Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Shavehorse

I realized recently that while I had published my book with shavehorse plans in "Chairmaker's Notebook", that I'd never "shown" the advantages of it. There are as many plans and ideas about shavehorses out there as there are users and I've had a lot of fun thinking about the tool, especially as I've traveled and seen so many in action. When I sat down to put a design in my book, I felt that I should revisit the idea with the priority of making an easy to build, bullet proof and simple to use shavehorse.

 I thought long and hard and got some design influence for the body of the horse and the materials from Tim Manney and Brian Boggs. I had realized a while back that the narrow body of the two rail style is comfortable and that it also resists vibration in the direction that I pull the drawknife, which gives smoother cuts. There's nothing terribly new in the body design, but I think the adjuster that I made has proven to be a worthwhile addition.



 Of course, pulling the pin to raise and lower the head is not a huge deal, but as you'll see in the video, the toothed adjuster is very simple to use and fast as can be to adjust.


I chose this over my earlier design for the ratcheting head that I made because it's easier to make, and it can be retrofit to any dumbhead shavehorse just by cutting the mortise, drilling a few holes and filing the wood (or on my horse, aluminum) pins to ride smoothly around the pivot pin.  I have 9 of these that I use when teaching at North Bennet Street, and to me the true sign of success is that there is never any conversation about them, they just hold the work solidly and let the users focus on the real job, which is shaving the wood.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Empty Nest...soon

I've been finishing up these three little youth chairs lately. They have a presence that's hard to ignore, something about the fine details and scale makes them stand out. Soon they'll all be gone, and as much as I look forward to the extra space in the shop and less risk of damaging finished pieces while working, I"ll miss em.
I've been posting pics to instagram for a while, frankly it's much more of a hit and run easy way to post, but I just got a new laptop, so here I am in the shop, sitting in my new rocker typing away, hopefully the ease will help get me back in the blog game. Here are the ears before and after burnishing and oiling.
 Besides lots of chairs, I've been working on making a shop dog of Kobe. He's no scruffy shop dog, but as long as I keep a space heater on him and give him a bed, he's good company.
I'll be teaching in a couple of weeks at North Bennet Street, so you can see the mess I'm making doing the turnings.
We've added a class in August, which is my last one this year. I"ll spend the fall at Suny Purchase on an artist residency. This summer I'll be teaching for the first time at Lie Nielsen and shooting a video to boot. If you are going to their open house, I'll see you there!


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ray Duffy

Last week, I got news from the nephew of my friend Ray Duffy that he had passed away. Ray was one of the first people to reach out to me when I moved from New York to Massachusetts. He only knew me through Chairnotes but offered to let me use his ample workshop until I got set up here. Throughout my time as Rays friend, he showed a generosity and kindness that I've come to see as the binding force in the woodworking community. Whether helping me make a new maple syrup evaporator or offering to forge a replica of my favorite scorp, Ray was always looking for ways to engage and offer his time and expertise. Here is a photo of me and Ray with my book. Through a snag in the mailing, purchasers started receiving the book before me, so Ray came over with his copy so I could finally see the results of my efforts.

A couple of years ago, Ray's wife passed away. I admit, I was concerned about his well being afterwards. I was relieved when Ray told me about his new lady friend Penny. He and Penny shared a passion for art and creating and Ray was very excited about their most recent projects together. I think that the way Ray shared his life and passions is a great blueprint for a life well lived. I hope to live the same way, more excited about the next project than the last and cherishing those who share the road. Rest in peace Ray.