The Large and Small of it

On Chris Vesper’s stand, he had his showcase chisel (check out the business card for a sense of scale!)

Not sure what you’d use such a large chisel for, unless you wanted to carve a Waka Taua perhaps (Maori War Canoe)!

Sure makes for a good showpiece in any respect.

At the other end of the scale are a couple of dovetailed boxes (and again the same business card is providing a sense of scale).

Too much time on someone’s hands! (I can say this because I haven’t the time to get good enough to be able to hand cut dovetails that small (or any for that matter)

So at either end of the scale, all I can say is “Nice work Chris!”

Melbourne Timber & Working With Wood Show 09 Day 1

Show Time!!

Had a great day one – still really enjoy wood shows.  The day absolutely flew past, so I have hardly scratched the surface of the displays that are there.  Good catching up with everyone who came along and said hi, and welcome to anyone who has now discovered Stu’s Shed because of the show.

I’m sure those who have taken the MagSwitch gear are already discovering why I like it so much 🙂

Vesper Tools, and the long expanse of Carrolls

Vesper Tools, and the long expanse of Carrolls

Got to say hi briefly to Chris (Vesper) and see some of his latest creations.  What I like about his display, is even though the tools he makes are works of art (particularly those in the display cabinet), there is a wide selection of his products out on the bench where you can have the full tactile experience.  I will get more photos over the next couple of days of Chris’ tools, and the other stands around the place.  Today, I almost forgot that I had a camera with me!

A very busy Tormek Display

A very busy Tormek Display

The Tormek guys are active as always, so a great opportunity to pick their brains about the finer points of show speed wetstone wheel sharpening methods, see the different jigs that are available (and pick up a T7, as quite a few appeared to do today – their stock levels where dropping noticeably quickly!)

SawStop

SawStop

Gabbetts machinery were there with the full cabinet SawStop, as well as the more recently released contractor’s version.  When you hear an airhorn (approx every 2 hours), you better hightail it to their display because another hotdog is about to put its life on the line for your education (and entertainment).  No matter how many times I see it, I still enjoy seeing the SawStop mechanism render the saw safe in such an incredibly fast manner.

Carb-i-tool

Carb-i-tool

Looking for a router bit? The the impressive range of Australian-made Carb-i-tool router bits is certainly worth a visit.

Impressive Burls

Impressive Burls

Some impressively large burls ready for finishing into unique furniture.

CNC Router from Carbatec

CNC Router from Carbatec

Looking a bit like a computer printer that carves, rather than prints on wood, this CNC router is running during the day, demonstrating how it created the Carbatec sign seen here.

That would certainly make routing rather easy!

Closeup of CNC-carved sign

Closeup of CNC-carved sign

SitCo Australia with Queen Ebony

SitCo Australia with Queen Ebony

I first came across SitCo in Brisbane, so it’s great to see them down here as well.  They have a really nice collection of Queen Ebony for sale, and you can get some really nice pieces without breaking the budget.  They also have some musical-grade timbers as well, but talk with Brian if you are after anything particular.  The end-grain of Queen Ebony is particularly impressive, and it is a very dense timber.  Lots of different shapes and sizes, so ideal for boxmakers and wood turners alike.

Turned Queen Ebony

Turned Queen Ebony

A couple of beautifully turned bowls by Guilio Marcolongo, which are being silent-auctioned off for the Royal Childrens Hospital.  Doesn’t show up here, but the Queen Ebony has gone an incredibly deep black.  This is not ebonising, but is the natural colour this timber goes once it has time to oxidise.  To speed up the oxidisation process the timber is exposed to household ammonia.

So that’s all I have for day 1.  Sorry – was too distracted by the wood show!  Will try to get more detailed photos etc from the show tomorrow 🙂

Hand Tools

I was over at Ideal Tools on Sunday, being filmed for a Hand Tools DVD for use in Secondary Schools and Tafes. Not quite sure why I ended up in front of the camera – wrong place at the wrong time I suppose!  I came away with one thing definitely resolved – I am much more comfortable in front of the camera than I am with a hand tool.  Now there is a scary thought!

It was certainly interesting experiencing a full film crew, when normally it is me, myself and I doing all the roles.

There was a ‘director’ (not sure the real title), 2 cameramen (who also do the post production editing), a soundman (there was even a boom mic!) and one runnin’ around arranging lights, setting the clap board etc.

I didn’t have any problem with the filming side of things – guess Shed.TV has been preparing me a bit for the experience.  I sure don’t like talking about things I’m not very confident in though – felt like a bit of a tool.

So the experience has convinced me that it is time for (non electron-murdering) hand tools and me to become more familiar.

Those who have done it say it’s not that big a deal, so it is time I bit the bullet, found some time, and hand cut my first dovetail. It is obviously something I have been edging up on (secretly, in case I noticed).

I have a dovetail marking gauge from Australian Wood Review

AWR Dovetail Master

AWR Dovetail Master

A joinery knife from Chris Vesper

Vesper Tools Joinery Knife

Vesper Tools Joinery Knife

A set of Hamlet chisels from Carbatec

Hamlet Chisels

Hamlet Chisels

And as of tonight, the Veritas Dovetail Saw from Carbatec

Veritas Dovetail Saw

Veritas Dovetail Saw

I guess I am pretty much out of excuses!

The 5 Faces of Woodworking

The Tattooed Woodworker makes some interesting observations in his classification of woodworkers.

Where do I fit? I guess with a hint of regret, I’d have to fit into slot number 1. Almost my sum total of woodworking involves murdering electrons, with just a few scant visits to “The Dark Side” (or as Rob calls them less controvertially, “The Purists”).

I don’t deliberately avoid handtools, and in fact those that take pride-of-place in my workshop (or will when I build the Krenov-inspired cabinet when on the Ideal Tools course) are all handtools that “The Purists” would be very happy with – HNT Gordon planes, Chris Vesper’s marking knife (I really need some more of his tools I think) etc.

What is interesting for me, is how I evolved to this point where I can and do pretty much every single task in woodworking with some form of (typically) large machine, yet I seem to crave the purity of hand tools, without having the time to do anything about it.  Not that I regret the path chosen – I am a mechanical/materials engineer in practice and thought, if not by vocation.  I enjoy mastering machines, and all that comes with the ability to precisely process a material, be that wood or steel. (Aluminium doesn’t rate – horrible stuff that doesn’t have the decency to burn, or melt properly!)  But I do look at the hand tool purists with a sense of loss – there is a skill set there that I am sadly lacking, and I’m not sure what is blocking me from going there – time perhaps, a desire for precision, who knows.  A rough-cut dovetail doesn’t evoke the same reaction in me as it does for some, but when watching a real artisan produce a drawer with handtools that is so precise that it can hardly close properly because of the cushion of air behind it that becomes compressed keeps me enthrawled.

Have a think about it, particularly against Rob’s list – where do you choose to fit as a woodworker, and why, or how did you get to the point that you are?

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