Archive for the Acorn House Category

Sho what?

Posted in Acorn House on October 17, 2011 by acornhouseworkshop

I have finally had time to process the video clips that I took at the 2011 Woodworking in America conference. I confined my videoing to just one session, Jay van Arsdale’s session on shoji making. One of things you will notice is that layout takes just as much time, if not more, than any cutting or chiselling. In the Japanese tradition, this is done with an inkpot, sumitsubo, and a piece of bamboo sharpened to a knife edge, sumisashi. These ink lines provide a clean, sharp line that is about the same size as the thin Japanese saws, and can be cleaned up with one pass of a smoothing plane. A knife line would remain in the wood, and a pencil line is too thick. (Jay said that at a construction site, it was easy to see who was the head carpenter, he was the one without ink all over his hands from handling the marked boards.)

Bear with any shaky camera work, please, and enjoy. Parts 1 and 2 deal with the marking of a mortise and tenon for a wedged through tenon of the frame of a shoji screen. Parts 3 and 4 deal with the actual chiselling and sawing of the joint.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Here is a pic of the completed joint with the through tenon planed flush.

I will wrap up the conference in my next posting, with additional pics.

UPDATE: Was saddened to hear that Jay was involved in a bad tablesaw accident this week. Luckily, he did keep all of his fingers, but it was close. Lets all wish him a speedy recovery!

Towards the finish

Posted in Acorn House on October 1, 2011 by acornhouseworkshop

This afternoons sessions are back to back, so this is the last update until I get back home.
Since the shoji session ran long, I decided to stay in the room and watch Adam Cherubini’s session on chisels through the ages. Then finish up with Jay again, and Japanese tools, then the drive home. (Then collapse!)
I have some video and pics to post when I get to a computer, and get everything edited for a wrap-up.

Quote of the day

Posted in Acorn House on October 1, 2011 by acornhouseworkshop

Caught the last half of Roy Underhill’s session on frame and panels after my Marketplace romp. Of course, he gave us the quote of the day.
Continue reading

Second day, second wind

Posted in Acorn House on October 1, 2011 by acornhouseworkshop

Day two of WIA 2011 started a bit too early, so I decided to sleep in a bit so I would still be awake for the drive home. This helped me figure out my Marketplace strategy and, by forgoing the first session, let me take my time. Rushing always leads to poor purchasing decisions.
My first extended stop was at the Greener lumber booth, a company that reclaims old growth lumber from the rivers of Honduras. Sure enough, they had just what I was looking for, a straight grained board of Hond. mahogany, at a price that was about the same (maybe even less), than newer, less dense, wood. Being in the river for so long drives all of the resins out of the wood, and being old growth, the growth rings are much tighter. This leads to a much heavier, and more resonance (but not resinous), wood; perfect for luthiery. This board is slated for the neck of an upcoming finger style guitar commission.
Next was a stop and shop at Patrick Leach’s booth in search or a crank necked paring chisel for guitar brace shaving. I found a nice old Marples example that should work nicely. Ordered a ryoba from Bridge City tools before getting back to Badaxe to pick up my finished Disston No. 16. It now cuts great and was being coveted by Mark and a few others, so I got it out of their sight and back to the car pronto!
The rest of the day will be with Jay van Arsdale learning more Japanese WW’ing techniques and Charles Brock and techniques for sculpting and shaping modern furniture by power and hand tools.
Bring it on!

And there’s the bell!

Posted in Acorn House on September 30, 2011 by acornhouseworkshop

Day one of WIA 2011 is done and dusted. The final session of the day was Roy Underhill talking about cutting and carving wooden screws. Roy is always a good closer since he keeps the energy up after a long day, and is always good for a laugh or thirty.

I’ll say this for him, he may portray a Luddite on TV, but he is as tech savvy as anybody. His presentation started with a PowerPoint type slide show, but it did things that PP cannot do (I must ask him what software he used.) It covered the history of screw making to the 18th century, and the various methods that have been used. Then he demonstrated three of those methods: hand carving, using a screw box and tap (also showing how to make the tap yourself), and finally chasing threads at the lathe. (Apparently OSHA had gotten to him so, before he began at the lathe, he mounted a pair of safety gargoyles.) I was relieved to see all of the methods; I had seen the episode of The Woodwright’s Shop where he cut threads using a screw box and tap and feared this would just be the same. But today’s session went far beyond the bits that had been aired on PBS.

I finished up my day checking in on Mark at Badaxe tools. He looked over my No. 16 and started hammering out the bow, which he said had been caused by the last sharpening oversetting the teeth. Just goes to show that some people DO know just enough to get into trouble. (And NO, it wasn’t me. This was the condition that I acquired it in.) He said the steel had plenty of spring in it, and would continue to be a VERY nice saw for years to come. The closing bell in the Marketplace rang before he could get to sharpening, so I’ll pick it up tomorrow.

Time to rest up for tomorrow’s sessions (and drive home!)

Back on track

Posted in Acorn House on September 30, 2011 by acornhouseworkshop

The third session that I attended got the learning environment right. Jay van Arsdale tales about Japanese Joinery. One of the reasons that it is fundamentally different than Western joinery, and tends to be more complex, is the nature of the environment. Because of the frequency of earthquakes in that part of the world, buildings had to be able to withstand the earth movements. Japanese joinery does not rely on glue, but rather on compression joints, often with a locking key. And, the compression is always focussed on the end grain, so that the wood does not split as it moves.
Numerous examples of just some of the varied number of joints that are used in practice were passed around. The layout of these is critical, since they need to fit tight for the compression to work. Also, all surfacing is done BEFORE the joints are assembled.
There will be two more sessions tomorrow on Japanese WW’ing techniques and shoji making.
Good recovery from the stumble!


Posted in Acorn House on September 30, 2011 by acornhouseworkshop

The second session, which, for reasons that will become clear, I won’t mention the presenter or subject, was a disappointment. What should have been a fun session, had some tech issues at the beginning. This totally threw the presenter. They didn’t seem to know where to start, and didn’t really want to start, until they were resolved. Even then, one supporting technology, that he had brought, still didn’t function as he had intended, nor did he seem to know what to do about it. This left him out of sorts and disorganized sounding. Knowledge of the subject was left wanting because of porridge presentation. I left before the session finished, the first time I have done so.
In teaching, as well as showcasing one’s work, it doesn’t matter how well you know the subject, or how beautiful a work is, if it is presented poorly, it is practically for nought.

This left me with some extra time to cruise the Marketplace. While walking past the various booths, I came to the realization that, while there some things that would be nice to have, there was nothing (so far) that screamed that I must make it mine. (Aside from some new infill planes that I can’t afford, anyway.) I’m sure I will find something before the end of the conference, but I don’t think I’ll have a bounty this year.
Sigh. So many tools, and so little desire to buy them.


Posted in Acorn House on September 30, 2011 by acornhouseworkshop

The first session was by Graham Blackburn, who talked about the use, care, and feeding of traditional wooden planes in joinery. One of the best quotes came before the session had officially begun. He talked about his background before woodworking, and how nowadays HIS hobby is the Argentine tango. (He started as a musician who, after studying at Julliard, just happened to join the band behind Van Morrison, he later played with others, including Janis Joplin, and actually played at Woodstock! He lives in Woodstock, NY, now, which is where the tale started.)
A running theme of the talk was the fact that; as technology becomes more and more complex, the lifespan of the items becomes shorter and shorter. Our grandchildren will not be using the computers that we are using today. It is near impossible to service today’s high tech engines without expensive computer diagnostics. Older cars are relatively simple and can be worked on at home, with just a modest amount of tools and a little knowledge. Likewise, traditional wooden planes have just three parts, the body, the wedge, and the blade. As woodworkers we should be able to make, adjust, or modify the wooden bits; and the metal bit is also relatively easy to care for. Also, we can use these tools that, ofttimes, are over one hundred years old, and can be expected to last another century or more.

He said that no matter what creative activity one endeavors, it all comes down to “balance and rhythm.”

Managed to make it down to the Marketplace to drop my Disston No.16 off to Mark at Badaxe for a little straightening and sharpening. Then back upstairs for the next session.

On your mark, get set…

Posted in Acorn House on September 30, 2011 by acornhouseworkshop

I’m in Covington, KY, waiting for the 2011 Woodworking in America conference to begin. The first session will be Graham Blackburn talking about joinery with traditional (I.e. wooden) hand planes.
The start of classes brought, as expected, a slow down (OK, a practical stop) to woodworking and luthiery activities. But now that things have settled down at school, and are down to routine, that should change. This “skills building weekend” is just what the Doctor ordered to kick start a return to activities.
I’ll try to post a few times during the conference (and not go bankrupt in the Marketplace!)

Hold Your Head High

Posted in Acorn House on July 18, 2011 by acornhouseworkshop

With the body done, save for the binding, its time to turn my attention to the neck. I decided to go with a less traditional neck wood (although it is a little more common on custom basses), and used a 5-way laminate of walnut with maple stripes. Normally I would use a scarf joint for the headstock for strength and to conserve wood; but, since there are multiple grain directions in the laminations, and since I had some walnut that had some unusable bits (sapwood, knots, etc.), I decided to skip that step and cut everything directly form the glue-up. (How’s that for an extended sentence, all you grammar fans out there!) The first step was, obviously, the glue up. The various laminations were milled and planed, glue was spread and Clamp, Clamp, Clamp, the wrists are aching!

After the glue had cured, I took it over to the table saw and squared everything up. This step is crucial, since the tenons, bolt holes, truss rod slot, etc. must be accurate.

From the block, I drilled the holes for the bolts and cross dowels. Then I routed out the channels for the truss rod and carbon fiber reinforcement strips (very helpful to keep the longer bass neck on the straight and narrow). The tenon was cut on the table saw with a tenoning jig. While cutting the cheeks of the tenon, I angle the blade inward, so that when I do the final fitting and angling of the neck, there is only the outer contact area to adjust, rather than a large surface area that would need to be chiselled and sanded to fit.

Finally, with all of the joinery completed, the basic shape can be rough sawn at the band saw. The very last rough operation is to angle the heel, thinning it at the bottom.

With the carbon fiber strips glued in and the truss rod fitted (but not glued), the joinery can be tested.

With all of the joinery and rough shaping done, the side can be tapered and the headstock veneer glued and the head routed to shape. I am using an offcut of figured walnut from the back stock for the head veneer, with the MOP Acorn logo already inlaid.

Binding, shaping and finishing to come.

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