Monday, August 21, 2017

box ends

I have been routing small mortises in the ends of boxes. The photo shows some complete and some with only two of the routed grooves cut.  Each end takes three steps.

The grooves fit tenoned parts and the floating panel bottom, that allows for expansion and contraction to take place for a hundred years or more without effecting the integrity of the box. My object is making a box that can last generations. The parts fitted carefully to each other give lasting strength.

On Friday night my wife and I went to the birthday party of a friend, and the hostess suggested that I would like to see their bathroom, and most particularly her jewelry box that had been given to her on her 16th birthday. It was one I had made, just like the ones I'm making this week, using parts just like these.

I did not tell my friend that her box was only one of thousands I've made. Hers is one that was given in love, that she has cared for and that she has kept selected things inside and so it has been made precious and unique. It has taken a life of its own beyond what I was able to impart.
"Things men have made with wakened hands, and put soft life into are awake through years with transferred touch, and go on glowing for long years.

And for this reason, some old things are lovely
warm still with the life of forgotten men who made them."— D. H. Lawrence
The craftsman is but a spark. Craftsmanship lingers in an object only because others care for what they have found in it.

Happy eclipse day, 2017. It will grow dark here in Arkansas as the moon moves in front of the sun. Here we are in the 92 percent zone and many of my friends are on their way north to experience totality. It will pass.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

milling parts.

I am in the process of milling parts for making small boxes as is usual for me this time of year. I have a four position router table that contains 4 routers, each set up for a different operation.

One router forms the tenons on the ends of pieces of wood and also forms the tongues around the edges of parts that will become the bottom panels.

At this point, all the tenoning and panel forming operations are complete, so I will switch to another position on the router table where another router is set up and ready to rout tiny mortises where the tenons on the front and back and the ends of the bottom panels will fit.

When the mortises are routed, I can turn my attention to the inlaid lids.

I have published this technique in my books, and yet, reading with accompanying photographs is often insufficient  for those wanting to learn the how to make boxes of this type. People want to see it, and ask questions about it and test it in their own hands. For me, at this point, it is all quite simple. The routers are already set up and my hands know the process.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning likewise.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

a reader asked

A reader asked where to find plans for my minimalist router table that has been featured in my books and articles over the years. It can be downloaded from the Fine Woodworking website here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/finewoodworking.s3.tauntoncloud.com/app/uploads/2009/04/06095750/Minimalist-Router-Table-Free-Plan.pdf

While many woodworkers work days to make the perfect router table, mine, which has been in use for over 30 years was made in minutes, allowing me to get right to work.

As with many aspects of my work, I'd not set out to make something different. I was simply trying to do something with what I had at hand. Yesterday I met with the elementary school teachers at Clear Spring School to begin planning our woodshop activities with first through sixth grades. Today I will go shopping for walnut.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

Friday, August 18, 2017

my work returning to Crystal Bridges

Yesterday I delivered work to the Crystal Bridges Museum's Gift store, making it once again available for sale to museum guests. I'm pleased when my friends tell me they are pleased to find it there. I also met with staff at the Clear Spring School to begin planning for the coming year and continued preparing stock for making small boxes.

Sawstop, the safer saw manufacturer is once again in the news ( http://www.npr.org/2017/08/10/542474093/despite-proven-technology-attempts-to-make-table-saws-safer-drag-on ) as the Consumer Products Safety Administration, once again considers a technology that makes table saws much safer and has a proven track record of protecting thousands of hands from tragic injury each year.

The technology is not perfect. I had my own sawstop saw triggered this last week, while cutting into the end of a basswood board, and with my hands safely positioned well back from the blade. I sent the cartridge and scrap of wood that the blade just barely touched to them for analysis, as the situation was clearly not the kind of cut the Sawstop saw was intended to prevent. My good ripping blade was destroyed. But still, the idea of preventing thousands of injuries and returning woodworking to schools, makes the occasional misfire well worth that small risk.

I would rather lose an occasional blade and cartridge due to the thing stopping at the wrong time, than have others face serious injuries to their hands.

In Connecticut, one of my students asked me whether I thought he should buy a sawstop saw. I suggested yes, but that he should also ask his wife. Sometime wives worry about their husbands spending money on their hobbies. But that seems to not be the case when it comes to safety. He learned that his wife fully supports the purchase of a Sawstop saw. The photo of the toy truck above is of the type he makes and assembles with a pre-kindergarten class. His new Sawstop saw will keep him productive even into his advanced years, even when he may not have so many wits about him.

The point is not that conventional saws cannot be operated safely, but that if all saws can be made safer, they should be. The point about safety is that not only the operator of a saw is affected by injury. The whole of society is harmed, including the wives and families of those injured.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

returning to school

Yesterday we began staff meetings at the Clear Spring School and that gives me the opportunity to begin planning for the coming school year. Today we will go over Teacher Effectiveness Training as we do every year, and discuss conflict resolution, which is part of the educational agenda at Clear Spring School. It should play a larger part in American education at large. If it did, and students were taught to show love and respect for each other, and to resolve their differences with each other we would not be in the situation we are in.

We have a president who is utterly devoid of human compassion, and a ruling party that's cowardly when it comes to standing up for what's right. Those are not the qualities that one would learn at the Clear Spring School where children learn to work through their interpersonal problems.

In the meantime, I've students to teach and boxes to make.

The illustration is one I composed using some elements available in the sketchup parts warehouse. It shows a simple set-up for forming finger joints on the table saw. It uses a table saw miter gauge to carry the box sides through successive cuts.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

catching up on production.

Yesterday I got an order from Appalachian Spring Galleries in Washington, DC and on Thursday I have a meeting with the regional craft buyer at Crystal Bridges Museum.

Those things set me in motion, checking inventory and beginning to mill stock for a fresh production run of boxes. My box making has been put on the back burner all summer as I've been teaching, working on the ESSA wood studios, and writing articles for Woodcraft and Fine Woodworking.

The first steps in making boxes is to mill stock to thickness and width. The steps are as follows:
  • Rip rough lumber to about 1/4 in. over desired width.
  • Resaw the rough width stock into thinner strips, roughly 3/16 in. over final dimension.
  • Plane resawn stock to finished thickness.
  • Square one edge of planed stock.
  • Rip stock to intended width.
Meetings at Clear Spring School for the beginning of the school year are also underway.

This afternoon I'll pick up a fresh supply of walnut lumber to make into boxes.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.


Monday, August 14, 2017

back to school, back to work.

Today I will go to Clear Spring School to clean shop and begin preparing for the school year. I am finished with my summer adult classes, except for occasional weekend visits to woodworking clubs during the coming school year.

My students are often interested in the barbed hinges I use on some of my boxes. These hinges are primarily intended for large production runs, and it takes some time and specialized equipment to set up for their use. While in Connecticut, I made the jig shown in the photo to cut grooves for their installation using the drill press.  The grooves must be cut using a tiny saw blade with a kerf of only 3/64 in. Someone with a milling machine can use these hinges, but they are not well suited to the every day wood shop.

This is the second one of these jigs that I've made with the first being made and tested at home. In any case, I've proven that they can be successfully used in a home shop if a craftsman is willing to make an investment in their use.

In addition to preparing for school, I am hoping to resume normal production in my wood shop, and I'm preparing for a visit by an editor from Fine Woodworking in September.

In the light of current events, I cannot stress enough, the moral dimension of craftsmanship. To make something lovely and useful in service to  community confers nobility, humility and humanity upon the wayward spirit. Those who create beauty know power and control without having to slap others to find it.

Make, fix, create, and offer to others, encouragement to learn likewise.