Tiger Maple handplane

February 19, 2010

I decided to build my own wooden hand plane after seeing planes from Larry Marshall and Kari Hultman. Making a wooden plane is almost a craftsmans right of passage, like a Jedi building his own lightsaber. (Sorry, should have issued a nerd alert.) It is an extremely fulfilling project and can provide some great learning moments as well.

David Finck’s book, Making and Mastering Wood Planes, was invaluable in learning the ins and outs of the plane making process. He really breaks down the process step by step, with incredible detail. Honestly, its hard to make a mistake if you follow the process carefully.

I found a great piece of Tiger Maple to use for the body of the plane and already had some Bubinga which I used for the cross pin and wedge. I then bought a 2″ blade with a chip breaker from David Finck. I dimensioned all my pieces with a band saw, jointer, planer, Lie-Nielson #4, and a Stanley block plane.

After gluing up the plane and shaping the wedge, I let is sit for a day, then trued and squared all the surfaces. David recommends using the plane some before starting the shaping process to get an idea how it will handle. This allows you to shape it more comfortably.

I used my Boggs spokeshave from Lie-Nielsen, cabinet scrapers, rasps, and a block plane to final shape the plane after roughing it out on the bandsaw. I thoroughly enjoyed that process. Shaping wood absolutely fascinates me. Using sharp, quality tools makes that shaping time even more enjoyable.

It stayed at this point, without finish, for a couple weeks until I was able to get some Shellac. I used Shellac because it really makes the figured Maple pop. By the way, did you know that Shellac is basically bug poop? Fascinating, isn’t it? It was my first experience using it, and I found that it was relatively simple to apply. I used a premixed Shellac from Zinser so I didn’t have to make my own from flakes. Maybe next time I’ll be more ambitious. I’m extremely happy with how the plane looks with the finish applied!

I absolutely love using this plane. Wood planes just feel so much more natural than metal bodied planes to me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Lie-Nielsen #4 and still drool over a Marcou or a Saur & Steiner. There is just something special about a handmade tool that nothing else will compare to. Its a closer connection with the tool, which also translates into a closer connection with your work. I can’t wait to make another plane, probably a block plane, soon. I also look forward to making some profile planes in the near future as well.

Art Fire and Etsy

February 14, 2010

Over the course of the last couple weeks, I finally launched an Etsy shop and an Art Fire studio for Scott Meek Woodworks. I only have two items for sale currently at both locations: the Maple and Cherry tray and the Butternut/Walnut treasures box.

I hope to have a few more items for sale in the next couple of months, so be sure to keep watching the blog for those projects.

You can find the Etsy shop here: Scott Meek Woodworks – Etsy
and the ArtFire studio here: Scott Meek Woodworks – ArtFire

If you know someone looking for beautiful woodworking pieces made with passionate creativity, someone who would like something to bring beauty and peace to where they live, please be sure to send them that way.

I’ve now applied two coats of linseed oil and beeswax. Need to wait a couple days before I can put a 3rd coat on, and then another week, when I may finish with Shellac.  Once that is done, I will get some final pictures of it before giving to my friend who is eager to give it to his mother.  I will be posting those final pictures on a couple different sites, like Etsy.com, in order to sell a few more of them.  I will do a limited number of them, each with its number carved into the bottom.

Until the final finish is applied and those pictures taken, I wanted to post some pictures of it as it looks now, with two coats of the linseed oil and beeswax mix. A couple of them are some nice detail shots.

These next couple of shots were taken right after I finished applying the second coat of the oil, so its still pretty shiny:

Its a simple little box, but I absolutely love it. Its my favorite item I’ve made yet. A lot of that has to do with the fact that so much of it was done by hand. The handplaning and hand cutting of the dovetails is an incredibly special process. It is fulfilling in a way that no power tool can be. There is a peacefulness to using handtools that is simply unexplainable until you’ve tried it. The sound of a handplane taking amazingly thin shavings, the feel of a chisel in your hand, the balance of a well built dovetail saw that cuts with precision, these are beautiful to me.

Even the act of choosing the wood for a project is an amazing experience. When I found the piece of Butternut that I would use for this box, I immediately knew it was the one. The part of the board that became the center panel in the top just jumped out at me for that purpose, and that purpose only. I find that process of figuring out how to use the grain in a piece of wood to be extremely worshipful. I can’t help but praise God for the beautiful creation and feel incredibly blessed that I get the privilege of creating something new with it.

This project has been an important step for me, as it has taught me quite a lot. At the beginning design phase, I sought out the input of fellow woodworkers whom I admire and trust. It was humbling and encouraging to open myself up to others opinions. I’m not always very good at getting critiques, so its a good thing for me, and something I will probably do for many projects. Actually, another fellow woodworker has embarked on a project along those lines of opening his design process up to open critique. Jamon Schlimgen is posting a new sketch of a design everyday over at his blog. You should be sure to check it out.

It has been very exciting to take another design from idea to finished project. With each new project, my confidence increases, and I remember again why I love what I do.

Lastly, I have learned (and am still learning) a new skill set: the handcut dovetail. I love it! I spent a lot of time practicing them, which has greatly payed off. I can’t wait to make some more. It has become a very relaxing exercise. My friend (and honestly, a mentor), Adam King, says that cutting dovetails is therapy. I absolutely agree.

I sincerely hope that I can sell a few more of these boxes, because it is such an enjoyable project. You can also expect to see some more designs for other boxes like this coming throughout this year. Until then, you can expect the final pictures of this box in a couple weeks.


Butternut/Walnut box update

January 10, 2010

The box is completely assembled! Only thing left to do is apply the linseed oil and bees wax finish. And so, without further ado:

I was asked by a friend to make a box for his mom to hold cards that are very special to her. I put together some ideas in Google Sketchup, and asked some fellow woodworkers for their input using Google Wave. It was an interesting experience to get real time input online.

Here is the design that I settled on:

The woods it will be made out of are Butternut and Walnut.

I’ve been practicing my handcut dovetails for awhile in preparation for this project, and finally felt like I was up to the task yesterday.  So I got the dovetails all cut, then used the router table to cut a 1/4″ groove in the sides for the bottom.  If I had a hand tool option for making the groove, I would have used it, but I don’t yet.  I then cut the bottom of the box to size and used a skew plane to cut the rabbet to fit it into the 1/4″ grooves.  After assembling the box, I made the walnut bull nose moulding and attached it to the bottom.

Here is the progress so far, I wiped it down with mineral spirits to show closer how it will look when finished (the finish will probably be linseed oil and bees wax):

I still have to make the lid and apply the finish.  I will be sure to post updated pictures when I do.