… 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.