Plane-Making with Craig Stevens!

Smoothing and jack planes by Craig Stevens

So many woodworking schools, so many options for classes all summer! Linda’s writing a little piece for Sharp & to the Point, Hock Tools’ newsletter, with Craig Stevens about teaching plane making – the how and why woodworkers benefit from learning to make their own handplanes. Craig’s a woodworker of many incredible talents, plane making only one of them. He’s also known as a world class instructor and will teach a class in Plane Making July 9 – 13 at The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine.

Making your own plane is a course in liberation; a simple you can do-it-yourself-type of thing. Not only do you master the skills and decision making it takes to build a tool, you personalize the fit to your hand. And doing all this, along with owning that I-made-it-myself plane, helps your inner woodworker develop beyond the class.  You can’t help but expand your own possibilities.

Hand Plane in Bocote, by James Krenov
(you can make one like this!)

Of course Hock Tools offers a few kits that make it very easy to make your own wooden hand plane, shoulder plane, spokeshave, or block plane. And, we encourage you to buy now and often, but there is nothing quite like making a wooden plane from scratch and that’s what Craig will teach you at his Plane Making course at The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. So, check it out; you will have a terrific time in a beautiful setting, with great people all around.

“Plane to Project” @ Anderson Ranch

Jennifer Anderson and David Welter will be teaching From Plane to Project at Anderson Ranch Art Center from June 18 -29. Students will make a plane and a small wall-hung cabinet. Jennifer is a College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program graduate and has since earned an MFA in Furniture Design at San Diego State University. Her furniture is exhibited nationally and internationally and has been published in American Craft, Woodwork Magazine and with Wakened Hands.  David Welter is on the staff of the Fine Woodworking Program at the College of the Redwoods.

Jennifer Anderson

The Concept: The late James Krenov advised a generation of woodworkers inspired by his artistry and philosophy. In this workshop students begin making a “Krenov-style” wooden hand plane. Krenov’s methods are shared through slide presentations, video clips and books. Students can expect to leave with a hand plane and a small wall-hung cabinet, in addition to a greater understanding of wood as a creative medium.

David Welter (and friend)

Media and Techniques: Wood, hand and power tools. Selecting lumber, milling a board square, dowelling, frame and panel construction, rabbets, dadoes, setting hinges, hanging doors and much more.

Activities: Instructors give hands-on demonstrations, slide lectures and presentations. Participants engage in informal and guided discussions. Students learn to sharpen, make, tune and use a wooden hand plane.

This promises to be a lively, entertaining and highly educational experience. Jennifer and David make a great teaching team — I can’t recommend them highly enough. Space is limited so don’t dawdle!

Make a Greenwood Chair!

The College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program here in Fort Bragg offers several classes each Summer. This year’s offerings include Dan Stalzer’sMaking a Greenwood Chair.” Dan’s a great teacher who very generously taught me how to sharpen a drawknife for the The Perfect Edge. He’s been teaching chair-making classes like this for years and they always get rave reviews. While you’re taking Dan’s class, there’s plenty to do for the rest of the family. We have breathtaking redwood forests, uncrowded beaches, whales (seasonally), tidepools, fishing, diving (abalone!) and even the world famous Skunk Train. The class has only a few spaces left so don’t dawdle.

Here’s the blurb from the college website:

May 21–26
limited to 16 students

Due to the ease with which freshly fallen wood can be worked with hand tools, green woodworking is an ages old process. Members of this class will be principally using 16th and 17th century British Isles techniques transported by early immigrants to New England and Appalachia

Participants will be involved in the process of making an Appalachian style ladder back chair frame using traditional hand tool techniques and a limited amount of machine work. Students will receive hands- on instruction in splitting native green tanoak (Litho- carpus densiflorus) logs, shaping parts on a shaving horse with a draw knife and spokeshave, fitting joinery, and steam bending. The exchange of selected green wood parts for previously dried elements will allow each student to leave the workshop with a complete chair frame. Hemp webbing will be supplied for seat weaving at home, a process which will be demonstrated on the sixth day.

Dan learned ladder back chair making from Drew Langsner and John Alexander. He studied for two years at the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program graduating in 1988 and 1989.

Why Does a Tool Cut?

Have you been to Joel Moskowitz’s blog at Tools for Working Wood? The one about Work – An Illustrated Magazine of Practice and Theory for All Workmen, Professional and Amateur? Joel insists it is the greatest of all the DIY publications and after reading the first blog I agree. This blog is fantastic and not be be missed! Plus, Joel is publishing the blog in relation to Work’s original publication dates. So, issue #1, which came out on March 23, 1889 appeared on The Work Magazine Reprint Project blog on March 23, 2012.

Joel and his crew have been scanning, cleaning and reprinting Work Magazine as new blog installments. I know you have too many blogs to follow already but this one is quite different. The information offered by the magazine emphasized more practical projects, more of them, and lots and lots of drawings and illustrations. The target subscriber was the nineteenth century do-it-yourselfer, the practical man, who these days would be part of the “maker crowd”. Sounds like … YOU (and ME!) This is rich, dense, useful, fascinating stuff. And an uncommon peak into the lives of “makers” like us in the nineteenth century.

I was especially interested in the article on page 21 of Volume I, Number 2, Why Does a Tool Cut? part 1, by “J.H.”  The article goes into considerable detail of the cutting action of any blade and sums up: …in order that a tool shall cut wedge-like action is necessary. But the degrees of acuteness of the wedges have to be widely modified for the operation of softer and harder materials, in order to afford sufficient permanence of cutting edge. And the angle of relief should be kept as low as possible. These are axioms in tool formation, no matter how widely the shapes of the tools themselves vary.

Part 2 of the article is on pages 59 and 60 of Volume 1, Issue Number 4 and goes into much more detail with specific applications to everyday tools and how they should be sharpened. I’ve subscribed to this blog on my Google Reader page and look forward to each new installment. Many thanks to Joel, Tim and Ben (did I leave anyone out?) at Tools for Working Wood for this labor of love.

Knife Handle

Hock Tools' 3/4" Marking Knife (MK075) in a Murphy Handle

Ken Kennedy sent us a link to a perfect handle for our marking knife blade (#MK075). The handle is aluminum and walnut and allows the blade to slide to whatever extension you want. There’s a set screw to secure the blade.

As it turns out, the same maker also offers a smaller handle in polished brass and rosewood that will accept our half-inch violin knife (#VK050).

Thanks for the tip, Ken!

Ken Kennedy showing off the very nice cabinet he built for his tool collection

How Sharp Is It? …

… It’s SO sharp —

— it can make a shaving from a shaving.

— it can cut you from an inch away.

— if you drop it, it will disappear into the Earth.

— the edge is transparent.

— it can cut through red tape.

— it can cut water into hydrogen and oxygen.

— it can cut purple into red and blue.

— it can cut the fabric of space-time.

— it can cut the blarney from the stone.

— it can slice the scent off a rose.

— it can shave Chuck Norris

Got one? Please add it below!