Monday, February 12, 2018

A plane for Asger

I made it home despite a cancelled flight due to snowy conditions in Bergen airport, and Thursday morning I found two packages waiting for me. the one of the I had ordered myself, so that wasn't any surprise. But the other package was a complete mystery, It had clearly originated in USA according to the postal logo on the label.

Curious as to what it could be I opened it and found a letter from Saint Ralph. Ralph explained that he and Ken  had collaborated on sending me a Bailey No 3 hand plane.

The plane was securely wrapped in cardboard and bubble wrap, and was disassembled.

When I started unwrapping the plane my heart sank. Ralph had mentioned in the letter that he had rehabbed the plane, and upon seeing the individual parts I became painfully aware how far from my own pitiful rehabbing efforts the job that Ralph had done was!
Ralph's rehabbing is nothing short of immaculate.

Ken had sharpened the blade, so all I had to do was to assemble the plane, and what a joy it was, to assemble a plane that was already rehabbed.

Right now the kids have a winter vacation, so I plan on giving Asger some instructions in how to adjust the plane, and then I will let him bring the plane with him to school, so he can show his teacher what a sharp plane looks like and feels like.

Thank you very much, Ralph and Ken for this very thoughtful present. It is deeply appreciated, and I am certain that the plane will see a lot of work in the future.


Rehabbed Stanley No 3.

When mirror finish is more than a word!

This is how you wrap a plane for shipping.



Friday, February 2, 2018

No loitering!

I got inspired by this post by Bob the Valley woodworker who is organizing his shop.


At a point in my life I would actually feel kind of frustrated after being in the shop, because I felt I didn't get anything done at all.
I would go out there, look a bit around, maybe try to take a couple of stokes with a plane, perhaps move some tools away and try something else etc. But I rarely started a new regular project, and I never completed anything.

After being unproductive in the shop for some time, I would go inside the house disillusioned, and have a cup of tea and feel sorry for myself.

I wasn't getting anywhere at all.

Someplace I then read about another guy who had experienced the same thing, and his mean to  overcome it was that he could only stay in the shop, if he did some actual work or actual cleaning of the place.

I decided to try out that approach. So I put a mental sign up in my head when I entered the shop where it said:
NO LOITERING!

The minute that I started procrastinating or dreaming about future projects or looking at this and that, I had to leave the shop.
It worked great!

Clearing out the shop and organizing all the tools suddenly went really fast, because I would not loaf around - wasting my own time.
When all the tools were in place, I swept the floor and vacuum cleaned the machines. Then stopped for the day, leaving the shop with a feeling of accomplishment instead of frustration.

The next day I opened the door and looked inside. the shop was inviting. But I didn't have any actual plan for what I wanted to do in there, so I remember just looking around and then leaving again.

I can't remember what my first actual project was after my new shop practice, but I remember that it went a lot faster than normally, because I stayed focused all the way.
And due to being focused, I never have the same feeling that I "waste" my time by being in the shop, because I try my best to always be productive out there.

Despite my best efforts, I still experience that horizontal flats will eventually become crowded with stuff, and suddenly there are old pieces of glass in a corner of the shop, scraps on the floor and some surplus wood from the last five or six projects occupying space along one wall. But it doesn't scare me anymore, or get me in a bad mood, because I still keep my imaginary sign hanging in the shop, so as soon as I am out there, I try my best to be efficient, either in building or in cleaning.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Danish Chairbuilding Extravaganza 2018, what to build.

There are approximately 9 months left before the third bi-annual DCBE is scheduled to take place.

While it is still a bit too soon to start clearing out the shop and make ready for the event, it is by no means too early to start contemplating on what we should build this time.

The first DCBE was aimed at Welsh stick chairs, and the second event saw all of us making Roorkhee chairs.

All making the same kind of chair gives a possibility to make some sort of stock ready, and it is easy to help each other on the way, since all have to do the same things.
The other approach, where only the general guideline is suggested, is interesting in another way, because there are so many different ways to do things, and it will be much more up to the individual participants, what they would like to build and how to do it.
We have also discussed the option of employing steam bending as a theme, so that we could all get bit of experience in that. Then it would be up to each person if they wanted to utilize that in their design.

I think that I will try to suggest that the DCBE 2018 will be an event in which each participant can build whatever he desires. As long as it is some sort of furniture aimed at being used for sitting on.
I will try to make some chair blanks etc. made ready, so that anyone wishing to make a Windsor or welsh stick chair can do that.

A rocking chair could be fun to make, either a classic model using rockers made out of wood, or experimenting with a renewal of the platform rocker design using springs.

Ever since I saw a picture of Ray Schwanenbergers immaculate sack back nanny rocker, I have wanted to build one.
We aren't planning on getting anymore children, and given the age of our own children, grand children are still a long long way out in the future. But that would potentially give me the time to complete the piece before it is needed.

So as you can see, there are still some things that aren't quite decided yet.

I am certain however, that we will organize the food the same way as we did last time, with a catering company, as that was a great help.
We will probably have to increase the intake of pastry by visiting the local bakery a bit more, but that shouldn't be a problem given that we all work very hard - so the extra energy is needed..

Pastries named after a famous Danish children's television frog (Kaj)
Picture courtesy of Toolerable.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tools for Asgers sloyd class

I talked to Asger on the phone today, and he told me enthusiastic that he had had his first lessons in sloyd.
He told me that they had to choose between 3 different projects which was OK, but what he didn't think was OK was the tools that were available to them.

It is not that Asger is a tool snob who can only use a Lie Nielsen plane or a Two Lawyers backsaw etc.
But he expects that a chisel is sharp, a plane is sharp and a saw should surprisingly also be sharp in his opinion.
He was really frustrated discovering that the tools were all dull.

I know that the budget for classes such as sloyd is so limited that it is hard to do anything. The allowance per student doesn't really leave room for investment in any new tools.
And the teachers are only given a bare minimum of hours for preparation, and those are not nearly enough to cover a sharpening of all the chisels or planes etc.
It annoys me, because I know that most schools will still spend an enormous amount of money each year on IT equipment such as new computers or printers etc. And no one expect a computer to hold up for as long as a chisel in matter of years.

I told Asger that if he wanted to, I would be happy to find some tools that he could bring with him to use in the sloyd class. A couple of chisels, a small plane and a saw that actually is sharp.
He wasn't sure about it, but he thought that he would ask the teacher if she was OK with it.

He was worried that the other kids might suddenly become aware of how crappy the tools of the school were, if they suddenly tried a sharp chisel, and then they would perhaps prefer to borrow his tools instead.
A sad thing about crappy tools in such a place is that it might cause some of the kids to become disappointed with woodworking, because the result in no way resembles the effort put into the project by them.
If they try really hard, but are held back due to dull tools, the final result might not be as fine as they would have liked it to be, and that could potentially keep them from thinking that woodworking or any other handmade activity is fun.

I would hate if the teacher felt that sending tools with Asger was a critique of her job, because that is not my intention.

I know that in regular class each kid is expected to bring his/her own tools like pencils and rulers etc. And in physical education it is the same, each kid brings their own clothes and shoes etc.
But could it be viewed upon as being the same for sloyd? and how about needlework or home economics etc.?

So what do you think, would it be OK to bring your own tools to school, or is it a bad idea?




Sunday, January 21, 2018

What is this tool?

ANSWER: A chopper and meat tenderizer.
Thanks to Robin, for providing a link with a picture of the exact same model.
https://www.rubylane.com/item/738907-K230/Vintage-1911-M-H-Tyler-MFG

This is not a quiz - since I don't know the answer.

But does anyone out there have any idea about what this tool is?

I got the pictures from Olav who was asked by his cousin about it. So the pictures are courtesy of Olav and his cousin.

Based on the method of hanging the tools, I assume the pictures are from some sort of restaurant, or at least someone who doesn't mind being questioned by Saint Peter on the day of his judgement regarding why he/she thought that it was OK to mount a nice looking socket gouge with a Torx screw through the handle.

I don't know where the pictures were taken, if it is in Denmark or somewhere else.

Mystery tool.

Mystery tool with one blade inverted.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A bit of activity in the workshop in the last period.

This last home period happened to be during Christmas and New Years eve time, so I hadn't planned any major projects in the shop.

I did do a bit though, some leather working with Laura, where we made a couple of belts for some of her friends as Christmas presents, and I started clearing out a bit too, but that is an ongoing project.
During this clearing out, I found the base of a model ship that my dad had found some years ago. I initially wanted to throw it out, but I decided to ask Asger if he would like to make a project out of it.

He wanted to paint it, and then later the plan is to install a mast and a boom and probably make a sail to go with it too.
He settled for some dark blue paint, and due to the low temperatures in the shop, we just gave int one coat and then left it to dry for the rest of the home period.

Suddenly one day, he asked if he was old enough now, to cast tin soldiers on his own?
I said that I thought he was, and helped him to fire up the propane torch (which is technically more butane than propane in Denmark).
I have kept all my molds for making tin soldiers from when I was a child. And we purchased some new molds when the kids were younger. Those new molds were mostly for casting fantasy creatures like orcs, elvers and goblins etc.

Asger cast a bit of everything from cannons to horses and soldiers to some orcs, and he had a great time doing it. There are plenty of ways that you can hurt yourself while doing it, but it is also a way that you can show you child that you really trust him/her, and allow them the thrill of doing something that is exiting for them knowing that it is a bit dangerous.
And it is a thrill to open op a mold and see a perfect figure emerge that has until now only existed as some molten metal in a ladle.
Something that is very important to the children is the fact that the figures they cast look exactly like the ones that I can cast. Despite all my years of skill and knowledge (there isn't much of that btw..)
this is one place where they can make a product just as well as I can.

Painting the hull of a model ship.

Concentration.

Casting tin soldiers is exiting and fun.

An officer emerges from inside the mold.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Categories of projects

A comment on my recent post by Jeremy of JMAW Works gave me the idea for this post.

I have for a long time been following some general rules of how to categorize a project. These categories help me decide what to do and when.

This is the first time I have tried to write them down and put actual words on the categories, but I have more or less followed them for a long time.
They are all aimed at projects I do at home.

Instead of categories based on form or building method such as chairs, cupboards, chests, turnings, dovetails etc. my categories are primarily based on the weather and secondly the time of day.

Main categories are:
1) Nice dry weather .
2) Light rain or grey weather.
3) Rain.

Off course if a job can be handled in rainy weather, it can technically be handled in fine weather as well, but not necessarily the other way around.

Sub categories:
A) Day.
B) Afternoon.
C) Evening.

Day jobs are jobs that require natural light, and perhaps other shops to be open, and also the longest continuous stretch without disturbances.
Afternoon jobs are jobs that can be done when the boys are home from school, they might like to participate in the job, or I have to be able to leave the project at very short notice to help them or to drive them to soccer practice etc.
Evening jobs are jobs are for the time left after eating supper. During the weekdays our family normally eat supper at 5:30 in the afternoon, but it can be as early as 5 PM or as late as 6:30 too.
So a couple of hours in the shop is not unheard of until our youngest needs to be tucked in.

Whenever I have something that I would like to get done while at home, I place that project into one main category and into one or more of the sub categories.

This approach has helped me to work efficiently on multiple projects, and I like being efficient while I am at home.
Ever since I adopted the idea, I have been a lot better at not getting angry that I had to stop one project due to weather issues, because I would know exactly what other project I could switch over to.

My list of projects that I would like to get done while at home this time will get assigned to the following categories:

Bi-annular control of cars: 3)-A
This is a job that I don't plan on doing myself, and the mechanic can work on the cars inside. I just have to drive the cars to him and also later to the actual control.

Repair Volvo Valps: 2)-A
I have a machinery shed in which the Valps are parked. There is a concrete floor, so even with a bit of water I can lay on my back and work on them from beneath.
These jobs are best done without getting too distracted or disturbed.

Install panels and handrail in the small barn: 2)-A
I need to move in and out of the barn a bit with all the boards for the panels, so full rain is not nice for this job.

Make leather belts with Laura: 3)-C
This is a typical evening project. Something to be done in the shop and easy to go to and from during the process. It will most likely be a Friday or Saturday project.

Run the sawmill: 2)-AB
Dry weather is nice but not a complete requirement for running the sawmill. If it is too wet, it is simply unpleasant to go outside all the time with off-cuts and getting a new log etc. The boys like to help sawing with the sawmill, and I can stop anytime to drive and pick them up etc.

Empty the horses boxes and whitewash of  the stable: 3)-A
This is a large project,  inside save for emptying the wheelbarrow into the trailer.

In addition to these projects that were mentioned in my last post, there is also the ongoing list of perpetual projects, like:
Making and stacking firewood: 1)-AB
Cleaning and organizing the barn: 3)-ABC
Building stuff in the workshop: 3)-ABC
Garden/yard work: 1)-AB

Since the weather is generally bad From October to April, in those months it is especially important for me to have a few projects of each main category, so I won't risk wasting the single day of December without rain on doing indoor stuff.

Does anybody else categorize projects something like this?