Saturday, December 26, 2015

Website taking a possible nap


We're doing some server updates during the period that our Store page is shut down (Dec. 25-31).  The site may be glitchy or even unreachable sometime in that period.  Email may also be hit or miss for a few days.  If you can't reach us just keep trying.

No worries, we're just upgrading not leaving town.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Benchcrafted Holiday Hours And A New Bench


In order to do our yearly inventory, clean our warehouse, and rearrange our Gobots display case, Benchcrafted will close on December 25. Normally we'd keep the Store page up so orders can be placed, but this time we're closing that down as well. We're doing this to improve our lead times and streamline our order fulfillment process.

We will reopen on January 1st, and orders can be placed at that time (we will also be closed for any shipping Jan. 6-11)

After the joyous task of inventory is complete, we're moving forward on our next offering. After six years (wow!) of offering our Split Top Roubo bench plans, we'd like to offer another set of plans for those on a tighter budget, or with simpler tastes and requirements. The Benchcrafted Classic will be based on the workbenches found in French vocational schools of the late19th and early 20th centuries. It's designed for a beginning or intermediate hand tool-centric woodworker who wants a serious bench with Benchcrafted precision workholding without breaking the bank on hardware or wood.

Expect this in the first half of 2016.







Monday, December 21, 2015

More Leftovers: Plate 11 Leg Vise Forged Parts


We have two sets of iron parts intended for use with a Roubo Plate 11-style leg vise screw. These were made earlier this year by Peter Ross. They are typical Ross work. In other words, you couldn't get closer to the original if you were personal friends with H.G. Wells.

To make the rings easier to fit, we lightly machine the inside of the ring ferrule so it's truly round. If you've seen one of these, you'll be amazed at how little material needs to be removed. Ross makes these without any sort of form, just hammer and anvil with welded ends. They are gorgeous.

One end of the handle is removable. Simply tap out the taper pin, remove the ball, install on vise screw, replace ball and pin. Ross filed a witness mark across the ball and tenon so reassembly is easy.

We've only got two of these, and won't be making more. Price is $220 for the set of 1 ring ferrule, 1 handle. Shipping is extra.

If you'd like to purchase, send an email to info@benchcrafted.com and include your mailing address. We'll send you an invoice which we ask you to kindly pay promptly.

Friday, December 18, 2015

HANDS videos: Christmas BONUS Pt. 3

In the interest of getting these into more people's hands we arranged for 3 full videos to be posted here so you can see what you are missing.  We'll post the 1st today with the rest to follow.

Until Christmas: We now have the the entire set on sale for $149.00!  That's a $50 savings The price will be reflected once you add the set to your cart.  See more details here.






While hand tools and hand work in general have taken an enormous back seat since the Industrial Revolution, there has and probably always will be a strong and dedicated cadre of craftsmen and artisans that will exist both out of necessity and desire, mostly out of necessity.  Hopefully more out of necessity, because while desire, fervor and zeal can be good things, nothing produces results like necessity, the mother of invention.  While we've not always been tool makers, we are deeply steeped in this spirit of necessity.  

It's a shame that so many things are lost.  A lot of what we lose is because of youth.  As we age we gain an appreciation for the mundane, which in turn turns to an appreciation for simpler things.  Mundanity is under appreciated.  It's also eschewed by the young.  They don't know they're doing it, much as we didn't or don't, but it's being done all the same.  The funny thing is that a lot of the world lives day to day in the mundane, perfectly happy, because they aren't wrapped up in distraction.  In fact most of the world doesn't have the luxury of distraction.  Necessity again.

In the light of what is lost, going to be lost or maybe can be saved, we are very happy to announce the addition of this set of videos to our website.  As many of you know, we don't typically sell anything we don't produce, but these were too hard to ignore.   We simply cannot overemphasize the importance of these videos.  I only wish there were more.  The videos are perfectly produced with very little embellishment, even the narration is reserved and well placed, not distracting.  Anyone who has even a passing interest in hand crafts, will not be disappointed in this treasure.

Take 10 minutes and watch the preview videos we've put together.  These simple videos are enthralling, so much so that they were requested in our household by our 6 & 8 year olds every evening until we had watched all 37 videos!  The real mastery of these videos is that they are presented so well that they make some subjects that we're not typically as interested in just as enticing as those we are.  We found ourselves enthralled as much or more by the silk, book binding and pottery segments,  as we did by the woodworking segments..........if not more so! 

David and Sally Shaw-Smith made HANDS, a unique, multi-award winning series of thirty-seven documentaries on Irish crafts for Irish television (RTÉRaidió Teilifís Éireann [Radio && Television of Ireland]). Capturing the final years of traditional rural and urban life in Ireland, during the seventies and eighties. They travelled the length and breadth of the country recording these personal and revealing films. As much about the life of the individuals, as the crafts they practised.


Observant readers will note that this is indeed a re-post from last year.  We'd like to reiterate however that our ultimate goal is not profit but the proliferation of this series.  We simply feel that there are few in any hand work oriented endeavor who wouldn't greatly enjoy this series and support the maker's in doing so. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Big Red Oak: Will Myers Shares His Source





FORP Enthusiast Will Myers dropped us a line last week to let us know of a sawmill that's cutting some large American red oaks into thick slab-style workbench kits. These would be ideal for quickly building our Split-Top Roubo, or any Roubo-style bench for that matter. This is the sawmill that Will uses when he teaches his Moravian bench at The Woodwright's School.

These bench kits are super simple. A single slab top and stock for the legs and rails. That's it. Will says be aware that the wood is wet. As in freshly cut and very green. You won't be able to build a bench with this stock for a couple years at least. And longer if you can stand it.

We don't get any kickbacks from these kits, and neither does Will (in his own words: "I would like for them not to become pallets more than anything") We're simply passing on the tip from Will. These look to be beautifully clear and straight. If you're in the market for one of these you'll be supporting a small family sawmill in rural North Carolina. Thanks for sharing, Will.

For more info, click here.






Saturday, December 12, 2015

HANDS videos: Christmas BONUS Pt. 2

In the interest of getting these into more people's hands we arranged for 3 full videos to be posted here so you can see what you are missing.  We'll post the 1st today with the rest to follow.

Until Christmas: We now have the the entire set on sale for $149.00!  That's a $50 savings The price will be reflected once you add the set to your cart.  See more details here.






While hand tools and hand work in general have taken an enormous back seat since the Industrial Revolution, there has and probably always will be a strong and dedicated cadre of craftsmen and artisans that will exist both out of necessity and desire, mostly out of necessity.  Hopefully more out of necessity, because while desire, fervor and zeal can be good things, nothing produces results like necessity, the mother of invention.  While we've not always been tool makers, we are deeply steeped in this spirit of necessity.  

It's a shame that so many things are lost.  A lot of what we lose is because of youth.  As we age we gain an appreciation for the mundane, which in turn turns to an appreciation for simpler things.  Mundanity is under appreciated.  It's also eschewed by the young.  They don't know they're doing it, much as we didn't or don't, but it's being done all the same.  The funny thing is that a lot of the world lives day to day in the mundane, perfectly happy, because they aren't wrapped up in distraction.  In fact most of the world doesn't have the luxury of distraction.  Necessity again.

In the light of what is lost, going to be lost or maybe can be saved, we are very happy to announce the addition of this set of videos to our website.  As many of you know, we don't typically sell anything we don't produce, but these were too hard to ignore.   We simply cannot overemphasize the importance of these videos.  I only wish there were more.  The videos are perfectly produced with very little embellishment, even the narration is reserved and well placed, not distracting.  Anyone who has even a passing interest in hand crafts, will not be disappointed in this treasure.

Take 10 minutes and watch the preview videos we've put together.  These simple videos are enthralling, so much so that they were requested in our household by our 6 & 8 year olds every evening until we had watched all 37 videos!  The real mastery of these videos is that they are presented so well that they make some subjects that we're not typically as interested in just as enticing as those we are.  We found ourselves enthralled as much or more by the silk, book binding and pottery segments,  as we did by the woodworking segments..........if not more so! 

David and Sally Shaw-Smith made HANDS, a unique, multi-award winning series of thirty-seven documentaries on Irish crafts for Irish television (RTÉRaidió Teilifís Éireann [Radio && Television of Ireland]). Capturing the final years of traditional rural and urban life in Ireland, during the seventies and eighties. They travelled the length and breadth of the country recording these personal and revealing films. As much about the life of the individuals, as the crafts they practised.


Observant readers will note that this is indeed a re-post from last year.  We'd like to reiterate however that our ultimate goal is not profit but the proliferation of this series.  We simply feel that there are few in any hand work oriented endeavor who wouldn't greatly enjoy this series and support the maker's in doing so. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

HANDS videos: Christmas BONUS

In the interest of getting these into more people's hands we arranged for 3 full videos to be posted here so you can see what you are missing.  We'll post the 1st today with the rest to follow.

Until Christmas: We now have the the entire set on sale for $149.00!  That's a $50 savings The price will be reflected once you add the set to your cart.  See more details here.




While hand tools and hand work in general have taken an enormous back seat since the Industrial Revolution, there has and probably always will be a strong and dedicated cadre of craftsmen and artisans that will exist both out of necessity and desire, mostly out of necessity.  Hopefully more out of necessity, because while desire, fervor and zeal can be good things, nothing produces results like necessity, the mother of invention.  While we've not always been tool makers, we are deeply steeped in this spirit of necessity.  

It's a shame that so many things are lost.  A lot of what we lose is because of youth.  As we age we gain an appreciation for the mundane, which in turn turns to an appreciation for simpler things.  Mundanity is under appreciated.  It's also eschewed by the young.  They don't know they're doing it, much as we didn't or don't, but it's being done all the same.  The funny thing is that a lot of the world lives day to day in the mundane, perfectly happy, because they aren't wrapped up in distraction.  In fact most of the world doesn't have the luxury of distraction.  Necessity again.

In the light of what is lost, going to be lost or maybe can be saved, we are very happy to announce the addition of this set of videos to our website.  As many of you know, we don't typically sell anything we don't produce, but these were too hard to ignore.   We simply cannot overemphasize the importance of these videos.  I only wish there were more.  The videos are perfectly produced with very little embellishment, even the narration is reserved and well placed, not distracting.  Anyone who has even a passing interest in hand crafts, will not be disappointed in this treasure.

Take 10 minutes and watch the preview videos we've put together.  These simple videos are enthralling, so much so that they were requested in our household by our 6 & 8 year olds every evening until we had watched all 37 videos!  The real mastery of these videos is that they are presented so well that they make some subjects that we're not typically as interested in just as enticing as those we are.  We found ourselves enthralled as much or more by the silk, book binding and pottery segments,  as we did by the woodworking segments..........if not more so! 

David and Sally Shaw-Smith made HANDS, a unique, multi-award winning series of thirty-seven documentaries on Irish crafts for Irish television (RTÉRaidió Teilifís Éireann [Radio && Television of Ireland]). Capturing the final years of traditional rural and urban life in Ireland, during the seventies and eighties. They travelled the length and breadth of the country recording these personal and revealing films. As much about the life of the individuals, as the crafts they practised.


Observant readers will note that this is indeed a re-post from last year.  We'd like to reiterate however that our ultimate goal is not profit but the proliferation of this series.  We simply feel that there are few in any hand work oriented endeavor who wouldn't greatly enjoy this series and support the maker's in doing so. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Francis Beaulieu's French Oak Workbench



What do you get when a professional luthier shows up at the FORP II? An exquisite bench.

Enjoy these pics of Francis' work. It's the details, folks.













And in case you were wondering about Francis' day job, here's a small sample of his work. To see more, click here.





Friday, November 27, 2015

The Offical FORP II Slideshow



Here it is. The official slideshow from the FORP II. This time I didn't have a chance to take much video, thus the slideshow.

There are a few short videos within, but the vast majority of the images come from Narayan Nayar (http://etherfarm.com/) Narayan volunteered to spend the week at Childs' shop documenting the build. And we're so grateful that he did. Videos are always fun, and if you want to check out what this build is like through that medium, see this. But still images contain much more soul than amateur video, and portray the entire build in a more meaningful way. Thanks to Narayan for his effort in this.

The video slideshow contains many of Narayan's images, but not all. The entire set is viewable on Narayan's Flickr page.

Friday, November 20, 2015

FORP II Bench Kits


Nobody ever looked forward to leftovers. Until now.

In the year-long preparation for FORP II we prepared extra materials and hardware in the event of something catastrophic. Thankfully, nothing happened (even with Raney shuffling slabs around.) The good news is, we've got enough of everything left over to put together four complete bench kits. And we're offering them for sale here.

Here's what's included:

- 6" thick French oak  to build a 2 or 3 piece top, between 96" and 108" long, and between 20" and 24" wide. We saw the slabs for good yield, but some edges could have up to 20% wane, which can be positioned on the underside of the top. The variability in the length and width is dictated by the slabs as they come off the flitch. Some are 20' long, others are 18'. Sawing off the worst of the end checks yields 96"-108" tops. We'll run the tops through the Oliver Straitoplaner which will leave minimal work before gluing up. These are processed exactly the same way as the tops we prep for the FORP.

- 4" x 6" thick French oak for the legs.
- 2-5/8" x 6" French oak for the chop.
- 2" x 4-1/4"French oak for the rails.
- 4/4 French oak for the shelf boards.
- 3x3 French oak for the planing stop.

All the above will be sawn to nominal dimensions, which you'll then work to S4S in your shop.



- French Oak Plate 11 Leg Vise
Massive French oak screw and tapped leg by Lake Erie Toolworks
Wrought iron ring ferrule hand forged by Peter Ross
Wrought iron vise handle hand forged by Peter Ross
Crisscross Solo by Benchcrafted

- Plate 11-style holdfast hand forged by Benchcrafted

- Plate 11-style planing stop hand-forged by Peter Ross

The entire package will be strapped to a robust pallet and carefully prepared for truck shipment to your shop. Pickup in Barnesville, GA is also an option.

This is everything that the FORP participants received during the build last week, except for the letterpress label and lunch. If you want a FORP bench, but couldn't make the build, this is your only chance to get this kit.



The price for the kit it $4410.

Actual freight costs, which range around $300 (that's a wide average) will be added at the time of shipping (unless you're picking up.)

Again, we only have four kits available, and once they are gone, these won't be available again unless we do another FORP, which is always a big question mark.

If you're interested in buying a kit, drop an email to info@benchcrafted.com and we'll send you further details.








Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Around the Corner: FORP II


In one week we'll be settling in at the woodworking utopia that is Wyatt Childs Inc. for seven days of tannin-stained, sweat-soaked adventure. After a lightning fast year from when we first announced the event, the FORP II is happening!

Here are some pics of a souvenir poster we printed today for FORP participants and volunteers. Designed by Wesley Tanner, Benchcrafted, and our old pal A.J.

These are printed on off-white Tyvek. Yeah, house wrap. It's tear-proof, waterproof, looks like old parchment or vellum, and takes ink beautifully.






Friday, October 16, 2015

Norwegian Wood


We finally made a trip to the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, IA. Wow! What a treat for woodworkers.

I've long known about the museum, and even dropped in on an acanthus carving class some 20 years ago, but have not returned since. The museum is the dedicated to the Norwegian immigrant experience, and as one of the museum staff told us, Norwegian culture is about wood, wood, and wood.


The range of woodwork was impressive, from simple carved spoons and ale bowls, all the way to elaborately carved high-style furniture. What stood out however was the quality and refinement of the carving. What we saw was simply stunning in design and technical execution.



One particularly impressive piece was a life-size carving by Fred Cogelow. The mix of superbly refined surfaces (the delicate eyelids) with retained gouge marks was perfectly executed.


The basement was full of chests, simple, carved, and painted.




This chair struck me. Looks like something out of the mid 20th century. It was made in 1800.





Then I turned the corner and saw this ensemble. Exquisite carving.





Even the entry to the gift shop was fully carved.




If you're in the area, we highly recommend a stop in Decorah. The museum is not too huge, a good 2 hours and you can see the whole thing leisurely. There are also several outdoor buildings on site that you can access on a guided tour (we didn't have time for this.) Other things to do in Decorah are Dunning Springs Park, the Ice Cave, plus your typical antiquing and outdoor activities. Decorah is in the heart of the Driftless region, so there is also beautiful landscapes, sightseeing, and some good trout fishing if you're into that.

For the full set of pics, click here.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Buy This Poster


If you like old-looking woodworking stuff, go buy the "Hammer and Hand" poster now offered by Lost Art Press. I got myself one a few weeks ago via carrier pigeon (that's how all vintage posters ship) and used some hand-wrought screws to install it in my nail cabinet. It fits right in with my Cracker Barrel wall. It is my favorite novelty item yet from the Lost (Art Press) Boys. It's printed on heavy paper, and the printing really does look old and hand made.

Get your poster here: http://lostartpress.com/collections/apparel/products/by-hammer-hand-letterpress-poster

William Ng Cranks Out Some Roubo


William Ng (http://wnwoodworkingschool.com/) has been building some benches. Roubo-style benches completely outfitted with Benchcrafted vises. We're quite proud to see another woodworking school outfitting their facilities with our products. William has long been known to us as a ridiculously meticulous joiner, and the skills he's bringing to this build are something to behold.

William has been making regular posts to his Instagram page documenting he and his fellow joiners' progress. Take a look here: https://instagram.com/wnwoodworks/ for some great pics and videos.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Meet Dr. Ray Fleck, Roubo's Personal Physician






French Oak legs, tapped for Plate 11-style leg vises by Lake Erie Toolworks. Pics by Nick D.

Watch for more as we get closer to the build. And if you use Instagram, the special code is: #frenchoakroubo (or so we're told.)

Incidentally, we have opened an Instagram account, specifically for sharing pics from the FORP (since we have little time to blog during the build.) But don't expect much after that. No vignetted pics of frothy pints, no Kodachrome-esque images of our neighboor's cat, no desaturated shots of our oatmeal. We can only handle so much of the digital world before we feel like programs under the heel of the MCP.

Monday, September 14, 2015

FORP II Nears

As the FORP II approaches, we're getting excited to share another epic bench build. Which reminded us of the FORP I video we posted a couple years ago. What fun (mingled with not a small bit of agony) to reminisce the FORP I.

 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What Matt Makes With Our Vises



There are moments here at Benchcrafted that make all our shortcomings and errors melt away like the morning dew. We're about to share with you one of those moments.

A few weeks ago we were contacted by a long time local customer Matt Sullenbrand asking if we'd like to stop by and see some of his handiwork.We knew Matt from several years ago when we delivered a set of vises to his shop, located at that time in the attic space of an old coach house attached to a Victorian-era brick Bed and Breakfast his in-laws were operating. Matt was working exclusively with hand tools, and had nearly finished a Roubo-style bench and was also putting the finishing touches on a very well-detailed treadle lathe. I was shocked that someone in this area was following the lead of Underhill and Follansbee. Iowa is the home of the Kreg Jig after all. (I do use my Kreg Jig, by the way!)

We knew from sporadic email contact that Matt had been dabbling in making keyboard instruments, but that was a few years ago, and most of our conversations were about tools and old machinery.

What we saw at Matt's simply stunned us. In just a few years, Matt had become a full-fledged Harpsichord maker.


This particular example was jaw dropping. We have a soft spot for musical instruments, and this one didn't disappoint.

The lower keys are made from boxwood, topped with gabon ebony, with bone caps on the upper keys. Hand printed paper decorates the key well.

The main case is made from poplar, and is pinned together with oak pegs. The underside is plainly finished, as is the outside of the rest of the instrument, which is finished with a traditional process using gesso and natural pigments. The outside is not finished to a high level of refinement, but possesses a more "working" look. It balances nicely with the highly refined key well and area of the soundboard, which is made of spruce.

Matt makes every aspect of the instrument except the jacks (the parts that hold the plectra) which are made by specialists using pear and holly wood. Traditionally, the plectra were made of horn, but nowadays acetal plastic (Delrin) is used. Unlike a piano, which uses felt-covered hammers to strike the strings, on a  Harpsichord depressing a key plucks the string, much like a lute or guitar. There is no dynamic control on a Harpsichord, you get one volume level from each key. So playing more keys sounds louder (since more strings are getting plucked.) Complex pieces generate a cacophonous, yet ordered sound from the instrument. It's a sounds that will put a smile on anyone's face.

Regrettably, I didn't take notes during our visit, so I don't remember a lot of the construction details. But if you have questions, ask them below and I'm sure Matt would be happy to answer.

Hopefully we'll make it back to see Matt's shop sometime in the future. The craft of luthiery is always a fascinating one, and there are many workholding lessons us furniture makers can learn from those who practice the craft.

Thanks Matt for the wonderful opportunity to see your work.

www.sullenbrandharpsichords.com