Tag Archives: Memphis

Quick update and local news

A few readers have asked if I’m still alive and/or building things out of wood.  I’m confirming both to the affirmative.  Thanks for the notes!  I suppose an update is in order.

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You may have noticed that I just posted a lot of tools on my “for sale” page.  Don’t panic!  I haven’t quit woodworking and I’m not planning to die anytime soon.  I’m just reducing the number of tools that I have in my shop.  After my trip to a LN Hand Tool event, I’ve been hooked.  I’ve been switching over to LN planes (slowly) and I just haven’t been using the Stanleys as often.  I’m the type of person who can not keep things that I’m not using, so these tools can go to new homes if people will give me a fair price for them.

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In other news, I’m scheduled to teach another hand plane class at the woodwork shop in Memphis, TN on April 25.  Watch that date – it may change to May.  I hope lots of people turn out because the class is always fun.  I really enjoy introducing people to the experience of using a well-tuned plane.  I never tire of seeing the fun people have when they experience how easy it is to surface wood with a sharp iron and good technique.

Now, for the “update”.  What have I been doing?  My middle daughter (call her K) expressed an interest in robotics a few months ago.  Thanks Disney and Big Hero 6.  I didn’t need much encouragement to pursue this interest since it involves making things and learning about new stuff.  I decided that building drones would be a fun way to teach/learn robotics, so that has consumed most of my shop time recently.

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Daughter (K) and nephew (J) really enjoy their time at the local R/C airfield.

Naturally, I’ve been working on what is called “scratch builds”.  Designing and building toys airplanes is just as fun as building furniture, it’s just a lot more temporary.  One crash and they are done.  I’ve developed a reputation at the R/C airfield for trying crazy designs – that fly a little crazy.

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I can testify that a french workbench is also an excellent workbench for other building hobbies.

Least you think that I’m done with wood – fear not.  I’ve been working on some “staked furniture” as described by CS in his excellent new book.  I’m reading it now and will post a review when I’m done.  Suffice to say it is excellent and the techniques he describes can make the process of building nice furniture faster and easier than you think.  Buy it.

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Recent experiemental builds – 2 stools and a staked sawbench

Here are 3 things I’ve built recently as experiments.  The sawbench (far right) is a test of strength.  The legs are only 3/4 inch diameter at the top.  I wanted to test the limits of this staked technique.  It can hold 200 lbs with little trouble, providing the floor is not slippery.  That’s impressive considering how spindly the legs and top are.  It is super light, which is helpful for this shop appliance.  The carved stool on the left was an experiment in carving a seat.  Not great, but still surprisingly comfortable.  The stool in the middle is my best so far.  I plan to build 3 more like it next.  I should be able to do a build series on it, so stay tuned.  I think that’s all I can type for now.

Bob Jones

Too much for one post (spoon carving and events)

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You could call this project a spoon, but I consider it a spatula.  It has no bowl, requires no concave blade (like a hook knife), and can be carved completely with a drawknife and very little skill.  How’s that for a fun project?  I gave a demo on this process some time back at the woodwork shop and I promised to write about it.  The promise was almost broken, but since I have not received any complaints, I guess it is ok that this post took a few months.

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I’ll just jump right in.  The process is best started with firewood of some type.  Fruit woods work great, but lots of other woods work, too.  Stay away from oak or other “ring porous” hardwoods because the pores can harbor bacteria.  Anyway, split that chunk of firewood by any means available to you.  Here I am using a wedge, maul, and hardware store handsaw.

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Keep working the wood into smaller pieces.  Wood likes to split in half.  As the pieces get thinner a froe can be very helpful, but not necessary in pieces this short.

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Here’s a good “green woodworking” tip for those of us who don’t have time to use a whole log before it dries.  Wet your wood.  Get the pieces to rough size and soak them in any type of container that will hold them and water.  Here I used a plastic bin that was sold as a wrapping paper storage system.  If the wood is pretty dry, leave it here as long as you can (at least 2 weeks).  Reconstituted wood is not the same as fresh green, but it’s better than dry.

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Once you have re-wet the spoon sized blank of wood, get in front of a crowd of about 30 woodworkers to finish the job.  Ok, you can do this alone but it’s way more fun with others.  Toward the end of summer I was invited to speak to a woodworking club in Tupelo, Mississippi (just down the road from home in Hernando).  The organizer, Marty, asked me to come speak to them.  I convinced him that I had nothing interesting to say, but I would be glad to show them how I carved a spatula.  This idea caught on and the club members really turned up in force to watch.

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Back to the process – Work the blank to something that is rather flat.  This flat is where you draw the profile of the spatula.  It’s really helpful to draw a centerline and the shape to guide your eyes.  Notice that I’ve left waste wood beyond the big end to hold in the clamp.  The shaving horse has so much clamping force that this wood will inevitably get deformed.  Now, carve away, starting with the areas that require the most removal.

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I really like the low profile head of this shaving horse.  It lets me work easily on both sides of the head which is very handy for carving!  Flip the spatula around a few times and remove wood from anywhere that needs to be lightened.  As the spatula gets thinner the work gets more interesting (and risky).  Starting with split wood, rather than sawn, makes these thin components stronger than they look.

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When the carving is complete, cut the spatula to length and finish up.  Give the spatula to one of your new friends, or keep it for your spouse in appreciation for her letting you do a little woodworking on Saturday.  With the spatula complete, it’s time for some family adventure.

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Yes, it’s a long bike.  Yes, we get a lot of funny looks.

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If you find yourself in the Tupelo, MS area with some free time, I highly suggest bringing your bicycle.  After the spatula carving demo my whole family went on a bike ride on the Tanglefoot Trail.  We only did 8 miles, but the trail is over 40 miles, it’s mostly flat, and it’s paved!

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Not a bicyclist?  No problem.  New Albany (trailhead for Tanglefoot) has a great little family friendly restaurant in their picture perfect downtown.  Fat Luey’s serves up some great catfish tacos (a new personal Mississippi favorite) and sweet potato fries.  Seriously great food.

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Curious about my next woodworking event?  No need to wait, it will be this weekend.  Yep, on Halloween day (2015) I’m giving a free demo at the Woodwork Shop on making three legged stools.  The process is super simple and requires few tools.  I hope to see some blog readers there, just don’t be late.  I’ve got three little girls that need to beg for obscene amounts of candy from neighbors.

Bob Jones

Got plan(e)s tomorrow night?

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Late notice – as always.  I’m teaching a hand plane class tomorrow night at the Woodworks shop (June 1st, 2015).  In this class I focus on joinery planes like the router plane and rabbet planes (shoulder, fillister, and block).  I demo their practical applications for power-tool woodworkers and hand tool folks, too.  Everyone will be able to try out as many of them as I own.

Just to add something new this class, I’m bringing my shooting board.  I’m sure we will end up sharpening some tools and using bench planes too.  I’ll even bring my grinder in case anyone wants to practice free-hand grinding.  It should be a big time.  If you plan to come, sign up quickly.  If people don’t pre-register, then the class will not happen.

DTC_outside  DTC_inside

If nothing else, you can poke around my Dutch Tool Chest.  It’s always popular with the students.  I hope to see you tomorrow night!

Bob Jones

It’s not Handworks

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But there is a free event that is hand tool related in Memphis, TN this Saturday (May 16, 2015) at 10:30. I will be giving a demo called “making a spatula from firewood” at the woodwork shop.  I know that spoon carving is all the rage, but spatulas are fast and easy.  There is no bowl so I carve the whole thing with a draw knife.

The Saturday demo’s are a great format and are always fun.  I’ve done a few on hand planes and I’m always surprised by how many people show up.  Must be because it’s free.

Anyway, I asked Mrs Rita if I could do something different this time and she encouraged this.  If the demo generates enough interest she may offer it as a Monday night class.  How would you like to leave a Monday night class with something you made that night?

So, if you can’t go to Handworks this weekend, come to the wood work shop and commiserate with some like minded folks.

Bob Jones

Operators are waiting – call now

finished

Well, I did it.  I finished the St Jude Half Marathon.  I even beat my target time. Sorry if that sounds prideful; it was all for the kids.  Now it’s your turn.  If you made a pledge to donate based on my satisfactory finish, now is the time to follow-through.  Here is the info again, in case you missed it the fist time.

A big thanks to those of you who have already donated!

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I am participating in finished the St. Jude Memphis Half-Marathon to support the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As a St. Jude Hero, I have a personal goal to raise $150 for the kids of St. Jude.

Will you help me support St. Jude by donating today?

How your donation helps:

  • Thanks to donors like you, no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for anything, including treatment, travel, housing and food.
  • St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90%, by 2020. They won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
  • Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since it opened 50 years ago.

Please visit my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page to make a donation.

Thank you for your support!

http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=2673290&pg=personal&fr_id=20064

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In other news, I’ll be back at the woodwork shop in Memphis again this Saturday and Monday night.  Saturday is a free demo on using hand planes, and Monday night is the hand plane basics class.  Check out their website for details.  Why not take a break from your Christmas shopping and drop by for some festive woodworking.  Reportedly they have a new fancy workbench, so it may be worth coming just to check it out.

Bob Jones

Crossing the line (for a worthy cause)

child

As a child, I always looked forward to the St. Jude Bike-a-thon. It was a perfect combination of playing outside, free snacks, and the chance to win a prize.  The Bike-a-thon day was a big deal to my brother and me.  One year he fell off the top bunk bed and, when he finally stopped crying, he could only walk doubled over.  My mom said that we would have to miss the Bike-a-thon and he immediately stood straight up and ran out the door.  He may have been faking a little.

For anyone living under a rock, St. Jude is a hospital fighting cancer in children (and AIDS and other hopeless diseases).  They never turn kids away because of money, so they do a lot of fundraising.  The Bike-a-thon was a fundraiser and I remember being pretty good at collecting the funds.  Now I realize that it was easy because the cause was noble and I was a cute little kid.  I would take my pledge sheet around and fill it up with donations fast.  Times have changed as I have aged.  Now if a 36-year old man knocks on the door, no one answers.

So I’m going to cross a line on this blog and ask you, the readers (even you international types), to do something.  Consider donating to St. Jude.  I’m running in a half marathon in early December and I am having no luck in fundraising.  I guess I don’t have the same appeal as I had at age seven.  What gives?

running

Hopefully I’ll be able to cross the finish line after 13 miles of running.  I’ve never run that far before, so it’s not guaranteed.  Here’s the professionally crafted wording, guaranteed to improve your gifting desires.

I am participating in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend to support the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As a St. Jude Hero, I have a personal goal to raise $150 for the kids of St. Jude.

Will you help me support St. Jude by donating today?

How your donation helps:

  • Thanks to donors like you, no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for anything, including treatment, travel, housing and food.
  • St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90%, by 2020. They won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
  • Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since it opened 50 years ago.

Please visit my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page to make a donation.

Thank you for your support!

Bob Jones

http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=2673290&pg=personal&fr_id=20064

Bench Plane Classes – On the kitchen table

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Recent hand plane class / demo taught at the kitchen table.

I’ve posted about the hand plane classes that I teach over at the woodwork shop in Memphis, TN.  I normally teach in their workshop on a sturdy bench that is much too tall for hand plane use.  For the most recent classes I decided to use their “kitchen” type table in their showroom.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked as a workbench.  The top is flat and just the right height (or a little low which is better than a little high).  The only downside is mass.  While using a Jack plane a student had to keep the table from walking across the room.

We actually had 2 classes in about a month.  Both classes went great.  I’m always a little surprised when people come back to take the second class.  I guess they figure they got their money’s worth in the first one.  Thanks to my friends at the woodwork shop for inviting me back.

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Here is the Mr Lucky.  He won the hand plane giveaway.  Maybe that is what keeps people coming back?  Get that Stanley tuned up and ready!

Back to the point of this post.  A good workbench has a flat, solid top that is shorter than waist level.  What, you don’t have a workbench?  Go to your kitchen.  Attach some battens to your table with quick-clamps and get to work.

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Hopefully you can see the battens that were used as stops.  This method works well and is how I built my first couple of projects before my Roubo bench.

Speaking of classes, I’m making my schedule now for next year.  If any woodworking groups in Alaska, Hawaii, or Europe need a hand plane class and are willing to pay for travel, I’m open.  Just sayin’.

Bob Jones