Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Are woodworkers generally a conservative bunch part 2.

 Almost 3 years ago I wrote a blog post wondering if woodworkers generally were a conservative bunch. 

I started that post because Popular Woodworking Magazine had made some changes to their homepage which I didn't really like. And I ended up thinking that I would just have to wait and see if it was indeed a change for the worse.

A couple of days ago, I visited the homepage again, for the first time in maybe a year or so.  I have to admit that I was utterly disappointed. The once vibrant community that followed most blog posts there seemed to be dead and gone. 

Earlier there would be maybe a banner ad for Bessey clamps or Forrest blades etc. But always something woodworking related. 

Now when you go to the blog section, half the page is filled with clickbait links advertising for stuff like "ecological Viagra" and "You won't believe this video - watch it before it is banned" 
I let my subscription lapse some years ago, because the quality of the magazine took a hefty dip. And I have to say that looking at the homepage wouldn't make me think about subscribing again.

I hope that the magazine has been able to attract some new readers, because I would guess that they have managed to push some old readers away in the process.


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Totempole for the local kindergarten

This time while at home, I barely had time to go into the shop, since we had to empty my parent's house as it was sold. it is a good thing that we managed to sell the house fast, but clearing up your childhood home is not a pleasant job. 
I spent roughly 3 weeks out of my 4 weeks of home period emptying the house. And I was sorry everyday that I was doing it. 
I even started dreaming about moving stuff around in my trailer, and I was a bit stressed about it.  It was much better when I dreamt about stealing a helicopter from US Coast Guard. (I have no idea why I was going to steal a helicopter, but it seemed like a good idea in that dream..)

Anyway, when the house was ready for handing over to the new owners, it was a relief, and I was planning to do a bit of organizing in the shop and the stores room, sort of as a reward to myself, and to find a place for all those bits and pieces from my dads shop too. 

Before getting started on that, one of the adults from the local kindergarten called me and asked if I could help her make a totempole. Asger stopped in the kindergarten 10 years ago, but they remembered that I had always willingly helped them in the past, and they knew that I could work wood. 
I instantly decided that it was worth doing to help them, and they would bring over a log that I could use.
Kaja (the adult) explained that her group of children from 3-4 years old were going to have a theme event about Indians. they would try to build tepees and learn a bit about the history etc. So that was why they needed a totempole too. 

When I got the log I first removed the bark and then started dividing the log into a few sections. The idea was to make a Totem figure on the top with a beak and a smiling mouth and the later on ad a couple of wings. the lower sections would see happy faces of children and happy animals. I told Kaja that I didn't want to make any sort of scary faces or animals, which she agreed was a good ide given the age of the children.
By making an outline of all the faces and animals etc. it would give the children something they could use for painting, so they could do it and be reasonably certain to get a decent result.

I completed the totempole in one day and delivered it to the kindergarten Monday morning. The wings were not mounted, so that the could roll the totempole around for painting on the sides and the back of it. 
I'll try to take a picture of the painted totempole once I get home again.

A young Gustav having helped painting..

The raw log.

Bark removed and sections made.

Happy face of a girl.

Smiling totem figure

Wings attached.

Happy horse


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Marlinspike manufacturing

It is not a secret that I like to turn stuff on a metal lathe. On my first voyage with the Lehmkuhl, I made a large marlinspike just to test out one special way of making cones. 
The marlinspike was well received by the deck department, and I ended up making a couple of smaller ones later on that year.

I have great difficulties saying NO to a Newfoundland dog and to young people wanting to learn from me. So when I signed on this time and almost all of our volunteers asked me if I would teach them how to make a marlinspike I replied that I'd be happy to.

Making a marlinspike is a fine little project. There are different processes that involves different tools, and you can leave the project for some time and pick it up again later without any issues.
The turning teaches people a basic understanding of the lathe and how to use it. The surface is improved by a file and by sandpaper before it is hardened.
Some sort of head or handle is dealt with next, and finally everything is polished using some fine emery paper. 
One of the volunteers asked if I could also help him make a sheath for the marlinspike, which I was happy to help him with. Soon after, a couple more of them wanted to do that too. Then one guy wanted to make a sheath for his knife to match the marlinspike sheath, and another one jumped on the same idea. So I have spent a great deal of time helping and instructing in leather work and metalwork this time.

An interesting thing was to see how they each had ideas as how they wanted the head/handle made. So each has his own very distinct marlinspike. 
So far we have made heads from leather, wood, laminated wood, copper & brass and steel.
Most of the marlinspikes have been around 10" long, so they work well as personal tools that can be brought with them into the rigging. A couple of them have been 13-14" and a bit beefier, intended to be used at the deck mainly for splicing wire.

A great thing about all the projects is that people have all been incredibly proud upon completion, and they have each succeeded in making a functioning tool that they can use for the rest of their career. And I am happy because I think that I may have planted a small seed of making in each and everyone of them.


Adrian's marlinspike

14" (as far as I remember)

Wood from various ships he has worked on

Laurids' and Simon's Marlinspikes

Laurids' sheath for the marlinspike

Simon has made a sheath for his pocket knife

Aske's sheaths

Brass & copper head

Nice work for someone new to leather working.


Monday, March 15, 2021

Herringbone parquet table

Two weeks ago, Gustav sent me a mail asking if I had some wood that he could use to make a herringbone parquet table of.

I replied with a suggestion of using some roof laths, since I was a bit uncertain if I had enough ash for him to make a table. I tried to write to him later on the hear about the table since I was very curious, but since I didn't get any response I figured that he had given up on the project. (I hadn't received an answer as to whether the table was a commission, an experiment or something for himself either.)

When we got close to Norway some days ago, I called just to chat with the family, and Gustav suddenly asked if I had any shellac? I told him that I did, and asked what he was going to use it for. He replied that naturally it was for the herringbone table. 

He had become so immersed in the project that he hadn't thought about informing me at all, but all in all, he had almost completed a tabletop. And he even sent me some pictures to prove it.
We talked a bit about the different ways to make an undercarriage for a table, but I am not sure which type he will make. I guess I'll just have to see when I get back home.


Herringbone parquet tabletop.





Friday, March 12, 2021

Details of Gustav's DTC

I asked Gustav to take a few pictures of how his block plane was held in his DTC. He also supplied a few other pictures of details.

The block plane which was a gift from Brian Eve of Toolerable sits on the left side of the chest in the top compartment. The inspiration for the holding arrangement also came from Brian, who has his block plane sitting in a leather pouch in the same spot.
Gustav chose to make his out of wood. Each side is made out of two strips of wood glued together via a triangular piece. The entire holding arrangement was glued and tacked to the side of the chest after the two sides were dry. 

In the other side of the chest, his speed-square is mounted using a piece of wood with a groove in it and a notch in the outer tool rack. The framing square simply sits along the backside of the chest being supported by the narrow slots in the shelves. We had to cut off 1.5" of the long leg of the square to make it fit inside the chest, but It sits very well protected now.

The two drawers are dovetailed with through dovetails. The bottoms are massive wood planed down to 1/4" thickness and held in a groove in the front and sides and overlapping the back of the drawer. We made them the traditional way because I know that once in a while it can be useful to have an example of a drawer to show to people. For instance if you need to show your friends what a dovetailed joint looks like.
The pulls are thin leather straps nailed to the bottom of the front. The straps will bend when the battens for locking the fall front are inserted, and they don't protrude so much that the drawers needed to be made shorter. The notches for allowing the locking battens just need to be a bit deeper to accommodate the folded leather.

Thin strips hold the block plane securely in place



Hultafors speed-square on the side.
Framing square in the back


Dovetailed drawers with leather pulls.







Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Dutch tool chests

Gustav has started training to become a carpenter. I can't remember if I have blogged about it, but I guess not since I haven't blogged much the last year.
Anyway, the path he takes is four and a half years, and gives him a certificate as a trained carpenter and a high school diploma at the same time, so that if he wishes to go study later on in life to become e.g. architect, he doesn't need to take any additional classes before enrolling into that education.
The carpenter training is mixed school and apprenticeship throughout those years. During the first apprentice period, each apprentice gets his own set of standard tools from the carpenter. These tools are normally supplied in a rectangular plywood box. If you read the description of the idea/regulation behind the carpenter training, it is stated that during the first apprentice period, the apprentice should be given the possibility to make his own tool chest for the standard tool set, so that he can bring those tools with him for the coming school periods.

Most apprentices just use the standard plywood box. Some will try to make a few divisions in the box and maybe a tool rack of some sort. I had told Gustav that I'd be more than happy to make a small class for him and a friend where they could each build a DTC.
I milled wood for 3 chests, and bought hardware for them too, but for some reason the friend was unable to participate anyway, so we ended up just building two chests. One for me and one for Gustav.

I tried to work a little bit faster than him so he could look at my chest for the next step in the process, but I tried to mainly work on it while Gustav was also in the shop. I showed him the different possibilities such as breadboard ends or battens to keep the panels flat, and how the edges could be treated using a router, a rabbet plane or just a chamfer.

When the chests were complete, Gustav really took off fitting the interior of his chests with tool racks and special holding arrangements for saws and squares etc. I didn't have any special ideas for what tools I wanted to put into my chest, so I just made a chisel rack mainly to show Gustav how one could be made. 

At that point whenever Gustav's friends came by for a chat or a cup of coffee, they would as always start out in the shop, and Gustav would proudly show them his DTC with tools and lockable panel and all. 
All the friends were awestruck. you could practically see the envy in their eyes. When Gustav demonstrated opening the lid and removed the two sliding battens to open up the front. It might as well have been the "Resolute desk of the movie National treasure". 

With his chest complete, He felt that it was too nice to be painted and he opted for varnishing instead. He plans to use the Holsteiner breed logo as a mark, to identify which ones are his tools, so he started up painting it on the lid before the varnishing.

This might sound corny, but I think that I am just as proud as Gustav is. Helping your son to build a tool chest is an incredibly fine and meaningful way to spend some time together. And I enjoyed every minute of the build seeing his skills grow through the project.


Gustav's chest

Dovetailed drawers to the left




Batten /dust seal holds the lid flat

Holsteiner horse breed logo

The unfinished chest is mine..








Sunday, February 14, 2021

Making an anatomic breastplate for Gustavs horse

I like to work a bit in leather occasionally, and leatherwork gear is even easier than woodworking gear to bring onboard a ship. From before my dad got really ill, I had purchased some leather meant for making a breastplate that I had seen, and Gustav and I had measured his horse to get an idea of the size of the piece. I had made a sketch and sort of left it all due to making a coffin and all that followed.

This time due to the pandemic, I have had to stay 10 days in quarantine in a hotel in Norway. I have a hard time expressing how much I dislike sitting idle in a hotel room, so before heading out, I had made a bunch of leather straps ready and found my sketch so I could sit in the hotel room and do a bit of leatherwork. 

I had brought some basic tools with me, and a piece of 1/4" plywood, so I had a place to do cutting without damaging the hotel furniture.

A thing that I didn't bring was something to polish the edges of the leather after assembly, so I'll make some sort of polishing disc when I get onboard and then make the edges look really nice too. At the moment they look a bit dull.









All of it mounted and laid out on the bed.