Thursday, June 7, 2012

A New Review

I just received the new issue of Wood News Online, the monthly newsletter by Highland Woodworking. I always like reading this newsletter as it’s been full of great information. The new video series, The Highland Woodworker has also been great to watch. Only two episodes in but it’s a great show…and free if you can believe that! The first episode was with Roy Underhill and the last one featured Brian Boggs and Ron Brese. Great to see these guys in action and get a glimpse into their work shops.
I was surprised to see a new review for my book- Made by Hand at the top of this new issue and thought I’d share it here.

Made by Hand: A Delightful Journey into the
World of Hand Tool Possibilities

by J. Norman Reid
Delaplane, Virginia

Working wood by hand is becoming increasingly popular. What’s the attraction? Perhaps it’s the elimination of noxious dust, the satisfaction of building something beautiful entirely by hand, achieving closer tolerances than are possible with powered machines, or working quietly and achieving a deeper intimacy with the wood that’s our medium of expression.
Whatever the reason for choosing to work with hand tools, Fidgen’s book is a diverting introduction to working wood by hand. Written in a highly accessible style, more like a conversation with a woodworking friend than a beginner’s manual, Fidgen explains the essentials for setting up a hand tool shop—basic tools, sharpening, constructing key appliances, processes for design and construction—then progresses to six innovative and beautiful projects, each building on skills developed in constructing the previous ones.
He begins with tools: layout tools, cutting tools, hand planes, special-purpose planes and tools, and chisels. He gives an introductory discussion of sharpening, urging the use of honing guides to assure consistency in the shape of the cutting edges.
Next he covers several appliances to guide and ease handwork: bench hooks, miter hooks, shooting boards, winding sticks and workhorses or, as he calls them, shop ‘bents.’ For each of these, Fidgen discusses and illustrates their construction—perhaps these will be your first handmade projects—but provides little information about their use.
He next progresses to processes of construction. Included are making a cut list, selecting wood, planing, sawing, cutting dovetails and making mortises and tenons. Readers will find these sections interesting and useful, though more detailed treatments are available elsewhere.
The second half of the book consists of six projects that build on each other and so are intended to be undertaken in sequence. The first is a cabinetmaker’s tool chest, a small handheld case to carry hand tools to a job site or store them in the woodshop. Following that is a hanging wall cabinet featuring half-blind dovetails, sliding dovetails, a pair of inside drawers and a single-board door. Third is a side table that bears hints of the Shaker style but is clearly modern in design. This project employs six different joints and is intended to stretch your hand tool skills one step further. The next project is a charming small bookcase that features through tenons and front doors with mullions backed by Japanese paper. After that comes a cabinet with six drawers and a door on the left side. The final project is a hunt board or sideboard with sliding panel doors.
The book concludes with a gallery of some of Fidgen’s other work that is intended to inspire other possibilities with handwork.
The large-format, beautifully illustrated book is accompanied by a 45-minute DVD that gives a personal overview of the tools Fidgen employs in his hand tool-only workshop. Introduced by a song, “Working Wood,” written and performed admirably by Fidgen himself, the DVD contains recommendations and tips on selecting, buying and what’s essential for getting started with hand tools.
In sum, I found this book a pleasure to read. For the armchair woodworker, it’s a delightful journey into the world of possibilities. For the beginning hand tool worker, it provides enough information to get you started. The experienced hand tool enthusiast will already know much of what he presents but may find the review enjoyable and the projects inspirational. In short, there’s a little something for everyone here.

Happy Bang-7 Day

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Offerings from Veritas

Veritas Small Plow Plane with 1/2-in. cutter and conversion kit installed.

One of my favorite, and most used tools has to be the Small Plow Plane by Veritas. I reach for it on almost every project I make and just recently, Lee Valley has come up with a few new additions to make this already great tool even better.
Veritas has introduced a series of Tongue and Groove blades along with a complete line of large size cutters. Up until this point the sizes ranged from 1/8-in. up to 1/4-in. Great for drawer bottom grooves and small scale cabinet work but this new line extends the range all the way up to 3/4-in. They’re available in A2 tool steel and only took a few seconds to polish and put to work. A simple conversion kit that easily installs on the existing plane make it possible to use this new, larger line of cutting irons.
This past week I’ve been making some moldings for one of the projects in my new book and if you’ve ever made moldings you know that the bulk of the work happens before you ever touch a molding plane. A series of grooves and rabbets are created to remove the bulk of the material before the hollows and rounds refine the profile. Just this morning I used both the new 1/2-in. cutter and then the 1/4-in. T & G to establish the profile on a piece of walnut. Once complete, it was quick and easy to define the shape with my Hollows and Rounds.
The change over from standard plow plane using the conversion kit was quick and easy with excellent results.

Bottom of Plow Plane showing 1/4-in. T & G cutter.

If you’re someone who would rather create your grooves with a hand tool instead of on a router table or table saw, then the Veritas Small Plow Plane, along with this new line of cutting irons will fill all of your grooving needs.
To make the deal even sweeter, Lee Valley is offering a discounted, introductory price until June 18th so get ‘em while they’re hot~

Sunday, June 3, 2012

30 Craft Market

Hey folks,
I just received an email about the 30 Craft Market in Peterborough, Ontario and thought I’d pass it along for any Ontario readers.
These are the details-

Vendor Call:
 Saturday, Dec 1st, 2012. 12 – 5 pm
All items must be $30 or less, and, handcrafted.
Booths are $30.
This may be a great opportunity for some of the local crafters in the area to get out and sell some wares.