Thursday, May 19, 2011

In Stages

these are my Norton water stones I've been slowly wearing away to nothing over the last few years. I keep them flat and have never had a problem with them. The tool marks and water tracks left after use are like artwork.
I received this letter from a reader asking me about my experience with the Shapton Ceramic/Glass water stone products.
I was wondering what sharpening kit you use? I have the shapton glass-ceramic stones and although I love them I have gone through two of the 1000 grit stones in the last few years. Do you use or know anyone that use the professional shaptons? Thanks…

Unfortunately I’ve never used them but have heard that they work really, really well. Two 1000 grits in two years sounds like alot but maybe you do a ton of wood working.
I see how this system may be out of reach for some wood workers due to the expense of the lapping plate that keeps them running smoothly. But if value means what you get back from a tool and not how much the price tag says then these seem to be the bomb. From 1000 grit up to 30000 I think ?? I should go and check but keeping it short for today….
Some thoughts?
If the reader has gone through two 1000 grits I’d say use a less expensive method of removing that initial metal. Grind it, sand paper it, heavy grit oil stone what ever…there are cheap methods to get rid of metal.
To budget the sharpening kit try keeping the super fine ( and higher priced )  water stones for the sweet spots. Just for the final polish or maybe use the 1000 for the secondary bevel and a grinding wheel or coarse stone for the initial removal.
Well that’s my two cents…hey, it’s Thursday afternoon on May 2-4 wekend in Toronto.
I have classes all weekend ~ no rest for the wicked !
cheers and play safe where ever you’re at this weekend.
you know, just in case…… ( cue Science fiction  music)

; )

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

'Arts Weeks' in England

This is a letter I received from a friend in the UK and thought I’d share it.

Hi Tom,
I’ll be fascinated to see how all your shop changes materialise in time, new bench and tools etc, good to hear.
On my own front I’ve been making a few visits in the Cotswold hills and villages to a selection of furniture makers, one particular being Waywood Furniture Creation.
I’ve been meaning to visit and meet up with Barnaby Scott for some time and ever since I heard that his company were producing some lovely work and also since Charlesworth mentioned them as excellent furniture designers when I met him at Ryecote Wood Furniture College over a year ago.
‘Arts Weeks’ in England, this basically means any artists or crafts people can open their doors to the public for a limited time to see their work and sometimes their actual workspace.
So off I went to Chaddlington in Oxfordshire and only about half an hour from my home to see if I could have a look around Barnaby’s shop. I arrived at a lovely group of buildings nestled at the outer edge of the village surrounded by typical rolling Cotswold fields woodlands and hills. I parked and walked up and into Waywood’s showroom which was flooded with light from one side of the stone building, this lit up a selection of finely made furniture in mainly native hardwoods, while a couple incorporated some exotic woods that were responsibly sourced. After a couple of minutes Barnaby came down from the office upstairs to meet me and have a run through each piece.
It was a real treat to get the low down on a few of the many techniques used in some of the more unusual pieces including some particularly unusual veneering methods. All useful to understand and not straight forward at all.
I was then invited to have a look around his very commercial shop, which was almost entirely kitted out with pretty big machinery including a massive planer thicknesser, this wasn’t to say that Barnaby doesn’t favour handtools when the moment comes, mainly for finishing but none the less beautifully executed.
I guess it was a kind of reality check on where the spirit of Arts & Crafts currently sits in the Cotswolds, Barnaby very much loves the work he produces and the whole point for him is that the furniture is still individually made by a very small team of often four people. The client and what they want from the crafstman is still very much on a one to one and therefore there isn’t the slightest hint that machinery has in any way compromised the woodcraft one bit, in fact it’s helped to keep it very much alive, yes there was perhaps less handtools used from beginning to end, but when they were used they were used lovingly and with deep knowledge and appreciation.
I took a couple of pics of Barnaby Scott at the side of one of the benches, all manner of kit was scattered around, but everything looked as I guess you’d expect from a very successful and very fine furniture maker’s busy commercial shop, innovation, design all intact and he was on the look out for another craftsman to join the small team in the near future….it was all very gratifying to see that man, machine and handtools has a very good balance here in the Wolds of England.
I’ve attached a pic of Barnaby and a link to his site.
A most enjoyable visit
P.S. ….Oh yes just a little pic too of the finished Oak plinth for Sue’s Horses head sculpture, which look like it’s already got a buyer on the opening day of her exhibition….i went for a very natural finish in the end, choosing to refrain from filling in the cracks and just oil and wax it, simple is sometimes best eh!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Sunday Sunrise

Now where did the week go again?
I know I have to write a post about the guitar set up but couldn’t steel a single hour so far.
The week, right.
It began at the bench with new hand tool ideas and designs dedicated to the sole purpose of working and sawing shop veneer;
‘real veneer’ as JK wrote.
The wood shop is in desperate need of an over haul and that starts at the work bench.
Four new designs for shop made hand tools and a new bench design to go along with it !
I’m just at the mock-up stages and getting things planned for September. September you may say is still 4 months away.
Well indeed it is but this is where it begins, on the page in form of an idea, an interest and then maybe a gut feeling.
Some trial and some error and then some more thoughts and scribbles to hash through.
; )

Suddenly I was into Wednesday and refurbishing two old panel saws destined for Wisconsin to have the final touches done by a professional. Two sweet old Disston saws, one rip and one cross cut.
Friday and Saturday came and with it a student from Montreal. He brought four large cans of Quebec Maple Syrup ! Giddy-up…
We spent two days in the shop covering everything from furniture pricing and one-man, work shop solutions to hands on sawing techniques and finished off with half blind dovetails.
Two days of Maple Syrup and then the play offs resuming again last night.
Hockey eh? What can I say?
I wouldn’t want to be waking up in Boston this morning…
Today is Sunday and  Nelson and I are working out some shelf and storage solutions for his Transformer collection and this evening I’ll be at Clinton’s Tavern here in Toronto playing my new album, a boy called fish front to back.
If you’re in the down town area this evening stop by for a pint.
It’s an early show starting at 8pm and I hear they have some good food there as well.
A review on Yelp says this:
“Another spot where vegetarians and meat-eaters can dine in harmony!”
Who can argue with that?