77 and still making planes by hand!

Maybe you’ve heard of him or maybe you haven’t. His name is Bill Carter an Englishman gentleman, 77 years old and still makes planes by hand.

He makes wooden planes of all sorts including miniature moulding planes and he also makes infill planes and once again all by hand.  No machinery used to cut the metal dovetails. A simple hacksaw, a blunt chisel and a file is all he needs to produce beautiful and very antique looking planes.

They’re not cheap though and I wouldn’t expect them to be, but as an investment if you could afford them they’re worth every penny.

On his website he shows how he makes them, a lot of great tips so worth a look.

After he’s  gone these planes will be worth 4 times the price and it will only increase in value.  It will be a sad day though as he’s probably the last tool maker who purely works by hand.

www.billcarterwoodworkingplanemaker.co.uk

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Reproduction Wall Clock

This clock is called a Pomeroy Wall Clock. It was first built in 1886 by CT. Hartford, there are only three originals in existence. The original is only 3/16″ thick and from memory if I’m not mistaken about 27.5″ long x 10″ wide but don’t quote me as I reproduced the original almost 19 years ago.

I did about two reproductions before I decided to make some changes to beef it up as I felt it was too fragile looking and in needed of a serious upgrade.

My dimensions and these are only in the ball park were 60″x 18″x 3/4″. The whole Clock was scrolled and being so thick I broke a ton of blades in the process. I used sandwich parts that were identical which would make it even thicker and harder to scroll. There were plenty of corners that needed to come to a sharp point and only a thin blade could do it, that’s why I broke a lot of blades in the process.

You see many people using CNC machinery for their scroll work. I never went in that direction for two reasons, my clocks had to be done by hand, it needed that personal human element to it. The other reason is that cnc burns the edges and cannot create sharp corners and points, only a hand can do that. The scrolling takes about 8 hours solid going at it very fast or 12 hours at a steady pace. The whole clock would take about a week and half to complete including the finish.

There are about eight through tenons and mortises that held this clock together. The lower half where the stalk is had the longest shoulder as the tenon was smack in the middle. This shoulder had to be perfect as gaps would show on the show side.

Unfortunately a battery powered chime movement was used which made it affordable for the average person. If one wanted to use a mechanical movement then the whole clock would have to be redesigned to accomodate it. You build clocks around the movement your going to use, battery powered movements eliminates that need.

This clock you see in the picture was one I built a couple of years ago for a customer in Switzerland. I made countless of them as they were one of most popular wall clocks. I still have plans for many more I never got to build as the popular ones were mostly in production so I couldn’t introduce anything new to the market.

I would normally build a mockup and just look at it and see what changes need to be made. You can make one in 3D on screen but nothing beats one in real life. If I was satisfied with its looks I would go ahead with its production. At first I used to ask people if they like what they saw. I eventually stopped that because everyone has different tastes and you can’t please everyone.

America’s Finest

I’ve stumble upon by chance on YouTube a husband and wife team living the dream producing outstanding reproduction and custom furniture.

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Before they became furniture makers, Mathew was a carpenter building custom homes and his wife Moriah was a landscaper/gardener.  Their interest in furniture making sprung from their love of the craft as hobbyists. They studied the art of joinery and furniture construction .

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Now they work from home, commuting across their driveway into their dream shop building truly exquisite looking furniture.

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From 2011-2014 they were selected as one of America’s Best Craftsman and were listed in Early American Life magazine.

As I sat watching through most of his videos I was amazed at the speed he was working at, even though the video was mostly sped up there were moments when it was shown in real time.  95% of his work is handwork, he uses basic machinery for the monotonous and laborious tasks however, all the initial shaping, carving and tons of planing are all done by hand.  The skill this guy has just blew me away.  I’m not sure how long he studied furniture making before beginning his business, but the skill he displays is just mind boggling.

I hope you enjoy his videos as much as I have as there are plenty of tips to pick up in them.  He doesn’t offer any lessons in the video, but if you sit through each one from start to finish without skipping through them there is plenty of lessons in there to be absorbed.

Build project from 1891

Here is an extract I painstakingly copied word for word from a magazine published in 1891 called work.  They contain projects for home amateur enthusiasts who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. It covers projects for woodworking, talks about metal working lathes, the latest foot powered scroll saws, brick laying just about every trade. It’s like the readers digest when they once printed useful things. Anyway I thought it would be nice to get a real glimpse into the past.

DRAWING BOARD FOR DRAFTSMEN ON WOOD AND IMPROVED INSTRUCTIONS FOR CIRCLES

BY JOHN W. WHITFIELD HARLAND


A GREAT inconvenience arises in drawing upon wood blocks which are 15/16 of an inch in thickness, owing to the absence of a rest for the hand and the difficulty in using squares (T or set) in drawing accurately perpendicular and horizontal lines, a difficulty still increased when drawing architectural or other subjects to perspective points where great care and accuracy are requisite.

To obviate these drawbacks and ensure ease, convenience, and extreme truth of drawing the writer designed made, and used a board, which has stood the test of twenty years’ use most satisfactorily, not only for wood but drawings on paper, if to a very small scale, the paper of course mounted.

First make a 3/4in. drawing boards A clamped at ends 24in. by 15in. over all, and plant upon it a 1 in. strip B. 4 in. wide, 24 in. long, glued and screwed from the back, with a groove ploughed in its face 1/2 in. from edges, of a dovetail form ( see a in section) and rebated 1/2 in. by 1/2 in. on its upper edge, next to A, so as to leave a soffit of 7/16 overhanging 1/2 in. beyond where the rebate is jointed on A Fig. 1. To the right hand side of drawing board A fit and plant with glue and screws a strip c of 1 in. stuff, 6 in. wide, 11 1/2 in. at back, rebated at one end to 11 in. Long at face so as to fill the rebate in strip B. Note that this strip must be made absolutely square with B, or more explicitly with the edge b of B, c, with the edge of C, forming a perfectly true right angle with it. Next fill a similar piece of 1 in. stuff of same dimensions called the “follower” so that it correctly fit the rebate of B, and its edge d made perfectly square with b. Half an inch back from its edge d plough a groove parallel to d 1/4 in. deep, 1/4 in. wide at top by 3/8 in. at bottom exactly as groove before mentioned at ( a in sections). This strip must not be glued or screwed, but is utilised as it’s name, follower, implies to slide square with B all along from the edge of c, also square to the full extent of the uncovered portion of A. At e e cut a groove through the drawing board as a slot 1/4 in. at face and 1/2 in. at back of a T shape parallel to B, but 5 in. From it, to receive a stud and thumbscrew f, or what is called a camera – backscrew, and on underside of the follower D let in and screw the plate g (see f in section also).

Now the board is so far complete that a block can be placed upon the uncovered part of A against B and C, and the follower D pressed against its side until it is firmly held; whilst the thumbscrew secures the follower in its place, the surface of the block will be flush with the surface of B, C, and D, thus fulfilling the first condition: convenience for the rest for the hand of same level as the block itself. Now fits exactly to the dovetails grooves strips of wood (boxwood for preference) of the section shown at h, Fig. 2, respectively 9 in. 6 in. long, made so accurately as to slide readily but not loosely in the grooves (see a in section). Having fitted these slides h, h, which stand up 1/8 in. above the level of the block they can be slid along and used as straightedges for set squares to slide against, the longer giving perpendiculars, in the groove in B and the other, horizontals in groove in D, with a right-angled set square, but when not so required they may be pushed along their grooves out of the way of the hand when drawing.

At any point on the horizon of the required perspective where the vanishing points fall, a needle may be driven into the strip C and the follower D, and all vanishing lines can then be drawn with a straight edge to these points with microscopic accuracy, the slides being pushed out of the way and pushed back again when vertical or horizontal lines are required; the width of strip and follower, 6 in. each, being ordinarily sufficiently distant for the vanishing points. In certain instances this is no the case, however; the writer therefore, provided and fixed (see plan Fig.5 “looking up”) two sliding grooves in back of A ( which can be taken out and hung up when not in use), having a thicknessing piece at their outward ends glued and screwed on with a fixed point or needle in each, so placed as to be in the same horizontal line.

As the horizontal line varies in various drawings, it’s distance should be first ascertained, and the block to be drawn should be pushed up to the fixed horizontal line of these sliders, and the vacuum, so to speak, between base line of block and the edge b should be filled with a strip boxwood block of the exact size to maintain the block to be drawn in its right position with its perspective horizontal line coincident with the normal one of the board. The sliders being drawn out to the required mdistance on each edge, ought to remain n position through accuracy of fit, but as wood shrinks in time, and they may thus become looser, and thus be apt to slip, the sliders may be marked with inches and eighths like an English rule (or centimetres or decimetres etc., on the French decimal scale of lengths, which we like better), and when the point is found a note can be made of it, to check any subsequent shifting. By this means, before photography and process work came into vogue, the writer has produced for The Builder perspective architectural drawings which for accurate detail have not being surpassed, an accuracy due entirely to the means employed. A careful tracing put down on the wood gets obliterated in the shading up on Indian ink and it’s exact angle lost, but if the vanishing point is there it can be regained in the ruling up with mathematical precision. But the draughtsman on wood – perhaps we ought to say nowadays – have not only to draw upon wood have very frequently to trace from very indifferent photographs, which is best done by light being transmitted through the print or glass photo onto the tracing paper. Our drawing board offers convenient means of doing this in the following manner.

Make a frame of 1 in. stuff 1 1/2 in. broad (see Figs 1 and 4) 24 in. inside measurement, tenoning one piece of the sides E into the ends F, F, which are 15 in. long. Before gluing up into the mortises cut in ends, plough a 1/4 in. by 1/4 in. groove about 1/8 in. from face in the four pieces of frame, and then make the fourth a sliding piece G, to fit the groove accurately, so that it will move therein to any desired position; then glue up and wedge the end pieces and the tenoned side; when dried and finished off, slide the piece G into it. At K, K, in F, F, bore screw holes countersunk and screw into the ends of B, so that when level with face of block, the strip C and follower D shall at their top ends be in contact with their inner edge of G when it is pushed close up to the tenoned side of frame E.

These screws form pivots, or hinges, on which the frame can be raised to any angle, or allowed to remain flush with top of block and board. In the frame ends f, f, passing into the grooves in which the sliding piece G moves should be made every 1/2 in. or so from 3 1/4 upwards, so as to maintain G with a photograph covered with tracing paper, or glass plate, with a paper print and tracing paper mounted upon it, put into the grooves of E and G (see section Fig.2), which will hold it whilst being traced. A mirror being put at the proper angle behind it through reflect the rays of light through it, the frame F E F G being inclined to a convenient angle to the plane of the board supported by the following means.

The top of the frame F E F G should be, when down, flush with the surface of the block, i.e., with the surfaces of b, c and d; when up; at a convenient angle, say, for instance, at 45 or 50 degrees to these surfaces or planes. By making two strips of wood I, I, with screw holes bored and countersunk at one end, and screwing them onto their sides of A below the frame which is screwed to B (see end view Fig.3), leaving them 9 in. long, and putting screws, in position shown, into A to perform pivots support for the frame F E F G is at once provided in the position shown in the perspective view, Fig.6. But these pieces or levers, when not in use would fall on their pivots; we halve them at their ends, as shown, and save the pieces, so cut away – to plant onto A with a single screw each, in the same places they would have been occupied had they not been cut off. The levers I, I, when not in use, are thus locked into normal places by these “frogs” but they are capable of another use, namely, that of forming hind legs as it were to slope the drawing board to a suitable angle when blocks are being drawn (see dotted lines perspective Fig.4).

Having now completed the construction, we may to it’s perfection as a “tool” rounding the edges of B, so as not to fray the sleeves or irritate the wrist as shown in the drawings, and add to its appearance by polishing it with French polish or oiling it with raw linseed oil; or the parts where friction exists may be rubbed with powdered talc (Pudding Stone), the French shops of oil shops, the boot makers, or glover’s.

Whilst on the subject of drawing to fine scales, probably we may usefully suggest simple means of keeping the radius of compasses always the same with pencil as it is with pen, the pen never wears away; the graphite gets shorter with circle turned. Instead of using a lead pencil cut to a diameter suitable for the holder in a pair of compasses, procure a propelling pencil case (see Fig.7) and break away the outer case; this costs but a few pence, and will save hours of time wasted in sharpening leads and altering legs. You have only to propel he lead further out, by turning the nose piece to always keep the length of the leg of he compasses the same as the other leg. Another plan, useful principally for bow pencils and spring pencil bows, is to obtain, or make, split tubes to carry Faber’s moveable leads which are made in all degrees of hardness (Fig.8).

As the lead wears it may be pushed further through the carrier and always kept to length, without altering the angle of the legs. Another alternative is to gum a strip paper and roll it around a piece of Fabre’s lead until it is thicknessed out to fit the carrier of the compasses, and keep pushing it further and further through as the graphite wears away.

Structural Integrity Paranoia

I built this for my wife oh about two decades ago for her 20th birthday, how time flies. My daughter has this now and it’s in tact and it hasn’t fallen apart nor has the stain faded. It looks the same as the day it was made.

I made it from radiata pine and stained it with rosewood mahogany. The finish I used was my dad’s 15 year old automotive clear lacquer. They say old paint won’t stick but it hasn’t worn off after 20 years unlike the gloss I bought 15 years from a big box store. That’s the difference between industrial made finishes and the finishes made for the DIY’s.

Some of my woody friends said the rails will snap because there isn’t much meat due to the scrolled leaves. I suppose they would of snapped if you stood on the table or even sat in the middle, but if you use it as it’s supposed to be used then it won’t and it hasn’t and never will.

The moral of this story is:

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Don’t fret too much over structural integrity, even nails (cut nails) will hold a toolbox together for a couple of hundred years.

I build a table back then that 5 ft square, it was a split top hinged lidded table. We used to place DVD’s in one half and children’s toys in the other. It was held together with wooden nails and the tabletop was doweled at 2″ spacing. My kids were jumping on it, dancing and even I who was overweight then stood and jumped on it several times, the darn thing never broke.

If the table was built from chipboard it would of snapped like a twig. If it was built from MDF it would’ve snapped like a twig. That’s why IKEA furniture and any furniture made from chipboard and MDF rarely last very long.

Bahco Files

I just purchased a Bahco file set from workshopheaven.  I chose this set because it was cheaper to buy as a set than individually plus you get a tool roll with it with an additional two pockets to fit my other two files.

I usually avoid sets of any type as you don’t get what you want, but I was very lucky that they offered exactly what I wanted.

The set comprises:

  • 150mm Smooth Cut.  A high quality double-cut smooth hand file, made from alloyed high-carbon tool steel. 6″ (150mm) from shoulder to tip, 15.7mm wide, 4.0mm thick, with parallel sides, one safe edge and one single cut edge.
  • 150mm Engineering Second Cut Round.  A true rat tail file, straight for 1/3 of the toothed surface at 6mm diameter, and then gently tapered for the remaining two thirds, down to about 4mm diameter at the tip. Second cut toothing provides rapid material removal and, with care, a surface that requires little or no further finishing.
  • 150mm Engineering Second Cut Half Round. Possibly the most versatile file you will ever own, for flats, hollows and sneaking into corners, the perfect combination of efficient cutting and a clean finish.
  • 150mm Smooth Cut Feather Edge File.   Strictly speaking the Bahco ‘wasa’ feather edged file is designed for sharpening saws, but it is one of those tools for which you soon find a multitude of other uses. The combination of shallow profile and very fine teeth create a superb finish in places that other files cannot reach.

 

Each file is fitted with a wonderfully comfortable Holtzapffel pattern Walnut handle with solid brass ferule.

Free 6 pocket Canvas Tool Roll to keep your files clean and tidy, with room for a couple more.

What interested me was the feather edge file aka “wasa” what ever that means. The seller claims it’s designed to sharpen saws. What type of saws? It got my eye when I browsed through his website and am lucky it appeared in the set.  It looks interesting and I’m looking forward in seeing first hand as to how it performs.  It has very fine teeth and they claim it gives and unbelievably smooth finish.  I wonder?   The only file I forgot to add to the list was a square cut.  Oh well next time I suppose.

Files are really one of the most useful tools in the shop and not just for metal work.

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It cost me with shipping around AU$85 (British pounds 52). I noticed PayPal currency converter isn’t correct or they choose to charge you more.  I took a gamble and used my card’s currency converter as they didn’t state how much it would be. Ironic isn’t it?  It paid off as I saved $5.

It’s a shame I cannot locate individual Bahco files in Australia.  Bahco files are as good as the old Nicholson’s once were.  Nicholson today produces rubbish.  I bought some over a year ago and not only didn’t they perform well, but blunted very quickly.  After Paul Sellers recommended Bahco I never looked backed since.

The sad state of many tool shops and probably this is a worldwide epidemic of the uneducated clueless salespeople, is that they don’t know the quality of the tools that their selling.  If they did, they wouldn’t stock Nicholson and therefore it would force Nicholson to improve their standards.  Clueless salespeople mislead clueless people and if a clued on person challenges them, then they’re ignored and brushed off to the side.

I could of kept my money within Australia but instead I was forced to go overseas. Financially it’s a loss for both, materialistically I got the best.  I will always buy the highest quality tool I can afford, and if I can’t afford it now then I will patiently save up for it and buy it when I can.  I will never settle for second best, those I leave for everyone else.