Monday, September 27, 2010

Jointing with Drawknife and Try Plane - Jim Tolpin

In the first of our new tips and techniques Jim Tolpin writes and demonstrates how to remove a lot of material when jointing by using a drawknife first:
In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending the Woodworking in America conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. These shows are extremely popular (this year’s show has been sold out for months!) and well worth attending if you want to learn more than you ever thought possible about choosing and using hand tools. As for me, besides getting to see some of the best hand tool woodworkers in the country do their stuff, I get to do some stuff myself! Chris Schwarz and I will be demonstrating how to flatten boards by hand with a sequence of hand planes as well as demonstrating some typical—and not-so-typical— uses of the drawknife.
Now a lot of furnituremakers are already fairly familiar with using hand planes, but the lowly, and rather homely, drawknife is kind of looked down upon—or at least seen as primarily the tool of old-world bodgers (chairmakers). Having come to furniture making via boatbuilding, however, I have been long aware of the use of the drawknife in that trade, and of its inherent abilities that most furnituremakers would find most useful. 
At the WIA I’ll be showing how the drawknife can be used in lieu of a rip saw to bring a board to width and how it can be used in lieu of a band saw to made inside and outside curves along a board’s edge….and far more, including how to use it to create decorative treatments such as stops on chamfers and scalloped edges (prolific on gypsy wagons!).
Sometime early next year I’ll do this presentation about drawknives at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking, but for now--if you want to see just how fast the drawknife can be relative to a rip saw--try this:
  1. Draw a straight line along the edge of a board about ¼-in. in from one edge. (Choose a straight-grained piece to reduce the challenge a bit!) Bring the line around to the other face and mark it.
  2. Now clamp the board in a vise, orient the drawknife bevel side up and slice just about down to the line on one face at a bevel of about 45 degrees. (If you experience tearout, reverse the board in the vise).
  3. Next bevel down to the line on the opposite face. What’s left is a “mountain” in the middle of the edge—which you’ll slice off until the bevel disappears on each side. On a two foot long board with straight grain, this should take only a minute or so.
  4. Finally, plane the edge true with a try plane and you’re done!
Here's our first how-to video. A little rough round the edges - we'll get better.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reuse Recycle

This is by way of a cheat for a blog article but I follow a number of blogs of woodworkers in the US and UK.

One these by Robin Wood (is there a Little John in the house?) who is a leading light of the English Heritage Crafts Association. The article contains a little vignette on how natural Grindstones (the good old Carboniferous Millstone Grit) have been used to make walls in Sheffield, UK. Read Robin's Article here.

I also like the fact that Mike (and I suspect I know which Mike) in the comments refers to a chuch in Tacony, PA which is built with reshaped grindstones from Disston and Sons the saw and tool makers.

What a wonderful way to share and propagate knowledge.

Making NW Carving Tools with Steve Brown

Five of us took Steve Brown's NW Toolmaking Class this last weekend at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. Steve bought his portable blacksmithing kit - forge, Anvil, blacksmith tools, and grinders which we set up inside and outside the class. We started with a presentation on the history of steel tools in the Native American tradition and it clearly predated the settlers - pointing to connections to China and Japan. 

Steve's background in ethnography, carving and toolmaking is staggering. Mitch (one of the students) makes Aleutic style Baidarka and grew up in native communities in Alaska was having great conversations about Prince William Sound style of carving with Steve.

Onto the toolmaking - Steve went into depth on the materials, design of adzes and knives using his wonderful array of tools to explain the subtleties between types of blades.But as usual pictures are worth more than my descriptions.

Thanks Steve for a great class - we hope to get Steve back to teach this and more classes in the future.

Here's a slideshow of the class and several movies of the making process:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pix of the School

A couple of folks have asked for pictures of the school - the Bench Room and the Machine room.

These should give you a good sense of the Port Townsend School of Woodworking's teaching spaces.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fort Worden Windows Project is complete

We've had the great privilege to work with the good folks at Fort Worden State Park (Kate, Carmyn, Russ and the C&M crew, Jake and many more) and Peninsula College (Jackie) to offer a series of classes in Window Restoration and Building Storm Windows.

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking's lead Historic Preservation Faculty - Kevin Palo gathered many fans from the 65 people took part in the two to three week courses. The Graduation ceremony last week was a proud and humbling experience. We were delighted that nearly 35 graduates of the classes turned up to recieve their certificates from Dr Thomas Keegan - the President of Peninsula College. The camaraderie and depth of learning was clear from the students who addressed the audience (many thanks to Larisa, Serena, Jeremy, Chris and Al for stepping up to the microphone).

We'll post the graduation pix soon. To keep you engaged here is a slideshow of the highlights of the classes.

Announcing the Woodworking Foundation Course

When we started the Port Townsend School of Woodworking we always planned to start a longer intensive course at the School. In the last year we've had a lot of inquiries about "apprenticeships", "journeyman" classes and longer courses that will build a solid foundation of woodworking skills.

We're heeding those who asked and we're proud to offer our Foundation Course starting in January 2011. This is a three month / twelve week class where we steadily build your skills before switching into a final project class. The final project can be in any of three areas: Furniture Making, Cabinet Making or Building a Gypsy Wagon.

You can read a fuller description here.

This is a really exciting development and we hope you'll be tempted to join us next year.

Feel free to comment or email us with questions.

Catch us at the Wooden Boat Festival

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking will at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend - September 10-12, 2010. We've changed our booth location to be out on the Point of the Point Hudson Marina by the Woodworking Stage.

Jim and Tim will be giving presentations at 1:00pm at Woodworking Stage each day:

  • Hand Planes (Friday 10th)
  • Sharpening Hand Tools (Saturday 11th) 
  • Using Chisels (Sunday 12th)
This is the biggest event of the year in Port Townsend and a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends.

We hope to see you next weekend.