Monday, 15 February 2010

Things are getting serious now

I am just getting over a bit of a head cold right now - likely picked up on my flight home from San Francisco.

In anticipation of a speedy recovery though - I have been preparing the living room for some major work. As I mentioned in a previous post - the first piece of the baseboard trim is up. That experience (or “inexperience”) taught me many things.... you need the right tools at your disposal in order to work efficiently. I know this is painfully obvious, but knowing it and doing it are sometimes very different.

Jill and I have been home renovators from the day we purchased our first home.

our first home

Before Riley and Lucas arrived, it was not uncommon for us to be up until midnight tearing out walls, wiring, dry-walling or painting. The kitchen island doubled as a workbench and it was customary to have spaghetti sauce splatters on the drill.

Not much has changed since then... the kitchen island was perfect for shooting the miters for the border of the floor. Jill worked away on preparing dinner - and I worked away at shooting miters. I am sure we all consumed a few white oak shavings those nights.

It has been a constant battle to find a balance between how much of the “work” should be done in the shop vs on site in the house. I still struggle with it. The upstairs sun room just about killed me - I must have walked at least 10k back and forth fitting parts and carrying in pieces. It was horrible. And that is what prompted the Festool madness - super high quality tools that are compact, portable and dust free. I swore I would not repeat the experience in the sun room in the living room. The framing went very well, but most of that is chopsaw work. The flooring went very well - other than the miters on the kitchen island. But the trim... that first course of the baseboards felt like the sun room again. I had the chopsaw in, the Festool MFT (which is awesome BTW) and most of the other Festool stuff. What was missing was a bench. I was still having to run back and forth to make critical cuts for the coped inside corners. At one point I was clamping some of the shorter pieces onto the hearth framing muttering “this sucks!” under my breath as I was trying to make accurate cuts.

So the bench is in for the long haul and hopefully this will make all the difference.

PS - there are still 2 benches in the shop - so I am able to work in there too.


Blogger Brad said...

Beautiful workbench! I'd like to try my hand at a project like that. Did you just make it up in your head, or base it on existing drawings?

18 February 2010 at 22:01  
Blogger Jim said...

I loved that first home you both owned, I drove by it in late December just to see it again...

18 February 2010 at 23:25  
Anonymous Torch02 said...

What do you think of the tail vise on the bench? I'm investigating various vises for the one I'd like to build and I'd love to hear your opinion.

21 February 2010 at 19:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again Konrad.Could you please show a picture of the section of foor, with the Morse code in it, so we can translate it.Thanks for your help.Lou

22 February 2010 at 12:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's one serious bench!!


25 February 2010 at 14:56  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Brad,

The top is from my first bench - the base is a re-do from a few years ago. the top is maple, and the bottom is red elm with spalted mullberry endpanels. The shoulder vice is from Atlas Machinery on Queen street in Toronto - designed by Michael Fortune. The face vice is a wee Record 52 - much too small for my liking - but it was the first vice I could find when I set out to build my first bench. I used the workbench book by Scott Landis - there are a lot of great benches in there. Chris Schwarz's book is also an excellent bench book - either will get you well on your way.


25 February 2010 at 20:49  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Jim,

Yeah - we have driven by a few times as well. The people that live there now are quite wonderful, and we have stopped in for visits a few times. Riley took Lucas on a tour of his old room - Lucas was 2 when we left and could not remember much. It was a great first house!


25 February 2010 at 20:51  
Blogger Konrad said...

Torch - the tail vice is pretty good. It was the one Michael Fortune designed many years ago and as far as I know - is still being made by Atlas. That being said - there are a pile of new vices available... the offerings from Benchcraft come to mind. I broke down and bought the hardware for a left handed wagon vice in the fall... I intend on putting it on the big shaker bench in conjunction with the Emmert.

The thing with benches is you can always improve on them. I have just accepted the fact that I will not be able to have one single perfect bench, but will have several for different tasks. I have 3 now - and I suspect a fourth will happen at some point.

What type of work are you doing? That is likely the best place to start (I am assuming you are already well beyond this stage though).

Hope that helps,

25 February 2010 at 20:56  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Lou,

Yup - pics will follow shortly. I really, really (really) hope there is not a spelling mistake in the code! If there is - don't tell me:)


25 February 2010 at 20:57  
Blogger tomausmichigan said...


Those mulberry panels are fantastic! I don't know any wood that changes so much in aging. Hard to find any mulberry down here, let alone such wide boards.


25 February 2010 at 22:06  

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Barely a hint.

OK. This “mystery plane” I am working on. This is obscure... but I really do not want to let the cat out on this one. I promise to post about it shortly.


Blogger Jim said...

I'm thinking out of the box..... a joinery plane?

15 February 2010 at 10:49  
Anonymous Scott said...

Konrad, great hint, obscure. I'll meditate upon it,like a Zen koan, attempting to achieve enlightenment.

Thanks, Scott

15 February 2010 at 13:01  
Anonymous Ed said...

I reckon they're sides trimmed off a standard lever cap to make some sort of skew plane.

Any warmer?

15 February 2010 at 15:48  
Blogger Cody said...

Is it made of gold? Or is it just priced that way? :)

I'm looking forward to the big unveiling!

15 February 2010 at 19:16  
Blogger Konrad said...

Jim and Ed - warm.

Scott - how was the meditation?

Cody - just priced that way:)


15 February 2010 at 19:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do we get a prize, if so I want one of those cool x smoothers.
I think it is parts for an infill compass plane. probably the first one.

junior brake

15 February 2010 at 20:39  
Blogger Jim said...

Warm??? How many pens do I need to sell?? ;-)

16 February 2010 at 22:32  
Anonymous Kerry said...

Since those pieces look exactly like the chips of bone left by knawing badgers, I'd say you're making a Badger plane, or maybe a Badger bi-plane. Heh.

18 February 2010 at 10:43  
Blogger Konrad said...

Mr. Brake - no prize... but immense satisfaction knowing you figured it out:) Not a compass plane...


25 February 2010 at 20:59  
Blogger Konrad said...

Jim... how many pens do you make in a year?



25 February 2010 at 21:00  
Blogger Konrad said...

Kerry - you got it! How you got it is beyond me... I thought that was the most insane, obscure clue ever. I will post pictures of the finished plane shortly.


25 February 2010 at 21:01  

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Tuesday, 9 February 2010

What a trip!

Firstly - let me apologize for the delay in posting... I have been very busy in the shop these last several weeks, working on a very challenging and unique plane. I will post pictures once it has been delivered. In the meantime - here are a few shots of a recently completed A5ss infilled with Rosewood.

I have also started working on the quarter-sawn White Oak trim in the living room. The first piece of the 4 piece baseboard has been installed. It was a bit of a challenge because the floor is not level. We used a laser level to mark “level” around the perimeter of the room and used this to locate the baseboard. With the first piece installed - the rest should go smoothly (famous last words I know). The terrazzo hearth was installed yesterday and Jill tells me it is sensational. I cannot wait to see it!

Oh, I am in San Francisco right now. I am leaving for the airport in a few hours and thought I should write something while it is all fresh in my mind.

What a trip it has been. Every single day has been spent with great people - some old friends and some new ones. Ron Hock and Linda were the first on the adventure list. They were attending the LN show in LA and decided to stay in the Bay area between that show and the one at the Crucible. Ron was waiting for me in the baggage claim area, and I have to say - seeing him there was a wonderful sight. Thanks again Ron. Ron had suggested that we go to the De Young and see Tut. I have to say - this exhibit blew me away!

There was one small statue that really did it for all of us. It was one of the earlier pieces in the show, but it stuck with all of us. It was a 12" figure of a woman (sorry - I cannot remember her name) carved out of wood. She had the most extraordinary carved braids but the real zinger was her dress. The carved fabric was so well done that you could see every single curve of her legs. It was exquisite. The artist managed to make it look sheer and even had a slight indent for her belly-button. She was a very striking figure.

The overall quality of the craftsmanship was incredible. The lips on the figures were amazing as were the proportions and overall qualities of the lines. I always enjoy seeing what the best looks like - I have a new definition of where the bar is.

There was also an Amish quilt exhibit that none of us knew about. The quilts were amazing and very modern. It was shocking to read the cards to realize many of them were made before 1930. It was also interesting to note the differences between Amish quilts and Mennonite quilts.

We attended the LN hand tool show at the Crucible on Friday and Saturday. The show was great and I enjoyed catching up with old friends and making many new ones. These traveling shows that LN is hosting are quite amazing and are a fantastic resource for hand tool users. Thanks to Thomas and the rest of the LN crew for continuing to do them.

I have been spending these last few days with another good friend. We took a drive up the coast to see the amazing California coast line. We had a wonderful lunch at a sea-side spot that was packed despite the fact it was in the middle of nowhere. Of all the places I have visited over the years, California could very easily be called “home”. I love everything about it. The people are wonderful, the climate is amazing (especially when there is a foot of snow at home), and the woodworking community is second to none. And the food... wow! The quality of the ingredients is unbelievable.

I had better sign off now and finish packing up. I promise to post more often from now on.


Anonymous Scott said...

How about a hint about the plane you're working on.

9 February 2010 at 15:04  
Blogger David said...

realy hard at work!!
Good for you!

9 February 2010 at 17:10  
Anonymous Alexander A. said...

Konrad, I thoroughly enjoyed your earlier postings about the herringbone floor installation. Very inspirational for a young amateur like me. Thank you! Would you please post some pictures of the trim?

9 February 2010 at 17:49  
Blogger Tom said...


I enjoyed chatting with you at the LNTW event in Oakland; I'm inspired to give jigless sharpening another go...

And I'm glad you had a chance to enjoy some of the local sights. Hopefully you made it up to see some of the Coastal Redwoods...

I hope to see you out here again next year.


11 February 2010 at 00:37  
Blogger Joe Powers said...


I visit SF fairly often and was curious to hear whose woodwork/shops you found worth visiting.

11 February 2010 at 10:18  
Blogger matt@thuja said...

Hey Konrad, that rosewood in the A5ss plane is just awesome! I've zoomed in on those pictures about ten times now...awesome.


13 February 2010 at 23:18  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Scott,

I think I have an obscure hint:) Stay tuned...


14 February 2010 at 09:39  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Alexander,

I certainly will post pics of the trim. I am hoping to get a bit more done this coming week and will post once it looks like some work has actually been done.


14 February 2010 at 09:40  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Tom,

Glad the jigless sharpening discussion (rant?) was inspirational and not offensive. Let me know how you make out with it.

The drive up the coast was amazing - man, I love the west coast.

See you next year,

14 February 2010 at 09:44  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Joe,

I did not get a chance to see too many shops during my visit. I have never been in a shop that I did not find fascinating though - everyone I have met has a different way of working, a different layout and different tools. It is always interesting to see how people work - and the work they produce.


14 February 2010 at 09:47  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Matt. The plane is still here if you want to see it in person:)


14 February 2010 at 09:47  

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