Logan Cabinet Shoppes?

I just returned from a week long “vacation” at our new home in the mountains of VA. I say vacation but there wasn’t much leisure involved. Just lots of cleaning, and we still haven’t finished. But we did manage to get some time to walk our 24 acres.  

  

I also had a little time to check this out.  

Compared to my current shop, this one is over 3 times larger. It needs work, but it will make a good project once the rest of the house is done. We just got back to NJ but I’m already anxious to get back to VA. 

A Special Pair of Saws

A couple of months ago, I saw the very saddening news that Stephen Shepherd, proprietor of the Full Chisel Blog, had suffered a serious stroke. I have been a follower of Stephen’s site since its very early days and had communicated with Stephen somewhat regularly through email and our two blogs over the years. While we have never had the chance to meet in person, being physically separated by almost an entire continent, I have always considered Stephen a friend. So it was very hard for me to hear of this event. I was and continue to be very thankful that Stephen survived the ordeal and that his condition continues to slowly improve with therapy. But it is still hard to think that he may never put a tool to wood again. 

Recently, I was browsing the big auction site as I occasionally do, and I stumbled across two auctions for saws that looked very familiar to me. The seller advertised them as “Shepherd” gentleman’s saws. When I inquired with the seller if they were a friend of Stephen’s, they simply replied that they did not know Stephen. I didn’t ask where the seller obtained the saws from, but I did press the Buy It Now button on both to ensure that they continued to stay together and that they continued to do the work that they were so carefully crafted by Stephen’s hands to do.

I do hope that you continue to recover Stephen, and that by God’s blessing you are one day able to put tool to wood again. In the mean time, I hope that you can at least find some satisfaction in knowing that these saws will become a permanent addition to my tool kit, and that they will continue to live on and work as they were intended to do for at least the rest on my days. Godspeed my friend.







Figure Can’t Trump Form

If the form itself is lacking, the best wood in the world will not make up for it.
-George Walker

This quote (and the title of this post) was taken from George Walker’s Design Matters column in the April 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. Truer words were never spoken. So often when we find a really special piece of lumber, we get so focussed on showcasing it, that we miss the bigger picture.

This doesn’t just apply to a really nice piece of wood though. It extends to any decorative element, be it moldings, carvings, inlay, decorative painting and stenciling, or contrasting wood species. Basically, any element who’s main purpose is to highlight. No matter how well done or how numerous these elements, they can’t improve a bad form.

Even though this chest was built with fairly straight grained, "boring" wood, the overall form is very well proportioned and executed to my eye, making it much more appealing than something with wildly figured grain that has been over used, or used in a poorly proportioned piece.
Even though this chest was built with fairly straight grained, “boring” wood, the overall form is very well proportioned and executed to my eye, making it much more appealing than something with wildly figured grain that has been over used, or used in a poorly proportioned piece. Photo courtesy of H.L. Chalfant Antiques.

We should even include joinery in this discussion these days. Woodworkers today are obsessed with showy joinery. Air tight dovetails, pillowed through mortise and tenon joints, and fancy ebony pegs are indeed nice to look at, especially to other woodworkers. But if the overall proportions and basic structure of the piece are lacking, it really doesn’t matter how perfect your hand cut dovetails are. Flawless skin cannot improve poor bone structure.

On the other hand, if the underlying form is good, you can get away with a less than perfect complexion. Just look at much of the best furniture in museums. It can be riddled with over sawn dovetails, surface tear out, and inconsistent turnings, and be made with boring figureless wood. But the piece can still be exemplary because its basic form is well executed.

So thank you George for bringing this topic up! In my opinion it’s an all too important topic that is not discussed often enough.

Plane & Spokeshave Details

OK, so a little more detail on the plans for the planes and spokeshave are needed.  As noted in the comments in the previous post, the layout on these tools has not been done yet.  They have been planed to dimensions necessary prior to layout, but no layout has been done.  I’ll go over that.

For the spokeshave, I’m using a pretty piece of hard maple, but just about any relatively dense hardwood would work.  There’s going to be a brass wear plate attached at the front of the sole, so the wear characteristics of the wood are not that important. It will be helpful if your particular piece of wood is dense enough to be tapped for machine screw threads though. This isn’t critical, but it allows you to add a nice little feature for adjustment if your wood can hold the threads.

I ripped the blank out of a 5/4 flatsawn board, so the wide top and bottom surfaces are quartersawn faces.  This is mostly for the appearance and because it’s the stock I had.  Turning the grain orientation the other way so the flat sawn faces are on top and bottom would be fine too (i.e. just sawing a blank out of a 3/4″ thick flat sawn board).  This is a small tool with a small cross section.  The amount of wood movement is going to be so small that we can more or less ignore it in such a small piece.

Spokeshave

Here’s a pdf of the above picture.  If you print it out on legal sized paper it will be full scale and you can use the drawing as a template for sawing and shaping later.

pdf-icon - spokeshave plans
Download Full Scale Spokeshave Plans

In terms of the blade, there are multiple options, but the blade you choose will impact the blade mounting steps, the mode of adjustment, and possibly the dimensions of your blank.  So I suggest getting a blade ahead of time, before you cut your blank to size.  Then you can compare the dimensions of your blade to the dimensions of mine in the drawing.  I made my own blade, so it is highly unlikely that the dimensions of your blade will match mine exactly (plus I didn’t measure my blade super accurately with a caliper or anything like that).  You will have to make some minor adjustments to the pattern to fit your own blade.

Of course if you’re up for it, you could also make your own blade like I did.  Then your blade could be made to match the dimensions of mine, or any dimensions you desire.  I’m not going to go over that process though.  It’s pretty straight forward (obtain 1/8″ thick O1 tool steel; cut out the shape of a spokeshave blade with a hacksaw & files;  drill & tap holes for threaded rods; grind & harden blade).

Hock Tools sells a blade that is similar in dimensions to my homemade blade (their larger blade), but it’s not exactly the same, so you’ll need to modify the plans to fit the blade.  However, if you buy the Hock blade you will be able to follow the exact same construction process as I will be using as the blade adjustment will work the same way.

Another blade option is the Lee Valley kit. The adjustment mechanism is different on this kit though, so you will likely have to alter the dimensions of your stock from what I’m using in order to use this kit. They should have instructions and recommended stock size available on their web site.

OK. We’ll do the plane blanks next time.  I’m going to build the spokeshave first.