If you’re at all into hand tools, the place to be next Friday and Saturday (May 24th – 26h) is HandWorks, taking place in Amana, Iowa. Many of the country’s major hand tool makers will be there, along with some prominent teachers, writers, and hand tool authorities. Check out the schedule on the Handworks web site!
Me? I’m along for the ride to promote my school and my books, and to demo some cool hand-tool techniques. Mostly, I’m looking forward to great interactions you all, and with some of the finest proponents of hand tool woodworking anywhere.
I hope to see you there!
I’ve gotten a bunch of calls today from people wondering if this weekend’s Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event would be affected by the monumental rains in the Chicago area. Much to my relief, everything is fine at the shop, and we got everyone’s stuff in and set up on schedule. We’re ready.
One of the best parts of these events is the ability for everyone to play with the hand tools. For me, I get a chance to play with them on a much larger scale. We have to load in the crates of Lie-Nielsen tools, and the only way to do that in my shop is with a forklift.
That’s playing with hand tools in a big way. This is actually from a couple of years ago, but I did the same thing today (in the rain).
I spent a really enjoyable couple of days in February with Chuck Brock and Stephen Price from The Highland Woodworker as they filmed a segment on me and my work for the online video show that will be released tomorrow. Chuck is bright, funny, and a delight to be around. He’s also a tireless worker, who runs more businesses (and runs them well!) than I could keep track of: as far as I recall, he’s a woodworker, writer, teacher, musician (I can relate this far), video star, video producer, and he runs his own finishing company.
We talked about my work, how I got started, and how some of my health issues played a factor in that. We also talked about the origins my latest chair design, which I”m just now (finally!) finishing up. I hope you’ll get a chance to take a look!
By the way, I’ve filled in my class schedule for the rest of the year on my web site. Of particular note is a new class on making Shoji, which will be taught by a former assistant of mine, Craig Klucina, who is one of the foremost makers of Shoji screens and Tansu chests around.
I’ve got a lot of teaching and travel on my plate for this summer, but one of the things I”m most looking forward to is an event that’s been organized by the folks at Benchcrafted to build a series of benches based directly on Roubo’s plate 11 from L’Art du Menuisier.
Workbench fro Plate 11 in Roubo’s LArt du Menuisier
We’ll be using some huge old French Oak (5-6″ thick, up to 29″ wide), some of which is fro the grounds of Versailles. And the folks participating are an amazing group of bench and Roubo enthusiasts, including Jameel Abraham from Benchcrafted, Chris Schwarz (well, he’s Chris Schwarz), Don Williams (Senior Furniture Conservator at the Smithsonian, who is heading the current translation project of Roubo’s works), Ron Breese (Breese Planes), Raney Nelson (Daedworks Tools), and Jon Fiant (an Atlanta area cabinet and bench maker) are all participating (as am I). And there’s room (and wood) for 10 woodworkers to join us. It’s worth stressing that this is not a class, but a group build. There will certainly be help if you need it, but don’t expect the typical instruction. On the other hand, fun will be dished out it spades, along with insights, anecdotes, and given the crowd, bad jokes.
All of the drool-worthy details are here.
I got an advance copy of my new book yesterday evening! And pre-ordering is now available at: http://www.shopwoodworking.com/foundations-of-good-woodworking-w8062
I’ve been through the text and the proofs so many times in the last few months that I really couldn’t bring myself to do more than glance through the actual book. I saw enough to tell that it looks great – it’s beautifully laid out and well printed. I also discovered the first typo (a very insignificant one that I will not identify here). Finding this was actually a relief. The first typo is sort of like the first dent on a new car; it makes it a little easier to live with anything else that comes up. It’s amazing that any mistakes get through the multiple checks that go on in the editing process (especially with an ace text editor like Megan Fitzpatrick), but things inevitably do get through.
The book is my attempt to address a major lack of attention paid to many of the most basic things that woodworkers need to know. It often seems as if we woodworking writers and teachers forget that most woodworkers don’t know what we do, and don’t even think to mention these essentials. But years and years of teaching have demonstrated to me that students don’t come with this knowledge and these skills already in place and ready to use. It’s important to talk about how to actually use your body to plane, or saw, or even to work at the tablesaw. It’s equally important to understand just what’s going on when one of your tools interacts with a piece of wood. And just what you’re trying to accomplish during the layout process (and how best to accomplish it). There’s much more as well, and I’ll post about a bunch of these topics over the next few months.
October 1, 2012 – Check out Andy Brownell’s review of The Foundations of Better Woodworking at: http://brownellfurniture.com/2012/10/01/review-foundations-of-better-woodworking/
Loaded for Travel to Marc Adams School of Woodworking
This is how my van looked yesterday, after I loaded it up for the trip to Marc Adams School of Woodworking. I’m teaching a class this weekend on mortise and tenon joinery, and this coming week it’s a class where everyone builds a Slat-Back Chair. It’s fun to be back here. Marc has a great facility, a great team, and great students.
Slat-Back Chairs - J. Miller Handcrafted Furniture
The modified-Roubo bench with Benchcrafted Hardware
The new schedule of workshops is finally posted to my web site. I’ve added a workbench class! I have a little bit of extra room (not time, but rather 1500 square feet of physical space) this fall, after the guy in the back shop in my building moved.
I’ve built a few of these benches (2 done so far, but one more is almost done) over the past year. I’ve also been testing them out, and find them to be pretty amazing. I haven’t worked on anything better, and I’ve built many other benches, and have tried a wide variety of benches while teaching at many schools around the country.
You can also make a smaller version
The benches I’ve made lately have all had Benchcrafted hardware, which I think is amazingly good stuff. But there are certainly other options available. Please get in touch with me if you’d like to build a bench with a different vise configuration or hardware. By the way, Benchcrafted is offering a 5% student discount to anyone purchasing vises for this class.
It’s also worth noting that there are still a few spaces left in my classes at Marc Adams School of Woodworking next month. On the 15th and 16th I’ll be doing an expanded version of my class on jigs for had cutting mortise and tenon joints. From the 17th through the 21st we’ll be making a curved slat-back chair.
Curved Slat-Back Chairs
And then on November 2nd and 3rd, I’ll be teaching at Woodworking in America in the Cincinnati area.
It’s hard to recognize your own progress over a short period of time. But if you wind up able to see a comparison over a longer stretch, it can feel pretty significant.
'Stained Glass' Chair
I’ve been making an older chair design this week; one that dates back about 20 years. I still like the design, although eventually I’d like to devote some time to updating it. Right now, I’m just making some subtle changes to both construction and design as I proceed. This chair used to be one I considered really difficult to do. Not any more. Later designs have called for greater mastery of many more challenging techniques. And so this is a refreshing change.
That’s one of the big advantages of always pushing forward, and not staying too comfortable in your work. Taking on new challenges adds to your level of experience, your skill-set, and your confidence. If, on the other hand, you always stay comfortably within your capabilities, you’ll simply remain wherever you are.
Next project, find (or design) something you don’t quite know how to do, then figure out how to do it. Seek out help if you need it. But push yourself. You might have trouble (I certainly have). You might even mess things up the first time. But you’ll learn. And you’ll be a much better woodworker because of it.
In addition to my regular schedule of classes in my shop this summer, I’m really looking forward to a couple of events on my calendar. First, I’ve got two presentations (on July 20th and 21st) in Las Vegas at the AWFS Convention: a talk on furniture design, and one on designing and making chairs. A week and a half later, I’ll be teaching mortise and tenon joinery with hand tools at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks in Warren, Maine. We’ll cover everything from the basics of chopping mortises and sawing tenons by hand, through more complex joinery involving haunched tenons, joinery with curved parts, twin mortise and tenon joints, etc. I’ve got some very interesting jigs I’ve recently developed that can make all of these joints quickly and accurately, without a power cord in sight.