Friday, May 29, 2015

Building The La Forge Royale Miter Jack - Step by Step guide

We've had a few requests for build plans for our Miter Jack.  As a limited run item, we eschewed written plans for this build and instead posted blog entries detailing the build.

Unfortunately Blogger doesn't let you show search results in chronological order, so here they are:

Sketchup Drawing for the La Forge Royale Miter Jack

Building The La Forge Royale Miter Jack - Body Dims

Building The La Forge Royale Miter Jack- Part 1

Building The La Forge Royale Miter Jack- Part 2

Building The La Forge Royale Miter Jack- Part 3

Building The La Forge Royale Miter Jack- Part 4

Building The La Forge Royale Miter Jack- Part 5

Building The La Forge Royale Miter Jack- Part 6

Building The La Forge Royale Miter Jack- Part 7

You Don't Know Jack. Get To Know Jack.

To see everything we've posted about the jack, click here. Clicking on "La Forge Royale Miter Jack" under categories on the right side of the blog will get you to the same place. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Looking Back On The Studley Exhibit

Thursday night before the big Handworks/Studley weekend I had the opportunity to see the Studley Exhibit at a special gathering just for Handworks Exhibitors. It was very kind of Don Williams to open the exhibit just for us toolmakers. But after a long day, I was pretty well spent, so I walked through the exhibit sort of quickly, then headed home. I had seen the ensemble a couple years ago in Studleyville, so I was primarily there to see Don's handywork in designing the exhibit. I didn't get to do that on Thursday night due to the crowd. So I went back Sunday evening during the last viewing slot.

It was a case of "you snooze, you win".

The last few slots on Sunday were pretty empty, so Don broke all his rules, let everyone stay as long as they wanted, and started taking stuff out of the chest, just short of passing tools around to the remaining attendees.

I sat on one of the long benches in the room and enjoyed watching Don share his love of Studley with equally enthusiastic onlookers. It was a great cap to a fantastic weekend. I can imagine Don was pretty well wiped out Sunday around 5pm, but you wouldn't know it. He took Studley's Bailey #1 from it's ebony archway with as much enthusiasm as the first time he'd done it, I imagine. It was a real special treat for everyone in the room. Then more tools and even some of Studley's special racks came out. It was very very cool.

If you missed out on Studley for silly reasons like ticket price, I pity you. This exhibit was as much about sharing a common interest and genuine community as it was about Studley. And that's what made it special. Seeing the chest in a static presentation with a bunch of strangers is one thing, but the difference here was that Don personally engaged every viewer for three solid days. Hats off, and thanks to The Don.

For a  backstage pass on how the exhibit happened, and its aftermath, check out Don's blog, where he's been posting about the ins and outs of the exhibit.

Classic Leg Vise - Check Your Groove Pins

We discovered an incorrect part in the hardware packs included with Classic Leg Vises. You may have the correct pin, only a few vises were shipped out with the wrong part. We're not entirely sure when this crept in, but nevertheless, here's how to address it.

To join the screw's shaft to the vise's hub, a steel groove pin is inserted into the hub which passes through the shaft and into the other side of the hub. The incorrect groove pin is pictured below.

Type A Groove Pin

The grooves on this pin (its a type A pin) run the entire length. So when you insert the pin into the hub, it starts grabbing right away, preventing you from feeling whether the end is lining up, and inserting properly into the screw's shaft. This can cause you to garf up the pin, the hub, and the shaft. 

This is why we use the correct Type C groove pin, pictured below.

Type C Groove Pin

The groove on the type C pin only extends only 1/4 the length of the pin. This allows you to insert the pin nearly all the way into the hub before it bites, and (this is important) allow you to feel the end of the pin engage the hole in the screw's shaft. Then you tap the pin in firmly to complete the assembly.

It is possible to use the Type A pin with success, but it will be fussy. That said, if you have a Type A pin and would like a Type C, drop us a line via email and we'll get one in the mail to you. If you ordered a Classic in the last few days, you'll be getting the correct pin.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

You Can't Touch This

We think it best to get one thing out of the way before continuing this post. We're not crazy about embellished workbenches. But when someone nails it, we put aside our pompous opinions, bow our heads, and retreat in humble deference to clear examples of mastery.

Frank Strazza, of Waco, Texas just sent in these pics of a workbench he just finished, less than two weeks after returning from Handworks 2015 no less, where he spent two days demonstrating his humiliatingly deft skill at turning wood into things that dazzle the eye. Frank not only managed to demo crisp marquetry and joinery, but he also managed to build three inlaid boxes at the show, all while fielding questions and wandering around the rest of the event. We're now convinced that Frank is an alien, or at least has a clone.

So, if you're in the market for a plain bench (our favorite) or an embellished one (our new favorite) contact Frank at his new website Frank has been building our Split Top Roubo design for several years now. But we don't like to brag up our own stuff too much, so we'll let Frank close out this post:

"As I told you at Handworks, the leg vise with the crisscross has revolutionized my view of vises! After using a quick release vise for most of 20 years I find the leg vise quicker, more comfortable and much easier to use. Thank you again for making the best work holding hardware in the world!" 

Bench pics by Frank Strazza
Pics of Frank at his saw and of the box by Bartee Lamar

Monday, May 25, 2015

Another Miter Jack Surfaces

Last weekend at Handworks we were able to pick up another miter jack from the La Forge Royale firm. Like the jack we posted about last year, this one was also made during the Lemainque period at Forge Royale in Paris. The medallion on this version is quite different than the more typical lion-encrusted one from our other items from the company. This jack is nearly identical in every other way. A customer of ours picked this up in a Michigan antique store. Amazing.

Incidentally, we still have a few miter jack kits left, which you can order directly from our store page. We likely won't produce these again, so you might want to get one while you can, even if you don't have plans to make one in the near future.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Handworks 2015 - The Video

Here it is. The video we took of Roy's talk Saturday Morning at Handworks 2015.
Cameramen: John Abraham, George Abraham

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Faces Of Handworks 2015

It wasn't just about tools or wood. In fact, it may be least about those things. If you were at Handworks 2015, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

For more, see Bartee Lamar's excellent slideshow here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Handworks 2015: Unforgettable

An unforgettable weekend. Amazing moments, incredible people. We are all humbled beyond measure.

As expected, we personally had no time to buy tools. But we did take home a pretty special souvenir: Calypso's Gift! 
Thanks to Patrick Leach and Roy Underhill.

More photos after we recover, and video of Roy's talk to come later in the week.

Thank you everyone!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Friday, May 8, 2015

Handworks--It Won't Be Like This Again

The Makers.

The Studley Tool Chest.

The Woodwright.

The Magic of Amana.

If you're not coming, well, we feel for you. This one will be near impossible to top. Which begs the question, will Handworks happen again? No. Not like this.

If you are coming to Amana next week, make sure you take a look at the Amana Colonies website, which has been recently updated. There are loads of things to do besides Handworks, so if you're in town for more than Friday-Saturday, you'll have plenty to do.

See you there.

Holdfasts At Handworks

We've just finished another  run of hand-forged holdfasts. We'll be bringing the entire run to Handworks next week, where you can buy them for $189 ea.

If we have any left, we'll update the blog to reflect that. These are not a regular item, but only sold in small batches, through the blog only.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I'm On Twitter

Tags of Hash: #Benchcrafted #ArrogantToolChest #Schwarzwurst #AbrahamOnRye

Well, I'm not really on Twitter (although I have been a twit a time or two) but my tool chest article with Chris Schwarz is! That's the binder for the next issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, where Chris' (far more interesting) half of the article will appear. My part happens in the subsequent issue, where, for marketing reasons, the cover shot will feature Bo Derek or Knight Rider (or both.)

I must keep this short since we are frantically getting ready for Handworks next week, where you can see Chris' most precise, and crisply hand-dovetailed masterwork in the flesh, along with the fancy-pants, artsy-fartsy lid that I cranked out one weekend last December. I'm also told by a certain editor at the magazine that I may have a few copies of the article (or something along those lines--no promises!) to give away at Handworks. How cool is that!? (97 on a scale of 1-100, in case you thought that was rhetorical.)

The tool chest will be on display in the Benchcrafted booth, which is directly next to the Lost Art Press booth, so you can pick multiple brains about the project, although I can't promise I'll have much brains left by next weekend.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New Tool - The Benchcrafted Paring Skraper

At long last the Benchcrafted Paring Skraper is ready.

We've been talking about this tool for some time now, so we're pleased to announce that we'll be selling it at Handworks in Amana, IA on May 15 and 16. We eventually plan to make the tool available through our store page, so look for online ordering sometime this summer. But for now, it's only available at Handworks.

So, a simple tool, a simple explanation. For those familiar with our Skraper, the Paring Skraper is nothing more than a narrower, longer version that's capable of finer work, and getting into places that the Skraper can't venture.

Think dog holes. The square kind of course. This tool makes it easy to scrape away glue squeeze out (slightly cured of course) in deep, narrow recesses.

The Paring Skraper's business end has a finely ground carbide strobe, brazed onto a steel blank. All edges are finely surface ground so each 90 degree face terminates in a sharp arris. Not only good for general scraping duties, the Paring Skraper excels at scraping dense hardwoods, plastics and some softer metals. You can touch up the flats (to make new, sharp arrises) with diamond hones.

The tool is much more deft in the hand for finer detail work, and can easily take a shaving from denser woods with much less pressure than the standard Skraper, which means you can do similar work with less effort, and thus gain more control.

The handle is simple too. A rubberized, textured grip that slips right over the chrome-plated steel handle. You can even remove the rubber grip if you wish, but this really is the perfect handle material for this tool.

The Paring Skraper is just over 8" in length, with a 5/8" wide, 3/16" thick carbide tip. The tool costs $24. We'll have a limited number of these in our booth at Handworks, so if you want one, make sure you stop by first thing Friday morning.