Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quick Post of the eCommerce Presentation April 24

Here is the presentation I'll be giving to the Port Townsend Chamber of Commerce today. The meeting is in the Fort Worden Commons at Noon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Sole of a Frog

One of the more interesting things that has happened to me since beginning to teach woodworking is that I'm finally taking the time to get my tools up to snuff. In the process, I'm finally getting my planes and chisels really tuned up to where I've wanted to get them for a long time. I've been able to get a pretty sharp edge on the cutting edges, and I can tune my planes up well enough not to shred the wood when hitting crossgrain--but I've felt for a long time that they could be a lot better. Now, having to actually teach the process of sharpening and tuning, I'm taking the time to try out some new tricks...and its really working for me. I've never had my planes working this well and I can see and feel the difference. The secret is getting the back of the cutting blades absolutely flat to a polished surface (I"m becoming a convert to the "scary sharp" sandpaper method) and getting the part of the plane that holds the blade (the frog) properly seated by filing its sole. (Bet you didn't know that frogs had soles?)

Tim Lawson interviewed by Michael Dresdner

I was very flattered to receive a call from Michael Dresdner the other week asking to interview me for the Woodworker's Journal eZine. We had a wonderful long rambling conversation and lots of laughter.

You can read the interview (it'll be up there until May 6th or so). You will need to sign up to access the eZine.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Built in Furniture Design with Jim Tolpin - April 24th

Jim Tolpin wrote the book "Built In Furniture" back in 2000. Come and hear Jim take you through the history of built in furniture and its relationship to the architecture of a house. Jim will cover the basic principles of the design and layout of built in furniture and will illustrate them with examples from the book. John Marckworth will show examples of beautiful and specialized built in furniture from his extensive portfolio.

Thursday 24th April 2008 starting at 6:30pm. Admission $8 at the door.

In Building 315 (The Old Power House), Fort Worden, Port Townsend. See our website for directions.

Summer Schedule - Registration is Open

We've pretty much finalized the Summer Course Schedule and have opened up registration. The Traditional Crafts program and the lecture series are works in progress.

We're still working on the tool lists for the courses. But there is some potentially big news here.

We're hoping to work with a major tool manufacturer to equip each bench with a set of quality hand tools. This means that you could attend the course and not need to buy a set of hand tools.

We see this as a major advantage. You'd get to work on your project using great tools and decide for yourself what sort of tools you'd like to buy when you finally setup your shop.

If this happens (and it is still an if) we'd ask you, at the end of your course. to leave the tools fully sharpened and ready for the next student to use. This is good workshop discipline.

So if you're planning to sign up for a course please don't run out and buy all the tools yet. We'll let you know as soon as we have confirmation of the plan. Of course we're not stopping you from buying tools and bringing them along but we want you to make the best, most informed decision about the tools you buy.

You'll also notice that we've dropped the price point of the courses. This (the Spring) term we're pretty much including the cost of the materials you use in the class in the price of the course. In the future we'll be clear about the cost of the materials used in the course and will collect the materials fee from you at the end of the course.

We've also added some longer (two week) courses this summer. In these courses you'll get to buy your lumber from the local hardwood lumberyard directly. This is invaluable experience for when you return home and need to go to your local lumberyard.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Moving the Coopering Class to May 25th

Steve Habersetzer and I have both been asked if the Coopering Class can be moved. I had skillfully chosen the Saturday of the Rhododendron Parade (May 17th) which is one of the biggest events in the year for the folks of Port Townsend.

So we have heeded the requests and are moving the class out to Sunday May 25th at 9:00am. I'll be updating the website shortly.

Steve and I plan to make a couple of cooper's planes in the next few weeks so that we'll have plenty for the course. I'm looking forward to this as I've coveted a cooper's plane for some time.

One request if anybody has some rounds of well seasoned cedar, larch or fir that we could use to make one of the buckets please let me know. The rounds would need to be 16-18" long.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hands-on History of Handplanes

Come and hear George Anderson (from Sequim) talk about, demonstrate and let you try out some of his collection of Norris Handplanes. I tried to quickly find some images to tantalize you but this is all I could come up with in a hurry.

George was classically trained as a woodworker going through full apprenticeship in Glasgow (Scotland). George works in construction and is known for his exquisite finish carpentry.

Thursday 10th April 2008 starting at 6:30pm. Admission $8 at the door.

In Building 315 (The Old Power House), Fort Worden, Port Townsend. See our website for directions.

Note by Note at the Rose Theatre, Port Townsend

Rocky, who runs the exquisite Rose Theatre in Port Townsend, called to remind us that Note by Note is showing only at 4:00pm and finishes on Thursday 4/10.

"Note by Note - The Making of Steinway L1037"
In our age of mass production and consumption, what is the role of the musician - both an instrument's craftsman and its player? Musically, what have we gained? More importantly, what are we losing?

The most thoroughly handcrafted instruments in the world, Steinway pianos are as unique and full of personality as the world-class musicians who play them. However, their makers are a dying breed: skilled cabinet-makers, gifted tuners, thorough hand-crafters.

Note by Note is an independent feature-length documentary that follows the creation of a Steinway concert grand, #L1037 - from forest floor to concert hall. It is a loving celebration of not just craftsmanship, but of a dying breed of person who is deeply connected to working by hand. In the end, this is an ode to the most unexpected, and perhaps ironic, of unsung heroes. It reminds us how extraordinary the dialogue can be between an artist and an instrument - crafted out of human hands but borne of the materials of nature.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


What a wonderful word. I'm probably going to misuse it here....

In our Quick Joinery course last week we were pitting two different generations of Plate Joiners / Biscuit Joiners against each other. There was a Porter Cable 557 and a DeWalt DW682K. John swore by his DeWalt and I swore by mine (funny swear words but there we went).

It was really interesting to watch the students in class use them. The difference I would have said was important was not the difference that made both John and I agree on the Porter Cable 557 being the better machine.

The difference that made a difference was where the large handle was attached - on the 557 it is attached to the front / face of the machine and on the DeWalt it is attached to the body (which slides up and down to drive the blade into the wood).

The handle being attached to the front made a huge difference in the precision and ease with with the machine could be positioned and how it reacted when the blade was spun up after being turned on. The Porter Cable  stayed in place and the DeWalt waltzed around.

With practice you could compensate for the DeWalt's movement. But the Porter Cable has a host of other features that elevate it above the DeWalt: blade change for small face frame biscuits, more adjustable fence and a non slip face.

What did I mean by serendipity? I didn't realize how much better the Porter Cable design functioned! I just treated it as normal.

As the school can afford to buy machines we'll get the Porter Cable. The Lamello joiners are the Rolls Royce of the biscuit joiners but that is too spendy. Unless, of course, there is a willing donor out there.

Red Tag Sale on Lie Nielsen at Edensaw

We already know that there are bunch of tool junkies out there....

I stopped at Edensaw this afternoon to talk to Mark about organizing the "At the Lumberyard" session on the 18th of April. After we figured out some details I asked Mark what was new and he gave me the tour, at the end we wandered over to the glass cabinet of Lie Nielsen planes. There were a whole bunch of them with Red Tags on them!

Yes - there is a 10% discount on some of the Lie Nielsen planes! Including two of my favourite planes - the #62 Low Angle Jack plane (IMHO the best plane ever) and the 4 1/2 smoother (a brute of a smoothing plane but has the right mass to make using it easier).

You have been warned.