Saturday, July 9, 2011

Put your bike to work

"sawdust is cleaner than snow and not unlike it, and the long curling crinkled shavings, that come off sweetly (as clean as a whistle) are lovelier than any manufactured fabric. Wood is tender stuff, too; you must not bang it about as you must bang iron about, and, handling it gently, carpenters as a race are gentle. They seldom shout; they never leave their tools about." -Frank Kendon

I was thinking about these lines from Kendon's introduction to The Village Carpenter by Walter Rose today in connection to my bicycle trailer.

Carpentry is a gentle art, and as I've been drawn more and more to using hand tools in place of power tools, I've thought about the other dimensions of my work. One of the things that seems out of step with the way I want to work is driving a truck around all of the time. A while back, I bought a used baby trailer from a friend, took all the canvas off of it and built the wooden wagon style frame onto it. Admittedly, there are times when driving is unavoidable. Some things are just too heavy or too big or too far. But for smaller jobs in the neighborhood, it doesn't make sense to drive. Especially on a beautiful summer day like today.

Today I used the trailer to carry my tools over to 34th and Sansom Streets to put up a window box I built in front of the University City Housing office. Once Laura fills it with flowers, I'll post some more pictures.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Toolbox Update

I built dividers in the bottom for four bench planes: jointer, jack, smooth, and scrub. The remaining space has a dovetail saw and a couple of mortise chisels. Above that, sitting on the dividers is a box of chisels, with three dowels to hold it in place.
On top of all that, are three trays that sit on a batten running around the edge. I've still got to work out a good way to use the space in the trays, but that will come after I've decided exactly what I want to go in each one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Toolbox Odyssey

One of the problems with sharing a small workshop with three other people is that it's hard to find an out-of-the-way place to keep my nice tools so they don't get mixed up with communal tools. For a long time (too long) that place has been cardboard boxes in a corner between the bench grinder and the lathe. So I recently decided to make a nice box for them - the sort of box they deserve. I like the traditional tool chest (like the one Roy Underhill recently did two episodes on), but it seemed a bit much in terms of material and time. So I made this small toolbox instead:

The bottom holds planes, the lid holds saws, and the drawers hold smaller tools: block plane, chisels, rulers, marking gauge, etc. However, the inside turned out to be a bit smaller than I had anticipated and I couldn't fit all the tools I had hoped to. For example, the bottom holds three planes but I wanted to fit four; the drawers aren't large enough to fit all of the chisels comfortably; and the lid could hold one more saw, but not the one I want it to. I realized I would need something bigger.
So, today I started working on this Japanese-style tool chest:

I based it on an article by Toshio Odate. I made it slightly larger than his since his design wasn't much bigger than my too-small tool box. One other feature I'm planning on changing: I don't like the fact that the inside is just one big compartment where the tools could jumble around and get damaged. So I'm going to divide it up more like a western tool chest, with a row of slots along one side for chisels and gouges and a till. I'm also planning on borrowing an idea from Tom Fidgen (scroll down to the second chest) to use a piece of plywood to make the bottom French-fitted for my planes. More to come as I work on this box...

My desk

Finally, a place to work at the computer comfortably...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jexime's Fans

Some pictures of the fans I made for Jexime Icon.
Walnut, white oak, birch dowels, and brass. 2010.