Monday, July 30, 2012

Travishers Part 3, Sharpening

One of the most rewarding parts of making travishers is taking them out for a test run and seeing what they can do. Here is a shaving off of some angled endgrain.






It's especially rewarding, having processed the steel from a soft, malleable blank to a razor sharp edge. Here is a video that shows the process that I use to get that edge. I hope that it helps. If there is any part of it that needs more info, please let me know.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Travisher Part 2

There is plenty about the travisher that is counter intuitive. In this video, I show some of the techniques that I've found helpful in getting the most from my travisher.




I am starting to look forward to fall, especially now that I have a new slate floor and woodstove in the shop.

 
It was strange not having wood heat in the shop last winter, but now I'm all set, except for the firewood of course.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Travishers in the works


Here is the propane powered fueled forge that I am using to heat treat the steel for the travishers. It took some figuring, but I finally settled on this method, using a pipe as a sort of double boiler, to keep the steel isolated from the gas and oxygen. Too much oxygen causes the steel to lose carbon on the surface as the oxygen bonds with carbon and steal it away, plus it can cause scaling. This process, suggested to me by a knife maker, only darkens the surface of the steel a bit, which buffs right off.
Once the pipe gets cherry hot, it only takes a minute or two to get the steel to temp and then it's ready to quench.


I'm very pleased with the results that I'm getting, ok, I'm being coy, I LOVE this thing. After tempering, the O-1 steel takes a razor edge very quickly.
I've enlisted my friend Claire Minihan to help me produce these tools (Andy is busy getting married!). She graduated from the North Bennet Street School and can build furniture that I could only dream of attempting. Here she is grinding the brass sole to shape.


And trimming the throat opening. Having such skilled folks working on my projects is a point of great pride for me.


We are making these tools one at a time, the way that I like to make everything. It keeps the focus on quality and makes a pleasant arc to the day. 
Here is a run ready to go out. If you have your name on the list and haven't heard from me, I should be contacting you soon. We have a solid process for making these and I am looking forward to catching up with all the orders.


Here is the first in a series of videos on the travisher. While I will be specifically addressing some of the attributes of my tools, I will also be talking about the travisher in general. Hopefully it will be of use to you regardless of whose tool you are using

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Summer Jam Up!

 Posting on the blog usually takes a dive in the summer as the rest of my activities heat up, and this is no exception. But I have tons going on and lots that I want to share, so here is the valve wide open to clear some out!!
Here is my favorite mallet. I made it 12 years ago when I first moved from NYC to the country. I vividly remember trekking through 2 foot deep snow into the back of our rented 50 acres, where I found a fallen soft maple tree. It just seemed impossible that wood just lay on the forest floor after only seeing it on racks at Rosenzweig Lumber in the Bronx for so many years. So I grabbed a chunk, not caring if it was the best mallet wood, and I headed home to turn a mallet.

In time, I came to favor this mallet, not for its hardness, but its lightness. I have other denser mallets, but I feel they lack sensitivity, plus, I'm willing to beat this little piece of wood up if necessary.


But the other day, this mallet saved the day. I was watching my goats run about in their paddock (we've arranged them so we can watch them from the couch) when I notice a black mass running about, seemingly outside of their fence line. I thought it was Silky, but how could she get through the electric fencing?! As I walked to the window, it was obvious, that wasn't Silky, but the biggest bear that I've seen since leaving the safety of Manhattan.
As I ran across the kitchen and through my shop, I did what any self respecting woodworker would do, I grabbed my favorite mallet.
By the time I got out there, the goats were huddled in the paddock opposite of where the bear was and when I got close enough, I chucked the mallet.
It whizzed just past the head of the bear and made a thud in the flowers behind it, just enough to let her know that this was no easy meal, and she took off.
The next day, I retrieved my mallet from the flower bed, what? you didn't think that I was going to look for it then did you? there's bears out there!
So now this little chunk of wood has rest even higher in my esteem,
I think I'll name it Thor.

In between fighting off the local wildlife, I have been finishing up a settee order and decided to try out a product that my pal Jack McCallister suggested. I don't know about you, but I hate steel wool. I've done my best to eliminate rubbing out the whole piece with steel wool alone by using gray scotchbrite pads. But they only take the sheen so far and tend to be a bit aggressive, at least until they've worn down a bit. Jack suggested this stuff called Mirka Mirlon that you can find online.
I got the grey ultra fine and am very pleased with what it can do. It took too long to rub with just the ultra fine Mirlon, so I still start with the scotchbrite, except for the seat which scratches easily. And it also doesn't come up to the sheen that I like, so I finished with a quick touch with 0000 steel wool.


So if I'm still using scotchbrite and steel wool, what's the point? Well, the Mirlon does some things that the others can't. When rubbing down parts with sharp edges, like the turnings, it doesn't burn through the paint much at all, plus, you can easily form it into a "flossing" type action to buff out the turnings.





I love the way that the turnings rubbed out and I barely used any steel wool at all.


The photo above is before oiling, and the one below is after.


Like I said, there is more coming, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Real Deal


I'm always astounded by the interest and generosity in the woodworking community. Jameel Abraham, the brilliant Oud maker and producer of Benchcrafted Vises and Mag Bloks was kind enough to make my drawings for the "Smarthead" shavehorse into a sketchup PDF. He has offered them to publish, which you'll find below. I finally figured out how to link to a PDF, but if it still doesn't work, please contact me for the plans.



When I shared a shop with a luthier (guitar maker) named Justin Gunn in NYC, there was an old codger who would come into the shop in flipflops, baggie jeans and a string of pearls in place of a shirt. One day, when he saw the Justin playing on my lathe, he chastized him for using dangerous tools. He said Justin should avoid danger because he was an artist, then he turned to me and said, "It's fine for you, compared to him, you're like a fence builder". I think of this every time that I look at Jameels Ouds. I am in awe of these instruments, and yes, I do build a servicable fence.

Here is the Smarthead PDF.
Or if that doesn't work, try this one!
Jameel has some advice in the comments below, good luck!