Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Just Too Good To Burn

My cousin Troy, who's been my best friend since we were kids, has been kind enough to keep me supplied in firewood all year, bringing me a load every 2 or 3 weeks in this colder than normal winter. Well, I haven't looked at firewood quite the same since taking Peter Follansbee's joint stool class down at Roy's last summer. As I've been bringing in armloads to put on the hearth, I couldn't help but notice some of the beautiful, straight-grained red oak that was mixed in there. I've already taken advantage of it and used it for the legs on both my new shave horses, and Sunday I found a piece long enough for a stile of a joined stool. Now I could only get one leg out of that piece, but I broke into another piece that I was able to get two aprons and two stretchers out of. Plenty of nice stuff around 20" long to get aprons, stretchers and chair legs out of, I've just gotta find a few more longer pieces for 3 more joint stool stiles. And I have to make sure Troy doesn't find out I'm turning all his firewood into furniture. ;-)

The extra added benefit to green woodworking is that the waste makes the best fire starter that money can't buy. And lots of it. And it's a heck of a lot of fun working that nice green stuff.

As a side note, my hatchet handle that I made last summer and thought I'd let dry out enough obviously didn't. It's progressively gotten more loose to the point where I finally got tired of wedging it a week or so ago and took the hatchet head off of it to make a new handle. So in being without a hewing hatchet, but armed with two new shave horses and a nice, sharp drawknife, ( the Auriou drawknife is a dream to use ), I've been doing what is normally hewing work at the shave horse. I gotta say, it works very well. I know it's not traditional and Roy would probably tell me that the ancient woodworkers would snicker at me for using the drawknife instead of the more noble axe, but it really is a viable alternative. Actually, now that I have a nice drawknife, I find myself using it a lot, for things I would never have thought to use it for previously. I guess that's what woodworking and life itself is all about. New discoveries and growth. 'Til next time...

A real nice pile of starter fuel for the wood stove.

Two aprons, two stretchers and one stile; sitting atop everything that
WASN'T an apron, a stretcher or a stile.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Stable Full of Horses

Shaving horses that is. The bodgers' or English style shave horse is one I just kind of cobbled together about 4 years ago. Not my finest work by far, but it's done it's job well enough. However, in watching all the Curtis Buchanan videos on YouTube and seeing Elia Bizzarri on a past episode of The Woodwrights Shop, I decided I wanted to try a Continental or Dumb Head style horse. One of the main reasons was hearing Elia say that this style was better for shaving long parts like Windsor arms and bows because you can just slide the piece in from the side rather than having to pull it out and reinsert it from the front as on the English version. Plus I had enough southern yellow pine 2 x material laying around the shop that it wouldn't cost me anything but time.

After browsing over a bunch of shave horse pictures on Google Images ( a resource I use a lot for ideas on furniture and shop fixtures ) I decided on a close version of the model on Drew Langsner's Country Workshops site. A model he refers to as a Swiss shaving horse. About the only change I made was to make the bridge removable and pivoting, so I could change the slope of the bridge by inserting a different height riser. The riser is not attached in any way, just sitting in a shallow rabbet in the top of the bench and the bottom of the bridge. Everything is southern yellow pine with the exception of the wedges holding the head, the foot treadle, and the bridge pivot block. The wedges are cherry, the foot treadle is 1 x oak, and the legs are nice, straight grained red oak off my firewood pile. And just for some turning practice, I turned the legs in the style of Windsor chair bamboo style turnings. These were glued into 6 degree tapered holes and then wedged with walnut wedges. It was fun turning the legs and was really good practice, including tapering the tops of the legs to a 6 degree taper matching the reamed leg holes. The metal pins are half inch steel rod, easily bent after being heated in my paint can forge.

The completed Swiss style horse.

Another view.

Close-up of the removable block and adjustable bridge.

Adjustable height head with home-made steel pin.

The walnut wedges driven into the tops of the legs.

My tapered reamer and a gauge block of a matching taper that allows me
to check my turning as I go to match the tapered holes in the bench.

Of course, after building the Swiss style horse, I got to thinking that maybe I should try a more traditional dumbhead style. And since I had enough material for everything but the bench part, why the heck not! I mean, if two horses are good, three must be better. Right? And they really don't eat much. Ok, that was easy enough to talk myself into. Time to get to work! This one I decided to make three legged, again with red oak legs off the firewood pile, but this time made somewhat in the fashion of welsh stick chair legs. I figured the three legs would be beneficial if I ever decided to take things outside on uneven ground. I also made the slope of the bridge more shallow, and fixed. I'm very happy with it. The lower angle of the bridge is quite comfortable when using the draw knife.

The more traditional dumbhead style horse.

Three legged for a steady stance even on uneven ground.

The bridge held firm with tapered oak pegs. I got a little
too aggressive driving in the right peg and split the bench
slightly. Bending a 1 1/4" piece of steel to fit tightly
around the front of the bench fixed that problem quite
nicely. Again, the paint can forge came in handy here.

Three horses, one old nag and a couple fresh young steeds, ready for action.
I love it when the natural light shines in from the front window and rakes
across a piece.

So now I have three horses and a steam box at the ready. Starting to look like I'm getting ramped up for some chair making. Or a school! Ha Ha

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Few Recent Acquisitions For The Shop

Just a couple pictures of some recent additions that I've acquired for the shop over the last few months.

Gramercy Tools dovetail saw. I had one before and sold it. They're great
saws, I just found myself using my Wenzloff Kenyon style dovetail saw
as my "go to". This was just too good of a deal to pass on though. Not
a mark on it, sharp as a tack, and $80 off the price of a new one. I'm quite
happy to have gotten one of these back in the fold.

Pierced tin lantern by Master Tinsmith James Glynn.
Again, just too good a deal to pass on. Found it on eBay.
Hung it between the double window above my bench on
a hand forge hanger I'd gotten at last years Fort Frederick
Market Fair.

Equipped with a beeswax candle. Really doesn't put out
a lot of light, but you can't beat the look.

Last but not least, a grindstone that I found at a local antique store. It's
missing the seat and the drip cup, but I plan on making a wooden stand
for it anyway. Debating between the style found in Roubo's plates or
something of similar style, but with a seat. Going to have a removable
water trough under the stone. The main thing is that the stone itself is
in great shape. Perfectly round with the only flaw being a small chip on
the opposite side of what is shown in the picture; and it only encroaches in
on the grinding surface of the stone about an eight of an inch or so.
I'm happy to have finally found one of these locally and in such good shape.