book in Woodworking

Did I get your attention?  Coarse synonyms in the title notwithstanding, the newest title from Lost Art Press, Make a Joint Stool From a Tree, has nothing to do with immediate gratification.  In fact, this book, written by Jenny Alexander and Peter Follansbee, is all about patient satisfaction.  But hyperbole gets the page views.

The book has not been released long enough for anyone to actually make a green wood joint stool yet.  However, I did read it twice.  The first read for me is all about getting a sense of the whole.  I do a fair bit of skimming over fine technical detail on the first run.  Basically I look for sanity of the content and relevance to my work and/or desires.  The second time reading technical material is when I build the subject in my head.  A lot of things do not get a second reading from me.

I have to admit that I started reading this book with a negative attitude.  I have never worked with green wood and have read very little about using it as a medium.  I expressed my misgivings about working green wood on another blog and Peter Follansbee himself replied that there is much more to the book than green wood.  He did not lie. 

Make a Joint Stool From a Tree is a 17th century history disguised as a technical wood working book.  Every step, every component, is put into historical perspective.  If you are not in a reading mood, you can pick this book up from the coffee table and peruse the large number of photographs, plates, and diagrams; the large 9" by 12" format really does place this book into the coffee table class.  Unlike traditional glossy coffee table books, this title is printed on matte paper thereby preserving it's usefulness as a reference (shiny pages are heck to read).

Do not be turned off by the learning history stuff because there are still plenty of hard core woodworking tips and techniques buried in the pages.  The authors wisely skip discussing things that are mundane or rudimentary to modern day woodworkers.  Instead the reader is treated with how to construct, or join, furniture in the vein of the stool with a minimum of tools.  Make a Joint Stool From a Tree is a man's book full of hewing, hacking, rough tolerances, and an aversion to directions beyond what you see in front of you.

The preceding two paragraphs sound like quite the contradiction, don't they?  You'll understand once you read the book.

Here is a low cost list of uncommon tools to get you started in green woodworking:

Beadle (I never know what the correct spelling is because I see it so many ways)
Broad Axe (hatchet, really)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mid Hiatus Break

The life that supports this woodworking pastime has kept me from the wood shop.  In turn, the blog has suffered.  In the plus column, however, my tool collection has prospered a little bit.  The past couple months of frequenting dusty 'antique malls' has produced this motley mix:

 The top tenon/sash saws have no discernible makers marks.  They do have the ubiquitous "warranted superior" medallions.  Between my Bad Axe hybrid  and Veritas dovetail saws, I don't think I 'll keep both of these.  Suggestions are welcome as to uses for four saws.  Maybe I'll send the big one off to get hybrid sharpened.  Right under the back saws is a Stanley 81 scraper without a blade.  The wood sole is nearly completely intact.  I have a Stanley 80 that I don't use that often (I'm sure if I didn't suck so much at woodworking it would get more playing time).  Unless convinced otherwise, I'll clean the 81 up and offer it for sale or trade.  Next in line under the 81 is a 5 inch brace with two jaws.  I haven't had time to examine the brace for makers marks yet.  I'm not happy with either of my two current braces and am hoping this puppy will supplant the dismal examples I have.  Between the brace and panel saw is a Stanley 45 plow plane.  The 45 needs some serious love; it is too soon to tell if it will be a user or parts piece.

Last, the place of honor, is reserved for the panel saw shown on the right.  I picked this up because of the unusual sharpening pattern in that every other gullet is almost twice as deep.  It is a 7 point saw sharpened crosscut for use, I believe, on fresh cut wood.  I gave the plate a quick swipe with some 220 sandpaper to reveal the etching:

My apologies for the orientation of the picture.  I tried for 30 minutes, but Blogger is stuck on displaying the picture rotated no matter how small I shrink or rotate the original.  The etching reads "The Bay State Saw Mfg. Co."  I did some research (first hit on Google) and found out that saw is a mid-grade offering from Simonds from a century ago.  Since they stopped making these saws in 1926, it can be no younger than 85 years. I'm saving this saw for a special annotated restoration project for the blog.  I will need guidance sharpening this in order to maintain the current tooth configuration.