Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Got me some website

Wake up sissyboy! A planemakers got to be READY! All day, all hellfire night.
Planemaker quits peining at midnight, and wakes up with a file in his teeth at 2 AM!
Planemaker hardens blades barehanded, and quenches ‘em with his steely gaze! Then he laps a batch of jointers on the gravel at the front lines of armageddon! In the dark! In the snow! Before Breakfast – which he doesn’t bother to eat because he’s too tough!
When the pirates come stealin rosewood, planemaker brings a Ninja!

               … that’s why there ain’t a planemaker I know that don’t do speed

- the disembodied spectre of Stewart Spiers, as seen in my subconscious

Yes – that’s right. I am occasionally visited in my sleep by long-dead infill makers (a shocking number of whom look, oddly enough, like some bizarro-world Deneb Puchalski…) Anybody got something to say about that? You think there’s any witty remark you’ll make that my wife hasn’t already gotten off? Hey – give it a shot if you’re so inclined. I’ll wait.

Ready to press on?
um…’ you reply.
Good, says I.

Which brings us to other news of a more pertinent variety.

This week – finally – I managed to get the bulk of my ‘proper’ website into place over at I’m pretty pleased with the stable as it sits now, and when the panel plane on the drawing board now gets hammered out, I’ll be able to take a bit of a break from prototyping for a while.

The miter planes I worked out for WIA in the fall are up on the site:

as are the new DTW coffin smoothers — fresh off the bench, so to speak:

I’m quite pleased overall with both series of planes, but I’m particularly happy to have settled on a design for the smoothers. In designing planes, I work quite a bit to make sure they will reflect my own ‘voice’, if you will — to tread the line of sticking within traditional styles, but still carrying their own distinctive personality. The unhandled coffin is one of the hardest designs to work with, in this respect, as it’s a remarkably simple plane, stylistically. There is very little ornamentation to work with, and there are some fairly tight and well-established design parameters that were basically hashed out by Spiers a couple of centuries ago. In the end, though, I’m pleased with the result of all the drawing and prototyping work. At some point, I’ll add some toted smoothers that run a bit larger, but that’s going to be a bit into the future.

Now that the heavy lifting part of the web-presence is finally done, I’m also going to start updating this blog more regularly again. Up Next: your humble narrator photoshops riverdance outfits onto the entire popular woodworking staff!

WIA 2010: Here Comes My Chinese Rug!

“Midway through this life’s journey,
I found myself deep in the rough wood,
for the straight grain was lost.

So I opened up a can of infill on that mutha
and taught it what’s what!”
- Dante Jones

This week, Daed Toolworks is undergoing a rather significant transformation, shifting from my own personal little spare-time devouring hobby into a full-fledged spare-time devouring commercial enterprise.

“How’s that?” you say… well I’m glad you asked.

Because, this week, I’ll be bringing a handful of planes, a spankin-new traveling workbench, and my grossly underperforming personal wit to the 2010 Woodworking in America conference in Cincinnati (well – almost Cincinnati) at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. I’ll be setting up shop in a booth with Matt Bickford of M.S. Bickford, maker of fine 18th c. molding planes.

Technically, this is the point where I should probably  hold forth with the entire ‘David Copperfield’ rundown, including all the details of my complicated personal history, what got me started making hand tools, what led me to consider such a professional shift, and why it’s so much More Fulfilling than What I Used to Do. From there,  I would segue into a grand description of the cultural significance of the Woodworking in America conference, wax eloquent about how great it is that hand tool woodworking has come so far in the last decade, and generally indulge in a full-on love-fest of flowery rhetoric designed to make all us handtool guys (and girls) feel like members of a Great and Honorable Fraternity (or – um – sorority).

But I’ve got a rather serious Dr. Phil allergy, so…

how about some pictures of planes instead?

Also, there have been a few questions about the name “Daed Toolworks”.  So for the record: it is pronounced ‘dead’, as in ‘dead accurate’, ‘dead to rights’, or Hamlet  Act V scene ii.

This, however, inevitably begs the question: “why, then, is it spelled d-A-E-d?”  Well -

How about a workbench photo?

And speaking of the workbench – for those of you playing along at home, it’s basically the lovechild of a Benchcrafted split-top Roubo and the Schwarzian Holtzapffel workbench. The important part, though, is that it can be set up or broken down in just over five minutes at a leisurely pace, and it takes up a ridiculously small amount of cargo room.

The best part of the bench is that it took under 20 hours to build, thanks primarily to my friend Justin, who has the power tool workshop I dream of.  It’s astonishing how much you can get done with a 12-inch jointer, 15-inch Shelix-head planer, and a Unisaw.  Total stock prep for the bench (excluding mortises) took the two of us just over two hours.  Needless to say, my next shop will most definitely have three-phase power.

So if you’re going to WIA, please stop by and introduce yourself.  Until then, allow me to close by exploiting my oldest daughter, seen below as a princess with a fluffy shaving.

Rumors of my demise…

OK, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat:   I have been neither the victim of kidnapping by Somali pirates, nor have I been in cryogenic suspension.  Other things I have not been doing during the past six months include:

-striking intriguing poses
-playing ’16.4 billion bottles of beer on the wall’
-alphabetizing my collection of disco-era smiley face memorabilia
-sleeping peacefully
-hand copying “Remembrance of Things Past”
-developing a reality TV show called (tentatively) “I Ate WHAT?”
-switching to decaf
-suffering from empty nest syndrome
-playing ‘six degrees of Lindsay Lohan’
-under-employing the CAPS LOCK key  in the comments section of major news media
-updating this blog

At this point, perhaps you are wondering what, then, I HAVE been doing with my time.  Well, here are a few things:

-putting off dealing with BLOGGER’s decision to terminate FTP  support
-becoming overly familiar with DJ Lance Rock (e.g.  slow intellectual suicide-by-toddler)
-finally finishing the nagging to-do list of upgrades and repairs to our home

-plotting our relocation to sunny Wisconsin (brrrrr……)
-occasionally blackmailing canadian planemakers with photos from their mullet-sporting days
-kicking myself for not having followed through on my idea for bridal diapers
-spending as much time as possible getting to know my young children before they’re old enough to realize I’m a hopeless embarrassment, and that I’m ruining their lives.

So there it is – for better or worse, these are my excuses for not having lavished more attention on this blog.

Now – back to the topic at hand (tool).  In the eye of the hurricane that is my home, I have also been  in the lab (with a pen and a pad) working on some planes.  I’ll try to sneak some details of a couple of new designs, and perhaps a prototype or three as well, into the blog in the coming weeks, but by way of a ‘teaser’ I offer these humble images of  recently-completed and nearly-done planes from the workbench here. busy busy busy…

Some new additions to the works…

As one might gather from my blog, I am somewhat fond of good tools as well as quality woodworking.  It is worth noting that the two do not necessarily go hand in hand – one can certainly appreciate the work or the tools without much caring for the other – but a keen affinity for both is a common malady. There are two recent additions to the Daed toolworks shop that I felt were worth noting here. One is large, one small, but in the end, I think both constitute noteworthy contributions.

The first is a piece of machinery that I hinted briefly at in my last post – astute viewers may have guessed that the T-slot table I used was part of a larger assembly… in this case a Johansson mill:

My best guess is that the mill dates from sometime in the 1950s; for those who aren’t familiar with Johansson, they were the company who made the venerable 8520 and 8530 knee mills for Clausing. Clausing later bought the company outright, but this mill is essentially identical to the earlier production 8520 mills. What’s notable about these mills is that they’re the smallest ‘serious’ knee mills I am aware of — they’re the basis for most of the small 6×26 knee mills made in Asia for the past couple of decades.

With a footprint of just about 36″ square, including all adjustments and movements, these mills are very popular in space-challenged shops like mine, and generally command a healthy premium for that reason – so I was extremely pleased when this one popped up at a very reasonable asking price near me.  I’d given serious consideration to one of the better mill-drill setups, in particular the Industrial Hobbies version of the RF45 mill platform, but at heart I had always hoped to find an older knee mill I could adopt.  The waiting paid off.
Until I find room for a Bridgeport, I anticipate this will serve all of my needs just fine. While I’ve been quite satisfied with the results that can be had making infills by hand with hacksaw and files, the truth is that it gets very physically demanding.  The mill should help to ameliorate that somewhat, hopefully helping to keep the tendonitis that’s started plaguing my right wrist at bay…

The second addition is a generous gift from my friend Jameel Abraham, one of the most talented artists and craftsmen I know.  Jameel had noticed the Shinwa bevel gauge I often use in some of my photos, and asked me how I liked it.  We talked for a while about the dismal performance of, well, basically all bevel gauges — they’re essentially disposable tools for the most part, and while some are a slight improvement over others, in truth they pretty much all just suck.  They don’t hold their settings worth a darn, no matter what the mechanism, and I’ve yet to use one that didn’t annoy me to some degree or another.

There is one reputed exception to the above lament – which both Jameel and I had seen briefly at the first WIA conference in Berea Kentucky:  the Vesper Tools sliding bevel design. These are serious pieces of craftsmanship, and my brief handling of one at Berea left me feeling pretty impressed. I’d had a purchase of one on my ‘one of these days’ list, but as you might guess Jameel beat me to it.  Within a week of our conversation, this showed up on my doorstep:

Chris Vesper’s new engraved 4″ sliding bevel.  This may seem like a relatively small addition to the toolworks, but it’s not – for a few reasons.  First, because I use a bevel a LOT in laying out planes; second because it’s a phenomenal piece of craftsmanship – something I very well appreciate; and third, because it is a constant reminder that there is a right and wrong way to make everything. This tool stands out because I believe it’s the only ‘rightly-made’ bevel I’ve ever used – every other one is simply wrong-headed in its design, and its execution, by comparison.

In short, Vesper has taken what I considered an entirely unsatisfactory category of tool, and made it a work of art both in terms of function and appearance. You can read some interesting information about the design he uses to make these, but let me just say that a simple twist of the precisely knurled locking knob at the base of the tool locks down the blade, and it stays.  I mean it stays where it’s set no matter what.  I believe I could probably stand on it and get some movement, but there is nothing I can imagine ever happening in my shop that would affect the setting I put in this bevel. There is a lot more that I could say about it – it’s balanced very well, extremely well thought-out, such that there is no way for any part of it to interfere with its efficiency at marking out work – but at its heart, its job is to hold a setting and make it easy to transfer from one place to another.  From that standpoint, and any other I can think of, it is as close to ‘perfect’ as I think one runs across in the tool world.

I am well aware that I’m talking about a ‘simple’ sliding bevel, but a tour-de-force is a tour de force, whether it’s a space shuttle or a shoelace – and this is a tour de force. It really is one of the most compelling examples of pure, functional craftsmanship I have run across. And that is something I think is worth mentioning.

Thanks Jameel.

Independence Day

First – A Personal Note

Happy New year all. Thanks to everyone who ‘gently prodded’ me about getting it back in gear.

Long time since last blog entry?  Yup.  What can I say – holidays at the best of times are busy, and if you have young children like we do, you’ll know that it also brings a severe increase in activity of the local TLF  (Toddler Liberation Front) cells.  Our home has been a haven for this crafty and disarming organization for the past several years, and the new recruits (codename:  the twins) seem to have stepped up their mobility this year, as evidenced by a remarkable uptick in the organization’s chatter, and a few very close calls.  One day I’ll be able to tell the tale of the Christmas Eve Pasta Offensive, but this is not the time or place.

The long and short of it is that it was easily the most wonderful, and also the most hectic, Christmas season I can ever recall having.  Ever seen a 4-year old’s face when she first sees the  hoof-strewn mess that Santa’s reindeer made of the cupcakes she left them? Ever had that sense of wonder interrupted as an overactive pair of fifteen month olds exploit the moment of freedom to finally topple the 9-ft. Yuletide Tree crammed into the 8-ft tall family room?  Well, then you obviously understand.

New toy for Daddy

At any rate, the season also brought the addition of a new piece of machinery at the toolworks — one that marks a rather nice personal milestone:

The Daedworks’ own metal lathe – a WWII era Montgomery-Ward branded Logan with a 10″ swing and 24″ between centers. I know it’s not specifically a woodworking tool, but it’s significant as it allows me to bring the last outsourced bits of my planes in-house. Until now, I’ve had all the lever cap screws for my bench planes made by the extremely talented Johnny Kleso (known as rarebear to many).  You can see a couple of videos Johnny’s posted on YouTube.  Well worth a view for anyone interested, especially the Acme threading videos. Johnny’s lathe time is limited, though, and he’s stopped taking outside work with the exception of a couple of his old friends. So I’ve been considering how to move forward for a few months now, and finally decided I should just learn to make ‘em myself.

So two days before Christmas, I picked up this Logan and the past two weeks of shop time have been devoted to setting it up, calibrating and aligning everything, and learning the rudiments of turning metal, knurling, and single-point threading. As an added benefit, this acquisition also lets me finally shift to using Acme threading on the lever caps, something that is fairly labor- and time-intensive, and is frankly rather costly to have someone do for you. The learning curve has been pretty steep, but so far I’m happy with the results.  Here’s the first screw I’ve finished in the Bronze I prefer to use:

And another shot of the screw, in place in a coffin smoother I finished around Thanksgiving:

I’m not completely satisfied with the knurling at this point, but I think the step to Acme threads makes up for it.  As I said, overall I’m quite pleased with the results.

Of course there are other things you can make on a good metal lathe as well…

I’ve freehand-turned a few plane hammers on my wood lathe in the past, but the results with a good metal lathe are really a notch up.  This one is also the first time I’ve been able to incorporate a design feature I picked up from Jameel Abraham — a threaded post mount for the wooden head.

There are so many advantages to this, I don’t know where to start. In addition to making it incredibly simple to replace a worn wooden head, I can also keep a couple of replaceable heads in different materials – soft wood, harder wood, and perhaps (if I can work out the details) rawhide, which is the preferred material for adjusting wedges in a miter plane. All in all, a nice secondary benefit;  this is easily my favorite of the plane hammers I’ve made over the years.
And now, this:
Next project, which I’m going to document all the way through, is a full-size miter plane based on a beautiful old Towell Miter from the collection of Joel Moskowitz, who
is one of my best secret (or once-secret, I suppose) sources of information.
I am done with most of the basic layout for the plane, which is about 10-1/2″ long with a 2-inch iron and a single-piece sidewall construction. This is going to be the first large-scale mitre plane I’ve done, and it should give me the chance to try out some new ideas.  It’s a classic design, and Towell’s cupid’s bow bridges have been the model I use for a while now — they’re superb. Towell’s original, top – the last bridge I did, below it.
More soon, as I get to the serious work of hacksawing and filing. I’ll try to cover everything about the plane as I progress over the coming weeks.

New toys, new plane

I’ve been playing at single parenting this week while Jenn is out of town on business… I don’t think the PTSD is too severe, but it’s pretty much wiped out shop time. I did manage to steal some time over the weekend to get my new auxiliary bench up, and install a couple of new tools:

First up is a new patternmaker’s vise. This one is the new clone that a number of places sell. I’m hoping to acquire an old Yost version of the Emmert in the near future, which will replace this, but I got a really good deal on this one. I have to say that so far I’m very impressed with the vise. The castings certainly aren’t pretty, but functionally it’s really fantastic. It’s going to make shaping totes a much faster and easier process.

The second addition is a Grizzly compact bender, which you can see mounted behind the vise. I bought this to simplify the bends such as the one at the rear of the small miter planes. It’s a really simple contraption, but it’s a very welcome addition, and makes it MUCH easier to get precise bends without having to do much tweaking after the fact. It’s a tool I basically use for about two minutes every few weeks or so, so it lives under the bench, and mounts in under a minute.

I also made a start on the rear infill for the steel miter I’m working on. I put the recently-completed bronze miter to use tuning up the bed and shooting the end. The miter board in this picture, by the way, is Evenfall Studios’ deluxe shooter — a fantastic design, perfectly executed. It’s a much better board than I would ever have bothered to make for myself – and there’s something to be said for that.

Rough tuning the bed is done with a panel plane, which gives me a good head-start at flat along the bed’s length. I have a camber on my panel, though, so I followed it up with the miter plane to eliminate any hollow lingering from the panel.

Now I can start fitting the plane and hopefully get to the peining this weekend.

The moment of truth…

Welcome to the Daedworks blog. It seems somehow fitting to launch this new blog with a new plane. Today was grinding and lapping day on the first of two new miter planes I’ve been working on the past couple of weeks. Grinding off the excess metal from peining the shell together, and then lapping the sole and sides of the plane down are a very cool stage in making an infill, but it also brings up some anxiety; it’s the point when you get to find out if all the hard work cutting, fitting, filing, and peening all came out OK, or if there is a problem.

And unfortunately, there are any number of things that can show up at this point that are all but impossible to fix properly. It’s also the first point in the construction when the plane starts to look reasonably good – until now it’s been a bunch of metal pieces with coarse surfaces, hammer marks, and rough filing. I wish I could say I’ve never experienced disapointment at this point in the process, but it wouldn’t be true.

Fortunately, though, today’s went rather well.

Now it’s time to start making a wedge – one of my favorite shaping chores. After that is done, I can do the final sole lapping, and finish up the mouth. The plane’s steel-sided twin is just a few steps behind, so hopefully it’ll come off as well as this one did when I get to that point – probably sometime next week.

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