Friday, 20 July 2007

What’s with all the "General green"?

My last three large tools have all been painted “General Green”. Now one was supposed to be – the General 130 thickness planer… but the vintage jointer and this workbench… well, it's not natural.




I should back up a bit.

I have just returned from co-piloting a one day mad dash to Edwardsburg, Michigan to pick up two amazing items. One is this incredible workbench. It was buried at the back of John Sindelar's shop. In a previous entry, I mentioned disappointment in missing an Emmert patternmakers vice at the auction. This bench was the remedy. To be honest, I am not sure what I am more excited about – the Emmert or the 32 drawers in the base. Storage is always an issue, and these 20” deep drawers are going to hold a lot of stuff - a veritable batcave in the bench really.

Riley was on hand this morning to help remove the dust and a few remaining screws and washers from the drawers. And, as seems to be a new trend at the Sauer household - he found a few rodent nests. He commented “at least they weren’t squirrels!”


The top is maple and the base is oak. The drawer fronts and exposed surfaces of the drawer cabinet are also oak. There are two pocket doors that pull forward and cover the drawers. An amazing bench to say the least! My best guess is that I have about a week of restoration work. I have posted some more pictures here and will update as the restoration progresses.




Last, but certainly not least – the second item. This is a Black Acacia rocking chair made for Jill and I by our good friend Russ Filbeck. I met Russ in January 2006 at the PAST event in San Diego. We connected quite quickly and began making plans to demonstrate at the 2007 event. We were set up beside one another and every spare moment I had, I would wander over and admire his chairs. The rocking chair stole the show for me.


Every spring, Russ makes a trip from San Diego to Pennsylvania to hand select logs and oversee their milling. He then returns back to CA with his prized timber. On his way to PA, he dropped off this rocking chair at John Sindelar's shop. Russ sent me progress photos as he built the chair, but I have to say, seeing the real thing was magic. It exceeded my every expectation. Russ and I made arrangements to combine our two crafts and all the pegs in the rocker are African Blackwood off cuts from one of his planes. I have posted further photos here.


Ok. So back to the General green for a moment. As I restored the jointer, the green paint seemed to fall off quite easily... like a snake shedding some old tired skin. And as the jointer shed - the original black japanning was revealed. When I got to the lettering, little flecks of gold paint appeared. Some quick drybrushing with gold model paint, and it was looking pretty sweet.


I am not expecting the restoration and removal of the paint from the bench to go quite as easy, but there are already a few clean spots where the oak is shining through. Like the jointer, I know that there will be gold hidden behind the tired surface of the bench, now I just have to bring it out. Stay tuned.

5 Comments:

Blogger jyatulis said...

Great bench! The drawer cabinet is very interesting. I'm jealous of all that storage. What kind of shape is the Emerett vise in? Looking forward to more pictures.

BTW excellent new web site and blog. I enjoy reading about the plane making process and seeing new designs.

cheers, Jay

21 July 2007 22:06  
Blogger jyatulis said...

Great bench! The drawer cabinet is very interesting. I'm jealous of all that storage. What kind of shape is the Emerett vise in? Looking forward to more pictures.
BTW excellent new web site and blog. I enjoy reading about the plane making process and seeing new designs.
cheers, Jay

21 July 2007 22:08  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Jay,

Good to hear from you.

I just came in from the shop a few minutes ago - taking measurements for the 10 missing drawers I need to make. That and taking another look to decide just how much rebuilding I want to do. I guess I only have myself to blame.

The Emmert appears to be in great shape. Everything moves freely. A good cleaning and I should have a better idea. Smells like an ebony handle is in order:)

Cheers,
Konrad

22 July 2007 00:41  
Blogger Chris said...

What a gorgeous old joiner. Glad to see it being restored--and I enjoy th e blog so keep it up!

26 July 2007 11:29  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Chris,

Glad you are enjoying the blog.

I am working on an entry with further photos and details of the jointer restoration. It should be up in a few days.

Cheers,
Konrad

6 August 2007 07:06  

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Monday, 16 July 2007

A rare fleet


It is not very often I have such a wide cross section of planes in the shop at one time. Many of these have been individually posted to the gallery - but I though they made a good family photo too.


From front to back;

No.4 smoothing plane
- 7-1/2” long
- “Mystery Rosewood” infill, bronze sides
- 52.5 degree bed angle
- 2” wide, high carbon steel blade

No. A4 smoothing plane
- 7-1/2” long
- Ebony infill, 01 tool steel sides
- 47.5 degree bed angle
- 2-1/4” wide, high carbon steel blade

No. A6 smoothing plane
- 7-7/8” long
- African Blackwood infill, bronze sides
- 47.5 degree bed angle
- 2-1/4” wide, high carbon steel blade

No. A5 smoothing plane
- 8” long
- Rosewood infill, bronze sides
- 47.5 degree bed angle
- 2-1/4” wide, high carbon steel blade

No. A1 panel plane
- 17-1/2” long
- Ebony infill, 01 tool steel sides
- 47.5 degree bed angle
- 2-1/2” wide, high carbon steel blade

No. A2 jointing plane
- 22-1/2” long
- “Mystery Rosewood” infill, 01 tool steel sides
- 47.5 degree bed angle
- 2-5/8” wide, high carbon steel blade




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Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The Rhythm of work


We left for the cottage this morning and after unpacking and having a quick lunch, Riley asked if he could play around with “Comic Life” on my laptop. So we fired it up, but the first thing I really did was launch iTunes and start the play list running. Then we opened Comic Life. Hmmm… that is when it hit me - I really need music to function.

Even as I am sitting here typing, there is music spewing from this laptop (A perfect Circle if you are interested). In my shop, there is a pair of wall mount speakers on each floor – fed by a 5 disc CD player that never sleeps.

Maybe it is the nature of the music I listen to. My sisters and I grew up steeped in The Beatles, Blondie, Led Zeppelin and the occasional spinning of Black Sabbath when mom was out. When I was old enough to buy my own records (yes, actual records) they were an evolution of my dad’s music – just a little heavier. It was college that really defined my musical tastes. The design and Advertising program had 30 students who were all into music. There were stereos in every room and they were blaring day and night. Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Led Zepplin, Nine Inch Nails, The Cult, Janes Addiction, Ministry, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden (1), Tool – these were our staples. We were typical students who procrastinated as long as we could, and then hit it pretty hard. We were often working until 3am, and it was the heavy droning beat that fueled us.

Much to Jill’s chagrin – I am still listening to the same type of music. When I get to the studio in the morning, the lights go on, I walk upstairs and turn on the stereo. It does not go off until I leave at the end of the day. Music sets the pace and the tone. There are even a few planes that I associate certain albums with. I am a big Tool fan, and I know each plane I was working on with each new album release. One drawback of having a 10ft window facing the house is anyone can see me grooving while I work. Well, gooving is being generous… more like mild head banging. My father in law was over one day and asked Jill what I was doing. She just smiled and explained. I still don’t think he gets it –and it’s probably better that way.

Every month or so, this issue comes up on various woodworking forums. It is always interesting to read what others are listening to while they work. But there is a common thread that ties them all together – music people really do need their music. I just hope my hearing holds out.

(1) – Appropriately renamed Hellgarden by Jill

6 Comments:

Blogger themazaman said...

Love the new Tool album. You can really get a scrub plane going during Rosetta Stoned. As far as other albums, the end of Forty Six and 2 is really good for pounding out mortices. Its good to know that other Tool Galoots are out there.

12 July 2007 20:29  
Blogger Konrad said...

I fear we are few and far between. I have seen them twice on the 10,000 days tour - once in Toronto last fall, and in Hamilton this past monday. Both were great shows. Pushit still gives me goosebumps.

12 July 2007 22:24  
Blogger Philly said...

Had to laugh when reading about your "grooving".......I do exactly the same. The Wife can see me from the kitchen and I can occasionally catch her standing in the doorway shaking her head........
Another band to check out are "Biffy Clyro" - their latest, "Puzzle", is awesome!
Cheers
Phil

13 July 2007 01:40  
Anonymous DHDolan said...

Konrad,

What an great topic! You could probably run a popular weekly blog on this topic alone. Music in the shop and at work is critical. When I work in the shop at night in the glare of the single halogen bulb, I prefer Morphine or the Sea and Cake. While good musical choices for woodworking are endless, it has to be something with a good groove. Keep up the great work.

13 July 2007 11:21  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Philly - I will check them out. Are they UK bands?

Cheers,
Konrad

16 July 2007 15:11  
Blogger Philly said...

Konrad
They come from Scotland, a place close to the heart of infill lovers!
here's a link...
http://www.biffyclyro.com/
Cheers
Phil

17 July 2007 13:17  

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Friday, 6 July 2007

TGIF…


… 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.

7 Comments:

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 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.

James

8 July 2007 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
Phil

9 July 2007 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,
Konrad

12 July 2007 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,
Konrad

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

Konrad
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
Phil

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

Hey Philly,

The santos is going to a good home:)

Cheers,
Konrad

16 July 2007 15:13  

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Tuesday, 3 July 2007

A conversation with Riley


A few years ago I was lapping a plane and brushing off the dusty lapping surface with a rather filthy cloth. Then Riley came into the shop. This was our conversation;

"Hey Riley."

"Hey Dad. What are you doing?"

"Cleaning off the dust from lapping this plane"

"Is it steel?"

"yes"

"Why don't you use a magnet?"

As I was standing there rather stunned, Riley went downstairs to the bandsaw, peeled off a piece of magnet (used on the seams to aid in dust collection), walked back upstairs and proceeded to remove all the dust in two quick swipes.

He looked at the magnet... then me, smiled, and left.

I keep the magnet upstairs.

3 Comments:

Blogger Gabriele said...

Hi Konrad,
many times I think we forget to consider easier solutions.. perhaps because too much things we have in mind than a simpler mind has not.
Let me say I appreciate a lot your neat hand work.

Many cheers
Gabriele

6 August 2007 03:23  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Gabriele,

I totally agree. It requires a lot more effort to keep something simple than to make it complicated. Kids are perfect at keeping things basic - I wish I could return to that thinking more easily.

Warm regards,
Konrad

6 August 2007 07:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised Rob Lee hasn't introduced you to magnets - he's obsessed!!

http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=3&p=32072&cat=1,42363,42356&ap=1

I use a small rare earth magnet inside a plastic spray can cap as a cheap version.

It picks up the swarf and shavings when I scary-sharpen a treat.

BugBear

17 January 2008 08:39  

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