Monday, February 8, 2010

Energy and Revelations

I have been really energized about woodworking lately. I have always loved it and it has always been a passion for me, but lately I have been more engrossed than usual. Before, I could go a month without doing anything significant in the shop maybe a bit longer. One of the first projects I tackled was to rebuild a hutch that my wife's Grandpa had built and the bottom half was ruined when the basement of their house flooded. Now I was just learning then and I had to methodically think my way through every move, but it took me the better part of a year to finish it, and a lot of that was just due to time spent outside of the shop. Now I have gotten better and faster over the last 8+ years, but anyway.

I think I can attribute my increased vigor here to a few things. The first is the recent deal my wife and I made. I have been pushing for her to go back to school for a long time, not pushing hard mind you, just nudging. I have gone back to school a couple of different times and I am the better for it and I wanted her to have the same feeling. She was never sure what to go back for, and I never could really suggest anything because I wanted the decision to come from her not feel pressured or influenced by me. Honestly she would be great at a million things, but I'm biased I suppose. She did finally decide to go for a nursing degree. The deal is after she graduates and settles into a job,  then I get to go part time to quarter time at my job, and make the effort to go full time doing custom furniture building. I get to try to turn a hobby and a passion into a career!!

With that goal in sight, of course I'm even more inspired now to learn to do all those things I haven't taken the time to do yet. Build pieces with cabriole legs to help master that form, do more turning, refine some techniques and of course learn more and more so I can do things better and better. I know the learning will never stop along the way, but I feel like I have to work just as hard in the self directed classroom of my shop as my wife has to work at the college. That spark is inspiring, and this blog is part of that, it's kind of like my exams along the way, throwing what I've done and what I'm thinking out into the void for judgment by any and all who care to read. Keeping up on the blog is inspiring itself because I have to keep doing and thinking things to have something to say.

This search for information and learning, and the evolution of this blog experiment, lead me to another discovery. The Google Reader. Call me ignorant but up until 3 - 4 months ago I had no real idea this tool existed, and I think I may have fallen in love all over again. Now I'm inspired, I'm hooked in with the a whole woodworking community out there. All of us offering our own take on how to do things in the shop, how to design things to build, and what our own philosophies and methods of work are. As you will see to the right of the screen (and we're walking . . . and we're walking . . .and stop) I follow every woodworker's blog I have found to date (If I don't have yours drop me a line and I'll be happy to add it) and I am always finding more and adding them to the reader. Instead of checking the news and the sports scores anymore, I get up in the morning, fire up the computer, see what's on the reader, and that inspires me everyday.

Speaking of inspiration and education, I want to use a few more lines to talk about the blogs that have provided those things to me recently. They are not exclusive, I get a little something from everything I read, but I can speak to specific things I found at each blog recently that have stuck in my brain and won't dislodge. The first inspiration, coming from the Norse Woodsmith Blog, there is a lot of information here about making your own tools, and if you've read anything y me here recently you'll know I'm going down a similar journey right now and I was going through his sight the other night and looking at his saw projects and I came across a saw I hadn't heard of before called a stair saw, I'm going to place as picture from his website here to demonstrate, I hope he doesn't mind. The saw is used to help cut dados in stair stringers to accept the steps. Well this is close to how I like to cut my dados anyhow, by running the wood crosscut through the tablesaw and chiseling out the center. I'm going to have some remaining saw blade steel left after making my planned frame saws and I wasn't sure what I was going to with that. Now I know what I will do with some of it,

And while I am writing this I cannot find the other reference I'm looking for to be sure, but I my memory tells me it was at Peter Follansbee's blog where I gained my education. I read about a chisel like tool called a "slick" a wide bladed paring chisel with a very long handle to it, not used for chopping but for smoothing. Well that little bit of information stuck in my mind an last night I was on the Jim Bode Tools website and I found a category for slicks. As I was looking at one of the ones for sale it dawned on me that I have one of those, I just didn't know what the hell it was! My wife's father gave me a box of old tools a few years ago that he had kept from his father. (This would be the opposite grandpa of the one I spoke about before in this article and others) In the box was a couple of wooden joiner planes, a couple gouges and several chisels. Some were very wide. This fall I set about restoring some of the chisels, regrinding them and sharpening them to a useable condition, but there was one wide chisel I did not touch. It was broad but thin, too thin I decided to handle any decent chopping duties. I remover the rust and set it off out of the way in a tool drawer. Now the pictures at Jim Bode's site made me think of that chisel and the thinness of the blade made me think of the parring chisel properties of the slick.

I went down this morning and dug it out and sure enough. I own a slick, now I just have to decide what angle is best to sharpen it at and decide if I want to replace the handle with a longer one to restore the tool to it's intended glory.




  1. Hi, Really enjoying your blog.

    Just a quick mention: The chisel there can be partially used as a slick but is not really a slick. (Mik Dundee reference, nah, that's not a slick, *THIS* is a slick)

    Use that until you find a real one! They are lovely. It is hard to imagine when looking at one that it is such a delicate instrument. The real trick is that they have a lot of mass. This makes the paring cut nice and smooth. Some of the really nice ones have a crown to the top of the blade. When used upside down, it provides a pivot point to pare at an angle.

  2. Thank you very much for the information sir. I did not pick up on these subtleties when I was looking at the pictures online. Just goes to show the difference between seeing a picture of something and actually seeing it in real life.

    The crown on top to allow you to pair at an angle is really amazing to me, I never would have thought of that myself in my whole life! That's an elegant and brilliant solution, It makes me think about some of the things I've discovered in my other hobby of Viking Age Reenactment, People sometimes get to thinking of technology before today as primitive and simple, but our ansestors were just as smart as we are, able to problem solve the same (or sometimes I think better) the technology today is not better, just different, with different time constraints and effort involved.

    Thanks again David, I will use this tool, but now you've whetted my appetite for the real thing and I'll be on the look out.