Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My "Someday" Shop

I've been dreaming of a hand tool only woodworking shop for a few years now. For now, I operate out of about a quarter of a 2 car garage. Not terrible; I'm sure some have less of a space than I do, but as I trend more toward working with hand tools, I find myself wanting a detached, dedicated hand tool shop. The good thing about working with hand tools is that you really don't need that big of a space. After all, you don't need to make room for the table saw, power jointer, thickness planer, drill press, band saw, radial arm saw, etc. I've been toying with some different design layouts and different size shops lately. These are the two most promising designs I've come up with so far. I don't have any fancy CAD programs, so these were just done on Exel, hence the crudeness, but you get the idea. The county I'm in doesn't require a building permit for buildings under 300 square feet, so both these come in just under. Any time you can avoid dealing with planning and zoning, I highly recommend you avoid it. I really want this to look more like an 18th century shop than a garage, hence the lack of an overhead garage door. I also want lots of windows to let in lots of natural light. I'm not even sure I'd run electricity to it if it weren't for the hot, humid summers we get here in southern Maryland. I think I'd at least need a fan out there. :) The photos are of the Shoemaker's Shop in Colonial Williamsburg. This is ideally what I'd like my shop to look like on the outside. Or at least somewhat this style. I believe that the area you work in can inspire you to do better work and a shop like this would just make woodworking that much more enjoyable for me.
Alas, this is all a dream for now as funding will not allow this for quite some time I'm sure. But it never hurts to dream and plan; for someday.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Some dovetail and carving practice

I've been wanting to get out in the shop and do a small hand tool project, so last week I got a chance and made a little sliding top candle box with through dovetailed corners. Just made out of pine from the local Lowes. Cheap enough to make a mistake on yet decent enough to bring into the house when you're done. The box itself didn't come out too bad. 12º dovetails and a raised panel type top beveled with my 16" wooden fore plane and my new Clark and Williams smoother. The groove the top slides in was made by a 5/16" wooden groove plane I'd picked up off eBay a while back. Worked pretty well. Glued it up and threw some ebony stain on it for a quick, rustic finish. I thought this would be a good place to try out my new carving tools, so I made a couple of practice B's in some pine with my Pfeil 60º V-Parting Tool and pleased with the way they turned out, figured I was ready to carve into the top of the candle box. Well, let's just say that the practice B turned out a lot better than the one on the box top. Go figure. As for the Pfeil gouge itself though, I like it. Just have to learn how to wield it. Oh well, it matches the rustic look of the rest of the box and if it bothers me too much, I can always make a new top. That's the great thing about a little project like this; it's fun to do, but if you mess it up, no big loss. And it gives you a chance to hone some hand tool skills.