Friday, 6 July 2007


… because today was tote shaping day.

And it’s all my mom's fault. When I was growing up, my mom had a very simple, but effective way to make us do stuff we weren’t really keen on doing. Every day after school we would find our list of jobs taped to the fridge. It was pretty standard stuff – set the table, fold laundry etc. But there was always a reward written at the end of the list – a popsicle, watching the Dukes of Hazzard… something with just enough appeal that our jobs were always done.

So when I am scheduling my week, I book the reward(s) for Friday. And the reward is usually the same – shaping totes (handles). This is the most blissful part of planemaking. It is pure glorious handwork – and all based on what feels and looks right. So much of planemaking is marking, measuring and maintaining true & square surfaces. All important - but it can be a little tedious after a while. Handles on the other hand are organic. I often walk around the shop, ringing my hands around them to "feel" when it is right. I have to use both my left and right hand - I don't want my left hand bias to affect the feel of the shape.

This was a particularly great Friday – the weather was perfect – sunny and warm but not humid. So I decided to set up shop on the studio balcony. I have an old lathe stand that I have attached to the railing and it is a pretty decent outdoor workbench.

I had an African Blackwood A6 tote and a Rosewood A5 tote. Whenever I am shaping totes, I always do the blackwood ones first as they are the hardest material to work with. For anyone who intends on shaping African Blackwood – use metal working files and not rasps. When you push a rasp on blackwood you will hear a distinct “tink, tink, tink, tink” sound. Those are your rasp teeth being removed. Nicholson makes an 8” half round file that works great on Blackwood. I usually buy 5 at a time.

Rosewood on the other hand, is one of the nicest woods to work. It holds detail well and works beautifully with hand tools. Once you have worked with Rosewood – you will never forget the smell.

The shaping went very well - as it usually does. The only downside to all this is I am getting quicker at it and a little disappointed that I only had 2 to do. That, and I couldn't find any Dukes of Hazzard reruns on the tube.


Blogger James M. said...

It appears that I am the first ever to comment in your blog I feel honoured.

Personally I hate squirrels, busy tailed rats, vandals with fur, just generally a PITA.

I also admire your planes though I doubt, short of a lottery win I will ever be able to afford one. U have to admit they are trily beautiful a genuine work of industrial art.

I will continue reading your blog however, as it is interesting. Very nice work.

8 July 2007 at 08:15  
Blogger James M. said...

I also commented in the wrong section of the blog but I suspect you get the idea, but in case you di not I hate squirrels.

I really must spend more time editing my posts I can spell I just cannot type.


8 July 2007 at 08:17  
Blogger Philly said...

Ahhh....glad to hear you love the basic "hand tool" stuff! You certainly can't beat the pleasure of shaping a piece of timber by hand.
Rosewood - I have only used it a little but it always has a wonderful, sweet scent. I'm making a couple of planes from some Santos as we speak.
Best regards

9 July 2007 at 16:03  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi James,

Yes - you are the first contributor to the comments! Please pardon my late response - it took me a moment to figure this out.

I am happy to report that the sunroom is now a squirrel free zone!

Thanks for all the kind comments too.

Best wishes,

12 July 2007 at 12:25  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Philly,

Fancy meeting you here:)

The handwork really is the best part of planemaking. Quite & relaxing.

How do you like working with the Santos Rosewood - I have not worked with it before. Is it hard and dense like Honduran?

Best wishes,

12 July 2007 at 12:30  
Blogger Philly said...

You can run but you can't hide! Great to see you blogging :)
The Santos is wonderful - dense but good to work. And planes well, too. That last one surprised me as I had heard horror stories.
I post some pictures when it looks good.
Best regards

13 July 2007 at 01:26  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey Philly,

The santos is going to a good home:)


16 July 2007 at 15:13  

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