Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Handcut Dovetails - Winter 2012

What a pleasure to teach this class! Students from Austin and the Bay Area joined a crew of Washington based woodworking enthusiasts.

All the students made great progress over the weekend - we covered precision sawing, saw sharpening, paring, chisel sharpening. layout, dovetail geometry and made dovetails in a variety of woods. A couple of the students had made dovetails before but all were uncertain and thirsty for direction.

I was very impressed by the quality of the dovetail joints produced by the end of the weekend. Everybody got, and I know will practice, the need for precision sawing with a sharp western style saw.

Foundation Course 2012 - Week 4

Steam coming out of their ears? No - out of the steam box. This is the second week of the tool tote project. We decided that the handle of the tote could be steam bent using bending oak (air dried white oak) which is readily available from Edensaw. The bending oak is used to make knees and planks in the local wooden boat industry,

This steam bending may have been a little ambitious for this project but there were a lot of good object lessons learnt: Length of the steaming, size of the box relative to the stock, sturdiness of the bending jig, working as team. We'll post pictures of the finished totes soon.

Hand Plane Essentials - Winter 2012


Hand Plane Essentials - this class also really benefited from the expansion of bench tools and teaching tools, each student was able to fully engage with with a wide array of planes and really experience the difference using the right tool for the job makes.

We're also starting to lean towards using a #3 as a general purpose smoother. It's much more able to clean up those small areas in the middle of a board. We'll be bringing them into use over the next couple of months.

Foundation Course 2012 - Week 3

We're maintaining the tradition started in the 2011 Foundation Course of having a  potluck lunch every Friday from 12-1. Anybody is welcome to join us. It's a great opportunity to meet the students, see their work and to visit the school.

We've been incredibly lucky with the mild winter. Even with the snow we've been able to eat outside at the picnic table three times (out of a possible four) so far this year.

Come along a join us!

Hand Saw Essentials Winter 2012


This was the first time we've run Hand Saw Essentials, the first class in our Basics of Woodworking series. A full class and very engaged bunch of students justified our belief that learning to effectively use and maintain saws is one of the first skills every woodworker should learn. The plethora of different power saws has eclipsed the hand saw but that light is starting to shine again.

Sawing precisely means matching the saw to the task and keeping the saw sharp. Between the School's collection and Jim's personal collection we have a pretty complete set of saws for you to experience. Recently we dedicated part of a spare bench as a saw sharpening station and this makes a big difference when, like honing a chisel you just need to touch up the saw.

We'll offer this class later in the year. We'll publish the date when we schedule it.

Foundation Course 2012 - Week 2


The second week of the Foundation Course is a slightly modified version of Hand Tool Heaven. We added an initial segment on dimensioning boards. We converted a bunch of jack planes into fore planes by putting a heavy camber on the blades. Jim also has a couple of wooden fore planes that allowed the students to do comparisions. Then into a flurry of making straight edges, winding sticks and squares.

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Old Tools

Stanley #45
Just before New Year I collected a wonderful toolbox of old(ish) Tools from Dale Brotherton (Dale teaches our Japanese Woodworking Classes). The toolbox contained a phenomenal array of saws, planes, saw sets and a couple of mitre saws. These are a tremendous addition to our teaching tools but it will take us a couple of months to get them restored and operational. We have have visions of a dedicated mitre saw station.

Thank you Dale!

New Tools, New Tool Rack

We've been putting some real effort into ensuring that we can provide a great hand tool experience for everybody who takes a class the School. Since Christmas we've upgraded the tools at each work bench to include a holdfast,  jack plane, foreplane, carpentry mallet, mortice chisels, paring chisels, rip and crosscut carcass saws and new marking gauges.

Plus Abel Dances built a wonderful storage unit for all the teaching tools. Abel is our full time class lead for the Foundation Course and is doing a great job!

Our thanks to everyone who helped with the tools - our anonymous donor for all the Jack planes we converted to foreplanes, Lee Valley Tools and Woodcraft for helping us get the best tools.

You don't need to bring tools to a class but we'll encourage you to bring your own tools so that you can tune them and begin to master them!

Foundation Course 2012 - Week 1

Three Legged Stool - Week 1
The 2012 Foundation Course started on January 9th, 2012 (where does the time go?).

We have a wonderful bunch of people on the course from around the world, the country and the region!

Sasha flew in from the Ukraine bringing his wife Svetlana and daughter Katrina with him! In getting Sasha to join us we've established that anybody can get a visa and join us for an avocational course. We cleared this with INS and have a copy of the appropriate regulations if you want to join us for a course!

Ryan drove across country from New York and Alec flew down from Juneau. Sam join us from Vancouver, WA; Colin from Portland, OR; Jim from Bainbrdige Island, Mary from Poulsbo; Boone from Olympia leaving Ben as the only Local!

The first week established several firsts: the largest Foundation Course yet (nine out of a possible ten students); our first Green Woodworking class; everybody made a piece of furniture in their first week in class; and we had our first potluck Friday lunch outside!

Plus we got Charlie Smith in to mill up a whole bunch of Doug Fir and Cedar for future projects at the School and at the Fort.


Solstice Stroll at Fort Worden


We should take everyone who takes a class at the School for a stroll round Artillery Hill (the hill behind the School). The views from some of the fortifications are spectacular and there is a lot of good birdwatching as well.

On the Winter Solstice it was clear and cool. So just to give you a hint here's a small slideshow enjoy.

PS - I'm really impressed with the capability of my little Olympus SP-800UZ. All of these shots are straight of the camera. No Photoshop here.