Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Meanwhile... Back At The Ranch

On the heels of the FORP, I returned home empty-handed. My tools and bench (parts) were still in Barnesville. I had a nightmare where the truck delivering my bench drove recklessly into an abandoned quarry, launched itself over the edge at full throttle, descended silently to the floor 200 feet down, flattened like a pancake and exploded in a fireball of oaky smoke. Sort of like this.

My shop was a mess from the frantic days leading up to the build. I was itching to put my own bench together, but the only French Oak I had was a festering sliver in the middle of my left palm.

But last Friday my shipment arrived and I could virtually relive the FORP all over again in my own shop. And working solo, I was reminded how easy we all had it at Bo's. "Hey Justin, gimme a hand moving this 400 pound side of oak." But Justin is gone. And so is everyone else. Back to sweating it out the old way. Gosh I wish I could feed my planer right from my forklift.

I had the fun task of assigning everyone's top at the FORP, which meant off the bat that I got the runt of the litter. I wanted a one-piece top, and I didn't much care how wide it ended up. I was hoping for around 20". The Woodmizer is a great machine, but it doesn't cut perfectly square. My edges were out by 3/16" over 6". That's a lot of material to remove by hand. In oak. Dry oak. I thought perhaps because it was French Oak it would be softer, and would yield more easily. Not so. It's days like this that my 16" Northfield jointer earns it keep.

One pass over the first edge and two over the second and it was done. It took three of us to do it. Two grown men working the infeed and fence pressing, and one 10 year old pushing with all his might. The edges were dead square, and dead parallel. My bench will be 17-3/4" wide. Narrow? Yes, a bit. But I like it. It reminds me of Rob Tarule's Roubo, which is only 17-1/4" wide.

This particular top will carry some memories. It was the very first top to come off the Woodmizer the Saturday before FORP. I had earmarked it for someone else who had planned a dog strip, but they changed their mind midstream. I'm so glad, because I love this top with its waney back edge. To get enough purchase for the one rear leg, I scabbed on a piece from the top's end section I cut off. It's hard to see, but its let into the waney edge in a tapered dado. After the joint is done, I'll carve away its hard edges to give it a more natural look.

I left the shop tonight with the base dry fit and ready to scribe the double tenons onto the top. Now the real work begins.

Friday, July 26, 2013

VIDEO: The French Oak Roubo Project

Please watch this on something larger than your phone. And make sure HD is on.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The FORP Official Report - Part 2

July 17, 2013
Day 3

Fitting the dovetailed nuts into the legs.Will Myers nailed these.

Brad cutting his top to length. And looking a bit unsure of his work.

Bo and Tracy running Bo's long rails through the planer.

A piece of lead shot in the long runner. Bo surmised it must have been there since the Napoleanic Wars.

Smiles all around. This was the first pass on Bo's new 20" Martin jointer. 

Don and Wesley cutting dovetails.

Peter Ross' Roubo-style planing stops.

The Ross holdfasts.

I can't imagine that a shop in Roubo's time was much different. Loud, hot, gritty.

July 18, 2013
Day 4

Some of the stock was full of bold ray fleck. This is Chris Schwarz' vise leg. 

One of two of Bo's leg vises. These are outfitted with our Crisscross mechanism. We rubbed down the threads with parrafin and gave the vise a test run. Smooth as silk, and fast. These are 1.75 tpi. 

Will Myers chopping the garter mortise for Bo's front chop.

Jeff Matilsky working the shoulder of a double tenon. 

 Brian Buckner cutting tenon cheeks on the Tannewitz.

Thursday night was the farewell party. Bo brought in some local barbeque and everyone feasted. Roger brought out a framed print of Plate 11 for everyone to sign. 

  Then people started signing the huge 7' x 17' Plate 11 banner that hung in the shop through the entire week.

Bo's wife Sherry stopped at a local peach orchard Thursday morning and bought some peaches that had been picked that morning. She churned out fresh peach ice cream all afternoon and Bo served it up after the bbq. Yes, it was magically delicious.

July 19, 2013
Day 5

By Friday afternoon a few of the participants had already packed and gone, facing 10 hour drives back home. I ignored the clock and with the help of darn near all the remaining participants (plus a couple friends who showed up on Thursday) we worked on Bo's bench. No way we were leaving before we saw this beast assembled. 

Tracy using a router mortising fixture built from 80/20.

Paring for final fitting on the massive 6" x 8" legs for the 16' bench.

I can't express the satisfaction we all felt when the top lowered itself onto the legs under its own weight. The base joints were fit without glue or pegs, to allow some wiggle room for the double tenons through the top. As soon as the top was on, and the whooping and hollering had ceased, we immediately try to move the bench. It felt like the rock of Gibraltar, even without glue or drawbore pegs in the base joints. Truly awesome. 

The bench was moved outside to the freight scale. 1164 pounds. 

 Bo Child's Plate 11 Roubo Partner's Bench
Length: 16'
Width: 27"
Height: 34"
Weight: 1164 lbs.
Legs: 6" x 8" 
Rails: 3-1/2" x 5-1/2"
Vises: 3-1/2" x 1.75 tpi French Oak screw 
with Benchcrafted Crisscross
Holdfast and planing stops (not yet installed) by Peter Ross