Thursday, July 29, 2010

Coopering on a perfect summer weekend

Seven students and eight buckets at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. When we taught this class before we only made a couple of buckets in a one day course - on the new extended version everybody gets to make and keep a bucket.

From the slideshow (it's pretty long) you'll see the sequence of operations to make a bucket. We split old growth cedar and sawn sugar pine so that folks could get a real understanding of the differences working with different types of wood. Both types of bucket look great. 

We also added a section in making some of the special tools needed for Coopering - the angle gauge (pretty easy) and the croze (the tool for making the groove the bottom slots into) was more challenging.

This is still one of my favourite courses and I'm going to have to make a cooper's plane (that's the big inverted 5' long plane!).

Pictures by William Zerby and Tim Lawson

Friday, July 23, 2010

Greene & Greene Details I - July 2010

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking was delighted to host Darrell Peart teaching his signature Details I class again. Next year Darrell will also be taking these classes on the road to the East Coast and the Mid West. We'll miss folks coming in from out-of-state but we're glad we've helped further establish Darrell as a leading furniture maker, teacher and Greene & Greene maven.

Darrell recently was named one of the top eight furniture designers in the world. We're working with Darrell - offering his next generation pair of one day courses "Designing Furniture" and "Precision Woodworking" in November 2010.

Here's the class picture form the course last weekend:

Credit to Ed White for the photo - or rather for letting me use his camera and sending me the image, Thanks Ed! (Seated at the left)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

NASA - First-of-its-Kind Map Depicts Global Forest Heights

Port Townsend School of Woodworking

I found these maps fascinating and kind of scary at the same time. Using a laser based remote sensing technology NASA has mapped the average height of forests around the globe. The darker the green the taller the trees. The linked article talks about where the carbon released by burning fossil fuels ends up and highlights the value of forestry as a carbon sink.

What I find scary is just how small a part of the globe still has big trees and, to me, emphasizes how important it is to conserve them and to create the next generation or big trees (tree generations are much longer than human generations).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Coyote Woodshop - Bainbridge Island

Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Bob Woodyard, Jaap Romijn and I made a visit to David Kotz's Coyote Woodshop down on Bainbrdge Island. We were scouting for material for some furniture projects and wanted to meet David and see his operation.

The three of us were very impressed. David has amazing selection of local wood and a great setup.

If you're in the Seattle area and want some slabs for that special project - I'd recommend taking a trip out to Bainbridge Island. Coyote Woodshop

I'm hoping that we can work with David to pull together a course on working with live-edge slabs in 2011 at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. Let us know if you're interested.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words -  I'll let the slideshow do the talking:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Working with Japanese Handtools - Dale Brotherton

We were honored to have Dale Brotherton teaching at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking last week. As one of the students said "Dale embodied the spirit of working with wood". For the first two, two and half days of the course, the students sharpened the blades of their planes and chisels. I was impressed by the elegance of the blades and the persistence needed to get the perfect edge - tapping on the softer steel on the back of the blade to flatten the hard steel laminated on the front.

They then plunged into working with the tools. In the true Japanese style Dale does not advocate using vises or clamps. You use your body or a simple stop to hold the wood in place. This allows you to sense immediately how the wood is reacting to the tool and then adjust how you are cutting.

It was Dale's style of using a Japanese handsaw that set me thinking - he uses it vertically - pulling downwards or  upwards (look through the slideshow to see some examples). Also when making the long cuts for the tenon cheeks he flips the wood over every 10 strokes or so - made much simpler by not using a vise or clamp. The other technique that he really impressed on me is how lightly he holds the saw - there's just enough pressure to stop it slipping out of his hand. (Reminded me of being coached on holding a squash racquet).

We look forward to having Dale back at the school next year.

(Click through on the link in the slideshow to download the images)

Here are a couple of very short videos showing Dale planing a beam:
Movie 1:

Movie 2:

For the students on the class here's a scan of the sketch of the saw horse

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Classes Update

Summer is finally here at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. As usual it arrived the day after Independence Day - it was too cold to watch the fireworks. Now we're getting warm but not as hot as the rest of the country!

Its looking like most of the folks in the NW prefer to spend their summer out of doors so we're down to just a few classes - but really great classes. There are some spaces in all of these classes:
  • Greene and Greene Details I with Darrell Peart  7/17-18
    First in the next round of Darrell's classes exploring Greene and Greene details. Darrell shares the secrets of his production techniques for those characteristic details
  • Coopering with Steve Habersetzer  7/24-25
    Make a cedar stave bucket by hand:split the staves with a froe; shape the staves with an ax; bevel on a cooper's plane; rivet the straps; assemble!
    Everything used to be shipped in barrels - we'll try making barrels too. Great fun and a good part of it outdoors!
  • Greene and Greene Details 2 with Darrell Peart  8/14-15
    Round two of Darrell's renowned Greene and Greene classes - various draw pulls, foolproof finger joints and base straps. No need to take Details I first.
  • Build a Gypsy Wagon with Jim Tolpin and Steve Habersetzer  9/3-5
    This class is developing quite a following! Your chance to learn how to design and build a traditional vardo. Covers everything from the choices for a trailer bed to the canvas for a hoop top wagon.
Like the New Style?
We've updated the look of the School's main Website and the School's Blog to this great new scheme designed by Megan Foley. Thanks Megan!

Great Places in Port Townsend
We find that at some point in every class there is the inevitable question about where are the best places to eat, drink or "Where can my wife go?"

To whet your appetite we're put together this annotated Google Map listing good restaurants, bars, coffee bars, and other neat stuff. The list is idiosyncratic and biased (its the places we like) but we hope it will help you plan your trip to the School. It's also a work in progress - we'll keep updating it.