Issue 10 OUT NOW and it’s FREE

I’m proud to say that Issue 10 is released, and it’s FREE. It’s our way of saying thanks for the support over the three years running that “The Lost Scrolls of handwork” has been serving you. It started off free and ran for many issues being free, and it finished for free.

The idea started back in 2017 for a community-based magazine that would have been run by the community for the betterment of our vast worldwide woodworking community, hobbyists and professionals alike where everybody would have had an input. This meant people would have had to donate their time to contribute towards this great idea, and in this age of information technology this knowledge would have reached every corner of the globe.

In the 18th century you would have been killed if they shared knowledge about the craft with anyone outside, they’re locality for fear of competition. However, in this day and age of mass-manufactured machine goods very few things are done by hand and this knowledge if not preserved and passed onto others would be lost forever. Are we still not scratching our heads about how the pyramids were built? Do we need to do the same for furniture, tool making, metal working etc.? Francis Young was of the same opinion which is why he started “HANDWORK” Jacque Roubo probably felt the same as he was the first chap to write an extensive book on woodworking which we still rely on today.

The need is there, but the desire to equal that need isn’t, so unfortunately for everyone this magazine has run its course and must come to an end.  

I want to thank my friend and editor from the United States Matt McGrane for being the first to stick up his hand to volunteer as an editor for the magazine. Without him, this magazine would have ended long ago. He was the pillar that kept the roof from collapsing. I’m the first to admit that I’m no writer. Matt would pick my articles apart until I thought blood would start coming out of my eyes. I remember sitting up till late hours into the night rewriting almost everything from scratch and then get up four hours later to go to work. He is a very patient man whom I admire very much as an editor, craftsman and friend. Matt, thank you on behalf of our readers and myself for your service to the woodworking community worldwide. Please check out his blog:

https://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

I also want to say thank you to the authors who donated their articles to us. We have greatly appreciated your contributions. These are:

I hope I haven’t missed anyone.

Finally, thank you to our readers for without you none of this would have been possible.

Please enjoy your free issue of the final issue of “The Lost Scrolls of handwork.”

PLANS

Accuracy in the Identification of Wood

BY CHARLES CLOUKEY

Did you ever think how hard it is to describe a variety or kind of wood without comparison, so that anyone reasonably familiar with the different woods would be able to recognize the kind you had in mind? While it is a fact that some different kinds of wood are so nearly alike as to be substituted successfully, still they have characteristic differences which make them easily distinguishable when the experienced sight, smell or taste put them to the test. But are they differences which can be described verbally?

Yellow Pine and Cypress

For instance, some certain pieces of yellow pine are so much like other certain pieces of cypress in appearance that but few men are expert enough to be guided by sight alone. Now these woods are not at all alike and, generally speaking, they do not look alike any more than it is a feature common to the two woods to show alternating hard and soft grain. In some soft specimens of cypress, this feature is almost entirely lacking, but in these there would be no room for doubt. In the matter of colouring there is always a characteristic difference between the pine and cypress although it may be very obscure. It consists of a peculiar blending of pink, grey and brown which does not occur in the hard pine. The odour of cypress is marked, especially when burning, while the hard pine does not smell so very much different from any other wood.

Besides cypress, the common woods which have the most pungent odours are black walnut, cedar, Douglas fir, and some of the lesser smellers are cotton wood, basswood, oak, ash, elm, and even hickory. These may all be determined by the odour, but this odour cannot be described by words so that it may become a determining feature of the kind of wood.

With the possible exception of bird’s eye maple, and quartered oak, there does not occur to me any common wood the description of which would not fit some other as well. I have before me a panel, the two face sides of which are made up respectively of rotary-cut white oak and white ash. There are barely two differing characteristics observable by one not versed in the cellular structure of the wood itself, and one of these regarding colour might easily be exchanged in another panel.

The main organic difference is in the fact of the oak having the hard streaks or medullary rays which show up in the quartered product, and in the rotary-cut show the narrow lines representing the

Difficulty in accurately describing varieties of wood structures, the peculiarities of surface, matter of odour, and other distinguishing qualities that count.

edges of the thin slices of harder wood. These do not show very plainly, but nevertheless can be readily seen when looked for. However, there are many other woods besides oak which show these rays, such as the maples, poplars, sycamores (these last being very beautiful in the quartered) and even that beautiful yellow wood commonly called hedge or Osage orange has the flakes in its quarter although they are even smaller than in maple.

To depend upon the colour of wood as its distinguishing mark is to invite error, unless a fresh cut is made deep enough to get under the effect of the persistent action of the sun’s rays. It is not necessary for a piece of lumber to lie directly in the sunshine the indirect rays will change its colour in time. The change in some woods is very slight, and amounts to little more than weathering, but in others the process is comparatively rapid and the results rather unexpected.

Take a piece of bright yellow poplar of a greenish tinge with an edge of white sap and lay it with surface exposed for three months or more. It will turn as brown as a cypress board and the white sap will be as brown as the darker heart. Mahogany will darken up wonderfully with exposure, while walnut will take on a decided brown.

Red Gum and Yellow Poplar

Red gum loses that lavender tinge which makes it so beautiful when first worked, and takes on a lustreless brown with time. This is the principal reason that it will never become popular as a cabinet wood in this country only as it is doctored up with some stain. So, it will appear that if a description of red gum should be given and the chief characteristics named as a mild purple, pink and brown, with modified streaks of black running through it in fantastic figure, one might say that it was figured red gum. But the same thing is met with in yellow poplar although much more rarely. However, he would be a novice indeed who would mistake a board of figured gum for one of poplar when looking at it. It is a fact, though, that one can find gum boards which have no figure but which are coloured very much the same as poplar which has been exposed to the light for a short time.

To attempt to tell the difference between tupelo gum, cottonwood, and basswood by verbal description would be hard enough, but to be able to write a description of any one of the three so that it might not be mistaken for either of the others is an accomplishment which seems hardly possible. A man who was given charge of quite a range of woodwork, once asked the writer how he could tell the difference between red and white oak. Of course, the only way was to procure some pieces and point out the characteristic differences, and even then, he was not made able to distinguish between the two varieties when the red was rather white and the white rather red. The texture and appearance of the grain, the open pores and the look of the end of the pieces often have more to do with determining the class than the colour alone.

Small Pieces Are Puzzles

One of the very difficult puzzles in wood craft is to classify very small pieces of wood, say pieces about 3 1/2-inch-thick, 1/4-inch-wide and 1 inch long. I remember having once cut a small piece from the red heart of a white pine knot and I had the wood- workers guessing what it might be. Everything they could think of from applewood to cherry, by way of cypress, birch and peach, was guessed, while the real thing was passed up on account of its colour and texture, but mostly on account of its colour. A little nibble would have told that it was a pine. It is altogether likely that a sharp nose would have done the same.

Take a small piece of the hard flake of oak and separate it from the more porous parts and many men of experience will not be able to identify it even though they cut into it; still, it may be readily placed by chewing it up into a tasty pulp, or by wetting it for a short time and then smelling of it. It is well and commonly known that oak has a very characteristic odour when it is wet or green, but has very little when well-seasoned. This accounts for some of the mistakes made by woodworkers taking oak out of the dry-kiln and testing its condition by the odour, thinking it is dry enough to work, when in reality there is but a portion of the outside parts dry, but which prevents the sap on the inside from reaching the nose of the workman. The only safe test for the centre of the piece is to cut into the board and smell of the middle of it.

It is evident to the experienced man that a correspondence course in wood craft must necessarily be of an abridged character; the latter-day idea is running largely to effects of natural beauty and much less to designs in the patterns of details. What wood can 1 use to best express the scheme of architecture I wish to employ? How match, blend, diversify, contrast or colour it so as to procure the greatest beauty and harmony? One may tell me to use quartered white oak, but if he is writing his advice from a distance he has told me in so many words all that he will be able to convey to my inexperienced mind and the next question as to its cost will receive an answer which the veriest ignoramus cannot fail to comprehend.

If he tells me to use that most beautiful wood known as cypress burl, his powers of description may well quail before the task of telling what may be brought out from under the rough sur- face of this lumber. Who can faithfully describe the golden mountain chains in miniature which thread through the boards at the middle of the crotch, which, when polished to the limit of 0000 sandpaper, seem to have the sun hiding behind them ready to burst forth into a blaze?

In these crotches, the grain of the tree sweeps up from each side in a stately parabolic curve meeting in the irregular row of hard growth patches. For a distance of 6 inches to a foot on each side of the middle, the beauty of the grain diminishes about as the square of the distance. But the plainer edges only serve to emphasize the exquisite figure colour and texture of the parts nearer the crotch.

Nature has been very lavish with her brush in some of these cypress burls, and mingled with the browns, yellows and greys will occur a delightful surprise of crimson. This is not like an applied stain but splashes and mingles with the other colours and the wood itself, sometimes predominating in minor streaks and sometimes showing but a rosy hint of red, but never dimming or diminishing the lustre of the yellows or the burnished gold of the high lights. Like all other rare things, the beauty of cypress burl comes out with excessive toil. The wood is naturally quite soft, so that while it levels down with comparative ease it is quite difficult to bring it to a high state of polish. Without this polish there can be nothing obtained to awake the enthusiasm of the connoisseur.

 So might one go on and on attempting to picture to the absent eyes of others the beauties of many rare woods, and after all what a pitiful attempt it is when we place ourselves in the position of the reader and try to follow our own words to the logical comprehension of what we know is meant by the descriptions.

No pen can describe, no brush nor pencil can picture, a true likeness of a beautiful’ wood, polished, lustrous, with the detail of grain and colour developed by the careful application of a trans- parent size of copal or shellac. It is true that individual taste has much to do with the admiration which any specimen is able to command, but it is also true that the most rarely beautiful woods are universally admired. As in the extreme case of the cypress burl the exquisite skill of the Master Painter has left nothing to do but to discover and uncover, unless the workman would spoil.

Handy Chart for Determining the Length of Stock

100 years ago the Americans developed a chart for determining the length of stock. They used this chart when ordering stock or in checking up to see if enough material was on hand. This method of determining the length of stock can still be used today.

The inner circle of figures shown in the illustration represents the length in inches of the piece required, while the figures on the outside give the number of linear feet of stock necessary to make 100 pieces. For example, if the length of a piece as per order is 2 7/8 inches, and there is an allowance for cutting off of 1/8 inch, the total length of the piece would be 3 inches. Referring to the chart the figure 3 in the inner circle is opposite the figure 25 in the outer circle, which is the required number of feet for making 100 pieces; having this, the amount of stock for any number of pieces can easily be determined.

Durability of Summer cut-Lumber

“There is a widely spread popular fallacy to the effect that lumber from trees cut in the spring or summer, when the sap is up, is less durable than winter-cut wood. The most careful laboratory tests have failed to measure such a difference. Theoretically, summer-cut wood because it has slightly more soluble content might be more liable to attack of fungus or insects in damp locations, but in practice this factor is too small to receive consideration.”

Our highest authorities are far from agreeing on this subject. Prof. S. I. Record says that the trouble with these plausible theories is that they are based on false premises and that there is generally more sap in a living tree in winter than there is in summer, and furthermore, that decay is not due to sap fermentation but to the action of living organisms of which fungi are the most important. During the winter practically no transpiration occurs in deciduous trees, as there are no leaves. The roots, however, do not cease their activity but continue to grow slowly and absorb water even in the cold weather. With no chance of escape through the leaves this water or sap accumulates, so that instead of there being less in a tree in winter than in summer there is really more.

This explanation sounds very reasonable, but to the layman it would appear. From the fact that the sap goes up in the spring, that the sap which may be accumulating during the winter. Instead of making more sap in the tree itself really accumulates in the roots and on account of the frozen condition of the tree remains there until the thawing out of the tree in the spring, when it immediately starts up into the tree, causing the starting of the buds and later the leaves.

Howard F. Weiss, another authority on the subject and who has conducted many experiments, states that the question is not one of how much sap there is in a tree in the winter, but that the question is whether wood cut in summer is more liable to decay than that cut in winter, and makes the following explanation which we believe is the correct one:

First, wood seasoned in the summer seasons faster, causing more checking than when seasoned in winter. This. of course, lays more of the timber open to the attack of destroying fungi.

Second, these fungi are more’ active in warm weather than in cold and are quick to take advantage of this exceptional checking and can make much better headway than on less checked timber.

How to re-handle axes

If an axe breaks, it is almost always the shaft/handle that is the culprit. A poor quality or damaged shaft is a major safety risk. However, if the head is still in good condition, you can re-use your tool by fitting a new shaft.

When fitting a new shaft to your tool, it’s important to ensure that the shaft is dry. If it’s not and dries after the head as been fitted, there is a danger that the head will come loose. This also applies to the wedge if you fit a new shaft using a wooden wedge.

To fit a new shaft to your axe, do the following:

  1. Cut off the existing shaft just below the head.
  2. Drill a number of holes in the eye.
  3. Tap out what is left and clean the eye.
  4. Press and tap the head onto the new shaft, firmly but carefully. Cut off the protruding part of the shaft.
  5. Fit the steel wedge so that the end of the shaft fills the eye. If the steel wedge is not sufficient, you should fit a wooden wedge before the steel wedge. You can make this by cutting a wedge from a dry piece of hard timber. Then split the end of the shaft using a chisel. Apply some wood glue, tap in the wooden wedge and then cut off the excess.
  6. Tap the steel wedge out so that it locks the wooden wedge in position. Then apply oil to the end of the shaft to protect it against moisture.

How to sharpen, store and use an axe

Sharpening

  1. Use a convex edge for applications such as delimbing, felling and splitting.
  2. Use a straight edge for hacking.
  3. An axe that has been sharpened at an angle is dangerous to use as it can easily slip!
  4. A concave edge entails a high risk of the axe splintering.

You can sharpen your axe edge using sandpaper or a bench grinder. The safest way to sharpen is using a wet grinder, but sometimes it may be necessary to first grind out burrs or other damage using a different method, e.g. a bench grinder.

NB: It is very important that you take care when sharpening and ensure that the axe is not affected by heat! If any part of the axe turns a blue colour, it signals that its tempered zone has disappeared in that part of the axe and it is no longer as resistant to wear.

Storage

Never store your axe in excessively dry places, e.g. in boiler rooms or leaning against a heater. You then risk the shaft drying out and the axe head coming loose whilst being used.

Use

Never strike the neck of the axe with another tool. Never use the axe as a sledge. Only sledge axes can withstand being used as a sledge.

The Best Axe Review

I’ve been on the hunt for an axe, a hewing axe in particular. The prices vary and for a quality hewing axe is quite cost prohibitive, $330 to be exact. So, unless you can afford to part with that sort of money you have to ask yourself how badly do I need one and is there another other work around to achieve the same results.

The type of work I need doing is to hew slabs of varying thicknesses with live edges A drawknife should do the trick, but a broad hewing axe that has a bevel on one side and is flat on the other would do a quicker job. There is an issue of clamping slabs securely whilst working it with the drawnife. This wouldn’t be the case with an axe as I can hold the slab in one hand and work it with the other so, clamping is definitely an issue. Here is a picture of the broad axe I would like to get

https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/670506242/right-handed-carving-axe-carpentry-axe?

It’s hand made in Ukraine and is really quite beautiful isn’t it?. Just by looking at it, the quality of workmanship is just striking and that’s the thing. This is a tool that will last a lifetime and beyond and if one will use that tool consistently then price shouldn’t be the reason not to buy it. But in my case it just may end up being in the tool box more often than not. So I’m conflicted on what to do.

Here is the website as promised that offers good unbiased with no bias preference to country reviews.

https://axethis.com/

I just want to cry with envy

Wouldn’t you just give up your job to work in anyone of these workshops.

Isn’t it ironic though how these factories are manned with a real workforce and our factories are filled with machinery and robots.

Isn’t it also ironic how in this video hand work is dominant in a mass production environment and in our workshops and that’s even including in one man shops- handwork is non existent

Isn’t it ironic how they will inlay, carve by hand with no cnc, perform marquetry and still manage to mass produce these state of the art pieces of furniture and yet we say it’s too time consuming so we need a cnc or laser.

Isn’t ironic and I will stop on this one because I could go on forever and this is the the best one yet. Why build it when it’s cheaper to pay China to make it for us? This mentality is the reason why our craft and apprenticeships have gone with the wind.

This is the deal we all got from these corporate scum bags and middle sized businesses. They don’t employ because they don’t manufacture in your country anymore. They pay another country taxes, wages and enrich them and to add insult to injury they consider you so stupid by importing these goods back into your country and then expect you to buy from them. And guess what? you do, even though they made you redundant.

Anyway I didn’t want to get all philosophical but after viewing this video this is what came to mind and my blood started to boil.

Konjic Woodcarving

Bosnia is a country filled with talented crafts persons that go back to the Ottomans. . In a country that has 60% unemployed youth and 40% unemployed adults, the people have gone back to crafting by hand creating an income for their families without having the need to rely on hand outs from the government. The video above is just one example of this. It’s skill that has been passed on from generation to generation and you see this knowledge being passed on to a little boy at the end of the film. The language spoken in this video is Bosnian with English subtitles.

This is the type of furniture I one day aspire to build and master. I think to truly become a master one needs to focus on one aspect of woodworking and get very bloody good at it. To learn all aspects of woodworking and to master them all is impossible due to a very short life span we all live. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I have.