Fair Woodworking

September 27, 2016

Just call me Champ

Yes I know, much has happened in the past week, and yet again I am at the center of it. I hate to brag about it since I’m sure you already know. I understand how the Monday morning water cooler talk was all a buzz about where you were, and what you were doing when you learned that Fairwoodworking became the Dovetailing Champion Of The World.

You already know about all that, so I need not mention it.

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Well I’ve come to learn that winning was the easy part. The parades, the ceremonial mall openings, the charity golf tournaments and working the international talk show circuit (I’ll admit my Mandarin is a little rusty), meeting with government officials and running from all my new found dovetail groupies. It’s not a life I’m familiar with, but don’t worry.

I’m still Jenny from the block.

I’m not changing and neither is the blog.

Well.  Not much anyway.

I’d prefer it if you did call me Champ, and also please don’t look at me directly. Oh. And only speak in hushed tones.

The blog will remain fully accessible to all… that pay their subscription fees on time.

Yes it’s business as usual here at “Champion Of The World Woodworking”.

Did you guys catch where I compared myself to J-Low?

She wishes.

Are you buying this?

I’m certainly not.

While I greatly appreciate the donated prize of a 14″ BadAxe Sash Saw, I really don’t get how a 5:41 time with a 2 card deduction won. You can argue that I’m being modest, or more accurately falsely modest, but I assure you that you have misunderstood. I think my results under the gun, with people watching was fantastic. My only goal was to perform at a level that I could look back on and know I had done the best that I was capable of. Oh, and I really, really, REALLY wanted to better my good friend Neil Cronk.

Done, and DONE!!!

By the narrowest of margins (1 second and 4 point deductions) I win, and this time you can’t claim to have the nicer fit.

EDITORS NOTE – If the next time I’m spotted in public, I have shards of an award winning stool sticking out of the side of my head, don’t call the police. I deserved it…

The thing is I am not especially talented, and also anyone who has seen me work at anything knows I progress at a snail’s pace. I’ve been working on the same chest of drawers for over a year now, and I’ve yet to finish the carcass. The only things I brought to the table was the accumulation of two key skills, a well thought out game plan, and an average of cutting two joints per day for 14 days.

If there is one thing I can brag to the world about it’s that I came prepared, but by that logic, I should also be bragging that every day I manage to leave the house with both my shoes on the right feet.

I should not have won this event, and if I get the chance to compete again, I hope I am obliterated by one of you out there.

Then I’ll crack you on the head and steal your prize!

So let’s see if we can’t bring this in for a landing.

After the completion of the Handtool Olympics, I got a chance to thank Mike Siemsen personally for running the competition. As we talked I commented that as fun as it was to practice and then compete, such a rushed process has no real value to real life dovetails or woodworking. Mike very kindly stopped me right there and in words I have now forgotten, he essentially told me, “you’re wrong, you’ll see”. Since that time I’ve had some time to consider it, and I now believe him to be correct.

Even if you never compete in a dovetail race, you can learn from it, and in the next while I hope to share with you the skills and strategies necessary to cut a fast’ish dovetail.

The first two skills I mentioned above.

  1. Learn how to start a square cut free hand. (for cutting the tails)
  2. Learn how to cut straight down free hand. (for cutting the pins)

If you are looking at this skeptically, hoping that I will tell you that “You can do it big guy!!!”, don’t bother, you can’t.

However, if you are willing to try, and fail, and try, and fail, and keep trying until you succeed? Who knows what will happen.

Either way, hand wringing 101 is one blog over from here.

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Additional thanks to Popular Woodworking for a great Popular Woodworking in America I hope to come again next year!

 

HEY! WAIT A SEC! WHO SORTED THESE GUMMIE BEARS!!??!!

I SAID ONLY GIRL GUMMIE BEARS!

I’LL HAVE YOUR JOB FOR THIS!

DO YOU REALIZE WHO I AM?

I OWN THIS TOWN!

August 8, 2016

Neil Cronk – Bad with a secret, pain in my side.

Filed under: I Think I'm Funny,Video — fairwoodworking @ 10:46 pm

Remember back in the good old days when you could tell a friend a secret and you knew it was safe with them? Well perhaps I just don’t know who my friends are, but you would think he’d have the decency to keep quiet about one of the greatest finds of the ancient world.

The Ancient Art of Zig-Zag Rule Charming.

About 2 years ago I discovered some old text in a dusty basement that has completely changed my view of hand tools.

The old ones are alive!

And this video proves it!

Thanks for spilling the beans on my research Neil.

We are no longer friends.

 

Editors note 08/09/16 – For the sake of journalistic integrity, of witch I have none, and just in case any of you are taking any of this seriously, Neil is one of my best friends. It is in response to a tweet he made yesterday that went something like this. “ From what told me in DMs is his next vid is going to have all original mouth harp music.”

Thanks for the inspiration Neil. 

Can you believe I slammed out that sweet harmonica solo in one take??!!!???

 

June 4, 2016

Thinking outside the box, and inside the chest

Filed under: Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog,I Think I'm Funny — fairwoodworking @ 2:01 pm

This blog is a broken record.

But let’s back up a bit.

One of my favorite things in the world is to make fun of my friends and family, people I like and also enemies or those I simply don’t really like. Did I miss anyone? Essentially, I’m happy to play the jerk if it entertains me. And so, for opportunists like me, the entertainment of mocking the topic of Anarchy is an absolute riot. (See what I did there?)

If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen some of these glimmers of comedic brilliance.

NO?

  • It must suck to be an anarchist with OCD.

“Oh no! The flames are too high on the right side of the car!”

Nice! Or how about;

  • If your throwing arm feels off balance without a lighter in your off hand… (Jeff Foxworthy voice)

You might be an Anarchist.

Ha, ha, ha. I know, I know,

More?

Now available!

  • The Aesthetic Anarchists Emergency Kit.

Some assembly required.

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Ya, you’re right, the last one is revolting…

*BOOM*

*Jazz Hands*…..

Seriously though, I’m torn with this Anarchy thing. I should point out that most of what I’ve written on the topic is horribly inaccurate, and should not be taken seriously. I agree with Chris’ views in the Anarchist Tool Chest but at the same time I’ve seen what some other modern Anarchist (the non pitch fork/Molotov type Anarchists) believe, and I’d honestly rather associate with Vegans.

But this is besides the point. As nutty as I think Anarchy is, many would say the same about my non-belief in Human Rights vs. what I’d prefer as Human Respect.

Note to self. Never again attempt to dispute this with 140 Characters on Twitter… (or in the comments below) thank you very much.

Back to the broken record…

Where today’s imaginary Love affair with Christopher Schwarz continues, is on the topic of the benefits of the self-limiting, yet fully functional tool chest.

But not so much the tool chest.

Today, I’m talking about the self-limiting and functional workshop, and I think I can speak to life in a self-limiting workshop.

In the book, and I’m ultra loosely paraphrasing cause I couldn’t find it, and now that I think of it, it may have been in a blog post or video or fantasy conversation , “if a tool doesn’t fit in the chest, perhaps you don’t need it”. This talk of need to have and nice to have? It was a foreign concept when I first read it in 2011 and I’ve been resisting it for some 5 years now.

Also, I don’t know if it’s an Anarchy thing, or just an English Tool Chest thing, but the idea of accessibility is huge.

It really is something how one chest can hold so many tools, and yet everything is accessible by moving only one other thing. There is video of this I’m sure, if you haven’t seen it, go find it… somewhere.

So what happens if you adapt these two ideas to a workshop?

Talk about workshop layout normally focuses around the idea of a work triangle, but in a workshop under 150 square feet, I’m not sure I could fit a triangle and still be able to move.

Some shop owners say their table saw is the center of their shop, others the workbench. In a small shop it’s not the tool or the bench, but the task that is the center, and everything else in the shop must move to accommodate it.

The problem is that moving stuff wastes time, and while I may never incorporate the “Anarchists” English Tool Chest into my shop, now that I see its advantages, I’d be a fool not to imitate it in my shop design. In a shop where you really can’t work at the bench when the bandsaw is in place, you can’t use the bandsaw when the thickness planer is set up, and it’s tricky to get in and out of the shop when either is not in storage, how do you transition from one to the other without wasting a day in set up?

Well for starters, you simply have to accept that you can’t own every industrial sized tool known to man, but really I think we all have to do that.

The second?

Like the ATC or English Chest, as many tools as possible need to be able to rearrange without the world coming to an end. In the chest, the tills all slide front to back, and the tools in each till are loose and can easily be re organized from till to till to accommodate the current task. Be it layout or joinery or whatever, the necessary tools can be close at hand and the others safely tucked away nearby. So how do you make the layout of your shop be as adaptable as the chest and still be functional?

Casters.

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Dude! I think I just reinvented the wheel!

Ya, I know that casters have been in workshops forever. In fact, I’m pretty sure that is what they were invented for, but what if you really took casters seriously?

100% buy-in on the idea?

What if everything in a shop that was touching the ground, that isn’t a woodworker or a workbench was on casters?

Still not impressed huh?

Ya well, my shop is going to be a lot bigger once I can roll ALL of it out of the way, or even out the door and into the hallway.

That would give me the space to move my bench into the center of the room when I want, and still have room to work. It also means that I could fit more tools in the shop if I want, and also have a second work bench where this ugly pile of Rubbermaid and clutter now lives.

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Now that I think of it, with two benches, I’d be that much closer to an honest to goodness work triangle.

Well I can dream…

 

May 4, 2016

Help me earn Five Dollars

Filed under: Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog,I Think I'm Funny — fairwoodworking @ 1:00 pm

For those of you that don’t know, blogging is not the most affordable of hobbies.  What with the basic rum budget and paying my 5 year old niece in ice cream to help me work the spell checker machine, it’s hard to make ends meet.

It would be nice if the blog could help pay for itself.

Thank goodness for Russian mail order bride websites.

It seems if I can get 10 people to sign up for email notification of my new blog posts, these good Russian web sites will pay me a minimum of $5 for your information.

It’s as easy as that. You sign up and I get 5 bucks. Actually its 5 rubles, but that should at least cover the cost of the ice cream to pay my neice to collect your information.

Thanks in advance from the Fairwoodworking Marketing Department.

February 25, 2016

Hey you kids! Get off my airspace!

When I started this blog some 4 and a bit years ago, it was all about me. I started it to fulfill a need to document my journey in woodworking.

My blog, about me, for my sake.

Me, me, me, me, me.

Over the years, I’ll admit that I’ve gotten a little distracted with petty man crushes, sharing what I’ve learned, and the promotion of getting out there and meeting other woodworkers.

For this I am very sorry.

I meant no harm in it all, but in truth, I must admit I have strayed from my sacred task.

I forgot who the most important woodworker in my life was.

That woodworker is me, and so I owe myself one very sincere apology.

So let me return to the golden era of fairwoodworking where I was content to post what ever tickled my fancy, not for the good of mankind, but for my sake. So that in the years to come when I lack the strength to work in my shop, I can still look back and marvel at how truly brilliant I really am. “What a fine lad”, I’ll say as I struggle to impress an uninterested nurse.

Those will be good days.

It hasn’t happened for a while, but every now and then I get the urge to make a video. Lately it hasn’t so much been videos, but honest to goodness feature films. Unfortunately, I had no script or even a worthwhile story line.

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I did however stumble onto some really great soundtrack sounding music, and I have a video camera, so how could this go wrong?

What ever could go right while chopping out the waste from half blind dovetails?

How can that be interesting?

What can you learn from watching my video nay Feature Film?

Don’t care!

This is my blog, and I’ll make videos of what I want.

 

November 17, 2014

You Aren’t Sweeping Enough (And I’m not, Either)

Filed under: Favorite tools,Favorites,I Think I'm Funny — fairwoodworking @ 5:43 pm

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If a students shows me the floor during class and asks: “Should I s….”

I cut them off. “Yes.”

I have found that when you ask yourself if your floor is dirty, the poor pathetic thing is way past being dirty and is on its way to getting covered with trash. I think you need to sweep a floor before it actually occurs to you to sweep that floor. Sounds impossible, but it’s not.

I sweep a lot, and it is part of the rhythm of my day. As I finishing planing up panels with a jointer plane, I stop to sweep the floor before I take on the parts for the lid – even if the floor is performing well.

When I chop dovetails, I touch up the floor between each corner of a carcase – even if the floor is clean and doing well.

This is the opposite of the way I was taught to evaluate floors. I was told: “The surface of the floor will tell you how your floor is performing. If the floor looks bad, it’s time to sweep.”

While that makes sense on one level, I don’t want the floor to ever look bruised or scraped or chunked out. So I sweep the floor several times a day.

This approach not only ensures my floors will look their best, it also removes most concerns about what material your floor is made of. If you keep a floor wicked clean(and nothing less) then it really doesn’t matter if a wood floor stays clean longer than concrete.

So shut up and sweep.

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Editors note – Some of you may be thinking this is quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever written, and you people are what I like to call “wrong”. The above post is actually a near direct ripoff of a recent post over at Lost Art Press. The idea made me laugh more than any sane person should laugh about their own joke, but that is just how I roll.

Deal with it.

The truth is I was getting ready to talk about ultra sexy topic of sweeping anyways, and the above “upright dust pan” is a real thing of beauty.

Having now moved into my ultra tiny work shop, there is really no spare floor space that you can push sawdust and shavings out of the way, and so as dumb as the this post may sound, I really do “sweep a lot, and it is part of the rhythm of my day”, but it’s not so bad if I’m not down on my knees when I’m doing it.

 

So shut up and sweep.

June 1, 2014

Silent Night

Filed under: Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog,I Think I'm Funny — fairwoodworking @ 12:39 am

Hmm….

Sure is quiet tonight…

**Crickets**

Blogs are quiet.

Twitter’s a ghost town..?

I wonder why Wilber Pan needed a nap today…?

** Checks Forums **

WoodNet looks a little slow tonight. That place never sleeps.

Hmm..

I wonder if Sawmill Creek has solved the Dovetail guide debate. No wait that got locked down.

Nope.

Nobody there either.

Perhaps The Canadian Woodworking Hand Tool Forum.

Ya, right! Like anyone ever goes there anymore.

** Crickets **

Where is everybody?!

T-2Hr 25Min16Sec.

Oh ya. Right.

Shhhhhh…..

It’s almost June!

I think it was early April when the news came out. Exclusive showing of the Holy Grail of tool chests for 3 days only.

It’s an event that may never happen again. In our lifetime or perhaps ever.

At first blush, you would think that the hand tool woodworking community would be going Ape Sh** over this kind of news, but for some reason, there has been almost no mention of it.

Kind’a odd that nobody, I mean NOBODY is talking about it

T-2Hr 19Min33Sec.

The organizers of this event are some of the key members of the woodworking community, and they have seen how all goofballs pee their pants with the slightest mention of something exclusive, so I have to think they could be sweating right now.

With no talk of the event since almost its announcement, has everyone forgotten? I almost did.

If Don from Barn on White Run hadn’t posted about it, I surely would have forgotten. Don is one of the organizers, so he may know by higher than normal traffic to his site, but it could just be a bunch of looky loues.

All I know is it sure is quiet.

T-2Hr 11Min42Sec.

On the other hand, the entire world could be about to annihilate the ticket booth server. What if it crashes? That would be bad. Not just bad for them. Bad for me, cause I need me some tickets.

1200 tickets over 3 days.

What if there are 1200 people who all want my ticket.

Or what if there are 600 people who all want 2 tickets each. I want 2 tickets!!!

Or what if there are evil woodworkers that are going to buy up all the tickets and scalp them?

Should I buy extra tickets and scalp them?

I wonder how many police are in that town…

T-2Hr 05Min47Sec.

This is really starting to stress me out!

If you are reading this I’ve posted it after buying my Tickets.

Or perhaps I didn’t get any? They sold out while I was in the bathroom?!?

I need another alarm clock just in case I get distracted.

Oh Crap! How do you set the alarm on this infernal thing!!?

I know. I can run over and ask the guy next door to check on me!

No wait! It’s dark out and I could trip on something, and then some car might drive right over me!

I NEED THESE TICKETS!

Why is everything getting blurry?

Oh ya. Need to breath.

T-1Hr 59Min40Sec.

I need to relax and think about something else for a while.

Hmmm…

 

If man ever colonize the moon, will we build fences around our houses so our dogs don’t run away?

They’d have to be pretty tall when there is so little gravity.

Oh god!! What time is it!!?

T-1Hr 56Min49Sec.

This is crazy!

.

.

.

.

T-0Hr 00Min00Sec.

Uh oh.

 

Where’s my credit card?

 

October 14, 2013

You might be a woodworking sissy..

Filed under: Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog,Favorites,I Think I'm Funny — fairwoodworking @ 4:53 pm

For starters,

If you take this post too seriously…

You might be a woodworking sissy..

If you are still using a sharpening jig,

You might be a woodworking sissy..

If you cut a V-groove before you make a saw cut,

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You might be a woodworking sissy..

If you’ve actually shed a tear after dropping a tool,

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You might be a woodworking sissy..

If you then posted about it on a woodworking forum hoping that Rob Lee would send you a new one,

You might be a woodworking sissy..

If you have ever criticized how someone else has cut dovetails  when you have never cut them yourself,

You might be a woodworking sissy..  Or one of many (but not all) overly well read, but under experienced woodworking forum members.

If you have ever made fun of the way others enjoy their woodworking hobby, for the sake of a blog post,

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You might be a woodworking sissy..

Guilty as charged.

Hope you are having a great Canadian Thanksgiving Monday.

June 24, 2013

Skill vs. Ability

Filed under: Favorites,I Think I'm Funny,Skill development — fairwoodworking @ 7:53 pm

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If you are one of those people that seem to be good at everything the first time you try it?

You can go screw yourself!!!

No not really…

Well, maybe just a little.

Unlike the rest of us, you jerks, have some kind of natural ability, and it lets you adapt to new things much quicker than us mortals.

But, don’t take us too lightly, you superhuman weenies.

We have a little trick up our sleeves that in the long run, will even the playing field.

We will develop skill!

It won’t happen today, or tomorrow, but one day!

Yes!

ONE DAY!

Our hard earned skills will rival your freakish adaptive abilities, and perhaps even exceed them.

Yes one day you won’t be able to look down on us any more!

For we will be soaring far above you with wings of skill!

And we will hope that you never, ever practice to develop more skill of your own, or you will become better than us again.

And we will hate you once more.

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August 1, 2012

Piston fit drawer

I wouldn’t say I’m the type to get too attached to my projects.

Not normally anyways, but from time to time, without meaning too, a bond forms with a project.

This becomes a problem when you are making it for somebody else.

In these cases, to let go hurts the heart like the time your dog ran away, or you lose a family air loom, or when you discover you are out of milk after you’ve already poured your cereal.

As with a number of other things I make, this was being donated through my woodworking club to go to our local children’s hospital in their annual fund-raiser. I’ve been trying to improve/learn a better sense of proportion so built the carcass  based only on proportions. There was no functional purpose driving the dimensions.

As soon as I committed to the dimensions, and started cutting my tails I became convinced that I was building a very funny looking box.

It can be a little deflating when this happens, but I chose to take a deep breath, and just try to survive the experience, like when you make a wrong turn in a bad neighborhood, or when uncle Jerry beats you to the bathroom.

The quality of the pine I was using was a little suspect, and almost too soft to work with, and not just a little ugly, but I tried to make due. You know you are going to have a hard time when a freshly sharpened blade still allows tear out in BOTH directions…

Despite my concerns, as the assembly came together, I found I’d become enamored with just about every aspect, every dimension of the finished project.

How can you not fall in love with a project when it motivates you to make new tools, learn a new form of dovetail, as well as mortice & tenons? With all that, I also wanted to try out making a true piston fit drawer. As cool as all the other stuff was, it’s nothing compared to a well fit drawer!

But is the finished project as sweet as I seem to think it is? Or is it as dumb looking as I thought it would be originally? I’m struggling with objectivity here.

Is this a case of love being blind. You know, like when a parent can’t see that their kids are funny looking, or when your lucky underwear becomes a bio hazard.

So presentation day comes along, and it’s time to say goodbye. When we all got together, each one of us had to give a few words on what we made. While I was demonstrating how smooth and awesome the piston drawer action is, I accidentally let it slip that it was going to be a little hard to let this one go.

Later, being the only hand tool guy in the group, it’s not unusual for a small crowd to gather around whatever I’ve made. Mostly I think it’s because they can’t believe anyone could actually make something with only handtools, but this time it was different. This time they were debating what to do with this little box. The consensus was that while it was really cool, and the drawer was kind’a fun to play with, no non-woodworker would pay more than $5 for it.

In the end the others approached me to ask if I wanted to take it back. In exchange I could then make something less personally significant.

Clearly design is not my specialty…

But no matter, it sits on my desk now. It’s empty because I really have no need for such a little drawer, but every now and then, I pull the drawer open so I can close it again. You can feel the resistance of the air as it rushes out of the bottom.

5 bucks….

Ha!

I should also mention that although the drawer slides very smoothly, I found that the air pressure gave it enough resistance that you had to hold the carcass when you opened it. I ended up buying some rubber bumpers to give it traction.

I think I paid $2.99 for the bumpers.

SERIOUSLY!
Five bucks?
No, no. I’m fine…

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