Ripsaw Restoration

Thanks to Ralph for sharing this video as it’s definitely worth the watch. We always complain about how little space we have to work in, well, this is the second time I’ve seen talent work in shoe boxes.

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To point or not to point your index finger during planing

I was sifting through the net of some old woodworking photographs when I came across this one below that took my interest.

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I was contemplating on how simple their shops were and how minimalist in tools they were too. In fact, I haven’t yet seen an antique photograph or drawing with any more tools on their walls as to what you see here. Oh well each to their own, I love my tools and just like clamps you can’t have too many.  As I was about to click off the image I noticed something else, something peculiar and evidence to what was developing into a myth is now proof it’s not a myth at all; the pointing index finger.

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The idea has spread like a virus among my small circle of friends that extending the index finger whilst planing is a modern day invention. Whilst many argue that there is no need to extend the index finger during planing, no one yet has come up with a plausible argument to dispute their theory. Their claim that this practice probably begun over the last 100 years. Well, now I have the evidence to prove they are wrong.  A photograph taken in 1848 of two woodworkers showing that one worker has his index finger extended during planing. Whilst I agree that it serves no purpose in hand planing, I however continue to do it out of habit.

I would like to know your thoughts on the subject.

Woodworking in Romania

This short video was filmed in 1998 which isn’t really that long ago. What I find interesting is how minimal and basic their tools are. The fact that these people are actually making a living from it and raised a fairly large family as well say’s a lot. Don’t you think?  If we compared them to us I think they win by a long shot.
We are constantly bombarded by marketing to buy tools we really don’t need, and most of these tools are machinery. The “premium” hand planes on the market in all honesty are not better than the premium metal planes that Stanley once produced or wooden ones that were once made. Why? because in my opinion the irons in the Stanley’s were thinner and easier to sharpen and their planes including the wooden ones were lightweight, which allowed you to work faster without the extra fatigue that comes with a heavier plane. I think personally this idea of heavy planes came from Norris planes, but I could be wrong.  The only thing I don’t like about wooden planes is the inefficiency of adjusting for a thinner cut on the fly, other than that they are fantastic to use.
Also notice the constant smile, the satisfaction and contentment. The fact also that they’re providing an income from what they produce by hand without online marketing, catalogues and $600 hand planes.  We have it all, the best and most expensive tools, beautiful lumber and yet most struggle to sell anything they make. What’s wrong with this picture?

Humanity At Its Best

50,000 people are fed daily for free in India. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist all are welcome to eat. The whole thing is run through volunteers and it runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year in and year out. They all work in harmony with each other like clock work without pay for humanity’s sake. I don’t know who pays for the food, but there is a lesson in it for all of us to reflect on.  It’s very touching.

I know it has nothing to do with woodworking but I just had to add it in the hope that something like this started in our countries.

 

Mike Dunbar – Chairmaker

Mike sent me this email to inform you of his new channel. Here is what he wrote.

My name is Mike Dunbar and I am suggesting a blog topic that I believe will interest your readers.  I made Windsor chairs for 45 years. Beginning in 1980 I taught Windsor chairmaking around the United States and Canada. In 1994 my wife Susanna and I gave the craft a permanent home when we opened a school named The Windsor Institute.  Our program of classes was recognized throughout the world.  We taught as many as 35 classes a year with a maximum of 28 students.  We estimate we taught Windsor chairmaking to some 6,500 people.

In 2016 Susanna and I retired and closed The Institute. However, those unable to attend a class begged us for help. We heard their pleas and decided on a solution: to videotape our celebrated introductory sack back class and post it on a YouTube channel. That way, anyone can take our class for free, without ever having to leave home.  

Your readers may want to take advantage of this series. They can find it at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvZ36VGhBlHqkETSnajNhMw

We use to offer courses in 17 different Windsor chairs.  Our hope is to record and post all of them. I would greatly appreciate your telling your readers about the channel. If you have any questions, or want more information, I can be reached at mike@thewindsorinstitute.com

 

Mike

Stepping away but not running away

Life usually gets in the way and stops you from doing the things you most enjoy, like for most of us woodworking.

For some of us, making a living from the craft isn’t what we want, as it can easily turn into a high pressure job of getting it out the door yesterday. Then there are those who are struggling to make ends meet. Even though I built clocks for as long as I did, I still struggled with the pressure I just mentioned. I wouldn’t really call that living the dream of any sort, but I worked wood and loved that part only.

Being a hobbyist all over again is a welcoming experience. I make what I want, when I want and can take as long as I want. Well, that’s the positive aspects of it. The downside is finding the time to do it. Sometimes you can have a project sit on your bench for months before you get around to it. Then comes the part of not being able to afford the materials for whatever project you had in mind. Some species of woods are better to work with than others, but isn’t so cost friendly. These are the major drawbacks of being an amateur. This is where I’m at, at the moment.

I wore it financially as long as I could and I can’t afford it no more. I’ve taken on extra shifts making it now working 7 days a week. The shifts are 14 hours per day, to help bring some financial normality back to my life. This doesn’t mean that I will neglect my commitment to you. What it means is that I’ll try and fit some time before or after work to cover the projects in the magazine. But I can’t give nor even speculate a time frame of how long will it be between issues.

The magazine is free but donations are needed.