Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Evil Plan

I introduced John in my last post.  Remember, he is getting some inherited hand tools from his neighbor, and would like me to teach him and his children some woodworking.  This sounds like a fun and interesting challenge.
Talk about cool old tools:  I have a 1960s era King Silver Sonic 2B, John has a New York Bach Model 6 from the 1930s.  Photo courtesy Jens Mueller.

One easy part of this idea is that John will get pretty much everything he needs for a hand tool wood shop from these donated tools.  The accompanying challenge will be to help him rehab the tools in order that he and his family have the best opportunity for success.  Tools in good shape will make this much easier than struggling along with junkers.  Having previously inspected the tools, there are some fine examples to work with.

Another easy part is that John and a few of his children seem eager to learn.  The accompanying challenge here is that I am pretty sure John and his kids have exactly zero experience with hand tools, and very little woodworking experience in general.  John mentioned something about Junior High Woodshop, but I think that is about all he knows.  Here is where we get to test the theory if truly anyone who might not think they have talent in that area can learn woodworking.  My thought is that if you can learn to play trombone, woodworking is not so hard in comparison.

Until we are able to clear a space and set up a wood shop, I have been looking for some appropriate projects for John and his kids.  I was thinking some projects that could teach some fundamental skills yet not be too difficult to finish in a relatively short time.  Also, I thought projects that could be easily looked up online or in a book to assist in self-learning.

Here is what I came up with:
  1. Some basic tools.  Either examples from Robert Lang, Christopher Schwarz, Jim Tolpin, Paul Sellers, Roy Underhill, or elements from all of the above.  A straight edge, a square, perhaps some winding sticks, and maybe a bench hook and a shooting board.  Not necessarily in that order, and perhaps we'll build them as we need them.
  2. A diagonal Chinese cross puzzle from William Fairham's Woodwork Joints.  This is a fun afternoon project that requires precision squaring of stock and paring.  
  3. The bible-box project from Peter Follansbee.  Except I think perhaps built in pine instead of green oak and without the carving.  At least for now.  This looks like a good, first project build.  Plenty of good skills on this one like rabbets, nails and hinges.  Using pine will make processing the stock a bit less traumatic for the kids.
  4. Richard Maguire's Hanging Wall Cupboard.  Another great project with a brilliant video showing how-to.  Some of the earlier projects may need a bit more one-on-one instruction, but with the video John and Sons should be able to do a few of these operations on their own.  Skills like a housed dado, toe-nailed pins, and clinched nails are something that will come in handy.  Another pine project that looks like real furniture should build confidence.
  5. Christopher Schwarz' Shaker Side Table.  This one has a DVD with more than four hours of instruction by someone who actually teaches woodworking.  I think it is a fantastic beginner's graduation project as it covers skills to build about 99% of all basic furniture joints:  tapered legs, mortise and tenons, gluing up panels, and constructing drawers with half-blind dovetails, all without being a year long project.  That reminds me, I should probably finish the Shaker side table I started last year!
John, I'd love to hear what you think of this list.  I would also love to hear from any other readers about what they think of my list of beginner's projects and what other projects might be suitable.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Get Woodworking - Better Late than Never!

I have some cool friends.

One of my cool friends, John, happens to have even cooler friends than I do.

My friend John is not a woodworker, but a family man who shares my hobby of playing trombone in a local big band.

As a good friend, he subscribes to my woodworking blog and claims he enjoys reading it.  Indeed, we often discuss my latest posts on the way to band practice.

A few months ago, one of his neighbors asked him if he had any ideas on what to do with her father's old woodworking tools.   John suggested I go and take a look.

I was in heaven.  There was a well used and maintained basement shop.  It was like a German woodworking time capsule.  The most important find in my opinion was a complete Ulmia hanging wall cabinet complete with all of the original tools.

A whole collection of planes, braces, chisels, clamps, and everything needed collected over many years.

During 'Get Woodworking Week' a small idea began to germinate.  Why not talk John into taking up woodworking as something he can do with his own kids?

What a perfect storm.  All the hand tools one needs for a hand tool shop including a couple of Swedish benches that will work perfectly for kids.

My plan is to be available to John to help him learn woodworking with his kids.

With any luck, some of the journey will be documented here.  I am hoping I can even get him to write a blog post or two about the progress.

I sent him a note today instructing him to think about where he wants his shop:  a spare bedroom, the basement, or the garage.  I know he doesn't want to invest a lot of square footage of his available space, as most of his space is already spoken for.

I have plans to help him design his shop, move the tools over and set up (including rehabbing and sharpening them), and even a couple of projects designed to achieve success and accomplishment for beginners and children.  From there, we will see what happens.  Whatever happens,  I think it is fantastic that he wants to give this a go.